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it is not usually negative, but in some instances, we have allowed it to be negative. i think when you are not trying to make the most spontaneous and just solving for E, you should follow cathode-anode and hope it does us justice. I was also confused.
It's not usually negative in the way that time can't be negative in a physics problem, but for the sake of some calculations we can set it to be negative. When flipping the equation for a half reaction your E can be negative at times, which may contribute to this as well.
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