If we are effectively generating more traffic to Stack Exchange sites, would it become a better community if users were compensated somehow besides rep points? Even with minuscule alt coins?

  • 14
    We're not. We're volunteering. There's a difference. Apr 12, 2014 at 3:51
  • Yeah...Just wait till they sell...Come on it's a decent idea... ;)
    – ENC0D3D
    Apr 12, 2014 at 3:55
  • 13
    @ENC0D3D while Stack Exchange doing a Oculus Rift-Style sale is always a possibility, there have been safeguards against that case from the start - all user-contributed content is published under a CC-Wiki license that allows everyone to take the data and start their own site with it. Apart from that, the general consensus is that introducing money in the mix would destroy the community - check out the body of discussions on the subject here. People already do insane things for worthless badges and rep points...
    – Pekka
    Apr 12, 2014 at 3:57
  • 18
    Pretty much every website which accepts submitted content uses a similar model. Do you expect reddit to pay you for uploading cat photos?
    – user229044
    Apr 12, 2014 at 4:00
  • Think about vcoins with a volunteer based model...that's the future..
    – ENC0D3D
    Apr 12, 2014 at 4:01
  • @meager they actually give out coins fyi...
    – ENC0D3D
    Apr 12, 2014 at 4:02
  • 3
    I'm really disagree.. I'm here because I want it, to share knowledge, to get some other. @michaelb958 has really well summed it!
    – Blo
    Apr 12, 2014 at 4:06
  • 2
    @ENC0D3D Source?
    – user229044
    Apr 12, 2014 at 4:07
  • 14
    Stack Exchange already paid me by giving me knowledge. I should've paid Stack Exchange.
    – Pang
    Apr 12, 2014 at 4:09
  • 1
    At lease give us unicoins. please...
    – Himanshu
    Apr 12, 2014 at 5:29
  • 5
    We aren't "working" for SE sites. We are the SE sites. They're community run. Every time you take an action here you do it for all of us, we're the bosses, and I'm certainly not going to compensate you for anything (beyond sharing knowledge with you, which is something I do here unconditionally, not a compensation given).
    – Jason C
    Apr 12, 2014 at 5:52
  • 1
    It prompted discussion of the topic and got interesting replies/comments...I didn't even know about the funding part! The glass "friend", is half full!
    – ENC0D3D
    Apr 12, 2014 at 17:00
  • 3
    I agree. Meta exists to discuss all contributions made in good faith, not just the popular ones.
    – Pekka
    Apr 13, 2014 at 1:24
  • Weren't you around for unicoins on April 1? Apr 15, 2014 at 17:13
  • Does this answer your question? Offering actual money as a bounty?
    – gnat
    Sep 1, 2020 at 12:13

4 Answers 4


People already exhibit the worst behaviours, and go through great lengths to cheat the system, for completely worthless virtual rewards - reputation points and badges:

Imagine how bad it would be if actual money were involved.

  • Yeah , you showed great examples , hope the OP read your answer. Apr 12, 2014 at 4:17
  • Heh. I was directly responsible for that fraudster getting his comeuppance.
    – fbueckert
    Apr 12, 2014 at 4:31
  • And then there are not-so-sophisticated voting rings that can never be detected: You upvote my answer and I'll upvote yours. We'll also vote other q/a so that we don't get caught.
    – devnull
    Apr 12, 2014 at 5:34
  • Here, have a bronze badge!
    – jonsca
    Apr 12, 2014 at 7:10
  • Sometimes people even post an answer twice to try and get double upvotes. wink wink nudge nudge. Apr 12, 2014 at 7:19
  • Every system with some kind of reward will have corruption or trying to bend the rules. Yes corruption will probably increase if you introduce money, but so will usage of the site and reduce the barrier to entry for people to get answers to hard questions. meta.stackexchange.com/questions/290628/… Can you show me any data comparing corruption in a non-monetary (but points based system) as a percentage of use/number of users vs in a monetary system? I would hypothesize this percentage will be similar.
    – user350459
    Feb 4, 2017 at 1:32
  • @alpha_989 there's many more negatives to introducing money than just the corruption side of things. meta.stackoverflow.com/a/339609
    – Pekka
    Feb 4, 2017 at 9:17

Let me answer this with a question:

What kind of users do we want?

Here's what we have now: people that really want to answer questions. They might want to do this to honestly help people, but we all know that it's the rep that keeps them coming. And why do they want reputation? So that they can help the site.

This is an awesome formula for attracting people and allowing those to help that have proven themselves. Keeping something scarce (like moderation privileges) is a great way to make people want them and use them. Don't believe me? Okay. You are not allowed to think about red staplers. I just told you not to. STAPPIT!

Now we introduce a (perhaps really small) amount of money into the mix. What do we get now? People that want to do as little as possible to earn as much money as possible. Sure, we have people doing that with reputation points, but not as much as they would with real money on the line.

tl;dr: If you put real money on the line, people are going to do as little as possible to get money so they can buy <insert thing of choice here>, and won't try to learn to use the site so that they can effectively help moderate it. That kills our model.

Not to mention tax problems for everyone involved. Ugh.

  • 1
    Not sure whether this is coming from. Its upto the users to accept answers. If they are not acceptable, they are free not to accept any answers. if tax is such a big issue, then its upto the users to not convert their points to dollars. I am sure a lot of users wont actually convert their points to dollars.
    – user350459
    Feb 4, 2017 at 1:34

Participation is voluntary, and yes they can sell. But your content is licensed, and that license will stand.

Participate if the licence is acceptable.

The current format works, and works for me as a professional.

I started participating in Stack Overflow a few years after Google started giving links to questions when I was doing searches for work; questions that had useful answers.

The competition a few years ago was Experts Exchange. They did compensate answers in the form of abated fees. And that site was a disaster. I don't know if it's gotten better - I have Google filter results from them so I don't see them.

  • 1
    I think you may be a bit misinformed. I know everybody here hates EE, but thats not necessarily the reason why EE is not as popular. Its because Google has started using a different algorithm to rank sites using their Panda algorithm. In a world where everybody comes across a site through google, the new ranking algorithm Panda has destroyed EE. People have then used that as justification to further kick EE.
    – user350459
    Feb 4, 2017 at 1:37
  • 2
    @alpha_989 The reason that EE was unpopular was that the content was not easy to access without paying. I am not "informed" on this, but am a first-person observer. I attempted to use their answers at first, then I had google actually block them. How's that for a different algorithm? Feb 4, 2017 at 15:08

Stack Exchange sites are sites for question and answers, providing FREE Knowledge for everybody that is interest in something. If we get compensated, so where do you think the site a will be getting money from? Of course, there are some ads on the site. But many of the ads are to advertise the site itselves. There are also server maintenance, domain costs, and other spendings. In my opinion, Stack Exchange owners are quite generous. All of the sites provide me so much knowledge and you can call this a Library. If without Stack Overflow, it's hard for me to code anything. Besides, reps point stands for what have you done to the community. Which keeps the community going. Many of us enjoy seeing reputation points growing. So if you want to get compensated, run your own knowledge-providing website. But be sure to write it perfectly and start put some ads on.... That will generate money for you.

Remember, Stack Exchange sites are communities. And people in a community helps each other or else the community can't develop if people in the community just think of them selves. See the Stack Exchange mottos

"We didn't run the sites, the communities did."

  • Fair points. For the record, though, Stack Exchange is a for-profit business backed with at least 28 million dollars of venture capital. They are going to have to turn a profit eventually - although from past experience, I'm optimistic it will be in a sensible and user-friendly way.
    – Pekka
    Apr 12, 2014 at 4:22
  • @Pëkka of course there is money involed , but at least they make us a nice community , am I right? Apr 12, 2014 at 4:25
  • yeah, true. And it was a gigantic investment to build and run the place.
    – Pekka
    Apr 12, 2014 at 4:38
  • 1
    @Pëkka Where do you get the 28 from? (also, not even our address is correct on that page, we've moved offices over a year ago)
    – balpha Staff
    Apr 12, 2014 at 9:08
  • @Pëkka "Description: Programmers Forum" No NO NO NO!!!!!!!!!!!!! And you trust the information there?!?! >:O
    – Doorknob
    Apr 12, 2014 at 12:33
  • @balpha interesting, I can't find any reference to more than 18 million - but I am sure I read it was more. Anyway, yeah, the info on that page is super outdated
    – Pekka
    Apr 12, 2014 at 14:29
  • I am curious to know how you think stackexhange is going to survive after the VC money runs out. Every site/app gives out freebies to gain users and turn itself into a platform (FB/Google.. all other app). this will have to end unless SE monetizes it. The above is a good way to monetize, if SE learns from the mistakes of EE, and not blindly follow the hate towards EE here.
    – user350459
    Feb 4, 2017 at 1:39

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