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I know that in order to understand recursion one must first understand recursion, but how can I build my reputation enough to post or vote or comment or anything when all these things require reputation to begin with?

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    Not like this... – Wooble Oct 7 '13 at 17:42
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    Ask good questions and give good answers – Richard Tingle Oct 7 '13 at 17:58
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    You don't need reputation to post a question or an answer, which is the only way to gain reputation. – mmyers Oct 7 '13 at 17:59
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    or suggest edits. – hayd Oct 7 '13 at 18:00
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    Answer: get enough reputation. – animuson Oct 7 '13 at 18:05
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    @animuson Yea - i'm sure getting enough reputation will help you get enough reputation to get enough reputation. – Josh Crozier Oct 7 '13 at 18:06
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    This question title is a paradox. – Cole Johnson Oct 7 '13 at 21:38
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You don't need reputation to post a question or an answer, which is the most common way to gain reputation.

Here you have information about specific privileges - https://stackoverflow.com/help/privileges

And here you can read about reputation system - https://stackoverflow.com/help/whats-reputation

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You don't need to vote to gain reputation. You only need to post good questions and answers; and that requires no reputation at all.

While sometimes voting may be skewed towards the high rep members, usually it isn't and it's just as easy to get rep as a low rep member if you write high quality answers.

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