A new member is asking a question about up/downvoting in the intro thread, but I wonder if this should have a thread of its own.
I know I will never ever down-vote anybody, no matter the opinion, manner, aspect... and wondered what is the use of such a system; the point might have been to ?
I don't want to speak for Matthew, but my understanding of his comments on this is that it's main purpose is to reduce the amount of work he does in moderating the forum. As most of us know, he is a very busy man with far more responsibilities than running this forum.
The theory is that people who post in an unacceptable way (for example, unorthodox or grossly uncharitable posts) will receive many downvotes. This may lead that member to reflect on his posting habits or, at least, discourage others from such negative behaviour. Similarly, those who write helpful and informative posts will receive upvotes, encouraging such behaviour in them and in others. Also, if Matthew receives a complaint about a poster here, by looking at his reputation score, Matthew can get a sense of the general behaviour of that poster without having to spend as much time reading through posting history.
In practice, people also use up/downvotes to express agreement and disagreement. For example, a large proportion of my upvotes come from people who agree with me saying the earth is globe-shaped, while an even larger proportion of the downvotes come from those who believe the earth is flat. These sorts of votes are probably less helpful to Matthew, although they give him a sense of how well people fit in with the general views of the forum.
There also seem to be cases in which people use downvotes to express personal animosity. Even these give an indication of the members ability to get along with others, but personally I consider it an abuse of the system. Matthew has built some features into the system to compensate for such things. For example, there are limits on how much an individual member can downvote (or even upvote) another.
I think there are other members like yourself who are reluctant to downvote, but I don't think you should be if you use it responsibly, to promote the common good of the forum. The main drawback I see to the system is the possibility that it could foster the sin of human respect, i.e. being more concerned with how people see you than with what God wants. But it's hard to say how much of a risk that really is and it needs to be weighed against the system's usefulness to Matthew.