Every time I try to comment on this site; it says I need "50 reputation"; but as far as I can tell, you have to comment to get reputation.

Did everyone who is currently commenting sign up and comment before this was required? Or is there some other method for getting reputation?

As it is now, the site is virtually unusable, everything I try to do here requires reputation, but I can't get any because... getting reputation requires you to have some in the first place...

If there is something I'm missing about the situation, the site does not cater to new users and show any way around this barrier.

If you are going to require reputation to do things here; there should be a help button or something right next to the "you need rep" warning that explains how to get it. This is probably the 4th or 5th time I've stumbled on this site over the last year and I still can't find any way to do anything while I'm here, its very poorly explained and I can't imagine how many people give up on the site entirely after being frustrated by this.

edit: beyond frustrating... even trying to post this question has required several attempts. I can't create tags without 300 reputation but a tag is required? And again no explanation with the warning on how to get reputation. I'm not even sure I want an answer at this point, this site is just stupidly designed and frustrating as hell to even attempt using.

  • @phrenry My browser won't let me use Meta, and this may be the case with this user. I understand his frustration with respect to navigation; I still don't know why/how I manged to get a '-point' for questions I never commented on, nor answered.
    – Third News
    Commented Jun 27, 2014 at 22:17
  • 11
    Don't make comments. Answer a question or two. Pick some you can understand completely, and write a clear, short, answer. That's how you get reputation. Commented Jun 27, 2014 at 22:18
  • 9
    Commenting does not give you reputation. Asking (good) questions does, and giving (good) answers does. There's a link on all pages to a help page that explains everything you need to know. Commented Jun 27, 2014 at 22:19

3 Answers 3


there should be a help button or something right next to the "you need rep" warning

Oh, but there is one. And not only on the page with the warning, but indeed on every single page of the site, and not only when there is a warning, but indeed at all times ever. It's quite conveniently in the top bar to make it easy to find; it's a question mark and hovering over it gets a tooltip explaining it:

Help link

If you click on it, you get this handy dropdown (this image comes from a different site, but the options are the same everywhere, including on ELU):

Help link dropdown

In the dropdown, you can either take the quick Tour, to immediately get this:

Quick tour: reputation

or you can click on Help Center for any and all information you could possibly need, including this link:

What is reputation? How do I earn (and lose) it?

which takes you to this page:

What is reputation? How do I earn (and lose) it?

There is also a Help link at the bottom of every page. Just Ctrl+F for it.

If all of that is too complicated, you can simply google for "reputation stack exchange":

Google search results

Or you can specifically search ELU:

Google search results

It is not rocket surgery. Honest!

  • 3
    BTW, the quick tour is also the very first thing you are invited to take upon visiting the home page, before you so much as have created an account. It's the very first offer we make to every new visitor. We couldn't be more welcoming if we tried.
    – RegDwigнt
    Commented Jun 27, 2014 at 22:53
  • Can a new user earn rep straight away by having their suggested edits approved, or do you need at least some rep to start doing that? That's to say - can you in theory obtain significant reputation and associated privileges without ever actually asking or answering any questions? Commented Jun 28, 2014 at 21:10
  • 1
    @FumbleFingers It appears that rep from editing is capped at 1000, and subject to the +200/day cap too. In theory, Yes you can earn rep; but there are far easier ways in practice.
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Commented Jun 30, 2014 at 7:11
  • @Andrew: That doesn't answer my question. You need 2000 rep to actually edit posts. What I'm asking is "Can a new user (with only 1 rep point) suggest edits?" (and thereby start accumulating rep if those edits are subsequently approved, despite never having asked or answered any questions). Commented Jun 30, 2014 at 12:17
  • 1
    @FumbleFingers Sorry, I should have said Yes, but it appears...
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Commented Jun 30, 2014 at 12:24
  • @AndrewLeach Good update. Also, is the quote boxes necessary for the images?
    – NVZ Mod
    Commented Oct 23, 2017 at 12:26
  • @NVZ I made the smallest changes I could. The quote boxes do help set off the images from the background; I wasn't worried about retaining them.
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Commented Oct 24, 2017 at 10:06


Here is the "What is reputation?" page.


Did everyone who is currently commenting sign up and comment before this was required?

During the private beta of Stack Overflow, a lot of things required less reputation than they do today. But because of spam, the administrators introduced a reputation requirement.

Or is there some other method for getting reputation?

To get to 50 quickly, you can do one of two things, neither of which requires already having privileges at EL&U.

Answer questions that need no clarification

There are two types of questions on a Stack Exchange site: clear ones and unclear ones. Giving a complete answer to a clear question does not need reputation. Only adding a comment to help the asker fix an unclear question needs reputation. So until you have 50 reputation, skip the unclear questions and find clear questions that lack an answer. Each upvote on a useful answer adds 10 reputation. One thing that makes this slightly more difficult on more active Stack Exchange sites is the "fastest gun in the west" problem, as a clear question may already have a decent answer by the time you get to it.

Earn 200 reputation on a different Stack Exchange site

If you sign up for multiple Stack Exchange sites with the same credentials, Stack Exchange will link those accounts. Once one of your accounts reaches 200 reputation, your linked accounts will earn a one-time association bonus of 100 additional reputation points. A Stack Exchange site proposal on Area 51 cannot become a beta site until at least 100 committers have the association bonus. This ensures that at least some users of a new site understand how the Stack Exchange web application works (#1 #2) and can help the asker fix unclear questions, as any user with the association bonus has enough reputation to comment unless he spends too much reputation on bounties.

Other sites that may interest a new EL&U user include English Language Learners, Linguistics, Writers, and Worldbuilding.

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