I just joined for the first time, because my lovely friend invited me to her chat group. I was informed, after registering, that:

You must have 20 reputation on Meta Stack Overflow to talk here. See the faq.

OK, no problem, I'll head to the FAQ in the link. Only problem is, the FAQ doesn't tell me anything about how to increase my rep.

I really want to enjoy SO's amazing products, but I'm saddened that I've been so quickly left without a clue as to how to proceed.

How might we go about easily resolving this?


6 Answers 6


I posted this as a comment under @Bill's answer a few minutes ago, but I guess it deserves to be expanded into its own answer since the question is a feature request.

Welcome to Meta Stack Overflow, Tony! I disagree with your feature request, though I wouldn't oppose it if it were to be implemented. There's no way you would have known this coming in, but the chat here is a Third Place, and merely supplements the primary purpose of the site, which is providing expert Q&A (except on Meta; more on that later). That's relevant because I don't think we expect or want new users to enter the site through chat, in general. They're supposed to associate the site with expert Q&A, and only reach chat after using the actual site for a while.

Also, I see that you were trying to participate in Meta Stack Overflow's chat, not Server Fault's or Super User's. It is a chat about Meta Stack Overflow, which is itself a site about how Stack Overflow/Stack Exchange works. Since you have no Stack Exchange experience, you would doubly have no reason to be in the MSO chatroom, except that someone in the chat invited you. This is more understandable right now, since not all sites have had their chats implemented yet, and the MSO chat is still sort of serving as an omnibus chat, but it will become less and less understandable in the future as the sites mature.

Please don't take this personally, I'm not trying to be mean to you personally or to discourage you from participating in general — in fact, I'm always happy to welcome someone else who makes a reasonable post on Meta, like you have — my point is that your use case is non-standard, and not one that we want to encourage.

  • 2
    Excellent; especially the first (non-italic) paragraph. It's not the purpose of reputation to gain access to the chat.
    – balpha StaffMod
    Sep 21, 2010 at 15:59

While a few years old at this point, I still feel like the point raised by @Tony is a valid point. For expert users of the Stack Exchange network of sites, it may seem pretty straight-forward how a user might increase their reputation points. Yet to brand new users, it is not straight-forward.

I started working at Stack Exchange 7 weeks ago as the Senior Product Designer for the Career 2.0 team. I had read plenty of Stack Overflow posts over the years but I was never an active participant. After joining the team, I wanted to jump in and try it out. I found the experience frustrating. I felt uninformed about why rules were structured the way they were. I was corrected multiple times by moderators about rules I was largely uninformed about. I feel Tony's point about a better on-boarding experience is definitely a valid one. Having better "just-in-time" instructions to users explaining how a feature is to be used properly (e.g. what is an answer, what is a comment) would help new users become intermediate users.

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    The problem is that there is so much that a person needs to know. Trying to give them all of that information results in people just getting overloaded or wondering why we're bothering them when they just want to ask/answer a question. As a result, most of said instructions tend to largely be ignored, with the end result that people learn nothing. In response, the site has worked very hard to distill down just the most important information for new users to know, and to put only that in front of them, in the hopes that it actually gets read. For those looking for more, it's out there.
    – Servy
    Sep 11, 2013 at 13:53
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    @Servy That's why I suggested "just-in-time" instructions. Taking a page from video game manufacturers, providing pertinent, just-enough information (with further outbound link explaining more if the user is interested) helps users learn a system. Like training wheels, eventually users won't need the reminders anymore, but the onboarding experience shouldn't be frustrating (note: I'm not saying it shouldn't be hard though).
    – Hynes
    Sep 11, 2013 at 13:58
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    There already is a fair bit of that, in the very few places that it's relevant. Information is put in front of users the first time they ask/answer a question, and seeing as this is a q/a site, there isn't a whole lot more "just in time" to be doing for a new member. You mention comments, to which there really isn't anything, but I don't see that as a huge change. What else would you expect to see such instructions for, that don't currently have something? The vast majority of problems are with people asking/answering questions, not much else.
    – Servy
    Sep 11, 2013 at 14:02
  • Hmmm... Well I can only go off my experience. Either I haven't seen a lot myself or it wasn't called out enough for me to notice. Either way, it could be improved upon.
    – Hynes
    Sep 11, 2013 at 14:26
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    The most notable is forcing users to acknowledge that they've read the "how to ask" before they're allowed to ask their first question. Given that the vast majority of problem content from new users is in the form of poorly asked questions, almost anything else isn't going to have a dramatic impact. The one place its really needed is the place that it's there. You have never asked a question on any site (that I can see, based on your profile) so it's not surprising that you wouldn't have seen it.
    – Servy
    Sep 11, 2013 at 14:29
  • This can be even more pronounced, for migrated questions. Consider this example -- dba.stackexchange.com/questions/53579/… -- migrated from StackOverflow to Dba. The OP got a different logon on Dba, so he didn't even get abilities as the poster of the question: he COULD NOT COMMENT on my answer. He replied by posting an answer. A moderator "appropriately" deleted that, making it a question edit... taking away his only location for comments. He'd have to post another answer to reply. I haven't heard from him since. Dec 3, 2013 at 23:19

You gain reputation by asking question and answering other people's questions. More specifically, you gain rep when people vote up your questions and answers, so you have to make quality posts to gain rep.

For more details see How does “Reputation” work?

  • 2
    Bill, thanks for the quick response! My issue is not so much with how to actually gain rep; it's with the fact that SO's onboarding for new members who have been introduced to SO through this method leaves people at a dead end. The FAQ or the message should be updated to direct people to a place where they can learn how to increase their rep. Sep 21, 2010 at 2:55
  • @Tony: Oh, I see. Did you get that message on the chat site itself, or were you redirected here to Meta? Sorry, I've never seen that message, hopefully for obvious reasons. ;) Sep 21, 2010 at 2:58
  • 1
    Bill, got the message when I attempted to join a newly made chat group here: chat.meta.stackoverflow.com/rooms/269/new-work-city-alpha-chat On the bottom of the page I see the above quoted message, and no obvious way of rectifying it. I took it upon myself to come here and ask the question, which I figured would be both helpful and poetic :) Sep 21, 2010 at 3:00
  • 2
    What relationship does that chat room have with Stack Overflow?
    – ChrisF Mod
    Sep 21, 2010 at 15:29

From the FAQ:

To gain reputation, post good questions and useful answers. Your peers will vote on your posts, and those votes will cause you to gain (or, in rare cases, lose) reputation:

answer is voted up       +10  
question is voted up     +10  
answer is accepted   +15  (+2 to acceptor)   
post is voted down   -2   (-1 to voter)

Don't worry, it's easy to miss.

  • 2
    Waiwai, thanks! See my above note to Bill; somebody should address the fact that it's so easy to miss so new members are not discouraged from participating. Thanks! Sep 21, 2010 at 2:56

Do you have at least 200 rep on another SOFUE site? If so you are interested in associating account to score a nice 100 point bonus.

This is mentioned in the leading answer of the link Bill gives.

Ah! I get it. I've been addressing the wrong issue. Looks like one for the team, and not a peon like me.


From the FAQ:

To gain reputation, post good questions and useful answers. Your peers will vote on your posts, and those votes will cause you to gain (or, in rare cases, lose) reputation.

[details about reputation gain and loss]

Seems pretty clear to me.


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