I am new to Stack Exchange and I think it's very impressive.

One thing bothers me is that because it is so far down the line, I don't think beginners stand a chance of growing.

As time goes on, more and more questions are being answered and therefore if someone asks something with a really basic answer you can just comment. However, beginners can't comment until they have a reputation of 50. The only way they can build up is by answering questions. But if they answer a basic question long winded, they will be voted down because not so much effort was needed or because its already a duplicate and will lose the bit of reputation they have earned.

Can you tell me the future for beginners?

marked as duplicate by Pika the Wizard of the Whales, gnat, fbueckert, hat, Robert Longson Feb 7 at 19:24

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

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    Answering completely is, in my experience, a way to get more upvotes. Being long-winded isn't... long isn't bad but every word needs to be relevant. – ben is uǝq backwards Feb 7 at 17:21
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    Possible duplicate of What is the best way to increase my reputation and privileges? I have read through, and truth be told, it's always the same advice. DO: Write good answers. Ask researched questions. Make useful edits. DON'T: answer stuff which is a duplicate, flag as dupe instead. – Jenayah Feb 7 at 17:27
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  • What type of beginners? Beginners to Stack Exchange or subject matter beginners (or both)? – Laurel Feb 7 at 18:32
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    "if someone asks something with a really basic answer you can just comment" actually... comment is never supposed to be used for answering the question. While you haven't got that privilege, I hope you read the help center every time you get a new privilege to avoid accidentally misusing it. – Meta Andrew T. Feb 7 at 18:48
  • I started actually being active on Stack Overflow in late-ish 2018. Before then, I had no idea how to contribute, just because of the sheer volume of questions. But then I found a tag I had experience in: [android]. Now I filter by that tag and it's a lot easier to find things I can answer. – TheWanderer Feb 7 at 20:17

I've been a member on EL&U since 2013 and I cannot tell you the number of times I've seen newcomers "complain" about the same issues: rep, privileges, comments etc. And you know what? They nearly all abandon EL&U after posting their question on EL&U meta.

I suggest that you at least try to stick around for three months. There are ways of earning rep that does not include posting answers, i.e. suggested edits. Easy rep to earn, unless you're not sure of your English skills in which case be very careful about improving grammar and/or spelling. Nevertheless, you can always suggest adding a relevant link, improve the formatting of any post (questions or answers), fix punctuation, and better still, add more relevant tags.

In reply to Rene's comment, I want to add that users on EL&U meta are far more forgiving than users on Meta SE. they will downvote questions that are off-topic or lack basic research but they will not pound a newcomer senseless because they have asked a question that has been asked a dozen or fifty times more, unlike here.

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All three questions were posted on MSE today (7 February).

  • Based on the 1st paragraph I conclude: don't complain on EL&U meta ? It is not clear if that is a new comer problem or because of a tough meta crowd. – rene Feb 7 at 18:12
  • @rene The OP asked “on one of the Stack Exchange communities” (spelling now fixed) so I chipped in by suggesting that this problem is not unique to Stack Overflow. However, the tough crowd and the high number of downvotes on duplicates is always on this particular Meta. Always. – Mari-Lou A Feb 7 at 18:15
  • Okay, fair enough. I don't think I ever tried EL&U meta but I take your word for it. – rene Feb 7 at 18:20
  • To put it simply: different sites, different users, different site cultures. – Meta Andrew T. Feb 7 at 18:45
  • @Bookends It's no coincidence that the vast majority of Meta users who continue to downvote, even when a post reaches -10, are also members of Stack Overflow. – Mari-Lou A Feb 7 at 18:48
  • @Mari-LouA: I expect the vast majority of all Meta SE users period are also members of SO, so…. – Nathan Tuggy Feb 7 at 19:14
  • @NathanTuggy no, I'm pretty sure you're mistaken. I often look at newcomers' profiles and those who usually post their language question on EL&U and ELL once, or maybe twice and then disappear are also members of SO. Those who stick around are often only members of one or both English websites. – Mari-Lou A Feb 7 at 19:18

Back in the days when I first joined SE-sites, I made a mistake which I think many new users make. For short: I was mostly only posting questions, and hardly any answers (if any). However, after a while I started to realize these things:

  • Apart from rep points, there are also some interesting badges you may earn. Checkout my badges on this site to be convinced that it is really do-able, if you are willing to put the required effort in it. The ones I like most are these:

  • Choose your battles, i.e. do some research about some tags you're interested in (for which you think to be able to answer many questions), and for which there still seem to be a lot of unanswered questions. And start answering those questions. In my case, I decided to go for this (silver) tag. It wasn't an easy one to get, but guess how it is to be the only one who ever got it ...

  • If you post an answer, and it gets downvoted, you can optionally delete your answer. After doing so, the rep you lost because of those downvotes will be returned. This makes sense if you "only" have downvotes for an answer, but if you have (eg) 2 upvotes and 1 downvote, your voting balance is "+1", and your total rep earned via such answer is 2*(+10) - 1*(-2) = 18. Even better: if you have (eg) 1 upvote and 4 downvotes, your total rep earned via such answer is 1*(+10) - 4*(-2) = 2, which is still positive (despite the negative voting balance). So by posting answers it is really tough to loose reputation points (and most often, if you have at least 1 upvote, your earn reputation).
  • Downvoting questions is cheap (the downvoter doesn't loose any "rep"), as compared to downvoting answers (where the downvoter also looses "rep", i.e. -1, except for wiki answers). I'm assuming that, because of that, there are many more downvoted questions, as compared to downvoted answers. In other words: answers seem to have a lower probability of getting downvoted.

It's never too late to start participating in whatever site, and climb the various ladders (rep points, badges, silver tags, etc). Many have dreams to climb those ladders, only a few wake up and work hard on them ...

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