One thing to understand is that people don't tend use their privileges shortly after earning them. For instance, a small percentage of users to begin closing or reopening within the first month:
So even though ~12,000 earned that privilege overnight, we can expect somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,400 will actually use a close or reopen vote for the first time within the next 30 days. (And quite a few of those users were already close to earning it without the change in reputation. [Citation needed]) We'd like to see that rate go back up so that more people are participating in all aspects of the site (and not just asking). So we're working on ways to guide users better when they earn privileges so they can use them responsibly.
Since most privilege levels are not really tied to anything specific, the exact levels are more of a "this feels right" than any sort of real science or whatnot. However some of the early privileges have a very definite cadence when it comes to onboarding. Take the flagging privilege (15) which requires one of:
- 2 answer upvotes
- 1 accepted answer
- 7 accepted suggested edits
- a bounty
- an association bonus
- 3 question upvotes (previous system)
- 2 question upvotes (current system)
- various combinations of the above
(Also, we're ignoring downvotes and spam/offensive flags, which might require more of the above.)
The idea is that you need to show some understanding of how the site works before you start flagging things. The system determines (usually confirmed by at least one existing member of the community) that participants have shown sufficient knowledge of the system by counting positive actions. Notice there's not a huge difference between the previous system and the current system. There's just one question upvote difference when it comes to flagging. Still, we might start noticing a greater percentage of declined flags as a result of the change. That produces a lot of unnecessary work for moderators and is something to avoid.
Now changing privilege levels is not the only tool we have. As I mentioned before, there's a lot of room for better guidance. We're watching activity on the site over the next month or so. If there are problems that could be corrected by changing privilege thresholds, that's certainly an option to consider.