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I don't know if this is a new trick, but I have found a way to squeeze some extra reputation on old answers.

Say there is a question by another user with many answers where an answer of mine has gained a lot of attention (comments, votes). Every time I add a new answer to that question, the questions is regurgitated to the top of the active questions stream. Apparently this causes it to gain renewed attention and it squeezes out of my answer some extra reputation drops.

It is tempting to do it specially if the answer is near a "badge threshold".

It works best when the answer represents a rather polemical point of view, or there is a kind of discussion going on between the answers, and not when there is just an attempt to find an answer to a technical issue.

I don't know if this is a bug and how can it be fixed or if it should be fixed at all.

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12  
How many answers are you posting on the one question? Is it some kind of stupid strange language feature? –  random Feb 15 '10 at 9:36
    
stupid? pedantic, please! –  bobobobo Feb 15 '10 at 15:11

5 Answers 5

In a way, if it was a bad answer, it wouldn't get upvotes. So it's not really gaming the system, because such votes are deserved.

Artificially reviving questions without adding value is annoying though, and is already "punished". Can be with artificial edits, answers, etc. as well. But don't do that. If you really want to "harvest", then improve noticeably your original answer. Then it will be well deserved.

But nothing to change in the way the sites work, you get the same effect for someone poking the question, adding their answer 6 months later. No reason to prevent that.

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2  
sometimes I don't add significant information to my answers, but fix spelling and punctuation. That's effectively poking the thread up. –  Bozho Feb 15 '10 at 12:39

What happens with me is that some random person will upvote an old answer of mine. I'll see that vote on my recent activity page, and so I'll go back and read it over again. At this point I often find a typo or something else that needs a correction or clarification, and so I'll edit my original answer. Now the question is bumped and I get even more votes.

But I doubt this has really earned me much real rep (at least long term), because this tends to happen to more popular (read: highly voted) answers, and I've turned a few of them community wiki like this. If they ever do a rep re-calc that's really gonna hurt me.

I would say that adding a new answer to the question rather than editing your old one is kind of despicable, unless you really do have something new to say on the topic that doesn't fit with your original. I think in nearly 3000 answers I've been in that situation 2 or 3 times at most.

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I thought you keep rep from before wiki-fication, even after a recalc. –  Mechanical snail Oct 3 '12 at 4:06

A far better way to game the system by not gaming the system is to edit an old answer and provide further detail. Editing an answer puts the question back on the front page.

Regards "Is it a bug?":

It's not really a bug.

"Discussion" questions should normally be Community Wiki. If you're posting multiple answers to a question, you're doing it wrong.

Stack Overflow is not a discussion forum. The only communication takes place between the Question "Asker" and the "Answerer". Not between multiple answerers (unless you post a comment).

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I don't know if this is a bug

It's not.

How can it be fixed

It's already addressed with the auto-wiki after a certain number of user edits.

Any other changes would alter something fundamental about how SO works. For instance preventing bumping for simple edits, preventing rep gain for old questions, or a similar mechanism.

if it should be fixed at all.

I don't believe it's necessary. If you get 20 rep each time you edit it, then you might gain an additional 100 rep that you might not have otherwise gained until it becomes wiki, but only if the answer was especially good.

Once all your posts turn to wiki, you'd have to generate new answers or questions, which is a good behavior.

It is, however, a method to game the reputation system, and if someone notices this and alerts the moderators, you might receive a "Please stop this behavior" warning, and if continued they might choose to prevent you from doing this. Banning is one option, simply turning all your posts into CW is another.

If you want to do this, please make substantial edits. ie, edits that improve or change the substance of the answer, not merely the wording, spacing, etc.

Regarding adding a new answer to the question rather than editing an old answer, if the new answer is useful and doesn't duplicate existing answers, then by all means, post a new answer. It only increases the total knowledge of SO. IF your answers are insubstantial, and you do this frequently, then you will likely become of interest to the moderators.

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Another way to game the system would be to use a sock-puppet to ask a duplicate of the question.

I gained a couple of votes for my answer when a duplicate of “viewed 1 times” was asked. (Though it wasn't a sockpuppet - honest!)

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