It seems to me (from reading this like this excellent post by random, and looking at the current high rep users for the quarter and the top editors for the quarter and seeing how little they overlap, and people like random himself) that high rep is not the same as concerned with the running of the site at all.

It is useful to determine commitment (if you don't have some rep, you might just be there for a day or a week or so, and you probably have no idea what is going on) to the site, but past a certain point (not quite sure where) it ceases to mean that you are any more committed to the site, and just that you know things.

While that is important, that is not related to being able to be a good "semi-mod" for lack of a better word, and gaining privileges (past 2500 or so they are all to help mods).

Why do we differentiate between high rep users (top 5% of users above 200 or so) and the top .2% (20000 rep)? (Data generated using data explorer, so it is a little out of date, but it should be close enough)

Alternatively, my premise is wrong, and users that have 20000 reputation really are significantly more helpful than users at 10k. If so, I'm am sorry for bringing this up, but I do not see that as the case (looking a meta participation and edits, as I cannot see close and delete votes and other things).

  • 1
    Reasons for disagreeing?
    – soandos
    Commented Aug 22, 2011 at 21:10
  • 6
    I suspect they disagree, because these things have probably been asked on MSO before and were shot down there. While you are allowed to ask similar questions here, I guess they think you should read into the legacy of Stack Exchange a bit, before asking so many Meta questions that we've already seen come and go before.
    – Ivo Flipse
    Commented Aug 22, 2011 at 21:36
  • Sorry, will do next time.
    – soandos
    Commented Aug 22, 2011 at 21:37
  • Excellent observation. +1
    – user1061912
    Commented May 10, 2020 at 21:01

2 Answers 2


Super User is somewhat special in this regard, because its not that easy to get to 5 or 10k rep without posting a several hundred answers. That's why you have users like random and studiohack for a long time that are very helpful, but don't get any rep in return.

However, the argument of lack of overlap between rep and edits already shows why your suggestion is unnecessary: users are apparently able to edit massive amounts of posts without more privileges (and fine doing so).

You should also keep in mind that most other sites have a slightly different distribution of rep, yet the rules are the same across the network. Besides, after the latest elections, SU doesn't have any trouble with moderating the site.

Either way, I don't expect anyone the team to give away more privileges based on anything other than rep, in the end we still want users to try and earn more if they want to get access to privileges. This means you should be putting in more effort into answering questions that others find helpful, rather than focusing solely on cleaning up. In the end we're a Q&A site, so getting great answers should always remain the main goal of using the site.

PS: don't take that as an excuse to stop doing any of your moderating tasks, it just shouldn't be the main reason you visit the site.

  • 1
    The reputation points also provide a very important protection -- if any anonymous user who hasn't contributed anything to the community could do everything a high-level user can do, I suspect we'd see a lot of vandalism (I believe WikiPedia has a big problem with this). The way the points are set up now seems to have been fairly well considered as it keeps offering bigger carrots as the user progresses. Using this approach, I believe, ensures that the majority of users will feel that they've got some sort of a vested interest in this web site since they've been contributing to it. Commented Aug 22, 2011 at 21:51
  • Well @Randolf, I think soandos expected that if you have a flag weight of over 500, you probably should have Vote to Close rights or if you have 300 edits approved, we should allow you to edit any post. However, I think that apart from the 10k tools, most things are achieved pretty easily if you put in some effort.
    – Ivo Flipse
    Commented Aug 22, 2011 at 22:00

It is useful to determine commitment [...] to the site, but past a certain point [...] it ceases to mean that you are any more committed to the site, and just that you know things.

This is somewhat true. In a first instance, reputation doesn't measure how much you do for the broad community (in a sense of cleanup, or whatever you deem necessary). Essentially, it measures how much the community likes your answers (or thinks your questions are interesting or well written, for that matter).

And hey, we're a Q/A site, so I don't think there's a problem with that.

While that is important, that is not related to being able to be a good "semi-mod"

You do have a point there. However, we somehow need to find a way to quantify how much we can trust a user, and unless there's a better alternative, we have to do it through reputation.

By reading through meta.SO, you'll find a lot of similar questions about this.

Here's a bit more discussion:

I assume you see a problem in high-rep users getting privileges – otherwise you wouldn't have written this. Now what happens if a user reaches "semi-mod" powers? As you can imagine, both of these extremes could exist:

  • users who don't make use of their given privileges at all (sometimes even counter-acting the community by refusing to make use of them)
  • those users who get to the rep barriers just to unlock the features they need for doing what they actually wanted to do (i.e. only closing stuff, only editing, only flagging)

The main reason why I think it's not hurting to judge this by reputation per se is: It's also not mandatory to use all of that.

  • If you know you're not feeling comfortable editing other people's stuff, just don't do it.
  • If you don't feel confident enough to vote to close other people's questions, you don't have to do it (but please don't flag the moderators to do it for you).
  • If you don't feel like checking /review and /tools regularly, because it's wasting too much of your time, just don't do it.

You're not hurting anybody. If you're a high-rep user who likes to just answer and cast the occasional close vote, that's completely fine.

Why do we differentiate between high rep users (top 5% of users above 200 or so) and the top .2% (20000 rep)?

These numbers are a bit arbitrary. They're the same for different leagues of sites, such as Super User and Stack Overflow.

Example? On Stack Overflow, to find a user who didn't (theoretically) earn /tools (10k) privileges within the last year I have to scroll to the tenth page. On Super User, well, we stop at the third row of the first page.*

10k users are somewhat needed to help moderators. I think we have a good balance on the site – so I don't see a need to change these limits.

* this is obviously not very representative in reality, since high-rep users also count in these rankings

  • I am more bothered by the inverse personally. Not that high rep users should lose privileged, but that lower rep'ed ones should get them.
    – soandos
    Commented Aug 22, 2011 at 21:43
  • Oh, I admit I didn't get the full picture. The gap between 3k and 10k is huge, that's for sure. However the limits depend on how well a site is balanced, so if you seek to change them we'd need to look into the data.
    – slhck
    Commented Aug 22, 2011 at 21:45

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