The reputation and privileges system is very heavy on the beginner's end of the spectrum -- not being able to post pictures, leave comments, create tags, or even USE the meta forum makes it very difficult to use this website at all, without having spent copious amounts of time on it.

This, in my opinion, broken, system leads to a very inefficient operation on this site.

In my first question, I simply wanted to post an image demonstrating my problem, and had to waste even more time by going to imgur.

Not only that, but I couldn't come to Meta to explain this issue, I had to dickishly post on the normal forum until someone migrated the post over here.

I get that nobody likes a new kid, but this seems a bit much.

  • This is more a question about the StackExchange system in general. I'ld like to ping an MSO mod to see if there's a stock answer to this, since I'm sure it has been ranted about before. Jan 5, 2014 at 23:20
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    I'm sorry, but there is a reason behind every one of these restrictions. Just post a link to an imgur image and someone will edit it in for you. Also, it isn't hard to get the reputation required for these things. I got through most of them on my first question. I suggest you look around before ranting any more. All of our rules and their reasons are very well documented by now. Also take a look at Meta Stack Exchange.
    – Seth
    Jan 6, 2014 at 0:36
  • Let me preface this by saying I'm not trying to be a dick by any means, but I don't think you understand: My point is that I don't think I should have to spend extra time on the site. I'm after the instant gratification that, to my understanding, the Internet is supposed to provide. Especially when I am pursuing a solution to a probably very easily solved problem, I, along with others, I bet, don't want the hassle (however minimal it may be) of doing even more work to try to seek help. I did the imgur workaround, wouldn't it be far better if I didn't have to? tl;dr: Efficiency is king.
    – JakeDiFebo
    Jan 6, 2014 at 4:47
  • And also, I realize my behavior was obnoxious, but it remains a very real issue, even with the reasons you specified. Is not convenience and efficiency an inherent part of Computer Science as a whole? That's not a rhetorical question, by the way; I'm fairly new to the game, so please correct me if I am wrong.
    – JakeDiFebo
    Jan 6, 2014 at 4:54

2 Answers 2


I agree that not being able to post in meta isn't great, especially when you're trying to post something like this, but simply put, it's damage mitigation. Users who are new to the Stack Exchange system are only allowed the most basic of tools until they prove they know how to use them.

This isn't just "gamification". The barriers are there to protect us (and our users) as much as they are there to annoy personally you :)

  • New users and spammers tend to go image and link mad. We block and limit these to prevent spammers.
  • Comments aren't checked as ritually as new users' posts so would slip through the quality nets.
  • Chat rooms are limited to prevent further abuse.
  • Voting is limited to make sock-puppet voting schemes harder to orchestrate.

If these limits didn't exist, we'd all be spending a lot more time editing and reviewing instead of answering. You brought up efficiency. Letting people run riot would hurt our throughput tremendously.

But ultimately it's something you'll have to live with. We have no direct control over required point for privileges... It's just how SE works. It's not instant gratification but a balance we're trying to reach between quality and openness.

  • Well, I suppose it's not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but it's the issue of the people who have self-control and don't go out of their way to wreak havoc and cause chaos. What if there were a way that newbies could more quickly earn "reputation"? Like I think reading a full thread should be enough to earn like ten points or something. It's relatively easy to offer a chance for newcomers to gain the trust of the site in a way that doesn't give everyone infinite power right off the bat. Like a sort of streamer to sort the spammers and douchebags from the good users.
    – JakeDiFebo
    Jan 6, 2014 at 16:41
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    We still let all users do the two most important things: ask questions and write answers... It's just a bit restrained. Either way, welcome to Ask Ubuntu.
    – Oli Mod
    Jan 6, 2014 at 16:46
  • :) Thanks, I appreciate the warm welcome, and thanks for putting up with my initial reaction haha.
    – JakeDiFebo
    Jan 6, 2014 at 16:47
  • The review system (suggesting edits) is the quickest way to earn quick reputation if you can't answer questions. Find a post that needs language work (they're not hard to find, trust me!), spend some time fixing it up and suggest the edit. If reviewers find it valuable, you get +2 rep. If they don't, they'll tell you what they thought about it. Either way, a few edits is a good way to climb the ladder to a spot where you can do other things.
    – Oli Mod
    Jan 6, 2014 at 16:49

I think you're right that you shouldn't have to put in any special rep-farming effort (here or anywhere) to effectively get help with Ubuntu. Whatever features are available to users with only 1 rep, they should be sufficient for effectively getting help with Ubuntu problems. If that's not the case, then something is broken.

But in practice, it's not clear to me (from your description of things) how much of a problem there really is.


You're right that it's annoying not to be able to post pictures. On the other hand, if anyone could make Ask Ubuntu display whatever picture they wanted, that would be a godsend to trolls and spammers, and it's very difficult to put automatic methods in place to examine the contents of a picture and decide if it's appropriate for our site.

I've grown somewhat skeptical of some of the new-user restrictions, over the years. But the restriction on posting pictures seems to make good sense. Did it really take copious amounts of time to post a picture externally and add a link to it? (Once the link is added, other users can edit the picture directly into your post, which has happened for your question.)


You can leave comments on your own question and on answers to your own question. If you have a problem with Ubuntu that is not addressed adequately by an existing answer, you should post a question (as you have done). You then benefit from the system's orientation toward making questions visible and attracting knowledgeable answerers.

If your question is related in some way to an existing question, you can include a link to the existing question in your question.

If you find you cannot comment on your own question or on answers to your question, then most likely you're signed in with an account other than the account you used to post the question. In this situation, assuming at least one of your accounts is registered, you can get any/all of your accounts merged by clicking the contact us link at the bottom of any page and explaining what you need. (If none of your accounts are registered, you can register an account and do this. In your case, however, your account appears registered.)


Since you can't create tags, just do the best you can with the tags that are available. It's easy for others to retag your post. Tagging shouldn't usually take more than, say, fifteen seconds of your time.

Remember, creating a new tag and applying it to your post means your post will be classified in a way that doesn't connect it to any other content. Furthermore, a new tag has no subscribers. Having to use the tags that are available prevents new users from spending inordinate amounts of time figuring out the "perfect" tags, and ensures that questions can get answered efficiently.


Anytime someone needs help with the site but can't post on meta, they can do what you've done. It's not perfect, but it's rather common for new users' posts about the site to be migrated from the main site to meta.

This doesn't give you the ability to post answers on meta, though, except to your own question. If you consider that to be a problem that's making the process of getting help with Ubuntu inefficient for you (or anyone), you may want to expand this meta question to explain that.

With that said, I'm not sure there really is any good reason to keep new users from posting on meta. This strikes me as a solution in search of a (theoretical) problem. I think it's especially important to view new-user restrictions with a critical eye, considering that at least one other one is purely a solution in search of a completely nonexistent problem (see below).

Other Restrictions

Interestingly, the new user restriction I'm most skeptical of, you have not mentioned at all.

Every Stack Exchange site except Skeptics.SE restricts new users from posting more than two hyperlinks per post. Since spammers only need one link to accomplish their nefarious spamming deeds, and since legitimate posts generally need more links than spam posts, this restriction is silly and pointless. Since the maximum number of links was increased to fifty on Skeptics (where it was particularly atrocious because of the nature of that site) and no problems resulted, it's already been demonstrated to be unnecessary. And yet we still have it.

The other three significant new user restrictions seem to be:

  • New users cannot answer protected questions. This is the purpose of protection, which should be used sparingly, and sometimes a question can be unprotected to facilitate an answer. Asking for a question to be unprotected, however, is sometimes difficult. Meta would often be an appropriate place for this, but very new users cannot post on meta. Do we really need any restriction on who can post on Meta, besides requiring a registered account? Hmm...

    However, the inability to post an answer to a protected question doesn't stop anyone from asking a question or getting help.

  • New users cannot post as many questions or answers in a very short time as users who have gained a little bit of reputation. I've never heard anyone say this is a problem; I think it goes mostly unnoticed by the vast majority of new users.

  • Though not in the list, new users typically have to wait some amount of time between posting a question and posting their own answer. If the point of this is to prevent new users from posting things as answers that should be edits or comments... well, that happens a lot anyway and is very efficiently dealt with by flagging. So this restriction seems silly to me. (Maybe it's been lifted, while I was gone?)

  • 8 hours users have to wait to post their own answers. I believe is good since is expected that new users doesn't actually know how the site works, and the system should allow some breath to the moderators and flaggers.
    – Braiam
    Jan 9, 2014 at 1:20

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