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Re: Quick feedback option for downvotes

by Eimi Metamorphoumai (Deacon)
on Mar 15, 2007 at 15:17 UTC ( #605001=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to Quick feedback option for downvotes

I really don't think there's enough support for the idea to be implemented and turned on for everyone. But I bet it wouldn't be too difficult to write it as a Free Nodelet hack, adding a text box next to each voting button, and /msging the text (if any) to the user in question. Then you can see how many people actually want to use such a thing, and they can use it easily.

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Re^2: Quick feedback option for downvotes (eloquence)
by tye (Sage) on Mar 15, 2007 at 17:57 UTC

    The problem with that idea is that, as noted in the highest-rated reply of this thread (and as I've noted in old threads), you need to allow the recipients to opt in or out as well.

    In response to this whole idea of attaching text to votes, I mostly think this comes from faulty logic, only looking at the situation from a specific angle. One starts with "I got downvoted and don't know why" and tries to come up with ways to get explanation for the downvotes. But it is important to stop looking at it from the vote recipient's perspective and look at it from the vote caster's perspective, especially since the one casting the votes is the one whose behavior would have to change.

    From the vote caster's perspective, they already have three fairly convenient ways to give written feedback (click the "reply" link, click the "/msg author" link, or mention it in the Chatter Box). So, if they have words to express their disapproval or approval of the node, they can already do that. If I'm going to write feedback, then I'm not going to also downvote because there is a good chance of a positive, useful response to "You could improve your node if ..." and much less chance of a good reaction to "I punished you because ...".

    So there are very good reasons to not attach a downvote to a comment. Sure, it is easy to think "if only there were a comment attached to that downvote". But when you look from the other (more practical) angle, the angle of the person with the information to give, tieing those items together isn't a good idea.

    I've already noted that adding a text field to each node to make it even easier to provide written feed-back might be an acceptable enhancement provided that both senders and receivers be able to either opt in or opt out. It might even get a small percentage of downvotes converted into text feedback. There are a lot more obstacles to going from downvote to text than just convenience. For one thing, most downvotes are cast by relatively few people who just cast a lot of downvotes. I doubt they'll suddenly start sending lots of private messages. So the lion's share of downvotes aren't going to get explained that way. I downvote when I've decided that I don't know how or don't want to give effective written feedback (often because I think the reason is not hard to figure out).

    Now, this particular (root node) proposal went beyond what I've discussed above. The ability to cast more specific types of votes ("off topic", "misses the point", "vague", "rude", "inaccurate", "insightful", "funny", "useful") has more merit. I particularly like the positive categories, but that wouldn't address the motivation that causes this same basic idea to get proposed over and over. So what about the negative categories? I think it would be helpful in some cases but I also see it causing more problems. The simple increasing of the emphasis on and visibility of negative votes will likely cause more aggrevation and complaining. Although getting a note of "rude" contains more information than a note of "--", I don't envision that extra information being particularly comforting for me as a recipient. I mostly see it being more likely to cause me to try to react to it, updating my node or replying trying to explain why I wasn't being rude or denying that I was rude. That is how hurt feelings get more hurt and how flame wars start.

    So I think it is important to only convert downvotes into more information when the source of the information has the eloquence to convey that information in a manner that likely will be well accepted. In some cases, I feel I have that eloquence and in some cases I don't.

    Having pre-defined "downvote reasons" reminds me of the times when someone has endeavoured to solve some common posting mistake by composing a boiler plate response that they would post each time they saw the mistake. I and many others found those responses quite obnoxious. However, when someone finds the eloquence to point out the frenquently-made mistake while also providing less-rude accompanying text (which can't be boiler plate) and providing some help specific to other aspects of the question, then such is usually appreciated by many (note that I find the too-frequent short notes that mostly consist of links to nodes with titles like "how to not be such an idiot when asking a question" obnoxious).

    So I think it is good when someone explains why a node might attract downvotes. But that needs to be done politely and with some eloquence. And it is obnoxious if you get 10 such notices so it can be good if such is done in public. But doing it in public means that there should be an equal way to respond. Which is why such should be done by replying or via the Chatter Box.

    So, on the whole, I don't like the original (root node) proposal. So I clearly don't find it desirable enough to be worth the extensive changes it requires.

    I also think more people should learn to tolerate a little mystery in their lives and be encouraged to try to figure things out for themselves. When I notice a node of mine is downvoted, it isn't a pleasant experience but I find thinking about all of the different ways that my node might be badly perceived helps me. And practicing not becoming obsessed about a few downvotes is also good. In life, I sometimes notice that people are upset with me. On the practical side, trying to get the details out of them often ends up badly. On the theory side, if I were psychic I suspect I'd also be less happy in many situations.

    As noted in the site documentation, one downvote on a node almost always has more to do with the person casting the vote than with the node. In my experience, several downvotes on a node is usually pretty easy to figure out.

    - tye        

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