I think we all agree on, that not all question pose equal difficulty to answer, and yet upvoting these and the answer(s) to these result in the same reputation gain. Also I have noticed that many "pop science" questions get far more votes and views than really hard and elaborate scientific questions. Also answers to these hard-science questions that are elaborate and well referenced and thus often long (that takes more effort and time to create) may get lower attention and less upvotes than, answers to "pop-science". This results in, that those who take time to answer difficult questions and put effort to do a real nice answer, do not get the same rep and thus acknowledgement, as those who write simple answers to simpler questions.

Therefore I was wondering if a difficulty based reputation system could be introduced, where users with high reputation can vote on the difficulty of the question and the reputation gained from upvotes of the question and the answer(s) provided would be adjusted by this. For eg.in a 1-5 level system

  • level 1: 6 rep / upvote to answers
  • level 2: 8 rep
  • level 3: 10 rep
  • level 4: 12 rep
  • level 5: 15 rep

also rep for the question could be adjusted similarly - rep gain equals the level of diff. so level 1 gains 1 rep level 5 gains 5 rep.

I think this would encourage users to: Ask more difficult (and scientifically higher quality) questions , and answer more difficult questions. This way the extra effort in producing answers required for elaborate questions could be honored by extra rep.

I think this would improve the quality of the site. I'd be interested in your opinions whether introduction of such feature would make sense, should or shouldn't it be introduced.

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    $\begingroup$ While this is reasonable, I believe that this cannot be implemented at the local SE level, but must be implemented as a global SE feature. Perhaps you can try Meta SE, where more of the devs hang out and are likely to approve/reject this feature request. $\endgroup$
    – March Ho
    Apr 26, 2015 at 9:24
  • $\begingroup$ Will do, yet I'd be happy to hear your opinions on this, before taking it to another level. $\endgroup$ Apr 26, 2015 at 9:29
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    $\begingroup$ why do people care about rating thing? $\endgroup$ May 14, 2015 at 12:20

1 Answer 1


This proposal will probably never make it far. Meta has post on how to earn rep and they changed the way downvoting works. If you want, you can skip to the last paragraph because I proposed a solution there, and if you time, you should read the whole post.

Here is an answer on meta to a similar but different idea. The question proposed that user with higher rep should get more points for their answers since it is perceived they are more knowledgable.

Voting should be done on the merit of the post, not the poster.

Consider, however, that those that have high reputation have more experience in writing posts and know what kind of post gains more reputation, and as such are more likely to write a post that will gain votes.

As for your assertion that high rep users have more knowledge - possibly, in certain areas. C# experts are not normally Objective-C experts as well. Cobol experts are not normally CSS experts as well.

Everyone will have questions in areas that they are newbies in.

I understand it can be frustrating answering a difficult question and receiving no reward for it whereas other questions garnered a lot of attention. For example, in this post, I spent months thinking about the solution and 6 hours tireless figuring out the substitutions in order to solve it and only received 4 up votes. In the same tag, this question which is very easy was up voted heavily as well as the answers.

Here is the crux of the matter. Many of the people asking questions tend to have the same question. How does photosynthesis work for example. Therefore, they will gravitate to those questions, up vote them and the answers even though the first biology book they find will probably have the answer. [3]

With this being the case, the system isn't broken. It is working as it should. Where the kink in the system is with experienced users. Experienced user tend to look at questions for edits to make, comments to suggest, and occasional vote on the answers. I don't vote much on answers myself so I know I am at fault as well for this. If we all followed the SE mantra vote early and often, harder questions and answer would receive their just deserts. It may not be in the form of a 100 up votes but those questions should receive 5+.

Trivial questions will simply always be more popular since more people take bio 101 compared to bio 501 or however your system numbers the courses. If we all voted on the merits of the post like the similar answer I linked, the hard poster's questions and answers would receive the attention they deserve.

Let's look back at paragraph [3]. Why do new users with simple questions up vote more? Well, we all upvote more in the early stages of being a member. We do this since we are excited and feel there will be reciprocity but then we begin to answer and don't see the same return in favor so our own upvoting pattern is changed due to this experience.

Solution-everyone reverts back to their week one self; that is, excitement to be here and vote as if they did then. This change in culture will slowly permeate and persist. You may be skeptical but TeX.SE works in this manner and never seen the change to voting. They even have a meta post that we shouldn't downvote a question after there has been one downvote since the OP will get the message and hopefully make the appropriate changes.

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    $\begingroup$ There's much truth in what you say. As for me, I usually spare my votes to really good questions / answers to honor only those who put effort in their work, yet if I'd check my voting history I'm sure I'd find example to the opposite. I hope the community heeds your words and spend plenty votes on post to honor everyone. $\endgroup$ Apr 26, 2015 at 15:34
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    $\begingroup$ @poka.nandor I imagine most people don't use there allotted 40 votes a day anyways. I have only done it a handful of times on his site but it has been occurring more recently since I started to vote more a few days ago. $\endgroup$
    – dustin
    Apr 26, 2015 at 18:48
  • $\begingroup$ If you see an old good post and have found it useful then leave a comment; this will bring it to the active queue and will receive some attention. It just so happened that I was checking out an old post of mine and made a small grammatical edit. It got +5 votes after that (both the question and the answer). $\endgroup$
    Apr 28, 2015 at 12:05
  • $\begingroup$ @WYSIWYG it was me. I have been on a voting spree since about a week. I made the conscientious decision to vote more often prior to this post. $\endgroup$
    – dustin
    Apr 28, 2015 at 13:58

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