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From time to time I look for comments on Stack Overflow that are asking for upvotes/accepts.

If the OP is a new user, I encourage them to instead post a link to the [about] page, and/or a little explanation why accepting answers can be helpful for future visiting users. If not, I post a comment that asking for upvotes is generally frowned upon, along with a reference to the Begging for Upvotes post.

The last time I posted such a comment I received the following comment as response.

Reputation is the currency of this site. You can buy answers with it with bounties. I don't think it's unreasonable to ask to be paid for my work. (Seems being called a "whore" for asking for payment for work done isn't restricted to women.)

This doesn't seem right to me. Is this belief common among other community members or not?

Do you think bounties/reputation can/should be seen as a mere instrument for buying answers?

How should I respond to such comments when I see them?

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Could someone please point out the parts of the question which are bad. Such that i can improve future questions or avoid asking them? :) –  C5H8NNaO4 Nov 8 '13 at 21:15
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I deleted half the comments on that post since they didn't really contribute anything to the question or answer. I do find it curious that anyone would be surprised that "whore" can be applied to non-women. –  Bill the Lizard Nov 8 '13 at 21:16
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That comment referenced was just bad –  Adel Nov 8 '13 at 21:18
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When you see a comment asking for upvotes or accepts, do not add a comment telling them not to do it. Instead, flag the comment as non constructive if you think it isn't adding anything useful to the post. Adding your own comment just kicks off a conversation that will end up a perfect example of non constructive. –  Kate Gregory Nov 8 '13 at 21:29
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I've edited the question a bit; hopefully that will help avoid the perception that you endorse such a comment, given that the opposite is the case. If you feel the re-wordings weren't right, feel free to edit some/all of it back to what it was. –  Servy Nov 8 '13 at 21:36
    
@BilltheLizard That's indeed an odd thought. Thanks for clearing up the comments. –  C5H8NNaO4 Nov 8 '13 at 21:37
    
@Servy Thanks for that :) Sounds good to me –  C5H8NNaO4 Nov 8 '13 at 21:37
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@KateGregory I always, flag the comment as "not constructive" and if it get's deleted i delete mine too. While i see the point that this might end in a discussion, if i encourage them to post constructive comments instead, they might change their phrasing in such cases, adding constructive content in the future, like in this case. If it evolves in a discussion i could always use the transfer to chat button, right ? –  C5H8NNaO4 Nov 8 '13 at 21:43
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(I'm the OP.) Sorry, I forgot, despite the fact that SO is heavily gamified, we're supposed to ignore all that and not make reference to it, ever. Forgive me for acknowledging that I might not be 100% motivated by altruism and enjoyment, only, you know, about 95%. It is clearly unbecoming to attempt to educate a new user in the norms of the site, i.e. that we pay for useful answers with accepts. Oops, I said "pay" again. hides –  Robin Green Nov 8 '13 at 21:57
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Good will is Stack Exchange's currency. Reputation is a rough measure of how much good will a user has contributed to the SE community. –  Robert Harvey Nov 8 '13 at 23:12
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Stack Exchange looks like fertile ground for a (academic?) study on the Economics of Trust/Reputation. –  sancho.s Nov 9 '13 at 5:15
    
What does the OP acronym mean (e.g., the OP is a new user)? –  javaPlease42 Nov 9 '13 at 14:26
    
@javaPlease42 Original Poster, which in that case refers to the author of the question –  C5H8NNaO4 Nov 10 '13 at 20:30
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I think its ironic but also relevant that you(@C5H8NNaO4) have placed a bounty on this question. –  Wold Nov 10 '13 at 21:36
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@Wold Yeah I thought about that, being ironic, that's one reason why I put the bounty on it Also I unexpectedly got 100rep for that question so i thought i might share some of it with \@Bart who gave an excellent answer. I didn't knew i have to wait some time to award it to an existing answer –  C5H8NNaO4 Nov 11 '13 at 9:11

6 Answers 6

up vote 51 down vote accepted
+150

No, reputation is not the site's currency. It is not a means of payment. It at most is a rough indication of the community's trust in your contributions over time.

You can buy answers with it with bounties.

No you can't. You don't buy answers with a bounty. You bring your question to the attention of others with a bounty. If there's anything you're buying, it's advertisement space. You can of course reward existing answers with them as well. But even then you wouldn't be buying them.

I remember one user demanding several hundreds or even thousands of points of rep in bounties before he would give his brilliant answer..... suffice it to say that didn't really work out all that great.

I don't think it's unreasonable to ask to be paid for my work.

If that is your attitude, perhaps this is not the site for you. The best way to participate here is to enjoy learning, and to enjoy giving. Both are based on quality content. Learn by asking great questions (which is often more difficult than it might seem) and give by providing great answers. If anything, quality content is the currency of Stack Overflow.

As for pointing out to users that they should not beg for acceptance or upvotes, I'd usually just leave it. Flag as not-constructive and move on. The last thing we need is a big kerfuffle in the comments. Should this be a user who does it time and time again, you could leave a comment. Or perhaps point it out to a moderator, who could then leave a comment. But I'd only do that for severe cases.

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If that is your attitude, perhaps this is not the site for you. This. We're all volunteers here, and if you're going to get into a tiff over 10 or 15 reputation or a little green checkmark next to your answer... SO probably isn't the place for you. No one is forcing you to answer questions in the hopes of getting upvotes. –  LittleBobbyTables Nov 8 '13 at 21:17
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@LBT Thanks for that comment. If you agree, please upvote my answer. –  Bart Nov 8 '13 at 21:18
    
This! Stackoverflow is a learning haven –  Adel Nov 8 '13 at 21:20
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Brilliant the comment "If you agree please upvote .." –  vals Nov 8 '13 at 21:26
    
Could you update your answer to cover the latest changes in the question? I like your answer and it would be nice to hear your opinion on the updated points :) –  C5H8NNaO4 Nov 8 '13 at 22:40
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@C5H8NNaO4 How should I respond to such comments when I see them? Just ignore them! @Bart LOL to that user asking for big bounties before answering. Some people have no sense... –  EverythingRightPlace Nov 10 '13 at 23:02
    
What exactly would you still like me to address @C5H8NNaO4? –  Bart Nov 11 '13 at 9:07
    
@Bart Thanks for the reply. Not much :) a little note on how to respond, for completeness' sake. (maybe just bashophil's comment). And if it's ontopic, your opinion on whether its constructive to point out to people that begging for votes is frowned upon, or if it would just add more noise from my side. –  C5H8NNaO4 Nov 11 '13 at 9:35
    
You were chosen for the bounty by a fair random selection :P –  C5H8NNaO4 Nov 13 '13 at 7:30
    
Haha, ah well. I'm sure I'll find something worthy to dump it on. –  Bart Nov 13 '13 at 7:52

I'm still pretty new here, but here's my take on the question: Reputation motivates me to answer thoroughly and correctly.

I used to be a regular at the W3Schools Forum. It was very common for wrong answers to be posted, and sometimes no one would notice. I was well regarded there, but sometimes my own answers were incomplete and contained typos and simple errors in the code. If someone noticed, I fixed it. But I'm sure I left some errors that never got corrected.

Here, I try harder, and I try not to answer unless I can afford the 5-10 minutes it takes to run a fiddle and make sure my code really works. The upvotes tell me I'm on-track. If I get downvoted, and there are no upvotes to the contrary, I improve my answer immediately. If I'm not sure what's wrong, I slap myself for being unsure and delete my answer. I should not being posting an answer unless I'm 100% sure what I'm writing about.

In the end, my reputation is an index of how useful I'm being around here. I want it to go up because I like feeling useful. I would not call that "currency." I am not being paid.

How should I respond to such comments when I see them?

I read a post on meta some time ago that suggested using the @person method of sending messages about inappropriate behavior. At the time, I was reviewing/rejecting a lot of edits that were improving grammar and creating or leaving even worse grammar behind. On that night, a lot of these were being generated by the same person. Boy, was I frosted. So I left an @comment. Total backfire. An argument ensued and I quickly decided it was not worth the headache. I've been in a few more altercations since. (Slow learner.) And I'm done with them. Nothing positive has resulted. Only bad feelings on both sides.

Leave a flag and forget that poster.

BUT! As a long-term plan, consider paying it forward. When someone has gotten a really good answer to a question (not yours) but it looks like they won't bother accepting it, leave that person a comment asking them to accept the good answer. I've seen that work a few times, and I hope (perhaps foolishly) that other people reading the comment will remember to accept answers to their own questions in the future.

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I created an account on M.SO to upvote your answer ;) –  Jeremy Dicaire Nov 8 '13 at 23:22
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@JeremyDicaire Thanks. It's my first one on Meta, and I was a little nervous. –  user230118 Nov 8 '13 at 23:28
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You don't have to be, enjoy your stay! –  Jeremy Dicaire Nov 9 '13 at 20:10
    
Hey, thanks for your Answer too. I like comparing reputation on how useful you feel with participating in the StackExchange Network. I would like to share the other 50rep from this question with you. But I have to wait 11 hours first before i can award the current one to Barts answer. –  C5H8NNaO4 Nov 11 '13 at 9:39
    
I could only choose another 100 :) So you'll have to live with 100rep instead of 50 ;) –  C5H8NNaO4 Nov 11 '13 at 22:01
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@C5H8NNaO4. This is getting way too ironic. lol –  user230118 Nov 11 '13 at 22:18
    
Thanks for undeleting this post @voters/mod –  C5H8NNaO4 Nov 13 '13 at 7:33

Even asking this question suggests that you haven't yet been assimilated into the crowd-sourcing ethos of the sites. Worrying about whether one person (the OP) happens to upvote you just isn't worthwhile. Wondering whether one answer gets accepted isn't worthwhile. If you plan to 'play the game', then you have to plan to play the long game, and anticipate that your rewards will arrive in the aggregate over all content you add. Sometimes you'll won't get the check or the upvote you think you deserve. Sometimes -- horrors -- you'll get downvotes that you don't think you deserve. But all this will fade into the noise if you consistently add good content.

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Just a short question, does the phrasing of my question really suggerate I'm worrying about whether my, answers get upvoted? If so could you point out the parts of it that does so? The main purpose for me participating on StackExchange is 1. Learning (it was solely answering questions here that taught me programming) 2. Adding content to an immense knowledge base which helps future visitors (including me) to utilize that content. 3. Helping others: It gives me a smile whenever i could help someone with his problem. –  C5H8NNaO4 Nov 11 '13 at 10:37
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As the questions isn't about me, worrying about upvotes. But rather me, pointing out to users they probably shouldn't beg for upvotes. Where one of them replied with this controverse comment, referenced in my question, on which i would like to here arguments against. I'm not sure if this intent is clear. As it seems people perceive that the opposite is the case. –  C5H8NNaO4 Nov 11 '13 at 10:46

While I was thinking the whole time, about how I could rephrase my post to avoid misinterpretations, of the referenced comment in context with my, rather rhetorical, questions, serving the purpose of getting different opinions on the topic, as being my point of view, I totally forgot about the simple but effective ability of answering my own question.

Do you think bounties/reputation can/should be seen as a mere instrument for buying answers?

No.

For me, reputation is a mix of four things.

Its happiness you brought to others, yeah, people tend to be happy when you give them something they like and benefit from, also do happy people tend to give more likely, so they give you an upvote and you get some reputation, providing a positive feedback on the effort you put into a post. Plus the bonus that you probably made someone a bit happier.
And if you've helped someone a lot, he's probably a lot happier, and might give you a bounty, because, he thinks you deserve it.

It's also responsibility.
As your reputation is growing, so is your ability to influence the general quality of the sites content, by gaining additional moderation privileges. Maintaining the quality of such a mass of content is probably hard, so one should help where here can.
Also the trust users are putting into the actions of higher reputation users - (remember the moderation privileges) - increases, as well as the expectations on the quality of their posts.
At least,so it does for me.

It's familiarity
Without activity on the site, you probably wouldn't gain much reputation.
As your reputation increases you spend time interacting with the community, learning how things work.
Things like, how to ask a questions, how to write good answers, when to flag,
when to point out to users they shouldn't beg for votes.
And much more.
I'm learning quite a lot of new things about the community everyday, and withit it feels a lot more familiar than it did at the beginning.

For me it's an indicator of what I've learnt so far.
At the beginning I didn't knew how to write answers, neither did I know much about the language I was answering questions in, so it took hours to answer a question I didn't knew the answer to, not to say they weren't the best. But some times over now, and I've answered a few questions, and made a progress, in [JavaScript] and in answering questions, I'm happy with.

At least, to get reputation, you have to write answers or questions, and you probably won't get worse in something by doing it regularly.


Besides reputation there is also the displayed vote score, which I consider to be another thing than reputation.

Well a downvote doesn't has much impact on the reputation. No one gets hurt by -2 rep.
However, it has a huge influence on the position of an answer, providing, along with visual aspects, an indicator of the quality of an post, its content and correctness.

Where I value the vote score more, than the reputation gained from the votes.

I would rather like to have an answer with 1 upvote and no downvotes than one with 10 upvotes and 15 downvotes, still giving 70 reputation.(And I've seen worse)

Though sometimes it seems it does not really mirror the quality of an post, in which cases probably more users should place downvotes.

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@Bart Oh, wow, thanks for fixing my mistakes! :) –  C5H8NNaO4 Nov 12 '13 at 10:49
    
I wonder how i managed to not see the it's vs its... sometimes I'm quite stupid –  C5H8NNaO4 Nov 12 '13 at 10:55

Reputation points are not mere instruments for buying answers. Reputation points have value and drive a virtuous cycle of improvement of the site. Those who have them should be allowed to bargain them for answers of value to them. There is enough transparency for moderators to see that they are not being misused in such a way that destroys value.

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Let me also share my thoughts on that topic. In my opinion, reputation on Stack Exchange sites serves a few connected purposes.

Reputation gives a reward to people asking and answering questions. Most people like receiving a positive boost when they increase their reputation. It may be stronger or weaker for each individual but it's hard to argue that receiving reputation gives one any negative feelings. At most, one can be completely indifferent to reputation but knowing how humans work, complete indifference is probably rather rare.

Some people also like gathering points, tokens of appreciations (like badges). This can become a game on its own. I suspect (though have nothing solid to prove) that among people connected to IT this trait may be a bit stronger than among the general population.

Reputation also shows your standing and experience on SE sites which is especially true for people with considerably high reputation. It gives other people some kind of assurance that posts of high reputation users are more reliable. It also shows that a high-reputation user has spent a large amount of time helping others before.

This is connected to my belief that in the long run, one cannot consistently game the system to achieve high reputation without real knowledge and helpful attitude. It may be true that some people aim to get reputation faster by selecting low-hanging-fruit-type answers but, ultimately, it's hard to do it consistently without giving correct answers and asking great questions.

Lastly, we have to remember that we are volunteers here, spending time helping other people. Reputation is not a real gain that one can cash out and take to the real world (with a possible exception of finding a good job with the help of you SE profile). Like any other volunteers, we work for free because we gain something from it: nice feeling that we help others and that we have knowledge others appreciate (giving us reputation).


Let me now quickly know discuss bounties.

Bounties can be used for different purposes: to draw attention to a complex problem most people won't have time to solve, to get more answers when existing ones are not satisfactory... They may also be used to get more attention and attract more users. They advertise the question. A bounty doesn't necessarily mean that the question will get a good answer or that anyone will actually be forced to answer the question. This is an important difference to getting paid: no one has to do anything.

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