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Users like whuber, Glen_b, gung, Peter, Frank, Jeromy, .... I see your edits, comments and answers everywhere! I was just wondering how much of your time you spend on stats.se? Do you have scheduled hours every day or do you hop in when you find time? I have been lurking for a long time and would really like to contribute to the community which has helped me learn so much. Please share some of your tips on user involvement.

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    $\begingroup$ Depends on who you ask. I can think of some who would say 'too much'. $\endgroup$ – gung - Reinstate Monica Apr 21 '15 at 22:32
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    $\begingroup$ I am not a top rep user, but I have recently said "too much" to myself and set a browser block for CV during productive hours... It used to be several hours per day, not it's below half an hour. Perhaps once I feel that I am off the hook, I will remove the block. $\endgroup$ – amoeba Apr 21 '15 at 23:24
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    $\begingroup$ I am also not a top rep user, but the nature of my work means that I go between spells of insanely, incessantly busy, to having time on my hands. My free spells generally correspond to time I spend on CV, and I have found that relatively little daily time is required to be well within the Top 10 users by rep on my "free" months. Perhaps 30 mins to an hour a day, on average. Many of the very top users by cumulative rep have been doing so for years and more consistently than me, but it's possible to be useful in less time than you think, particularly if you focus on a few, high quality answers. $\endgroup$ – Silverfish Apr 22 '15 at 15:45
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    $\begingroup$ I understated how easy a high rank is! I was last seriously active in January, contributing just 5 answers since - I've mostly been reviewing/editing/commenting instead, better suited to drive-by visits to the site - and I'm still ranked in the 2015 Top 10! That's largely on one month's contributions. If your work pattern is more regular than mine, that suggests it's possible to be a Top 10 user over the course of a year, by consistently running at about a quarter of the activity level I had in January: 1 or 2 good answers per week would do, so it needn't be a time-hog. Dive in & contribute! $\endgroup$ – Silverfish Apr 22 '15 at 22:29
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    $\begingroup$ @Silverfish: You make an important point, namely that it is possible to be at the top by reputation growth by only posting a couple of answers per week. However, one should also say that it is nowhere as "easy" as you make it look! It's like a professional pianist saying that playing Appasionatta is easy; well, perhaps it is, but only after decades of training. Most of the users contributing to CV would certainly not be able to be in the Top 10 by posting only a couple of answers per week. $\endgroup$ – amoeba Apr 24 '15 at 13:40
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    $\begingroup$ @amoeba A very fair point - the average rep per answer also matters and that varies a lot, not just dependent on quality (including general appeal of the topic area you post in - ironically the fact I'm not technically qualified to answer more advanced or "niche" areas probably works in my favour, rep-wise). Still, two quality answers per week regularly would likely translate to several 1000 rep per year, enough to be comfortably in the top few %. Someone who writes regular answers is likely to get better - and faster - at producing them, too. $\endgroup$ – Silverfish Apr 24 '15 at 21:18
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I guess my comments grew long enough for an answer.

Each of those users will have different profles of time spent per day and how it's achieved. Some aren't here so much nowadays but were very active in the past.

For me it varies. I don't work full time atm so I spare a little time each day, but I recently reduced my time here. I do a little when I first wake up or when going to bed, plus ten minutes when I can squeeze it in (e.g. at lunch), or if there wasn't time then, maybe 15 minutes in the late afternoon. Unless I'm busy with other things, more time on the weekends. Some days I don't answer anything, and then it might only be 10 minutes total -- it's more "do something every day" than "spend lots of time". Many edits, reviews or comments can be squeezed into 10-15 minutes; I type quite quickly.

Over a few years, a little time every day adds up to thousands of actions.

A lot of my longer answers have many edits... often that's a case of 'write a 5 minute answer' because that's what time I have spare, then add a paragraph or two later. Maybe I'll come back even later and add a diagram or a reference. It's rare for me to have the time to construct a single long answer in one go. Even when it looks like a one-edit answer, it has often been constructed off-line in several short bursts then posted. (On SO that seems to be regarded as not good practice -- they have an issue with 'fastest gun' answers where people post very short answers quickly to draw early votes that are needed to get an answer noticed and then build it up to a good answer. Recently here we average a good deal less than one answer per question so it's not so much an issue if someone makes an answer in small pieces.)

If you're interested in strategies for generating reputation with moderate time investment, I think a good long term strategy is to check regularly, answer 1 or 2 questions that relate to what you know (i.e. make a few reasonably substantive answers than many short ones) and improve the question in ways that help people find it / makes them want to read it (good titles, appropriate tags, clarity).

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