|Perl: the Markov chain saw|
I've made 741 ++ votes and only 7 -- votes, but I wouldn't want to see down-voting go away. I assume that the threat of down-votes prevents a certain amount of nonsense, and regularly receiving down-votes probably drives away a certain kind of problem user.
"I feel that the posting of negative feedback on anything is, as eBay for example certainly regards it, an act of declaring that something is actually bad. That it has been made with “bad” motivation. And I simply do not think that people on a forum ought to be given the opportunity to express an opinion like that."
Why on earth not? Yes, my judgment that a post was made from "bad motivation" is exactly why I would vote it down. I wouldn't vote down a post for being honestly clueless or wrong, or for being poorly written, as long as the poster seemed to be doing his best. But when it looks like a troll, or is insulting, or ignores the question in favor of pushing an unhelpful solution, then I may cast a down vote. In short, I won't down-vote someone who's honestly looking for help or trying to be helpful, but I may when it's clear to me that helpfulness was not the goal.
I suspect most people vote that way. I know I've been just plain wrong on a couple of solutions I offered, and I still didn't get down votes, presumably because people could tell it was an honest mistake and I accepted their corrections gracefully.
(Sometimes I'm tempted to down-vote for sloppy writing, but I resist that unless it's combined with another reason. It's not that hard to tell the "knows English but can't be bothered to write correctly" posts from the "doing his best with a foreign language" posts, but I wouldn't want to guess wrong. I do draw the line at up-voting those posts though; no one who can't be bothered to capitalize the first letter of a sentence will ever get a ++ from me, for instance, no matter how brilliant the content. But that's just me.)
"This is nothing personal; this is not a rant; I have a Rhett Butler approach about such trivialities."
Sorry, but no, you don't, or you wouldn't be posting on the subject repeatedly. And to be brutally honest, perhaps you shouldn't be blasé about this. If more than a negligible percentage of the votes you receive are negative, then maybe you should be concerned about it. Stop telling yourself it's because some one person doesn't like you, and ask yourself what there might be about the way you post that makes people react that way. If you're truly trying to be helpful and you're getting down votes, there's a disconnect there, and it's up to you to find it. I say this with nothing but kindness: we all need to stop once in a while and say, "Wait a second, is it me? Am I just being a jackass?"
Another option: make a few posts anonymously, chosen randomly from your usual postings. Do your anonymous posts get down-voted too, or just the ones where people know who you are? That will tell you the score, if you really want to know.