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<rant>

Lately, I've been astounded when logging on as part of my morning routine. There, in the XP nodelet, is the news that I've "gained $n experience points."
OK, so you might ask, "why 'astounded'?" Well, usually, I haven't written anything worth many upvotes.

But what disturbs me is that it appears some nodes are getting multiple upvotes when they plainly 1 deserve to be downvoted. And to me, those upvotes suggest that those who cast them have succumbed to the temptations of XP-whoring or are voting without thoughtful evaluation of the content.

Take this upvoted node2, for example, by a Monk with more than 500 posts and fewer than 50 XP3 (talk about someone with 'one year's experience, eight times)'

Reputation: -9 (+3 -12)
"Please could someone suggest modules or methods that would allow me to go into a bunch of Excel files and extract contents by sheet name. So there is a seperate output file for each class of sheet."

Yep! No code; no sign of any effort, under-spec'ed, misspelling and all, and then, in response to the first reply (which points to Spreadsheet::ParseExcel), this:

"Reputation: -6 (+2 -8)
I am assuming that this is the better option of the two showing up, as of present. Does anyone have code that has done exactly what I wish to do. Please."

So, "assuming" was worth two upvotes? I don't really think so, but we could debate that one, were it not directly followed by an explicit 'gimme!'

However, moving on, lest I fail to offer evidence for frequent irresponsible upvotes, there's the notorious

Reputation: -38 (+8 -46)
perl -le 'print 5056.45 + 10112.92 == 15169.37 ? "as expected" : "perl math sucks!"'

Trolling? "Dis-ing" Perl? Well, a charitable intpretation might be that this was really intended as a clever paraphrase of the accumulated wisdom on the imprecisions of floating point numbers... but in that case, it's surely not so unworthy as to draw so many - -s and thus is just the flip side of "unwarranted upvotes."

And consider, please, another simple (if not explicitly articulated) 'gimme!'

Reputation: -22 (+5 -27)
I tried but I am too rusty. I need a program to : ....

and...

Reputation: -8 (+5 -13)
Hi, i am using perl lite and having problem printing the soap response. The client is print a binary HASH value.
how do i get the complete response (HTML) from the binary HASH value
its SOAP lite

So, to get to the point, do we perhaps need to rethink the awarding of XP for the act of voting?
If so, some options, albeit flawed, might include:

  • Penalizing upvotes where some sufficient (ummm. Yeah, we might have trouble finding a concensus on a value for "sufficient") ratio of Monks have downvoted a node
  • Doing away with XP gains for voting
  • On weekends (when -- it seems to me -- the most egregious upvoting often occurs) suspending XP gains for voting
  • Granting XP gains for voting only at some minimum monk-ish level
  • Additional educational efforts -- perhaps utilizing a method something like the optional preview mode when posting a node or reply; also mandatory until some level of experience is attained
  • Creation of a (strictly limited) order of Monks -- call them "Editors" or "Censors" as you will -- charged with editing 'gimme' nodes (and whatever others are seen as particularly out of conformity with the values and customs of the Monastery) by prepending a warning -- something on the order of "Do NOT upvote this node. OP" ...(showed no effort | mistook the Monastery for a codewriting service | is grossly off-topic | etc)

Is anyone else (concerned | annoyed | {some other negative}) about this? Or is this merely a worthwhile price for passing out votes on rep as we do?

1 Well, YMMV, but the above are only a few example; not necessarily the most (IMO) grotesque.

2 I've debated providing links to the nodes cited, and concluded that doing so would be tantamount to attacking the OPs ... and, in any case, if one wishes to verify my quotes and interpretation, Super Search will suffice.

3 OK, that can be read as evidence that the system overwhelms the unwarranted upvotes -- in the most egregious cases. It's not so clear that's true of the majority of such upvotes -- ++s of nodes that are merely "so-so" or only "minimally bad."

</rant> (for now....)


Update(s): Re a few points raised below...and re possibly lack of clarity above.

First and foremost, the rant is only tangentially about XP... and that, only in the sense that I have a suspicion that some votes are cast in hopes of obtaining XP.

But it is very much about node rep and Anonymonk raises the question at Re: Thoughtless voting? very directly: "Does node reputation matter?"

Since I can't answer the other two questions there, let me address the first... and my answer is a resounding "yes;" not for the writer's ego gratification but as a rough measure of the extent to which the node illuminates the topic at hand or provides pointers to relevant concepts; as a hint about the nodes perceived thoughtfulness; accuracy; wisdom; perceptiveness (or, sometimes, humor or even outstanding use of language). And if we were to develop a way to filter searches by rep, it could be a forward-looking guide, rather than merely retrospective (other than best nodes, PM discourages attempts to read node rep until AFTER the viewer has voted).

On the other hand, I do hope the description of iguanodon's vote is tongue-in-cheek, or some of the irony mentioned elsewhere. Upvoting a node to see the tally skews the count and diminishes the value of that count for those who might later choose to up- or down- vote a node and then discover how well their view comports with whatever consensus, if any exists. (As I write this, about 3 hours after posting, the node's tally reflects no consensus).

John Davies has an interesting point, too, re the voting pattern I discuss: "I don't see evidence that this is encouraging bad or discouraging good nodes."

Nor do I; the Monastery has long had newcomers who bypass recommendations on how to frame a question... and a few, sadly, who've been here long enough to know better. But it's also a site where newcomers frequently raise questions or make comments that earn well-deserved reputations.

But, John, I definitely see casting an upvote for a node where my assessment is '"OK, it's bad, but not that bad"' because as you say, that vote "may be incentive for some to upvote out of generosity...." From my (snarky) viewpoint, the appropriate generosity is in *not* downvoting the bad node (And anyway, there are too many *really good nodes* most days to waste votes and effort downvoting anything other than those which state something definitely untrue/inaccurate) or which really reflect a lack of interest in learning from good advice (in the vein of i didn't bother to study the docs you told me about; just gimme some code to do that job).

This is becoming way too long, so just two more points:

  • ChuckularOne's parting observation seems suggest creating some 'measure of merit' accessible to visitors hoping for guidance on how any given Monk's guidance may stack up against some competing suggestion
  • ++ to wjw's comment. I don't buy all of it, but several points seem to be well worth thinking about.

In reply to Thoughtless voting? by ww

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