In Short:

I haven't been active on this site for a few months now, I check in on occasion but for the most part I have been avoiding it. Why? Well, honestly, I'm a little miffed over how fake internet points work on this site. Especially for folks like myself: Avid aviation enthusiasts who write the questions (the lifeblood) for this site, but aren't really knowledgeable enough to answer questions themselves.

Yeah, I know that they aren't redeemable for faster googles searches or more Facebook friends, but I like having them and I wish I had more for reasons that I'm gonna get to if you read the long version.

Details in long form:

Okay, so what's my actual gripe? Read here: I'm not an expert on aviation, and I can't answer a lot of questions. But, I'm very keen on aviation and I love to ask questions. If you take a look at my user you'll notice I'm actually pretty good at it. I have 5, soon to be 6, questions with over 10k views (and the fake gold medals to prove it), and quite a few more that have gotten over 2.5k views.

To be fair, my questions have garnered me over 7.5k points, so why all the sour grapes? Well, frankly, it's because I know that several people have answered my questions and gained far far far more points than I have for asking. My profile say's I've reached close to 365,000 people, comparable profiles for people who mainly answer questions tend to have closer to 15k points...

Now, I realize that asking a question isn't quite as hard as answering it... Or is it? Let me tell you my deep dark secret: I'm so curious about aviation that I spend a lot of my time pouring through aviation information simply trying to find things that I don't understand. When I do find something, I asks those questions here. It is not a simple process, it sometimes takes hours. And I provide a lot of content, and the impetus for a looooot more, as a result. And yet I get the short end of the stick every time I ask a question here.

"But who cares?!" I hear you ask, "You already state the internet points are fake, why would you care at all?" Mainly it has to do with my ability to participate in the site, and my perceived ability to help with the site.

Right now I have 7.5k points, and when the privilege point requirements change that means I'll be missing out on a lot moderator feature even though I am danged certain I care (or did care) just as much about how this site works as any of our regular answerers do.

Further, and probably more of a sticking point for me, despite my contributions my score still looks comparatively low. This is especially annoying with moderator elections approaching. I mean, I know my rep isn't the only thing that would be considered (I mean, what if I was prone to lengthy pointless rants, that should also count against me, right?), but my rep does factor in. And it's a huge disadvantage for myself in any moderator election, where I to ever run...

Anyway, it's not fair, that's all I'm saying. I want 10 points for an upvote and/or a single point for every upvote on resulting answers. It's bad enough people don't upvote questions, to have to get slapped again by SE.Aviation is a bit more than I care to deal with.

drops mic, walks off stage

  • $\begingroup$ FWIW, the reasoning behind questions getting less rep than answers is here, with more info here and here $\endgroup$ – Pondlife Jan 19 '16 at 13:58
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    $\begingroup$ FWIW, some users think you can get too much rep from questions already. $\endgroup$ – Dan Hulme Jan 19 '16 at 14:01
  • $\begingroup$ @DanHulme and whomever upvoted him: Okay, I guess I see where I stand now. Thanks. $\endgroup$ – Jay Carr Jan 20 '16 at 0:58
  • $\begingroup$ @Pondlife that logic is idiotic. Trying to keep low quality questions from appearing by making all questions worth few points has no does not systemically differentiation. If SE wants to find better ways to differentiate between the good and the bad, that's great. But punishing all questioners because some of them post bad questions.... I dunno, that fundamental essentially proves my point that SE doesn't give a rat about questioners. If that's what SE wants, fine, I'll take my thought out, community driven questions somewhere I'm not being openly punished for asking. $\endgroup$ – Jay Carr Jan 20 '16 at 1:10
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    $\begingroup$ I do say that in general I have to agree with some of the links in the comments above that say that someone who only asks 1,000 questions and never answers one should not have the same amount of reputation as those users who spend most of their time answering questions. Most questions are not as well thought out and researched as yours and (in my opinion) do not deserve the same amount of rep. In a system of this scale, the typical case has to be considered and designed for. It's unfortunate that there are users who feel punished because of the system as it is though. $\endgroup$ – Lnafziger Jan 20 '16 at 15:13
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    $\begingroup$ On the moderator point - the one SE site I am a diamond mod, I have considerably less rep than you have here. I was elected (I presume) based on my perceived interest in that community, my activity on the site etc, not on how much rep I had managed to accumulate based on Questions/Answers. $\endgroup$ – Jamiec Jan 22 '16 at 15:54

There's actually a bit of history behind this, and it's all down to what you think reputation really means. Although we enjoy calling rep "fake internet points", and we fully accept that it's not necessarily indicative of anything, the points do still kind-of tell you something about their owner.

When Stack Overflow was started, the points were intended to show how much that person knows. It's a site for experts, after all, so it had a way of counting your expertise, as voted for by other experts. Reputation measures how "trusted" you are: trusted to know what you're talking about, to explain things well.

Good questions should still get rep, because you need to know some stuff already to ask good questions that experts will be interested in. Experts wouldn't vote up a beginner question, because they wouldn't be interested in it.

But that changed in two ways. First, they realised the social engineering benefits of using rep to encourage particular behaviours. This is why you get rep for editing, for accepting answers, for tag wiki edits.

Second, there came an appreciation that rep is only a measure of what you've done on the site. You might be the best programmer in the world, but when you sign up for Stack Overflow, you start off with 1 rep. On SO, it can be hard to find the right kind of question to answer, to show off your expertise, so there are lots of experts on there with less rep than a random student who can spend ten hours a day answering trivial questions.

For both these reasons, they now tend to describe reputation as a measure of your contribution to the site, not your expertise. Reputation measures how trusted you are: trusted to use the site properly, to make a positive change, to be part of the community.

Now, this is where the friction comes from. A lot of the "old guard" would say you shouldn't have any reputation at all for asking a lot of questions: by your own admission, you're not an expert. But they're thinking of the old meaning. I'm sure if you thought of rep points as a measure of expertise, not contribution, you'd be a lot happier with the number you've amassed just through your curiosity.

The friction is even more so on Stack Overflow than on smaller sites like ours. SO has millions of trivial questions which don't improve the site at all: questions asked by non-experts and often not answered at all or answered by similarly unskilled people. Imagine if aviation.SE got a hundred questions a day that look like "I thought I'd try flying an airplane. It worked for a couple of hours but then the engine spluttered and stopped. What did I do wrong?" It would kill our site in a week.

While SO is faced with this problem, SO the organization is unlikely to consider changes that value questions (and non-expert questioners) more highly, because its main community does not need more people asking questions. This is also why downvoting a question doesn't cost you 1 rep (like downvoting an answer does): they want to encourage it more, because bad questions hurt the site more than bad answers. More likely they'll consider some completely new way of sorting out good from bad questions.

Whatever happens in the future, I hope that learning about the historical perspective, and the way that SO's priorities drive the way the site works, makes you feel better about your contribution. However many points you get, when you get a question upvote, it's because a person thought your question was clear, well-researched, and useful. Whenever you get an answer on your question, it's because a person wanted to help you learn: not for points, not to create busy-work, but for the sake of learning.

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    $\begingroup$ Dan, that was a well thought out and concise answer, thank you very much. Maybe it's just the historian in me, but getting some perspective on the situation does actually help quite a bit. So thanks for taking the time to piece this together as my thinking was quite unclear regarding the whole issue... I think we can consider this conversation wrapped up. Again, thank for your time. $\endgroup$ – Jay Carr Jan 20 '16 at 14:26

I don't disagree with your view that questions don't receive as much attention as answers. While that certainly is discouraging to people that mostly ask questions, I think it's part of the model that Stack Exchange follows.

Part of the assumption may be that people with questions don't need extra incentive. Your reward is that your questions get answered by experts (hopefully). The points are just a bonus. You even get badges for both votes and views. On the other hand, what incentive do people have to answer questions? They only receive recognition for having shared some of their knowledge and experience. They may not learn anything new. So the site awards more points for votes on answers. There are generally more people out there that don't know something than people that know it well enough to form a good answer, so statistically the people with answers are more valuable and worth more incentive.

Another point is the amount of effort involved. Yes, writing a really good question can be a lot of work. But it doesn't have to be. It might warrant a closer look but it seems like a greater proportion of answers require a lot of work than questions do. A question can be very simple, while good answers to even simple questions should involve some amount of research and effort. I know it doesn't always work like that, but that's the idea.

While quality is certainly important, quantity is another factor. To date you have made 115 posts to the site. This is on par for users with similar amounts of reputation. Most people with high reputation have made many more posts. One particular user has only been a member here for 5 months, but has made more posts than all but one other user. Yet there are 5 users with more reputation than they have. So it's not always in the favor of those writing even lots of great answers.

So yes, it's not a perfect model. But points aren't everything. I hope that in moderator elections, users will look beyond just reputation points. Users that have gained a real reputation beyond just points for posting high quality questions/answers and participating in discussions should not be discounted for lack of points.

  • $\begingroup$ That's a pretty reasonable response good sir, so thanks for that at least :). And it's true, I suppose, that questions will come regardless of whether or not folks like me remain involved (it's the nature of the beast) because if we need answers we need them... Though I can't help but feel that that mostly applies to sites like SO where not having the answer is detrimental to your ability to do your job. There's less incentive here to ask questions, perhaps in the end that's where my comments come from. Concern that the SO model can't really work for enthusiast sites like this one... $\endgroup$ – Jay Carr Jan 18 '16 at 23:29
  • $\begingroup$ Also in response to "You have as much reputation as anyone else who posts as much as you do." I think you may be oversimplifying the situation. I personally do my best to put quality over quantity, as a result many of my questions score high (for questions). Basically, I make sure the quality is as high a possible. Plus, you comment that I don't post all that much compared to others who have been around as long as me...well, I can't answer questions well so...that kinda happens. That, I admit, is probably just part of not being an expert that can't reasonably (or fairly) be corrected for. $\endgroup$ – Jay Carr Jan 18 '16 at 23:38
  • $\begingroup$ I agree the SO model doesn't apply in the same way on all sites. I know looking at the number of posts is a simplistic number, but it's still relevant. While high quality posts are great, the community needs a continuous supply as well. Users with a lower average score will still have more rep if they have enough posts. $\endgroup$ – fooot Jan 19 '16 at 0:41
  • $\begingroup$ lol, so I guess we'd agree that we all should post more (I guess opening with "so I haven't done much for 4 months now" wasn't my strongest bit). But I think we also agree that the system could probably use some tweaking so that someone who asks a good question gets more recognition for it, right? $\endgroup$ – Jay Carr Jan 19 '16 at 2:14

You currently have 7,593 fake internet points and your primary concern is that you will lose privileges a year or three from now when we finally get a design and the reputation thresholds increase.

As a newly-graduated site with beta reputation thresholds, 7593 reputation affords you all of the site privileges. If reputation thresholds today changed to graduated thresholds, you would lose access to:

  • "10k" moderator tools (10,000 rep),
  • the ability to protect questions (15,000 rep),
  • expanded (un)deletion and tag wiki unreviewed editing (20,000 rep), and
  • site analytics (25,000 rep).

Of those, the biggest loss is the moderator tools (if you actively use them) and today you are a mere 2,500 reputation from the graduated threshold. You've managed 7,500+ rep in 2 years, so at that rate you will accumulate the 2,500 additional rep in 8 months or more conservatively by the end of this year. I would be completely surprised to see a site design and increased rep anytime in the year 2016, so my estimate is that you'll have 10k well before it matters.

  • $\begingroup$ All true, but in a way still besides the point. I admit, in retrospect pointing out the supposed "problems" of not getting rep points probably served to weaken my argument as it added an element of...I dunno, social justice?. The main point is more the part about just wanting more fake internet points. Dumb as it is, the way they are being rewarded just makes me feel less appreciated for what I've taken the time to do. That's more my issue here. $\endgroup$ – Jay Carr Jan 19 '16 at 2:11
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    $\begingroup$ @JayCarr gamification aside, contribute if you value it yourself. If you are chasing the internet points, imho that is an unfulfilling quest and you'll be in the same place later when you've run out of carrots to chase. Contribute because its what you like to do, on its own merits. $\endgroup$ – casey Jan 19 '16 at 2:35
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    $\begingroup$ I'll also add that as an asker producing good questions you get something much more valuable than reputation, you get answers. $\endgroup$ – casey Jan 19 '16 at 2:58
  • $\begingroup$ I can get answers a lot of places, there is a lot of Internet out there... I feel, in some ways, like I'm being punished for asking on this site. There are other options, why stick around when I'm being treated like this? Shouldn't SE be trying to retain people who are good community meme red? Regardless of role? $\endgroup$ – Jay Carr Jan 20 '16 at 1:13
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    $\begingroup$ @jaycarr At most aviation related internet Q&A sites (aka forums), you don't get any fake internet points. You simply get to ask your question and learn you answer (hopefully anyway, if you can sift through all of the noise). The goal of this system is to make the internet a better place, and to help others out in the future when they have the same question by having a good, easy to find actual answer. You do have the option of taking questions elsewhere, but then you get 0 points and help others even less. Sounds like a lose-lose to me.... $\endgroup$ – Lnafziger Jan 20 '16 at 2:34
  • $\begingroup$ @Lnafziger Eh, perhaps you have a point. But then again, in situations where there are no rewards offered, it's hard to be offended by being short changed. So there are advantages to having no points at all. To be honest, your implication that SE is simply the best solution out there right now (thus the best place to help, right?) isn't particularly reassuring, as I'd like to think somebody out there values a good question, and a curious mind, more than SE does. But perhaps you are correct in that regard, and I have no other place to go to. So I'm just kinda stuck. $\endgroup$ – Jay Carr Jan 20 '16 at 5:59
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    $\begingroup$ @JayCarr Well, I do think that SE is the best Q&A format around at this time (but I haven't tested every one of them, so I could be wrong), however I do not feel that they do not value a good question.From a reputation perspective, maybe not as much as a good answer, but there is a lot of value in a good question! Also, much like answers, good questions are rewarded with more reputation than bad ones because they receive more up votes. $\endgroup$ – Lnafziger Jan 20 '16 at 15:09
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    $\begingroup$ @JayCarr just for some perspective: You are the 27th all-time reputation user on the aviation stack, putting in the top 5% of all users and you have the second most gold badges with only Lnafziger having more (and only 1 more). I'd hardly say you are getting the short end of a stick. For some different perspective look at my meteorology tag on earthscience vs my fortan tag on SO... one is 767 score on 86 posts and one is 364 score on 149 posts -- half the rep for twice the posts and all of the same level of quality. $\endgroup$ – casey Jan 20 '16 at 15:15
  • $\begingroup$ @Lnafziger True...*sigh* I suppose probably everyone has some sort of gripe with the system, I think I just let mine get a bit ahead of me here. You're right, of course, that there is a built in way to reward good questions and, to be fair, I personally have plenty of questions with as many upvotes as the answers. And yeah, the answers may get a bit more attention here, but it's not terrible it's just...kinda how the site is designed. I do think it could use some refinement, but I probably could calm down in the mean time. $\endgroup$ – Jay Carr Jan 20 '16 at 16:22
  • $\begingroup$ @casey Jeez, that seems...pretty legit unfair. Especially considering your knowledge of meteorology, which is, you know, pretty good 'n stuff ;). I generally speaking don't care for "get some perspective" type arguments, but you appear to have a point. I should probably be happy with what I've been able to achieve rather than being jealous of the likes of Peter Kämpf or voretaq7... It's not like I've done poorly for myself, especially considering my current lack of knowledge. $\endgroup$ – Jay Carr Jan 20 '16 at 16:25
  • $\begingroup$ @JayCarr Peter Kampf and voretaq7? What about me???? ;-) $\endgroup$ – Lnafziger Jan 20 '16 at 16:44
  • $\begingroup$ @Lnafziger Well, and you and Casey, if I'm honest. But I figured we were already chatting ;). You especially though because you're the only one with more gold than me :P $\endgroup$ – Jay Carr Jan 20 '16 at 16:55
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    $\begingroup$ @JayCarr Haha, I was just trying to be funny because it was sort of related to the topic. I am definitely more motivated by the satisfaction of answering where I can help and asking when I need help. When the site was starting, I asked a lot of questions that I knew the answer to just to bring good quality content to the site, but I also researched questions that I had no clue about to answer them too. You don't have to be an expert to research and come up with good answers (although it helps)! $\endgroup$ – Lnafziger Jan 20 '16 at 19:05
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    $\begingroup$ @Lnafziger This is true, I have two highly rated answers and one of them was basically doing the google search for someone else. I guess if I want all them fake internet points I just need to do that a bit more. Might be interesting what I'll learn from that process besides... $\endgroup$ – Jay Carr Jan 20 '16 at 19:37

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