See also: Should downvotes on questions be "free"?

Ever since downvotes for questions have been made free, I find that I've been more actively voting (both up and down) on questions. The old -1 rep penalty was a major deterrent for me for downvoting terrible questions, especially when there are so many of them and the askers have no intention on staying in the community. Voting to close was my main way of dealing with these questions. I know many people feel the same way.

Unfortunately, I don't think many people who regular Stack Overflow but not meta are even aware of this change. They too probably would be voting much more had they known.

For example, there was a question that came out which was essentially a "plz send teh codez!" kind of question. I saw the question and the request and saw this is not a question for Stack Overflow so I downvoted it and voted to close as NARQ. It took a little while but as others saw the question, they agreed and voted to close it. As of right now, the question only has two downvotes (mine and the NARQ close). Immediately after closing, the person "asked" again the same question. It immediately was closed as being an exact duplicate of the previous question. It only has one downvote (mine). I bet there would be a lot more if people were more aware of this.

Question #1: https://stackoverflow.com/questions/6004589/calling-assembly-from-c-for-add-sub-mul
Question #2: https://stackoverflow.com/questions/6004842/calling-assembly-from-c-for-add-sub-mul

Is there anything that can be done to raise awareness of this change? I think the more people start using it, the less likely we'll see 0 vote bad questions and the better Stack Overflow will be. I added a comment trying to point out that it is free now but it was too late and I don't think people have seen it. Perhaps a one time reminder when you vote to close a question as off-topic or not a real question?

  • 16
    Ironically, I was not aware of this change.
    – user159834
    May 15, 2011 at 1:54
  • Do you get your rep back for all the -1s lost thus far? May 15, 2011 at 5:58
  • 5
    @davidsleeps: Yes, if you perform a rep recalc: stackoverflow.com/reputation May 15, 2011 at 6:23
  • 2
    And here I thought that while I was downvoting and not losing rep, I was the beneficiary of a bug that I was really reluctant to mention.
    – KatieK
    May 26, 2011 at 16:57

4 Answers 4


Here you go, just upvoted this question, I hope it raises awareness :)

More seriously, Jeff updated the Faq.

Looking at trends, question vote awareness is at all time highs. winning

Only extra things we could possibly do are site wide banners, inbox messages informing users of the change and a blog post. Personally I do not feel any of theses are necessary at the moment.

  • Having banners and such would be a bit overkill IMHO. What I had in mind was that if you did a certain action that relates to saying that this is a terrible question, a reminder is shown along the lines of, "Do you think this is a bad question? Let everyone else know what you think by downvoting it with no penalty to you." Similar to how it is for the upvote reminders. What those actions are, I don't know yet but I hope you get the idea. May 15, 2011 at 6:39
  • 2
    @Jeff Mercado: I think this would be really annoying, but then I still find it hard to believe people were put off downvoting because of a (usually temporary, due to deletion,) loss of 1 rep. You may as well prompt people to try to improve the post / leave a comment about how it can be improved while you're at it.
    – forsvarir
    May 15, 2011 at 8:58
  • I think people are put off downvoting in marginal cases, not so much for egregiously bad questions. May 16, 2011 at 3:21
  • @forsvarir: I'm not talking about showing a message all the time. At least, I had always thought that the upvote reminders were only shown to newer users or at the very least, a one time only message. Since this is a relatively new change, I think a one time only message should be enough for people to notice. May 16, 2011 at 15:07

I just got -1 for a downvote on StackOverflow.com, but I thought that they were free?


(Yes this is on another users question, not a downvote on my question)

  • Then hang... er, tell waffles then. :) (It's possible to downvote yourself?) May 16, 2011 at 1:56
  • @Jeff Yeah I wondered that and had to double check "What idiot posted that answer! Oh wait...", but no - this is definitely someone elses post.
    – Justin
    May 16, 2011 at 1:58
  • 3
    I notice that the question itself does not have any votes on it. I presume you took back that vote. Or did you actually downvote one of the answers? Those are not free. May 16, 2011 at 2:02
  • 1
    @Jeff Ah, stupid me! Thats what it was!
    – Justin
    May 16, 2011 at 2:05
  • 3
    Looks like the question title needs to be "Can we raise the awareness that answer downvotes are NOT free?"... I didn't realize that either :) I thought the change applied to all downvotes.
    – JK.
    May 16, 2011 at 3:33

Blogged here:


On June 13th -- and all the /faqs and other pages are up to date, so I believe that's about all we can do.


Site wide banner for couple of days, same like we had with the major change in reputaion when upvoting Question started giving only 5 reputation instead of 10.

This will surely draw the required attention, also like poor Kragen learned the hard way, mention that downvoting an Answer still cost one full reputation point. :)

  • I really don't think we need a site-wide banner for this. Those are terribly obnoxious. If this is absolutely necessary, start with a blog post, and then go from there. May 16, 2011 at 12:30

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