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This question already has an answer here:

I have been reading Stack Exchange for years - mostly not logged in, and have never posted (this is my first). I'm simply not very talkative, and very good at googling.

Recently a few occasions have come up when I've wanted to comment on a question. I wanted either to ask for, or provide, clarification which did not warrant a new answer.

How do I gain enough reputation to comment without:

  1. asking questions which have already been answered or that I can figure out on my own, or
  2. posting my comment like as an answer (i.e. being rude)?

marked as duplicate by Nathan Tuggy, Ward, Robert Longson, Community Oct 17 '18 at 16:21

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

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    By becoming active? You can suggest edits, they are worth +2 when accepted. Please do avoid trivial edits though. – Martijn Pieters Jan 17 '13 at 16:57
  • 15
    Suggested edits are your best bet, my friend. – Richard J. Ross III Jan 17 '13 at 16:58
  • 14
    @bkanuka: Unfortunately, this rep is meta-only. Though if you participate more on meta and get 200 rep, you'll automatically get +100 on all your sites :) – Manishearth Jan 19 '13 at 9:38
  • 2
    You can use the "trivial answers converted to comments" feature. - meta.stackexchange.com/a/98955 – user000001 Jan 24 '13 at 12:57
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    My advice would be to ask a cool question on Meta which gets 82 upvotes and earns you the association bonus on all the other sites. – Revetahw Aug 25 '16 at 10:52
  • Looks like it worked :-) – Mawg Nov 16 '18 at 10:08
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You have a reputation of 8 now on Stack Overflow; you need 50 to comment.

You could do that by;

  1. Correcting the grammar of either questions or answers. To do so, click the edit link by the entry. Rephrase poorly expressed needs. For many, English is not their native tongue. You need 21 more approved edits to gain the 42 more rep you need to make it to 50.

  2. Answer questions. Each time another member upvotes your answer you receive 10 rep; you'll need 5 upvotes to gain the 42 rep required.

If you get to 200 rep on any one Stack Exchange site, you automatically get an association bonus of 100 on every site, opening your ability to contribute freely on all sites.

Think about the kind of answers that you upvote and answer likewise.

Asking sensible questions that interest others is worth pursuing; your question here being a fine example.

  • 6
    Thank you for the hint on association bonus, and the idea that it doesn't take much to get 50 rep (something I also learned from all the rep I got on meta from just this one post). To settle your disagreement, it was my fault. I asked one question a year ago and had forgotten - so I had rep to begin with and it went up throughout the day. – bkanuka Jan 17 '13 at 22:21
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    Fixing grammar is not the only way to earn reputation from edits. If you have more than 10 reputation, you can also get a lot of reputation from editing by changing links to images in posts by new users. Posts that require such edits are easy to find in search, all you have to do is search for phrases or keywords that are common for such posts, for example "enter image description here" or reputation images (to find posts containing something like "sorry I don't have enough reputation to post images"). I prefer these kinds of edits to earn reputation because they're easy to search for. – Donald Duck Apr 23 '17 at 14:35
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    Wish I'd seen this sooner...I like editing, and especially as a less experienced person/slower writer, it took me forever to get any rep on stackoverflow just by answering (usually all my questions had been answered already, or I was afraid of posting them in case they were downvoted as "too specific"). – ecraig12345 Apr 13 '18 at 19:02
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Another way would be a "Q&A" type of question.

As you noted yourself, you do have questions you already know the answer to. However, these questions may be of broad interest to other readers.

Therefore, you might post such a question and answer it yourself!

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    This is a good idea. Couple of caveats: 1) Stick with questions that you actually struggled with in the past, rather than ones that you think others might. 2) Search first to make sure it's not a dupe. 3) I might NOT answer right away, but instead see if others do. (You may think this hurts your rep, but it may not - it seems like self answered questions get fewer votes than similar quality questions posted without answers.) Then, if no answer is solid, answer yourself. – Jaydles Jan 17 '13 at 17:16
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The web site is about content, and the reputation system is specifically made to incentivise contributions to the site. It may sound harsh but people who don't contribute content and don't edit others posts are generally not very useful to Stack Overflow (more than as readers, readers are important but do not need incentives!), so they don't get much reputation. Why should you be able to comment if you are not going to provide answers anyway? (Again, it may sound harsh, but don't take it personally). Comments in general, even clarification comments, are just noise in the end.

So, start asking or answering questions, or edit others'. Start to contribute and you will get privileges in no time. You are very much welcome to help create a great site!

  • nothing taken personally. I guess I'm used to websites being hands-off. – bkanuka Jan 17 '13 at 22:22
  • What if you need to comment in order to ask for clarification needed to prepare an answer? – mm201 Feb 5 '15 at 1:25
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You need 50 rep to comment everywhere. You can suggest useful edits like Martijn said or start by answering questions. Already one good answer could get you the necessary rep to comment.

BTW you can always comment on meta.

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Asking a good question

Every upvote you receive on a question earns you 5 reputation points.

  • Ensure the question you ask is on-topic; take a look at the relevant sites FAQ, and take their tour, to find out what sort of questions they don't want you to ask.
  • Show some research. Many sites look unfavourably towards users that ask a question without making any attempt to find the answer for themselves. Google is your friend. You will also want to check to make sure that the question has not already been answered.
  • Grammar and punctuation! These are big players in how a question is received.

Answering questions with good answers

Every upvote on an answer earns you 10 reputation points. If your answer is accepted by the original asker, you earn a further 15 reputation points.

  • Try to be descriptive in your answer, and attentive to both the original question, and any further comments the asker may have made; some users will add additional information in the comments that can be used as hints towards what they are looking for.
  • Grammar and punctuation! These are big players in any edit you submit to this site.
  • Where applicable, use media. Use images to highlight main points - but do not over do it. If I am posting an answer in regards to using a particular feature of a computer program, for example, I quickly capture some screenshots to highlight the steps, and edit them for use with paint. I also make use of ScreenToGif to capture areas of my screen to convert into gifs, where helpful. I find this very useful to convey key elements of my answers, when answering game development related answers. This is less applicable to other sites, but just use common sense.
  • Formatting! Formatting! Formatting! Use it, but do not overuse it. Use blocktext for quotes, code format for code, and spoiler format for key plot spoilers. You can take a look at our formatting sandbox for ideas and help.
  • Answer bounties. If you answer a question that has a bounty, and the bounty issuer chooses your answer as the best, you are awarded the bounty reputation on top of any additional upvote reputation. The minimum bounty is 50 reputation - instantly allowing you to place comments. If your question is the highest scored answer at the end of the bounty period, but the issuer does not award the bounty to anyone, you will still be given half of the posted reputation. You can also post a bounty on an answer that has already been posted, just to reward that user, so providing high-quality answers can still net you bounty reputation.

Editting

  • In my opinion, earning reputation from edits can be rather slow. You earn 2 reputation points for every approved edit, until you have enough reputation to make edits without requiring a review.
  • While slow, they can be an easier way to earn reputation on sites where you are still learning the ropes, and are having difficulties finding good questions to post or answer.
  • Look for areas where you can improve the general quality of the question, but do not blindly add or remove content. Also ensure that you read over the post for further opportunity to improve; edits may be rejected for being "too minimal", even if they are technically appropriate.
  • Provide a detailed summary, explaining why you edited. I can not tell you how many times I have accidentally rejected an appropriate edit, because the user was adding information that the original asker personally posted as a comment, but did not mention that it was a comment. You can not see comments, when you review an edit.
  • If you see the original asker adding information via comments, edit it into the question. Ensure it is seemless; i.e. we do not want edits that break away from the post with things like "EDIT:" or "COPIED FROM COMMENTS:". However, the user clearly intended the additional information to be considered, if it is relevant; it should be in the answer. Ensure you note that you are adding information from comments in your edit summary.

Be conscious of the community

Different communities have different standards. As a result, your experience may vary. For example, some communities will be more forgiving of poor spelling, and even fix the mistakes for you. Other communities will frown on poor spelling, and express discontent in their downvotes. Some communities will downvote an answer if it is on a question that is very obviously off-topic; other communities will be more lenient, if they see you are a new user, and simply let you know of the issue via comments. If you are ever unsure, ask in the relevant meta. Even if your question is poorly received, you do not gain or lose reputation in a site-specific meta. It might be an idea to ask this question in the specific meta, to gain a more specific point of view of what that community looks for in their questions and answers.

Most importantly, do not post your comment as an answer. We see this a lot; users do not understand why they can not comment, so they post their comment as an answer. These posts are downvoted and deleted. This won't harm your reputation that much, but it is not action to start from. The fact that you are asking about improving your reputation to comment, as opposed to already doing this, tells me you are already off to a good start.

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The policy that requires us to earn privileges was a stroke of genius.

For one thing, those rules help filter out immature, irritating people. Bad language, personal attacks, name-calling, hate speech, trolling, etc. are rare here. And when it does occur, moderators are usually quick to address it, following other well-thought-out SE policies .

At first, I didn't like understand the policies here either. But it helps keep this site a nice place to come back to again and again. :-)

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