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Okay, maybe not impossibly high, but definitely out of the reach of mortals.

This query on the data explorer shows that the top few users have effectively been earning several hundred rep points per day, every day, since the site launched.

Under the current rules, with the rep cap of 200, that should be virtually impossible. You could do it if you got a bounty or two every day as well, but it's still a tall order.

Is that really realistic? Or have the rules changed over time?

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See also How does “Reputation” work? –  Arjan Mar 21 '11 at 14:06
    
"...definitely out of the reach of mortals." For some values of "mortal". If you have enough experience and knowledge that you can answer about 50 questions a day, quickly, and in a clear, concise, and correct manner, then you too will be well on your way to 300+ rep per day. If you can't find new 50 questions you can answer each day, it's unlikely that you will be able to compete. Does that make you any more or less a mortal than those that can maintain that pace? –  Adam Davis Mar 21 '11 at 18:21
    
@Adam - I had my tongue firmly in cheek with that phrase ;-) Bottom line was that although I'd read how rep works, I'd missed the point about accepted answers being exempt from the cap, which does make a big difference. That said, it is still a massive effort to answer enough questions to score that much. I don't think I'd have time to do my day job if I tried. –  Spudley Mar 21 '11 at 18:42
    
You are correct. It does seem curious that some users are making well over the cap on a daily basis. Are they really still answering dozens of questions every single day? Even if they are, the problem is that they are riding their high reputations. Not only do they get lots of up-votes on existing answer due to their high reps, but they get up-votes and accepts on new questions because of their high rep. A lot of people seem to have a tendency to up-vote posts of high-rep users just because they are awed by the high rep and/or to be part of the crowd that voted for it. –  Synetech Dec 23 '13 at 22:48
    
(For the record, I have seen it happen to myself. I am currently #17 on SU and sometimes when I get a rep-bump notice, I can’t help but wonder, and sometimes even know that it was from someone who was just impressed/intimidated by my rep or trying to join in; not specifically because they agreed with my post or found it personally useful.) –  Synetech Dec 23 '13 at 22:50

6 Answers 6

up vote 17 down vote accepted

Accepted answers are immune to the reputation cap, so for example with 6 accepted answers in a day, you can get 290, rather than 200.

By pure upvotes you are limited to 200 rep, but bounties and accepted answers aren't subject to that limit, that's the main source of rep over 200 for the "top rep" users.

You can also click the reputation tab on someone's profile to see the exact breakdown, here's Jon Skeet's rep for example: http://stackoverflow.com/users/22656/jon-skeet?tab=reputation

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It's never been so appropriate to get FGITWed. I'm deleting my answer. –  Pops Mar 21 '11 at 14:04
    
@Nick: That does help me to understand it. Thank you. I'd somehow missed the bit about accepted answer points not going toward the cap. That certainly makes those scores more achievable. (frighteningly good, but achievable) –  Spudley Mar 21 '11 at 14:26
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Who's this "Nick Craver" guy and why would he know anything about getting reputation? –  balpha Mar 21 '11 at 14:44
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Wow, on some days Jon Skeet reaches 500rep and more => 20+ accepted answers! –  Martin Scharrer Mar 21 '11 at 16:30
    
@Nick: may I ask you every when is updated the stackexchange.com/leagues/1/month/stackoverflow Reputation leagues? I hearned other 40-50 reputations today but is still displaying old count –  dynamic Jun 2 '11 at 15:20
    
@yes123 - this is updated daily, at night - the leagues on the sites themselves (the /users reputation tab/intervals) are real-time and the days reset at 00:00 UTC –  Nick Craver Jun 2 '11 at 18:43

Join Server Fault or Super User or any one of the other Stack Exchange sites. Their top-rep users are substantially lower.

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Agreed, not every community seems to be trigger happy on the upvote button as SO or Programmers –  Ivo Flipse Mar 22 '11 at 17:05
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@Ivo - I think it's more the simply overwhelming volume of users on SO than it is their happiness with the upvotes. –  Mark Henderson Mar 22 '11 at 20:34

No, it is realistic enough even for new accounts, please take a look at this user - richard aka cyberkiwi

http://stackoverflow.com/users/573261/richard-aka-cyberkiwi

He already accomplished to gain 17k reps for 2 months since he joined, and could be reached to top 10 users within few years with that rate.

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And, one might even be hired for some dirty work! –  Arjan Mar 21 '11 at 16:28
    
You may want to read up on the concept of market-saturation. –  Synetech Dec 23 '13 at 22:45

They have shown that it can be done. We should rejoice for them, and recognize that with the same amount of work and answering we can do it also. The math says it possible, it just seems like a "out-there" kind of goal. Do it anyway.

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If I'm not mistaken, this is one of the main reasons the Users page layout was recently switched to show the week, month, quarter, year, and all-time leaders. The all-time view was too static. You don't really have to climb up to the top spot on the all-time page to get noticed when the weekly view is the default.

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agreed, that was indeed a good change to make. –  Spudley Mar 21 '11 at 14:32

Yes, it is unrealistic for a new account registered today to hope to reach the "top people" within a decade.

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It depends on whether the "target" user also continues earning rep at the same rate as they currently are. Yes, if you can "only" beat my rep gain per day by 100, then it will take you nearly 8 years to overtake me. On the other hand, if I stopped posting (and stopped getting votes for old answers) then it's obviously more realistic. –  Jon Skeet Mar 21 '11 at 14:15
    
I'm not hoping to reach any kind of top table myself; just trying to understand how it works. Example: Jon Skeet has been registered for 882 days. So hypothetically, say if he lost his password, re-registered, and then just carried on as before under a new account, giving just as good answers, etc, would it take him 882 days to get back to the same level, or are you saying there are factors now that weren't there when he originally started which would stop him acheiving it again in the same time scale? If so, what are they? –  Spudley Mar 21 '11 at 14:19
    
@Jon, as for gaining reputation for existing posts: Oscar Reyes once tried when at 10k, and got 2,068 between March 23 and November 29, 2009 (latest, maybe that count even was for an earlier date). Doing the math, I guess with your current reputation those 8 years will not be enough! :-) –  Arjan Mar 21 '11 at 14:28
    
@Arjan: It should be feasible to work out either from the DataExplorer or from API use how much rep I've gained from "old" questions at any one point. It would be an interesting graph of date against "current rep if I'd stopped posting". Of course, that doesn't take all factors into account, but it would be a crude approximation. –  Jon Skeet Mar 21 '11 at 14:32
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@Spudley: It would take me about the same time. The current rep is the result of applying the current rules to everything. On the other hand, the dynamics of the site have changed over time of course... and I've probably improved at answering questions, too. –  Jon Skeet Mar 21 '11 at 14:34

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