Personally I dislike all the game-mechanics stuff (badges and reputation). I appreciate that others like it, but I would like there to be way to opt-out. Questions and answers would just then have the user-name with something to symbolize that this user has chosen not to participate in reputation or badges.

Furthermore I would like a facility to post anonymously (whilst retaining a user-account). I could track my questions asked and answered, but my q's and a's would be tagged "anonymous"

I think a question or answer should be able to stand for itself.

  • 3
    There's always usenet...
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Oct 5, 2011 at 21:01
  • Reputation system is a tool for stackexchange to control the hordes. s/e has put this sophisticated badge system which motivates community members to police one another, hence outcome is rigid control. Thanks to zealots who bought into this, s/e is not unlike to a police state. It is unlikely that community members will be given the ability to opt out of it. Because the voting/badge system is at the core of s/e's existence for the reasons given above.
    – code19
    Commented Oct 4, 2014 at 3:11
  • A certain lack of logic there: reputation comes only from other users, and so is a tool for the hordes to control Stack Exchange. Commented Oct 6, 2014 at 12:36
  • There should be an opt-out feature on the user's home page. I also think there should a config option to opt out of that question.
    – Mitch
    Commented Oct 6, 2014 at 18:11
  • 1
    Have you opted out of promotions at work? Commented Oct 7, 2014 at 21:13
  • 1
    The thing about a police state is that it's very hard to leave. Commented Oct 7, 2014 at 21:16
  • Surely policing one another is the very definition of democracy.
    – Chenmunka
    Commented Oct 10, 2014 at 12:37

6 Answers 6


I don't speak for The Powers That Be (for I am but a mere moderator), but I think they would tell you that the reputation system is not just for you, the holder of the reputation, but for the entire community—so that everyone who interacts with you can get a sense of who you are with respect to this community. The idea is that it is not just unrelated game mechanics overlaid onto the community but that reputation and badges are an explicit marker of what would otherwise be implicit or cloaked. It would unfair to the rest of the community (and generally an unwanted wedge dividing the community) to provide users with the ability to cloak their reputation.

  • Agree completely that rep is as much a community resource as an incentive to individuals. It's entirely a matter for OP himself if he wants to ignore the incentive element, but it represents information many of us would at least like the chance to take into account. He's not obliged to say where he lives or whether he's a native speaker, but personally I think that's common courtesy on a site like this - if it were up to me I'd make that mandatory as well! Random garbage names are just an instant turn-off to me. Commented Oct 30, 2011 at 16:49

Change your name to "Anonymous" and just ignore the little numbers. It's not mandatory to provide any personal information, and you're free to play or not play "the game" as you wish.

You can't opt out of being voted on or refuse to let the site associate your Q&A though*. That would open the door to abuse from trolls, spammers and other 'Net ne'er-do-wells.

*Actually, you can post completely anonymously by simply logging out and never logging back in again, clearing your browser cookies after each post or using your browser's private/incognito mode. But this will also keep you from associating your own posts, and keep you locked into a perpetual "new user" mode.


Click the button for "community wiki" on your posts and you won't accrue reputation points from them.

  • 1
    Yup. Done this myself recently. This is a good thing to do if you want to encourage others to edit/add things to your answer, as they are assured that their work won't just be going to add to your rep.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Oct 5, 2011 at 20:59

When you opt out of reputation, do you also want to opt out of the perks of reputation? Things like:

15 Vote up
15 Flag for moderator attention
50 Leave comments
100 Edit community wiki posts


You can also give away all your reputation in the form of bounties on questions.


My advice is simply to ignore the aspect of EL&U's game mechanics that you dislike. A number of users with high reputation scores at this site have observed that the scoring system favors short, trivial, clever answers over thoughtful, carefully researched answers—but unless you are focused on piling up reputation points, you're under no pressure to devote yourself to short, clever answers. In the long haul, your reputation score will accumulate regardless of how you approach asking and answering questions.

I agree that the prominent display of an answerer's reputation score interferes with a reader's effort to appraise answers purely on their own merits; but countering that drawback in objective fairness is the fact that some answerers have demonstrated sound judgment and substantial authority over a large number of previous answers. A person's overall reputation score must be taken with a grain of salt—there are a number of contributors to this site who currently have lower reputation scores than I do but who are vastly superior to me in knowledge and insight on the subject matter of EL&U. In some instances, the disparity reflects their relative newness to the site; in others, their less frequent visits. But a voter would be extremely foolish to prefer my answer to one of theirs simply on the basis of accrued reputation points.

Over an extended period, the point system does help distinguish useful questions and answers and useful contributors from untried or unhelpful ones. For that reason, I don't find its shortcomings too objectionable. And the features that I don't care to participate in (such as downvoting), I am free to abstain from.

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