|Syntactic Confectionery Delight|
Greetings, brethren and sistren. I come to you with a scary proposal; one which you'll doubtless wish to downvote just as quickly as your mousing skills will allow. Once you've completed that urgent task, however, I'm hoping you'll find a bit of time to read over the idea, and see what you think. ;-)
Quite some time ago, vroom was kind enough to install our voting system. It was a pretty darned good idea: good posts would be voted up, and bad posts would be voted down. And to make a game of writing good nodes, users would gain experience and levels for casting and receiving votes. And with those levels would come new powers... which, at the time, simply meant more votes.
The system wasn't (and isn't, and won't be, and probably can't be) perfect. Myriad discussions were held, and many changes were made, but even from the beginning the system was effective in aiding the growth of a unique community. One thing which hasn't changed, though, is the level system; and because it hasn't changed, it's really very different now.
You see, back when I was your age, we had respect for our elders! Err... sorry; that slipped out. I meant to say: back when I was an Initiate, this was a much smaller community. There were very few saints, and the relatively small number of voters didn't have that many votes. So when a really good post came along, it might earn a reputation of 20 or so. Even with a much lower $NORM, and a big XP bonus for using all of your votes on a given day, it was far harder then to become a saint.
Today, of course, things are rather different. We have, at the moment, 322 Saints in our Book; and with the top node of the week weighing in at a rep of 101, hitting that 3000XP mark for Saint just isn't all that challenging. Gaining levels is a silly game, of course; it's not really why we help each other out. But we're programmers; we're famous for enjoying silly games long past the age where sensible people have had enough. And for more and more of us, the game is over.
The question is whether we'd like it not to be over... and, just as you were wondering whether I had one, that brings me around to my point. I think it'd be cool to change the level system. But since a chart is worth a thousand words (depending on the size of a word on your system), let me show you what I'm thinking. Just keep in mind that it's a proposal, and that the details can change.
The basic idea, here, was to raise the highest normal level to the point where it presented a more appropriate challenge, to double the number of levels, in order to maintain that steady sense of progress which is so motivational for many at the lower levels, and to have the whole thing be a bit more logical than the current system.
There would be several implications for most users. First, the good news: your level would probably go up! Hooray!
Okay, now the "beautiful day for my auto-da-fe" news: while a few folks would have more votes, many would have fewer. There would probably be some adjustments to the level powers, the details of which I've not worked out. And the number of people who hold the title of 'Saint' would drop to (at the moment) 49. I, for instance, would drop to 'Arch-Bishop'. But hey, how can you resist the glamor of becoming a Grand Inquisitor?
Now, if you can get past all that, it's downhill from there. You might find the XP requirements odd, but they are sensible: each level requires a bit more than the last one did, in a fairly smooth curve from 0 to 10,000. I actually cooked up an algorithm for this, and then rounded off the numbers a bit. I'd have to dig around to find the algorithm, but rest assured, it was breathtakingly elegant. I didn't bury it to keep from looking like a mathematical clodhopper. Trust me.
The level titles, and their order, I devised after a truly ridiculous amount of time spent reading online reference works like the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia, with a fair bit of assistance from the equally misguided zdog. They are not wholly accurate, of course; for one thing, there just isn't a straightforward hierarchy like this to use as a model. The real organizations from which offices and roles have been borrowed show a few thousand years of cruft; there are sub-hierarchies, differing roughly-parallel orders of authority, and so on. I nixed 'Pontiff' in favor of a single 'Pope', since they're roughly synonyms. I threw in 'Monsignor', despite that it's actually an honorific for anyone who has risen to at least 'Prior', just because it sounds cool. And, as some will have guessed, I just nabbed 'Grand Inquisitor' straight from Dostoevsky. Anyway, you just can't have too many people going, "No one expects the Perlmonks Inquisition!" in the CB, right?
Since I know it's going to come up, I'd might as well address it now: yes, we borrow language from a religious tradition. Since I've already written it, quite some time ago, I'll just link to my opinion on the topic... which contains some suspiciously familiar elements. Short version: this is as much of an endorsement of Christianity as dressing up as Father Guido Sarducci for Halloween.
It's also been noted that this system could be made adaptive, so that the level requirements changed in order to assure that a certain proportion of the people were at any given level. I don't favor such a scheme, as I think people like more static goals, and as this would make the system more directly competitive. If, four years hence, the system needs to be changed again, I'm okay with that.
So, anyway, there's the idea. I'm hoping that a lot of people receive it in the same spirit of fun in which it is proposed, and that there is a minimum of panic. Implementation is not imminent; this really is a proposal, at this point. While I would like to see this happen, I do not think it's worth a major upheaval; the peace of our community is more important than 'improvements' to the system which exists to serve the community. Your replies will, therefore, be taken quite seriously in an effort to determine a consenus.