Consider this scenario. Fred is scrolling along on MSO, when he comes across a question that captures his interest. He agrees with the idea that we should be able to see our own deleted questions and answers. He upvotes the question, and looks at some of the answers. He sees one that says something to the effect of

I don't like this idea, because "blah blah blah.

Fred doesn't agree with his reasoning, so he downvotes that answer. All of a sudden, he notices that his rep has gone down 1 point! He is dumbfounded, because he has always been told that votes are different on meta.

In this scenario, Fred is being essentially being punished for having an opinion. Although 1 rep point isn't much, there is still the problem that after a while, these points add up. So I am proposing that on MSO, downvotes on answers should not have a reputation effect, because votes are different here. Votes on Meta apparently indicate disagreement. So why punish the user for disagreeing?

It might be a good idea to keep the -1 on answers for questions that they have answered on, however. This would hopefully prevent the user from downvoting every other answer. Maybe we could even increase this limit.

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    If Fred is dumbfounded, then Fred should find out how the reputation system works.
    – user164207
    May 17, 2013 at 21:26
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    1. You assume that meta rep means something; 2. earning rep on meta is far easier than on the main sites 3. what does 1 rep of non-existent pixels matter when you're voting on something you care about? May 17, 2013 at 21:26
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    @JackManey He is following what he has always been told, that votes mean agreement/disagreement May 17, 2013 at 21:28
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    @benisuǝqbackwards The point is that we are still punishing these users for having an opinion May 17, 2013 at 21:28
  • @CodyGuldner - And what he's been told is, in this case, orthogonal to the fact that downvotes to answers cost one point of reputation.
    – user164207
    May 17, 2013 at 21:29
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    Voting works just the same on Meta as it does anywhere else. That other users keep trying to convince you otherwise is harmful.
    – random
    May 17, 2013 at 21:30
  • @random Then why is there an faq question that states that it is different May 17, 2013 at 21:31
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    Required reading: codinghorror.com/blog/2012/02/…. This is what Meta is really all about. The rest is coffee-house conversation and smoke & mirrors.
    – user102937
    May 17, 2013 at 21:32
  • The underlying costs and mechanics of voting on SO and MSO are the same. What downvotes denote on SO differs from what downvotes denote on MSO.
    – user164207
    May 17, 2013 at 21:33
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    I honestly don't see a problem @cody, MSO rep means absolutely nothing, it doesn't even mean that you've conned a number of people into believing you might know what you're talking about when it comes to PHP. As long as you have more than 125 rep you're safe. I've cast over 600 downvotes and they definitely weren't all on questions... I really haven't noticed the difference. May 17, 2013 at 21:33
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    It's certainly a bit odd that MSO is the only meta site where downvoting answers costs reputation.
    – Wooble
    May 17, 2013 at 21:40
  • Perhaps somehow address the banning that can come with serious disagreement. That's the only Meta disagreement vote downside I think is worth addressing. But other than that Meta rep means nothing whatsoever. An attachment to your SO rep I can understand. But if there is any score which is a reflection of how much you hang around here, it's your Meta rep. It doesn't mean a thing.
    – Bart
    May 17, 2013 at 21:42
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    Free downvoting will cause much more harm than good. May 17, 2013 at 21:48
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    @Wooble MSO is the only independent Meta site with its own reputation system. In all others, the reputation is actually the parent site's. So, not odd at all. May 17, 2013 at 21:49

2 Answers 2


As dmckee says in response to "If downvoting is so important, why does it cost reputation?":

The idea is that you will think twice about them and only apply them where they really belong.

While downvotes in Meta simply indicate disagreement, the -1 rep cost ensures that we think carefully about where and when we apply these downvotes.

The justification for the -1 rep hit for casting a downvote on Meta Stack Overflow could possibly be the same as the justification for the -1 rep hit on the main Stack Overflow site, but then there's no cost to expressing disagreement via downvoting on Stack Exchange 2.0 Child Meta sites.

This is of course a discrepancy in how things work, and some have proposed possible solutions, such as The future of meta.stackoverflow and meta.stackexchange. Since Meta Stack Overflow is also the meta site for the entire network, the rules are a bit different, mostly because they are grandfathered in.

The current voting system and reputation system on Meta Stack Overflow is largely a design decision from back in the day where there was just Stack Overflow, and maybe Server Fault and Super User. It wasn't until later, when Stack Exchange 2.0 sites were launched, that meta sites popped up with no reputation changes for voting.

A good approach is to try and not think of the -1 rep hit as punishment. It's mostly a leftover archetype of a previous time that, perhaps for some folks, may make them think twice before recklessly casting a downvote and taking away a precious 1 point of rep. :)


He is dumbfounded, because he has always been told that votes are different on meta.

How does "different" imply "free" in any way?

Fred is being essentially being punished for having an opinion

One imaginary internet point of absolutely no value in exchange for expressing an opinion isn't a punishment, it's a limiter on your influence.

[comment] Then why is there an faq question that states that it is different

Again, where are you getting this idea that "different" means they must be free? Why would you expect the mechanics of this site to be different from every other site in the SE network?

So I am proposing that on MSO, downvotes on answers should not have a reputation effect, because votes are different here.

Once again, the idea that "different therefore free" is a complete non sequitur. This just doesn't follow in any way, and you've in no way justified your position. I could just as easily argue that, because they're different, they should cost twice as much.

  • I am saying that because we are just voicing our opinion on what we think of the answer, we shouldn't be penalized. It isn't like Stack Overflow, where you down vote for a researchless answer, or an altogether wrong one May 18, 2013 at 4:40
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    @CodyGuldner In fact, it is too. Votes here are not just disagreement. The usual "you didn't research this" or "you're utterly wrong" still apply.
    – Bart
    May 18, 2013 at 8:36

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