This is something that I've found vaguely weird about this site for some time: the reputations of top users are insanely high here. Today I got curious and went to other big sites on the network, and this site does feel anomalous: the top users on Super User and Server Fault would make 7th and 13th here, despite both sites being rather older and with a higher turnover in terms of questions per day. On sites with a similar age and questions-per-day turnover as Tex.SE such as Physics and Electrical Engineering, the top two rows of users have much less reputation than here. You have to go to Mathematics to find something comparable, among sites with a similar age, but they're churning through something like seven times as many questions as here.
Of course, it's quite possible that in terms of total amounts of reputation things are a bit more in line, but there I don't quite have the statistics chops to make a meaningful comparison. Either way, TeX.SE must either have (a) much more rep (hence also votes) to go around as other comparable sites, or (b) a much more skewed rep distribution curve. This query sort of vaguely supports the latter but then again you'd have to be quite careful with your comparisons.
For now, though, I want to ask this community what you think this says about this site. Does this strike you as a reasonable observation? What would you attribute it to?
There's a strong emphasis in the responses on the total number of votes, and I don't think I quite buy it. It is very easy to query for the total upvotes and downvotes in a site, and the data isn't at all unambiguous. For the comparisons above, it currently looks like this:
TeX.SE Super User Server Fault Physics EE Mathematics ↑ 1,440,460 1,964,282 1,261,362 575,663 466,268 3,511,289 ↓ 17,360 254,889 168,570 91,254 78,871 380,931
From this, there's a few points worth emphasizing:
- Compared to sites equivalent in age and current turnover, Physics and Electrical Engineering, TeX.SE does have way more upvotes around.
- Similarly, the downvote count does seem rather low compared to everyone else.
- However, SuperUser has a lot less rep on the top pages than TeX.SE... but it still has sizably more upvotes in the database.
- The site with a comparable leaderboard, Mathematics, has more than twice the total rep.
- While SU and SF do have more downvotes than TeX.SE, the negative effect of downvotes on rep is 1/5th of an upvote, and the count of (upvotes - 0.2 downvotes) for SU is still higher than the total upvotes of TeX.SE.
- That means that explanations along the lines of "we don't downvote" that don't address that ratio have rather low explanatory power.
For me, that says that there also needs to be more concentration of rep on the top tiers, which ties in with (and provides evidence for) Should high-rep users hang back a little?.
Also, just to be clear,
- Yes, rep is just fake internet points and ultimately doesn't matter. However, metrics like these do carry a nontrivial amount of information about each community and they are a reflection of the informal culture in the group.
- Along similar lines, most of the comments saying 'it doesn't matter' and the like seem to come mostly from people whose experience on the SE network is here or on StackOverflow, and who may not be in a position to see just how crazy-high that rep board looks like. Trust me - it's anomalously high, and very much so. Hence this question.