Overall reputation scores are headed nowhere but up. Pretty soon there will be thousands of mods. What to do? Thoughts on possibilities:

  • Thousands of mods is fine. Carry on.
  • Adjust the threshold values for high-level SO privileges.
  • Do a straight-up inflation adjustment. You had x rep, then at the turn of the year we applied the Consumer Rep Index to all scores, now you have (x / inflation) rep.
  • Implement a rep decay mechanism, so that inactivity sheds some of the overall rep that's built up.
  • What do you mean by mod? Is it the same as current mods, or did terminology change?
    – tshepang
    Feb 25, 2011 at 6:22
  • 1
    I don't think that pretty soon there will be thousands of moderators; Stack Overflow, which is the site with more moderators, is not even close to have a hundred moderators. Moderators are only elected, and moderator is not a synonym of 20k user.
    – apaderno
    Feb 13, 2012 at 22:27
  • So this is a reversed fiscal drag. :)
    – Nemo
    May 15, 2015 at 19:20

11 Answers 11


Implement a rep decay mechanism, so that inactivity sheds some of the overall rep that's built up.

I think this was discussed on some SO Podcast and was decided that it was a bad idea.

Thousands of mods is fine. Carry on.

I think this is the idea, the idea is not that mods should be limited but that the system trusts users after x reputation. If it trusts a lot of people then that is great.

  • Yeah, I'm actually OK w/ large numbers of mods, and this isn't a question you want to answer with premature action. But someday a mod will go completely postal, and someone will assert a need for a "mod of mods". Probably best to wait until then.
    – user95071
    Jun 29, 2009 at 13:27
  • 11
    Who watches the Watchmen????
    – TheTXI
    Jun 29, 2009 at 13:28
  • 3
    There are true moderators that have a much larger access than 3k and 10k mods. Jun 29, 2009 at 13:28
  • 5
    I'm sure that the SO team will nix anyone's mod privileges if they abuse them. Jun 29, 2009 at 13:29
  • Thousands of mods is such a horrible idea I need a flow chart to explain the ways it can go wrong.
    – Oorang
    Jun 29, 2009 at 17:02
  • The real question is: What do we do about (active) mod count inflation? Maybe mods inactive for 30+ days should be temporarily demoted until they've remained active for a week?
    – spoulson
    Jun 29, 2009 at 17:27
  • 5
    In terms of "who watches the watchmen?", that is the ♦ moderators... and to pre-empt "who watches the ♦ moderators?"; the ♦ moderator actions are logged, so any abuse is easy to track. Jul 5, 2009 at 22:12
  • 1
    I haven't used SO for several months, but my reputation keeps going up (from my already existing answers), it looks like I'll hit 10k soon. I didn't really do anything special during this period to deserve earning "more trust" than I had before.
    – hasen
    Dec 7, 2010 at 23:21
  • @Oorang: I'd like to see that flowchart
    – endolith
    Aug 1, 2011 at 1:47

Reputation is designed to make sure you are legit before you can start doing things. So for example, it keeps spammers out because you actually have to participate just a bit in order to start using the system.

At the higher levels, for moderator type privileges, reputation serves a slightly different role. It basically confirms that you've been here long enough that you know how things work AND that the community as a whole considers you an experienced participant. In that regard, it doesn't seem like there's anything wrong with having a bunch of mods. The community itself will also be growing and those moderators will be needed because the activity on the site will also have gone up as well.

That being said, the best part of SO is the willingness of the team to change the rules for the better as this work in progress continues.

  • 5
    We've seen in the past users who by the simple grace of sticking around long enough to ask 200+ stupid questions get enough sympathy rep to achieve some moderation capabilities such as being able to vote to close topics. I don't think their score is any bit indicative of a "trusted user" status.
    – TheTXI
    Jun 29, 2009 at 13:57
  • 1
    There are always some guys the moderators have to deal with. A few do not break the system (guys, not moderators). Jun 29, 2009 at 16:30

I disagree that this is even an issue. Millions(!) of mods is kind of the point. The idea is that the site(s) are run by the masses, not by an elite few.

Having users with ridiculous rep levels does not hinder a new person from gaining reputation except in the face of high-rep users commit fraudulent actions to keep someone down, and even for the highest level of moderator the damage that can be done is limited. This is all by design.

Now, if they introduce some PvP features whereby Jon Skeet can buy better post tools than me I may change my answer but until then, I don't see this as an issue.


It's a shame there's not also a measure of experience as well as trustworthiness. It's frustrating to take the time to construct a well thought out answer, get a couple of up-votes and then see lots of up-votes for questions like "In Java what's the difference between '=' and '=='?".

  • 2
    Again, missing the point. These sites aren't a giant game of "stump the geek." That level of question is going to be more useful to the vast majority of SO visitors than more detailed questions about how the compiler performs X.
    – Rob Allen
    Jun 29, 2009 at 14:37
  • I'm not arguing that obscure, complex questions should result in more rep. I'm merely pointing out that it's easy for someone to join SO, post their Comp Sci homework on here one question at a time, and amass a reputation of several hundred. So in this case I'd argue that their rep is a fairly meaningless measure.
    – Adamski
    Jun 29, 2009 at 15:11
  • 2
    @Adamski: I would argue that rep is fairly meaningless in all cases (except maybe Jon skeet, Marc Gravell et.al.) Reputation was never intended to be a measurement of your programming knowledge/skills. It's only a measurent of your involvement with the site and should not be mistaken for something else.
    – Treb
    Jul 26, 2009 at 13:41

We now have more than

  • 2,000 10k+ moderators
  • 8,000 3k+ closers/openers
  • 12,000 2k+ editors

Everything is fine.

Carry on.


I agree a lot with what Olafur says about the mod count going up. There is a problem along the way though which was discussed for a time on Uservoice concerning some users who are seriously not up to the task of being an editor, but have still managed to achieve a rep score allowing them to be merely by posting hundreds of garbage questions which will almost always score some sympathy up votes along with the numerous down votes.

I still believe that there should be some sort of ratio between Asked vs. Answered (and perhaps a ratio concerning their number of high score questions/answers vs. negative score questions/answers) before certain moderation capabilities are bestowed upon a user. This would ensure that you are keeping the users who simply "don't get it" from getting extra power just for sticking with it long enough and overall lowering the quality of the system itself.


As rep grows with time it will be less useful for judging the reliability of an answer.
Joel (allegedly) knows a bit about Excel's macro language - but he has less rep than a kid who has nothing better to do than post on SO all day.
So you could have a world expert on a particular topic with a rep of a few hundred and posts by somebody who knows nothing and a rep of 10K+.

Are we going to have to show rep only related to answers with the same tags ?

  • "kid who has nothing better to do than post on SO all day" - it's better, then playing video games. At least, the kid will learn something about programming.
    – user4035
    Jul 24, 2013 at 21:18

Pretty soon there will be thousands of mods. What to do?

Yes, but pretty soon there will also be millions of low-rep users. In other words, for each person who crosses the 10k-rep threshold, there are dozens of new users asking questions on Stack Overflow for the first time. I would actually argue that the number of moderators is barely keeping up with the number of new users. I think that we need more moderators, not less.

In short,

Thousands of mods is fine. Carry on.


Implement a rep decay mechanism, so that inactivity sheds some of the overall rep that's built up.

I disagree with this. Decaying reputation points would only really effect people with low rep, not those with tens of thousands of rep.

You could have it decay logarithmically, so reputation decays faster the higher your rep, but a) this kind of punishes the active users most, b) reputation applies linearly, so if someone with 100k rep loses 1% a day, it takes much more effort for them to regain it.

One idea I had (although I don't think it'd really work in practice), is hiding reputation above a certain point

  • I was actually thinking of logarithmic decay, but not entirely convinced it's a good idea to begin with; and apparently the idea as a whole has been vetted and found wanting.
    – user95071
    Jun 29, 2009 at 15:40

There will always be newbies to the site - I do hope. Therefore the inflation adjustment would not work. Otherwise I would get the same rep as some active newbie soon would have.

Maybe the boundaries for some of the operations, mainly the moderators will have to be adjusted over time (without anybody loosing his or her earned rights), but this is a trust site.

Maybe something like: You are granted mod rights

  • if you have 4/5 of the highest rep
  • if you are on one of the n first pages in user stat

The second one could be used to grant mod rights on popular tags as well?


I think the rep system is fine. And I think pegging it to the ability to edit other people's posts is fine since a history is displayed. I think that pegging it to the mod panel will go down as a very very bad idea. Why? Well it's the kind of thing that can get abused in so many ways without anyone ever noticing. How well they will have access to your ip, your email, your real name (if you gave it). It's a very serious privacy issue that needs way more control than it's been given.

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