Once upon a time, there was the ugly downvoter on StackExchange. Only the Germans where able, to defend against his cruel infection ...
Well - reality! I observed that there is nearly no downvotes, as if either the users of GL&U are posting so much better questions or answers than elsewhere, that there is no need for downvotes (I don't think so),
or: That the German users prevent downvotes. Maybe because of their self image, as nice and friendly person, maybe in fear of disturbing the type of the rarely seen new user, maybe in fear about the own reputation (I don't think so).
I wanted to verify that my observation is right, and not a prejudice of mine, so I visited some sites. I selected the userpage, sorted by reputation over all time, took the Top-10 users and visited each of them's page, and calculated the ratio between the downvotes they made, compared to the upvotes they made.
Here is the graph of my results:
The numbers show the quotient in 1 per 1000. So to not confuse you: The top 10 users by reputation where selected, but then ordered by the ratio.
And here are the numbers:
id GL FL EL Skeptics 1 0 0 75 5 2 1 2 75 10 3 2 20 100 50 4 5 25 120 50 5 5 25 120 80 6 10 30 150 80 7 10 30 250 100 8 30 30 250 150 9 50 50 330 250 10 50 90 450 330
A few examples in prose: The biggest number of downvotes, compared to upvotes, on the GL&U-site is 5%. This is lower than the minimum ratio on the EL&U site, where it is about 7,5%. The maximum there is 45% downvotes, compared to upvotes (not from total votes, that would be about 30%=45/(100+45)).
We see, that the French people use much more downvotes, but compared to the English users or Skeptics, it is not that impressive.
Of course, none of them are normative. We can do whatever we want. And we should do, what we think is right. But my impression is, that we don't do, what we think is right, but in an opportunistic way try to attract visitors with the technic of corruption. We Wulff them. Hey, come in, and get reputation for free!
You don't need to answer the question - just post something loosely related to the question, and you receive 3-5 upvotes. Ask a question, which would be instantly answered by dict.leo.org, and you earn 5 upvotes, no downvotes, no flag to close! More so, you will get 3 answers which just take their answer from a dictionary, and get some upvotes too.
Well - why should we do it? Because we are corrupted ourself, and only have the daily visits, questions and answered questions in mind. Quantity counts - not quality.
Imho, this is the wrong strategy. Downvotes don't hurt that much - neither the downvoted, nor the downvoter.
Take responsibility, and don't only honor, but punish too. Just a little bit of law and order - not too much. In many cases you may leave a comment, why you downvote, to animate the autor to improve his answer or question. After downvoting an text, you can revoke your downvote if the post was edited. You may even turn it into an upvote. Doing so is normal - look at the other sites, they do it, and it works.
And don't take it as an insult, if your post gets downvoted (most probably by me, because me alone, I made more downvotes here than the top 10 users here altogether). It's not you, who get's downvoted, but your text. ;)