This is not a question just an opinion and a suggestion. As soon as I joined I posted this question. I was shocked as it was taken in a very negative way: a dozen of downvotes, later mitigated, and many unfavourable comments. I did not really care about the votes, but I was disappointed, and you can read, by the superficiality and condescendence with wich such a delicate and vital issue was treated: just a click to say 'humbug!'

Only the legendary John Rennie seemed to appreciate the validity of my arguments:

The one point of bobie's that I think warrants close inspection is the point:

if one reads an answer signed by a rep-4000 member one doesn't know if he is a great scholar who gave lots of competent answer or he just gave one single answer to tell that if you want to cool off your coffee you have to stir it.

That post made me acquainted with a nice ubermod, who showed some interest. I am writing here and not emailing him as here it is easier to quote, and as I'd like to extend my reflections to the community.

After a month or so, I can understand now why the suggestion was unpopular. I have personally experienced the thrill of earning 680 pts. of rep at ELU in a couple of minutes, just for mentioning 'thingummyjig'. But I have not changed my opinion, I feel rather ashamed of that, even it may be considered a fair compensation for posts that required the knowledge of synchronic, diachronic, comparative linguistics, psycholinguistics and the command of four languages, which earned a meagre upvote, if they were not downvoted altogether.

I am writing because also here I feel embarassed that such a silly answer could make me earn 280 pts. in 1 minute, whereas it took me dozens of hours to earn as much, editing 140 posts written in an impossible English. But that is an everyday event, all right, it excites laymen's curiosity; what I really cannot understand, being myself a layman in a community of scientists and physicists, why such a silly and basic notion that even an ignorant 'student' (whose profound questions are considered as homework), such as I, possesses can get 11 (uptade 12!) upvotes and fetch 110 pts. I'll be grateful if anyone of you has a rational explanation.

I think that an answer (and a question) should be assessed, evaluated and rated on a scale, say from -2 to 10, (or any value you choose) and that only these votes should be authomatically turned into rep. Then you can have a 'like' vote that can be any figure, which can measure along with the 'views' the popularity of the answer.

Why this? Last time the 'rep-cap' was mentioned as a remedy. It doesn't work: look here, instead of 4000 this user earned 3500. In almost 4 years he has posted just one single answer (I dare say rather banal) and no question.

What is the problem? That answer is so simple that the user might be a foreign high-school/junior student, and nevertheless by that he earned so many priviledges that he can close questions, make uncontrolled edits etc., with only 2 and a half such popular questions he can earn mod priviledges: is this rational?. I happened to notice at Maths SE that the whole site is ruled by a clique of semi-adolescents who act under the influence of adrenalin and ...other.

Last time ubermod said that changing current policy might be disruptive, I disagree: compiling an adequate program all reps would be topologically scaled down. I am sure that John wouldn't mind having less than 100k, and I wouldn't mind my 200 or less.

I thank you all for putting up with a nuisance such as I for 2 months, there are some awsome/terrific people amongst you, and I have a few dear friends. If you want to downvote also this post, I do not mind, if you articulate and argument your dissent I will appreciate it.

What would ... accomplish? 1) It will just take longer... to get to the privileges, .. if highly upvoted posters are 2) underserving .. This will not hinder popular but 3) trivial posts from accruing much more rep than obscure but elaborate ones. ...4) scaling down rep will lead to a loss of reviewing abilities – ACuriousMind

I summed up all possible objections in two words 'adequate program' as I am presenting just a basic principle and am not elaborating a whole strategy, if the principle is to be implemented, checks and balances must be calculated, thresholds and priviledges updated and collaboration from top users needed. But some of your conclusions are not true:

  • 1) it will not just take longer, time will be different for me and Rennie(/Motl/Floris/Kale etc) because most of their answers would be rated from 7 to 10 and my 'jerk' would be rated 1 or 2 at most, even by myself: if I saw that I collected 3 votes, I would downvote it, if I knew that my valid posts were fairly rated. Collaboration is needed from senior members, most of whom seldom exercise their right to vote, and rarely upvote newcomers' good answers
  • 2) that is not my worry, I am stating principles. He should have at most 10 pts. , just because that is what he deserves. Full stop.
  • 3) this will not happen as shown above
  • 4) of course all thresholds ought to be revisited. But editing priviledges should not in any way be related to rep, that is not rational. I myself ( I suppose it is patent) am not a native speaker, and might be a 15-year-old student from China, Zambia or Chile, the fact that I asked a 'popular question' or that I gave several 'elaborate answers' should never give me the right to forcefully edit John's posts (which goal sometime I will achieve :).) Editing priviledges ought to be acquired only through edits, just as a rough example: after 200 edits with 99% edits approved
  • while we're on the subject, I proposed to @QMechanic (and got no reply): it is advisable to modify the program so that trivial edits of 1-3 characters (tags typos, punctuation, etc) do not make the question bump to the front page
  • another intelligent measure that would help voters to make a fair and unbiassed assessment is : to keep the answer anonymous for the first week or so

So even though you cite me in your question as appreciating the validity of your arguments, let me make it very clear that I comprehensively disagree with the views expressed in your question. - John Rennie

If this proposition had been written by anyone else I would not comment it, as it is /gives the impression of being self-contradictory. I expressed a lot of views, but if your disagreements regards them all, then that would apply. I hope it is not so and thatyou specify which views you do not share.

As to your pshychological motivation, that of course is true, but you make a basic mistake: the 'drive' is competition, sure, but you are wrong assigning importance to the absolute value of rep. In competitions what matters is relative value: "I want to be/make better than John... and I'll post 200 answer a day".

But that happens with any scale: if you increase the points (yours) to 1M and (mine) to 25k you will not 'attract' more people, nor motivate them further; likewise, if you scale them down respectively to 20K and 200, the psychological motivation does not change at all. It's the same with money and inflation.

As to the thrill, you should quote the whole sentence: I added that I feel ashamed of that and that I consider that rep honestly earned (as a compensation for) by another answer, (in an upside-down world/site)

somebody could rather easily get moderator tools and then run amok... even granting the point that it might be, -- that's a very easy fix . - tpg2114

that is a hasty conclusion

the risk of people gaining undeserved moderatorial rights.... this simply isn't a problem. Rather the reverse really - - John Rennie

John, you are a great guy and are good-natured. You are, as you said, a pre-web kid, and I am a pre-war one. Probably it is impossible for you, (who lived in the '60s when an idylliac vision of the Noble savage and Coral Island was possible), to imagine how vicious kids can be on the Internet, how many teen-aged girls have been pushed to suicide on the web, making the dystopian Lord of the flies a reality. I'm sure you read this amazing book.

Everything is alright when there is an isolated case. You do not realize that 5-10 organized class-/school-mates can easily gain partial or full control of a site. I collected evidence on other sites, but I do not want to make this post too long. When ignorant and mean people get a massive access to priviledges, more competent members are progressively discouraged from joining it.

And if you think that the users of this site are neither civil nor reasonable, then why stay here at all?. -ACuriousMind

No comment. But if your mind is Curious indeed, read this (strawman is the meanest of fallacies, as the manipulation is extended from the proposition to the person) and draw your conclusions


  • vote button: answers/questions should be rated according to its quality. If you think 100k rep is necessary to feel motivated, than rating may vary from -10 to 100. I think that is unwieldy, a scale from -2 to 10 is more manageable, or (probably best) from -5 to 20. Rating can be tuned in a way to insure 100k (or 1M, 1G..) to top users. If answers were kept anonymous for a while 'new users' could get a better deal.
  • like button: along with the vote a star might express that you liked it even if it is not a great answer.
  • views: that would tell how many guests have visioned it, but doesn't say if they liked it or not It ought to be possible to order/ classify questions according to each of these criteria
  • accept: if no answer is accepted, after a month the community should be allowed to choose the best answer. That would considerably reduce the number of 'unanswered questions'

  • editors should qualify only through successful edits. In the Italian site, for example, non native speakers with priviledges wrongly edited a qualified teacher's post, making her furious and abandon the site
  • edits: trivial edits of 1-3 characters (tags typos, punctuation, etc) should not make the question bump to the front page

I thank you all for your answers and comments.

I will not accept any answer because mine, as clearly stated, was not a question. It is being downvoted (while, oddly enough, the old one is being upvoted), and this is comprehensible as the suggestion is not popular with the notables. I posted it again because in between I made a lot of experience on other sites, and most of all because I myself benefitted by the current system: last time a mean reader might think I was envious, jealous of other members' luck.

This time a mean (or hasty) reader may think I am not happy with this site, whereas *I clearly stated the opposite from the very beginning: this is probably the best SE site, there are really kind people, and even our 'kids' are fantastic.

This time, I thought, my best intentions are clear as I am condemning also an overrated banal answer of mine. Last time the proposal was considered interesting but with disruptive consequences: I posted again to show that a more rational and fair system is possible without impairing top reps. Thanks again!

  • $\begingroup$ But that one answer was a gem, just look at the effort involved. I think he deserves his reputation score. Never mind, I agree with the point you have made. $\endgroup$ Oct 3, 2014 at 15:28
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ What would scaling down reputation, as you suggest, actually accomplish? It will just take longer/more posts to get to the privileges, but if you are concerned about the fact that some highly upvoted posters are underserving of the rep they earned, this does not solve that problem. This will not hinder popular but trivial posts from accruing much more rep than obscure but elaborate ones. Additionally, scaling down rep will lead to a loss of reviewing abilities for a great many 3k+ users, who are quite crucial for moderating the site. $\endgroup$
    – ACuriousMind Mod
    Oct 3, 2014 at 16:08
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I reiterate my comment in the previous thread: If this is your proposal, it should be on Mother Meta. $\endgroup$
    – Kyle Kanos
    Oct 3, 2014 at 17:56
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Maybe I'll turn this into an answer later, but what someone needs to do is measure the joint distribution of "quality" (defined somehow) and reputation. It's easy to see the outliers in the off-diagonal parts of that diagram, but how many users fall right where they should? There is a danger in tailoring policies/laws/systems to the outliers, as you may very well end up with a worse overall correlation or even driving the system chaotically via overcompensation. $\endgroup$
    – user10851
    Oct 3, 2014 at 22:42
  • $\begingroup$ There are a bunch of good points in here, but I feel you are trying to address way to many things at once. $\endgroup$
    – Danu
    Oct 4, 2014 at 23:39
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ You picked an outlier (cooling a cup fluid) to illustrate a problem with rep. Using outliers undermines your argument. You can't point to flipping a coin heads 20 times in a row and say "the coin is broken" so if you think there is a problem with reputation you have to demonstrate it in the typical case, not the extreme case. $\endgroup$ Oct 5, 2014 at 0:29
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Danu, you are right, but they are all related, one cannot discuss each point separately $\endgroup$
    – bobie
    Oct 5, 2014 at 5:11
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @KyleKanos Feature requests can be posted on any meta site, it doesn't have to be MSE. There are certain advantages to posting to MSE, but especially for newer users the harsher reactions you tend to get there can be rather frustrating. $\endgroup$ Oct 5, 2014 at 13:12
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @MadScientist, right you are! They can get really mean there. But I am not easily scared. I posted here because we could have a quiet, nice, interesting discussion. There is a lot of superficiality and adolescential adrenalin there. $\endgroup$
    – bobie
    Oct 5, 2014 at 13:23
  • $\begingroup$ @MadScientist: While "getting a feel" here on Meta is allowed & isn't really an issue, the Physics.SE Community cannot do what bobie proposes. This can only be handled by the SE team, and since they frequent MSE far more than here, it is the place to post feature requests. $\endgroup$
    – Kyle Kanos
    Oct 5, 2014 at 13:43
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @KyleKanos SE has very clearly stated several times that feature requests can be posted on any meta. Of course per-site metas have a disadvantage in visibility, but there are ways around it if a feature request receives significant support (e.g. a moderator pointing it out to an SE employee). The feature requests in this post have pretty much no chance of being implemented, some of them have been declined on MSE several times, so I don't see how sending the OP to the main meta would do any good. $\endgroup$ Oct 5, 2014 at 13:56
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @MadScientist: It would likely give OP an explanation from SE team members as to why this is a bad idea, rather than site members. $\endgroup$
    – Kyle Kanos
    Oct 5, 2014 at 14:18
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @KyleKanos, "This can only be handled by the SE team" , sure Kyle, it is written not only in the post, but in the title : ubermods & team , monitor all meta sites, they wil pick this up anyway, if the don't, I'll send Oded a link to this post. I posted here so that, answering to so many objections, I could fully explain the meaning of my suggestion. At SE this is not possible. Thanks anyway for your efforts, write an answer :-) $\endgroup$
    – bobie
    Oct 5, 2014 at 15:02
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @bobie: I do not see how you can "fully explain the meaning of the suggestion" here and not at MSE. I mean, if you can reply here, you can reply there. $\endgroup$
    – Kyle Kanos
    Oct 5, 2014 at 15:22
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Wow, this is hard to follow. You seem to have more than a few issues with the site. I'll be honest, I want to contribute to this discussion, but after reading through your post twice, I still don't quite know what the root of or solutions to your problems are. I'm also a little uncertain what all the problems are. Perhaps you should include a more succinct summary at the end. Beyond that, I have no comment $\endgroup$
    – Jim
    Oct 7, 2014 at 14:03

4 Answers 4


The main role of the reputation system is to encourage people to participate. There is something competitive within all of us that just loves being awarded points, even when they have no real value. You yourself say:

I have personally experienced the thrill of earning 680 pts. of rep at ELU in a couple of minutes

The key word being thrill. There's nothing wrong with this, it's just human nature, and the end result is that people are willing to devote large chunks of their time to writing some truly fantastic answers. This is a bit of a hobby horse of mine, but you have to have grown up in the pre-Internet era to realise what an astonishing resource the Physics SE is for enthusiastic young physicists like I was forty years ago.

I think the current reputation system is very, very good at doing what it's designed to do i.e. motivating people to take part. If you start making changes that are perceived as obstructing the path to yet more points I fear you will start demotivating exactly the sort of people who make this site such as a success. It's not that people will storm off in a huff, but faced with the choice of writing yet another answer on Lorentz transformations or sitting down to enjoy the large pile of new SF books that are screaming for my attention, you start making the latter look more attractive.

The gist of your question seems to be the risk of people gaining undeserved moderatorial rights. But experience shows that this simply isn't a problem. Rather the reverse really - it often takes 12 hours to close the most egregious of homework questions because we don't have enough people actively using their moderatorial privileges.

So even though you cite me in your question as appreciating the validity of your arguments, let me make it very clear that I comprehensively disagree with the views expressed in your question.

  • $\begingroup$ @bobie: hobby horse is English slang for something that is an obsession and/or something you talk about all the time. When I was 13, and living in a small village in the country, there was no-one to talk about physics with. Actually asking questions of a real live physicist was an impossible dream. The point I've made several times (which is why it's a hobby horse) is that the Physics SE makes it possible for today's 13 year olds to do just that, and that's why I think the Physics SE is so immensely valuable. $\endgroup$ Oct 4, 2014 at 10:47
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ This site is valuable because there are people like you $\endgroup$
    – bobie
    Oct 4, 2014 at 10:55
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @bobie: thanks :-) But my point is that the reputation system is important in attracting people like me. If you make it less attractive fewer people will use this site. $\endgroup$ Oct 4, 2014 at 15:05
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ If you are keen on keeping 100k , the scale can be custom-tailored, John. What matters is the principle: you'd keep 100k drRhodes 100, and I'd get 500, and couldn't edit your posts. Fair enough! :-) $\endgroup$
    – bobie
    Oct 5, 2014 at 8:08
  • $\begingroup$ Could you please, John, vote to reopen this question? $\endgroup$
    – bobie
    Oct 15, 2014 at 6:42
  • $\begingroup$ @bobie: I have to say that I think that question doesn't mean anything. Inertia isn't a quantity physicists use. Momentum yes, moment of inertia yes, inertial mass yes, but inertia is a layman concept. So the question is asking about something too vaguely defined to be useful. $\endgroup$ Oct 15, 2014 at 7:47
  • $\begingroup$ @bobie: I would guess by force of inertia you just mean impulse. The phrase force of inertia has no special physical meaning. $\endgroup$ Oct 15, 2014 at 8:28

I can't recall which question here on the Meta this was discussed (and it may have been yours now that I think about it) but there's some difficult things that go on with any reputation system. But particularly those on a site like Physics which draws people from a wide range of backgrounds. A site like StackOverflow suffers a little less from it because there's no "pop-programming" TV shows that try to "educate" people like we see in the hard sciences.

Recap of other discussions

First, you'll find here that relatively basic or trivial questions and answers get huge numbers of votes. I think the main reason behind it, especially now that we have that little Hot bar on the side of the Stack Exchange sites, is that the trivial questions often bring easy-to-understand, simple, plain-English answers that are accessible to untrained people. So you'll get a lot more votes from people who go "Oh, I always wondered why steam rises, now I get it!" There's far, far fewer people who will come in and say "Oh, I always wondered why the wave function collapses! I'm glad I read the 45 lines of equations to understand it!" In other words, votes are, for better or worse, a measure of supply and demand. There are far more people looking for accessible explanations of common phenomenon than there are ultra-specialist experts looking to discuss something.

Second, as John suggested in his answer, reputation is not exactly a great measurement of knowledge. In comments on another thread, I mentioned that really, at best, reputation is a proxy measurement for knowledge. Just like SAT or GRE scores are a proxy measurement for IQ -- the reputation is a proxy measurement for the knowledge of a user. Maybe more precisely, a proxy measurement for how much the community trusts the knowledge of a user. But since the community is rather fluid and ill-defined, that's still a tough way to pin it down. But just like standardized testing, you'll find people with awesome scores but when you read their content it just isn't very good.

Third, things like edits, retagging, etc are really janitorial tasks. I can go through and make correct edits for grammar and spelling on a topic I know absolutely nothing about and earn some rep for it. But it is, and should be, disproportionately less than reputation than I earn for questions and/or answers. Because I'm not proving my knowledge, but rather my willingness to be part of the community. One could argue using reputation for things like edits makes my 2nd point about reputation invalid. It may no longer be thought of as a proxy measurement of knowledge. To some extent this may be true; however, the amount of rep is very small (which is likely only included for the psychological "gamification" effect that gets people addicted to things) and it also stops once you reach a certain reputation threshold. I no longer earn rep for edits, but I do them anyway because I want to perform a service for the community.

Fourth, and I suppose the end of my numbered list, each community works differently and it seems our community really doesn't downvote all that much. We flag, we close, we leave comments, but there's really not a lot of downvoting that happens. We should be more liberal with our votes, both up and down, and actually vote for great answers and downvote ones that are lacking. This would go a long way to "fixing" the run-away reputation for trivial things. But honestly, there's so many trivial questions that I will never even look at, so I won't be up or down voting them because I'm not interested in reading them.

Potential damages

You raise a concern that somebody could rather easily get moderator tools and then run amok. I've been here a long time and I haven't gotten moderator tools for the 10000 rep point yet so it's not really all that easy. But even granting the point that it might be, if a user went through and started going nuts and closing things willy-nilly, defacing posts, whatever -- that's a very easy fix. The user would be suspended, all the changes made would be rolled back, and all would go on well. There are checks and balances for exactly this reason.

It's almost like going from a "gateway" method of software development, where a central user has to approve and propagate all changes, to a "distributed" method of software development. In the distributed model, everybody has a copy of the code, everybody has access to the version control, and everybody can restore the code to any state should somebody else mess it up. It's tough to let others have the tools sometimes, but there's always the roll-back option to fix things. This is why the site has moderators, and why the Stack Exchange team fields complaints about the moderators. There's checks and balances.

Your anecdote about Math.SE is an example of where this sort of struggles sometimes. But ultimately each community votes for their moderators and those moderators represent the community. My father likes to joke about the US Congress -- everybody in the US complains the system is broken because we just elect a bunch of crooks and idiots to Congress. But ultimately it means the system works exactly like it should, because the majority elected the people who are just like them!


Reputation is a hybrid (together with badges and privileges) -- it's a proxy measurement of knowledge, and a way to turn content contributions into a game to get people hooked on doing it. Parts of it are fair, parts of it are not, and just like anything else one does in life, it's really easy to work hard and feel like progress is slow but to see somebody do nothing and get all the benefits. It's true for money, cars, family, happiness, and apparently SE reputation. And just like those other things, the best advice I can give is to not care about keeping up with the others and take pride in what you do. I can't change that somebody else is going to get rep by something trivial. And it doesn't bother me anymore. I'm going to ask and answer the things that interest me at the time and enjoy the process.

And the final thing I really can say about our system and I'll paraphrase Winston Churchill to do it -- StackExchange (and reputation) is the worst system of internet Q&A sites, except for all the others.


Note that drhodes, while in principle armed with "dangerous privileges", doesn't really ever come onto the site - a person who earns privileges with a single "long tailed" question, but never uses them is not really much of a threat to the stability of the community, I think.

I have to say that I am sometimes surprised by the variability in upvotes that my own answers collect (I don't spend time dissecting others' performance), and agree that "popular science" answers often do better than the deep quality ones we would like to see more.

I don't have a solution but I would add that questions with "enduring appeal" (like the coffee question) seem to be able to keep getting a few votes a day, while some of my own 40+ questions have at times gotten me very few rep points because all the votes came in a short time - they might have "instant" appeal of the "wow I never knew that" kind, but people don't actively seek those answers, so they soon disappear from view.

In short - I think the system works reasonably well. Any change would have to be replicated across the entire SE "mother site" and I don't think it's sufficiently broken here to warrant that. If we end up with a rogue editor, David Z, dmckee, Manishearth or Qmechanic (the current "diamonds") will surely take them down.

Re-reading this, I seem to be repeating a lot of points that were already made in tgp2114's answer. Consider this an elaborate upvote (don't worry, I'll put a real one in too).

  • $\begingroup$ Small clarification required, diamond = moderator, right? Is JohnRennie a moderator? This page seems to suggest otherwise. $\endgroup$ Oct 4, 2014 at 5:13
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @UserAnonymous: No, I'm not a moderator, just a nerd :-) $\endgroup$ Oct 4, 2014 at 5:16
  • $\begingroup$ @UserAnonymous - you're right. Sorry for tarnishing your reputation, Dr Nerd. Fixed now. $\endgroup$
    – Floris
    Oct 4, 2014 at 5:17
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @JohnRennie - No no I didn't mean it the disrespectful way, though I'm new here, I've read some of your brilliant answers. I just wanted to know, because the privileges page says you get access to moderator privileges at 10,000, and you have 10 times more. Sorry, if you saw any disrespect there. $\endgroup$ Oct 4, 2014 at 5:21
  • $\begingroup$ @UserAnonymous don't fret. I'm sure nobody was offended, and my comment was in jest (as I'm sure John knows). Access to moderator tools gives greater ability to support the "real" (diamond after their name) moderators who have the serious power (ban users, delete questions, ...). I actually was the one who mixed the two, and apologize for adding to your confusion. $\endgroup$
    – Floris
    Oct 4, 2014 at 5:25
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ @UserAnonymous: I interpreted your comment as a simple question, and it never even occurred to me to take offence :-). Sadly there are no extra privileges to be gained above 10,000 points. When I broke 100k I did get an e-mail from SE offering me a free gift of my choice from the SE gift store, though so far it has not turned up (if you're reading this SE management where's my Stack Overflow coat?) $\endgroup$ Oct 4, 2014 at 5:43
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I like that I seem to be agreeing with you, and maybe educating you too, lately! $\endgroup$
    – tpg2114
    Oct 4, 2014 at 5:45

You talk a lot about what happened in other communites (from your point of view), and you seem honestly concerned that we might be "taken over" by incompetent - or worse, malicious - site users. To prevent this, you want to revise the reputation system, which really lies at the heart of how SE sites work.

But, maybe, if our site is taken over by incompentent, malicious or deranged people, it's our fault. Not the systems fault. This is why we have moderators. This is why we can and should downvote bad content. This is why we close inappropriate questions and delete non-answers.

Let's say someone gains moderatorial power through few, and effortless, but popular posts and starts rampaging. They will be banned in the blink of an eye, and no one will shed a tear.

Let's say someone starts nonsensical edits after gaining 2k (which is far easier than 10k). Their actions will be flagged, and either they will cease their activity or be banned.

What are you afraid of? The only reason to fear these "takeovers" is if you do not trust in the larger community and the moderators to act in the best interest of the site. And if you do not trust the community, why participate here at all? There are measures in place to prevent such hostile takeovers, and they all draw from one source - the community. From the power and privileges we all have gained through accruing reputation, and from our will to use them to make this site what we want it to be. And though we are always fighting over the details, and never quite of one mind (what a terrible thing that would be!), the fact that most questions that are closed stay closed (and that some are, indeed reopened unchanged but not closed again) show that, all in all, most actively moderating users agree on what this site should and should not harbor and that they are not vindictively engaging in edit wars or closing/reopening wars.

I like the way it is. And changing the rep system to only grant privileges to the experts and those with brillant exposition skills would devalue the many low- and mid-level contributions that are made on this site as well. Nobody guarantees that the most brillant physicist in the world, earning all the rep, might not be a giant asshole. And nobody can be sure that the undergraduate answering "trivial" questions from everyday life and intro physics is not more than able to improve the quality of other posts and sensibly decide on matters of moderation.


We are individuals, forming a community that has grown over time. If the mere granting of privileges through "undeserved" reputation can destroy that, then we deserve to be destroyed. We have all the tools - rollback, bans, flags, close/reopen votes - to defend our version of this community against those who want to change it with malicious intent (I'm still not convinced these people exist, by the way). Changing the reputation system means saying that we don't trust each other to be civil and reasonable with the privileges granted. And if you think that the users of this site are neither civil nor reasonable, then why stay here at all?

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ "you seem honestly concerned that we might be "taken over" by incompetent..." I have already replied to this in my post, you must have missed my reply: I am not worried , I am asserting principles : An answer must be rated by what it is worth and not by the whim of the viewers. Giving a link to wiki's 'jerk' isn't worth much. You may think that the opposite is right. But if you agree, any other factor doesn't matter. $\endgroup$
    – bobie
    Oct 5, 2014 at 14:52
  • $\begingroup$ @bobie: But there is no intrinsic worth of an answer. There is no objective measure of such worth, and the SE model has decided that its measure of worth is "How many people found this answer useful?". Your assertion that answers must not be rated by the whim of the viewers is not universally true - this is precisely what the SE model does. If many people find an answer that is little more than a link to a Wiki entry useful, then that's it. I personally do not think such an answer is worth much. But that doesn't matter, since others obviously think otherwise. $\endgroup$
    – ACuriousMind Mod
    Oct 6, 2014 at 12:31
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ The reason why the founding fathers of the U.S.A followed the Sparta model is because they realized that too much democracy had destroyed Athens' civilization $\endgroup$
    – bobie
    Oct 6, 2014 at 12:50

You must log in to answer this question.

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