Following this debacle I remembered that people can't get downvoted past 1. Why is that? Surely a negative number would be a good thing. Perhaps not so much on brand new members who perhaps haven't used the site, but on members like 'Derfder' that have been around long enough (and clearly know how to create the occasional good question)

I think a negative rep would demonstrate the relative standing and reflect the quality of the questions generally asked by a user. Perhaps if negative ranking could be included after a certain amount of time (say x months) so that the user has time to learn how to use the site and if the ranking gets below -20 lets say, any new posts need mod approval or something to be publicly shown.

I couldn't find any info regarding this in the FAQ/help so just an idea.

1 Answer 1


The StackOverflow team believes that everybody's special in their own way and doesn't deserve to have a negative self-esteem (aka reputation).

This system make it easier for new users to recover from their initial mistakes: if they start with a couple of downvotes, it doesn't make a difference.

Users who would go significantly below 0 if it wasn't for the capping are rare cases. The system isn't designed around such extremes. There isn't much point anyway: usually, these users get discouraged. If they don't, they can be suspended for excessive low-quality contributions (that won't happen for one or two bad questions, but it can happen to persistent trolls). If they insist on coming back, they can create new accounts anyway, restarting from 1, so a reputation going below the starting point is ineffective as a deterrent or warning sign.

  • Cool, makes sense
    – NULLZ
    Commented Jun 20, 2013 at 23:03

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