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I am somewhat ignorant of how/if voting data on SO can be mined, so I was wondering if it's possible to run a search of voting patterns to see if people tend to up-vote less when the author is in their approximate rep bracket (either sub-consciously, or on purpose).

If you ask "why would anyone do something ilke that" - I actually have a plausible theory.

Joel at least once mentioned, when promoting SO, that the SO rep these days is sometimes used as a sort of score when job hunting (I know I'd at least pay attention to that datum on a resume when I interview people, although it won't be even remotely most important).

So people may treat their rep standing (if not exact value) as something of a scarce resource and - possibly sub-consciously - try to deny that resource to closest competition (as in, you don't have to be faster than a bear, just faster than the fellow next to you :)

Jon Skeets of the world are way out of reach anyway so up-voting them does no harm as far as one's own relative rep standing, whereas up-voting much lower rep users is safe enough since they will be unlikely to catch up to you. But up-voting someone with score similar to you may feel like helping the competition.

I don't know if it's possible to mine for that, but I have observed a couple of times when people "accepted" obviously not-the-best answer from either very low or very high rep user yet left alone a much better one from similar reps (that's what started me wondering).

EDIT: Just to be clear, in response to Brad's note, I don't expect (or want :) to see the voting data - I assume that very few people (may be only 2) have access to it.

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You're likely to just get anecdotal evidence, because you would need access to the database to find out for sure. Which is very unlikely. –  Brad Gilbert Oct 7 '09 at 16:47
    
I saw some people (at least Jeff) reply to other Qs with detailed analysis, so I guess that someone (at the very least Joel/Jeff) have access. –  DVK Oct 7 '09 at 17:05
    
@David - I meant 2 for example 2 answers, one providing working snippet of code, one providing equally good working snippet of code PLUS a well written and concise explanation - with links - for the background of the topic. I always consider the latter to be more worthy of acceptance, could be wrong. –  DVK Oct 7 '09 at 17:41

6 Answers 6

up vote 2 down vote accepted

My objective is to increase useful Perl knowledge out there and reduce the amount of misinformation. I have upvoted any and all posts that further that objective.

The answers that serve that end tend to be from people with relatively high reps, so, if anything, my votes might be biased towards people with reps close to mine.

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Doesn't really answer my question (non of the answers do) but was the most brief executive summary of all the answers stating the same :) –  DVK Oct 15 '09 at 13:18

I don't think that anyone thinks rep is that important for job hunting. I think programmers tend to be more rational than that.

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Rational? I have two words for you. "Emacs" and "Vi" –  DVK Oct 7 '09 at 17:08
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... fully expecting to get down-voted now since I listed "Emacs" before "Vi" in that comment –  DVK Oct 7 '09 at 17:09
    
@DVK: I'm flagging you offensive for leaving out Eclipse. –  perbert Oct 7 '09 at 17:32
    
... fully expecting Arthur to be now flagged for mentioning upstart not related to the Holy War –  DVK Oct 7 '09 at 17:43

As Brad points out, there's not sufficient public information to answer this question. Voting data is anonymous.

As my anecodte for users around my level, the 10 rep for an upvote is fairly insignificant. What's more, it's reasonably likely that people above/below me will probably get to the daily rep cap anyway with or without my "help".

So no, I can't say that it is a factor.

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Is it truly anonymous? Or merely not publically published but can be gotten a hold of by, say Joel or Jeff? I was not trying to imply that I want to see the info - I'm merely interested in the final answer. –  DVK Oct 7 '09 at 17:07
    
@DVK, yes anyone with direct access to the DB could, in theory, generate data on this; but the data that is publicly available, like the Data Dumps are scrubbed to be completely anonymous with regard to votes. –  Timothy Carter Oct 7 '09 at 17:41
    
Kind of like leaving a comment on another post of yours just to reference something else so you get the notification still. –  random Dec 9 '09 at 3:52

Personally I feel that if your answer is correct, or useful you deserve some rep, regardless of how close to my own rep score you are. Its only a number after all.

If employeers want to look at my SF profile to see how good my sysadmin knowledge is, then thats great, but if they would really determine whether I got a job based on whether or not i'm in 4th or 5th place on the scoreboard, then I don't think I want to work for them.

That said there are always people who guard their rep and position like its gold, so it wouldn't suprise me to see some people acting in that way.

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Some people are obsessed with SO reputation.

And I don't mean obsessed in the way you or I are obsessed, good healthy obsessions full of friendly competition, frequent checks of the "Recent" page, and compulsive hand-washing while singing "The Rep Song" exactly seven times without error.

No, I'm talking about a much uglier form of obsession. An all-consuming hunger for rep, eventually reaching a level where a user's position in the Users list is the only true judge of their character, and the loss of a single point is cause for much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

These poor ghouls are rumored to hold midnight ceremonies involving prayers to The Bounty, blood sacrifices to The Cap, and, probably, the strategic withholding of up-votes. Also, sock-stealing. Why not.

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Note that only dirty socks are stolen, and only in odd numbers. That way you'll blame it on the laundry. Um, not that I would know anything about that. –  user27414 Oct 7 '09 at 16:55
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OCD obsession vs Gambling obsession –  Brad Gilbert Oct 7 '09 at 17:01
    
What, pray tell, is The Rep Song? –  DVK Oct 7 '09 at 17:03
    
And how many socks do I need to steal to raise my rep? –  DVK Oct 7 '09 at 17:04
    
Do Jon Skeet's socks have higher value? :) –  DVK Oct 7 '09 at 17:42

As far as jobs go, right now I tend to think of my rep as a liability and wouldn't mention it unless specifically asked about it.

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I'm curious as to how/why you see your rep as a liability? –  Timothy Carter Oct 7 '09 at 17:00
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Easy - if you have high rep they may think you were let go due to over-spending time on SO –  DVK Oct 7 '09 at 17:02

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