Meta Stack Exchange is where users like you discuss bugs, features, and support issues that affect the software powering all 158 Stack Exchange communities.

What is meta?
Here's how it works:
  1. Any Stack Exchange user can ask a question
  2. The community provides support, votes on ideas, and reports bugs
  3. Your voice helps shape the way Stack Exchange operates

I remember listening to Joel Spolsky's talk at Google about the way that SO-style websites encourage certain behaviours. When you compare the concept of "reputation" to "tokens" in a token economy it's fair to ask if there's any connection between the two? There are certainly similarities.

share|improve this question
up vote 4 down vote accepted

It is interesting to compare and contrast the two.

In both, good behavior is immediately rewarded. Collecting enough of each gives benefits, in a token economy they are actually turned in for a reward, in SO you obtain new editing privileges the more reputation you have, and you can turn them in as bounty to highlight a question.

However, I think that while they have similarities, there is only fairly divergent theme:

In a token economy one obtains tokens and they are only worth what you can get for them. You don't gain any particular benefit from 1) holding onto them and getting as many as you can and 2) you don't obtain any greater social status with your peers if you have more, so there's no real need to display how many you have.

Reputation to some degree mimics some of the earlier forum websites such as slashdot, where users could 'rate' any given contribution, and authors would be rated as 'good' or 'bad' contributors based on how their posts were rated. In the case of slashdot this was called karma, and the highest level one could reach was "Excellent."

So while the two systems have similar goals, and are credited similarly, the "awards" are figured very differently. Reputation is merely a 'status' compared to your peers, and is meant to be a public badge of honor, whereas tokens are meant to be spent to buy one-time priviledges.

share|improve this answer

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .