Okay, I've had this for a while, and after seeing user-487's profile I realised that maybe reputation doesn't matter as much as I thought.

The last line of his profile translates to:

I used my time to come here to help people study Chinese, not for the illusion of reputation...

It just trails off from there. So, I am pretty obsessed with reputation myself. I find myself in endless competition with the user mbakeranalecta, for he gains reputation way faster than I do. The last time I looked, he had 2,000 reputation, and now like... 7 gazillion! User what has a ton of reputation too, I'm definitely having a little reputation race with that user too.

Every day I think: time to return to writer's SE, on my epic conquest for reputation! Ahh, I'll collect up those little golden points by the dozen today.

So, I've only got 4 badges which is pretty surprising considering I've collected 1,082 reputation!Haha, if that's not something to boast about, what is?! I think 1,082 reputation is pretty good, I was so overjoyed when I reached 1,000. Hopefully soon I'll get to... 1,100!

Though, user-478's profile changed my mind... Am I right to be so competitive over reputation?

Should I get competitive over reputation? Should I continue my melee with mbakeranalecta, where his army of 6,000 reputation clashes blades with my army of 1,000 reputation? Is reputation just an illusion, as user-478 said it is?


5 Answers 5


Reputation isn't an illusion; it has meaning, but only on a particular site. The more rep you have, the more you can do. (Edit posts, vote to close, and so on.)

I think of reputation as an indication of how experienced you are on the site and how much the system trusts you. It doesn't mean you're a better person or more experienced in the subject matter (in this case, writing) but it does mean that you're able to provide content that people find helpful in the context of the Stack Exchange framework.

Of course, there's nothing wrong with using your rep score as a way to challenge yourself. If competing with another user is what gets you moving, so be it. Maybe you could think of Stack Exchange as trying to improve at a video game to beat a friend's high score. It's nice that a little friendly competition (I hope that's what this is!) has the by-product of adding questions and answers to the site.


One of the hardest things about being a writer is that writing is largely untestable. The only real test of writing is whether someone willingly reads it and (hopefully) pays for it. Getting to the point at which people are willing to read and pay for what you write is made very difficult by the fact that there are very few ways to test your writing along the way, and therefore very few ways to tell if your are writing about things people care about, or if you are doing it well.

This is a problem for Writers, as compared with StackOverflow for instance, because answers given to programming questions on StackOverflow are largely testable, whereas answers given to writing questions here are largely untestable. About the nearest you can come in most cases is to cite example from successful works to support your arguments. Because answers are untestable, the upvotes and acceptance of answers is inherently less reliable than if the answers were testable. That means that reputation here is probably far less indicative of your professional capability as a writer than reputation on StackOverflow would be for your professional capability as a programmer.

But what reputation on Writers does give you is immediate feedback on how your answers -- a form or writing -- are recieved by their target audience. The objective soundness of answers may not be testable, you your ability to write popular answers is testable, and for a writer getting that kind of feedback is a rare and valuable thing. I would be inclined to see reputation here in that light more than any other. I continue to be fascinated by which of my answers get up votes and which do not.

  • My points here (and in UX) have boosted my confidence a LOT! I'm a little disappointed that association-bonus points don't let me answer closed questions. But I keep wondering if I should do my blog at all, and I realize that my answers here are basically blog posts. (BRB - that inspires another question!) Feb 25, 2019 at 13:58

Oh honey. It's like Whose Line Is It Anyway — everything's made up and the points don't matter.

Ask and answer questions because you enjoy it, because you're learning something. Don't compare yourself to others. That way lies envy, resentment, and heartbreak.

(Now, if you were talking about Holiday hats, that's a horse of an entirely different color. Shank people for those bitches.)


Your worth as a human being depends on how much reputation you have on this site. No one will love you, if you are not among the top users.

A study conducted by the University of Michigan this summer found a clear correlation between the reputation a user has on this site and the love and appreciation they receive in their lives. Here is a plot of the data:

enter image description here

Clearly, you should put all your time and energy into collecting reputation on Writers.


To me reputation doesn't really matter. I like when I'm able to provide someone with an answer they consider useful. It boosts my self esteem as a writer, and makes me feel like I'm not just some hack.

do you feel like if you have less reputation, you're not as good a writer, or not as helpful as someone else? I know that something almost every writer struggles with is their self confidence.

If that's how you feel, maybe a piece of advice one of my writing professors gave me will help you. You're a better writer if you're your own worse critic. A bad writer just assumes everything they touch is gold.

  • No, reputation is nothing to do with how I feel or my self esteem as a writer. In my eyes, gaining reputation is like a violent melee with the other users who are gaining reputation fast Jan 2, 2017 at 9:13
  • Do you enjoy this violent melee? Do you consider it like a match of wits? Jan 5, 2017 at 22:52
  • Yes. Not a match of wits, but a race to answer the questions. Jan 6, 2017 at 5:51
  • Then I'd say that there's nothing wrong with healthy competition, so long as it falls in the realm of healthy behavior. You aren't losing sleep over reputation are you? Jan 8, 2017 at 22:32

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