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Imagine, when you get to 10k rep (obviously the point where you can comment, edit, vote to close and delete, have access to the moderator privileges).. instead of it showing an ever-increasing number, it just shows <blink>awesome</blink> or something.

What would the ramifications of this be? (both positive and negative)

There's a similar idea of a logarithmic scale for reputation discussed in Podcast 26:

Atwood: And Jon I thought had a very nice considered opinion about this. And he's onto something because, it's like I said; until we have the reputation cap it was sort of a huge looming problem. So I would say that's the number one thing I would look at. That is you have to have really strong limits in the system.


Spolsky: Maybe they should be logarithmic or something like Richter scales?

Atwood: Ya, I thought about that but it just it gets... hairy. It just seems complex at some level versus the one man one vote rule. I mean there's some people who think that the more reputation you have the more your votes should count which I think is extremely bad, like I think that's totally the wrong way to do the system.

Spolsky: Wait wait don't answer that yet because that's a question we have coming up.

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If it's blinking I would ban SO from my bookmark list. –  Ladybug Killer Jun 28 '09 at 20:59
Well, the blink tag could be replaced with those sparkly unicorns from the April fools day upgrade (stackoverflow.com/questions/704353/… ) –  dbr Jun 28 '09 at 21:04
I asked a similar question - meta.stackexchange.com/questions/198/… - your idea is a possible solution to this as well –  ChrisF Jun 28 '09 at 22:25
@dbr: Give me more reasons to ban it ;-) –  Ladybug Killer Jun 29 '09 at 7:22
(-1) Gaining reputation is something that takes a huge amount of time to achieve. When you label everyone above 10k (or any arbitrary value) as the same, you are ignoring all the hard work of those who continued to put in a lot of effort to grow their rep, as opposed to those would would achieve "awesome" and then just lounge around. –  devinb Aug 27 '09 at 13:16
It might create rapid elitism among the higher reputable users, creating a bias for new users to look up and follow their commentary without a valid basis behind it. However, I am not trying to discredit the obvious knowledge of someone with that reputation, but I think they will only give valid answers, regardless. –  dmanexe Feb 2 '10 at 19:22
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4 Answers

Reputation does three things.

  • It controls the access you have on the site.
  • It shows the reader of the answer / question how highly the user is regarded in the community (one note though: high rep != good programmer and good programmer != high rep)
  • It gives the user a goal (like gamer points on XBOX), it has no real value but it gives an incentive to shoot for a higher goal. (even though past a certain point you get minimal value)

So hiding the reputation at all past 10k removes point 2 and 3. Hiding it from others lessens point 2.

For me I wouldn't like it, I'm in this for the game. I like challenging myself to try getting many upvotes for each answer and to get the reputation cap each day.

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+1 on the gaming aspect but I'll also add: the soft cap is also a useful limiter, at least for me. It tells me to stop and do something else. :) –  cletus Jun 28 '09 at 21:05
@cletus yea, but it's getting harder and harder, when we have more and more sites we can hit the soft cap on :) –  Ólafur Waage Jun 28 '09 at 21:07
The second point is a bit of a fallacy, and tends to lead to voting bias (given two equivalent answers, made at an equivalent time, if one is made by a 20k+ user and the other by a 20 rep user the former generally attracts more votes and accepts than the latter). So I'd suggest that capping (or even better, temporarily hiding) rep would be a good thing because 1) it makes the community less insular/elitist, and 2) it helps reduce the barrier to entry for new users. Answers should be judged by their content; not by who wrote the content. –  aroth May 30 at 2:05
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Some "for" points:

  • It's quite discouraging to see a user with two hyperbolillion reputation points, when you only have 100.. "I'll never get that many points, why bother?"
  • It makes it less... "fair" - a user with 100 rep posts a good answer, at the same time someone with 200k posts much the same answer. Chances are the 200k answer will be upvoted (although that's could be a reason to hide reputation entirely..)
  • By the time they have unlocked everything, chances are they are invested

..and some "against":

  • It's basically human nature to show off!
  • Reputation is encouragement to do continue answering questions (see previous point)
  • Would you also have to hide the number of badges? The users profile? The data-dump?
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I have seen very very often people with low rep getting much more upvotes on a question than some other answer from a high rep user. Just because it was correct and well done. –  Ólafur Waage Jun 28 '09 at 21:06
I rarely see this, the rich get richer imo –  redsquare Jun 28 '09 at 21:10
It took me under a minute to find a few of these questions on SO: 551289 / 918865 / 1053705 / 1048643 / 934937 –  Ólafur Waage Jun 28 '09 at 21:18
Though people with high rep often have high rep for a reason. –  Ólafur Waage Jun 28 '09 at 21:19
@ÓlafurWaage - That's cherry-picking. If you want to do it accurately you need to find some reasonably large and thoroughly random sampling of questions in which low/high rep users have posted comparable answers at the same time, and then determine which outcome occurs most frequently within that sample. Nobody is saying that the high-rep post always wins, or that it will win even if it is of poor quality. What's being said is that all other things being equal a high-rep user's post usually attracts more votes than a low-rep user's post. –  aroth May 30 at 4:14
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Why can't reputation be like XP points in popular RPG games : If you have 100k, you only generate 0.1 rep for an upvote instead of 10.

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I would quit playing if SO did this. (Plus, you'd have to do it retroactively, which opens up another can of worms.) –  mmyers Jun 29 '09 at 17:13
retroactively: that's a HARD no. You shall not rewrite history. –  Steve Schnepp Jun 30 '09 at 5:25
History on rep has been re-written many times... –  Marc Gravell Jul 1 '09 at 21:07
Marc: Oh... I didn't know. –  Steve Schnepp Jul 2 '09 at 6:58
We regularly rewrite history. Consider yourself lucky that you're still here. –  Jeff Atwood Jul 2 '09 at 11:33
@Jeff: So it seems... :-) –  Steve Schnepp Jul 2 '09 at 12:57
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Rep should correspond to some sort of naming ladder (like the various names of a character in role-playing games, although I hesitate to tout something so geeky). This is done on other discussion boards.

So at 0-50 rep, you're a Novice, and it says so next to your name.
At 51-250, you're a Coder
At 250-750, you're a Developer, etc.

And when you get to 10k rep, everyone is called an Imperial Hacker Of The Time-Space Continuum, or a Pooh-Bah, or whatever, your choice; but in any event, everyone gets the same name, clearly implying that once you get up there, you're pretty much all the same in some respect.

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