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This morning I found my total rep increased by some four thousand points. I felt it must have been some sort of miscalculation but later I saw this blog post about rewarding the question askers.

Have these gifts to users anything to do with the ongoing situation on MSE?

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No. This change has been in the works since August (according to the date of the initial spec) and we'd been considering it for several months before that. Personally I've been hoping for this change for years. (And I'm not the only one.)

According to the first version of the communications plan, the change was planned for Oct. 29, but it was delayed until yesterday because of scheduling conflicts and vacations. (As a part of that plan, I notified the moderators of the change a few weeks ago to get their feedback on how to present the change to their communities.) In order to meet our quarterly targets, we needed to complete the project before the upcoming holidays. Since the prep work was ready, the sooner the change was made the better.

The main reason for the change was to correct what we believe was a mistake to change the reputation payout in the first place. That it also makes people feel better is something of a pleasant side-effect. Since people tend to be loss averse, we only considered changes that would let people gain reputation.

  • Is there any plan for some sort of release calendar for the kind of changes? that'd help a lot, even if it didn't state what would be released. – CptEric Nov 15 at 11:05
  • What happened to the SE philosophy of: "This is what we're thinking of doing, and these are the reasons why we are doing it. But before we went through, we wanted to know what you thought. Here are some ideas we have come up with”? – Mari-Lou A Nov 15 at 15:48
  • @user067531: It's certainly possible we'll adjust aspects of the reputation system in the future. It's more likely we'll adjust privilege levels than change the reputation payout again. But we certainly aren't going to rule it out. – Jon Ericson Nov 15 at 17:11
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    @CptEric: We'd like to have a public roadmap. In the past there was a good reason not to have one: we didn't reliably hit our own targets for product development. I think that reason is not so relevant anymore since the team is hitting deadlines on a regular basis. But I don't have anything solid to share right now. – Jon Ericson Nov 15 at 17:16
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    @Mari-LouA: I think we still do that, but only when it makes sense. For instance, if you are following Yaakov's work on post notices (or status banners as I call them), you'll see he's incorporating community feedback. This change however is different. It's not really fair to ask for feedback knowing full well we aren't going to change the decision. One of the reasons it hasn't been done before is we know it would be unpopular for many. I don't think y'all needed the drama of us fake-asking on meta. – Jon Ericson Nov 15 at 17:24
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    Woman here. If you read the rationale for the change , it is supposed to help women who, according to a poster on SE who leaked an SE internal letter, ask fewer questions than they give answers. I find this rationale disingenuous and, more, insulting. I was taught that if you find something hard, work harder, don't expect someone to hand you a gift. (And, given the ambiguity of many user names, how does SE even know?) As a terminal cynic on all things coming from SE mgmt, I think of the Duck Test , with Duck replaced by a word beginning with B and ending in e. Again, Woman here. – ab2 ReinstateMonicaNow Nov 17 at 19:51
  • @Mari-Lou A I am in awe of your ability to keep track of each strand in this tangled web. I wish I could find the post I read by an SE deep throat, but it must be gone by now. – ab2 ReinstateMonicaNow Nov 17 at 21:34
  • @JonEricson awesome, thanks! seems like the devs are making the scrum master happy. – CptEric Nov 18 at 7:37
  • @ab2ReinstateMonicaNow: The leaked post was my post to the moderators asking for help communicating the change. Yes, we did float the idea that it would help women because of an academic study. After discussing it with moderators, we reconsidered that rational. Our data team was concerned about the methodology and we decided not to reference it after all. Personally I'm curious if our site satisfaction survey will validate the results of the study, but that's not why I'm excited about this change. It was the right thing to do. – Jon Ericson Nov 19 at 13:26
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    @Jon Ericson Thanks for the explanation. You say about the change "It was the right thing to do." But this is nothing -- nothing -- compared to the other thing that SE can do that would be "the right thing to do". – ab2 ReinstateMonicaNow Nov 19 at 14:01
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No, the recent return to the original scheme of awarding ten points per upvote to question and answer alike wasn’t done in reaction to anything that recent.

I don’t know exact timelines, but based on communications from the community management team to network moderators, the company had been thinking about doing this for a good while now.

That means it was something being considered for longer than what’s been going on over on MSE just this autumn. I wouldn’t try to read any sort of cause-and-effect conspiracy into what prompted this return to the original values.

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    This isn’t true according to the “leaked” information. But I also think the information given to mods which was leaked was also a bit of a talking point, as this is. I think the real reason is not as philosophical as any of the reasons anyone has been given: SE simply needs more users to bolster its revenues and long term prospects (and thus the ability to raise capital or achieve a liquidity event) and gamification has proven valuable in achieving that. I wish they would just say that. – Dan Bron Nov 15 at 12:10
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    @DanBron - If you read Meta, you'll see that some people (e.g. Jon Ericson) have been hoping for this for years. There has been regret for the decision of reducing the value of questions for years, since the realization that good questions are incredibly valuable. There may be things being done in haste to try to decrease the fallout over the Monica situation, but this isn't one of them. I like truth too, and I like people owning up to what they did badly, but those things aren't going to happen any time soon, if ever. – anongoodnurse Nov 15 at 14:51
  • D'oh. I just saw Jon Ericson's answer. – anongoodnurse Nov 15 at 14:55
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I never appreciated the mantra of @Dan Bron: "Rep points are imaginary" until now. Until this change, especially the retroactive part, I took pleasure in seeing rep grow, like a healthy flowering plant. Now, it has become utterly meaningless -- a plastic flower. And the timing of the change feels, rightly or wrongly, clumsy.

To directly address the OP's question, there was, briefly, a leaked rationale for the change, which placed great emphasis on making questions easier for women to ask. As a woman, I find this rationale disingenuous and insulting.

  • Wait...what? Where was this leak (and the emphasis on women)? – Mitch Nov 17 at 21:33
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    @Mitch I wish I could find it again. It was posted by someone who used a different name for the purpose, and who said he expected his post to be deleted soon. The post said the change was to encourage women. Mari-Lou A remembers a detail about Qs vs As differently than I do. At the point about helping women, I saw red and posted a reply that got me suspended from Meta for 7 days. I suspect that whoever read my post thought I was insulting women, rather than being snarky about SE. So, for the record, Woman Here Who Does Not Need Help with the Complexities (snark) of SE. – ab2 ReinstateMonicaNow Nov 17 at 21:50
  • I have a copy of the leak, copied and pasted on a Word doc. It doesn't make sense, as your answer suggests, that the increase in rep is implemented to help women ask more questions. If studies showed that both men and women on SO asked the same percentage of questions, the change would have been pointless. Instead, a study suggested that, percentage wise, women developers asked more questions, and posted fewer answers than their male colleagues. The change was not only implemented to benefit these women contributors on SO etc. but that is how it was presented in the leak. – Mari-Lou A Nov 18 at 9:31
  • @Mari-LouA - assuming women did ask less questions than men, what was the rationale behind increasing Qs reps? That women asked less questions because of the lower payback of Qs vs As? – user067531 Nov 18 at 13:32
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    @user067531 OOPS! Correction. Change was meant to help women, true. But when I got that far, I flew off the handle and misread the next point. Women do post more questions than answer questions. See this But, despite what tchrist said above, I do think this change, made at this time, was intended as a pacifier. – ab2 ReinstateMonicaNow Nov 18 at 14:24
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    @Mitch See this – ab2 ReinstateMonicaNow Nov 18 at 14:27
  • @ab2ReinstateMonicaNow Nice find. Yes, the msg to moderators is very explicit that a large part of the motivation of the change is gender disparities. And I can't find any such language in the public explanation of the change. – Mitch Nov 18 at 15:06

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