Is there a reason why downvoting an answer would cause you to lose points? For example, I downvoted an answer, and got -1 rep from it. For example, my feed is showing -1 points and is linking to this answer, which I downvoted:

Why can't I charge a Samsung phone?

I don't care at all about 1 point, I'm just curious about how the rep system works!

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Yes, that's how the reputation system works. Downvotes on questions are "free". Downvotes on answers will deduct one reputation from the person who cast the vote.

You can find this information in the Help Center article "What is reputation?"

You lose reputation when:

  • your question is voted down: −2
  • your answer is voted down: −2
  • you vote down an answer: −1
  • you place a bounty on a question: −full bounty amount
  • one of your posts receives 6 spam or offensive flags:−100

It's noted in the Help Center article regarding the vote down privilege, under the heading "What happens when I vote down?" as well. The latter page also includes a link to a blog post which explains why downvotes on questions no longer cost any rep on the voter's side.

The general reasoning is that deducting rep from the voter helps to regulate downvotes a bit, by causing people to think about whether or not the quality of the answer is worth the small ding to their own rep. Conversely, question votes are free because questions tend to receive fewer votes in general, but pushing poor questions to the bottom of the site is important to keeping the site healthy.

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  • Thanks for the link to the help article and the explanation. I appreciate it! – IAmTheSquidward Aug 4 '14 at 17:09

One more argument in addition to eldarerathis' answer: Downvotes are not intended to punish the poster, but to cause him to improve his post. If he does, you can take back your downvote (and get your rep back).

If it was a real bad post, and receives enough downvotes (or attention from our mods/high-reppers [not "high rappers" :)]), the post gets deleted. In such a case, all "down-voters" get their "lost rep" back as well – provided the deletion happens in a given time-frame. I don't remember the exact numbers here; but if the post only gets deleted a year later, the rep stays lost.

Remains the question: Does it make sense to down-vote a post of a user just having 1 rep? He won't see (or feel) that. You only can lose rep if you've got some (which as down-voter, you have). But see previous paragraph: Given enough down-votes, a special user called "Community" (which even has mod status) automatically deletes such a post – and once more, you regain your "lost rep". Thus it makes pretty much sense for e.g. spam and offending posts, to speed up their "demise".

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  • Makes perfect sense. Thanks for the clarification and advice of good-practice. Much appreciated. – IAmTheSquidward Aug 4 '14 at 19:27
  • Feel free to upvote :) Not that it would gain me any rep here. But on Meta, up-votes are used to indicate agreement, while down-votes indicate disagreement. AFAIK, you don't even lose rep down-voting here ;) Which reminds me I forgot to... pling upvote eldarerathis' answer... Done. – Izzy Aug 4 '14 at 19:32
  • Ah! Good to know! I really appreciate your guys' helpfulness. I didn't know the etiquette of meta. :) – IAmTheSquidward Aug 4 '14 at 19:34
  • Slightly different, but not too much. AFAIK the only other difference is the question of what's on-topic here :) And you're always welcome! We love to see people using Meta the way it's intended. Not many find their way here :) – Izzy Aug 4 '14 at 19:36
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    IIRC, rep gained/lost from your own posts is reversed if the post is deleted within 3 months. Downvotes are always refunded to the voters when a post is deleted. – Matthew Read Aug 4 '14 at 21:51
  • Who knew pling is the sound of voting? – Dan Hulme Aug 5 '14 at 13:08
  • @DanHulme the SE-VotePling user-script? (kidding ;) – Izzy Aug 5 '14 at 15:14

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