Let's have some examples here:

Suppose user A joins the site and helps out other people. Then, user B (neighbor) joins in and helps other people but also has another motive, which is to beat user A when it comes to reputation.

Is it still possible for a new user to beat a veteran user of the site when it comes to all-time reputation? I understand that ratings are a testament to the amount of contribution someone did, and I also understand that the site is not a contest of reputation. I'm just curious if it's possible, since high-ranking users sometimes get upvotes from users "just because" and new users are left in the dust.

A prominent example of this is in Stack Overflow (Between Jon Skeet and basically everyone else)

  • Keep in mind that you can get more than the rep cap every day by having accepted answers, this means it is entirely possible to gain more rep than someone else per day. The only thing in the system holding you back would be finding enough questions to answer in your expertise areas. You just have to consistently for a period of time gain more rep per day than user A. There are certainly users who started after me who have more rep than I do on stackoverflow. – user400654 Dec 7 '15 at 16:21

Yes, it is possible. But for doing so, you have to be very consistent. By consistency, I mean scoring a rep of 150+ everyday.

There are practical impossibilities when you are competing against a user like Jon Skeet, as he keeps hitting the 200 rep everyday due to votes trickling in from his past answers. However, you can still slowly climb up the leaderboards if you maintain consistency, and would sometime be able to challenge the ones at the top.

So, have that hockey stick style growth curve, and some good luck for achieving that; and I don't see why you can't sit amongst the leaders out there.

So in short, it is possible.


It is anything but easy to overtake all-time leaders from the position of being a new user, but if you work hard enough, and long enough, and are highly skilled, then it should be possible to do so on any site.

To maximize your chances it is best to start as near as possible to the minimum age of 13 and hope to live longer than the current leaders, and anyone else that gives you stiff competition.

You should probably be aware that users can continue to accrue reputation past their decease, but so should you.

The following comes from tracking some goals that I set on or soon after 23 Jul 2012 on a much smaller site than Stack Overflow:

  • made top 50 (all time) on 26 Aug 2012
  • made top 25 (all time) on 16 Mar 2013
  • made top 20 (all time) on 20 May 2013
  • made top 15 (all time) on 18 Jul 2013
  • made top 10 (all time) on 5 Oct 2013
  • made top 5 (all time) on 24 Feb 2015

As @ben is uǝq backwards has pointed out in a comment, reviewing Is excessive bounty hunting good etiquette? may help you to exceed the 200 pts per day limit to make closing on the leaders quicker.


It has to do with how much positive participation the new user puts in, and how active the older user remains.

This are the criteria:

  • participation
  • quality of participation
  • actual expertise
  • ability to give clear and easy to understand answers

The criteria above came from my personal experience. I have seen many people that have joined various forums after me and have surpassed my by far.

If I don't spend a lot of hours on the forums, I'll have less chances to see questions of which I have expertise. Then when I actually see questions of which I have expertise I type an answer that is clear to me but isn't clear enough for the user to accept it. While I'm pondering for a way to make my answer clearer, someone with more experience/expertise and ability to give very clear and easy to follow answers will add an answer that becomes accepted and start getting many votes.

So, you can take the most skilled for person with the best ability to convey the best answer, but if he doesn't have time to contribute, he won't get the rating that some of that devotes more time will get. Also if a person that has less than the best expertise spend more time than anyone, but gives answers that doesn't work, they might inadvertently progress in a negative direction by getting votes for answers that are not helpful. The general public are not voting on the most answers. They are voting on answers that solves problems and are clear and easy to follow.

I'm finding that the more I participate, the better I'm getting at giving good answers. I'm also learning and gaining in expertise. But I still have a long way to go when you consider the 10's of thousands of users that are participating on the system.

I'm glad for the checks and balances to give reasons for a user to be careful and give productive answers, rather than just post anything to gain popularity.

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