Max downvotes per question/answer
I recently posted a wrong answer. This answer was accepted by the OP (thus making it indelible), and has, at this time, -7 votes. I got tired of losing rep, so I CW'd the answer.
But it got me thinking: what is the point of an answer which has less than -1 votes?
An answer with 0 votes could mean "highly controversial" (many up/down votes canceling), "neutral" (not a bad answer, but not great), or "not seen yet" (recently posted, not evaluated yet.)
But an answer of -1 means: "Wow. This was so bad and unhelpful that it needs to be marked as such. I trust the answerer a little bit less too, making them less reputable on the site." A negative vote-count is pretty bad and embarrassing.
Which leads to the question: what is the point of answers which are so heavily downvoted? It eventually gets really really rude and snippy.
Is it really so bad when someone asks a poorly-conceived question because they misunderstand the website, assignment, or technology they want to use? (Case in point, there is a huge problem that clients complain that their website is "taking too long" to develop - so the vague question "How long should a website take to build?" is actually a very reasonable and relevant problem for a programmer to solve.)
Bad answers are far more dangerous: they propagate bad knowledge. While this answer is vastly unhelpful, -18 votes is only relevant to show that it is worse than a post with -17 votes, but really, once a post is negative, who cares? While I have no idea what the "JS" is in this person's post, half of the answer is pretty correct and reasonable. And I don't even know what the (downvoters'?) coments mean.
The only explanation I can think of is some sort of bandwagon effect. "Aargh, we'll show them! How dare they waste my time with such an inane response?" Its obnoxious and makes us look like twits.
So I can think of two solutions (if anyone else feels this strongly about this! Which is likely nobody, but hey.)
Cap the vote score to -1 or -2 or something. Just so everybody gets the point.
Have increasing cost to the voter for negative downvotes. How about this: if i is the vote count after performing a downvote, and i < 0, then the points lost could be expressed as:
n = abs(i)
points lost = 2^(n-1)
So the first negative vote would give -1 points to the voter. Then -2, -4, -8. So that, by the time the post has a vote count of -4... it stops becoming worthwhile to join that bandwagon. (one could also use fib(n), rather than 2^n).
Alternately, one could increase the rep requirement to downvote for very negative values of i. You need 1000 rep to vote something to -2, but then 1500 to vote it to -3.
Do others feel like this is a problem?