I was once again doing some research, trying to find a better way to get notifications, and I just realized this (if you want to know how I got to this, follow this steps: 1 2 3).

So, the first question came in and started receiving votes. Then someone had the same question, exact duplicate, and tried asking it. But it was closed and pointed to the older question, who then receive more votes from two different places. Then a third person came in and asked yet again the same question. Now the first question have 3 links to it, and more places to receive votes from.

Sure, people could just vote in the other questions as well, but that doesn't actually happen. In our example the first one is better linked already, and just like we would expect, it did receive the most votes. And it will continue to. And that's what happen in most cases.

What's wrong with that? To me, it makes whoever ask first or answer first gain better reputation and thus the society become more and more "elitelized" (if that's a word). Newcomers won't stand much of a chance to get reputation, there will be less and less space for new questions as they will all be duplicated somehow to older questions. As far as I can tell, that's already happening.

And what's the problem with people not being able to gain reputation as easily as in the beginning, anyway? It's a good thing to have the moderators and people willing to help already when you join in. Maybe there's no problem here, that's why I'm asking. Is there a flaw there? It feels to me there is, but I'm not sure.

  • Two questions: (a) do you have data to support your argument? and (b) if this is a flaw, what is your proposed solution? – Jon Seigel Mar 16 '10 at 17:12
  • @Jon (a) there is the steps on the beginning, but I could grab more data if you think there's a need to (b) I'm pretty sure whoever can identify this as a flaw will have much better proposals than I can come up with right now. I'm just trying to bring attention to it while confirming if my suspect is right or wrong. – cregox Mar 16 '10 at 17:15
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    Oh the embarrassment! I die. My stale questions steal reputation from all who come after me who waste away for lack of rep. Everybody dies. Oh the embarrassment! – dmckee --- ex-moderator kitten Mar 16 '10 at 17:46
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    I only hope people can also see the parallel I see here in this question... With money in real life, and heritage. It's really, really thin and far away, but not all that hard to see. – cregox Mar 16 '10 at 17:54

This is by design. The first person to ask the question deserves the reputation, since they were the first to ask the question. Duplicates are explicitly closed to funnel answers into the main question(although they remain on the site to aid in searching).

As for new comers, I don't have any data to support me, but from what I have seen if a user wants to be involved in the community he/she will. Additionally, if you look at most high-rep users, the majority of their rep does not come from questions, but from answers. If a user wants to gain rep quickly, becoming involved on the answer side of the Q&A will lead to higher gains.

Finally, we must all remember that the real reason we are here is not for the rep. The rep is just a game we play. SOFU exist to answer questions, and as far as I can see, there is no flaw in the core goals of the sites. Even if there were a flaw in the rep system, would it really matter if the sites continued to provide good, thorough and helpful answers?

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  • clap clap clap clap – juan Mar 16 '10 at 17:44
  • I can't top that :) – cregox Mar 16 '10 at 17:47
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    with one more clap you could... oh, you mean the answer... – juan Mar 16 '10 at 17:48
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    Perhaps if we got rid of rep for questions? Sorry to be a bore, but that is the final solution to a lot of SO's ills. – nb69307 Mar 16 '10 at 18:15
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    s/Duplicates are explicitly not allowed/Duplicates are explicitly allowed for searching, but just as explicitly closed to funnel answers into the main question and/ (sorry, can't edit yet or i'd tweak it myself) – quack quixote Mar 16 '10 at 18:21
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    +1: There is no flaw in the system. If people would use the search tools provided, then many duplicates would be avoided. Spend a few extra minutes searching for a similar question - review your keywords, broaden the search. Guaranteed you'll learn a few things along the way. – IAbstract Mar 16 '10 at 19:01
  • @~quack, Yes... I like that better. I hope I still captured your point. – heavyd Mar 16 '10 at 19:03
  • @heavyd: works for me :) – quack quixote Mar 17 '10 at 5:17
  • @dboarman-FissureStudios There is no flaw in the system - can someone tell a mod so that they can turn off meta then, its work is done. – amelvin Apr 21 '10 at 0:04

I don't see a problem with the first question-asker to gain all the reputation from their question. They put the question out there, so they deserve credit for it in proportion to how much value it has for the community. That, I believe, is the entire point of the reputation system. Converse argument: who else would get credit for the extra voting, if not the original person who asked the question?

As for users not gaining reputation in the beginning, I seriously doubt this is a problem, although I don't have data to back up my assertion. I agree it's a little difficult to gain traction in the beginning, but that's to be expected if you're new to any community and people are unfamiliar with you. But the bottom line is that if the user can provide value through questions and answers, the voting will reflect that, and more often than not it works as designed.

Moreover, as I've said previously, the question topic-space is constantly changing and evolving, so there is always new material that needs to be covered. This is an opportunity for everyone, including new users, to explore topics where there are no duplicates.

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    Just to clarify, I'm not saying there's a problem with gaining reputation at all. I'm saying there might be a problem with people not gaining it just because it's duplicate. This is not about only duplicates, tho. Anyway, I agree with all you said. – cregox Mar 16 '10 at 17:28
  • @Cawas: I think we agree here, just said from opposite perspectives. – Jon Seigel Mar 16 '10 at 17:33

There are many flaws in the reputation system -- like it doesn't reflect programming reputation very accurately, for one -- but this isn't one of them.

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I only hope people can also see the parallel I see here in this question... With money in real life, and heritage. It's really, really thin and far away, but not all that hard to see.

Yeah, but on Stack Overflow, just like in real life, you can't simply coast by on the work of others. As time goes by, you must build on what was there before and offer something that is improved. That is the way of life, and to simply allow people to get rewards from doing the same thing as others have done before, we will stagnate rather than flourish.

Yes, to get reputation on Stack Overflow now you must do something, provide information or offer insight, that is new and improves on the existing knowledge. If you can't or don't want to do that, perhaps you're in the wrong place.

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    Ether you're twisting too much what I've said. But I can't blame you. Everything I write seems to generate confusion. It's been over 15 years I've noticed that and I still haven't learn how to write properly in any language. Anyway, as for heritage, I'm saying in the sense that someone once made a fortune somehow, then the children of them are rich without doing anything while not allowing anyone else to come in and do it. And by being rich they've got more power and acceptance in society, naturally. – cregox Mar 16 '10 at 18:16
  • @Cawas: If I remember the studies correctly, the third generation of rich people generally ends up being poor, while the third generation of poor people generally ends up being either middle-class or rich. Yes, I know, [citation needed]. I wish I had time to look up references. – mmyers Mar 16 '10 at 19:07
  • @mmyers I never agreed with "citation needed", even without google. I like better "do your own research". But directions are always welcomed. I'll look into it, thanks for the comment, it's very insightful. I wasn't thinking in just 1 or 3 generations, tho my reference and parallel was about 1 or 2 generations indeed. – cregox Mar 16 '10 at 19:26
  • But in Stack Overflow, who are the children? There is no inheritance of reputation (either numerical or in the traditional sense). – Ether Mar 16 '10 at 19:35
  • this is going really off-topic, but you're trying to make an analogy whether I wasn't doing one. There are no children, but the effect as a whole is that "first come first serve". In humanity, that'd be through heritage, in SO it isn't. – cregox Mar 16 '10 at 21:08

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