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The combination of reputation score requirements for site interaction and the heavy splitting of the website into many similar but slightly different sub-sites with independent user accounts creates a frustrating situation for non-power-users.

Here are examples from some situations that I frequently find myself in:

Situation A:

  • A search for answers to programming-related topics leads me to a page on a Stack Exchange website with a posted answer that seems promising

  • The posted answer does not work for me, or I could use clarification on the answer; posting a comment on the answer would help solve the issue

  • It turns out that I am not allowed to post a comment because the question is posted in an obscure Stack Exchange site for which I have no reputation points, and my only option is to post a new question when all I really need is clarification on the previous answer.

  • Case in point: Boxplot for several distributions?

Situation B:

  • I find answers to relevant questions on an obscure Stack Exchange site which I have never used before, and I decide that it would be an appropriate place to post my own question on a similar topic

  • After doing a lot of research on the question, I try to put together a quality post with plenty of cross-references to help keep the site's content cross-linked and to help with Google searches

  • Due to my lack of reputation on said site, my ability to include links in my question is restricted, leading things such as this embarrassingly butchered post: https://webapps.stackexchange.com/questions/95430/private-development-to-do-list-for-an-organizations-public-repository

Does this really constitute the site designer's intentions for the site, or is this an unfortunate side-effect of what Stack Exchange has grown into? Take my own account, for example: http://stackexchange.com/users/6989882/user5359531?tab=accounts

I am currently a member of 17 different Stack Exchange sites. 9 of these are directly related to programming in some way (possibly more, subjectively), all with very similar content. Yet I can only post without restrictions in 2 of these sites. I have maintained this account for almost a year now (SO) and use the website daily; the fact that I still cannot post without restrictions on topics I am familiar with or seeking help on seems quite ridiculous.

The obvious solution is to simply post more answers and get more reputation points, but this begets the title question: "Why is Stack Exchange biased against casual and cosmopolitan users?" If I do build up rep posting answers to R questions in Stack Overflow, I find myself unable to even post a comment on an R question in Cross Validated. Posting worthwhile answers and questions is no small task either, considering that the sheer size and amount of covered by Stack Exchange sites means that in most cases, your question/answer has already been posted.

Is this a topic that the site designers care about enough to devise a solution? Or have we just accepted that "this is the way it is on Stack Exchange"?

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    If you get to 200 reputation on any site, you automatically get a +100 reputation bonus on all other sites you join. – Aza Jul 20 '16 at 1:20
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    You may not be aware of this, but once you earn 200 rep on any SE site, the system will automatically grant you +100 on every site. This is because earning 200 rep on one site proves, to the satisfaction of the system, that you know how basic Q&A works, and you're unlikely to post noise. So it removes most "beginner restraints" (like being unable to comment) on all sites. So that accounts for "cosmopolitan users". As for "casual users", they're restrained by default because long experience has proven the benefits of doing so outweigh the costs. Your first bike had training wheels, right? – Dan Bron Jul 20 '16 at 1:22
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    Key trick to getting editors/reviewers to help format your question, don't pollute your question, with comments complaint about your lack of reputation – Ramhound Jul 20 '16 at 2:32
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    Possible duplicate of What is the association bonus? – gnat Jul 20 '16 at 4:11
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    The use of "cosmopolitan" in this question hurts my head. – Won't Jul 20 '16 at 18:09
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    @gnat The fact that answers may be the same does not a duplicate make. Duplicate closures are for similar or identical questions, not answers. – ArtOfCode Jul 20 '16 at 19:45
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    @ArtOfCode that's not how I read guidance here: "if the other question helps them, they're happy because they got an answer... this is subtly different from saying "If that other question isn't asking the exact same thing as yours..." That's because the proof is in the answers... we now indicate "This question already has an answer here"... The fundamental goal of dupes is to help people find the right answer by getting all of the answers in one place... much better experience for the asker and the Googler who just want to find an answer." – gnat Jul 20 '16 at 19:48
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    @gnat Sure, but for someone who wants to understand the answer and why it's the answer rather than being spoon-fed, this practice is actively unhelpful. There's a meta post somewhere dictating that; Shog speaks against it. – ArtOfCode Jul 20 '16 at 19:50
  • @ArtOfCode per my reading, duplicate clearly answers the question: "Is this a topic that the site designers care about enough to devise a solution?" The answer is that designers care enough to devise a solution and duplicate explains the solution in details and duplicate also explains the reasoning: "bonus is awarded because you have proven that you know your way around the basic features of any Stack Exchange website" – gnat Jul 20 '16 at 19:57
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    200 rep is not "power user" level. Your frustration is well known, and has been designed for. Once you reach 200 rep you will see that your problem evaporates. Your assumption that the designers didn't think of this, or thought of this and made a choice that would hurt people like you, was wrong. Remember that next time you're sure you know the motivations behind something you're observing. – Kate Gregory Jul 20 '16 at 22:11
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This answer is obsolete. The asker got the mentioned 100 rep bonus soon after I posted it.


As Emrakul mentioned in the comments, there's already a solution to this. Your current reputation on Stack Overflow (the site where you have the most rep) is very close to 200 - once you reach 200 rep on any Stack Exchange site, you gain 100 rep on EVERY SINGLE SITE YOU HAVE JOINED AND YOU COULD EVER JOIN!


Follow-up question: But how will I hit 200 rep on SO?
Answer: Post more good answers. You currently have 175 rep on SO, therefore 3 answer upvotes (10 rep each) is enough to get you the 100 rep bonus. Alternatively, you can get 5 question upvotes (5 rep each) or successfully edit 13 posts (2 rep each).

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Edit: note that the answer by dorukayhan is meant to address the problem of acquiring some necessary minimum of reputation points, rather than the nature of bias (whether present or absent). I can't presume to know the overall functioning of the S.E.N., hence have sought to at least try to help alleviate one of the issues pointed out in the question (specifically: that of one's reputation points).


Your profile shows that you're close to the 200(+) on S.O., right now. That's close enough to be frustrating. You (and future readers of this answer) might find more rapid satisfaction of earning the 200(+) reputation points within one of the sites that you might not otherwise consider to be your main focus.

  • E.g. (by way of my own experience): I prefer math and physics, but find that most of the S.E. posts on these topics are beyond my scope, so I poked around and found that there were useful questions stagnating in the Chess S.E.. I did OK in the Chess S.E., and even met the 200+ point criterion through it.
         Upon having begun [recently] posting answers to the Worldbuilding S.E., my reputation points there quite surprisingly jumped very rapidly. Had I begun in the latter, then my +100 S.E.N. bonus would have occurred quite a bit sooner than it had (though the drawback to such would have been less experience prior to this result).

Though none of the above example S.E.s is necessarily your niche, perhaps another S.E. would produce results well for you.

My suggestions:

  • Find an S.E. that is simply pleasant to your taste in general, look into the unanswered questions, take your time to research the answers well (some of the older ones are still worthwhile to answer, and are hardly liable to present much competition), and you'll soon enough acquire the 200(+) points.

  • Alternatively (instead or as well), find a "soft" S.E. (one wherein you might typically see answers accrue up-votes rapidly), and give good answers. This might be made easier still, if you happen to answer during low-churn hours. (For example, take S.O. itself: this S.O. blog entry [complete with chart] indicates that the least-active hours are ~05:00-08:00 GMT/UTC, while this S.E. meta question has 2 answers that show the daily peaks and troughs).

(Note that quality is still important in each case, of course, even though some of the up-votes seem to be more by popularity of answer than by quality thereof.)

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