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Today on Puzzling SE I earned close to 200 rep. In fact, I was at 198 reputation, and then one of my answers got upvoted, but I only got 2 rep. I totally get this, because 200 is the cap.

But then, I decided to answer another question (it was actually the same question but I decided to post two answers-it was the How can the baby live? question). Then, I got downvoted on that answer so I got -2 reputation. But, then my total for today became 198.

Shouldn't it still be 200 because the upvote that only gave me 2 rep should have given me the maximum amount it could before I reached 200 a.k.a 4 rep this time?

Am I misunderstanding something about the reputation thing? I'd appreciate any help. Thanks!

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Nope.

Reputation gains are strictly timewise... if you get to or above 200, all additional reputation you earn after that point is forfeit (exclusions in the form of bounties or accepts, etc). If you then get a downvote, you'll need an additional upvote after that point in time to get back that two reputation, even if you actually would have earned 250 or 500 rep that day if it weren't for the rep cap.

From the How does "Reputation" work? FAQ:

Additionally, if you hit the cap and later lose reputation, previous votes do not fill in the difference, although later votes will push it to the cap again.

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  • Ah I see thank you so much! – NL628 Apr 16 '18 at 3:34
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Reputation is awarded, limited by the rep cap, at the time the vote is cast. "Credits" from votes that were blocked by the rep cap doesn't help with downvotes you later receive (or cast). If it did, it could create the wrong incentives -- "oh hey, I have 30 points I didn't get because of those three upvotes after cap -- downvoting spree!".

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  • Ah Okay thank you very much! – NL628 Apr 16 '18 at 3:36

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