Rentier, M-W:

a person who lives on income from property or securities.

Rentier, in the case of ELU (or any other SE) means being able to do what one wants (downvote, award bounties) from the income (upvotes) of old answers and questions.

We all get the occasional upvote from an old answer, and someone once mentioned that Barrie England is still accruing badges from old Qs and As. If one wanted to spend 1,000 rep a year in downvotes and bounties, one would need an income of 2 answer upvotes per week (on average) from old answers. Does anyone have an informed guesstimate of how much capital (rep) this would require?

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    I have 25k rep and I get maybe one random old answer upvote a month. Maybe. So much highe than 25k. – Dan Bron Sep 30 '17 at 20:45
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    I got 40 passive rep over the past 7 days, 90 or 130 (unclear) over the past 30 days, on EL&U. – Cerberus_Reinstate_Monica Sep 30 '17 at 22:01
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    @DanBron Tsk... false modesty. Not any longer, not after the yellow ax(e) question. You're nearing the 900 mark. – Mari-Lou A Oct 1 '17 at 9:12
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    @Mari-LouA That answer is an outlier, to be sure. To the best of my recollection, at the end of the viral “gold rush” of attention on that post, it had a score in the low 790s. As of this comment, its score sits at 812. So in the month or two since I posted it, I’ve collected ~20 upvotes, or ~200K, or “rent”. I could do more detailed analysis from my reputation history, but that’s ballpark correct. – Dan Bron Oct 1 '17 at 13:41
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    and not forgetting +14 upvotes in the month of August. No, no, no, you are a fully fledged rentier. You earned it :P – Mari-Lou A Oct 1 '17 at 13:46
  • @DanBron As per my guesstimates you are already there. You are above 25k. You can go on deleting, closing, commenting, bounty-ing and not bother to ask or answer questions for another 5 years. – NVZ Oct 1 '17 at 13:51
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    @ab2 it's clear it is not the rep of a single user that counts but the popularity of the question, and the number of visits it attracts. If that question has a high scoring answer the user will benefit. I find that answers at the top nearly always remain there, even when high-quality answers are posted at a much later date. And Barrie England's answers are very often on very popular, in terms of visits, questions. – Mari-Lou A Oct 1 '17 at 13:54
  • @NVZ Like you, I've never really bothered about rent. In fact, pertinent to your answer below, I once asked whether the site analytics feature was interesting enough to motivate me to earn 25K rep. I was told it wasn't, so it took me more than a year to earn the additional 5K rep to pass the threshold (side note: as I was told and you observed, site analytics is boring). Now all I do is janitorial work and waiting for the occasional interesting question. – Dan Bron Oct 1 '17 at 13:55
  • @DanBron I'm really not bothered about the rep, as you say, but I do have this unhealthy addiction with reviewing and deleting stuff. For that, I'll need another 1000 fake points. sigh. And since I don't really have much to provide ELU in terms of interesting questions or answers, I chose to look around and drift away to other sites where hitting new privileges sounds exciting again for some reason. – NVZ Oct 1 '17 at 14:03
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    @NVZ Yes, you personally and individually inspired me to search for other communities to actively participate in. So far I haven't found any that catch my interest. I lurk on a bunch of other stacks, but don't post much. – Dan Bron Oct 1 '17 at 14:04
  • @DanBron LOL. By "inspired" you mean I "spammed" you about joining some particular sites. I know. 😎 – NVZ Oct 1 '17 at 14:08
  • That's the first time I've heard 'rentier'. I'm sure there's a more frequent word that means the same. Landlord? Independently wealthy? Living off investments? – Mitch Oct 1 '17 at 15:40
  • @Mitch Rentier may be old-fashioned, but it is the word that means you live off your capital, entirely or principally. The IRS recognizes rentier (or at one time did recognize it) as an occupation. – ab2 Oct 2 '17 at 0:03
  • @DanBron See my answer! Research suggests that you make 1893 rep per year from votes on old posts (old = >60 days old) – Daniel Oct 10 '17 at 6:37

I am a good test case for this question. I was very active for the year following my joining - 470 answers between June 2011 and July 2012. For the last five years, I've only posted 45 additional answers, and haven't posted any since August last year. Questions too - out of my 133 questions, 128 of them happened during that first year. My last question is nearly three years old.

So my reputation gain over the last year reflects only votes on posts at least a couple months old, also keeping in mind that over ninety percent of my posts are over five years old.

On Oct 9, 2016 I had 42,677 reputation, and as of Oct 9, 2017 I have 44,844 reputation. That's somewhat over 2k, or just about exactly 5% per year. I have not been active, so this number has not been affected by bounties or my downvoting.

I'd say then that you want to have around 20K rep in order to idly fund 1K rep spending per year. Maybe 21K if you want to be sure to retain 20K privileges throughout the year.

Edit: OK, so curiosity is killing the cat. I knew there must be a SE data query that would reveal "passive" reputation in some meaningful way -- and sure enough, there is, now. Check it out. There's quite a significant margin of error between users. Hopefully it's pretty self-explanatory, but what we find is about exactly what my case seems to show. All users earn an average of over 1000 passive rep per year with the exception of two users, until you get below 21K rep total. The chart shows I average over 3K passive rep per year, but remember that is an average over all six years I've been here. Apparently, it slows down as my posts become enshrouded in the ever more distant past.

To address your own standing: you have averaged... wait for it... 999 annual rentier income. KaShazam!

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    +1, Fascinating, but I am puzzled by the factor between the second column and the third column. Is the second column the average number of passive upvotes per year? If so, 5 per year seems to be about right for me. But then, how does 5 passive upvotes per year become 999 annual rentier income? Passive upvotes are pretty rare for me. – ab2 Oct 10 '17 at 11:43
  • @ab2 the second column is your "annual percentage yield": What percentage of your current rep (first column) you will gain, on average, in a year. The third column equals (column 1 * column 2 / 100). According to the query, your 999 rentier income is 5% of your current rep (which is 20038, so it's right on), and therefore you actually get about 100 passive upvotes per year (assuming votes on answers only). – Hellion Oct 10 '17 at 15:25
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    +1 for a great answer @ Daniel! Now OP @ab2 got the full and proper answer deserved by her very interesting question. – English Student Oct 10 '17 at 16:46
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    What your rather amazing data query also seems to reveal @Daniel is that actual rentier oncome per year is related more to quality of posts than quantity: users who wrote many excellent questions and/ or answers are rightly getting the long-term cumulative benefit of late upvotes compared to users who wrote less excellent posts which were rewarded with immediate upvotes but not so many late (or 'passive') upvotes. – English Student Oct 10 '17 at 16:57
  • I accepted this answer, although I cannot believe that I have such a high number of passive upvotes! I started to check by hand, but life is too short. Thanks for doing the research. – ab2 Oct 12 '17 at 2:06
  • 1001. Wow, I had no idea mine was that high. – Monica Cellio Oct 18 '17 at 20:40

With due respect, I am already a member of the idle rich on ELU, and I have just over 4000 reputation points collected over a 4 month period from April to August 2017, after which I became one of les idles riché here. I just posted a bounty of 100 points on somebody's very old question that needs more attention and a definitive answer if that exists.

At your stated rate of expenditure of 1000 points per year for downvotes and bounties I can reach October 2021 without even earning too many points from late upvotes. So that should answer your question.

Of course my reputation score will go down by the same amount that I 'spend' but it should not matter in this situation, because online reputation = play money IMHO. Its best use is to post judicious bounties on our own or another user's question. I suppose many members would agree. Moreover, if I were even minimally active here for that long I ought to collect at least 1000 points over that 4 year period.

[I am not bothered if my reputation score dwindles below 3000 points because I am not interested in retaining the power to perform close-voting.]

Looking at high reputation users, I can't really see that even the 'extreme case' of losing 5000 rep (without earning any new rep) over 5 years at your stated rate of expenditure actually makes much of a difference to their 'real standing' in the community: if somebody goes down from 22500 to 17500 rep, that is still a high reputation member here! Of course each member must decide what site privileges they want to retain, and adjust their 'expenditure' accordingly.

If a member wants to spend 1000 points a year without losing any reputation score as a consequence, then they would need to have at least 100,000 (a hundred thousand) reputation points, methinks.

  • Do you mean 100, 000 or 1,000,000? – Araucaria - Not here any more. Oct 2 '17 at 22:57
  • OMG you think one would need 1 million points, @Araucaria? Please note 1,00,000 is the Indian notation for a hundred thousand which I unthinkingly used here. You write 100,000? I have edited to correct the notation. – English Student Oct 2 '17 at 23:03
  • 1,00,000 is Indian notation for one hundred thousand? Is this the only difference? Would you write 500 hundred million as 500,000,000? this is fascinating! – ab2 Oct 3 '17 at 0:13
  • @ab2 Indian numbering system is weird. There is no million or billion. There is lakhs, crores and multiples of those. – NVZ Oct 3 '17 at 2:58
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    One, ten, hundred, thousand, ten thousand, one lakh, ten lakh, one crore, ten crore, hundred crore, thousand crore etc @ab2. Key: one lakh = one hundred thousand; ten lakh = one million; one crore = ten million; ten crore = hundred million; 100 crore = a billion. The population of India is 1.32 billion but here we say 132 crore people! – English Student Oct 3 '17 at 4:55
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    Crore? So if an English native speaker wanted to purchase a house in India no one would understand "10 thousand" or "100 thousand"? That is interesting. And very worthy of a question on EL&U, but tagged Indian-English. – Mari-Lou A Oct 3 '17 at 9:12
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    10 thousand is well known but 100 thousand is usually not used; it's called 'a lakh.' Nowadays 'million' is widely understood to mean 'ten lakh' in India so we can derive 'ten million = a crore' and 'billion = 100 crore.' That keeps it simple @Mari-lou A, but I shall try to draft a suitable question under the tag 'Indian English.' – English Student Oct 3 '17 at 9:53
  • I'm looking forward to seeing it, it sounds terribly interesting. I had no idea IndEng had this number system. – Mari-Lou A Oct 3 '17 at 9:55
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    I suppose it comes from original words traditionally used in regional languages, @Mari-lou A. The British adopted these words 'lakh' and 'crore' into formal Indian English in colonial days. The currency 'rupee' is also such a word. There are many more such words that I shall try to recollect later. – English Student Oct 3 '17 at 10:03
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    I'm sure it will be slapped an "include your research".. lol en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_numbering_system – NVZ Oct 3 '17 at 12:16
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    [Cranky old member at ELU: Does India really have this numbering system? Why I should believe this? Let them show their research...] Excellent anticipation and great research work @NVZ! – English Student Oct 3 '17 at 13:57
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    @Mari-LouA Similarly, if you go to China, you’ll have to learn to multiply by 10,000 rather than 1,000 before you switch to a new base name. In English, starting from one and multiplying by 10, thousand is the last number in sequence that has a unique name. From there on, you start over, multiplying by 10 until you get to the next 1,000 and a new unique name. In Chinese, ten thousand (万 wàn) is the last to have a unique name, and so you multiply by 10,000 to get to the next one (亿 meaning 100,000,000). India has 132 crore people; China has 14.1 people. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Oct 5 '17 at 19:22

The maximum privileges is attained at 25k "site analytics", which, as per my experience on IPS, is useless to me.

I'd love to have and then retain the ability to actually "vote" to delete, and not just "recommend deletion". So, I figure I need to maintain a minimum of 20k fake points for that.

So, if I have to spend 1000 for downvotes and bounties per year, and stick around "deleting" stuff for another 5 years, just above 25k is the number I'll need now.

The occasional upvotes are not significant in my case.

For Barrie, since he has a whopping 2,720 answers posted, and that too, for almost all the significant questions ever asked on ELU, the rep gain from occasional upvotes is:


  • If you really like deleting, then you'll want to max out your daily delete-vote allotment at 30 delete-votes/day by earning 35K rep. If you're super into moderation, you'll want to max out your daily flag allotment per day at 100 by earning 180K rep (!), though it's probably easier to do it with 10 net helpful flags/day x 10 days. But 180K is the maximum rep that can change anything. – Dan Bron Oct 1 '17 at 13:26
  • @DanBron I currently have the highest human-flagged flags marked helpful on ELU and therefore the 100 flags a day. Delete votes - I do use them. But I'm limited to deleting questions, and questions don't get to be deleted by LQP queue, while answers can. :) – NVZ Oct 1 '17 at 13:41
  • How many helpful flags do you have? If this is an invasion of your privacy, feel free to refuse to answer. :) – ab2 Oct 2 '17 at 1:32
  • @ab2 it's public info, shown on my profile on main site. IIRC, around 3500+ :P – NVZ Oct 2 '17 at 2:18
  • Where did you get that statistic of you having the highest number of helpful flags? Is that visible on some page or did you write a code script? – Mari-Lou A Oct 3 '17 at 9:46
  • @Mari-LouA Out of the 34 users listed here, I and Michelle have the highest. Michelle is team Charcoal and has automatic flagging, while I otoh, flagged stuff myself. :) Things I dig up when I'm curious. english.stackexchange.com/help/badges/103/marshal – NVZ Oct 3 '17 at 11:57
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    Not sure what the downvotes here represent. Are my calculations wrong? Or is it the yuuuge ending line? :) – NVZ Oct 3 '17 at 12:07
  • The Marshall badge, only 34 users? That's a surprise. But deleted accounts wouldn't be included anymore, I guess. – Mari-Lou A Oct 3 '17 at 15:34
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    @Mari-LouA Don't know about deleted accounts. Regardless, I think, I'll still be the one with the most time spent (read wasted) on these things. LOL – NVZ Oct 3 '17 at 15:36

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