. Modelling an object in space is not useful, compared to modelling a social phenomenon, which is what we've got here at PM.
You can keep track of the most controversial posters but the important part is the group interaction, which you wish to quantify in meaningful terms. Here are some things that could be measured:
- number of replies (already measured)
-- incidentally the permutation question says in the question header bar on the front page "1 reply" when actually there are 3 replies, of which replies 2 and 3 are nested under the first. Maybe we should fix.
- number of unique participants
- number and depth of subthreads (possibly useful but subverted by the uncollapsed display of threads which tends to cap subthread length)
- votes for and against poster (what you have discussed)
- votes for and against responders
- number of times poster has reappeared, and votes for/against his responses and the subthreads (would focus attention on poster)
- number of links in thread (amount of research generated)
- any of these quantities divided by number of replies in thread
- number of explanation points in thread
- number of capitalized letters in thread
- amount of html tags and length of responses, to show how much work people have put into answering
- minus votes to poster compared to his XP
- standard deviation for these things
- number of pluses times number of minuses voted by each monk
- number of "++username" comments
- number of references to the thread's nodes, a la google
- and others
So you might be able to quantify how loud a discussion is, how noisy or reasoned, it might be, the amount and degree of belligerency in its replies, and whether (thanks to frankus' observation the poster has "seen the light" that is eventually succeeded in appeasing the minus posters. You can measure the average number of times the same monk responds, which could measure how dedicated monks are to resolution of post.
Since most people who read a thread will already understand these things, consider first what the purpose of these measurements may be:
- historical purposes
- identifying monks who "think like you", maybe to let you know when one of these people has posted a thread.
- feedback to community about how riled up people get
- feedback to poster about how riled up they get people
- to try and get more people involved, i.e. to be fair to poster, or to get more eyes on a problem
- to save unsuspecting monks from unwanted stress, e.g. a few words in the frontpaged question header bar, or at top of thread, saying "Nodereaper: This discussion seems quite tense.." might be welcomed by some.
- to make recommendations to admins.
- to add info to a community brain. For example tagging with keywords might enable links or comments to be added to a list of nominations for a specious award or for addition to a community-maintained list of technical solutions.
- To reduce the severity of personal attacks.
- To enable searching of nodes or monks by a richer set of parameters.
- To grade monks about how thoughtful or rambunctious they might be. Maybe integrated over time, find out how PM contributes to growth of developers as individuals (a long shot).
- Cluster analysis of monks by activity profile. Who does more minus votes, who is persistent, who votes up responses, who is very thoughtful and yet has low XP - watch them!
- To show how thread attitude has changed over time, i.e. maybe monks with high blood pressure may find it is possible to come back later.
- To mark replies with colors based on how belligerent they may be, so it is easy to scroll past.
- To reduce the number of "dumb questions" / fights that have to be posted / break out in this community before we grow out of it. We could use some more community memory and an easy way to pass it on to newbies. Right now we depend on a small number of conscientious people with good memories posting a link to a past thread they somehow remembered using their own half-biological memory.
- To rank PM against other sites that have voting.
- To experiment with how far we can push social dynamics technology on the web.
- For fun. Maybe an analogue of tachometer and odometer could describe how active the site is. Maybe we could construct a new map of monks with most rambunctious ones situated at equator, newbies in orbit, etc. (!)
- Just make an api to the info and let monks figure out things to do with it. No whys now.
- To determine how much voting and volatile discussions affect server performance (would not have to be done in realitime)
- To measure other things than can be measured by ++/--, for example add a pulldown menu to the vote! area that says things like "should be immortalized in PM", "elegant code", "add to developer resource list", etc. and then measure those votes. You will get a more complex vector (to use the physics metaphor) in multiple dimensions. You can sort monks by acceleration into different cognitive realms! (sounds good anyway).
- To decide when to keep a node on the frontpage even if it is inexorably sliding off the bottom.
- To accompany a button which lets users keep a node on their own frontpage or favorites list for a while so they can participate in a discussion that lasts more than a couple days. This as always I think would be most benefit to PM.
I think this discussion is a step in the right direction, which to me is considering how to enrich the PM experience both in terms of basic functionality and in terms of mining existing data for useful derived products. Of course empirical calibration may be needed. So calculating things like tension or thoughtfulness is great, adding more dimensions to feedback beyond ++/-- is great. Some benefits/drawbacks may be serendipitous, i.e. we can't imagine them now. If anything I'd like to encourage lots of experimentation, and not worry about server performance until it starts looking scary. These enhancements may have a very positive effect, or may be implementable asynchronously or on other servers like thepen.
One thing I might suggest is putting a bunch of these calculations into the frontpaged thread title bar, so we can start to see aggregative (network) effects and talk about which measurements seem most useful. In Master Yoda's words, "There is no 'try'!"
p.s. thank you search.cpan.org for removing the black hole you had on my Internet cafe's provider! As of today my wishlist includes the above points and no longer an alternate to cpan:// . Amen!