There have been occasions when I haven't known the answer to questions, but known people who did. When I think of it, I usually try to send them a link to the question.

It could be useful to have a way to refer people directly from the question page.

Know someone who might be able to answer this question?
Enter their email address here: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
We'll send them a note, and if they answer you'll earn a few extra points.
We won't save their address, and we won't ever send them unsolicited email.

Other services like Aardvark allow you to refer friends, and it seems to work really well -- users seem to use it, their friends often answer questions referred to them, and my impression is that people don't generally think of it as spammy.

I think it would have the benefit of bringing tough questions to the attention of people likely to know the answers, and it would also extend Stack Overflow's realm of influence to people who might not otherwise know about the service. Using referrals would advocate Stack Overflow in the best possible way: by people who already know and like the service, to people they know and likely respect.

I think this is a feature I'd probably use, and I imagine others might too.

PS: There's a small concern about disingenuous users potentially gaming the system by using multiple accounts if you were to offer a point reward for referrals. Hopefully this would be an edge case, and it probably wouldn't be too hard to detect and dissuade by limiting the number of questions that can collect points when sent to the same user's email address.

1 Answer 1



I really don't like this idea. I HATE it when people enter my email address on another site to refer me to said site. SO may not store email addresses, but other sites certainly do. Thus, I try to educate my friends to never, ever enter my (or anybody else's) email address on such a site. SO should not be an exception.

Just imagine how many people would email Jon Skeet!

Aside from that:

  • Just email the non-SO user directly. I don't think one needs to get reputation (even only a little) for simply handing over somebody else's email address.
  • As you say yourself, there is the possibility of gaming the system. It's more trouble than it's worth.
  • 3
    It's a shame that No couldn't be any bigger.
    – random
    Nov 15, 2009 at 9:45
  • It can, random :) Nov 15, 2009 at 10:33
  • @John :o beat me by one minute... I was about to add this one: student.science.uva.nl/~sschroev/so/29808/no.png
    – Stephan202
    Nov 15, 2009 at 10:34
  • 1
    Fixed, made your image clickable ;)
    – Stephan202
    Nov 15, 2009 at 10:40
  • 1
    @Stephan202: I saved you from being downvoted: Massive lack of freehand circles! Nov 15, 2009 at 10:41
  • A freehand eyebrow has got to count for something.
    – Stephan202
    Nov 15, 2009 at 10:45
  • @Stepahn202: We are harsh on Meta! We have no sense for subtlety :) Nov 15, 2009 at 10:50
  • Wow, how awesome is it that by trying to help out the community, I lost 5% of my reputation in one night to such a erudite rebuttal to my good-faith suggestion. Way to go guys. I don't think I'll be spending much time on meta anymore.
    – emmby
    Nov 16, 2009 at 1:27
  • 4
    @Mike: You care too much about rep! Rep means nothing, especially here on Meta. Voting on Meta is different than voting on SO. If you like a suggestion upvote it. If you hate it downvote. Nov 16, 2009 at 8:40
  • @John thanks! Not a distinction I was aware of
    – emmby
    Nov 16, 2009 at 17:38

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