There was a suggestion on uservoice - now down, that really illustrate the need to stop users from gaming the system by simply asking meaningless, ridiculous question after question to gain rep. We have users who have gamed the system enough to actually have moderation capabilities.

These users do not deserve the system's trust and instead cause nothing but problems.

My solution is to enforce a threshold for how many questions you may ask and receive reputation on based on your answers or other activities.

Please stop these people from becoming trusted members of the community. It will not be good for anyone.

Two examples of this issue:

Update Aug 28, 2012 (same 2 users):

Update May 31, 2013

Update July 6, 2014

Update December 25, 2014

Update December 29, 2015

Update May 21, 2016

Update February 17, 2017

Update August 7, 2018

Feel free to edit more in, or leave them in the comments and I will edit them in.
†  Both of which are low-quality (borderline NAA) answers to two of his own questions.

*These two accounts aren't associated but seem like the same user. He has 5 answers altogether for both accounts and they are all answers to his own questions.

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    I agree with this, at least in part. But I can also point to users who ask lots of questions and achieve almost no reputation at all. – Jeff Atwood Jul 1 '09 at 1:24
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    @Jeff Atwood: But how does that make this pattern of behavior ok? – GEOCHET Jul 1 '09 at 1:26
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    I asked a similar question on UserVoice: stackoverflow.uservoice.com/pages/1722-general/suggestions/… There are some users with hundreds of questions, fewer than 10 answers and fewer than ten votes that they've cast and have accepted answers on maybe 10-15% of their questions. – Dennis Williamson Jul 1 '09 at 14:41
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    Now how did I know you were thinking of Sasha? Oh, wait, it's probably because I was too. – mmyers Jul 1 '09 at 16:22
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    stackoverflow.com/users/104015/shore - nearly up to editing levels, with 300 questions, 1 answer, and 6 votes... – Jonathan Leffler Jul 2 '09 at 21:56
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    @Jonathan, Considering he hardly EVER upvotes even accept the correct answers to his questions is ridiculous. It's almost infuriating, definitely disgusting. – Ian Elliott Jul 3 '09 at 5:11
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    Also how about an initial bucket of 10/20 questions then you gain the ability to ask another question for each answer given. It can then moderate that a user gives and takes (for want of a better word, its early here!) – redsquare Jul 3 '09 at 6:01
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    I'll do some queries on the datadump to find users abusing the system like this. I definitely believe some action should be taken against them, especially when they don't even have the decency to vote up or mark answers as correct when they clearly are so. – Ian Elliott Jul 3 '09 at 16:47
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    stackoverflow.com/users/62553/thanks -- 3,660 rep, 341 questions, 17 answers, a tumbleweed badge, but at least the name is "Thanks" ;-) – Arjan Jul 10 '09 at 12:16
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    stackoverflow.com/users/126353/nathan-campos -- another on his way, my favourites: "Making a Makefile", "Create a Compiler for Windows", "What is the best C++ compiler for Windows", "Develop an OS" (He wants to write a compiler for the OS he's developing, he just needs to know how to write a makefile, write a compiler, and write an OS. Please help.) 660 rep and counting... – user131831 Jul 21 '09 at 18:50
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    Oh my, how can you have 321 questions and 2 answers?! – juan Jul 21 '09 at 22:58
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    +1, I have 5078 rep on SO, 22 questions, 292 answers. I believe I am using the system fairly. I wish everyone else would. If you are smart enough to figure out and game the system, you can at least answer questions on theory and put your feet to the coals like the rest of us. – Tim Post Oct 13 '09 at 16:11
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    @Jeff Atwood, is there any details on how exactly is this implemented? (being tagged status-completed and all). – ripper234 Apr 12 '10 at 4:57
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    The problem is that SO relies on people-- clearly they must be eliminated. – Philip Aug 19 '12 at 7:58
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    @ripper234 Jeff decided to consider this completed when the value of question upvotes was reduced from ten to five. Directly from Jeff's answer below: "Marking this completed, since this is a substantial reduction (half!) in rep from questions." – Pops Aug 28 '12 at 18:01

22 Answers 22


We have thresholds for every type of voting in the system, and we have a threshold for how much rep one can attain (which is a quasi-threshold on how many answers a typical person will post in a day), so I don't necessarily have a problem with this.

If you have a problem, it is likely that problem will still be around tomorrow which you can ask. If it is an important problem, you shouldn't be afraid of losing a little rep to get it answered in a hurry.

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    A bit late, but I'd also like to add, that if person asks a question with bounty after their threshold, then they shouldn't lose rep from the threshold, since they are already losing rep for the bounty. – DeadHead Jul 12 '09 at 7:04

On one hand people are gaming the system, but the flip side is that people are asking questions that the community sees a value in, that is why they voted the questions up. I think a stream of great well thought out questions should be encouraged.

There are a couple of things that I think should be done to help avoid abuse.

  1. No rep should be gained by asking a duplicate question, in fact any question that is asked and then closed should give you no rep (which should be fixed retroactively). I would go as far as to say the the answers should also get no rep, because they dilute from the value of the original question.

  2. The community should be given the ability to revoke ownership of a question, in case it is abuse, abandoned or the asker has obviously lost interest. When ownership is revoked all the rep gained should be revoked as well.

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    I'm fine being downvoted, but would you care to explain why this is such a bad idea. Is it all a bad idea or only some of it? – waffles Jul 1 '09 at 0:57
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    @Sam Saffron: I down voted you because I don't like your avatar. – GEOCHET Jul 1 '09 at 12:07
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    That's actually a good point, I think my avatar is due for a change. – waffles Jul 1 '09 at 12:12
  • +1 I think these are great suggestions. – Zifre Jul 3 '09 at 0:50
  • It seems that some do take to asking the same question multiple times, which does seem to gain some rep, e.g. meta.stackexchange.com/questions/3024/… - I'd be more concerned if it made up a paycheck though... – Rowland Shaw Jul 7 '09 at 19:31
  • I don't like the idea because it's far too editorial and subjective. – user131831 Oct 13 '09 at 0:22
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    I agree that dupes should be taken over by the Community user (causing a loss of rep gain/loss from it). Both quesitons and answers. – Ether Oct 23 '09 at 6:14
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    The problem I have with answers is that there are often good answers to duplicate questions. Just because the question is a dupe, or subjective and argumentative, or excessively vague, doesn't mean that no answers can be good and worthy of rep. – David Thornley Jan 28 '10 at 14:44
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    Dupes should incur a small rep loss. – Ciro Santilli 新疆改造中心996ICU六四事件 Dec 30 '13 at 21:33
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    -1. Reason is, There are often multiple ways of achieving something without realising. So a duplicate can also be a valid alternate approach which happens to be solved by the same answer, which is fine for me. If I use google and come to a question which points me to a duplicate, it means that I had an alternate search term, idea whatever without realising that I might already have had the answer. – Devolus Dec 31 '13 at 12:57
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    I definitely don't support 1), as duplicate question can be useful by different wording. – Zoltán Schmidt Jul 5 '16 at 12:27
  • @ZoltánSchmidt Are you saying that the duplicate question is useful, because being worded differently, it may show up in different searches? If so, that is an excellent point, which never occurred to me before. However, in practice, that is rarely the case - there are COUNTLESS duplicate questions submitted to SO, that are clearly, unambiguously, without-a-doubt duplicate. IMHO, No system is perfect; the design should address what USUALLY happens. If occasionally that is "unfair", I am okay with that. – ToolmakerSteve May 2 '17 at 21:25
  • @ToolmakerSteve yes, that's what I mean. Didn't know it's rare though. – Zoltán Schmidt May 3 '17 at 14:05

The solution to this problem seems simple to me: Don't award rep for asking questions at all. There's just no need to.

People that genuinely want a question answered have plenty of incentive already to ask it. People who just spend all their time asking questions (so many that they can't possibly be actually involved in software development) are just wasting the time of people who answer questions. They should not be rewarded for this. Look at my record on StackOverflow and then look at "Thanks". 399 questions and hardly any upvoted answers and yet they have four times my rep!

Just remove rep for asking questions (and do a recalc for existing accounts). Still have voting so people know which ones are interesting ofc.

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    Just read Jeff's comment about how he's seen people ask tons of questions and get no rep for them - Implying I guess that this isn't a big deal. It occurs to me (particularly in the case of the user "THanks" who asks lots of iPhone questions, a category that I focus on), that I'd like some way to know that a question is from one of these abusive users before I even click on it, so I don't waste any time on it. – U62 Jul 22 '09 at 12:57
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    U62, I agree 100%. Awarding rep for asking questions is silly. If you are going to award points for questions, then segregate points for answers from points for questions entirely. 1) They aren't comparable, 2) they perversely reward the wrong people, 3) when knowledgeable contributors wake up and realise dumb questions get equally rewarded with worked answers, it disincentivises them. – user131831 Jul 22 '09 at 14:17
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    What is interesting here is U62, a genuine IT professional, dropped off from contributing to the website. Much like myself. – user131831 Oct 13 '09 at 0:23
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    I wish I could up-vote this more than once! – Lawrence Dol Nov 11 '09 at 1:37
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    Awarding points for good questions is fine, it just does seem disadvantageous if asking slews of questions is more efficient for points than providing excellent answers. Lowering the benefit questions when you have a (much) higher ratio of low quality questions to answers seems appropriate, though. – Kzqai Nov 11 '09 at 2:33
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    Guys, the site is questions and answers. The question askers are pointing at a zebra, and the answerers are devouring it. Without askers the lions won't have anything to eat! Also, a question that gets upvoted 6 times, might have a top voted answer with 12 upvotes, and then a couple more with 3 upvotes or more. A lot more rep gets handed out to peopel with good answers to the supposedly "good" question (ironically this question has a lot more upvotes than its top voted answer..) – bobobobo Nov 30 '09 at 6:44
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    @bobobobo what's that got to do with abuse question askers? Or do you really think people who ask hundreds of questions because they have no intention of working anything out for themselves ever again, is a good thing? Yes, I realise that without people asking questions there would be nothing for question answerers to do, but there are enough genuine questions out there without people wasting time on people who just ask questions because they've got nothing better to do. – U62 Nov 30 '09 at 12:06
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    I think people that ask hundreds of questions contribute nearly as much to the site as people who deliver hundreds of answers. As for the quality of the questions, the voting system is what you should be attacking (the "bad" questions really should be downvoted or closed). If there are no questions, people who normally answer questions just won't type anything. – bobobobo Nov 30 '09 at 15:07
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    In what way are people contributing to the site by posting hundreds lots of fabricated questions? I signed up to this primarily to help people - if I wanted to play some game where my knowlege is tested purely to gain bragging points I'd waste my time on Project Euler or some other nonsense. Anyone that posts 400 questions and no answers is beyond help. As for downvoting - it's a waste of time as has been widely discussed elsewhere. – U62 Nov 30 '09 at 17:00
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    It's not the "bad" questions; it's the trivial so-so ones that attract a few votes... multiplied by a thousand questions means the use is a mod without actually contributing anything substantive of value (a lot of "noise", but nothing substantive). – Lawrence Dol Jan 29 '10 at 3:45

Just to follow this up - this contributed to me dropping stackoverflow.com as an interest. I was just looking over my posts on the subject just now.

I'd like to spout my tech credentials but I think it would be patronising, but 19 years and a majority in serious C++ dev, and working at the very top pay bracket of the field - I think I am qualified to have an opinion. I still work as a top end senior developer/manager.

I respect Jeff Atwood's blog immensely, his blog is great.

And so, I can't understand how this place is made a haven, positively incentivised for disruption, for the people who have no answers and only want to pollute the discourse.

The most silly thing I see in general is that a genuinely hard question, something that really needs the collective good to contribute to, never gets any votes and frequently submerges underneath questions which regard IDisposable or the operation of virtual destructors in C++ - pathetic really.

But a post (or an answer to) "what are the best lessons you've learnt from comments you've read in code you've worked on?" gets gazillions of votes for the questioner or reader. Some answerer rise immediately in stackoverflow status for a comment regarding Klingons and Commander Data which takes the fancy of a bunch of scifi fans (for instance.)

In that sense, it's just a reddit for nerds (I do like reddit) rather than a site which encourages the contribution of the best to avail themselves. But the points system ends up being an offense to good sense if you have something on the sharp end to contribute.

I like my reddit distinguishable from my stackoverflow - otherwise I may have to start "IamA, AmA" and see how many stackoverflow votes I get for absolutely no technical contribution whatsoever.

I think my MBA degreed department manager could get more stackoverflow votes on here for asking the utterly inane, and wallowing in purile discussion.

I had to argue extensively to some folks about how a (smart) pointer to heap memory was significantly different to a vector (particularly that default copy semantics meant buffer copying was inevitable.)

It was a straightforward argument really, what is the difference between a stack allocated array and a dynamically allocated array. But they went back and forth for 20 responses and still gave the points to someone that wanted to allocate BITMAPS!!!! of massive screenshot dumps!!!! in vector !!!

How would I ever have the points to be credible when you don't earn points for applying yourself to the hard things?

However, as I said months ago, the points scoring rules are there to encourage gross participation - but this will be at the expense of the gifted and experienced in general, that can actually add rare value.

But maybe nobody's looking for rare value on here - and maybe it's meant to be beginner answers to beginner questions, asked ad-finitum.

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    What do you expect? People are going to vote up things that they themselves can understand. Questions which are using more esoteric languages or methodologies or are incredibly hard are not going to get the same type of audience. I'm sorry if that upsets you to the point of not using the site, but I don't know what else you are expecting from a community driven website. The content is going to directly reflect the people using it. – TheTXI Oct 13 '09 at 15:03
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    You aren't elucidating anything new or shocking. We all know things aimed at the lowest common denominator are popular, and a lot of us roll our eyes at it. Most of your complaint, though, really seems to be that you aren't getting the respect that you (feel that you) deserve. You look down contemptuously at the majority of the site because they aren't interested in what you're interested in. For most of us, it's not about the upvotes or respect. We may be blown away by the stupidity that sometimes takes place, but we laugh and move on. If you can't, this probably just isn't the site for you. – Hilarious Comedy Pesto Oct 13 '09 at 15:21
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    Actually, I completely agree with this; without good answers, questions are worthless. Finding the truly good questions among the repetitive noise has become too time consuming for me. And I find myself somewhat disincented to bother making the effort. – Lawrence Dol Nov 11 '09 at 2:07
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    Your argument against with massive upvotes on topics like the comments one implies that you assume that upvotes on non-hard questions like that cost the community in quality. Which they don't, there is no disadvantage to a popular, easy, and non-hardcore programming question, apart from the ever-so-minimal search noise that it adds, and it only takes -time- from people who are choosing to answer it anyway. – Kzqai Nov 11 '09 at 2:42
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    @TheTXI: "The content is going to directly reflect the people using it." Very true, and very, very saddening. – womble Nov 25 '09 at 18:31
  • @HilariousComedyPesto - I don't read his answer as being about respect/contempt. The key question is whether SE is aiming at being a "repository of knowledge" .. or something with less enduring value. The proposal is that tweaks to rep system could encourage behavior with more long-term value. That long-term value is what has made SE sites so useful, vs. alternatives. – ToolmakerSteve May 2 '17 at 21:37

I find it hard to think of good questions, and when I do, they don't get many votes, so I'm fairly amused to see that there are people that can come up with a few hundred questions.

More power to them - just because they're trivial or silly to "you" doesn't mean that they have no value to others.

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    About 10% of my computer science class were really fit to be programmers. The general filter in my year was how do you use a doubly dereferenced pointer. Nothing harder than that. What does copystr(char *orig, char **copy) actually mean? About 75% at least never really got it. No wonder "more power to them" - this site is infested by faux-programmers. – user131831 Oct 13 '09 at 0:18
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    apologies for no const btw - this was K&R C back in the day. It's still the same now however. A small core of programmers are the right stuff. Greater accessibility to languages does not create greater quantity of developers - to think well abstractly is a gift and not a learnable skill. – user131831 Oct 13 '09 at 0:21
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    @[polyglot]: definitely "the more the merrier" - i make a very good living cleaning up after amateurs and failed offshore projects ;-) – Steven A. Lowe Oct 14 '09 at 18:17
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    @[polyglot]: ...and your assertion about 'gifts' is absurd. No one is born with the 'gift' of thinking abstractly, because there is no such gift - it must be learned. – Steven A. Lowe Oct 15 '09 at 1:00
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    @polyglot - Let me guess: you got it, right? – Ralph Lavelle Oct 15 '09 at 6:26
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    Ability to think abstractly is an ability to must be developed (not 'learnt'), but like most abilities it is not something that is going to be possible for all people. The more abstract, the fewer people will be able to do it. – Kirk Broadhurst Mar 23 '10 at 14:15
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    One of the people mentioned in the original post has 630 questions with 2+ votes, about 70 with negative scores, and about 1410 with one vote or zero votes. I find it hard to believe that those other 1483 questions really have much value. – Mooing Duck Jun 12 '13 at 23:32
  • Re "just because they're trivial or silly to "you" doesn't mean that they have no value to others." - this of course is true, and no one argues it. There are plenty of "basic" questions that fall into this category. HOWEVER, that is not what is being discussed here. Instead, it has been observed that there are people who are asking MANY questions of dubious quality, which suggests that they aren't doing it for any purpose that serves the community as a whole, rather they are doing it because it isn't hard to get enough upvotes, to gain a lot of rep, without contributing actual value. – ToolmakerSteve May 2 '17 at 21:41

One thing I haven't really seen mentioned is how this waters down the value of SO rep outside of SO. I've seen Joel in person touting the new careers site by noting that you can find ace programmers with thousands of SO rep, so they must be great, right? Um, it depends. It could mean they've asked 2 or 3 questions about "favorite programmer joke" or "funniest code comment" that everyone loves to upvote (or, more likely, 200 questions on how to set breakpoints). Yes, we're programmers, and we loves us some geek humor, but that certainly doesn't qualify the person asking as an expert developer. I've asked 4 questions (100% accept rate) and answered 90+ with lots of accepts and upvotes, yet I continually run into people with much higher reps who have contributed no meaningful answers. That brings down the value of reps in general. If I was an employer searching the careers site, I'd want to know that rep points = capability/experience without having to research answer history for each person.

I should note that I do believe (counter to some arguments in this answer thread) in the free-market's ability to set the value of the questions themselves -- that's fine. I just think question value and member rep should be two completely, unrelated things.

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    Well, I assume a recruiter (or the tech people who are passed the application) would actually take a look at the profile? (Then, if they see questions which they don't expect to be asked by an experienced employee, then no invitation for a job interview for that candidate, I'd say...) – Arjan Jan 29 '10 at 11:15
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    @Arjan: doesn't your comment validate my primary point -- that the rep number itself then becomes meaningless. Granted rep should not be the only thing a recruiter looks at, but conversely, they should not have to look at a profile just to validate whether or not a high rep actually is a demonstration of skill/knowledge as voted on by peers. It's the same theory as the "Joel Test" on the job board -- the number has valuable (and consistent) meaning and can be a good data point to filter on. Otherwise, what would be the point of having it? – Brian Moeskau Feb 11 '10 at 7:21
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    Yes, it does! :-) – Arjan Feb 11 '10 at 7:42

Here's one suggestion for solving this: Keep track of reputation points received from questions and points received from answers. Reputation from questions should only be given if the asker already has achieved that amount of reputation from answers. In other words, limit each user's question reputation total so that it is always less than or equal to their answer reputation total. That seems like a fair solution, that should not penalize any active, productive members of the community.

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    I like that... matching donations! – Lawrence Dol Jan 29 '10 at 3:51
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    This is a really great idea! – fi12 Feb 16 '16 at 0:50
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    Imagine a new user who would want to gain some reputation. They scroll through the new questions, filtering out those already answered and the myriad of technologies they've never used or even heard of. Finally finding a question whose topic they're familiar with, they start thinking out a reply, looking up their references, testing code, consulting the markdown help. 30+ minutes later, they hit "Post"... and see the question already has an accepted answer, plus 10 more, some of which as elaborate as theirs. Their answer ends up buried and unseen. How would these new users gain traction? – mcmlxxxvi May 10 '16 at 10:11
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    I have mixed feelings about this suggestion. I basically like the idea, but I think it is too limiting, if someone is asking useful questions, and has not succeeded in answering any questions. Perhaps allow some number of points based on questions, but cap that relative to answer reputation. For example, be able to get 100 points solely through questions. – ToolmakerSteve May 2 '17 at 21:49

Good questions will happen naturally with good people running into real problems for which they need real help. Awarding rep for questions does nothing but encourage rep-whoring question saturation making it hard to find the truly good questions.

It has now become perfectly routine to have to sift through dozens hundreds thousands of questions on SO to find one worth putting time into answering.

Personally, I think you should get 10 questions up front, then 1 additional for every 5 - 10 answers you provide which are up-voted.

Actually, what I really think is that questions shouldn't be awarded rep at all.

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    I don't think limiting questions asked is the proper solution - better to limit reputation gained from them to not exceed reputation gained from answers. I've posted this as an answer as well. – An̲̳̳drew Jan 27 '10 at 18:16
  • Re "I think you should get 10 questions up front, then 1 additional for every 5 - 10 answers you provide which are up-voted." IMHO, This is not realistic. There are a large number of SE users who don't have enough technical experience to achieve that 5:1 ratio; there will usually be someone else more skilled who gives a better answer. Don't discourage them from asking questions. (Maybe could limit the RATE at which they ask questions, but base on DAYS PASSED, not on their ability to answer questions.) – ToolmakerSteve May 2 '17 at 21:53

I know this is an ancient question, but I don't see this point in any of the other answers:

The solution to rep from crap questions is to delete the questions. At the time this question was asked, I'm pretty sure people already lost rep from deleted posts; a change was made later to keep the rep if the post was old enough and upvoted enough.

Deleting a question takes its answers with it and sometimes we refrain from deleting a poor question because of good answers, but in the case you're describing, where questions are utter garbage, do you really want people answering those in the first place? On The Workplace we've had an occasional broken-windows cleanup, where we go through recent closed questions to fix them, delete them, or decide explicitly to keep them, and one thing we've seen a lot is people answering bad questions when they should have been voting to close instead. In a situation like that, I'm more willing to let a decent answer, and its attendant rep, go away by deleting the question. (We've done our reviews in batches of 10, chosen from closed questions less than 60 days old. You could, of course, adjust those parameters to suit your site.)

(I know that when this question was asked it was specifically about SO, which due to its size has special problems. But it's here on Meta.SE now, so we need to consider everybody else too. On some sites it's perfectly fine to ask lots of questions so long as they're good, so requiring a certain ratio of answers wouldn't work.)

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    I like the thought, but it's very difficult to delete questions post-facto. Deleting a question takes 3(?) high-rep users to collaborate, and it's hard for high-rep users to collaborate on that as there is no review queue of "questions that someone has voted for deletion". My experience is that I cast a vote to delete, and no other high-rep user ever learns of that, so how would they know to cast votes to delete, too? Also, if someone asks a crap question, gets an answer, and upvotes the answer, the question now has an upvoted answer and the question can't be deleted by regular users. – D.W. May 22 '16 at 19:41
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    @D.W. on The Workplace we've used meta to coordinate question cleanup. (See our broken-windows tag, in particular.) This (a) draws attention to those who have those votes and (b) can demonstrate enough community consensus for a moderator to do the deletion if the community can't. Mods won't generally act unilaterally on stuff like this, but if the community is clearly saying "that has to go", that's different. – Monica Cellio May 22 '16 at 19:43
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    I'm delighted to hear that it works well on The Workplace. I'll just share my experience that on the sites I participate in, I've not had much luck trying to delete bad questions. Might you consider augmenting your answer to describe how to make this scale, when you have lots of users who ask hundreds of crummy questions? That sounds like an awful lot to tackle on Meta. Do you ask one Meta question per crummy question you want deleted? (that seems like it wouldn't scale) One Meta question per user and list dozens or hundreds of questions that might be deleted? (that feels rather personal) – D.W. May 22 '16 at 19:47
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    @D.W. going into a lot of detail on how to do cleanups feels a little tangential to this particular meta question, but I've edited to add a little info, and if you follow the link you'll see more. We've generally done these in batches of 10 (not targeting a particular user), though sometimes people ask about individual questions too. If you want to clean up hundreds at a time you might want to use a chat room -- link the questions in there, interested delete-reviewers could look there, and when something gets deleted, delete the chat message. Just some ideas for organizing users; YMMV. – Monica Cellio May 22 '16 at 20:53

I partially agree with U62's answer. I would award less reputation for upvotes in questions (maybe 5 instead of 10?), and I'd do a massive rep recalc after that

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    Why so half-hearted? People either need rep as a motivation for asking questions or they don't. – U62 Jul 22 '09 at 16:52
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    Because there still should be a way to reward good questions – juan Jul 22 '09 at 16:54
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    The reward is getting an answer. – U62 Jul 22 '09 at 18:45
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    Sounds neato, they're given some pat back, but not so much that they can keep on asking the same questions over and over without ever search SO first and repping like a mudflapper. – random Aug 31 '09 at 6:31
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    But the problem isn't the questions, it's a high ratio of questions without giving back in quality answers. I think that only if they've established that ratio should the benefits of questions start to dwindle. That way instead of discouraging everyone from asking questions, you encourage the unbalanced accounts to contribute to answers as well. – Kzqai Nov 11 '09 at 2:36
  • @down, wow, just reading this has struck me with your psychic abilities, so you deserve the 10th upvote for another bronze badge – Lance Roberts May 11 '10 at 18:39
  • I did not remember this @lance. Thanks. I am a psychic with no memory, totally useless... – juan May 11 '10 at 19:26

Please note that today's change is one of the ways we're addressing this problem.


More to come.

EDIT: as promised...

Marking this completed, since this is a substantial reduction (half!) in rep from questions.

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    That doesn't address this problem at all. – Lawrence Dol Jan 29 '10 at 3:47
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    OMG. this means... this means the great mythical rep recalc is no longer mythical!! meta.stackexchange.com/questions/19478/the-many-memes-of-meta/… – quack quixote Mar 19 '10 at 9:18
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    Is this where we can provide ideas on how to resolve the people-who-ask-questions-only-and-don't-engage-the-community-should-not-get-high-rep problem? I would suggest some something similar (mathematically) to the downvote limitation: If you have more than X rep, and your reputation from questions is more than 2:1 your reputation from answers, you can no longer earn rep from questions. This'd be another rep cap. The way around it is to get upvotes on answers. You can still ask questions and be upvoted for them, but they won't earn you rep if you're past the threshhold. – ベレアー アダム Mar 19 '10 at 13:05
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    @Jeff: I disagree with applying the [status-completed] tag to this question... it's more like [status-problem-solved-in-another-way], because the feature request described in the question isn't actually being implemented. It's just that the problem described is being tackled differently. I was very confused to find this question tagged [status-completed] and had to search for a fair while to be sure that you weren't actually implementing the feature as described. – Ether Mar 20 '10 at 18:09

I have to agree - you don't see people spamming bad answers and getting lots of reputation for it, but you do see people spamming bad questions. That tells you there's something wrong with the system.

You've already made the answers gain non-linear rep to stop great answers from providing too much rep; why not do the same to questions to stop bad questions? Only instead of starting out high and getting lower, start out low and get higher

eg. First three votes only get +2 rep, next three get +3, next three +5, next three +10, then drop back down so that overall, a 15+ vote question will still gain just as much rep as it does now, but a 3-vote question will gain much less.
Also, judge -1 on questions much harsher than on answers, since they are much rarer (compared to -1 for answers). You may want to consider making those non-linear as well (starting out low and getting higher).


This is tough. The value of StackOverflow, to everyone involved, is intricately tied to the number of valuable questions as well as the answers given to those questions.

It might be interesting to see privileges doled out based on question/answer ratios or even question/answer score ratios. As programmers, I think a lot of us would love to see some beautiful, holistic number or icon that resolved all of these intricate nuances into a single score.

However, to gain the potential benefit of making one's Rep more reflective of their expertise, the Rep score could become more complex & opaque to new community members. The simplicity of the existing scoring methods have a great appeal.


I think a user should be capped at something like 500 rep if he/she does not have at least something like 50% of their rep from answering questions.

It is too easy to copy questions from other web sites so the benefit of doing so should be limited. However good questions do have value so users should got rep for asking questions – just pot some limit on it.


These users do not deserve the system's trust and instead cause nothing but problems.

If by asking questions and posting answers and getting reputation doesn't construe the system giving you "trust", I'll throw in the towel. The community voted up the questions, not down. So the system being the community obviously has given the trust.

If a user is spamming the site, they should be warned and tossed into the penalty box if their behavior does not change. There is value in having questions posted here, so why limit this?

Please stop these people from becoming trusted members of the community. It will not be good for anyone.

Overall, I say NO. This site needs people asking questions and posting answers to stay alive. If we start taking this elitist attitude about users who are getting reputation from the community, there will eventually be no community.

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    The problem is that upvotes carry more weight than downvotes – perbert Sep 7 '09 at 15:56
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    What we get is a bunch of deperate undergrads engaged in a desperate search for knowledge that is so accessible elsewhere. And the more they ask, the more points they get. Of what benefit is that? Do you have significant development experience, or are you an undergrad too? – user131831 Oct 13 '09 at 0:27
  • @polyglot: If you were to read any of the blogs from the founders of this site and many folks who have 10 times the reputation you do on any of the sites, you would realize that so long as the question is not a duplicate on SO, then it is a good fit to ask it here. – RSolberg Oct 13 '09 at 22:06
  • @polygot: And if you were not completely clueless, you would realize that I have over 10K rep on SO. I'm not a student my friend. – RSolberg Oct 13 '09 at 22:07
  • @Chester: Your rep has been recalculated as per your request. – Bill the Lizard Nov 4 '09 at 17:43
  • @Bill: Thank you sir! – RSolberg Nov 4 '09 at 18:03

I don't like the idea of a threshold for questions, because SO is a Question/Answer site.
Couldn't you address this problem by reducing the rep for questions significantly? Say 3 points for an upvote instead of 10?

  • Oops, sorry, that was what I meant. thanks ChrisF, I correct that. – Ladybug Killer Jul 1 '09 at 15:24
  • Previous comment deleted as John corrected post – ChrisF Jul 5 '09 at 17:25
  • +3 up, -2 down would be quite interesting to see. Suddenly the controversial/dumb questions (that gain a lot of down as well as up votes) will benefit the questioner much less. – Ether Oct 23 '09 at 6:13
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    +2 up, -2 down is what I would like to see. – Lawrence Dol Jan 29 '10 at 3:36

I understand what you are saying about meaningless questions gaming the system, however to discourage or possibly penalize (charge for) question askers would severely undermine the supply and demand of questions to answer on SO.

It really comes down to the ratio of good vs gaming users, and in reality - what is the worth of reputation after a certain level?

On the other side of the coin, I tend to ask more than answer these days, unless I see an unanswered question I can help with.

This is partly as I am usually too busy to write up answers to my satisfaction, but also as I would prefer not to flood questions with correct, but not particularly good, answers just so that may 'game' 1 or two votes from the system.

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    Charging rep after a threshold should not affect good users at all. Please reread and reanalyze the suggestion before assuming this would affect any good users. – GEOCHET Jul 4 '09 at 21:18
  • I would like to note that stackoverflow.com/users/5302/lagerdalek has more answers than questions, currently. – Brad Gilbert Jul 5 '09 at 16:22
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    As I said, I understand what you were saying, I was simply pointing out the inherent danger of discouranging the asking of questions – johnc Jul 5 '09 at 20:20
  • @Brad, I am not saying have always asked more than answered, simply that recently I have been less willing to answer for the sake of answering. I also don't feel I should be guilty/penalized for ansking questions on a Q&A site, or even have to worry about keeping a 'ratio'! – johnc Jul 5 '09 at 20:23

Why award rep (positive OR negative) for questions? QUESTIONS don't benefit the community unless they are ANSWERED. Therefore, arguably, the value isn't added by the question, but by the answer.


Now when SO was just starting out, there was value in encouraging people to ask questions. Now, however, there is less of a need. I imagine stackoverflow as less of a large database, and more of a peer-help site. In the peer-help model, there's no need to encourage asking questions: people want answers! In the database model, it makes sense, though.

I think SO has grown more toward the peer-help system. As a result, rewarding asking questions but not providing answers seems wrong. Even if a reward for good questions is there, the contribution of someone who asks 400 questions with 2 votes each, with each vote having an equal chance of being an upvote or downvote should not reward 3.8k rep!


Eventually, everyone who wants it and is persistent enough will have mod capability -- even at 10 points a day, it would take you just under three years to become a mod. The solution is to have some way for rep. to exit the system or to raise the requirements for moderation capability on a regular basis (year 1: 10,000; year 2: 15,000, etc ...) In theory, if you can gain rep. by questions, then you should be able to be the Jon Skeet of questions. Just a bad-a$$ question asker. After all, somebody is up-voting those questions.

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    3 years of persistence, and I would say they almost deserve the rep. I don't buy it. – GEOCHET Jul 3 '09 at 0:05
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    The point is that if you can gain rep by asking questions, then you can gain mod. by asking questions. The speed is directly related to how often you ask and how often you get up voted. – JP Alioto Jul 3 '09 at 0:09
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    Which is why you shouldn't get rep for asking questions. – Lawrence Dol Oct 3 '13 at 2:53

I've been on SO for 8 months and got 1300 rep (or 6 Skeetdays worth) in that time. I don't especially care for the powers endowed upon me as my rep (slowly) rises; I'm here for Q&A! If someone wants to game SO then good on 'em. Like others say it's up to the community as a whole to realise the value of their contribution with votes.

Surely this will only be a real issue if someone uses their "ill-gotten" moderation powers for evil, at which point the other moderators will kick their arse...

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    +1 for suggesting Skeetdays as a unit of measure – Vincent Buck Jul 22 '09 at 13:15
  • I would prefer "skeets" instead of skeetdays. It's SI symbol would be JS. – R. Martinho Fernandes Aug 13 '09 at 16:27
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    The problem is that all these crap questions are making more work for those of us trying to answer real questions. – Lawrence Dol Jan 29 '10 at 3:39

There are a couple of issues here. Whether they should get or not rep and whether they should or not get moderation abilities.

I don't care about rep points, but moderation capabilities are a tool and a powerful one (I just learned that with enough rep points you can close a question with no other votes).

Now there is the correlation between the questions/answers and the power they yield. There is a general assumption that due to the fact that questions are not good (by some definition of good) the user will misbehave or at least not be competent as an administrator. Is that so?

I don't believe it. I have known bad programmers (well, better average programmers) that have made great managers and at the same time great programmers that could not deal with a team. To me both competences are not directly related. Coming back to the reputation problem, I cannot say in advance that a user with low or no technical competence whatsoever will be a bad moderator.

Having said that, the worst can come true: we can end up with horrible administrators (not only the users we are talking here about, but also good technical people that arbitrarily decides to close questions, or change the contents... (it is curious how the threshold for editing is rather low and still people respects others contents). There should be tools to deal with it: administrators, moderators being able to block the malicious user powers...

But that is a general problem with administrators misbehaving, not specific to the set of users this question deals with.

Oh, BTW, each so often I also feel aggravated each so often when I see that a dumb question/answer brings more rep points than some answers that took me a time and effort to work out. And I don't really even care about rep!

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    People wouldn't game the system if it wasn't so hard to get reputation to actually make a meaningful contribution. Example: The highest upvoted answer here is wrong (Doubtful, but maybe it was correct in 2011, but definitely not now) sharepoint.stackexchange.com/questions/24075/… I know the correct answer and the cause of the issue in the first place, but can't post it as a reply because I don't have 50+ rep. Instead, it goes all the way to the bottom where someone may not see it. – DubStep Mar 12 '15 at 13:17

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