6

Not that I'm complaining, but if forty people think I posted garbage, and nine think the opposite, my rep increases.

That seems a bit unbalanced to me.

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Because that's how the system works. Downvoting the questions and answers reduce the rep by -2 but downvoting answers costs -1 to the one who casts it.

Voting has always been for the post, not for the poster. No one will judge a post by the reputation of the user who posted, but by the net score of the post. If you have a post with nine upvotes and forty downvotes, it will have a net score of -31 which means that that post is not good. It doesn't matter how much rep you loss or gain by these votes; it is always about the post.

There have been a main meta post about increasing the weight just to balance the reputation, which was declined by Jeff Attwood (founder of SE) with this answer.

From the above linked answer,

Downvotes were always essentially cosmetic, with an extremely minor effect on reputation. Despite this, received downvotes are taken quite seriously by users. Almost too seriously. If we raise them to -5 they are no longer cosmetic but can be wielded as cudgels on other users. This was never the intent of a downvote, so we would be twisting it into something ugly. Users are far, far more attached to their reputation scores than I ever could have predicted, and I believe more than doubling the weight of a downvote will cause a lot of new, additional angst in the community over the occasional received downvote -- to the point that only users who want to hurt other users will cast them. Downvotes go from being cosmetic and psychological to weapons of war.

Downvotes were designed to be cosmetic with very low effects on reputation. These are taken very seriously by other users. If the rep loss for downvotes is increased, then it'd have lost its effect and might be used by users to hurt other users.

If the reputation loss for downvotes is increased, then they'd have to increase the penalty for casting them. And then this would have stopped other users to cast a downvote on the posts and good answers will never rise to the top.

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    OK, I'll buy that. But it kind of goes against what I was taught that rep was supposed to give us an idea on whose answers can be trusted. I agree though, that some people take it far too personally. And some people DO use them as weapons. – WGroleau Feb 25 '18 at 14:00
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    Equally as it answers the question, this post shows just how deeply you @A J have understood the Stack Exchange philosophy, and that's what I appreciate and upvote! Just a thought: would giving downvotes a score between -2 and -5 (say -3 for the first 3 downvotes and -4 for all subsequent downvotes) make users who receive them take it any more seriously without exactly making them weapons in the hands of the downvoters, do you think? – English Student Feb 25 '18 at 15:22
  • @EnglishStudent Current score for a downvote is enough to take it seriously. If this score gets increased, they'll have to increase the score to cast a downvote. That'll make other users more hesitate to cast a downvote. It's already been mentioned in the link. – A J Feb 25 '18 at 15:34
  • @WGroleau Yes, you're taught right. The reputation score tells how much you are trusted for your knowledge by the community. But if you have good reputation, it doesn't mean that you cannot make mistakes. We're all prone to make mistakes. Therefore, reputation score must not let you hesitate to cast a vote. Look at the post. If you think it's good enough to upvote, then do it else downvote it. It's your choice. The purpose of voting is to get good answers rise to the top. – A J Feb 25 '18 at 15:39
  • High reputation members rarely write highly downvoted answers and users who frequently get downvoted rarely collect high net reputation, with a few exceptions. Note too @WGroleau, net reputation scored from a post is mentioned nowhere while the net vote score of the post is prominently displayed so in your example the net score will be -31 as rightly pointed out in this answer: rather more importantly the post will be displayed in a light grey color (instead of regular black font) after a net score of just -3 and at least on IPS.SE it's very likely to get deleted soon after by 3 delete voters! – English Student Feb 25 '18 at 15:54
  • I never cared much about my reputation, because I figured that if the system worked as it was supposed to, people would listen to areas I was competent in and ignore things I only thought I knew. With that viewpoint, I used to get frustrated at the people who begged for votes or protested downvotes. Also the ones that seemed to vote emotion instead of quality. This set of answers is helping me see another side of it. Although, there‚Äôs also a lot of down voting without explanation, which is counterproductive to the theme here of it helping one to improve. – WGroleau Feb 26 '18 at 0:10
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    No one will judge a post by the reputation of the user who posted, but by the net score of the post. Citation please. – BlackThorn Feb 27 '18 at 17:09
2

In addition to the extremely perceptive and comprehensive answer by @AJ, may I only point out that the reputation loss of -2 that a user incurs when they collect a downvote is nothing compared to the significant psychological impact a downvote creates.

If a question or answer I write on Interpersonal Skills the main site (not meta) gets a downvote I will be rather upset and concerned disproportionate to the reputation loss but I will also be alerted that something in my post needs to be corrected or improved to make it a useful post or to conform to site standards, and I will immediately begin to find out what needs to be done for that purpose, not least because unless I make haste to take corrective action, my downvoted question can get closed due to some fundamental defect and my negative score answer can get deleted. That is the type of response the site wants to encourage and a substantial loss of rep such as -5 or more for each downvote is not necessary to achieve that aim.

But it kind of goes against what I was taught that rep was supposed to give us an idea on whose answers can be trusted.

You needn't have that concern because high reputation members rarely write highly downvoted answers and users who frequently get downvoted rarely collect high net reputation, with a few exceptions.

Note too that net reputation scored from a post is mentioned nowhere while the net vote score of the post is prominently displayed so in your example the net score will be -31 as rightly pointed out in @AJ's answer: rather more importantly the post will be displayed in a light grey color (instead of regular black font) after a net score of just -3 and at least on IPS.SE it's very likely to get deleted soon after by 3 delete voters!

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0

I'll add a few details.

I thought rep was supposed to give us an idea on whose answers can be trusted

Very indirectly.

For example, the same answer will earn an amount of votes which depends on how many people actually click on the question and then read it, which depends both on how interesting the question is, and other random or semi-random stuff like if it is featured in the sidebar, or if someone posts a link to it on a popular forum and draws in the crowds, how often it is updated (which brings it back to the front page), etc.

Additionally, total reputation depends on how many answers you write, and thus on much time you spend writing answers.

So, it isn't a measure of trust or anything. Its real use is to make you feel good to keep you motivated at writing answers and adding content to the site. It seems to work very well.

As AJ says, upvotes are the carrots, and downvotes are the stick, but human users would rather have it to be a tiny stick. -2 is fine. Should the stick be enlarged relative to the carrot, you would discover that much less people would be willing to spend time to write answers for fun... and more important, for free. The owners, who are a competent businessmen, understand this, as demonstrated by the success of the platform.

Besides, the reputation system is also designed to help posters learn. If you ever did some management, you should know that using the stick is often not the best choice. Think about a first time user who means well, writes a first answer which isn't that good, and then the next day "WTF! My reputation is negative! I'm outta here!" that would not be conducive to growth of user base.

Whereas the current system gives this newbie a bit of "cash" (rep points) for their efforts, and at the same time tells them "try to do better next time."

TL/DR; if it aint broke, dont fix it!

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  • Whereas the current system gives this newbie a bit of "cash" (rep points) for their efforts, and at the same time tells them "try to do better next time." > Not sure, but are you actually recommending pity upvotes here, instead of showing that bad stuff gets downvoted? – Tinkeringbell Feb 26 '18 at 8:01
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    No, I'm saying that the newbie's first answer which gets, say 1 up 2 down still gives a satisfying amount of brownie points with the current +10/-2 system, whereas with the proposed +10/-5 the newbie would feel a lot more unwelcome... – bobflux Feb 26 '18 at 13:21

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