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Not a very edifying or dignified question, but I'm curious: do they spend every waking hour on ELU, painstakingly earning 10 points here and 15 points there? Or do they just strike lucky with an answer which brings them thousands of points?

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  • I feel the same combination of awe and despair that I felt as a conker-playing 11 year-old, when my "fiver" faced a "seventy-niner". – Irefuteitthus Jan 7 '15 at 14:00
  • Some very high-rep users (Barrie England, Robusto, RegDwight, tchrist, etc.) get to that position by posting high-quality answers, but I probably did it by being around for a long time and posting a lot of "okay" answers. If anyone knows how to get the relevant info out of a data query here, I think it's pretty certain my "average score per answer" will be lower than any of the users I've specifically mentioned. – FumbleFingers Jan 8 '15 at 14:51
  • I think that this formula yields the average number of upvotes you've earned per answer: [Your total current reputation score + Total special bonus awards you've awarded to others + (2 × Total number of downvotes you've issued to others) + (2 × Total number of downvotes you've received) – Total special bonus awards you've received – (15 × Total number of accepted answer bonuses you've received) - (5 × Total number of upvotes you've received for questions asked) - (2 × Total number of accepted answer bonuses you've awarded to others)] ÷ Total number of questions you've answered. – Sven Yargs Jan 9 '15 at 3:29
  • @SvenYargs ... +1500 for any SWR question answered using a thesaurus. – Mitch May 6 '16 at 20:19
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Very few high reputations at EL&U are built on what amount to slot-machine jackpots. Indeed, the 200-point daily limit for reputation is designed to prevent someone from gaining many hundreds of points from a single answer in a brief period of time. A timely, well-received answer may pile up 40 or 50 upvotes in a day, but only the first 20 of those votes (assuming that the answerer hasn't received any other votes that day) will contribute toward the answerer's overall reputation.

It's true that certain questions—specifically, single-word requests—draw lots of viewers and hence lots of upvotes for a good (or obvious but early) answer. So I suppose that you could specialize in single-word request answers and—if you were good at them—rack up points pretty quickly. But most answerers here simply focus on the questions that interest them for one reason or another, and let the points fall where they may. Eventually the sheer volume of answers that a person submits will translate into a fairly large number of points, even if (as in my case) the answerer's upvotes-to-answers ratio is quite low.

As for spending every waking hour on EL&U, there certainly is something intoxicating about researching and answering questions here and then seeing the slow drip, drip, drip of upvotes accumulate. But I can stop any time I want (famous last words).

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    There is also a feedback effect I have observed. High-rep users post many solid answers that are often unappreciated at the time (and often really good questions). As their rep accumulates, their old answers acquire new cachet and hence additional votes. – andy256 Jan 8 '15 at 0:05
  • @andy: Absolutely. I still believe my question What exactly is an “adverb”? would have been summarily closed as General Reference if it hadn't been for the "cachet/credibility" of my rep. – FumbleFingers Jan 8 '15 at 15:51

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