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I wrote a question about blocking certain characters in passwords. It became tremendously unpopular, and it seemed like everyone wanted to rain on my parade every day.

Eventually, I "got it," agreed completely with what people were saying to me, and just wanted to withdraw my question so that my reputation didn't slide even further downhill.

Unfortunately, the system is designed such that I can't withdraw my question or redeem myself. Instead, I just get daily reputation attacks. That's a terrible system, and it needs to be changed.

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You should probably edit your question to add something at the bottom saying what you've said above (i.e. "I now understand why this is a bad question") and asking people (nicely!) not to downvote you any further. It may not work, but it can't hurt. –  Graeme Perrow Jun 29 '09 at 11:57
This question is a good example of the need to link between accounts in the different "sites" if at all possible. I'd like to see his question, but I can't. –  Paolo Bergantino Jun 29 '09 at 16:11
stackoverflow.com/questions/1054928/… –  user130116 Jun 29 '09 at 18:58
This is why Meta is a completely poor fit for the SE format. Shoehorning the SO voting system into Meta is silly. –  Lightness Races in Orbit Apr 3 '13 at 20:59

10 Answers 10

up vote 28 down vote accepted

As noted in a comment, the best solution is to edit the question to reflect the fact that your ideas have changed, and mark the answer that changed your mind as accepted. If you edit the question people will read and understand that you "get it", rather than continuing to believe that you don't.

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I've applied this principle and hope it improves my reputation. I'm actually not some jerk that deserves reputation abuse. I do my programming for a living, working from home, and need every bit of reputation I can get and actively seek to earn it. –  user130116 Jun 29 '09 at 13:19
If I downvote a question, and the user edits it and turns it around, then he'll get an update from me, even if I would not have upvoted the question if it had been originally written that way. The 'growth' aspect is the kind of behaviour I would want to encourage. –  devinb Jun 29 '09 at 13:26
"update" should say "upvote" –  devinb Jun 29 '09 at 13:26
One of the other comments made recently is valid to tack on to what you say. It was that there should be a limit on the points you can lose on a downvoted question. –  user130116 Jul 5 '09 at 19:14
this is a workaround and not a solution. –  swasheck Dec 17 '13 at 17:43

You can change it to community wiki.

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Hackish - but effective. –  Rob Allen Jun 29 '09 at 12:41
Would this work any more? –  Andrew Grimm Apr 6 '11 at 23:33
Good point, @Andrew. But you can still flag your own post and ask a moderator to change it to CW. –  Ladybug Killer Apr 7 '11 at 8:12
This would indeed be effective, but it bothers me a little because it's semantically wrong. –  Pops Sep 14 '12 at 21:39
@PopularDemand semantically, this is likely no more wrong than endless dumbvoting of the question draining rep of the asker who eventually "got it". An example where asker even changed title but it didn't help: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/36539/… and yet another example: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/91808/… "the answer below from Mark Trapp changed my mind" –  gnat Sep 14 '12 at 21:51
@gnat Heh, "dumbvoting." Yeah, that's a problem too. I think it'd be better to solve that problem directly than to abuse an unrelated feature, although just using CW would be easier. Edit: the examples you added are on Meta, so they don't really bother me. –  Pops Sep 14 '12 at 21:55
This would not work (anymore at least), since reputation gained/lost due to votes before CW is retained. –  Asad Apr 11 '13 at 6:57

There should be a limit on the amount of points a person can lose on a question.

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Agree. If there can be a positive cap, there should be a negative cap as well (with the exception of removing by offensive). –  Kyle Cronin Jul 2 '09 at 2:56
and there should also be a limit on the points lost by a new user –  user190780 Aug 15 '12 at 12:03
Huh? As far as I know, there is no positive cap, nor has there ever been. (Okay, yes, there's a 200-point cap per day, but given an essentially unlimited supply of days....) –  Pops Sep 14 '12 at 21:35
#populardemand : "An unlimited supply of days"? If only. The only way to exceed the 200 day cap is with accepted answers and bounties. And there is an unlimited supply of opportunities for that... but finite time to take advantage. –  Floris May 2 '13 at 2:16
@Floris - you misunderstand (I think). What PopularDemand meant is that with an unlimited supply of days, you can reach any height of total votes ion a question (and thus points in your reputation), because even if it's 200 per day - 200*X (for very large values of X) is very large... –  Taryn East May 24 '13 at 6:08
@TarynEast - my comment was more philosophical than that. We will all die one day... Of course a single good answer given in your twenties with a life expectancy into your 80's will give you 200*365*60 = 4.38 million (438k upvotes). Given the number of members on SO, that is not enough for everyone to upvote an answer, but it's still pretty good. –  Floris May 24 '13 at 13:10
@Floris - but there's no limit on upvotes on an answer... just a limit on the amount of reputation you can gain thereby. –  Taryn East May 27 '13 at 7:24
@TarynEast - you are right. I was confusing the "get reputation" with "get upvotes". –  Floris May 27 '13 at 21:45

This could happen if the question is of the kind where “Don't do it” is a valid answer. Per se, there's nothing criminal in questions like this - one asks when one doesn't know the answer, nothing wrong with this. Even more, questions like this can be useful - these can help someone else pondering particular bad idea find that it's the wrong way.

Now, how could valid and useful question get downwoted? Easy-peasy. Since asker doesn't know, they may think it's actually a good idea and phrase their question in the way that promotes it.

Stubborn reviewers keep complaining about this method: float multiply(float x, float y) { return x / y; } - how do I convince them to fork off of my code?

If the idea is bad enough, question could get downvoted pretty heavily. Thing is, even readers not knowing how to explain what's wrong there, may feel that it is bad idea and feel the need to somehow signal about this using downvotes.

Now, "bad idea" question gets a couple of downvotes and few answers explaining that it's the wrong way.

Eventually, asker "gets it", figures the right way and accepts an answer that explains it.

Reviewers are right, this code needs fix. To use method like this, one has to permanently keep in mind that its result differs from what one would expect, which is very cumbersome and error prone.

Would this help for the question to stop collecting downvotes? Unlikely, and here is why - readers do not perceive "accepted" checkmark as part of the question itself (which is not entirely wrong by the way since asker can unaccept any time they want). To reader, the question still reads as promoting the wrong way, and same reasons for downvotes as explained above still apply.

To stop downvotes one better rephrases the question to more neutral tone.

This code popped up at review: float multiply(float x, float y) { return x/y; } - why is it considered bad?

In a perfect world, above would suffice to revert the voting direction. However, if the question is already heavily downvoted it can continue to "sink", although there are no objective reasons for that anymore. Thing is, highly voted posts have a certain appeal that kind of makes you compulsory follow the "majority vote". 1 Despite the edit, question may get downvoted by readers who just follow pack mentality.

If "unfair downvoting" happens to question after edit, the most reasonable course of action is probably to bring it on meta. Meta readers could vote up the question to restore balance, or help to convert question to CW if "pack voting" went off-hand.

For the sake of completeness, askers also have an option to flag their question for mod attention asking to convert it to CW. This is not the way I would personally recommend because I think cases like this are better fit for meta discussion than for communication over simple "flagging interface".

  • Think of it, how would one phrase flag message? - Please convert to CW. - Why? - Please convert to CW because I don't want to continue losing reputation? - Everyone would want to, what makes you special? - Please convert to CW because I don't want to continue losing rep for the question where I changed my mind. - Why don't you just bring it on meta? You see, simple explanations carry risk of flag decline. And detailed enough explanation would make a reasonably good meta question anyway.
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@Arjan thanks, corrected. Smaller font is for text I consider optional reading –  gnat Sep 16 '12 at 17:43

Yes the question owner should be able to delete his question.

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not when there are highly upvoted answers, otherwise the question owner can "silence" every answer, forever, with a single click. –  Jeff Atwood Jun 29 '09 at 11:59
Allow all the answer rep to stay, then. –  a_m0d Jun 29 '09 at 13:58
It's not about the rep, it's about the information in those answers that would be lost. –  Brad Gilbert Jun 29 '09 at 14:25
@Jeff and Brad, I doubt there is a high percentage of examples with super answers for bad questions. Mostly because good answerers don't waste their time with bad questions. And if there are such cases, then one should create a better question and transfer that knowledge to that better question. IMO Olafur is right, the question owner should be allowed to repent and deleting their question should restore their reputation since they have acknowledged it was a poor question - end of story. –  dbjohn Sep 16 '12 at 20:06

As for deleting one of your posts, here are the rules in SO FAQ. As you can see, you can delete your own questions, but do not get back the reputation lost (but you loose the reputation gained). You will also earn a badge for "peer pressure". Alternatively you can mark the question as community wiki. Then you do not gain or loose any reputation, but the question is still there.

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These are reasonable rules. I'd go even further and not allow deletions after a certain period of time, say, a couple of days or so. At some point, posts are owned by all who contributed to them, not just the original poster. Deletion of a post that drew 50 comments and strong discussion, even by OP who saw several downvotes, just wouldn't be right. –  John Pirie Jun 29 '09 at 12:01

To be honest, those daily reputation "attacks" can't have hurt too much as they are only 1 2 points each. One upvote erases ten five down votes.

In fact, if you accepted the answer which gave you the "ah-ha" moment and modified your question by adding a "thanks for the responses, I understand why this isn't a good idea now" line, I think you would see that rep come back in spades.

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It's actually -2 for a down vote so the ration is 5:1 not 10:1 –  ChrisF Jun 29 '09 at 12:18
Ah - you're right. The one point is for the person doing the voting. Corrected my post. –  Rob Allen Jun 29 '09 at 12:24

I kind of like the fact that you cannot delete it. Let it stand as a reminder that you should be cautious of the things you post and think things through more before posting .

We have enough noise coming into the site, we don't need anymore.

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It seems like accepting an answer should resolve this. It shows you've read another persons answer and realised you were mistaken.

If that doesn't work, I would edit the question to clarify, if that didn't work, mark it as Community Wiki (which makes you "immune" to reputation-changes from that question)

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I don't believe this is the case. Cannot the question owner close/delete their own question? I certainly can.

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I thought that Jeff mentioned on a podcast that if a question has upvoted answers (or possibly answers with a certain number of upvotes) then you can't delete it. –  Graeme Perrow Jun 29 '09 at 11:55

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