I was wondering about this for a while now.

Since people really only gain reputation and don't really lose it over time (barring extreme cases), will the various reputation levels stay consistent or will they move? Will an upvote always be 10 points and a downvote 2?

Since there is no real 'sink' to take reputation away, everyone will eventually have tons of it and everyone will be a 10k+ moderator. What will be done to prevent this? Or is this the ideal?


10 Answers 10


The idea is that as long as new people come along, the more moderators/editors there will be a need for to keep up with the growing population.

I don't see a problem with the current levels of rep or how it is gained and lost. You need to spend a substantial amount of time to gain 10k rep. If you spend that much time, generally it can be guessed that you have invested enough in the website to earn your "stripes".

One issue which I have and some others have had is the way in which some people achieve their rep, such as by posting tons of questions which gain them enough rep to achieve close voting capabilities. This is a rather minor blip, however.


I don't see a real problem with a lot of active users being 10k moderators. That threshold really only gives you the ability to vote to delete closed posts, and access to a dashboard that allows you to more conveniently use the abilities you gained at lower thresholds. I think SO currently needs more people exercising those abilities.

  • 2
    I'm on my way!!! (~2 more days!!)
    – jjnguy
    Jul 13, 2009 at 19:04
  • 10
    You spend so much time trying to get to 10k and when you see the 10k tools it really is a bit of a buzzkill.
    – TheTXI
    Jul 13, 2009 at 19:06
  • 1
    :( That's not super encouraging. Oh well, maybe I'll go get some work done....
    – jjnguy
    Jul 13, 2009 at 19:15
  • @TheTXI: Yeah, my initial reaction was, "but I already don't have enough time!"
    – Jeff Yates
    Jul 14, 2009 at 13:39

I say don't worry about it, until it becomes a problem.

If it does become a problem, that's when you will have enough information to make an informed decision. Until then, it is just wild guessing.

At this point in time, there is no real proof that this will ever happen. We also don't know if there will be other changes that will make the argument moot. So the best course of action, is to sit and wait.

I would also like to point out, that at this time the site hasn't even been in existence for a year.


There is already the sink of bounties which can take a big chunk out of your reputation if you choose to use them. However, reputation is an indication (and only an indication) of a users expertise and contribution quality, not a currency.

I also disagree that everyone will get 10k+. It takes effort to get that kind of reputation and not everyone will post to the appropriate quality and quantity to achieve that reputation level.

However, if it becomes an issue, I'm sure those in charge will effect a change that will either level the reputation or reset the limits to something higher. Note I said if it becomes a problem, I don't think it will.


10k moderation tools are only a means to quickly access:

  • Flagged as spam/offensive
  • Highest voted questions
  • Lowest voted questions
  • Highest voted answers
  • Lowest voted answers
  • Most commented
  • Most viewed
  • Most edited
  • New tags

They are a mere help to go look what to vote for a close or do an edit on. You can do very much the same damage with a 2k account (except voting to delete which is controlled by the fact of requiring more than one vote). So I wouldn't fret over a huge amount of people who can see that kind of information.


As the number of people with lots of reputation increases so do the number of people on the site.

The point is that as the number of pseudo-mods increases, so does the number of people that need to be moderated.

I think the system will continue to work as-is.

  • Er, actuallyno. Those two things are largely unrelated. It's entirely possible to end up with a shrinking population with increasingly higher reps. The system doesn't require new blood since upvotes are free.
    – cletus
    Jul 14, 2009 at 5:41
  • 2
    Well, I talking about practical terms. This is how the site has been trending so far.
    – jjnguy
    Jul 14, 2009 at 11:21

Becoming a moderator requires quite some effort and time.

Though some might use their abilities to "do evil" I'm sure the vast majority will use it to do exactly what is required from them: moderate (in a positive sense).

Furthermore, having more moderators means there will be more people to keep the "bad" ones in line as well.

Besides if moderator's can flag suspicious moderator actions, they will probably be able to weed out the bad ones.


"Everyone" being those willing to put in the effort for at least 50 days, and that's reaching the rep cap each of those days.

Rep inflation isn't really a big issue because the system is not intended to just have a few 10k moderators. Everyone who earns that level is likely the sort of person you want with those powers.


Luckily, 10k+ rep isn't that powerful as you think (I'm far from it and don't really want it - I'm fine with editing on SO). The concern, as asked in other questions here on meta, is more like the absolute numerical value of the rep, and how the answers given by such users affect the quality of a post. But having 10k+ users around the world helps maintain the site 24/7 indeed.

For the case of rep-sinks, just run a small thought experiment: if you loose large amount of rep due some rules or 'recession', what would you do? Work harder to regain it or loose faith in SO? (One small cognitive trick is to see the rep value as there were no 'k' in it - you only observe around +.2 per day this way :)

    Jul 13, 2009 at 19:19
  • @Rich B: Based on some low voted bugs, I did really consider implementing a hot-fixer for SO for myself.
    – akarnokd
    Jul 13, 2009 at 19:41

As I said in this very similar question, I think that reputation should decay exponentially over time, so that reputation you gained longer ago is worth less than reputation you gained in the last few days. This would help keep the site current.

  • No chance. I don't want my hard earned rep to decay just cos I go on holidays! Aug 28, 2009 at 11:57
  • I wasn't thinking that it would decay fast enough for it to notice much in a couple of weeks holiday. Perhaps a decay of 1-2% per week.
    – rjmunro
    Sep 15, 2009 at 23:47

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