I currently have a flag weight of 531.7108. Is it just me, or are the 4 digits of precision after the decimal point just a tad unnecessary? Borderline bug I think.

  • The meta echo chamber is still alive and well, I see. This is why I normally don't bother posting here. Mar 18, 2011 at 2:46
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    Yes, because if people disagree with you, there's gotta be something wrong with them. Mar 18, 2011 at 3:02
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    @MichaelPetrotta consider it an observation of how meta works since I joined SO. Mar 18, 2011 at 3:14
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    Bug to some, feature to others. You assert it is unnecessary. I'm curious though - what harm is there in displaying it? The status quo should remain unless and until there is good reason to change it. I don't believe you've given good reason, or demonstrated the harm it causes to stackoverflow.
    – Pollyanna
    Mar 18, 2011 at 4:10

3 Answers 3


Below 500 flag weight, flag increments are much larger, so we only show an integer.

Once you reach 500 flag weight or higher, flag increments will raise fractionally toward 750, so we show a double.

It is possible for your flag weight to increase by .001 once you start approaching the maximum of 750.

It was actually intended to behave this way, but the actual implementation is such that the increase is always at least 0.1 for flags on questions and answers.

  • I think it can't be true what you're writing here; see this answer of mine and this answer by marcog. The truth seems to be an increase of 0.1 close to 750, for which one decimal digit would be quite sufficient. Aug 11, 2011 at 8:39
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    Also this answer by Wladimir Palant indicates that an increase by 0.001 is impossible. Aug 22, 2011 at 15:16
  • I never said my maths were good! Quite the opposite, in fact... Aug 22, 2011 at 22:34
  • I know - so shall I edit your answer to make it more correct? Aug 23, 2011 at 9:08
  • do you have to even ask?? Aug 23, 2011 at 9:11
  • If flag weight is going to stay the same, I'd also vote for it to be dropped down to a single decimal digit. Also, if you have it always display that way, people won't ask "OH MY GOD WHY IS IT NOW A FLOAT" when they hit 510.0.
    – agf
    Sep 1, 2011 at 13:37

I noticed the same thing, but I think there's a good reason. As the flag weight asymptotically approaches the limit (750 at the moment), each increment will be smaller and smaller, to the point where you might need 7 significant figures to see it change. Of course, you could get away with having fewer sigfigs for lower values, but that might be making it excessively complicated. Just having a consistent 4 decimals would handle nearly every case, even if it's sometimes ugly.

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    Do you really need to keep track of a fractional change in flag weight, 4 sig figs or not?
    – user149432
    Mar 18, 2011 at 0:44
  • @Mark: Are you asking if I need to keep track, or if SO needs to keep track?
    – Gabe
    Mar 18, 2011 at 0:59
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    This is exactly my point; track it all you like, but 4 sig figs after the decimal is pointless for display. Mar 18, 2011 at 1:02
  • @Shaggy: How can I track it if it's not displayed?
    – Gabe
    Mar 18, 2011 at 1:03
  • @Gabe Why do you require that level of precision to "track" the value? Rounding to the nearest integer value makes it much easier to read (as any fractional component is irrelevant to, at my guess, 99.99999% of users) Mar 18, 2011 at 1:05
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    @Shaggy: At 531 you don't need 4 decimals, but at 749 you do. What do you suggest?
    – Gabe
    Mar 18, 2011 at 1:11
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    @Gabe why would anyone need 4 decimals, in general? This is still a bare assertion. Mar 18, 2011 at 1:29
  • @Shaggy: Do you know what it means to asymptotically approach a limit? As your flag weight gets higher and higher, it increments by smaller and smaller amounts. At some point, the only way to tell that your flag weight has changed is that it will have gone up or down by 0.0001.
    – Gabe
    Mar 18, 2011 at 1:38
  • @Shaggy Frog - If the value is bounded by a true asymptote, and it always increases, then you are guaranteed to eventually reach the level where you need 4 decimal digits of precision, where the next increment for a successful flag will push you from 749.9990 to 749.9991 (for example). Of course, this will eventually become insufficient for display as well (when you reach 749.9999). Presumably the developers think this will take an unfeasible amount of time to reach. Mar 18, 2011 at 1:41
  • @Gabe @ire_and_curses You two are missing the point. I am not arguing the value shouldn't be stored as a floating point. Nor am I misunderstanding limits. My point is, to most users, showing fractional amounts of flag weight -- especially with 0.0001 precision -- is unnecessary. In what reasonable situation would a user absolutely need to know that degree of precision? e.g. when you look up current weather conditions, do you ever see that degree of precision? Mar 18, 2011 at 1:45
  • @Shaggy Frog - Isn't it obvious? In the situation where you have extremely high flag weight, and would like to note that your flag weight has increased. What's the point of a display that doesn't tell you whether your score is changing? Weather is not a good analogy here, because weather does not have asymptotically more interesting precision (although temperature does, if you're a condensed matter physicist!). In other words, there is a characteristic scale for weather. There is no such scale for flag weight, because of its definition. Mar 18, 2011 at 1:54
  • @ire_and_curses So we should optimize the display for the handful out of thousands of users that are obsessive-compulsive about fractional amounts of their flag weight? Mar 18, 2011 at 1:56
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    @Shaggy - we're not optimizing for anyone, we're showing information where it's relevant. Below 500 it's not relevant, so it's hidden. Above 500, it is relevant (how else do you know it's changing unless you can see it?) Mar 18, 2011 at 2:17
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    @Shaggy: I'm talking about your profile page. Do you want to be able to see all 5 (or 6 for people like John Skeet) digits of your rep on your profile page? Or is that only necessary for a handful of obsessive-compulsive people who should spend more time outside instead of contributing to SO?
    – Gabe
    Mar 18, 2011 at 2:56
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    @Nick: Above 500 it is relavant, indeed, but I think it would be nicer to first show only one additional digit, then two, then three, then four. An idea: If the last increase in flag weight was less than 10, show 1, for less than 1 show 2, for less than 0.1 show 3, for less than 0.01 show 4. (Sound reasonable to me as a mathematician.) Mar 18, 2011 at 8:57

No it's not a bug. You should read this question. And here is a quote that describe reason why we have those 4 digits:

flag weight now goes to 750; deputy badge still 500; above 500, growth is sub-linear

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    This is not about tracking the value, it's about how the value is displayed. Mar 18, 2011 at 1:03
  • I will consider it was -1 to my midnight English
    – Igor Milla
    Mar 18, 2011 at 1:21
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    @Shaggy - how do you see that something's changed if you can.... see it? Mar 18, 2011 at 2:19

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