SE reputation and privileges system is well balanced: we do not trust new users we know nothing about until they earn the community trust by participating in SE activities.

However, sometimes for new users it is very difficult to get started as the basic privileges are very restrictive. For example, a colleague of mine, a brilliant programmer, hesitated when I encouraged him to use SO because of this barrier placed to guard SE from unknown users.

I propose a new feature: "an invitation to SE", a trusted user (X reps and up) will get a bank of invitations he/she can use to invite people they know and trust. A new user that was invited will start with enough reputations (I believe 15) so that he has no "new user restrictions", (instead of 1) reflecting the fact that by invitation he is not a stranger to the community and deserve to be trusted with some privileges.

I believe a somewhat similar "invitations" mechanism was installed recently in SE careers website.

UPDATE: (Aug 6th,2015)
Regarding concerns raised by Catija:
- a "walk-in" user cannot be trusted at first because we don't know him, in contrast we (or at least someone) knows the "invited" user and believe he/she can be trusted to a certain extent. Maybe trusted just enough to remove the "new user" restrictions.
- I don't think invited users deserve the rep-boost, but it's the easiest way I could think of to remove the "new user restrictions" -- if you have another way of achieving this goal it should be just as good for this feature.
- The most significant barrier is the restriction on leaving comments: during the time I am active is SO, this restriction was the most "painful" for new users.
- How to prevent "abusing" of this mechanism? well, first, I think "invitation" privileges should be given only to "trusted users" (I believe 20K reps and up). These users care about SE, knows how it works and we trust their judgement when they invite users that can contribute to the community. Second, there will be given only a restricted amounts of invitations per trusted user to "hand out", he/she should only get more if the users that he/she invited are indeed "good" users (i.e., gained extra X reputation over T days). Thus we can control the amount of invitations that can be handed out. If this features works well more invitations can be given to trusted users.

Status: (Aug 13th, 2015)
Judging by the answers/comments/downvotes I guess that's a "no" for this feature request. Well, was worth trying pushing this idea. I appreciate the feedback. Thanks.

  • In what way is an "invited" new user any different from a "walk-in" new user? Why do you think they deserve the rep boost? What barriers specifically made your colleague hesitate? How do you prevent abuse of the system? How will the "invitation" work?
    – Catija
    Aug 6, 2015 at 6:43
  • 6
    Why would being a brilliant programmer automatically give you the knowledge of how to use comments properly? Aug 6, 2015 at 7:42
  • related (possibly a duplicate): Opt in “mentor” privilege at 7.5k
    – gnat
    Aug 13, 2015 at 11:21
  • @gnat - indeed very similar idea. It seems like it is better phrased there.
    – Shai
    Aug 13, 2015 at 11:31
  • 1
    compared to your question, the other one prudently deemphasizes matters of personal relationship. It is also safer structured in that it opens with attempt to define users who can be sufficiently trusted to not abuse proposed feature
    – gnat
    Aug 13, 2015 at 11:38

2 Answers 2


Interesting idea, must admit I was tempted to upvote just for being original and intuitive idea.

However, I do not want such a feature.

It will cause those arriving without invitation to envy, and rightfully so, and to start hunting for invitations. I can already imagine Facebook group "Stack Overflow invitations". See my point?

Also, single individual can't judge if other person is good programmer or not, as "good" for Stack Overflow, not personal life. That's only for the overall community to judge, using the votes.

Worth to mention, that the concept of invitations does exist in Stack Exchange - for sites in private beta. Any user who is part of private beta can invite as many people as he/she like and everyone there begins with the basic privileges already, including upvoting, creating new tags, and more.



Instead of inviting a friend and tell the community that he is trusted, just told him/her how to ask and answer. In fact, some rules in SO are also true in life. Asking a question and answering in a proper way is better and more ethic.

Also, SO rules are not about programmers being brilliant but about community moderation and quality. Being a brilliant programmer is great, but it do not make a person a good asker or answerer.

Helping docs and FAQ are good enough but people would not spent time reading them when there is a chance of asking immediately and then leaving. That is the thing happened to to new users so often. But that is the first think that the community expects from them: Read and learn about the community.

Your friend could be a good guy, but if you do not tell him how to ask/answer and if he do not read to learn, then his 15 or what-so-ever rep head-start would not keep him safe from receiving down votes. Community is voting according to quality and 1 rep have some benefit in that; it warns community members about a new user so they could be more explanatory before judging with down votes. At least some member would write a welcome message explaning why he had down voted.

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