For some users (talk about myself!) reaching 200 rep can mean jolly hard work, and often take up to 2 years to happen because not every user is a "SO-addict" and will daily hunt for "fresh" questions to answer to boost up their rep (Face it, thinking a few hours too long about your own answer on the very same day will mean that you'll be beaten to it by 5 others with identical or even better answers; hence, there will be no longer any point in posting yours as well, "re-inventing the wheel.")

This is why I've thought that the "payment" of rep for downvotes is not unfair per se, but should simply be free for users that are still struggling to reach the "magic 200" mark.

I will summarize again:

  • Users between 125 rep (lowest possible for downvoting anyway) and 199 rep ought to have the chance to downvote useless or (e. g. in "Unix & Linux") totally non-working and badly tested answers without losing ANY rep, because they're still working hard on reaching their "magic mark."

  • From 200 rep, rules should remain the same as they are at the moment.

What do you think about it?

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    You only lose 1 rep for downvoting an answer. A single upvote on your answer will gain 10. I would say that is a fair ratio. – Oded Nov 7 '13 at 20:25
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    That aside, can you explain what actual problem this is supposed to solve? – Oded Nov 7 '13 at 20:26
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    What do you think about it? As written, No. Why do you get to have free downvotes? It really isn't all that difficult to get to 200. – Taryn Nov 7 '13 at 20:26
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    The rep needed to downvote is 125 note 100 – Joe W Nov 7 '13 at 20:32
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    @syntaxerror Everyone started at the same point with 1 rep. By posting quality content questions and answers, you can get to 200 rep. There are other ways to get rep including suggestion quality edits, etc. – Taryn Nov 7 '13 at 20:32
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    if there was really a problem getting to the magic threshold, then the threshold should be lowered, not a free downvote loophole created. However, I think the fact that it takes the amount of effort that it does to get to the 200 rep point is a feature, not a failure. – jball Nov 7 '13 at 20:33
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    @syntaxerror If you don't have the persistence or time to invest in the site, then again why do you feel that you need to get a free pass with downvotes? I am well aware of how quickly answers get posted, but if you post quality answers that might expand with details/content on how to solve the question, that is how you gain rep. – Taryn Nov 7 '13 at 20:35
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    What about suggested edits? Each approved one gives you 2 rep, up to 2000 rep (IIRC). 100 good suggested edits and... no more problem. – Oded Nov 7 '13 at 20:36
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    Maybe I miss the issue but isn't the whole point of SO to have a place where you can find answers and ask questions? Why are people obsessed with getting the rep and the badges? Isn't the journey the reward? – rene Nov 7 '13 at 20:36
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    The persistence of a geek? I don't know what that means. If it means you are not willing to put in the time to get the reputation, then I don't have any sympathy. – Oded Nov 7 '13 at 20:38
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    @rene Why are people obsessed? Can't you think of the answer yourself? Because you need to have so-and-so much to comment, to downvote, to this and that. And that's why people MUST hunt for reputation, they just have no other choice! Look at me: I'm stuck in SO main site with this stupid 45. And I need 50 to just give a useful (!) comment. But so far I haven't been able to think of a question general enough to fit on SO. On the other sites - perfect. But not there. So I'm stuck...and stuck...and... – syntaxerror Nov 7 '13 at 20:40
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    @syntaxerror - I gave you a solution. Suggested edits. You don't care to gain reputation that way? Fine. But don't try to change the system because you can't be bothered to do something you can. – Oded Nov 7 '13 at 20:42
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    I removed that sarcastic PS because I believe the suggestion deserves listening to and voting on by the community on its merits. That PS would turn it into an emotional vote - much more so than you have experienced. Call compassionate censorship if you so wish - but it was adding nothing to your argument, so I removed it without hesitation. – Oded Nov 7 '13 at 20:51
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    This is actually rather mild for meta. Welcome to the madhouse... – Oded Nov 7 '13 at 21:06
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    Survivors bias. You are not taking deleted questions into account ;) – Oded Nov 7 '13 at 21:24

Changing such a fundamental thing about how the site operates requires an extremely good reason. Something that benefits the site as a whole, to a great degree.

The lack of reputation is not one such reason - you need to earn the reputation and put in the time in the site if you want to participate in it more meaningfully.

The biggest problem with 0 rep loss for downvoting answers is that it opens up too much of a window for abuse - downvoting competing answers, downvoting answer because we don't like the avatar and so on. There needs to be something that stops spurious downvotes on answers - the -1 reputation is the minimal possible penalty. Consider that a single upvote on an answer give one 10 reputation - the ratio is more than generous.

The solution to the rep issue? Gain reputation. You don't have to ask or answer in order to gain reputation at this level - suggested edits are a great mechanism to improve the site and gain reputation at the same time.

You get 2 rep for every approved suggested edit - good suggested edits improve formatting, grammar and spelling. Which doesn't mean you change the meaning of the post, but are improving it for everyone.

If you are reluctant to use this mechanism and/or are not willing to put in the time to post good questions/answers, then, yes, you are left out. So is life.

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