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To get high reputation, it is easiest to answer trivial questions on popular topics.

  • Trivial answers get votes, because everbody can judge.
  • Very popular topics get more votes because more people read it. (You can say that it is fair to get more reputation for more popular topics, reputaion is about popularity somehow. But combined with triviality, it is not fair anymore.)

Also consider that many users want to earn the Civic Duty badge, which is easy to earn by voting for trivial answers. On the programmers Stackoverflow, it are typically beginners questions about C# and LINQ.

Sometimes I answer complicated questions on not "top-popular" topics. After spending an hour or more to give a brilliant answer, I get accepted and - when I'm lucky - upvoted once or twice. Which is ridiculous compared to ten or twenty or even more upvotes for trivial questions. I'm not the only one I'm sure. Most people are in the "non-top-popular-topic" area.

I know, "Reputation is not a measurement of your expertise", no need to remind me of that. But I would like to encourage people to spend time on more complex and a bit less on popular questions. If reputation should be a "measurement of contribution", then should putting more work and uncommon knowledge into a single answer also count as more contribution.

Some suggestions to "fix" it:

  • Reduce reputation for votes compared to acceptance. For example: accepted answers get five time more reputation than votes.
  • Reduce votes reputation when the number of votes gets higher (for example, the first vote gets 10 rep, the second gets 8, the third 6 and so on until they only get 1 rep).
  • As above, but the number of votes is counted on all answers together. So if many answers get many votes, they all earn less reputation.
  • Rate questions' difficulty by votes (too complicated?)

Any thoughts?

share|improve this question
I very much agree with your assessment of the current situation. I don't think your solutions are a good idea, though, and I can't come up with any of my own that would truly solve the problem. I think this issue has been discussed several times before, and that's been the general consensus. Yeah, it's a problem, but fixing it would break too many other things that we hold dear (or at least think are important). –  Cody Gray Feb 28 '11 at 15:01
The problem with making accepts more important than votes is that often the accepted answer is the wrong one ;) –  Billy ONeal Feb 28 '11 at 20:03
That's life, you have to deal with it. Your solution might be good for SO, but for lower volume sites it is not acceptable. I recently spent 2 days thinking about one question and answering it on stats.SE. To spend 1 hour answering question in math.SE is pretty normal, for mathoverflow 1 day might be not enough. –  mpiktas Feb 28 '11 at 20:35
You may be interested in these previous related discussions: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/21433/encouraging-good-answers, meta.stackexchange.com/questions/21189/… –  ire_and_curses Feb 28 '11 at 21:43
@mpiktas: "that's life" is not an acceptable answer. You can always think and discuss about possible improvements. On the other side, I didn't say that I want to compare reputation on different sites. I just want to compare on one site. It is the whole purpose of the repetition as a number to make it comparable. –  Stefan Steinegger Mar 1 '11 at 8:03
@ire_and_curses: Thank you for the links. The first one is pretty close to mine. –  Stefan Steinegger Mar 1 '11 at 8:03
@Billy ONeal: Yes, that's true, the accepted answer is sometimes the wrong one. But more often it is the right one. I still think that the accepted answer should get more reputation. –  Stefan Steinegger Mar 1 '11 at 8:05
@Cody Gray: What you say is very true. You may write this as an answer. –  Stefan Steinegger Mar 1 '11 at 8:06

1 Answer 1

I agree with your main point, that easy questions produce more rep. However, many of those questions have fierce competition, and you could spend some time writing a good answer, but 5 other people will beat you to it. I do, like your suggestion about increasing the rep from an acceptance, maybe not to 50 though.

A few opposing viewpoints:

  1. The bounty system provides a way for tougher questions to get more attention when they need it.
  2. Reducing reputation from high vote answers will also reduce it from the really good answers as well, not just the easy questions.
  3. This would encourage the opposite of sportsmanship, because a vote on a competing answer would in-turn reduce your rep.

In response to:

Also consider that many users want to earn the Civic Duty batch, which is easy to earn by voting for trivial answers.

I would disagree. It is just as easy to vote on non-trivial answers. (Single mouse click in both cases).

share|improve this answer
Good points. But I still don't believe in the "fierce competition". In reality, most people don't answer anymore if a trivial question is answered (after one minute or so). Often the same answer is given multiple times, one of them gets the votes (not always the first one), the others get ignored. –  Stefan Steinegger Feb 28 '11 at 12:41
@Stefan, yes that is what I mean, there are a lot of people who go for the easy questions. Therefore you have time to focus on the hard questions even if unanswered so far. –  jzd Feb 28 '11 at 12:45
yeah, sure, you never need to hurry to answer hard questions. But you don't get much repetition for it. –  Stefan Steinegger Feb 28 '11 at 12:53

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