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I generally don't like having fixed, arbitrary values in a point system. Of course, there needs to be fixed rules regarding reputation, but the amount reputation increases doesn't have to be a fixed constant. This would allow the system to adapt in a flexible way to counter unhelpful user behaviour.

To give a couple of examples, a really difficult question that has been unsolved for a long time gets the same reputation reward as an easy question. This can result in a mad rush to swoop on easy questions, while difficult ones may be ignored. I am a newbie, but at this stage I wouldn't bother answering a question that takes more than a minute or two to answer (if that!) because I want the rep. If I did invest more time and effort it will probably be wasted because someone else will probably answer before me.

Now, I know this isn't a site where everyone talks about their feelings and sings Kumbaya, but it may be helpful to tweak the rep system to encourage new users. The goal of the site is to get valuable answers, but I believe the site benefits by gaining a wider range of expertise from being inclusive, rather than allowing a few to have most of the input and control.

Basically, I think the amount of reputation you gain should align with the goals of the site, and can be tweaked to achieve these goals. Of course, these goals need to be clearly defined to achieve this.


For example, a question could worth a base amount of reputation if answered, but the reputation could increase depending on how long it has gone unanswered. In general, I suggest clearly defining the goals of the site. Deviations from those goals could allow the rep calculation rules to change. I'm not suggesting that this be implemented in an instant, but requires some discussion. Think of it like adaptation in nature.
Btw, I like the reputation system. It is an improvement on older "anything goes" forums. I'm just suggesting it could work better.

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@snibbets: while I see where you're coming from, I find it hard to imagine useful implementations of your idea. Do you have any suggestions/ideas other than "old unanswered questions"? –  Joachim Sauer Aug 30 '12 at 12:17
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2 Answers

To give a couple of examples, a really difficult question that has been unsolved for a long time gets the same reputation reward as an easy question.

OK, so... how do you tell the difference between "really difficult question that has been unsolved for a long time" and "a really simple question that just slipped through the cracks for a long time?"

Because without that difference, what you're doing is using the rep system to encourage people to not answer questions quickly. That's not a good thing.

Plus, we already have a mechanism to encourage answering older, unsolved questions: bounties. The owner puts a bounty on it, and it's more likely to get answered.

at this stage I wouldn't bother answering a question that takes more than a minute or two to answer (if that!) because I want the rep.

Then I would say you're using the site for the wrong reasons. Rep is a nice incentive and reward, but you should answer a question because you want to, not because it'll give you rep.

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+1 for "wrong reason". –  Dave Newton Aug 30 '12 at 11:24
    
Yeah, well if the site worked better, there wouldn't be a difference between what I want to do and how it will affect my rep. This is exactly my point, that the two should be aligned. I accept your point though, that bounties do improve the system for difficult questions. –  snibbets Aug 30 '12 at 12:05
    
@snibbets: I think it's an impossible (and possibly even harmful!) goal to try to align what the rep result is with what every single user wants from the page. Especially since there are so many different motivations for using the page. The rep system is not built to co-incide with any particular users desire. It's designed to align with the overarching goal of the site to produce quality content. –  Joachim Sauer Aug 30 '12 at 12:16
    
It may be impossible to find a perfect solution for every user, but I'm not asking for a perfect solution. I'm just saying that it could possibly be improved. Or we don't believe in improving the site? I really don't know why there have been so many negative comments. If it is simply because I am new then the system is broken. –  snibbets Aug 30 '12 at 12:36
    
@snibbets: "Or we don't believe in improving the site?" If we don't agree that the problem you suggest is a problem, then we don't believe in improving the site. Is that what you're saying? We're saying that the problem you point out is either not present or fixing it is not worth the "solution" you present. –  Nicol Bolas Aug 30 '12 at 12:43
    
@Nicol Bolas: No, you've just convinced me that making suggestions is a waste of time because I'm new to Meta. I've hardly seen any reasons to vote my question down, just a whole lot of baseless opinions, instead of being fairly considered. –  snibbets Aug 30 '12 at 13:30
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@snibbets: "I've hardly seen any reasons to vote my question down" That's how we express disagreement on MSO: with downvotes. "just a whole lot of baseless opinions, instead of being fairly considered." ... what? Your position was considered and rejected. The only way you could not consider this "fairly considered" is if you believe that your idea is obviously correct and the only reason someone would disagree is if they hadn't considered your opinion fairly. –  Nicol Bolas Aug 30 '12 at 13:34
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If a user does pose a really hard question, and it hangs round for months, no answers - there is something in place which does exactly what you describe. It is called a bounty. See How does the bounty system work? for more. It is however up to the question asker to give up his own rep to reward that extra effort (or extra knowledge) from the right person.

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