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I read some people do that and that hence there are safeguards in place to prevent it, but what's the point? Suppose I know little about C++ and devise an ingenuous trick to game the system and gain reputation - at the end of the day the fact remains I still know little about C++, and people/interviewers would definitely ask how I got such a high reputation on Stack Overflow while I am so bad at programming! Seriously, wouldn't most of us feel uneasy if we get, say 10k reputation that we don't deserve? Who would love that?

So what is the reason people cheat to gain reputation on Stack Overflow? It's not like they can cash it in for hard cash! Do they think they can fool their recruiters with that? Or is it mostly newbies out to impress friends/girlfriends?

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closed as not constructive by Bo Persson, user7116, ben is uǝq backwards, Rory, jmort253 Apr 27 '13 at 22:17

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At the moment you've got a semi-rant of a question that's asking for a list... Also, wouldn't somewhere like Cognitive Sciences be a better place to ask this? –  ben is uǝq backwards Apr 27 '13 at 21:29
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Same reason students cheat in exams. –  Shadow Wizard Apr 27 '13 at 21:31
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Capital accumulation? –  JSW189 Apr 27 '13 at 21:47
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2 Answers

Why do people try so hard to get likes on Facebook? Why do people cheat in practice tests?

It's basically a social status thing. A 10k user can boast about their rep both on and off SO (it also does help with some recruiters). It's a very hollow reason, but people do get lost in the world of SO and give rep waay more importance than it deserves.

You may get a better answer by asking here, as ben mentioned.


Rep is meant to be a gamification of the system; a psychological bump to make you want to contribute. It really is attractive when you start off -- watching the number increase is fun, and watching the priveleges roll in more so.

However, as time passes, one should realize that rep is a very rough measure of how much the system trusts you and helps power the privilege system. It's OK to set rep goals for yourself. It's OK to strive for privileges. However, one probably should not have "to get more rep" as their primary purpose of contributing1. This doesn't work with everyone, and thus we get sockpuppets et al.

Related: The problem with extrinsic motivation

1. That being said, it's OK to have rep as a primary purpose as long as you gain it legitimately, by writing good posts. Its just imho better to focus directly on contributions than on rep.

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Coming from a user with 32k rep on MSO.... –  hjpotter92 Apr 27 '13 at 21:45
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@hjpotter92: So? I bet your sweet bippy he didn't do it with socks. –  Robert Harvey Apr 27 '13 at 21:46
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@hjpotter92: I help folks and take part in policy discussions and propose features. That's good :) It's OK to have lots of rep on any ssite. It's not OK if your primary reason for participation is to get rep –  Manishearth Apr 27 '13 at 21:47
    
@Manishearth Well, that would still be okay if that resulted in excellent contributions. That the primary motivation is more rep does not matter a whole lot in that case. It's not okay when obtained by fraudulent means. I guess that's what you meant to say? –  Bart Apr 27 '13 at 21:55
    
@Bart: That too. S/he was talking about the "getting lost in the world of SO" bit, so I replied to that specifically. –  Manishearth Apr 27 '13 at 21:56
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@hjpotter92 - I am almost certain all 32.6k of that reputation was earned legitimately because Manishearth cares about great Q&A and the vision that is Stack Exchange. No cheating was involved here, just a lot of time and dedication to doing good for the community. With that said, the reputation system is reinforcing, but it's not the primary reason we're all here. –  jmort253 Apr 27 '13 at 22:15
    
@jmort253: "almost"? I find your lack of faith...disturbing. ;-) Thanks for the compliment/endorsement, though :) –  Manishearth Apr 27 '13 at 22:23
    
You have a sharp eye for detail, @Manishearth. I am certain the rep was all earned. One can't earn 32.6k rep and be a charlatan. –  jmort253 Apr 27 '13 at 23:13
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I like how everybody here is treating meta rep as if it matters at all. –  BoltClock's a Unicorn Apr 28 '13 at 0:21
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@jmort253 "One can't earn 32.6k rep and be a charlatan." I wouldn't be so sure.... –  Yannis Apr 28 '13 at 10:10
    
@BoltClock'saUnicorn - Ironically, MSO will be the first site where I hit 20k. Perhaps it's time for me to go on another 4 month SO bender and earn some more rep answering programming questions. :) –  jmort253 Apr 28 '13 at 17:08
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Reputation is not that important. It's certainly not that important to employers. All it does is measure the community's trust in you, based on the manner in which you interact with the community. That's why we try and protect it from cheaters and bikeshedders, because those things cheapen reputation as a currency.

But some people out there think that reputation is important, that it confers some measure of status. It does, but only at six figures, and you're never going to accomplish that with socks. In the same way that they think a Cartier watch somehow makes them important, except that these folks will buy the cheap Chinese knockoff instead of the real thing.

Why do they do this? Because they believe that the world is not fair. It's not a level playing field, and the only way that they can compete with the big hats is to cheat. This isn't some sort of gamer mentality; this is their life philosophy. They look at people like Justin Bieber and think that he just got lucky; they never look at the years of work that someone like him put in without pay to get where he is.

So they're always looking for the angle, the way they can do an end-run around the system to get what they want, because that's the way they think the world works.

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Using Justin Bieber to back up your otherwise excellent post? What has happened to you? ;) –  Bart Apr 27 '13 at 21:47
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