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XP is just a number

Hide Experience Numbers?

by knobunc (Pilgrim)
on May 16, 2001 at 00:37 UTC ( #80710=monkdiscuss: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??

I think experience in general is a good thing. People like to be recognized for all of the work/time they put into the site in some (semi) tangible way. However, experience has a bad side. People get too tied up accumulating points. The following thought may have been discussed before, but I couldn't find it.

The role playing game Amber is completely diceless and has an interesting experience and attributes system. Basically players do not know exacly what their attributes are or when they gain experience, only the GM knows. All the players know is where they rank with regard to the other players and to the well known NPCs.

How does this apply to PM? Well if we hide the exact experience that a given monk has and simply state their rank it might alleviate some of the excessive weight that people put on gaining experience. We would not see indication of when exactly we gained experience (perhaps there should be some general indication of what has gone on over the last day so that people are not completely lost, just a general indication of good or bad).

It might also be interesting to remove the explicit point total from posts and only show rough textual descriptions depending on how many points they have on the back end.

Thoughts, comments?


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(dws)Re: Hide Experience Numbers?
by dws (Chancellor) on May 16, 2001 at 00:53 UTC
    People get too tied up accumulating points.

    Some people do. What's the harm in letting them? Perlmonks isn't exactly a zero-sum game. And if some people use point competition as a motivation, where's the harm? They still have to produce posts worthy of votes (and avoid posts that the community will net downvote). Good posts keeps Perlmonks vibrant.

    Until there's concensus that XP is causing a significant problem, I feel that we should just allow that different people are motivated by different things, and move on.

Re: Hide Experience Numbers?
by tadman (Prior) on May 16, 2001 at 02:24 UTC
    After having used Everything and Perl Monks, I'm a firm believer in the XP system. It's a simple solution to a problem which has ruined a lot of similar message boards.

    USENET, the Internet news system, was historically a wild and crazy place, but somehow it was self-organizing, with most newsgroups able to keep unwanted behaviour in check. It wasn't until Prodigy, AOL, CompuServe, and many, many other commercial services started unloading users by the millions that USENET collapsed under its own mass, and SPAM, of course. The "village" community couldn't scale to mega-city size because it had no real way of policing. You simply could not prevent someone from posting.

    So many Web-based bulletin boards are filled with drivel, "I'm first" posts, and remarks so remarkably stupid that they would have you wondering if you needed to have a brain to operate a computer.

    The XP system is effective at "punishing" people who get out of line by contributing things that the community does not want (--) and "rewarding" those who contribute things that the community wants. You will notice that the "ruffians" are short-lived, that even those who make a deliberate effort to distrupt the community find it difficult to make a lasting impression. Nodereaper, for example, is merely an extension of the XP system.

    XP may not be a perfect solution, but at least it is democratic, allowing the community members to define the community.

      True. And I am not in any way advocating scrapping the XP system. I just wanted to open debate on whether showing the actual XP number is a good thing or it PM might be better served by hiding the number and simply showing the level. My hope is that that would remove some of the focus on XP as a goal.


        In some ways, I agree with you, knobunc. In others, I don't.

        I think some people do get a little too tied up with the XP system. Take a look at this node by deprecated that just recently came up. (Specfically, view the page source of that node...way at the bottom...) I don't want to point fingers at deprecated, I just recalled the recent post. And I really doubt that the XP frenzy is really contained to just a few monks. I admit that I recently passed a level and the day before I did, I was more active on Perlmonks than I had been in a while, simply to get to that level just a little bit faster. Even when I'm not specifically working on Perl, I often log on (once a day, if possible) to see what's going on and shell out my votes for the day.

        So, now that we've seen what an XP freak I am - why do I think XP is a good thing? Well, frankly, I remain highly active in Perlmonks because I'm after XP points. Granted, I like to help people, too, but it's nice to have something to show for your efforts. If it wasn't for the XP system, I think Perlmonks would suffer from a type of "Bystander Effect" where everyone stands around when someone needs help simply because everyone figured someone else will help. Just think of all the newbie questions that would go unanswered... ;) With the XP system in place, people are jumping up and down to help others - and I think that's what we need.

        Obviously, the XP system isn't perfect (if you look up "Personality Voting," you can probably find a knock or two on it by merlyn), but I think it gives Perlmonks a net gain. I agree with your point and I like your concept, but I think getting rid of the XP system would hurt Perlmonks in the long run.

        There's my two cents. ;)

        - Sherlock

        Skepticism is the source of knowledge as much as knowledge is the source of skepticism.
        Displaying a users XP to the user is of particular importance because it describes the relationship they have achieved with the community, albeit in a simple one-dimensional numeric. If you had -50 XP, you are receiving a pretty strong signal. Likewise, if you had 5000 XP, you must be doing something right.

        With respect to showing your XP for all to see, it is not strictly necessary, but since most would likely want to see how they are progressing with respect to other community members, had it not been visible historically, there would certainly be a movement to make these numbers visible to all. Competition for higher XP is, in this regard, healthy.

        XP is not specifically a goal, unless you make it one. Perhaps someone could somehow "engineer" their posts to garner a lot of XP. This would likely involve helping out the community a lot. Is answering more questions to gain more XP a bad thing?

        Don't forget, though, that you can't make votes appear out of thin air. Real people actually have to vote, so there is a moderating mechanism there. If people feel like they are being cheated somehow, or that that user is trying a little too hard, they can always use their votes in the negative capacity to discourage it.
Re: Hide Experience Numbers?
by royalanjr (Chaplain) on May 16, 2001 at 01:27 UTC
    A lot of people need to have some kind of way to measure their progress towards a goal. For those whose goal is to make saint the xp is a very quick measure of progress towards that goal.

    It would be kind of like wanting to lose (or gain) weight but you were not allowed to use a scale. Over some period of time you would notice the change (loosing/gaining a significant amount of weight = reaching a new level) but day by day you would not have the instant feedback (seeing you gained/lost a pound today = seeing your xp gain/loss today).

    This instant viewing of even a small amount of progress could be very important for keeping one focused on the goal.

    Roy Alan

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