I know this is a terrible way to start a presence on a new community forum, but frankly, I'm frustrated that Stack Overflow is so restrictive regarding the ability to comment or vote on the feedback of others.

New users need 50 reputation points to comment on a thread, and 15 reputation points to 'vote' up or down a response to a topic. It is a bit ridiculous when considering how unfriendly this approach is for newer users. You're basically denying users any ability to participate on your forums until they've created several help topics.

I don't want to create new threads, as I'm doing now, for issues that many others have discovered and provided insight toward. I'd prefer to vote up or down comments that I found helpful, or provide my own related feedback or questions.

Overall, I find this a terribly unfriendly approach for reaching out to a community of developers. You should be mindful of the newer members who ACTUALLY want to become an active part of the Stack Overflow community. Sure, you're concerned some 'bot' will spam your forums with nonsense, or a n00b will ask dumb questions. But there are better ways to handle those problems than denying everyone the ability to participate in your forums until you've decided they are privileged enough.

I digress. My initial inquiries and issues regarding JQuery functionality were acknowledged and resolved in another topic; I was unable to participate in or thank the authors for their helpful responses likewise.

  • 5
    No, new users are restricted until they have demonstrated to be contributors. You gain reputation by answering questions, not just be posting new ones. Commented Mar 3, 2014 at 21:41
  • It really doesn't take very long to get enough reputation to do the things you've mentioned. Answering one or two questions will get you there.
    – scrowler
    Commented Mar 3, 2014 at 21:42
  • 8
    It does this to stop vandalism Commented Mar 3, 2014 at 21:43
  • also stops reputation bots. Note, once you have enough reputation in one stack exchange forum, you start with 100 points in any you join Commented Mar 3, 2014 at 21:48
  • 16
    stackoverflow isn't a "forum", it is specifically forbids "discussion", your question kind of illustrates why these things are in place, to force people to actually understand the principal function of the site(s).
    – user148287
    Commented Mar 3, 2014 at 21:51
  • 2
    Don't know if you are still there because you looked banned, or maybe you deleted your account... but anyways, have a look at my very first question on any SE, which is pretty much what you're experiencing.
    – gitsitgo
    Commented Mar 3, 2014 at 21:56
  • @gitsitgo He has no account on meta; this question was asked on stackoverflow.com and migrated here.
    – user229044
    Commented Mar 3, 2014 at 22:10
  • @meagar truuu, forgot about that reason for the gray text
    – gitsitgo
    Commented Mar 3, 2014 at 22:14
  • It would appear I was experiencing an account issue since you've reassured me new users CAN create comments. Perhaps my session was inactive and the browser didn't inform me so. Either way, that's all I wanted to do in the first place. Not start some argument. Commented Mar 4, 2014 at 21:09
  • @Diodeus, exactly. Now that makes sense: answering questions. Problem restated and resolved. Commented Mar 4, 2014 at 21:22
  • 2
    @JMills Please don't vandalise your question because it was closed as a duplicate. Commented Mar 4, 2014 at 21:23
  • I didn't realize it was closed. Good. I wasn't trying to vandalize anything Commented Mar 4, 2014 at 21:37
  • 3
    When you say "ridiculous ... unfriendly ... denying users any ability to participate ... forums ... help topics ... new threads ... terribly unfriendly ... denying everyone the ability to participate ... forums" I hear "I don't know anything about how this works, but I was momentarily thwarted and I DEMAND you fix that right now even though I don't know why it is how it is and I don't even know the words you use for things." (Allow me to suggest you return to the good answers when you have your rep, so you can upvote them when that's possible.) Commented Mar 4, 2014 at 21:44
  • I'm afraid you don't understand. I attempted to correct the issue but someone decided revert any edits made. That being said, I'd gladly agree to your terms, if I could. This was originally an entirely different issue and has turned into nothing productive. I appreciate your comments though. Commented Mar 4, 2014 at 21:49
  • 1
    I can identify. I am a software engineer with over 20 years' experience in the industry, programming for 30 years, with 98 reputation on Unix.stackexchange.com, and I can't even get one upvote on a question yesterday I researched extensively, documented meticulously, and presented, I believe, thoughtfully. I tried answering a question, I spent a good amount of time writing a script for someone, but because I was beat by a few minutes by someone else who wrote something slightly shorter and more general, I did not get a vote for that. Finding questions no one else has answered is very tough. Commented Aug 26, 2014 at 15:48

4 Answers 4


To prevent spammers and trolls from abusing the platform, we require a minimal level of engagement from all new users. Most of the bad folks will not make the effort, and will find some other people elsewhere on the internet to abuse.

This is as true for votes as it is for spam or other abuse. As incredulous as it seems, these folks will not think twice about creating duplicate accounts so that they can give themselves their own congratulatory pat on the back with their own upvotes on their own posts. So we have to give them a small barrier to entry by requiring positive participation before allowing them to vote.

This is why we can't have nice things.

  • So why don't we have the same minimum level to post an answer? .. As to me, that would increase the quality of the answers as well, because today I see so many bad ones, even ones which is completely wrong, technically. And answers have a greater impact than comments for the questioner, so shouldn't we protect our users in the same way as we protect the site itself?
    – user253222
    Commented Mar 4, 2014 at 6:42
  • Because if you didn't have the ability to post an answer, you wouldn't be able to earn reputation at all, except perhaps by suggesting edits.
    – user102937
    Commented Mar 4, 2014 at 16:11
  • 2
    @PellePenna There are also lots of checks in place to deal with spam posted as answers. There are review queues, lots of people looking at new answers, new answers count as "activity" on a question, driving views to look at the new post, etc. As a consequence, spam answers tend to be found and purged quickly. Such tools don't exist for comments, and would be very demanding on the communities time to add.
    – Servy
    Commented Mar 4, 2014 at 21:38
  • @RobertHarvey: I didn't see that comming :)
    – user253222
    Commented Mar 5, 2014 at 18:43
  • @Servy: I'm learning little by little...
    – user253222
    Commented Mar 5, 2014 at 18:44

You're basically denying users any ability to participate on your forums until they've created several help topics.

No; the primary way people gain reputation is by contributing answers to existing topics, and I don't think it's not too much to ask you to demonstrate at least some understanding of the site and its subject matter before you start rating its content.

You can participate in many ways with only 1 reputation, but we as a site would gain very little from having random drive-by upvotes on our content. Conversely, withholding voting privilgdes until you've demosntrated the ability to contribute good questions or answers means your votes are more likely to accurately reflect the value of the content you're voting on.

  • 4
    I threw it on the ground! I don't need your upvote! I'm an adult! Please, you can't drive-by me reputation! (+1... Maaaan...)
    – JDB
    Commented Mar 3, 2014 at 21:57

There is the obvious spam issue which you give a nod to so I will skip that aspect.

First, you imply that users cannot ask questions for fear of botting or poor content, but that is inaccurate. Even a 1 rep user can ask a question. If their posted content is doing more harm than good though, they will eventually be content banned. However, they were allowed to participate (until they did themselves in). Being banned only happens to a very small percent of users.

"in the absence of some system of law, the tiny minority of users out to do harm – intentionally or not – eventually drive out all the civil community members, leaving behind a lawless, chaotic badland." 1

The reputation hurdles are really not that imposing. All it requires is a very small amount of contribution in order to be able to participate. This is mostly done to help solve a problem, namely "how do you encourage groups to do what's best for the world" 2 .

Jeff Atwood's (co-founder of Stack Exchange) solution was to "gamify" the process, "Without those incentive systems, when left to their own devices, what you get is … well, every forum ever created. Broken by design" 2 . Being able to comment and vote are two very large aspects of participation and as incentive to use them a user must provide some helpful contribution.

The contribution is rewarded with reputation (at a lower level, this is similar to currency). The whole idea is to enjoy the interaction with the site and that the user must attain certain levels in order to access certain features.

"Learning is (supposed to be) fun" 2

1. Coding Horror - Suspension, Ban or Hellban? by Jeff Atwood
2. Coding Horror - "The Gamification" by Jeff Atwood

  • Your answer is appreciated. Unfortunately it was all a misunderstanding in the first place. You see, I didn't realize users with 1 reputation could comment. I think I had to make two accounts, one for stacktrace and one for meta-stacktrace, or something along those lines. Either way, I realized there was a bigger issue when I couldn't even reply to my own article. Resolved. Commented Mar 4, 2014 at 21:35

You have to think of it this way. There are a lot of us who've been around a while and spend quite a bit of time here. Being able to comment etc. takes a very small amount of reputation respectively between 2 and 5 up votes to do what you are saying. That's a really small amount, and you don't need to have the top voted answer or anything, just add some information to help someone find an answer and someone will give you the votes.

All the community is really asking is, "Hey just please take a look around before jumping in. We spend a lot of time looking after this place and it means a lot to us." We're not trying to put anyone off, we're just trying to make it a good place for everyone.

  • My issue was moreover that I was unable to comment in the first place. That is completely understandable, had I been able to do so in the first place. I believe it had to do with a misleading account session, as it appeared I was logged in when perhaps I wasn't. This is the only explanation I can think of now that you've reassured me that users CAN create comments. Which I was led to believe required a certain reputation. Commented Mar 4, 2014 at 21:08
  • 1
    @JJM There is no reputation limit for comments on meta sites. There is a 50 rep requirement to comment on the main site. You can always comment on your own posts, or on answers to your questions.
    – Servy
    Commented Mar 4, 2014 at 21:39

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