This is an old post, but it seems to me relevant today (August 2020) for the reasons I explain below.
From the site analytics, which is viewable to any user with 5000 or more reputation points, you can see that, from mid February, the number of downvotes on the main site has increased a lot. But these downvotes are very rarely accompanied with a constructive comment which can help the poster to write better questions or answers. The important thing is not to add a comment to explain the reason of the downvote, it's to give a constructive comment. "This question needs clarification: as it is stated now it's nonsense" or "A question like this one, on ELU for example, would be closed in two minutes" are not constructive at all and should be avoided.
We should be especially careful with new users and with users who don't participate very frequently. I believe we should also pay attention to users which have received downvotes on many posts on a short period of time because this is probably an indication that they have not understood some aspect of how this site works: our help can improve the quality of these users posts. This may eventually produce that these users are blocked from asking or from answering (see, for instance, this post and take into account that this has also happened in our site to some user who has simply disappeared), but it seems to me that it would be better if such users learn how to improve their posts thanks to our help so their participation doesn't need to be blocked (at least, we can try).
Anyway, our message should always be "we are here to help you" and never "your participation on the site is unwelcome" (and I fear lots of users of this site have perceived this message).
We are a small site, with few activity and very few participation. We have an extremely low number of experienced users (especially askers) and the unexperienced ones may need our help. So I would just like us to recall what we discussed here in order to try to be a little more constructive.
Update (June 2019):
Lately, I have seen again lots of downvotes on questions and answers without any comment to explain why. For this reason, I have decided to reopen this debate.
This is the contents of the old post.
It's not the first time that this happens in this site but, since there is no Meta post inviting to discuss it (or at least I haven't seen it), I decided to write one. Lately, specially on answers, I have noticed a proliferation of downvotes without any comment to explain why. In general, I feel that this behaviour is not very constructive for the site for the reasons explained in this Meta question: explaining why an answer in being downvoted encourage the poster to improve that answer. It can even encourage that user to write better answers in the future. I'm referring to the main site: downvotes in Meta are different.
Of course there can be some exceptions to this "rule" (in fact, it's not a rule, because every user is free to downvote without a comment, it's just an invitation from me). For instance, if one finds an answer that is spam in a very evident way, it's no worth writing a comment to say "we don't want spam in this site". In the same way, when an answer is of very evident low quality or an user has repeatedly shown an agressive or rude behaviour whenever anyone else criticise their posts in comments, I think there is no need to leave a comment to explain the reason of a downvote.
I would like to have your opinion about that and see if you think we should/could do something to discourage that practice.
[In addition to this, speaking specifically about answers and always in relative terms, I have the impression that, lately, the amount of downvotes is relatively high whith respect to the total amount of upvotes on answers. I sometimes wonder: we are really doing so bad in comparison to the past? I know this is another subject that maybe should to be asked in another question. I don't do it because I'm not sure if this is really that way or it's only a subjective impression.]
I would like to add that, according to my own experience, downvotes to answers without any explanation often leads to perplexity the OP and other users who use the site to learn Italian, because they remain wondering about what is wrong in the answer. And I fear this perplexity can sometimes cause someone to not come back to ask again (I've seen some instances of this behaviour on this site, but I'm not sure at all if this was a reason for it).