Reputation is entirely optional
The three most important activities on Stack Overflow are Asking, Answering and Editing - none of which require any reputation at all! Please try to get comfortable with those three activities before looking to expand your participation into other areas. You can also earn and lose some reputation through participation in writing articles on collectives as well.
So what is reputation?
Reputation is a rough measurement of how much the community trusts you; it is earned by convincing your peers that you know what you’re talking about. The more reputation you earn, the more privileges you gain and the more tools you'll have access to on the site - at the highest privilege levels, you'll have access to many of the same tools available to the site moderators. That is intentional. We don’t run this site; the community does!
How do I earn reputation?
The primary way to gain reputation is by posting good questions and useful answers. Votes on these posts cause you to gain (or sometimes lose) reputation. Please note that votes for posts marked “community wiki” do not generate any reputation.
You gain reputation when:
- question is voted up: +10
- answer is voted up: +10
- article is voted up: +10
- answer is marked “accepted”: +15 (+2 to acceptor)
- suggested edit is accepted: +2 (up to +1000 total per user)
- bounty awarded to your answer: + full bounty amount
- one of your answers is awarded a bounty automatically: + half of the bounty amount (see more details about how bounties work)
- site association bonus: +100 on each site (awarded a maximum of one time per site)
You can earn a maximum of 200 reputation per day from the combination of upvotes, downvotes and suggested edits. But Bounty awards, accepted answers, and association bonuses are not subject to this daily reputation limit.
If you are an experienced Stack Exchange network user with 200 or more reputation on at least one site, you will receive a starting +100 reputation bonus to get you past basic new user restrictions. This will happen automatically on all current Stack Exchange sites where you have an account, and on any other Stack Exchange sites at the time you log in.
You lose reputation when:
- your question is voted down: −2
- your answer is voted down: −2
- your article is downvoted: -2
- you vote down an answer: −1
- you downvote an article: -1
- you place a bounty on a question: − full bounty amount
- one of your posts receives 6 spam or offensive flags: −100
All users start with one reputation point, and reputation can never drop below 1. Accepting your own answer does not increase your reputation. Deleted posts do not affect reputation, for voters, authors or anyone else involved, in most cases. If a user reverses a vote, the corresponding reputation loss or gain will be reversed as well. Vote reversal as a result of voting fraud will also return lost or gained reputation.
But I want to vote and comment and delete things!
Those are all secondary activities on Stack Overflow; get used to answering and editing and asking questions first, so that you have a better feel for the local culture and get to see your own work become a part of the site. Along the way, you'll naturally earn the privilege to do more if you wish - check your profile now and then for updates on how close you are to earning the next privilege!