On https://meta.stackexchange.com/questions/20420/countdown-app-for-devdays balpha comments, "I would be willing to donate 500 rep (on meta) to the first guy who does this with LOGO turtle graphics and this program actually gets used at one devdays venue."

This got me thinking: why not allow people to give away reputation like currency -- like bounties but not so rigid. It would be interesting if you could spend or barter with your reputation.

What would be the upsides and downsides to this?

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    There should definitely be limits on this, but it may be doable. – Brad Gilbert Sep 8 '09 at 17:53
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    Downside: Jon Skeet could buy and sell you... literally. Noobs would become his indentured servants, asking for scraps of Rep like so much porridge. – gnostradamus Sep 8 '09 at 18:02
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    If you don't agree with a question, answer it instead of downvoting it. The amount of downvoting on meta is, frankly, ridiculous – oxbow_lakes Sep 8 '09 at 18:09
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    @oxbow_lakes: No. – Welbog Sep 8 '09 at 18:10
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    The amount of downvoting compared to upvoting is ridiculously off just like it is on all the other sites. Everyone keeps wanting to slow down downvoting when in reality it needs to be ramped up. Everybody keeps wanting to throw tantrums at being downvoted. Newsflash, the real world doesn't give you back pats and gold stars just for trying. If someone doesn't like what you have to say, you'll know about it. – TheTXI Sep 8 '09 at 18:14
  • (+1) oxbow_lakes made me do it. – Shog9 Sep 8 '09 at 18:18
  • Gold Star for TheTXI... – Rob Allen Sep 8 '09 at 18:57
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    @TheTXI You just need to add "...grinds my gears" and you will have comment gold of the day. – Troggy Sep 8 '09 at 19:23
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    You know what really grinds my gears? No one has come up with a good priest and a rabbi joke in like 30 years... oh wait, Kip and TheTXI kinda did: blog.stackoverflow.com/2009/07/…. – gnostradamus Sep 8 '09 at 19:26
  • I have no problem that this is apparently not a desirable feature but all the downvoting for something innocently asked is disappointing and doesn't show much respect to the community. As oxbow_lakes said: they could answer the question instead. @TheTXI: thank you for answering the question and giving your take on it. Your 'real world' lecture is missing something though: another real world fact is that if people are discouraged from contributing, even when they do so appropriately, then the community will start to erode. – Dinah Sep 8 '09 at 19:43
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    @[TheTXI]: I had to flag your comment as offensive, since I couldn't just downvote it as you seem to advocate ;-) – Steven A. Lowe Sep 9 '09 at 4:18

One possible downside:

It could be gamed to pieces

I create 150 accounts on stackoverflow and 150 accounts on meta. I use your system to loosely give 200 reputation to one of them from my existing account, it now has the requisite amount to receive 100 points just for association.

Following this, I then I associate these accounts with one another one at a time (passing 200 reputation to the brand new accounts as I go along) and eventually end up with 150 accounts with 200 reputation.

Then, using your point payment system I could simply pool this reputation into one account for 30,000 reputation. Not bad for 2-3 hours of work :-)

Edit: I agree that safeguards could be put in place to prevent this specific attack and many others to some degree.

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    Then exclude "bonus" rep points from the system. Only "earned" rep points could be given away. – RichieHindle Sep 8 '09 at 18:01
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    @Richie: that's not a free market then, is it? You've essentially created a parallel rep system, worth even less than the one we have now! And... you can already do that. Here: have 500 ShogPoints. – Shog9 Sep 8 '09 at 18:15
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    +150 for pointing out a potential problem. -150 for giving people ideas. – Brad Gilbert Sep 8 '09 at 18:47

I have said it before and I will say it again...


Rep is a level of trust, not gold you grind for. I am even against the whole bounty thing myself, which is what really got the ball rolling on this idea of spending rep for stuff.

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    I bought an epic mount with mine. – Welbog Sep 8 '09 at 18:11
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    @novatrust: Offensive flag for voting abuse. – Welbog Sep 8 '09 at 18:25
  • +1. Next thing you know we'll be able to buy 100 points for $5. – user27414 Sep 8 '09 at 18:41
  • Agree... Although Jeff Atwood as Ben Bernanke would be an interesting soap opera. – Austin Salonen Sep 8 '09 at 18:46
  • Yeah rep is for abilities. A few thousand more rep and I can run Heroic Deadmines with Welbog – Rob Allen Sep 8 '09 at 18:58
  • I see your point, but the stance is weakened slightly since bounties are, in fact, a sanctioned aspect of these sites. – Dinah Sep 8 '09 at 19:58

Potential up-side: I could use my knowledge of how to game the system to make a lot of money by selling rep on e-bay.

Potential down-side: The poor Norwegian kids I would keep in basement sweat-shops grinding rep night and day might suffer premature blindness from long-term exposure to radiation from cheap CRTs.

  • -1 (Revenge Vote) – novatrust Sep 8 '09 at 18:15
  • ... not to mention the headaches from the tumors they will get. – Brad Gilbert Sep 8 '09 at 18:49
  • Solution: use the money from eBay to buy costlier CRTs. Alternately, trade the Norwegians in for people with a greater resistance to radiation from cheap CRTs. – Dinah Sep 8 '09 at 19:56

I am just going to say straight up ... No.

The downsides are just too great and there could be way too much abuse as the sites age.


say the word and i'll happily start selling rep on eBay - baby needs new shoes!


I think instead of transferring reputation, it should be possible for someone with high reputation to vouch for another person, thereby unlocking their account to perform certain functions regardless of reputation.

For example, Sir Skeet would probably vouch for me in an instant. We've both answered questions on Microsoft's newsgroups for a long while. I dropped in to answer questions here for a few minutes, but being unable to respond to other responses here just makes SO too limiting for me to want to invest time into it. I can deal with inability to up/down vote because USENET doesn't have that at all, and I certainly understand why you don't want brand new accounts to be able to game the voting system, but the arbitrary restriction on reply-to-comment needs a bypass mechanism.

  • It's not like 50 rep for leaving comments need such a huge investment to get. – balpha Sep 11 '09 at 5:58
  • Sounds good to us but the uber high rep people might get plagued by emails from random people asking for a hand-out. – Dinah Sep 11 '09 at 14:51
  • @Dinah: This assumes that the vouchee already knows the voucher, I'm definitely not suggesting that SO provide a means of requesting the voucher (I feel a little bad for necromancing this) – Ben Voigt Oct 1 '10 at 2:29

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