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Primary Question

What happens, over time, when you post a bad answer on StackOverflow?

Assume someone posted a question that would accumulate:

  • Two down votes per hour
  • One up vote per hour
  • One flag per day

Exactly how would that pan out, over time?

Related Sub-Questions


  • After an hour, your score is -2, then you get 1 upvote (for a score of -1), do you get +10 for that upvote?
  • Instead, is your total rep score just: (-2 * SCORE) when negative and (+10 * SCORE) when positive?
  • You get the Peer Pressure badge for deleting your post when it has -3 votes. Is it a good practice to delete questions as soon as they get -2 votes?


  • What happens after you delete it, say once it's at -12?
  • Do the -24 rep points get returned to you?
  • Do you get any reputation points for deleting it?
  • Or when you delete an answer is it as though it never happened?
  • Once it's auto-deleted (for being flagged by 6 people), you lose 100 rep. Is this in addition to the rep you lost for the downvotes? So would an auto-deleted post with a -12 score yeild a loss of -124 rep?


Recently, I answered a question and included a lighthearted joke that took a shot at Apple. Instantly, it received down votes, accumulating a total score around -12 in 48 hours. This really surprised me so I just watched it, fascinated at how it all worked.

After a while, a more experienced user recommended that I delete the question stating that it currently had two flags and if it got 4 more, then it would be automatically deleted and I would lose 100 reputation!

So I deleted the post. This earned me the Peer Pressure badge and removed all references to the question from my profile/controlPanel area. In fact, I had to do a search just to find the question again because all references in my profile to activity involving that question were gone. When I visited, I couldn't see any information about losing rep. However, my rep score seemed to still reflect -24 points. It's hard to tell exactly what happened. So I figured I'd ask here, what happens over time as a bad answer get's down voted and flagged and ultimately deleted?

share|improve this question
You're going to get back your reputation, but only when its getting recalculated, which might take a long time. – Georg Schölly Sep 12 '10 at 19:05
Comments work better for non-serious/jokes, rather than answers. – Gnome Sep 12 '10 at 19:43
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Votes on deleted posts affect rep until your next reputation recalculates — which you can request from a moderator by flagging one of your own posts and asking nicely. You can preview what the recalculated rep will be through /reputation, as you saw. (So there's not much point if it's close to what you have now.)


There is something of a limit to rep loss for a bad question/answer merely because people hesitate to vote down most negative posts. In fact, given the disparity of reputation (+5/10 for upvote, -2 for downvote), a highly negative answer can still be a net rep gain!

Flagging Behavior

Flagging is different, and you do lose 100 rep (for non-CW posts only). That requires 6 flags within 2 days. These posts are then deleted similarly to when you self-delete. However, they are also locked to prevent undelete votes (from 10k+ users).

share|improve this answer
  • You would gain 6 rep per hour. The effect of flagging depends on the type of flag.
  • You lose the rep, but not permenantly. You can get it back by flagging one of your posts for moderator attention and asking for a rep recalc (as Diago said) (see this).
  • Votes still have the same values no matter what the score of the post is (see this).
share|improve this answer
You don't need to email the team for a reputation recalc. Any moderator can do it if you flag a post and ask. – BinaryMisfit Sep 12 '10 at 19:11

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