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I'm a beginner on Stack Exchange. I have a Stack Overflow account. What is the benefit of reputation count? Do people with more reputation have more knowledge?

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The reputation on the SE sites are a rough measurement of how much the community trusts you. As you answer questions or ask them - the community will give you feedback in the form of votes or accepting your answer. The more votes you get the better or more helpful your post was - raising an interesting question is also helpful sometimes as it can make people look again at the way they do things - perhaps your question attracted an excellent answer that helped many many people. For answers I think it is pretty obvious - The better the answer the more votes and reputation you get.

Reputation is sometimes considered a measure of your knowledge (which is not always true). A user with a very high reputation could attempt to answer a question in a field in which he has minimal or no experience - in this case his/her/it's reputation means nothing. However, a high rep user's answer (when they do know what they are talking about) is usually golden as they have worked hard on the site providing great answers and advice for the rest of us. Another use of reputation is to track users progress on the site and award users additional privileges.

Its also FUN! Seeing that you received an upvote or that one of your answers is accepted is a great way to get feedback from the community! If people acknowledge your input it's like a pat on the back and you will be encouraged to continue to contribute good material.

You can checkout the faq section for more details - https://meta.stackoverflow.com/faq#reputation

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The benefit of reputation is increased privileges. Apart from that it has no concise representable meaning due to the way it is gained, except for maybe high reputation means you spend too much time on this site.

It does not equal knowledge since you usually gain the most reputation by answering simple questions repeatedly. And because of that and the fact that SO still doesn't reward any other community activities (like closevoting) it does not work as the purported rough measure of how much the community trusts you.

A high reputation can get you a t-shirt though.

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  • T-shirt? You mean swag? :P – Lix Feb 29 '12 at 14:24
  • @Lix please clarify swag ;) – Gordon Feb 29 '12 at 14:28
  • This should clarify things ;) – Lix Feb 29 '12 at 14:32
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    @Lix then it's swag indeed – Gordon Feb 29 '12 at 14:37
  • @Gordon "It does not equal knowledge since you usually gain the most reputation by answering simple questions repeatedly" --> Why do you make an assumption that people answer simple questions? There are no questions with average complexity (or hard ones) on the web site? – user937857 Feb 8 at 7:18
  • @gmoniava It's not an assumption. I've been on this site for how how long now? 10 years? I've seen people answer the same easy questions over and over again. It's the fastest way to gain rep. The harder the questions, the fewer the answers. – Gordon Feb 8 at 8:08
  • @Gordon "I've seen people answer the same easy questions over and over again. It's the fastest way to gain rep." -> Again, you are making assumption that everyone on this web site behaves like this :) It is always a continuum of easy and hard questions and I think to make assumption that everyone only answers easy questions to gain rep, is not accurate. Some just genuinely try to contribute and answer question from this continuum. – user937857 Feb 8 at 8:26
  • @gmoniava You are reading things into my answer. I didn't say everyone and I didn't say easy questions are the only thing people answer. I said the easy questions usually score you more reputation and because of that it's not a good measure for either knowledge or community trust. – Gordon Feb 8 at 10:01
  • ok, then would be better to have said "rep may be not always good measure because of that". Ok, anyway, thanks for discussion. Cheers. – user937857 Feb 8 at 10:07
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Beneficiaries can be the developers finding an answer or Stack Overflow itself. It is quite amazing how Stack Overflow has motivated skilled developers to post on their site, just in return for some points that display on their profile.

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