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The Stack Overflow FAQ states:

Reputation is never given, it is earned by convincing other Stack Overflow users that you know what you're talking about.

Stack Overflow gives the reputation that one can gain from asking a question parity with the reputation that one can gain from answering a question. An interesting question yields +10 reputation, while an interesting answer yields +10. Votes up and down affect reputation equally.

Answering a question well is more indicative of your subject knowledge than asking a question. In a majority of cases, people who are able and prepared to answer a question have a greater level of confidence and familiarity with the subject matter than the questioner does. Please note I do not assert that this is universally true, just that it is true most of the time.

Therefore it is very difficult to differentiate between people who ask and people who answer questions based on reputation; reputation does not differentiate between people who know what they are talking about, and those who do not.

A note on this—I've read quite a few questions about reputation on meta today because I am frustrated by high-rep users who ask hundreds of questions but do not vote-up or mark-as-answered (my) answers. I understand that there is a utility to offering reputation to such users because they keep the flow of questions high and drive traffic to the site. However, if that is part of what you want reputation to be, it seems a little disingenuous to make the claim you do in the FAQ about the association of reputation to knowledge.

Isn't the statement "Reputation ... is earned by convincing other Stack Overflow users that you know what you're talking about" false?

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What gets me is when a "high rep" user asks questions like "what are bool operators?" and you ask your self "How... Where..." and have to just forget about it. – QueueHammer Mar 1 '10 at 19:27
Note: Since this question was asked, upvotes on questions now give +5 instead of +10 reputation. See… – Gnome Apr 7 '10 at 2:00
up vote 13 down vote accepted

You are showing signs of becoming addicted.

Get used to that:

  1. Some of your good answers will never be accepted.
  2. Some of your accepted answers will never get upvote.
  3. If < 100 rep user asks question, it may never be accepted and upvoted.
  4. Hi-rep user is more demanding and may not accept your good answer if he feels that there is better one.
  5. Stackoverflow doesn't make finding unaccepted answers easy.
  6. Reminding someone of not accepted answer can be irritating for him.
  7. Most of the reputation you gain on the answers to easiest questions. People who upvote answers have to understand them. If you give a complicated answer on a very complicated question, even if it needed huge knowledge, it will probably give you almost no reputation.

And please, gain a lot of reputation on asking questions. I feel to dumb to ask worth to upvote questions. Answering comes to me easier:) Asking questions needs some knowledge.

If you search through questions here, on meta, you'll find some statistics saying that most of > 4000 rep users gained their reputation by answering.

If FAQ changed, would you really feel better?

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Your 7th point, unfortunately, is so true ;-( ;;; it's sad to see very simple answers to very simple questions get more than 10 upvotes, while a complex and complete answer that took half an hour (or more) of searching and writing barely gets 3 upvotes... – Pascal MARTIN Feb 28 '10 at 10:40
@Pascal I so hear you.... It's one of the sad facts of SO that the answer to "how do I split a string in PHP?" type questions yield the most upvotes, while (as you say) deep research and pondering consequences in a complex issue mostly goes un-upvoted. – Pëkka Feb 28 '10 at 11:18
@Pekka : I see we're thinking about exactly the same kind of questions :-D – Pascal MARTIN Feb 28 '10 at 12:15
Most of my highly voted answers were throwaways; banged out to help some hapless beginner get over that first hump, and immediately forgotten. Then I come back the next day and discover that I've hit the rep cap and say "What?!?". I'd be embarrassed except that it is true for so many other good users too. – dmckee Feb 28 '10 at 17:23
Hardly addicted! I decided to get more involved in SO because I wanted to participate in the community more. I am ready and willing to give my time to people who want to learn and pose questions. I'm not interested in giving my time to people who just want to pose. I would like to be able to tell these people apart without inspecting their profiles. "Reputation" seems like a good way to do this, but evidently not. Left with the choice of wasting my time or not, I think not is probably preferable. – alecmce Mar 2 '10 at 1:00
+1 for seventh point! – Alex Budovski Apr 7 '10 at 2:36
Can you rephrase "I feel to dumb to ask worth to upvote questions."? – Andrew Grimm Apr 7 '10 at 2:54
@Andrew Grimm: Sorry, this is my poor english. When I see some questions on SO, I think 'Wow!! That is good question. I never even thought about it.'. That is when I feel dumb. And when I am asking my own questions, I feel they are trivial. That is what I meant. – LukLed Apr 7 '10 at 20:12
@LukLed Thanks. – Andrew Grimm Apr 7 '10 at 23:16

Reputation is merely a way to addict people to the site by giving them a game.

It lost its original meaning the first time someone posted a humorous answer and got a lot of popularity upvotes.

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Sure, I understand what it really is. My thoughts are that since we know what it really is, shouldn't we say so in the FAQ? – alecmce Feb 28 '10 at 5:13
That would just ruin the fun! – Tyler Carter Feb 28 '10 at 5:31
@alecmce - "Sure, I understand what it really is....shouldn't we say so in the FAQ?" - Wait, what? I'm sure that'll be a good introduction for new users, "Reputation is merely a way to get you addicted to the site." The current statement is not false, if anything it's a very simplified ideal, and perfect for new users. You don't give them a 100 page manual right off the bat, you give them just enough information so they get their footing and understand the basics, and then set them loose. If they want to dig in and understand the deeper meaning then they'll do so. – Adam Davis Mar 1 '10 at 14:12
@Pollyanna - I take your point, but you reap what you sow. If you want people addicted to the site, you will end up with a site full of people who find this sort of stuff addictive. The amount of crap that results is a heavy price to pay for the traffic gains. And the statement is false (in that it isn't true!) but you're right, the response is not to say so in the FAQ but to change the way "reputation" works. This won't happen, of course, not least because moderators are the people most heavily vested in the system... Literally, c'est la vie. – alecmce Mar 2 '10 at 1:13
@alecmce - meh. Methinks you may be putting too much stock in this. Humans use artificial scoring systems all the time, and none are "true" or "correct" - they are merely models to represent some arbitrary system of measurement. Honestly, if you look at the site critically, can you say that how it works is broken? If it's not broken, what is the impetus for 'correcting' it? If it is broken, how will changing the reputation system improve the questions and answers? I just don't see a problem, except theoretically. – Adam Davis Mar 2 '10 at 3:32
@Pollyanna - I only see a sub-section of the site, but that part feels full of crap, to be honest. So many muppets posting questions, so many half-baked answers being offered quickly to gain rep. I think the system was a really good idea, but didn't quite work as was intended, and people starting gaming it. A game designer would attempt to revise the system. Players would not, because they're used to (and good at) the game. It's a matter of perspective. Perhaps we inhabit different parts of the site? I'll give it a rest now, I think. I'm sure SO can persist without my argumentative input! – alecmce Mar 2 '10 at 9:22
@alecmce - ah, I hadn't realized that SO was deteriorating. I haven't participated in SO in a significant manner for about a year, and it has changed over that time. – Adam Davis Mar 2 '10 at 12:22

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