How are new users supposed to start participating on this site?

With a reputation of 1 I am unable to answer questions(says I need rep of 5), unable to add a comment to help a question/answer in the topics I would like to and unable to ask questions on various parts of the site.

This seems to make it impossible for new users to gain the reputation to be able to participate in the first place. I wasn't even able to post a question in the meta section(where I think this question should have been posted instead, please correct me if im wrong).


In order to gain the first 5 rep it seems that new users can either create new questions in the general sections (some sections such as meta have minimum requirements) and have it upvoted or suggest edits and have them accepted.

It seems a minimum of 5 rep is required to answer questions in the codegolf section as I receive the message "You must have at least 5 reputation on Programming Puzzles & Code Golf Stack Exchange to answer a question."

I would answer my own question but it won't let me for another 8h as I have less than 10 rep.

If someone else has a fuller answer before that time I will accept the answer, otherwise I will answer it once the timer expires.

  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ Strange, with 1 rep you should be able to post answers. Yes, you should have posted this on Meta, but you need 5 points for that, so I voted to migrate to Meta. \$\endgroup\$
    – ProgramFOX
    Commented Jan 8, 2014 at 18:25
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ I very much doubt that you need 5 rep to post an answer, but if that's really the case, fix up three posts by suggesting useful edits that are accepted by the community, and you'll get the 5 points that you need. You'll need 50 reputation points to post comments. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 8, 2014 at 18:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ @RobertHarvey: I've tried to answer some questions as well as simply comment so suggest a solution which also told me I required 5 rep. Is this only for certain questions? Also, is "suggesting an edit" different than adding a comment with suggestions? \$\endgroup\$
    – pfc
    Commented Jan 8, 2014 at 18:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ It sounds like you may be confusing comments with answers. Anyone can post an answer. In bootstrap mode, the requirement for posting comments on posts other than yours might actually be 5 rep. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 8, 2014 at 18:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ @RobertHarvey This makes sense, though seems perhaps only certain questions are unanswerable by new users, but it doesn't give you a reason or explanation. \$\endgroup\$
    – pfc
    Commented Jan 8, 2014 at 18:39
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Try posting an answer below. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 8, 2014 at 18:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @RobertHarvey I do have access to answering my own question, but this still seems silly to be unable to answer other people's questions. Do users request the minimum rep required to answer a question? \$\endgroup\$
    – pfc
    Commented Jan 8, 2014 at 18:48
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @pfc To suggest an edit, click on the "edit" link below the tags (should be right next to "share"). A different interface will open up; similar to when you are asking a question. Make your edits in the text editor, add an edit description, and submit it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Justin
    Commented Jan 8, 2014 at 19:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Quincunx Thank you, I was unaware of this functionality. \$\endgroup\$
    – pfc
    Commented Jan 8, 2014 at 19:03
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Was the question you tried to answer protected? Some of the more popular ones recently have been protected. \$\endgroup\$
    – Gareth
    Commented Jan 8, 2014 at 19:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Gareth it would seem so \$\endgroup\$
    – pfc
    Commented Jan 8, 2014 at 19:29

3 Answers 3


Reputation requirements vary by site type, and sometimes between sites. In general, the following categories of StackExchange sites will have similar rules:

  • Private Beta will have very low reputation requirements so that participants who have committed to the project can help quickly generate content for the site before it opens to the public.
  • Public Beta (the current state for this site) has moderate-to-low requirements that ensure users will need to earn a certain amount of trust from the community before gaining certain privileges, while still accommodating to the fact that the site is still in its early stages and reputation will be generally harder to earn at this point.
  • Graduated Sites have the highest reputation requirements to help maintain the quality standards of StackExchange on sites which have been deemed to have long-term value.
  • Meta StackOverflow has special rules because it is by nature very different from other StackExchange sites.

To check how much reputation is required for a specific action, and see where you stand with regards to those requirements, go to the /privileges page on any main site. Here, that would be https://codegolf.stackexchange.com/privileges.

To find out how reputation is earned (and how it can also be lost), check the "What's Reputation" page of a given main site. Here, it's https://codegolf.stackexchange.com/help/whats-reputation.

To answer your questions specifically...

Asking and answering questions on the main site, also called "creating posts" requires only 1 rep. New users with zero history on StackExchange start with 1 rep, so you should have no difficulty (in terms of permissions) with performing these actions. Just make sure you're using the proper UI and, for example, not trying to submit a comment instead. The only limitations to this is that brand-new users cannot answer "protected" questions, or create posts "too rapidly".

Commenting on your own posts, or answers in your own question thread, is also available to all users.

Participating on the Meta site requires 5 reputation. This is a nominal requirement, which is easily met, to prevent spam on the Meta site.

To shake off the "new user restrictions" (which include the aforementioned limitations against answering protected questions or posting too quickly) you need 10 rep. Again, this is a very small amount which is easily earned, and this restriction is primarily just a spam prevention mechanism.

To leave comments on other people's posts, you need 50 reputation. This serves the dual purpose of preventing spam and (hopefully) demonstrating that you have at least some idea of how the question/answer/comment system works (and when it's appropriate to do - or not do do - any of those actions) before you're fully cut loose to comment everywhere.

These standards are among the few which are the same across all sites, regardless of their stage in the lifecycle.

Getting to Meta can be accomplished by any one of the following (or some mixtures thereof):

  • 1 up-vote on a question you post
  • Accept an answer on 3 of your questions
  • Approval of 3 of your edit suggestions
    • Note: You can always edit your own posts, and I believe any user - even down to 1 rep - can suggest edits to others' posts, but editing other people's posts autonomously is not granted until much later.

Passing out of the new user restrictions can be done by:

  • 1 up-vote on an answer you post
  • 1 of your answers is accepted
  • 2 up-votes across questions you've posted
  • Accept an answer on 5 of your questions
  • Approval of 5 of your edit suggestions

Gaining "comment everywhere" privileges can be achieved by:

  • 5 up-votes across your answers
  • 4 of your answers get accepted
  • 10 up-votes across questions you've posted
  • Accept answers on 25 of your questions
  • Have 25 edit suggestions approved
  • Get a bounty awarded manually to 1 of your answers
    • Note: Minimum bounty amount is 50 rep.
  • Get a bounty awarded automatically to 2 of your answers
    • Note: Auto-awards of bounties only award half the bounty value and require two up-votes on the answer.

General Note: The above assumes you have not lost any reputation (e.g.: by getting flags or down-votes on your posts) along the way.

All of the aforementioned restrictions (except editing other people's posts) can be bypassed if you already have at least 200 reputation on any other StackExchange site, and you make sure to associate your account here with the other site's account. That will give you an automatic 100-reputation boost.

All of the above actions must be done on a "main site". With the exception of Meta StackOverflow, participation on Meta does not earn reputation. Your reputation and privileges on a Meta site generally mirrors that of the associated main site.


For most questions on the main site, anyone can post an answer, regardless of reputation level:

What is asking and answering questions?

The most basic privilege of all -- the right to ask a question, and the right to contribute an answer. This is generally available to everyone, regardless of reputation level.

However, to post in a meta site (as opposed to the main site), you need a minimum of 5 reputation on the corresponding main site:

Because we allow anonymous participation, we require a small bit of parent site reputation to prevent spam, and ensure that meta is for active, engaged members of the community.

Certain questions may be protected (for example, this one), in which case they have an explanatory message:

This question is protected to prevent "thanks!", "me too!", or spam answers by new users. To answer it, you must have earned at least 10 reputation on this site.

To post an answer to such a question, you need a minimum of 10 reputation.


You can answer any question with 1 rep, except protected questions. Perhaps you are trying to answer a protected question? You will see a banner that says "protected by (username)" if a question is protected.

  • \$\begingroup\$ ... or Locked, On hold, Closed, or Deleted. \$\endgroup\$
    – TheDoctor
    Commented Apr 30, 2014 at 1:54
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @TheDoctor "says I need rep of 5" \$\endgroup\$
    – Doorknob
    Commented Apr 30, 2014 at 2:37

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