In this age of fluid information exchange it seems odd that a site such as this one, that gives the impression of representing super users, would actually contribute to raising barriers to communication by imposing quotas on opinions (I couldn't put an approval on a previous question because I don't have enough 'reputation').

I would be more than happy to be enlightened on the rationale behind this.

  • 4
    It's very a very effective way to motivate people to put some effort in the site. It's good for sifting out bad apples
    – Ivo Flipse
    Commented Oct 13, 2009 at 20:17
  • 7
    Thank you Marc for that neutral edit.
    – Troggy
    Commented Oct 13, 2009 at 20:27

8 Answers 8


Many of the barriers exist because we allow 100% anonymous participation.

If we didn't have some hoops for new users to jump through, we would quickly be overrun by spam and other sorts of nefarious entities.

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    Anonymous Participation? I don't think so! one has to REGISTER in order to post... Wasn't that enough? And what about benefit of the doubt? Spam? Not only does one have to register, one has to accumulate 'reputation' and then, finally, one has to fill in a captcha!!! Come On!
    – Old Faithful
    Commented Oct 13, 2009 at 23:24
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    @Old Faithful: Unfortunately, spammers are a lot more dedicated to their cause than many of the people who would like to ask questions on these sites.
    – Greg Hewgill
    Commented Oct 13, 2009 at 23:49
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    I'm not sure what site you're talking about, becase you do not have to register to post on Stack Overflow, Super User, or Server Fault. Here it is required to use OpenID, yes, but this is meta. Commented Oct 14, 2009 at 0:10
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    It is worth putting up with some annoyances at the start to be a member of a community with higher quality content.
    – Casebash
    Commented Oct 25, 2009 at 0:47

Most likely first and foremost because it is NOT a discussion forum. It is a Q&A website. From the FAQ directly:

Avoid asking questions that are subjective, argumentative, or require extended discussion. This is not a discussion board, this is a place for questions that can be answered!

The Trilogy has a specific way of dealing with information, since it is first and foremost an attempt at being a canonical resource of information that constantly gets updated, for specific questions that do have real and exact answer.

The achieve this goal a few methods had been put in place to ensure that the above remain the main focus of the site. These are not barriers, they are a unique and different way of thinking and moving away from the old discussion forum concept of dealing with questions.

Part of this process is to gain trust from other members of the community in the form of reputation, and based on this more flexibility with regards to this, as members learn how the site and it's processes work. It is a simple and effective method, which once adopted makes any other forum or medium extremely hard to use.

  • OK, good answer. Thanks for letting me know. But I felt that a serious question had been asked (why aren't all applications portable?), that meritted a strong "thumbs up" for the asker. Sorry for my impatience, but after 30 years computing, I have developped STRONG opinions about the decadence of software in America. BTW I did add an answer, 'opinionated' as it may be. OTOH, if this is not the right place for such discussions, my applogies for knocking on the wrong door.
    – Old Faithful
    Commented Oct 13, 2009 at 23:38
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    @Old Faithful You just answered your own question. Because the question you answer did not have a specific answer, the end result is that users are not going to vote up or down someone else opinion. On SU we deal with questions that relate to provable facts, not what we want things to be. The question your refer to is subjective and argumentative and should have been closed as such.
    – Diago
    Commented Oct 14, 2009 at 7:25

I think if you read the FAQ you'll find the explanation

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    I'd vote this up, but I don't have enough reputation. Lol.
    – Anonymous
    Commented Oct 13, 2009 at 20:06
  • +1: Didn't know I got points for associating my accounts.
    – Anonymous
    Commented Oct 13, 2009 at 20:08

Jeff and Joel wanted to create an information resource. They needed to put constraints and rules to keep things focused and on topic. They wanted sites with specific topics and structure. They did not want another yahoo answers.


What barriers? You can ask a question, and get an answer. You can indicate your approval by accepting a good answer. What else do you, as a new user, need to do?!


I'm glad to see right answers rewarded, and wrong answers punished. If you can't come up with enough right answers to get enough reputation to do anything, I don't see how that's anyone's problem but your own.


The most powerful feature of the site is the ability ask and answer questions. And you can do that from day one, anonymously and without reputation.

But to provide that level of no-barrier, no-friction access, the community is asked to self-moderate the site to keep it focused and on-track. Site moderation starts with simply voting on posts, then progressing to commenting, then retagging, then editing, right up through question and user moderation. As your experience with the site grows, so does your abilities and responsibilities to moderate the site.

"Reputation" is simply an indication of your experience with the site. More reputation, more abilities.

Wait until you have a bit more experience with the site -- That is the rationale tying reputation to the increasingly important editorial abilities you gain access to.


Because the people who own the website get to set the rules. Like it or not, that's the way it is.

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