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On downvoting (Re: Interesting use of the chatterbox...)

by tye (Sage)
on Apr 12, 2002 at 17:03 UTC ( #158629=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to Re: Interesting use of the chatterbox...
in thread Interesting use of the chatterbox...

To me, the "If you downvote, please reply" idea seems nice at first but doesn't hold up under much scrutiny. My position is:

If you have something to say, then say it. If it is constructive or interesting, then consider posting it. If not, a /msg would be better, but better still might be to decide that you don't have anything worth saying, but that is up to you.

If I "say something" that criticizes, I try to be constructive. But just being criticized, even in a constructive manner, is often a bit of a blow. So if I criticize I don't downvote because that would be "adding injury to insult".

But if one doesn't have anything useful to say but can't manage to just let things go, then I'd rather one downvote than rant or insult.

So I consider a downvote to be an anonymous expression of disapproval from someone who doesn't have anything worth saying. And I personally don't want to hear from such people. I don't see any good in "/msg tye Boy, you are stupid". And I see plenty of potential bad in that. I've heard people say that they'd rather get such a /msg from each downvoter rather than silent downvotes. But I boggle when I hear such claims.

I'm sure there are lots of people that don't like something that they perceive (accurately or not) about me or something I wrote. If one of them can find the strength to make an intelligent, thoughtful expression of it to me, then I might be able to find the strength to take the criticism well and perhaps discuss the disagreement. If they "have nothing worth saying", then I'm pretty sure I don't want to hear from them.

But I am certainly not quick to downvote, and I encourage others to not downvote too easily. There are lots of reasons to skip over the downvote. I'll give just a couple of examples of reasons.

First, I hate downvoting of new members. Their first posting is unlikely to be a great node. But I don't find treating them to "Ack! You lost 2 experience points!" repeatedly to be useful. Yes, I want them to be encouraged to improve. But new members are also unlikely to understand the XP system and so can easily react very badly, ranting, whining, storming off never to return, becoming a troll, etc. I'd like a new feature that prevents XP from going negative (at least for a while after your first posting) so that downvoting would be less likely to make such a bad first impression.

Second, I usually avoid downvoting nodes that are unlikely to have a positive reputation (because they are new or appear the type of node that others would downvote). I don't enjoy traumatizing people with those "Ack!" messages or by putting their node in Worst Nodes. I enjoy even less listening to them whine about being downvoted. Let us take this thread as an example:

This thread started out with:

Chances are I'll get downvoted for this. That's fine... Chances are I'll lose a lot of XP for this... That's fine too...
and after 6 replies we get:
After having lost 1 XP (from the -3 rep), I'm starting to see that people are just downvoting because they disagree with my "rant." Like I said originally, that's fine.
In other words, just don't blindly downvote because you disagree. Write a reply... Please.
So with a reputation of -3 and 6 replies we are already told to stop downvoting without replying. By my count, there was no basis for assuming that there were any people downvoting that were not also replying.

So even someone who repeatedly says that they expect to get downvoted and won't mind, we still get complaining after the loss of a single XP. It can be very hard to ignore the XP when you are getting downvoted. It is very easy to ignore the XP when you are getting XP for casting downvotes or when you are listening to someone else complain.

I'd like a downvote to give the voter a chance of losing one XP. Either the voter thinks you should ignore the XP and so a downvote shouldn't be a big deal and so they shouldn't find the potential loss of one XP to be a big deal either. Or, the voter only downvotes in extreme cases and shouldn't mind the very rare loss of a single XP.

In anticipation of alternate proposals: I don't want to eliminate downvotes. I find them to be at least a valuable "release valve", probably preventing (IMHO) more rants than the number of complaints they generate. I've reviewed many, many proposals for how to limit downvoting in a wide variety of ways, some written by me. In the end, I couldn't support any of them.

BTW, I find the current voting/XP system to be pretty good. No, node reputations don't accurately reflect the quality of a node. I think there are lots of such unrealistic expectations that we could discuss (not that I really want to dicuss them). Of course, there will always be room for the occasional minor tweak, especially as the audience for this site changes and evolves. But, IMHO, the voting/XP system has a lot to do with the success of this site.

        - tye (but my friends call me "Tye")

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: On downvoting (Re: Interesting use of the chatterbox...)
by mirod (Canon) on Apr 12, 2002 at 17:44 UTC

    I downvote (rarely) in 2 cases:

    • obviously bogus code or bad advice: posts are here to stay, and I think the downvotes help teach people that they should really know what they are talking about when they publish code, and that they should test it before posting. BTW that's also why my favorite code style is a complete script with the DATA part holding test data: this allows readers to download and test the code, and to add more tests if they want to. If there is no further post correcting the mistake then I post a correction, otherwise I believe the -- is enough.
    • trolls, or really bad meditation, especially deliberatelly provocative ones. Some monks make a habit of posting before they have really thought about a problem, I think it is worth --'ing them in an (often futile) attempt at making them realize that just like you should think before writing code, you should think before posting.

    I think a lot of newcomers start by posting a lot, often bad quality posts, in order to gain XP. The downvotes help teaching them the proper behaviour, which is to post accurate code and well-thought out meditations. Posting should not translate into automatic XPs.

Re: On downvoting (Re: Interesting use of the chatterbox...)
by Biker (Priest) on Apr 12, 2002 at 18:51 UTC

    "I'd like a downvote to give the voter a chance of losing one XP."

    I'd like to propose a somewhat less drastic change. I think it shouldn't be possible for the voter to gain XP by downvoting. As it is right now, I could spend all my votes downvoting and still climb in 'experience' as a result.

    Everything went worng, just as foreseen.

Re: On downvoting (Re: Interesting use of the chatterbox...)
by Necos (Friar) on Apr 12, 2002 at 20:58 UTC
    In the root post, I pointed out that I was probably going to get downvoted for the node was because I was going to talk about a fairly controversial topic that I know quite a few people will disagree with.

    If you walk into a park and there's a sign on it that says "Anything goes," chances are that after some mishaps (theft, fights, etc.), even if the sign says no rules, that the regulars will begin to agree on a type of etiquette. In the case of my root node, I was pointing out a particular type of question, as well as how the question was asked.

    When I said Am I being paranoid... I was asking whether or not there was some sort of "etiquette" that had developed in the CB. According to most of the replies, the answer is no.

    When I wrote the After -3 rep..., there were only 3 replies or so (I think). By time I finished writing, there were a few more replies (I should note it was like 3AM or something and I was half asleep). I'm just trying to start a discussion on the "etiquette (or lack thereof)" that may have developed over time in the chatterbox. For example, in places like #perl (on IRC), CGI/Apache/WWW specific questions are frowned upon.

    In posting this node, I was hoping to start a interesting debate... And, from the looks of it, it somewhat backfired. Oh well...

    Theodore Charles III
    Network Administrator
    Los Angeles Senior High
    4650 W. Olympic Blvd.
    Los Angeles, CA 90019
    323-937-3210 ext. 224
    perl -e "map{print++$_}split//,Mdbnr;"
      In the root post, I pointed out that I was probably going to get downvoted for the node was because I was going to talk about a fairly controversial topic that I know quite a few people will disagree with.

      This has been debated in the past and talked about endlessly, I myself am a bit torn on the subject... but I do believe that most people do not downvote because they disagree with the poster of the node. They downvote due to lack of code or lack of communication or lack of research or lack of manners (if a post is crude or rude..), but I think many upvote a node if it's a discussion. Many do not agree and won't agree with what's posted here in Meditations - but if it provokes thought and interest .. whether it's pro or con - I think monks in general upvote or leave neutral the post (of course, this is just my take on it..). Anyways, these discussions is how we get to know one another as well as see outside our daily box.. see how other monks view things from all over the world. It's a bit nice to hear views from the outside. Anyways, don't get discourged Necos with the downvotes.. it'll happen from time to time.

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