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Well it can't hurt.

Of course, you can't fully describe a person by just a number. It's theoretically possible that a highly reputed Stack Overflow user could be an awful programmer at work, but I'm sure that the intersection of "highly reputed SO users" and "people you'd regret to hire for a programmer position" is a very tiny set.

I think that number contains much more significant information for that kind of position than whatever you could extract from a CV or an interview.

From a CV, yes. From an interview?

Maybe I'm just naïve.

How thorough would an interview need to be to match thousands of thumbs ups by thousands of tech-savvy (to say the least) people?

OK, point taken. But it's very different kinds of information that you can pick up in an interview vs. some kind of metric (Be it SO score or diplomas).

Well it can't hurt.

Sure it can, if I think you are more invested in your badge-earning game mechanics than in the money-earning game-mechanics for which I pay you.

Of course, the chances that I review your SO score with this mindset seem relatively low, since in order to cover this possibility, I also need to check out your GamerTag, gear score, and Wikipedia edit history.

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