Approachability suggestion from a newbie:

Coming here from Reddit, the instinct to upvote is automatic and it stinks to click the arrow and be denied. Also, upvotes only give one karma on Reddit so you think "I have to get 15 upvotes before I can register my opinion? Forget it." I would change the hover text somehow to say say "Requires 15 reputation to upvote (15 rep = about two upvoted answers)".

The other thing I want to get off my chest is that I thought the privilege "talk in chat" sounded like "ability to banter in the comments under each answer," and I was confused trying to find the add comments link. I'd change the privilege name to "talk in live chat," so I'd know whether I was interested in it.

Edit: I shouldn't have mentioned Reddit, I guess. To me Reddit is a shining example of how to get signal out of noise. I am coming from rpg.stackexchange.com, and Reddit is actually superior to Stack Overflow on that particular topic. I would like Stack Overflow to be a mix of Enworld and Reddit, smart answers with upvotes. It works fine except that it's very offputting to newbies.

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    SE != Reddit; a fact for which I am thankful. I would suggest getting used to how things work here before making suggestions based on your experience elsewhere. Dec 28, 2011 at 17:43
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    Aside: Don't worry about the hail of down votes on this question. They just mean people disagree. (The semantics of voting are different on meta.) Dec 28, 2011 at 18:57
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    It has been a while since I had less than 15 reputation. What does the current text say?
    – Dennis
    Dec 28, 2011 at 20:21
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    I have three people to answer here so I guess I can't use @. Dennis, it says "vote up requires 15 reputation." But it doesn't say it till after you have clicked, then it smacks you in the face. If the upvote arrow were just hidden, it would be much nicer. Thanks, dmckee. Andrew, this topic is about things that will make people never get used to how things work, because they're dismissive or not standard. Normally you don't get this kind of feedback from new users, because they just quit trying. Just trying to help.
    – Noumenon
    Dec 28, 2011 at 22:35

3 Answers 3


Trust me - those two differences between Reddit and SO are the least of your worries.

The much, much bigger ones are as follows:

  • Reddit encourages exists for the sole purpose of discussion. Stack Overflow abhors extended discussion.

  • Reddit's idea of Q&A is composed mostly of GTKY questions. Stack Overflow spits out GTKY questions like bad candy.

  • If there's any ability to edit other user's posts on Reddit, it certainly doesn't do much good. On SO, it stands as a defining feature, setting SO apart from the howling wilderness of barely-legible questions that for so long were the hallmark of Q&A.

  • Stack Overflow has one core topic: Programming. Reddit also has one core topic: everything.

So if you're coming here from Reddit, it'll take you a bit to get used to how things work. Make the most of it...

Regarding your edit: Yes, Reddit is a fine system for letting signal float to the top of a big ol' bucket of noise. For topics that require a lot of discussion in order to resolve a problem, that's a very good thing. Stack Exchange is built to cleanly expose answers, without requiring the reader to sift through discussion.

'Thing is, SO looks a lot like a lot of other systems. So folks show up and think, "Hey, voting, I know this!" or "Hey, posts, I know this!" or "Hey, editing, I know this!" - and before they know it, they're slapped in the face for up-voting all their friends, repeatedly, posting links to their product on every question that references the right keywords, trying to carry on a conversation with answers, or gender-neutering pronouns on 200 questions. Because it's not a forum, it's not a wiki, and it's not a link-sharing service... Even if it does borrow liberally from all of those.

So can we do a better job of introducing folks to this chimera? Yes! Should we? Yes! Will we? YES!

But it's not enough - or even a good idea - to hit the superficial bits. If it feels a bit off, right off the bat, that's probably a good thing - no matter how familiar some bits might seem, you're not in Kansas anymore...

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    The last point is debatable if you include the entire SE network
    – juan
    Dec 28, 2011 at 18:18
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    @JuanManuel Even so, each site has it's own focus, it's own rules about exactly what kinds of questions are acceptable, and it's own ideas about what makes a good answer (see Skeptic.SE for example of the latter). Dec 28, 2011 at 18:56
  • I understood a lot of the concept of StackExchange before I came here, thanks to Joel Spolsky's blog. If I didn't think the concept was a good idea in theory, I wouldn't be posting here trying to improve the user experience -- I would've just said "This site sucks, forget it."
    – Noumenon
    Dec 28, 2011 at 22:43
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    Since the comments are so ugly with no line breaks, I put some more discussion in an edit to the main comment.
    – Noumenon
    Dec 28, 2011 at 22:49
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    @Noumenon: brilliant! That's exactly the sort of behavior we're trying to encourage here - put your message up-front, leave comments for stuff that doesn't matter. I've edited to respond...
    – Shog9
    Dec 29, 2011 at 2:22

I would change the hover text somehow to say say "Requires 15 reputation to upvote (15 rep = about two upvoted answers)".

You cannot explain the entire reputation system in a tiny pop-up box.

While it is true that 2 upvoted answers add 20 points to your reputation (thus enabling the upvote priviledge), the same would be true for:

  • Getting 3 upvotes on questions.
  • Getting 1 upvote on a question and 1 on an answer.
  • Getting an answer accepted.
  • Asking 7 questions and accepting an answer on each.
  • Getting 7 suggested edits approved.
  • Asking 4 questions and accepting an answer on each, plus getting 3 suggested edits approved.
  • etc.

Every newcomer should start by reading the FAQ, especially if he comes from another site that behaves similarly in any aspect (I don't really know Reddit).

Anything not explained there can be found in the FAQ here on Meta.


The Stack Exchange format is a combination of existing software that 'synthesize aspects of Wikis, Blogs, Forums, and Digg/Reddit in a way that we think is original.' [1]

Reputation means more then just bragging rights, it's a system for trusting users.

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