I am a little nervous to saying about this for fear of losing rep points but, I feel that users with more reputation should lose more reputation for making the same "mistakes" as newbies (like me). For instance, if I got a couple down votes on this question I would not be allowed to comment anymore. If a user with 3k+ votes gets twice as many down votes as I do, nothing changes for them. It (at least for me) discourages me from trying to answer questions and fully participate on the site.

My point: Users with more rep points can throw around bad answers without much repercussions, while newer users get smashed.

I know this doesn't sound like a fair thing for more experienced users. And in no way am I trying to criticize SE. In fact I am very pleased with the way physics SE is run and I believe that its current style of operation is the most beneficial to the physics community. I just think new users should be treated (point wise) less harshly as experienced users.

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    $\begingroup$ You won't lose rep points if people downvote this - meta votes don't affect your rep. $\endgroup$ – Nathaniel Feb 27 '14 at 10:20

I think that your point, that

users with more rep points can throw around bad answers without much repercussions, while newer users get smashed

is wrong on both counts.

  • As an 'established user', posting an egregiously wrong answer and getting called out on it is a lot more visible, and a lot more embarrassing, than for new users. Further, people will be more focused on helping new users understand why their answer is wrong, and they will be less forgiving with more established users, tending to simply point out where the mistake is and why it is fatal if it is.

  • Even as a new user, it is actually very hard to get "smashed" by a wrong answer. I definitely empathize with the feeling, as a new user, that every bit of rep is precious as you try to climb the privileges ladder; all of us felt the same at some point. However, downvotes are very light! It takes five downvotes to undo the rep from a single upvote. It would take thirteen downvotes to make you drop down the shortest privilege gap after 15 rep.

Downvotes are a feedback mechanism. They are a way for the community to tell you that your content is incorrect, and they are an opportunity for you to use the community to help you fix it. You should of course be open-minded and reasonable, but if you are then you will either end up with a correct answer or an understanding of why your previous thoughts were wrong. Either way, in real-world terms you come out ahead.

If you manage to fix your answer, then you will start getting upvotes. If the answer is fundamentally flawed, there is nothing wrong with deleting it! There is no shame in it and very few people will even know it's there. It will also restore your reputation: you can force a recalculation of your rep on the reputation page (or it will happen automatically with some regularity) and this will not count downvotes on deleted questions. Reputation-wise, you're back to where you started.

Since we're speaking about downvotes: don't be afraid to post things like these in meta, either. Downvotes here do not affect your reputation, and tend to be an indication of whether people agree with your proposals or the premises of your question. As long as you're polite and open-minded, and follow the usual civility rules, nothing much can happen.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for your thoughtful answer. I guess I have not fully understood the SE protocols and operations. Like I mentioned I see nothing wrong with the current state of SE. I actually was not suggesting this as an "improvement". I was mainly asking why it has not been suggested or thought of. But both you and @pfnuesel have thoroughly answered my question. I see now why down votes are very bad for all users (maybe even worse for established users). And my down voted answers were questioned very politely. Thank you very much! $\endgroup$ – jerk_dadt Feb 27 '14 at 19:59

It shouldn't matter how much reputation you have, you should always prevent answers which are downvoted. Since we are not dealing with opinion based questions, downvotes are given for bad answers. (Of course, sometimes there are those unjustified downvotes, but I guess (I hope), it happens rarely.)

So what would prevent you from giving bad answers? A higher penalty if you have a higher reputation? Maybe. That's the same discussion with progressive taxes, some call it fair, some not.

I've seen users with 100k+ asking about why they got downvoted and they justified their downvoted answer, so they cared about the downvotes. Since the system works, I don't see a reason to change it.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you! The thought of down votes itself make me not want to give a bad answer! I guess this question was a little bit naive. $\endgroup$ – jerk_dadt Feb 27 '14 at 20:00

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