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As I understand it, the concept of reputation is to give the user a sense of trust in the person answering the question.

On that note I find many users who's reputations are very high, but its from asking questions and getting up voted and not from providing other users with answers. At this point it is misleading unless you go to the users profile and investigate where their reputation is coming from.

Should there be a split between, answering reputation and asking a question reputation?

just throwing it out there.

EDIT:

i did not say to entirely get rid of reputation from asking questions.

I am merely suggesting a separation in the two. A reputation for answering and a reputation for asking good questions. This way you can differentiate quickly.

If its strictly for the system, then why display it after each users name?

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6  
Personally I would like to see Wind reputation, Water reputation, Fire reputaion, Earth reputation, and Heart reputation. When you have 10000 of each, you can summon Jon Skeet. –  snicker Dec 23 '09 at 16:51
    
Personally, I find activity of users in a tag that interests me, much better descriptor of their knowledge then rep. –  ldigas Dec 23 '09 at 18:05

8 Answers 8

up vote 17 down vote accepted

Okay, time to buck the accepted norms again: I think the FAQ is actually wrong - or at least it doesn't tell the whole story. Reputation is several things:

  • Points in a game, as seen by many users
  • How good you are at asking questions on the relevant set of topics
  • How good you are at answering questions on the relevant set of topics
  • (If a post isn't marked CW but should be) How entertaining you can be

It's used as a measure of how much the community trusts you not to mess things up if you're given more privileges. That's just a surrogate metric though, basically because we have no other simple way of telling how much the community trusts a particular user.

Just because someone is good technically (or knows everything to do with a particular game, if that's the topic of the site in question, for example) doesn't mean they have any sense of what's right for the community.

Someone could be a complete git but still get reputation for giving correct answers. They could still be bad for the site (by generally being obnoxious and giving it a bad name on Twitter, for example) - that would discourage some people for voting for them, but probably not everyone.

On the reverse side, someone can be very good for the site, but rarely contribute in a way which gives them rep. This is harder to do before you get enough rep to edit questions, but that's the most obvious example.

Given that this water is already somewhat muddy, I don't think it really makes much sense to start splitting rep into two different types. Someone who contributes great questions is just as likely to be good for the site (and use extra powers wisely) as someone who contributes great answers, IMO. In fact, I'd say the average quality of question (in terms of style, precision etc) is lower than the average quality of answer - so I'd like to encourage good questions more, not less :)

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You actually raise a good point on users who contribute by don't have much reputation which actually has me wondering if perhaps there should be some time based form of reputation. Perhaps after n number of months someone would be given permissions to edit posts as long as their reputation is above a lower threshold (i.e. Edit community wiki posts - 750 points, or 325 points and six months as a user). –  rob Jul 10 '09 at 17:28
    
@Rob I talked about that problem/solution in my post here: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/3911/… –  Eric Koslow Jul 10 '09 at 17:41

As I understand it, the concept of reputation is to give the user a sense of trust in the person answering the question.

This is mistaken. The concept of reputation is to gauge how much the system trusts you. See the "What is Reputation" section of the Official FAQ to see what new abilities you get at different levels of reputation.

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Not entirely. If it's just for system use, why show it to other users so prominently? –  Kyle Cronin Jul 10 '09 at 16:40
    
@Kyle: To add to the stickiness of the site? –  Bill the Lizard Jul 10 '09 at 16:51

As I understand it, the concept of reputation is to give the user a sense of trust in the person answering the question.

Not entirely true, from the Stack Overflow FAQ - "Reputation is a (very) rough measurement of how much the Stack Overflow community trusts you." Therefore, it is indicative (in a rough sense) of what you do for the community - if you have a "high" reputation it can indicate that you are someone who provides good content to the community, if you have a "low" reputation then it can indicate the converse (although of course it's more complicated than that).

On that note I find many users who's reputations are very high, but its from asking questions and getting up voted and not from providing other users with answers.

I don't agree with you there - lots of people who have "very high" reputation answer questions far more times than they ask questions - also if people ask good, well thought out questions, they should be rewarded for this, following on from what the FAQ states about reputation.

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i did not say to entirely get rid of reputation from asking questions. I am merely suggesting a separation in the two. A reputation for answering and a reputation for asking good questions. This way you can differentiate quickly. If its strictly for the system, then why display it after each users name? –  Stan R. Jul 10 '09 at 16:45
    
I'm saying that reputation gained from both asking and answering questions indicates your participation (whether good or bad) and is not misleading if that reputation has been gained from questions as well as answers. And I didn't say that it's for the system, I said it's for the community, sorry if that wasn't clear. –  Alex Rozanski Jul 10 '09 at 16:51
    
I know you didnt say it was for the system, i was just saying it in general discussion. –  Stan R. Jul 10 '09 at 16:53
    
Well I don't agree with that completely - of course it affects certain privileges you are given, but it can also provide a way for others to see how well your participate in the community (again, to an extent). –  Alex Rozanski Jul 10 '09 at 16:59

That's why I asked this question. If you look at this answer, you would notice that it is indeed, not that big of a deal. The highest rep was under 4k.

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good info here, thanks. –  Stan R. Jul 10 '09 at 17:19

Like Bill said, reputation is about how much the system trusts you. In more cases, this trust comes from answering questions with good technical issues. However, the system requires questions as well. So reputation is gained from answering good questions and it is possible to gain just as much reputation from asking questions as you can by answering them. The system requires it, and therefore trusts you more if you consistently ask good questions.

An example I found yesterday for a similar question.

In response to your edit. Reputation is just a measure of the system's trust of a user. The system does not care if your rep came from questions or answers; it needs quality of both. If you as a consumer of this information care, then the responsibility is on you to look at the user's profile and determine for yourself what the number means. Your reputation on SO has no concrete meaning. It may suggest technical ability; but it does not do so universally. So if you are looking to determine someone's technical ability the onus is on you to properly interpret a user's reputation.

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so should users lose reputation that they gained from a question has been closed. If a question was closed then clearly it didn't follow SO rules, but if people upvoted it before it was closed, the user still gets reputation. –  Stan R. Jul 10 '09 at 16:52
    
I think that's an interesting question; and if it hasn't been discussed here, might be worth asking. –  Timothy Carter Jul 10 '09 at 16:55

Not really feeling it. The immediate effect would be to devalue rep gained from asking questions, and I don't think that's appropriate.

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i dont think it would be to devalue, it would be to differentiate. –  Stan R. Jul 10 '09 at 16:57
    
The stated intention might be to differentiate. I contend that the effect would be to devalue. –  chaos Jul 10 '09 at 17:17

I only up-vote a question if:

  • A) It's obvious by the poster's language that he has already done some research, or put some thought into the question/issue (basically, if it's a good question - though, this is very relative).
  • B) If the question is 'somewhat good', and the person asking the question has less than 100 points, which gives you the ability to vote up, flag offensive posts, leave comments, create tags and vote down.
  • C) The question boggles the mind. Or if it's something very unusual, but interesting and helpful if accomplished (tools and or strategies that will make me more efficient at my job)

I see the rating system as something that tells me how familiar you are with the community. If you really want to know more in details about actual skills, you need to look at the users' profile and see how they have achieved X number of vote points.

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I know this question is pretty old by now, but I found it when trying to decide whether to post a question on this topic. I agree that with most that a good question is as important of an asset to the site as a good answer, so I would not advocate taking rep from users who just ask questions. I think an interesting way to handle this problem (if it really even is one) would be to add a new classification system based on the ratio of questions to answers. Something based on the ratio while adjusting for the actual number of questions and answers that would appear by your rep. Someone with a lot of questions (200+) and no answers would have a title like “Maddeningly Inquisitive” to someone with almost no questions and (400+) answers would have a title like “Shockingly Skeet Like” and then categories for those between. Better title would be left to those that are more creative, but this would let you quickly gauge the way the user gained their rep.

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