I see profiles of Jon Skeet, BalusC, Mysticial, etc. and realize that even if they were to go inactive, it'll take years to beat them in terms of total reputation points, because they'll hit the reputation points cap every single day, thanks to their popular old answers for years to come.

I do realize the answers totally deserve the rep they get; they are brilliant! But they do have to stop generating reputation points at some point to be fair, right?

  • 7
    This is the first time somebody has openly admitted to stalking me. Is that a good thing? :P
    – Mysticial
    Commented Nov 16, 2012 at 6:21
  • 5
    The rep gain will stop and collapse once the upvote counter overflows ;-)
    – Jack
    Commented Nov 16, 2012 at 6:51
  • @Cthulhu: You're jealous of a great answer? Why not just be happy that it's out there? Commented Nov 16, 2012 at 7:03
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    No pitchfork or torch, but plain -1 because "take years to beat them in terms of total rep" is really not a reason to stop gaining rep. So some people will always be first. So what? What's so horrible about that? I'm happy for Jon and amazed at how much he invest and still investing. Commented Nov 16, 2012 at 7:05
  • So you suggest that once a year the user's reputation will be reset to 0? Will this satisfy your jealousy? Commented Nov 16, 2012 at 7:07
  • Maybe a different metric like "Rep this year" or "Rep this quarter" could be emphasised on user-profiles along with total rep being the way it is? Commented Nov 16, 2012 at 7:19
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    Related but different: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/136059/…
    – Ral Zarek
    Commented Nov 16, 2012 at 7:43
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    @Cthulhu: You mean like in the weekly/monthly/quarterly/yearly leagues? stackexchange.com/leagues/1/week/stack-overflow (Likewise on the Users page, you can change the time period for rep.)
    – Jon Skeet
    Commented Nov 16, 2012 at 7:46
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    @JonSkeet :) Yep those except they could be made more visible on user-profiles Commented Nov 16, 2012 at 7:59
  • A moving average (or sliding window) would be actually be better. The "top users" in the tag pages already do this.
    – Mysticial
    Commented Nov 16, 2012 at 8:05
  • 1
    @Cthulhu: You're being evil again, dude, get back to sleep! ;) Commented Nov 16, 2012 at 8:39
  • I don't think the age of a question should be relevant to reputation gains. But IMO there should be a limit on how much reputation a single post can earn. Commented Nov 16, 2012 at 10:28
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    No. No, they should not.
    – user164207
    Commented May 31, 2013 at 22:18

5 Answers 5


Is it going to be hard to catch the top users? Yes, of course.

But should we even care? Unless you're into the gaming aspect of it, or you're just really obsessed with big numbers (note that I shouldn't be the one talking :P), it really doesn't make a difference whether someone has 30k or 300k.

Both a 30k and a 300k user know their way around the site very well. Both are trusted. The only difference is that the 300k user has probably been around a lot longer or simply has a lot more time on his/her hands.

In any case, I find that reputation points is a pretty poor indicator of expertise past the basics.

Personally, I find it pointless to try to reach the top. The repcap makes it almost impossible since it blocks anyone from "jumping" to the top in a short amount of time.

Out of curiosity, I made this query just to see how much it has affected me. And was mildly surprised that I was near the top.

To me, reputation points doesn't mean anything past, say 30k. If anything, I care more about delta-reputation points and vote/answer ratios. The last thing I want is a potential employer to see my profile and go,

"Hey, you spend all your time on Stack Overflow. How could you possibly get anything done?"

At 70k, in no way do I consider myself a "top" user. I'm never going to reach the top, nor do I care.
I use Stack Overflow because I enjoy it.

  • @Cthulhu I believe Eric Lippert's vote/answer ratio is even higher along with a handful of low-volume users. That said, if you exclude my top 4 answers, my vote/answer ratio is about average for the tags that I'm in.
    – Mysticial
    Commented Nov 16, 2012 at 7:42
  • 1
    Jon Skeet could have been at 1.6m rep? Wow!
    – Jack
    Commented Nov 17, 2012 at 2:11
  • I got my question closed as a dupe of this one. For me it is not a matter of jealousy or fairness, it is just about what the reputation indicator means or was intended to mean. Commented Feb 16, 2023 at 17:16

No. These answers are letting the users hit the reputation cap every day because they are upvoted every day. In other words, those answers continue to be of great value to the community, and there's no reason they should stop getting benefits (in the form of reputation) from them.

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    I agree. Maybe stop getting benefits is a little too harsh. A reduction in the amount of rep a question/answer older than x days fetches? Commented Nov 16, 2012 at 7:01
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    Why does an upvote on an old post indicate less value to the community than an upvote on a new post? Commented Nov 16, 2012 at 7:02

As reputation is a measure of how much the community trusts you, it's logical to think people who've been around since the beginning deserve the rep they continue to gain.

Your reasoning could also be applied to popular tags, where rep is easier to gain due to the abundance of questions and expertise.

It's interesting to think how a normalized score could be introduced. Such as, your rep per tags you participate in perhaps taking in to account some current context.


I like the question, but I don't believe rep should have diminishing returns. The way I see it, the point of rep is not to make whoever earns it feel better. Instead, rep should be an indicator of the amount of good answers etc. that person has provided to the community. Placing diminishing returns makes no sense. If an increasing amount of people feel a given answer is valuable, then its impact should scale equally.

Keep in mind that rep points are just fancy unicorn magic bubbles with no real use, there is no point in farming it except for epeen. In fact, rep farming can induce worse answers/reviews and may even need to be stopped somehow. Nobody should be trying to 'get on top'.

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    But the question doesn't get better with time, it's just had more time for people to vote on it. So maybe the rep you have from a question should be how many votes it's had divided by the amount of time it's had to collect votes. Commented Mar 11, 2021 at 14:42

Reputation points can be a function of time. New answers get 10 reputation points. Upvotes on old answers can be awarded fewer reputation points depending on their age, eventually converging to 0.

In other words, those answers continue to be of great value to the community, and there's no reason they should stop getting benefits (in the form of reputation) from them

The answers are of great value, so they should keep registering upvotes.

Questions that were answered in the initial days tend to benefit from the fact that they were "first in market" and have become cash-cows that cannot be replaced. A lot of these questions solved fundamental problems that a lot of people come across (and this will continue to happen in future). A lot of questions can be answered very well (or better) by new SOers, but because they have already been answered, they can't be answered again. Doesn't this make it unfair?

SO is more fun when everyone gets a fair chance to gain reputation points. I know reputation points don't matter a lot to many, but some do find it fun to gain a lot of reputation points!

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