or
CalebCC BY-SA 4.0 + CC0 1.0 for original code
feature-request wont-fix
I realize this will be controversial, but I strongly believe you will not have a sucessful site with "top" answers without having answers that have a special reason to be sent to the "bottom", and also that the "bottom" needs to be below zero.

* On most sites (and hence in general user perception) 0 votes signals a lack of engagement, and hence this is generally viewed as neutral. An **outright dangerous** answer with a score of zero will still look like something people might try.

* On all sites, you will have some small amount of "bad" signal — people will upvote stupid answers.

In both scenarios experts _NEED_ to be able to send a negative signal. **Upvotes vs. more of upvotes helps sort good from bad answers, but sending only positive signals is not enough.**

Case in point:

> Q. How do I enable and start apache?
>
> A(+6). `systemd enable --now httpd`
>
> A(+1). `rm -rf /etc/httpd`
Top Answer
CC0 1.0Jack Douglas
> I realize this will be controversial

Not controversial with me, as I'm on record as being a fan of downvotes on SE:

* https://dba.meta.stackexchange.com/a/423/1396
* https://hermeneutics.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/1096/we-need-to-downvote-more#comment3585_1096

However the points you raise can be solved another way, by deleting dangerous and very bad content. Note that I agree that we *do* need to solve this one way or another.

We haven't quite worked through the nuances of how flagging/deletion will work in its first iteration, but when we do I'll update this post.

---

Update: now that we have the first tools in place to deal with dangerous or very bad answers, I'm marking this as "won't-fix" — with the proviso that we have the option of changing course later if necessary. Adding downvotes will not be an impossible task later because the database has been designed with the assumption that we might need them.
I would not like to see downvotes implemented as they are on Stack Overflow Inc. sites.

That said, there is an argument to be made for more feedback options than simply stars, or lack thereof. I haven't seen that argument made convincingly yet.

Nevertheless, if needed, I am quite tempted by the idea of emoji feedback:

|emoji options|description|
|:--:|:--:|
| :star: :) |good|
| :\|  | neutral |
| :( :cry: :angry: ❌ |not good|

For example, a good answer might be labelled:

> :star: x8

...a reasonably good answer:

> :star: x2 :| x4

...and a poor one:

> :( x5 :| x1

---

I think only :star: (= :)) should award +1 score. The other emoji should affect display ranking, but not user score.

My main reservation is that adding new "lazy feedback" options will in practice dissuade people from doing what we really want them to do: give written feedback, or edit to improve.

Outright dangerous posts should be flagged and deleted. We don't want those. And to be clear, at least for the *Databases* site, I would prefer to see *mediocre* content removed over time as well.
Answer #3
CC BY-SA 4.0Monica
This is related to [Paul's answer](https://topanswers.xyz/meta?q=243#a207) suggesting reactions.

An idea that has come up in Codidact's discussions (inconclusively so far) is having reactions to *supplement* votes rather than replace them.  Reactions, unlike votes, are public (attributed).  They serve two main purposes:

- Highlighting an under-valued, good answer -- this answer doesn't have a high score (maybe it was missed, maybe it was late, whatever) but look, Jon Skeet gave it a thumbs-up!

- Providing warnings about things that are dangerous -- the crowd upvoted this because it sounded right, but it has caution marks from three people and I recognize two of them as knowing their stuff.

I agree with Paul that reactions shouldn't contribute to score, and also his concern that people might use them *instead* of votes/stars, but if we can provide the right guidance in the UI I think it's worth allowing this extra signal, or at least giving it a try and seeing what happens.  (As with many other things, individual communities should be able to turn it on or off.)
Answer #4
CC BY-NC-SA 4.0gop
The problem is in the concept of a **simplicistic, single, rating**.

I have a strong feeling that a large part of the problems not only of Stack Exchange but of the current web altogether derive from the squeezing of the complexity of the thought into a single vote, and to the hyper-magnification of the importance of this vote.

---

On **Stack Exchange** for example, on the surface it would seem that you should upvote every post that you liked a lot, and downvote every one that you didn't.  
But is it really how it goes? How many posts with hundreds of downvotes are there?  
Pretty much none apart from those of the faceless company spokepersons!  
That's because if you see 3 downvotes to a poor answer you think "the poor guy has had it enough". And you're aware of the effect of the downvotes to the reputation, and of what that affects in turn.  
As for the upvotes, did it ever feel unfair that the first guy who sent a stupid question about the news of the day got 5k points straightaway, when you barely made a few hundreds in years of diligent contribution?  
And have you ever refrained from upvoting a good post after seeing it has already 200 upvotes?  
Of course you have, otherwise there would be many posts in the tens of thousands of votes!

So what the people is actually doing is, very roughly, **giving a score** to the posts.

But even though the "collective mind" unwittingly goes in the direction of scores, with the current "indirect" system that are inevitably frequent unfair extremes, with people gaining immense sudden gains in reputation and, much worse, people losing everything and having to scramble again with the insane limitations of a beginner account.

---

So, rather than going roundabout with it, do the real thing and **let people give scores** to the posts!  
+10 to -10, or +20 to -20 or whatever, then you display the average and the number of voters (and the distribution, or whatever you want) and if you want to base a reputation system on it you base it on the *real data*, giving the proper weight and separation to the average score and to the number of people who substantiated it.  
(and to their agreement? Whatever you want, with the real data!)

And you can have "downvotes" without all their moral and psychological concerns.

---

And, going back to the beginning, do we really need **one, catch-all** rating?

What if a question is dull but it gave rise to great answers?  
What if an answer is very useful but, alas, it doesn't answer well the question it refers to?  
What if a guy gave it all to help (but didn't answer)?

In short, I'm not proposing to make available a hundred votable metrics (which might lead to a futile voting-fatigue, among other things), but to think about the ones, if any, that the system needs or that would benefit it enough, and allow those who feel like to use them.

Specifically and in their most suitable format, instead of jamming everything in a single, trending-ready, "Like" (or dislike).
The SE model was to make down votes cost reputation. I think instead, they should take a little extra work. My suggestion would be more like a down vote should be accompanied by a reason, like close votes on SE. If an answer collects enough "down votes" of the same type, then a post notice should get added to the top of the answer explaining what happened.

Off the top of my head, the "down vote" reasons could be something like:

-- This answer does not answer the question

-- This answer is missing key details

-- This answer does not work (this should open another dialog that makes the user explain why it does not work)

-- This answer is dangerous (this should probably open another dialog also)

If the person who left the answer comes back and fixes the problems and the fixes are verified by users, then everything should get reset and it should not depend on the people who "down voted" to coming back to change their votes.
Jack Douglas
that's not an argument against the sort of downvotes you are suggesting, just an explanation of the status quo
Jack Douglas
@Strong just for information, currently on TA you would flag for your first, third and fourth bullet points, and preferably comment in the question chat room — but nb that all flags are public here.
Paul White
I came here to respond to the various pings but Jack already said everything I would
Jack Douglas replying to gop
because the comments/chat aren't in the main line of the question and answers, I think we can be fairly free to use them as we see fit — I don't see any need here for deleting/moving comments and all the associated drama on SE :)
gop replying to Jack Douglas
Bye Jack (is this a comment? a chat message? I don't know, I'll figure out tomorrow, in case apologies to everyone for the junk. Goodnight)
gop
@Paul I wrote the previous @Paul message by clicking on the _comment_ link under [his answer](#a207), now I'm not sure if I had understood correctly that that link was for making comments to the questions or not; if it wasn't... sorry to everyone, do delete or change what you want, I have to leave now and I'll have to wait tomorrow to figure this site out a little better. Bye
gop
@Paul I'm a bit ashamed, for some reason I became convinced I had already read well enough the other answers, even though... I had really not, I had just skimmed them.  
Maybe I thought I would have read them carefully before posting, but I forgot.  
Anyway, I should note that this ([Paul's](#a207)) answer had already come quite close to the many-votable-things of [mine](#a617) (and is quite nice).
Jack Douglas
thanks :)
gop replying to Jack Douglas
Sure, an interesting experiment if you want, but it seems more likely to lean towards dark patterns than to good things.

We'll see, in all honesty, I don't really like question sites in general :)  
It's just that there are few alternatives at the moment, and if this is going to take the place of SE, I'll sure try to make it better than that, if I can.
Jack Douglas
Many of the best contributors seem to care less about 'rep' — I think the whole gamification emphasis is misguided
gop replying to Jack Douglas
Yes indeed, I actually just started looking at the site, I wasn't even sure if there (already) was a reputation system or not.  
Very comforting to hear speaking against it, but if the site really starts replacing Stack Overflow, there will probably be more and more requests to get closer to that system.

Talking about fairness unfortunately had a place on Stack Exchange because it has insane limitations on the low reputation users, and actually insane levels to reach for access to a lot of its features.  
I wouldn't give a f to my "score" (indeed have a pretty low one on SE), but when they put those things they force you to care, and get frustrated about it (or find some other site).
Jack Douglas
as soon as we start talking about reputation leagues, 'gaming', and fairness I think we've kidded people into thinking internet fairy points are real money
Jack Douglas
apart from that I think the basic point of voting should be to sort posts — vote up the better answers on each question. And I think this is the one thing that (for all it's imperfections), SE got exactly right. All that really matters is increasing signal:noise
Jack Douglas
@gop some of what we are doing already seems aligned with the sentiment of your answer (but correct me if I'm wrong): (1) allowing [multiple votes](/meta?q=232#a179) (2) no votes on questions (3) downplaying 'reputation' — not least by not calling it 'reputation' ('stars' just means 'stars', it isn't pretending to be much of a proxy for your actual knowledge).
Paul White
There are different ways we could approach the idea of rewarding great (not merely acceptable) questions.  
But this chat room probably isn't the place for that.
Paul White
It's probably a bad time to talk about questions given the still-recent retrospective doubling on SE.
Paul White
And subscriptions now, I suppose.
Paul White
Yes I understand your point of view. An important indicator of question quality is number of answers and edits.
Caleb
Exempting voting on Qs from "rep" or keeping separate counts for Q vs. A scores I might get into, but no indication of question quality is not going over well for me.
Paul White
ok
Caleb replying to Paul White
True. I decided to give that one a while to possible grow on me before objecting. So far it's not happening. 
Paul White
Also...early days.
Paul White
No downvotes and no upvotes for questions is pretty radical.
Caleb
I agree and am happy to consider more radical, but right now the current implementation is _less_ radical, and the suggestion of "reactions" doesn't go anywhere near as far as downvotes do.
Paul White replying to Caleb
Judging by the SE sites, downvote and negative score systems are also inadequate.  The 10k tools and 10/20k privileges were never up to the task either. Too much poor quality content survives effectively forever.  Moderators often don't want to judge content quality, and 10k+ users lack the tools to do a proper curation job, even if that is what the wider community would agree to.
  
There are good reasons to at least *think about* being more radical on Top Answers (TA) sites. It depends on the type of site,and content one wants to build and maintain over the long term. My answer is skewed towards what I would like to see for *Databases* naturally.  I would prefer quite a high bar for content preservation over time, with active curation. Very much more wiki (and much less forum/reddit/whatever) than the SE sites ever achieved. That might not be right for other sites on the platform. I don't know how much flexibility can be accommodated, but so long as it doesn't affect *Databases*, I don't really mind.
Caleb
> Outright dangerous posts should be flagged and deleted. We don't want those.  
  
Of course that's easy to say when you look at extremes, but there is a huge range of stuff in between "outright dangerous" and  "neutral" that is a bad idea or ill advised. Upvote only systems are insufficient to reflect this. I'm thinking particularly of my experience on the SE U&L site. Very rarely was there anything outright bad enough to flag for deletion. Lots of posts got my upvotes, lots more got left untouched as pretty blah. But there were also lots of suggestions coming up that might appear to solve a problem but also introduce a security flaw or some other risk. Not the kind of thing you want to create the drama of deletion but definitely more than upvoting other posts could correct for. Comments help to explain the issue, but only a negative total score really conveys the message to end users and sometimes the poster that their advice is not sound.
Paul White
Yeah same.
Monica replying to Paul White
Oh, I didn't think of going back to the main page and looking there.  I'm right here, after all, so I looked here. :-)  Thanks for the edit. (On SE I try to always link rather than just saying so-and-so's answer, because so-and-so might change names later.  Links are more future-proof.)
Paul White
I made an edit!
Paul White
So https://topanswers.xyz/meta?q=243#a207
Paul White replying to Monica
You can, but it's not easy from here. The main view (the one with the compact answer representation you like) has links per answer on hover.
Monica
Oh, it seems I can't link to a specific answer.
Monica
Since it was your answer that prompted me to bring it up, might as well be here. :-)
Monica
Maybe I'll add it in an answer here.  I agree it's not a high priority, but it's worth considering later.
Paul White replying to Monica
You might think about putting that proposal in a question or answer here somewhere.  
It deserves not to get lost, though I don't see it as a high priority for now.
Monica replying to Paul White
Yeah.  The star board doesn't even have to be live; a tab or something in the transcript would be enough for catching up with a busy room.  (That's what I used to do in TL sometimes -- used the stars list but not the star board.)
Monica
Reactions are more compact and visible than comments.  I would hope that for negative reactions especially you'd also leave a comment so the person can improve the post, but that's going to be less visible to passersby.
Paul White replying to Monica
Fair enough.
Paul White
I do miss the SE "star board" somewhat.
Monica
I think the identity of the reactor is for the benefit of readers, not just the author.  If I see an answer I'm considering using and it has reactions, I want to know if they're from people whose opinions I give weight to.
Paul White
One day starred "comments" in chat will be more visible, for longer.
Paul White
In which case, one might as well simply "comment".
Paul White
The idea of reactions with attribution has merit. I wonder if it needs to be permanently or publicly visible. Perhaps a one-off notification would be enough?
Monica
Yup.  Tell the early users that things might change out from under them, and then set them loose to experiment.
Paul White
It is something I think works really well. Better than we'd hoped I think.  
One can never tell which ideas are going to be great or not, which is why I like the try and see approach so much, at least in the early days.
Monica
Here I can instead decide that a post is worth one star but not five.
Paul White
Of course.
Monica
If I were an expert and knew that all my votes were supervotes, I'd be more hesitant to vote on stuff that's merely ok and not outstanding, y'know?
Paul White
Yes indeed.
Monica replying to Paul White
Something I like about your star system here is that Jon Skeet *has* more stars to give to a post, but still gets to decide how many to give.
Monica
Without forcing us into the "whose votes are more valuable than whose" question.
Paul White replying to Monica
Oh I see.
Monica
Which wouldn't count for score, just info.  Lots of people saying there's a problem mitigates a high anonymous score.
Monica replying to Paul White
I'm ok with votes being anonymous (drama avoidance).  I like the idea of optionally *supplementing* them with attributed kudos or objections.
Paul White
Depending how much they liked the post.
Paul White
One could argue that in the present system a Skeet "vote" could be worth more because they'd have more stars to dish out.
Paul White
It's worth thinking about anyway.
Paul White replying to Monica
That's an idea that appeals to me. I never really understood why "votes" had to be anonymous.  
They might need to be in a democracy, but it is less clear if that should be true in a meritocracy.
Paul White replying to Monica
Nope. I thought that was why "new message count" was being added.
Monica
Out of curiosity, if I talk in a per-question room without an explicit reply, does anybody get notified?  (Like the OP or any answerers?)
Monica
An idea that's come up on the Codidact forum (no clear buy-in, just an idea) is that people should be able to leave certain reactions *with attribution* -- if you won't stand behind it, don't do it.  We were talking about it in the context of both thumbs-down and thumbs-up -- people weighing in that an answer is dangerous, or adding a "seal of approval" to an under-valued answer.  How much it means depends on who's doing it, hence the attribution -- a thumbs-up from Jon Skeet on a C# answer means something different than a thumbs-up from user123 (created 8 minutes ago, no activity).
Caleb
Yup yup.
Monica replying to Caleb
Or as soon as more subjective sites enter the community, where things are more open to interpretation.
Caleb
@Jack Flagging & deletion are definitely must-have tools. But this problem will come back when the case is less obvious ... when the intent isn't malicious but the sincerely delivered advice is just ill advised.