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Why do the up-votes after reaching daily rep cap not contribute to compensate the subsequent down-votes?

Doesn't upvotes received after getting voted down the rep-cap yield any reputation?

These two questions sort of hit at the issue. I realize there are a lot more options on "prior art" as this is an oft discussed question. I just feel that this answer has not been properly given.

Before we start, a key:

  • + an upvote you cast - only used twice to illustrate those are involved here, but honestly this isn't used for rep calculations so I just wanted to differentiate it.
  • - a downvote you cast on an answer
  • = a downvote you cast on a question
  • U an upvote given to you
  • D a downvote given to you

Given the following scenario, this should be the end of the day rep: (broken up into 5's for counting)

  7 --+-U
185 -D-+U ==UUU U=+DD DD+++ UUUU+ UU++U UU-U- U-U-+ +UUUU U+U-- -U-U- -UUUU -U-U+ U-UUU
185 -U-+U ==UUU U=+UU UU+++ UUUU+ UU++U UU-U- U-U-+ +UUUU U+U-- -U-U- -UUUU -U-D+ D-DDD
170 ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- DDDDD UUUUU UUUUU UUUUU UUUUU UUUUU UUUUU UUUUU 
170 ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- UUUUU UUUUU UUUUU UUUUU UUUUU UUUUU UUUUU DDDDD 
-12 ----D DDD

However, these are what are actually generated at the end of the day:

  7 --+-U
190 UUUUU UUUUU UUUUU UUUUU UUDDD DD       <-- problem
200 DDDDD UUUUU UUUUU UUUUU UUUUU UU       <-- compare to
200 ---UU UUUUU UUUUU UUUUU UUUUU          <-- Martijn's other edge case
185 -D-+U ==UUU U=+DD DD+++ UUUU+ UU++U UU-U- U-U-+ +UUUU U+U-- -U-U- -UUUU -U-U+ U-UUU
175 -U-+U ==UUU U=+UU UU+++ UUUU+ UU++U UU-U- U-U-+ +UUUU U+U-- -U-U- -UUUU -U-D+ D-DDD
170 ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- DDDDD UUUUU UUUUU UUUUU UUUUU UUUUU UUUUU UUUUU 
160 ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- UUUUU UUUUU UUUUU UUUUU UUUUU UUUUU UUUUU DDDDD <-- PROBLEM AGAIN
-12 ----D DDD

Specifically I'm wanting to address the one case where downvotes given at the end of the day are not countered by upvotes when you didn't do anything that should negatively impact your rep completely (as the - would always earn you a -1) and you certainly had the rep to earn the rep-cap. I realize that the system does this to prevent abuse of the rep-cap and downvoting, but I think that the current method of calculating rep where downvotes are involved is wrong because: actions you take (-) to decrease your own rep should always count against the rep-cap; actions that affect you that you did not take (D) should not affect the rep-cap.

For this proposal, I am not asking to recalc everyone for the past. I'm only asking that the calcs be made correct going forward.

Alternately, can someone explain why the one singular case above is "right"?

share|improve this question
Note that ---UU UUUUU UUUUU UUUUU UUUU (so 21 upvotes after 3 downvotes) would give you a score of 200.. – Martijn Pieters Mar 5 '13 at 20:30
It should not, however. Are you saying it does that now? – jcolebrand Mar 5 '13 at 20:37
I believe that it does that now, yes. – Martijn Pieters Mar 5 '13 at 20:37
So updated, thanks – jcolebrand Mar 5 '13 at 20:39
I wanted to find you a link into my reputation history to provide proof, before I realized you cannot see my downvotes anyway. :-P – Martijn Pieters Mar 5 '13 at 20:42
When I saw this, the first thing that came to mind is: FFFFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU – Mysticial Mar 5 '13 at 20:46
I personally don't think that down-votes you cast should be compensated by the rep cap, ever. For users who consistently hit the rep cap every day, downvotes are essentially free all the time, because they'll always get more votes in to cover it up. They should be ignored in terms of the rep cap. – animuson Mar 5 '13 at 20:48
@animuson how many users consistently hit the rep cap every day? I certainly don't. And I doubt Skeet et. al. get a whole lot of jollies going around down-voting people. And even if they do, they've earned that right. – Aaron Bertrand Mar 5 '13 at 20:57
@AaronBertrand: It doesn't matter how often it occurs, just that it does occur. Any time a user hits the rep cap on a day they've downvoted, their downvotes become free. We're talking about equality here and that's just another form of inequality between users who get a lot of upvotes in a day and users who don't. – animuson Mar 5 '13 at 20:59
@animuson ok, but do you see any reason why it should be the case that if I down-vote when I have 200 rep, I pay for it, but if down-vote when I have 195 rep, then get another up-vote, I don't? Changing this math won't have any impact on the inequality you're talking about, except in those cases where I down-vote at 195 but don't get another up-vote - rare unless I purposely seek things to down-vote at 23:59. – Aaron Bertrand Mar 5 '13 at 21:01
@AaronBertrand: That's the thing. If you downvote whenever it shouldn't matter if you get another vote. If you get 20 upvotes in a day, you get 200 reputation. If you downvote 5 times during that day, whenever in that day you downvoted, wherever between those upvotes the downvotes occurred, you should still end up with 195 net gain for the day. You still hit the rep cap for the day, but you also spent 5 reputation on downvotes. I'm saying downvotes you cast should be completely ignored by rep cap calculations. – animuson Mar 5 '13 at 21:04
@animuson I've added a paragraph to my answer to clarify that. I am fine with your suggestion, I just think it should either be free for those who hit the cap, or cost the same. The current system unnecessarily punishes (albeit in a relatively trivial way) people who get down-voted close to midnight UTC. – Aaron Bertrand Mar 5 '13 at 21:06
@AaronBertrand I reverted your edit to the what should happen because actions you take to decrease your own rep should always count against the rep-cap. Actions that affect you that you did not take should not affect the rep-cap. – jcolebrand Mar 5 '13 at 21:09
@jcolebrand I'm fine with that too. I just want it to be the same either way, without any "special case" math because the last vote(s) of the day are down. – Aaron Bertrand Mar 5 '13 at 21:12
I've updated the tags to clarify that the current behavior is by design, but we will give this some consideration. – Ben Collins Jun 5 '13 at 6:36
up vote 11 down vote accepted

I spent some time looking at this (with @NickCraver), and there's just not a reasonable way for us to calculate this sort of negative-rep backfill in realtime efficiently, and it makes a pretty substantial mess of historical rep calculations (i.e., questions being closed causes a reputation recalc). That's not to say that the arguments made by @AaronBertrand and @jcolebrand aren't without some merit; they are, and that's why we spent some time reviewing this. It's just that this particular behavior is an edge case that exceedingly few users will experience – and the impact is pretty minimal for users who do – and we just can't justify the effort required to calculate rep in the suggested manner.

Also, it's worth pointing out that badge qualifications are no longer affected by downvotes, so this issue also does not impact badges.

share|improve this answer
Fair enough. Investigating and not being able to find a way to do this reliably given the current model is sufficient. Thanks for at least examining it, and now the question is answered canonically for the myriad askers who have approached about it in the past. – jcolebrand Jun 13 '13 at 18:14
+1 Thanks for the thorough response Ben! – Aaron Bertrand Jun 13 '13 at 18:16

I agree completely. In the case of votes on your posts, the sum of (up-votes - down-votes) should be calculated at the end of the day, not throughout the day.

If I have earned 21 up-votes on answers, and 1 down-vote, it shouldn't matter when that down-vote happened, it should be offset by the 21 up-votes. It doesn't seem fair that, currently, someone who gets a down-vote just before midnight UTC gets punished (daily rep = 198) when compared to someone else, who earned the same 21 up-votes, but got the same 1 down-vote at 2 AM and up-votes later (daily rep = 200). The pedantic among us might even construe that this will encourage certain types of clock-based behaviors. Probably more importantly, this can unnecessarily affect a run for badges like Epic and Legendary. (I already have both on SO, so no, that is not part of my motivation for agreeing with @jcolebrand.)

Now, if you yourself choose to go down-vote someone else's answer right before midnight, perhaps that could be considered differently, but I don't think it has to be. Sometimes we should be allowed to down-vote without fear of rep loss regardless of what time that happens, too.

I would also be open to the suggestion that down-votes always cost the same. I'm not trying to promote that down-votes should be free for those who hit the rep-cap. I'm trying to promote that they should cost the same regardless of sequence / proximity to midnight UTC.

share|improve this answer
Yes, hence my pointing out what it does vs what it should – jcolebrand Mar 5 '13 at 20:40
shrug. I don't much care, really. Sometimes it happens, but that's 2 points only. – Martijn Pieters Mar 5 '13 at 20:41
@MartijnPieters it's more about fair math and accuracy than about the two points. Should a store be taxed at a higher rate because they have more sales in the last hour of the day? – Aaron Bertrand Mar 5 '13 at 20:41
By the same math you would be able to get away with downvoting more if you hit the rep cap because you'll get compensated anyway. – Martijn Pieters Mar 5 '13 at 20:43
@MartijnPieters what's wrong with that? And how is it different if I hit the rep cap at noon, knowing that if I got 20 up-votes in the morning, I'll probably get more up-votes in the next 12 hours? Down-voting is a good thing. Still don't know why when it happens should make the effect different. – Aaron Bertrand Mar 5 '13 at 20:45
I do think downvotes should sting a little. A downvote in the morning stings because you are never sure you'll hit the rep cap (apart from the top 20 of users, perhaps). A downvote in the evening stings equally because you may not get more upvotes before 'closing' time. It certainly keeps me on my toes. As for the occasional -2 because of that? shrug. – Martijn Pieters Mar 5 '13 at 20:48
@Martijn Your own down-votes sting just fine when you haven't hit the rep cap, as do down-votes against you. When you have hit the rep cap, down-votes should sting the same no matter what time of day they happen. If you are indifferent then why do you keep commenting? – Aaron Bertrand Mar 5 '13 at 20:56
I guess I am defining my position on this a little more in a conversation with you? – Martijn Pieters Mar 5 '13 at 20:56
@MartijnPieters right but you keep shrugging about the inequity, when that's what the whole issue is about. – Aaron Bertrand Mar 5 '13 at 20:57
@MartijnPieters actually I disagree with your comment "you'll be able to downvote more" because that's not what my calculations intend above. – jcolebrand Mar 5 '13 at 21:06
@jcolebrand: Since Aaron convinced me I indeed don't care either way, I am now keeping out of this. :-) – Martijn Pieters Mar 5 '13 at 21:08
+ 1 I agree. In fact, I posted a duplicate question unknowingly... – Siddharth Rout Apr 20 '13 at 7:57

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