I think we normally consider a user's reputation to be a fairly faithful representation of a user's value for this site. But it isn't enough. Valuable users of this site post good questions and answers, but they also vote, and edit, and use the review queues.

I've realised this is a problem because I keep seeing high-rep users post answers on questions which are clearly off-topic instead of closing them. When I check their profiles I see lots of posts, but little to no contribution to this site's self-moderation.

So I have made a data query to highlight the users of this site with the highest reputation who haven't achieved the Civic Duty badge (which only takes 300 votes). The query shows user names, number of votes, number of edits, and the last time they visited. I would've added the number of reviews they've made, but I couldn't figure out how. (It may not be possible given the data available.) But you can click on their user names to check yourself.


A user with 26215 rep, 542 answers but only 148 votes, 17 edits and just 9 reviews is contributing both to the health of the site and its disrepair. These users do not deserve access to the moderator tools.

(Note that there will be some users who are on this list but aren't problem users. Write a couple of really popular answers and you could get a huge rep boost, but otherwise your actual site use is appropriately constructive for someone with your general level of site participation.)

So that's the problem. What solutions are there? I'm not sure.

Posting good answers is still good. Voting must still remain private. Review queues are not essential to contribute to the site's self-moderation (you can flag and vtc as you come across bad posts normally.)

The one thing I can think of is what prompted this whole thing: making a bigger fuss of established users who answer blatantly off-topic questions. If you join me in this, what is the best way to make such a fuss? Comment? Flag? Downvote?

  • I think these behaviours would also correlate with a low Meta participation ranking, but again couldn't put that in the query. Commented Jun 2, 2015 at 6:55
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    I think that any user may contribute according to what they think may be helpful to this site, but no real fault can be found for below average or a low participation in the non-Q&A activities of this site, (btw I'd like to point out that a high participation in not necessarily an helpful one). I think it is more a question of quality rather than quantity, but still it really depends on what users think and what they want or expect from this site.
    – user66974
    Commented Jun 2, 2015 at 9:55
  • @Josh61 But voting is a core part of the site. Commented Jun 2, 2015 at 11:58
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    Name and shame seems a bit strong for something fairly subjective...maybe those people don't have strong enough feelings good or bad about a lot of the questions and answers, not enough to vote. Then your last paragraph says your actual motivation, people who answer off-topic (or likely to be closed) questions, which again is subjective. At least the latter you can just comment and ask why they had that opinion (and they can respond with their opinion and ask for yours).
    – Mitch
    Commented Jun 2, 2015 at 17:30
  • So by the voting on this, it seems the community would prefer that we put no pressure on anyone to vote or edit. No wonder this site community has issues. Commented Jun 5, 2015 at 22:55
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    @curiousdannii Maybe it would best to focus on the issues then, rather than the people? You're prescribing a medication but haven't told us what the illness is yet. You could start another question, identifying and substantiating the existence of problems, and then solicit suggestions (as answers) for how to address those issues. You could then make a case (in a self-answer) that pressuring high-rep users into voting etc would mitigate the problems, with a link back to this question (which may then get a different kind of voting pattern).
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Jun 8, 2015 at 10:37
  • @DanBron Low voting, editing and reviewing already are issues. But until I put this database query together I didn't know how widespread it was that they were a package of issues. For some reason this site attracts lots of people who want to do nothing but post answers and earn rep points, and show little respect for site standards and the need for self-moderation. Commented Jun 8, 2015 at 10:54
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    @curiousdannii Moderation, editing, and voting are means, not ends. They're tools supplied to solve problems. What problems do you think are acute enough to literally shame people into using these tools to solve? And while you're thinking about that, consider that the ultimate ends of this site, its highest aims, are to attract high-quality questions and answers. These other tools are provided to address issues peripheral to that ultimate goal, the real life fuzz that gets in the way. These high-rep users are contributing directly to that ultimate aim: good question and great answers.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Jun 8, 2015 at 10:55
  • @DanBron I don't know what the goals of this site are, but I know what high quality questions and answers are. But it is exasperating to see people who should know better constantly answering unresearched off-topic questions. (Which is what prompted this.) It is bewildering to see people who obviously spend so much time on this site, and yet never vote up (or down) all the questions they must see so much time looking at. We can't ban selfishness, but we might as well try to guilt people into sharing the votes around. (And sometimes their answers are sub-par too. Some really are just after rep) Commented Jun 8, 2015 at 11:01
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    @curiousdannii Good, we're making progress now! Ok, so one issue you see as acute and worthy of addressing is people answering off-topic questions. That bugs me too. Maybe you want to ask a separate question on how to address that problem, specifically? You could self-answer saying one way is encourage more people to vote (with a link back to this question). I really don't think you're going to get much traction trying to get people to shame others without some very strong motivating force. No one likes to be shamed, and no one likes to shame. Shaming is a last resort: show us that we need it.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Jun 8, 2015 at 11:02
  • @DanBron But thanks for your advice. I probably will try different ways to approach the problem I see here. My other Meta posts have been better received... Commented Jun 8, 2015 at 11:05

3 Answers 3


Voting can be a charged issue. It can hurt feelings. Some people opt to stay above the fray. Some people simply aren't comfortable making judgement calls.

The community is made up of all types. Some comment frequently, others not so much. Some are more confrontational, others are more encouraging. Some vote harshly, others more gently; some vote infrequently, others are trigger-happy. Some make edits, others work the edit queues. Some frequent chat, others don't. Some are here mostly to learn.

I'm glad the community isn't made up of a thousand clones.

If these folks were running for moderator, you might have a case here. Perhaps their lack of voting should make people think twice. But I think you've got too far by picking a few arbitrary ways to contribute, and discounting the rest.

A user with 26215 rep, 542 answers but only 148 votes, 17 edits and just 9 reviews is contributing both to the health of the site and its disrepair. These users do not deserve access to the moderator tools.

That user has earned 59 Nice Answer badges out of 542 answers given – meaning more than 10% of those answers received a good number of upvotes. Very few users rack up Nice Answer badges at that rate. When I see that, I can't help but assume that user puts a lot of care into their work and contributes with exemplary answers. I can't agree that such a user is "contributing" to the "disrepair" of the site.

As for access to moderator tools, no system is perfect. Contribute often enough, and you'll garner enough rep to earn new privileges. That's the way the system works. These folks have earned their privileges, and I think it would be a mistake to revoke some of them simply because they happen to exercise those rights sparingly.

As for "making a bigger fuss of established users who answer blatantly off-topic questions," if the system works as designed, those questions should eventually get closed anyway. Someone might leave a helpful answer first, but I don't see how that necessarily leads to the dilapidation of the site.

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    It's so nice to see common sense combined with facts. +1. I looked at maybe the top 100 people on the generated list and found more than a few that I consider quite helpful to me (and therefore the entire site, of course!) There are many ways to contribute to the site. Trying to force everyone into the same mold isn't one of them. Commented Sep 13, 2015 at 0:35

I hang my head as one of the named and shamed. Admittedly, I hadn't realized that amassing a certain number of points also meant that I had amassed a certain number of duties. I don't remember signing up for that.

I have a limited amount of time to spend on this site (usually weekend mornings and school holidays such as today), and I prefer to use most of it writing answers.

But I do promise to cast more votes, starting with a downvote for the OP. Firstly for the implication that there is something shameful about failing to review or edit, and secondly for conflating several issues in one post.

  • Sure, just as long as you never answer blatantly off-topic questions. Because not every contribution of answers helps the site. Commented Jun 5, 2015 at 9:53
  • @curiousdannii, I absolutely agree - this is one of the separate issues I was referring to, as well as writing the answer in a comment, which our most renowned contributor frequently does. But I don't believe I commit either of these sins.
    – Shoe
    Commented Jun 5, 2015 at 10:15

John Lawler, for example, has a much lower ratio of votes cast relative to reputation earned than most high-rep users. But he's undoubtedly one of the most valued and knowledgeable users here.

And Yoichi Oishi is also a relatively restrained voter, but he's so popular that we've chosen him to be one of our site mods.

TL;DR: There are many ways to "support" the site. Voting is just one of them. I see no reason to hound people for voting less often than "average".

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    John blatantly doesn't want to follow the site conventions, preferring to comment rather than post answers. But the far bigger issue than voting is contributing to the self moderation of the site. John is a frequent editor and has reviewed hundreds of times. He helps when its needed. That's the problem with so many people on the list - they don't. Commented Jun 2, 2015 at 23:58
  • Your TL;DR is almost longer than the text itself. ^_^
    – Robusto
    Commented Jun 5, 2015 at 14:02
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    @Robusto: Actually, that was the part I wrote first. Then I decided to give a few examples of users who primarily support the site in ways other than casting votes. But I stopped at two because I started to feel almost as uneasy about "Name and defend" as I do about "Name and shame" on a site like this (which I didn't much like when Yoichi was taken to task on meta a while back). What the hell - I reckon by now this comment is probably longer that the total verbiage in the answer box. (Which just goes to show big packages don't always contain great things! :) Commented Jun 5, 2015 at 15:57

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