|No such thing as a small change|
I strongly disagree. I enjoy the ability to encourage behaviour I like, and discourage behavior I don't. I consider the ++ and -- as 'tiny' modifiers, and replies as 'bigger' ones.
I'll drop a ++ whenever I see something I like, and want to see more of:
Similarly, I'll drop a -- on any node with behavior I'd like to see less of:
Other people have different opinions on the behaviors they want to reward and which they want to discourage. I don't consider my opinions to be any better than any others, as it's a communal effort. If the behavioral norm moves away from what I like, I'll leave.
When I notice downvotes on one of my nodes, I re-read it to see if I can understand why. That way, I can decide whether I want adjust the way I do things in order to "play well with others". For example, when I started participating, I used to write messages like:
This is an example...
But then someone asked why I was downvoting/disapproving a node. I then switched over to using a colon after their name to avoid confusion.
Another example: I used to give out explicit answers to homework questions without thinking about it. Someone (here? elsewhere?) convinced me that it's usually not a good practice. So now I try to give appropriately-sized hints. If they showed good effort and presented their code, I might post a corrected version. If someone showed no effort but didn't ask for code, I'll point them at a couple modules or documents. For others I might give them a partial skeleton.
If you review my posting history, you'll see that my opinions change over time. I view the -- as a tool that helps everyone out. If we only had ++ or "shut up", I doubt that perlmonks would be as good as it is.
Ah, well, I've blathered on quite enough on the topic.
When your only tool is an upvote, it's hard to tell whether your node is bad or is simply boring.