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Yesterday, reputation on questions was changed for consistency's sake:

We amended question rep on meta so it is in line with the rest of the sites. So now, upvotes on questions are worth 5 points.

Additionally, we are planning another change to rep that restricts the amount of rep you can get from questions only, see: Should we cap reputation gained from questions at +2000? for details.

We wanted to make sure all our sites have consistent rep rules, to avoid confusion.

Consistency is a worthy goal, but consistency for consistency's sake is not.

Meta Stack Overflow is already different. The other sites, and even the site metas, are Q&A sites. Here, you're not really writing questions (useless you're using the [stackoverflow] or [support] tags), you are writing opening posts. That's because Meta Stack Overflow is actually a forum, not a Q&A site. On Meta Stack Overflow, a very good point can be articulated in the opening post. It does not work at all like other Stack Exchange Network sites. On MSO, "questions" are just as important as "answers."

It shouldn't matter whether Meta Stack Overflow has a different reputation system. In fact, it would make sense for Meta Stack Overflow to have a different reputation system because it doesn't work like other sites. The previous reputation system gave the proper weight to contributions on MSO.

It's a change for consistency's sake. It's not an attempt at to solving a concrete problem.

It should be changed back.

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Foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, you know. – Gabe Apr 6 '11 at 6:21

Ok, first off: MSO isn't a forum. It is, first and foremost, a feedback and support site. Yes, discussion has a place here... But awarding rep for discussion just ends up causing embarrassing anomalies like users with more rep here than on all the sites in the rest of the network put together. Good for flushing out navel-gazing process wonks like myself, but... Ultimately not terribly important.

Now on to the meat:

On MSO, "questions" are just as important as "answers."

Yes. Often moreso. That's why, when the rep awarded for questions was reduced on every other site, it was left equal to answers here.

So why change it now?

waffles wrote:
I am for this system provided there is an adjustment:

  1. Cap question rep at 500
  2. Allow for another 500 rep more from questions per 2000 rep gained.

In order to implement this change, it's necessary for the system to track the reputation you gain from question up-votes and answer up-votes, restricting the former based on the latter. This probably isn't trivial. And since this change was explicitly called out in the explanation of the "consistency" reasoning, we can assume that adding a site-specific parameter to the calculation would result in at least some increase in either complexity or execution time. Why? I don't know. I'm not a DB-savvy SE developer like waffles. My guess would be that allowing an exception to be made for MSO wouldn't be all that hard... But at some point, you've gotta ask: how many exceptions are appropriate for one odd-ball site out of the dozens this code base must support?

That depends on the potential benefit.

We all believe that "questions" - feedback - on MSO is more valuable than questions are on the other SE sites. But wait a minute - the rationale for reducing question-vote-rep on the other sites wasn't some late-in-the-game epiphany as to their real value; it was done to reduce the reputation bonus granted to users who ask scores of mediocre questions. Remember, one up-vote more than compensates, rep-wise, for one down-vote, with the end result being that a poor question could garner a significant amount of reputation for its author - the reduction reduced (but did not eliminate) that bonus.

So how does this apply on MSO?

Well... Good feedback is valuable. But not all feedback is good. Bringing up the same issues repeatedly, ranting, proposing changes without reading previous discussions... These ultimately just waste everyone's time. Reducing the up-vote bonus for these is hardly a bad thing. And as for punishing the good... If I've learned anything in my time on this site, it's that even a nominally well-reasoned post will get voted up to the skies. There's more than enough reward to go around... If meaningless numbers be reward enough for you, that is.

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I just gave you a meaningless number. Enjoy! – gnostradamus Apr 5 '11 at 16:38
@gnostradamus: And I just gave you an even more meaningless number! – CanSpice Apr 5 '11 at 16:39
@CanSpice: Meaningless numbers for everyone! – gnostradamus Apr 5 '11 at 16:42
Meaningless numbers for some, miniature American flags for others! – CanSpice Apr 5 '11 at 16:46
-1. Just because you're paid to do it doesn't mean you need to be so long winded. TL;DR. – user27414 Apr 5 '11 at 16:47
@status: If you don't care enough about the topic to read through this answer, then you already care just the right amount. – Shog9 Apr 5 '11 at 16:56
Well, given that questions here are more important than answers, why limit reputation from questions here in the first place? Just skip the complexity entirely on Meta. – badp Apr 5 '11 at 16:59
@badp: can't speak to how that would affect the code, but I assume it's all low-level C + ODBC, and such a change would require many, many #ifndef META_SO blocks. And as I'm sure you're aware, every time it evaluates one of those, the preprocessor kills a unicorn. – Shog9 Apr 5 '11 at 17:05
@Shog that's a pretty horrible way of doing it, agreed ;) – badp Apr 5 '11 at 18:27
answers are still fundamentally more valuable than questions, even here on – Jeff Atwood Apr 6 '11 at 7:21


I would think if you make something "configurable" at the site level, that's because different sites can have different values for that.

So indeed, making it the same for consistency's sake seems kind of wrong.

There are other differences between the different SE sites: On MSO here for instance, the number of comments shown by default is also higher than on the other sites. So why not make that consistent then as well?

Why otherwise are all these tress-holds, etc... configurable?

Another inconsistency (quoted from @badp's sockpuppet's comment, thanks):

There is no consistency in voting (you do not downvote to express disagreement in SE, e.g.); why would there be consistency in reputation? It is inconsistent to apply consistent rules to inconsistent input.

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Let me decide what score I want to see: let's make it a user setting! – Arjan Apr 5 '11 at 15:31
@Arjan I sense a stackapp in your future... – Adam Davis Apr 5 '11 at 15:47
Come on now, MSO is, and will probably never be consistent with the rest of SE. If we really want consistency, MSO should not have reputation at all, but rather have it linked to the SO, or combined network rep. Indeed, if we really want to be consistent, none of that unicorn waffles Friday madness should have even existed - it should all be serioz bizznezz, naoh? – Yi Jiang Apr 5 '11 at 15:56

I wouldn't go so far as to say that Meta is a forum, but a recognition that most questions on Meta are as important as their answers (which differs from most other SE sites) is an important distinction.

Consistency is great, but systems need to be flexible. There is a reason there are so many SE sites when in reality you could just have lots of tags to help distinguish the topics (No one wants this, I'm sure). The fact that Meta has become a separate site from StackOverflow should illustrate that these are not just questions of a different nature, but that the site itself is different and sometimes the rules of the site should be adjusted to reflect those differences.

I don't have a perfect ratio for rep values, but half the rep of answer votes for question votes is clearly out of sync with the nature of this particular site (although I think it makes a lot of sense for SO).

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Reputation is an illusion.

Meta reputation doubly so.

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With apologies to Douglas Adams. – Adam Davis Apr 5 '11 at 15:42
Question is, are the waffles I eat at lunchtime also an illusion? If so, to I get twice as many? – Rob Hruska Apr 5 '11 at 16:02
@Rob Only if you can cook them as fast as you can eat them. I recommend the Waring WMK300A Belgian waffle maker and combination unicorn horn restorer. Unfortunately the directions for restoring unicorn horns are ambiguous at best, but the waffles are wonderful even if you never use the restoration function. – Adam Davis Apr 5 '11 at 16:44

Lots of forums don't have a Reputation system, so does your post mean we should remove Meta's rep-system? :)

Even though I lost rep, I have to disagree - being consistent with other SO sites doesn't hurt Meta in any way.

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IPB, vBulletin and others do have reputation systems in their stock distributions (and they've had such for long before SO and MSO came to be) – Billy ONeal Apr 5 '11 at 15:26
Ah - so I should say, "lots of forums don't have rep..." :) The point is, the whole reason for SO is that forums also have lots of undesirable features - or are missing desirable features, might be better wording. I don't see a reason to turn Meta into a full-out forum. – John C Apr 5 '11 at 15:30
I never said it was a bad idea for a forum to have a reputation system. – Borror0 Apr 5 '11 at 15:32

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