First, I'd like to admit a conflict of interest since I have pitifully low reputation. Also, this may be a bit of duplicate of another post which questioned the democracy and fairness of the reputation system.

The current system rewards dedicated users rather than dedicated mathematicians. Thus, it is not an entirely accurate indication of mathematical ability. To be sure, ability plays a significant role in attaining high reputation. Yet there is the risk of members with high status acquiring the `halo effect', i.e. the highly ranked being perceived as more intelligent in some sense.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, members with low reputation may be taken less seriously though their answers may be helpful or insightful. This runs the risk of unwittingly committing the ad hominem fallacy, attacking low status members for their contributions.

The virtue of mathematics is that it frees us our identity: the arguments we construct are independent of our reputation, income, status, or character. The power of status has no power in mathematics. It liberates us from quotidian things, allowing us peer into a world greater than ourselves. This is where I find beauty in maths: it transcends the world around us.

This is why I question how effective a reputation system is for I enjoy sharing a community for mathematics, I'm from New Zealand where not may locals study maths. Thank you for your time, I appreciate any feedback or discussion.


Given the negative feedback I realize my post was a bit extreme so I apologize to anyone I offended. I'd still like to have an open minded discussion of how fair the reputation is though, I concede that it isn't entirely bad but I still think there's room for improvement. Again, I'm deeply sorry for anyone I hurt by this post, that wasn't my intention.

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    $\begingroup$ Perhaps you need to think about how effective it is to call others narcissists. $\endgroup$
    – Lord_Farin
    Commented Jun 26, 2015 at 15:02
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    $\begingroup$ Re: It exploits the human need for praise. Rather then exploit I would say uses it for a good purpose, You can find several posts about gamification here on meta, like here or here. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 26, 2015 at 15:25
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    $\begingroup$ As has been mentioned many times here, reputation is little correlated to anything (except perhaps FGITW and/or rep-farming skills). Ignore the meaningless numbers and you will find the site much more pleasant. Perhaps there is even a script that erases these meaningless numbers. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 26, 2015 at 16:07
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    $\begingroup$ All of us had low reputation at one time. You should not think of this as an intrinsic personal quality. It is a cumulative measure, however imperfect, of how the Community values your contributions. My perception is that altruism far outweighs narcissism in those who contribute here, but there will of course be some who view the reputation system as a game to be played for self-promotion. I hope you find an interpretation consonant with the enjoyment of learning math. $\endgroup$
    – hardmath
    Commented Jun 26, 2015 at 17:43
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    $\begingroup$ "is the reputation system ethical?" what does this even mean?? $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 26, 2015 at 20:09
  • $\begingroup$ Sorry guys, I don't want this post to become unfriendly, though I realize I sort of made it that way. Instead, why not share why you think the reputation system IS fair and how the community benefits from it? $\endgroup$
    – user238841
    Commented Jun 27, 2015 at 3:35
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    $\begingroup$ Don't worry about it , like real life many of the users here are just very mean .. But many are also awesome,nice and helpful $\endgroup$
    – Quality
    Commented Jun 27, 2015 at 9:21
  • $\begingroup$ +1 :Interesting point of view.... $\endgroup$
    – tc216
    Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 0:07

2 Answers 2


Upon deeper reflection, I realize my argument is fraught with fallacies:

  • Conflation of the subject of mathematics with Stackexchange itself.
  • Assumption that a primary goal of the site is to gain reputation (which is obviously ridiculous).
  • False dichotomy between 'predator' high rep members and 'prey' low rep members.
  • Assumption that dedicated users are not dedicated mathematicians.
  • Appeal to emotion by mentioning the beauty of maths.
  • Distortion of how significant the halo effect is within the site.

So the following quote summarizes my argument:

"If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit."

Maybe I should be a second rate attorney rather than a mathematician.

Peace, Alex


The points are useful to assign credentials to participate in community-moderation.

In slightly more detail, to effectively participate in community-moderation both some knowledge of the subject and some involvement in this community is needed. The points are a vague proxy for the combination of the two; it is very rough, but good enough for the purpose at hand.


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