After cruising around SO and friends for the past couple of weeks, it became pretty obvious to me that many questions are asked by new users with 1 rep point.

I have no problem with this.

What I do have a problem with, however, is the fact that the majority of these users do not ask questions properly. I.e. many are extremely vague or hard to understand, or posted in incorrect areas. Furthermore, many of these users have extremely low acceptance rates.

Wouldn't it be better to enforce a minimum reputation score of, say, 10 before users are allowed to post questions? This way they will have had time get a feel for the site, and work out how it functions, and keeps functioning, before posting.

Just a thought.

Also, note my score... ironic at all?

  • 19
    … said the 1-rep user. Nov 17, 2009 at 9:25
  • 4
    3 rep now... he's just tripled his productivity!
    – cletus
    Nov 17, 2009 at 9:47
  • 2
    It sounds to me like you think SO is for people who speak perfect, coherent (Americanized or British) English. Additionally, it seems like you view people with low reputation asking easy questions with broken English from which you could earn a lot of reputation by providing an answer that they can understand as some kind of parasite. And now here you are, with one reputation point. I allowed some time to pass before commenting, and I'm still as disturbed by this question as I was when I first read it. -1.
    – Tim Post
    Nov 30, 2009 at 19:21
  • 1
    I wanted to ask this exact question. After seeing so many people coming in with 1-5 rep, 5 questions with 2 reposts and no accepted answers, it's annoying to go through them in the 5 minutes I've got before a meeting or over lunch. I'm not calling into question the reasoning below, as it seems sound, but it would be nice to at least make people read a "how to post" and "why you're getting this message" page when they meet certain (lower) quality standards. Blocking them would simply prompt new account creation, but educating them might work...
    – Kendrick
    Sep 14, 2010 at 17:01
  • +1 Whatever your opinion is, it is a good thing this question was asked.
    – rds
    Dec 8, 2011 at 16:02
  • @TimPost : Jt.WK might be concerned with language but i am concerned with quality question or in broader view with quality of this platform . For just now as example before commenting here ... i have posted the same question on this website before even looking for such question . I believe put limit on user to before asking question and these starting points can gaining by search on few topic ...
    – Code_Life
    Feb 20, 2012 at 19:32
  • @TimPost Now that ELL has graduated, it is for those who do not "speak perfect, coherent (Americanized or British) English." May 29, 2016 at 19:57

8 Answers 8



You know who else requires people take part in answering before being able to ask? Our friendly neighbourhood gender-swap specialists. SO exists to not be them.

  • yeah good response.. i'll pay that!
    – JT.WK
    Nov 17, 2009 at 9:39
  • 3
    For those that may not 'get' this answer, examine the difference between experts-exchange and expertsexchange.
    – Tim Post
    Jul 7, 2012 at 6:27
  • This post comes across as extremely transphobic. Please edit. Apr 1, 2015 at 22:17
  • @raptortech97: The site referred to is "expertsexchange", which can be interpreted in two ways for either correctness or amusement. It has nothing to do with transphobia, but rather making fun of a low quality site which, as it doesn't feature experts exchanging information, must logically be the other option. That said, if you're offended by the community in-joke, you are free to submit an edit to the question.
    – Phoshi
    Apr 3, 2015 at 18:55

That would seriously interfere with the intended use of the system. If someone had to find questions to answer prior to asking what they (usually urgently) need to know, who would bother to ask questions? Questions are the life blood of the system, why? People find SO while searching for answers to them. Google space hardening and you'll find one of my questions.

Rest assured, 'show me the codez' questions are quickly closed, off topic questions are quickly migrated and on topic but incoherent questions are quickly edited. I've edited over 100 of them myself and likely voted to close three times as many. English, for many people, is a second (or even fifth) language.

Good questions usually result in great answers, which is the norm, not the exception.

If SO can't roll out some kind of welcome mat to a very selective community of users .. said community will enjoy a stunted growth.

Try to be tolerant, everyone starts at their own beginning (like it or not) :)

  • 2
    Yeah, they're quickly closed, but that is not automatic. People like you and I have to spend time doing that in order to prevent SO from being completely overrun. And, really, if the user needs their answer "urgently", is that our problem? The point is that for these low rep users in the vast majority of cases their question has already been posted -- this is just a mechanism to require them to actually go and find it, rather than blindly adding to the fray because they left their project until the last minute. Jan 20, 2013 at 17:24

The most positive experience new users to the site can have is when they have a problem that they're struggling with, they ask a question, and they get a thought out, helpful answer.

That experience is massively more positive than answering someone else's question - the site has helped them. Once they've had that experience, many then go on to get invested in the site. Don't expect them to invest in the site (in terms of helping other people out, and generally engaging in the community) until they've been helped by it.


I disagree with this for two reasons:

  1. I imagine that most of our new user population is comprised of users who have a question. We don't want to halt the influx of new users by restricting them from asking questions, since that seems to be what most of them join for. Of course, there's also a group of people that join to give answers, but a decision to require a minimum amount of reputation to ask a question would drive most of our new users away, and that's valuable traffic, regardless of the kinds of questions they ask.
  2. "Abusing" the system is a learning experience. Even then, it's not exactly abusing the question system as much as it is our new users learning the system for themselves. We've all made our fair share of mistakes on this site, but that's how you learn—sure, we have the FAQ, but that only goes so far in terms of good/bad questions (which is why we have meta, to close the gap that the FAQ leaves). Off-topic questions have little to no effect, because they're usually moved to the proper site or closed/deleted. Questions that have been asked before get flagged or closed as a duplicate. This is all part of the experience that a user should have on this site, and it's what shapes them into a better user altogether.

So to sum things up, restricting the asking privilege to users with more than 20 reputation would drive most of our new user population away from the site. Making a mistake as a new user is a vital part of one's experience on this site and contributes greatly to their growth as a user here. For these reasons, a minimum reputation for asking questions would be a bad idea.

  • Yes , i agree with u . But give a thought on this Assuming we have implemented this system . Now i am newbie and want to ask question . Now before putting question system will u need min pts before putting a question , which u can gain by searching this site similar problem/simple view few web pages u have . And i dnt think this will effect us
    – Code_Life
    Feb 20, 2012 at 19:49
  • @MohitSharma: I'm not sure I understand what you mean. Could you elaborate?
    – Someone
    Feb 20, 2012 at 19:51
  • Since he is not allowed to post any question we dnt knw his problem . So , award him point if he view 10 question or some web pages that are some what linked or have similar tags
    – Code_Life
    Feb 20, 2012 at 19:56

Asking bad questions is okay for a newbie. Giving bad answers is okay for a newbie. Some of my early answers were crap; it takes a while to get a feel for the site, the expected format, the level of detail expected and the appropriateness of various topics.

What is less okay is continuing to ask bad questions and to give bad answers. The reputation system helps there by providing feedback to the user, and hopefully he will learn.

Some don't, but that's a different topic, and one we've discussed extensively -- see here for some of those discussions.


Directly from the FAQ:

Do I have to log in or create an account?

Nope. You can answer and ask questions to your heart's content as an anonymous user, much like Wikipedia. However, there are some things you won't be able to do on the site without registering. But it's easy to register if you want to. All you need is an OpenID account.


It is awesome to be able to get at the heart of the community & site with no barrier to entry at all. Warms the cockles.

Since that also confuses some people, I reckon this topic is a perennial favorite. It's related to all of the questions about first-timer etiquette and how to handle contributors who don't quite get how the site is meant to be used.

It might be handy to have some color-scheme or filter that lets browsing readers differentiate b/t the questions that are likely to

  • be from newbies who may not have much Q-writing practice
  • not yet have been read or edited by long-time users who could massage a lumpy Q into shape

This sort of color would both let people who don't want to be bothered with such questions avoid them, and let those who want to help welcome and encourage new contributors dive in.


No, that is against the concept of SE. The idea is, that questions are as valuable element of the site as answers and they are also rewarded with reputation. It is by-design, that there are some users, that would mostly ask questions (learners) and some with more experience in the domain, that would mostly answer. On some sites, such as language sites, this is even more visible that on SO.

Preventing new users from asking questions would be against that concept. However, last time, about half of the first questions from the queue are poor questions that should be closed, so something should be done about it.

The viable solution could be to provide new user with enough reputation to ask questions, say, 10. If the question is poor, that initial reputation is lost and the user need to work on it, instead of asking the same question 3 times before he eventually gets blocked. That concept already functions in Area51, where you got on start enough reputation to start a proposal, but getting downvoted without any upvote, you lose that privilege.

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