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Do I just have to spend hours trawling the site to find that one unanswered question that I happen to know the answer to?

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    tex.stackexchange.com/help/whats-reputation essentially answers your question. Asking questions or editing tag wikis are your other options. – Torbjørn T. Apr 25 '16 at 12:18
  • You can add useful answers to any question that is not closed or protected -- perhaps you find even better solutions than the answers that are already there. – user31729 Apr 25 '16 at 14:48
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    You should have > 15 rep by now ;-) – user31729 Apr 25 '16 at 14:55
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    We have a few thousand unanswered questions on site. If you have special knowledge in one field, look out for them. For example, you can search for [classicthesis] answers:0 closed:no duplicate:no and get all unanswered (not exactly) questions for classicthesis. – Johannes_B Apr 28 '16 at 16:32
  • @Johannes_B Or go to the page for a specific tag and click on the unanswered tab. E.g. tex.stackexchange.com/questions/tagged/… – Torbjørn T. Apr 30 '16 at 19:03
  • @TorbjørnT. This is the unanswered list, but those contain not upvoted answers. Usually, there is a reason for no upvotes. So i filter them out right away. – Johannes_B Apr 30 '16 at 22:23
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This may be one of the biggest issues new users face on any site on the Stack Exchange network: You want to contribute in a meaningful way, but are restricted until you've contributed in a meaningful way. There's no easy out of this conundrum as it is a network-wide initiative that attempts to set a boundary between noise and quality.

We are a friendly bunch, so join in when you can.

Here are some suggestions that might help one gain reputation:

  1. Post quality answers. This should be numbered 1, 2 and 3. But a good answer will more often than not trump a fast answer. Though there are cases where it does not.

  2. Monitor the frontpage and the new questions list. Learn their cache time and refresh accordingly or use the tag pages to get live updates on new questions.

  3. Setup a good but short list of Interesting and Ignored tags. For example, one may have , and as interesting tags. This will help you see questions, which you can answer, quicker.

  4. Avoid Wall of Text questions. They take way too much effort for little reward. And usually are syntax errors or bad structure.

  5. Post an answer even though the question has 1–2 or even 3 answers. In these cases, take your time and answer well. This will usually net you a good sum of rep.

  6. Learn when to edit. Post a short answer at first and then edit. You have <5 minutes to make that answer shine.

  7. Be humble, thorough and fair. There are a lot of smart people out there and many will know much more than you about the subject. Be thorough in the code you post, check it for syntax errors and make sure it fits the question. And if you see that the correct answer is already there, upvote it, that person deserves the rep.

Reference: Six simple tips to get reputation fast on any Stack Exchange site

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    »Post a short answer at first and then edit.« I never do that. Personally I hate to post unfinished answers and I've always wondered why other people do it. IMHO there is nothing gained by it. – clemens Apr 26 '16 at 18:28
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    @clemens: I used to do that, but don't anymore. I think for people wanting to gain reputation, that is a means to get their foot in the door... – Werner Apr 26 '16 at 19:05
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    I'm curious: does it actually work in your experience? (gaining more rep by posting and editing than by posting a finished answer) – clemens Apr 26 '16 at 19:10
  • @clemens: Getting a foot in the door helps, as we're usually an up-voting community. But I don't think one gains more reputation by doing that. A more well-rounded or authoritative answers gains far more reputation than a quick "here you go", in my opinion. – Werner Apr 26 '16 at 19:12
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    The only unfinished answers i post are lacking a screenshot of the output, which can be done quickly within the 5 minute grace period. – Johannes_B Apr 28 '16 at 16:29
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    What's with the 5 minute grace period? Can't you edit after that? I only generally post answers I believe are finished, but I often discover later than I was mistaken and edit then. (Occasionally, I'll post an answer which I think is technically complete but needs explanation, especially if I'm moving locations so that I make sure I don't lose it.) (6) seems inapplicable since the question is: how can I get enough reputation to upvote? 'Be humble and upvote' seems rather unhelpful ;). – cfr Apr 30 '16 at 3:10
  • @cfr: Agreed on all points. I think (6) builds on "Post a short answer at first and then edit." from the linked post on Meta Stack Exchange. (7) Does seem irrelevant. I'm merely quoting a reference, for completeness... – Werner Apr 30 '16 at 3:23
  • I meant that (7) seemed inapplicable, of course - not (6). – cfr Apr 30 '16 at 21:31
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    @cfr (3 comments up) The 5 minute grace period is to allow you to edit without it showing up as an explicit revision to the post. You can edit any time, but usually it makes a new entry in the revision history. – David Z May 2 '16 at 12:26
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I noticed that you have accounts on other sites in the Stack Exchange network, some of which have higher reputation than your TeX.SE account. Once any of your accounts reaches 200 reputation you will receive an association bonus of 100 reputation on all your accounts.

You can also suggest edits to other users' posts -- you will gain 2 reputation for each suggested edit that is approved by users with higher reputation. You should edit posts to correct spelling or grammar mistakes, fix code or quote formatting, etc.

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I would also suggest to ask (good) questions.

Of course, some questions are more 'trendy' and thus more likely to get dozen of up-votes.

But an interesting and well asked question is likely to be rewarded by a few up-votes, what is enough to reach the 15 rep cap.
Interesting means a question that matters (if it really matters to you, it matters for us and it is not too specific or spam!) and have not been already answered (no: all questions have not been already asked!).
Well asked means clear and concise, well formatted (using code blocks, text formatting), with a MWE (if needed), and tagged appropriately.

Moreover, this adds to the quality/interest of the site... and it's the first step in this virtuous circle: learning LaTeX -> enhanced LaTeX skills -> more knowledge to share... and more will to learn new areas!

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