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I see that early birds have scooped great merit by asking (edit: and answering) all the obvious questions first. The unfortunate flip side of this is that it becomes increasingly difficult for newcomers (of no lesser aptitude) to rack up enough points to do something useful.

Is any provision being made to combat this difficulty? We should explore the possibilities, otherwise there is a danger of the site feeling closed off to newcomers.

What can be done?

One thing I can immediately think of that springs to mind is cleaning/reorganising work. the simple fact that people like accumulating points is very powerful. So SO could make a massive change to its internal structure, and rely on a lot of willing helping hands to transfer stuff over.

For example, duplication of knowledge is a problem. merging threads is tricky; what do you do with the separate conversation threads?

I would suggest an extension of the structure: the ability to create wiki-nodes. And connect them with any number of other wiki-nodes, as well as any number of question nodes.

So for example, say there are 20 or 30 threads dealing with the modulus operator. someone fairly new to the scene could create a 'Modulus Operator' wikiNode, which contains a basic summary of the information contained within the nodes, which would contain links to all of the relevant nodes. this list could be organised in part, with the remainder just listing all of the remaining links that don't appear to have any outstanding value.

Also a 'C++ operators' wiki-node may be created in the future, which would arc-connect with this wiki-node. etc. every link would be 2-way, xanadu-style.

This is just an example: my point is that this situation of increasing scarcity of easy points could be used for the benefit of SO's evolution. and it's worth discussing how.

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Most points aren't accrued by asking questions - they're gained by answering questions. It's much easier to get 10 upvotes for a good answer to someone else's question than to ask a question which gets 20 upvotes.

A knowledgeable newbie can answer questions as well as anyone else, modulo being familiar with markdown.

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This is missing the issue entirely. The point I am making is that there is clearly a situation that as time goes on, it is inevitable that getting points is going to become more difficult. And that rather than being necessarily a bad thing, this has a tremendous latent creative potential. People are willing to invest effort in order to gain points. This energy could be harnessed. I am attempting to open discussion on the ways in which it could be harnessed to improve the website. – Ohmu Oct 25 '10 at 11:38
@Ohmu: I believe you underestimate people's inventiveness when asking questions. A bigger problem than running out of unanswered questions is dealing with user burnout. (And Jon Skeet can't help with that issue; he doesn't have any idea what it means to get sick of SO.) – Gnome Oct 25 '10 at 11:48
@Ohmu: I don't see that it will be that much more difficult, until people stop asking questions that can be answered. I see no sign of that happening. So whatever your suggestion to combat the situation is, it's not a premise I agree with to start with. – Jon Skeet Oct 25 '10 at 11:50

Given as how duplicate posts continue to attract answers and votes for both the question and the answers even after a good duplicate has been identified, I'd say that there are always more easy points out there as the site populations grow.

You've no idea how hard it was to get 10 votes for a technical answer in the early days.

::mutters:: All the easy points are gone Hey! ::grumbles::

And get off my lawn!

Young whippersnappers...

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