Why is the reputation of a post's author shown on all questions and answers? I don't mean the technical meaning, I mean what is this information supposed to convey, when seen under a question or an answer, as a poster or as an editor? What is the reader supposed to think about the score? Does it have a purpose?
For example, if there are two basically equal answers given around same time, should rep affect on downvotes or upvotes, like being more harsh about high rep users bad answers, because they should know better?
And a followup, whatever the answer to the above question is: does displaying the total reputation have the desired effect, or would it be worth thinking what could be displayed instead of or in addition to it, or if info could be displayed differently than as a raw number? But let's not get carried away with suggestions (there already are many here on meta), first paragraph above is the main question an answer should address, and this followup is just context for answering that.
After reading the discussion and the current one answer, it seems the displayed reputation of post's author is supposed to tell two things:
- Reputation at Stack Overflow, as a person; the product of the effort they have put to the site, and how well their contribution has been received.
- How much of an expert or how reputable they are in the subject matter (which I take to mean, topic of the question).
To me it seems 1st point is well covered, and showing current (increasing) reputation is not counter-productive. However, the 2nd point is not covered at all (it does not show subject matter expertise at the time of creating the post, and it includes for example all VB reputation when answering an R question).
Is 2nd point important to how SO works?