I've suspected for a while that downvoting imposes a limit on one's daily reputation limit and therefore counts downvotes twice. Today with TheTXI's help I was able to confirm this.

The daily reputation limit is calculated by (200 - (number of downvotes)). Not downvotes you've received, but downvotes you've given.

For example, let's say this morning I give out 5 upvotes and 5 downvotes for various questions and answers. My rep drops from 5000 to 4995 because of the cost of downvoting. Then I post a great answer that receives 20 upvotes. I receive 195 reputation (because of my five downvotes). Now my reputation is 5190.

It's counting downvotes twice. Once immediately, and once with the daily cap, preventing me from getting those last 5 points even though I was upvoted enough times.

TXI and I tested this in this way: I downvoted him once I was at my rep cap, then he upvoted me. He expected my reputation to go back to what it was (with his upvote restoring one reputation), but it was not restored.

As someone who both downvotes and reaches his daily reputation cap often, I'm missing out on a lot of reputation I would have otherwise gained. Plus this calculation makes it more difficult than necessary to determine if I've reached today's cap yet or not. If it were a constant 200 I'd just be able to look and see if I've hit 200 yet or not.

  • 7
    A related fact: I was over my cap today and I was browsing on my iPhone and unwantedly tapped a downvote button (with 34070 rep and 215 rep today). When I revoked the downvote, I was stuck with 34069 rep.
    – mmx
    Jul 3, 2009 at 18:59
  • Mehrdad: Yeah, when you go over your rep cap and then you deduct some of that rep overflow, you can't get it back unfortunately except through accepeted answers or bounty type rewards.
    – TheTXI
    Jul 3, 2009 at 19:01
  • @Mehrdad: That's interesting one. Most definitely related to this, but it's probably in place to prevent you from suddenly revoking dozens of downvotes all at once to give yourself a quick rep boost.
    – Welbog
    Jul 3, 2009 at 19:02
  • @Welbog I don't see how that would be useful Jul 3, 2009 at 19:09
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    @Ian Elliot: Neither do I. I'm having a lot of trouble coming up with scenarios in which this makes sense.
    – Welbog
    Jul 3, 2009 at 19:18
  • Beginning to think the whole rep cap thing is so buggy as to not be worth addressing in such detail.
    – bananakata
    Jul 3, 2009 at 19:18
  • @Annakata, yeah there seems to be too many 'corner cases' that come into play far too often. Jul 3, 2009 at 19:23
  • @annakata: In that case I guess we should find all of the rep cap issues we can reproduce and make one big, central post so that we can add to it as we find more. Maybe a question that is just "post reproduceable issues with the rep cap as answers", and upvote the ones you yourself have encountered so that Jeff et al. can prioritize them by frequency. Can MSO even work that way?
    – Welbog
    Jul 3, 2009 at 19:31
  • Sounds like you guys were Rep-Gaming! Exchanging votes for common purpose?! Communist Devilry!
    – devinb
    Jul 3, 2009 at 19:48
  • @devinb: Both of us were at our rep caps. We both lost rep to test this.
    – Welbog
    Jul 3, 2009 at 19:50
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    @welblog - mthinking here is that there are so many issues that I think the whole mechanism needs to be rethought. But without seeing the code we can't know can we :)
    – bananakata
    Jul 3, 2009 at 19:56
  • 1
    This is marked 'status-completed' but I ran into this same issue today. Nov 11, 2009 at 22:35
  • I just ran into it now too (hit my rep cap, then downvoted a post (so now I'm at +199 for the day), then a few more upvotes rolled in and they did not put me back to 200.
    – Ether
    Nov 19, 2009 at 23:13
  • Does a rep recalc fix this? I don't see how it would as this problem doesn't involve (or at least does not require) undoing votes.
    – Ether
    Nov 19, 2009 at 23:16

4 Answers 4


It doesn't count twice, the voting system is just inconsistent by design and this generates lots of corner cases. Like at 190 rep upvote then accept answer yields a different result to accept answer then upvote. Personally I think it should be fixed because it looks bad and looks like a bug (and imho is a bug).

As for Jon's point about the devs having enough to do, frankly I think the solution to this is trivial. Just put rep in two buckets:

  1. Soft cap: upvotes (+10) and downvotes (-2) received, limited to 200 per day;
  2. Hard cap: downvotes given (-1), answer accepted (+2 given, +15 received), bounties (variable).

And then the system is completely consistent.

  • Can we please please please please do this? Feb 4, 2010 at 0:49

Yes, it's an inconsistency and a slight annoyance.

I disagree with TheTXI's assertion that it's a "major item" though. This isn't going to be affecting many users for more than a couple of points a day - and even those it is affecting are unlikely to be losing much rep. If you cast 20 downvotes in a day, the double counting will have cost you 20 rep (vs single counting them). 20 rep is hardly a lot, and I doubt that many people actually cast anywhere near that many downvotes regularly on a daily basis. (Taking TheTXI and welbog as examples, I reckon their averages are around 0.7 and 2 downvotes a day respectively. My mental arithmetic may well be out a little bit, but not a huge amount.)

I seriously doubt that this is likely to be the best use of the team's time any time soon.

  • I'd say I downvote roughly 5 times a day, when I'm active. I'm only active 3-4 days a week, and when I'm active I usually reach my rep cap. I consistently lose somewhere between 2-10 rep an active day to this phenomenon, and I know I'm not the only one. It adds up. I agree that it's not a major issue. I definitely advocate rethinking how the rep cap works. Seems like lots of people have lots of little issues with it.
    – Welbog
    Jul 3, 2009 at 20:03
  • Whoops, just read the "3-4 days a week" bit, and then removed my next comment accordingly :) However, if you accept that single counting is okay, then you've still only lost about 300 rep over the course of 5 months. It adds up, but not to very much...
    – Jon Skeet
    Jul 3, 2009 at 21:54

I can confirm this behavior. I can also confirm that if a user is the recipient of a downvote, he can still make up that lost 2 reputation (as long as they are now under the rep cap). If you are the person who votes down, you can't seem to recoup that lost 1 rep.

We can also confirm that this is apparently unrelated to other rep limit complaints that typically have to do with the timeframe calculations that go on (where the rep limit actually resets at 8pm EST instead of 12am).

I think this should be a major item worth investigating by those with actual access to the code base to see what exactly is going on here.


Both cases look like the algorithm may just simply be

 if (currentDailyRep + repGain <= 200)  
   currentDailyRep += repGain;

Have you tried downvoting 10 times, then getting an upvote?

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    No, it definitely doesn't work like this. If you're at, say, 195 rep (without any downvotes), an upvote puts you at 200.
    – mmyers
    Jul 4, 2009 at 1:46
  • Ok, that's cool. Their examples left it a little ambiguous.
    – toast
    Jul 4, 2009 at 2:14

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