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To maintain MO alive and well, we need a regular flow of good questions, and not too many bad questions. It seems to me that one has given more weight to the latter, forgetting the former which in my opinion is more important. To the limited extent that the reputation system can do anything about the situation of question, we should have our incentives right. A good question is very important, perhaps even more than a good answer. But we're all afraid of bad questions getting voted up by too many times. Those questions often has a large number of positive vote, and an almost as large number of negative votes, hence in the current system give the OP a large total reputation. The -10 reputation should in a large part solve this problem.

To prevent abuse, we could increase slightly the cost of down voting to 2 or 3 reps, and raise the minimum amount of rep to be allowed to down vote, from 115 (which is the StackExchange bonus plus epsilon) to say 200 or 300.


Edit: After reading the comments and thinking a little bit more about it, I don't think any more that my proposition is a good idea. There is probably no miracle solution for inducing a lot of good questions with few bad ones.

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    $\begingroup$ One thing that might be pertinent here is that a large percentage of 'bad' questions are from those who have just 1 point of rep, where subtraction of -10 is moot. Often these are the people we never hear from again anyway. For others who really want to stick around, I personally feel it is better to teach them what a good question looks like in a not-too punitive way (for those who persist in asking unwanted questions, moderators can take other steps), and that increasing the penalty could scare a lot of people away who could have become decent contributors. $\endgroup$ – Todd Trimble Jul 4 '14 at 13:28
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    $\begingroup$ To describe the increase as slight seems odd to me; in some sense it is an infinite increase. Downvoting questions costs 0 points at the moment. $\endgroup$ – user9072 Jul 4 '14 at 13:44
  • $\begingroup$ @Todd: Would it reduce your concerns if voting would be symmetric ("loss" from a downvote equals "gain" from an upvote), but there is a cap at zero, i.e. no post may result in total in a loss of points? $\endgroup$ – Stefan Kohl Jul 5 '14 at 10:32
  • $\begingroup$ @StefanKohl Yes, it's an interesting suggestion. I'd like to think further on how big the "problem" is that the suggestion is meant to address, or if this might do more harm than good. Just to be clear: do you propose that the question-downvoter lose no rep (the way we have it now)? $\endgroup$ – Todd Trimble Jul 5 '14 at 19:22
  • $\begingroup$ @ToddTrimble: Yes, my proposal is to leave this as it is, i.e. the question-downvoter looses no points. I think taking away points from the downvoter would be almost a similarly bad idea as giving points to the upvoter -- both would effectively prevent an unbiased decision. Further, to be precise, I'd suggest to make gain / loss of points independent of the order in which the up- and downvotes on a post are cast, i.e. $+5/-5$ is always zero, as is $+3/-10$. $\endgroup$ – Stefan Kohl Jul 5 '14 at 20:08
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    $\begingroup$ "Those questions often has a large number of positive vote, and an almost as large number of negative votes, [...]" This seems quite false. Please provide examples. For example a question on mathematicians with contributions outside their own field got at the time of writing 4 votes to close but only 2 dv (one from me for both, but I only cast the dv now). Examples like this abound. Downvotes are rare. $\endgroup$ – user9072 Jul 6 '14 at 0:06
  • $\begingroup$ Dear Quid, I agree with what you and Todd said in comments. My proposal was not well-thought. I was forgetting that down-voting a question was, in the current system, free, and I didn't realize the obvious excessively punitive connotation of taking 10 reputations to the OP for any down vote. But for your request of providing example, I was certainly not thinking about the question on "contributions outside their own field" which I like, and for which I would not understand the vote to close if a comment by the OP had not made it open-ended by allowing contributions in an other fields of math.. $\endgroup$ – Joël Jul 6 '14 at 4:32
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    $\begingroup$ ... but I was rather thinking about very controversial question like "is Euclid dead?" which got quite an impressive number of down votes. $\endgroup$ – Joël Jul 6 '14 at 4:34
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    $\begingroup$ ... And also a rather depressing number of up-votes... $\endgroup$ – Joël Jul 6 '14 at 4:46
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    $\begingroup$ Even "Euclid" would have done better under your rules (ignoring for the sake of discussion, daily cap, CW and so on). And, generally, many downvotes on one post more often than not occur for "bad" reasons like teaching some poster a lesson or something like this. While sometimes I wished too that dv had more of an actual effect, I think in the end it is better they do not. It would cause more issues than it solves. But it seems we somehow agree anyway. $\endgroup$ – user9072 Jul 6 '14 at 16:36

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