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Sudden Impressions on the Experience System

by Sigmund (Pilgrim)
on Apr 30, 2002 at 10:01 UTC ( #163017=monkdiscuss: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

people; I was wondering about experience. Not my own experience in my life, but PerlMonks Experience. I see that I'm pushed by my subconscious to keep in good consideration fellow monks that have a high level, and therefore a high experience. But I soon realize that many many low-level monks vote as many nodes as possible without thinking just because there is a chance to get more xp points (and here I say "more xp points", which doesn't mean at all "more experience"). This inevitably leads to a distortion of the whole system; I fear that many points in the Holy Monastery are randomly assigned by some monks.
The other terrible consideration is that, if I post a banal node (say a really simple and obvious obfu, for instance) I get the possibility to be upvoted just because of the already exposed habit. So, if I was stupid believing to be smart, I'd post an incredible number of simple but not silly nodes, shoveling xp points out of 'em and without really meriting them.
This is evil. And worst of all leads to decay, 'cos many acolytes will grow with a wrong concept of experience.
I'd like to point out that this is not a challenge, or at least not versus other monks. That's a challenge versus ourselves, and we cannot win if we get far from the right path.
All this to propose a thing: as I found that there are some basic forms of exploitation of the experience system, I thought it would have been possible to modify it in the following way:

experience is assigned by the following rule: XP=(points/number of posted nodes)

so that if I get many points from many obvious posts, their weight is reduced. By the way, doing this way, people would be pushed towards posting really good works, getting many upvotes for them, as the method of posting "bait nodes" to get upvotes wouldn't work anymore.
You could fear that this can be discouraging for low-level monks, and so I thought that some correction factor could be introduced to calibrate the previous rule depending on the actual level of the monk (i.e. if you are a low-level monk, your calculation will be corrected by a >1 positive factor which will be lowered proportionally as you raise your level).
After all, I'm pleased with myself to have succeeded in reaching "monk (5)" status with only few more than twenty nodes, and this may be not a rarity, but it surely is not the rule.
I'm working towards the "friar" status, but I wanna be sure to get there for my merits and not by chance, and so I would it to be for all my brethren. We're learning Perl in a wonderful way, experiencing the spirit of a real community without neither have ever met each other, and I don't want to see all this transformed in the brand new net-related battlefield.
Sincerely yours,


perl -le 's ssSss.s sSsSiss.s s$ .$s\107ss.print'

  • Comment on Sudden Impressions on the Experience System

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Re: Sudden Impressions on the Experience System
by Biker (Priest) on Apr 30, 2002 at 11:53 UTC

    I have to chime in to complicate things a little bit. I do that a lot at work too.

    Please, don't forget that real experience will grow also with reading. Reading is an important part of the learning curve. Reading is important after having posted a question. And "lurking" can learn you a lot.

    I think the idea behind getting points from voting is that one should read, hopefully understand, potentially agree and absolutely appreciate a post before voting ++. By reading many questions and answers one can learn a lot. (Personally, I just love FAQ pages. I learn so much from most of them.)

    Writing is good, but reading is very important too to growing ones experience. I believe many Monks gain more in XP level from voting (after reading?) than from writing their own nodes. (It's possible that I could be proven wrong. BTW, it wouldn't be the first time. ;-)

    To make it more real, how could we measure that a Monk has really read the node s/he is voting on? No, i don't think it's possible, so much of the XP system will rely on each Monks own consciousness.

    Everything went worng, just as foreseen.

Re: Sudden Impressions on the Experience System
by particle (Vicar) on Apr 30, 2002 at 12:11 UTC
    xp means little, or nothing. i have pretty high xp, but i still make mistakes. i can point you to at least two dozen of my posts with inaccurate information (perhaps one day i'll clean them up.) i've seen some nodes considered by their authors because they posted inaccurate information, and didn't want down-votes. i think that's bad form. if you make a mistake, get an honest assessment, including any down-votes that come along with it. some monks, (merlyn for one) sometimes come across as harsh, and their nodes are downvoted. i don't see them considering a node to prevent the loss of xp. they realize it's not about xp.

    i don't think the experience system would benefit from (this) change. perhaps a better solution is simply to put a small disclaimer under the monestary gates, it's not about the xp, or forget the xp, remember the experience. or better still: we can simply make those phrases part of our meditations on becoming better monks.

    here are some posts to help you meditate:

    On Monkness (mine, anyway)
    Stubborn as a Saint
    Beginnings of the Voting Experience System
    The true PerlMonks Experience

    there are many more like this. seek and ye shall find.

    ~Particle *accelerates*

      i've seen some nodes considered by their authors because they posted inaccurate information, and didn't want down-votes.
      I've posted some real wrong stuff too, I guess most have. When this is pointed out to me, I usually add something like this to the beginning of the node:

      Update: Doh. I was wrong/didn't test the code/whatever it was. I'm gonna leave this here to serve as a warning to myself and others to not do the same again. :)

      That way I both can stand for my mistakes, while at the same time not risk anyone actually following my poor advice. And I actually think that if someone is so concerned about it, people will not vote you down much for such a node (when updated) either.

      I think it is a good way to go.

      You have moved into a dark place.
      It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a grue.
(jeffa) Re: Sudden Impressions on the Experience System
by jeffa (Bishop) on Apr 30, 2002 at 14:56 UTC
    "..many low-level monks vote as many nodes as possible without thinking just because there is a chance to get more xp points..."

    Maybe so, but i think most low-level monks choose their votes wisely because they do not have a lot of votes to cast each day. I know i did. Most of the time i played catch up - i would bookmark good nodes when i ran out of votes and ++ them the next day ... pretty soon i was only voting on nodes from the previous day. :)

    "...I'd post an incredible number of simple but not silly nodes, shoveling xp points out of 'em..."

    I've seen a few newer monks start out at this site by doing that, but extreme saturation like that really hurts them in the end. If i see 5 posts in a row by someone within a very short amount of time, i'll generally only vote for what i consider to be their most useful node to me.

    "I'm working towards the 'friar' status, but I wanna be sure to get there for my merits and not by chance..."

    I'm afraid you will have to settle for a blend of the two. As my good friend extremely says - high XP at Perlmonks does not necessarily mean you are good at Perl, just good at Perlmonks. :)

    I'll end by saying that as you increase in level at this site, the difficulty of sticking around gets harder. You will get a lot more out of this site by forgetting about XP now ... i know i would have left in discouragement a long time ago if i still worried about XP - i still do, but only if i say something wrong. If i answer someone's question and only get, say 5 ++ points, i don't care about the points if i truely helped that person. My biggest reward in that regard is a private /msg or a reply of thanks.


    (the triplet paradiddle with high-hat)
Re: Sudden Impressions on the Experience System
by cjf (Parson) on Apr 30, 2002 at 10:19 UTC
    I see that I'm pushed by my subconscious to keep in good consideration fellow monks that have a high level, and therefore a high experience.

    Big mistake, Just look at my XP ;-)

    if I get many points from many obvious posts, their weight is reduced

    I assume you've taken a look at the Voting/experience system. Many posts with low reps will gain you less XP than a few with very high reps.

    I soon realize that many many low-level monks vote as many nodes as possible without thinking just because there is a chance to get more xp points


    This inevitably leads to a distortion of the whole system


    The voting system does provide people with a small incentive to examine what they're posting a bit closer, helps moderation a bit, and encourages people to vote on nodes to achieve the two prior goals. So it does have a bit of use. It isn't an accurate measure of anything though, so I wouldn't worry too much about it :).

Re: Sudden Impressions on the Experience System
by Molt (Chaplain) on Apr 30, 2002 at 12:21 UTC

    I can see your point in wanting to discourage people using 'bait nodes' with the obvious and just trying to garner XP from it, but I'm not sure your proposed solution is ideal.

    I've just made a post, I personally considered it obvious but by the way the question was asked I don't think the person asking had thought it. I also read through the other posts on the topic checking no one had raised this particular potential red flag, none had so I did.

    Did I do it to garner XP? No. I am a Monk myself, and am very close to moving to Friar, but I try to post what I think needs to be said not what I think I'll get upvoted on. If I was bothered about XP though and your system was in place I wouldn't have posted it, the person asking may not have realised this 'obvious' thing and bad things would have happened.

    Often the nodes which are 'common sense obvious' will get are quite fairly overlooked, and won't get upvoted, but I'm still going to post them since I want the person to know this, and I'm as 'proud' of posting them as I am of any of the more conversation nodes I post which tend to get voted higher.

    I'm now over fifty nodes posted, all replies to questions. I've not yet posted a question or meditation because I've not had anything I've felt warranted other people's time. I am actually now working on a SoPW question, but this is to get answers leading to knowledge, not to get XP.

    To have a community we need people who post what they think, not only what others want to hear. In my opinion trying to enforce that equation you mentioned would work the opposite way, people may well post the greatest breakthrough replies we see but we'd rapidly lose their 'slight correction' replies. We'd lose posts which post out the simple and obvious on the grounds that people often still manage to overlook it.

    The XP system is possibly broken, I really don't know as it seems to work okay as far as I can see. What you suggest strikes me as just as broken though. 'Punishing' the people who post the great posts because they also post small replies which don't attract XP is not going to help matters.

      "The XP system is possibly broken, I really don't know as it seems to work okay as far as I can see. What you suggest strikes me as just as broken though. 'Punishing' the people who post the great posts because they also post small replies which don't attract XP is not going to help matters."

      I don't actually think either solution is less broken than the other. What is broken is those who (ab)use the system in the way described. And I agree with the other point that has been made, most of those folks either ease up as they realise wht this site is about (continued learning), or they don't last very long. And most who hang here alot pick out the trolls and ignore them.

      It's about how you use the system, not how you can (ab)use the system.

      "Nothing is sure but death and taxes" I say combine the two and its death to all taxes!
Re: Sudden Impressions on the Experience System
by dsb (Chaplain) on Apr 30, 2002 at 15:13 UTC
    I believe concentrating on XP tends to turn your presence here into more of a competition. When I first joined this site, I was all about XP points. Did I vote on nodes because I thought I'd get points from it? Yep. Did I get a lot of points this way? I don't know. Am I worried about it now? Not in the least.

    I would have to think that the people who truly pay attention on this site, will know just who is the real deal. And I don't mean only those who have thousands of XP points AND a good reputation. I mean those who are serious about learning Perl. Part of learning means asking questions. Sometimes it means asking questions to which the answers are obvious, only to be told to RTFM. I doubt there are many people who have NEVER been told to RTFM. To implement a system such as the one you suggest would discourage those questions. What then? I don't know about anyone else, but many times I've learned something myself while trying to answer a question posed by a member who is a newcomer to Perl.

    There are monks(not in the level 5 sense) who come here simply for answers. They are entitled. But the names I regularly see on this site, are people that I believe are genuinely interested in learning/helping. I really don't think it matters if there are those that only seek to look like good programmers.

    At this point in my Monastery Life, I don't care much about XP. I care more about the quality of my posts. Yes, its pretty cool when I level up(I just did actually), but its not the end-all be-all for me. My goal here is not to achieve Sainthood. My goal here is not to have people ++ my nodes because I am who I am(which I don't think they would anyway ;0). My goal here is not to be a better monk than anyone else. My goal here IS to learn Perl and become more skilled as a programmer. My goal here IS to become a part of a community where the emphasis is on learning, helping, and in many ways, even teaching.

    Those that are here for the XP Points and just go around ++'ing nodes will either lose interest and go away, or either change modes and become a productive, if not sincere, member of Perlmonks.

    Besides, you don't get many votes when you are a lower level, and any person who is going to spend the time needed to voting enough nodes to achieve the higher levels(bishop, pontiff, saint) might be deserving anyway. <sarcasm>If nothing else, they are dedicated.</sarcasm>

    I'm not trying to say I pay NO attention to XP Points because I do. I am trying to say that they are far from the most important part of my being here.

Re: Sudden Impressions on the Experience System
by tjh (Curate) on Apr 30, 2002 at 17:36 UTC
    At various times I've drilled down into prior discussions about the merits of the vote/XP system. Read lots of opinions about what it should be, could be, and what it probably really is.

    Ultimately, I think I've ended up with these thoughts:

    • Someone's XP's are really only a very slight indicator of the person's worth ala Perl and/or PerlMonks. They're probably more indicative of their PerlMonks activities. Nevertheless, they do somehow increase that person's visibility or reputation, whatever that's worth

    • I have felt rewarded for upvotes on my posts, regardless of whether I thought I, or the post, deserved the votes. So, that feeling helped bond me more to PM, however false that feeling may have been.

    • I do try to use all my votes daily. Mostly because it's impressive how many people safely post for help here, and how many interesting answers they get - quickly. If one of the only things I can do is vote based on my view of the post's merits, then I can at least do that.

    • When reading someone's post or reply, I'll often view the homenode, and pull up their posts to see what they're like, what their other PM work looks like, etc. I do this because the XP's don't work to validate knowledge, but they are a flag that this person might be worth paying attention to.

    • I still have so much Perl and programming knowledge to gain that I can't even pretend that my XP's matter, even to myself...

    • Huge serendipity moments have happened for me while trying to answer or research an answer on someone's question. Occasionally, I'll race to find the answer prior to someone posting it. Reading Works. Sometimes my votes are "Thank You's"...

    One thing certainly seems true to me about XP's, reputation and levels;

    They are such mushy concepts, such lively strange attractors, can be applied with so many different explanations (TMTOWTDI), that they are one of components of PM that fascinate us, and promote our involvement. Perl itself is a mushy, involving thing too.

    Altering them may contain the seemingly innocuous risk of altering our involvment and the PM community. (Some might see this or this as oblique references for this, but hey... )

Re: Sudden Impressions on the Experience System
by thelenm (Vicar) on Apr 30, 2002 at 16:12 UTC
    I think the XP system is set up pretty well. In fact, just yesterday I was thinking about how much nicer it works than similar systems I've seen on other discussion sites. I've only been here a couple months, so I pretty much have a newbie perspective, but my overall impression is positive.

    As far as low-XP users posting flurries of posts to gain XP, I've seen that happen sometimes. But most of the time, it seems that those nodes are downvoted and end up on the Worst Nodes list. Unless they have something useful to contribute, and many times they do.

    I spend all my votes in order to gain XP. But that's not the main reason I do it. Mostly I look for nodes that help me gain a better understanding, and I say thank you by voting ++. If I can find enough good nodes to use all my votes, then I feel my time has been well spent. As Biker pointed out, an XP reward for casting votes encourages new monks to do some reading. I've learned a lot even in the short time I've been here, just by reading about something new, then trying it on my own.

    I'm still at the point where I check my XP frequently, but I can feel it becoming less important. The true monastic experience has come through the wisdom I have gained through reading and through the good feeling of helping someone if I have something useful to say, and the XP carrot on a stick has been a nice encouragement. I'm now looking forward to Friar not so much because it's spiffy to level up, but more because I'd like to do more to be a part of this helpful community.

    The XP metric you propose is interesting, and in fact, I often look at it myself when looking at other monks' home nodes. "Hmm, how much experience does So And So have? A lot! Oh, but they've posted a gazillion nodes." Or in some cases, they've only posted a dozen. :-) Of course, your metric doesn't account for the time someone has spent reading and posting... I could conceivably create a new account, think of a really good SoPW question, post it, get huge XP, never post again, and appoint myself an immediate and eternal saint.

    I've rambled. I guess my main point is: gaining XP is a nice encouragement for new monks to be a part of the community. You can exploit the system to some extent, but sooner or later you will learn that you are only cheating yourself.

Re: Sudden Impressions on the Experience System
by Dog and Pony (Priest) on May 01, 2002 at 12:12 UTC
    In my opinion you get too little XP from voting to tip the scales in any important way (apart from the first few levels, which should pass pretty fast anyways, if you are active)- only way to really climb the charts is to post (hopefully good) stuff.

    At the same time, giving out some random XP to votes is a great way to encourage voting, especially in the early stages of monkhood.

    Nowadays I vote on whatever I think deserves it, which means I spend at a guessing average 2/3 of my votes every day, and often spend them all - but it does not in any important way affect my XP, and hasn't for a long time.

    I also think that the few "beginners votes" that might be cast just to gain XP has no bigger impact, but it will get the "beginner" some experience on how the voting system works, and hopefully establish the habit of voting, even when it doesn't really matter (for XP).

    I guess the same idea is behind the fact that you get XP for spending all your votes in a day up till you reach Monk. It was Monk, wasn't it? Darn my poor memory.

    You have moved into a dark place.
    It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a grue.
Re: Sudden Impressions on the Experience System
by tmiklas (Hermit) on Apr 30, 2002 at 21:20 UTC
    Well said, but... (there's always some 'but')

    AFAIK it is said that we are to upvote posts we like and downvote we score really low, and I'm sure that there are people using their daily votes exactly that way.
    When voting is about ++ or --, then everything depends on the voting person. Maybe I don't like your post :-) or i just love it :-) anyway i can use one of my votes in the way i like or leave it for someone else - decision is mine.

    If somebody is to vote in any direction (++/--) randomly, it would be better not to vote at all!!!
    XP points are like a 'maraton run' - it's long, nobody lose if have enough energy to run and run continusly, everybody run further and further; the point is who runs faster (than me).
    I've seen people here having half the XP points I have with 5 times greater number of posts, and people with (10 * $my_XP) and (2 * $my_posts) :-)
    So what's wrong with them?! I think that those from the second group I've mentioned simply take it serious (the XP system) while the first group is trying to have a good start.

    Conclusion: If it's to be a long run, then everything is ok - people who write good posts will always run faster than sprinters from the first group :-)

    Sorry for my bad english...
    Greetz, Tom.
Voting systems in general
by Snuggle (Friar) on May 01, 2002 at 21:58 UTC
    I consistantly am amazed by the amount of time that goes into experience/Karma/whatever points on various boards. I believe that the voting system should be used to separate the node wheat from the chaff. I believe that that is all that voting should do. People see these rankings as some kind of reflection on thier self worth. IT IS NOT. Just becasue I am a monk and someone else is a newbie, who cares. If that newbie comes up with a brilliant answer to a stumper, then it's no less brilliant because he's a newbie.

    Conversley, if an acolyte says something dumb, it's still dumb despite his (artificially inflated?) rank. Comments should be weighed based on merit, not by the rank of the poster. And all this effort to build a system by which people can be quickly judged before they open thier mouths based only on some arbitrary ranking system. I've met people who hold on to thier high PM rank like its some kind of status symbol. All it proves definately is that the person spends a lot of time on the internet, not that his comments are valid or he can code well.

    These ranking systems need to be taken less seriously by a lot of sites, and the people clutching thier ranks to thier chests like some kind badge of courage need to spend less time voting and more time trying to help people... just my $.02
    Anyway, no drug, not even alcohol, causes the fundamental ills of society. If we're looking for the source of our troubles, we shouldn't test people for drugs, we should test them for stupidity, ignorance, greed and love of power.

    --P. J. O'Rourke
Re: Sudden Impressions on the Experience System
by Reverend Phil (Pilgrim) on May 02, 2002 at 15:07 UTC
    I'm more of a lurker than a poster (I'm a lover, not a fighter, baby), but I've learned quite a bit from this site. Often I pop onto here when I have a question about something rather than hitting my favorite tool (The Perl CD Bookshelf), because I'll find discussions about different approaches to the same problems littered all over the monastery. I've noticed a few things about experience. You can vote all of your points and log in each day to gain some, and make your way up a few levels, but the novelty wears off long before the point of diminishing returns. You can put up a few posts, and you might find that something you thought was worthwhile got you 8 points, and something that was trivial got you 180 points. You never know when people are going to just drop some clicks on you, and in the grand scheme of things it doesn't matter.

    One day I'll go back to the fourth grade, and I'll write an essay where the first line begins with "In the voting system, as in life.." Every system is broken, and every system is accurate as a guideline, as long as you understand how the system works. Having loads of experience only means that you have loads of experience. You'll find that as a guideline, that xp lets you assume the person is knowledgeable and experienced with Perl. But if you're going to go so far as to read this persons post, you'll be hard pressed to not notice if there were 20 corrective or damning replies to that erroneous post. There are definitely some brilliant individuals on this site, and they make it a point to correct mistakes, regardless of who posted them.

    When I find a post interesting, I might click on the posters name. Then I'll see what rank and outfit the monk is in - but also the number of posts they've put up. I think between the quality of the post that made you look at the poster, the experience they have, and the number of posts they've posted, you can get a good enough estimate of the monks Perl Prowess. If you're still uncertain, read a few of their threads. But 917 times out of 928, it's the post that makes me look at the name, not the name that makes me look at the post.

    Pardon my chaotic gibberish - thoughts are scattered tea leaves, and you, poor monk, who have read this far, must divine meaning from my meanderings. But I have one last thing to say: I'm neither ++ or --ing Sigmund's node, because it is blissful torture to not know how many points he's gotten for this post. I can feel about 180 points worth of irony drawing me closer to the ++, but the actual realization of that self-referential post might be too much for me to handle. =)

    Always merely an egg,
Re: Sudden Impressions on the Experience System
by chicks (Scribe) on May 01, 2002 at 17:41 UTC
    It seems to me from reading Voting/Experience System that the history of the value of $NORM would be a good indicator of the current quality of contributions to the site. Why not provide some graph so that people could see the real direction of the quality of contributions?
      Perhaps this is what you are looking for?


Re: Sudden Impressions on the Experience System
by random (Monk) on May 01, 2002 at 01:34 UTC

    Here's an idea: let the experience of the post be determined, in part, by the average experience of the totality of posts made by the poster. That way, not only will experience gained from a post be determined by the average post in the monastery, but by the average post of the poster. That way, if someone is improving: writing better code, making better suggestions, each post will give them slightly more XP. If they are just posting many times, it will have less of an effect. Obviously, a breakpoint would have to be set, so that those with a very high signal/noise (high XP on every node) ratio don't get hurt simply because, though their posts are good, they are not better in comparison with their previous ones. Any thoughts?


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