Let's just assume that I've hit the rep cap and got the Mortarboard. None of mine have extra scores (i.e) from accepted answers, bounties, etc. All are up-voted posts. I've got some 300 points but the engine stops at 200. Now, we've to count the down-vote. I got down-votes up to some -6. Now, my rep.cap decreases to 194.

My question is, Why doesn't the engine normalize the rep cap again to 200 from the remaining posts? Now, my graph indicates simple 194 and not 200. Why is that?

Is it because - "Once we attain the rep. cap, no other ups count except the downs..?"

P.S: I think it's related to many questions like this one

  • This comment pretty much indicates how it's done: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/84783/… - Basically, received upvotes/downvotes go in one bucket, while bounties, accepted answers, cast downvotes go in another. There's no cap on the latter bucket, just the first.
    – casperOne
    Commented Dec 24, 2012 at 2:55
  • If you get upvotes after the downvotes, it goes back up (to 200 if you get enough). Commented Dec 24, 2012 at 2:56
  • 2
    I think this is a very valid concern. It should ideally cap to 200. If not, that seems like a bug to me.
    – iDev
    Commented Dec 24, 2012 at 3:16
  • 2
    Rep isn't really important. You should just be content with knowing that you made this site even better with your added content. Commented Dec 24, 2012 at 3:30
  • I think the real reason is that they don't want to recalc the daily rep with every vote. It'd be pretty simple to do, but would take more processing (on the scale of Stack Exchange). Commented Dec 24, 2012 at 10:08

1 Answer 1


Consider your rep as water in a bucket, so if you reach your daily rep cap, that means your bucket is full. Now, when someone up-votes you beyond your rep cap, which is analogous to adding more water to the already full bucket - the bucket will simply overflow. Your up-votes at the time of your daily rep being the max are simply gone.

Now, when someone down-votes your post while you are at max rep, that is analogous to someone taking a mug of water from the full bucket. That means, the water level in the bucket comes down a little (in this case, your rep goes down in accordance with the down-vote). Those up-votes when you were maxed out of rep - that water is already gone, so you will not get it back. But, when someone up-votes one of your posts now that you are not at your max rep cap, that is similar to your bucket still has some space - so the rep will increase just like the water level in the bucket increases (again, if the up-votes continue beyond the rep cap, they'll simply overflow).

Hope that helps.

  • 1
    You are welcome. Just trying to help others understand what I know.
    – Chait
    Commented Dec 24, 2012 at 3:24
  • 5
    +1 for the "bucket overflow" analogy.
    – jmort253
    Commented Dec 24, 2012 at 5:05
  • 22
    This is a good analogy, but it does not mean that is how the site should work. Why should someone having an awesome morning and a few down-votes in the evening be rewarded differently than someone having a few down-votes in the morning and an awesome evening?
    – Aaron Bertrand Staff
    Commented Mar 5, 2013 at 20:05
  • 1
    @AaronBertrand I was only trying to answer the "why" question from the OP - while I understand your point, please note that I only tried to explain my understanding of how the system works (or at least worked at the time I answered), nothing more.
    – Chait
    Commented Jul 12, 2013 at 21:15
  • Great analogy for how it works, but this doesn't actually answer the question. A true answer would explain the SE devs' thinking. Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 0:01

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