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Stack Overflow removed the reputation penalty when down voting a question:

"Down votes no longer cost you, the down-voter, any reputation points on questions only."
- Stack Exchange podcast 06

I feel this will encourage users to down vote indiscriminately.

Questions are also an important part of Stack Overflow, this knowledge should also be protected.

In addition, this gives unrestricted power to all users to down vote questions. Who can promise no one will abuse the privilege?

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7  
You mean like this? :) –  Benjol Jun 9 '11 at 12:21
3  
@staticbeast, nice job. –  Nick Dandoulakis Jun 9 '11 at 12:49
    
@Benjol, Yes, just like this question. I think if downvote will cost 1 rep, I would not have so many down votes. :( –  Roy1 Jun 9 '11 at 12:52
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4 Answers

I feel this will encourage users to down vote indiscriminately.

I haven't seen much downvoting that I would call indiscriminate since the change was implemented. There is a lot more downvoting going on on bad questions, but that was the intended effect. I personally think it was a good decision.

In addition, this gives unrestricted power to all users to down vote questions. Who can promise no one will abuse the privilege?

The power has always been there - it just used to cost a reputation point.

If you have a concrete example of indiscriminate or really unfair downvoting, please show some links - I'm sure you'll get a comment from the community here, and if it's truly unjustified, some upvotes to even things out.

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You can see this question, I have so many down votes. and this is Jeff's purpose? –  Roy1 Jun 9 '11 at 12:53
2  
@Lei Voting on Meta works differently than on the regular SO sites. Here, it is used as a sign of disagreement - 7 people don't agree that this is a problem. –  Pëkka Jun 9 '11 at 12:56
    
Just like this question –  Roy1 Jun 9 '11 at 13:05
    
@Roy which question are you referring to? –  Pëkka Jun 9 '11 at 13:06
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Each user is allowed to vote once on each Question or Answer. This might not prevent abuse, but makes it more difficult to do a lot of damage.

As has been noted before, systematic downvoting (and upvoting) is automatically noticed and corrected.

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No one can promise that- however the community is actively searching for good content and is more than willing to reward good questions with upvotes...and comments to those to help them out...I really don't think this is an issue.

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Downvoting questions that don't deserve it isn't really a problem, in my opinion; it's often actually good for the reputation of the person asking the question, since they'll get balancing upvotes they might not have gotten without the downvotes, and upvotes give a lot more reputation than downvotes (and have always been free).

Now if only we could do something about indiscriminate upvoting--I've seen a few users with fairly high reputation who seem to ask uniformly bad questions (including one with thousands of rep whose account is currently suspended, so at least the system works even if reputation numbers aren't a good indication that it's working); sometimes they'll have questions with only 0 or negative votes on them, but still have good reputation because the 0s all tend to be -1/+1 or -2/+2; fortunately I'd think that now these questions will get more than just the balancing downvotes.

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