I seem to be quite the downvote-magnet. (Witness the number of negative votes that, by now, I’m quite sure this post has accumulated. I rest my case.) I’m sure that I am therefore
seen dismissed-outright as biased (when I am not), but I think that what you see here is just a well-entrenched psychology of this site. People here apparently like to make negative comments “Anonymously,” so that they cannot accumulate downvotes as a result of being exceptionally rude. And, they definitely like to downvote. So, I never expect the web software to be changed.
What sort of changes would I consider to be useful? I’ve said them before ... and they come straight from the standard practices of other sites:
No more Anonymous Monk. You can’t post if you don’t have an account, and if your session times-out while you are waxing loquacious, you must log-in again to proceed. I know of no other site that permits comments without identification and accountability.
- Separate tallying of “up” votes, “down” votes, and the total of votes-cast. If a very popular thread gets 5 upvotes and 5 downvotes, it got 10 votes, which makes it quite popular, yet the total is zero ... the popularity cannot be seen except by the gods, but it just might be the number I most want to see when deciding whether to read this one or not.
- The ability to sort postings in ascending or descending order by any of these three numbers.
- Show the current counts whether-or-not you have cast a vote yourself. (Right now, the number is hid unless/until you vote. If I am (see below) seeking to use that number as a quality-metric, I need to see it!)
I am indifferent to “XP” and have no aspirations to the Papacy, but I do use PM constantly as an information resource. “Positive votes” are, to me, a very strong indication of how useful therefore how relevant the posting is, or was at the time. “Negative votes” are useless to me. “Total votes” are an indication of how much attention the posting received; another potential indication of information quality. When I am faced with almost any new problem, I pretty-much know that “someone has already banged their head against this before, and someone else has come up with something brilliant.” Therefore, I search first. But I have, right now, very limited ability to make the big-fish bubble to the top of what is sometimes quite a long list.
I sometimes wonder if we should have a different approach to the same thing, e.g. “Did you find this post helpful?” And, especially if not, to provide feedback such as WikiPedia supports, that is ... “Why or why not?” and expressed as categories. I would also like to filter my searches by these categories, e.g. to exclude them. (Remember that I am often searching about things that I, at that time, know relatively little about, so peer-rating categorizations made “back then” are another bellwether of information quality.) I don’t care about “the person.” I care about the (then-)perceived quality of the post itself even if it is six years old now.
Some things about the site, however, are relatively unique and work exceptionally well, IMHO. The “consider” mechanism enables ordinary users, of sufficient yet moderate ranking, to collectively act in the capacity of a Moderator ... such that the general level of information quality is here, and the spam content is low, all without burdening a small-handful of users with that thankless duty. The “approve user questions” system works well, and I generally agree with the collective’s “front-page” selections. The Super Search facility is also well-implemented.
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