I've recently posted a very silly answer to a question. It got voted down, rightfully so. Then, I guess, somebody took a pity on me and upvoted a question. I was really surprized that I've got a full +10 on my reputation back. Shouldn't you get a net value of up and down votes? E.g. in my case, should I have only got a +2 back?

  • 1
    Just for your info, you getting flagged on that post, and if it reach 6 flags, you are going to lose -100
    – YOU
    Mar 28, 2010 at 11:52
  • @S.Mark: Thanks for the fair warning. It's already being deleted by a moderator. Mar 31, 2010 at 23:51

6 Answers 6


+10 on your question. The current system rewards controversial posts more than good posts -- if I can say something that is inflammatory enough that it gets both downvotes and upvotes, I can rake in the rep. One might even say this is a good recipe for gaming the system.

Now, should it go both ways? If we made the reputation gained/lost from a post based on the post's net score (barring the daily rep cap interfering) even for an overall positive post? e.g. so a post that gets votes of (+1, +1, -1, +1) would receive (10 + 10 - 10 + 10) score, so that the -2 deduction only kicks in if the post's net score dips below zero?

  • I think you are on to something. When I voted against and my wife for a ballot question in general election last year our votes canceled each other. Her's did not rake +0.8 vote for the measure. Oct 16, 2009 at 18:47
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    @Alex - I read that at first as "I voted against my wife" and I thought Man, that's cruel... Oct 16, 2009 at 19:06
  • @Jared. The measure did pass. It shows how I should have voted. :) Oct 16, 2009 at 19:49
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    In other words (second paragraph): the weight of a downvote would be -10 and not -2 if the (net) number of votes is greater than zero. Mar 28, 2010 at 15:38

Yeah, that bugs me too. IMHO, up-votes to posts with a negative score should merely counteract a single down-vote in terms of rep awarded to the user, not give them a bonus. In the past, I've actually gained more reputation from some trollish answers than from equivalently-ranked serious answers... I'm now more careful to CW such responses.

See: Should we reduce rep bonus for upvotes on posts with a negative score?


This becomes a very effective reputation denial tool -- if you want to stop other users from getting reputation, downvote their posts to -1 as soon as you see them (that is, when they start out at 0 votes). They'll now need at least 2 votes, minimum, to even begin gaining any reputation.

Right now I don't upvote a -1 because:

(Generally speaking, of course ... assume, for the sake of argument, the post in question is in fact objectively bad and not unfairly downvoted, or misunderstood.)

  1. I don't want a bad answer to have a better sort order.
  2. I don't want to give "free" reputation to the type of user that produces bad answers.

Once it is known that upvoting a -1 post doesn't give the post owner any reputation boost (and thus does not devalue your own reputation and ranking, or perversely incent bad posters), the incentive to cast these "pity upvotes" increases -- because #2 no longer exists as a disincentive!

Hmm. One thing I hadn't considered until I wrote this, w/r/t item number 1: sort order effects are less of an issue for questions than answers, because answer sort order is aggressively affected by votes -- whereas question sort order is a much looser and more indirect relationship.

So it's karmically easier to justify pity upvotes on questions than answers, because item #1, sort order, is not so heavily affected. Good thing question upvotes are only worth +5 now, eh?

  • Agree, that frustrating, since I saw some people who downvote everyone else (for a single char typo or kind of) before his answer, and never revoke downvotes.
    – YOU
    Mar 28, 2010 at 5:47
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    Upvoting a -1 post does give a reputation boost -- it undoes the -2 penalty that was received before. There is still the same -1 penalty to the caster, so I don't see how such a change would encourage more downvoting. Moreover, there is the new rule putting a cap on downvotes (in relation to total upvotes given), so there is even more of a disincentive towards vindictive downvoting now.
    – Ether
    Mar 28, 2010 at 15:46

In the real world you would think so. In Stack Overflow, we like to reward a lot more than we punish apparently (I guess to prevent people from getting feelings hurt too easily and to prevent people from gaming the system).

BUT there has been talk in the past of increasing the downvote damage to -5 instead of -2, although it is likely to also come with an increase in penalty to cast.

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    Duke Nukem Forever will probably ship before the vote weight change.
    – random
    Oct 16, 2009 at 16:15
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    Increasing the cost to down-vote was pretty much agreed upon by the community. The final arbiter Jeff Atwood, doesn't seem to agree on that point though. Oct 16, 2009 at 16:16
  • @Brad Gilbert: How can you really say that when the tag says "status-planned" ?
    – TheTXI
    Oct 16, 2009 at 16:20
  • He doesn't agree that the penalty to the person down-voting, otherwise the question wouldn't say that the plan is to keep that part the same. Oct 16, 2009 at 16:22
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    @Brad: Good. I honestly don't know what the appeal is for that part of the suggestion - it's not like down-voting is too common...
    – Shog9
    Oct 16, 2009 at 16:24
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    I agree with it, I just dread the legions of complaints when it's implemented. Also, we've been really swamped with careers, which is on a tight time frame. Oct 16, 2009 at 16:43
  • Duke Nukem shipped. Jun 24, 2011 at 4:02

The community should encourage people to ask. It is fair that upvotes have bigger impact on reputation than downvotes.


Totally agree. I think calculating reputation on net votes solves the problem of "sympathy upvotes" much better than simply increasing the weight of downvotes. Negative net votes can still have a different weight, ie. the formula would be

(upvotes - downvotes) * (upvotes - downvotes > 0 ? 10 : 2)

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