Votes are good for the community, be they up or down. Explanations are even better for the community. If you are getting downvoted, but no one is explaining why, that's not a good thing, certainly. Nothing much can be done about it though. Surely subtracting one reputation point discouraged downvotes, but IMO (and apparently the opinions of those who make the decisions) it was too much of a discouragement and productive criticism wasn't being performed.
Here's the way that it appears the culture here should be dealt with:
- Deal with downvotes. They happen, and usually happen for a logical reason.
- If there's no reason given, ask for one. Don't whine. That's good advice for life in general though.
- If there is a reason given, edit the question accordingly or logically disagree.
- If the question is closed against your arguments, vote to reopen it and bring the topic up in meta. Yes, some questions get reopened.
Discouraging downvoting is not a good thing. It was already discouraged through reputation loss and that was detrimental. The only "discouragement" that I can think of that could be beneficial (maybe) is not allowing downvotes without comment. Oh, and for the record, I downvoted this question. Not that it's a bad question. Not at all. It's just a way to show disagreement.
Admittedly, ServerFault isn't the best place for total newcomers to IT to ask questions. That's partly because Serverfault has already answered most of the basic questions that a newcomer would ask. Another part is that it's just a different format than most people are used to. It's not based on discussions not is it a forum. It's a Q/A site that requires a firm, solid question that can be given firm, solid, objective answers. That's a bit confusing to anyone, much more to those new to IT.
[As a side note, it is easy to whack the hornet's nest here and receive a hiveminded response of close votes, snarky comments and smartass answers. That can only be changed by individuals reassessing their behavior and choosing to change. Or as a certain saying goes "You can't legislate morality"]