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Let me explain my problem:

So when reviewing posts, I come across quite a few "tests". These are low quality audits that I would normally click edit or downvote on. However, a few days (or maybe weeks) ago I encountered a low quality answer again, so I thought immediately it would be a test. As you would expect, I downvoted the answer (it was literally 1 lines long and didn't answer the question (see screenshot below)). The next day I log in to AskUbuntu, my reputation has dropped by 1. Yes, you are probably saying losing 1 rep doesn't matter but to me it does. For those of you who are wondering, this was the answer I downvoted:

Screenshot of the low-quality answer

To add to my justification of a downvote, upgrade-dist is not a valid apt operation and apt will complain about that if you run it.

Here is the question itself: Error while installing anything using apt-get. As you may notice, it does have another answer that has been accepted (not the one I downvoted).

So today I found another potentially low-quality answer. But it was about 5 lines long so I wouldn't expect it to be a test. Due to the previous events, and not wanting to lose reputation, I decided to click "No action needed". Then I get the classic "STOP! LOOK & LISTEN!" message come up on the screen, telling me I failed the test and wasn't paying attention... etc. etc.

So in short, my problem is, since it's hard to tell whether its a test or not, and risk losing rep for downvoting the answer when it's not a test, I'm stuck. I'll either lose rep the next day or get lectured by the system about not paying attention. It's pretty much a 50/50 chance.

Now I understand that tests are designed to be disguised as regular posts because that's the purpose of them, but since they are, I don't think I should be losing reputation when I downvote a genuine low-quality post that isn't a test. If my question overall is unclear, I apologise and will happily edit it to add more details if needed.

Thank you in advance.

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12

It is by design that one loses 1 reputation when downvoting an answer. I believe this is to discourage competitive (and perhaps frivolous) downvoting.

While I would very much like to encourage you to downvote when appropriate regardless of the reputation loss, you may like to know that non-answers posted as answers and other low quality answers are often deleted, and:

  • When a post you have downvoted is deleted, you re-gain the reputation you lost by downvoting it.
  • Downvoting answers makes it easier for those with delete votes to delete them, as delete votes can only be cast on answers with a negative score (or non-positive score via the low quality posts review queue).

But, in general one should not flag answers as low quality because they are wrong, incomplete, or need editing - edit them, comment on them and/or downvote them instead.

This leads me to some suggestions for solving your problem of wishing to avoid downvoting (although I strongly disapprove of avoiding downvoting! Please downvote if appropriate!) while reviewing. In first post and late answer review audits, for an answer the system deems low quality (and not spam), clicking edit or attempting to add a comment will pass the audit, just as downvoting will. Also note that if you click the downvote (or upvote) button and repent a moment later, you will be able to undo your vote by clicking again (unless it is an audit). This ability expires in a short period of time, though I am not sure how short, but, if a post is edited after you have voted on it, you can remove or reverse your vote.

Additionally

  • You can always check whether a review item is an audit by clicking the link to the post on the right.
  • You can always skip a review item when you are not sure, including when it is an audit.
  • The purpose of review is to raise the quality of site content for everyone and you have absolutely no obligation to do it, so it is really best to do it only when you have time and inclination to give it careful attention :)
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