Related questions:

Dictionary aids: What is a lurker? - What are expletives? - What is a Catch-22?

Right after a new user registers for this site (and/or related ones), such user is quite limited in what he/she can do on these sites. I think I understand why. Such user cannot comment anywhere because the required privilege was not earned yet.

So such user needs to start "doing things on SE" to "earn" the required (eg 50) points somehow. But with all imposed limitations for such user, it is quite frustrating. Here are some examples of what it is like to be a :

  1. If such user finds a question and wants to ask a related question, then he/she typically wonders about one or more of these possible questions (pretty sure there are other questions ...):

    • Should I post an answer?
    • Am I actually allowed (already) to post an answer (maybe it requires a privilege I do not have yet)?
    • I want to answer but I don't know for sure how to do actually so (and I want to avoid making a bad first impression).
    • If I post an answer it might not comply with the guidelines (I want to prevent being perceived as not following them, as illustrated also by the rather scary "Could we please be a bit nicer to new users?").
    • I don't know what could happen (I'm too new to realise / predict the possible consequences, due to lack of experience with how this community typically reacts).
  2. Comments are disabled (see above), so that's not an option 'yet'.

  3. Sure there is a badge awarded for 'visiting' the help center (I did so too ...), but what does that really mean? How about making that specific batch (way) more difficult for it to be rewarded? Note to myself: did anybody ever file a about that? Thanks Deer Hunter for suggesting visiting the help center as a possible (partial?) remedy.

So it appears that if such user doesn't 'answer' the question, he/she will not get any closer to being able to get out of what appears to be a newbie loop.

My Question: How can such user get more information, or just suggest something to the original poster (Note: often abbreviated as OP-er, whereas OP=Original Post ...)?

Credits to all participants for teaching/suggesting me (sometimes quite challenging ...), Especially to "James", a real SE "mentor". Start 'lurking' via his profile page to learn 'AbitMORE' and consider voting (up!) any of his impressive questions, and answers.

Notes to myself (haven't found a feature, or earned some privilege, to make it invisible ...): I'm the OP of this question, and " learned some other lesson" recently about the "power" that an OP seems to have regarding some hidden feature that is NOT documented (yet) in the official help pages ... at least I have not found such documentation yet. Todos:

  1. File a about it (or is it a ?) ...

  2. What are "my" options if I would want to "overrule" the voting to consider this question as a duplicate (I do not question that anymore, but just want to learn about such options). If I can't figure it out, I'll probably "ask" people like ... James!

  3. What's a 'catch 22' ? I do know what "lesson 101" is ... that doesn't help of course. It's tough to be a non-native-english SE-er ... awel, "merci mes amis"!


1 Answer 1


I'll answer parts of your question in order as you posted it:

Cannot comment < 50 rep

new user registers for this site .. user is quite limited in what can do .. Such user cannot comment anywhere because the required privilege was not earned yet

Users need to learn about certain parts of the site before they can use them wisely.

When I joined, I grumbled insanely I could answer but not comment. My logic brain cells went into overdrive.
While it is frustrating at first, the logic becomes clear when you've been here a while.

Answers seem to be "more important" than comments, and so new users wonder why they're allowed access to answers before comments.

However, comments are not second rate citizens to answers. They have a special purpose and are important in getting additional info before answering, or adding important "notes" to a question or answer block.

Also, given that logic, that comments are less important than answers, also means new users would likely "have at it" with comments, thinking they're like the posts from forums. Again, they are new, it's understandable, but they need to be limited to learn this is very different to other sites!

Unwanted comment "chatter" spoils the general question and/or answer for other users trying to learn and read relevant info. It also makes a distraction from the useful and constructive comments trying to answer and help out.

Also, new users are fine to answer, because they have a more solid requirement - an answer has to be factual, useful, and can be moderated more easily given it's a single entity.

There are pros and cons to "no comments < 50 rep", and good arguments both for and against.
However, as with many large sites with a lot of functionality and masses of users, one can only draw a line through the middle of the pros and cons.

Not allowing it is the better option really.

Also, no matter what anyone says, it is "easy" to get rep.
It might take a little time, answering, editing etc, but this ensures familiarity of site and are more likely to be "ready" to use comments.

This is the same as the other privilege. Once you've learned, you have more access.

It's not all perfect, but what is? It's pretty well sorted.

New user

If such user finds a question and wants to ask a related question, then he/she typically wonders about one or more of these possible questions (pretty sure there are other questions ...)

That user should post their own new Question.

Even in forums "hijacking" is frowned upon. On Stack, being a Q&A site, you do not "ask" your own things in someone else's question.

Unless perhaps it's related to the original and might help someone else with the given topic/subject etc.

No, they cannot comment, and yes it is annoying. But such is life!
It's for the benefit of all users on the site to not have pointless or misplaced comments!

Make users read help center

(It's centre, btw Stack! centre. I'm English, so I know what I'm talking about..)

there is a badge awarded for 'visiting' help center, but what does that really mean? How about making that specific batch (way) more difficult for it to be rewarded?

It's impossible to force people to actually "read and take in" the help center information.
How could you script a way to make people actually read it? Or even check they have read it?
It is impossible.

No-one is suggesting the help center badge is supposed to be some amazing idea to make sure users read the help center. It just might help is all.

If you have a badge for going there, people might pick up some tips while getting the badge, and "might" read a bit more while there.
That is all that can be done, as there is just no way to make people read it.

And nor should there be. If people do not want to read the help center then they will struggle to understand the site, and/or pick up some privilege bans.
This is not any different to any other site, business, place of work, public place, etc. There are rules everywhere, and for good reason.

And there is nothing can be done to "push" the type of person who is not naturally willing to study and participate wisely.
They are a law unto themselves...

"Newbie Loop"

So it appears that if such user doesn't 'answer' the question, he/she will not get any closer to being able to get out of what appears to be a newbie loop.

There is no "newbie loop".
I used to read PHP questions/answers for a month before I signed up. I signed up to upvote an answer which resolved a problem I had for days!

I then found out I couldn't upvote.

It took me no effort at all to gain 15 rep on SO and upvote that answer. And before I knew it, a few answers and edits here and there, I could also comment.

It's really not hard at all, and people who moan about it are either lazy, and/or don't understand why the rules and limits are there, and/or don't care much for rules and limitations.
These are the very sorts of people we want to be limiting!

If new users are struggling, then it is probably because they are not willing to read and learn a bit, and I think this is a fantastic thing!

Hindering users access and progress who cannot be bothered to read and learn the site's ways, or put in the basic effort is required to naturally gain some rep?
Yes please!


Lurking online is simply where you read the posts, questions, answers, comments etc, but do not "participate".

You "lurk" - that is you "hang around" but take "no action".


The Stack sites are in English language, and I can fully understand why that is sometimes difficult for non-native English speakers.

But, the title you edited and added a description of the word "Lurking" was not acceptable for this site.

I understand why you did it (for other non-native English speakers like yourself) however, how hard is it to shove the word into Google?

You don't even need a translator, because if you are reading/writing English well enough to participate in the first place, and it's just the "odd word" you don't know, then using an English dictionary will explain the word in other words which you will likely understand.

Also, you can throw the word into an online thesaurus to get an idea of the meaning - although be careful as many words in the thesaurus have very specific context requirements to be relevant.


I don't think there are any problematic limitations for a new user.
I think the "reporting" of such "problems" is simply a new user who cannot be bothered to read and learn a bit, and just wants the goodies.

Well, I'm afraid nothing in life is so sweet or simple!
You want to drive? Tough - first take lessons, tests, pass them, etc.

Hell, Stack don't even require any testing of any kind - you get some upvotes on your answers, edit a bit, your rep goes up, you can suddenly comment.

How hard is that?

I think "most" people come here to either:

  1. Ask a question - i.e. get an answer and help with their code etc
  2. To help out - i.e. answer questions, make useful edit suggestions, etc

In either of the above cases, a new user has no rep limitations, and so there is nothing hindering their activity!

If someone is struggling as a new user, they've quite likely not taken the time to read a few searchable questions which explain what to do as a new user, how to gain rep, how to participate, etc.

The learning curve is there, but if a new user is willing to spend a bit of time learning it all, then they will benefit from it greatly.

  • 2
    Great answer James, that pretty well sums up my and many others' experience when new to the site.
    – user273376
    Mar 16, 2015 at 9:23
  • @Pierre.Vriens "Hell" (and "Crap" as per my comment in another question) are not strong words. While they are technically "vulgar" as per dictionary, they're "light". I doubt they will be moderated unless used excessively, unnecessarily, or if aimed at a user. Generally profanities/expletive are not really welcomed and best to avoid them, but again "crap" is not really harsh (and I only use such words very occasionally - if I regularly filled my comments/answers with it, that might be a different story).
    – James
    Mar 16, 2015 at 18:39
  • 2
    Debate/discussion/etc on expletives: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/22232/…
    – James
    Mar 16, 2015 at 19:04

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