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I suggest that a new user's available actions are directly linked to their reputation. That is, they don't even have visibility to the privileges until they reach enough reputation.

For example, when you only have 1 reputation you can't vote. So, don't show the upvote button until you get enough reputation.

Nice, no?

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I'm in favor of this idea (of course). Maybe a good compromise would be to show the button, but disabled. The functionality is there, but you cannot use it (yet). Add a hover text explaining the rep needed and done. –  GUI Junkie Aug 30 '11 at 17:36

4 Answers 4

up vote 6 down vote accepted

If I understand you correctly, then that is how the StackExchange sites already work.

Each site has a privileges page that will show you how much reputation you need to perform certain actions. Take a look at meta's for example.

Edit: I didn't understand your request at first, but your comment makes it clearer.

I don't think it would be a good idea to hide all the functionality that a new user doesn't have access to. It may be a little annoying, but at the same time it is also an incentive for a new user to stick around and gain some reputation. If the user has no idea such abilities exist, then they don't really have much incentive to actively participate (unless of course, they need help).

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Yeah sure, this is fine. But Example: i only have 3 rep now. i can't vote up BUT the button to vote up or down are appearing but if i click on it --> it will say that i can't. So .. why showing it ? Understand? –  Hulk Mar 1 '11 at 21:43
    
@Hulk, I understand what you mean now. I'll update my answer. –  Brandon Mar 1 '11 at 21:44
    
@Hulk: Interesting, I like the idea. –  Josh K Mar 1 '11 at 21:44
    
@Josh K: Thanks –  Hulk Mar 1 '11 at 21:46

This is mostly implemented, actually. Of the privileges you earn over time, the only things that are not hidden from the UI are, implicitly or explicitly:

  • Vote Up
  • Vote Down
  • Create Tags

Everything else is hidden in some fashion when your reputation is insufficient. The option to "close" isn't visible. You don't get the split vote count tool tip. Bounty links will never turn up.

Create Tags is only there because you can technically try to create tags in the normal, usable tag field. But it's only implicitly available - it's not explicitly shown in the way that the voting buttons are.

So why show the voting buttons while at insufficient reputation? Because they are a core part of the website. The presence of the buttons, before you even earn the privileges, tells you that post score goes in both directions. It tells the user that it is possible to rate positive or negative, and consequently that their own contributions can be rated in either direction. Because voting is one of the most crucial aspects of the site, it is important to have it be immediately visible without even needing to dig into the FAQ.

Not showing either button, or only showing upvoting when your reputation is between 15 and 125, may mislead a new user into not knowing about downvoting. And that can be a harsh surprise if or when it happens.

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I think the SO team have taken a leaf from the Joel Book of UI Design:

A long time ago, it became fashionable, even recommended, to disable menu items when they could not be used.

Don't do this. Users see the disabled menu item that they want to click on, and are left entirely without a clue of what they are supposed to do to get the menu item to work.

Instead, leave the menu item enabled. If there's some reason you can't complete the action, the menu item can display a message telling the user why.

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I would like to chime in in favor of openness in the system.

As it stands now the system doesn't offer most affordances unless the user has the privilege to employ them. That is good because it reduced frustration, and seems to be what the OP was talking about.

But when I first read the title I wondered if the request wasn't to strip the unavailable privileges from the Privileges page. That would be bad, because we want all user to be able to understand how the site works and is governed.

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