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There has been some previous discussion of the association bonus, c.f.

Can we please get rid of the association bonus for other SE users coming to MO?

I've just had to waste some time writing moderation messages to someone with no MathOverflow questions or answers; I wouldn't have had to if we didn't give the association bonus. I have seen no evidence that the association bonus has benefited MathOverflow.

Update (S.K., 04-Jun-2016): Meanwhile this query shows 6 users who have cast more than 500 votes, but have never posted anything on MO. The most active of these voters has cast so far 1367 votes.

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    $\begingroup$ Or, in a more constructive manner, maybe the association bonus should only be for beta sites... $\endgroup$ – François G. Dorais Sep 13 '13 at 0:57
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    $\begingroup$ Here is a list of users with no questions or answers, ranked according to the number of votes they've made. There's actually fewer than I expected. $\endgroup$ – Scott Morrison Sep 13 '13 at 1:21
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    $\begingroup$ See also meta.stackexchange.com/questions/183109/… $\endgroup$ – Scott Morrison Sep 13 '13 at 1:27
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    $\begingroup$ Maybe axe the +2 rep for suggested edits while you're at it. $\endgroup$ – Benjamin Steinberg Sep 13 '13 at 1:49
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    $\begingroup$ @BenjaminSteinberg: Why not make that a separate feature request? Piling it on to this one just increases the chances that neither happens! $\endgroup$ – François G. Dorais Sep 13 '13 at 1:58
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    $\begingroup$ A variant of Scott's query that omits users with no votes: data.stackexchange.com/mathoverflow/query/137127/… $\endgroup$ – François G. Dorais Sep 13 '13 at 3:51
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    $\begingroup$ Here is a list of users with no questions or answers,... In my opinion, having no questions or answers does not necessarily mean that the person is not qualified to vote. For example, one of the people in your list is Dave L. Renfro; many of MO users probably know him from sci.math. $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Sep 13 '13 at 5:28
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    $\begingroup$ Perhaps I would add that for many online communities I have seen recommendation to be a leecher (for a lack of better word) before starting contributing. It is often useful to hang around the site, know better the community standards and so on. Association bonus allows people active at other SE sites to start slowly, by posting occasional comments or voting. (I certainly understand arguments against the association bonus, but it also has some positives. I believe that some of them have been mentioned in previous discussions, I just wanted to add my 2 cents.) $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Sep 13 '13 at 5:35
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    $\begingroup$ Which powers that the association bonus grants are actually the problem? Some of the are pretty useful, but completely harmless like the ability to add images and unlimited links to posts. If the problem lies only with the voting, or with the commenting privilege, a more specific change might be better than removing the entire association bonus. (Another idea with some more consequences would be to ask SE to put the voting privilege at 102 rep or higher, though this would affect every user) $\endgroup$ – Mad Scientist Sep 13 '13 at 5:40
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    $\begingroup$ @MadScientist, I had in mind voting, commenting, and the ability to edit posts. I'm not sure why anyone who hasn't earned some reputation on MO should be able to do these things. $\endgroup$ – Scott Morrison Sep 13 '13 at 5:48
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    $\begingroup$ @ScottMorrison Editing is only suggested edits, and you don't even need the association bonus for that. And those edits have to be approved by the community. If bad edits are getting through, then the problem lies more with the reviewers that approve them. $\endgroup$ – Mad Scientist Sep 13 '13 at 5:51
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    $\begingroup$ @MadScientist, Ah, I hadn't realized that even completely new users can suggest edits. My mistake. $\endgroup$ – Scott Morrison Sep 13 '13 at 6:04
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    $\begingroup$ @MadScientist it is not completely correct there is only suggested edits; CW posts can be edited 100+, so just with association-bonus. However, this is a minor point as it does not seem to be the source of most problems we have, and I rather agree with the suggestion you put forward in general. $\endgroup$ – user9072 Sep 13 '13 at 9:22
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    $\begingroup$ @BenjaminSteinberg There are no requirements at all to submit suggested edits, you can check this by opening the site in your browser's incognito mode, selecting any question and click on the "improve this question" link. $\endgroup$ – Mad Scientist Sep 13 '13 at 13:03
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    $\begingroup$ @MartinSleziak Actually, this is presumably a side effect of migration since the other Dave L Renfro does have 9 answers and hasn't been seen since migration day. $\endgroup$ – François G. Dorais Sep 13 '13 at 19:52
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I am more familiar with MSE and I do not know what exactly were the moderators messages about. But if they were about some comments, that users were only able to post due to rep from association bonus, isn't there a danger that removing the bonus would make situation worse for mods? (As far as the comments are concerned.)

I would imagine that many newbie users would post comments as answers, if they didn't have sufficient rep. Which would caused plenty of "not an answer" flags and mods would have to act on them, in most cases by converting answer to a comment. (I have certainly seen many comments posted as answers on MSE, people more active at MO could be able to say whether such thing happens here a lot.)

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    $\begingroup$ Users that receive the association bonus should know better than to post comments as answers. That is not always the case, but bad comments have the additional problem of low visibility to mods and the community, they don't bump and can remain undetected for long unless they are flagged. $\endgroup$ – Mad Scientist Sep 13 '13 at 5:44
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    $\begingroup$ Good point. Maybe if the OP clarifies what exactly is the problem he experienced now, my post will become totally irrelevant for this post and I can delete it. (You asked for clarification in your comment Which powers that the association bonus grants are actually the problem?, too. $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Sep 13 '13 at 5:47
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    $\begingroup$ BTW this discussion suggests that posting answer instead of comment is the correct way to go for users with insufficient rep. (Although no links to official guidelines are given there to support those claims.) $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Sep 13 '13 at 6:37
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    $\begingroup$ re comment via answer: this indirectly came up here meta.mathoverflow.net/questions/638/… For this site François G. Dorais comment there could be considered as 'official documentation' that this is the way to proceed if the comment is important. $\endgroup$ – user9072 Sep 13 '13 at 9:16
  • $\begingroup$ I agree mainly. $\endgroup$ – mick Sep 28 '15 at 0:37

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