On per-site metas, users are given a rank based on meta participation, and this ranking is seen on the default tab of the users page on each per-site meta. How is this participation numerically calculated to give a ranking? Is it by votes? Something else? Are community wiki posts included in this?

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Are you referring to meta.stackoverflow.com/users? The default tab is based on reputation –  Josh Mein Aug 28 '12 at 13:02
@JoshMein No. Per-site metas, like <meta.askubuntu.com/users>;, where rep is inherited from the main site. –  hexafraction Aug 28 '12 at 13:03
Is the main meta site different for a reason? –  Josh Mein Aug 28 '12 at 13:05
@JoshMein - this site has it's own reputation for various reasons - historical being the main one. –  ChrisF Aug 28 '12 at 13:08
If you hover over the participation link, the tooltip reads as: "Users most active on this site in the last 60 days (combined number of posts, votes, comments and edits)." –  Yannis Aug 28 '12 at 22:40
@YannisRizos How is each of those weighted? The answer below seems to suggest there is something weird going on... –  hexafraction Aug 29 '12 at 12:17
Votes seem to form a potentially insane amount of "participation", a user with lots of meta votes but almost no posts, comments or received votes is sorted above me (with lots of everything but not as many votes) on Workplace meta –  Ben Brocka Sep 25 '12 at 22:01
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3 Answers

up vote 12 down vote accepted

This is pretty much answered by the tooltip you get when you hover over the "participation" sort link:

Users most active on this site in the last 60 days (combined number of posts, votes, comments and edits).

-- that's all it is. Take the sum of those four values and sort the users based on those sums. The only minor details that are not in the tooltip are things like "don't count deleted stuff", and the fact that "votes" includes answer acceptance and that "edits" excludes edits to your own posts.

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Is it just a sum, or is it weighted somehow? Do votes one your posts, your votes on others' posts, or both count? –  hexafraction Oct 4 '12 at 10:20
Just a sum. And other people's votes on my post cannot really be called "my activity". –  balpha Oct 4 '12 at 11:28
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Contrary to ire_and_curses's observations, whatever the secret sauce is seems to be working. I reviewed the participation tab for a site I moderate and the rankings make perfect sense. All the top users are clearly the most active folks on our meta, and I don't see anybody listed who is a non-participant.

The exact workings of the mechanism remain a mystery. I think we need an official voice to chime in with the backend details. Even though meta reputation is typically just a reflection of the main site, your posts on meta do have votes and the reputation number calculated from these used to be discoverable. I don't know where it is now, but it could well be a factor. Also the raw number of posts, comments, edits, votes etc may be a factor.

A good hint as to what is likely considered can be found on Election nominations. Some detailed metrics are shown under each entry. You can check the latest SO election for a sample:

meta participation
questions: 63 / +746
answers: 128 / +1,016
helpful flags: 1383

I think it is probable that the magic sauce you want to know about is a formula applied to that data with some kind of weighting applied.

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I'm not so sure those users are being ranked. On the board and card games meta users tab, user Daenyth is placed 4th, despite a low main site rep, having never asked or answered a meta question, and with only 18 votes.

Compare this for example, to my 'position' (8th), with more participation in every category, and the ordering hypothesis doesn't seem to make much sense.

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Main site rep has nothing to do with Meta participation, hover over the participation link and read the tooltip. Participation includes posts, votes, edits and comments (on Meta only). –  Yannis Aug 28 '12 at 22:39
@Yiannis Rizos - I assume the same thing, but include it for completeness, since the algorithm is unknown. However, you are missing my point. The example user has no posts, no edits, no comments, and only 18 votes. –  ire_and_curses Aug 28 '12 at 22:45
My observation is quite different. I wonder if raw visits to the meta site counts and perhaps that user is a lurker or has a script downloading the page regularly for them. Do they have a meta fanatic badge? What does their visit days counter show? –  Caleb Oct 2 '12 at 9:27
@Caleb - I think this has changed recently. The user page I've linked to now has a completely different ordering from when I answered this a month ago. On casual inspection it does now look reasonable (my example user is nowhere to be found). –  ire_and_curses Oct 2 '12 at 9:58
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