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Why are 15 reputation points required to upvote?
What's the justification for the commenting reputation requirement?

Why can't I vote or add comments without earning points through questions and answers?

It aggravates me every time I visit one of these sites.

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    Did you actually have a question or something to contribute? Instead, every time you visit one of the sites, rejoice in the high quality answers and the lack of spam. – Martijn Pieters Dec 6 '12 at 17:42
  • I dunno, can i even comment on my own question? That's good, i guess. – emjayess Dec 6 '12 at 17:43
  • @MartijnPieters thank you for resting my case. – emjayess Dec 6 '12 at 17:44
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    I'll be damned then, obviously there is no room for improvement. SE is perfect in every way. Hail ye hail ye. – emjayess Dec 6 '12 at 17:46
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    You can always comment on your own question. If you can't, you may not be logged in properly. – Pekka Dec 6 '12 at 17:48
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    I would imagine it's because they don't want to count votes from random drive-by Internet vagabonds who click voting buttons just because they're there, or to attract comments from robots desperate to sell totally authentic Gucci bags for rock-bottom prices. – Pops Dec 6 '12 at 17:58
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    @emjayess - The solution is to prove yourself by earning 200 points on any one site. Then you will instantly be trusted to vote and comment on all the sites. – Bo Persson Dec 6 '12 at 18:38
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    I don't know that this was necessarily close-worthy, other than the useless title, but 1-rep commenting has already been explored endlessly on other posts. 1-rep voting would be really broken, infinite sockpuppeting would be trivial – Michael Mrozek Dec 6 '12 at 18:52
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    @MichaelMrozek Though "That is all" does not really indicate an effort at a constructive discussion, rather than a statement. Especially without the later added "Am I alone in my frustration?". – Bart Dec 6 '12 at 19:13
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    Damn you @rachel for your helpful and constructive edit, taking the base out of my answer's story. ;) – Bart Dec 6 '12 at 20:00
  • @Bart Sorry, it's a very nice answer too. Perhaps just edit your answer to include why you need reputation to vote (voting fraud/sock puppets) and comment (spam), and I'll give you some shiny points for it :) – Rachel Dec 6 '12 at 20:03

I'm pretty sure you are not alone in your frustration. Every user who comes to a site, will to some extent be frustrated to be held back from fully participating on it like other users can. And especially within a network of sites as large as SO/SE, the varying level of privileges can be quite surprising or frustrating.

Some of the privileges I have on SO, I don't have on the Programmers SE and here on Meta I have more abilities than on SO. So from time to time I feel that I'm missing something on other sites. Especially when I have to flag something that I would normally just vote to close. Or when I make an edit on a site completely new to me and see that it goes into some review queue.

So no, you're not alone.

That said, I don't think it's all that much of a bad thing. The commenting and voting thresholds are not all that high. And with the association bonus kicking in on all sites once you reach 200 rep on a single site, most of the initial pain is quite easily relieved. In my opinion it's a neat feature.

And keep in mind that different sites are different. I might be considered a reasonable SO users, but that does no imply that I would participate equally well on a site as fundamentally different as the Skeptics SE. In that sense it's not all that bad that I'm (in my perception) put several steps down the ladder again, to prove myself on that particular site.

Boundaries like the ones you experience have been discussed time and time again. A rep limit for commenting is in place to keep the noise/spam down. And a rep limit for voting requires users to at least get some grasp on the site and how it works, before deciding that content is either good or bad. In addition to that it helps prevent vote fraud which would trivial by creating a new account that can vote without any prior participation.

How effective or necessary some of these boundaries are, I don't know. But I'm certainly not willing to find out by removing them altogether.

That said, participate on your site of choice for a while and you'll easily get your 200 rep and the bonus that comes with that, lifting most of the basic limitations for you on all sites.

  • Thanks @Bart. I'd vote up your answer but you know, I'm still slightly despondent and don't have the reputation (indeed, I think I'm in the hole now). – emjayess Dec 7 '12 at 14:59
  • @emjayess Luckily I have too much useless rep on Meta to care one way or another. I just hope my answer was somehow helpful to you. That's all that matters. Just stay active on whatever site you like an you'll overcome these initial hurdles in no time. Good luck. ;) – Bart Dec 7 '12 at 15:01
  • Including the particular frustrating user story may have helped a teeny bit, maybe. > User is doing something new; deadlines are whooshing by with that familiar sound; blocking problem surfaces; solution to blocking problem is found on SE somewhere; user is extremely grateful, wishes to leave a mark to that effect; user quite certainly has no time to hang around, or try to, I dunno, bookmark the thing and remember to re-visit in the future so karma doesn't come back and bit user in the a$$. – emjayess Dec 7 '12 at 15:05
  • Barring 1-rep voting to prevent gaming and spam supercedes that, and I guess that's fine. Tho I am registering with my google account, which happens to know about all my other SE authentications, and activity. Certainly, reputation is not perfectly portable or aggregate-able (word?) across SE topics, but some part of it must be. Perhaps a "topic-subject-area-similarity" algorithm would enable portable rep. – emjayess Dec 7 '12 at 15:08

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