In my youth, when actually hitting my rep cap was not an unusual event, I was unruffled by missing a cap by one or three points. Now, however, hitting my cap is a rare event, and a dilemma has presented itself.

When I do hit my cap but don't have an answer accepted, a single downvote on my part will put me under. It doesn't seem to matter if I have 22 upvotes or more. I did ask about this once and the answer was

You did it to yourself.

This seems like it would discourage someone from doing their duty to down vote (as oppose to delete vote) bad answers when spotted or working the queue. Since I don't know when a mediocre answer will be mysteriously and repeatedly upvoted, I feel a bit ruffled when the downvote or two or three prevents me from adding another 200 rep day towards a pretty limited legendary badge (issued twice on EL&U).

It's happened often enough (honest, it has) to matter. The rep is not a big deal, but it would be nice both work the queues and to earn that legendary badge if

I just didn't do it to myself.

(I see this has been asked, but I still don't understand the reasoning behind it.)

Should this be addressed? I'm sure I'm not alone.

[Edited to add] This could easily be solved by not downvoting, or carefully selecting times to downvote, but this seems a bit contrived (I don't keep a mental list of what questions or answers should get a downvote). I can delete bad answers instead of downvote them, but that doesn't help the site. I think the SE model has an expectation of me to downvote bad answers. This was made even clearer by this mod comment (Deleting posts for users doesn't teach them anything. They get given rep (get given it back) and don't have to ask where it came from.) to this recent upvoted answer (The remedy for a wrong answer is downvoting, not deletion.) While, sure, I would like to earn a badge, my main point is that the rep system has built into itself a disincentive to downvote appropriately.

12/19 Edited to add: @Matt Эллен has looked into this and has graciously and patiently explained that only the downvoting that occurs after reaching the 200 rep cap is deducted from the cap, but that regardless of how much a user would have scored from up votes, downvoting afterwards is deducted from 200. If the user down voted before reaching 200, they will still reach 200.

That seems to clear up most of the problem for me, which is to continue to vote responsibly as I go along. Though I certainly can't predict when a question I've answered will hit the multicollider, it's not instantaneous, and sufficiently narrows down the time frame when downvotes might affect the rep cap.

Many Thanks to @Matt Эллен for clearing this up!

  • 1
    Relevant - list of curmudgeons: highest proportion of down to up votes (from @tchrist)
    – Mitch
    Commented Dec 12, 2014 at 16:47
  • This seems like something that would be better to discuss on MSE. Commented Dec 13, 2014 at 2:18
  • Oddly enough, my point total today is bonking up against a ceiling of 190 points—evidently because earlier in the day I received a –10 for "user was removed." That Legendary badge remains as distant and miragelike as ever.
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Nov 2, 2017 at 20:40

1 Answer 1


I genuinely don't see a real problem here. A downvote by you carries a penalty as a design feature, to make you think whether it is justified. For those of us no longer in our SE youth (I would call myself a greybeard in this context; not sure what the female equivalent is) 1 point of rep is less of a penalty but the possibility of not hitting the rep cap is more of one: why would you want to fix one half without the other?

Equally, how difficult is it when you have reached +200, and think it unlikely that you will receive another upvote (to cancel your downvote) before the end of the day, to wait until a new day before downvoting? An enforced pause may even benefit your critical faculties. If that day you then reach +199 but not +200 then yes, you unarguably did do it to yourself.

  • @medica Technically, there is a way an answer that’s never been downvoted to be deleted by three delete votes from high-rep (but non-moderator) users: you can delete-vote not just negative answers but any non-positive one if and only if you use the VLQueue from which to do so.
    – tchrist Mod
    Commented Dec 12, 2014 at 4:15
  • @tchrist - I know that. But I am more careful now in what I delete (I used to do a fair amount of delete voting on bad answers) since reading that that's not the best thing for the site. This is why I see this as a disincentive to downvoting. Commented Dec 12, 2014 at 5:24
  • It's a bit of a blunt instrument, but I think the way downvote "losses" are effectively prioritised over a storm of multicollider upvotes leading to another 200+ daily total does actually make sense - for precisely the reason given here. Those of us with 10k+ rep obviously don't care about the odd point lost (or gained), but at least failure to hit and maintain the daily cap matters to some high rep users, so it's no bad thing that current site behaviour might encourage them to think more about their downvotes (reflecting the "pressure" I assume many low rep users experience). Commented Dec 12, 2014 at 14:54
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    It does seem, though, that one's decision about whether to cast a downvote should not be so heavily influenced by a factor that's so wholly unrelated to the quality of the post under consideration.
    – phenry
    Commented Dec 12, 2014 at 15:38
  • @phenry: By that logic, the loss of a point is a factor that's wholly unrelated to the quality of the post. Both that and the loss of the chance to hit the daily rep cap are simply "bad consequences" for the downvoter, intended to discourage casual indiscriminate downvoting. In and of themselves neither has any direct relationship to the (problematic) post itself - only to the action of downvoting. Commented Dec 12, 2014 at 21:03
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    @FumbleFingers - Actually, I would say that the loss of a point encourages higher-rep people to downvote more often than lower-rep people, because the more points you have, the less it "hurts" to lose one of them. As higher-rep people are presumably more likely to know how and when to downvote wisely, that's probably a good thing. The issue with the rep ceiling, though, encourages high-rep people not to downvote in certain somewhat arbitrary circumstances. Presumably that's not what we want.
    – phenry
    Commented Dec 12, 2014 at 21:11
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    @phenry: Until this question, I didn't actually know there was a "rare-as-hen's-teeth" badge for hitting the rep cap 150 times. But from my insouciant perspective I'd have thought if you've done that 149 times already, it wouldn't be a major setback if you had to wait a little longer because this rare circumstance robbed you of the chance to do it for the 150th time on any particular day. Commented Dec 12, 2014 at 21:20
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    @FumbleFingers - you can comment however you please, but your comment side-steps the issue. What phenry is saying is exactly what I'm trying to point out. If the question is, should it be this way and your answer is, wait a little longer, that's an answer to an entirely different question which has not been asked at any point. Commented Dec 12, 2014 at 23:37

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