I want to add a comment on a question about disability in RPGs and it won't let me without "50 reputation". What is that?
Reputation is the site's “fake Internet points” system. It is earned by contributing to the site in positive ways, which are primarily asking good questions and writing good answers about roleplaying games (as defined in our FAQ). Earning reputation unlocks site usage privileges when you have certain amounts.
The ability to write comments on other people's posts is unlocked when a user's account has earned 50 reputation. Why? Because a lot of new users look at the site an assume it works like other sites they are familiar with, such as discussion forums. While it may look like a discussion forum it works very differently (i.e., we don't do discussion!), so any ability that could give new users the wrong idea about what the site is for starts out locked. The idea is that after doing a few things that the site is designed for, a new user has a significantly higher chance of using privileges in a way that is useful for the site's purpose, instead of contrary to it.
(Note that this is not about malicious use — even well-meaning comments can be off-topic and impair the intended goals of the site, causing work for other users and moderators who need to find and remove them.)
Here is an excerpt of the Help Center page about the “Comment Everywhere” privilege that explains what comments at Roleplaying Games Stack Exchange are (and aren't) for:
What are comments?
Comments are temporary "Post-It" notes left on a question or answer. They can be up-voted (but not down-voted) and flagged, but do not generate reputation. There's no revision history, and when they are deleted they're gone for good.
When should I comment?
You should submit a comment if you want to:
- Request clarification from the author;
- Leave constructive criticism that guides the author in improving the post;
- Add relevant but minor or transient information to a post (e.g. a link to a related question, or an alert to the author that the question has been updated).
When shouldn't I comment?
Comments are not recommended for any of the following:
- Suggesting corrections that don't fundamentally change the meaning of the post; instead, make or suggest an edit;
- Answering a question or providing an alternate solution to an existing answer; instead, post an actual answer (or edit to expand an existing one);
- Compliments which do not add new information ("+1, great answer!"); instead, up-vote it and pay it forward;
- Criticisms which do not add anything constructive ("-1, see previous comments you scallywag!"); instead, down-vote (and provide or up-vote a better answer if appropriate);
- Secondary discussion or debating a controversial point; please use chat instead;
- Discussion of community behavior or site policies; please use meta instead.
(See the full Help Center article about comments for the whole picture.)
Now, I don't know and can't find out whether the comment you wanted to leave actually counts as one of the above dos or don'ts, so this is not to say that your comment was definitely uncalled for. It may have been just fine.
Still, the point of the site is laser-focused, and as part of that laser focus we want any new user to engage in out core purpose of asking and answering questions before they start exploring the other features of the site — because those other features only exist to support asking and answering, and that's not really obvious until a new user has some experience contributing.
Take our tour to learn more about the site. Many of the questions you might have right now are answered there.
Then, if you like what you see, look around and see if there are questions you can answer, or questions you have that the community can answer. It takes only a few good posts to earn the reputation necessary to comment — and whatever comment you were hoping to leave, by then you'll have a better idea if it's a helpful comment, and the post you wanted to comment on is likely still going to be there tomorrow.
The Stack Exchange network has a reputation system, and you acquire privileges based on how much reputation you have. In particular, commenting on anyone's post requires having that privilege, which you get at the 50 reputation mark. Here're some links for information:
- Commenting Privileges page
- General Privileges track page
- Reputation help page
- A Handy Tour that explains how stuff works
You can also find more stuff by browsing around the other content related to those pages, like looking at other privileges in particular or whatever.