Is there a way to look up what questions have a mix of downvotes and upvotes? I know we don't use downvotes much here, but I'm curious to find out what sorts of things would attract them, that aren't wrong enough to get removed.


2 Answers 2


One would have to define the specific criteria that causes a post (question or answer) to be considered controversial. That is, "a mix of downvotes and upvotes" is very vague. For example, just looking at a post score (upvotes minus downvotes) a score of 0 from 3 upvotes and 3 downvotes might be less controversial than one with 6 upvotes and 6 downvotes.

Doing this type of search in-time is difficult, since the StackExchange search capability within the network is limited to searching by post score, with no regard for up- or downvotes. As such, one is left to query the StackExchange data via the SE Data Explorer for TeX.SE or downloading them via Bittorrent and performing these queries manually. The latter option might not capture very recent posts, since data dumps occur once every quarter (usually). I'm not sure about the time lag of the former.

The below analysis lists posts based on search criteria extracted from the Bittorrent source dated Sept 2013. For the sake of being specific, I considered a post to be controversial if it has at least 1 upvote, at least 4 downvotes, a negative score (upvotes minus downvotes) and not already deleted. So, a post with 1 upvote and 5 downvotes has a score of -4 (negative), and therefore "controversial" if it is not deleted. Here's a list of those, sorted based on their scores (as of today, Nov 22, 2013) and organized by type. So, the Bittorrent download was used to identify controversial posts, while the current site scores were used to rank posts:



  • You are right, I should have been more specific, but I was trying to figure out how to say "Highest score that has a noticable amount of downvotes' or closest match between upvotes and downvotes. (Yes, I know those are not the same thing)
    – Canageek
    Commented Nov 22, 2013 at 20:02
  • 1
    Thanks for some voting tips Werner, I've just modified the values you provided a bit ;)
    – yo'
    Commented Nov 23, 2013 at 23:58
  • What is the rational for requiring a negative score? Personally, I would consider a post controversial if (but not only if) at least four downvotes, at least four upvotes, and at least half as many downvotes as upvotes; and I would be perhaps more interested to see the positively scored controversial posts than the negatively scored ones, although as you point out total votes (upvotes + downvotes) might also be a useful way to rank controversial posts by their "controversiality." Commented Nov 26, 2013 at 17:48
  • @CharlesStaats: It was just a measure. Based on your criteria, there would probably have been fewer hits, due to the amount of votes in both directions. It was a personal choice at the time.
    – Werner Mod
    Commented Nov 26, 2013 at 17:52

As a complement to the Werner's pretty impressive answer I would like to draw attention that most of them, including Uiy's questions are kind of unfortunate to have that many downvotes. We kind of have an agreement that more than -1 is useless to draw attention to a quality problem in a particular question. So please consider not downvoting if the votes are already nonpositive.

A detail about Uiy is that he/she was a little too opinionated how the questions should be answered and dictated a certain way how we should handle his/her questions. Though we found a middle ground much later the downvotes got stuck in those questions.

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