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In order to prevent answer spammers, can we deduct 5 reputation points from someone who decides to post an answer? If the answer was valuable, then it will get up-voted and the usual +10/-10 per up-vote and down-vote applies. The first up-vote will make up for the 5 point investment for a net gain of +5 points.

You can almost think of it as "putting your reputation on the line" when you decide to answer a question and it may even force you to think about whether or not you really know the answer or are confident in it.

I know this is a somewhat radical suggestion to the SE model, but I'm willing to take the down-vote heat to get some discussion going.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Would those who do not yet have any reputation be able to post? Having to ask a question that gets upvoted before being able to answer any would be kind of silly. Is answer spamming really the problem, compared to rambling answers that might have some random factoids but don't really make sense overall or fail to address the question? \$\endgroup\$ Aug 11 '12 at 1:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ What's wrong with downvoting spammy/crappy answers? You're already putting your reputation on the line by answering a question. This method would treat everyone like spammers until proven innocent. \$\endgroup\$
    – endolith
    Aug 11 '12 at 4:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ Presumably people are getting tired of sapping their own reputation downvoting. It seems at the moment that several perhaps related accounts are posting a certain style of answer that is long on topic-related personal experience but often missing a bit of logic to fully answer the qeustion, and a group of other individuals are habitually downvoting everything from those accounts, almost regardless of the content of the actual answers being voted on. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 11 '12 at 4:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ChrisStratton all of the suspended users answers are deleted when we merge the account. You get the reputation back from downvoting him. If no one votes on him it makes no difference, it will be deleted and merged when we get to it in the queue. If the answer does not answer the question though downvoting will stop such user accounts from gaining rights to more strongly vandalize other users posts as has been tried. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kortuk
    Aug 11 '12 at 12:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for getting discussions started @Jon L. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kortuk
    Aug 11 '12 at 19:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ Questions (proposals) like this are better raised on MSO (is it MSE yet?) as they would be a change to the underlying system, not just how it's used. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nick T
    Aug 12 '12 at 4:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Nick - There's nothing wrong with starting the discussion here. If there's enough support for the idea here the mods can migrate it to meta.SE. \$\endgroup\$
    – stevenvh
    Aug 13 '12 at 19:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ChrisStratton - I never get tired of downvoting. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 14 '12 at 13:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NickT They sometimes suggest when you have ideas like this you can ask locally on your site, sort of like getting local government to discuss the issue, and then if we reach a consensus go to meta.SO with a detailed request. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kortuk
    Aug 17 '12 at 12:56
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So answers are bad by default, until proven otherwise?

I don't like it. For starters too many (good) answers aren't voted on. I checked one of our most acclaimed user's stats and found that 6 % of his answers didn't get any votes, while 8 of those were the accepted answer!

Fact: so far only 12 users earned the "electorate" badge.

New users can't even vote, and in my experience they don't come back to upvote when they've earned their required 15 rep.

I'm with endolith: what's wrong with downvoting crappy answers?

Against.

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I think it sounds a bit radical, and unlikely to have the desired effect. Many spammers may not care whether they are deducted points to answer (being more focused on spamming than rep)

Also, as is mentioned in the comments, you already put your reputation on the line by answering, as a bad answer will (or should) be downvoted.

I think the spam problem is caused by the fact that it's very easy (by design) to create multiple accounts and post new answers - also the fact that it is against the SE philosophy to delete potentially useful information means that is probably quite easy to abuse the system in a subtle manner for some time before severe action will be taken.
Any popular site has similar problems, with no ideal solutions. I don't think I'd like to see the philosophy of making the sharing of information as open and easy as possible tampered with too much.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ About deleting potentially useful information: spam will always be deleted, and so will answers by sockpuppet accounts to circumvent suspension, before the sockpuppet account is merged. \$\endgroup\$
    – stevenvh
    Aug 12 '12 at 10:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Steven - yes, maybe it looks worse to me as I have enough rep to see all the deleted answers. One problem is the account has to be confirmed as a sockpuppet first, which can take some time(?) - from what I've seen recently many posts hang around for a while (I know this is not the mods fault, they can only act as they come across stuff - do IP blocks happen?) It's not a big deal though IMO. \$\endgroup\$
    – Oli Glaser
    Aug 12 '12 at 19:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ IP blocks don't help; he's using proxy servers. Flag if you see suspicious-looking posts, and the mods keep an eye on it. It may take a couple of days, but until today eventually most (all?) of his sockpopputs got debunked. And yes, we can see deleted answers, and I noted before that that's not always a plus. Would be nice if we could enable/disable this in our profile. \$\endgroup\$
    – stevenvh
    Aug 12 '12 at 23:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah right, I figured that was a possibility, wasn't sure how determined he was though... I've been flagging the odd suspicious post here and there. Good point about being able to disable visibility of deleted answers, that would be a nice option to have. \$\endgroup\$
    – Oli Glaser
    Aug 13 '12 at 1:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ @stevenvh Disabling visibility of deleted posts might be a nice feature request for meta. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kortuk
    Aug 17 '12 at 12:28

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