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I have come to enjoy the Stack Exchange community as a whole over the past few weeks. Originally, I started out seeking computer help from a couple of subcommunities where I could learn and get help with my computer problems. Itself is a great idea and there are a few forums that offer similar help resources.

What makes Stack Exchange different is that it expands across so many arenas with a single account making it a very expansive place to give and take. For example, I found myself on the English Learning site where I actually have a lot to contribute. I am actually an English teacher but I have computer problems sometimes.

One thing though, the reputation points don't carry over across subcommunities which I think is a bit detrimental and defeating the purpose in a way.

My arguments are:

  1. If the purpose of reputation points is to build a character reference, then shouldn't it be global? For instance, I can be helpful in one community and have a ton of reputation but a complete 'weirdo' in another. Whereas a universal point system wouldn't allow this. Reputation as a whole builds your identity across multiple communities.

  2. I join a new community and I am limited to what I can post (even if my post can be useful or helpful). Specifically, I ran across this during commenting. I had a perfectly viable comment to help a person but wasn't allowed because I didn't have reputation but I had reputation in another community. I had to post it as an answer and then I got 'moderated' by the community on where I should post and was down voted for leaving a comment in the answer area. Thus, losing reputation.

  3. It doesn't seem to create a way for incentives in some cases. For example, I have computer problems and I can't say I am phenominal at solving or answering computer questions. I could ask a question that may not get answered but if I have enough reputation I could put a bounty on it as incentive to get people to answer it. BUT WAIT!! I can't really earn reputation on a computer community to put a bounty on a question because there is nothing I can really answer or be helpful with.

However, I am great at writing, editing and dealing with international students!!! But, what is the sense of me just racking up points in a community when I will hardly need to ask a question much less put a bounty on it? Sure, points are great. It's nice to have a lot of points but what if I need them elsewhere?

So, when I need computer help desperately I can use my reputation collected from another community to put incentive in trying to get a question answered. Essentially, I'm a good guy and helpful at something but I am not a computer whiz.

Everyone is good at something and thats what the community at large should be in my opinion.

Just my opinion. I used my situation personally to explain but I am sure other people have experienced a similar situation or have had a similar thought.

  • See also: Integrating global reputation – Fish Below the Ice Nov 12 '14 at 16:14
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    Do you know about the association bonus? (summary - if you have over 200 rep on one site, you automatically get a 100 reputation bonus on all other sites linked to that account). – Oded Nov 12 '14 at 16:19
  • No, I am relatively new to all of this. It's just the problems I faced personally. I just knew that every community I started had me at zero when I had at least some rep in another. – David Nov 12 '14 at 16:21
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    Not to be pedantic, but your reputation can never go below 1. – Fish Below the Ice Nov 12 '14 at 16:32
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    Also note that you can earn reputation by asking questions (one extreme example). – Wrzlprmft Nov 12 '14 at 16:58
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For instance, I can be helpful in one community and have a ton of reputation but a complete 'weirdo' in another.

You are making points against yourself in your argument for the feature. That reason, right there, is exactly why this is a bad idea. Just because you are skilled and knowledgeable in one field and community doesn't mean you know what you're doing in another.

While the system and features of each site are the same, each community is different. They develop their own quality standards and their own expectations, and it doesn't make sense for reputation to carry over across all sites.

The system already gives you a small reputation boost up to at least 101, so long as you have at least 200 reputation on any other site in the network. That lets you get the two most basic features: upvoting and commenting. Privileges past that become highly dependent on the community in which you're participating, and it's dangerous to let just anyone out of the blue show up in a community and start editing or voting to close things when they've never participated there before.

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  • Well, you signaled out one sentence and I think you have taken it out of context. So, with a global point system if a person is acting a weirdo in another community it will reflect on the overall character. – David Nov 12 '14 at 16:09
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    @David But reputation is an indication of how much the community trusts you, not the network. One community can trust you much more than another community. It doesn't make sense for the numbers to be combined - they're different levels of trust. – animuson Nov 12 '14 at 16:11
  • Ok, so what would you recommend in a situation like mine? I have a ton of computer questions and hardly any computer answers but I have a ton of English Language answers and not really many questions. – David Nov 12 '14 at 16:15
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    @David The rules that different communities adopt can vary in subtle ways. For instance Programmers.SE accepts posts that would be closed as off-topic on SO. My 18k rep on SO is no indicator that I'd know what to close and not close on Programmers.SE. Trust from one community does not translate to other communities. – Louis Nov 12 '14 at 16:15
  • I get that. You are using the rep as a point system to indicate a person's knowledge and acceptance into a specific community and not the person's character in general. But I still think an addition to make a cross platform system would be beneficial in certain instances. – David Nov 12 '14 at 16:19
  • Just to add, if a person is posting a lot of wrong answers in another community it would still reflect on a global scale. Each person has a profile as well that indicates what he is good at and not good at. – David Nov 12 '14 at 16:38
  • David - Stack Exchange rep is exactly that: "a point system to indicate... a specific community" – Rory Alsop Nov 13 '14 at 10:13

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