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I just got an odd -1 rep from a post in which I downvoted an answer. Is this small penalty due to the fact that I had downvoted without a comment? If so, please direct me to these rules. I'm not belly aching about a lousy 1 pt, but I want to be aware of the rules.

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The "penalty" is explained in the help page for the "vote down" privilege.

What happens when I vote down?

When you vote down, you are nudging that content "down" the page, so it will be seen by fewer people. Voting down answers is not something we want you to take lightly, so it is not free.

  • Downvotes remove 2 reputation from the post owner.
  • Downvotes on answers remove 1 reputation from you, the voter.
  • Downvotes on questions are free. (Why?)
  • You can vote 30 times per UTC day. You get an additional 10 votes on questions only. (Why?)

There are no hard and fast rules for when to downvote or upvote, aside from "vote on the post, not the poster".

Some people vote based on usefulness, or how interesting a post is, amount of effort and research, or how correct something is. What you vote on, and how you vote is up to you.

That said, the help page discusses some suggestions regarding when to downvote, and what alternative actions you might take.

What are the alternatives to down-voting?

The up-vote privilege comes first because that's what you should focus on: pushing great content to the top. Down-voting should be reserved for extreme cases. It's not meant as a substitute for communication and editing.

Instead of voting down:

  • If the post is spammy or offensive, flag it.
  • If the question is duplicate or off-topic, flag it for moderator attention.
  • If something is wrong, please leave a comment or edit the post to correct it.

We have had many discussions on what sort of things the community generally deems as "downvote-worthy" or not. You can read through some of those posts.

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  • Thanks, this system is way better than Stackoverflow. Occasionally I get down voted on accepted answers, it gets discouraging, especially if I'm the only one answering. – zer00ne Aug 18 '15 at 13:03
  • @zer00ne well, that happens here too. you can't please everyone. – phantom42 Aug 18 '15 at 13:05
  • Huh. I didn't know that question downvotes are free. – FuzzyBoots Aug 18 '15 at 14:37
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    @zer00ne ... this is exactly the same system as StackOverflow... – KutuluMike Aug 18 '15 at 14:54
  • @SeanDuggan I don't think they were always free but I can't pinpoint where that seemed to have changed... – KutuluMike Aug 18 '15 at 14:55
  • @MikeEdenfield looks like it was back in 2011 – phantom42 Aug 18 '15 at 14:56
  • @MikeEdenfield Are sure that there's a downvote penalty in StackOverflow? I've never gotten a -1 penalty for downvoting and I'm pretty active 3% for the quarter. – zer00ne Aug 27 '15 at 22:17
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Downvoting any answer costs 1 rep. This is not a "penalty" but rather to discourage people from arbitrarily downvoting answers.

In some cases, rather than downvoting, we should be editing the answer to improve it, especially if the problem(s) are simple things like spelling, grammar, and punctuation.

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  • Ah, I see that makes sense. Can you please direct me to the other help documents so that I can familiarize myself with these rules? This system is significantly different than the other forums I use. – zer00ne Aug 18 '15 at 12:56
  • @zer00ne Help Center – Mazura Aug 18 '15 at 14:03

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