I've asked a few questions on SE so far and I've always preferred waiting for an answer by a user having a reputation > 10,000. I find a similar story in the case of SE answers I find on random googling.

People often give votes based on user reputation rather than answer content. Is this a good culture? It seems extremely difficult for new users to come up in rep as they hold a low rep tag right from the beginning.

Is this culture good? Or is it an invalid argument completely?

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    It seems you're missing the fact that everyone was a new user once. – M.A.R. Aug 29 '15 at 6:37
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    It was quite different a few years ago. The questions were more fundamental, number of users were a lot lesser – martianwars Aug 29 '15 at 6:38
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    It's true that in betas there are more votes; but consider this: What if the high-rep answerer has given so many answers that knows how to formulate a good answer? I've seen new users that accumulate massive rep in a few months. – M.A.R. Aug 29 '15 at 6:39
  • Check the leagues, there are people who've taken 6 years to get 10k and others less than a year – Robert Longson Aug 29 '15 at 6:54
  • Very unpopular opinion: I don't think it's true that "People often give votes based on user reputation rather than answer content", but I think it's true that answers from high-reputation users comparable to answers from low-reputation users get more upvotes, because people trust high reputation users. This also applies to me on Ask Ubuntu, where I have 9K+ reputation. – kos Aug 29 '15 at 6:55
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    @kos I actually agree, just not agree with "based on". It's natural to click the up arrow as soon as you see, say, Jon or Balus's answer. But it also relies on the fact that they've done it so much they know how to do it. I've seen many, many answers from very knowledgeable new users that were hard to understand because they didn't exactly know how to formulate their answer. – M.A.R. Aug 29 '15 at 7:24
  • Not really difficult if you are willing to persevere - on Chem.SE, I am over 4k in 4 months. – user289879 Aug 29 '15 at 7:31
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    @santiago's right on spot. In fact, on bigger sites high quality and positive contributions get more rewards. – M.A.R. Aug 29 '15 at 7:36

I'd like to draw your attention to the fact that you yourself are perpetuating the differential. If you accepted the best answer instead of waiting for a 10k+ post, you'd contribute to solving the problem. With your present approach, you are making the problem worse. With this in mind, your question becomes a contradiction in terms.

  • interrobang :- Convenient way to blame it all on the asker and discourage participation. Find it quite common here as a newcomer – martianwars Aug 29 '15 at 8:18
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    @KalpeshKrishna - it's more of the case: medice cura te ipsum. If you want the situation to change, you have to start from yourself. – Deer Hunter Aug 29 '15 at 8:40
  • Agreed, I'm trying to learn. But really disheartened to see this negative way of answering questions on SE. Matches the question statement in some sense – martianwars Aug 29 '15 at 8:43
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    @KalpeshKrishna Yeah, but DeerHunter is correct. People litter the streets, maybe they're already messy, but throwing down your sweety wrapper is making the issue worse :) – James Aug 29 '15 at 14:04

It's a bit of a snowball effect.

You should accept (or upvote if you didn't ask the question) the answer that actually answers your question in a way you understand. In a perfect world where everyone votes based on the accuracy of the content, you could be guided by the votes on the answers but this isn't a perfect world... regardless, I try to avoid looking at the rep of the user who posted the answer, except as an afterthought.

In reality, reputation attracts votes... so someone with 20K rep and a half-assed answer can get lots of upvotes simply because people assume they know what they're talking about or because they just want to vote for X famous user.

I've seen highly-voted answers that are outright wrong because the subject isn't particularly well-understood and people vote anyway, assuming the answer is correct, simply because it comes from a high-rep user... and then the answer that's actually correct gets almost no votes because it comes along later and no one bothers to keep reading down the page.

As the asker of the question, you have a small amount of additional power... you get to choose your preferred answer and that answer will appear first, regardless of votes (and assuming you didn't post it yourself).

Use that power wisely... consider the answers you get and accept the answer that works for you, not necessarily the answer that's popular or comes from a high-rep user. You could certainly wait a bit before accepting an answer to see what people think of the answers you receive... there's no deadline for accepting. Similarly, if a new answer does a better job of explaining what to do, you can always change which answer you accept.

Keep in mind that specialists join the site every day - a user with 10 rep (on Stack Overflow) could be a programmer with 20 years of experience at a top-tier company or (on Seasoned Advice) a chef with 15 years working in a five-star restaurant... It's a bit silly for you to disregard answers simply because the user doesn't have 10K.

  • Yeah but do askers follow this? – martianwars Aug 29 '15 at 6:53
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    @KalpeshKrishna I'm not sure what you mean... Some askers certainly do... many do not... but there's no way for SE to force users to behave a particular way when it comes to voting. – Catija Aug 29 '15 at 6:55
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    How about something like hiding reputation in some form? Perhaps for the first few hours? – martianwars Aug 29 '15 at 6:56
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    @KalpeshKrishna Already recommended. At least twice, in fact. – Catija Aug 29 '15 at 6:59
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    Here's another and this one is actually marked "declined". – Catija Aug 29 '15 at 7:09
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    @Kalpesh Reputation is an indication of how much we should trust the author of a post. Why would anyone hide an indicator? It's like saying "I wanna cover my car's lights because they hurt my eyes." – M.A.R. Aug 29 '15 at 7:31

Another thing to consider is that some of those with high rep are not necessarily experts in those fields, but are learning themselves (by asking questions and researching answers) - although not 10K, my 4K+ on Chem.SE in 4 months is not because I am a Chemistry expert - rather, I take the questions as a challenge, I have no Chemistry qualifications at all.

My point is the rep is not necessarily a measure of how much of discipline area expert the member is, it is more an indicator of their continued contributions and perseverence.


I think it might be worth stepping back and looking at what does get users most of there reputation.

In short you get the most rep from good answers to questions. The next question you need to ask is what makes a good answer? (if there is a blog post for "good answer" like @JonSkeet's one on writing a good question, someone feel free to link it (doh! Jon has already done that!)

The following is mostly StackOverflow based, but I'm sure the concepts can be mapped to other sites.

Good answers IMHO are the ones that:

  • provide a clear explanation of why the OP's code wasn't working (bad syntax, typo, wrong API, env specifics, deprecation, or even politely indicating they are trying to solve the problem the wrong way)
  • provide a clear solution to the problem (a simple, well formatted code sample... With inline comments pointing out any really tricky parts... E.g. A critical space in a complex RegEx)
  • finish with any info about any applicable specs/APIs or gotcha's (e.g. This doesn't work on Firefox on a Windows XP due to ${LinkToBugSlashMoreInfo}
  • alternatively finish with any alternative solution that may also apply (e.g. OP asked how to do X in JavaScript... The solution you provided is a 12 line monster... But you'd like to indicate that if they have jQuery available they can call the following simple 1-liner.

The aim is to provide the canonical answer that doesn't just say "hey! You're doing it wrong!" or just a 1 line code snippet "foo.getBar(bazValue);"

Now this all said, there is value in getting your answer posted fast/first (if a brand new question). You're likely not the only person that knows the answer.


  1. Answering questions before 8am Eastern U.S. Or after 4:45pm on weekdays or anytime on weekends will dramatically decrease your "lightning fast competition"
  2. Answering on mobile is convenient but insanely hard to be fast... Keep to older questions where speed isn't an issue
  3. You can edit and refine your answers. So if you can provide the correct code snippet first, then go back and edit your answer to include some of the more intricate details and explanations you may find that you can avoid being the last one to the party.
  4. If you are not a touch typist, but are open to learning please consider it. Being able to touch type isn't a requirement for programming or even using a computer but it will make your input much quicker and more accurate. It just so happens that on StackOverflow and StackExchange sites where speed can dramatically help your rep performance... It comes in really handy.
  5. Proofread. After posting an answer go back and verify that what you wrote in haste was accurate and articulated well. re-read the OP's question too (especially if they edited it) as you may have overlooked a critical bit because you rushed to answer.

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