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I have seen the blog post regarding reputation changes from March and read a bunch of the discussions on meta regarding rep, but I just wanted to give some feedback from a new user's perspective.

I have not had any questions to ask because anything I have run into has already been answered; a quick search on Google or SO was all it took. I have been doing my best to give back to these awesome resources by answering other people's questions and it's quite enjoyable to see my reputation go up.

The problem: Many of the questions I see are also very easy to find with a quick search, yet these questions are getting up voted much more so than any answers I have been able to provide. It is a bit discouraging to see someone who just signed up ask 10 general questions and blow right by my current rep.

Being self reliant has been a detriment to my reputation and the opposite is true for people who don't have the tools or desire to figure things out on their own.

Maybe reputation gain should be directly related to a users question to answer ratio:

If you have provided more answers than questions, your rep gain per up vote goes up.


If you have asked many questions and have not participated in answering many at all, your rep gain goes down to 0 per up vote. As the cited blog post states:

The question asker already enjoys a substantial benefit beyond reputation gain from upvotes on their question — namely, they get great answers to their question!

If a member is here just to tap the community for answers, they probably shouldn't be getting much reputation for doing that. Well, not a positive one at least :)

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By the way, I can't help but notice that I'm creeping up on my SO rep over here on meta with just one question. – Awgy Jun 16 '10 at 20:01
up vote 4 down vote accepted

There's essentially two sides to the argument:

  • Question-askers should be rewarded, as they increase the amount of knowledge within SO. To answer questions we first need people to ask them, and the more questions that are asked the more likely it is somebody searching for a solution to their problem will find it's already been asked/answered on SO
  • Question-askers are already getting rewarded by getting free, quick answers to their problems; they shouldn't be getting reputation in addition to their answers

I'm more on the latter side than the former, although I think question-askers should get some reputation. I do value answers more than questions though, so I'm glad they don't earn the same reputation anymore; half rep for questions is probably a good compromise between the two. It's fairly rare for users to ask so many questions (that also get upvotes) to get appreciable reputation, although I did recently see a user cross the 3000 mark with almost entirely question-derived reputation.

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The 3000 mark? How about the 10,000 mark: – raven Jun 16 '10 at 18:33
@raven: He used to be 13k or so before the recent changes (which I think were partly inspired by him). – mmyers Jun 16 '10 at 19:26
At least he asks coherent, thoughtful questions. Most users who have few/no answers do not. – Ether Jun 16 '10 at 20:45
on point #1, there are always people with questions. There aren't, however, always people with answers. So we explicitly and unashamedly optimize for the latter case. People who think their questions are so important and unique lack.. humility, but also a deeper understanding of a world FILLED with questions and precious few answers. – Jeff Atwood Jun 16 '10 at 22:49

Ah, yes. The bike shed effect biting us in the butt again.

I'd be happy to pooh pooh this complaint and say "It doesn't real matter." except that it gets worse: many (perhaps most) of those easily-googled questions have already been asked and answered on SO over and over again.

But wait! There's more! With the recent changes to the delete policy and clarification from Our Fearless Leader, there is rather less chance that they will end up deleted and the reputation eventually lost to the asker.

What you've put your finger on is the set of incentives to ask and answer duplicates that will prevent SO from every approaching that "canonical answer to everything" goal that has been kicked around since the beginning.

And, I agree that there are some pretty good reasons for most of these ruling, but they do set up some screwy incentives.

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I just read up on the bike shed effect. Thanks for that :) – Awgy Jun 16 '10 at 19:58
I was under the impression that rep is revoked for answers to closed questions as well, not just deleted questions; is that accurate? – Michael Mrozek Jun 16 '10 at 21:21
@Michael: Didn't used to be. Has it changed recently? – dmckee Jun 16 '10 at 22:35
No, I must've just been mistaken – Michael Mrozek Jun 17 '10 at 2:31

Welcome to SO, Awgy! I kinda want to upvote you because I sometimes feel like you do, but this is more or less a dupe; many similar proposals have been made before without success. See this question for one example; note particularly its accepted answer.

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Thanks for the warm welcome! I just wanted to give some feedback on how the current rep system was affecting me as a new user, so I hope it added some value to the whole rep conversation :) – Awgy Jun 16 '10 at 17:12

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