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I apologise in advance if this is not the place to ask this question. Is "reputation scoring" against the spirit of Pirkei Ovos 4 (5) "Rabbi Tzaddok would say: Do not make the Torah a crown to magnify yourself with, ...."

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My oh my, I haven't seen a question with this many upvotes for quite a while... :-) –  Dave Aug 17 '11 at 1:38
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quite ironic :) –  Shmuel Brin Jul 17 '12 at 0:48
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migrated from meta.judaism.stackexchange.com Aug 14 '11 at 13:55

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2 Answers

up vote 14 down vote accepted

The way I see reputation points on stack exchange is that they are useful for the people asking questions, not for the person getting the points.

That is, when someone comes to the site and asks a question, seeing the points next to a person's name gives that name 'recognition status'. If there is a debate between two people, one has 1 point, and the other has 10,000 points. You might err on the side of the person with 10,000 points because they have 'proven' themselves.

Since the points, (I think) are intended to help people weigh answers, I don't think they count as a crown.

If however you are using the points as a crown, perhaps its a good idea to question yourself.

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Just to add: they are also a nice way to say "thank you" –  yydl Aug 15 '11 at 19:16
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@yydl I agree, but the fact that it's preserved in public could be a drawback, from the point of view of the character development of the recipient. –  Isaac Moses Aug 15 '11 at 21:09
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As a result of the comments and answers posted, I suggest that "reputation scoring" is not in itself against the spirit of Pirkei Ovos 4 (5). But when I post, I should only do so out of a genuine desire to increase knowledge and not to increase my reputation. –  Avrohom Yitzchok Aug 20 '11 at 22:44
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I do not think it is a problem for a few reasons. Kin'as sofrim tarbeh chochmah (jealousy among scholars will increase wisdom - Baba Basra 21a). A certain extent of competition in Torah is a good thing. Having people compete for even something as minor as points helps increase Torah and wisdom. There is an issue of a person becoming haughty or seeking honor because of his Torah knowledge, but I don't think this specific site would cause such a problem. This would probably be the conversation:

High-ranking user: Give me lots of honor.
Regular guy: Why?
HRU: I have 1000 points on Judaism.Stackexchange.com.
RG: On NASDAQ or NYSE?

The point is, no one is getting too much crown or glory from this site.

The commentators actually explain that Mishnah based on a Gemara in Nedarim (62a) that a person shouldn't learn so as to be called a sage or rabbi but he should learn out of love. I do not think that people are only learning Torah so they can know enough to answer questions on this site and get a high score. Even if that would happen, I think we would apply "לעולם יעסוק אדם בתורה ומצות אף על פי שלא לשמה שמתוך שלא לשמה בא לשמה". Ideally a person should learn lishmah, but he should use whatever motivations he can to learn before he's at that level.

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Contrary to what you say about rep points' ability to gain you influence with regular guys (and if you've actually tried this, sorry), I think that the "shelo lishmah" aspect does exist, since approval from one's peers within one's community, which these points represent, is a powerful psychological motivator. That's why your points about kin'at soferim and "ba lishmah" are important ones. –  Isaac Moses Aug 15 '11 at 4:00
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