Is it acceptable to attack another person's answer? Shouldn't their own answer speak for itself? Since the attack, I have received a lot of downvotes. The meaning of my answer has been twisted.

3 Answers 3


Yes, if you disagree with an answer, it is acceptable to downvote the answer as well as leave a comment explaining what you think is wrong with it. If you call that “attacking,” so be it.

On your answer, I think you’ve done a good job of responding to the criticism and further explaining your answer. At this point, don’t take the downvotes personally. Everybody, even long time, high rep users, gets downvotes occasionally. Your answer currently stands at +20 and -5 votes, which means it has netted you +190 rep points. That’s certainly an above average answer from a rep yield point of view.

If you get criticism about an answer you have written, consider it. Sometimes it will be constructive criticism, and you can edit your answer and learn something new. Other times, you will disagree with the criticism. At that point, it is best to stand by your answer and just let the up/down votes fall where they may.

Welcome to Personal Finance & Money. I hope to see a lot more posts from you in the future.

  • 'This isn't true at all. I mean this just isn't true. First you can make an insurance company give you OEM parts for repairs. You are under no obiligation to take the cheapest or inferior products. I have personally sued two people that have hit me and the judges agree. You have been brainwashed by the US insurance process. This is the exact wrong answer for anyone that has been hit.'
    – quid
    Oct 24, 2019 at 17:13
  • @quid Did you accidentally leave your comment on the wrong post?
    – Ben Miller
    Oct 24, 2019 at 17:54
  • 1
    No. This is the comment that prompted this question. That is not a good natured suggestion that the answer could be tightened up. This is just "WRONG, you're brainwashed," I think it very fairly falls in to the category of "attacking."
    – quid
    Oct 24, 2019 at 17:56
  • @quid Got it. Except for the “You have been brainwashed” part, the comment expresses the commenter’s opinion of the answer, not of the answerer. But if you think the comment is too personal, feel free to flag for moderator review.
    – Ben Miller
    Oct 24, 2019 at 18:02

I have experienced it as well. I have a concern that there may be a person on here who has multiple accounts who downvotes, I think for spite.

I have a doctorate in financial and monetary economics. I have been a registered principal in a securities firm. I have been a financial planner and investment advisor. I also, at one point, worked in regulatory compliance.

In terms of research, my work includes proposing a new branch of stochastic calculus, which is currently in peer review. The work I am doing should fundamentally rewrite the rules of economic modeling in finance and parts of macroeconomics. It will also rewrite the rules of econometrics. That, in turn, will rewrite many standard well-known "truths" of personal finance.

It has however been commented that I am a liar. No real criticism, just "you are a liar," followed by a bunch of downvotes. Other attacks have been factually incorrect or misleading.

Although I have created answers that have been incorrect as I had misread the post, or in one case the regulation had changed and I was unaware, it seems that there is either a person or a small group that knows each other that seems to target people.

I am not certain if that person or group believes they are being helpful or if they are just angry at the world.

This forum is a bit more vulnerable than others because many of the questions here are highly specific, applied questions. On other forums, questions have results where either it is easy to write a general mathematical proof or to cite a body of literature.

Here, however, questions may be subject to different answers in different jurisdictions, may change as law changes, may face conflicting laws, or may require the application of general principles to highly specific cases. Whereas on a different type of forum, it is possible to cite based on empirical results, that is often not the case here.

For example, if someone asks about insurance law, it is inadequate to cite a statute. Court cases also matter as the language of a statute only matters up to the point the courts say it does. Citing relevant court cases requires access to costly resources. Similar problems can exist for people wanting to discuss regulations in finance because there is a disharmony of law and regulation in quite a few cases.

Rules that apply in states that use grant deeds are very different from states that use traditional fee simple deeds with standard chains of title. Because of that, it is easy for someone who doesn't know that states vary substantially to give an incorrect answer because they provided a correct answer for their jurisdiction but not another.

That makes this forum vulnerable to overgeneralization or overly specific answers. The problem is that some individuals here seem to have strong feelings about answers. I have seen it in others' answers as well. The problem, for someone without content knowledge, is that if the best technical answer is voted down low enough, they may believe the best answer is actually wrong.

I would suggest just keep answering. If your answer is helpful to the original asker, the votes don't matter.

  • 5
    I am reading your 3rd paragraph. Chances are, that you are functioning at a far higher level than average, and people often downvote what they don’t understand. For example, the recent mortgage amortization question. You offered an answer that was very comprehensive, and gave valid warnings that were important. We need to do a better job clarifying where OP is. We tend to assume US, and let OP correct us if we are mistaken. And glad to see last paragraph, your input is valued here. A few drive-by DVs don’t negate that. Oct 5, 2019 at 2:45
  • If you suspect co-ordinated downvoting or multiple accounts controlled by the same person ("sockpuppetry"), you should flag your answer, choose "in need of moderator intervention" and explain the situation in the text box. Oct 9, 2019 at 18:34
  • Will do. Comments must be fifteen characters so this sentence is the extra characters. Oct 9, 2019 at 18:36
  • My dilemma too! Oct 11, 2019 at 4:52

I think the issue you raise with this question is the problem with this format for this topic. You could make a strong case that the question you answered is offtopic. It seems to me this is a question about car insurance and privacy laws, not personal finance.

The comment prompting this question is not constructive and includes a personal attack.

Auto insurance in the US is regulated at the state level. Different states require and allow different things of auto insurers. There aren't federal realities to this question, so "That's just wrong" is wrong. What we have here is an anecdotal disagreement, likely referring to two different regulatory environments, where the person offering their disagreement calls the person answering the question a liar who is brainwashed.

The answer offered by the person disagreeing is nothing but a series of anecdotes without naming a jurisdiction, but the answer uses harsh language and an authoritative tone so it got a lot of internet points. So this must be the right answer, right?

To top it all off, it's not clear at all if either person here is referring to the realities of auto insurance regulation in California, which is the state indicated in the question.

It is beyond my comprehension why that comment remains there.

  • To the last sentence - I continue to believe that most negativity here is contained within comments, and from my meta "purpose of comments" I think you agree. Not all do. I do try to address comment flags, but also try to avoid accusations of censorship, or going overboard. Pls flag the comment you are referencing, I'll delete it. Oct 27, 2019 at 16:40
  • I'm also torn on the idea of comment deletion because it removes would be harassment evidence. It seems to me that deleted comments should be "deleted" to members but visible to moderators. But that comment was absolutely an attack on the answer and not at all good natured criticism intended to help.
    – quid
    Oct 28, 2019 at 0:24
  • We (mods) can see the deleted comments. It just requires an extra click to reveal them. Oct 28, 2019 at 1:02
  • I've edited the comment to remove the "brainwashing" sentence and to tone it down a bit. I did read it at the time this was first posted and thought it was just about OK, but on reflection I was wrong. Oct 28, 2019 at 5:45

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