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A Word About the Reputation System and Our No-Homework Policy

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It has recently come to the team's attention that there has been some confusion as to the purpose of the reputation system, as well as the homework policy. We wanted to better clarify the purpose of both the upvotes and downvotes, as well as what types of responses would warrant each of these.

Helpful Responses and Upvotes
An upvote is intended for helpful posts. Such posts generally have a high pedagogic value to the reader, including future Googlers. Beyond the basics of how to solve the problem, helpful posts often times go the extra mile by explaining not just the "how", but the "why" as well. Helpful posts that warrant an upvote also commonly include links to other relevant and informative links, like tutorials, examples, and the documentation. A good example of such a post can be found here, where Atli provides thorough information, explanations, and helpful links to the documentation. baavgai's post here also provides a detailed, helpful explanation on the topic at hand- nested functions.

Unhelpful Responses and Downvotes
In contrast, a downvote is intended for blatantly unhelpful posts. Trolling, Google it responses, and blatantly incorrect information are types of posts that should be downvoted. Note that technically incorrect information is different from a member who is trying to help, but whose post doesn't immediately resolve the issues at hand. Some good examples of posts that deserve a downvote include:
-'s post here, telling the OP to simply Google it, especially when it is clear the OP is not looking for a handout.
-mcjohnalds45 post here trolling another member.
-anujsharma002's post here warrants a downvote due to the blatantly incorrect technical information presented, such as use of void main() in the C/C++ forum, as well as nesting headers and another void main() function.

Common Courtesies with the Rep System
-Upvote members that take the time to provide a quality post, especially if they take the time to help you.
-DON'T beg for reputation points in your posts. If you wish to remind members about the reputation system, you are welcome to do so in your signature.
-DON'T use the reputation system for personal vendettas. Such actions will be handled by the moderation team, and may result in your removal from the reputation system.

No Homework Policy
There as also been some recent confusion on the no homework policy. It is our goal on to help members with their coding questions to the best of our ability. We also strive to help people improve their abilities as programmers by teaching them to program. Generally speaking, the more effort the OP puts into the question, the better help he or she will receive. Just because an assignment is academic in nature as well, does not mean that only vague answers should be provided. Try and provide helpful posts, like those described above, without taking away the fun of solving the problem and implementing a solution. The No Homework Policy is about coming together in good faith to give and receive help, so that we may all grow as developers. :)

If there are any questions or concerns, feel free to post them in the comments, or PM myself or another team member.

11 Comments On This Entry

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15 January 2012 - 09:22 PM
I wanted to note additionally that there is a difference between blatantly incorrect information (ie., use of void main()) and information that is correct, but may not have directly solved your problem. If you downvote for incorrect/unhelpful information, do so for the former only rather than the latter.


16 January 2012 - 03:39 AM
Good and informative post.

What's your opinion on reputation being in use in other than programming forums, like Caffeine Lounge. Should it be changed somehow or is it okay that there are people with over thousand reputation and 90% of their reputation is from non-programming areas. After all, the text when voting is "Was This Post Helpful?", not "Was This Post Funny".

In my opinion having the same system for good programming posts and funny stuff makes it a bit twisted. Very rarely people heavily upvote or downvote posts on programming areas (maybe if you start a MMO thread you could get lots of downvotes.) but it's quite easy to get few upvotes on other areas. So it wouldn't be impossible to be trolling on programming areas and still increase your reputation. Of course admins might at some point ban the person for providing too much unhelpful advices on programming areas.

Since this is a programming community, I think programming areas should be in the spotlight and people should be encouraged to post more on those areas by giving them something extra. I just noticed the awards tab on profile, maybe add few awards for programming stuff. Or give kudos for good programming topics or posts, like five or ten kudos, not much to give contributors advantage.


16 January 2012 - 11:37 AM
In the Caffeine Lounge, the reputation system focuses more on community building and is far more subjective than in the help forums. An upvote may be given for a good discussion topic, insightful comments, witty remarks, etc., while a downvote is intended for useless or trolling posts.


Of course admins might at some point ban the person for providing too much unhelpful advices on programming areas.

We only ban people that violate the rules. While someone may incorrectly offer advice, that is an opportunity for learning, not banning. :)

Regarding awards, we currently have monthly awards for reputation benchmarks in the majority of the help forums, and we have other awards in the works at the moment.


16 January 2012 - 02:24 PM
Appreciate the refresher macosxnerd101! :clap:


16 January 2012 - 04:23 PM
I could careless about Rep Points, but it is nice coming home from work and checking the site and see that people +1 my replies it is like a big thank you! :-)

Always try to go the extra mile in replies to help someone, it is not only for them, but for the folks googling.


16 January 2012 - 06:25 PM
@GunnerInc: I agree completely!

Just to note as well- when you all see a helpful response or very unhelpful response, try and take the time to mark it as such with an upvote or downvote. It also helps Googlers better identify correct information. :)


17 January 2012 - 08:10 AM
I'm always struck by the fascination with reputation points. What do people think they can buy with these points, anyway?


In my opinion having the same system for good programming posts and funny stuff makes it a bit twisted

I do agree with this. It's striking to me that although I haven't been on the spot with the coding help lately, my rep points continue to go up because of a few well-placed "Xing furiously" comments in the lounge. But it's not a big deal, I think. Rep systems are always going to be approximate at best, so you might as well keep it simple, and that means posts are rated "up" or "down".

I think it would be useful, though, to stop posting the numbers by people's names. That does tend to encourage an unhealthy obsession with the green button. It would be easy enough to replace it with some more analog scheme, such as a color mapping, which would convey substantially the same information.
It might be fun to experiment with displaying more complex information in this fashion. For example, the interesting number might turn out to be the ratio of reputation points to total number of posts, rather than the raw reputation.


17 January 2012 - 12:36 PM

jon.kiparsky, on 17 January 2012 - 09:10 AM, said:

I'm always struck by the fascination with reputation points. What do people think they can buy with these points, anyway?

On average you can turn them in for the usual skeet ball prizes - balsa wood airplanes, mini tootsie rolls, a plastic mustache, or some Chinese finger cuffs. I'm not supposed to really say anything but random days through out the month are designated "special". With in those special days are special blocks of ten minutes. If you achieved the threshold of rep movement (a randomly value determined at the beginning of the day) at that very moment you'll be given a super rare badge and instantly promoted to expert in you most active two forums. A pretty rare and exclusive occasion if you ask me.


17 January 2012 - 01:59 PM
Oh...andto add to the drama, the lowest poster is instantly banned. Got to have compromises...


18 January 2012 - 07:15 PM
Just to add for good way to answer questions, I see this post today may be will give a light for those who reply


30 January 2012 - 03:58 PM
Would it be a good idea to include a description and instructions on how to use the Reputation System upon first signing up to the site, or as you create a help topic? Some reminders about the system as they create it or after they get replies could jolt their memory about using it.
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