I recently posted a question on Stack Overflow. I only received one answer. The answer was not helpful as it seemed to indicate the user's misunderstanding of certain aspects of the issue. I commented to get clarification, but never got any response. I eventually came up with a solution on my own, and I posted it. I also decided to downvote the other answer since the user never followed up and I felt it could potentially confuse future visitors.

At any rate, I noticed shortly afterward that I lost rep when I did this... however at the same time I was rewarded with my "Critic" badge.

Here's the question in question: jquery-file-upload plugin: Can I set upload path at runtime?

I think it's kinda lousy that I could lose rep just for doing what I can to improve the integrity of information on the site. Can someone explain the logic in this?

  • Great... and now I get downvoted here. I didn't see that existing post. Apr 10, 2013 at 5:02
  • Shouldn't it show up when you write your question? (If it does not, then it might be a good bug report/feature request).
    – nhahtdh
    Apr 10, 2013 at 5:03
  • 1
    Many existing posts did show up, and I looked through them to see if any actually answered my question. Although some were similar, I didn't feel they explained what I was asking. The post "Why do you lose reputation for down-voting" was not among them. Apr 10, 2013 at 5:05
  • What's additionally annoying is that I can't even go back and undo it by changing my vote. I know it's only one point, but I seem to get points so slowly as it is... Apr 10, 2013 at 5:07

1 Answer 1


I think you need to look at it from the point of view of who answers and receives the downvote. The main objective of the site is to have good, high quality answers. If someone downvotes your answer, that person is willing to lose reputation (i.e. pay) to downvote your answer, which basically means that you have to take a long hard look at your answer, because there is something not quite right with it.

On the other hand if someone can downvote your answer at no cost to them, then it would be abused and you could conceivably receive downvotes for frivolous reasons (like you answered a Java question and I like .NET) and it wouldn't be as significant.

I would advise you to downvote an answer whenever you see wrong info and not worry too much about your lost reputation. If you're making quality contributions to the site, your reputation will take care of itself. Additionally, it is good form to add a comment about why you downvoted an answer.

  • 1
    This all makes very good sense. I do understand that there needs to be some mechanism in place to discourage excessive and unnecessary downvoting. I suppose I just wish they could come up with something else. Perhaps the downvoter could be forced to provide a reason that can be moderated similarly to flagging. I realize that takes manpower, but it would be effective, I think. Apr 10, 2013 at 5:35
  • @vertigoelectric There have been more than a handful of questions here on meta about requiring comments when downvoting, and it's not going to happen (for a number of reasons I won't rehash here). Apr 10, 2013 at 10:23

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