In Stack Overflow, I noticed (yes, subjectively) that users with higher reputation are more likely to receive upvotes, even if the answer is not the best choice among many.

As an example - users who asked or answered a very generic, fundamental and popular question on Stack Overflow in community's early days get a lot of upvotes which makes his/her reputation tens or hundreds of thousands of points from residual reputation and for most of the visitors or new programmers, they are willing to continue upvoting it if it works or solves their problems (even if it's not a very good solution), which it will hurt the copy/paste users in long run.

I'm just wondering if my assumption is true, or completely wrong, is there any evidence or data to prove or disprove this observation.

PS: Feel free to edit my question since English is not my first language.


I only mentioned point 0), which is not very complete.

0) will hurt the copy/paste users in long run (previous version)

So I think I need to elaborate more on the things that I concerned with:

1) Some (really small portion from my observation) high-reputation users are not getting reputations from answering questions, instead, it's from asking maybe some popular questions. And at the same time, I think users will tend to believe that higher reputation users most likely provide a correct answer, so users may willing to continue upvotes his/her answer, which this pattern may potentially damage the community.

2) Will users bravely vote up if it works without considering that there may be an even better answer provided by a low-reputation user or a same correct answer by a low-reputation user?

3) Will high-reputation users cause something like 'Academic monopoly' which may discourage some potential good knowledge or truth to be discussed or discovered?


I got quite a number of downvotes, which makes me feel a bit sad.

If I use any inaccurate words which makes people feel uncomfortable, I apologize for that, because English is not my first language, I have really no intention to offend or hurt anyone in the community.

I just want to clarify that:

1) I'm not jealous of high rep users, a very very large majority of them are brilliant and fantastic, they deserve it for absolutely no doubt.

2) I point it out from the perspective that is there any way to improve the reputation system, or does it need any amendment to help community users more.

  • 1
    see also: How much bias is there in voting? – gnat Oct 2 '17 at 6:38
  • 1
    @gnat: Huh, you beat me by a solid minute. Nice work. – Nathan Tuggy Oct 2 '17 at 6:38
  • How about come specific examples? – Ramhound Oct 2 '17 at 11:46
  • You get downvotes because this has come up before and lack of research is a down vote reason. Secondly, although you do your best to make it not sound like a rant, it reads as yet another attack of me, due to your wording like even more overrated reputation? and calling me rich. This makes users believe you think reputation is undeserved. For that you get down votes because users strongly disagree with that suggestion, as it is not their fault they wrote a post that helped many users. Without those users that would write awesome posts no Stack Overflow would have existed. – rene Oct 3 '17 at 6:12
  • @rene I'll be more careful about wording in future. Thank you for sharing with me. – Timeless Oct 3 '17 at 6:29

Since reputation by design is supposed to be a rough estimate of how much the community trusts a user, it's possible that when a visitor visits a question page, they'll trust the high rep user's answer more than the others' and upvote that, even though there may be other answers which are better.

This helps a lot, for example, when I visit another stack exchange site to find an answer, I don't know whether or not someone's answer is correct. So, the most likely path I'll take is follow what the high rep users have to say about it.

If I do have enough time to go through all other answers, surely, I may find other better ones. But when time is of the essence, the high rep users get the upvotes.

Another example, if I were to ask something on SO, and if Jon Skeet were to drop by, I'd go nuts. He's written books on the subject. Sure, there may be newer info out there by new users, but how do I trust that. :)

  • The 1st paragraph is facts and I agree with your 2nd, 3rd, 4th paragraph. Emmm, I saw users without deep understanding on certain topic, but because he/she asked one or many famous questions, his/her reputation is very high, which causes his answer in other posts been upvoted for many times, but in fact, there is an answer which is better, but with much fewer upvotes. Luckily users will comment and point it out. – Timeless Oct 3 '17 at 3:12

eh, Maybe. They also often have a good idea what works on a site. Over the past few years, I've tended to get a very useful bag of tricks, and certain classes of questions that I find I'm good at answering.

There's outliers - the user above me on the SU all time reputation table hasn't been on in years but I've gotten to be a high reputation user there not because I've had a few lucky questions but because I've been consistent over a period of time.

As a long term user if I see a highly upvoted answer, and I know better, I post a better answer - in the hope someone will find it useful. When challenged, I go "yeah, you're probably right - you should post an answer"

Amusingly enough - I've used an alternate account at work, with a few posts. Most of them were somewhat upvoted - one hit a HNQ, much to my horror, for a one line answer.

Its sometimes a bit of a gamble as you can see but anecdotally its not always the case.

which will hurt the copy/paste users in long run.

Also, jokes aside, users ought to not just copy paste. Understanding is better and good answers teach as well as give what you need on a short term


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