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Here is a query on data.stackexchange : Distribution of Users Creation by Month with Rep and Votes. It sounds a bit alarming, no?

During January 2011, 36542 users were new to Stackoverflow, and only 1557 (4%) reached 100+ reputation. These results make me fear for the future. On one hand, Stack Overflow becomes super famous; on the other, we have less and less participants...

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I think this is kind of a normal development as the site grows bigger. But +1 interesting query! –  Pëkka Jul 1 '11 at 13:31
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I've never understood the purpose of these posts. Are you suggesting something needs to be done about it? –  Michael Mrozek Jul 1 '11 at 13:40
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By the logic here, the users created yesterday are beyond horrible. –  Anthony Pegram Jul 1 '11 at 13:44
    
@Anthony : of course we need to take the numbers proportionnaly. It is normal that their is more old user with 100+ reps. But at which point is it normal ? –  Cyril Gandon Jul 1 '11 at 13:51
    
@Scorpi0 please see my edit below with updated query –  JNK Jul 1 '11 at 14:06
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Well, 1557 is certainly better than 1337... –  ЯegDwight Jul 1 '11 at 14:07

3 Answers 3

up vote 11 down vote accepted

This isn't surprising at all since you would expect a lower percentage of new users to have high rep since, by definition, they have had less time to build rep.

They also are less likely to ask really good questions or give really good answers since...

  1. They are learning how the site works.

  2. There is by now a very small pool of certified experts who don't already use the site.

  3. Due to (2) above most new users are likely at "apprentice" or "journeyman" level in their fields.

  4. As the site's popularity grows, we are likely to have more "hit and run" users that join to ask a single question, get their answer, and leave.

Also I think judging a "good" user based on whether they have 100+ rep is a fallacy in itself. The old BAD users have just had enough time to get 20–30 sympathy upvotes on their high volume of terrible questions to pass your test.

EDIT

Here's a new version of your query that I think is a better indicator of "good" users.

It shows your original, plus total votes per user, and (this is the part I think is most relevant) number of users who average 10 votes/month for the life of their account. That number has been under 10% going back to users who joined in 12/2008, so as far as how engaged people are in the site, it looks like we are pretty consistent.

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What does certified expert mean exactly.. –  Andreas Bonini Jul 1 '11 at 16:21
    
@Kop - poor choice of words probably, but people who are experts in their fields and/or respected and experienced in their technical community. –  JNK Jul 1 '11 at 16:40

I am one of those users on StackOverflow that didn't reach the 100 rep limit. Sure, I'm not a really good programmer since I'm still a student, so don't expect that I will answer every question. Does that make me a bad user?

As long as most questions get a good answer I don't think there is a problem..

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Good point, though I think in the context of this question it's being alleged not that there are more bad users, just not as many good users –  Daniel DiPaolo Jul 1 '11 at 15:00
    
But who are bad users? For me only those with 0% accepting rate –  Bojan Kogoj Jul 1 '11 at 15:08

Bear in mind that new users are increasingly sandboxed -- that is, they have very strict hidden rules applied to their actions. They can escape the sandbox once they get enough rep.

We also have a great deal more help for new users than we had before, too:

How does Stack Overflow attempt to prevent low-quality questions and answers?

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