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RE (2): Limit on voting down a person (Run in circles, scream and shout)

by tilly (Archbishop)
on Aug 09, 2000 at 18:52 UTC ( #27051=note: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??


in reply to (Ozymandias) RE: Limit on voting down a person (Run in circles, scream and shout)
in thread Limit on voting down a person

I am one of the complaints you know about.

I most certainly noticed.

The effect is noticable by others. How much energy have I spent stating my opinion on the politics recently instead of answering questions? Can you honestly say that I (right in this post) am helping people learn as effectively as I could if I was not discussing politics?

Perhaps you think that having me spend time thinking about how to actually get feedback from some of the people who dislike me is more helpful than having me spend time on a thoughtful post on how thinking in terms of completed transactions leads to more robust infrastructures. Well I disagree! Personally I think more people would benefit from seeing my informed opinions on how to write robust code than benefit from knowing that I think mean people suck!

I have decided to stick it out simply because on a personal level I have so much support. But I have had conversations with others who have noticed, and I can definitely tell you that there has indeed been an effect. Both in terms of who does (and does not) contribute and the value of their (and my) contributions. You are kidding yourself if you think otherwise.

Now what kinds of fixes are possible? Here are a few ideas:

  1. Tye's idea of making it impossible to target a person too heavily by limiting how rapidly you can downvote one person.
  2. Have a public discussion.
  3. Display next to each user a count of how they have used their votes recently. What proportion are down, what proportion are up.
  4. Give a way for the person who is voted on and that person only to know who voted how on them.
  5. Tell everyone that there is no problem, nobody should care, there has been no impact. Honest.
This is not a comprehensive list, these are just off of the top of my head.

They range from trivial in their impact on the culture here, to drastic. They range IMHO from quite good to extremely bad ideas. (And that is how I ordered them.) I put them out there so that people can have a somewhat richer discussion than just, "Something needs to be done!" "I don't want my freedom to be limited!"

And yes, I listed your response at the bottom of the list for a very specific reason. Because there has been an impact, not only do I see that in my case, but I have received an earful from a number of people. One of whom made public comment: RE (3): Goodbye!.

In short, if you think that the technical contributions that I am capable of making matter (and some here most definitely do) then there is a problem and it does no good to say otherwise. If you do not think that the technical contributions that I am capable of matter, or you have strongly negative opinions about how I make them, well you know how to chatter at me so please do.


Comment on RE (2): Limit on voting down a person (Run in circles, scream and shout)
(kudra: people, not technology, best solve problems like this) RE: RE: (2): Limit on voting down a person (Run in circles, scream and shout)
by kudra (Vicar) on Aug 09, 2000 at 19:17 UTC
    I think perceptions of both how much it hurts and how prevalant such behavior is are quite dependant upon the person looking at it. -40 hurts a lot at level 2, and a lot less at level 6. It's hard to say how common this really is; if it hasn't happened to you, you may think it doesn't happen much, whereas if it has happened to you, you may feel that it is common. I come from the perspective of someone that this hasn't happened to, so my opinions may be tainted by that.

    I am probably most in favor of the second suggestion, because I feel that technical solutions will fail. Having it take twice as long to vote down someone doesn't mean it won't happen (it just means, to the cynical, that you can have two vendettas at a time). I can also think of valid reasons for voting many posts by the same person down in a row. It's a way of dealing with a troll, for example, as nodes with too low reputation may be removed.

    Likewise, I do not think the third idea will work; it's easy to circumvent. It would be simple to -- one or two nodes by someone a day.

    Solution four would make the problem worse, perhaps even triggering new vendettas when a post is voted down without malicious intent. Not everyone is as gracious as lindex when it comes to accepting other people's votes. I am pretty certain that you already considered this since it is near the bottom of the list.

    In the end, it always depends on the users. It's possible to limit the potential for abuse, but it cannot be completely eliminated in a technical way (without implementing meaningless restrictions, such as removing the option of a -- vote). That is why I think a discussion is better than any of the technical solutions.

    I reserve the right to support another solution if one is suggested that I think is better :)

      You by and large stated my feelings except in one regard.

      I believe that what has happened to me is indeed unusual, but I think that some of the people it happens to, as btrott pointed out, are people with a disproportionate potential impact. Therefore the loss of useful content is completely out of proportion either with how many people (probably very few) that encounter a problem.

        I think the people VOTING, not the people POSTING, should evaluate the use and potential impact of nodes.

        - email Ozymandias
RE: RE (2): Limit on voting down a person (Run in circles, scream and shout)
by Ozymandias (Hermit) on Aug 09, 2000 at 20:49 UTC
    You say you noticed, but here's the thing; your XP is not noticably lower than it was on Monday. In fact, although I may be mistaken - I don't even track MY XP all that closely, much less someone else's - it appears to be quite a bit higher. So tell me, in what way were you affected? Because you had to waste time and effort on this discussion? Well, there's a simple solution to that.

    As for your fixes:

    Tye's idea of making it impossible to target a person too heavily by limiting how rapidly you can downvote one person.

    I already made my opinion clear on this one, but let me say it again; I oppose this idea with all the strength and conviction I'm willing to put into it. What you are proposing here is nothing short of censorship, in the sense that voting, for better or for worse, is a form of expression. You may not like that some individuals appear to be using this as a form of expression against you, rather than against your posts, but it is a form of expression. As for you judging their impact on this site - how dare you? You have been here less than a week, but you feel qualified to comment on the community and how things will impact it? You've been making a lot of posts, and the technical details in them are for the most part excellent, but you have a long way to go before you can claim to know this community and how it works, much less what is and is not good for it.

    Have a public discussion.

    What does it say that you favor making the changes instead?

    In any event, that's what we're doing here, having a public discussion. In my opinion, you are wrong. Flat out, around the bend, wrong. I have gotten what seems to me to be more than my fair share of -- votes in the past, I will get them again. It happens.

    Also, when I say "In My Opinion", I mean that I have posted numbers in the very node you are replying to showing you how little effect an attack like this can have. Perhaps I'm wrong, and you are free to say so - but if I'm wrong, WHERE ARE YOUR NUMBERS? Don't just tell me I'm wrong and expect me to believe you. Show me why my numbers are wrong.

    Display next to each user a count of how they have used their votes recently. What proportion are down, what proportion are up.

    This "fix" does not prevent someone from attacking you, it only makes it easier for you to attack someone who may or may not have done anything to you, simply because they have made some negative votes lately. The only way to be sure you're attacking the right person would be to have a record of who voted against you...

    Give a way for the person who is voted on and that person only to know who voted how on them.

    ...which is covered here.

    And once again - no. Anonymous voting means exactly that; you cast your votes without fear of reprisal or retribution. Post good nodes, and the few spiteful -- votes won't matter. If lots of people are voting --, then evidently the community doesn't agree with what you're doing.

    Many people have suggested forcing people to anonymously give a reason for negative votes. That's also unreasonable. A -- vote expresses displeasure with a node, or, unfortunately in many ways, with the poster of the node. That's all. There's no need for a dissertation on how the node made you feel that caused you to vote that way, and no way, if it's anonymous, to force people to give true responses. I for one, if this system is implemented, will protest it; not only will I refuse to give any answer other than, say, "BORK", but I will stop giving any sort of explanation for any vote outside the system, either.

    If I vote -- on a post, I usually explain why. But not always, nor should I be forced to have to explain why. Sometimes, I vote -- because the information in the post is wrong - and when that happens, I explain why it's wrong, and give the correct information. Sometimes I vote -- because of a node's tone, particularly in the case of answers to new users' questions. Or I might vote -- because I just don't like the node, no other reason than because it seems like a waste of space - a "me too" node or a duplicate answer to a question long answered. Giving a reason there would only be a bigger waste of effort. And yes, being human, I have in the past voted -- simply because I felt the poster was being foolish, or whining about something unimportant. If you insist on asking me why I voted -- on one of those nodes, that's all the answer you'll get, too. This is a reasonable expenditure of effort? Awful strange, coming from someone who only a few paragraphs ago was complaining about wasted effort.

    Tell everyone that there is no problem, nobody should care, there has been no impact. Honest.

    Sounds good to me. One thing, though - I showed you EXACTLY how much this would affect me, were it to happen. You can calculate exactly how much it would affect you, too, the same way. In my case, assuming this attack started several days ago, such that it would end today, I can say exactly where I would be; up almost 30 points. Off of a relatively small number of posts. So tell me - why SHOULDN'T we do this? How have you or anyone else been hurt? The only time I have seen this attack be somewhat effective, it was a JOKE, with the full knowledge and in part cooperation of the target, in forcing him to drop from Monk to Scribe and back again several times in one day. At the end of the day, with as many as a dozen people cooperating to push him down to Scribe, he was a Monk. Granted, it was something like the fourth time he became a Monk that day. But in the end, it didn't hurt him at all.

    In other words, you can whine and complain about how much this hurts you all you like. But unless you can list out EXACTLY how much you've been "hurt" and make me believe that it's worth pursuing, I will continue to argue against taking any sort of action about this. The cure, so far as I can determine, is much worse than the disease, because I don't see anyone suffering any symptoms. You complain, but your XP is higher than ever. A few other people, including close friends, say they have been hit... but they also add that it made no practical difference, they made up the difference in hours.

    In short, if you think that the technical contributions that I am capable of making matter (and some here most definitely do) then there is a problem and it does no good to say otherwise. If you do not think that the technical contributions that I am capable of matter, or you have strongly negative opinions about how I make them, well you know how to chatter at me so please do.

    I disagree. I do not and have not seen the problem you are complaining about, and not for lack of looking. In examining my own node reputations while calculating the numbers I used here, I noticed several prominent nodes - my favorites, if you will - that were lower than I recall. So, perhaps somewhat hit me, too. All I can say is, it never registered in my mind when it was happening, and from the numbers that I'm calculating, I can see why. As I said above, I'm willing to admit that it's possible I'm wrong. But you had better show me the numbers before I'll admit that I *am* wrong.

    The only means by which something like this could be an effective attack are:

    1. A high ranking monk, or several, attack one low-ranking monk with a lot of posts. This wouldn't be very effective; if the monk has a lot of posts, but no XP, that indicates that not many people have been voting the posts up, anyway. If it's a low ranking monk WITHOUT a lot of posts, then there's very little damage that can be done; if I hit a user in this manner with, say, 15 nodes, then at most, I could expect to cost them 5 XP. With the XP system changes that were made recently, it would be considerably less than that if the posts were well regarded by the other monks.

    2. A majority of the community participated in the attack. On the one hand, this would indeed be a devestating attack on someone's XP... but then, if it's the community at large doing it, it's not an attack, it's the voting system at work. Besides, the people here are too individualistic for this to be a real threat.

    3. The victim is so wrapped up in watching their XP that losing a point seriously bothers them, causing them to complain about it in the chatterbox and post nodes proposing sweeping changes to systems they can't possibly know well, generating more ill-will towards themselves and wasting a lot of time and effort.

    In this case, your "Shadow Conspiracy" attackers must be laughing themselves silly.

    - email Ozymandias
      I disagree with you, and I disagree with you for one huge reason. I disagree on what "harm" means.

      To me the posting levels are a fun joke. They mean nothing. Yeah, my rating is higher today than it was yesterday. At the current rate it will take 2-3 days to rise as much as it had been rising in one day. I really don't care. I wouldn't mind if it was driven down as fast as it ever rose.

      To me harm is measured in people not present and technical contributions not made. I am telling you flat out that btrott was far from the first or only person to tell me that harm by my definition has happened. From the start of my publically commenting on this I have consistently said several things:

      1. If I believed that I was the only person this had happened to, I would not comment. Really.
      2. Don't vote for me across the board. I would find this a ridiculous thing to say were it not that people have been telling me that they have done just that. Votes should not be a popularity contest about people, they should single out good content. Right now an archive is being built up, and the reputation of posts is laying down a record that will undoubtably be useful some day. Don't pollute that record.
      3. If I bother you, feel free to talk to me. Perhaps after chatting with me in person you will change your impression. Perhaps I will learn a lesson.
      For the record there have been some people I chat privately with a lot and this topic never comes up. Others have approached me. But it was not until I had been convinced that there was a problem that I began talking about it in public. Even then I don't bring it up in private.

      Incidentally I downvoted your post simply because I think I have made my opinion on what I consider "damage" to be so clear that it is simply ridiculous for you to have avoided that issue. Having competent posters stop posting for extended periods because of perceived BS is harm. Having someone's rating go up and down like a yo-yo because of a joke most emphatically does not.

      FYI the specific technical topic that I mentioned is one I have an opinion on, and is something that I intend to post. That I may not do that for some time qualifies as specific harm in my books. (My kind of harm, not yours.)

        To me harm is measured in people not present and technical contributions not made.

        To ME, harm is in restricting the abilities of the members of this community in acting in the fashion that they desire, be it to post technical questions and answers, silly poems, obfuscated code, meditations, vote on Visor colors and ways of entering a room. Or to vote as they see fit on any aspect of the above, to comment as they see fit on any of the above, etc.

        Technical information can always be found. No one of us knows all the answers, and no one of us is critical in disseminating information. NONE OF US. Not you, not me, not merlyn, not even vroom. One thing that IS hard to find, and requires certain people, is friendship, camaraderie, and a sense of community. Some people work for it, others don't. The ones who work for it are essential to the health of the community. The ones who don't are essential to the community itself; without them, there wouldn't be many members. But as for the individuals themselves... they simply don't matter. The group, yes, but not the individuals.

        I am telling you flat out that btrott was far from the first or only person to tell me that harm by my definition has happened. From the start of my publically commenting on this I have consistently said several things:

        Harm takes place in a situation like this when people insist on changes to a system that make it more restrictive and less fun. Your definition simply means that you believe it's more important to get information out that anything else - more than that, that it's the ONLY important thing. You are wrong. There are plenty of people here and in many other communities who can disseminate information quickly, correctly, and informatively without sacrificing humor, community, or respect. THOSE are more important, simply because they are rarer. Information can always be found. We live in the information age, after all. Someone will know the answer and give it. That doesn't mean that person is the best person to do so. The person who can give that answer without sacrificing the sense of community, THEY are the best person to answer.

        Incidentally I downvoted your post simply because I think I have made my opinion on what I consider "damage" to be so clear that it is simply ridiculous for you to have avoided that issue. Having competent posters stop posting for extended periods because of perceived BS is harm. Having someone's rating go up and down like a yo-yo because of a joke most emphatically does not.

        You know, when I read that, I was pretty pissed. But I thought it over, went back, and looked. After all, maybe I simply missed it. But you know what? You never defined your definition of harm. At any rate, not anywhere in this thread. The one thing I can see that might possibly be considered defining it is saying that we as a community have been harmed because you haven't made a few posts of technical merit. And I certainly don't count THAT as a definition of harm.

        Certainly not one "so clear that it is simply ridiculous for [me] to have avoided that issue". I think it's clear that I haven't avoided the issue, once you actually clearly stated what the issue was.

        - email Ozymandias

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