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If a user is the type of person to consecutively get downvoted to potential negative reputation, so be it. What's the reasoning to maintain a minimum of one?

One reason that may justify this is of trying to not deter new users from the site whom haven't read the FAQ and unknowingly and wrongly ask or answer a question. But most of us acknowledge this and not downvote in such a scenario.

So what's the reasoning behind this lower bound?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 66 down vote accepted

The StackOverflow team believes that everybody's special in their own way and doesn't deserve to have a negative self-esteem (aka reputation).

This. A rep of zero or negative seemed cruel.

Plus, everyone starts out as "a one" instead of "a zero".

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10  
Oh, the irony. I would've thought it would have been my serious one, not one of my silly ones. Goes to show you: Truth is sometimes exactly the same as fiction. –  Eric Jul 6 '09 at 2:54
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That's what I call... "propaganda". lol! –  LeakyCode Jul 6 '09 at 2:56
    
Rose West, she doesn't need negative self-esteem? –  Tom Hawtin - tackline Jul 6 '09 at 10:53
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Yeah, say No to cruelty against animals! :-) But what if new member asks question, gets 20 downvotes. Then asks another question, gets 2 upvotes. Will he still be at 1? It doesn't seem fair if those first downvotes are just ignored. Then again, it seems to be some kind of "forgiveness" factor. –  Wim ten Brink Nov 27 '09 at 14:41
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Still, as Delphi/C++ developer, I hate 1-bound ranges! All ranges should start at 0! :-) –  Wim ten Brink Nov 27 '09 at 14:42
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@Tom - as a Gloucester local, I call bad taste! –  Marc Gravell Nov 29 '09 at 9:12
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Note: I have always had a first rep score of -2, making my rep graph (stackoverflow.com/users/6309?tab=reputationhistory#tab-top) displaying rep from -10000 (!) up to my current score... –  VonC Apr 21 '10 at 6:29
    
@VonC did they fix that? –  CodeBlend Apr 2 '13 at 13:12
    
@CodeBlend yes: my rep doesn't show that initial -2 anymore, plus they changed the graph. –  VonC Apr 3 '13 at 6:49
    
Really? Why not do that with questions and answers as well? Don't negative scores on questions or answers discourage the questioner or from asking or answering? (I know it doesn't, but I was just trying to get an analogy to your point...) –  Awal Garg Mar 28 at 15:30
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Why is reputation related to "self-esteem" though. I never think of it as such and never will. Any kind of attention to "self-esteem" does much more bad than good to all of us. –  AnonJ Jun 25 at 5:23

I'm going to add one other reason:

If there were negative scores, then some kinds of people would try for the most negative score. And that wouldn't be good for Stack Overflow.

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8  
I'd upvote this if I could. It wouldn't be fun, but it would be FASCINATING! –  Kenny Evitt May 21 '10 at 2:40
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There are negative scores for questions and answers. I haven't seen a person in the race to get most negative votes... –  Awal Garg Mar 28 at 15:26

I don't know the real reason, so I'll wildly speculate:

  1. Jon Skeet forced them to use an unsigned int.
  2. So nobody just creates another account if their rep went below the starting point (1). This cuts down on a bunch of zombie accounts.
  3. The StackOverflow team believes that everybody's special in their own way and doesn't deserve to have a negative self-esteem (aka reputation).

Choose whichever explanation you find best suits you.

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9  
I think #2 is most likely, though I do like #1 and #3 :-) –  Kyle Cronin Jul 6 '09 at 2:51
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I'll go for #1 :P –  Diadistis Jul 6 '09 at 3:01
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... #3 For The Win –  Brad Gilbert Jul 6 '09 at 14:58
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+1 for Jon Skeet –  Carlo Jan 9 '12 at 21:29
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An unsigned int would start at 0, not 1. –  Joe Z. Jan 5 '13 at 3:25
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@joe-z at which point the fencepost handler kicks in and increments it one. –  pcurry May 9 '13 at 22:05

Because:

  • 0 reputation seems a bit demoralizing as opposed to 1 reputation
  • It would encourage people who drop below 1 reputation to simply start a new account
  • Seeing that everyone hates you might discourage you from returning to the site
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I accept point 1 and 2. But do we really need the users those user from point 3? Note that I don't mean those who dipped into the negatives and then got there act together again. –  Martin Apr 28 '11 at 12:53
    
0 seems 'demoralizing' for developers? I find that doubtful, personally I would take it as an indication that someone was just a newbie to the site. Maybe you're referring to repeatedly hitting 0 rep due to down votes, but if that is deserved so be it - too much PC in the world nowadays! –  Alok Jul 29 '11 at 19:03
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The third point draws a bit of suspicion: Wouldn't one be discouraged anyway from a post being heavily downvoted, deleted, or closed? –  hexafraction Aug 28 '12 at 12:39
    
I was a bit discouraged at first; my formatting was terrible, I was in a bit of a tizzy. I thought everybody hates me here, but then I saw that just maybe most of us are actually quite nice :) –  MadTux May 7 '13 at 9:28

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