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As a mid-level bulk-of-the-curve SE participant it's impossible for me to not notice how moderators seem to express distinctly negative and shut-out behaviour to both Qs and As where the user has one or two digit rep.

I was wondering if anyone has experimented with concealing rep (maybe making the rep number a hover or some such trivial concealment) and if a trivial delay or obstruction to view user-rep would change the statistics on hold/close/down-votes?

It would be interesting to know if the value/relevance of many Qs & As changed upon learning a user's rep.

I'm wondering if this assertion has ever been tested on any of the SE networks?

If I'm honest with myself I'm conscious that I use the user's rep as a way of valuing a Q or A -- internally part of me momentarily resists making a judgement until I look at the bottom-right thumbnail and number. I'm going to assume consciously or not I'm not the only person who does this.

Perhaps if a step is required to view the rep of the user Asking/Answering it may inform whoever is looking that rep is being used as a factor in them valuing the Q/A and that they're not being completely objective.

Note: I'm currently reading a Dan Ariely book discussing how deeply subconscious and entrenched our biases can be.


This is the inverse of these questions about high-rep users, this question relates more to low-rep users:

Please let me know if this aspect (low-rep user bias) has been previously discussed or is a duplicate question.


Edit: FWIW I originally had something in this question about being nuked from space for asking this question and sure enough, that's happened.

I teach in a CS department in one of the best universities in the world and am quite involved with the local tech community consensus among students, academia and professionals is that getting involved with SO is a waste of time.

To my 3rd/4th year CS and SE students this place is impenetrable.

I actually ask in my classes if any of my students are active on SO. So far the answer has been ZERO, which has been really surprising. Vast majority haven't even bothered making profiles. That's the future of SO.

This question has really reinforced that, I mean I've been on SO for more than 8 years and speak up and rather than discussion, get completely shot down out of hand. It's difficult for me to believe a high-rep/diamond user would have the experience.

To behavioural economics (more Dan Ariely) this place is loaded with conflicts of interest and moreover in my experience any calls for introspection are very poorly received, which again is basic human psychology, but SE seems to be particularly lazy with new users.

I trust this question was asked 2 years ago by a high-rep user: Could we please be a bit nicer to new users?

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    On the other hand, its a joy to see someone come into a site, and get it right immediately - and that gets an upvote, and sometimes a positive comment from me. I also remember a handful of users who specialise in things, and value their answers on that topic on specific sites - and sometimes their reputation's low cause they focus on specific, niche questions and post great answers on only that. Oct 16, 2017 at 2:52
  • I don't see any actual feature-request being requested here; are you wanting SE to perform this experiment for you, or did you mean this to be discussion instead?
    – goldPseudo
    Oct 16, 2017 at 3:19
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    I did experiment with a userscript that removed user info (including rep) in my early days on Programmers. It didn't affect my voting behaviour much. I've also experimented with posting questions from brand new accounts. Nothing interesting to report on that front either.
    – yannis
    Oct 16, 2017 at 10:13
  • It seems to me that moderation always requires overcoming unconscious bias, even in low-tech face-to-face moderation situations. I would expect moderators to be slightly better than the population at large when it comes to rep induced bias on upvotes and downvotes. Oct 16, 2017 at 12:17

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I don't really have any statistics (and I'm sure some clever person can whip it up) but considering its on the bottom left. its quite literally the last thing I see.

As an experienced user (I think I have sites with 8 yearling badges) with 20ish k on at least two sites - to me, what differentiates me from a new user is - I know my audience, and quite a lot of my answers cater to what I know users on my sites like. I make heavy use of animated gifs on super user, and try to write longish answers broken up into logical paragraphs here.

On the other hand, its a joy to see someone come into a site, and get it right immediately - and that gets an upvote, and sometimes a positive comment from me. I also remember a handful of users who specialise in things, and value their answers on that topic on specific sites - and sometimes their reputation's low cause they focus on specific, niche questions and post great answers on only that.

I dare say personally, a new user with a great answer deserves an upvote more than a experienced user with a not so great answer. In some cases, I've even had to deal with high reputation users who 'don't get it'.

In addition, I experimented with a sock and... I hit HNQ on a question with a single line answer, which i ended up expanding, so its not impossible for a new user to go from say 50-60 to say 1 or 2k pretty rapidly - if they knew the things an experienced user did.

I also suppose I like the idea of the site being a proper meritocracy rather than one where the quality of what's in front of you is determined by the quality of what the user has done in the past.

As a high reputation user (or even a moderator!) I try my best to see how I can advice a user to improve a post with promise, and comment (even when I delete!) to try to help them understand the way we do things.

We all start somewhere. I was a 1 rep user once. I try my best to remember how folks who were mods and high rep users (or even folks who just did awesome edits) helped me as a newbie

it's impossible for me to not notice how moderators seem to express distinctly negative and shut-out behaviour to both Qs and As where the user has one or two digit rep.

That's kinda not what we do, especially as mods.

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  • I might trying joining a net-new site for me, with a sock, so I don’t even get the association bonus, and see exactly how much leverage the skill of knowing how to ask a good question or write a good answer affords.
    – Dan Bron
    Oct 16, 2017 at 12:12
  • My sock went horribly wrong. Posted a few answers with one or two upvotes, and then wham, I'm a 1k user ._. Oct 16, 2017 at 12:40
  • Science is a real witch sometimes ;)
    – Dan Bron
    Oct 16, 2017 at 12:42

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