I think that making reputation temporary will increase constant participation, since the reputation will slowly decrease if they do not participate and gain more reputation. I thought of two ways to do this: deterioration and expiration.


Deterioration is basically taking a certain amount or fraction of your reputation away after a period of inactivity. Some examples of rules would be like taking away 5 rep. per every 30 days of inactivity or 5% of your rep. for every 45 days of inactivity. This would force you to be active so you would not lose rep.


Expiration is basically when reputation (specifically from upvoting) expires at a certain date after retrieval. It is not based on inactivity. The idea is that you gain reputation about everyday to keep it at a stable level. Deterioration and expiration can be combined so only a certain part of the total rep. gained will expire.

The Questions at Hand

Is the constant decreasing of reputation a good idea? Even if the answer to the previous question is wrong, would deterioration or expiration be better? What rules would be used? And in addition to all those questions, why so?

Note: I thought of specifically applying this to voting only.

  • 5
    Note that here on Meta Stack Exchange, on questions requesting new features, voting is used to signify agreement or disagreement with a given proposal, so if your question gets downvoted, it may just mean that people disagree with your proposal, not necessarily that your question is bad for the site. May 1, 2019 at 0:41
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    I was inactive for several years before I rejoined Stack Exchange. But that doesn't mean I'm any less trusted or knowledgeable of how the system works. So I'd disagree with this vehemently. May 1, 2019 at 0:48
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    Additionally, I have several account on sites I don't use, and only have the association bonus on, for the purpose of flagging spam as part of Charcoal. I don't want to have to persistently delete and recreate those accounts; it's too tedious just to flag spam, and I'd lose track of the posts I've flagged. May 1, 2019 at 0:50
  • @SonictheInclusiveHedgehog But then again, I am focusing on voting. I don't think it would be right to have rep. expire from bounties or assoc. bonus.
    – user495830
    May 1, 2019 at 0:58
  • My first point still applies. May 1, 2019 at 1:00
  • @SonictheInclusiveHedgehog I just said no assoc. bonus. That makes that statement invalid.
    – user495830
    May 1, 2019 at 1:02
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    The second comment (about Charcoal) is invalidated, sure, but the first point (about inactivity not meaning loss of trust or knowledge) is not. May 1, 2019 at 1:04
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    Why do we need more participation? And, assuming we do, wouldn't this just drive a slew of low quality posts from users hoping to maintain their current reputation? May 1, 2019 at 2:20
  • @TheWanderer I guess you are right, but it doesn't hurt to get more participation. Also, the decrease of rep. should be very slow (like 5 rep per 2 months of inactivity). You have to remember that the users have to be inactive. That's where Sonic the Inclusive Hedgehog's problem comes in. But I do not think a slew of posts would occur. Also, for vote expiration, you could easily earn more votes (and rep.) if it expires in a long enough time.
    – user495830
    May 1, 2019 at 3:01
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    @Mr.YouKnowWhoIAm but why is more participation necessary? Sites like Stack Overflow already get too many posts in a given time period. Sites like Ask Ubuntu are perfectly happy with their traffic. May 1, 2019 at 9:36
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    Most of the time, I can't participate on SO; things move too fast for me to add anything worthwhile. You're saying I should lose what rep I have because I won't waste people's time by repeating what's already been said? That seems pretty counterproductive.
    – fbueckert
    May 1, 2019 at 13:16
  • "inactivity", as in not logging in?
    – Kevin B
    May 1, 2019 at 15:38
  • "I don't think it would be right to have a rep. expire from bounties or Assoc. bonus." - I almost never answer questions with a bounty, what makes those answers, better than my other answers?
    – Ramhound
    May 1, 2019 at 20:45
  • @KevinB Inactivity, as in not answering or asking questions.
    – user495830
    May 2, 2019 at 2:46
  • Out of curiosity why are you suggesting expiry fro reputation, you are member for just 47days? no contribution on real stack overflow platform ( contribution is meta is just meh) May 2, 2019 at 10:18

3 Answers 3


Reputation is a sign of how much the community trusts a user. That trust doesn't change just because the person had periods of inactivity. Knowledge is knowledge and contributions are still contributions. We value both the old and the new.

You're probably thinking that if a user becomes inactive, that person doesn't really care about the rep any more and so won't mind. But the community might still care. One of my sites holds a top user (who had an attack of life and doesn't participate now) in extremely high regard; even if that user doesn't care, the rest of us would. And we've had users who were good contributors and then died; would you really erode the public indication of the value of their contributions because of that? No to both -- I want people to ask about our valued no-longer-active users, see their contributions, learn their stories... this matters especially on smaller communities where people do actually get to know each other.

  • It also means that some people, such as yourself, would be immune; you'd still get 200/day even if you don't post. At worst losing 5% every 45 days would cost 5400, but you'd have gained 9K from pension.
    – Rob
    May 1, 2019 at 2:07
  • @Rob I don't get a lot of pension, actually -- the vast majority of my daily reputation comes from recent posts. If I don't post, like if I (gasp) take a vacation, the rep drops to a trickle. May 1, 2019 at 17:32
  • That's unfortunate, my apologies for misrepresentating your pension. I was under the impression that once anyone had a few thousand posts that they would pin at 200, most days. Even I get a "trickle". You've gone up 1K since I last was here, of course you could have been close to the next number.
    – Rob
    May 1, 2019 at 17:50
  • @Rob - I have 20,000 reputation but there are days where I lose reputation, due to the voting in the review queue, there are sometimes entire weeks where I only lose reputation in the interim. Just because you have lots of answers/questions that can be voted on does not mean people will upvote those contributions.
    – Ramhound
    May 1, 2019 at 20:48
  • @MonicaCellio, you do realize that since you have like approx. 20,000 rep., there is no going to be much loss if only a small amount of rep. is taken away per every certainly long period of time.
    – user495830
    May 2, 2019 at 2:52
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    @Mr.YouKnowWhoIAm (I assume you meant a generic "you"; I'm not talking about myself.) If it's "only a small amount", then why bother -- what does it accomplish? If it's enough to accomplish something, then it will harm some communities and users, including a lot of mid-range ones who would certainly notice a tax of 5% per six weeks. May 2, 2019 at 2:56
  • @MonicaCellio The idea is that if you become inactive for an enough amount of time, you will lose a noticeable but subtly small amount of reputation.
    – user495830
    May 3, 2019 at 22:26
  • "You're probably thinking that if a user becomes inactive, that person doesn't really care about the rep any more and so won't mind." That is not completely true. I want the user to become motivated to post more often.
    – user495830
    May 10, 2019 at 22:29

I like the system how it is.

If I was a new member, knowing that my progress could be reversed like this would make me never want to return.

As it is, I have dozens of accounts, some that I rarely use. If rep deteriorated, it's possible that I could manage to post more to maintain the levels of reputation of rep that I have but this would be hard to keep track of and extremely stressful seeing as I am not an expert in everything I have an account for. If rep expired there would be many sites that I would never be able to accumulate rep on, which is demotivating and would make me not want to join new sites, and therefore not post stuff.

This would also go against the expectations given how the system already works. Anyone who gets 200 rep on one site gets the association bonus, allowing them basic privileges on every site they join. Under either system, it would be easy to lose this reputation, leading to frustration. Likely some people would post answers when they should post comments. Also, you don't tend to lose reputation from old posts since you keep the reputation from posts 60 days old and scoring +3 or more when they are deleted.

I don't see the benefits being great either: people should post when they have something good to say, not because they feel obligated to in order to not lose reputation. The quality's better this way.

If you want to see who's actively getting rep, there's a page for that already.


I think this would be highly counterproductive.

Right now, SE has a range of participants: everything from people who spend hours on the site every day, to people who drop by when they need a question answered and stick around to provide a few answers of their own, to drive-by users who only ever ask or answer a single question.

By making reputation decay over time, I expect you'll eliminate the middle of the range. A few of them will increase their activity to maintain their reputation, but most will become drive-by users. Since there's no way for them to build up reputation without more effort than they're willing to put in, there's no incentive for them to stick around.

I've seen this in other environments, most notably the PvP league of an MMORPG. When the developers implemented ranking decay, casual PvP participation vanished, leaving only the hardcore players.

  • so you are suggesting that Stackoverflow should force users to keep posting new post, this is ridiculous and i feel it is distracting for developers like any social media. and what is wrong about users who drop by and ask some question ? if question is good than it is good for everyone. May 2, 2019 at 10:23
  • and unlike mmorpg where one dont need to read couple of books and learn things users post only trivial reviews Stackoverflow is for professionals where people share their hard earned knowledge. Games/news come and go every day not programming logics i still find old posts (posted in like 2013) useful ... so what i am saying is that if your analogy is based on other website which is just for review than i must say i disagree with you May 2, 2019 at 10:31
  • @NullPoiиteя, I'm suggesting exactly the opposite: that if we force users to keep posting, most of them will stop using the site.
    – Mark
    May 2, 2019 at 20:12