I'm new to Stack Overflow and haven't any reputation points. I just got my first question answered, and I tried to upvote the answer, but I get a popup that says I don't have enough reputation points yet.

I can understand the basic principle - give people incentives to "give back" to the community, so I don't have a problem with restricted privileges at first.

But it's my question! Who's in a better position to judge if it's a good answer or not?

(Note: One of the answers to the Meta Stack Overflow question Why don’t people upvote questions they answer implies I should have been able to upvote in this instance, but I can't. Change in policy? Bug in the code?)

  • 19
    I think the limitation is in place to curb abuse - it would be easy to "ask" a question on a dummy account and accept and upvote the "answer" that your real account provides. Instant +25 rep. Commented Jul 2, 2009 at 0:45
  • 30
    I'll be honest, I typically avoid answering question from people with 1 rep because usually they come from google or some other source looking for a quick answer. Once it's provided they leave and don't check back even though a correct answer has been provided. (Out of personal experience) Commented Jul 2, 2009 at 0:51
  • fyi- this is the post that is mentioned here: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/509/…
    – Kip
    Commented Jul 2, 2009 at 2:10
  • 2
    Do-gooder sub-15 rep accounts that want to upvote the accepted answer on their questions are really only out to take away Purple Hearts and Unsung Heroes (meta.stackexchange.com/questions/3294)
    – random
    Commented Aug 1, 2009 at 12:07
  • 17
    @Ian - just... wow. It seems like you're cutting yourself off from the biggest source of questions (many excellent). Commented Oct 11, 2009 at 7:17
  • @Kyle: interesting point. I've responded to it in my answer. Commented Jan 13, 2011 at 23:02
  • 1
    @IanElliott: What I've noticed on CR myself is that many of them, especially those who are unregistered, never come back to the question (or answer). Even if it's on-topic, and not spam or pure gibberish (I've actually seen the latter). I assume that they, as you've said, just came for a quick answer, but also don't care to offer further input.
    – Jamal
    Commented Sep 7, 2013 at 17:09
  • I'm a new user, too. I rarely have questions to ask, and rarely have anything worth contributing. This isn't because I'm brilliant or stupid. I'm just able to Google the answers. I finally looked into signing into Stack Overflow to upvote a particularly slick answer. I suspect that I'll probably never get the points to upvote and it is a shame. Commented Oct 4, 2013 at 12:42
  • 1
    @JustWantedToVote You've hit my problem exactly. I've been wanting to upvote in appreciation of help I've received for over two years. Either I can figure out what I need from existing answers, or I can't figure out how to phrase it. I finally posted one the other day. Just one more and I'll hopefully be able to vote... eventually. Sometime next year. Yes, I'm frustrated. Commented Nov 12, 2013 at 4:27

8 Answers 8


As a rep-less newbie, you've not yet earned the site's trust. Fortunately, it's not hard: ask a good question or post a good answer, and you'll quickly have that ability - all it takes is two up-votes!

As the author of a question, the site does grant you one special ability: you can mark an answer as "accepted", proclaiming to the world that it helped you solve your problem. IMHO, this is actually quite a bit more helpful than merely being able to up-vote: once a question has an Accepted answer, passing readers are able to read that answer knowing that it actually worked, and thereby better understand your problem. Not to mention the little bit of satisfaction it can give to the kind author of that answer...

So be patient, new user! You'll be able to up-vote soon enough. Until then, exercise the abilities that you do have to their full extent!

  • 1
    Good tip - thanks. I'll do that soon, but I'm going to leave it "unanswered" for a little longer, in hopes of getting some more suggestions. I did thank the 1st responder with a comment, however. Commented Jul 2, 2009 at 2:40
  • 10
    well, three +5 upvotes now (on a question), but who's counting Commented Mar 22, 2011 at 4:14
  • 1
    I asked this almost 2 years ago - don't know why it's suddenly getting attention again. Big influx of SO newbies, perhaps? Commented Mar 28, 2011 at 15:30
  • 4
    @Tom: lots of new sites == lots of low-rep users.
    – Shog9
    Commented Mar 28, 2011 at 15:44
  • 2
    I suspect there are more people like me, rep-less frequent readers who have the good sense not to repeat questions, searching frantically for some way to contribute up to the 15 rep without being horrible or repeating other people's questions. Framing a good question that hasn't already been asked is more difficult than an experienced programmer might remember, and I'm far too green to have any useful answers yet. :( I don't know the fix here, but it feels like there should be some site value I could be offering to get over the first rep bar so I can reward two years of helpers with my votes. Commented Nov 12, 2013 at 4:35
  • 1
    What kind of abuse, specifically, does the prohibition against upvoting answers to own questions prevent? Or is it too much bother for SE to implement? Or are new users so unimportant now that you have such a large user base?
    – dan3
    Commented Apr 23, 2014 at 7:56
  • Fraud, @dan3. I really shouldn't have to go into details there; imagine you wanted an army & work backwards.
    – Shog9
    Commented Aug 1, 2014 at 0:13
  • @Shog9, what, you have your "army" answer question correctly? Wouldn't it be easier to flood various SE sites with random questions and accept answers more or less automatically (that brings points too)? Actually, maybe I'll try that.
    – dan3
    Commented Aug 1, 2014 at 5:26
  • @dan3 Flooding with random questions is more likely to lead to question bans than anything else. Or at least to downvotes that erase any rep gain. As for fake acceptances: they are not easy to pull off in the required quantity. While one can gain many upvotes on the same post, an answer can be accepted once. Accepted answers float to the top. When users see someone accepting junk, suspicions are raised. Then a moderator gets a flag and looks into mod tools...
    – user259867
    Commented Aug 1, 2014 at 5:41
  • @900sit-upsaday: I said "more or less randomly" -> accept the first answer that gets an upvote, or any answer after 24 hours
    – dan3
    Commented Aug 1, 2014 at 5:50

We've already changed it so a newbie can comment on their own question, which is a good change. This seems like a natural extension.

It's one reason why when I see a newbie ask any kind of real question I'll pretty much always upvote it to get them to the point where they can vote.

  • 27
    exactly, nothing gives me more pleasure (well, metaphorically speaking) than upvoting a new user's good question to give them their first rep boost. Commented Jul 2, 2009 at 2:11
  • 12
    also, the first hit is free. Commented Jul 2, 2009 at 2:12
  • Ah, the drug dealer business model - an oldie, but a goodie. ;-) Not a bad analogy - there's something strangely addictive about all this rep and badge silliness. Don't know why I care, but I do. Jeff, nothing would give ME more (metaphorical) pleasure than to give you the pleasure of upvoting my "good" question: stackoverflow.com/questions/1066675/… (such an obvious rep whoring ploy has gotta work, right?) BTW, I really enjoy Coding Horror (Plan B - suck up) Seriously, thanks for the comments. Commented Jul 2, 2009 at 2:36
  • Indeed, the ability to comment own questions is paramount to be able to communicate. As a newbie myself (I've been reading SO for a long time, but started asking/answering only three months ago), I remember it was a little frustrating the lack of abilities, but being able to discuss the answer was almost enough to feel OK again :)
    – Aleadam
    Commented Mar 25, 2011 at 4:33

I can understand low-privilege users being unable to upvote in general - to avoid sock puppets upvoting the puppet master.

But an exception should be made to their own questions. The reason is that this kind of cheating would be much more obvious - in order to do it, the sock puppet actually has to ask a question, which can be seen by lots of people, whereas ordinary upvoting is anonymous.

  • 2
    Why would the sockpuppeter answer someone else's question then sign into the puppet and upvote that? Far more likely to ask, change accounts, answer, change back, upvote and accept. You control the whole process and give away 25 points instead of 10. Commented Nov 12, 2013 at 1:38
  • 2
    @KateGregory did you read my answer before commenting about it? Commented Nov 12, 2013 at 1:52

I tried to upvote the answer, but get a popup that says I don't have enough rep points yet...

I find it curious that new users are presented with the grey up/down triangles for voting. We don't present UI elements for anything else that is outside the user's current capability.

  • 2
    You get to use them pretty soon. Getting 15 points to allow you to start upvoting isn't that hard. It basically spurs you to get those points so you can use the grey triangles :)
    – alex
    Commented Oct 11, 2009 at 6:34
  • 1
    @alex: I still find it a strange inconsistency though. But you're right, it's good encouragement :)
    – Ether
    Commented Oct 11, 2009 at 6:36
  • 1
    After you've been on the site for a little while you get to know there are a lot of features that you don't have access to yet, but you usually know what the rep limit is to get them. When you've just arrived on the site, you really have no idea what the platform does, so having the up/down buttons is a great incentive.
    – alex
    Commented Oct 11, 2009 at 6:51
  • 3
    why would you hide an element that is almost literally the core of the site, that you want to educate every user about? That makes no sense. Commented Mar 27, 2011 at 10:06
  • 1
    @Jeff - you know the answer: 95% of everybody, including programmers with 145 IQ, who has not studied GUI design extensively, is blamelessly clueless about the matter!
    – FastAl
    Commented Aug 19, 2011 at 15:00

You can't up-vote, but you can accept (check box). That gives the person who answered your question more quatloos (vague Star Trek reference, I mean rep points) than an up-vote (15 vs. 10). That's good enough for a start. The community does not yet trust you enough to discern "good enough for government work" from "gone the extra mile." :-)

  • 6
    it also gives you, the acceptor, +2 rep Commented Mar 25, 2011 at 2:42

I was in the same predicament not too long ago... But really, I got enough reputation points to achieve this the same night I posted my first question.

Aside from that, it's just the site's rules, and I bet the makers of this site had to deal with this question themselves, and then decided on the 15 reputation points rule.

So once you get enough reputation points, upvote the answer you wanted to before. It's that simple :)


Even a new person can reward a good answer by "accepting" it. That increases the answerer's reputation by 15 points, more than the ten points awarded for an upvoted answer. So you've had your chance to "pass judgment."

Just as important, accepting an answer gives the questioner two points. If nothing else happened to you on the site, it would take seven questions and acceptances to bring your reputation from 1 to 15, thereby allowing you to upvote answers.

As a practical matter, if you're asking good questions and accepting good answers, one or two questions should get you the two upvotes you need to get to 15. This could also be achieved by one upvote and two acceptances.

And if you aren't asking good questions (or providing good answers), the site doesn't want you to vote. The 15 rep is a minimal (but not zero) hurdle to achieve this result.

  • What would you advise someone with high enough Google skill and low enough programming skill to almost never find a question worth asking with a framing I can articulate it? If I can figure out how to ask it, I can find where it's been asked. I've taught myself chunks of Ruby, C#, SQL, and Python in the last two years, using SO extensively, and managed to ask a new question once, last week, because I was using a really weird website with non-standard SQL behavior. Meanwhile other people who don't care about repeating crap questions get to vote. Thoughts? Commented Nov 12, 2013 at 4:57
  • For anyone stumbling around later frustrated by the same thing, I crossed the line today by gritting my teeth and asking a question badly. New theory: if you're that worried about repeating someone's question, but can't find the answer within 10 minutes, set aside the neuroses and go ahead. Ask it badly. Better to get out there and start asking things. Commented Nov 12, 2013 at 20:26
  • 2
    If you're that skillful, maybe you should be writing answers instead of questions. But basically you have to "earn" your way onto the site, two answer upvotes, three question upvotes, seven accepted questions, or two acceptances plus one answer or two question upvotes.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Nov 12, 2013 at 20:42
  • I'm really, really not skillful. Half the time I can't figure out how to ask what I'm asking. :) I've despaired of getting good enough to figure out how to word questions. But as I said in my last comment, this comes down to being far too neurotic about what's an acceptable question. There's just so much pressure not to ask bad questions that some perfectionists among us are too scared to stick our heads up, because nowhere in the FAQ does it say 'and then go ahead and ask' because the case of needing to discourage bad questions is so much more common. Commented Nov 12, 2013 at 22:08
  • @Bibliotango see How does a lurker gain reputation?
    – gnat
    Commented Jan 23, 2015 at 21:37

This is a straightforward and obvious change that should be implemented.

I don't agree with previous arguments for this policy:

  • At Why are 15 reputation points required to upvote?, it is argued that the threshold is needed to prevent people from creating new accounts to upvote themselves. However, this would be mitigated by only allowing new users to vote on answers to their own question.

  • At Allow upvote for <15 rep users on own questions, Jeff argued that allowing new users / askers to only accept (for +15 reputation), but not upvote (for +10 reputation), prevents someone from gaming the system for more reputation by asking questions under a different account, answering from their primary account, and upvote themselves from the new account, over and over. This is a bizzare, exaggerated (IMHO), and shortsighted argument. Someone could create a second account, ask questions, answer from their primary account, and accept their own answer from the new account, over and over, without really any greater difficulty. (Although this is blatantly obvious, and I thought of it independently, I should disclose that this idea was mentioned already in a comment here by @jmoreno, and above by @KyleCronin.)

On the other hand, there are potential issues with the status quo:

  • In a comment at the top of this thread, @IanElliott notes:

    I'll be honest, I typically avoid answering question from people with 1 rep because usually they come from google or some other source looking for a quick answer. Once it's provided they leave and don't check back even though a correct answer has been provided. (Out of personal experience)

  • Furthermore, a number of people have stated, here and elsewhere, that they tend to upvote new users just to get them past the threshold so they can vote. This strikes me as an unintended effect of the policy, and one that (while well meaning) somewhat undermines other aspects of the SE system.

(I am not criticizing them, I am somewhat sympathetic to both of these inclinations, for what it's worth.) However, these tendencies would be preempted if people could vote on their own threads.

I am likewise unpersuaded by the contention that new users have other options and the hurdle is low anyway:

  • Yes, a new user can accept, but may have gotten useful help from more than one answer. The OP may also have gotten useful help from an answer (and want to upvote it), but may not believe the answer fully resolved their issue (and so not want to accept it).

  • Many have argued here (and on related meta.SE threads) that it is 'easy' to get 3 upvotes for your question. This does not seem so obvious to me. An asker may only have one question, get the information they need, and not continue with SE to build reputation. Additionally, my impression is that many sites, and in particular SO, have low levels of (up)voting. For example, this search suggests that (as of May 12th, 2016) there are 1,675,568 questions to which more than 1 answer has been provided without a single upvote. Moreover, in 1,058,925 of those threads (> 63%), the OP accepted an answer. (There are > 45k with 5+ answers, no upvotes, and an accepted answer, and 1 open question with 17 answers meeting those criteria.)

  • So a spammer merely has to create 2 accounts and upvote one from the other to get enough rep to post multiple links etc. Your proposal is horribly open to abuse. Commented May 12, 2016 at 22:49
  • Looking for massive numbers of quality upvotes from new users that aren't planning to stick around even long enough to get 14 more rep is a recipe for terribly uninformed voting patterns and failure to scale efficiently. Commented May 13, 2016 at 0:50
  • 1
    @RobertLongson, it is exactly equally open to abuse as the current system, as explained in my answer. Commented May 13, 2016 at 1:09
  • 1
    @NathanTuggy, your comment doesn't make sense. Commented May 13, 2016 at 1:16
  • @gung: You've observed in your answer that some sites have an upvote shortage, especially in some tags. Fair enough. Supposing that new users — the same ones that are not willing to wait for the regular privilege — could upvote, but only on their own questions, how many upvotes are you expecting, and what quality are these votes likely to be? I contend that the respective answers are "not all that many" and "pretty terrible" respectively. Getting a modest boost of low-quality voting is a very bad way to make up for a large shortfall of quality votes. Commented May 13, 2016 at 1:21
  • @gung: This is especially true when you consider one of the usual reasons for tags to have sparse voting, at least on SO: there's a glut of non-experts that are really not qualified to judge anything as sophisticated as security or performance or maintainability issues, and their presence chases experts out of the tag. (E.g. VBScript, Access, and I suspect a number of the scientific languages and packages.) Getting very-low-rep driveby users to vote in a tag that's already inundated with low-expertise driveby users is not a recipe for success. Commented May 13, 2016 at 1:25

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .