You earned -30 reputation today on ...

The above doesn't sound right to me. It appears as the tooltip in the "recent achievements" dialog:

Can this please be changed to something like:

You lost 30 reputation today on ...

  • 4
    But that just sounds so ... negative... ;)
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Dec 2, 2014 at 23:33
  • 4
    I guess changing earned to gained makes it go both ways better...
    – Werner
    Dec 2, 2014 at 23:34
  • 3
    @Werner not sure, for both I expect positive number to follow. Not a native English speaker though, so I might be wrong. Dec 2, 2014 at 23:38
  • 8
    When I read "you have earned [negative number] reputation today", I read it with a sarcastic tone, and I like it. If you fixed the wording, then it would cease to sound sarcastic. It would even be better if it were 'Bravo [disparaging epithet]! You have earned [negative number] reputation today.'
    – Louis
    Dec 3, 2014 at 1:34
  • @Louis However, I agree with Werner; gain can have a negative value, yet it keeps the sarcastic interpretation possible ;)
    – yo'
    Dec 3, 2014 at 2:09
  • 12
    no! change should be in another direction, so that for positive rep changes, user would read: "you lost -30 reputation today" (double negative FTW)
    – gnat
    Dec 3, 2014 at 7:47
  • @gnat but doesn't "lost -30" mean "gained 30"? Same problem. You must mean "lost 30".
    – Harvey
    Dec 3, 2014 at 17:55
  • gained has a meaning closer to "possibly negative". For example in a game you might "gain" an illness debuff. It is hard to imagine you earning an illness. Recently I "earned" -10 rep because a user who had voted for me was deleted, and his/her votes were reversed. That is hardly something I "earned" - sarcastically or not. It wasn't my fault s/he was deleted. Maybe say "You lost 30 reputation today on Stack Overflow" with the bolding emphasising the word. Jul 24, 2015 at 1:01
  • @NickGammon But you do "earn" -10 rep if you post a bad answer and 5 people downvote you. I think "earn" can be "possibly negative."
    – Daniel
    Jul 24, 2015 at 12:06
  • I think we might be thinking a little too hard about this. Is it really that important to change the one little word which easily fits in the sentence?
    – Daniel
    Jul 24, 2015 at 12:08
  • This is a variant of the pluralization bug requests. I suggest you see a certain Jeff about a big S.
    – Pollyanna
    Jul 24, 2015 at 19:29
  • When I Googled "earn" the first definition was gain deservedly in return for one's behaviour or achievements.. I think negative rep excludes deservedly unless you mean he deserved to be marked down. I suggest most people think of earn as something positive. You earn a salary, you don't earn a tax. You wouldn't say "Hey, I earned -$1000 in tax today!". Jul 24, 2015 at 21:30

5 Answers 5


I prefer that the text stay the way it is. A negative sign stands out and makes it immediately noticeable that you lost reputation. Changing the word "earned" to "lost" is much less noticeable and I know that I would probably just assume that I really gained 30 rep that day.

  • even though it's red...? Jul 23, 2015 at 18:06
  • 3
    @ᔕᖺᘎᕊ colorblind folk might not notice the red :)
    – citelao
    Jul 23, 2015 at 18:29
  • 4
    Confusingly, every time someone upvotes this answer, I go check my inbox and I get a message that says "+10 You earned -30 reputation today"
    – Daniel
    Jul 24, 2015 at 19:35

You didn't lose reputation. None of the previous votes which increase your reputation were taken away. You earned negative votes:

earn: to merit as compensation, as for service; deserve:

Yes, there are other definitions of earn which only count gains, but the existence of those definitions doesn't preclude the use of the correct definition.

You earned those negative reputation points. In the database rows were added with negative reputation, which were then added to your total reputation.

Whether your reputation increases or decreases is irrelevant.

  • 1
    I was just about to write something similar: "You earn downvotes just as much as you earn upvotes. You worked hard for that loss, enjoy it..."
    – apaul
    Jul 25, 2015 at 1:23
  • But you don't always earn reputation loss. For example if someone upvotes your question then deletes your account, you lose reputation points. You don't deserve this, its just the way the dice fall.. Jul 25, 2015 at 15:57
  • @oxinabox alternately, you temporarily held rep you didn't initially deserve, and when they deleted, removed their invite, or otherwise, the undeserved rep was corrected. ;)
    – Pollyanna
    Jul 25, 2015 at 21:07
  • +1 I really liked the way you interpreted... Jul 25, 2015 at 23:06

Something that may not require not too much work

Your reputation changed by X today

  1. The phrase makes sense regardless of whether X is positive or negative.

  2. I don't think that it has a sarcastic tone

  3. It keeps the negative sign

  • 2
    Doesn't have the positive feeling of earned. Just use two words as in the proposal. Jul 23, 2015 at 15:35
  • 1
    @PatrickHofman I agree about the positive feeling, but I was going for neutral as lost rep is not good. It would be nice to have a positive feeling for gained rep, but I wanted something that would not need to be changed.
    – Belinda
    Jul 23, 2015 at 16:36

Thinking about reasons ones rep might decrease: (Too long for a comment)

Downvotes by others, and Upvotes taken back:

You have earned this loss of rep through your failures. You (theoretically) deserve it. Though it might not be so nice to point it out.

Downvoting others, and Posting Bounties

You have spent/expended rep.

User deleting account, Voting Fraud Reverted

You have lost the rep, it is misplaced, and go to you through quiet possibly no fault of your own.

I guess there is no single empathic verb. Changed works though

  • My guess is that this case was probably because of a bounty (50) + 2 answer upvotes (or 100+5....)
    – MTL
    Jul 24, 2015 at 19:34

One way for the site to neutrally impart the information and allow positive and negative values make sense:

"Your Stack Overflow net reputation change for today: -30"

Also, having the number at the end of the sentence seems clearer


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