Starters on Stack Overflow tend to lose interest as soon as their first question starts getting downvotes. Their first question also sometimes gets closed because it was either not framed properly or it missed some very common things.

There should be way to cope with this for instance give some starter bonuses to new users.

  • 19
    I'm not interested in low quality content from new users that can't be bothered by any guidance thrown at them before they posted. Not sure why nor convinced that uninterested and abusive/rude behavior needs to be endorsed with a bonus.
    – rene
    Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 12:32
  • Depending on how much bonus rep you want to give them, it would either to so low that it would be entirely negated by the downvotes, or so much that it would defeat the purpose of having barriers up that require a certain amount of rep to do things (like comment). I can't see how this would help anything. You can't go below 1 rep, so I'm not sure what this would actually solve. Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 12:39
  • -7 for this question. Had i not got a bonus of 100 already i would have been doomed. For this exact reason i am requesting some bonus reputation. Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 12:42
  • @AbdullahKhan: In fairness, voting on Meta works rather differently; downvotes here can also be taken to mean "I don't agree with your idea". Don't take them personally.
    – Bathsheba
    Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 12:43
  • 10
    Actually, without the 100 reputation from the association bonus you'd be at 1 still... no changes to your user status... you can't have negative reputation.
    – Catija
    Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 12:52
  • @JoshCaswell It makes me sad that you mean that ironically, but in so many situations it's unironically true. It makes me even more sad that so often SO is one of those places.
    – Servy
    Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 14:31
  • 4
    ...We want to reward new users for posting junk? Why?
    – fbueckert
    Commented Nov 17, 2017 at 0:06
  • @fbueckert The logic of the suggestion it not rewarding them for junk, but providing extra bonus for them if they start with not junk. Note, I don't agree with it as it was written (I think the rep lower limit of 1 does this "initial protection" already.)
    – peterh
    Commented Nov 17, 2017 at 5:32

4 Answers 4



The reputation is floored at 1 so it can't go below that. Seeing your starting bonus being eroded could be more discouraging.

You can obviate downvoting by reasearching the site's guidelines prior to asking your first question. That's hardly hidden from view when users ask their first question, write their first answer, &c.


I'm not sure this is a good idea. The whole point of reputation is to measure how much the community trusts a certain user. New users that haven't done anything yet aren't trusted because they haven't done anything to prove that they should be trusted.

If all new users get bonus reputation without proving that they should be trusted, this could lead to abuse. For example, if the bonus would be 15 reputation, that would let any new user bypass the new user restrictions, making these restrictions ineffective. For example, spammers and trolls would get this bonus reputation and be able to immediately post 10 spam links in the same post and inappropriate images such as ads or Hitler porn. Newly created sock puppets would immediately be able to upvote posts from their main account, making is easy to earn reputation that you don't deserve (just create a sock puppet and upvote one of your posts, and create a new sock puppet for each post you want to upvote in order to bypass the serial voting reversal script). Even new users that don't want to do anything wrong intentionally may misuse their reputation by accident, for example posting a "thanks" or "me too" answer to a protected question or flagging an acceptable post as spam or offensive just because they don't know yet what's acceptable and what's not (if 6 new users do this, it would lead to an acceptable post being deleted and the owner losing 100 reputation). These are just examples of how giving bonus reputation to new users would make new user restrictions ineffective, I'm sure there are other examples.

If a user wants to get reputation, they need to prove that they can be trusted by posting good questions or answers or even by suggesting good edits. Even the first upvote (or the first two upvotes on questions) will unlock the basic privileges. Besides, users that are already trusted on other sites already get the association bonus.

Besides, if the point of your suggestion would be to encourage new users, I don't think it would be very effective. I don't think that reputation would encourage anyone if it could be earned for free. The whole reason why reputation is encouraging is because you did something to earn it: posted a good question or answer or suggested a good edit. On the contrary, if a user gets bonus reputation and then posts a bad question or answer that gets heavily downvoted would be even more discouraging since they would lose their bonus. It's better just to leave things the way they are, and then new users won't lose any reputation from their first downvotes since reputation can't go below 1. Currently, the only thing that would discourage them is that they didn't manage to post something that others found useful. With your suggestion, they would lose their bonus, which they would probably find even more discouraging.

  • Some nice arguments here. Although I'd assume that if implemented say with a starting reputation of b say, then all the privilege thresholds would be recalibrated by adding b - 1. E.g. commenting would now be 49 + b rather than 50.
    – Bathsheba
    Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 13:01
  • 4
    @Bathsheba then what on earth is the point? If everything else is moved up, all that "bonus" does is give a new user a height to fall from, whereas at the moment they start standing on the ground.
    – jonrsharpe
    Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 13:17
  • @jonrsharpe: Absolutely; you have also proved the idea is absurd. I didn't touch on the erosion of privileges in my answer: they would have to be recalibrated else we'd be vulnerable to trolling and spamming all over again.
    – Bathsheba
    Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 13:20
  • sounds reasonable. Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 13:33
  • Totally agree with this point, people should work for their reputation to show their commitment to the webiste Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 18:49
  • The link restriction isn't a real good example because new users are now able to post up to 8 links.
    – Laurel
    Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 18:58

Its worth remembering reputation is an entirely arbitrary number. A higher starting reputation isn't going to help a new user get settled in any way - whether its a free reputation bonus for being new (which makes little sense, since those privileges are easy to get, and we don't want spammers and trolls getting them), or shifting the 1 rep minimum to something else.

You're basically suggesting we hand a pile of fish rather than teaching folks to fish for themselves cause "otherwise they'd starve to death". Sometimes it results in fish dinners, and sometimes it results in a stinky pile of rotting fish. It certainly does not teach anyone how to fish.

Handing out free reputation for new users doesn't solve any underlying issue - it teaches them nothing, and dosen't help them ask better questions.

On the other hand - in addition to self help - spending the time to get to know a community and taking a more holistic approach beyond seeing SE as a place to ask questions, getting new users help in asking better questions seems to be a core DAG goal - with attempts to analyse question quality and a template for SO to help people ask better questions


The reason reputation is hard-earned is because it deters people from losing it by posting poor quality questions and answers. If there were starter bonuses the new users would be able to have more privileges which they could abuse.

By having reputation and privileges system it is clear who is serious and committed to the website. Those at higher levels of reputation are more trusted and therefore allowed more privileges.

If new users received starter bonuses then they would have access to these tools without having to show commitment to this website. This means that they could abuse this privileges.

It could also encourage new users not to get involved in the website. It may be found that when new users are getting starting bonuses and access to more tools they may not be active as they do not have to work for the privileges if they were given extra reputation as bonuses.

If new users are committed to the website and want to build up a reputation that then should happen soon enough. The main catchphrase around the website is "ask good questions, give good answers" If you can do this, you shouldn't have a problem building up your reputation

  • Exactly. Thank you, Jake, upvoted :)
    – Ollie
    Commented Jun 22, 2020 at 23:00

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