I'm still not sure I understand why this site is reputation-based. I think that all this does is make people afraid to participate in conversations.

All of the per-site metas are not reputation-based - the privileges you have there match what you've earned on their main site. Does the amount of participation you've had exclusively in the per-site meta affect your ability to jump into a conversation about issues on a site where you have participated highly? No. Should you be afraid of losing reputation for sharing an unpopular opinion there and getting down-voted into oblivion? No, and I think that is one of the reasons the per-site metas don't have their own rep structure.

Since the network-wide meta.se is for discussing network-wide policies and issues, I feel that the privileges you have here should not be based on your contributions here, but based on the best of your contributions on any one site. So, if you have 110K on skeptics, and that is your highest rep in the network, you have 110K here.

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    but ... but ... this is where I have my highest rep :( – Bart Apr 24 '14 at 20:38
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    @Bart you participate far too much on meta. :) – Taryn Apr 24 '14 at 20:39
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    One glaring problem I see with this is that reputation is not equal across sites. You can easily get over 5k on Stack Overflow without really trying too much, since it's so active, but on some much less active beta sites, 5k is a grueling task only achieved by a few users. – Doorknob Apr 24 '14 at 20:40
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    @Doorknob Then give out unicorns instead of rep – Kermit Apr 24 '14 at 20:42
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    @Doorknob but that makes it equally hard to achieve privileges on those per-site metas, doesn't it? – Aaron Bertrand Apr 24 '14 at 20:42
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    Another issue is that many privileges, such as close votes, require knowledge of the site which we can't expect people, who come here for the first time to have. – 3ventic Apr 24 '14 at 20:46
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    I'd argue that given that MSE isn't a child Meta, and given the fact that most issues are handled perfectly fine on the per-site Metas, reputation on MSE isn't all that extraordinary. As much as any other site it requires a certain amount of knowledge to grasp how this unique Meta works, what is appropriate for it, what works and what doesn't, etc. Which doesn't make the whole rep/privileges deal much different from other regular sites. Add to that that rep here isn't all that hard to get, and I can't really see the problem. – Bart Apr 24 '14 at 20:46
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    @3ventic And why make that difference in this particular meta site and not on a child meta? – Lamak Apr 24 '14 at 20:48
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    No argument there @bluefeet :) – Bart Apr 24 '14 at 20:48
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    The biggest problem I see with this site having its own rep structure is that people get down-voted into oblivion for proposing an idea, and it often takes quite an emotional toll on people who aren't used to that effect. This is not something that can happen on a per-site meta. I don't know for sure that inheriting the best rep is the best idea, but I also think that consistency is important and that proposing ideas shouldn't get you down-voted to the cellar just because people don't agree (again, something that doesn't happen to an idea you propose on your own meta). – Aaron Bertrand Apr 24 '14 at 20:50
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    @Doorknob What's the culture of a meta site where the only difference is that is network wide instead of a child site?. And please, feel free to tell me about all those "etc" reasons – Lamak Apr 24 '14 at 20:51
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    @Lamak Duh, etc etc etc. – Kermit Apr 24 '14 at 20:54
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    Maybe you could buy the additional rep with all those unicoins... – War10ck Apr 24 '14 at 21:22
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    because meta is for people who dont want to actually contribute to the general knowledge base of humanity. instead, it's for whining and bureaucracy. the metas are the ivory towers of the network: they provide no actual benefit to humanity and only serve to satisfy the egos and complaints of the margins. – swasheck Apr 24 '14 at 21:39
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    I love you too @swasheck. Hugs. – Bart Apr 24 '14 at 21:44

So, if you have 110K on skeptics, and that is your highest rep in the network, you have 110K here.

Except... No one has 110K rep on Skeptics. In fact, most sites don't have anyone with 110K rep, or even very many with 10K rep.

Here's a breakdown of users with 10K by site:

10K Site Name
5564 Stack Overflow
226 Mathematics
110 MathOverflow
101 Super User
100 Programmers
93  TeX - LaTeX
87  Server Fault
77  English Language and Usage
71  Gaming
60  Ubuntu
42  Science Fiction
40  Electronics and Robotics
39  Unix and Linux
39  Mathematica
32  Role-playing Games
25  Statistical Analysis
24  GIS
23  Photography
23  Physics
22  IT Security
21  WordPress
21  Database Administrators
21  Jewish Life and Learning
17  Apple
17  User Experience
16  Game Developers
16  The Workplace
15  Android Enthusiasts
15  Travel
14  Cooking
14  Theoretical Computer Science
14  Skeptics
13  Academia
12  Home Improvement
12  Christianity
11  Webmasters
11  Personal Finance and Money
11  Code Review
11  SharePoint
10  Drupal Answers
10  Japanese Language and Usage
10  Salesforce
8   Movies
7   Bicycles
7   Graphic Design
7   Code Golf
7   Cryptography
6   OnStartups
6   Board and Card Games
6   Area 51 Discussions
6   Musical Practice and Performance
6   French Language and Usage
6   English Language Learners
5   Web Apps
5   Gardening and Landscaping
5   Bitcoin
4   Parenting
4   German Language and Usage
4   Computer Science
4   Anime and Manga
4   Sound Design Stack Exchange
3   Stack Apps
3   Homebrew
3   Writers
3   Project Management
3   Fitness and Nutrition
3   Signal Processing
3   Biblical Hermeneutics
3   Computational Science
3   ExpressionEngine
3   Blender Stack Exchange
2   Motor Vehicle Maintenance and Repair
2   History
2   Biology
2   The Great Outdoors
2   Islam
2   Magento
2   Tridion Stack Exchange
2   Space Exploration Stack Exchange
2   Stack Overflow em Português
2   Aviation Stack Exchange
1   Software Quality Assurance and Testing
1   Philosophy
1   LEGO®
1   Cognitive Sciences
1   Chess
1   Raspberry Pi
1   Russian Language and Usage
1   Genealogy and Family History
1   Network Engineering Stack Exchange
(remaining sites have no 10K users)

So first off, any "network-rep" based system favors Stack Overflow users over everyone else, by a huge margin. At pretty much any privilege-level you want to pick, there are more users at that level on SO than on the entire rest of the network combined. Even basic privileges like the ability to down-vote break down this way... I hope you're starting to understand how this probably doesn't quite work for our "national government".

But it gets worse. See, reputation isn't comparable across sites. Voting patterns can be wildly different in different communities. Do you really want to put Joe from http://answermustbepublishedinrespectedjournal.stackexchange.com and Jack from http://upvotes4adviceanimals.stackexchange.com on the same privilege level?

Finally, it breaks things from a practical standpoint: with no recognition for putting in the extra effort to try and help folks flesh out their ideas or penalty for wasting their time, the system favors the sort of persistently obnoxious participation that drives away anyone looking to have a serious discussion. On per-site metas, you're at least risking your status in a community you presumably care about by doing this - but we've had ample time to observe that this is rarely a concern for MSE. There's a reason this is the only meta site that has quality-bans enabled...

In closing, I want to note that this, like every other top-level site, is its own community. Yes, it has significant overlap with many other communities, but over time it has developed its own culture, rules, and standards - and having its own reputation system allows these to continue, by requiring at least some recognition of them from outsiders before they're granted privileges here. It's a system we're rather invested in making work...

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  • 5
    It's starting to sound like - if this is its own community - perhaps it deserves its own meta. Ouch. – Aaron Bertrand Apr 25 '14 at 16:48
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    In seriousness, I think it's ok that privileges will weigh toward SO users. They are the largest network, after all. Just because that site has a ton of users doesn't mean any of those users got their rep by not learning the general SE mechanics or how the community works - and that is all that really should be required to participate here (since this is for network-wide stuff, not site-specific stuff). – Aaron Bertrand Apr 25 '14 at 16:50
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    It's really not ok, @Aaron - that defeats the purpose of having a separate, network-wide meta. If we're not offering a venue for discussion from folks who've put the time and energy into learning how the system works, taking into consideration cross-site issues and so on... Then we might as well just scrap it. I could envision a more complicated system that captured "rep" from per-site metas, but I'm not convinced there's all that much to gain from that (rather large amount of) added complexity - and that still leaves the more mundane problem of discouraging abuse. – Shog9 Apr 25 '14 at 17:27
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    I think the culture here on MSE is largely skewed to favor SO already. That may change over time, now that SO has its very own meta, but I don't see it happening soon. I think most questions and answers have SO in mind as the priority, then everything else follows. Which is fine, really, as it is massive. California gets more representation than the other states because of its population, and that is by design as well. I think MSE is maybe too meta. It's an SE site about SE. Bring it a little closer to home so that it means a little more for all SE users. – user212646 Jan 15 '16 at 19:52

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