Thanks to an answer of mine that I'm a little surprised to find that anyone even noticed, I just discovered (as it says on the FAQ) that there is a daily cap of 200 rep (excepting bounties and accepts). Which meant that ~16 upvotes on that answer did not accrue to my reputation. This doesn't really bother me much, because I don't care about rep that much, and I'm mostly super happy to find that people liked my explanation.

But I am left wondering what possible rationale there might be for that cap. Why is it useful in any way? It seems - if anything - to diminish the motivation for writing really good answers, or participating on a given day after you've reached the cap.

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    $\begingroup$ BTW, there are only 30 answers on the site with a higher score as of the last data dump (see data.stackexchange.com/physics/query/121942/top-answers), and yours is still going up, so nice job :) $\endgroup$
    – user10851
    Jul 1, 2013 at 0:31
  • $\begingroup$ Cool. Thanks. Just goes to show that I have no idea why people will upvote a given answer... :) $\endgroup$
    – Mike
    Jul 1, 2013 at 2:20

2 Answers 2


Reputation's main use in the site mechanics (as opposed to getting you addicted) is as a measure of the trust the system puts in you.

However, we have a complicated system here and it takes time to learn it no matter how good you are at writing questions and answers. The rep cap throttles privilege advancement bit.

It also levels out the huge differences in accrued rep that can appear if a question get link on a popular website and attract more attention than might otherwise be the case.

Do note that acceptances and bounties can accrue above the daily rep cap. The most successful users on Stack Overflow are able to maintain daily rep gains in the neighborhood of 300 points day in and day out on that basis. And yes, that means that you could reach 10000 (for access to the "moderator tools" which are not exactly the tools given to the elected ♦-enabled moderators) in about one month!

  • $\begingroup$ Hm. I guess. It seems like a fairly crude way to do slow advancement, to me. But fair enough. Thanks. $\endgroup$
    – Mike
    Jun 29, 2013 at 18:33
  • $\begingroup$ It is. On the plus side there are badges for getting capped. You just got Mortarboard for that answer. $\endgroup$ Jun 29, 2013 at 19:15
  • $\begingroup$ I think there's a badge for hitting the limit n times, but IIRC n is high enough to make it quite an achievement. $\endgroup$ Jun 30, 2013 at 10:58
  • $\begingroup$ @JohnRennie The silver version (n = 50) has been awarded once in physics history. The gold version (n = 150) has never been attained. $\endgroup$
    – user10851
    Jun 30, 2013 at 23:41
  • $\begingroup$ @ChrisWhite Legendary has only been awarded 131 times on Stack Overflow, and that site is orders of magnitude larger than ours. $\endgroup$ Jun 30, 2013 at 23:45
  • $\begingroup$ Particularly important if a question gets onto slashdot or hn - without the cap you could become a Jon Skeet in a few minutes because of the increased traffic $\endgroup$ Jul 2, 2013 at 18:59

Click on the "stack exchange" dropdown menu in the upper left of your screen (meta or main, doesn't matter). If you're not already there, click on the "hot questions" menu item.

Those hot questions get hotter because they're listed there. This reflects an issue in the global dynamics of all Stack Exchange - that users with an established account in one subject can vote on questions in other subjects.

Yes, there is a criteria for it to get listed in the hot questions to begin with, but it's not very good. Once it starts to pick up steam and get referrals from the global network, its popularity is then dictated by relative non-experts.

Many of my most upvoted answers aren't very good. They're subject matter that appeals better to a layman. That's why the 200 cap makes sense. For physics, at least, there's basically no way to hit that limit on a single question with votes from the regular physics users.


161  avid users
2,175  total users

Once the number of votes on a question or answer is in the neighborhood of 10 or so, that number stops giving much relevant information. The traffic from regular users just isn't high enough to push it further, because we can all only vote once.

I'm not sure if I personally agree with it being a limit on user reputation in a day, because if you want to write 50 answers in one day, I don't see anything wrong with that. But the cap approximates the issue I'm talking about sufficiently.

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    $\begingroup$ Interesting. I didn't realize that people from other sites could/would vote here. That certainly changes things. Thanks! $\endgroup$
    – Mike
    Jul 2, 2013 at 18:38
  • $\begingroup$ @Mike If you have 200 rep on any one site you can setup a an account on a new site, "associate" it with your established one and get 100 rep as a bonus. This puts you past all the barriers to doing the most basic things (you can vote up, comment, use chat and so on). That makes sense in the context of "rep is how much the system trusts you" because we automatically believe that you know how to use the basic facilities. You can't vote down, vote to close and so on because those things require site-specific understanding. $\endgroup$ Jul 2, 2013 at 19:07
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    $\begingroup$ That explains why the number of votes is only weakly correlated with the quality of questions. High level quality questions get almost no votes today, whereas two-sentence popular physics questions get highly upvoted above 10 votes... For questions and answers being upvoted this often means just they are popular, independent from their quality, correctness, etc since most of the votes do not come from physicists :-/ $\endgroup$
    – Dilaton
    Jul 3, 2013 at 18:49

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