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I can't understand the reason behind it. By voting I participate on the site and in my opinion, downvoting should not be discouraged like that. There are already all these nice popups on the site ("consider leaving a comment", "you have x votes left today", "please come back in x hours to be allowed to vote again" etc...)

I will continue to downvote whenever appropriate and don't care about my reputation that much and I do consider the effects on morale and I consider wheter to leave feedback.

I'm just curious, though. Does the system detect a downvote without comment (possibly giving feedback for improvement)?

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    Probably a network-wide one but tex.stackexchange.com/help/whats-reputation as a start I guess. My feeling is that the aim to to encourage more positive than negative voting overall: on balance we'd expect downvotes to be less common than upvotes cross-network. – Joseph Wright May 8 '17 at 16:16
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    The system does not do anything if you downvote without commenting. One way to remove spam when no mods are around is for people to downvote a post sufficiently that the 'delete' option appears. Then people can vote to delete it and it can be removed even without a mod intervening. Obviously, there's no point in commenting in such cases. (There is, however, a good reason to flag in these cases, as I understand it.) Anyway, I assume the system can't distinguish such cases from downvote-without-comment on genuine posts. So I assume it does nothing in those cases, too. – cfr May 8 '17 at 22:04
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    Not all down-votes affect your reputation. Down-voting a question doesn't change reputation, does it @JosephWright? – cfr May 8 '17 at 22:07
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    @cfr Correct: it's downvoting answers that does (and if they then get deleted as spam I think the loss of rep is reversed) – Joseph Wright May 9 '17 at 6:03
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    @JosephWright The loss of rep is reversed both for the downvoter and the downvoted user when the question/answer is deleted. – egreg May 9 '17 at 9:31
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This is to remind people that downvotes shall be sparse and to encourage positive attitude towards people. The rep loss is small (it's actually small even for the receiver, not only for the voter) but it is there.

This shan't stop you from downvoting spam as once the spam message is deleted, your points will return.

  • Spam posts should be flagged not down-voted. This way the moderators get noticed AND the system (i.e. the "Community" "user") automatically down-votes it. – Martin Scharrer Jan 17 at 13:07

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