I just read a question (what is database normalization) that asked about data normalization. If I had to guess, I would say that the person asking the question is not seeking an answer, but seeking to have their reputation points increased (see arguments below). This is the inherent problem with giving reputation points (and badges) in order to rank users. People will start to game the system and the integrity of the system will be tarnished. The good questions and answers will get lost in the heap of people looking for more reputation points.

Anybody worth anything would have simply typed "database normalization" into a search engine and found this from wikipedia. In there is a wealth of solid information about data normalization.

Arguments for why I believe AJ is gaming the system:

  • In a prior question, he writes "I am pretty much a Sybase expert, an experienced developer, and very comfortable learning new stuff." Anybody with this level of expertise should either know the answer to this question or be able to find it quickly.
  • He gives many answers to SQL-related questions which suggests he knows his stuff

I apologize to AJ for singling out him and his question -- he's just one of the many who are gaming the system -- but it was the tipping point for me and my use of SO.


Maybe my view of what SO is is not in line with the rest of the community. I see SO as a source for answers to the tough questions where smart people hang out and help other people with their problems -- not as a learning portal. Finding answers to general questions like "what is normalization" is not what I use SO for.

GvS makes a good point in the answers below: "The most easy to gain reputation, is asking general questions. While real, specific, questions get a lot less votes."

Contrary to what many people have alluded to in their comments, I don't care if AJ or anybody else gets a high reputation score -- I care about finding and sharing good answers to tough questions. And for spoulson, who thinks I'm gaming the system by asking this question, I would be more than willing to drop all reputation points earned from this question -- I'm not here for reputation points.

To finish on a constructive note:

I love the way SO tries to see if the question you are asking has already been asked and I think the search functionality works quite well too. It is features like these that keep me coming back.