Up-votes instead of down-votes on RFCs


An RFC typically addresses a number of scenarios, and it’s unclear whether a :+1: is agreement that the problem needs to be solved, about particular details of the approach, etc. And the RFC is supposed to also have a drawbacks section, so a :-1: can just as well be considered an “The drawbacks enumerated in the RFC outweigh the advantages” just as much as the opposite means the opposite.


Isn’t that why GitHub has both


and :+1:?

If these two seen similar, I think it’s only because the person posting the reaction doesn’t have a clear idea about the difference between them. People conflating “good point” vs “I agree” is not exclusive to Rust RFCs.




@notriddle We could try to give them those meanings through coordinated effort (e.g. a bot mentioning it at the beginning of each thread; I don’t think that’d be worthwhile, fwiw), but in the absence of that, they can’t really be taken as more than “I like this” and “I love this” (or “I love you”). Anyway, we’re going off topic :slight_smile:


I realise that this isn’t viable, but what I’d really like to be able to give, and receive, are :+1: and :-1: on a far more granular level – such as individual sentences. It might be too much to ask of people to always respond to one’s ramblings with thought-out written comments, even when they care enough to read them.

Internet forums as a medium lack this immediate feedback that you get non-verbally in face-to-face conversations. You really don’t know if anyone at all reads what you (sometimes painstakingly) try to express. Sometimes no response at all isn’t that uplifting either.

Anyway, I’m no longer going to downvote an entire comment or rfc. I’m not going to punish someone for the virtue of taking their time to put their thoughts out there, when doing so in a constructive manner – no matter how misguided or bad the ideas are.


To be honest, I find the visual experience of seeing (or, worse, catching up to) a wall of review comments (with collapse marks) so intimidating that, lately, I’ve been guilty of only addressing points raised in top-level comments and just hoping that all I’m missing is fine-grained bikeshedding or highly-abstract discussions that, lacking a background in type theory, I wouldn’t be able to contribute to anyway.

(Yes, I realize that my most consequential comment about the ..= syntax would fall under that heading and have never happened in that case.)


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Why shouldn’t I downvote if I think the RFC proposes something bad? That’s almost always a purely technical point of view.

“something bad” is never a purely technical decision, and always includes some degree of value judgement. RFCs are a place for criticism and for discussing technical downsides. They are never a place for telling someone that something they did is bad, terrible, or a waste of time.

I’m sorry but if one’s self-esteem depends on whether one gets downvotes on an RFC then one should go see a doctor.

It’s completely natural to have emotional reactions to the way that other people treat you and your ideas. Criticizing people for wanting to improve the emotional wellbeing of our community members is never acceptable.


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Disallowing the expression of one side of the argument is called censorship

We’re not disallowing technical arguments. You’re welcome to lay out whatever technical position you want. What isn’t acceptable is making negative value judgements that don’t contribute to the conversation (e.g. downvotes, “this is terrible”-style comments). Those aren’t arguments-- they’re namecalling.


Have we really come to the point where a simple downvote is considered name-calling? I just don’t buy that.


I think @H2CO3 generally does a great job coming up with technical arguments. But I have to agree with @cramertj on this point. Downvotes aren’t helpful. I think the Discourse approach which lets us only react with the heart emoji is the better. It’s healthier. Downvoting isn’t healthy.


It’s not any less healthy than upvoting. Upvotes and downvotes are completely symmetric. Agreement-disagreement. If downvoting without an explanation were to be disallowed, then upvoting also should be disallowed. Not doing so induces a bias in everyone who views it, including those who will ultimately accept or reject the RFC. If an RFC only has upvotes, it might have any number of comments explaining why it’s a bad idea; people will just see that it has many upvotes, ie. others like it, and will think that therefore it’s probably good. Let’s be realistic: not even the responsible team’s members read all comments. Should they decide the acceptance or rejection of an RFC based on a heavily asymmetrical, biased, unfair voting system? OK, maybe a downvote without a comment is not useful. But then an upvote without a comment isn’t useful either.


FWIW we don’t take emoji reactions to an RFC into consideration at all in our decision making, and I think that should continue to be the case. I use upvotes as an easy way to say “I’m excited about this RFC! Thanks for all the work you’ve put in to get it to this point.” I don’t use them to indicate that I am in favor of merging a proposal, and I don’t downvote when I’m opposed to merging an RFC.


I think that up/downvotes being symmetric is a bit illusory. I and many use upvotes to signal “I agree with that/that is a great point, but rehashing the same agreement would be noisy/unneeded”. (And if you have new points, then, of course, comment.) On the other hand, to have constructive discussion, disagreement should be expressed with words, because just the downvote won’t communicate your message. If you then have the same criticism as someone else, you upvote their criticism – I don’t think downvotes fit in here!

On the other hand, I understand the want to downvote. If I see a proposal that I think is a bad idea, I feel the need to boost the signal against that proposal, just to be even a bit more reassured that it won’t get accepted. Most of the proposals that end up downvoted haven’t needed any signal boost, though, so it seems more like a fear reaction.


@cramertj For my part, I do take upvotes and downvotes into account in aggregate, insofar as they indicate both interest level and enthusiasm.

I do think it’s important, even more so with a downvote than an upvote, to make sure to express a comment to go with it, or better yet ensure that an appropriate comment appears in the thread and upvote that. Content-free disagreement is still information, but less helpful and less effective.


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Please explain why / Citation needed.