The recent 'frank exchange of views' about downvotes suggests another line of investigation to me.
I would presume to attribute some goals to Jeff:
- Users who put real effort into the site should earn reputation and achieve moderation status.
- Users who game the system should not achieve moderation status, and asking a lot of toss-off questions is more or less gaming.
- Innocents should not get caught in the crossfire and either (a) feel motivated to walk away or (b) feel motivated to flood Jeff with email complaining about harsh treatment.
Answering questions most assuredly counts under #1. I submit for consideration that careful editing also comes under that heading. However, there is no voting/reputation pipeline for this.
What if it were possible to vote edits up and down, with a suitable rep threshold? This would provide an additional way to take note of the real 'gardeners' of the community without having to hand out painful downvote raspberries to more or less innocent others.
Net possible result: more separation in reputation-space of the people who should get mod powers from those who don't without more injured email.
Other possible result: a reopening of flame wars about appropriate & inappropriate edits.
Various answers and comments motivate the following:
I don't want reputation here. I'm not that faithful of an editor. I'm just following a trail of mental breadcrumbs from Mr. Atwood's posting about users who find downvotes really upsetting. This is presented as a possible alternative to give reputation where it seems to be wanted without downvoting people likely to squeak.
If the threshold for voting on edits is high, then the amount of three-ring circus thus produced might not be too awful.