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"The Problem" is how to enable users who have a low reputation to post good/valuable/worthy comments.

{I realize that this is not a new topic, but I believe it is a new proposal, and the previous proposals have all been marked as "status-declined" for some time. See here for the most complete earlier discussion I found. I am posting this separately so it can be hated and down-voted for how it solves The Problem, rather than for how it solves the problems with previous suggestions.}

It's worth emphasizing that my primary goal is simply to stop the current practise of turning away good content "just" because the source of that content has a low rep. I don't have general data, of course, but I can say that I personally was driven to solve this problem when the ratio of good-answers/comments-I-was-not-allowed-to-post to good-answers-comments-I-was-allowed-to-post hit 10-to-1.

My suggestion has many variants; but here's the simplest and best:

"Sponsorship"

Allow low rep users to post comments and answers, but make these visible ONLY to users whose rep is high enough that THEY could have posted that same comment or answer. And then allow any one of those high-rep users to "sponsor" that post with a single click: a sponsored question or comment is visible to the entire community, marked as coming from "foo, sponsored by bar". Up-votes and down-votes will be applied to BOTH accounts, which is the obvious way to reward good sponsorship and deter any kind of nepotism or special-treatment on the part of a potential sponsor.

There is no need for any relationsip of any kind between low-rep user and sponsor. And there is no suggestion that the sponsor was in any way involved or responsible for the sponsored content, other than having clicked once to tie his/her reputation to that of the sponsored content. (Of course, a high-rep user can always communcate with the author of any content s/he sees. That includes low-rep authors of potentially sponsorable content. Any such communication is completely outside the scope of this proposal. Undoubtedly there will be high-rep users who torture low-rep newbies with endless edits and tweaks to answers, dangling in front of them the carrot of sponsorship. But generally, the answers will continue to be the sort of single-author/one-point-of-view that I think is a real strength of these sites).

There are many many variants of the idea, but as far as I can see, all of them are more complex than this to understand and implement. Perhaps even more important, all of them would make a larger change in the quality of the content that one sees here. Today, one sees "content offered by an invidual who passes the test of having given a certain amount of appropriate content in the past, and who is willing to stake his/her reputation on this new content as well." My proposal doesn't substantially change that, and that's important.

I won't say that it's utterly trivial to implement, but it's pretty damn simple -- certainly much simpler and cleaner to add than any system that involves voting or some new approval structure. Questions and Comments of newbies or other low-rep individuals don't have to be "approved" by anyone; they just have to be "sponsored" -- someone who actually could ask a question or make a comment needs to indicate that "gosh, I wish I had said that". (Well, at the very least, that "gosh, I could have said that.")

I note that no moderator will be harmed as a result of this scheme. Their lives are utterly unaffected (other than the fact that they are likely to find themselves moderating a great deal more content if it is deployed).

As a final comment, I'll also note that to remove all possible objections to the proposal, perhaps one might implement an "opt-in" or "opt-out" check-box. For low-rep users, not opting-in (or opting-out) of the scheme would mean that they'll just have to continute to answer unprotected questions in order to get full privileges. More importantly, for high-rep users, opting-out (or not opting-in) would mean that they will not see the posts of low-rep people at all, so their experience would be unchanged compared to today's. (Except, of course, that they'll get the benefit of the fact that good answerers and commenters will increase their rep much more quickly as a result, which will increase the good content available to all, even the opt-outers). I certainly don't recommend doing opt-out/opt-in for low-rep users. Even for high-rep ones, I think it should only be done if there are LOTS of complaints from established, high-rep users that they just don't want to see any chaff-with-wheat in their Stack Exchange. I don't for a moment deny the existence of chaff, and the need for tiers of participation based on reputation. But I'll bet that there is a LOT of content that everone is missing because the current quality-control mechanism is an exceedingly blunt instrument.

  • Very related idea. (mentor) – ShaWiz Apr 26 '17 at 12:46
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    "how to enable users who have a low reputation to post good/valuable/worthy comments": This already has a solution: Post some good questions and answers. If you truly have a valuable question or answer it takes no more than a fraction of a day to get enough rep to make a comment. – Jason C Apr 26 '17 at 13:21
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    As for sponsorship: What if there were a system where, if you spotted a new user who posted a potentially valuable question or answer, you could sponsor them by awarding them 5 or 10 points (and an option to award answers even more, in multiples of 50, but at your own expense to prevent any abuse, of course)? Oh, wait. – Jason C Apr 26 '17 at 13:26
  • You should ask on ELL what the words "different", "simple" and "efficient" mean – random Apr 26 '17 at 13:43
  • @random: Well, we prefer askers to look up words in dictionaries first. But thanks for the site-rec! – Nathan Tuggy Apr 27 '17 at 0:32
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You missed a vital piece of information, somehow.

Users with low reputation can post answers on unprotected questions without any limit.

Actually, reputation is not relevant when it comes to posting answers on the great majority of the questions, which are not protected. User with 1 rep can post an awesome answer that will get to score of +1000 eventually, and user with 100000 rep can post really bad answer that will get to score of -100/deleted/etc.

As for protected questions, this is a totally different thing and might deserve a totally different discussion. They are rare, and usually protected for good reasons. This answer in NOT about protected questions.

So really no need for any sponsors. One who don't know how to post a good answer can read and learn how to do that, and when ready post answers. (Same goes for questions of course, but question appears to be focused on answers.)

  • Well, user with less than 10 site-gained rep can't post on protected questions; presumably this is what this about on the answer side. – Nathan Tuggy Apr 26 '17 at 22:32
  • @NathanTuggy So they can answer a different question that actually will benefit from receiving an answer instead of 3rd and 4th sometimes 5th answer that repeats the same answer – Ramhound Apr 27 '17 at 0:30
  • @Ramhound: I don't disagree, but let's not kid ourselves: there is a real limit for new users answering. So this answer, as stated, is simply wrong, and in a way that is obvious to anyone chafing at protected question restrictions. – Nathan Tuggy Apr 27 '17 at 0:32
  • @NathanTuggy I don't agree. I had 1 reputation once. Gained 3000 reputation from answers at SO and 20k net from Superuser (I have offered bounties and make liberal use of my ability to downvote questions that are not on topic and commentary answers). It's possible to get hundreds of reputation from a single silly but quality answer as a new user. I could list 10 users at Superuser where that happened just this year. – Ramhound Apr 27 '17 at 0:40
  • @Ramhound: Is it, or is it not, a fact that a user with 1 rep cannot answer a protected question? It is extremely apparent that this is in fact the case. A user currently faced with this may indeed be aware that there is a way for them to get past this barrier, but that doesn't change the fact that it exists, and does, in fact, stop numerous actual answers (of mostly very dubious quality). Those are facts. "Users with low reputation can post answers with no limit whatsoever." is a false and misleading summary, in that it is not factual. Wrong. Incorrect. Whatever you want to call it. – Nathan Tuggy Apr 27 '17 at 0:43
  • @Ramhound: I didn't upvote this feature request; I think it's poorly solving a problem of limited relevance. But it is not solving a problem that doesn't exist, even partially, as this answer claims. – Nathan Tuggy Apr 27 '17 at 0:44
  • @NathanTuggy you are correct, I missed the part about protected questions, but the question in its current form is not about protected questions. If it would be, this answer is indeed not relevant. – ShaWiz Apr 27 '17 at 9:24
  • @ShadowWizard: "For low-rep users, not opting-in (or opting-out) of the scheme would mean that they'll just have to continute to answer unprotected questions in order to get full privileges." -- the question clearly is about protected questions. – Nathan Tuggy Apr 27 '17 at 16:10
  • @NathanTuggy in the last paragraph, mentioned indirectly... no, that's not how question should be asked. If the question is about something, that something should be made clear in the beginning of the question. – ShaWiz Apr 27 '17 at 18:21
  • @ShadowWizard: The idea of allowing new users to answer is in the title itself. It's also in the third and sixth paragraphs. I can understand why you missed these, but, well, they weren't hiding out. – Nathan Tuggy Apr 27 '17 at 18:28
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Not sure the wall of text could be considered 'simple'. Essentially though, it sounds like you want to let high reputation users do triage on comments.

Its worth remembering that these sites are distinctly different from Q&A sites and many users still don't 'get' our ideal way of doing comments.

Lets break it down though

Allow low rep users to post comments and answers

They can post answers (and questions) at 1 reputation. So, this is entirely about comments

Up-votes and down-votes will be applied to BOTH accounts, which is the obvious way to reward good sponsorship and deter any kind of nepotism or special-treatment on the part of a potential sponsor.

Forgetting the fact that the average 1 reputation user, all bright eyed and bushy tailed can post answers anyway, and comments have no reputation attached, why would I risk my reputation for a stranger? But that's fine. They can do their own posts without needing me to sponsor it anyway.

If they need to, they can comment on their own posts anyway.

So... I donno. Not sure what this adds. Most of what you talk about is doable by a low rep user, other than commenting on posts linked to questions they didn't ask.

  • Yes they can. And? – Journeyman Geek Apr 27 '17 at 6:53
  • 1. No, it's not just about comments: answering is often restricted to high-rep users. 2. No, it's not triage by high-rep users. Triage would mean that there is a pile of low-rep answers to "process". In this proposal, you wouldn't see anything at all unless you were looking for answers to that question. 3. You wouldn't 'risk' your reputation at all. You would only ever sponsor a low-rep answer if either it actually answered a question you actually had, OR if it's an answer that you would have written yourself – Scott Petrack Apr 27 '17 at 7:29
  • The only situation where answer is restricted to higher reputation users is when its protected - and that means the question has already attracted poor quality answers. Getting the reputation to post on those (somewhat rare) questions is semi trivial - I'm pretty sure I can start an account on any site where I know the subject at least a little and hit that. – Journeyman Geek Apr 27 '17 at 7:34

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