We know that all high reputation users will always get a few points from questions and answers posted long ago. But what I've noticed is that there's a user who hasn't posted anything during the past two years, according to his activity record, and still gets regular increases in his reputation in addition to keeping his all-time rank unchanged. What am I missing here?

EDIT - After reading the explanations given by two users, I don't have any doubts anymore. As I explained in the comments, I thought "passive income" (for lack of a better term) wouldn't be enough to keep one's rank position unchanged for two years. I therefore wondered whether the "powers-that-be" considered that particular user's contribution so valuable as to deserve being honored #1 for life. Now I realize that it's the whole community who has been doing this well-deserved act by upvoting old answers.

  • 2
    You appear to refer to a voting anomaly. Very old posts don't receive votes a on a regular basis as you are suggesting. You might bring up the issue directly with mods so they can check if there are irregularities.
    – user66974
    Aug 28, 2016 at 16:54
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    If Jon Skeet stopped posting today, someone did the math and he'd likely still be #1 for at least 3 years, based on passive income alone. Same thing for high-ranking members of other stacks.
    – Dan Bron
    Aug 28, 2016 at 17:06
  • @Josh61 I really found it strange that a user should get so many votes regularly despite being absent for two years. However, other members and one mod who has answered this question say it's all "passive income". To be honest, I thought it might be some sort of award offered by the site to someone who was once a great contributor.
    – Centaurus
    Aug 28, 2016 at 17:36
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    Why doesn't your first sentence explain everything? What is your evidence that this one person is exceptionable? Is it the pattern of upvotes? The amount? Surely you can do more research. Do you think this person is abusing the system? Then you should flag the mods.
    – Mitch
    Aug 28, 2016 at 20:53
  • @Mitch I have no evidence whatsoever. I just found it strange that this user hasn't produced any posts since 1914(according to his activity record), and still keeps an excellent all-time rank position.No, I didn't think the user has been abusing the system. As I've already explained, I thought it was an award given by the powers-that-be to someone who was once a great contributor. Tchrist and especially Dan Bron say it is passive income.As an example, there is a citation that if Jon Skeet(800 K reputation at another SE site)stopped posting today, he would still be #1 for at least 3years.
    – Centaurus
    Aug 28, 2016 at 21:53
  • 1
    @Centaurus 1914? WWI injury. You must by now realize that one can get rep from a question or answer upvote whether one is visiting the site at the time or not. And this logically implies that one does not have to spend time on the site, commenting or questioning or answering to have upvotes. And this implies that there has to be an additional mechanism to prevent getting rep if one hasn't visited for a while. And that would seem pretty weird.
    – Mitch
    Aug 28, 2016 at 21:58
  • So really there's no such thing as passive income because there's no such thing as active income; you get rep on past questions and answers, not on how often you currently do things. You mention 'award'. Does that imply that you see a very regular recurring rep increase? That sounds like a bot! You should flag that now for investigation. When SE rep gets converted to bitcoin, this will be scandalous.
    – Mitch
    Aug 28, 2016 at 22:01
  • @Mitch Sorry, Mitch, my mistake (2014). If after all I have written nobody knows who I'm talking about, it seems that I'm the only one who found it strange. In this case I take it for granted I was wrong and I have accepted the explanations offered here.
    – Centaurus
    Aug 28, 2016 at 22:10
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    If you're talking about Barrie England, the sheer number of answers (2,727), their quality, and the fact that they often address the basics means he will pop up in a search and get upvotes if his answer helped that searcher. I think it's a testament to the quality of his contributions here, and wish he were still answering questions. Aug 29, 2016 at 12:34
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    @medica I have already been convinced of the "passive income" phenomenon. In this particular case the contributions from this user were so many and of such great caliber that he keeps his rank position even though he has been absent for almost two years and a half. Just for the record, I never thought there might have been any fraud. Ever. What I imagined was that he had been such a great contributor, SE decided to award him #1 all-time contributor.
    – Centaurus
    Aug 29, 2016 at 13:54
  • @DanBron 's statement that "if Jon Skeet (800K reputation at another SE site) stopped posting today, he would still be #1 for at least 3 years." settles the issue.
    – Centaurus
    Aug 29, 2016 at 14:09
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    @Centaurus Turns out I was misremembering (or, rather, was remembering the wrong answer): this answer on Meta calculates that if Jon Skeet stopped posting, it would take eleven years for #2 to surpass him (also the answer I was remembering said 2 years, not 3 years, but the accepted answer takes a more data-driven and empirical approach). Now, that's an outlier, but it illustrates the mechanism at play here with our own high-rep users.
    – Dan Bron
    Aug 29, 2016 at 14:33
  • @DanBron I see, the figures are different but the mechanism is the same.
    – Centaurus
    Aug 29, 2016 at 14:50
  • @Bluewoman I have edited.
    – Centaurus
    Aug 30, 2016 at 16:50
  • By this definition, all upvoting is 'passive income'. I could accept that. Sep 9, 2016 at 13:57

2 Answers 2


That's because it doesn't matter how long ago that user's last post was. If people are voting on that user's old posts, then the post owner will still incur the reputation changes resulting from those votes.

  • 2
    This explanation - passive income as @Dan Bron named it - occurred to me but I thought it would never be enough to keep a user's reputation soaring. Thanks for answering.
    – Centaurus
    Aug 28, 2016 at 17:41
  • 1
    Should a proper noun such as tchrist be capitalized if it's the first word in a sentence?
    – Centaurus
    Aug 28, 2016 at 21:50
  • We call it "money for jam".
    – Kit Z. Fox Mod
    Aug 29, 2016 at 22:43

It is perfectly normal for people with large numbers of answers to keep on reaping the reward of those answers indefinitely as new members come across them and upvote them.

However, there are some patterns that are indeed suspicious and suggest that the voting privilege is being abused. This should not be taken as a reflection on the poster themselves, only on the voter(s) involved.

Here is a screenshot illustrating some dubious voting behaviour:

enter image description here

As can be seen this user had 8 completely different posts all upvoted within 1 minute. This strongly suggests a single user going on an upvoting spree without actually reading any of the posts involved. This is a misuse of the voting privilege. The bottom three events, in contrast, seem to be instances of genuine votes.

If you see this type of behaviour the best thing to do is to advise one of our long suffering moderators if the system does not correct it automatically.

  • 3
    How do you know how long our moderators are? Some have been pretty short with me.
    – Robusto
    Sep 1, 2016 at 16:45
  • As Araucaria says, the system has mechanisms to detect such serial voting and reverse it, usually the next day. Therefore, if you see this type of behavior, the best thing to do is to wait until the votes are 36 to 48 hours old, and, if they haven't been adjusted by then, advise the mod squad.
    – Scott
    Sep 4, 2016 at 7:16
  • @Robusto Yes, but only deal wit the long ones! Oct 22, 2019 at 17:16

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