When a user joins a new Stack Exchange site, if they have 200 or more reputation on at least one other site, they get +100 reputation on the new site. This allows them to avoid some of the restrictions on new users. Such a person would be able to participate in meta, post additional links in content, vote up, flag posts, use chat and create new chat rooms, comment on any post, and set bounties. These restrictions apply to both beta sites and graduated sites.
Some of these features are essential to understanding how sites work. As a community, we require that answers be answers, yet prevent people who have never used SE before from using our comment features to ask for clarification, provide constructive criticism, or attach some minor relevant information. We offer Meta as a place to go to understand the community, but prevent people new to Stack Exchange from going there to ask questions.
I'm looking at this from two angles.
First, is there any data to support that this turns SE sites into sites "for X who are also into Y" where X is likely something like "programmers", "software developers", "technical people"? The bulk of SE sites and even most of the early sites are technical in nature. Are people from a single background tending to be the early drivers of a site because they come in with additional reputation and can use features that experts (the core, stable community of a site) in Y who aren't active on other SE sites don't have the capability to participate?
As a follow up, if the people who use SE sites tend to be from a technical (software) background, what impact does starting with the rep bonus have on community norms and rules? If you are a software developer by education and experience, and are given bonus reputation on a site for personal finance when it's in beta, are you really the right person to be participating early on Meta to drive the direction of the community? Or should it be experts in personal finance who understand how they think and can help establish a community that attracts other experts in personal finance?
Second, a lot of sites are very reactive when people break the rules or norms. For example, a low rep user who can't comment may leave an well-intended comment as an answer on a question because it's the only thing they can do. But when they are met with down votes and comments explaining what an answer is, they get frustrated and leave. Is there data about low-rep users leaving the things intended for comments as answers or as meta discussions on the main site, what happens to those posts, and how that impacts their future participation on an SE site?