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I read in the FAQs that voting is done to express agreement or disagreement over here:

On Meta Stack Overflow, voting is often used to express agreement or disagreement, not to point out a lack of quality or helpfulness. Please don't be concerned if you receive downvotes – members of the community may simply disagree with your bug, feature request, support issue, or the nature of the discussion.

Then why is there a rep threshold for down vote? The first thing that comes to mind is that if we allow down voting from the start, we may get trollers who would keep down voting stuff. However, there are other ways to deal with it. For example, we could check the activity of the user in the discussion (measure by number of questions/answers/comments and also number of times upvoted (this is different from rep)) before enabling this privilege.

EDIT

Use Case(unfortunately my own):

When I first saw meta, I knew nothing of it and nothing about Area51 and got a lot of down votes for that question. I lost a lot of reputation for a starter that day and was paying for that first timers mistake for some time before I got that reputation back.

EDIT

Please condider the discussion of thread as a feature request. I think there are mainly two suggestions from the various comments:

  • Remove down-voting all together

    OR

  • Change the down-vote reputation threshold to 15(same as up votes)
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The answer to this question is exactly the same as the answer to this question for voting on the main site(s). The differences in voting you note have nothing to do with it. We require a bare minimum of reputation on Meta to express (dis)agreement by voting. That's it. –  Andrew Barber Feb 9 '12 at 20:28
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then maybe I am missing something about this privilege. Can you elaborate? –  MozenRath Feb 9 '12 at 20:30
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I understand @Andrew's comment to be simply that you have to earn the right to express disagreement here. Which I would agree with. –  Adam Rackis Feb 9 '12 at 20:32
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As I have explained in the question, I agree that you have to earn the right. But not just with reputation. There are other ways(again, refer question). Do you not think something like that is feasible? –  MozenRath Feb 9 '12 at 20:35
    
@MozenRath - I'd say rep >= 125 would be much more simple, and direct to measure and implement that what you propose in your question. –  Adam Rackis Feb 9 '12 at 20:37
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I dont think so, Take my case. when I first saw meta, I knew nothing of it. and got a lot of down votes and am still paying for them simply because of that first time. I think I have earned the right to down vote by now. –  MozenRath Feb 9 '12 at 20:39
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@Adam Rackis - Why is it much harder to earn the right to disagree (125 rep), than to agree (15 rep)? That makes no sense to me. –  ire_and_curses Feb 9 '12 at 20:41
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now that you point it out. weirds me out too. –  MozenRath Feb 9 '12 at 20:44
    
I don't know that I have a solid answer, but it just makes sense to me that you should have to spend more time here before you can downvote. –  Adam Rackis Feb 9 '12 at 20:52
    
Thanks @AdamRackis! @ire_and_curses explained things that helped me undertand more about your suggestion to have same reputation for upvotes and downvotes –  MozenRath Feb 9 '12 at 21:12

2 Answers 2

up vote 20 down vote accepted

This and related issues are a consequence of the way Meta has evolved. The mechanisms for voting etc. existed long before the community norm that "on Meta, voting works differently" solidified.

Meta was originally implemented with the code for StackOverflow, because it was convenient, and it gave us something much better than UserVoice.

But over time, the consequences of using the platform in a way distinct from the original intent have become apparent. In particular

  • Meta is for discussions, so
    • ordering by downvotes doesn't make as much sense (but still has some value)
    • comments become much more important (but we suffer from the lack of threading)
    • penalising by downvotes (losing rep) is odd
    • answers which are downvoted to -3 or below are grayed out, implying the less popular point of view is also less valid
  • Downvotes are supposed to mean "I disagree", but
    • they require more rep than upvotes
    • if you make too many disagreeable questions, you will be question-blocked
    • they feel extremely negative to a community conditioned by voting on StackOverflow
    • the norm doesn't allow you to express "I see value in you bringing this discussion up, but I disagree". In fact, downvotes on meta might mean "I think this is junk" or "I disagree with your point of view".

Negative votes on meta aren't trolling, any more than positive votes are trolling. They shouldn't be treated differently. You shouldn't have to accumlate 150 points by conforming with the community just to allow you to express your disagreement. Other Metas have a very low threshold (5 rep) to allow participation. It's telling that they also have done away with Meta reputation.

Our system here is not a good solution, but it mostly works. I also hear there are rumours of a Meta overhaul. An obvious simple hack to improve things would be to set the downvote limit to 15, in symmetry with upvotes. A minimal barrier to entry seems reasonable, but no more.

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Another potential voting-related artifact on Meta: Should the automated ban on questions used on SO apply to Meta as well? –  Brad Larson Feb 9 '12 at 21:17
    
I don't at all agree that there is any reason for voting to be different on meta. –  Andrew Barber Feb 9 '12 at 21:49
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I agree with @Andrew - this seems like a solution in search of a problem –  Adam Rackis Feb 9 '12 at 21:52
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@Andrew Barber - Great. Disagreement is good for all of us. Why not post your own answer here outlining why you think there is no reason for voting to be different on meta? Then the community can vote on your ideas as they see fit. –  ire_and_curses Feb 9 '12 at 23:02
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@ire_and_curses I have no such burden. You are proposing the change. –  Andrew Barber Feb 9 '12 at 23:06
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Another bullet point under "Meta is for discussions" might be that answers which are downvoted to -3 or below are grayed out. This makes sense on a site where the answer may be technically wrong, but less so when it may simply represent an unpopular but valid opinion. –  Josh Caswell Feb 14 '12 at 21:10
    
We do not suffer from a lack of threading. Threaded conversations are impossible to follow. –  TRiG is Timothy Richard Green Nov 28 '13 at 14:34

We have a reputation threshold for downvotes for the same reason we have one on the others sites:

It forces users to interact with the site before acting negatively.

Upvotes have a lower threshold because we want to encourage upvotes. Similarly, downvotes cost reputation as a method to discourage downvoting without careful thought.

It doesn't matter that the downvotes have a slightly different meaning here than elsewhere - we still want 1) users to interact with the site prior to employing them and 2) to generally discourage thoughtless downvotes.

Keep in mind that if you have enough experience on other sites you will receive 100 rep here for associating your account, and therfore only need to post one or two good questions or answers in order to get that last 25 reputation needed to downvote.

Downvotes are purposefully slightly above the account association bonus to make sure people actually come into contact with the community via real posts (not just comments) before downvoting, even though they are already experienced with the platform. Each community is different enough that one needs to watch them for awhile before downvoting.

share|improve this answer
    
Thanks Adam. I knew there was a good explanation for this, I just didn't quite know how to form it. Unfortunately this post might bring your meta rep 100 closer to your SO rep :) –  Adam Rackis Feb 13 '12 at 15:48
    
@AdamRackis Eeek! –  Adam Davis Feb 13 '12 at 15:50
    
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@MozenRath That doesn't seem to argue against my points that we want people to make real posts and generally discourage downvotes. Yes, downvotes are different, and sometimes a downvote on one question means something different than a downvote on another question. That doesn't matter, unless you're proposing we eliminate downvotes and upvotes and provide a full menu of options to express one's views on a particular post. –  Adam Davis Feb 13 '12 at 16:07
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In fact, if anything we want it to be harder to downvote here than elsewhere, as the meaning is so different that people really should interact with the community before downvoting. –  Adam Davis Feb 13 '12 at 16:08
    
@MozenRath - you seem to keep bringing up these edge cases that show the current system's imperfections. Yes, the current system isn't perfect, but eliminating the rep threshold for downvotes would make things worse, not better. –  Adam Rackis Feb 13 '12 at 16:11
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Given the voting function of meta, the upvotes will be over-represented compared to the downvotes for the group of people below that threshold. Consider that people can upvote without careful thought just as well. –  prusswan Feb 13 '12 at 16:17
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@prusswan Generally speaking, the average human takes action more often when they disagree or are displeased with something than when they are pleased or agree with something. Therefore downvotes attract a natural bias, due simply to how the human mind works. We want upvotes to be as easy and frictionless as possible. We want downvotes to be only slightly harder and more painful than upvotes. We've achieved a reasonable medium ground, but it's take years for Stack Exchange to figure this balance out. I suspect they'll need a very strong argument that the status quo is harming the site. –  Adam Davis Feb 13 '12 at 16:21
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Perhaps, but it also means that upvotes are like Facebook likes in a way and could be no more than a mere acknowledgement, with no clear method of negation that is equivalent in measure. In that case they might as well do away with the downvotes. There might not be clear harm but the system is not exactly encouraging the intended usage either (unless the intent is to make the site seem more agreeable than it actually is) –  prusswan Feb 13 '12 at 16:35
    
From the FAQ, the way people have voted on my questions, and the way ire_and_curses put it, meta is for discussions and hence, limiting down votes is just making it difficult for people to express their thoughts. I don't think making the down-vote/up-vote rep threshold same is going to reduce the value of down-votes. I think we need to have a better method to decide quality of posts. –  MozenRath Feb 13 '12 at 17:44
    
Hahaha - your CW can't escape my bounty! –  Adam Rackis Feb 17 '12 at 16:31
    
@AdamRackis eep! Must... pass... bounty... on...! –  Adam Davis Feb 17 '12 at 17:21
    
Well, your SO rep is still safely 1,329 > than your meta rep, so there's no need to panic. Yet. –  Adam Rackis Feb 17 '12 at 17:23

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