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Is there a way to post answers without gaining reputation points but retaining the higher editing barrier (or "authorship" if that concept applies here) of an ordinary, non-community-wiki posting? I don't mean comments but full length answers, editable more than 5 minutes later.

Often it is desirable to answer a question but, as a matter of online ecology or personal preference, not participate (or even appear to participate) in the reputation system. The only way I have found to do this within the SE platform is to post an answer, gain $N$ reputation points, create a bounty of $N$ or more points for the question, and award it to others who have answered. This eliminates any unwanted points but is awkward for other reasons, such as pushing the discussion to the top of the board as a Featured Question and generally calling attention to the point transfer when the goal might be to promote a quieter, slower and non-competitive answer culture.

If there are other gain-free and CW-free methods available on the current SE platform I would like to know what they are. (Gain-free but not loss-immune is fine, such as an answering mode that is subject to downvotes in case of off-topic material.)

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    $\begingroup$ Have you tried something like adding a disclaimer to the beginning of the answer telling people not to vote on it? $\endgroup$ – Qiaochu Yuan Dec 13 '10 at 23:01
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    $\begingroup$ I wonder if the administrators would be willing to remove unwanted points by request. I'm guessing that it wouldn't come up often enough to be much of a bother. $\endgroup$ – Jonas Meyer Dec 14 '10 at 0:27
  • $\begingroup$ I am looking for something unobtrusive, mechanical and repeatable across dozens of posting. e.g., switching the reputation gain off entirely for long periods of time or for every second posting. For deleting points every once in a while, one could just play various games with bounty awards. $\endgroup$ – T.. Dec 14 '10 at 0:34
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I am pretty sure that the answer to your question is no: the system does not currently support the exact feature that you are asking for.

I sympathize with the desire not to want to ignore reputation by having to play reputation-giveaway games. It sounds like it would take some mindfulness to pull that off, and the unintended consequences of casting a spotlight where you don't really want it to shine and causing semi-random increases in others' reputation seem non-negligible.

Based on the available options, it seems to me that by far the easiest thing to do would just be to post CW answers along with a comment kindly asking people not to modify them. In my experience such requests are usually honored.

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    $\begingroup$ "post CW answers along with a comment kindly asking people not to modify them." - I've observed that there aren't that many CW answers that are modified anyway, with or without a request. (Barring formatting edits, that is.) $\endgroup$ – J. M. is a poor mathematician Dec 14 '10 at 2:26
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    $\begingroup$ Your answer reminds me of Feynman's contemplation to decline the Nobel prize due to aversion to publicity. Then deciding to accept it as not accepting would garner more attention. $\endgroup$ – Timothy Wagner Dec 14 '10 at 3:24
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    $\begingroup$ In MO there is a user that posts always very interesting answers under a silly name, always CW. (The name changes but one can see it is the same person when it happens.) $\endgroup$ – Andrés E. Caicedo Dec 14 '10 at 21:47
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If you do not do it too often, it wouldn't be too much of a bother to others if you set bounties. You can set a bounty on one of your old questions, quickly accept some answer and the bounty will be awarded soon(if I understand correctly); that way the bounty notification won't stay in the front page for too long.

But then there is the fact that some other people are getting the reputation and they will get a boost and continue stay in competition. The reputation stress will be just transferred to other people's lives.

One solution is to ask a question with a big bounty attached to it, and answer it from some cookie-based new account which you never use later. So your main account will be safe from the reputation rat race and some anonymous "reputation sink" account created just for this purpose will absorb all the unwanted reputation.

I am also curious whether bounty can be awarded multiple times on the same question.

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  • $\begingroup$ There was a Q&A earlier where several bounties were set, one of which was an answer-to-answer transfer of points and (I think) two from the OP. I like the idea of a reputation sink, especially if it had the form of a single "Karma" virtual user to which everyone could donate points (or entire answers) as a visible symbol of noncompetition, or a liquidity fund used to redistribute or invest reputation in other users, or just to slow down the reputation race and allow new users to catch up easier. $\endgroup$ – T.. Dec 13 '10 at 20:47
  • $\begingroup$ @T.. That is a nice idea. I saw a badge called "altruist"; its description seems to imply that one can set a bounty on other people's questions. So indeed it might be possible to create a "karma" user. Of course this would need a nod from the administrators; otherwise they might merge the account with somebody's account. $\endgroup$ – user1119 Dec 14 '10 at 10:45

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