(i'm going to post an answer posted in another question (which indeed extended the original scope of the question there, as did the other answers btw), before it is deleted.)
The reason is that this is an important issue and clarifications or even changes should be proposed.
"Accidentaly stumbled upon this question searching for sth else, but since i have already tackled issues related to this on SE sites, i would like to post an answer as well and clear some mis-conceptions."
This will encourage users (probably new on Stack Exchange) to downvote
I see a lot of value in this idea because any idea to encourage
downvoting of really poor quality answers is a good one.
Both views cited above, as reasons to downvote are actually missing the point. They urge users to downvote wrong/incorrect posts. Incorrect / Wrong posts should just be deleted instead of propagating false information. Plain and simple.
So when should i downvote? Good question.
One has to understand and remember that voting does not indicate correctness but popularity (see above point). As a matter of fact, many votes on SE are misleading since they down/up-vote actually correct/wrong posts, as a supposed sign of (in-)-correctness while at the same time propagating their own ignorance.
Exactly because of ignorance votes (up or down) should be thoughtful and well-articulated / explained if and when this is needed. Votes by speechless by-passers mean nothing except their own ignorance (at the best of intentions, if not plain use of voting for manipulation purposes).
The very rules of SE sites demand posts, comments, closing/opening votes etc to be actually justified and constructive. Some people using the terms "poor / good quality posts" are actualy nothing but empty words. Nowhere in SE rules, is a definition or criterion of what "poor or good quality" means, so using this phraseology as kind of justification, means simply nothing, than lack of good reasons.
To sum up, among correct posts (as explained in previous sections), feel free to up / down vote those you like more in terms of content / articulation/ references and so on (and be able to articulate this if needed) and let them float freely.
If post is correct but may need refinement or editing, suggest an edit either yoursekf or through a comment (that is why they are there, use them constructively).
Do not try to indicate wrong post by downvoting (or conversely upvoting) if post is simply something:
- you do not like / understand / appreciate / whatever
- authored by someone you do not like / is not in your group / whatever
- you will not be there to amend, when you find out it was your mistake
The above points although may seem to some as overly summer-of-love-ish, do in fact maintain the reputation and (original) purpose of the whole SE endeavour as such:
- people seeking correct answers will find them and indeed be noted as such
- people will not find correct answers, yet signalled as incorrect either by ignorance or (petty) reasons not related to the actual problem at hand
- people will not find wrong answers, yet signalled as correct either by ignorance or (petty) reasons not related to the actual problem at hand
- people will be more willing to participate and/or learn and do this with greater sense of responsibility and quality
- trolls and other malicious users, can be addressed to the point and take actions pertaining to the issue at hand, instead of dubius and vague (if even that) excuses which tend to generate more issues from ones they tend to solve
Especialy going into the negative realm of votes, as this propagates a wrong hint at in-correctness, while it is about poopularity at best).
As far as using approaches like "Winter of Death" (see for example, http://meta.stackoverflow.com/a/252049/3591273), this is a main-staple of people advancing the position that authoritarianism (to say the least) can actually solve problems, especialy kowledge-based, technical problems (and of course is never the problem itself). Something like "beating out hunger with a stick, as keen students of fundamental human-nature of course know".
A part of this position (and those advancing it) is based on a false dilemma, that one is "either authoritarian or submissive", "either heavily-moderated or broken-site" which is incorrect, but will not pursue this line further here, just make a small notice.
Finaly, remember that the SE sites are not sites like, for example, Facebook, where people like cute photos.
These are for the most part knowledge-based sites and need solid argumentation and reasons to post / answer / comment / vote.
if one searches around the interweb for "stackoverflow" criticism, one will see a fair amount of critic (by actual seasoned users of SE sites) and this critic was attempted to be addressed (for example, How should we fix or refute the charges made in "Why stackoverflow sucks and participating there is impossible"?). So this is an issue (even if not always spelled-out explicitly) and it can be addressed with proposals and changes.
ps2, personaly i dont hunt for reputation, but hunt for answers (which is the original purpose the reputation system is supposed to achieve, and not the other way around).
0.234 cents and cheers