Reputation is not considered to be the currency of SE, as evidenced by much previous discussion, such as:
The closest that reputation is considered to come to being "currency" seems to be with bounties. Even then, however, it is only considered as being used to "buy" advertisement of a question, to bring attention to it:
Regardless of not being a currency, reputation is, nevertheless, highly valued by users. Users express great concern about the gain and loss of reputation, as is evidenced in popular discussions such as the following:
- What is serial voting and how does it affect me?
- Recent Reputation History Changes
- How do I audit my reputation?
- Six simple tips to get reputation fast on any Stack Exchange site
The value of reputation to users is further reinforced by greater privileges at higher levels of reputation:
Reputation is used for both positive reinforcement and negative punishment. Up-voting positively-reinforces the asking of good (well-researched) questions and the provision of useful answers by adding reputation. Down-voting negatively-punishes the asking of poorly-researched questions and the provision of useless answers by subtracting reputation.
Up-voting both questions and answers is free. Down-voting only questions is free. Therefore, it is free to positively-reinforce both good questions and answers. It is only free, however, to punish poor questions. (It may become effectively-free to have punished a poor answer, if that answer is subsequently deleted, however.)
A user who has been punished for a useless answer is relatively freely able to delete that answer, and remove the negative consequences that they received as a result of it. A user who has been punished for a poor question, however, may be restricted from deleting that question if someone else has already been positively-reinforced for a helpful answer to it. Good answers, even to poor questions, are regarded as having value for the community:
- How to handle bad questions with good answers?
- Should I flag a very poor question that already has a good answer?
- Existence of the Reversal badge
Does the reputation system increase the likelihood that registered users will take greater risks of providing useless answers than of providing poor questions?
(Note that feature-request questions on meta sites are a different beast... especially with regard to the purpose of voting.)