This is a weird one, but it occurred to me the other day. What if all answers were automatically added at -1 or -2 status? That is, they automatically take a little bit of reputation to enter.
- People would be more careful putting in answers
- Newbies would be immune because they don't lose points for downvotes
- Everyone would have a vested interest in cleaning up their own useless answers, since if no one upvotes them, they're just a drain on their rep
- Thus, #3 allows us to better distribute the responsibility (and drive) for cleaning things up
- Since there's talk recently of 10 vs -2 being too askew for up/down votes, this effectively un-skews the value of upvotes for the first 1 or two of them, making them effectively worth 8 each
Update: removing bit about needing to get rep back for deleting, as this is already the case. Keeping italicized only.
Now, in combination with this, it would have to be reasonable that deleting an answer would give you back your lost rep. Optionally, it could give you back only the -1/-2 initial lost-rep (thus further downvotes still stick, just like today).
This has an additional implementation benefit of not affecting anything previous, since all currently-added answers are already added, so they don't have intial-downvotes. And I'm sure that if an "initial downvote" column were added to the table, then the old things could default to 0 and the news ones to -1/-2, thus making the deletion of old answers work appropriately even retroactively.
Accepting an answer could also cancel this out, optionally.
As mentioned below, it might be interesting to do this for questions rather than answers.