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Why is there a minimum reputation score, why is it positive, and why is it 1?$ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $

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This was Jeff Atwood's decision, and he explained it thus:

The StackOverflow team believes that everybody's special in their own way and doesn't deserve to have a negative self-esteem (aka reputation).

A rep of zero or negative seemed cruel.

Plus, everyone starts out as "a one" instead of "a zero".

The thread Why does reputation start at 1, and have a lower bound of 1? also offers more serious explanations, such as: a user whose reputation drops below the initial value (whatever it is) would have an incentive to abandon the account and begin anew. Much like banks prefer to keep people in their mortgaged houses, SE prefers to keep users attached to their accounts. Even if it means cutting them some slack on their debt.

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    $\begingroup$ Another (somewhat funny) reason was given in that thread you link: "If there were negative scores, then some kinds of people would try for the most negative score. And that wouldn't be good for Stack Overflow." $\endgroup$ – Prism Jul 23 '13 at 0:33
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    $\begingroup$ I wonder what the record is for most points lost through being down-voted in a single day. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Jul 23 '13 at 10:55
  • $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson: Interesting question. math.stackexchange.com/q/59079/1778 looks like a contender, though I don't know how quickly it acquired its 39 downvotes. $\endgroup$ – Charles Jul 25 '13 at 21:10
  • $\begingroup$ @Charles, 39 downvotes on that question, and another 10 on the two answers the questioner posted to the question. But probably spread over days, maybe even months. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Jul 25 '13 at 23:46
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    $\begingroup$ This seems the reason to me: "Doug: it would be best if you stopped using this site as a place where to evangelize. I am informed you do have a blog. Use it. – Mariano Suárez-Alvarez♦ Aug 24 '11 at 19:28" @Charles. $\endgroup$ – 1LiterTears Aug 1 '13 at 17:48

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