Published on: 2020-01-27

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Stack exchange reputation and money

Disclaimer 1: Not a relevant analogy unless you use the StackExchange Network.

I think the stack overflow reputation system is a good analogous for the issues one encounters with a long-running monetary system.

I like imaginary awards, when I was younger I specifically liked the imaginary awards from stack overflow (Reputation) because I though they'd help me get some recognition as a developer (silly, but in my defense, I was a teenager).

However, it proved to be very difficult to find questions that nobody else had answered which I could answer and were popular enough to get more than one or two upvotes for said answer (upvotes generate reputation).

I got to like 500 reputation and I slowly started being less active on SO (now the only question I answer are basically my own, in case nobody provides and answer but I end up finding a solution).

I recently checked my reputation on SO and noticed I was close to 2000 point, despite not being active on the website in almost 4 years o.o Because reputation from "old questions" accumulate. I though "oh, how much would have young me loved to see this now-valueless currency reach such an arbitrarily high level".

I think this is in many ways analogous to the issues with the monetary system. Money seems to loss its appeal as you get older, since it can buy less and less and you need less and less. All your social signaling and permanent possession needs are gone by the time you hit 60. All your "big dreams" now require too much energy, even if you theoretically have the capital to put them in practice.

At the same time Stack Exchange reputation gives you the power to judge others, you can gift reputation for a good answer, you can edit people's answers and questions without approval, you can review questions and decide they are duplicates or don't fit the community and reject them.

Again, something I'd be very good at when I was 19, and deeply passionate about software development. Something that I'm probably less good at now, since I haven't the energy to care and probably have lost some of my "general" knowledge since I've specialized more.

Same thing applies to money, as you get old and accumulate you get the ability to invest in other people. Think an idea is wrong/right ? Now you have the capital to propel or damage it. But generally speaking, old people are probably in a worst position to understand the world and to understand which ideas would help/hinder our society and in which way. Young people might be equal clueless on a societal level, but at least they have some understanding on a personal level, they are involved, they have skin in the game.

Disclaimer 2: I obviously don't mean this to be a communist manifesto based on poor empirical evidence of a vaguely related system. It's just an interesting observation I felt like writing down.






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