Membership Has Its Privileges

Our very own Benjamin Dumke opened a meta topic about a year ago that was prescient:

Right now, crossing one of the magical rep borders happens more or less unnoticed. People just gain the particular powers. Now, of course they have eagerly been awaiting this moment, and want to start using their new powers instantly. However, this leads to people -- usually with good intentions -- doing stuff that is actually discouraged ... I propose a pop-up saying something like "You have earned the power to retag questions. Please read our retagging guidelines [link] for a short introduction".

I deferred on this for a long time because I thought of it primarily as a way of documenting the system. But I recently realized it's far more than that -- it's also a way of congratulating our community members for being awesome.

You know what? It is a big deal when users reach the 500, 1k, 2k, 3k, and 10k reputation thresholds, and users should be acknowledged when they garner enough upvotes from their peers to reach these important milestones.

And yes, it is also an opportunity to share some just-in-time protips.

Before, it was like you gained superpowers overnight, but nobody bothered explaining how you use them. You could fly, indeed, but you had no idea how to take off, land, or avoid smashing into high rise buildings.

We generally relied on the community to teach itself. New users would learn from more experienced users how these things work and what the cultural norms are on the site. As Ben pointed out, that kinda-sorta worked ... but it could be better. A lot better!

I'm pleased to announce we now offer a full set of wiki pages documenting user privileges -- just navigate to /privileges on any site and start browsing.

You'll see a complete list of privileges you can earn through reputation, along with a percentage of how far you've gotten toward each privilege level. Click through to see detail about a particular privilege and how it works.

We absolutely intend these privilege wiki pages to be permanent, shareable resources about how the site works and its topic-specific cultural norms. But you don't necessarily need to know or care about these pages. As you earn reputation on the site and gain new privileges, we'll congratulate you and point you directly to the page describing what that privilege is all about.

congrats, you've gained the privilege to do stuff!

It is our hope that with wiki privilege guides in place on all network sites, and an automatic "congrats!" notification system linking directly to the relevant guide ...

  • new community members can more easily get up to speed on how our Q&A; communities work without making so many new user mistakes or asking so many FAQ type questions
  • existing community members can use them as touchstones to understand what's supposed to be happening
  • our community moderators can edit the privilege wikis to make them clearer and refine them to the site topic

As they say, membership has its privileges. Of course, that's assuming we understand how this complex system we've built works ...

(NB: This has been rolled out across all network sites, but right now the privilege wiki pages are only editable on meta.stackoverflow. That's because we're still nailing down the default content for each privilege, and would like to deploy the privilege wikis globally across the network again over the next week or so.)

Login with your stackoverflow.com account to take part in the discussion.