Imagine two questions with the following vote counts: -2 and -8. Is the difference in vote count relevant in any way to the user? I find myself more likely to read a -8 question through sheer morbid curiosity, while I would most likely totally ignore a boring -2. I think the attention a really low negative vote count attracts is an unintended consequence of the vote count system.
Some alternative ways to display negative vote counts that would avoid this are below. In all cases, the system would still store the exact vote count and it could be displayed to those that have that privilege, if they choose.
- Always display -1, no matter how negative.
- Simply show a negative sign.
- Simply show a blank vote count box.