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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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How in the world do you downvote strategically...? –  aggregate1166877 Oct 18 '12 at 15:05
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
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
Where is the part about using jQuery for the answer?! –  Awesome Poodles May 31 '13 at 1:17
You could always just ask a ridiculous number of questions... meta.stackexchange.com/questions/1326/… –  apaul34208 May 31 '13 at 5:54
I'm kind of appalled at the existence of this post... –  jpmc26 Jul 15 '13 at 7:21
downvoting only for the sake of for personal rep gain. Now that is anti-community. –  Tanvimil Aug 17 '13 at 9:58
Use Downvotes and Comments Strategically = Rep-whoring ? –  sancho.s Nov 18 '13 at 20:21

34 Answers 34

Some examples that seem to work for me.

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For users who don't have a lot of experience in programming and rarely answer questions, try editing posts.

NOTE: Only suggested edits work, so if you have 2,000 or more reputation, you cannot get reputation from this.

Tips on Editing

  • Code Spacing: Some questions may have code that is spaced more than usual. Try to take advantage of this and space out the code so that it is properly spaced neatly. Using an online compiler is helpful.

  • Grammar Correction: Some people (most commonly new users) will post bad grammar. Edit that as soon as possible so that the question is good quality.

  • Grave Accents: Names of methods should use grave accents to open and close.

  • Block quotes: use the > followed by any text to block quote the entire line. This is generally used for errors.

  • Titles: Sometimes the title contains unnecessary words (ie. C# in a question that is tagged C#). Delete those. For unclear titles, they can be fixed.

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Most of the answers given here are about how to manipulate things to favor you, get more exposure for your answers, get to easy to answer questions faster and such. But I think an important tip, to maintain the integrity of the forum, is to make sure that you're knowledgeable about the subject matter you want to answer questions on. It does nobody any good if you try to answer questions with BS just so you can be first.

If you're an expert on a particular topic, your well-crafted, timely answers to difficult questions should earn you reputation, not just initially, but over time as well. After enough time, a person like this could eventually get 200 reputation a day just from residual upvotes on past answers, and that to me seems like a good position to be in. You're likely not going to achieve that with an "answer as fast as possible" strategy with low quality answers on low quality questions.

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I'm thinking about writing a book focusing mostly on the strategy of getting rep on Stack Overflow. Here is a sneak preview. I want to see how much demand is out there for this. I think SAMs might be convinced to publish it. The real version will have to be like 200 pages, so I'll have to write a lot more.

Evan Carroll's Unofficial Guide to Stack Overflow

Chapter 1: Introduction

Stack Overflow is a more open Web 2.0 version of Experts Exchange. It is a replacement created by .NET programmers for the specific purpose of catering to the programming community. It has many features that Perlmonks, phpBB, and Yahoo! Answers are currently lacking including, tagging, (some) self-moderation, and a very bold outward REPUTATION system (phpBB has this). The largest feature is certainly tagging which makes it easy to follow the questions that interest you (even using RSS), and block the ones that don't. There is also an aggressive group of moderators that will filter out questions by blocking, closing, or deleting them. The StackOverflow is funded largely by Windows Shared Hosts in the form of advertising.

In the future, Stack Overflow will certainly be a big attraction to an employer. And, the developers creating the site have stated a desire to take it this direction. This is evidenced by their LinkedIn clone: http://careers.stackoverflow.com, which already returns a modest revenue stream. Soon, having REPUTATION could make the difference between getting a job, and not.

Chapter 2: Strategies

Using Stack Overflow without a solid strategy to get REPUTATION quickly is a major waste of time. At least, in so much as securing future employment. Everyone, should have fun with the service, but at the same time you need to be comparatively higher leveled than them to stand out.

Section "a": "Take the lead"

This strategy is a good one. Let's say someone asks a question, "How do I join two tables". Even if someone has already answered, so long as you can make your answer appear marginally different, and so long as they have fewer than 1 vote, you can answer along the same lines and downvote them! Because, Stack Overflow keeps the votes anonymous you can rest assured very few people will know you did. And, the gain? Your answer sits above theirs now. This is always a good tactic even with a minor point hit (-1 for downvoting) you gain a position worth at least 5 times that. People read the page from the top to the bottom. If your answer sits above, they'll assume it is better or that you answered first,

When it comes to explaining this strategy I like to make an analogy to moving a knight to the center of the board at the expense of losing a pawn. Often, it simply works out well for you.

Remember Stack Overflow has a snowballing effect on the answers towards the top of the page. The longer you go without taking the lead the less likely it is that you will outperform the other answers, or be chosen for best answer.

This strategy was approved of by devinb,

Actually the comment "-1 to every answer except this" IS an explanation. He is CLEARLY stating that this answer is correct and all the other answers are wrong (in his opinion). Which he is perfectly allowed to do on this site. – devinb May 16 '10 at 16:16

Section "b": "The art of knowing when to stop upvoting"

Keep in mind when you upvote that you don't get anything in return (except a few minor badges in the beginning). It is kind of like giving money to an enemy, in a system where money is free. Sure, the vote doesn't cost you anything... But, what do you really gain other than gloryifing your competition?

Section "c": "Upvoting the question"

This is a must!! Always, upvote the question. This ensures it will look like a more interesting question from the index page, and more people will look at it. Think of it like your own way to advertise that this question has your great answer. The more people that look at the question, the more people that might upvote your answer.

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Oh boy "How to become a 10k rep user in 14 days" should so be your title. –  Earlz May 26 '10 at 18:00
Oh wait sorry. It should be "How to become a 10k EXP elitist in 14 days on an Experts-Exchange clone". That sounds about right for your book. –  Earlz May 26 '10 at 18:05
@Earlz, I like the first one, but in fairness I thought of it first. –  Evan Carroll May 26 '10 at 18:26
I like this -- how to be an idiot on SO. It shows how not to be an SO member. –  RCIX Jul 4 '10 at 7:24
Guys chill, this is his "unofficial guide". Lets wait for official guide, could be more fun –  nawfal Feb 22 '13 at 22:24
Per section "b", I am not upvoting this. (Might've otherwise; as this cynical approach seems to be quite noticeable with many SE denizens.) –  Awesome Poodles May 31 '13 at 1:23

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