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Please note: this is NOT a request to change the reputation required to comment everywhere. Rather, this is a neutral support question asking about the existing limit.

I'm wondering why the minimum reputation required to make comments is set specifically to 50 reputation, and not some other number, like 10, 15, 25, or 100. I'm aware of the FAQ, Why do I need 50 reputation to comment? What can I do instead?. But that only explains why there is some sort of a rep hurdle, and not why the limit is set specifically to 50.

In particular, we already trust most users to not spam when they earn 10 reputation (the FAQ cites spam as a reason for the hurdle), and we trust users with 15 reputation to properly cast upvotes and moderator flags, and users with 20 reputation to properly talk in chat. 50 reputation seems like a rather large threshold compared to these.

Also, we've shown that many of the disadvantages outlined in that FAQ post are still gone even with a significantly lower limit, as here on Meta Stack Exchange, one only needs 5 reputation to comment.

Given all of that, why is the number 50 specifically chosen as the minimum reputation required to comment? I asked Shog9 in chat a while ago as to what originally motivated this specific number, and he responded that the limit has been in place since 2008, from before they kept firm logs of discussions. What is the current rationale for keeping the limit as is?

  • somewhat related discussion that led to increase of a particular rep threshold from 10 to 50: Can we raise the bar for reputation for late answers to bypass the review queue? – gnat Jul 22 '18 at 9:55
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    @gnat The whole basis behind that request was because the commenting limit was set to 50, and that would match it up. – Sonic the Anonymous Hedgehog Jul 22 '18 at 9:56
  • oh, thank you! that connection is a wonderful find, I somehow missed it – gnat Jul 22 '18 at 9:58
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    I feel that Grace Note and Jeff Atwood's answers to this question cover a lot of the reasoning IMO. I don't feel strongly enough that its a dupe to closehammer, but this feels like a topic that comes up a lot – Journeyman Geek Jul 22 '18 at 10:05
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    @JourneymanGeek The arguments there could just as equally be applied to justify some other rep limit. None of them discuss the number 50 in particular. – Sonic the Anonymous Hedgehog Jul 22 '18 at 10:20
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    The number is 50 because Jeff Atwood said so. – Masked Man Jul 22 '18 at 10:51
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    ..because 42 was already taken. – Martin James Jul 22 '18 at 10:56
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    This is a good answer meta.stackexchange.com/a/214174/230506 of course not an official Stack Exchange employee one so if you want that then you'll have to wait. Although, it was probably decided by one or two people in the olden days, I "guess" a discussion about what is a sensible limit, not too high and easily attainable, not too low that it's gained without good familiarity to the site, etc. – James Jul 22 '18 at 12:45
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    @James That's the FAQ answer I mentioned in my question. – Sonic the Anonymous Hedgehog Jul 22 '18 at 17:40
  • For a second, I thought I'd already answered this, but it turned out it was for the daily rep cap. Are we going to do one of these for every number on the site? – SOLO Jul 23 '18 at 14:16
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What is the current rationale for keeping the limit as is?

Well, it still works well as it is. Maybe it's not perfect, but without any reason to make it (e.g.) 60, or 75, or 35, etc, there's no point just speculating and trying it out for the sake of it. And no-one has come forward with a 'reasonable' debate as to why it should be higher or lower. There have been suggestions but none I think that really brought any argument that wouldn't need to be tested in the wilds to be sure, and that's a risky change to a massive part of the site's functionality that's well known and tried and tested.

Basically, it'd have to be a really good reason, and I think given there are millions of users someone would have already found the limitation or better value by now if there was one worthy of such a change with such a great argument in favour of it.

I asked Shog9 in chat a while ago as to what originally motivated this specific number, and he responded that the limit has been in place since 2008, from before they kept firm logs of discussions.

In which case you're likely never going to have your answer. Unless those involved back then remember it and remember the discussions, but I doubt there's anything profound, or unicorny sprinkled with golden pixie cloud dust.

No more than the obvious... like it's a nice number, middle of 100, not "40" or "60. Doesn't seem too far to reach but not too easy either that it doesn't stop spam or users who'd not learned the ways of Stack Exchange yet.

I'm not saying it wouldn't be interesting/nice for someone involved to step forward with a gentle jaunt down memory lane of Stack Exchange golden days. I just don't think it'd blow your mind as to the reason they decided on 50.

  • I'm afraid you missed the point of the question. It's not "why it's still 50", it's "Why it was 50 to begin with?" (and most likely OP expecting staff only answers) – Shadow9 Jul 22 '18 at 20:10
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    @ShadowWizard The first line in my answer is a quote from the question? I also understand they want staff only answers, as I put in my answer. I also commented in "why 50 to begin with" that only certain staff would know. Maybe you skim read it? – James Jul 22 '18 at 20:11
  • @Sonic fair enough, I misunderstood the question at first. Now that I understand, it's duplicate of the faq. Staff can also answer the faq with the "definitive" answer you want, I don't see any need for two questions asking the same thing twice. – Shadow9 Jul 23 '18 at 6:09
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    @Shadow It's not a duplicate of the FAQ. I specifically stated in the question. The same arguments could be equally applied to support some other limit. I want to know specifically why they opted to keep it at 50. – Sonic the Anonymous Hedgehog Jul 23 '18 at 6:10

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