I will start by saying that after reading this meta post about a declined feature request to allow moderators to grant commenting privileges, I am skeptical that my suggestions/thoughts will get positive feedback, but I will try anyways since I think there are real and unsolved problems regarding this topic.

In the question asked here regarding the necessity of 50 reputation as a bar for allowing comments, the most highly voted answer specified that the main reason is spam protection. This makes sense to me, and I completely understand that giving new users the ability to comment right away (or almost right away) will create a flood of comments with no actual value.

From my very limited stackexchange experience, it seems that in some communities, getting 50+ reputation can actually be very challenging. For example, in math.stackexchange, since mathematics is such a huge area, finding new and trending questions one can answer is actually a difficult task, unless one is truly a math expert (at the very least a graduate mathematics student). In addition, it also seems that contributing to older posts (even ones without an accepted or a complete answer) will usually not earn the user new thumbs: there are many posts that are a couple of years old, and these mostly stay inactive even if new and valuable information is added. This is also true for suggesting edits to older posts. I am sure there are other communities that pose similar challenges for responsible beginners who aren't already experts in the field. I want to emphasize that when I say beginners I don't mean high school students: even excelling undergraduate math students will have no chance to answer the vast majority of new questions.

Therefore, I think that considering new ways to earn the basic privileges of the site (mainly commenting), such as time since registration, number of days performing an activity etc' can be beneficial. This will still prevent new users from creating an account immediately after they found a single relevant question and automatically starting to comment on it and related posts. However, users who are responsible, are truly interested in being long-time stack exchange members and didn't join just to ask a question and disappear, will always eventually be able to be more fully participating members.

I am sure such a feature will also lower the amount of content posted as answers posted simply because the user doesn't have commenting privileges, which to my understanding is a relatively common and unwanted phenomenon, which shouldn't be suggested as a workaround. Commenting can also be more likely to properly revive an old inactive post, since it directly notifies the relevant answerer rather than the asker.

Edit: explaining the difference between my question and this: In my opinion, the association bonus provides a full solution to the problem described in the other question, which was sharing reputation across different stackexchange forums. My problem is not concerned with sharing reputation per se, but with the initial problem of obtaining reputation in a single forum to begin with. For example, many undergraduate students use a single stack exchange forum to help with their studies, and might not have other interests or knowledge relevant to other forums, in which case the association bonus will be of no use. As I stated in the comments, I think the association bonus is still a good partial solution, but it is not a full one. I might accept one of the answers mentioning it since it is significantly better than nothing.

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    There is the association bonus. Get 200 points on a site that you find easy, and you get 100 on all sites associated with the same account. – S.L. Barth Sep 13 '18 at 7:20
  • I was not aware of that. That does sound like a good alternative. – Dean Gurvitz Sep 13 '18 at 7:21
  • Not sure about the duplicate vote there. He has clearly read everything there and is asking for an alternative, non rep based way to earn the rights to comment – Journeyman Geek Sep 15 '18 at 22:43
  • Journeyman Geek, I do not take the downvotes harshly since in case of a "feature-request" tag I suspect they simply show disagreement to a suggestion without necessarily criticizing the quality of the post. However, I completely do not understand why this post was marked as duplicate to a very different kind of post. – Dean Gurvitz Sep 16 '18 at 6:18
  • @DeanGurvitz It's been reopened now. – Sonic the Anonymous Hedgehog Sep 16 '18 at 13:24
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    Possible duplicate of Split reputation into trust and expertise – gnat Sep 16 '18 at 13:41
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    gnat, the question you linked to is somewhat similar to mine, but the idea brought there is not the same idea as I presented here, and I don't think it is fair to consider the questions as "duplicate". The association bonus provides a full solution to the problem mentioned in the other question, but only a partial solution to the problem presented here. – Dean Gurvitz Sep 16 '18 at 14:28

From my very limited stackexchange experience, it seems that in some communities, getting 50+ reputation can actually be very challenging.

This is entirely true if you limit yourself to posting and suggesting edits on that community.*

However, there's a much easier way: the association bonus. You only need to gain 67 more reputation, only in your area of expertise (Computer Science), to qualify for it; then, you'll be able to comment everywhere on Stack Exchange.

*: source: personal experience on 73 sites ...

  • As I replied to S.L. Barth, that does sound like a pretty good alternative I was not aware of. It isn't a perfect solution since one doesn't necessarily have an area of expertise in which it is easy to earn reputation. I actually objectively know more about math than computer science, but since computer science is a much smaller field, it is indeed easier to obtain reputation there. – Dean Gurvitz Sep 13 '18 at 7:33

From my very limited stackexchange experience, it seems that in some communities, getting 50+ reputation can actually be very challenging.

As an alternative to the association bonus you get 50 rep from 25 approved edits to questions or answers:

suggested edit is accepted: +2 (up to +1000 total per user)

Source What is reputation? How do I earn (and lose) it?

Further Reading


Commenting is 'hard' to do right. Many experienced users misuse it and well it's always good to get used to the way we do things first.

That said - there's a few things worth remembering. As far as SE is concerned, we primarily expect people to post questions and answers. By posting, in theory, you should fairly rapidly get commenting reputation.

Likewise you can always comment on your own posts. This is probably invaluable for a new user.

On the other hand account age (or even days on site) are no real reflection on engagement or ability. Simply lurking dosen't make you a trusted user. The only badge reflecting account age needs 200 reputation that year to earn.

Your proposal might, depending on criteria also means a spammer can create a large set of login credentials, wait then either drip or flood a site with spam as comments.

There's also no way to stop someone from commenting without a suspension so there's no real way to handle someone being chatty without a full suspension.

I really feel that if someone is posting non answers simply cause they can't comment - well it does not reflect the maturity needed as a SE user to... Well... Comment.

  • I agree with some things you say and disagree with others. I think the example of the spammer creating multiple accounts is irrelevant since to my understanding, the reputation criteria aren't a cyber-security mechanism to stop truly malicious attackers (who can DDOS the website in many ways regardless), but a way to stop lazy newcomers from asking irrelevant/bad questions and flooding with bad posts. – Dean Gurvitz Sep 16 '18 at 6:23
  • If memory recalls - that's actually one of the reasons it was put in place. The tools we have to handle comments as mods are often not as robust. I'm sure now we're in better shape but spammers pull all sorts of stuff, in an attempt to get their junk somewhere . Likewise I've seen spammers with 3-4 month unused accounts. These are stuff that's either happened or is expected to happen by TPTB – Journeyman Geek Sep 16 '18 at 6:26
  • Wouldn't such spammers equally try to just spam the website with new questions or answers? And another question - is there a way to stop someone from posting questions and answers without a suspension, in contrast to comments? If so, maybe that is what requires a fix. I still don't fully understand the difference between q&a and comments when it comes to truly malicious spammers – Dean Gurvitz Sep 16 '18 at 14:39
  • More or less there's super robust anti spam methods for posts - there's a few things like IP bans in general that keep spammers out. At the end of the day - I guess the association bonus means, we need to trust you know your way around somewhere and are an actual user so you can comment. I've earned more than 50 reputation on about 20+ sites so its hardly impossible. One good question did it – Journeyman Geek Sep 16 '18 at 14:43

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