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On my question http://stackoverflow.com/questions/2881589/logging-into-so-with-curl user psmears was extremely helpful to me. Not only did he answer my question but continuously came back with answers to my comments.

I think there should be some way of indicating this on StackOverflow. I was of saying that a user is helpful instead of just a particular answer he gave.

Without getting too specific I imagine a system like On the userpage there is a button says "helpful". Once a user gets X number of clicks on button he gets a badge. This isn't a definite proposal but a prompt for discussion on the topic

edit: to be clear I am aware of the reputation system and its uses. What I'm asking for is some award or indication that a user goes way above the normal answering of a question (correctly) and then leaving or comments a bit. But for a user that actively helps the debugging and clarification of his answer.

IMHO the reputation system is limited to correctly of answers as opposed to the helpfulness of users.

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5 Answers 5

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Quite frankly, the users who go 'above and beyond' will generally be well-rewarded anyway, because their nature will consistently lead to them getting many upvotes.

The first and foremost thing to do would be to add an upvote and a comment on their post saying "thank you, you're the greatest, a heroine of epic proportions" Or something sounding more genuine than that. Usually a simple "This was incredible, thank you for everything" would suffice to show them that they are appreciated for what they have done.

Another thing I have donein the past is that you can add a note at the very bottom of your qusetion that indicates the user was incredibly helpful. This should be kept very small and to the point, because this could be considered fluff.

Another way to go about it is based on the fact that users with one excellent answer, tend to have other excellent answers as well. So, if you go to the user's "About Me" page, and look at their other questions/answers. If you find one that interests you, then click into it, and see if you like the post. If you do, then upvote it. This will give you extra reputation, and it gives you the chance to learn something new.

Please note, if you do that more than once, you'll run afoul the 'voting anomaly' filter, and your votes will be reversed. Also, this should not be given on an arbitrary post, you should only use this if you found the second post to be useful as well.

But, the easiest and simplest way is just to add an upvote, the green checkmark, and a comment. For most users, this is more than enough.

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I just this - giving the user an upvote on another very useful answer - thanks for the idea. –  Good Person Jun 7 '10 at 12:24
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@Good Person - you can up-vote several answers, just don't do too many or do it too quickly. I don't know the thresholds (possible more than 5 votes in a short period), but if you choose two or three answers over the space of several minutes (or even hours) you should be OK. –  ChrisF Jun 7 '10 at 12:30

Questions/Pekka made a good point in a comment reply to Jeff's answer.

You're talking about users going "beyond the call of duty", seeing an answer through to the end and making sure the OP is satisfied with the result rather than just posting an answer and leaving it at that. Questions made another point in the same answer, that these types of users are aware there's no reward for these actions yet they do it anyway so they're probably not looking for anything in return other than their own sense of self-satisfaction.

That being said, don't we tip professionals that go that extra mile to provide the best service possible? For that reason, I've given your question a +1, but really I'm only just tipped that way and I don't see anything like this being implemented.

I would offer one suggestion of silently showing your gratitude - visit the user's other posts and see if they're deserving of any upvotes too. Just make sure you're not doing it in a stalker-like manner ;-)

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How about allowing the Question Asker to, when marking the answer as accepted, also mark it as an exceptional answer. This could then boost the answerer's rep by an additional X amount of points. To ensure it was only used for truly exceptional answers rather than routine it could be rate limited to, say, once per month, or no more than 10% of answers you accept could be marked as exceptional.

This would prevent the need for such workarounds as finding unrelated answers to up vote.

It would also better incentivise the answering of those questions where an answer can't just be knocked up in a few minutes.

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Isn't this exactly what reputation exists for?

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I don't agree. I've noticed that I'm much more likely to accrue rep from answering newly posted questions fast than taking the time to follow up an individual asker's problem. I haven't changed my behaviour because of it but if I was very rep orientated I would regard time spent on follow up as having quite a large opportunity cost. –  Martin Smith Jun 7 '10 at 10:22

Without getting too specific I imagine a system like On the userpage there is a button says "helpful". Once a user gets X number of clicks on button he gets a badge. This isn't a definite proposal but a prompt for discussion on the topic

Good news! This hypothetical system you describe already exists! To activate it, just click the "upvote" arrow and/or "accept" checkmark next to the answer. :)

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Yes and no. I think what the OP is referring to is somehow awarding helpfulness (and readiness to help with the debugging) that goes well beyond "the call of duty" and might deserve more than an upvote (which may already be in place). But that's why it's called "beyond the call of duty" - there is no additional reward. –  Pëkka Jun 7 '10 at 9:45
    
the OP is also talking about followup in comments. The upvotes don't reflect that, and rep has no relationship whatsoever to comments. –  Nathan Fellman Jun 7 '10 at 9:56
    
Maybe boosting the worth of an accepted answer relative to an upvote might encourage this behaviour. –  Martin Smith Jun 7 '10 at 10:56
    
@nathan really, interesting as the title of the question is "Indicating that users are helpful - not just the answer " –  Jeff Atwood Jun 7 '10 at 11:04

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