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.
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.
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.
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.