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Honestly, I could understand how having a 10k+ rep on SO would be cool.

But, why not make some incentive to give back by asking canonical questions and rewarding the lesser (and/or later joining) rep users by farming out the research for rep.

For instance see this.

Here's a prime example of a community wiki that doesn't consist of programming outtakes, outrageous uses of preprocessor directives, programming jokes, famous programming quotes, or cartoons.

I would give this guy 500 rep (if I had 500 to give) just for actually asking a really good question in a community wiki; and, the best part is? He threw down a bounty to get good answers.

SO has a strong community capable of answering some really difficult questions right?

What I see a lot of are, high voted community wiki type questions related to jokes or interesting/funny programming trivia/experiences.

There few really ground-breaking answers to specific programming questions formally yet. There are good questions/answers, but none get intentionally revised to the point where they become 'the one true answer.'

Isn't there some way to nudge hi rep users to use their massive reps to improve the quality of SO, give them an interesting challenge and provide something really valuable to the programming community as a whole?

Update as requested by jjnguy:

"That raises an interesting side question... what happens to a bounty on a CW question (given you don't get rep for upvotes or accepted answers)?" Alconja

Right now rep from a featured question go to the chosen answer. There's gotta be a way to make it more interesting. For instance...

Create a special 'special' type of featured question:

  • It would have to be sponsored by a high rep user (25k+ rep)
  • The bounty put down by the sponsor high stakes (ex 1k)
  • SO matches the rep put down automatically to double the pool.
  • Then the points get distributed among the participants based on how they contributed.
  • The details on how to divvy up the spoils need to be figured out still.

That would be interesting and would probably lead to some great answers. Farming out the research for such questions could prove to be really useful for answering some really great questions.

Update after taking Developer Art's concerns into question

1. "High-rep" users won't like giving away 1K. You know it from everyday life - the more money an individual possess, the more he wants and the less he's inclined to charity.

This may go beyond the scope of this question but, what if a new set of badges (platinum, diamond) were created that could only be earned by undertaking in some 'special' activities like that improve the SO community, require some rep investment, and include some risks that might not succeed on the first try.

2. Most "canonical" questions have already been asked. It's hard to think of something that hasn't been discussed numerous times with 1-3 main threads and dozens of closed duplicates.

That's the point. The question should be both, difficult enough that it would be too much work for one person to undertake and beneficial to the programmer community as a whole.

My whole take on this concept is... Once you break 25k rep, what's the point really? If rep is looked at like currency, why not have a way to spend it in a meaningful way. Maybe I'm alone in this but why not give the highest rep users of SO a challenge above and beyond just answering questions? I'm guessing they gained their high reps because it was challenging and rewarding. Why not provide some new challenges and rewards to keep them interested (they're obviously worth keeping around). Who knows, it might be a lot of fun.

Update

Removed the whining rants (counterproductive) and references to 'canonical' questions as per some advice from Jeff Atwood about SO's goals I received on another post. Removed all references to the word 'awesome' because it rubs 'Neil Butterworth' the wrong way (whatever way is wrong about it).

Update

After taking the comments/answers into consideration, here's a simplified alternative that might seem more worth-while.

Much like high rep users have the ability to edit questions. Give high rep users the ability to piggyback on a question and offer a bounty for the answer.

That way:

  • The high rep guys don't have to worry so much about asking good questions that have never been asked.
  • A question that, otherwise probably wouldn't get enough attention now has a much better chance of being answered.
  • Questions that are really worth answering but fall off into obscurity can be resurrected by the political boost (of both bounty offering and attention and from a reputable user).

Maybe you thought of a good question you'd really like an answer to, but someone else got their first (and duplicate answers are looked down upon) but that specific question is a question that would really scratch a personal curiosity itch.

I'm not sure what a high rep user editing a question currently does to help it (other than bringing it back to the forefront of fresh questions) but what if you could also throw down a bounty.

This would be win-win for both the original question-asker and the piggy-backer. It would also provide an opportunity to draw attention to bring about a better answer.

It would promote 'good behaviour' by encouraging high rep users to ressurect and improve already existing questions over creating new near-duplicate version of dead questions that needs answering.

[Optional] Badges related to piggybacking to encourage its practice

Charity - awarded each time a user piggy-backs a question and invests a bounty for its answer

Philanthropist (gold) - piggy-backed question gained x amount of upvotes indicating a successful boost through charity.

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That raises an interesting side question... what happens to a bounty on a CW question (given you don't get rep for upvotes or accepted answers)? –  Alconja Jun 11 '10 at 3:41
    
+1 by the way. It'd be nice to see CW used for what it was originally intended rather than simply as a way to avoid having a pointless/subjective question closed. –  Alconja Jun 11 '10 at 3:44
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@Alconja AFAIK, it goes to the chosen answer. There's gotta be a way to make it more interesting. Like, if it's a canonical answer sponsored by a high rep user (for instance 25k+ rep) the bounty required from the user is 1k and SO matches it. Then the points get distributed among the participants. That would be awesome and would probably lead to some awesome answers. –  Evan Plaice Jun 11 '10 at 3:45
    
@Evan, I recommend that instead of posting this question (which comes of as whinny), you post the feature request in your above comment which i actually like. –  jjnguy Jun 11 '10 at 3:48
    
the first comment actually inspired me to put down the idea. I added it to the question as well as edited the original question to contain less whining. I left the cWiki abuse part because it's relevant to the topic. –  Evan Plaice Jun 11 '10 at 4:16
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I'm totally amti bounties, and don't need any "motivation", thanks very much. And anything described as "awesome" isn't. –  nb69307 Jun 11 '10 at 9:23
    
@Neil Butterworth you don't have enough rep to participate anyway. Note: removed all references to the word 'awesome' just for yours truly ;) –  Evan Plaice Jun 11 '10 at 9:33
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@Evan 80K is not enough? In that case your proposal is limited to fewer than 12 SO users. –  nb69307 Jun 11 '10 at 9:42
    
@Neil Butterworth my mistake, was referencing your meta rep. –  Evan Plaice Jun 11 '10 at 9:52
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@Neil: you're awesome. :) –  quack quixote Jun 11 '10 at 11:17
    
::backpedaling:: Did I mention that I'm a noob? ;) –  Evan Plaice Jun 11 '10 at 11:33
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@Evan We already have a way of drawing attention to good questions - it's called upvoting. Unfortunately, it is horribly overused by many SO users, who sem to think the mere fact a question has been asked merits an upvote. –  nb69307 Jun 11 '10 at 18:52
    
@Neil ummmm, the community actively encourages excessive up-voting. That's not what I'm trying to address. I'm trying to find a reasonable option for high rep SO users to give specific questions a boost that need it and detract others from creating a duplicate or near-duplicate in an attempt to get a better answer. –  Evan Plaice Jun 11 '10 at 19:26
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um... tldr much? This question needs a good edit... –  Adam Davis Jun 12 '10 at 3:23
    
@Polyanna I'll do it tomorrow.... got a girl waiting on me. –  Evan Plaice Jun 12 '10 at 5:08
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3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Asking good questions is very, very hard. High-rep users mostly know this, which is why they don't ask many questions. When they do ask them, you can almost guarantee that the the question will be interesting and will get a lot of upvotes. I don't see that your proposal would motivate the high-rep users (who are a pretty motivated bunch anyway) or increase the quality of questions.

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So, since it's almost a guarantee that a high rep user will ask an interesting question but high rep users don't ask many questions... What does it take to motivate them to ask questions. That's kinda the driving point of this whole concept. I'm toying with the idea to risk rep in a way that everybody benefits and the user risking the rep gets a special badge as an accomplishment. It's (a potentially fun) challenge that is also useful. But, is this whole concept enough to entice high rep users? –  Evan Plaice Jun 11 '10 at 9:51
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@Evan What motivates them to ask question is that they need an answer. I don't see how bounties would help motivate asking questions - I'm not even convinced they motivate answering them. –  nb69307 Jun 11 '10 at 10:01
    
@Neil what about piggybacking on an already existing question to give it a boost? For instance, a question that's personally intriguing or interesting to you? –  Evan Plaice Jun 11 '10 at 10:10
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I haven't gotten many upvotes on my questions, despite 20K+ SO rep. I suspect it's because I've asked about obscure stuff that came up that I couldn't quickly figure out on my own. –  David Thornley Jun 11 '10 at 14:43
    
Agree with @David; questions asked by high-rep users tend to pick up a high rate of upvoting, but total upvotes are a function of views and views are a function of accessibility, not author rep. Still, Neil's right, users that have amassed 30k rep from answering 1000 questions are going to submit high-quality questions, even if they're obscure. –  Aarobot Jun 11 '10 at 15:57
    
@DavidThornley: Me too, I'm glad it isn't just me. –  Richard Jun 13 '10 at 8:49
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There are two issues were facing.

  1. "High-rep" users won't like giving away 1K. You know it from everyday life - the more money an individual possess, the more he wants and the less he's inclined to charity.

  2. Most "canonical" questions have already been asked. It's hard to think of something that hasn't been discussed numerous times with 1-3 main threads and dozens of closed duplicates.

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1  
1. You're right, there would have to be an incentive to fork over the large amount of rep. Such as, a philanthropist badge that's earned if the question earns enough votes. 2. That's the point. Some questions are unique but require a ton of information/research to answer correctly. Such as the link I posted above. Imagine if that question had been answered by a bunch of contributors hungry for points. –  Evan Plaice Jun 11 '10 at 8:55
    
I wouldn't be that bothered about losing 1k rep and I'm only at 15k. Rep's not that important once you get above 10k, I think. –  Andy E Jun 11 '10 at 9:36
    
@Andy E's head: When you get there, it'll change. You'll see. :) –  user136634 Jun 13 '10 at 10:36
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I gave away 500 rep on this question, I was trying to convert the SO database dumps to a repository that code_swarm would understand. Some good code came out of the question, so I think it was worth the bounty. A few people ended up plotting it, which made for some fun for everyone.

We can't negate the fact that 20k, 50k and 100+k users already 'give back', by providing great answers to questions, as well as participating in the day to day moderation and maintenance of the site.

I think the best currency on SO is your time, rep just reflects how much of your time you have spent. If the question is indeed interesting enough, that should be sufficient motivation to collaborate, no?

Bounties (IMHO) already artificially inflate the degree that the system trusts its users. Then again, so do sensational subjective questions (and answers) that don't get pinged by a moderator until they end up on Reddit. Note (after comments) I don't dislike bounties, they do offer a little more incentive for people to share rare knowledge that requires a lot of explanation and examples. But you often see this in great non-bounty answers. If a question gathers dust, its probably because its not properly articulated, not tagged well or just over the heads of people who have read it thus far.

No, the system behind SO is not perfect, but no system is. I'd be against anything that treated reputation as a currency that could be spent. Its already given enough value beyond its intended purpose.

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Thank you for the insight. "We can't negate the fact that 20k, 50k and 100+k users already 'give back', by providing great answers to questions, as well as participating in the day to day moderation and maintenance of the site." I understand that, I guess I'm just toying with an idea to give high rep users a way to break out of the standard mould for a pet project. A little risk and reward to mix things up. I'm probably completely wrong in assuming that high rep users want anything more than is currently available. –  Evan Plaice Jun 11 '10 at 11:05
    
BTW, I love the bounty system. I'm still relatively new so earning points is not easy for me. I was just rewarded my first bounty (100 rep) and it was a huge rush for me. I honestly can't wait till I pool enough points to start putting bounties on my own questions. I've already dreamed up a few specific questions that I'd put up. –  Evan Plaice Jun 11 '10 at 11:13
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