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You are still free to go downvote every node by a particular author. You just have to have the motivation to do that despite the fact that it will cost you about as much XP as the "damage" you inflict.
I did so with the intention of hoping to make that person re-consider their style of posting and their choice of content.
My experience is that your desired reaction from an author is much less likely than a reaction similar to "some bozo got his thin hide bruised by something important and True™ that I expressed not gently enough". After all, voting down every single node of an author makes a lot more sense as "attack the author" than "wow, every single node that he wrote actually sucked a lot and I never noticed before now". Even as you express what you did it doesn't sound to me like you actually evaluated every single node and found that it sucked before you down-voted it. So I don't find your story convincing even when listening to you tell it. So I'd be very surprised if the author got out of your actions anything close to what you were trying to convey. So you no longer being able to convey this particular sentiment so ineffectively doesn't seem like a big problem, to me.
As I said before, these are simple rules; they can't handle all situations perfectly. I think the picture you paint, even interpretting it in the best light, is quite an exceptional case so I'm not too bothered by the new rules not handling it so well.
And I think it makes sense to forgive past sins. If you didn't notice that my nodes sucked horribly when I posted them, then you lost the chance. That seems completely appropriate to me.
but I hoped that no-one would punish me for disliking a person's post so much, that I would go back and find out if they had ever posted anything worthwhile, and finding nothing good: calling it so.
I'm sure the person whose style you johny-come-lately decide to hate had hoped that nobody would punish them for continuing a style over years that was not discouraged (by you) during that entire time.
You'll just have to look harder now so you can identify the "bad people" who post these bad nodes so that you can anonymously throw rather uninformative "something about that node sucked" snipes at them sooner rather than later. Surely discouraging (however vaguely communicated) their bad behavior earlier can only be an over-all improvement.
If you are going to throw XP stones, then don't live in an XP glass house. Suck it up and take what you dish out (in the rare case when you feel the need to spew a whole ton of down-votes in a row).
Sad to say; the rules are changed already; in an "holier than thou" manner (which is not the first time either); and I am dissuaded from voicing my opinion anymore.
Rules can change back, of course. Somebody will have to explain to me the "holier than thou" angle. Most of these changes were announced years ago. All of them have been discussed at various times with various groups.
These 2 people were blatantly against the norms and practices of this community
There have been a lot more than 2 people who were abusing downvoting blatantly against the norms and practices of this community. I think that concern wins out. Perhaps you have been lucky in not having been on the wrong side of that issue and so not caring about it.
"politically correct accolades"
The rules are content-free so I don't see how anything about them can be "politically correct". If it becomes politcally unpopular to use the term "nerd", then these rules will make absolutely no notice. Nice pejorative term, however.