Has anyone noticed there being a critical mass of answered questions or reputation?

What I mean by this is, is there some number of answers or a reputation score beyond which a person will continue to accrue reputation just by virtue of those previously answered questions or the fame associated with the reputation?

This question similar to The Problem with Reputation but I am asking if anyone noticed a number beyond which the reputation problem ensues.

10 Answers 10


Just two data points you might be interested in...

On May 23rd and 24th, I had no access to Stack Overflow - I was on my second honeymoon in Venice (which is fabulous, btw). On the Saturday I gained 80 rep; on the Sunday I gained 95.

On a weekday I expect I probably could hit the rep cap without logging in, although it would depend on how active the previous few days had been. If you happen to have a very popular answer in a hot topic, that can give a lot of rep for a few days or even a week - otherwise it's more of a slow burn.


Whatever point there may be, Jon Skeet has already passed it

With that said, however, I have noticed in my own cases a good deal of "reputation coasting" based on older questions. I've actually noticed that a lot more on Meta (where my question and answer volume is much higher) than on regular StackOverflow.

I don't think anybody has really pinpointed a reputation point, and I don't think it really exists. You will find a point of saturation that would allow for rep coasting more on the answer side of things then you would on the question side of things I imagine (it's logical to post more answers than questions afterall).

  • 1
    "my question and answer volume [on meta] is much higher [than on SO]" -- Now what does that tell you? :-) – balpha Jul 28 '09 at 18:22
  • 2
    It tells you that there is a lot more stuff on Meta that I can answer. StackOverflow's subject matter is so broad that it can be difficult to answer a bunch of questions in a day that fall under your particular realm of knowledge. I COULD go and answer every Perl, PHP, and Ruby question out there, but I would likely look like an idiot in the process since I don't know much about them :) – TheTXI Jul 28 '09 at 18:26
  • 1
    As a fellow Perl, PHP, and Ruby agnostic I thank you for your restraint ;-) – Treb Jul 28 '09 at 20:17
  • Stuff that makes people laugh gets more up votes. – Chris Huang-Leaver Aug 8 '09 at 4:30

I think so. I mean, if you have enough answers/non-wiki-questions floating out there, you will accrue points without having to do much of anything. You won't however be able to get more than the daily-cap unless you are actually providing good answers to questions. So while an enormously reputable person could theoretically skeet skate by on their own history, they can still be beaten if they're not consistently active.

That being said, I don't think you have to worry too much about this. Skeet is waaaay up there, and I think he still has to fight for his food :)


I think it'd be based on number of good answers. I'm close to 3k on SO with 109 answers and have seen a little bit of uplift from old answers, but not really that much. Most of mine comes from new answers.


There's a sliding scale, not so much a critical mass. If I leave the site alone for a week, I'll get 10-20 points a day off of old answers. And I have a fairly small set of answers to go from. Jon Skeet, though, is almost guaranteed his rep cap.

I'd be intriguing to do some analysis on this to figure out what the scale is that you get (potential--count upvotes after the daily rep cap) rep for answers posted > 48 hours in the past. I can't get to the Sandbox from work, but if somebody can, that'd be neat to see those numbers.


I think this would be highly dependent on a number of factors:

  • The number of questions you answer
  • The quality of those answers
  • The number of users active within the tags you post most in

Personally, I'm highly active in a relatively obscure tag (only about 0.13% of the total questions on SO), and I only see at most 1 or 2 upvotes per day (if any) off of old questions.


There are two issues at play.

There is tendency for a higher-reputation person to get more attention in any Q&A thread so there is a slight increase in the number of their older posts that will continue to be up-voted as long as those questions are still being read (but not that much, I suspect).

Second, I am amazed that the few "high quality/longer lived" questions and answers I've posted keep accruing points slowly over time. So, naturally, the higher rep users are more likely to have contributed more of those types of posts.


I'm not Jon Skeet, but I am in the top 10: 45K rep, 2000+ answers. On a typical day where I don't visit the site at all I bring in 20-40 rep points from old content (2-4 upvotes). So it happens, but not much.

There are exceptions: some days are more typical than others ;) On one occasion I received 110 rep overnight without touching anything because something I wrote got linked to from somewhere else. I've never hit the rep cap this way.

Sometimes I'll see one vote for an old answer and this will prompt me to visit that answer. While reading it I'll notice a typo or something that could be worded better and make the change. After making the change, I'll get a few more votes because the edit bumped the question.

Another thing I've noticed that if I am active on the site that day, the typical number of votes for old content jumps from the 2-4 mark mentioned earlier to more like 4-7. I can't explain why this happens. If they were just seeing my name on current items and checking my profile from there I would expect the additional votes to skew heavily to my highest ranked answers, but it's more random than that.

  • I get a lot of rep from old stuff here on Meta. There are a bunch of times I'll wake up in the morning and find I am already halfway or three quarters of the way to the rep limit. – TheTXI Jul 28 '09 at 18:19
  • 1
    Is anything on meta really old yet? – Joel Coehoorn Jul 28 '09 at 18:24
  • 2
    Joel: With the attention spans that some of the users here have, I feel safe to say "yes" – TheTXI Jul 28 '09 at 18:28
  • If I see one good answer for some one in a tag, I may look at there other answers in the same tag – Ian Ringrose Apr 5 '11 at 11:40

If there is a rep critical mass, I'd say its at least 10k.

I have ~7000 rep on SO, and I usually get ~10 points per day for old answers. This summer, I went on vacation for a week and didn't use SO at all - when I came back, I had recieved only 20 points over the whole week.


I noticed that I have a little rep gain through old answers (not from old questions), maybe once or twice per month I get an upvote from stuff that is more that one month old.

If you suppose that every good answer has some probability of being discovered and upvoted by someone in a given time period, then follows that at a certain number of good answers you will get so many upvotes from old stuff that at one point you hit the rep cap every day.

So I suppose the answer to your question is: Yes, with a a certain amount of good answers you will eventually have this critical mass (I am still very far away from that point). However, I don't think that it correlates to a spefic reputation threshold.

Some people just answer lots of questions and receive a few upvotes on most of their answers, others give fewer but great answers, and have a similar gain in reputation. But since they can only receive one upvote per person on their old answers, they get fewer votes from old answers (because they have answered fewer questions).

And then there are those who give lots of great answers. And one of them just posted his answer to this question...

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .