I haven't been to SO in awhile. But every so often, I log back in & often note a rise in my reputation. As I slowly creep toward 10k here, I've caught myself wondering...

Should the upper echelon of privileges require that users have done something recently?

What if all privileges required the user to have gained 10% of the reputation within the last 365 days? For example, requiring the user to have gained 2,000 rep within the last 365 days to maintain 20k privileges.

  • If a user wanders off, then coming back there will be a natural learning period where the, "Oh yeah, that's what that means..." can happen without additional oversight.
  • If a user's content is consistently, over time, deemed valuable, then "upvote momentum" should help them maintain current privileges.

I'm not sure if the number of users that would be affected by this suggestion is obtainable. I looked for metrics & was playing with:


but I'm thinking it's not what I'm really suggesting - we'd need access to the date reputation was earned - which might be obtainable when a rep recalc is done?


Reputation decay is not what I had in mind. In my opinion, reputation decay would "de-value" the existing knowledge-base's worth. For more info:

What I was suggesting was that for privileges (let's focus on the top 5):

- 20,000 = Expanded editing, deletion and undeletion privileges
- 15,000 = Mark questions as protected
- 10,000 = access to moderator tools
- 5,000  = approve tag wiki edits 
- 3,000  = cast close and reopen votes

To maintain 10k privileges, you would need have obtained 10% of 10,000 = 1000 reputation points within the past 365 days. Having listed the numbers out - maybe 180 days makes more sense? It would seem quite easy to get 10 answer upvotes (1,000) over the course of a year??

Clearly the percentage & time frame could be tweaked to acheive the desired effect.

  • 1
    Also, as I haven't posted in awhile. Apologies if this is a dupe. (unsuccessful searches)
    – M. Tibbits
    Nov 26, 2013 at 19:08
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    Interesting idea, but I don't think I like the % thing. Makes it harder to maintain the higher your rep. (Unless you've got some data that says that that 10% is somehow "reasonable".)
    – Mat
    Nov 26, 2013 at 19:15
  • just my suspicion that 10% was easy for someone who was a regular contributor - and not to hard to attain for someone who comes back after a long break.
    – M. Tibbits
    Nov 26, 2013 at 19:21
  • What happens once the site is over 10 years old? Requiring 10% in the last year starts to sound pretty tough for long-time users.
    – Geobits
    Nov 26, 2013 at 19:21
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    NOT 10% overall. Requiring 2,000 rep in a year to maintain your 20K privileges.
    – M. Tibbits
    Nov 26, 2013 at 19:22
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    Ah, you might want to make that more clear in your question.
    – Mat
    Nov 26, 2013 at 19:22

4 Answers 4


While I'm always open to suggestions of decaying reputation and such, I don't see why people should lose privileges through inactivity. Being active on Stack Overflow is a lot like bicycling - you learn it once and it doesn't ever really go away.

Also, by amassing some reputation you're supposed to have proven you are a person with some common sense, some competence, some interest in the community and helping people, some communication skills, etc. which also are things that aren't affected by longer bouts of inactivity.

  • While I would agree that for the simpler privileges, they are quickly learned & seldom forgotten. I think actions like voting to close, flags, etc are more specific to stack overflow. Requiring that a user have gained 30 rep within the past 365 days before casting a close vote doesn't sound like too high of a bar?
    – M. Tibbits
    Nov 26, 2013 at 19:28
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    I am not entirely sure it is exactly like a bike though. Unless the bike was subject to change where you would get on thinking everything was okay until you encountered the front brake on the right, back brake on the left, and that pedaling in reverse went forward. Features change here over time, sometimes drastically. I agree with your second paragraph entirely.
    – Travis J
    Nov 26, 2013 at 19:33
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    @M.Tibbits FWIW 10% of 3000 is 300 Nov 26, 2013 at 20:00
  • Indeed. Can't edit the comment now though...
    – M. Tibbits
    Nov 26, 2013 at 20:07

I think this is is a reasonable, well-motivated idea, just in response to a problem we don't actually have, and I think you've overestimated the benefits.

  • Firstly, it's quicker to get to 1k reputation than it is to get to 20k reputation. If someone reaches 20k rep quite slowly, your proposed system might invalidate their privileges immediately. In practice I don't think so, but I should note a linear scale does not work here.
  • Secondly, I agree with Pekka that SO is more like learning to ride a bike. Yes, there is a little bit of relearning to do (e.g. close reasons changing), but this is very small compared to the weight of having proven oneself to be an experienced developer and reasonable person.
  • Thirdly, I don't like the bad will this will create. "You were a great contributor over the years, but you haven't been as much recently, so we don't want your kind here" is the message. That's horrible community building.
  • 1
    +1 for the third point. This is much important in my opinion in this discussion than anything else.
    – Marc-Andre
    Nov 26, 2013 at 21:01

10 answer upvotes is 100 rep, not 1000. Under your plan, it would actually take a fair bit of time and effort for someone to regain the higher priv levels. It would even take a decent amount of effort to maintain them, for someone who only showed up from time to time. 2,000 rep per year is a not entirely trivial bar to reach, even if you stop by from time to time - and I really don't see how regular, concerted effort is necessary for maintaining the degree of discretion, wisdom, and understanding that these things really call for.

It also reduces the appeal of the rep game. As I am, I can see that some day, I might make 3K or 5K. It's of interest to me, and I may work towards it over time. If keeping that level meaningful means that I also have to put in enough work constantly to maintain 300 or 500 per year, I'm a lot less interested.

  • Wow. I clearly couldn't do math today. 200 upvotes is non-trivial.
    – M. Tibbits
    Nov 26, 2013 at 21:13

I think there's an overlap between 2 distinct ideas.

On StackOverflow (as opposed to meta), there is a perception that

high rep score = guru-professional

This contrasts greatly with the StackExchange idea that

high rep score = we-trust-you

In the first case, I could understand how time away brings into doubt whether you are as capable of a professional (how much is open to serious debate). The second case is the one everyone else is speaking to, because, as pointed out earlier, for SE purposes, you have proven yourself.

Side Point: residual rep earned is no less legit than original rep. I might argue that votes you get weeks, months, and years after your original post reinforce the lasting value of your words.

  • Everyone's speaking to the second one because that's what privileges have to do with. Not guru level.
    – djechlin
    Nov 27, 2013 at 19:24
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    @djechlin, either I misspoke, or you misunderstood. Notice how I wrote "The second case is the one everyone else is speaking to, because, as pointed out earlier, for SE purposes, you have proven yourself." Nov 27, 2013 at 19:52
  • Firstly, if you aren't equipped to handle a downvote you shouldn't be posting on SE sites. Secondly, you didn't actually say anywhere in your post it should be important to SO. You just noted both viewpoints without taking any stance. As such your post didn't really sound like an answer, just general commentary on the other answers and comments. So I downvoted.
    – djechlin
    Nov 27, 2013 at 19:59

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