# Should answers be ranked by reputation?

I have notice that sometime detailed answers by experience mathematicians are not getting the number of up-votes that it deserves. Take this question for example, prove that $(1 + x)^\frac{1}{b}$ is a formal power series . Bill answered last and was at 0 for a while until I chose it as the best answer. So should there be a feature request to rank the answers based on reputation points? (also notice that second highest answer was the first answer).

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We don't control such features; if you want to make such a request, make it on meta.stackoverflow.com. –  Qiaochu Yuan May 19 '11 at 18:32
Do you mean by votes or by reputation of the user? –  Asaf Karagila May 19 '11 at 18:33
@Asak Karagila I am asking if there should be a change from ranking by upvotes to ranking by reputation. –  Mark May 19 '11 at 18:34
@Qiaochu Yuan I have posted the request on meta.stackoverflow –  Mark May 19 '11 at 18:37
–  Hendrik Vogt May 19 '11 at 18:50
@Mark Just in case you might not know, generally votes on meta indicate (dis)agreement - not that there is anything wrong with your question. Related topics have been discussed at length here in the past. Not too surprisingly, there is a great variety of opinions on such matters. –  Bill Dubuque May 19 '11 at 20:36
@Bill thanks for reminder I am well aware of the fact that votes are based on agreement or disagreement. –  Mark May 19 '11 at 21:37
@Mark That's good to hear. One point worth mentioning. It's not clear to me if you are proposing that the default answer sort should be by rep or, rather, if you are merely proposing that there should be a (sticky) option to sort by rep. Some of the downvoters may be (mis)construing your question as the former, vs. the less-contentious latter form. Perhaps it would help to edit your question to remove this ambiguity. –  Bill Dubuque May 19 '11 at 22:55
@Bill my original intention was to include reputation as a factor (by assigning a small weight perhaps?) not a replacement. –  Mark May 19 '11 at 23:41
If anything, they should have the option of being ranked by average score of answers of this user in this tag. –  Phira May 20 '11 at 11:17
@use That's still problematic since, e.g., in the tag number-theory there will be folks who answered mainly elementary questions with much higher average rep than experts. The current voting and tag system is far from rich enough to represent the required information. –  Bill Dubuque May 20 '11 at 16:40

Just as there is often little correlation between answer upvotes and quality, so too there can be little correlation between rep and expertise, esp. as pertains to a particular field. For example, a user who amassed a high rep answering mostly elementary questions in calculus and linear algebra is not necessarily the most qualified to answer a question on deeper topics, e.g. class-field theory. The one-dimensional "rep" measure is far too limited to measure diverse attributes. As is rep is really a not good measure of anything, except perhaps "quickest answerer" (i.e. FGITW = "fastest gun in the west" in SE lingo).

Given the limitations of the software platform (and the rarity of implemented feature requests) there is little hope that any solution is forthcoming from SE. Other richer platforms will probably appear soon (and they can import all the data here).

In the meantime, one way to workaround these problems is to discourage FGITW behavior. For example, don't vote/accept till most answers have appeared. Always read the active questions, not the newest questions, so that you don't miss later answers and edits (and encourage newbies to do so). If a particularly good answer wasn't highly voted then bump the thread. If you browse answers by experts on your favorite topics you'll surely find that many of their most beautiful answers are the lowest voted; bump them! Link on/offsite to good answers (onsite links will promote the post in the automagically generated tag FAQ). Lastly, and most importantly, summon all your strength to resist engaging in FGITW behavior. The time spent reflecting on a question will lead not only to better answers (e.g. conceptual vs. brute-force), but will also yield a better learning experience for you - the answerer. I've learned many interesting things by chewing on questions that were posed in online math forums. You can too!

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Bill: Regardless of when, I very much believe in the "Vote often" part of the "Vote early, vote often" notion presented on: meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/662 and I can honestly say that MO is smaller in its activity/time since opening ratio but has a better core in this matter (compare the two questions I had posted last night on both sites. Votes, views and answers are all higher on the "smaller" MO). –  Asaf Karagila May 19 '11 at 19:53
I have a feeling you have something very concrete in mind when talking about "other and richer platforms" that will appear soon. –  Myself May 20 '11 at 22:23

I am against such system.

It will be hardly in favour of new users posting answers, and will "automatically" favour the high rep. users.

If you consider the users with >10k rep. they all write great answers, that will likely to be voted high enough soon enough.

Suppose I ask something and both Arturo, Pete, Bill and Qiaochu answered and gave great answers as they usually do.

Now suppose there is a new user which gives an even better answer than all of the above. As it is unlikely that people will see it after all the great answers (plus several mediocre answers by other users with 2k rep.)

...and poof it is gone and no one has the power to read it and vote it up.

So it is not a good idea.

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I can see your point, but the observation that the fastest answer (sometimes) gets the most up votes still stands. I guess there will always be trade offs. –  Mark May 19 '11 at 18:50
@Mark: Yes, that phenomenon has been remarked on often; do a search on meta.stackexchange.com for "Fastest Gun In the West" or "FGITW". –  Arturo Magidin May 19 '11 at 19:00
(+1) For answering first. –  cardinal May 19 '11 at 19:40
@Arturo How apropos, the FGITWs are all "meat" heads! (Freudian slip?) –  Bill Dubuque May 19 '11 at 21:02
"Suppose I ask something and both Arturo, Pete, Bill and Qiaochu answered". They have multiple accounts? –  Phira May 19 '11 at 21:19
Apparently. Here, as well on the main site. I think that on meta.SO as well... –  Asaf Karagila May 20 '11 at 7:18