I believe that the default for a new site is to enter bootstrap mode, which is a state where reputation limits are relaxed while the site revs up. From the SE description:
Bootstrap Mode helps to shape the community before the site is released to its full audience. Reputation requirements are relaxed in bootstrap mode. All users can:
- Post Questions
- Post Answers
- Create Tags
- Re-Tag Questions
You'll earn reputation normally, but you won't be hampered by it.
According to this answer on the meta.se question "What are good metrics to decide when to move from 'bootstrap' to launch", the general rule is to wait until there are enough high-rep core users to perform basic moderation functions, and to wait while the activity level is low enough that spam and abuse can be caught by the administrators.
Many sites, like meta.stackexchange, answers.unity3D, and chiphacker.com appear to be in bootstrap mode semi-permanently. Unity Answers permanently removed the Bootstrap box while leaving it enabled because:
"...the restrictions when not using bootstrap mode are too aggressive for our needs, so bootstrap mode is the best option until better customization of reputation requirements come along."
Will our needs be well-served by Bootstrap mode?
This site is taking off quickly enough to surpass the numerical bootstrap requirements when it opens. However, we could get a little more core-user boost by leaving it on longer (It's much easier to gain rep with it on). Or, we could discourage elitism permanently by enabling new users to be more active on the site. What's the consensus?