The current situation

Let me start of with two a priori observations:

  • Due to the way StackExchange is designed the easier a question is, the more reputation one will earn. This simply a consequence of the fact that more people will visit a simple question.
  • Simple questions have often been asked before, so a lot of simple questions are actually duplicates.

The combined consequence of this is that a lot of reputation is earned by quickly answering simple duplicate questions, here is a typical example: How to slice (in Python) "all but the last n" items when n may be zero? from 10 minutes ago at the time of writing with 3 upvotes on the answer whilst it got closed in 3 minutes.

Beyond that people are also often answering questions that are clearly off topic, and yet earning reputation for it none the less. A not so typical example from 2 hours ago can be found here: Are new and delete still useful in C++14? with the answer scoring 9 upvotes. A more typical example is when a question is asking for a library, plugin or opinion, but couldn't find a link as my SE-search-fu skills aren't that great and I used to see this all the time when I was quick answering questions, but nowadays that's not my kinda thing anymore.

Either way, the point I am getting to as you might have guessed based on the title is that it doesn't seem to make any sense to reward reputation for duplicate and closed answers. An even stronger case of this is when questions that are supposed to get closed are bountied and then users knowingly1 answer it despite everything as the bounty is so tempting (and no, flagging for it to get closed doesn't work half the time... I have been trying and I have pending flags from weeks ago). If the question could simply get closed after the bounty finishes this would take a lot of time pressure away from these kind of situations.

The proposal

So, my proposal would be as follows:

  • Allow voting on anything just as it is now
  • Do not count reputation for answers (including bounties) that are on a question that is currently closed
  • If a question gets reopened then of course any upvotes and bounties get applied again.


  • Users will be less likely to answer questions that are off topic
  • If you don't have a reason anymore to answer the question for some quick rep, you will be all the more likely to flag or vote for the question to be closed
  • (minor) And maybe users will be less motivated to ask such questions as well if they won't get answers


  • Users might be motivated to vote for reopening a question just for the reputation. Possibly that would mean that voting for reopening should not be possible for people who already posted an upvoted answer, but that's up for debate, as those same users are the users that most likely understand the question best in other situations.

1 I actually discussed this with a couple of users on chat after we got into a discussion about it once. If you want to read the full story read all the edits, comments and chat in chronological order here, but mind you, it's a mess... (I tried to edit the question to make it on topic, as flagging it isn't quick enough most of the time and the bounty was so big, but the user really actually meant his original off topic version (my bad) so he accepted an answer that doesn't fit the edit, but he didn't revert the edit, so voting to close based upon the current version doesn't make sense)


1 Answer 1


Too much collateral damage. Lots of questions asked and answered in good faith end up getting closed -- a non-obvious duplicate gets discovered later or a site's scope shifts. (Maybe there are other reasons too, but those are the two I've seen enough to matter.)

The solution to people earning reputation from questions that shouldn't have been asked is to delete the questions within 60 days.

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