After confirming my email address in a new Area51 account, I had 51 rep. I voted my maximum on questions for a particular proposal and then proposed 5 questions. One of those got a 'not a good example' vote. Fair enough, and I'm not whining about that.

But, the result was my rep went down to 49, and now I can no longer vote on questions in any Area51 proposed site. Is that really desirable? A single vote of not good has effectively barred me from further participation. This is unlikely to change in the near future by my gaining rep, as the proposed site to which I contributed questions hasn't had a new follower since I followed two days ago.

I'm very new to active participation in the SO and descendants world. (I have, however, as a hobbyist programmer, long been a passive user of SO.) I thus accept that 'But I cannot vote! isn't exactly a crisis. However, it still does seem to me that a single vote ought not to prevent any further participation.

Perhaps the minimum rep required for voting on questions in Area51 proposed sites ought to be relaxed enough so that an account can still vote after a small number of 'not a good example' questions? This seems especially so as, so far as I can tell, the community is still working out what exactly 'not a good example' means.


As of right now, there seem to be a handful of users with reputation just under 50. Most likely, they would just go away after being 'silenced', rather than try to investigate what they should do or otherwise complain. We want users to learn the rules, and play by them; we don't want to push people away who make minor infractions.

As of right now, I count 35 users with reputation in the 40 - 49 range. I didn't look at the profiles for all of them, but many of them seem to have fallen into the same trap as @vanden.

At least one user has figured out that he needed to remove the offending question, but he didn't request a recalc. (Honestly, how would anyone know to do that?)

  • Indeed. Like the user you mention, I deleted, but had no idea I needed the recalc request until helped here by Aarobot. – vanden Jul 27 '10 at 22:25

This isn't that different from Stack Overflow itself, which requires 15 rep to vote (but you only start with 1). Mainly it's to prevent vote fraud, but the idea is also that you're supposed to demonstrate that you "get it" before you're allowed to vote on other people's responses.

Area 51 is actually rather permissive in that respect - you don't need to get any upvotes before you can vote on other people's examples. I do agree that it's a little confusing, though, making it so easy to gain voting privileges and then making it so easy to lose them.

You do have an "undo", sort of: Delete your example, then request a rep recalc (i.e. by flagging one of your other examples and saying in the message that you want your reputation recalculated).

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    Thanks. I had deleted the question, but that didn't help. The flag request for recalculation was what I didn't have. (I'd vote your answer up, but I lack the juice. Have a cookie ;-) – vanden Jul 25 '10 at 16:45
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    I still do think that way a single 'not a good example' vote can ''silence'' an account is too strong, though. – vanden Jul 25 '10 at 16:50
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    How is a new user supposed to know that? – Thomas Bonini Jul 25 '10 at 18:10
  • @Kop: By finding out the same way this one did? I really don't think this happens frequently enough to warrant a special section in the FAQ. – Aarobot Jul 25 '10 at 19:26
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    @Aerobot: I'm not saying it should be in the FAQ, I'm saying the system should be re-designed so that this doesn't happen. For example, since they like to use notifications for everything nowadays, they could notify the user saying that "You fell below 50 reputation because of <link to the question> and now you don't have enough reputation to vote. If you want, you can delete that question and you will instantly get the reputation back". Of course, also change the system so reputation recalcs are not needed to give the rep back. – Thomas Bonini Jul 25 '10 at 20:01
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    @Kop: Again, that presupposes that this happens often enough to actually be a serious problem. So far we have exactly one report. If it were me being asked to implement this, I'd want some evidence of impact before committing to anything with the word "redesign". I agree that the system is frustrating, perhaps even a nuisance for a few users, but that doesn't automatically justify sweeping changes. – Aarobot Jul 25 '10 at 21:28
  • @Aerobot: My recalculation was acted on today, so it did work as you said; thanks. While I did upvote your answer (I now have the rep to do so), I won't accept it. It did help me surmount the problem, but I am still inclined to think that it is a problem. I would also suggest that if mine is the first report, that doesn't say too much about the situation. 1) The Stack Exchange family of sites is trying to grow like stink, so new users will become more common. 2) It might well be that many of those with my issue will just walk away, concluding the design is bad and not worth more effort. – vanden Jul 27 '10 at 5:13
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    Indeed, I think that most people, upon encountering something user-unfriendly, don't go asking for help. They just go away, and don't bother with the site anymore. This seems like a failure on the part of the site, IMO. – pkaeding Aug 4 '10 at 17:52

On the flip side, nobody has voted up anything you've posted (if they had you would've earned rep). So arguably you've created enough "noise" that someone downvoted just one thing, and a single upvote would easily undo the situation. If you've provided the right kind of content, you'll get that upvote, and have full privileges returned.

  • That's true, and it did happen eventually. But, the proposal that was at issue (Philosophy), spent a while with few new users, and thus few votes being cast. Arguably, it wasn't that my questions were noise, but that the signal of community feeback was thin and weak. – vanden Aug 12 '10 at 17:24

Wouldn't automatic rep regain lead to a problem of allowing people to spam by continuously deleting questions as they got reported to instantly gain the reputation back? I think a potential solution is to send the user a message like suggested earlier letting them know what happened and why and then having a delay on the offending question affecting their rep (like 1 day after they see the warning message) to allow them to delete it. This of course would happen only once for the user.

On second thought the automatic re-add could also work if you only let it happen once as well.

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