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This is an offshoot of this question, where oxbow_lakes feels that casual users in the US have an advantage over casual users in the UK.

I was wondering what sort of user would do best in what sort of time zone, assuming a "reasonably normal" daily schedule.

When is it easiest to get upvotes? When is it easiest to get an answer accepted? How can you avoid the rep cap hitting you hardest?

I suspect that for reasonable "hard-core" users, the UK is actually a good place to be. In particular, I believe that correct answers to simple questions tend to be accepted fairly soon after the answer is posted. I rarely post between 12am and 6am, leaving that time "fallow" to get votes from old answers, but unlikely to get "wasted" acceptances. By breakfast time (8 or 9am) I'm usually at or near the rep limit, and that's when accepted answers start to come in.

I find it hard to analyse less regular users, as their habits are likely to be more divergent... hopefully others will be happy to dive into the data dump :)

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Unfortunately, the data dump doesn't contain information on the local time zone of users, nor the time-of-day when reputation-affecting events (such as votes, bounties and accepted answers) take place. So I'm not sure the data dump as it has been provided can be very helpful. –  ベレアー アダム Sep 9 '09 at 13:31
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Something tells me Jon is considering a move. "We need a four bedroom with an updated kitchen in a nice neighborhood with good schools. And in a time zone that will help me maximimze my SO rep." –  user27414 Sep 9 '09 at 14:38
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I don't think Jon needs any help maximizing his rep. –  TheTXI Sep 9 '09 at 14:56
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I don't think Jon would prioritize his SO rep last. –  Bill the Lizard Sep 9 '09 at 15:52
    
I'm with Bill the Lizard. It would be more like: "We need a time zone that will help me maximimze my SO rep. And an updated kitchen in a nice neighborhood with good schools." –  Thomas Owens Sep 9 '09 at 19:32
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I always suspected Skeet didn't sleep. I wonder what he actually does in between 12am and 6am other than posting on StackOverflow. I guess that's when he writes his books and blog posts. –  MarkJ Sep 16 '09 at 22:43
    
I wonder if Jon's reputation started its amazing upward trend immediately after asking this question. –  Aaron Bertrand May 1 '12 at 0:27

8 Answers 8

This is really weird that you ask this because I was just thinking about this earlier today.

And I think GMT is probably the ideal time zone. The reason is that you want to maximize your time at the daily rep cap to get >200 rep from accepted answers and bounties and the way to do this is sleep for that initial 8 or so hours in the new day and build up rep from upvotes either by doing nothing or as a ripple effect of the questions you answered the previous evening.

Most questions are probably American in origin so by the time the bulk of the day's fresh questions are asked it's your evening so you're answering questions.

Now I'm in AU timezone which can be less than ideal because the low point is in the middle of the day and the high point (of activity on SO) is while you're asleep. Possibly the only advantage is that if you didn't hit 200 the previous window there's a window when you get up to knock out a couple of answers before the reset (8am-noon depending on state and season).

That being said, 3 of the top 20 are all from one city in Australia so maybe statistically this city (Perth) is best. :)

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Perhaps there's nothing to do in Perth –  oxbow_lakes Sep 9 '09 at 14:53
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Harsh... but fair. :P –  cletus Sep 9 '09 at 16:48
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@cletus - It doesn't seem terribly harsh. I would think it's a compliment. –  Super Long Names are Hilarious Sep 9 '09 at 19:24
    
Sleep? Skeet doesn't sleep! Not posting between 12am and 6am isn't for sleep, he says it's tactical. That's when he writes books and blog posts instead. –  MarkJ Sep 16 '09 at 22:46

Statistically speaking, it seems that GMT is best.

Seriously, though, I think it is going to come down to the individual's online and sleeping habits more than the time zone where they live. If we attempt to posit an "average" user's online and sleeping habits, I think the question is becomes too speculative to be meaningful.

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Don't forget to factor in the insomniacs. –  random Sep 9 '09 at 13:34

I would guess that that the ideal time zone would be the United States timezones, (Eastern, then Pacific, then Central, IMHO).

I say this because I imagine the easiest way to gain reputation is to post and answer at the same time the largest segment of users is going to be online and active.

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Some of us in Central work during those times...dammit. –  Eric Sep 9 '09 at 13:22
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That means the largest segment of "competitors" for answers though, of course... –  Jon Skeet Sep 9 '09 at 13:23
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@Jon: Very true, but I also think that the larger audience makes up for it. I am more than happy to vote up "competitors" if they answer well. –  TheTXI Sep 9 '09 at 13:25

(For the record, I'm on UTC+4:30)

I agree with Jon that UK is a good time zone in general and is actually the perfect time zone for extremely active users (by this, I specifically mean Jon and Marc) that have a lot of answers per day. However, I think it's a significant difference between the two legends of Stack Overflow and other top users. As Jon mentions, he is at or near the cap most of the time when he wakes up. I think for other hard-core users, this is more like 100-120 on active days. For Jon, UK is a great time zone since he can answer a bunch of questions near the cutoff time at night and sleep afterwards. He doesn't need to be awake on the cutoff time for maximum performance. For other high rep users, it's not usually enough (my personal feeling is that there's a slowdown of questions from ~2:00AM (9:30PM UTC) to 4:00AM (11:30PM UTC) but questions answered in this time frame get upvoted in the next hour). Consequently, if you are not Jon or Marc, you need to be awake after 12:00AM UTC to hit the cap pretty soon in the day. Otherwise, there will be several hours of lost accepted answers (doesn't really matter whether you are at 10 or 195. Only > 200 matters). That's why I think AU time is great for this class of users. UK time is also good if you spend time on StackOverflow till around 1:00AM.

Actually, in the past couple of months, I slept at 9-10AM and was awake at nights. I was feeling it is much easier to go over cap.

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I am in Australia and I think how the timezone works now is fantastic. I can build up my rep throughout the day, and let it 'settle' and rise overnight. If I haven't capped when I wake up, I can just answer a couple questions or ask a few and then reach my cap. –  David Pearce Sep 10 '09 at 7:17

I've found the prime time for me is between 12:00 GMT and 21:00 GMT. You catch the Europeans awake and the US is just waking up. It's a great time for asking questions too.

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I think that the ideal scenario is to be available to answer when the most other people are posting and looking for answers. Assuming that you spend most of your time answering outside of work hours, then it would be best to have your non-work hours correspond with the peak usage of SO. Assuming that the peak hours are from 10am-7pm EST/EDT, a time zone 7 hours east of the US would be ideal since right as the US questions start to ramp up, you're in a position to answer them without taking time away from your job. Given the language issues, though, I suspect that practically speaking the ideal location is the UK -- nearly ideal time and the site is in the native language.

My son happens to agree on it being the ideal location, but for different reasons.

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"Assuming that the peak hours are from 10am-7pm EST/EDT" Is there data to support this? –  John Fouhy Sep 9 '09 at 22:24
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I'll comment on the AU timezone:

I've found it pretty easy to get 200+ rep per day, because I can answer questions (while compiling obviously) at work. One frustrating, thing, has been that in the mornings, I need to wait until 10am for the Rep to be reset. Amusingly it gives me a chance to quickly get to 200, if I've fallen short the day before.

I will also say there is a potential advantage in not being in the same zone ans Jon skeet and Marc, because, I must be honest, I've very rarely seen them in any questions I answer (perhaps I only answer boring ones).

So I would agree with mehrdad that AU is nice, but if it were possible, I would most definitely lock down my profile with a timezone set to where I am (melbourne) and have it reset nightly, like everyone else.

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Why do you want your account deleted if you still post with it? –  Kyle Cronin Sep 9 '09 at 13:22
    
It can be deleted at any time. I just happened to be on the site, and wanted to respond. I haven't emailed the team, I was just renaming it in advance. –  please delete me Sep 9 '09 at 13:24
    
Kylie: Rectified; as you suggest, bad form to not request deletion with a renamed account. Will change the name when I send the email. –  please delete me Sep 9 '09 at 13:26
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When you get this account deleted, will you just create a new one the next time you're on meta like you did this time? If so, why not just leave this account dormant until then? –  random Sep 9 '09 at 13:32
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Your profile pic is real aussie. –  Alex Angas Sep 9 '09 at 13:56

I'm on Eastern US time, and I feel like sometimes I'm an hour or two behind a number of the influxes of questions I generally try to answer. Either they happen earlier in the morning before I get to work, or they happen while I'm driving home before I get on my computer at night. Maybe Greenland time would work best for me. ;)

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