What's the point of having to accumulate rep separately across all these sites? There is clearly a very large overlap between the communities and if people find you trustworthy on one site, then you're probably still trustworthy on the others. I don't see the point in making people start over from scratch again.

Well, why not merge the reputation?

  • 12
    I think your meta reputation should be some sort of combination of your rep across all the sites. Something like the average of all three.
    – jjnguy
    Commented Jul 16, 2009 at 20:16
  • 3
    Title could be updated to be less specific than those 3 sites, like "across all software development and maintenance sites".
    – tkruse
    Commented Jun 20, 2020 at 22:40

15 Answers 15


It's an interesting point. I think it depends on how you view reputation. Some say that it is a measure of trust, others expertise. If you're in the former camp, I don't see how you can argue against this suggestion, if you're in the latter, I don't see how you can't.

I personally think rep is a bit of both and therefore, linking it across sites isn't necessarily going to be useful. However, the privileges that rep awards users aren't necessarily based on anything but trust in my opinion and therefore I see no reason why privileges couldn't be linked except that they're tied so closely to rep.

  • 17
    Even view reputation as trust, why should SF trust me because I know SO or meta works? I, personally, would have no idea how to appropriately edit or retag on SF, even though I can do those things on SO and perhaps soon on meta. I'm not a server admin, I shouldn't be trusted by the SF system. Trust isn't just about knowing the SO engine, it's understanding the specific site as well. Commented Jul 16, 2009 at 20:25
  • 8
    I don't agree. Most posts I edit or retag are based on language, spelling, and grammar. I rarely edit anything relating to the technical content, so I don't see how that changes across sites.
    – Jeff Yates
    Commented Jul 17, 2009 at 6:10
  • 3
    Hum, I think you might've hit the nail on the head with this one. Personally, I believe it's a measure of trust, simply because if you look at what reputation does for you, none of the effects of reputation reflect or modify how authoritative you are, but all of them are based on how trustworthy you are. yshuditelu makes an interesting distinction concerning familiarity, but ultimately I think there's no harm in that because you would know better than to start editing tags when you don't know what tags are appropriate. Commented Jul 18, 2009 at 9:58
  • I think rep is a measure of trust and collaboration effort. If rep measures collaboration effort, then someone who has a strong collaboration effort on SO does not imply a strong collaboration effort on SF. We could, however, have a "SE network" collaboration effort, which is the sum, or better the average. Commented Aug 13, 2010 at 10:24
  • 1
    I agree that some privileges (especially the ability to vote/edit) should be somewhat global across all SE sites). How annoying is it that I find a question on a different SE site than I normally frequent, and I cannot up-vote the question/answer which I find informative and relevant? I have to go out of my way to gain rep on that niche site first, and only then can I vote.
    – Travis
    Commented May 10, 2011 at 14:13
  • 1
    Case in point: I agree with the previous comment, but I'm unable to vote it up. Commented Jul 29, 2014 at 1:38
  • 1
    Several sites do look very closely related to SO. And SO itself is very broad, an expert in one technology is not necessarily an expert in all of them. Giving very actively cursing people who are trusted A LOT on SO more trust in other technology related sites seems like low risk and high benefit. In particular for sites with less traffic and less opportunity to get to high levels of reputation.
    – tkruse
    Commented Jun 20, 2020 at 22:30

Each site deals with its own specific niche. If you're trusted on one site there's no reason you should be given benefit of the doubt about your knowledge on other topics. If you're skilled in different areas you should be able to gain rep on all 3 sites. If you're not, users shouldn't be given the impression that you are.

  • I don't think all benefits are created equal. The right to vote is very different to the right to edit. Some benefits should be network wide as the trust you are given is less based in knowledge and more based in your willingness to follow the rules.
    – Jeff Yates
    Commented May 10, 2011 at 15:12
  • 1
    With todays sites, there is huge overlap of topics in some sites, and sites like SO have very little cohesion (lid off different niches inside SO). Mit have been different in '09
    – tkruse
    Commented Jun 20, 2020 at 22:33

If you've gained 10k rep on SO, there is a high likelihood you understand what questions and behavior are valid and acceptable on SO. However, that doesn't mean you know the first thing about what questions should be valid and what behavior is acceptable on SF or SU. They're all separate sites, with separate focuses, and therefore they trust each user based on their involvement with that site.

  • 11
    I have almost 13,000 rep on SO. I have less than 400 rep on SF. I think that is a pretty accurate portrayal of me.
    – TheTXI
    Commented Jul 16, 2009 at 20:15
  • 2
    I'm with you TXI, I'm approaching 3k on SO and 2K here, but I haven't even attempt answering a question on SF, that's not what I spend my time doing. I deserve no trust on the SF system. Commented Jul 16, 2009 at 20:22
  • Perhaps there is some other way of determining whether one knows what questions are valid and what behavior is acceptable on SF or SU? Maybe some type of exam? Let someone gain rep on one site to prove trustworthiness and a basic level of understanding, then let them "challenge" the other sites by exam. Commented Aug 7, 2018 at 16:01

Different types of questions/answer deserve different reputation. It's that simple.

  • Super User, Ask Different, etc. are 95% the same types of questions, with slightly different focuses.
    – pkamb
    Commented Jun 21, 2020 at 4:03

An alternative would be to split reputation points into two parts:

  • reputation for expertise on a particular topic, for things like answering a question correctly

  • overall reputation for trustworthiness across Stack Exchange sites, for doing community-related things, like editing for spelling and grammar

It's silly for someone who has thousands of reputation points in a one community to not be able to even comment on another community.

  • 5
    Anyone with > 200 points on one site gets a 100 point association bonus on any new site they sign up to, thus neatly sidestepping this problem. You can reassociate accounts at any time to gain this bonus if you had < 200 points when first setting up the account on the new site.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Commented Feb 22, 2011 at 14:59

Rep is a measure of trust, and yet, most of us are only knowledgeable on a subset of the topics covered on SO. I am knowledgeable about Python, C, C++ but not Ruby, Java, databases, iPhone... I have enough rep points that I could make a nuisance of myself on questions that I know nothing about, but I don't abuse my privileges.

SO trusts me not to abuse my rep privileges on topics I don't know about. So it would be nice to be trusted more on other SE sites too.

  • Exactly. A SO user with 20k rep in the iOS tag perhaps should not be trusted at all for C++ questions. But they could be trusted for all questions on the completely separate site Ask Different.
    – pkamb
    Commented Jun 21, 2020 at 4:06

While there is an overlap, there is enough of a difference to make someone who could trusted by StackOverflow not trusted by ServerFault (say).

As developer I'm trusted (to a degree) on StackOverflow, but not on ServerFault - which is how it should be as I know very little about system adminstration. I know a little bit more about managing my own PC so I should be able to answer questions on SuperUser and gain some trust.


I think the SO and SO meta sites are the exception. Afterall one is a discussion about the other. I wouldn't credit a user on serverfault based on their rating on SO or superuser.


I had the same thought after reading Feedback for The Loop - June 2020: Defining the Stack Community

I wrote an answer:

I've been trusted to make thousands of no-review edits on Stack Overflow. When Google randomly lands me on Super User, I want to make those same edits there too to improve that site and the Stack Exchange network as a whole.

I want to participate all across the Stack Exchange network, but can't because there's no concept of higher-rep cross-site trust beyond the 100 point Reputation Bonus.


Which received an encouraging staff comment:

You make a good point, and having more of an intrinsic connection between the different sites on the network (especially the tech sites like the ones that you list which are so closely related) is definitely one of the areas that we have earmarked for further exploration and discovery in the coming months.

– Yaakov Ellis ♦ Jun 21, 2020

I'm hopeful that some solution to solve this problem is in the works.


Issa Chanzi (56 tr, 3 sp)

Maybe, rather than reputation, we have trust and specialisation. Trust could be network-wide, and specialisation could be site-specific. Then, posts by people with high specialisation could be bumped to the top. The current system is kind of annoying, because I had to delete one of my posts when it was losing reputation. I would rather not have to worry about losing my privileges because my answer didn't work.


Sorry for bringing this back to life but i think its a valid contemporary issue. I am on an SE Site where i asked multiple questions and got no reply. And I can't use bounties because i only have 70 rep left.

On other sites I have as much as 617, 423. Which i rarely use.

Either reputation should be combined or else the bounty mechanism should be rethought.

My activity is in the Ethereum StackExchange, which is already in itself a complicated SE


Reputation is not an indication of trustworthiness. It's an indication of ability. Ability translates into trustworthiness. I have great ability when it comes to programming (high rep on SO) and terrible ability when it comes to server-management (very low rep on SF). For this reason, I should not be granted a mirage of ability on SF.

I said it once in the past, giving a great programmer high rep on SF is like giving a wonderful plumber a high-paying Medical position.

  • 1
    In SO there are so many technologies mixed, yet it does not seem an issue that CSS experts could modify C++ questions and answers.
    – tkruse
    Commented Jun 20, 2020 at 22:36

Here is my take on this: I think the reason why someone with a certain number of rep points wants them merged to another site is most probably because he wants some permissions he won (at least that is what I want :P)

For example, I have enough rep points to edit SO questions, but not enough for gamedev. Since I have proved that I know how the system works, I don't see why I can't help the gamedev site.

However, the problem right now is that the reputation of a user mostly represents his quality of answers or questions and not his involvement on the community.


I don't agree. I am a good programmer, and my SO rep points at that, but I know nothing (relatively) about network administration and servers, and my SF reputation points at that. Ok, rep != knowledge. If Linus Torvalds joins SO today, he will have less reputation than John Doe who just started programming, but still...

I think rep is a measure of trust and collaboration effort. If rep measures collaboration effort, then someone who has a strong collaboration effort on SO does not imply a strong collaboration effort on SF. We could, however, have a "SE network" collaboration effort, which is the sum, or better the average.


Compared to'09 when the question was asked, I believe more sites with strong topic overlap have emerged.

Clusters of sites where high-rep users should be more trustable on other sites:


  • SO
  • Software Engineering
  • SF
  • SU
  • web applications
  • web masters
  • code review
  • DB admin
  • reverse engineering
  • internet of things
  • open source
  • Unix Linux
  • Ask Ubuntu
  • Software recommendations

Smaller clusters could be

  • Sports
  • maths
  • natural sciences
  • Food and cooking

Again, this does not imply an expert in one of those is an expert in all, just that someone who earned trust in one can be trusted much more than 100 points on the others. The 100 points are useful for simple content generation, but not for content curation, reviews, cleaning up, and having a useful account identity across different but highly related stack sites.

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