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This is about the psychology of Stack Exchange. What would traffic/activity look like if no reputation were shown beneath/beside usernames, and no acceptance rates were displayed for an entire day? Those numbers would still be awarded/calculcated; just not shown.

Would people still answer the same way? Treat others the same way? Better? Worse?

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Why stop there? Why not have everything be totally anonymous? don't even tie it to a user at all. It might be neat, but I'm afraid we'd be more inundated with spam. –  belgariontheking Aug 25 '09 at 16:20

6 Answers 6

up vote 10 down vote accepted

I think that if you start to take the reputation out of things, you lose the competitive aspect of it more and more, and the much more likely you will see users start to get bored out of "just answering questions" and they will start to lose interest in the site.

Perhaps I am just projecting my own thoughts on the outcome, but that is my hypothesis nevertheless.

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I agree that this would inevitably be the case - but I'm thinking on the scale of a single day. –  Jonathan Sampson Aug 25 '09 at 16:58

"Dude... where is mi rep!" would ensue.

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Next experiment, make your reputation only available to other users and not to yourself. "DUDE, WHAT'S MINE SAY???" –  TheTXI Aug 25 '09 at 15:49
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SWEET! WHAT DOES MINE SAY? –  belgariontheking Aug 25 '09 at 16:18

I'd like the site more if it didn't have any arbitrary numbers at all. I question the sanity of people doing things to acquire something completely meaningless.

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You don't question my sanity do you? –  TheTXI Aug 25 '09 at 16:03
    
Every waking moment. –  XMLbog Aug 25 '09 at 16:04
    
I love you –  TheTXI Aug 25 '09 at 16:11
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Die in a fire. –  XMLbog Aug 25 '09 at 16:12
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@Welbog: that's OK, we are really an implementation in your psyche of the abstract class Troll that inherits both from Person and Douchebag –  perbert Aug 25 '09 at 16:14
    
I think you have me confused for TXI, voyager. I'm an instance of Asshole, not Troll. –  XMLbog Aug 25 '09 at 16:17

Reputation points is one of the key innovations of Stack Overflow. If you took it off, then the resulting site would be pretty similar to a traditional forum, I think.

One of the key elements of Stack Overflow is that when you post a question, you get an answer very quickly. I believe this is because of reputation points, and the incentives to increase your reputation points by posting an answer.

If reputation points were taken off the site, people would still answer questions.... just not nearly as quickly. So in that sense, the nature of the site would change - from a site where you can ask a quick question and get a quick answer in realtime, to a site where you can ask a question and wait a few days for an answer or two (if you're lucky).

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Test it out by seeing how long you would play a video game with no scoring, levels, additions of interesting things to do, etc. Or better yet, play poker for no money or points.

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I actually have played poker for no money or points :) –  Jonathan Sampson Aug 25 '09 at 17:19
    
@Jonathan Sampson - for how long? I'd give it 15 min. –  JeffO Aug 25 '09 at 18:44

How often have you wanted to upvote a comment on CodingHorror? Now, will you miss the rep? I guess, you will shout angrily to all other participants: Where is that frigging upvote button!

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