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(Others have mentioned this before, but I can't find it as an official feature request.)

I don't understand why downvotes should only remove 2 points, not 10. If I'm giving up rep of my own (currently 1 point) in order to state my opinion, I at least want to feel like that opinion carries the same weight as an upvote.

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I thought the title was "Downvote party" and I was all in. I say we keep downvoting this question anyway just for good measure. –  GEOCHET Jul 15 '09 at 17:46

6 Answers 6

Because downvotes are meant to be a gentle poke in the ribs, not a tyre iron across the back of the head.

To put it another way: downvotes are there to help rank answers and to encourage people to delete or correct incorrect or incomplete answers. This they do. They have a token cost to avoid their abuse.

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But don't we already take downvotes much more personally than we do upvotes? For me, personally, a single upvote feels better than two upvotes and a downvote, even though the reputation changes would make you think otherwise. –  Nikhil Jul 15 '09 at 17:13

It's to encourage participation by dampening the effects of negative responses. From the blog:

The trick here is that downvotes are mostly informational. The cost of a downvote to the users’ reputation (or karma in Slashdot/Reddit parlance) is quite low. It would take a whopping 5 downvotes to equal the effect of a single upvote. And, on top of that, downvotes cost you a tiny bit of reputation. The net effect is that you have to feel very strongly about something to downvote it. Downvotes are serious business, and not to be cast lightly. We designed our system around that maxim.

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You could keep the same ratio and lose 5 points per downvote. Sadly, because of the way the system works, we all expect to have continually growing reputations, even if it means nothing because of the inflation. –  Nikhil Jul 15 '09 at 17:09

This is by design to lessen the impact of serial down voting, revenge down voting, and other asshattery.

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From my understanding, there are much more direct ways to stop people from gaming the system. The team already detects when serial and revenge down voting happens, right? –  Nikhil Jul 15 '09 at 17:06
    
@Nikhil: Sure they do, but that can always be worked around and gamed too. You never 'win' that game. –  GEOCHET Jul 15 '09 at 17:39
    
Shouldn't that be ass-haberdashery? –  Axeman Jul 15 '09 at 18:46

The reasoning behind the relative low impact of downvotes most likely is to properly adapt to human Risk vs Reward behaviour. People are -- in general -- more sensitive to risk than they are encouraged by reward. Especially in situations as subjective as voting generally is.

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If I'm uncertain about an answer but I still feel that it might be useful, or if I want to state some controversial opinion (say, that all functions should either be commands or queries), I want the page to welcome my tentative or controversial answer. If downvotes counted equal as upvotes regarding reputation, then the most risky (while potentially interesting) answers would be discouraged.

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Yet you don't pay for an upvote either.

The only way I would say that down votes should "hurt" the same as an upvote "helps" is if the user behind it has to sacrifice more rep to cast it (5pts or the full 10pts).

If you make a downvote deal -10, then it makes it too powerful to use when a user can only spend one rep to hurt another person by 10.

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So perhaps it should be -10/-5 rather than -2/-1. –  Tom Hawtin - tackline Jul 15 '09 at 16:06
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@Tom Hawtin Remember that the primary purpose of voting, up or down, is to change the accumulated vote total for that question or answer. In that respect, upvotes and downvotes are equal. The effect on reputation is secondary. –  ベレアー アダム Jul 15 '09 at 16:31
    
-10 and -5 is what I was thinking of, and it has been suggested before. –  Nikhil Jul 15 '09 at 17:05
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@Adam Bellaire: Then why affect the reputation at all? Like some other things that people complain about, the -2 points per downvote just feels needlessly arbitrary. –  Nikhil Jul 15 '09 at 17:06

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