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Vote Down requires 125 reputation

Shouldn't it be "reputations"? Why or why not?

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Whom did you try to down-vote? ;) –  asymptotically Jul 27 '12 at 14:05
    
My friend who only recently started to use SE and was hesitant to share his one post that got upvotes in fear of being downvoted by me. I'm a good friend so I tried my best. –  Tamás Szelei Jul 27 '12 at 14:09
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No-one seems to be saying exactly what seems obvious to me - in OP's context, it's just an abbreviated version of "reputation points". Just because the actual noun (points) isn't explicitly stated doesn't mean we have to treat the (effectively adjectival) reputation as a "pseudo-noun" requiring plural inflection. –  FumbleFingers Jul 27 '12 at 14:29
    
Colloquially, lolspeakily, you could say reps or repz. –  cornbread ninja 麵包忍者 Jul 27 '12 at 14:29
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This question obviously polarises opinions (it's currently got 5 upvotes and 4 downvotes). Two points arising: a) I think it's disappointing not one of those 4 downvoters added a comment explaining their reasoning; b) I've raised the issue on meta as Should ELU offer more guidance on Question Downvoting? –  FumbleFingers Jul 27 '12 at 17:58
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3 Answers

up vote 11 down vote accepted

Reputation in this instance is being used as a mass noun, and mass nouns do not normally take a plural. It is somewhat unusual in this case that there is no count noun to serve as the measure word, i.e. we don't say "125 points of reputation" by analogy with "125 grains of rice". Nonetheless, the formulation given above is what is normal and idiomatic for this scenario.

There are other words which exhibit this same pattern:

  • Getting to level two requires 5000 experience.
  • The Vorpal Sword costs 300 gold.

All of the examples that come to mind here are related to technology or gaming. I don't know if this is an actual trend, or just selection bias based on what's in my brain.

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I'm going to disagree that the case with Reputation is the same as the video-game case for "gold". In the video game the units are arbitray, so saying "coins" is not helpful. In the case of "reputation" you have one reputation, but it is measured in "points". The sentence as shown is either wrong, or more charitably, a short-form, which is allowed because people are forgiving when it comes to computer user interfaces messages. –  Mr. Shiny and New 安宇 Jul 27 '12 at 14:14
    
In the first example experience is simply a shorthand for experience points. –  user14070 Jul 27 '12 at 18:53
    
@Mr.ShinyandNew安宇 I disagree that it is short form, I believe it is as a result of how reputation is used on Stack Exchange - as a currency. –  Matt Эллен Jul 27 '12 at 18:56
    
Well, a commodity at any rate –  Matt Эллен Jul 27 '12 at 19:06
    
I think this is hopelessly wrong! "Mass noun" - a noun that normally cannot be counted. "Reputation" is an attribute - a characteristic or quality of a thing, that happens to be capable of being "graded" by number. No different to "miles per gallon", say, except there we always specify the units. Or "star" (5 star movie, 4 star hotel, 2 star general) where the unit is assumed, but context-specific. In OP's usage, 125 is just the adjectival quantifier for the assumed unit "reputation points". –  FumbleFingers Jul 28 '12 at 0:43
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Reputation is not the unit, its the object being quantified. Technically, it would be

Vote Down requires 125 points of reputation

But this is awkward and we all understand that reputation is an arbitrary number with no real unit. Saying "How much reputations do you have" would be akin to saying "how much strengths do you have" or "how much sauces do you have?"

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I can't quite go with that. The object being modified is the implicit [ammassed collection of] points. Which is also modified by the adjective "reputation", telling us which particular kind of "points" we're talking about here. –  FumbleFingers Jul 28 '12 at 0:47
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Well it looks like you can say reputations :

The book investigates how reputations historically have been made and un-made (from a study 'Surveillance & Society' by Daniel Neyland Oxford University)

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Here, you're using it to mean many people's reputations. Each person still has his own reputation, not reputations. Reputation is a common noun in your sentence, whereas it is an abstract noun in the OP's sentence –  asymptotically Jul 27 '12 at 14:18
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sorry.. I thought the question was the plural of reputation...Indeed in every language, not only english, one person has his own reputation –  mlwacosmos Jul 27 '12 at 14:22
    
@mlwacosmos, the flip side of "one person has his own reputation" is "most people don't have their own reputations"; ie "each person..." may be what you meant. –  jwpat7 Jul 27 '12 at 17:49
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