Building a news community using the StackOverflow model

Some communities, such as BBC Reader Comments, have a simple system of privileges: either you are a moderator or you are an end user.

However, the best communities have many levels of privilege. StackOverflow has around 25 levels based on reputation points (listed here). When your contribution gets up-voted, it increases your reputation.

Gaining new privileges helps keep users engaged.

More importantly, this approach gives power only to users who add value. Giving power to everyone can result in, well… MailOnline comments (= the very worst of the internet).

I believe that a news community would benefit from two tweaks to the StackOverflow model.

1. Weighted votes

I believe that the votes of trusted users should carry more weight. For example, an upvote from a user with 100 trust points should carry more weight than an upvote from a user with 10 trust points.

The levels could look something like this…


  • Post a comment (anyone)
  • 5 points. Up vote comment
  • 10 points. Down vote comment. (More contentious than up voting).
  • 20 points. 2x up vote comment. (Each up vote counts as 2).
  • 40 points. 2x down vote comment
  • 100 points. 3x up vote comment
  • etc

Links (similar to Hacker News)

  • 50 points. Post story
  • 75 points. Up vote story
  • 150 points. Down vote story
  • 250 points. 2x up vote story
  • 500 points. 2x down vote story
  • 1000 points. 3x up vote story
  • etc


  • 1000 points. Submit stories.
  • 2500 points. Publish stories.
  • 5000 points. Edit other people’s stories.

Normally, “vote up” would come before “post comment”, but comments are a better indicator of users potential. We want to filter out users who will contribute low-value content (to be outlined in the community guidelines).

2. Approval for higher privileges?

At the heart of news is trust. StackOverflow works so well because each user has a “reputation score”. A news community could do the same.

Users could be up/down voted, in the similar way to how comments and stories are up/down voted.

What if there was an additional safeguard? What if privileges to vote on users required approval (in addition to reaching a particular score)?

The levels might look something like this..

  • 5000 points. Up vote user
  • 10000 points. Down vote user
  • 15000 points. 2x up vote user
  • 20000 points. 2x down vote user
  • 25000 points. 3x up vote user
  • etc

What else?

It makes sense for a user to only gain one level per submitted comment/story.

Categorized as News

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