I'm someone who has most of their rep on Stack Overflow from asking questions.

I have 16 accepted answers. 10 of those have no upvotes. 63% of my answers that were good enough to be accepted by the OP apparently weren't good enough for an upvote.

I understand that we need to reward good answers, and discourage people asking "length of string in C#" over and over to get rep. But what about those of us who ask a low number of good questions? My rep is going to be cut by quite a lot.

I feel stilted by the changing of the goal posts. (first when editing was 1000 & changed to 2000, and now once again).

I went back and looked at my 10 accepted with no upvotes. It looks like most of those are where I answered my own questions. So I'm asking a bunch of questions that are hard or edge cases, and when I find the solution I post it for the good of the community. At least a couple of those have comments saying, "I have the same problem... did you find a solution?"

I could just keep my notes to myself and not update my questions. I think that I'm in that original use case of contributing to this site for the good of the community - and now I'm being treated as a second-class citizen because I tend to post questions that are not common, beginner-level issues.

People still don't have more incentive to answer my questions (10 points for a hard or easy answer), but now I have less incentive to ask them.

Results: I lost 27.5% of my reputation on Stack Overflow. Not sure about superuser & serverfault, but I don't go there as much anyway. I was preparing to move a couple questions to bounties, but I don't think I'll do that now. c'est la vie.

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    @Qui-Gon: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/34922/… And I would downvote your comment if I could. – Jon Seigel Mar 19 '10 at 14:18
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    @Qui-Gon Jinn: ya, but without questions there are no answers. – Nathan DeWitt Mar 19 '10 at 14:19
  • @Nathan Tell that to the MODs – Locutus Mar 19 '10 at 14:26
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    @Nathan: Answer more questions. I don't see your argument here. You say you ask corner case questions, which implies you have a wealth of knowledge. So why not share it? Instead you choose to treat the site like a personal library but never offer to publish a book. I fear your plea will fall on deaf ears - I can hardly hear you myself. – Jeff Yates Mar 19 '10 at 14:26
  • @Qui-Gon Jinn: you're going to see an increase of crappy questions, and a decrease of good questions. Questions that can be answered by RTFM should be de-incentivized, not the good questions. – Nathan DeWitt Mar 19 '10 at 14:26
  • @Jon I know you would sweetie. – Locutus Mar 19 '10 at 14:27
  • @Jeff Yates: that's my point - it's not a personal library, I'm publishing for all to see. I could just post to my personal notebook and research and never share that knowledge. That's exactly what I'm not doing. – Nathan DeWitt Mar 19 '10 at 14:27
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    @Nathan: So you're saying we should be grateful that you ask questions? That you don't come here for answers, just to share the question and then tell us the answer yourself? What are you getting from this site? – Jeff Yates Mar 19 '10 at 14:29
  • @Jeff Yates: yes, you should be grateful that I ask good questions just like I'm grateful that people give good answers. Do we disagree on this? – Nathan DeWitt Mar 19 '10 at 14:31
  • @Nathan despite my first answer I do agree with what you are saying. but the people who have the rep would rather not share the increased features with an unknowledgeable bottom-feeding question asker. – Locutus Mar 19 '10 at 14:32
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    I hate people who ask questions because they generate more unanswered questions. I hate unanswered questions. I hope you lose a million, billion arbitrary numbers. – Welbog Mar 19 '10 at 14:33
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    @Qui you don't realize that what askers get is good answers, and what answerers get is just a warm feeling. Rep is just an acknowledgement for their knowledge and effort. High rep users just have contributed more, questions are going to be asked regardless of the fictitious rewards given by the site for their participation. High rep users aren't a cohesive group that is out to get low rep users. – perbert Mar 19 '10 at 14:36
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    @Qui-Gon Jinn: I'm glad you realise your place as a bottom-feeding question asker. Now, go make me some waffles. – Jeff Yates Mar 19 '10 at 14:36
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    Also, If I lose my edit and flagging privileges on SO, I'll be quite angry – Earlz Mar 19 '10 at 16:40
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    @Nathan: That particular problem easily answered: you may well be knowledgeable, but the system can't tell the difference between you and unknowledgeable users who "flood" with poor-to-mediocre questions. As in any open community: show, don't tell, and that means answering some questions (at least if you want to be recognized by rep at the same relative numbers to which you're accustomed). – Gnome Mar 19 '10 at 21:29

A significant fraction of my accepted answers probably have no upvotes either -- because it requires rep to vote up an answer and lots of questions are from new users without sufficient rep to vote.

I'm in agreement with the change in relative vote worth between questions and answers, though maybe it doesn't go far enough. It's too easy to game the system by asking hundreds of question and garnering a little rep from each; almost impossible to do by answering hundreds of questions. For a start to get any votes by answering, you need to know something. To answer hundreds of questions and get up votes on them, you need to know more than a little.

In a sense I see up votes on questions as a loss leader. It's easier to get involved here by asking questions, so there is some value in giving rep for it. Getting rep starts you playing the game. Once you're hooked on the game, though, to really play well, you ought to have to answer questions. That's where the real value in the site is. This change brings the balance of the value of the votes more in line with the value to the site for questions/answers. Once the person is "in the game," then the difference will encourage more of the behavior (answering) that is important.

Another important benefit of having up votes on answers count more is that as the site encourages answering questions over asking questions, it also improves the site value for the answerer -- and not just in terms of rep. Answering questions well is harder. Answering questions well forces you to learn your craft better. Get a down vote on a question and you may think the person just doesn't like you. Get a down vote on an answer and you know you need to make sure that what you think is true, really is.

I would estimate that I picked up jQuery (though I'm still learning) about twice as fast as I ordinarily would have (maybe about 5 times faster than Prototype, which is what I was using before), precisely because I started answering questions on SO about it. Seeing answers that were better than mine -- and getting my up votes -- was both a learning experience and a motivator to learn faster. In the end, I think this is a good thing for anyone who is serious about improving their craftsmanship as it encourages a better means of learning.

This is also, I think, a small step in making reputation actually have some meaning. Now if we could only get a "split" display a la the question up/down vote to show how much rep is derived from asking/answering, too.

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    @tvanfosson: Well said. There is inherent incentive in asking a question: the desire for an answer. The only incentive in answering is to show off how brilliant you are and not everyone wants to do that, so the rep game helps. I'd rather there was no points for asking a question - just maybe you get a bonus points award on your first one or two questions, but only on answers thereafter. – Jeff Yates Mar 19 '10 at 14:35
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    I like most of this, but don't underestimate the value and difficulty of crating a question well. It's not trivial; as all too many of the questions on the site will attest. Still, I think this change would have been better many months ago: the size of the step that some good user will experience now is considerable. Still +1. – dmckee Mar 20 '10 at 2:12

I believe that reputation should be an indication of the knowledge you possess, not the number of questions you can ask. If you want more reputation, answer more questions. If reputation is your incentive for asking a question rather than the excellent answers provided by StackOverflow users then you're using the wrong site.

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    I'm not saying the number of questions should be the key. I don't like the questions with 2 downs & 1 up getting +6. I'm talking about the question with 23 ups getting 230 vs 115. – Nathan DeWitt Mar 19 '10 at 14:37
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    @Nathan: Why do the points matter at all for question asking? Is not the answer the treasure you seek? – Jeff Yates Mar 19 '10 at 14:38
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    @Jeff Yates: the points matter for two reasons. 1. careers is hooked to them. 2. they give you more privileges on the site. – Nathan DeWitt Mar 19 '10 at 14:44
  • Sad to say, but the highest rep-generating questions are CW like "What's your favorite..." – rlb.usa Mar 19 '10 at 14:44
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    @Nathan - that's the wrong way to think about it. In terms of reputation for the poster, which says more: 23 people also don't know the answer and want it enough to up vote the question or your answer solved a problem for 23 people? I'd say the latter ought to be worth more rep. – tvanfosson Mar 19 '10 at 14:48
  • @tvanfosson: good point, however I often see a question and think "oh, that's a good question. that is a tricky area, and I'll reward this with an upvote." This usually happens after the question has already been answered. Maybe I'm just doing it wrong. – Nathan DeWitt Mar 19 '10 at 14:51
  • @Nathan: You appear to be concentrating more on what it means to you than what it means to everyone else. Because careers is hooked to them, rep points MUST mean more than just the ability to ask a question and BECAUSE you get more privileges, rep points MUST mean more than just the ability to ask questions. If you want more rep, ANSWER questions. – Jeff Yates Mar 19 '10 at 14:51
  • @tvanfosson: I forgot to add, I also go through and upvote the answers that were correct. I reward both the askers & the answerers. – Nathan DeWitt Mar 19 '10 at 14:51
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    @Nathan - I commend you for your voting habits. I don't have a problem with them. I just think that it's ok to have up votes count differently on questions vs. answers in keeping with a difference in their intrinsic worth. Good questions will still garner rep, just not as much. I think that's ok. – tvanfosson Mar 19 '10 at 15:03
  • That is not the definition of Reputation. Read the FAQ. It is "how much the community trusts you". SO is not saying that it trust answers more than those who ask good questions (that give answers a chance to get the rep). – Vaccano Mar 19 '10 at 21:27
  • @vaccano: Looks like the FAQ needs changing. – Jeff Yates Mar 22 '10 at 1:16

The reward for answering questions is reputation. The reward for asking questions is knowledge. Those who ask good questions are already rewarded far beyond the capabilities of a simple number.


I'm not at all convinced that the change will hurt good question askers. For all we know it will help. The community has a clear bias towards answers when it comes to voting. I think that's at least partly due to the fact that questions and answers receive the same number of points when voted on. A lot of people dont't think that's balanced quite right. How do we know that twice as many people won't upvote good answers questions once the change is in?

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    @Bill -- I think you meant questions in the last sentence. Feel free to roll back if my edit wasn't correct. – tvanfosson Mar 19 '10 at 21:20
  • @tvanfosson: Definitely meant questions. Thanks. – Bill the Lizard Mar 19 '10 at 21:47

I lost about 20% of my rep from the change but won't complain. My rep was probably too high for my involement. I asked a couple of good questions that really boosted my total beyond where I should have been based upon the answers I have provided.

For me it's not about the rep, it's about getting answers that I need and trying to share my knowledge by answering someone else's questions. Isn't that the point of the site??

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