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How do users on the new Stack Exchange sites get started? Each user starts with 1 rep, and cant upvote until they have 15 rep. It struck me that this creates a bit of a deadlock. If a new user asks a question and a new user answers, neither can upvote the other.

Are we relying solely on existing SE users to join these exchange sites (with their bonus 100 rep) so that they can get started?

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Good thing those 2 users aren't the only users on the site. (: – Rebecca Chernoff Oct 5 '10 at 18:07
up vote 5 down vote accepted

Apparently (I say apparently because I've not been part of any private beta) the rep limits are much lower when a site is in the initial 7-day long private beta period. This includes the ability to vote up (and do many other things) with only 1 rep.

This allows the users of a brand new private beta site to seed the site, increase the rep of the initial user base and get everything started.

Then, once the site is public and the rep requirements rise, there's plenty of people around to provide the votes required for each new user.

Source: Reputation requirements compared

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Having an answer accepted gives 15 reputation, and of course both the asker and answerer can get upvotes from anyone else on the site who's ever had a question answered and thus has 15 reputation.

A new site could easily get bootstrapped this way even without the users from other SE sites.

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Fair point, and I can see a closed system could work in theory. In practice however I have seen many unregistered users drop in and ask questions without ever coming back and accepting an answer. For a site with low activity getting the ball rolling could be a problem. – PaulG Oct 5 '10 at 19:03

Are we relying solely on existing SE users to join these exchange sites (with their bonus 100 rep) so that they can get started?

Exactly. Area 51 commitment requires and guarantees it. You need experienced users to get the system going in the right directions.

The fundamental, core use of Stack Exchange — asking and answering questions — does not require any reputation whatsoever. But brand spanking new users don't necessarily understand or appreciate the subtleties of when/why they should vote on posts. If you stick around a short time before jumping in (i.e. post a few questions or answers) you'll quickly get it and the reputation requirements will take care of itself.

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