-4

I am trying to familiarise myself with SO (company)/SE, reading posts such as "What is reputation?", "How does reputation works?", "Decrease of reputation on downvote?", etc.

I've split voting elements per users' activity:

  • Passive change, reputation change based on prior user action.
  • Active change, reputation change based on current user action.

If links are up to date, the table should look as follows for users over 15 rep (upvotes) and 125 rep (downvotes):

+-------------------------------+-------------------------------+
|         Passive change        |         Active change         |
+-------------------------------+-------------------------------+
|| ACTION  |  RESPONSE  |CHANGE||| ACTION  |  RESPONSE  |CHANGE||
+-------------------------------+-------------------------------+
| asked    |  UPVOTED   |   +5  |   ask    |   NONE     |   0   |
| asked    | DOWNVOTED  |   -2  |  answer  |   NONE     |   0   |
| answered |  UPVOTED   |  +10  |  accept  |  REP GAIN  |  +5   |
| answered | DOWNVOTED  |   -2  |  upvote  |   NONE     |   0   |
| answered |  ACCEPTED  |  +15  | downvote |  REP LOST  |  -1   |
+-------------------------------+-------------------------------+
|| OVERALL CHANGE IN REP|  +26 ||| OVERALL CHANGE IN REP|  +4  ||  = +30
+-------------------------------+-------------------------------+

So by this table, it seems that user is mostly rewarded to be passive (long term game) in actions. Make good answers and wait for initial +10s to arise. From active side of users, it seems that the main subvention is to accept answers, and rarely downvote, and with no incentive (or repercussion) for upvotes. I didn't count bounties at this table since they are offered at 75+ rep, but they don't generate change in rep, but they shift it from one user to another.

After users grasps 500 rep, they have a clear way to help in moderation by using the review queues, and even though these rep changes can have benefits/costs earlier in rep (didn't find information at which rep you can edit posts), I am choosing to count it at 500+ rep:

+-------------------------------+-------------------------------+
|         Passive change        |         Active change         |
+-------------------------------+-------------------------------+
|| ACTION  |  RESPONSE  |CHANGE||| ACTION  |  RESPONSE  |CHANGE||
+-------------------------------+-------------------------------+
|edited Q/A|  ACCEPTED  |   +2  | edit post|    NONE    |   0   |
|edited Q/A| !ACCEPTED  |   0   |          |            |       |
+-------------------------------+-------------------------------+
|| OVERALL CHANGE IN REP|   +2 ||| ACTION  |  RESPONSE  |   0  ||  = +2
+-------------------------------+-------------------------------+

Again, it seems that passive action is best suited for an every day user. When I looked into this I didn't count penalties (6 offensive/spam flags) or site association bonus (since rep gains don't affect the rep of users in total).

Most of these stats do seem logical to me. SO (comp) as a knowledge base has most value in quality answered questions than general questions, and I understand that there must be an incentive to check our work and not to downvote rashly and to accept valuable answers than have bunch of error prone.

What confuses me the most is that active voting down can cost you rep, but active voting up doesn't do anything. I am guessing that there is some trade off with accepting answers, but why is that? I personally don't have an opinion on this manner. but I do find it curious.

Main Question:

What is the reason behind not gaining reputation for a user when upvoting, but removing reputation when a user downvotes? I am looking forward for both sides of the conversation.

Questions if you have some time on your hands

Was there a time that upvotes did generate reputation? Did it backfire in some way?

  • 3
    Except for the association bonus (+100), Stack Exchange is based on the principle that you can not gain reputation points by your own actions, but only by the actions of others (votes, accepted answers, approved suggested edits, and approved answers for bounties). – Peter Mortensen Sep 9 at 1:24
  • With exception to your own action - downvoting. I am aware of such principles. I am curious why is that, I am also interested in contribution you might have. – Danilo Sep 9 at 1:28
  • 2
    Accepting answer gives +2 rather than +5. – Martin Sep 9 at 3:52
13

Nope.

I think some insight into what the powers that be thought of voting and such might come from here and here.

Practically the enticement to vote doesn't come from reputation. To a certain extent, the system does provide some pressure to encourage people to vote, through stats and subtle nagging. Fundamentally, I don't think we reward upvotes because upvotes are its own reward.

Practically this also means that we're relying on other reward systems than reputation, to encourage upvotes.

We have never given reputation for upvoting, and from what I've seen from some folks on SE, the likely result would be folks voting to to inflate their score.

There's a good reason that there's no mechanism for increasing your reputation on your own - every reputation increase or transfer needs to be initiated by another user. Some folks might abuse it to get imaginary internet points.

And I think (subconsciously) this comes down to positive vs negative reinforcement

Upvotes are a fundamental part of positive reinforcement. The benefit of a good answer or question is implicit and you benefit from the post itself. In a sense there's no need to 'specifically' encourage people to vote - and some folks might choose to upvote for the 'free' reputation.

Downvotes are negative reinforcement. Its meant to discourage poor behavior. By spending a slice of our reputation to discourage poor answers we're essentially investing in the health of the site. A properly poor answer will likely get deleted and your investment of reputation is returned. (As an aside, we had downvotes on questions once - this might be an interesting datapoint for you).

Its also something that I feel that we need to use sparingly - and I ask myself "Is this downvote worth it". (And usually when I do, it is and I get back the rep ;p)

  • How do you mean you get back the rep with worth downvote? Also that is some hefty material you gave me, it will take some time to read it all. But i am willing to get into this topic a bit further if you are. – Danilo Sep 9 at 0:28
  • 1
    If you downvote, and the post is deleted, you get back the reputation. Also, Historically - the blogs are a great source of information on why certain decisions were made. – Journeyman Geek Sep 9 at 0:55
  • That seems to be the information those links I mentioned should contain - they actually are. I've reviewed your suggested reading. Incentives were/are clearly defined - albeit data you linked is outdated. This brings another question to my mind, did data mutate over the years? I've asked Jeff in comments to provide update if possible. Even though history is important, and part of my question is tied to history. I am grateful for the links you provided. About blogs, i find them educating - i did came across them recently, it is still a slope to navigate them. – Danilo Sep 9 at 1:06
  • 1
    Jeff's no longer with SO - so practically, there's little point in asking him. You're likely to have better luck asking a question about updated statistics with reference to these things here - some current member of staff might take an interest, or it might even be answerable through SEDE. – Journeyman Geek Sep 9 at 1:22
  • I know Jeff isn't owner (or co-owner) of SO. I've read that blog that kind user linked. But his last activity was in june this year - so i am guessing he pops in, from time to time. As original poster i am willing to incline that he is able to reproduce data via SQL from query - since original formulas were his. I might be wrong here. If i don't plummet too much in rep i will reconsider doing what you said. Excuse me what is SEDE? – Danilo Sep 9 at 1:27
  • Its a way to query a database of historic, aggregate data of posts across the network. I'm not really a big user of it but its useful for a lot of folks. Announcement Blog Post, Link and tutorial – Journeyman Geek Sep 9 at 1:31
  • Ok, i didn't know it by such acronym. That is what i meant by SQL query. – Danilo Sep 9 at 1:32
6

... I understand that there must be an incentive to check our work and not to downvote rashly and to accept valuable answers than have bunch of error prone.

What confuses me the most is that active voting down can cost you rep, but active voting up doesn't do anything.

Downvoting may be against a competing answer, assuming it's not against the person irrespective of the answer's quality; so there's a cost.

Upvoting is thought to be helpful and the effort expended because the answer is good (excellent), there are posts suggesting that sometimes people upvote on the person and leave better answers to fall behind. The "solution" could be to penalize upvotes, but then those would be less frequent and it's a disincentive to the necessary answers.

I am guessing that there is some trade off with accepting answers, but why is that? I personally don't have an opinion on this manner. but I do find it curious.
Main Question:

  • What is the reason behind not gaining reputation for a user when upvoting, but removing reputation when a user downvotes? I am looking forward for both sides of the conversation.
  1. Questions are the fuel that powers the engine.

    • We need to know if questions are good or bad, before more effort is spent.
    • Votes on questions are free to encourage voting, hopefully fairly.
    • The degree that questions are competitive determines if they're dupes.
  2. Answers that are good are what attracts those seeking answers.

    • Answers that are not good shouldn't get upvotes.
    • Answers that really are not good may get downvotes, at a cost.
    • The degree that answers are competitive determines if they're good, unless they are plagiarized.

Allowing free up and down voting on questions isn't seen to be a problem or demonstrated to affect the asking of them; if anything it's the overall reception a question receives (of which votes are a part) that affects the individual whom asked, but not if other questions will be forthcoming.

Allowing free downvoting on answers would allow reasonably good answers to be pushed down, and since reputation is the major reward for answering (unless the joy of answering is its own reward), along with badges (and the privileges those endow) anything that stagnates answering brings the engine to a stall.

Changing the way things work changes the value of reputation and badges - essentially revaluing the monetary system.

For example, allowing an increase of one reputation per upvote would allow one to increase their reputation by 14,600 per year just by upvoting questions; that means questions that were not particularly good could rise above better questions (better by whatever standard).

Restricting the one point reputation increase to upvoting answers only still allows one to increase their reputation by 10,950 per year.

Anytime one must discount the first amount of whatever (reputation, badges, years membership) it creates a barrier to entry for newcomers which is a common complaint - why not let me do X, Y, and Z - why can't people do whatever without a certain reputation, etc.

Rewards (reputation / badges) are offered to encourage behavior that is thought to be helpful. Actions which are thought not to be helpful are given indications such as downvotes, comments, outright warnings, flags, and suspendions; depending upon the severity.

It's an attempt at balance, whenever there are big changes a backlash ensues.

  • There are some elements that I don't think I understood or I am in need of clarification. How are questions competitive? I see questions as topics, specific issues that need to be resolved. With massive community editing and duplicate flags there shouldn't be any competitive element to asking a question. Votes on questions are free to encourage voting, hopefully fairly. How they are free if downvote costs someone -1 rep? Did you mean that in specific manner that i am missing? – Danilo Sep 9 at 14:13
  • ..along with badges (and the privileges those endow) ... I am not aware that bages grant any privileges. Privileges often are prerequisite to gain a badge (again, that i am aware of), so i thought that bages are there to further familiarise user with website. It's an attempt at balance, whenever there are big changes a backlash ensues. Amen! But i think that change is natural way of evolving. It is not plausible to think that 1 model will fit its use across infinite time. Not that I think major/minor changes are necessary, but they are bound to happen. – Danilo Sep 9 at 14:16
  • 2
    Have another look or quote the sentence. 2nd to last is incorrect DV on Q isn't -1. – Rob Sep 9 at 14:16
  • 1
    Rob, I can't edit it now. I meant that user who downvoted gets -1 rep, not that downvoted question removes -1 rep (it is -2 for user who asked questions). – Danilo Sep 9 at 14:21

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