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I know that the concept of negative reputation doesn't theoretically exist, but in practice, if you look hard enough, you can find users that have negative reputation; it's easier to see this in the reputation graph.

There are a few examples of users with negative rep (one user on meta has -700 rep). The whole purpose of rep is to determine how much the community trusts and values your opinion, but also what rights you gain from it (voting, commenting, editing etc.). Having users with such a low score certainly must have consequences.

Shouldn't there be some sort of action taken for this low, low, low reputation? We can't take any more rights from such users because they're already only allowed to ask questions (at a slower rate than most) and answer questions (also at a slower rate). Taking these rights away will strip away the possibility of ever gaining rep back. However, a short visit in the sin bin might be a better solution.

We've already seen the sin bin used, on various occasions, for different types of infractions: abusive behavior, spamming, offensive names/avatars, gaming the system etc. Having a penalty for low rep that's automatically enforced would make the binning process somewhat more transparent and would deter users from continually trolling the site with no consequences (they clearly don't care about rep, so just downvoting them won't have any effect).

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He cares about his EXP a lot! He asked Jeff how he could buy some more! –  Earlz May 7 '10 at 6:41
    
What do you feel is an appropriate negative reputation line that would trigger an automatic action on an account? –  Troggy May 7 '10 at 6:42
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@Troggy I'm not sure exactly. It's hard to judge such a thing, there should be some input from the community about this. For instance, if a new user (with a really low rep) gets one of his posts nuked due to flagging he'd have a real negative rep. Sin binning him would be wrong; maybe what he did was simply because he was new. What I'm proposing is having some stricter rules that would make binning an infrequent action, not something triggered by every flagging. –  alex May 7 '10 at 6:52
    
@alex: You bring up some excellent points. Though, I still don't think any more automated action is a great idea. But, I would like to hear what others have to say. –  Troggy May 7 '10 at 7:00
    
How come this isn't closed for being "Too Localized" -- questions I ask that just pertain to me, are closed for this reason. Questions other's ask that single me out however are not closed... Please remove my name from this post, and close it. Per Jeff, there is someone behind the name. And, I have feelings too. This post is entirely too hostile. Because I have negative exp, I should automatically banned -- I know why you're opting for that method, because the automatic methods have even less accountability than diamond mods. What are you trying to achieve with these limits? Are you tryi –  Evan Carroll May 7 '10 at 15:07
    
Ok, Evan, I'll play your game. I've removed all references to you from my question. Is that better? –  alex May 7 '10 at 16:00
    
@Jon thank you, I missed the hyperlink. –  alex May 7 '10 at 16:07
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@alex: No problem. And I can now confirm that editor notification does work! :D –  Jon Seigel May 7 '10 at 16:20
    
Thanks, I still won't upvote -- largely because I feel you're trolling, but I do appreciate your efforts to remove my name at least. And, I still feel this should be closed. Just because my name is no longer there doesn't mean that it isn't "Too Localized." Most of this thread and the answers contain my name. –  Evan Carroll May 7 '10 at 16:22
    
May be when you talk about yourself, it is one to one, Yes, it is too localized, but when people talk about you, its many to one, its not too localized, like Jon Skeet Facts. :P –  YOU May 7 '10 at 16:54
    
I think we should charge them a dollar for each negative point. You can send the dollar to me for safekeeping. –  Armstrongest May 7 '10 at 17:03
    
I marked your answer as accepted because I really value your contribution on meta and I really don't want to hurt your feelings. My point is indeed moot. –  alex May 10 '10 at 20:55
    
@alex, please go through all my questions, read them, and upvote them so I can continue to contribute. (you have to agree with them to upvote if anyone asks). –  Evan Carroll May 10 '10 at 21:05
    
@Evan: why do you assume that people agree with you? –  perbert May 11 '10 at 1:55

6 Answers 6

I think that you are approaching this in a wrong way.

The problem is not users with negative rep, as that is merely a consequence of the user's behaviour, which is the real problem.

There are already enough tools to manage this, not the least of them being the moderators. I want to believe that users that repeatedly appear on the flagged posts list are managed by the mods.

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Evan Carroll is a special case. He's not your average troll. He has thousands of points on Stack Overflow. Clearly, he 'gets' the system, and is in fact a valuable contributor. This strengthens the case that he is deliberately trolling Meta, and not just being completely clueless time after time.

I think Evan finds rep on Meta worthless (which in fact it largely is), and has decided to take on the roll of court jester, badgering the more staid members of our community with useless suggestions to which they apparently feel compelled to reply. I think satirising our over-serious, navel-gazing discussions about obscure system behaviours has a certain value.

Personally, I find his posts much more amusing than the 'hilarious' attempts to fit in with boring, overused 'memes'. In fact, his posts make me laugh, and I positively enjoy downvoting Evan's questions and answers.

I say, let the guy carry on. Unlike Rich B, he has no powers on Meta, and he's not aggresive. He doesn't post very often, what he posts is funny, and he's no more off-topic than the endless waffles and ponies.

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I can almost see Evan's point of view. Rep on Meta is far less... how shall we say... important? I posted a question which [surprisingly] became quite contentious. Although I feel I was misunderstood ( sigh... only my mom understands me... ) and I think the question had merit, I got a kick out of the 13 downvotes. I'll admit, it was a bit of a rush... and if I had gone into negative, I would've almost considered it a badge of honor to have posted a question that so many people felt so strongly about. There was subtle irony in the whole process, as well. Look at my questions for the question... –  Armstrongest May 7 '10 at 17:01
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You're only getting upvotes because people are only reading the last three words of your post, you know. –  Jimmy May 7 '10 at 17:56
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oddly enough not all his suggestions are useless. Some of them are duplicates, like this one which I actually implemented.. meta.stackexchange.com/questions/49053/… (see linked question) –  Jeff Atwood May 8 '10 at 9:08
    
This is exactly the same conclusion I had come to. –  mmyers May 9 '10 at 3:41

It it completely pointless to penalise members with negative reputation, as they are quite capable of just creating a new account and starting out with 0 again - in fact penalising members with negative rep would probably be detrimental, as it would encourage this behaviour and therefore make it more difficult to track who is posting what.

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That's something I never thought of. You might have a point... –  alex May 7 '10 at 10:32
    
I agree, this is a really good point. –  The Unhandled Exception May 7 '10 at 12:17
    
It isn't certain that people with negative rep. accounts will not continue to use them if there are sanctions placed against them. It all depends on what the penalties are, and what the users of the negative rep. accounts get out of having the negative rep. account. –  Charles Stewart May 7 '10 at 12:25

People don't have negative reputation, accounts do. People who persist with an account with very negative rep, rather than starting with a new account, are clearly not deterred by very low reputation.

It's hard to design consequences for such people that will work as intended. Since the actual disruption is so minimal, I say don't bother.

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We don't do "punishment" here, so that's already the wrong word.

I would say we discourage negative behaviors.

I think you're looking at an extreme outlier, the proverbial thousand year storm, so it's not good to make a lot of changes based on that.

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Granted, he is an extreme case, but is he alone in this? I'd presume he's not the only one with a few hundred rep points gone due to flagging. –  alex May 7 '10 at 6:57
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A mathematical anomaly :) @alex I'd say he is the only one of the negatives that have still not learned anything –  Earlz May 7 '10 at 6:59
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I've updated the question wording. It was a bit strong, but it is frustrating to see Evan trolling the site without any consequences. You had less problems with discouraging Rich B's negative behavior for a whole year. –  alex May 7 '10 at 7:01
    
Extreme outliers are EXACTLY what moderators are for: we hope the moderators actions will be restrained by the application of common sense. This shouldn't be much or a burden on the moderators, since extreme outliers are (by definition) rare. –  Stephen C. Steel May 7 '10 at 15:20
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@alex: the difference is that Rich B insulted Jeff personally, vs. Evan who is trolling everyone indiscriminately. –  Ether May 10 '10 at 17:57
    
@ether Rich B attacked other users. Maliciously and intentionally ... and repeatedly. Even after multiple warnings and timed suspensions. Evan may be annoying but he has never attacked other users. –  Jeff Atwood May 10 '10 at 19:51
    
@Jeff Atwood I consider spamming and trolling annoying and offensive. In the end I see very little difference between Evan and Rich. At least Rich actually did something useful. –  alex May 10 '10 at 20:51
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@alex well Evan is kinda funny at times. Like his offer to "keynote at DevDays Houston" was .. honestly hilarious. I will forgive a lot in the name of humor. –  Jeff Atwood May 10 '10 at 22:25

I say that after -100 or maybe -300 instead of banning the user (is that what you mean by sin bin?) I say that all actions they take should be more closely moderated. Of course, this requires more moderators but still. This idea is in place for a lot of forums.

Basically, Evan will post a question or answer and right when posted it is deleted. Eventually a diamond mod (or 5 10k mods is it?) can come and undelete it. Of course, this would probably require sending an alert or something to diamond mods or adding a new "moderation list" to the moderator tools so that such things don't get forgotten. But basically if the community thinks it shouldn't be deleted they undelete it. And for the list approach, once the post reached a score of -5 or -10 or something while still being initially deleted, it will be hidden from the moderator's lists and treated like other deleted posts.

I do not think any restraints are necessary on commenting though

Also, of course after a large amount of downvotes even with tighter moderation, like -500 or so, bans are definitely in order

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They're already closely moderated. Evan is the perfect example; he keeps asking stupid questions without consequence, basically spamming the whole place. Why draw even more attention to their stuff? Simply sin bin them and let them cool off for a while. –  alex May 7 '10 at 6:49
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@alex yea but it's much less satisfying to be an idiot when only 10k and diamond moderators can see it –  Earlz May 7 '10 at 6:50
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@Earlz The problem with what you're proposing is that you give too much power to moderators and it makes it hard for others to see what's going on behind the scenes. It's better to have the whole community see what the "offending material" is. –  alex May 7 '10 at 7:07
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(-1) Evan's questions aren't offensive, he just had a series of bad ideas that everyone disagreed with. Furthermore, people will notice something with many negative votes and, like moths to a flame, gather around to watch it burn. So, having a few negative votes means that he gets even more negative votes. And then he hasn't helped matters by being antagonistic. But in general, his repuation loss has mostly been due to posting a disliked idea, then defending it boorishly. –  devinb May 7 '10 at 7:18
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@devinb It's called trolling, it's as simple as that. How can anyone be as naive as him and ask this question: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/49046/…? –  alex May 7 '10 at 7:23
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@alex His questions are reasonable, and are all asked in a brusque, abrasive fashion. If someone polished them up with editing, some of them would even get upvotes. Most of them would be downvoted, because people don't like the ideas. But Meta is a place for disagreement. This is literally where we go to fight about the goals and future of the site. If we start banning people for not agreeing, then we're going to have a pretty incestuous little cabal. Maybe we could convince him to be one of us... one of us... one of us... one of us... –  devinb May 7 '10 at 7:29
    
@Earlz, that's mean, but that's probably one of the reasons that people want to be a diamond mod. You get to see the material others can't. –  Evan Carroll May 7 '10 at 15:08
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@devinb: he is merely a troll. I refuse to believe that a living person with enough brains to type on a keyboard is stupid enough to ask his questions he's asked. Every post is carefully crafted to be completely nonsensical, insulting or has been already discussed before, with him adding something that makes no sense. –  perbert May 7 '10 at 15:32
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@Evan: every 10k+ user can see deleted posts. –  perbert May 7 '10 at 15:33
    
@Evan: All 10k users and mods can see all deleted content (questions/answers). Deleted comments actually get removed though. –  Troggy May 7 '10 at 20:15
    
@Troggy, just curious. Is deleted content provided in the datadumps? –  Earlz May 7 '10 at 20:41

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