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The changes:
  • Reduction/Elimination of vote-out bonus
  • Delay of Posting Bonus
  • Weighted XP Reward for High Node Reputation

I'd like to explain at least my motivations for encouraging the XP changes, and hopefully shed some light on the thought processes involved.

I've read at least one post where the author felt that the changes will reduce the fun for newbies, or make it harder for them to advance. This is the direct opposite of our intention. Though XP may be gained more slowly by all, there was unanimous insistence that we continue to give lower-level users a bonus for voting out. We want to continue to make Perl Monks a fun place to hang out, and a good place to contribute and advance in recognition. Except for the reduced XP-per-vote odds, lower-level users will see no difference in the XP-for-voting bonus. It works the same way as it always did, at a somewhat reduced speed.

Philosophically, any group should encourage/enforce a potential member to learn about the community before allowing him/her into its ranks. Usenet and mailing lists almost universally ask that new people lurk a while before posting. PM does not. It does, however, provide an alternative method of "initiating" new users.

We give the initiate an average of <nobr>1 XP</nobr> per day (25% chance of +4 per day) just for lurking. If a user never posts anything, he/she will reach novice in a few weeks at the longest, just for showing up. When a user reaches novice, we deem him/her "worthy" (because of lurking time) to vote on others' posts. For the next three levels, newer users are encouraged to learn quality in posting, as they judge others' posts and see how their opinions compare to other users'.

This is a Good Thing.

Now, once a user has reached the status of Monk, why do we need to still strongly encourage him/her to learn about the quality standards of our community? We don't. That is why the vote-out bonus stops at Level 5. When you have reached Monk, you are now an experienced, trusted, valued member of the PM community, and no longer need the extra encouragement to participate in PM. You've learned how to be a part of Perl Monks, and you've arrived. Point one (reduce the vote-out bonus), effects this. New users are more strongly encouraged to learn about the site until they are sufficiently experienced.

There is a way to "short-circuit" all of this initiation process: good posts. Here is Point two. With the previous system, a user could join and, by making a bunch of "me-too" or useless posts, "earn" the right to earn voting bonuses and judge other posts without ever learning who this group really is. It was possible to join this community and affect its "persona" without even knowing what the group is trying to be. Perl Monks, as a community, is saying, "We value quality contributions."

"Me-too" and "Thank You" posts are not discouraged. They will not be encouraged as much as before, however. Light-hearted, humorous fun-loving posts will not be penalized, but neither will you get an automatic +1 XP just for typing a sentence or two. We value quality posts, and as a corollary, we will not automatically value a post until it is considered "quality."

The standard for quality is still pretty easy to attain. Someone must vote "++" on your post. That's it. "The +1 voting bonus will be awarded when a node gets its first ++ vote." We are trying to stem the tide of ("Me too!", "Thank you!", or "good point!") responses just to gain XP.

Since we value quality, we want to more richly reward the authors of the highest quality posts (Point three). There was an ever-growing concern about "rep inflation." As more and more users join, and were so strongly encouraged to "vote early, vote often," reputation was beginning to mean less and less. There are a lot of really fantastic older posts, with reps less than many average (at best) newer posts. This is expected. There were few people around to vote on those older posts, so the reps will obviously be lower.

Normalized XP bonuses seek to help evaluate the reputation. If you write a post good enough to receive 4 times the average, you deserve to get mega-XP from that post. You worked hard to write it; the community should reward your effort. Normalizing the bonuses helps the community's opinion have the effect it should. When one user considers your post good enough for ++, you get a chance at XP. When most of the community appreciates your work, you deserve more than just a chance at XP.

By next year, a rep in the 50's may be only above average, where right now, it is worth a place in Best Nodes. We may have to evaluate rep inflation again by that point, but normalized bonuses help ensure that when a node is worthy of Best Nodes, it will be rewarded more highly.

Let me point out the other main motivation for Point one (eliminate the vote-out bonus after Monk status). Having achieved the rank of Monk and higher, it became more "profitable" to vote out than to contribute. An Abbot (with 25 votes per day), could expect an average of 6 XP from the 1/4 odds, and could depend on 12 XP for the vote-out bonus. 18 XP per day, just for voting! What if there weren't really 25 vote-able posts? That +12 all-at-once bonus was pretty darn enticing...
Just for reference, 18 XP is the equivalent of a post which gets 54 reputation. We were rewarding every abbot as if he had made a Best Nodes-worthy post every day, just for voting out!

This had a double-negative effect.

  • Higher-level users were gaining XP more and more quickly, from less and less effort.
  • Reputation inflation was getting worse and worse, fueled by the first problem.
More votes resulted in more XP given out, which created more high-level users, who voted-out their increased number of votes for the vote-out XP bonus, which gave out even more XP...

We encouraged Point one to protect newbies from ourselves, not the other way around.

Anyway, I hope this helps explain some of the motivations. I truly believe this is a necessary and positive change to Perl Monks. Though it may have seemed a bit sudden, this change has been discussed, argued, fought and wrangled-over many times. Other posts in this thread provide some links to the many times this issue was raised right here in Perl Monks Discussion. This was and is all about preserving a meaningful community atmosphere at Perl Monks. I, for one, feel at home here. I hope you do, too.

Abbot Russ

In reply to RE: Proposed XP System Changes (Our intentions/philosophy) by Russ
in thread Proposed XP System Changes by vroom

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