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If someone is having a dialog with me about a question, I'd like to be able to boost their reputation for their efforts.

However, I don't want to "like" their answer if it is not actually useful.

Is there any good way to do this? Should one be added?

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actually, it might even be useful for them to be separate metrics. It would be good to know which people put forth effort, and which people have correct answers, but separately. –  user420667 Mar 18 '12 at 17:07
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Just comment on it stating your appreciation? Throw a small bounty on the question with the intention to award it to the user? –  Jeff Mercado Mar 18 '12 at 17:08
    
Thanks for your response Jeff :-P. No, but it might also provide some incentive if there was a separate score for it. And then we would be able to separate the people that are willing to pursue questions from people that won't. –  user420667 Mar 18 '12 at 17:10
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And what would you do with that score? We already have reputation, various badges. I don't really see the point of an "eager-beaver" score. Just say thanks. –  Bart Mar 18 '12 at 17:11
    
Such a score could perhaps be used to attract certain users to a thread. Additionally it would provide a better incentive for dialog instead of just quick responses. –  user420667 Mar 18 '12 at 17:17
    
perhaps upvote a different answer of theirs that actually deserves an upvote? –  Lorem Ipsum Mar 18 '12 at 17:22
    
why am I being downvoted? –  user420667 Mar 18 '12 at 17:24
    
@user420667 - Downvotes just mean disagreement, not that it's a bad idea ... You need to be more specific. How much? How to award? What are possible downsides.. see this request(meta.stackexchange.com/questions/70061/…) –  Adel Mar 18 '12 at 17:25
    
@user420667 The votes on Meta are different, as explained in the FAQ. –  Bart Mar 18 '12 at 17:26
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@Adel: ah, thanks. I had taken them to mean a poorly phrased / inappropriate question. –  user420667 Mar 18 '12 at 17:26
    
@user420667 - Here's a relevant post also - meta.stackexchange.com/questions/68968/… –  Adel Mar 18 '12 at 17:30
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@Adel: I wasn't so concerned with rewarding comments, more just if I noticed that a user was taking a lot of time to really think / work on an answer. Like if they edited their response many times, or kept expanding it, or researched / worked on it. Or if they took the time to try to understand the OP's problem by getting involved in a dialog. –  user420667 Mar 18 '12 at 17:38
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@Adel: These are all good ideas imo. What I wanted was also a way of separating reputation into various categories. Categories might include quality of explanation, correctness, completeness, conciseness, humor, niceness, persistence, etc. Once those were established, a separate system could be used to entice particular types of users. However most people probably wouldn't want to have to rate these things, but it would be nice to have that framework if they felt so inclined. –  user420667 Mar 18 '12 at 18:02
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@user420667 - That's really interesting, and .. somewhat complex! Those attributes( "explanation, correctness, completeness, conciseness, humor, niceness, persistence" ) might fit better in the badge system. i.e., allow mods to "badge" anyone displaying them –  Adel Mar 18 '12 at 18:05
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@Adel: Sure that might work. Thanks for your feedback :-P –  user420667 Mar 18 '12 at 18:07

2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Having often been in the situation where I researched something but was unable to come up with a valid answer, I say things are fine the way they are. Sometimes you invest a lot of time, and get no "reward"; that's just how it is. Not everything needs to be rewarded with points or badges.

A nicely worded "thank you" to express your appreciation will give most people more than a handful of Internet Dollars anyway.

If somebody really helped you a ton and put in half a day's research for you, consider using an external channel like E-Mail (if they put one in their profile) for a more personal message of thanks; if you are in the position to spend a bit of money, you can ask them whether they have an Amazon wishlist or something. Et cetera et cetera. Bottom line: there are many ways to reward a user, without the need for a new feature to do it.

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Could you elaborate a bit on your research and what the problems are with any potential solution? I don't really want to get all sappy on people, I was merely proposing a system by which we can also determine which users are hardworking and will pursue answers. This way we could send such users messages if we felt the answer required deeper investigation. –  user420667 Mar 18 '12 at 20:06
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@user I'm not claiming to have any research, I'm voicing an opinion. I appreciate the spirit of your suggestion, but I don't think its benefits will outweigh the growth in complexity it would bring about. –  Pëkka Mar 18 '12 at 20:20
    
Ah, ok. I think I misread your answer and was thinking you had researched solutions to this problem. My bad. However, it is not clear to me how much complexity this would bring about. For instance, it could be to some extent automated. If the system detects many edits, it could prompt the OP to see if the answerer should be awarded "hardworker" points. And the benefit is maybe searching for hardworkers. In general, why lump all types of reputation points into one metric? –  user420667 Mar 18 '12 at 20:27
    
Additionally, I ask a lot of questions so I've gotten most of my (not very high) reputation on SO through questions, but perhaps users shouldn't trust me thinking that I was a good answerer from my reputation. If it tracked those two separately, I might look like a very bad answerer. –  user420667 Mar 18 '12 at 20:29
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@user yeah, I agree that is an issue. There have been discussions about separating the various kinds of reputation though, and they all got refuted. Re your latter point about rep from questions, that's why questions get only half reputation. There has been discussion about taking reputation from questions away entirely or capping it (e.g. here), but nothing ever came out of it –  Pëkka Mar 19 '12 at 0:54
    
cool, thanks. Still think separation is the way to go. Although that would bother old users as it's impossible to separate once things are merged, unless they somehow stored them separately to begin with. –  user420667 Mar 23 '12 at 16:49

You raise a good point, and I really agree with this part:

Like if they edited their response many times, or kept expanding it, or researched / worked on it. Or if they took the time to try to understand the OP's problem by getting involved in a dialog.

This needs a major feature-request, however. It should be a new feature that is unlocked by users with 500 rep, call it "Good-Will Gifting." There would be a maximum of 2 or 3 points that you can randomly allot to anybody who interacted on your question. We don't want to make anyone comment more, that's why it should be only a one-time 2 or 3 points, and 5000 rep to unlock.

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I agree w/ this line of thinking, but I'm not sure how you came up w/ the numbers :-P. What if it was just one or two points, not one-time? and only needed 200 reputation to unlock? –  user420667 Mar 18 '12 at 18:18
    
@user420667 - That's a very good point. I honestly just pulled the numbers out arbitrarily. –  Adel Mar 18 '12 at 18:19
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well I have to say this would at least be a good start. Not quite what I had in mind but it's difficult to gauge the merits of any system. –  user420667 Mar 18 '12 at 18:21
    
@user420667 - Agreed, and thanks! Is there anything in particular that you disagree with or want added here though? My answer was somewhat narrow, admittedly –  Adel Mar 18 '12 at 18:24
    
@user420667 , regarding the merits - it is easy to beta-test it! They can always roll-back too. –  Adel Mar 18 '12 at 18:27
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Offer a bounty on the question, choose Reward existing answer, and award it to that person. –  animuson Mar 18 '12 at 18:28
    
@animuson - There's a 24-hour delay with bounties, however. It's just too inconvenient and time-consuming. Plus you often want to give small rewards. –  Adel Mar 18 '12 at 18:29
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@Adel: No, nothing in particular. Like I said, I think this or something like this would be a good start. What I was hoping for was a way of tracking which users were good at what tasks, so they could be flagged/notified depending on what the user thought might be of greatest assistance to them. Some users might just want a concise answer. Others might be tired of the "quick answers" and want to contact a "pursuer." –  user420667 Mar 18 '12 at 20:12

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