I know when you get an up-vote on a question, your reputation score increases of 5, for an answer, it's +10, an accepted answer, it's +15 and finally, you accept an answer is +2 and there's more.

Well, I know very well how the reputation score works since I read this question and answer which is very well explained.

My questions : When you down-vote a question or an answer, why it's only decreasing the reputation by 2 ? Why this doesn't have the opposite cost of an up-vote ?

As an example, if I down-vote a question, instead of -2, it would be -5. For question, -10 instead of -2. For what reasons did they choose this value (-2 for both) about down-voting ?

Thanks !

  • Maybe because never wanted someone to loose that much points as he gained! :P This community isn't rude.. Nov 22, 2013 at 17:24
  • 1
    See Should the weight of downvotes be increased?
    – JDB
    Nov 22, 2013 at 17:24
  • The points you lose by downvoting can be thought of as a tax to prevent serial downvoting, and make you think twice about downvoting. Nov 22, 2013 at 17:30
  • 3
    @JoshC - This question says nothing about the downvote penalty.
    – JDB
    Nov 22, 2013 at 17:31
  • @JDB Guess you're right. I read the question wrong... I guess the reason for this is that it would give too much power to the people downvoting. Nov 22, 2013 at 17:36
  • @JoshC - it's actually an interesting question. Apparently Jeff, et. al, thought about upping the downvote weight at one point. They suggestion gained a lot of upvotes and nearly all the answers said it was a good idea, then the feature-request was decline with, as far as I can see, no explanation. Have to admit - I'm rather curious myself.
    – JDB
    Nov 22, 2013 at 17:39
  • 2
    I disagree with the "close as duplicate" on this post. The question I linked to is a feature-request asking whether the system should be changed. This is just a question asking for the reason why the system is as it is. Related, yes, but not the same.
    – JDB
    Nov 22, 2013 at 17:44
  • 2
    @JDB The explanation you are looking for in that question can be found here and it makes sense to me. meta.stackexchange.com/questions/7322/…
    – Joe W
    Nov 22, 2013 at 18:00
  • @JDB I agree with you : asking for the reason why the system is as it is.
    – Gabriel L.
    Nov 22, 2013 at 19:08

1 Answer 1


Good question!

In lieu of an official explanation, I'm going to hazard a guess:

Upvoting is an inherently positive action. People in good moods, feeling generous and happy to see your content are going to upvote. The increased reputation results in awards and accolades.

Downvoting is a darker action. Sure, it can be used to good effect, but it is also easy to abuse for all the wrong reasons and results in lost awards and accolades. It can, if given adequate power, be used to cause great harm to the recipient.

Therefore, downvotes should not be given as much power as upvotes. The overall score of a post reflects the absolute vote count, so more negative votes still pushes the particular piece of content down, but does less harm to the user overall.

In addition, many psychologists agree that positive reinforcement is more powerful than negative. You want to incentivize, not dispirit. A big reward for good behavior and a small punishment for bad generally has that effect.

Update: Thanks to Joe W for finding the official answer: https://meta.stackexchange.com/a/42763/191410 (it is the 8th one down)

  • So it's a kind of average between good and bad behavior. I understand now why and your explanations make lot of sense to me. Thanks !
    – Gabriel L.
    Nov 22, 2013 at 19:14

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