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I either don't hit the rep cap often enough or I don't downvote enough answers, because it took me until yesterday to find out a way to downvote an answer for free:

  1. Downvote answer.

  2. Hit rep cap.

The last upvote effectively replaces the reputation lost by casting the downvote:

screenshot

I couldn't find any documentation on the subject, except for

[W]e also fixed the following minor bugs in the reputation system: [...]

  • upvotes can now “replace” missing rep lost to downvotes, up to the +200 daily reputation cap.

from The Great Reputation Recalc Begins « Blog – Stack Exchange, which doesn't specify whether it affects reputation lost by casting or receiving downvotes.

But whether this is by design or not, do you agree with it?

  • All users that usually hit the rep cap before breakfast can effectively downvote for free.

    If you already have 100k rep, I guess downvoting 1000 answers won't produce a noticeable difference in your reputation. But if downvotes should become free for high rep users, it would be a privilege.

  • Any "mortal" user can make a list of all the answers he wants to downvote and just wait until the rep cap is imminent.

TL;DR

Regarding the daily reputation limit, should upvotes replace the reputation lost by casting downvotes?

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10  
It's like a reward for a day's hard work on StackOverflow: get 21 upvotes, then go on a bender downvoting crap –  Adam Rackis Jun 20 '12 at 16:46
2  
If you manage to work hard enough to rep-cap, and then get suspended because you went on a free downvoting bender, well... I don't really know what to say about that, except that the likelihood of it happening is really rather remote. –  Robert Harvey Jun 20 '12 at 17:16
    
@RobertHarvey: Unless you target specific users, could you get actually suspended for this? –  Dennis Jun 20 '12 at 17:21
    
Any egregious abuse of the system is suspendable. We don't require bad behavior to be specifically enumerated in the site instructions to stop it. –  Robert Harvey Jun 20 '12 at 17:29
    
@RobertHarvey: I can see your point if this is a bug and somebody takes advantage of it. But if this behavior is by design, I fail to see how choosing when to downvote could be abuse of the system. –  Dennis Jun 20 '12 at 17:35
    
Really? You're the one who brought this up. If folks are getting a free pass to downvote because they are rep-capped, waiting to lodge their downvotes until after they're rep-capped is gaming the system. –  Robert Harvey Jun 20 '12 at 17:37
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@RobertHarvey: This is exactly why I brought it up. I don't think somebody should be allowed to massively downvote answers without receiving an impact on his reputation. But if the system is specifically designed to allow it, he's just using the system, not abusing it. –  Dennis Jun 20 '12 at 17:42
    
taking into account that modest +30 daily rep is sufficient to keep downvoter afloat (one can't loose more than 30 at answer downvotes because of voting limits), I doubt that proposed change can make substantial impact on voting patterns / habits –  gnat Jun 20 '12 at 19:31
    
Odd: it's not true when first hitting the daily cap and then downvoting. –  Arjan Jun 25 '12 at 20:17

1 Answer 1

It's a bit hard to abuse, because you have to get additional upvotes after spending rep on downvotes. If you don't, they are not free.

From personal experience - if you hit the rep cap and then downvote, you might end up at 199 that day. And that means that the day is not counted towards certain attractive badges.

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