I'm interested in how the SO family sites were bootstrapped in terms of the reputation value? E.g. if everyone starts at rep 1, they would need a fair amount of time to gain valuable capabilities like edit, vote and semi-moderator, and with it an action capable community. How did it happen?
What is meta?
- Any Stack Exchange user can ask a question
- The community provides support, votes on ideas, and reports bugs
- Your voice helps shape the way Stack Exchange operates
The rules on Stack Overflow have changed a lot since it was in private beta. I used to be able to delete other peoples comments to my own questions/answers, now I can only delete my own. I used to be able to answer a Community Wiki question with a non-CW answer, that is no longer possible. It used to be possible to get significantly more than 200 rep points in a day, that has changed.
So your question doesn't really reflect how easy it was for people with very little rep to affect the system in the early days.
stackoverflow.com started off as an invite only beta. By listening to the stackoverflow podcast and doing wiki transciption you could get an invite. serverfault was next, you had to have a stackoverflow account, pay attention to the blog, and a certain amount of stackoverflow rep. to participate. By linking your stackoverflow and serverfault accounts you got +100 to your serverfault rep. That's been the paradigm for meta and superuser: Be a member of one site, sign up for the other site, link the accounts and get +100 rep.
Check out people's profiles here on Meta.
A lot of us started out with 101 rep (1 + 100 point bonus) and only a few like Jeff and other SO moderators with full rights (but still low rep). In the couple of weeks it's been active there are 16 people with > 2000 rep who can edit other people's post and 9 with > 3000 rep who can vote to close. No one has > 10,000 rep yet, but that won't be long.
There were, however, a significant number who started out with just the single rep point.
If you check Super User you'll see people with > 1000 rep, others in the 100's and quite a few with only 10's. Check back in a week or so and see how those values have increased.
All this has been achieved by the simple process of asking and answering questions. There was only one tweak to the "normal" rep allowances and that was to reduce the amount of rep needed to leave comments.
There's no magic, people just participate.