I think contributions to StackExchange constitute a valuable thing for an academic to do. In many cases such contributions are directly related to the aims of an academic department: community engagement, building new knowledge, etc. This is particularly clear for sites that directly align with a particular academic discipline (e.g., mathematics, statistics, psychology).

However, many people in academia have not heard of StackExchange. They often won't have heard about the reputation system. They may not be aware of the high quality content that often appears.

Thus, as an academic, how should you share your achievements on the StackExchange network in contexts where how your performance is evaluated has material consequences? (e.g., a CV, job interview, grant application context, promotion context)

  • 4
    This is not an answer, but apparently for computer programming jobs, participation in StackOverflow (the original SE) is viewed as a plus. May 23, 2012 at 13:20
  • 1
    E.g. I included in my CV "a moderator of Theoretical Physics - Stack Exchange (Nov 2011 - May 2012)" under projects/activities, with a proper link. May 23, 2012 at 15:57
  • 4
    In my opinion, participation in SE is not relevant and should not be considered important on someone's academic CV or in a job interview. Its correlation with teaching or scholarship is much too tenuous.
    – user1482
    Jun 21, 2016 at 5:46

2 Answers 2


I routinely mention my participation in cstheory as a moderator on grant applications (under Broader Impact). I also mention it as part of 'synergistic activities' in my NSF 2-page bio.

For departmental review, I'd view this as external service.

  • 3
    what if you are not a mod of any academic site?
    – Ooker
    Mar 7, 2015 at 10:48

The StackExchange point system is not a metric for anything other than "how much we trust you to use the site correctly". The idea exists to balance the needs of a public/open/crowdsourced/self-moderating Q&A system, with protection from internet trolls and defacement. The authors of SE even said themselves that "reputation was useless," and not a proxy for the value someone brings to the site.

For example, some people like Brian Tompsett rack up huge amounts of points by editing posts with minor spelling corrections. This is NOT to say Brian's work is meaningless though - it absolutely is not - but you can't just look at a score and directly convert it into value to the community since there are so many different ways to gain rep.

I am myself a pretty good example of this. Recently I made a question regarding my poor working conditions which gained the most number of views for a question on the site to date. Probably because many people felt sympathetic to my circumstances, it gained a large number of upvotes too. I am under no illusion however, that my question and thus my account has anything like the value to the community that my rep score indicates. The large number of upvotes however, gave me the psychological support i needed to tell my boss that my working conditions are unfair, despite what he claims, and now everything on my end is much much better - so ironically, it was the upvotes themselves that had value, not the question.

There are also numerous answers that contain "hard truths" that get heavily down-voted not because they are inaccurate, but because people just don't like what they are reading - despite it having considerable value. People who play devil's advocate get hit by this the hardest.

So you see there is only a weak correlation between between rep and value to the site - and that is by design. Anyone who would know what to do with your rep score if seen on a CV would likely know this too, so if you do go on to put your academia.SE details on your CV, make sure to highlight why you like helping people, whether you like to ask good/insightful questions or answer technical/demanding questions with research, etc etc. Don't make any reference to rep, because the person reading the review won't be impressed - particularly if their rep score is lower or much higher than yours ;)

  • 9
    You get no points for editing posts after 1k BTW.... I'm just a pedant May 27, 2016 at 16:21
  • 2
    There are also numerous answers that contain "hard truths" that get heavily down-voted not because they are inaccurate, but because people just don't like what they are reading - I haven't noticed that so much on this site, have you? Maybe there are a few downvotes (which only effect rep a little anyway) but I think that good timely answers usually get many more up than down votes.
    – Kimball
    Jun 21, 2016 at 4:08
  • Yes I have experienced that, mostly on other people's answers but also occasionally my own. I guess your exposure to it all depends on the questions you read, and whether you look at a controversial answer and think its "bad" or "necessary". I think the last time it happened to me was 3 months ago: academia.stackexchange.com/questions/64567 where my lone attempt at answering the question was given -3, not because it's factually incorrect, but because lying to pull copyright is ethically indefensible (which I wrote in the answer). Anyway, this is getting a bit meta... Jun 21, 2016 at 8:42

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .