I apologize in advance if this has been discussed before.

One of the complaints I've heard of the SE system is that reputation can give a false sense of authority. New users who are very knowledgeable about a topic can have their answers out shadowed by very high rep users, even if those users got their rep in completely different areas.

When someone posts an answer, could we see, in addition to total rep, their reputation coming only from the tags used in the question? The downside I see to this is that it would put a slightly stricter need for correct tags on the question.


Ok, maybe it's not as big a problem as stated. I thought of this because I heard this complaint elsewhere. Even if it's not an actual problem, do we suffer from this fake problem, in terms of the site's public image? Maybe the complaint was just one outlier.

  • 5
    That would be an interesting statistic to see. But how often do high-rep users masquerade as people who know what they are talking about in tags that they aren't active in?
    – jjnguy
    Feb 1, 2011 at 15:29
  • 3
    People who have only slight knowledge in a topic may still answer, and high rep may encourage a storm of automatic up-votes. It does happen.
    – Tesserex
    Feb 1, 2011 at 15:37
  • 6
    "...high rep may encourage a storm of automatic up-votes." I've yet to see this. I have fairly high rep myself, and I get shouted down pretty quickly when I'm wrong. Can you link to any instances of a wrong answer that got a storm of upvotes because the answerer had a high reputation? Feb 1, 2011 at 15:41
  • This is a great request !, I think we can keep the reputation as it is, but when the user hovers the cursor on the reputation (in the user information box that is in every question/answer, below the username) then a dialog shows the sub-totals for each tag that the question has, example: "Android: 125, Java: 50, WebView: 0", with a pretty format of course. And this could be added to the user profile page also, but showing all tags instead. May 4, 2014 at 1:11

5 Answers 5


Since when does an individuals reputation factor into ones voting for how good a specific answer to a question is? Regardless of reputation, good answers usually are pretty good at rising to the top and the bad ones are shouted down. Many of the top 35 users have pages of answers that are on -1 or less.


I agree with Sam152's answer word for word. But even if I didn't, I don't think showing the rep from the tags in the question would solve the problem you present.

A new user who has low rep will also have low rep in the tags of the question. Just as a high rep user who is answering a question will likely have high rep in those tags. A vote on an answer/question is a vote on the content not the user.

(Disclaimer:), the rep of a user might determine if I view a question when looking at a list of questions, but this is not the issue you describe.


You can tell what someone's reputation is like in a specific tag by checking their badges. Unfortunately, this requires you to make a trip to their profile to see it.

We could simplify this and make it should if they have a bronze, silver, or gold bad in the tags for the question.

Bronze tag badges mean you have at least 100 upvotes in a particular tag.
Silver tag badges mean you have at least 400 upvotes in a particular tag.
Gold tag badges mean you have at least 1100 upvotes in a particular tag.

For example, on StackOverflow, I have a silver java badge, plus bronze badges in java, c#, php, and mysql.

Now, clearly the bronze and silver badges in java are duplicates, but the site could weed out the bronze java badge and only show the highest one for that tag.


If you really want this sort of information, you can actually find it yourself by looking...

  1. At a users profile page under the "Tags" section, which gives a breakdown of votes for a given tag. You can also hover the pointer over the left number for more details.
  2. At the "Top users" page for each tag (ex: http://stackoverflow.com/tags/your-tag-here/topusers), assuming the user you want to know more about is in the top 20.

Some things aren't included in these vote counts, like bounties won, but they will give you a general idea of a users involvement in a tag. Be aware that involvement != expertise, so you should really be judging an answer based on the quality of the answer, not the Rep of the answerer.

  • The problem here is it doesn't aggregate across the many tags in any way
    – jcolebrand
    Dec 14, 2012 at 21:36

I came across a user today with 20k rep giving fairly shitty advice on the problem at hand (it was for a database, his solution was to drop the database, rebuild it, and reload the data from backup - the issue was an open transaction. Listening to a dba instead of someone who liked reformatting his computer when he couldn't find a file (the likeness to the db operation) caused someone several days of effort and they still had the same application logic problem).

If the user had suggested an answer on the problem and had had only a couple hundred rep in the process, but the ones suggesting the right answer had 7 or 10 thousand rep, the one with 20k would've been seen as less authoritative.

We have to remember that rep is a sign that the community trusts you. I may trust you on PHP, but you may give shitty advice on databases. Where's the measure on that? How do we know how trusted you are?

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