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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?

  1. Most of the features are locked until a significant reputation threshold is met (voting, commenting, ...)
  2. Pretty much all "easy" to "moderate" level difficulty questions have already been asked many times on here, which means:
    1. 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.
    2. 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).

  • If Stack Exchange is merely an encyclopedia with no more questions left to be asked, that's great! That's why it's here. Why do you need reputation if everything is already done? – zondo Apr 5 '17 at 16:20
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    There's an infinite number of good new questions to be asked. There's an infinite number of good answers to give (asking and answering are not gated by reputation). Additionally, suggesting edits will give you reputation for each accepted one (to a certain cap), which will get you to all minimal privileges you speak of. – Oded Apr 5 '17 at 16:23
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    15 reputation is "significant"? 50? I don't really think I agree with your sense of scale. 15 rep is one decent question (three upvotes) or eight useful edits. – Catija Apr 5 '17 at 16:23
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    Consider looking at the New Users Reputation page... here it is on Mathematics. These are all relatively recent users who have made the top reputation increases, generally in about a month or so... the top user on that list right now is a 16 year old who's earned nearly 2K rep in a month. Look at what they have done as an example to see what you can do to earn reputation. :) – Catija Apr 5 '17 at 16:29
  • Suggesting edit is the easiest way, but may take a long time. If you can answer something, then monitor the "newest" questions with tags that you feel comfortable. You may need to be FGITW, but as long as the answer is on-quality, then you're good to go. Try to focus in 1 site first until 200 rep, and you'll get associate bonus of 100 rep on every site. – Meta Andrew T. Apr 5 '17 at 16:32
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    speaking as a 17 year old maths and physics student who has 500 rep on maths.SE and 600 on physics.SE - just keep waiting until there is a question you can answer, or ask your own, then you can gain a lot with edits, and keep this up until 500 rep where you unlock review, allowing you to gain even more reputation – Alex Robinson Apr 5 '17 at 16:36
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    SE doesn't exist to give you points. It exists to create a useful repository of knowledge. If you have nothing of value to contribute to that repository of knowledge then that you aren't able to earn reputation is the desirable consequence. – Servy Apr 5 '17 at 17:03
  • @Apollys That comment is not going to help you get what you want, assuming you have some concrete objective here. In general, history teaches us that while sometimes there's a lone genius who the world laughed at and was ultimately vindicated, in the overwhelming majority of cases, if you say "you're all stupid" and everyone else disagrees, it has borne out that when everyone else is telling you you're wrong, you're wrong. In this case, your Q is a duplicate, it's been asked and answered before, and you're getting downvoted for not doing your homework and discovering that for yourself. – Dan Bron Apr 5 '17 at 18:20
  • No, this discussion is not equivalent to prior discussions marked as a duplicate. Anyway, goodbye SE~ back to being a passive user. – Apollys supports Monica Apr 5 '17 at 18:27
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    Answering questions in comments is an unacceptable practice. Comments are not for real content. If you're answering in comments, you're doing SE wrong. – Catija Apr 5 '17 at 18:38
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    I thought you were leaving? Anyway, nobody is telling you to farm reputation so that you can abuse the site to use site features inappropriately, they're telling you not to abuse site features in the first place, which would mean you don't need any reputation to begin with. You are the only person saying that you should be farming reputation to abuse site features, nobody else. – Servy Apr 6 '17 at 15:42
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    @Cursed1701 "until 500 rep where you unlock review, allowing you to gain even more reputation" - how you get reputation from review? – Shadow9 Apr 6 '17 at 16:19
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So I wrote an answer to this question regarding why users with less than 15 reputation do not have basic privileges. Your question triggered me though so I'm going to address your points and talk about one of my favorite things about StackExchange.

Most of the features are locked until a significant reputation threshold is met (voting, commenting, ...)

Yes this is expected. See my answer above. It doesn't take a LOT of reputation to be able to do this. Quite honestly it's the equivalent of getting 3 upvotes on a question, or getting 2 upvotes on an answer.

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.

Yeah sure a lot of questions are not available anymore but would you want a bunch of redundant questions floating all around StackExchanges? How is that providing value to our current users? Also if that question has been asked and it has an answer, is it really worth asking? What separates your question from the duplicate? StackExchange wants to reward unique, new questions. This isn't to say that your question, even if its similar to another one, won't get upvotes -- its based on if people can relate to your question and are interested on the answer. We value questions that people are interested in so its very community driven so when you say you have an issue with how the system works, it can be interpreted as you have an issue with how this community works.

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).

Yes and this is a good thing. Competition brings about better quality and the takeaway isn't to just give up. What can you do to make your answer better? Can you make yours better? Does it even make sense if you can just improve their answer? (although I guess you couldn't because you are struggling getting a single upvote it sounds like). Also its good to have very specific questions so that we can hone in on specific answers. Broad questions can be good but it's hard to know if the answer someone is looking for is in that broad question and ultimately we want to optimize for that. The less digging users need to do to find the answer they are looking for, the better.

Just an FYI, in my experience for some StackExchanges, your questions don't even need to be that broad. StackOverflow for example will still reward you if you include code and specify what issue you are running into for what scenario. You might get the same error as maybe another question and the solution might be the same but that doesn't mean it isn't valuable to other users and from my experience, people will still reward that question.

Okay now that I've addressed your questions, let me just make a final point that one of my favorite parts about the StackExchange system is it values curiosity as much as it does knowledge. Think about it:

  • Just asking good questions and getting upvotes gives you half the reputation of giving a good answer. Naturally we still value knowledge so questions are getting answered, but in a way I kind of think of it as StackExchange values a good answer as two good questions.
  • You get reputation for accepting answers. For god sake you could have a useless question, but screw it just the fact that you are closing your question and accepting an answer provides value to the community because it makes it easier for someone who may be looking for an answer to your question to find.
  • StackExchange is still working on rewarding users in other ways. StackOverflow is still testing Documentation feature and it sounds like they are hoping to make it not have a really high requirement to add changes.

It's not like you have to reach a certain reputation on every site. StackExchange has been pretty good about this by making sure you don't have to go through this once you hit 200 reputation on any site.

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