Has anyone suggested adding a very small simple reputation system for the chat rooms? I have seen some really helpful people in the chat rooms, and it would be nice to be able to give them reputation for the parent site through the chat rooms.

I can see advantages and disadvantages to this, it obviously would have to be thought out well. But I feel it would be a nice feature to have, given that I have already seen the chat rooms used as somewhat of a support room for languages.

Any thoughts?



  1. Rewarding those who seem to be "support help" for the appropriate chat rooms. It is very nice that currently there are people out there willing to help as much as they are. I think this is primarily because it is new, I can see once it loses it's freshness people not being as helpful (Rep system might help with this). Which might not be a big deal, it is after all just suppose to be chat.
  2. Would draw more attention to the chat rooms. Gives more incentive to join and be part of the community.


  1. Might take away from the Parent Site. People might start going to chat rooms for help instead of posting on the record questions. There would need to be some way to make it where chat room questions would need to be much more simple.
  2. People might abuse the system. I have not thought about it enough to think of a way that the system couldn't be abused. But if it were implemented, it would need to be implemented in a way that it could not be abused.

Even my own advantages/disadvantages sheet shows that it is probably not worth it. I just thought it might be possible to be done in a neat and fun way. And if it was achieved in an appropriate way that can't be abused, and added to the site, it would at that point only add to both the parent, and child site. Seems like it wouldn't be such a bad thing. Even though it is likely that it can't be done, it might not be a bad idea to try to imagine a way that it could work.

What prompted me to ask this

I watched a very nice gentleman over the last two days help another gentleman above and beyond. And I was sitting there wishing I could reward him in some manner, and I couldn't. He honestly wouldn't care if he was rewarded or not, but I am sure I and the gentleman he helped, would have liked to show appreciation in some manner.

  • 2
    "I can see advantages and disadvantages" -- can you name some? Advantages, in particular? And also, for what precisely would you give rep in chat?
    – balpha
    Oct 27 '10 at 17:18
  • 3
    @balpha - "And also, for what precisely would you give rep in chat?" Posting a poignant YouTube link: +10. Posting a useful Wikipedia link: +5. Posting a LOL cat: +1. Posting an XKCD link: -10.
    – user27414
    Oct 27 '10 at 17:21
  • Thanks for your edit. Yeah, your disadvantage no 1 is the problem. Chat should only be supplemental to the main site.
    – balpha
    Oct 27 '10 at 18:43
  • @Jon Posting a fitting lolcat should definitely reap more rep than that. I say 15 at least
    – Pekka
    Oct 27 '10 at 20:23
  • Maybe have a limit as to how many Times you can upvote in a period? Oct 28 '10 at 11:32
  • 2
    @JonB Only up to ten reps earnable per day, +1 per star
    – jcolebrand
    Dec 21 '10 at 14:18

I'm opposed.

There should be a place where people can communicate normally without the complexities of a reputation system.

  • 1
    +1 Agreed, rep can definitely add complexity that make you question every remark you might say. The free communication is nice. It would be nice if there was a way to get around that complexity.
    – jsmith
    Oct 27 '10 at 18:44
  • I had not thought of it that way, and I must agree, you have a good point.
    – Kortuk
    Oct 27 '10 at 19:10

This would be another excellent reason we need to have an unrestricted tip feature. Bounties are great for bringing attention to a question, but users on this site often go above and beyond for you outside the context of a non-CW answer.

I expect that most people would be quite happy with a "Thanks, you really made my day." But sometimes people who were helped really want the ability to express thanks by ripping out a chunk of their rep and giving it to the person who helped them. Upvoting some of their good answers is okay, but it doesn't really tie back to the helpful behavior in any meaningful way.

Given that the tip would have to come from the tipper's rep, and isn't guaranteed it shouldn't encourage people to be not using the recommended channels for questions any more than they already are.

  • 3
    Wow, now that's an idea that never crossed my mind. I'd have to think about it, I think it could have some negative gaming implications, but in general I like it! Dec 22 '10 at 22:33
  • 1
    We'll have to keep the payouts low to avoid the gaming stuff, but it sounds like a great idea to me. Dec 22 '10 at 22:45
  • but users on this site what about not on this site? Would this extend to the other sites? Just checking. But as you note from my response, I like your idea A LOT
    – jcolebrand
    Dec 22 '10 at 23:00

I have helped a lot of people in chat. The only reward I would like when I do so is a "Thank You". What would be great is if they help me, or someone else, to "pay it forward" so to speak.

Chat is not the primary function of the sites, the primary function of the sites is the main Questions and Answers functionality. That's where reputation is gained (and lost) and where rep should remain. Nobody has to use chat in order to use the main site -- you do have to use the main site in order to use chat. Thus, people who choose to spend their time in chat instead of answering questions are knowingly choosing to forgo gaining rep.

In other words, if you want to chat, use chat. If you want to gain reputation, answer questions. There's no shortage of them!

I firmly believe that the nature of chat should be different from the nature of the main site, and stars should inherently be different from upvotes -- that is to say, it's done right the way it is now. I love the relaxed, personal, fun atmosphere in here. The jokes about stars, jQuery, and "Oy"s demonstrate that. It's more personal because we're not competing and trying to "prove" ourselves in chat. We use the main sites for that.

(And note that this comes from one of the most frequent users of Meta's chat... :-)


I started to post this answer, then like 8 people went and added answers while I was typing, go figure. ;) :P

If you're not playing along on the home game then what the hell are you doing on meta? Get over here: http://chat.meta.stackoverflow.com/transcript/89/2010/12/22/21-23 (start of transcript, but it goes on and on and on and on and and and )

Only up to ten reps earnable per day, +1 per star

I think that so long as we're earning (a) badge(s) from chat, we might as well let reps be earned there as well. So long as the reps are limited to a certain number per day, and so long as the reps count towards the regular caps, then I don't see the problem.

Here's my thought process: A lot of times chat (recently IMO) has cut down on/improved the visibility of what I call "small questions" where it's like "what's the name for XYZ command again to do action ABC" which may be a valid SE question, but they're usually temporal3 and unlikely to bring help to anyone in the future. Examples are easy to pull up, but I suggest just lurking in Javascript or C# on chat.SO for more than one day and you'll get the idea.

Which brings me to my other point. Guys like NickCraver(js)1 or LasseVKarlsen(c#)1 are in there all day helping people work out problems, most of the time those are already SO questions that get oneboxed, but it needs the touch of discussion to bring out what the real problem is. So I think those guys2 who give up their time to make things work better are helping out and should be rewarded.

Caveats to my proposal:

  1. Could be a form of ring-upvoting.
  • I'm only suggesting that we give up to 1 upvote equivalent per day. It's kind of hard to abuse that, except by being active EVERY DAY and having a ring. It's also not hard to spot a ring like that, so I think that takes care of itself by and large.
  • Additionally, what's to stop me from colluding with five or six other people to upvote each other's posts everytime we post something?
  1. Could be abused for things like upvoting youtube links
  • So what? We do that crap anyways on SO and MSO (especially on MSO)
  1. It would artificially inflate the levels of reps in play on SE sites (inflation)
  • I've been told this is not a bad thing (inflation) when commenting on Jeff and Joel comments
  • Remember I'm in favor of two things: a rep-limit on starred posts and it must count towards the regular repcap anyways.
  1. A lot of people don't like this idea
  • So what? A lot of people don't like the idea of a lot of things, I happen to think this is a valid idea given the badges already being in play. I like the idea a lot more for it to be heavily restricted to only the equivalence of 1 question upvote per day, as it encourages casual upvoting and discourages serial upvoting.4
  1. There's not a lot of helping going on in "The Tavern" or any of the meta.SO chats!
  • And so we don't have pointless upvoting and backwards downvoting on meta anyways?
  1. How do you downvote this way?
  • Don't? I don't know, I don't think the thirdplace needs to have downvotes. It has flags, that's good enough. The idea is rewarding socially helpful behavior. Does SOIS need to be that group, to reward socially helpful behavior? Probably not. I'm not arguing for that.

There should be a place where people can communicate normally without the complexities of a reputation system

  • Ok, I'll grant you that, but consider that there's no "mark as answer" on chat, and it encourages people to USE the thirdplace, so we should encourage that usage, enabling people to communicate normally.
  • How does it become complex if people get an added bonus of starring things? Do we need to discourage starring? Will we start seeing [star]15 on things a lot? Maybe so. But there's already [star]XX on things, because people find them useful. The idea was to find things useful on the transcript.
  • It's already complex. And beautifully simple. And @MarcGravell and @balpha and @waffles and all the rest of the team, it is AWESOME.

This encourages people to use the third place and it fosters social interaction, but does it encourage helping each other? Well, if we're social creatures and we play nice and we get along, inevitably we're going to help each other out. We can't help BUT do so. Rather than thinking people are selfish, I'm an optimist and would rather see that we (at least SE members) do want to help each other.

footnotes. Yes footnotes. This ain't FHC land, this is the new hotness
1 note that I chose those two gentlemen in my example in part because of their high rep on SO and in part because of their willingness to help, but there's lots of guys doing that
2 not just the two I mention, and not only men, let's be clear, I mean all assisters
3 which we have a close vote for
4 there's already rules in place to stop serial upvoting on SE sites

Ok, now feel free to savage my ideas.

This is for @mootinator coming in behind me with an excellent idea before I finished. What if mine and his ideas were combined somehow? Like for every star you have to spend a rep (which for most of us is no deal breaker) but you still only get the cap on points?

  • for the length? hahah, thanks I think ;) ~ I just want to hear why this would be a bad idea ... I would like to vary my paradigm, I assure you.
    – jcolebrand
    Dec 22 '10 at 23:17
  • I notice you mention rewarding LasseVKarlsen(c#)1 -- but my point is, he already has a 53+k rep reward for the incredibly hard work he's put in answering questions... You're saying that this encourages people to USE the third place, but, isn't it popular enough just by it's very nature, that is, it's a place to freely talk away from the rules of rep? Dec 22 '10 at 23:22
  • I realize he already has 53k and I don't think he would actually BENEFIT from additional chat-based rep, but I wanted to pick people that were already known rather than mentioning Raynos (who you'll only know if you visit javascript by my experience) or CodingGorilla. I wanted to pick two users who most of us could say "yeah, he has helped me, it would be nice to say thanks."
    – jcolebrand
    Dec 22 '10 at 23:27
  • But, "saying thanks" and "rewarding those guys who make things better" are two different things. Chat is for chat, parent sites are for Q&A. If someone is chatting about a question, they should post a question. then, whoever helped them in chat can post the final chat resolution as an answer, and the accept (and upvotes) can be the reward. Here's an example of me this exact thing -- in that case, I was helping Ivo in chat, and updating my answer in response to his replies. Dec 22 '10 at 23:34
  • Ok, that's great, but what about these questions: chat.stackoverflow.com/transcript/message/71547#71547 where you just need a little help (picked the first one that showed up, not picking on anyone) Here's one of my own: chat.stackoverflow.com/transcript/7?m=176712#176712
    – jcolebrand
    Dec 22 '10 at 23:42
  • You want to assign rep for those? I thought we were talking about long, in-depth back-and-forth exchanges here, not quick "I forgot what this is called? Okay thanks." Personally, I feel that devalues rep a little! Dec 22 '10 at 23:49
  • I want to assign a small amount of rep for things that impact the system positively. I don't want a person's entire rep to be based on that, but imagine a world where even a sock had 3k rep ;) ... But ostensibly yes, that is what I want to do. That may be the nutshell there. But I don't see it as a "micropayment" but more of a "let's not clutter up the whole fracking system just because I can't remember the name of XYZ". And sometimes you want to repay rubberducking assistance.
    – jcolebrand
    Dec 22 '10 at 23:53

Perhaps badges could be given instead of rep? Probably based on number of starred posts?

Seems like badges could provide some recognition without creating the big incentives to game the system or draw too much away from the parent site. Particularly if there was only one bronze, one silver, and one gold to earn.

  • 1
    There's already one badge to be earned.
    – jcolebrand
    Dec 22 '10 at 22:45
  • @drach - well yes, but the hardest part of getting that one is finding other active users to talk to. It could have silver and gold friends with more substantial thresholds.
    – Brad Mace
    Dec 22 '10 at 23:12
  • 1
    ~ You must not use the chat system AT ALL then because it tells you what rooms are active and shows an activity histogram and tells you how many people are online and there's almost always someone in javascript.chat.so or the mso tavern
    – jcolebrand
    Dec 22 '10 at 23:13
  • @drach - There's always people in them when I've checked, but nothing posted for half hour or more. And I didn't feel like creating a conversation just to get the badge. And admittedly I haven't checked that often.
    – Brad Mace
    Dec 22 '10 at 23:18
  • 1
    Check EITHER of the taverns, chat.SO or chat.MSO. If nobody's talking accuse the room of being full of lurkers. Better to come to chat.MSO. May even bump into @JeffAtwood.
    – jcolebrand
    Dec 22 '10 at 23:28

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .