Meta Stack Exchange (formerly Meta Stack Overflow) is really the “National Capital”, as mentioned in this bit from the New Per-Site Metas blog post:

Meta Stack Overflow will serve as the “National Capital” where we process feedback not just for Stack Overflow but for the core engine itself — while the smaller meta sites are akin to regional or state capitals.

Given that, instead of setting user privileges solely on Meta Stack Exchange reputation, perhaps there should be a sort of "combined rep" that's used only in computing privileges. This would be similar to the previously-suggested Why not merge reputation across SO, SF, and SU?, but limited to The One Meta (as suggested by the jjnguy in a comment on that request).

There are a number of possible "combined rep" formulas that could be used, like max on all sites, or maybe some sort of weighted sum. (Please feel free include ideas for such a function in your answer.) Whatever function is used it's probably best to ensure that it cannot be any lower than the Meta rep so as to ensure that existing Meta users do not lose any privileges.

The goal of this feature request is to enable users of all SE sites to contribute on Meta at a level consistent with their "home" site(s).

Here's an example to make it more clear what I'm talking about:

Let's say the "combined rep" is computed as:

 max(meta_rep, max(other_reps) / 2) # strawman combined rep function

Suppose we take my existing Stack Overflow and Meta reps, 20615 and 153, respectively. My "combined rep" would be 10307. My rep on Meta would still be (and display as) 153, but I'd be able to do things like show total up and down vote counts or edit tags (two things I cannot do on Meta today) as the "combined rep" would be used for determining privileges.

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    You took a long route to get to this actual feature request – random Jan 4 '11 at 0:05
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    I don't like the idea of showing your rep as 153 even though you have a privilege level of 10,307. I like the idea of giving meta users higher rep if they have it elsewhere. But it will get confusing if you don't show it as well. – jzd Jan 4 '11 at 0:06
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    @random Not a duplicate. This question (and jjnguy's comment on that question) asks about "merging reps" on the "meta capital." That question asks about "merging reps" on all sites. – badp Jan 4 '11 at 0:08
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    There is some precedence for this in the way the rep bonus for A51 committal is calculated... Might want to consider following that. – Shog9 Jan 4 '11 at 0:10
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    @radp - Are the answers likely to be substantially different? – Pollyanna Jan 4 '11 at 0:11
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    @Shog9 Also, on chat.SE privileges are based on combined reputation. If nothing else, the SOIS team is looking into combined-rep-based privs. – badp Jan 4 '11 at 0:11
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    Can we reopen this question? I think this is not an exact duplicate. – jcolebrand Jan 4 '11 at 0:12
  • @Pol: I would hope so. That was a seriously destructive idea (if applied to all SE sites) – Shog9 Jan 4 '11 at 0:12
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    @random Thanks... but why close it as a dupe when I went to great pains to make it not the same request? – Laurence Gonsalves Jan 4 '11 at 0:12
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    @radp: there are privileges on chat.SE? Since when is fewer beatings considered a privilege? – Shog9 Jan 4 '11 at 0:13
  • @Pollyanna - Yes. Many people feel about MSO rep differently than they do about other sites' rep. – badp Jan 4 '11 at 0:13
  • @Shog9 Yes: creating rooms, creating galleries and reviewing flags. (Oh, and actually talking.) – badp Jan 4 '11 at 0:14
  • @jzd: Yeah, I'm unsure about that myself. Maybe you could show both on Meta, or maybe Meta only shows the "combined" rep (though it would still have its own internal rep value that acts as an input for the combined rep). I am more concerned about having privileges be similar than the number that shows up next to my name. – Laurence Gonsalves Jan 4 '11 at 0:16
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    Closed as dupe because reading it did not show any difference or effort in making it different to the earlier requests about hiding ulterior motives – random Jan 4 '11 at 1:41
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    @Jon: it's the long title - you can see the same happening on other questions where the title wraps to two lines. Fortunately, this one was easy enough to shorten. – Shog9 Jan 4 '11 at 3:55

There's a tldr; summary at the bottom for you skimmers, you know who you are...

There are two types of meta questions:

  1. Those that apply primarily to the specific site in question (such as whether a specific question should be closed)
  2. Those that apply to the Stack Exchange engine (such as bug reports, feature requests, etc.)

Further, there are several levels of user engagement and abilities. Once one has sufficient rep in any one community, they are given 100 reputation in other communities, which gives them all the basics, except for downvoting. It only takes another 25 rep (2.5 post upvotes) to increase one's rep enough to get the ability to downvote.

If Meta.SE were solely hosting questions of type 1 above, then I'd have no objection to using some sort of calculation to allow advanced moderating equivalent to some function of the person's rep on the main Q&A sites.

However, I believe there is some value in treating Meta.SE as a separate community with a niche. Yes, it does serve questions of type 1 to a small degree, but its community primarily serves and deals with questions of type 2. In effect, it is just as much a separate community as the other Q&A sites.

In other words, it has a particular niche audience of experts who have worked with Stack Exchange to some depth and for some period of time, not just as users, but as long-term contributors to the overall direction of the engine development. It's essentially a Q&A site, whose subject happens to be Stack Exchange.

For this reason, there is value in treating it as a separate community with its own, separate reputation system based on questions and answers contained inside it - and not based on questions and answers dealt with in other sites.

The 100 rep bonus given just by having some experience with some other Stack Exchange site is enough to get most people most of the access they need. (The reputation requirement for downvoting is also reduced on this site, so the bonus will also grant that here.) Higher privileges beyond that should be earned, just as they should be earned if moving from Stack Overflow with 20k rep to a non-tech site.

If one wants to attain more privileges than those, simply answering one or two questions a day on here will yield enough reputation to attain whatever level one wants.

I'm not convinced that having 20k reputation on, for instance, the Electrical Engineering site should give one the ability to vote to close questions here, without at least engaging with the existing meta community for a short period of time. But it does gives the basic abilities to ask questions, answer questions, comment, flag, vote, and edit community wiki posts.

And as useful as editing, closing, and deleting are, the best way to help move the community in any particular direction is using words - so the first and foremost feature, that of asking and answering questions, is always available.


It's a niche site, just like Stack Overflow, Super User, Server Fault, etc. While it's called "Meta", the reality is that it is a community of experts (not just users, but experts and wallowers in the mud) in one niche, and the reputation system is and should be separate from the other sites, especially given that the 100 rep bonus for account association provides nearly everything one needs anyway.

  1. Maybe I'm the only one, but my feeling is that meta reputation is different to reputation on SO or other SE sites. It's just not that serious. While I take pride in my (limited, but respectable) SO rep, my meta rep is a bit of a joke (especially as you can get quite a lot of rep from jokes!).

  2. Also, on meta, downvotes indicate disagreement, not that you are necessarily wrong.

  3. I'm not sure, but my feeling is that SO rep is worth 'less' than rep on other sites - simply by the fact that the combined 'wealth' of SO users completely dwarfs that of other sites

These three elements combined lead me to the conclusion that unifying (or even comparing) the 'currencies' of these different sites just because the currency has the same name (reputation) is not a good idea.

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    Your first two points may, in fact, be good arguments to get rid of meta rep and base one's abilities on the rep they've attained at other sites... – Pollyanna Jan 4 '11 at 6:54
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    I agree with this; The ability to retag, for example, shouldn't be based on whether or not people agree with meta posts. Maybe a 2-tier rep system on meta would be better, one for I agree/disagree, and one for 'You make raise a good point'. – Phil Lello Apr 25 '11 at 7:10

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