I guess most of you missed the point. You're suggesting that I have to exploit the system to farm reputation to be able to start using the site productively, rather than start using the site productively to gain reputation. The system is fundamentally flawed. Yes, it works; of course it works. Sort of. But it works because so many people use it, NOT vice versa. And so many people use it because it was the first to fill this niche, not because it's fundamentally well-designed.
This discussion aimed primarily at mathematical (and similar) Stack Exchange sites. What I am saying may not apply to others.
How will new users like myself be able to fully participate in Stack Exchange given its current rules and status quo?
- Most of the features are locked until a significant reputation threshold is met (voting, commenting, ...)
- Pretty much all "easy" to "moderate" level difficulty questions have already been asked many times on here, which means:
- New users will find it nearly impossible to gain reputation by asking questions, since all simple/common/general questions have already been asked. This leaves very specific questions to be asked, which, even if they are very good questions, will only glean a few votes/responses.
- New users will also find it nearly impossible to gain reputation by answering questions, because the new questions that pop up will be very specific in nature (less likely to match our domain of proficiency), difficult to answer (more complicated, deeper), AND we have to compete with a very high volume of users to give an answer that ends up among the best answer(s).
As a result, I feel that Stack Exchange is dominated by a small community of users who built their reputation by "farming" easy questions when the question base of the site was relatively sparse (or even asking then answering their own questions during the site's inception). For the rest of us, it is pretty much an encyclopedia. We are cut off from almost all the interactive components unless we expend a great deal of effort, or perhaps find certain sub-sites to exploit for easy reputation farming (I'm not sure exactly how cross-site reputation functions, so I don't know if this is valid - either way, it's a waste of our time and intelligence).
@Comments saying the above implies I have nothing to contribute to Stack Exchange so the system is working perfectly:
Please think a little more carefully before berating and downvoting this discussion. I can have plenty to contribute just by writing comments to people's answers (often answering other people's questions in the comments to an answer).