I have read through other questions/answers related to the downvote system and I must say, I feel this system needs revising. Sometimes a downvote is meant with good intentions.
Before I go any further, I would like to preface this suggestion a little bit. I personally try to suggest revisions or pose a question to the author in cases that might warrant a downvote. This gives the author a chance to either revise or defend their post; thus it gives both the author and myself an opportunity to learn something new. Overall, though, I try not to downvote authors unless their question/answer is completely absurd/unrelated; however, even in these situations, I still try to provide the author some feedback, tell them why I downvoted them, and wait to hear back from them. I believe it is only fair that the author knows my thoughts and can hear my reasoning if I am going to downvote them. This is what leads me to my suggestion.
I believe the downvote system should be revised in the following ways:
- Downvotes should cost slightly more reputation. (Maybe 5 reputation points to cast a downvote.)
- If you have downvoted a post, but you leave a comment on it, the cost of the downvote should be refunded.
- If you have downvoted a post and you did not leave a comment on it, you should not be refunded the cost of the downvote.
To exemplify this, let's I have 100 reputation points. If I go and downvote a post without providing feedback (a comment), my reputation should drop to 95 points. However, if I provide feedback to explain why I downvoted that post, my reputation should be reinstated to 100 points.
This proposal has two main positive benefits to the Stack Exchange community: by offering users the option to explain their downvote without losing reputation, users will be more inclined to offer feedback/advice; and by increasing the cost of a downvote, users are less likely to downvote for reasons such as, "I don't like you," and, "I don't like your post, but I don't care to explain why." Thus this revision would promote educated and healthy comments which could help the author, the voter, and readers; all of this while still preventing downvote abuse.
On the topic of educated and healthy comments, I would love to hear yours.
Update: The following two prior suggestions are strongly related to this suggestion:
Thank you to hichris123 for bringing them to my attention in the comments.