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I saw and was really excited when I saw that I might be able to purchase shirts and things like that with my reputation! But to no avail.

Has this been talked about? I'd love to make purchases with my rep.

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closed as too localized by Pops, Martijn Pieters, ɥʇǝS, Lucifer, hims056 May 3 '13 at 1:54

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Aren't privileges enough? Occasionally there is some free stuff though, like with an anniversary and so on. This system becomes problematic, they don't have infinite money to supply a larger share of users... – Tom Wijsman Oct 20 '11 at 19:06
You can use reputation to get a job, get money from the job, and then use the money to make purchases – Michael Mrozek Oct 20 '11 at 19:10
Item #22656: Unicorn Dream -oil painting -signed by Jeff and Joel -professionally framed R$200,000 SOLD OUT – Pops Oct 20 '11 at 19:12
I'm downvoting this so that you'll have a little less to spend at the store... – Lorem Ipsum Oct 20 '11 at 19:12
A nice idea, but Internet Dollars != real dollars :) – Pëkka Oct 20 '11 at 19:19
@Pekka: I've played online games where internet dollars have a real dollar value... Sad but true. Aside: If you're a professional and using SO for assistance, it's surely helped you earn several real-life dollars - kind of the opposite of what answering questions gets you... – Wesley Murch Oct 20 '11 at 19:30
@Wesley yeah, that is surely true. You know, I'm very careful about criticizing Experts Exchange for their paywall and the $20/month or whatever they charge from their customers that are looking for help. I totally agree it's not the way to go and I would never take part in EE but in a way, it's a realistic way to tap into the real-life dollars that all the good advice saves - by charging those who are using the help. I love SO/SE and I want to see it succeed with its open business model, but I have some respect for EE's method of funding as well. We'll see how it all plays out. – Pëkka Oct 20 '11 at 19:37
@Pekka: For the record (and of course from a user's point of view), I think this is an awful idea for a million reasons, and I'm not suggesting that reputation should entitle you to free products or that anyone should pay to use SO - just providing an alternate perspective. – Wesley Murch Oct 20 '11 at 19:50
@Wesley I agree with you on both counts. As said, I wouldn't want to have it any other way. Just saying - thousands of people are going home early, or making more money, because other thousands of people are giving away their time and expertise for free on SO. I'm not criticizing that - as you can see from my activity tab, I'm happy to be participating here. But it is an imbalance that is worth thinking about from time to time, even if the conclusion one reaches is that the imbalance doesn't matter. (The whole Open Source movement is in the same situation.) – Pëkka Oct 20 '11 at 19:56
up vote 24 down vote accepted

Placing monetary value on reputation is going to be a big mistake. Where is the profit in it for SE?

Reputation is an arbitrary number which is based on how other people rate your contributions to a site, it does not, in any way, represent any monetary value, or any other value for that matter outside of SE.

Seriously, why not just support SE for providing you excellent Q&A site by actually purchasing something from the store?

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How about turning it round, buying from the store gets you rep/a badge (joking)? – George Duckett Oct 20 '11 at 19:22
@GeorgeDuckett Actually a badge may not be a bad thing, it does encourage good behavior. – BinaryMisfit Oct 20 '11 at 19:23
I don't think the idea is as ridiculous as you insinuate. If I have a lot of reputation (i.e. I've invested a lot of time in the site), why should I spend my hard-earned Euros to support a company that has $28M in venture capital? I'm not saying I want free stuff from the shop - I really, genuinely appreciate getting a free T-Shirt and I'll wear it with pride! But I really don't see a moral obligation to buy their stuff. – Pëkka Oct 20 '11 at 19:24
@Pekka That opens up a whole new can of worms.... Discount I might say can be a valid thing for high rep users, but also considering where SO started and the fact that they have never asked users for money? My issue is really with converting points to a monetary value. It becomes a slippery slope long term and takes the fun out of it. – BinaryMisfit Oct 20 '11 at 19:26
@Diago I added a paragraph to my comment. – Pëkka Oct 20 '11 at 19:26
@Pekka We can't exactly call it friendly volunteering if they pay us. It's bad enough they bribe users on some of the sites with promotions and prizes, but letting us directly convert rep to products kind of ruins the whole "I know things and am willing to help you out so you'll know them too" aspect of SO – Michael Mrozek Oct 20 '11 at 19:27
@Pekka I agree with you regarding the moral obligation part fully. – BinaryMisfit Oct 20 '11 at 19:27
Diago - yeah. @Michael I agree with you. I'm not calling for SE to give us stuff, I'm just saying SO is not Greenpeace, nor your local church or homeless kitchen or animal shelter (or whatever good cause that really needs our money to keep going). It's a company designed to make a profit out of our contributions and that's fine but they already get a lot of our time - they shouldn't need our money as well. – Pëkka Oct 20 '11 at 19:31
I'm not talking about 1 rep == 1 dollar, I'm talking 10k rep gets you a 1 time t-shirt. The fun is only gone if your only motivation is the t-shirt. If not, past 10k is still the same. I was thinking about google/orkut's top contributor t-shirts. That is a R/L badge that you can display vs the online badges shown only to a niche group. – Korvin Szanto Oct 20 '11 at 19:56
@KorvinSzanto Even then your adding monetary value to an arbitrary number. – BinaryMisfit Oct 20 '11 at 19:58
Not at all. You're assuming that someone with 10k reputation is not only helpful but indispensable to this company, and rewarding them justly. The real question is if hundreds of volunteer hours spent actively promoting this site and it's legitimacy is worth the 2-5 dollars profit they make on selling a t-shirt for $15. – Korvin Szanto Oct 20 '11 at 20:02
@KorvinSzanto - The other issue with this is you are equating a value, market-oriented resource (money) with something that we can generate for free and infinitely (rep). It costs nothing to upvote! – JNK Oct 25 '11 at 17:34
You're right, but at the same time, stack's revenue is generated by us in the first place. I'm talking about maybe hitting 10k rep and getting a t-shirt for it, or something to that effect rather than rep-merchandise transactions. Stack just has to figure out how much revenue is indirectly generated per user. – Korvin Szanto Oct 25 '11 at 17:39

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