Disregard. I had started with an incorrect premise, the what lies below is a false assumption based on an incorrect understanding of the voting system.

Original Post

I'm seeing (perhaps imagining) a state of runaway reputation on for users of StackOverflow though this perhaps applies to other SE communities as well. A larger and larger number of them are at 10K+ (some 500K+). These generally come down to good answers, most frequently for easily answered questions, e.g., "What's the difference between X and Y?" where there's some subtlety between them. This results in some answers having 1,000's of up-votes netting the early users who answered the questions significant reputation.

"So what? They earned it!", true...up to a point. One of the consequences of a (relatively) large number of people with 10k+ reputation is that the barrier for downvoting is pretty much nil. Looking at newly asked questions now, I see quite a few with downvotes - usually by newbies who aren't yet familiar with the posting rules and the usual duplicates. A couple of years ago, this would generally be met with moderators (or anyone with enough rep) to post a comment that the post needed to be cleaned up or otherwise marked as a duplicate - but they wouldn't have downvoted it. These days people are.

I think this is putting off new users signing up and creating something of a class system within the larger community. While a very subjective viewpoint admittedly, instead of the helpful comments I remember (can can still see when I look back), seeing were more helpful and guiding. Now they're blunt, jaded and at times borderline rude, e.g., "Change this", "Follow the guidlines: [link]". With the added downvote trend, this translates a new/naive user's experience into;

  • Registers to ask a question
  • Gets their 101 rep
  • Immediately gets downvoted +/ gets those blunt comments as their first response from the community

Some possible tweaks to prevent such a scenario;

  • Rather than a fixed -2, perhaps a percentage based system if rep is above a certain threshold. This will maintain the slight pain a lower rep user would take for downvoting.
  • Putting a cap on received reputation after X number of upvotes, say no more rep after 500? You still get the upvote but it doesn't contribute to a runaway rep count
  • Recalculation of rep based on the above. I personally don't see that one flying with the community but it'd certainly give a more realistic view of people's actual contributions.

Am I imagining the above? Is this a trend people are seeing on SO? What about the wider SE in general?

EDIT Based on the downvotes and discussion in the comments, this post seem to be giving the impression that I'm giving out about being downvoted - I'm not because I generally haven't been. Another impression is that I think people shouldn't downvote - I do, it's a necessary part of keeping the quality of the information. The purpose of this post was to question whether the cost to downvoting for a user with 200 rep (-2/200=1%) is not the same to a user with a large rep, (-2/100,000=0.00002%)

closed as off-topic by Travis J, PolyGeo, Shadow The Princess Wizard, Anthony Pham, ale Aug 28 '17 at 20:25

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "The problem described here can no longer be reproduced. Changes to the system or to the circumstances affecting the asker have rendered it obsolete. If you encounter a similar problem, please post a new question." – Travis J, PolyGeo, Anthony Pham, ale
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 4
    You don't seem to account for the daily reputation cap in your assumption - which tends to be incorrect. A post with 1,000 upvotes doesn't mean the OP got 5,000 rep for a question or 10,000 for an answer - most of the votes would have happened in the first few days of the answer (so, possibly they got 600-800 from a post like that in he first few days, then residual reputation over time since - but nothing like what you seem to think). – Oded Aug 21 '17 at 16:59
  • @Oded, fair point, I hadn't accounted for that. Doesn't change that the cost to the user for downvoting is not proportionally the same for users with large/small rep counts. – DiskJunky Aug 21 '17 at 17:00
  • 5
    I'm getting pretty angry by the daily influx of these kind of unfounded accusations that my down votes are considered a problem. Why do I have to tolerate this? – rene Aug 21 '17 at 17:27
  • @rene Because you hold yourself to a higher standard than those people do? – Servy Aug 21 '17 at 17:28
  • I'm not sure what voting trend you exactly mean but my data shows that upvotes still grow more rapidly then down votes. Or do you have some stats that factored reputation in on the number of down votes? I don't have that data because that is private. – rene Aug 21 '17 at 17:43
  • 6
    On the A larger and larger number of them are at 10K+ (some 500K+). If you look at the rep leagues for Stack Overflow you see 518 users are over 100K while a mere 12,000 are over 10K in reputation. They have between them to down vote the posts of 7 million users. Given the the 40 votes per day, I guarantee you that we're a few votes short to make a significant impact. – rene Aug 21 '17 at 17:59
  • 4
    less than a minute ago (6 minutes after my answer) you edited in Downvoting costs the downvoter -2 per downvote - this is simply wrong. You can't discuss what to do about downvoting when you don't know this. – Kate Gregory Aug 21 '17 at 18:33
  • Possible duplicate of Could we please be a bit nicer to new users? – Ro-Reinstate Monic-Alsop Aug 21 '17 at 22:31

Your question seems to boil down to:

Downvoting is bad. People with high rep do it too much. Also it hurts too much for new users so we should especially avoid it for them.

Every part of that is wrong.

Downvoting is good and I wish everyone did it more. Go check out Health if you want to see a site that desperately needs more downvotes. Dowvoting questions doesn't even cost rep - so since most of your complaint is about questions from newbies, the fact the supposed downvoters have thousands of rep will not affect the rate at which they downvote questions.

Side note here: when you don't know that downvotes on questions are free, or that downvotes on answers cost 1 rep not 2, and you don't know about the rep cap, do you know enough about how the system works that you can march in and suggest changes? Something to consider.

Getting a downvote hurts and it's not because of the rep you lose. Even on rep-cap days, where downvotes are free, I don't like getting them. Someone is saying I'm wrong, or not good enough, or something. It's uncomfortable. It's supposed to be. That's what motivates us to do better next time, or fix what we wrote this time, or think twice before we rattle off something half-baked next time.

You mention that back in the good old days, people edited and commented and didn't downvote so quickly. Well maybe you're right and maybe you're wrong about the trend, but you're not wrong that improving is better than labelling as not up to our standards. I wish more people would take the time to improve things that can be improved, and delete those that can't (generally, such deletions require some downvotes first.) But listen, downvoting is better than doing nothing, so I can't support any changes that would reduce downvoting. We need it.

  • 1
    btw, both rep and # of up and downvotes cast are public. You're welcome to trawl through the 5 sites where I have over 10k and see if my down-to-upvote ratio correlates with my rep on those sites. – Kate Gregory Aug 21 '17 at 18:32
  • Your point in italics is absolutely valid. Based on what you're saying, there is no cost to downvoting? If so, then disregard the entire post and premise and my underlying (mis)understanding is what's at fault. If my tone was to demand, then I apologize. It was my intent to suggest where I (thought) I saw a mathematical flaw. Likwise, it wasn't my intent to cast aspersions that high rep people were behaving out of spite - they don't, generally. However we're all human and even the best of us last out on our bad days/moments. I thought I saw a potential avenue for abuse. – DiskJunky Aug 21 '17 at 18:36
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    @DiskJunky I told you that there is no cost to downvoting questions multiple times already, specifically saying that that premise of your question was flawed, and thus the whole question made no sense. You...just ignored that information. – Servy Aug 21 '17 at 18:38
  • @Servy, apologies, I had indeed missed that information. I was literally closing up at work at the time. Due diligence had not been applied. – DiskJunky Aug 21 '17 at 18:39

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