(matters of association bonus are probably not important for large sites)

Immediately granting association bonus carries certain risk of destructive impact (comments and votes) from users totally unfamiliar with site topics, norms and culture.

I think it makes good sense to ignore this risk at beta sites which struggle for existence and attention and are desperate for any feedback, especially positive one (upvotes).

But graduated sites have no such need in indiscriminate feedback and upvotes from passers by.

These sites have already proven their ability to sustain and have formed core groups of active users involved in maintaining and curating content. For these sites, it doesn't make sense to ignore mentioned risks.

Given above, suggest to delay granting association bonus at graduated sites until at least after 2-3 days visited. Want to participate? stick with us (for at least a day or two).

I think this would help protecting smaller graduated sites from senseless comments and upvotes of users who have no interest in longer term participation. Especially in hot questions.


  • Graduation, site closure, and a clearer outlook on the health of SE sites

    Past experience had led us to believe that... high quality sites would always grow big and graduate. But you proved us wrong! Five years later, we have lots of tiny sites which have been in public beta for months or years, each consistently producing excellent Q&A which helps people with real problems.

  • The association bonus should not enable users to vote on every site

    interaction between the hot questions feature and the low barrier to voting on sites where one didn't earn any reputation at all leads to a distortion of voting and dilutes the usefulness of post scores...

  • A Group Is Its Own Worst Enemy

    Members are different than users... in all successful online communities that I've looked at, a core group arises that cares about and gardens effectively. Gardens the environment, to keep it growing, to keep it healthy... The core group has rights that trump individual rights in some situations. This pulls against the libertarian view that's quite common on the network, and it absolutely pulls against the one person/one vote notion. But you can see examples of how bad an idea voting is when citizenship is the same as ability to log in...

  • 5
    (to save effort for future commenters) I have 200 (2K... 20K...) rep on Stack Overflow, how dare you limit me
    – gnat
    Commented Jan 5, 2016 at 21:06
  • 1
    Can you clarify whether "after 2-3 days visited" means "you must visit on 2/3 days" (and is it required to be consecutive) or "2/3 days after your first visit"?
    – jscs
    Commented Jan 5, 2016 at 22:52
  • 2
    @JoshCaswell days visited are meant precisely in the sense used in tag here (visited-days - compare to another, different tag - consecutive-days). Stack Exchange sites keep count of visited days, it is shown (privately) to users in their profiles. It's not consecutive. For example, my MSE profile currently says "visited 1513 days, 160 consecutive" - I mean first number here
    – gnat
    Commented Jan 5, 2016 at 22:56
  • 1
    I upvoted. Being a moderator on a 1,500 question Beta site and a 60,000 question graduated site (is that small?), I agree that Beta sites can be desperate for any questions/votes. I think you should drop the distinction between small graduated sites and other graduated sites, and just maintain it between beta and graduated.
    – PolyGeo
    Commented Jan 5, 2016 at 23:13
  • @PolyGeo I made a distinction primarily to avoid bothering SO folks who likely have no issues at all with association bonus. Besides SO (and possibly Math, SU, and AU) all other sites probably qualify as smaller ones, having less than 100 questions a day. Being active at site having about 50 q/day I certainly perceive it as small one
    – gnat
    Commented Jan 5, 2016 at 23:21
  • 2
    I upvoted too. We unfortunately had a drama back at chem.SE where a 100k'er on SO wasn't familiar with our culture and posted a VLQ answer. Also many regulars tend to whine about the unfair amount of passer-by upvotes a bikeshedding question gets.
    – M.A.R.
    Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 9:37

4 Answers 4


Sometimes I register on a new site to post a comment, or upvote, or use other functions that sometimes require more than 1 reputation. I register, because I want to use the function now, not in 2-3 days, not in 6-8 weeks. I also register to contribute and putting hurdles in the way of possibly well-meaning users is not a good idea. I usually don't need the privileges that come with 100 reputation (edit community wiki, create chat rooms), so I'd be happy with a smaller association bonus, say 75 (set bounties).

That some users gain easy points on other sites and use the association bonus to spam or disrupt other sites may be a problem, but I don't think it is solved by making it harder for experienced users to contribute positively to another site.

  • 7
    "just because you know how to code in JavaScript doesn't mean you know how to answer a protected question on the Islam site. And just because you understand the site culture of Programmers doesn't mean you know how the community at Computer Science expects questions to be answered" (Why is Association Bonus ignored when trying to answer a protected question?)
    – gnat
    Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 0:12
  • 1
    Protected questions should have tighter restrictions (I'd say in addition to blocking answers it should also block comments), but that's a separate matter that I think already has meta questions. Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 1:26
  • 2
    @gnat Well, I know that SE looks for quality answers and knowing JavaScript doesn't mean I can't know about Islam without waiting for three days before posting. I think it's fair that I'm able to give it a shot. If I fail, there are still downvotes and flags to tell me how much I was out of line (if at all).
    – Earthliŋ
    Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 6:13

At least several times a week (twice today, for instance), Googling a problem I'm trying to solve takes me to an answer on some Stack Exchange site. If it helped me, I upvote it. That's only fair; that's what upvotes are for. Because I'm active on the network I can do that, even if it's a site I've never posted on. Most of my "101" accounts exist because I wanted to either vote on or flag something.

If you impose a longevity requirement -- at any level beyond "right now" -- you will block people who use SE like that. You will also block helpful comments from the Jon Skeets of the world who just have never had a reason to visit your site before. Those are losses for the community. I'd rather have to clean up a few garbage comments than lose that signal -- even on a site I moderate that has a comments problem.

Your response to this is that all they have to do is visit for 2-3 days and then they'll be allowed to participate -- no big deal, you think. Most people who have something to contribute in passing, or as their entry into a new community, are not going to do that. You're asking them to bookmark a question, come back a couple more times, and then finally they'll be allowed to post -- if they remember, if what they were going to say is still relevant, etc. That is unrealistic. Your community just isn't that important to them yet; instead they're just going to go away. I want Jon Skeet (sure, I'll keep using him as an example) to be able to drop a link to relevant-but-obscure documentation in a comment now, not three days from now (if he even bothers then) when people have wasted time trying to solve the problem.

I know you don't like Hot Network Questions, and that's probably what's motivating this request -- though this latest proposal would affect every single question on a site, not just hot or protected ones. No. Too much collateral damage, even if I agreed that HNQ is a problem that Must Be Fixed.

Besides, if you do this, you're just encouraging everybody to create accounts on every site and spend a few hours over a weekend cycling through them (or writing a script) to rack up "visited" days. My guess is that the people you most want to prevent from voting or commenting are exactly the ones who will rise to this challenge.

  • would be neat if this feature motivated more folks like that. From what you describe, they have long term interest in site topics and are willing to invest effort into searching the web and maintaining presence on the site, having them as potential participants would be great
    – gnat
    Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 6:42
  • No, you misunderstand. The people who are interested enough to be searching and land on something they can contribute to usually haven't been active before, or they'd have gone there directly to look. The people who will prepare 150 accounts "just in case" are more likely to be SE's "problem users", the ones who leave a trail of snarky comments behind them wherever they go. (We're not talking about the 1-rep users, who can also be disruptive; they don't have association bonuses.) Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 14:18
  • let me see. These problem users (trolls?), to them proposed feature would mean more work. They would have to create accounts at target sites beforehand and after that, they would have to spend some effort simulating visited days. While currently, they can do what they want instantly, without any effort. Do I understand you correctly?
    – gnat
    Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 16:03
  • 1
    That much you understand. But you missed the rest: your proposal blocks all the legitimate users who didn't do that but have something to contribute -- and it doesn't prevent the behavior you're trying to block. (Insert name of favorite SE troll here) will still be able to participate on your site; (Jon Skeet equivalent) won't. That's too high a price to pay. You're focusing on the last paragraph of my answer; read the rest of it again. Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 16:16
  • you are right, my proposal blocks the potentially legitimate users - or more precisely, delays granting them participation privileges until 2-3 days visited. I explained why I consider this okay for graduated sites (beta sites are different matter)
    – gnat
    Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 16:20
  • 1
    "Wait 2-3 days" = "punt" in most cases; you're asking for a lot of dedication in somebody who wants to contribute something useful in passing. People are not going to bookmark the question and keep trying for several days until they're allowed to post (if what they were going to offer is even still relevant then). I'll make that more explicit in an edit. Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 16:37
  • Monica, we're talking only about comments and upvotes, remember? answers are free for everyone, bonus doesn't relate to these
    – gnat
    Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 16:49
  • Fair point about answers, but I still think the comments and votes shouldn't be blocked. See my edit. Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 16:54
  • 1
    "allowed to participate" -- doesn't sound fair don't you think? "answers are the real unit of work in any Q&A..." - your wording makes it sound like request proposes disallow these, while it actually isn't. Side note wonder if your prior comment intentionally inverts key point from the article referred in request 'anyone who bookmarks that page and says "You know, I really want to be in there; maybe I'll go back later," that's the kind of user MeFi wants to have...'
    – gnat
    Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 16:58
  • We want the guy who actually bookmarks the page and comes back, but that's the high end. We don't only want that guy. This comment thread is getting long and I don't think I'm getting through to you, so we should just agree to disagree. Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 17:04

I think this would help protecting smaller graduated sites from senseless comments and upvotes of users who have no interest in longer term participation. Especially in hot questions. "as discussed eg here")

I like to call what you are referring and linking to here the "HNQ voting problem". I agree that it's a big issue and could do with a solution.

However, I'm not sure if the measure you're suggesting in OP would really help that much with regards to that particular concern. What would happen? The first time these casual visitors come to a Hot Network Question on any given site and want to vote, they'll join the site and attempt to vote. They'll find that they can't vote (for another 2-3 days) and perhaps feel a bit annoyed. However, the next week, when they see another interesting question from the HNQ list, they will be able to vote.

Personally, if this was implemented, I would probably preemptively join all sites I may even have the slightest conceivable interest in, just to make sure I won't have to wait three days to vote should I ever come across a good question or answer from the site.

When a question hits the HNQ and gets a lot of votes, it obviously got most of its votes from visitors from other sites. I'm not sure how many of those 101 rep visitors created their account right then and there. Sure, a few probably did, but I would be surprised if most of them did. For a lot of them, this is probably the third, fourth or even 20th time they vote on a HNQ, so they already have accounts. The fact that they stop by and vote on HNQs doesn't necessarily mean they have learned much about the subject matter of that particular community.

Anyway, this suggestion would limit that particular effect a bit, but not enough, IMO. You'd only exclude first-time HNQ visitor voters. I like the solutions outlined in the other question and answers much better. And perhaps you do too, since I see you've awarded bounties there?

I also agree with many of the concerns other answers to this question have raised.

  • I meant to say that I expect the impact of proposed change to be more noticeable in HNQ than in regular questions. This is because I think that voting patterns of those organically discovering regular questions (from Google) differ from those of random passers-by "bombing" the site through sidebar. I also expect some "taming" effect of this feature on issues related to HNQ but it seems hard to tell without trying
    – gnat
    Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 20:03
  • 1
    @gnat Yeah, I agree pretty much with everything you said in that comment.
    – Fiksdal
    Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 20:05

It is simply not in our rights to revoke the privileges of the users because of their intentions. Unless it is harmful to SE and/or its community, the privileges should be kept for the user.

Maybe the user only wants to login to give a helpful user he found on Google and want to say thanks or something like that. Voting should be encouraged and moderation should also be highly encouraged. Why start at the bottom just because you think you're not staying there long time. Flagging starts at 15 rep... most people should know when to flag and how to flag. Anyone abusing their new privileges will be acted upon by the system and/or site moderators.

By revoking privileges and making it harder for good users to contribute because you think they're not there constantly is not acceptable. Sometimes users do not want or simply cannot gather enough rep for the privileges. If this was to be applied, what use is the association bonus anymore?

The bonus is only given to users (with 200+ rep) because they know the basics of SE, not the site itself. That is probably one of the reasons you cannot downvote at all. What is the association bonus? :

The bonus is awarded because you have proven that you know your way around the basic features of any Stack Exchange website, and with those 100 extra points you can now comment, vote, flag and create bounties on all SE sites.

  • 1
    is it too much to visit site for for a day or two to unlock privileges
    – gnat
    Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 0:35
  • 4
    Yes, yes it is. Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 0:40
  • exactly the attitude that leads to feature requests like this
    – gnat
    Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 0:41
  • 1
    "Sometimes users do not want or simply cannot gather enough rep for the privileges." Then why on earth should they be granted the privileges? They're privileges, and they're based on rep, for a reason.
    – jscs
    Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 6:00

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