The Art of the Downvote: Exploring Reddit‘s Most Controversial Comments

Reddit is home to millions of conversations on every topic imaginable. The platform‘s upvote and downvote system allows the community to collectively moderate content, bringing the most relevant and interesting submissions to the top.

But sometimes, a comment rubs redditors the wrong way – and ends up attracting an impressive number of downvotes. These heavily downvoted comments provide unique insights into Reddit culture and psychology. In this post, we‘ll explore some of the site‘s most controversial comments and what they reveal.

Why Downvotes Matter

On Reddit, downvotes have a real impact. They push comments further down, making them less visible. Multiple downvotes can even lead to a comment being hidden entirely.

For companies and public figures participating in Reddit AMAs or other discussions, a flood of downvotes can be reputation-damaging. For regular redditors, downvotes signify their opinion is unpopular and discouraged.

Moderators also keep an eye on heavily downvoted content. Egregious violations of reddiquette often accompany a rash of downvotes.

Hall of Shame: Reddit‘s Most Downvoted Comments

Here are some of the highlights from Reddit‘s hall of heavily downvoted shame:

EA‘s Response to Star Wars Battlefront II Pay-to-Win

With a record-breaking 683,000 downvotes, EA holds the infamous honor of the most downvoted comment in Reddit history.

The comment was a response to widespread criticism over monetization and pay-to-win mechanics in Star Wars Battlefront II. EA‘s attempt to justify these controversial decisions went over very poorly with the Reddit community.

Woody Harrelson‘s AMA Disaster

When Woody Harrelson hosted an AMA in 2012, he likely expected to plug his new movie Rampart and take a few softball fan questions. What ensued instead was a brutal display of the AMA format at its worst.

Harrelson frustrated redditors by refusing to answer questions unrelated to the movie. His heavily promoted AMA became a lightning rod for downvotes, totaling over 31,000.

Unidan‘s Vote Manipulation Scandal

Unidan was once Reddit‘s favorite biologist, regaling the community with fascinating animal facts. But it all came crashing down when he was caught using alternate accounts to downvote competing comments and upvote his own.

His dramatic fall from grace began with a heavily downvoted comment where he admitted to the manipulation. The ensuing backlash led Reddit to permanently ban one of its most popular users.

Ann Coulter‘s Combative AMA

When political commentator Ann Coulter hosted an AMA in 2012, critics accused her of using the format to sidestep hard questions. Her snarky non-answers and combative tone led to over 9,000 downvotes.

Coulter‘s controversial reputation and unwillingness to engage redditors in good faith turned the AMA into a partisan battleground. Like Harrelson‘s, her AMA is now cited as an example of how not to use the format.

Lessons Learned from Downvotes

While downvotes can be discouraging, they also provide valuable feedback. Here are some lessons that can be gleaned:

  • Stay on topic – If you host an AMA, focus on the stated purpose instead of ignoring questions.
  • Foster good discussions – Be thoughtful and willing to engage, especially if covering controversial issues.
  • Consider PR implications – For businesses, a flood of downvotes can worsen a scandal. Tread carefully.
  • Follow community guidelines – Anything perceived as manipulation or abuse of power often results in mass downvoting.
  • Add value – Comments that provide useful information, insights or entertainment tend to fare better.

Downvotes may sting, but they help shape Reddit‘s evolving culture. Understanding this system provides invaluable perspective on how to best contribute to the community.