Occasionally, I downvote a bad answer but the -1 is not subtracted immediately and may sometimes take a few hours. Why is that the case? Why is it not immediate like when gaining a reputation for an upvoted post/comment?

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    Probably caching – rene May 11 '19 at 19:11
  • @rene Would you mind elaborating how caching would affect downvoting but not affect the reputation I gain when getting upvoted? – Does it matter May 11 '19 at 19:22
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    It takes effect immediately, you're just not notified. We don't have rep alerts for negative reputation changes. – Catija May 11 '19 at 19:22
  • @Catija Are you sure? Because I got notified on an answer I downvoted today imgur.com/a/3MryGDi – Does it matter May 11 '19 at 19:27
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    The notifications show up in the achievements panel, they just don't light it up. If you downvote and then check, you should see it right away. – Catija May 11 '19 at 19:28
  • @Catija That's odd. Because I downvoted a total of 4 answers today within 10 minutes and the one in the screenshot is the only one there. Edit: imgur.com/a/B7mykhF – Does it matter May 11 '19 at 19:29
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    Was one of the answers you downvoted deleted afterwards? Of so it's possible the -1/+1 pair just doesn't show up. – Jenayah May 11 '19 at 19:47
  • @Jenayah No none was deleted. Even now 11 hours later, still nothing in the notifications. But ChrisF's answer makes a lot of sense. – Does it matter May 12 '19 at 6:16

As Catija points out there's no notification of reputation loss, the next positive notification will be reduced by the amount lost.

However, the -1 for down-voting and the -2 for being down-voted are delayed and delayed by different amounts. This is done to help preserve the anonymity of voting.

Imagine the scenario. Someone receives a down-vote and notes the time at which it occurred. They suspect that a specific user has been down-voting them so they go to that user's profile. If the rep loss was immediate they'd see the correlation between their rep loss and their supposed nemesis's rep loss and possibly start a vendetta.

With the delay there's no way that anyone can know for sure that the rep loss was tied to a specific down-vote. That way the opportunity for retaliation is reduced or even eliminated.

It's not perfect, as it's security through obscurity, but it does go a long way.

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    I cannot see the -1 rep loss due to downvoting on other people’s profiles. Unless you memorize a person’s rep before you were downvoted by them and compare to the rep after you were downvoted, you shouldn’t be able to tell who it was. – Cris Luengo May 11 '19 at 21:06
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    @CrisLuengo You can see last seen times and people do (unbelievably) notice - or claim to notice - the reduction in reputation. – ChrisF May 11 '19 at 22:18

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