Seeing an advertisement for a question on the Science Fiction & Fantasy SE on the main page made me wonder if it would be useful to allow those with low reputation to financially pay for more attention to their question. While this would to some degree buy reputation (as scoring correlates with views), it is not a direct purchase (and a user could use external advertising toward this end).

For professionals new to Stack Exchange, the cost of such advertising would not be a significant burden, though to students (who are generally less well-positioned financially) paying for advertisement would be more problematic. (On the positive side, this would reduce the chance of simple questions cluttering the featured page; on the negative side, this would discourage drawing attention to some useful and not easily answered questions.)

To reward answering such questions, giving an answer might be treated somewhat like a review activity such that answering such questions can earn bronze, silver, and gold badges (according to the number answered). (This may not be sufficient motivation for answering, even though a good answer to a question getting more attention would earn more reputation.)

I don't know whether such advertising would only bump the question once on the main page and active questions list and place it on the featured questions list or if it would also bump the question periodically (perhaps according to the amount spent on advertising?). Side bar notices would be another mechanism for drawing attention.

I suspect that the benefit to low reputation users would not justify the implementation cost and the potential issues of abuse, but I thought the idea was worth mentioning (it seemed interesting to me).


The first observation I'd make is that this affects the whole Stack Exchange model, and would be better discussed on the global meta.

More to the point, I don't like this idea much. I start from the fact that SE in general is more about creating reference content (somehow like a wiki) than just answering the questioner. Therefore, paying to get attention would benefit more "interested" users, while we want to promote high quality content, and make it visible.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I thought that Meta SE encouraged a model of asking even global questions locally at first. (I quite agree that it is a global question.) Do you have any ideas for how low-rep users can get more attention to their questions? If someone is willing to pay for attention, the question is probably more likely to be useful to others. Is the main issue then that such attention buying would buy high scores for merely interesting questions? (A "hot question" issue intensified.) \$\endgroup\$ Oct 3 '14 at 12:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ I experienced that questions, not only from new users, can get very much or very little attention, and this is not always related to their relevance or their quality. Easily answerable questions are always the most popular (unfortunately). But this is how the system works, and sometimes pays off better on the long run than it does immediately. I don't see money as the solution in this case, because it would make it a sort of paid consultancy. \$\endgroup\$
    – clabacchio
    Oct 3 '14 at 13:17
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ The bike shed problem applies to answers as well; a good, longish, highly technical answer can easily get fewer upvotes than an okay, short, accessible answer. I have probably contributed to this in being hesitant to upvote answers that I do not know are totally correct while upvoting answers that may be less complete but are more clearly not incorrect. (This is in addition to the fastest gun problem.) \$\endgroup\$ Oct 3 '14 at 15:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PaulA.Clayton Is "bike shed problem" a reference to Parkinson? \$\endgroup\$ Oct 3 '14 at 20:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NickAlexeev Okay, I googled "Parkinson bike shed" and, yes, it is an expression of Parkinson's law of triviality. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 3 '14 at 20:52

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