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I feel like 1 rep today is earned harder than 10 years ago. Here is my reasoning.

At the very beginning, the simplest and more fundamental questions were asked on this site. Plus, there wasn't any "rep-guru" or "TeX-god" as we have today. Nowadays, as the documentation is higher than ever (this sx included), it is much harder to ask a question that hasn't been asked before (the famous marked as duplicate), or even find a question you have the ability to answer. I found that Should high-rep users hang back a little ? provides good insight. Has anything been done to encourage new users ?

Could anything be done to have a higher level overall ?

Edit : I've just had the thought that the userbase is much bigger now, but I'm not sure on the effect it has and if the active userbase is actually higher.

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    IMHO it depends on what one thinks the purpose of sites like this is. From the description you seem to worry about "Nowadays, as the documentation is higher than ever (this sx included), it is much harder to ask a question that hasn't been asked before ...". While the fact that many basic questions already have an answer may make it more difficult to gain reputation as quickly as some time back, isn't it a good thing that these answers are around? Personally I think reputation points are unimportant, to have a reasonable resource where one can look up things is useful. – user194703 May 10 at 20:59
  • Of course, one's ability is much more important than its fake internet points. However, as we are on stack exchange, couldn't the reputation be an indicator of the mastering of LaTeX ? By this, I mean that I'd gladly put my 100k rep on a CV for example. – Rphad May 10 at 21:08
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    I'd recommend not to put such things on the CV. The prospective employer may think that (a) you should have better ways to demonstrate your skill and (b) that you are a person who hangs out on some sites rather than doing your real job. – user194703 May 10 at 21:23
  • There are some relatively non-obvious factors influencing the gathering of reputation. One is the geographic distribution of active participants. Participants in Europe have a 5-6 hour advantage over participants on the U.S. east coast. Even longer over participants farther west. Regardless, a valuable approach -- in terms of value to the site, not in terms of rep -- is to try to craft thorough, accurate answers that explain the important details, not just quick answers that address only the immediate question. – barbara beeton May 10 at 23:31
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    'Reputation' works for work only if it's a key part of your job. People do use that from the 'main site' (StackOverflow) when they actually work as programmers, but very few people make a living programming LaTeX. – Joseph Wright May 11 at 10:27
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I cannot answer the question whether or not it became harder to earn reputation points.

However, I think that it should never be the aim to earn reputation points easily. At least not if "easily" means "with as little effort as possible". Examples of easily earned points include copying another answer, perhaps even without indicating the original post. This does not add real value. Rather, the aim should be to provide stable, working, original and possibly elegant solutions that serve as many users as possible.

More fundamentally, I do not think reputation points deserve the attention they seem to get. SX may close down this site tomorrow and all these points are gone. Moreover, whenever there is an attempt to measure some skill, say, by points there will be some who figure out how to game the system.

What might be useful, though, is a site on which one can look up things. So, when you say that

Nowadays, as the documentation is higher than ever (this sx included), it is much harder to ask a question that hasn't been asked before (the famous marked as duplicate), or even find a question you have the ability to answer.

I'd actually think that, if that is true, this is a good thing because there is a resource that allows people (users or not) to quickly look up things and find explicit answers. Whether or not this also implies that it is harder to gain reputation points as quickly as some time back is IMHO unimportant.

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    The copy-pasting of answers for rep-farming is a real problem on Stack Overflow, because people actually quote their SO score on their CV and companies scout people on SO. – Henri Menke May 24 at 6:01
  • @HenriMenke While I never played these games I have read that some hire others for harvesting experience points in online role playing games. I am wondering if some hire others for harvesting SO reputation. ;-) Or write a machine learning program that answers questions for them. The next step will be to train a machine to ask questions. Then all non-machine users have time to do more useful things like biking. ;-) – user194703 May 24 at 6:12

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