The Reputation System We’re Actually Working On…

Over the past year, I've done quite a bit of blogging on reputation and got quite a bit of feedback back from you as a community.  Well...I've got good news and I've got bad news.  The good news is that we're actually working on a reputation system.  The bad news--it's "step one", and fairly basic.

Below is a version of the spec that I'm working on implementing, minus the boiled down requirements list.  Any feedback?  Comment away...


Microsoft Forums 2.3: User Point System


The current Microsoft Forums use an answer count-based system that only rewards high volume answer contributors, but doesn’t reward users that contribute high quality, helpful answers, or other important actions. This specification describes a basic point-based reputation system that achieves the above goals in a more comprehensive manner than is currently implemented. The basic reputation system described here uses an event-driven model to award or deduct points in particular situations.

These point values will be displayed in a user’s profile, along with a basic visual representation (star rating) that makes the user’s current rank apparent to novice users. These points will also be used in place of answer count in the current “Top Answerer” lists on the forum site homepages, individual forum pages, and the “Hall of Fame” page.

User Events and Point Values

The basic reputation enhancements require the events below to be tracked and awarded with a configurable number of points. The values below are suggested default values. The events will be tracked in a table in the forums database, with each record containing the following information:






·Points Awarded

Events (Points it's worth by default)

  • User replies to a question/bug thread that they did not start (1)

  • A user reply to a question thread that they did not start is marked as an answer (5)

  • User receives a helpful vote for a reply that they posted (5 x (# of votes))

  • User marks a reply as an answer (1)

  • User has a reply that they marked as an answer unmarked as an answer (-5)

The point values should be:

1.  Calculated per user,

2.  Scoped to forum site and,

3.  Scoped to only events that have occurred in the past year.

For example, a user that answered a question on the MSDN forum site would not get points for their TechNet reputation. Furthermore, a user that answered a question 18 months ago on the MSDN site would no longer get points for that answer. For the edge case where a forum is displayed on multiple sites, the user should get points on both sites. This should be handled by creating multiple separate records for each event that occurs on a forum that is displayed on multiple forum sites.

The point values should be cached whenever possible and only need to be refreshed every 4/8 hours to reduce the load on the live forum site.

Display of Point Values on the Forums

The point values will be displayed and utilized in multiple forums on the forums, but will only be used in areas where post counts or answer counts are currently used.

Hall of Fame Page

The Hall of Fame page should be updated from number of answers to number of points.

Top Answerers Boxes

On ShowForum.aspx and on each forum sites’ homepage, there is a “Top Answerers” box that lists the Top 10 answerers over the past 30 days. These lists should be refreshed every 24 hours, and should contain the top point getters on that forum site/forum over the past 30 days.

User Avatar Areas

The current “user avatar areas” contain the user’s name, whether or not they are a moderator and/or an MVP, and the raw number of posts that they have made in the Microsoft Forums. The only changes will be that the raw number of posts made in the forums should be replaced with the number of points they have based on the current forum site that is being viewed, and the addition of a simple star rating icon that will contain zero to five stars, directly based upon star rating.

Figure 1 - Current user avatar area features only number of Posts

Figure 2 - Enhanced user avatar area includes star rating and the number of points.

The star rating thresholds should be configurable per site, but the suggested point values are:

Star Rating (number of points)

  • 0:  (0 – 9)

  • 1:  (10 - 99)

  • 2:  (100 – 499)

  • 3:  (500 - 999)

  • 4:  (1,000 – 4,999)

  • 5:  (5,000+)

Some of the top moderators will pass well past these thresholds on certain high-volume sites (such as MSDN) and will need to be adjusted upwards. This should be done immediately upon rollout of the reputation system. Changing the thresholds after the reputation system has been rolled out will cause problems in the forums community.

Comments (6)

  1. This sounds very cool, Joe. The next step would be to take a page out of the Xbox team’s book, and allow us to publish a "gamercard" to our own sites with our current score and reputation from the forums. Make it a bit competitive!

  2. einaros says:

    While it’s unclear to me what exactly the rewards would be, except getting onto the "high score" lists, I think the reputation system can be a very good addition.

    By "Scoped to forum site", are you referring to a specific sub forum, such as VB vs. C#, or the english msdn vs the french msdn site?

  3. Arnie Rowland says:


    One point that concerns me is a Moderator losing points because he/she marked a response as ‘the answer’ and someone else disagreed and unmarked it. Seems like it would discourage Moderators from marking suitable answers and closing threads. We need to be able to ‘acknowledge’ community participants by giving them credit when the OP fails to mark as answer. But if a Moderator has the potential of being penalized for so doing, then some, perhaps many, wouldn’t bother…

    Perhaps losing the points would be appropriate IF a Moderator marked his/her own response as ‘the answer’ and there was disagreement and it was unmarked…

  4. As part of the larger group of feature improvements in forums that includes the reputation changes that

  5. OmegaMan says:

    File this under nice to have, but overall reputation is nice, but maybe a secondary display for current forum reputation.

  6. Naomi says:

    <i>One point that concerns me is a Moderator losing points because he/she marked a response as ‘the answer’ and someone else disagreed and unmarked it. </i>

    I actually read it differently. If the answer was marked, but then unmarked, the person, whos answer was marked, looses 5 points. It’s actually correct, since he/she got them before, so it would be 5-5 = 0 for no answer.

    If somebody marks the answer as unhelpful, though, the user may loose more. And it may be abused in a way if, say, I dislike someone, I can mark this person’s replies unhelpful on purpose (though this is logged, of course).

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