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For instance, my 500+ reputation would allow me to cast close and open votes on a number of Stackexchange sites. Here, it requires 3000. Why is that?

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Those sites are in beta and thus have relaxed rep requirements. ELU is graduated. Check out Math, another graduated site you're registered on — it, too, requires 3k rep to cast close and reopen votes.

For details, see the meta-Meta post "Reputation requirements compared", and the blog post "When Will My Site Graduate?".

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  • So that's why we have two directories? One for beta and one for "graduated?" What does it take to graduate?
    – Tom Au
    Commented Jul 21, 2011 at 22:17
  • See When Will My Site Graduate? I am adding this to the answer.
    – RegDwigнt
    Commented Jul 21, 2011 at 23:11

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