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I consistently come across questions wherein the top answer has, say, 1k+ upvotes. These are usually for basic questions that many, many people need the answer to. What this means is that over time the first person to answer this basic question has accrued potentially 10,000k reputation points and probably some badges besides.

And yet that is not an accurate reflection of their contribution: they are not necessarily providing a deep, articulate answer to subtle or complex questions, but rather simply managed to answer early and have that simplistic answer be commonly needed.

I'd propose that reputation from a particular source not be capped, but show diminishing returns over time. It makes sense that the first n upvotes give x reputation. But the next n should give some (significantly) smaller number, and the next n even less. This way contributors who answer many questions well will have the highest reputation, and those who answered a few commonly needed questions have a reputation that accurately reflects that.

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    This has been suggested several times in the past. – ChrisF Jun 6 '13 at 21:47
  • This makes two assumptions: that the high-voted answer is not necessarily the best one, and contributions to many questions is an indicator of quality. I'm not sure that either are true. – George Cummins Jun 6 '13 at 21:50
  • @ChrisF I apologize. I was not able to find any reference to it when I searched. If you have links I'd be curious to see the discussion. – Nathaniel Ford Jun 6 '13 at 21:57
  • @NathanielFord - don't apologise. Searching is hard if you don't get terms exactly right. – ChrisF Jun 6 '13 at 21:58
  • @GeorgeCummins I did not make the first assumption. I don't think this is a question of whether the high-voted answer is the best one; it has nothing to do with the raw upvote numbers of an answer or question. Secondly, having many highly upvoted answers seems likely to be a higher quality contributor than one with a single very highly upvoted answer or question. – Nathaniel Ford Jun 6 '13 at 21:59
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    Not a duplicate, but here was my take on this, including a suggestion of a cap per answer rather than per day: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/136059/… – Jon Skeet Jun 6 '13 at 22:07
  • @JonSkeet Thanks! That post really elucidates the reasons for the negative response. – Nathaniel Ford Jun 6 '13 at 22:12
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    related: Average interest rate for reputation? – gnat Jun 7 '13 at 1:02
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There are many flaws in your logic:

  • very few questions have those kind of votes. I don't "consistently come across questions" with over a thousand views, never mind upvotes.
  • the majority of the votes come in over a very short time span - related to being on the front page, or on Reddit, or on a popular blog. Thanks to the rep cap, the rep gained will not be anywhere near 10 times the upvotes
  • some questions come along at the right time and fill a need that people continue to have for a long long time. They have just the right keywords in them for searchers, and they inspired one or more good answers. Every time a random stranger has that problem, and searches, and finds that question, they toss an upvote as thanks. I know I do.

And most of all, who says that high rep means you are someone in the habit of "providing a deep, articulate answer to subtle or complex questions" anyway? Some people have huge rep from only asking questions. Some from one or two spectacular answers (though you'll find most high-voted answers come from people who answer a LOT) and some from a steady dribble of single-upvoted, even one-upvote-one-downvote questions and answers. Good thing rep doesn't mean anything because it turns out it doesn't mean anything.

Show me one example of a question or answer with thousands of votes, and how that rep has given privileges to someone who can't be trusted with them. I don't think you'll find any. So why make things complicated to solve a problem that's not happening?

  • Please note that I am in no way suggesting any change to privileges, but I do not think it is an unnatural or awkward conclusion to come to that someone with high reputation has provided great value to the community; if rep doesn't mean that then it doesn't. But if there is value in assigning that meaning, then the mechanics should reflect that. To give you an example of what I'm talking about: stackoverflow.com/questions/306583/this-selector-and-children/… – Nathaniel Ford Jun 6 '13 at 21:56
  • of course you're suggesting changes to privileges. If an answer that once earned somebody 2K now earns them 1K, they will not reach the same priv level they once reached. That's all that rep is for. – Kate Gregory Jun 6 '13 at 22:01
  • I think it is fair to say that there is an impact to imparted privileges, if n is set for particularly low thresholds. I do not think it is fair to say I'm trying to screw with people's permissions, nor was that the thrust of the question. I was not impugning anyone's worthiness to be trusted under the current schema. It is fair if the rep system only captures whether you've contributed enough to be given those privileges, but again, I don't think the assumption it means something more is clearly wrong. – Nathaniel Ford Jun 6 '13 at 22:04

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