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From "6 Simple Tips to Get Stackoverflow Reputation Fast" at codexon.com:

  1. Be the First to Answer. Even at the cost of quality.

  2. Use Downvotes and Comments Strategically

  3. Use obnoxious in-your-face formatting and lists.

  4. Be Aware of the 200 rep/day Limit

  5. Edit, But Don’t Edit Too Much

  6. Associate your other accounts

Courtesy of our pal codexon. Agree? Disagree? Walnuts? Cantaloupe?

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103  
How in the world do you downvote strategically...? –  aggregate1166877 Oct 18 '12 at 15:05
55  
By downvoting other answerers who are competing with your answer. If you do that when you would not have done (had you not answered the question), then that is strategic. –  Phil H Oct 31 '12 at 11:35
27  
More importantly, down voting answers costs you rep. So using too frequently isn't going to help your score. –  HaemEternal Jan 21 '13 at 13:19
20  
Where is the part about using jQuery for the answer?! –  Awesome Poodles May 31 '13 at 1:17
4  
You could always just ask a ridiculous number of questions... meta.stackexchange.com/questions/1326/… –  apaul34208 May 31 '13 at 5:54
14  
I'm kind of appalled at the existence of this post... –  jpmc26 Jul 15 '13 at 7:21
38  
downvoting only for the sake of for personal rep gain. Now that is anti-community. –  Tanvimil Aug 17 '13 at 9:58
1  
Use Downvotes and Comments Strategically = Rep-whoring ? –  sancho.s Nov 18 '13 at 20:21

34 Answers 34

up vote 661 down vote accepted

I don't know about you but here's my strategy.

  1. Post quality answers. This should be numbered 1 2 and 3. But a good answer will more often than not trump a fast answer. Though there are cases where it does not.

  2. Monitor the frontpage and the new questions list. Learn their cache time and refresh accordingly or use the tag pages (Example) to get live updates on new questions.

  3. Setup a good but short list of Interesting and Ignored tags. For example I have , , , , , as interesting and as ignored tags. This will help you see questions quicker.

  4. Avoid Wall of Text questions. They take way too much effort for little reward. And usually are syntax errors or bad structure.

  5. Post an answer even though the question has 1–2 or even 3 answers. In these cases, take your time and answer well. This will usually net you a good sum of rep.

  6. Learn when to edit. Post a short answer at first and then edit. You have <5 minutes to make that answer shine.

  7. Be humble, thorough and fair. There are a lot of smart people out there and many will know much more than you about the subject. Be thorough in the code you post, check it for syntax errors and make sure it fits the question. And if you see that the correct answer is already there, upvote it, that person deserves the rep.

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596  
I voted this up because it contains a list with bold items. –  Jeff Atwood Aug 25 '09 at 11:02
9  
This list is on my blog for those interested. cznp.com/blog/14 –  Ólafur Waage Aug 25 '09 at 15:23
14  
@Jeff Atwood aren't we all hypnotized by bold? –  Maxim Zaslavsky Sep 8 '09 at 22:34
66  
I think the list should have one more item: 8. Provide a good and simple code example (and format it correctly) –  awe Jul 22 '10 at 12:37
7  
If SO reputation were money, this post would be investment advice, and @Olafur a rich man. –  abel Jan 15 '11 at 10:42
6  
By the way, subjective is not a tag anymore. –  Dan Jun 13 '11 at 10:28
11  
9. Demo Link. Add link to a ready to run demo of your code. (codepad.org, jsfiddle.net, ...) –  PiTheNumber Jan 16 '13 at 10:04
18  
I would add #8 Go Niche. Find something you are good at that is not as popular as [java] or [sql]. Watch that tag every day and answer questions if you can. There are usually fewer people on the tag and you can take more time to answer. –  Jess Apr 10 '13 at 20:58
1  
Regarding demo links, I totally agree. However, please keep in mind that sometimes those links get broken. That is why I consider good practice to paste that code in your answer here at SO too. –  pablofiumara Sep 12 '13 at 4:39
1  
What's a "Wall of Text" question? Very verbose? Or something else? –  Shiva Jan 17 at 23:44

To be perfectly honest, I absolutely agree with #3. A bit of formatting

  • Makes the post more readable
  • proves that the user put a bit of effort into it
  • prevents the "Wall of Text crits you" effect
  • stands out
  • allows me to spot important points more easily
  • puts some structure into the posting

And #6 is also a no-brainer. Not because of the reputation but because that gives clickable names when migrating the question.

Point #1 is well discussed, just search for the fastest gun in the west problem. And Point #5 benefits the person who asks the question, because more visibility = more chance for an answer without having to post a bounty.

So only Point #2 is purely evil and should be somehow monitored and actively counterattacked, but I think that's what Jeff & Co. have been doing since almost Day 1.

But overall, I agree with these points, because nicely formatted answers from people with accounts who bump the question once in a while to give it more exposure are a Win for the site.

To further prove my point, here is a picture of a bunny with a pancake on its head:

This is Chewbacca. Chewbacca is a Wookie who lives on Endor.

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112  
I LOVE PANCAKES! AND BUNNIES!! –  Shog9 Aug 25 '09 at 17:54
4  
Waffles rule, pancakes drool. –  womp Aug 25 '09 at 18:02
51  
Waffles are pancakes WITH BUILT-IN SYRUP RESERVOIRS! –  Shog9 Aug 25 '09 at 18:13
9  
I ♥ BUNNIES! –  Brad Gilbert Aug 25 '09 at 18:36
1  
Pancakes are ok too, I guess. –  Brad Gilbert Aug 25 '09 at 18:37
19  
-1: That's a pikelet, not a pancake. –  John Fouhy Aug 25 '09 at 23:30
6  
to a point, but too many bullets is arguably worse than "wall o' text". Restraint in all things, including restraint. –  Jeff Atwood Aug 26 '09 at 7:18
9  
Damn, that does make for an attractive post. I cannot resist upvoting it. –  Bill the Lizard Aug 27 '09 at 17:03
7  
+1 for an bunny with a pancake on its head –  ephilip Sep 2 '09 at 13:47
3  
poor dead oolong –  waffles Sep 8 '09 at 23:22
6  
Well, now we know what #7 is... –  Benjol Sep 30 '09 at 13:22
2  
"To further prove my point, here is a picture of a bunny with a pancake on its head:" Absolutely hilarious! –  user146674 Apr 9 '11 at 9:36
4  
That pancake is a dorayaki en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorayaki –  Yuji Tomita Nov 20 '11 at 3:18
1  
The bunny is too obvious. If it hadn't been for the bunny, I might have up-voted this... –  awe Sep 5 '12 at 12:47
2  
That's not very bunny. –  JDJ Jun 11 at 14:21

Is it just me, or would following these tips make you feel dirty too? Is this where the word "rep whore" comes from? Especially

  • #2 is highly unfair, gaming the system, and preventing its usefulness.
  • #1 is true, it is the old "fastest gun in the west" problem. After the first upvote(s) I can still invest in a great answer (otherwise being pushed down and I loose my first place).
  • #4-6 great.

Am I an idealist? I would like to help and be helped. And still I find myself going after those 12 points to get edit powers at the time of writing. But at what expense? Never gonna do #2!

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16  
I'll upvote you since you are the top answer. :) –  Vilx- Aug 25 '09 at 8:31
2  
And I wasn't even first to answer ;-) And you noticed: no formating, no stratigical downvoting (I assure), didn't edit the answer so far. But also did not hit the 200 rep/day limit :( –  malach Aug 25 '09 at 8:40
2  
"highly unfair"? It's mildly manipulative at best. Face it, at best you're only going to affect the ranking significantly if you and someone else posted almost-identical answers and neither one of you edits. I have answers posted late, with few votes for the first day and several down-votes that are still collecting up-votes months later, long after other, formerly high-ranked answers stalled out. IMHO, if you're in it for the game, then accept that you'll be gamed; if you're in it for the answers, then a few bogus votes make no difference. –  Shog9 Aug 25 '09 at 16:15

Well, I certainly credit all my success on Stack Overflow to

  1. judicious
  2. use
  3. of
  4. obnoxious
  5. lists...
share|improve this answer
123  
I fixed your post for you –  Jeff Atwood Aug 25 '09 at 8:10
6  
This highlights #3: Jeff, your formatting just earned Shog9 an upvote! –  malach Aug 25 '09 at 8:36
5  
Also highlights #5! Though not really in the way it was intended... –  Shog9 Aug 25 '09 at 15:17
27  
-1, not enough bold. –  badp Jul 21 '10 at 11:24

I'd add more one: answer the questions people can understand.

A question like "I'm having a problem with really really really tricky SQL query: I need to count records groupwise" will bring you 10 upvotes in a minute, if you were first to answer.

But one of the answers I'm most proud of took me something like 30 minutes and was accepted with a negative score (someone might have been using downvoting strategically, you know). There are just too much lines to be interesting.

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24  
My highest-scoring answer on SO was a one-liner straight from the docs.. –  John Fouhy Aug 25 '09 at 8:26
5  
Very true. Some of the most basic C#/Java questions are among those where the most rep is dealt out. –  Jonik Aug 25 '09 at 8:28
2  
So true. My highest scoring answers are quick-fire copies from the docs. BTW as we're rep farming here, why not link to your poor, unloved, masterwork? I bet it'd get upvotes (I would) –  MarkJ Sep 16 '09 at 22:10
1  
OK, my mate Google found it and I just have upvoted it. stackoverflow.com/questions/1165878/… –  MarkJ Sep 16 '09 at 22:15
1  
@JamesMcMahon: This is not necessary a case of specific question. "Why my Java homework doesn't work" can accumulate more point the answer to "How to get code coverage in C++" despite the latter being both harder and non-specific. –  Maciej Piechotka Aug 30 '13 at 9:32

I am formatting my answer as a list, but I have a good reason (see number 3 below):

  1. Be the first to answer
    While the fastest gun problem is not new to us, the post was written for an audience not familiar with Stack Overflow, so the OP is right in bringing it up. Being the first to answer is likely to bring you more votes. However, I disagree with his statement that there are many bad/wrong answers on top of the list because of it, my own experience is that quality floats to the top.

  2. Use Downvotes and Comments Strategically
    I don't know, most of the time I can easily see the three top answers on my screen. If a user can read them without scrolling, he/she will be very likely to do so, therefore I don't think this has a big effect. Besides, the vote difference between the first three answers is often more than two votes, so this is likely not to work at all. The systematic downvoting of a specific user's answers, as shown in the screenshot, will definitely be caught by the system.

  3. Use obnoxious in-your-face formatting and lists
    There is a reason why answers with formatting are getting upvoted more often. It is the same reason why the option to use formatting exists: Formatted answers are good answers. The same answer in plain text is not as readable as if it was well formatted, hence the trend for answers with lists and other formatting to float to the top.
    As for answers that start with a bold Yes or No at the top: If the question asks Is X a good thing to do? first giving a clear answer and then elaborating on your reasons is a good practice. These answers are upvoted because they are good answers.

  4. Be Aware of the 200 reputation/day Limit
    The reputation limit was never a problem for me, because I never got near ;-)

  5. Edit, But Don’t Edit Too Much Editing in order to bump up the question on the home page is a strategy that is likely to work. Unfortunately.

  6. Associate your other accounts
    Hey, I did that! And you know what: I got 100 points out of it!!!!!
    Once. Not such a big deal, really.

At the end I am left wondering: Most of us got to a point when we didn't consider our reputation that important any more. For me that was after I passed the 3k threshold on Stack Overflow and was allowed to vote on closing questions. (Yes, most of the people who tell others not worry about their reputation so much, because hey, it ain't that important, you know, have a reputation where it really isn't that important any more.)
Somehow, the OP doesn't seem to fall into that category.

share|improve this answer
24  
This answer sucks, it has no picture in it. –  John Nolan Aug 25 '09 at 9:40
6  
+1 specifically for the point you make in the end: "Most of us got to a point when we didn't consider our rep that important any more." After I was able to retag questions & edit CW posts on SO I was happy with the privileges, and have had no compulsive need to try to accumulate more rep. (Although getting past 2k did make the copy editor in me even happier, and of course upping the rep score always gives you some warm buzz... :-) –  Jonik Aug 25 '09 at 10:02

#2 on this list "Use Downvotes and Comments Strategically" makes me rage.

I prefer Jon Skeet's advice on Answering technical questions helpfully.

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2  
Seeing as he has 229k reputation as of this writing, I would take his advice :-) –  André Caron Oct 20 '10 at 5:47
1  
+1 Agree - not only is Jon Skeet a SO living legend, he's polite & funny. –  Jeremy Thompson Nov 2 '11 at 2:44

Ways to amass rep that positively impact the site.

There are plenty of vampiric strategies that one can employ. Those that overall don't make the site a better place to be. That don't make it a more effective place to get questions answered. I'll be talking about the ways that make the site work better.

I find that there are two general strategies to getting rep quickly:

Frequently visit "high-churn" tags

These are tags that get a lot of questions. Which means they quickly get a lot of answers. But the former means that, if you visit the site 20 times a day, odds are you will find a few questions that you can answer which have not yet been answered.

Naturally, this requires some significant expertise in high-churn fields, so that you can not simply quickly answer questions, but do so effectively. You can expect to get 2-4 upvotes on these questions, so you don't need more than 4-6 of them daily before you hit the cap. And it doesn't even matter if a couple of others slip in; as long as you're within the first 4 minutes of the question hitting the site, you stand a good chance of getting some upvotes.

Well, assuming your answer is correct.

Have significant expertise in a "low-churn" tag

Maybe this tag only gets 10 questions a day. Maybe only 4 regular contributors even check the tag, let alone know how to answer them.

Being able to serve the under-served parts of SO means that you don't have to visit very often, but it also means you get a lot more accepts, rather than just upvotes. So if you combine these two strategies, the 200 rep barrier becomes less important, since accepted answer rep doesn't count against it.

Indeed, if you happen to have a lot of various obscure knowledge, serving the under-served parts of SO can get you all the rep you need. Plus, you get to help people who might otherwise have not gotten help.

The downside here is that the low-churn tags are also more likely (by volume) to be from new posters who don't know what the accept button is, or don't even have the rep to upvote. However, those few regular contributors to those tags will likely hit you with an upvote when they see your answer.


Other Tactics

There are also other tactics that you can employ in your answer. One that I do as a matter of course that just so happens to fit in is to add useful advice while answering. You should know the general idioms around a particular knowledge base and preach them where possible.

For example, if you're answering a C++ question where someone is gratuitously using new, add a suggestion to your answer that they use a stack variable. If they're talking about writing destructors, bring up the Rule of Three and smart pointers. Experienced C++ programmers will almost always upvote you for that, and you'll be helping someone find programming techniques that they may not have found otherwise.

Overkill is another tactic. If you can't be first, then by God be biggest. Go into massive detail. Lecture the person asking the question.

You can't overkill on most questions. But you don't have to. If you're in a high-churn tag, a good bit of overkill can earn you 100 rep easily. Overkill doesn't work so well in low-churn tags, since overkill relies on many people seeing the sheer massiveness of your answer.

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8  
Overkill as in "I answered this question 2 years late, so I'll write a lot about it." :) Good answer. –  CoffeeRain Feb 6 '12 at 21:13

I know first hand that #3 is a sure easy way to get more attention to your answer (and in turn more upvotes).

I always do my best to distinguish my answer from all the others by using plenty of links, quotes, formatting. Most of the time, this will shoot my question to the top of the list and ensure upvotes a plenty.

Oh, and especially pictures:

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5  
yes but that is not a bad thing, good formatting is a net positive –  Jeff Atwood Aug 25 '09 at 8:15
1  
Jeff: Yes, it is a good thing :). Jonik: Yeah, it was a horrible example (It actually used to be -1), but it was taking me too long to find a better answer. –  David Pearce Aug 25 '09 at 8:42
2  
Lousy pictures! Missing freehand circles! –  Ladybug Killer Aug 25 '09 at 8:46
11  
+1 ooh shiny –  Greg Hewgill Aug 25 '09 at 9:04
1  
And the nominations for "Most effective use of an unrelated image" are... –  Justin Jan 18 '11 at 13:36

Answer quickly but incorrectly unfortunately works. Sometimes such answers are even hastily marked as best answer.

I suggest sorting answers starting from most recently added, or sort few most recently added above others (this way each answer will be top for at least a moment).

Don't let few up/down votes affect order, at least when question is still new.

SELECT … FROM answers … ORDER BY 
  (CASE WHEN abs(number_of_votes) > threshold THEN number_of_votes ELSE 0 END),
  (date_added > NOW() - interval '10 minutes') DESC,
  …
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1  
` SELECT * FROM ( SELECT * FROM answers WHERE number_of_votes > THRESHOLD ORDER BY number_of_votes ) q UNION ALL SELECT * FROM answers WHERE number_of_votes <= THRESHOLD AND date_added > NOW - '10 minutes'::INTERVAL UNION ALL SELECT * FROM answers WHERE number_of_votes <= THRESHOLD AND date_added <= NOW() - '10 minutes'::INTERVAL ` This is more index friendly. Sorry, just couldn't help it :) –  Quassnoi Aug 25 '09 at 12:41
2  
I like code examples. You get +1 just for that... –  awe Jul 22 '10 at 12:45

Should we really care about points all the time. I am here for:

  1. Learning: It can be anything like learning new tips,logic etc.
  2. For getting my answers
  3. and obviously if you want your answer then do some favor for others. Check their questions and try to give them proper solution for their problem.

    Honestly saying i don't give a damm to my reputation. This is not a college class where you have to score good marks for good grades or something like that.

share|improve this answer

Let me tackle these one at a time.

Be the First to Answer. Even at the cost of quality.

Absolutely true. Like others have said, this is actually a good thing because getting a quick answer to a problem is typically what you want. The only problem is (as noted by codexon) wrong quick answers can get voted up. Or someone posts something that's irrelevant but correct and gets voted up because people don't seem to understand or don't read the OP's requirements.

Use Downvotes and Comments Strategically

Tactical downvoting I don't really like. I really think downvoting shouldn't be anonymous for this and other reasons. Or as a compromise, downvotes on questions you also answer shouldn't be anonymous. This also includes putting on a downvote and later taking it off. As others have noted, if you want to rescind a downvote, you can edit the answer (with 3k+ reputation) and you're then allowed to rescind it after the normal time limit.

Use obnoxious in-your-face formatting and lists.

I don't see how "obnoxious" formatting helps. But there's definitely an advantage to using something other than a "blob" of text. You can break that up with headings, lists and/or images. It also helps to put a useful title in a link instead of just a raw URL.

Be Aware of the 200 reputation/day Limit

As I think Jon Skeet wrote, you need to get to the 200 reputation cap limit as soon as possible during the day to increase the window for over-200 reputation gains from accepted answers and bounties. I've made numerous posts against the reputation system working like this. I actually think this disadvantages more casual users. After all Jon Skeet won't spend much time during the day in the soft cap region. I read once he said that sometimes when he gets up in the morning he's already at +200 for the day (which is 6-8 hours in for him in the UK).

Edit, But Don’t Edit Too Much

True again. You don't want to make your posts CW and I have again posted numerous times how I think this owner edit forcing CW is actually a bad thing. It discourages people from maintaining their posts. I've proposed several solutions including edits after 6 not bumping the post but they've all been rejected. I think we should be doing everything we can to encourage people to maintain content they've written and updating it as the facts change.

Associate your other accounts

This is an easy one.

The only thing I'd add is that you want to judiciously bounty hunt and look for new bounties with low upvote answers. You also want to look for bounties that end late in the "reputation day" as around half the time the OP just lets the bounty lapse without selecting an answer and you know when that will be. No point wasting your time with bounties that end at 1 am UTC.

I'm not sure many bounty posters realize that the top answer only gets half the bounty by auto-acceptance. IMHO we need to encourage active selection of an answer by giving the OP a nominal reputation amount (say 10 points) for selecting an answer rather than auto-selecting.

Basically what's been said is correct. A few of the things I consider negative and should be addressed as described above.

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1  
"As I think Jon Skeet wrote..." Should the reputation system be designed based on the guy with the highest score? How many people hit the rep cap anyway? I hit it the other day -- for the first time in my life, and I'm just outside the top 10%.. –  John Fouhy Aug 25 '09 at 22:30
1  
By definition those at the top have the most experience, which is noteworthy. But I wasn't putting Jon up as an expert in this context, merely attributing the source. –  cletus Aug 26 '09 at 6:40

For an eye-opening read, check out the comments on reddit. Amusingly enough, someone chose the title of this post as Why StackOverflow sucks. My favourite from one relix:

I've answered exactly 1 question. It was the only correct answer to that question but it didn't get any votes and didn't get selected as the answer. Instead, the wrong answer was selected and got all the brownie points.

That was the moment I decided never to waste time on StackOverflow again. Why even bother.

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2  
Before I saw that, I thought nothing can beat youtube comments. –  Quassnoi Aug 25 '09 at 14:48
1  
There are some people that seem to have some pre-existing prejudice to SO that I don't fully understand. –  James McMahon Aug 25 '09 at 15:15
7  
There are some people that have pre-existing prejudice to everything you can name. –  Quassnoi Aug 25 '09 at 16:07
9  
"I decided never to waste time on StackOverflow again" -> David Verhasselt "Seen 45 mins ago". Tsk. –  hyperslug Aug 26 '09 at 20:48
1  
@hyperslug, He meant "answering questions". –  Pacerier May 5 at 19:40
  1. Be the first to post a good answer. Even at the cost of quality.

    ~ Post a correct and helpful answer. Make it perfect afterwards.

  2. Use Downvotes and Comments Strategically

    ~ This is wasted effort. Making other answers look worse doesn't make yours better.

  3. Use obnoxious in-your-face formatting and lists wisely.

  4. Be aware of the 200 rep/day limit

    ~ Gain the favor of OP. You will get additional rep for your answers being accepted even after you've hit the cap.

  5. Edit, But Don’t Edit Too Much

    ~ Prefer fewer but greater edits over many minor ones. Care about those who are already reading it.

  6. Associate your other accounts - Seriously? ... that desperate?


    + tips from my experience:

  7. Provide additional helpful info related to the matter.

    ~ This might include pointing out good / bad practices, pointing out completely different (better) approaches rather than helping to fix the one included in question etc.

    ~ Impart the knowledge that OP as well as many future visitors will appreciate.

  8. Help others to make their answers better, collaborate. Be generous, kind and humble.

    ~ Others will treat you the same way. Karma is good thing.

share|improve this answer
3  
+1000 for point 7 –  VonC Oct 7 '13 at 8:53

I have also written an article on stackoverflow tips and tricks that can be view here:

http://sarfraznawaz.wordpress.com/2010/02/14/stackoverflow-tips-tricks-5/

The main points include:

1. Get 100 Reputation Points Free

2. Add “Interesting” & “Ignored” Tags

3. Install Greasemonkey Script

4. Be the First to Answer a Question

5. Markdown

6. Don’t Over-Style Your Answers

7. Add Pictures

8. Use Google Effectively

9. Use JS Bin

10. Edit Your Answers Cleverly

11. Keep Your References Open

12. Involve Yourself to Earn Badges

share|improve this answer

Regarding #2, what if you hide votes for the 10 minutes or so?

By "hide", I mean: people can vote, but answers will appear to have 0 score (and time-based sort order) until the 10 minutes are up.

You could even hide timestamps and randomize display order for the initial window, though I'm not sure that would be worth it.

share|improve this answer
3  
You would have to randomize the display order. If you simply had it by time, then people would still do tactic 1. –  Unknown Aug 25 '09 at 8:34

NOOOOO!!!!! MUST DO DAMAGE CONTROL!!!!!

Seriously though. If you just take some of the "advice" from the linked article as it is, much harm would be done to the ecosystem.

Re: “Be the First to Answer. Even at the cost of quality.”

This is missing a second part: please make sure you improve your answer after quick-posting it.

Re: “Use Downvotes and Comments Strategically.”

Noooo!!!!

Downvote if and only if an answer is bad. Don't "strategically" downvote because the answer is competing with yours. Plus your down-vote gets locked in after 5 minutes, so the damage can't be undone unless you commit further evils.

Don't be afraid to call out on an answer that is plain wrong though, via comments and/or downvotes.

Re: “Use obnoxious in-your-face formatting and lists.”

Well, I won't use the term "obnoxious" ("obnoxious" works pretty well on Meta though)

Just make sure that your post is easy to read. Use proper formatting

  • put code or code-related things in code block or inline code span.
  • use headers if your post is relatively long to organize things
  • use lists when applicable
  • if you feel that some related documentation/reference can provide further details, mention it in your question.
  • if you're quoting text/explanation from a reference or from a post, put it in blockquotes and give credits.
  • for emphasis or highlighting keywords, use italics or bold, but sparingly.

Re: “Be Aware of the 200 rep/day Limit”

  • Fair enough. You don't want to spin your wheels.

Re: “Edit, But Don’t Edit Too Much”

Don't edit at all unless you have something useful to add or something that needs to be changed. Bumping up your answer just for the sake of drawing attention bumps down other questions that might need attention more than you do.

Re: “Associate your other accounts”

  • Fair enough.
share|improve this answer
1  
I think you're missing the tongue-in-cheek nature of this question and its answers... –  Cody Gray Jul 23 '13 at 10:09
1  
Nuh uh, I'm just catering towards users who are taking this "thread" seriously. –  Old Checkmark Jul 23 '13 at 10:11

Jokes aside there is a certain flaw in the way that reputation is earned.

There are additional factors to how much reputation you'll receive by asking a question or answering one that have nothing to do with the "correctness" of the question/answer.

It helps if you answer quickly, I found that if I answer an open question a day or more after it was posted the chances of getting up voted or chosen are close to nil. People almost never up vote a question, I think it got something to do with the fact that it's hard to decide if the question is a "good" question.

And of course users that instead of learning or answering questions try to grab as much reputation as possible, I've noticed people using the same dirty tricks explained in the post (like coping an already posted answer and bumping the other question down).

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Warning: The following contains absurd levels of snark that might be dangerous to the eyes, hands, or soul of a moderately to severely sane reader. I promise there's a point to this at the end. Maybe.

If someone has beat you to the #1 with a one-liner, follow up with some extreme #3 by repeating their answer:

Jeff's answer is absolutely correct: Walnuts do taste great with cantaloupe.

Here's a code example that explains it a bit more:

public class Walnuts extends Cantaloupe implements DeliciousCombination { }

When writing walnut-related code, follow these steps:

  1. Determine if you need cantaloupes
  2. Determine if you have cantaloupes
  3. Eat the walnuts no matter what

Things to beware about cantaloupes:

  • They are less delicious without walnuts
  • They are much heavier than walnuts
  • Less people are allergic to cantaloupes than to walnuts

walnuts.org, the official specification for walnuts, has this mostly unrelated thing to say about them:

California grows more than 99% of the country’s supply
and two-thirds of the world’s walnut trade.

Additional resources about walnuts and cantaloupe recipes:

Wikipedia's page on walnuts, Wikipedia's page on cantaloupe, Wikipedia's page when I clicked random article

[Note/Edit/Update/Addendum/tl;dr/Other Indication of Superfluous Footnote] You should probably get rid of the magic number on line 1000000.

You will get upvoted more than the person who answered first, and you don't even need to know the answer beforehand. As long as you have some experience in the general field and you understand what the answer is saying, you can add completely unnecessary bits and reap the benefits of another person's hard work!

But in all seriousness, I don't think this trick is always bad. You still have to put effort into your code example, lists, quotes, and finding related(ish) links. People upvote because it looks like you put more work into your answer (you might've) and because it's possible your answer is clearer to understand. Though Rule #1 says your answer will probably not get accepted.

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May I suggest reducing some of the snark in this answer? Your last paragraph makes this a decent answer, in my opinion, but someone may not get that far before dismissing it. –  Andrew Barber Mar 5 '13 at 2:05
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@AndrewBarber You're right. I have this awful habit of burying the lead. Somehow every time I come up with something that I think flows, the most important point is in the last letter of the last word of the last sentence of the overly-long gag. I will try to think of a way to get to the point faster. –  Eva Mar 5 '13 at 2:18
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I need to get a handle on my snark problem. Snarkers Anonymous? –  Eva Mar 5 '13 at 23:35

I've seen a corollary to #5: If you're the top answerer, periodically edit the question to bring more attention and votes to your post. That way, your own answer never becomes wiki.

For the most part it seems accurate. I'm not sure you could call it gaming since this is already known tacitly condoned.

Reputation is a system that happens to motivate many people well, and it has produced great results. Coming up with strategies to maximize it while not really contributing is unfortunate, but bearable considering the advantages.

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I think a great way to restrain this behaviour is forcing to leave a comment on downvote. I think that the downvote comment must be anonymous, for not letting people downvote only for revenge.

In this way if the reason of the downvote is not good enough, a moderator (or everyone using the voting system) can eliminate the downvote (and take measure against the user with this bad behaviour if it persist in time).

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I love this foolish behaviour, this is a open question (on a meta site) that is barely a question, the OP intention is not clear, but basically it ask for opinion, I gave one, costructive, and I get a downvote... It's just Amazing! XD –  kentaromiura Aug 25 '09 at 18:39

I've seen a user with over 1000 reputation but his writing sounded like a newbie. I looked at his profile and saw 266 questions with lots of upvotes and 11 answers with a total of one upvote.

So the strategy is to ask a LOT of easy questions on popular topics so people can answer and upvote you.

It's freaking sad but at the same time amusing that people are actually mostly hackers. We hack around the system to get what we want. I think that this is very valuable at times but dangerous at other times.

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1. Be the First to Answer. Even at the cost of quality.

Instead, randomize the order of the answers while the question is new. In addition, hide the up-vote/down-vote count as to not influence the other readers (i.e. lemming effect). Eventually transition the question back to normal view. The rate of activity on the question should determine the length before standard view is enabled.

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This just optimizes SO for those who want to play games, at the expense of those who actually wish to use it for Q&A. –  Shog9 Aug 25 '09 at 21:20

Also, work in popular subject areas. Most people wouldn't recognize Jon Skeet's name if he had the ability to write swift and excellent answers in Lisp, Haskell, and Delphi, but not anything else.

Pick your questions. Only answer questions that are easy to read. If people are turned off from reading the question, they're unlikely to upvote your answer.

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If I can add three more...

  1. The highest concentration of SO fanatics (and by natural association, the FGITW's) is on the west coast of the USA, secondarily NYC. So visit the site when these regions are likely to be asleep and snipe out any questions that would otherwise get nailed in the FGITW rush. For what it's worth, Jon Skeet is in UTC+0.

  2. If you get an accepted answer, go back and look at the tags. Then look at them again. Are they the right tags? Are all the relevant tags present? Also... On the right side of the page will be a list of 'related' questions. Check the tags on those questions to see if any are relevant towards getting your accepted answer better exposed to the community.

  3. Lastly, defensive protection. Look at the original question carefully. Are there any improvements that can be made to prevent its closure as a duplicate? As off topic? Also, try and flesh out your answer before the FGITW's get their first caffeine hit.

I have it in mind that these are legitimate whilst simultaneously serving best community interests.

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I know people disagree with #2. I disagree with #1 but I know it sometimes holds true. The others seem somewhat accurate.

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#2 is the only one I disagree with to the point of considering some algorithmical way of blocking it –  Jeff Atwood Aug 25 '09 at 8:14
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#2 just seems like temporary result-manipulating similar to this: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/15746/…. In time the best answers will bubble up. –  hyperslug Aug 25 '09 at 8:46

#1 is very true, but could maybe be alleviated by just receiving answers for a reasonably short amount of time (say 5 min) after the question was posted -- without displaying them. Then, these first answers could be shown in random order. This might take a little pressure away and encourage people to put some more efforts in their first try.

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2. Use Downvotes and Comments Strategically

See my response to #1. I think that will help curb this. Another solution is to increase downvote cost if you have already answered the question. If the user downvotes before answering, then either revert the user's downvotes for the question, apply the new "cost" of the downvotes to the user after answering the question. This could be a confirmation the user has to agree to after clicking "submit". For example: "Answering this question will remove X reputation due to downvotes assigned to competing answers. Continue?"

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Disagree. I sometimes downvote other answers on questions I have answered because the other answers are seriously wrong. I remember one question for alternative ways to determine whether .NET objects were equal, and there was an upvoted answer advising using GetHashCode [which is utterly wrong according to the docs]. It would have hurt a little to lose extra rep for downvoting that. –  MarkJ Sep 16 '09 at 22:23

The choice of question is probably the most important point missing from the list - once you have embellished your post with enough obnoxious formatting, it's all about the number of people who see your question - the more people who see your answer, the more potential votes.

This means that the more popular the question the more upvotes, in particular:

  • Really easy questions tend to do well - lots of people think that they could have a go at answering it, so it gets lots of views.
  • QUESTIONS WITH THE TITLE IN ALL-CAPS also do quite well as some people quite enjoy moaning about / closing rubbish questions.
  • Questions posted by anyone demi-famous (like Jeff or Jon Skeet) always attract massive views.
  • Subjective questions are also great, but you need to get in there early before they become community wiki.

Of course popular questions also means more competition, and so its more important than ever to make sure that you get in early - even so, more popular questions always offer a better vote-to-effort ratio in the long run.

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What's the use of these reputations anyway? I became a member of SoF to find quality answers for my questions and if somebody has a question that I might know the answer, help him to find the answer. I know that it is enjoyable to gain respect among the fellow programmers, but I think that is not the goal. It's not a race for gaining more reputations but it's a game of helping each other to improve our knowledge. We are not players against each other but we are members of a team playing to gain the knowledge and skills that we need to be even better programmers.

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To me it is primarily a game, the Q&A is just a nice bonus. I dislike reading about the crap I do in my day job, but I love games. –  McGarnagle May 25 '12 at 7:22

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