This proposal stems from this question, concerned about some members who have a large reputation based solely on question votes.

While that phenomenon is a problem on its own, there is a feeling that question pruning by down-votes is shunned because it's costly. Even at -1 point, there's that psychological barrier. On the flip side, if down-voting was free, there is some justifiable fear that down-voting would be done too often and harshly.

Therefore, let's hear it for 5 free daily question down-votes, i.e. that cost no rep to the down-voter. After that, the usual rate applies.


Unused free votes do not stack/rollover. If they go unused, they're gone. The next day resets the counter to 5. Same as voting limit.

  • 1
    I disagree. Usually, a quick comment will improve the answer\question, which will benefit all the parties. A downvote can be use as peer pressure mechanism for stubborn users. and of course, use your flags if it's appropriate. – HuBeZa Apr 6 '11 at 15:31
  • I'm not against comments or flagging, they have their uses too. – MPelletier Apr 6 '11 at 15:53
  • ALL question down-votes are free now. O frabjous day... – Shog9 May 27 '11 at 0:29
  • @Shog9 Yeah, not how I planned it, but ok. Let's get downvoting! Wait, that's not what I meant... – MPelletier May 27 '11 at 0:44

Stop being such wussies. It would take a few hundred downvotes to make a dent into the reputation of any heavy user. Read a bit about loss aversion and then acknowledge it's not rational.

Once again, downvoting is good for you.

  • 7
    Loss aversion isn't rational, that's my point. It's just like a $1 iPhone app. Any iPhone owner can afford it, but that gap is there. Make it free and there's a big difference. Psychologically, the difference between 1 and 0 is larger than any other two consecutive integers. I'm not falling into the game, I'm suggesting a way to beat it. – MPelletier Apr 6 '11 at 14:57
  • I'm in agreement with all your points. Now how do we convince everyone else? – MPelletier Apr 6 '11 at 15:00

I believe your assumption is flawed.

[...] question pruning by down-votes is shunned because it's costly.

That's certainly a factor. But it's not the only reason people avoid to downvote.

It's IMO eschewed mostly for social reasons. Donwvote ratio in your profile. Trying to be nice to noobs. And some people also don't like being used as manual spamfilter even if they don't have to pay for that privilege.

Long-term users give up on downvoting because it seemingly has no effect. That correlates directly to the amount of new bad questions. Countering the rising influx with more downvotes might work out, but there's an if.

And lastly I fear Shrapi would like this too much.

Come to think of it, Why aren't people voting for questions? is the underlying meta topic here.
And the UX issue pertains to downvoting alike.


I like the idea in spirit, but this encourages down-voting up until the 6 down-vote. Some users are on SO for longer periods than others and would need more than 5. Others would never run out of free votes because they use 5 or less per day.

I would suggest lowering the cost of a down vote to .5 rep. (Or every other down vote is free).

Or maybe make down votes on questions free and down-votes on answers at a cost.

  • See my edit. I hadn't thought of specifying that free votes would not accumulate. – MPelletier Apr 6 '11 at 14:46

My answer in that question can essentially be duplicated here as a competing implementation around the idea of not charging a penalty for downvotes.

  • Can loss aversion be gotten rid of by a free trial period? Good question. Is psy.SE open yet? ;) – MPelletier Apr 6 '11 at 15:17

Since there is vote fraud detection algorithm already, I would suggest all the downvotes should be free.

And downvotees should also be no cost at all.

And also I like to suggest that showing downvote counts on profiles are nothing good.

Basically, All negative activities should be removed. Be Nice.

  • There's vote fraud? How? – MPelletier Apr 6 '11 at 14:40
  • I don't suggest showing downvote counts to others. – MPelletier Apr 6 '11 at 14:41
  • @MPelletier, you don't suggest. right! I suggest. And for vote fraud detection, the system could detect some serial downvotes, upvotes, so allowing everything free shouldn't have problem – YOU Apr 6 '11 at 14:43
  • That voting fraud algorithm would be to prevent personal vendettas, right? What about ganging up on a question? – MPelletier Apr 6 '11 at 14:58
  • @MPelletier, Gang? I have never seen Ganging activities on Stack Overflow, so I have no idea. I always think everyone is individual, although there could be some sockpuppets, but thats different case. – YOU Apr 6 '11 at 15:01
  • @YOU Suppose your typical "give me teh codez" question. Regulars (who happen to be there at the time before the question is closed) are offended, down-vote generously. Does that trigger the vote fraud detection algorithm? I'm just curious. – MPelletier Apr 6 '11 at 15:11
  • @MPelletier - no it wouldn't as it has to be the same user for it to be fraud. – ChrisF Apr 6 '11 at 15:12
  • @MPelletier, It won't trigger the vote fraud detection IMHO, since votes are from different persons. – YOU Apr 6 '11 at 15:13
  • This could be a differente feature-request (which I'd downvote) – juan Apr 6 '11 at 15:29
  • @Juan Manuel, just go ahead on this one too, if you disagree. :-) – YOU Apr 6 '11 at 15:31

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