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On my birthday not so long ago, I logged into SO, and was pleasantly suprised to find an unexpected rep bonus: Someone had discovered a very old question of mine, upvoted it, and added an answer, so that it appeared on the front page where it gathered a few other upvotes. A nice birthday present.

I recently came across a few questions about birthday presents on meta, and it occurs to me that one way SO could give a birthday present without revealing users birthdays: Have the Community Bot automatically bump your highest-scoring question or answer to the top of the heap on your birthday, giving you a chance for added rep as a birthday gift.

Since the bumping algorithm is shrouded in mystery, there would be no way for evil-doers to discern your exact birthdate by scanning the front page. And it addresses the objection that a direct rep reward doesn't properly reflect community trust, since only worthwile posts will garner more votes - the bumping just increases the chance of your wisdom being noticed.

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Nice, I'll just change my birthday every day so it'll keep bumping my posts up :) –  NullUserException อ_อ Dec 14 '11 at 23:04
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That's simple. It would only work on the original birthdate entered. All changes would be ignored for bumping purposes. If you entered an incorrect day initially, you'll get your present on that day. Not my fault you didn't type the right thing. –  AShelly Dec 14 '11 at 23:11
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The birthdate field really shouldn't be editable. If you make a typo it doesn't matter. Its only real use (besides being a complicated over-13 checkbox) is analytics, I would think. –  Matthew Read Dec 14 '11 at 23:14
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Why wait for our birthdays? Let's have a rep bump for Christmas too. I'd also like to suggest Fathers/Mothers Day, for those concerned, and maybe also our respective national holidays too. Seriously, this is a slippery slope, let's not go there. –  Frédéric Hamidi Dec 14 '11 at 23:20
    
@FrédéricHamidi How exactly would that work? EVERY question getting bumped on Christmas? That wouldn't do anything. This isn't a slippery slope unless SE starts adding anniversary dates and so on to the profile. –  Matthew Read Dec 14 '11 at 23:29
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@Matthew, you're right, I was thinking of a sliding "bump wave" on 12/25 depending on each user's timezone, but that's silly since the site would run that only once at some fixed time UTC. –  Frédéric Hamidi Dec 14 '11 at 23:40
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@FrédéricHamidi That's difficult to implement and maintain. I suggest using Google's official OurLogoJustChangedAgainSuckers() API instead. –  muntoo Dec 15 '11 at 6:16
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2 Answers

At first, I was against your proposal because I thought it would correlate a user-specific event (e.g. birthdays) with the "natural" question order of the site, and I could not see how this feature would be beneficial to anyone beside that user.

But on second thought, I think I have a simple workaround. On your birthday, take from six to eight minutes of your time to review your highest-voted posts (or your oldest posts, as you see fit). Chances are you can improve one of these, be it by fixing previously unseen typos, adding links to references or explaining your question/answer even better.

This will result in a bump to the front page, and will correlate this bump to your efforts towards the community's best interests.

You also don't have to wait for your birthday, you can do this anytime you want.

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But then it's not a present. ;). Shouldn't SO do something nice for us after all the time we donate to them? –  AShelly Dec 15 '11 at 1:25
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I see that you've been here since the beginning, and although I'm far younger I guess I understand what you mean, on principle. That said, Stack Overflow actually does something nice for us after all the time we donate to them. –  Frédéric Hamidi Dec 15 '11 at 1:38
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I think it's a nice concept to think about, but in practicality, it doesn't take into account the quality of the question. So, while I would not theoretically mind your question or my question being bumped like that, there's an off chance that a host of folks who ask "gimme teh codez" questions and abandon them after 1 day will have their "gems" making a once-a-year appearance on the front page anyway. Realizing that someone who doesn't care about their question won't necessarily put their birthday on their profile anyway, but what if there's a run on "Autobiographer."

It's nice to remember someone's birthday, but I don't think this is a productive way to do so.

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