I am interested in the "official" community opinion on this and would be grateful for an open minded answer:

Obvious enough community is at the very centre of the Stack Overflow ecosystem. It is "powered" and self-governed by reputation of its members. In a most typical social manner people get rewarded or punished (depending on the level of their contribution) in form of reputation points.

Reputation indicates how much the system trust you

So it does seems to be important in that sense, but why? Probably I never really paid that much attention to this or put to much thought into it. Normally I am just looking up the profile of the person if I like a particular question/answer, etc.

There is no special colour coding or something for questions and answers like I am asking in current question or like Jon Skeet Facts (which is kind of funny and so on, and probably has its own designated place at Stack Overflow). But it is not really equivalent to technical problems which I might be particular interested in. So in that sense, what would be exactly that it is measured by reputation? Is user reputation is just a measure of user's activity?

I would not say that reputation measures the level of my trust to the user. I still have to read some of his answers to get an impression.

Is best practice to filter/search relying on reputation?

I am not always sure where or how to rely on reputation with out doing a review of reputation history of particular user. (So far I was convinced by the tools provided and constantly improved by Stack Overflow that there is a lot of attention paid to exposing/giving best overview how the reputation was formed).

Reading Stack Overflow is hardly comparable with a news paper - it is a completely different way of consuming information. There is no standard best practice on how to do it (I can image many Stack Overflow users having their own way). Anyway I am sure there might be ways how to work with Stack Overflow much more efficiently than I do. For example, although it is possible to filter in /search by user's reputation, I could probably use it more often.

Does Wikipedia model apply to Stack Overflow reputation (in any way)?

As you may know, Wikipedia also strongly relies on crowd sourced contribution and at the same time provides a completely different format of presenting knowledge, much more abstracted, objective and detached from personification of its community. Contrary to Stack Overflow, Wikipedia has a different "non-voting" reputation system (AFAIK mostly a number of edits). So, my question is could it be that Stack Overflow is too over-fixated on the reputation concept? There is work going on how to address such or similar "design" drawbacks in the future or constantly improve/to bring in-balance existing design.


I guess I would be happy with a short.. "Reputation?..Hell, yes! It is all since everything on Stack Overflow coupled and runs on it". But I would also rather try to take a bigger picture for an answer here: e.g. when more theoretical question like whether or not reputation is infinite are asked thought over.

Please share your understanding of this matter.

A simple fact is that reputation is important not only for users but also for question/answer (Q/A) pairs.

How do I benefit from it as user? I already have Google Search that can look for some highly rated Q/A or Stack Overflow search that sorts Q/A accordingly. How do I sort by combining both Q/A and user rating, that is, sort by question.rating, answer.rating, user.rating? Because than I would get best rating answers by most rated users (if I want to). In which form it is already done/possible?

I understand that I can do

votes:10 views:20 

What else?

It is not really equivalent to following/subscribing to syndication of activity for particular user or tag.


The part about Wikipedia should be probably paraphrased or removed or moved into a separate question. Everyone is welcome to do so.

  • Is the text in block quotes supposed to be quotations? Either way, something is slightly confusing about how they are presented. Commented Dec 16, 2012 at 3:56
  • @murgatroid99 left only one "quote" that is supposed to be such. thnx Commented Dec 16, 2012 at 3:59
  • Somewhat related reading to the question meta.stackexchange.com/questions/137795/… Commented Dec 16, 2012 at 4:53
  • A more qualitative evaluation would be analyzing each question or answer individually. Commented Dec 16, 2012 at 7:25

1 Answer 1


While on Wikipedia, editing is the most important part, the fact is that Wikipedia and Stack Exchange have primarily two completely different goals. On Stack Exchange, the focus is mostly on Q&A, writing well-researched questions and answers based on facts, references, and specific expertise.

Whereas the focus of Wikipedia is in keeping content up to date, the focus on Stack Exchange is on generating content that doesn't need to be updated. Of course, if content is generated that needs an update, the platform has editing capabilities built in and will even award low rep users a small rep increase for approved suggested edits.

Thus, every action on Stack Exchange that helps make the Q&A better, whether it be asking, answering, or editing, is rewarded and measured by reputation (up to a certain point for editing).

You're comparing Stack Exchange to Wikipedia, when in fact, Stack Exchange assimilates the best part of Wikipedia and focuses on the sweet spot of 4 different platforms, on the point where the best of the 4 worlds meet:

Stack Exchange diagram

Because the focus is on Q&A, it's the reputation that combines these actions together to measure how much the community trusts you. If we focused only on one area, then the reputation would miss the bigger picture.

As far as search goes, if you're filtering by reputation, then you're doing something wrong. Reputation is really used for awarding privileges to users so they have the tools to help moderate the site. It doesn't mean an answer from a 10k user is better than a user's answer who has only 10 reputation although the 10k user likely has more experience formatting answers to where they're more likely to get more positive response. Remember, there are plenty of experts who, for whatever reason, haven't found their way to becoming a user on Stack Exchange.

  • I am also worried by numbers like (stackexchange.com): 92 Q&A sites 2.6 million users 5.1 million questions 9.7 million answers I am not searching through it efficiently.. hell no! :) Commented Dec 16, 2012 at 4:24
  • btw +1 for the last paragraph. It probably works excatly like you described it. But that means exactly that questions and users have separate ratings, not that they are integrated in synergy. Commented Dec 16, 2012 at 4:28
  • 2
    Yes, for the most part, Stack Exchange discourages any feature request that focuses on users, as it can then bias the content. While we do give up on cool things like social networking features, it does help ensure that high rep users aren't put on a pedestal.
    – jmort253
    Commented Dec 16, 2012 at 4:45
  • 1
    Very good point that rescues my badly formulated question. I would actually suggest it for a faq. Commented Dec 16, 2012 at 4:56
  • The Search page also gives you tips on what sort of filters exist. Good luck! :)
    – jmort253
    Commented Dec 16, 2012 at 5:01

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