Why does ‘association bonus’ exist?

I was surprised this morning seeing that my account had just exceeded 200 reputation and was awarded +100! Apparently this is the so-called ‘association bonus’, which also caused my reputation in Ask Ubuntu to be catapulted to 101 (from 1!)

I can't say I wasn't flattered, but why did Stack Exchange do such a thing? I mean, I can understand that my contribution to Maths S.E. should be respected by Ask Ubuntu (hence the bonus), but I haven't really done anything important in Ask Ubuntu to be respected, and rewarded, here.

Should the community think again that kind of bonus (which automatically rewards some users for having an extra account which they don't really use)?

• Before you rush to declare this a dublicate, I'm asking about how fair association bonus is. – Pythagoricus Jan 18 '17 at 13:31
• You probably found some other post about this on this site. (Since you mention possibility of closing as a duplicate.) You might also be interested in posts on the main meta: Why do we get rep points on associating our accounts? or What is the association bonus?. – Martin Sleziak Jan 18 '17 at 14:33
• It does seem counter-intuitive that when you got the association bonus at Ask Ubuntu because you'd earned $\ge 200$ reputation on Math.SE, you also got the association bonus on Math.SE. But congratulations on this milestone, and now you'll "start" at $101$ reputation on any additional StackExchange sites you join (with the same account). – hardmath Jan 19 '17 at 14:23
• Based on the other answers, the idea seems to be that 100 free points is enough to get around the inconveniences placed on new users (e.g. not being able to comment), but not really enough to make a big deal out of. – Omnomnomnom Jan 25 '17 at 15:23
• @Omnomnomnom That's how most people here seem to think. Well... I hate challenging every answer they give me in this post, but what if we awarded a bonus only to those accounts that have reputation < 100 such that they reach exactly 100 (so we give them 100 minus their current reputation)? To be even more fair, we should do this if-and-only-if the current total reputation in S.E. exeeded 200 (so there is no incentive to focus only on that site where you have the most reputation to get the bonus, as some people fear). – Pythagoricus Jan 25 '17 at 15:52
• @Pythagoricus I agree that this too would be basically fair. I now also see that in a less active community like Ask Ubuntu, 100 points is a much bigger dent than it would be otherwise and therefore is worth taking seriously. – Omnomnomnom Jan 25 '17 at 15:58

The point is that reputation is equivalent with privileges. If you have "enough" on one site, this means that you are familiar with some basic norms as to when to upvote, flag, comment or otherwise use the functionality of the site.

The SE network has a clear interest in keeping you inside the network. So letting you access some of the basic features of other website, if you have shown some level of familiarity with them on other sites, is something good.

• Right! But my question focuses more on why I got +100 in Maths S.E. It is important for the people in Ask Ubuntu that I contribute to another S.E. project, but for Maths S.E. there is nothing I've done somewhere else (it rewarded me just because I happened to have an inactive account in Ask Ubuntu). – Pythagoricus Jan 18 '17 at 14:40
• Well, this is an incentive not to be as inactive anymore! – Asaf Karagila Jan 18 '17 at 15:16
• Two for the price of one! Rush people!!! – Pythagoricus Jan 18 '17 at 15:21
• @Pythagoricus You get it on all sites otherwise there'd be an incentive to earn the bonus elsewhere so that you'd get the reputation bonus on your ‘favourite’ profile. – grg Jan 18 '17 at 17:54
• @grgarside I'm not sure what you are up to... Perhaps giving an example scenario would help. There is still though an incentive to have an inactive account on another site than the one you are essentially contributing to; isn't that worse? – Pythagoricus Jan 19 '17 at 9:22
• @Pythagoricus An example scenario: I'm most active on a specific site, and I wish for the most reputation I can on that site. If you didn't earn the association bonus on all sites, it would be an incentive for me to first earn enough reputation on a different site, such that the bonus would be delivered to my most active site. This would discourage participation on your favourite site until you earn the bonus from participating elsewhere, which isn't right. With regard to your last statement, there is no incentive to have an inactive account since you earn the bonus even with only one profile. – grg Jan 19 '17 at 9:33
• @grgarside Oh! Well, the last sentence seems to solve my question! You're saying that even if I didn't have an Ask Ubuntu account, I would still get an ‘association bonus’ +100 for my Maths S.E. account. That's of course fair! Did I understand correctly? – Pythagoricus Jan 19 '17 at 9:41
• @Pythagoricus: No, you only get the bonus if you have another account. It's the way SE incentivizes you to be a member on multiple sites. – Asaf Karagila Jan 19 '17 at 9:42

As people have mentioned, the reason you get the bonus on the site you earned +200 rep on is so that you're incentive is to earn eh 200+ rep on that site and not another one. Another common reason I see for this is that if you earned 200+ rep on one site, and on a another you have say 150, and you earn the association bonus, suddenly you're account with 150 rep would be higher than the one where you earned 200, and that's not fair at all.

• That's where the... maths comes in! Assuming we all like this ‘association bonus’ thing, why not having an algorithm that decides which accounts are to get it and which are not based on the reputation they already have. It doesn't have to be something difficult, a lower limit to the reputation for an account to be eligible might be sufficient. Anyway, I see that nobody really worries about that; I'll conform with the rest... I haven't yet succeded in changing the rules of Monopoly, here I have no chance at all! – Pythagoricus Jan 20 '17 at 23:24