The rep is not given for anything. It correlates well with the useful work for the sites.

People doing this, they are not "rep farmers". More exactly, yes they are, but it is a good thing (for the site network).

They are avid (sometimes, fanatic) caretakers and contributors.

I want to collect a lot of rep.

I enjoy it. I can't see any bad in it.

Extension #1: @Sonic doesn't understand, what I am asking. I am asking a clear answer, if collecting so many rep as I only can, why is it a problem. "Rep farming" is clearly a pejorative term here. Fact is that "rep farming" means volunteer work, tuned to be the possible most useful, on the rules set up by the SE itself. In my opinion, being a pride rep farmer, means this for the site network: "I want to make so many useful activities, as I can".

Extension #2: On the SO, roughly 6% of the total rep is coming from closed questions. My most visited other sites have similar stat.

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    Collecting rep isn't a problem. however, constantly answering questions that should be closed goes directly against the work moderators/curators do. Obviously there's going to be a bit of pushback there. – Kevin B Jul 31 '19 at 18:13
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    Sorry, I don't exactly understand the question you're asking here. Mind editing in more details of the specific thing you have an issue with? – Sonic the Anonymous Hedgehog Jul 31 '19 at 18:17
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    This doesn't make much sense to me. Is there some context that's missing? – Carcigenicate Jul 31 '19 at 18:17
  • I don't see a way in which that would annoy SE, they're not the ones curating. – Kevin B Jul 31 '19 at 18:18
  • Okay, so for whom would it be a problem, and who says it's a problem? Mind adding some context? – Sonic the Anonymous Hedgehog Jul 31 '19 at 18:21
  • @KevinB You are pointing a single case, where the reputation and the usefulness of the work might not correlate so well. May I ask you, how could it be my fault? – peterh Jul 31 '19 at 18:23
  • If you choose to answer such a question, is that not your choice? (Please note, i'm not saying you're in the wrong for doing so.) – Kevin B Jul 31 '19 at 18:24
  • @KevinB I admit, that the likely closure of a question is a non-issue for me. However, somehow the overwhelming majority of my rep on the sites doesn't come from closed questions. Most of my rep is coming from low, but positively scored answers on open questions. – peterh Jul 31 '19 at 18:41
  • Right, which is perfectly fine. If someone's telling you that that is a problem... provide a link. Heck, that's where most of my rep (on SO) came from. – Kevin B Jul 31 '19 at 18:42
  • @KevinB My pleasure – peterh Jul 31 '19 at 18:43
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    earning rep and rep farming is not exactly equal. – Kevin B Jul 31 '19 at 18:44
  • @KevinB Ok. On the SO, around 6% of the total rep is coming from closed questions. 94% is coming from open questions. – peterh Jul 31 '19 at 18:58
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    I'm not sure what point you are trying to make with that data. A whole lot more closed questions get deleted than open ones. – Kevin B Jul 31 '19 at 19:05
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    See... that's an action that is detrimental to the quality of the site, assuming you aren't also fixing the question itself. You might be helping the one user, but you're adding yet another useless post to the pile of useless posts, further diminishing the search capabilities. – Kevin B Jul 31 '19 at 19:12
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    Possible duplicate of What is rep farming? – gnat Jul 31 '19 at 19:35

It correlates well with the useful work for the sites.

That is the intent with reputation, yes. But this does not mean that there are not parasitic means of attaining rep, ways which garner reputation without meaningfully generating useful work.

For example, money often correlates with doing useful work for society. But it would be difficult to argue that Bernie Madoff genuinely contributed useful work to society, yet he managed to attain quite a bit of money.

The problem is not people who "want reputation". The problem is people who want reputation without giving any thought to whether the things they're doing to get it are genuinely useful.

At the end of the day, what we want is useful work. If you try to do what you do just to attain reputation, then you are incentivized to find a way to attain rep while doing minimal work. Even more to the point, if you only care about getting more rep, then rules which exist to ensure that contributions achieve some standard of quality are things which get in your way. In such a world-view, the only quality that exists is voting.

And then you've reached that parasitic point. Such a user does not care about actual quality, merely about whatever you can convince others is worthy of an upvote. To such a user, a closed question is not preventing poor quality posts; it is preventing them from getting rep. To such a user, a downvoted question is not a statement of the question's quality; it forces the question off of the front page and thus reduces their ability to gain rep from answering it. Downvoting and close voting are not tools of quality control; they are mechanisms that limit that user's ability to generate reputation.

A user who looks on questions as a potential reputation generation engine is using a mental model of the site that is not based on producing good content. It's based on getting a bigger number. And since we want a site that produces good content rather than bigger numbers, we must therefore be antagonistic towards a view of reputation as a goal.

My personal experience is that people with high rep, but mostly crap posts, are rare (well recently I've seen some semi-literate user on the SO with 8k). My another personal experience is that there is f*g hard to get a lot of rep, and people should be encouraged to work on it and not deterred from it.

Here, we see an interesting take on rep farming. It would seem that your perspective on the subject here is focused on how successful the activity is rather than the activity itself. That is, if someone is a rep farmer, then they must have a lot of rep. And if they don't have a lot of rep, then they're not a rep farmer.

Rep farming in this view is defined not by what you're doing, but by being successful at it.

That makes no sense. Even the word "farming" itself is defined by a process, an action performed, not the results of that action. Even though the very definition of the word "farming" is to produce food, farmers can in fact starve. They can go through the motions, yet not produce sufficient amounts of the food they desire.

There's that old saying: it's called "fishing", not "catching".

Rep farming is defined by the process, not by the results. People are rep farmers because they're doing things to increase their rep which are not helpful to the purpose of the site. They make a lot of posts, not because they're good at sharing information or have good information to share but because casting a wide net is a good rep farming strategy. They try to post first regardless of quality, because posting first matters more for scoring rep early on than quality. They use their voting to keep questions "alive" even if they shouldn't be. Etc.

The reason why rep farming is bad is because it encourages bad behavior. It doesn't matter if those bad behaviors are not actually a good way to get rep long-term; the view of reputation as a goal still encourages their behavior.

And that's another point in the Madoff analogy: Ponzi schemes often don't work. They certainly don't often work to Madoff levels. But the fact that a person can make that much money off of them is not why we forbid them. It's not about how much you might make; it's about what you are doing to make it.

Without the motivation of the rep, the SO would be now a coderanch.

I cannot deny the utility of reputation as a motivator (particular when it gives you powers on the site). However, once you reach a certain threshold, reputation stops being a useful motivator because, well, you have enough. So if what you were saying is true... why am I still here?

I'm not here because I really want to get to three hundred and four thousand reputation. I'm here because this place is not a forum. I'm here because I can spend my time on decent questions since garbage, time-wasting questions have a quick and brutal end. I'm here because good questions appear which warrant my expertise. I'm here because this place catalogs good content in a way that's easy to find. And I'm here because, due to all of those things, the answers I contribute can be easily found for years later.

The feeling I get when I get an upvote on an old answer is not about getting 10 rep. It's about knowing that some answer I wrote off the cuff half a decade ago managed to help someone.

A view of reputation that sees it as gratitude given for having provided good content is a view of reputation as a measurement of the quality of content. Viewing reputation as a goal is, from that perspective, perverse. It's as ethically perverse as saying you should help people to hear them say "thank you".

This was a comment on another answer, but I think dealing with it speaks to the fundamental issue at play here:

No, I am encouraging people to collect so many rep as they can. Questions are nearly unusable to collect rep. Everybody knows, the only way to collect a lot of rep, is writing a lot of useful answers.

If your intent is to get people to write "a lot of useful answers", then telling them "to collect so many rep as they can" is... silly. Even if we work from the position that all of your assumptions are valid (rep == quality, answers are the only way to gain rep, etc), if your true goal is to encourage people to write "a lot of useful answers", why wouldn't you just tell them to do exactly that.

Because that's not your goal. The purpose of this post, as stated in another comment, is really something quite different. To you, this whole discussion is about dealing with this:

a toxic, suppressive atmosphere

That is what this is about. You want "rep farmer" to stop being a pejorative, not because it will increase the quality of answers on the site, but because it will deal with this "toxic, suppressive atmosphere".

It is this kind of thing that I find most interesting. That you're trying to hide your true goal behind something innocuous; your willingness to pretend to argue in favor of something seemingly innocuous while instead trying to accomplish something that would be more controversial.

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    Let us continue this discussion in chat. – Nicol Bolas Aug 1 '19 at 17:25
  • And so will a honest contributor of the site network... become a Bernie Madoff. Exactly this hostile attitude is my problem. – peterh Sep 15 '19 at 16:37
  • @peterh: What "hostile attitude"? Can you cite specific people who are made out to be rep farmers for answering good questions? No, because odds are your definition of "good question" isn't the same as mine, so it's entirely likely that we will disagree on whether any examples you provide actually count. The problem is ultimately that your definition of what is good for the site doesn't match that of others, so you see any attempts to stop questions which you consider to be good to be a "hostile attitude". This is not a problem with the site; it's a problem with you and your chosen perspective – Nicol Bolas Sep 15 '19 at 17:19
  • Hostility is, that I am talking about productive users contrubiting a lot of good posts, this is why they can collect a lot of rep. For you, you compare them to Bernard Madoff. I think, you want to punish productive people. May I ask you, do you feel some type of fear from them? – peterh Sep 15 '19 at 17:33
  • @peterh: "that I am talking about productive users contrubiting a lot of good posts" You are not describing rep farmers. That's the problem here; you equate "contrubiting[sic] a lot of good posts" with "rep farming", as if the people "contrubiting[sic] a lot of good posts" were doing it for the reputation. Your perspective is askew. Or as I said: "You want "rep farmer" to stop being a pejorative, not because it will increase the quality of answers on the site, but because it will deal with this "toxic, suppressive atmosphere"." – Nicol Bolas Sep 15 '19 at 18:31
  • Yes, contributing many good posts results many upvotes, thus it leads to high reputation. It is like a free market. And you are like a communist. – peterh Sep 16 '19 at 6:26

The rep is not given for anything. It correlates well with the useful work for the sites.

So the crucial thing is what's considered to be useful by the community.

Constantly answering off-topic or duplicate questions isn't useful IMO.
Even if these would often generate reputation, it hinders the process of closing and deleting those questions which litter the space all over.

We don't need to answer each and everything, there are other instruments which are in action to improve the quality of the sites all over (including the closure and deletion of questions, which won't fit a sites policy).

  • Off-topic questions with upvoted answers won't be caught by the Roomba
  • We have to handle these kind of questions with answers manually
  • You are probably encouraging more low quality questions asked

You have to take care about how you want to collect rep, not only by answering but also judging the question you're about.
Judge about question/answer quality and real benefit for future research.
Think in long terms of building a FAQ like repository.

They are avid (sometimes, fanatic) caretakers and contributors.

I want to collect a lot of rep.

Real caretakers take care about the long term view and the quality of content as mentioned above.
Just collecting rep isn't a motivation for those.

You might be interested in joining the SOCVR, where people discuss closure of questions. Closing questions won't get you gaining any reputation (unfortunately for some cases), but helps to improve the sites quality allover.
That should be the primary motivation IMO.

  • Collecting rep is exactly their correct and fair motivation, because the SE system itself defines rep as the usefulness of the activities. And honestly, no really better measurement appeared in the system until now. The problem is a little bit similar to the well known economical problem of the capitalism: in theory, the money you earn measures the usefulness of your work for the society. In practice, I think we all know that many people could earn a lot of money without useful work (for the society), or their activities was even harmful (imagine some big IT companies...). – peterh Sep 16 '19 at 15:34
  • However, the sad truth is that no economical system with a better measurement of the value has proven better, than the free market capitalism until now. For example, I can consider the founder of the Facebook an incompetent criminal, but the sad truth is, that many companies pay them because they found them useful. Similarly, also I see sometimes 10k+ people on the SO who I consider at most semi-literate, but the majority is not this. The majority of the high-rep users has a tremendous count of wonderful posts. They, including Nicol Bolas (author of the other answer), or you, are among the – peterh Sep 16 '19 at 15:37
  • best rep farmers of the whole network, and I think you should be pride for that, so also I am pride for my profile. – peterh Sep 16 '19 at 15:38

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