Recently, downvoting on questions became free. This made a lot of sense to me in SO, however in meta it might not be the case. In SO the quality of a question is in general independent from the quality of its answers. In meta, when we cast a vote we are not grading the quality of the "question" or its "answers", we are in general just voting according to our personal opinions on the matter.

If we look at questions and answers as independent elements, then new system may look fairer. However I think in general they are not independent, I think the most common case is for votes on questions and answers to be tightly related. Suppose I have a question (proposal) A, with an opposing answer B. If someone disagrees on the question, he/she can downvote it and upvote the opposing answer, and it will all be free. However if I agree with the opinion presented in the question, and I want to upvote the question and downvote the opposing answer, I have to "pay".

Does anyone see a problem on this? Does anyone think this could or should be changed?

The answer below from Mark Trapp in my opinion has some convincing arguments that the current system works fine for meta.

The title of this question used to be "Please downvote me (It's free now)", but since it got "too popular" I decided to modify it slightly :)

  • 6
    Challenging/mocking everyone to downvote you just because it's free isn't really a good way to get people to seriously consider your point. – Adam Lear May 18 '11 at 17:11
  • 6
    ...but it certainly got my attention. – user159834 May 18 '11 at 17:14
  • 4
    @Anna I am fine with that too, the topic is not of life-or-death anyway. – yms May 18 '11 at 17:14
  • 5
    I came for the free downvote. – Anthony Pegram May 18 '11 at 17:17
  • 5
    Challenge accepted. – user149432 May 18 '11 at 17:19
  • 1
    @yms No, it's not. Pretty much nothing on Meta is life or death. :) But it just seems kinda ... counterproductive to present it this way. – Adam Lear May 18 '11 at 17:20
  • 1
    @yms: Maybe it's just me, but I've never let a -1 rep cost keep me from downvoting. Seriously, 1 rep is so trivial - it really blows me away that people let this impede on their responsibility to downvote appropriately. – user159834 May 18 '11 at 17:26
  • 3
    +1 for... no wait. – uɐɯsO uɐɥʇɐN May 18 '11 at 17:27
  • 11
    @Wesley - Those of us that haven't stockpiled 4+ digits worth of rep notice the cost of downvoting more, because it's more likely to mean the difference between having or not having a privilege, especially if downvoting several times before gaining rep to offset the cost. Ours also display more accuracy than "10k", so we can see the change of a point or two, either way (ex - I noticed from my rep here that my answer got an upvote and two downs, which isn't evident from the net vote score). – Shauna May 18 '11 at 17:52
  • 7
    @Wesley - Also, it matters because us nerds are obsessed with numbers, and the bigger the number, the better! It's why video games, with all their numbers and scores, are so popular. :D – Shauna May 18 '11 at 17:53
  • @yms I am sorry you feel that way. I didn't mean to be offensive. I will remove my comment to avoid offending anyone else. – ughoavgfhw May 18 '11 at 19:23
  • @ughoavgfhw Thanks, apology accepted, I will remove mine too. – yms May 18 '11 at 19:30
  • I was going to upvote this just to be contrary until I saw that I disagreed with the actual post; I have downvoted, as requested. – jscs May 18 '11 at 19:48
  • 1
    @Josh you are probably right... I was a bit biased when I wrote the question, however the answer below from Mark Trapp changed my mind. Maybe I should edit my question a little bit now :) – yms May 18 '11 at 20:06
  • 1
    I think the discussion you've raised is good. There's nothing wrong with the question as written, although it could be more neutrally-toned. (Editing would allow those of us who voted to disagree to change our votes. ;) – jscs May 18 '11 at 20:12

The goal, or at least how I understood the goal, is to increase the signal-to-noise ratio of the question listing pages.

That is, if you're a person with a penchant for asking terrible questions (or, in the context of Meta Stack Overflow, proposing poorly-thought out ideas that are ill-received by the community), the system can learn from the net score of your questions and do things like bar you from asking any more.

In this sense, the system works. The justification behind the question down-vote cost doesn't really apply to the answer down-vote cost as answers don't really affect all users.

To put it another way, when I go to the Meta Stack Overflow home page, I see a ton of questions. If most of those are terrible proposals with little to no indication that I'd be wasting my time by reading them, the value proposition of visiting and participating in Meta Stack Overflow is diminished: I have better things to do.

Compare that to answers on a specific question: I've made a conscious choice to look into what I think is an interesting question. I already made the decision that the question is worth my time. If I find the answers to be useless, I have a few different options, as an interested party, to register my displeasure, including writing my own answer.

Being able to write your own answer is key: if your answer is good enough, it'll rise above the junk answers and everyone will be better off for it.

There is no such action for question lists. I can't say "these questions suck, show me this question I just thought up instead": that'd be silly. So, it's imperative the question list have a high signal-to-noise ratio, and removing the penalty for those users who do take the time to read a question and later find it to be useless (or, in the context of Meta Stack Overflow, a bad suggestion/proposal/etc.) so they can down-vote is conducive to that.


There are a lot of really terrible suggestions posted here. Bad ideas, previously-suggested, and poorly-explained. And still, most of them get up-voted more than they get down-voted. If this encourages more folks to down-vote them... good.


I think that makes sense to make all meta downvotes free (perhaps meta upvotes shouldn't reward points, either?), given the nature of meta vs SO.

  • 4
    If meta upvotes didn't reward points, wouldn't we all be at 1 rep eventually? – user159834 May 18 '11 at 17:16
  • Getting positive votes would still grant rep, as would accepted answers and upvoting comments. Just the act of upvoting would not grant points if the act of downvoting doesn't dock points. Come to think of it, does the act of upvoting do anything for the upvoter? If not, then my thought is kind of moot and that's what I get for responding while doing six other things. I still the OP's suggestion makes sense, though. – Shauna May 18 '11 at 17:24
  • 5
    meta.stackoverflow.com is the only remaining meta site that still awards rep. The sister SE sites all have free metas. – user102937 May 18 '11 at 17:30
  • 1
    @Robert: Wasn't aware of that, that is interesting. I see it displays your rep from the non-meta site, which to me makes a lot of sense. Why isn't this implemented here? – user159834 May 18 '11 at 17:32
  • 5
    @Wesley: The peasants would burn down the castle, probably. Also, this meta services more than one site (SO, SE, A51, StackApps, SEDE) and, to a lesser extent, all of the sister sites, whereas the sister metas each only service a single site. – user102937 May 18 '11 at 17:33
  • 1
    @Robert - You learn something new every day! :) – Shauna May 18 '11 at 17:44

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .