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So I was thinking (dangerous, I know) - would it be worthwhile to add a slight "reputation slip" mechanism if a user isn't seen for a decent length of time?

For example if you're not seen for, say, 6 months your rep sinks a little bit to reflect the fact that you're not very current.

Good idea? Bad idea? Thoughts?

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If you're not seen for 6 minutes, you're not very current. – random Aug 24 '09 at 3:18
Haven't seen random in almost an hour... Quick! Let's take his rep! – Shog9 Aug 24 '09 at 4:08
Almost an hour, too long outside the teachers' lounge. – random Aug 24 '09 at 4:12
downvotes? Really? Seemed a fair enough question to me – LRE Aug 24 '09 at 7:50
@LRE - On meta-, down-votes don't necessarily mean that it is a bad question. Down-votes (on meta) can also signify that you don't agree with the premise. – Robert Cartaino Aug 24 '09 at 14:08
@rcartaino - ahhhhhhh. So therefore the downvotes equate to the "bad idea" option – LRE Aug 24 '09 at 19:07
... or just simply "I don't want this." – Robert Cartaino Aug 24 '09 at 19:24

I do not see why one's reputation should be lowered over the course of time. That reputation was earned and it is unlikely that a period of inactivity should cause the system to begin losing faith in the user who put forth the time and effort to achieve that score.

I do not mind seeing a timeframe scale in terms of user rankings, but I believe that the user's all time score should remain so regardless of their activity levels.

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There could be various legitimate reasons a user is no longer active, but have answered extremely well. This is not considering the high profile users, like Scott Hanselman, Jon Skeet and the crew who may for various reasons stay away for long periods of time. It doesn't make the value of their answers any less valuable. – BinaryMisfit Aug 24 '09 at 8:15
I don't think that reputation should be considered "all time score". How about having a special "all time reputation" if that's the issue. – Shea Nov 16 '12 at 7:49

And how would we define "active?" Posting questions? Answers?

I hate to say it, but the reason I went through a fairly prolonged period of inactivity was because I couldn't beat the fastest guns in the west. This is not a criticism, but I visited the site, browsed the questions, found ones I felt like answering, and saw that three or four others beat me to the punch with well-thought-out, well-organized answers. I had nothing to add, and therefore (following the intent of the site) didn't.

So under this scenario, would a user's rep dip because of that? Or is lurking considered "activity?"

What about posting questions but not answers?

What about commenting?


Not to mention TheTXI's excellent reasoning. :)

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Intraquestion linking warms my little heart. – Eric Aug 24 '09 at 4:00
I definitely relate to your point about speed. There has been many a time I've read a question, had an answer come to mind and seen that somebody else has already posted it. – LRE Aug 24 '09 at 19:09

Inactivity isn't always the fault of the user. If you're primarily active in a niche tag that undergoes a dip in posting activity, you may have no questions to answer.

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indeed I find myself in that boat – LRE Aug 24 '09 at 4:20
Or Jon Skeet already gave an awesome answer to the question you wanted to answer. – Randell Aug 24 '09 at 4:22

This idea has come up 3-4 times in the course of development and has been universally and soundly panned every time.

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so I am beginning to see – LRE Aug 24 '09 at 7:50

When you are inactive you do not get much rep, mean while other users are active and keep getting rep. Thus your rep becomes smaller in relation to other users, so in a way you are already "punished" for inactivity.

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I gave the +1 but I wouldn't use the word "punished," per se. I'd say more like "falling behind" -- like you said, others are advancing when you are (likely) not. (Although it's entirely possible to gain rep while idle -- users find your old questions/answers and upvote them, for example.) – John Rudy Aug 24 '09 at 6:02

Let's take away their Woot badge! How dare they not visit SO obsessively? :)

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Because they went camping… – random Aug 24 '09 at 5:48

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