First post on meta, so go easy on me here . . .

My thinking is that I downvote a lot of answers that I don't think are good. Downvoting costs reputation. I love that DVing costs reputation b/c it keeps the trolls(Edit: poor word choice) at bay, but I also get really annoyed when I see a post with 2 answers, one of which is obviously incorrect, that both have a score of 0. I would prefer that the bad answer have a -1!

So I think a badge that marked you as having sacrificed some quantity of reputation would be cool. Perhaps:

  • Willing to Sacrifice : Gave up 500 100 reputation to down vote poor answers
  • Some name : Gave up 1500 300 rep to DV
  • Some name : Gave up 5k 1k rep to DV

I know some people get annoyed at the concept of badges that advocate down voting, but I think that DVing is a critical part of SO, and that there are a ton of users who downvote but are not trolls - they are just trying to help keep the community organized

Edit: Perhaps 'trolls' was not the best choice of word. I am basically trying to point out that I like that the downvoting-costs-reputation is a check on the abilities of a user with a ton of reputation. I like that downvoting costs reputation, because it helps to prevent certain users from downvoting other answers that might be valid. Otherwise a user with 10k rep might hang around on new questions and attempt to downvote an answer that was correct in order to replace it with their own. (To be fair, the math is a bit off now. There is a chance that someone can downvote a valid answer on a new question, provide an equally valid answer, and receive a surplus in points because their answer was at the top of the list of answers and was therefore chosen as the accepted answer). So while I am recommending that we slightly encourage downvoting, I do not think it's a good idea to heavily encourage it by removing the reputation cost.

Also, obviously not all users go after all badges. Some badges fit your style and some don't. I simply think that there is already a small group of people who attempt to hide bad replies by downvoting them. I think this is a good service to SO, and those users could be rewarded with a badge that reflects this. Obviously etiquette would be to also mention why you are downvoting the post (I mean, there is a dialog box every time you downvote asking you to comment...).

  • 2
    Encouraging downvotes when they are deserved is a good thing, but I think those thresholds are a bit high. Most people avoid downvoting so I don't think very many people have cast 500 downvotes. I certainly have, but I'm not in the majority with my liberal use of downvotes.
    – Welbog
    Commented Jul 29, 2010 at 16:40
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    A quick check in on OData shows that there are only 6 users with more than 1500 downvotes, none with more than 5000 and about 50 with more than 500. That's not to say that those downvotes resulted in rep loss.
    – Welbog
    Commented Jul 29, 2010 at 16:46
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    @Weblog That makes two of us then. So these should probably be gold badges. Hurrah!
    – nb69307
    Commented Jul 29, 2010 at 16:47
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    @Neil: You're #1 in downvotes, if only because Chet has been banned for such a long time. I'm #20-something. I need to cast a lot more downvotes!
    – Welbog
    Commented Jul 29, 2010 at 16:51
  • I'd say the thresholds should be Bronze: 1, Silver: 100, Gold: 500.
    – Welbog
    Commented Jul 29, 2010 at 16:52
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    @Web There is a badge for 1 downvote right now - "Critic", which you get on your first downvote. Commented Jul 29, 2010 at 16:58
  • @Jared: So we're already one third of the way there!
    – Welbog
    Commented Jul 29, 2010 at 17:00
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    Fair warning: Jeff has threatened to cut off down-voting voting privileges if your upvote/downvote ratio is too low. It was not a popular proposal, but it doesn't bode well for the future of this suggestion...
    – Shog9
    Commented Jul 29, 2010 at 17:07
  • 1
    I suppose the downvotes on this are "ironic"?
    – nb69307
    Commented Jul 29, 2010 at 17:11
  • 3
    Why the random use of CW? Commented Jul 29, 2010 at 17:12
  • I'm sitting at 930 downvotes on SO, but probably 2/3 of them were on CW posts.
    – Ether
    Commented Jul 29, 2010 at 17:53
  • @Neil - ha ha, downvote away!
    – Hamy
    Commented Jul 29, 2010 at 21:42
  • @Kop - I suppose CW in anticipation of, "You want to encourage down voting? Here's your down voting right here, buddy!" Commented Jul 30, 2010 at 2:03

5 Answers 5


I don't think encouraging down-voting is a good idea; but encouraging constructive down-voting definitly makes sense.

Perhaps if the badge took into consideration if comments are accompanying down-votes? Perhaps something more along the lines of...

Has down-voted and left a comment on 50 questions

Or - to "require" quality comments and not jargon - something along the lines of * deep breath *

Has down voted 50 questions/answers, leaving a comment with a score of 2 or more on each.

... so at least two other users have to back up your reasoning.

  • A bounty that I offered was about to expire, and no new answers were forthcoming. This seems to be the best answer, my only addition would be that if your reputation (-1) is refunded no comment is necessary - that is sufficient to: "back up your reasoning", and avoids further conflict that might be caused by leaving a comment. Hopefully @Hamy was able to score a few Rep for posting this question.
    – Rob
    Commented Dec 8, 2018 at 12:32

I love that DVing costs reputation b/c it keeps the trolls at bay
Trolling isn't a problem on SO, is it?

but I also get really annoyed when I see a post with 2 answers, one of which is obviously incorrect, that both have a score of 0. I would prefer that the bad answer have a -1!
Why won't you give the correct answer +1 instead?

Personally, I think that commenting explaining why answer is bad will help community a lot more than downvote. A lot, lot more. It will help 'answerer' to realize his mistake instead of alienating him for no apparent reason (the reason why answer is bad may not be obvious to everybody).

Richard JP Le Guen has really summed up my philosophy about downvoting: "Reward the good; ignore the bad and only punish the terrible."

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    Commenting and downvoting are not mutually exclusive. If you see a poor answer (or a poor question), you should do both. And if somebody feels "alienated" by an anonymous downvote, but not by a negative comment, then they should seek professional help.
    – Aarobot
    Commented Jul 29, 2010 at 20:41
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    +1 for "Why won't you give the correct answer +1 instead?" Reward the good; ignore the bad and only punish the terrible. Commented Jul 29, 2010 at 20:56
  • @Aarobot ...they should seek professional help. How so? Anonymous downvote would leave me at least wondering, but I have nothing against constructive criticism. In fact, I would be grateful if you taught me something new in friendly, not offensive way :) Commented Jul 29, 2010 at 21:04
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    That presupposes that one views downvotes as offensive, which implies an inability to distinguish criticism of one's statements from criticism of oneself. Although this seems to be becoming more common in our increasingly hypersensitive society, it's also generally considered a neurosis by psychologists. It's OK to be curious, of course, even annoyed if the downvote makes no sense to you - but alienated or offended? That's far too extreme a reaction.
    – Aarobot
    Commented Jul 29, 2010 at 21:13
  • @Aarobot 'but' in your comment made me think that you consider feeling "alienated" by a "egative comment" to be ok. Still, it's a fact that -2 with no comments can easily drive newcomer away. Commented Jul 29, 2010 at 21:26
  • @Aarobot Commenting and downvoting are not mutually exclusive. Yes, and in this pair downvoting really doesn't bring much to community. So, no reason to encourage it. That's the point of my answer. Commented Jul 29, 2010 at 21:29
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    @Neil I just downvoted a dozen of random answers from you for the same reason: who cares. Nothing personal. (feel free to retaliate :)) Commented Jul 29, 2010 at 21:48
  • @Richard, great line! @Neil, actually I agree with Nikita! I don't want to drive away new-comers, but I do want to discourage bad answers. It's a fine line, and perhaps my badge idea is not a good idea if it will drive people away from SO
    – Hamy
    Commented Jul 29, 2010 at 21:48
  • @nikita So you have demonstrated you have the IQ of a bacteria - well done! You do know that those downvotes will be rolled back? Or maybe you don't.
    – nb69307
    Commented Jul 29, 2010 at 21:52
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    – nb69307
    Commented Jul 29, 2010 at 22:02
  • @Neil - "Plenty more where they came from"!? Dude, that's cold :'( Commented Jul 30, 2010 at 1:04
  • I usually leave a comment about a bad answer (or non-answer), then I'll come back a day later, and if it hasn't been changed by the author, I'll down vote it then. Commented Jul 30, 2010 at 1:49
  • @Nikita: Yes, it would be reasonable to feel slighted by certain negative comments as compared to a downvote. If somebody leaves a comment that says "That's wrong and you're stupid for thinking it's right, you'll never make it as a programmer", that's clearly far more offensive than an anonymous downvote.
    – Aarobot
    Commented Jul 30, 2010 at 4:54
  • And @Nikita, downvoting brings a great deal to the community, it just doesn't bring anything to the person who got downvoted (which is essentially the point).
    – Aarobot
    Commented Jul 30, 2010 at 4:54

How about a Warns First (or Sheriff) badge for leaving a comment that gets one or more upvotes followed by a down vote 24+ hours later 50 or 100+ times?

I think down voting is great (eh..... wait, that didn't come out right), if it's constructive, and the main way for down voting to be constructive is if it's accompanied by a comment.

The most positive way of doing it, that maximally coddles the neurotically sheltered and thin skinned (and people new to the site) is to leave a comment explaining the problem first, then later, only if the problem remains unfixed, to fire a down vote.

This allows posters to fix their problems and lean without getting sullied and traumatized by down votes. Only the unrepentant are brought to the down vote gallows.

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    Case in point, I guess. No idea why this was down voted, since no one bothered to leave a comment. No Sheriff badges for anyone! Commented Jul 30, 2010 at 22:15

We have a badge to encourage voting in general. I don't think we should encourage upvoting or downvoting. You should vote as you see fit.

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    There is no need to encourage upvoting - SO users do it with the fervour (and discernment) of blood-crazed sharks. But downvoting does need to be encouraged.
    – nb69307
    Commented Jul 29, 2010 at 16:50
  • Agreed. I think that upvoting is heavily encouraged and that downvoting should be slightly more encouraged!
    – Hamy
    Commented Jul 29, 2010 at 21:49

If one really thinks that downvoting should be encouraged than it doesn't make sense to make every downvote cost 1 Rep. In that case they could simply remove the Rep cost.

That will increase the number of downvotes but it might produce a more hostile environment. It might reduce the number of newbies around who will get downvoted. Experts however might be encouraged when they are able to down vote stuffs they consider to be wrong without cost.

It think the more hostile environment would be worth the cost because at the end of the day the average quality matters more than quantity.

  • FYI This came up in a few replies so I addressed it in the original post
    – Hamy
    Commented Jul 29, 2010 at 21:45

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