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It seems that it's fairly easy for active users on SciFi.SE to go over the rep cap (or at least, not very hard). We have at least a couple of people who are known to do this frequently, and probably some who do it but don't complain about it in chat à la Moaning Myrtle :)

While rep caps in general may have their value (I'm not quite clear what it is, but J&J wouldn't have invented AND kept them otherwise), they seem to be a net negative to a site:

  • They dampen(s8n) productivity for people who reach them and are unwilling to produce good content for the rest of the day, since it will be wasted rep points.

    I don't mean to be the materialistic weasel of this group, but rep points are at least one reason why I put in the effort, among other reasons - because they are a way to keep status, which is one of the main human motivations.

    We have at least 2 people who are openly on record as "I won't post anything else till 7pm today" as a rule once the cap is reached.

    This seems to be a net loss to the site, especially since we aren't yet in the SO stage where we have gazillions of posters and teratons of questions and answers. IMHO, YMMV, of course I'm biased :)

  • They sap creative energy from people's delivery of good content into playing the stupid "lose as little rep to the cap as possible" game. There seems to be little win to the site from that game.

This is a generic concern, but it's extra hurtful on SciFi.SE because the site in general seems to be (based on recent Meta questions and answers) somewhat/heavily inflated in the amount of upvotes relative to other SE sites, and therefore it's easier to lose lots of points to rep cap here. I've lost between 200-300-350 points a day EASILY, for many days in a row.

Now, the best solution seems to be to eliminate or at least raise the rep cap (300 seems a good #, if somewhat random).

But if there's no appetite for that either from community OR from SE people, I would propose another solution:

A badge that rewards users for the amount of rep points they lose to a rep cap.

Details:

  • Mechanics: Award the badge for either a total lost rep points across many days (either within a period, or ever), or my preference would be for losing at least N points on average (or simply at least N points) for M consecutive days/within a period of L days.

  • Name: I don't have a good name, some possibilities floated in chat by me and others were, in random order:

    • [rep-loser]

    • [excessive-excellence]

    • [extra-tall-sorting-cap]

    • [The first annual Montgomery Burns award for outstanding achievement in the field of excellence]

    • [TangoUndersway]

  • This is very distinct from "Mortarboard/Epic/Legendary" badges, which merely reward reaching rep cap. That set doesn't do anything to fix the problem of people STOPPING their creative input for the day once they reach the cap.

Any input welcome.

  • 2
    I see what you did there. – DampeS8N Jan 23 '12 at 19:33
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    Perhaps once you hit the rep cap with some time to spare, you should put a bounty on a question or two. Then that rep won't be wasted and it will go to benefit the site (if not you personally). – Kevin Jan 23 '12 at 19:36
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    I'm pretty sure the rep cap is there to keep one or two of the users from hogging all the answers, and letting other people answer a question every once in a while. – thedaian Jan 23 '12 at 19:36
  • @thedaian - see my comment on DampeS8N's answer. I seriously doubt it would skew the counts significantly enough to matter – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jan 23 '12 at 19:48
  • Hm.... interesting that of 4 people willing to openly state why the oppose the idea of the badge, 2 are active moderators, and 1 is a nearly certain future moderator. I'd be really interested in the views of NON-moderators though - you know, the "community" part, as opposed to The Man :) – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jan 24 '12 at 1:50
  • I'm no so sure about the name "TangoUndersway," but, seriously, "Undersway" may be a good and kind of fun name, since the cap undersways the total contribution for that day. (Or "Oversway," since you swayed way past the cap.) (But I'd rather see a raise in the rep cap!) – Tango Jan 24 '12 at 4:25
  • @thedaian: There's nothing that's keeping anyone who wants to from adding an answer to any question they want to. But it also keeps people from posting questions, too. My understanding is Jeff or Joel has repeatedly made the point about how important generating good questions is, so a rep cap with no additional reward also directly effects the purpose of this site. – Tango Jan 24 '12 at 4:26
3

It's been proposed a couple of times before on the main Stack Exchange meta site:

The reception was lukewarm. I couldn't find any proposal that had many views (on the MSO scale).

  • #2 had a fairly decent # of upvotes, I think – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jan 23 '12 at 22:58
  • @DVK Not really, you've got to think on MSO scale. The top two answers were implemented, in some form; they had more than 10 times as many votes. – user56 Jan 23 '12 at 23:01
  • D'oh. I didn't realize your example was on page 2 - the top votes on THAT page were 14 :) – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jan 23 '12 at 23:04
  • However, neither you nor Dampe addressed the fact that 200 is poorly scaled fro SciFi specifically, on empiric level (we seem to have higher upvote counts across the board, give low size). I never even gotten close to THAT much rep loss on SO, despite spending MORE time on SO, putting in MORE effort (technical questions are harder), and at one point being answerer ranked #4 on [Perl] tag (and in top 300 ranks total) – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jan 23 '12 at 23:05
  • @DVK First, no badge is tweaked for a particular site. Second, plenty of people do regularly hit the rep cap on SO. Third, Scifi hasn't even had an Epic badge yet; I don't think it has more rep cap hits than comparable sites. – user56 Jan 23 '12 at 23:31
  • if you don't count Jon Skeet, how old was SO before the first Epic and first Legendary, I wonder? Not sure how to check that... Also, there's a difference between "hitting" the cap and overshooting it to the moon. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jan 23 '12 at 23:42
  • @DVK You can browse historical rep on the leagues. Someone getting more than 5k/month tends to hit the cap often; someone getting more than 7k/month exceeds the cap most days. – user56 Jan 24 '12 at 0:44
  • BTW, you phrased it in a way that makes me very unclear whether you oppose the idea of the badges yourself - not sure if that was deliberate attempt to be nice to me, or merely my parsing fail. If, say Jeff A. asked you tomorrow whether he should add the badge for SF&F or globally, would you be for or against the idea? – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jan 24 '12 at 1:54
  • I'm a bit confused as to how view "first year" in the leagues as opposed to "last year"... I'm trying to compare to SO when it grew up, not now when it's way mature. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jan 24 '12 at 1:55
  • @DVK I'm neither strongly for nor strongly against (which itself is an argument against). I like that the rep cap tells you to take a break. I like that this badge would encourage caring less for rep. I don't agree with your stipulation that SFF is special. – user56 Jan 24 '12 at 20:39
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If someone is doing well and hitting the rep cap, then they're providing content the community has decided is valuable. Cutting off rep at a cap and not allowing some kind of badge for exceeding it basically creates an incentive for people to contribute less of the content the community has stated (through votes) is valuable.

  • I don't know anyone else who runneth over the cap much, so I'll ask you. Would you be likely to post MORE or LESS good content long term (say, after 3 months) if such a badge existed? Both from "Will get Epic, and won't care about even reaching 200 anymore as a game; and will be discouraged from extra work" vs. "I don't care about rep, I will post 100% as much either way and won't be discouraged" angle; and "I definitely DO/DON'T save some good Qs/As for later, and will /not post them, thus spreading 100% identical content for bigger time period" angle. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jan 24 '12 at 2:02
  • I have lists of questions and I space them out, specifically to avoid the rep cap. My lists seem to stay about the same length, meaning I get new question ideas at about the rate I post what I have. If I did get a badge for going over from time to time, I'd be more likely to post some of the other questions I have instead of saving them up. And I'd be more likely, in some cases, to provide a solid answer than skipping a question with existing poor answers. – Tango Jan 24 '12 at 2:24

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