I was looking at my reputation and I was confused when I saw this:

enter image description here

I checked the what's rep page where it says

You gain reputation when:

question is voted up: +5

answer is voted up: +10

but I still don't get it. This has happened to me more than once.

Why is one upvote a +3 and another +10?

  • 1
    Should this be added to faq?
    – AAM111
    Commented Nov 26, 2016 at 19:40

2 Answers 2


You hit the repcap today. Congratulations.

To fully explain what was going on with your reputation, I first need to explain how the repcap works. Note that a lot of this is covered in the Help Center, but I'm going to go through it in rather more detail than they do there.

The first thing to understand is that reputation changes broadly fall into two categories1:

  1. "Standard" changes. This encompasses most activities; rep you gain when you receive upvotes, rep you lose when you give or receive downvotes, and reputation you gain from having suggested edits approved.

  2. Bonus changes. This includes the association bonus, the accepted answer bonus (that is, the +15 you get when an answer of yours is accepted and the +2 bonus you get when you accept an answer on one of your questions), and any rep gained or lost from awarding or receiving a bounty.

With this in mind, the repcap requirements can be restated as:

Every day, you can earn a maximum of 200 reputation from standard changes.

With this in mind, let's look at what happened to you on December 22, 2015. I find it instructive to think of your reputation like a glass and bucket of water:

  • Every time you gain reputation in a standard way, an amount of water is added to your glass
  • Everytime you love reputation in a standard way, an amount is removed from your glass
  • At the end of each day, the glass is emptied into a big bucket
  • Any bonus changes affect the bucket, not the glass
  • The glass has a finite capacity, and any overflow is lost forever

So looking at your reputation history for the day, we can reconstruct a timeline of what happened to your glass:

Skip ahead a bit to:

1 I'm excluding a few edge cases, like reputation changes to to retracted votes and deleted posts; those get complicated, and aren't useful here. I'm also excluding the hilarious "Arbitrary Reputation Change" category, which I believe has only been used on StackApps. Finally, there's a -100 reputation penalty if one of your posts receives 6 valid spam or abuse flags; I have no idea how that factors into the repcap, though I doubt it's something that comes up very often

  • 1
    can people see other people's rep. graphs?
    – RedCaio
    Commented Dec 22, 2015 at 23:27
  • @RedCaio Anything not related to voting activity, yes. So if I downvoted an answer today (a -1 rep penalty) you would see my rep gain for the day as 216, but I would only have actually earned 215; I'm fair sure you can see all the rest Commented Dec 22, 2015 at 23:29
  • What's a repcap?
    – Valorum
    Commented Nov 24, 2016 at 22:45

You have earned 200+ (247) reputation points in one day. I forgot how the math for things like this work, but when you have earned 200 reputation points in one day, you are capped at how many new reputation points you can earn for upvotes on old activity. But I believe you do get reputation points for 100% new activity such as posting a new question that is up voted or a new answer that is accepted.

So when you see an odd number like that +3 I believe that comes from a situation that might be like this:

  • You down voted 3 answers and lost 3 points in reputation.
  • Then someone comes along to one of your old answers or questions and up votes that.
  • Since the system won’t give you any new reputation points for an old question since you have received 200+ reputation points today, the +3 comes from the system accounting for the 3 reputation points you lost from down voting activity and “backfills” that lost reputation from whatever new voting activity you get.

So no new reputation points, but backfill of lost reputation within the day you lost that reputation points yet gained 200+ reputation.

  • I don't downvote.
    – RedCaio
    Commented Dec 22, 2015 at 23:26

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