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There are quite a few questions floating around asking about earning/losing rep on per-site metas. Some of them are marked as duplicates to this question: https://meta.stackexchange.com/questions/91333/why-do-i-have-a-different-reputation-score-on-meta-stackoverflow-com-and-stackove which is removed for purposes of moderation. Others simply reference the per-site meta's help file which says:

Votes on meta do not affect your reputation; your meta reputation is the same as your reputation on Stack Overflow (synchronized hourly), though you earn separate badges. You must have 5 reputation to participate on meta.

In 2010, there was a blog post about the new spin-off per-site metas which says:

Reputation is always inherited from the parent site. You cannot gain or lose reputation* on the per-site meta. This also means that some reputation related functions like the rep graph and bounties are not enabled on the per-site meta.

*however, there is one exception: extreme misbehavior on the meta site will affect your parent site reputation. And not in, shall we say, the “good” way.

At best, this answer shares:

Everything drives from the parent site, which is at is should be. The meta site doesn't exist as a place to gain rep.

Nothing is really shared as to the philosophy behind WHY users should not gain rep on meta. Especially given the fact that rep exists to document quality participation.

Reputation is a rough measurement of how much the community trusts you

My question is more so the reason behind not gaining/losing rep on the parent site via per-site meta Qs/As and why it was decided to go that route when per-site metas were established.

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    Why should it have rep? – Servy Jan 16 '15 at 16:51
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Because negative reputation can be a very demotivating thing.

It's not that we don't want users to build reputation on child meta sites, we don't want them to lose privileges that they've unlocked simply for stating a dissenting opinion. The concept of negative reputation (or losing points instead of simply not gaining any) can be a very dangerous thing when it comes to how people participate if left unchecked.

Meta sites are town halls, where your posts receive votes based on how people feel about them, not really technical accuracy - losing reputation due to them is completely worthless signal to send, because there's no way to 'fix' how you feel about something.

The current system was the best balance that could be gained, as:

  • The more vested (by way of positive participation) you are in the main site, the more you can do on meta
  • You're not penalized for simply disagreeing, or proposing something unpopular. We don't lose you having your unlocked moderation abilities on meta
  • Folks tend to speak more freely, as there's 'nothing to lose' by doing so, so to say

If you look at many reputation systems on the Internet, you don't see a lot of them that have a negative aspect. You get 1 - 10 stars, or no stars. You get liked or you don't get liked. Bringing that to a mostly discussion platform, especially when it comes to things folks are very passionate about (as in, the way their sites and communities are run) would be a terrible idea.

Meta Stack Exchange remains the exception to this, and folks participating there regularly more or less accept that they'll need to ward off a few flames from time to time.

Meta works, as far as systems that do what meta does go - but it's not completely optimal for what folks want to use it for. Polls don't age well, discussions with a lot of voting don't thread that well sometimes, it could be better. On my list for 2015 is examining ways that child meta sites could diverge a bit in terms of functionality and features from the parents, without creating a nightmare to maintain, but that's (at this point) just wishful dreaming.

Anyway, this answer is still very much accurate, but I did want to chime in a bit around the philosophy of it.

  • Thanks @TimPost, that was the kind of answer previous questions on this topic needed. – Chrismas007 Jan 16 '15 at 18:01
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    If you're looking at per-site metas, please please please consider not locking votes on meta. Opinions change. Situations change. And new posts get closed as duplicates of two-year-old ones from when that issue came up before and you've already voted. Meta needs to be able to be more flexible. – Monica Cellio Jan 16 '15 at 18:14
  • "Meta Stack Exchange remains the exception to this, and folks participating there regularly more or less accept that they'll need to ward off a few flames from time to time." Well, some users, including me, disagree with this. I 100% agree that users shouldn't lose reputation and privileges just for expressing unpopular opinions, and I believe that the main gist of this answer should also be relevant to Meta Stack Exchange. The system also gives off a "clique" feeling by giving users the option to get their rep back in exchange for recanting their opinion. What can be done about this? – Sonic the Bracketed Hedgehog Dec 3 '18 at 15:17
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Nothing is really shared as to the philosophy behind WHY users should not gain rep on meta. Especially given the fact that rep exists to document quality participation.

I think you might have stumbled onto a part of the answer yourself there.

Voting is different on meta people will upvote or downvote to express agreement or disagreement. It does not always reflect actual the quality of the post.

We don't give rep on per-site metas because up and down votes on meta aren't what we're looking to measure

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    Part of that culture really needs to change. I find it's one thing to downvote an answer based upon disagreement, but entirely another to downvote a good question based upon disagreement, but I digress. That's a rant for another day. – RubberDuck Jan 17 '15 at 12:56

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