I noticed such posts: I was recently asked for my Stack Overflow reputation score in a job interview. Is that appropriate?

I am curious in following. I am new to Stack Overflow and have an account there (another one not with this name). Where I have mainly questions. Something like top 10 of my questions all have votes from 1 to 3. Other questions don't have votes. I don't have negative votes. Just curious if this kind of account is considered 'bad reputation'?

ps. Just to clarify in my situation I was not asked about this on an interview. And nobody asked me to show my profile to them.

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    Bad Reputation on SO is based solely on whether or not you are friends with me. ;o) – Johnny Bones Sep 11 '13 at 16:25
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    Having the skill to ask questions effectively at SO is something employers might be looking for. I'd however assume they would be more interested in what kind of answers you posted. – Uphill Luge Sep 11 '13 at 16:28
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    @UphillLuge I think it could go both ways. If I was interviewing someone for a position that I knew was relatively new to them, I'd be much more confident in hiring them if I also knew that they're capable of doing research and asking good questions. Being someone who can learn to do things is just as important as being someone who knows how to do things. It would depend on context of course; if they say that they're an expert in a field, but were asking rudimentary questions (even if they're great rudimentary questions) three days ago, I'd worry. – Joshua Taylor Sep 11 '13 at 16:35
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    I'd be very nervous about interviewing with an employer who cares what my SO reputation is. Are they also worried about my Klout score, how many facebook friends I have and how many connections I have in LinkedIn? – Aaron Bertrand Sep 11 '13 at 16:41
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    Maybe the employer asks your SO rep just as a conversation point. Not all questions an interviewer should ask should be about one's qualifications. Some time should be devoted to getting to know you as a person. – Shoe Sep 11 '13 at 17:01
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    @Shoe as long as you acknowledge that the rep itself says nothing at all about me as a person, ok. – Aaron Bertrand Sep 11 '13 at 18:29

Attempting to quantify your skill as a programmer by your reputation score alone is a horrible idea and anyone attempting to do so should feel bad.

Your participation on Stack Overflow, even with less than a thousand rep and just a few answers to your credit shows:

  • What you're doing and interested in
  • How well you can communicate, and more importantly, how well you can articulate a problem to your peers (because, who doesn't need to do that at least semi-frequently?)
  • How well you interact with other developers

To a degree, even a small sampling does infer some level of skill, depending on the types of questions you were asking, where you present the ways in which you solve problems.

A decent interviewer is going to want to know a lot more than your score on some third party site. They'll also want to know what blogs you read, other notable programmers in your field or discipline that you follow, conferences you like to attend (or would, if given the means) and other things.

It's just a lot simpler to get that kind of overview conveniently on your Stack Overflow profile page than it was using Google to try and dig someone's participation out of Usenet and various other forums before we existed - naturally folks are going to take advantage of that.

Just interact well and put thought and effort into your posts and your profile page automatically becomes something of an accomplishment to be proud of, no matter how long you've been participating.

When it comes to good communicators that have knowledge that they wish to share here, or interesting questions for folks to answer, reputation is just a matter of time. Make sure your perspective employer knows that and that they see you belonging in that category and you'll be fine :)

  • You might find this interesting. "Everything will have a Yelp review. And if you're a worker, there'll be, like, credit scores. There already are, to some extent. How reliable are you? How many jobs have you had? Have there been lawsuits filed against you? How many traffic tickets? And I think we're also moving to a world where we measure much more precisely. But we as individuals will quite often find this oppressive." – Robert Harvey Sep 12 '13 at 16:33
  • "Once you get a bad credit score, yes, it is possible to fix it, but as you probably know, it's pretty difficult. So I think it will reward people who are disciplined early in their lives, and that will help a lot of people, but it also will harm some others." – Robert Harvey Sep 12 '13 at 16:34

We can't tell you because that's something that is in the eye of the beholder. The person who asks could have a certain threshold in mind, they could have criteria that are based on your stats, or could just be curious if you even have an account and actively use it. There is no definition of "bad reputation" to give.

  • Well, splitting hair(s), but having 1 reputation even after having participated for a while generally indicates that the user is suspended. So, I would say that 1 rep qualifies as a "bad reputation" score in this context. A good reputation score is what can't be defined :) – asheeshr Sep 11 '13 at 16:12
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    @AsheeshR That's still your definition. In my eyes, I wouldn't necessarily care about the 1 reputation, but more about the suspension itself. "If he's suspended for bad behavior there, how well will he fit into our company?" – animuson Sep 11 '13 at 16:15
  • 1 rep is symbolic of the suspension. If someone were to mention they participate a lot on SO, and yet have just 1 rep, there's your (first) red flag, which would be followed by what you mention. Any HR individual could easily figure out a lot about a person just by listening to the explanation. Got your point though, not arguing here :) – asheeshr Sep 11 '13 at 16:22
  • Given that suspension is publicly available information guessing at a suspension state based on rep would be a red flag against the employer as far as im concerned – Richard Tingle Sep 11 '13 at 16:29
  • @AsheeshR: this 1 rep I suppose I have on this site. I have described the kind of account I had on SO on which rep I was interested in, in my question. – user2054339 Sep 11 '13 at 16:54
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    @RichardTingle RE: your interest in the downvotes below... I downvoted solely for the use of the term EXP. He does that on purpose. – Robert Harvey Sep 11 '13 at 18:14

At the very heart of this is a flawed premise. You can't make a useful metric of StackOverflow EXP because if you play StackExchange right your EXP will be split between multiple sites.

  • Were your VIM questions asked on SuperUser or StackOverflow? If not StackOverflow, you'll have fewer EXP.
  • Were your Github questions asked on Web Applications or Stackoverflow? If not StackOverflow, you'll have fewer EXP.
  • Were your server-configuration questions asked on ServerFault or StackOverflow? If not StackOverflow, you'll have fewer EXP.
  • Were your questions about POSIX on Linux & Unix.SE or StackOverflow? If not StackOverflow, you'll have fewer EXP.
  • Were your questions about the OpenSSL libaray on Security.SE or StackOverflow? If not StackOverflow, you'll have fewer EXP.

Add it all up, if you're a cooperating member who does his best to file his questions in the more-appropriate but uselessly small StackExchange Realms you'll have substantially less EXP than those who only participate on the big server (StackOverflow).

We could certainly alleviate a lot of these problems and make EXP more useful, but we'd have to listen to the wiser members of this community.

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    I'd be interested to hear why this has been so heavily downvoted. Ignoring the link to a mad borderless stack exchange (and the use of the word "uselessly") I'm not sure I disagree with the points here. Although there aren't that many questions that straddle the borders Evan has put forward. I'm also suprised to see programmers missed – Richard Tingle Sep 11 '13 at 17:24
  • Sure, there are. I know this because there are examples of each of those questions that I myself have asked on those sites. – Evan Carroll Sep 11 '13 at 17:25
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    I believe that whenever I ask a question @JeffAtwood notifies all his employees over a private Fetlife message to downvote me. – Evan Carroll Sep 11 '13 at 17:26
  • Yes but you assume they would have been on topic at stack overflow – Richard Tingle Sep 11 '13 at 17:26
  • @RichardTingle but they're /more/ on topic in those communities. The whole division of sites is really a hodgepodge of subjective divisions. – Evan Carroll Sep 11 '13 at 17:28
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    Without evidence (that they would be well recieved on SO) that is simply an assertion. Regardless; subdivision avoids becoming a jack of all trades master of none. [Looking at your profile] Wow, you are not a popular man. – Richard Tingle Sep 11 '13 at 17:30
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    Actually, if you were looking at my profile you'd have seen that 6,600 people signed up on StackOverflow to see my profile. On the contrary, I'm really popular. I'm like the Brad Pitt of MSO. And, ignoring my visual likeness to Brad Pitt, I achieved every ounce of my popularity with nothing other than intellect, wit, and charm. – Evan Carroll Sep 11 '13 at 21:11
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    ha, I suppose infamy is a form of popularity – Richard Tingle Sep 11 '13 at 21:20

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