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What's the point of having to accumulate rep separately across all these sites? There is clearly a very large overlap between the communities and if people find you trustworthy on one site, then you're probably still trustworthy on the others. I don't see the point in making people start over from scratch again.

Well, why not merge the reputation?

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I think your meta reputation should be some sort of combination of your rep across all the sites. Something like the average of all three. –  jjnguy Jul 16 '09 at 20:16

11 Answers 11

up vote 21 down vote accepted

It's an interesting point. I think it depends on how you view reputation. Some say that it is a measure of trust, others expertise. If you're in the former camp, I don't see how you can argue against this suggestion, if you're in the latter, I don't see how you can't.

I personally think rep is a bit of both and therefore, linking it across sites isn't necessarily going to be useful. However, the privileges that rep awards users aren't necessarily based on anything but trust in my opinion and therefore I see no reason why privileges couldn't be linked except that they're tied so closely to rep.

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Even view reputation as trust, why should SF trust me because I know SO or meta works? I, personally, would have no idea how to appropriately edit or retag on SF, even though I can do those things on SO and perhaps soon on meta. I'm not a server admin, I shouldn't be trusted by the SF system. Trust isn't just about knowing the SO engine, it's understanding the specific site as well. –  Timothy Carter Jul 16 '09 at 20:25
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I don't agree. Most posts I edit or retag are based on language, spelling, and grammar. I rarely edit anything relating to the technical content, so I don't see how that changes across sites. –  Jeff Yates Jul 17 '09 at 6:10
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Hum, I think you might've hit the nail on the head with this one. Personally, I believe it's a measure of trust, simply because if you look at what reputation does for you, none of the effects of reputation reflect or modify how authoritative you are, but all of them are based on how trustworthy you are. yshuditelu makes an interesting distinction concerning familiarity, but ultimately I think there's no harm in that because you would know better than to start editing tags when you don't know what tags are appropriate. –  Coding With Style Jul 18 '09 at 9:58
    
I think rep is a measure of trust and collaboration effort. If rep measures collaboration effort, then someone who has a strong collaboration effort on SO does not imply a strong collaboration effort on SF. We could, however, have a "SE network" collaboration effort, which is the sum, or better the average. –  Stefano Borini Aug 13 '10 at 10:24
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I agree that some privileges (especially the ability to vote/edit) should be somewhat global across all SE sites). How annoying is it that I find a question on a different SE site than I normally frequent, and I cannot up-vote the question/answer which I find informative and relevant? I have to go out of my way to gain rep on that niche site first, and only then can I vote. –  Travis May 10 '11 at 14:13
    
Case in point: I agree with the previous comment, but I'm unable to vote it up. –  PrincessLilly Jul 29 at 1:38

Each site deals with its own specific niche. If you're trusted on one site there's no reason you should be given benefit of the doubt about your knowledge on other topics. If you're skilled in different areas you should be able to gain rep on all 3 sites. If you're not, users shouldn't be given the impression that you are.

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I don't think all benefits are created equal. The right to vote is very different to the right to edit. Some benefits should be network wide as the trust you are given is less based in knowledge and more based in your willingness to follow the rules. –  Jeff Yates May 10 '11 at 15:12
    
Totally agreed with Jeff here. Certain basic privileges should be cross-site. –  Nick Yeates Mar 8 '13 at 19:07

If you've gained 10k rep on SO, there is a high likelihood you understand what questions and behavior are valid and acceptable on SO. However, that doesn't mean you know the first thing about what questions should be valid and what behavior is acceptable on SF or SU. They're all separate sites, with separate focuses, and therefore they trust each user based on their involvement with that site.

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I have almost 13,000 rep on SO. I have less than 400 rep on SF. I think that is a pretty accurate portrayal of me. –  TheTXI Jul 16 '09 at 20:15
    
I'm with you TXI, I'm approaching 3k on SO and 2K here, but I haven't even attempt answering a question on SF, that's not what I spend my time doing. I deserve no trust on the SF system. –  Timothy Carter Jul 16 '09 at 20:22

Different types of questions/answer deserve different reputation. It's that simple.

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While there is an overlap, there is enough of a difference to make someone who could trusted by StackOverflow not trusted by ServerFault (say).

As developer I'm trusted (to a degree) on StackOverflow, but not on ServerFault - which is how it should be as I know very little about system adminstration. I know a little bit more about managing my own PC so I should be able to answer questions on SuperUser and gain some trust.

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I think the SO and SO meta sites are the exception. Afterall one is a discussion about the other. I wouldn't credit a user on serverfault based on their rating on SO or superuser.

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Reputation is not an indication of trustworthiness. It's an indication of ability. Ability translates into trustworthiness. I have great ability when it comes to programming (high rep on SO) and terrible ability when it comes to server-management (very low rep on SF). For this reason, I should not be granted a mirage of ability on SF.

I said it once in the past, giving a great programmer high rep on SF is like giving a wonderful plumber a high-paying Medical position.

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An alternative would be to split reputation points into two parts:

  • reputation for expertise on a particular topic, for things like answering a question correctly

  • overall reputation for trustworthiness across Stack Exchange sites, for doing community-related things, like editing for spelling and grammar

It's silly for someone who has thousands of reputation points in a one community to not be able to even comment on another community.

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Anyone with > 200 points on one site gets a 100 point association bonus on any new site they sign up to, thus neatly sidestepping this problem. You can reassociate accounts at any time to gain this bonus if you had < 200 points when first setting up the account on the new site. –  ChrisF Feb 22 '11 at 14:59
    
brilliant, thanks. –  rbp Mar 23 '11 at 21:12

I don't agree. I am a good programmer, and my SO rep points at that, but I know nothing (relatively) about network administration and servers, and my SF reputation points at that. Ok, rep != knowledge. If Linus Torvalds joins SO today, he will have less reputation than John Doe who just started programming, but still...

I think rep is a measure of trust and collaboration effort. If rep measures collaboration effort, then someone who has a strong collaboration effort on SO does not imply a strong collaboration effort on SF. We could, however, have a "SE network" collaboration effort, which is the sum, or better the average.

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Rep is a measure of trust, and yet, most of us are only knowledgeable on a subset of the topics covered on SO. I am knowledgeable about Python, C, C++ but not Ruby, Java, databases, iPhone... I have enough rep points that I could make a nuisance of myself on questions that I know nothing about, but I don't abuse my privileges.

SO trusts me not to abuse my rep privileges on topics I don't know about. So it would be nice to be trusted more on other SE sites too.

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Here is my take on this: I think the reason why someone with a certain number of rep points wants them merged to another site is most probably because he wants some permissions he won (at least that is what I want :P)

For example, I have enough rep points to edit SO questions, but not enough for gamedev. Since I have proved that I know how the system works, I don't see why I can't help the gamedev site.

However, the problem right now is that the reputation of a user mostly represents his quality of answers or questions and not his involvement on the community.

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