MO is a nice Q&A network. Its niceness comes partly from the fact that it's funny, thanks to the existence of the reputation points. Normally, mature mathematicians shouldn't need a system with reputation points, but here the things work like that, it is a part of the rule of the game.

Now, I would like to focus the attention on the existence of many users who have received much more reputation points than they have given (through votes, accepted questions or bounties).
What does this mean ?
Does this mean that such a user is much more useful to the network than it is useful to him?
Or does this mean that such a user doesn't play the game ?

It seems there is something not normal here, and I ask myself how we can improve this aspect.
Anyway, this is not very important...

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    $\begingroup$ "I ask myself how we can improve this aspect." What exactly is problematic about the phenomenon you have noted, such that it calls for improvement? $\endgroup$
    – Ed Dean
    Commented Jul 14, 2014 at 17:49
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    $\begingroup$ "What does this mean ?" Mainly, I'd say that your balancing makes no sense. What if somebody cast a downvote? By your logic doing so takes away "usefulnes" both from the network and from the voter. $\endgroup$
    – user9072
    Commented Jul 14, 2014 at 18:01
  • $\begingroup$ What if I vote up each and every Community Wiki post, but no other upvotes, thus contributing absolutely $0$ reputation; or worse: I may downvote non-CW posts to contribute an overall negative reputation. But the dry statistics can't show you that. $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Commented Jul 14, 2014 at 19:13
  • $\begingroup$ I have shared my feelings about that, if (unlike me) you don't see anything problematic there or around there, it doesn't matter. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 14, 2014 at 19:43

2 Answers 2


Speaking on the level of feeling things: When I upvote something it is usually because I feel that I learned something useful from the post. So in this sense people who get more upvotes than the amount they give are teaching more than they learn.

So if you put it this way it doesn't sound problematic anymore! :-)

  • $\begingroup$ You're surely right to take this point of view. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 14, 2014 at 23:56

There are many different ways to contribute to the site (some restricted). From the top of my head in no particular order.

  1. Asking

  2. Answering

  3. Voting up/down

  4. Moderation tasks (flagging spam, voting to close/repopen, un/deleting)

  5. Editing

  6. Reviewing (edits, LQ, close, reopen, first posts)

  7. General support (via comments and meta)

Now, I do believe that if one participates in various aspects of the site one gets a better understanding of it as a whole.

But I also do not believe that anybody should be forced, pressured, or also only talked into doing some task they do not want to do.

I have some actual difficulty to follow why you think that specifically casting votes and receiving votes should be balanced. Or, at least the former should not be less than the latter.

Sure voting is important. But people vote in different ways.

I feel I do not vote much; in a relative sense at least, in an absolute sense it is not that little. And, sometimes I feel I should vote more. But, when I mainly browse the site I am often not logged in (so I do not vote), while when I am logged in I do not browse that much but do more specific tasks.

This is not unique. I recall somebody mentioning the mainly read the site via RSS feeds and thus do not vote much.

But then I am not sure what the precise problem is with me having cast only about 1300 votes rather than perhaps 2000, so that I'd at least "have given back my points."

To sum it up: I think there is some merit in contributing in several different ways to the site, but it should also not be an obligation. Yet, to focus on a balance between points given and points received seems the wrong focus to me.

  • $\begingroup$ Your answer sounds right. I've the following question: In what the site is useful to you? What's your interest? Are you completely selfless? $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 14, 2014 at 23:47
  • $\begingroup$ I hope my comment doesn't look rude or inappropriate. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 15, 2014 at 16:00
  • $\begingroup$ Don't worry. I just did not reply instantly as I saw the comment when short on time and then got sidetracked. Certainly I am not completely selfless. I have to think about how to articulate the specific usefulnes and interest. $\endgroup$
    – user9072
    Commented Jul 15, 2014 at 16:21
  • $\begingroup$ I know what are the main usefulness and interest of MO, but what I would like to understand is its usefulness and its interest for yourself. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 17, 2014 at 10:28
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    $\begingroup$ I don't wish to argue, but I'll say the bit "are you completely selfless" does sound a little impertinent to me. I can't figure out what the point of that question is. $\endgroup$
    – Todd Trimble Mod
    Commented Jul 17, 2014 at 13:43
  • $\begingroup$ @ToddTrimble: I'm sorry that this bit sounds impertinent. I would like just better understand the main interest of MO for himself (as he's not completely selfless). Anyway, I will not insist further. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 17, 2014 at 22:36
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    $\begingroup$ @SébastienPalcoux here is quick answer. One the one hand, I think it is not rare people do things without some direct conrete benefit for them, like: for fun, since it seems like a good thing to do, as distraction, and so on. Several described the reason they contribute to MO as "good" procrastination or something like this. I think this applies for not few including me to a considerable extent. But this might qualify as "selfless." So, what else. I learn things via contributing here. Obviously some maths, though I think I never really needed any I learned here so far, but one never knows. $\endgroup$
    – user9072
    Commented Jul 18, 2014 at 11:35
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    $\begingroup$ But also I practice some other skills. Like typing without errors. (Ah wait, no this one actually not so much. :-)) Yet I actually believe I practice some things that can be paraphrased as certain soft-skills. I would not say this is the reason I contribute here. It is more a justification for myself why once again I am strolling around here rather than to do more directly productive things. In brief: mainly I am here for fun, so pure hedonism, not at all selfless :-) (@SébastienPalcoux ) $\endgroup$
    – user9072
    Commented Jul 18, 2014 at 11:42

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