|The stupid question is the question not asked|
(You saw that coming, didn't you?)
Unfortunately, that's two more than even Saints get per day, so we none of us will ever know…
Still, I have been pondering the question of what node reputation really means. (Specifically, since a recent discussion.) So what is it? Within certain bounds, one can associate a couple some vague statements, but it doesn't seem very helpful at all as I once wrote. The classic question is of course: if noderep is as use(?:ful|less) as random numbers, why do we even care to vote?
Well, I don't know about you, but I do care greatly about my nodes' reps — far more than about my XP. Putting some effort into a node and getting several dozen upvotes to that post is quite satisfying, a lot more than watching an XP counter spin somewhere outside of any direct context. On the other hand I have occasionally refrained from posting a questionable pun/joke/foo/bar because I feared downvotes, esp. those from monks who did understand but deemed it improper. I have however never refrained from posting possibly controversial viewpoints, even when I expected downvotes, so long as I felt the matter required someone to take stance.
Well, that's it.
Yes, you've read the answer. Go read again. That's what node rep is: feedback. To the author, to be precise.
I submit that node reputation is pretty much useless to anyone but the author of a node. The only value it can have to others is to check if they are aligned with the general consensus on a node, and even that is questionable — a dozen people who bothered to vote do not constitute much of a “general consensous”. The value of the node reputation of an individual node, in itself, is worthless.
Right into this fits my observation that when I downvote a node (which is rarely the case, and has to be well deserved at least in my opinion), I hope to see a negative reputation, indicating at least a modicum of consensous that this node should indeed be “condemned” in some form, for some (well justified) reason.
Assuming one follows this argumentation, it makes the answers to various requests relating to node reputation pretty obvious in my opinion. The bottom line is that it is a form of social sanction (small as this society may be), and nothing more.
Makeshifts last the longest.
In reply to The meaning of life, the universe and node reputation by Aristotle