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ENGINEERING

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Best ways to gain Stack Overflow reputation

By creating the mini series about Stack Overflow I strived to convey a general understanding of its gamification formula and I believe it has been accomplished. With enough knowledge to successfully engage on SO it’s time to learn more about the points system. What are the possibilities to earn points? What does it mean to be a privileged user? How do you collect badges? The following post is an answer to all these questions. So enjoy the reading and keep testing to discover what works best for you.

How to score points?

Stack Overflow is all about helping other people to solve their problems, but for some contributors (including me ;) it’s also about collecting points. So how can you score points on SO?

The easiest way is by answering other people’s questions. For every accepted one (don’t forget about our golden rule to always accept an answer) you get 15 points. Subsequently they can be upvoted and downvoted by other users. For every upvote you get 10 points whereas for every downvote you lose 2 points. Bear in mind that the user who downvotes your answer also loses 1 point. Such system makes a perfect sense. Why? Your stand for your reputation therefore by downvoting the answer you trigger the process of questioning your reputation by other users. It leads users to think twice before they click downvote.

As a curiosity, here is the most upvoted answer on SO - the user mystical earned over 170k for answering one question. To find out more there’s a special site for SO data exploration.

Another way to earn points is by asking questions and accepting any given answer. For every question’s upvote you get 5 points, for downvote you lose 1. Surprisingly, if other users downvote your question they don’t lose their reputation. Why is that? To be honest, I’ve no idea. If your question is answered you earn 2 points for accepting the answer. Check out the most upvoted question on all of SO!

If you have less than 1000 points of reputation you get 2 points for every edited (and approved by moderators) post. Read about editing process to understand how it works and when it’s required.

You can also get extra points with bounties! Bounty is a sum of points that is gained based on the user’s reputation score. It’s used to attract greater attention to a question. If you answer correctly you get the bounty. What’s important is that no matter whether the bounty is granted or not the user who offered it will lose the points. I’ve won two bounties during my „stack career” and it gives great satisfaction! Some users give out bounties to drive more attention to a particular question.

Speaking of your reputation you can track its performance on dedicated profile tab and compare yourself to other users! A golden rule: never go below 1 with your score :)

Privileges

Earning points is not only about fun but also about becoming more privileged user. The more privileges you have the more things you can do without approval of more experienced users. I know that becoming more privileged user is not a goal itself for every user, but my goal surely is to get all the privileges (at least some). A good privilege to have is a possibility to comment everywhere. Why? It allows you to take part in discussions that often take place in the section below questions or answers. Users without privilege often contribute by adding a new answer, this is highly discouraged since SO is not a forum (as I’ve already written). Privileges are granted automatically when a certain reputation limit is passed.

Badges

Another way, after points and privileges, to gratify and encourage users to contribute on SO are badges! As SO describes: „badges are awarded for being especially helpful”. They are granted in five categories: questions, answers, moderation, participation and other. How can you earn your first badge? For instance, if you ask a question that gets a lot of views or upvotes. Below I have listed interesting badges you can earn (bear in mind that most badges are categorized by its ‘power’: bronze, silver and gold) - for a sake of simplicity I will focus only on gold ones:

  • Legendary - it’s probably the most desired badge, awarded to users who earn at least 200 points daily 150 times! Currently, there are only 193 users with the badge. First level of the badge (bronze) is called Mortarboard - granted to users who earn 200 points daily at least once.
  • Illuminator - for users who successfully edit and answer at least 500 questions. The edits and answers must happen within 12 hours of each other to the same question.
  • Socratic - is given to users who come up with highly ranked questions in the course of 100 days. This badge proves that you’re a conscious user who makes appropriate research before asking a question.
  • Unsung Hero - is given when you have at least 10 accepted answers (no upvote or downvote only accept) and when a sum of these is 25% of your total amount of scored answers. In other words even if your answer doesn’t get any upvote (only accept), it’s still seen as a great contribution to the SO community.
  • Fanatic - very easy to earn, 100 consecutive days on SO. It seems to be easy, but 100 days is a very long time. I got it, despite the holidays in between!
  • Great answer - granted if your answer receives 100 upvotes.
  • Reversal - when you reach 20 upvoted answers to a question that got downvoted 5 times. Very rarely awarded.
  • Electorate, Copy Editor, Marshall, Steward - these are badges, awarded for being an active user in order to make SO a better place overall. For instance, you report abuse, you keep improving answers or questions via edits and active voting. Among these badges, Steward is the hardest to earn. The badge is granted for 1000 reviews in a given category. In total we have 8 categories, for 6 of them we can do at least 20 reviews per day, for another 2 due to a long queue up to 40 reviews daily. Be careful and concentrated while doing reviews. SO often releases fake posts to check if reviews aren’t generated automatically.

Keep it up!

This is the end of our mini series about Stack Exchange sites and Stack Overflow in particular. Hope you have found all the pieces helpful and keep taking advantage of all the shared tips and tricks. Becoming an active user costs you a lot of time and contribution. However, believe me, it’s worth it and the effort will pay off eventually, depending on your expectations. So, keep it up and see you around on Stack Overflow :)

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MaciejSenior Software Engineer

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