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I've noticed (linked on in other closed threads) that people have been saying this. In fact, to quote one post I'd like to pick apart:

It allows for others that won't gain reputation as quickly not to fall behind. Also considering that the reputation is based on how much you are trusted, it avoids having users gain ability without them having spent some time on the site to understand how it works. I would not want someone who has been on the site for 2 days to suddenly have the ability to close questions, or edit my posts, if he hasn't had time to understand the nature of the sites. source

I see a few things wrong with this, but right from the start I'll have to point out that I can close questions and edit posts, but not in the way he probably means (outright close posts / edit without queues). Even so, I don't think the moderation queue teaches people when and how to moderate the site, it's something they have to learn on their own; with their edits being downvoted.

This can happen in days, weeks, or not happen ever (in the case of some antiquated threads I've seen laying about.) So knowing this, would you say that the above quoted logic still stands as the rationale behind this limit?

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Patience, grasshopper. –  Rick Sladkey May 11 '11 at 22:11
    
I'm not saying that, I'm just asking for a further explanation on the rationale behind this; as of course I'm new to these sites I've not been here long enough to watch podcast explanations or whatever else, if there even are any. Basically I am just curious. I already know there are ways around this limit, such as spreading your reputation around sites. Say I get 201 rep on meta, I'll get another 100 rep on SO. –  cbroughton May 11 '11 at 22:14
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No, you only get the +100 bonus for associating accounts once. They've already thought of and closed most loopholes. –  mmyers May 11 '11 at 22:18
    
It told me that because I got 200+ rep on SO, it would give me +100 rep to all associated sites. This makes me think it would work on all other sites as well. –  cbroughton May 11 '11 at 22:20
    
you do get it across all sites you associate with, but only once per site. For example, you can look at my account page and see close to a dozen associated accounts at 101 rep because I have just logged in with my associated account there and not actually got any rep otherwise. –  Daniel DiPaolo May 11 '11 at 22:28

3 Answers 3

up vote 21 down vote accepted

The 200 point cap means that, under normal circumstances, a user will have to be a contributing member of the site for at least:

  • 10 days to edit questions without approval
  • 15 days to vote to close questions
  • 50 days to gain access to moderator tools

Of course, this is significantly shortened by extraordinary circumstances like a high accepted answer rate or being awarded number of bounties.

As for the argument that you can close/edit questions below the rep thresholds, well, that's not really true. It requires at least one other person with a high degree of community trust (i.e. a high rep user or a moderator) to look at what you're trying to do and approve it.

In all honesty, it's a really low threshold to reach to ensure you have spent more than couple of days interacting with the site and its community, regardless of whether you won the up-vote lottery on a lucky question/answer.

But really, I don't understand the argument against the rep cap. If you're not hitting the rep cap, it's a moot point.

But if you're hitting the rep cap every single day, or hitting the rep cap so hard you're losing a ton of rep on one of your first questions or answers, and still do not have moderation privileges like editing, closing, etc., you've only been here for a few days. What's the rush? Ask and answer a few more questions, sleep on it, check out the meta site, and think about whether you really want the responsibility of moderating a site that you've only just started using a few days ago.

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I definitely say yes. The longer I participate, the more I learn about how to participate. If I'm not sure with something, I ask on Meta. So the quoted text is still valid.

I would say that the limit is "healthy." It gives many of us time to do other things (for example: work) than browsing, discussing and answering questions on Stack Overflow. It also allows more people to participate because I believe that many people will stop answering once they reach the limit.

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That's the thing, I've not said much past the limit either. :). Basically just waiting for the two hours here, me and a few others are using this as a game to see who can get the most rep, and help the most people in the same amount of time. –  cbroughton May 11 '11 at 22:42

One thing not brought up by the others is that it actually helps level the playing field in terms of reputation earning, as well. I imagine that has often been a more balancing aspect of it.

If a user has a significantly large quantity of posts across the site, especially high quality ones, then they will start to trickle in upvotes even when they aren't posting new content. When you do add new content, then the votes earned per day starts to increase even higher.

If this voting were uncapped, then the top users of the site would completely dominate anyone who joins later, especially anyone who joins now. With the reputation cap in place, the advantage of simply having these "accumulator posts" that attract votes is significantly reduced. Such posts only put you closer to a maximum you could probably achieve in normal activity for the day, the same maximum that all other users have.

Bounties and acceptance bypass the reputation cap, and for most intents and purposes these can only be earned by actively using the site. It's very rare for "accumulator posts" to get accepted, and even rarer for that to have any significant impact. Which then means that the top users must remain active in order to keep their place, even with a history of posts. A user who reaches 200 every day by old posts alone will always eventually be beaten by a user who earns more than that.

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For one data point, I average about 30 points a day even though I've only posted three answers this year. I have about 600 answers; Jon Skeet has twenty times that. –  mmyers May 12 '11 at 15:04
    
Look at Jon Skeet, he gets over 500 reputation a day, how is this a level playing field? It's actually IMPOSSIBLE to catch up to him, even if you posted on every question (including necros). You would have to answer all unanswered SO questions, AND have them marked as answer :/ And even then you're still not close. –  cbroughton May 12 '11 at 18:01
    
@cbroughteon Think about it - if he averages that much higher than 200 each day, that's just from acceptances and bounties. If he's getting that much from that, imagine how many upvotes are actually coming alongside all that. It may not be easy to fathom it as something to compete against (but hardly inconceivable - Nick Craver actually earned more reputation per day than Jon Skeet while he was not employed by SEI), but it's certainly much more comparable than if the cap didn't exist. –  Grace Note May 12 '11 at 18:21
    
@cbroughton (Sorry for misspelling your name) I wanted to originally link you this, but there's no picture of Nick's graph there as that instead links to a different style. But instead, let me direct you to his global reputation graph, and point out that climb starting in January 2010. That's how you try to catch up to Jon Skeet. –  Grace Note May 12 '11 at 18:28

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