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As I've been patrolling the review queues on a couple of my more active sites lately, I've been noticing a lot of really poor answers from unregistered users. (For example, this or this or this or this.) Not bad enough to warrant deletion, at least according to the current guidelines, just wrong/bad/useless answers.

I understand that the rep loss on downvoting an answer is an as-designed situation, which isn't likely to change, and I've read the reasoning why, but it seems to me that the issue of rep loss from downvoting a an unreigstered user's garbage answer hasn't been thought through all that well, or given any attention.

The downvotes don't have any impact on unregistered users, since they're unreigstered - not like any privileges from positive reputation are going to apply, and reputation can't go below 1 anyhow - but the reputation loss does impact the downvoter. Granted, it is only a -1, so it's not a huge deal, but there is an effect.

It's more psychological than anything else, but it kind of makes it feel like I'm being punished for going through the review queues - I know I'm going to lose rep, and it's not going to impact on the [unregistered] users spewing crap about the site, and I'm not going to get anything out of it, especially on the sites and queues I've got the relevant Steward badge on. So, it's something of a perverse disincentive to go through those queues that probably need the most attention, and are most likely to garner deserving downvotes (Low Quality, First Posts and Late Answers).

To be honest, I'm not even entirely sure that removing the downvote penalty against unregistered users is the best approach, and I can think of a couple other approaches (having the auto-delete fairies cull bad, downvoted answers like they do with questions, for example), but since the downvote penalty isw hat grabbed my attention, I figured that's what I'd ask about.

Is this intentional, and more importantly, is it [still] desirable to have this downvote penalty in place against unregistered users? Should it be changed or not, or there maybe a better solution?

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    Perhaps the site that you're active on should consider whether it it still advantageous to allow unregistered users to answer? Certain sites have disabled the feature due to such a large percentage of low quality content. – Servy Jun 23 '14 at 16:51
  • Hmmm, on Super User I often downvote after flagging, as an easy "bookmark" to see if my flag is approved (or, if not, if something can be done about the post). – Arjan Jun 23 '14 at 16:53
  • You're saying "unregistered", but do you really mean "1-rep"? I've seen unregistered users with real rep (who would be affected) and registered ones who've made only bad posts (so they're still at 1 and won't be affected by your DV). – Monica Cellio Jun 23 '14 at 17:01
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    @MonicaCellio I suppose it could be both. Or either. Figured it would be easier to target something against the unregistered class of users than users with rep == 1, and also... well, unregistered users are drive-by users by definition, and rep is completely meaningless for those accounts. Even if they do come back, it will be as a different user. Registered, 1 rep users have at least given an indication that they may be back, as the same user, and therefore rep can be an incentive for them. – HopelessN00b Jun 23 '14 at 17:08
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    Unregistered users last as long as the cookie, right? That can be a while. This unregistered user was active for about a year and accumulated 18k rep (though I don't know if that can still happen today; this was a while ago and involved a 1.0->2.0 site transition). – Monica Cellio Jun 23 '14 at 17:28
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    @Monica, if one loses the cookie, it can be restored, if one entered a valid email address. – Arjan Jun 23 '14 at 18:23

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