We have come in a very nice discussion over here. While the question at hand is a duplicate, OP raises a valid point:

It overwhelmingly affects Stack Overflow where I have plenty of rep points, yet the thread was moved to this site where I do not have enough to record a down-vote.

And that is true. The post was first placed on MSO, where a large amount of the SO users have the ability to vote up and down. Now the post is on MSE, there is a lot smaller group able to down-vote. The majority can only up-vote here. A regular user isn't able to express his disgreement with a down-vote now.

How would a regular user on SO, with little reputation here, express his disagreement with a network-wide change that affects the usage of that site a lot? (where the MIT discussion is just a sample) Should OP take it to Meta Stack Overflow and start a discussion there? Anything else?


6 Answers 6


This is a great question. Meta is actually another Stack Exchange site for experts about Stack Exchange, and so it makes sense to have the same bars as other sites in terms of how new users can contribute and gain reputation.

As you notice, though, there are things discussed here that have significant, direct impact on other sites.

Further, downvotes on Meta are often used to indicate disagreement - in the same way we originally used Uservoice to prioritize features and express agreement and disagrement.

So down-voting should probably not be tied to the high level of reputation currently required, because you don't need expertise to evaluate the usefulness of an idea to you or your site. On a regular site you vote according to truthiness, but here you vote according to usefulness given your perspective/experience.

I suggest that Meta.SE specifically have a lowered bar for downvoting that is equivalent to upvoting.

In the meantime, I suggest that when a network wide policy is discussed here that significantly affects your site, start a discussion on your site's meta about it, and link it to the meta.SE site so those on meta.SE can follow all the various discussions about it in each community.

This will enable everyone on your site to discuss and vote on it according to their reputation. My worry, though, is that without changing the main voting bars, these ancillary discussions will not get as much attention. It's better to have all that on meta.SE.

So it might be worthwhile to post the link to the meta.SO discussion as an answer to the meta.SE discussion, make it community wiki, and occasionally update it with the most relevant considerations users on SO have about the issue.

  • 2
    Yes, that seems fair. It is somewhat like the HNQ questions which have lot of up-votes coming from other sites. It skews the end result. Here even worse since it is featured. Commented Dec 18, 2015 at 13:44
  • 1
    I think it's critical specifically because Stack Exchange, Inc could make some pretty bad assumptions about community feedback given this significant limitation. I know they would particularly hate finding out later that a once-thought-popular decision turns out to be disastrous because they unintentionally disenfranchised their non-meta users.
    – Pollyanna
    Commented Dec 18, 2015 at 13:46
  • If this one goes well, would you mind put in a feature request in a day or so? Commented Dec 18, 2015 at 13:53
  • 4
    Perhaps the downvote privilege here, could be tied to the bonus reputation level (100). Therefore, it would suffice having 100 in any other site to be able downvoting. Commented Dec 18, 2015 at 13:58

Another idea was born in the discussion of my first answer:

Raise association bonus from 100 to 150 or higher on Meta Stack Exchange for users with 1K reputation or more on any other site.

100 reputation basically means, "I know the basics of how any site on Stack Exchange Network works". Users with 200 reputation or more on any site are expected to understand the basic features like upvoting, answering, commenting etc. Therefore they're not required to prove that every single time.

However, association bonus is only 100, not higher (also bonus is ignored on protected questions), because every site has rules specific to that site: what is off-topic, what is on-topic, what a good question is etc. varies from site to site. Therefore, a user is expected to prove that they understand how this specific site works every single time.

In case of Meta Stack Exchange 100 reputation bonus still makes sense: there're rules specific to MSE which users need to understand. Downvoting being available for users with 125 reputation or higher still makes sense: users with 200 reputation on Pets shouldn't be able to vote on MIT licensing issues right after registering on MSE, they need to understand MSE and Meta in general better.

But the problem is, MSE is Meta for all sites, so there're a lot of users who understand how all sites and Metas work on much higher level than 100 reputation bonus suggests. There may be different rules for extra association bonus, but here are some:

  • 1000 reputation on any site
  • 10,000 reputation on any site
  • Quorum badge (One post with score of 2 on meta) on any site
  • Convention badge (10 posts with score of 2 on meta) on any site
  • 1
    I am not sure if this proposal is better than the one from Adam. Why raise the reputation if you can change the privileges to upvote/downvote on a site? This seems unnecessarily complicated. Why shouldn't someone in Pets be able to have a opinion on the site's licensing model. If it really pertains to SO only, put the question back there. Commented Jan 5, 2016 at 8:03
  • @PatrickHofman Adam's suggestion affects privileges of all users with 200+ on any site. My suggestion affects only users with 1K+/10K/specific badges. I think my answer provides enough arguments why it should be done this way. Basically, users with 200+ rep don't yet deserve higher privileges on MSE. Users with 200 rep on SO too, Pets is just an exaggerated example. :)
    – Athari
    Commented Jan 5, 2016 at 8:22
  • @PatrickHofman Implementation complexity isn't something I really care about. I doubt any of the suggestions here will ever be implemented, to be honest. / Licensing is important for CR, GameDev, localized SOs and many other tech sites on SE, it isn't specific to SO.
    – Athari
    Commented Jan 5, 2016 at 8:22

Post an answer expressing your disagreement. It's more work than simply clicking a button to make a number bigger or smaller, but it does allow you to better express why you disagree.

Posting an answer also provides another point of view that may not have been considered by the OP. In turn, this can help shape the debate (for better or worse) much more than adding on one more down vote. Another advantage, especially in questions where a single downvote gets lost to hundreds of upvotes is that your opinion is visible. If you are tacking a down vote on a post with an overwhelming majority voting the opposite, it's very hard to see that someone disagreed. This is especially true for these low rep users. They can't see the vote splits yet, so they see a post +328 and can't see that vote is actually +386/-58. Instead, they have to read the comments and answers and can see from there what others are thinking.

  • 4
    One could go through all answers, and up-vote those he agrees with, but simply down-voting the question seems the simplest way... Commented Dec 18, 2015 at 13:39
  • 4
    The extra work required to post means that not everyone will post, no. However, if someone can compose a brief paragraph (at least) explaining why they don't agree it does help to further convey a sense of disagreement than simply voting. Just like politicians are known to ignore "low effort" activities, but will respond to letters to the editor and other activities that take effort, this is the same. I can see over 400 people voted on the MIT discussion, but I also see there are nearly 50 people that have something important to say. Of that, a decent portion disagrees with the proposal.
    – Andy
    Commented Dec 18, 2015 at 13:43

Since the implementation of the feature request Change rep required to downvote on MSE, users are now being able to downvote with the association bonus (and judging by the current flood of posts caused by Code of Conduct changes, they make good use of it).

If you have at least 200 reputation elsewhere in the network, your starting reputation here will be 101, and voting down requires only 100 reputation. That means you have unlimited (read: only limited by the daily vote limit) downvotes on questions, because they're 'free', and two downvotes on answers (which cost you one reputation).

  • Don't you have more than two answer downvotes as once you get a privilege you can't lose it?
    – mmmmmm
    Commented Oct 25, 2019 at 6:56
  • 1
    Nope, privileges are tied to your current reputation.
    – Glorfindel Mod
    Commented Oct 25, 2019 at 6:57
  • That is good to hear. Commented Oct 25, 2019 at 11:16

Downvoting is critical but can be put in the wrong hands and be used inappropriately. This has been mention before here: Change rep required to downvote on MSE. The current best answer agrees and says the limit should go down to 101, where the association bonus, which I do agree accept that you only have 1 answer downvote.

My suggestion that you get to vote the second you arrive to SE or at least get to upvote privilege and earn the downvote privilege as well. There are many users who want to participate in discussions and other sorts of questions. For discussions, you should be able to vote when you reach 5 rep, the rest of the questions when you reach enough rep to upvote.

Even better, change both upvote and downvote limits to 10, which means a decrease of 5 rep for upvotes and a change of 115 for downvotes. That may seem a lot but everyone should be able to join in to discuss with all the others, when they seem to know how this site works. This means that everyone that has an association bonus will have plenty of votes to use and new users won't struggle just to gain their rights to participate in discussions.


Downvoting requires 125 rep, you have 100 rep for free if you have any 200+ account. That means only 25 rep is required and it's incredibly easy to get. It's Meta, votes here come in great volumes, getting 3+ on an answer or 5+ on a question will take several minutes. I don't see a problem really.

  • 6
    This seems ... I don't want to say hypocritical, but a little incongruous, as it took you almost three years to reach 125 rep here, and almost six months after your first post, a perfectly reasonable +4/-1 question. So your own history would seem to belie this. Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 22:44
  • 1
    @NathanTuggy MSE exists for less than two years. All rep I have here is due to being active on MSO. And I've been actually active on SE for less than three years. There's a big difference between having an account, having an active account, being an active on Meta, actively reviewing and editing posts, and almost becoming a moderator (4th on Ru.SO with 3 places). It's gradual, not instant. / +3/−4 = 22 rep — almost the required 24, even with such a controversial answer. ;)
    – Athari
    Commented Jan 5, 2016 at 6:30
  • 1
    MSO voting patterns were not, as I understand it, all that different from MSE, since basically the same people were present; there's less clutter now, and somewhat more representation from smaller sites, but it's still the same site. Anyway, my point was that it wasn't a trivial thing for you; it required a couple of good posts that didn't just pop into your head on demand. Commented Jan 5, 2016 at 6:34
  • Yes, and this won't work for the majority that is affected by the change. That is the problem. The accepted answer just gives another point of view and a suggestion to make it better, maybe not the best suggestion, but the best for now. Commented Jan 5, 2016 at 6:36
  • @PatrickHofman My point is, I didn't want to participate on Meta back then, I didn't care about inner workings much, so saying that it was hard for me to receive upvotes on Meta doesn't make much sense. Of course, it may be hard for newbies to gain rep here, but we're talking about active users on other sites — it should be easy for them.
    – Athari
    Commented Jan 5, 2016 at 7:31
  • The point is: if there are 1000 users here. 500 can upvote and 500 can both up- and downvote. What if half of them disagrees? The net score will be 500/250, since only half can downvote. Do you really expect users en-masse to participate in Meta just to downvote one post? You know they won't. Still they should have influence on such huge decisions. Commented Jan 5, 2016 at 7:36
  • @PatrickHofman You're missing the fact that there's much more to discussion than just upvotes and downvotes. Those who disagree can post an answer and share their concerns, can upvote such answer if it already exists, can comment etc. Providing convincing arguments matters much more than numbers next to questions and answers. SE owners understand that not all users can downvote, so I expect them to take that into account and not base their decision purely on votes. / On a side note, I think SE owners have already made a decision, so all this "discussion" is farce. But we'll see soon. :)
    – Athari
    Commented Jan 5, 2016 at 8:08
  • 3
    Ironicly, I can't down vote this answer.......
    – kjbartel
    Commented Jan 15, 2016 at 10:36

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