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Thoughtless voting?

by ww (Archbishop)
on Jan 29, 2011 at 12:48 UTC ( #885015=monkdiscuss: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??


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 : ....


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.

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: Thoughtless voting?
by davies (Prior) on Jan 29, 2011 at 14:17 UTC

    Like you, I have frequently been baffled by the voting patterns of others. But then, I suppose that others may have been baffled my mine. I don't think I upvoted any of the bad nodes you quoted, but I do look at "worst nodes" for anything I regard as "unfair" downvoting. I do upvote nodes that have been downvoted for no reason apparent to me, especially "thank you"s, as I regard worst nodes as highlighting what should not be done. I don't put "thank you" in that category. But I judge each on its merits, and would guess that I upvote about 20% of entrants in Worst Nodes.

    Don't, however, be baffled at your XP increasing when you haven't written anything new. I suspect I'm not alone in doing some learning at week-ends. The problem I am solving has usually been solved before, and I will upvote helpful nodes, no matter how old they may be. This may be what you are seeing.

    Most of us would not be here if we were not naturally helpful. I don't think it's reasonable to expect that not to extend to voting patterns. "OK, it's bad, but not that bad" may be incentive for some to upvote out of generosity, and I, for one, would hate to discourage that generosity which has been so profitable to me. Update: I entirely agree that I would not encourage such upvoting. But I would understand it and would not deter it lest I also deter displays of generosity that make this site so valuable. /update

    "Deserves death? I dare say he does. Many that live deserve death. And some die that deserve life. Can you give that to them? Then be not too eager to deal out death in the name of justice, fearing for your own safety. Even the very wise cannot see all ends."

    I am equally baffled at some failures to upvote. Some of the best stuff I have written (IMO) has a reputation of zero. Against that, some very ordinary stuff is close to the top of my nodes ranked by reputation, I suspect purely because it was written near Christmas when the site was slack. What goes around comes around.

    I think the time to act is when the voting patterns discourage the sorts of nodes most of us want too see. While I share many of your frustrations, I don't see evidence that this is encouraging bad or discouraging good nodes. The gods may see it differently.


    John Davies

      I do look at "worst nodes" for anything I regard as "unfair" downvoting. I do upvote nodes that have been downvoted for no reason apparent to me
      I wonder, do you also look at "best nodes" for anything you regard as "unjustified" up voting, and then down vote nodes that have been up voted for no apparent reason?

        No. Most of the posts that make "best nodes" are too advanced for me to understand. I try to read those that I have a chance of understanding to profit from them. But if there is a node I think deserves downvoting, I will do so, wherever I find it.

        It takes quite a lot for me to downvote a node, so looking at nodes that have been so heavily upvoted as to make best nodes means that doing as you describe is likely to be a total waste of time. I don't think it's a waste of time to try to ensure that people aren't discouraged from saying "thank you", so I try my best in that regard. But please don't get the impression that I haunt "worst nodes" for things to upvote. That would really waste time.


        John Davies

Re: Thoughtless voting?
by wjw (Priest) on Jan 29, 2011 at 16:22 UTC
    I think value is in the eye of the beholder. Any given node may be helpful to me simply for having mentioned something which reminds me of something else, which I subsequently find useful, and so I up-vote the node.

    I find some old nodes very helpful, and up-vote them at the point I find them.

    Occasionally, I will up-vote a node or nodes, not because I find it helpful, but because the dialog reflects the helpful nature I often find here.

    On a very rare occasion I will down-vote a node simply because the snide tone of the node is out of proportion with the ignorance displayed in the question asked, or the opinion expressed.

    I have been granted some bit of influence in the form of XP which I feel it is my responsibility to use as I see fit for the benefit of this community. If the current system is detrimental to the community, I would be in favor of changing it. If the only detriment is that some folks get a lot of XP when others feel they should not, that is not in my view a detriment to the community.

    XP is really not the point here as far as I am concerned. Do I pursue XP? Yes. Why? Because having gained it means I contributed something. If it means something else to someone else, so be it. I certainly don't get better help from those with exceptionally high XP or rank than I do from anyone else. In fact, I never check anyones rank; I simply don't care.

    The above is a collection of thoughts, in no particular order, on the subject of XP. Reading back through them, I would summarize by saying that any system can be gamed by those who want to game a system, and therefor said systems will be gamed. Invariably, those who game the system accomplish only and exactly that; having gamed the system. Again, who cares? It is not like one can go to the bank and deposit XP and gain interest on it.


    ...having read through the discussions, I find it encouraging that:

    • The subject is being discussed
    • There are guidelines on voting
    • The guidelines are exactly that, guidelines; and therefore, like Perl itself, enforced by convention(which is reinforced by discussion like is being done here) as compared to strict type casting, grammar, syntax etc...(TMTOWTDI)
    • the discourse is thoughtful and concerned with the health of the community

    It seems clear to me that this site and the community it is a window to has what I consider to be a true democracy based on a meritocracy. What is at question is the the means by which merit is granted(or removed). That will always be questioned, and should be. Doing so shows respect for the democratic nature of the site and the community(no goofy middlemen here playing on a representative republic and watering down the strength of the individual vote).

    I appreciate that fact that one can do a disagreeable job of voting; and I appreciate the fact that someone can disagree with how one votes, what one votes for etc... .

    It is interesting to me that the bulk of the responses to the original post have been protective of the right to vote as one sees fit(including mine). At the same time, the original <rant> is concerned with the impact of exercising that right in a haphazard or manipulative way. Several suggestion were offered as possible ways to mitigate that impact, which in my view, makes it not-so-much a rant, but a considered concern(thus my up-vote).

    My thought is that it is damn good that such <rant>s are brought forth and resulting dialog pursued. Therein lies the merit of a healthy community of healthy community members(ie, diverse).

    ++that!(and donate the XP to charity, or better yet, a buy barrel of beer for the Monastary) :-)

    • ...the majority is always wrong, and always the last to know about it...
    • The Spice must flow...
    • my will, and by will alone.. I set my mind in motion
Re: Thoughtless voting?
by luis.roca (Deacon) on Jan 29, 2011 at 19:01 UTC

    I upvote for a wider variety of reasons than I downvote. I vote regularly but the amount I vote upon each visit varies (usually 14 votes is a lot for me and many go unused).

      Some of my reasons for upvoting:
    • I learned something about Perl from the post. (Sometimes even if it's off topic)
    • A great deal of work was put into the post. (tutorials, well written essays, comprehensive answers to SOPW etc.)
    • The monk is going out of their way to help clarify the OP's question/argument in a nonabrasive manner.
    • Someone posts a really funny reply to an abusive/baiting/troll type comment that diffuses negative momentum.

      Some of my reasons for downvoting:
    • Abusive.
    • Trolling/baiting (You hinted to a thread who's OP provided a very good example (IMO) of trolling/baiting.)
    • * I don't downvote a post that is already represented (or on it's way to being represented) on Worst Nodes. The point has already been made so I don't bother.

      Some reasons why I don't vote at all:
    • I don't understand the post and can't judge whether it's a good or bad answer (in regards to SOPW).
    • I read a post and realize it's not a topic of interest for me.

    I can't say with any certainty if there is a trend of upvoting "bad" posts. I certainly notice posts that get upvotes that just make me shake my head. Maybe we could address that by having the flipside of "No Significant Downvotes" in cases where there is a (-2, +9) (+2, -9) vote tally. My point being that just as one or two votes against something shouldn't be taken seriously/personally neither should we give significant consideration for a few positive votes on a "bad" post.

    Would it be good to distinguish openly discouraged nodes? I think it could be helpful if we could label discouraged AND helpful nodes. (Although I don't think it will have a direct effect on voting.)

    I could see a subgroup of monks who have "Front Paging" powers also labeling a thread/post "Posted from Under a Bridge. Cross at your own risk" for trolling. But more importantly I would love to see a checkmark for "Solved" SOPW questions. This is Perl so ideally it would say something like: "3 Ways to Do It." if three good answers have been provided. Would either of those labels invite more or less poorly considered votes? I don't know.

    I value the voting system here and feel it's one of the better metrics for post quality that I've seen in the great Weboverse. The voting system has helped me learn what are considered good vs. bad posts here. I like the fact that voting and XP gains do not have a 1:1 relationship. I really like that in order to gain a good amount of XP monks have to contribute to the site by posting. Sometimes (as others have stated) the hard work isn't rewarded by large (or any) gains in XP but I don't think that's the sole or primary reason people post (or even in the top ten reasons they post).

    "...the adversities born of well-placed thoughts should be considered mercies rather than misfortunes." Don Quixote
Re: Thoughtless voting?
by moritz (Cardinal) on Jan 29, 2011 at 17:04 UTC

    There is no obvious, final judgment on whether a node is "good" or "bad". This is why we have the voting system.

    Within limits, votes are rewarded by a (potential) XP gain. Binding that to a perceived "right" way of voting seems contrary to the very idea of the voting system.

    Yes, the voting system is not ideal. Yes, often votes are not quite just, and good and comprehensive nodes get less upvotes than fast and not so comprehensive replies. That's when I remind myself that XP is just a number. I don't think more rules necessarily helps.

      I'm suspect I'm missing something about the intent of your first sentence.

      Isn't a gratuitous ad hominem attack "bad?" And, far more to the point, if a node shows no effort and flies in the face of Monastery values and guidance, isn't it reasonable to adjudge that node "bad?' I'm thinking -- for example -- of nodes which ignore the site docs' mantra that one should "post code; post data" or which ignore prior requests for relevant information.

      And while I agree wholeheartedly with your reservations about "more rules," your remark led me to doublecheck those parts of the site where we offer guidance on how to weigh casting votes.


      Voting/Experience System offers info on how one "earns" or obtains votes and on various technical aspects of the system, but nowhere did I find anything comparable to the guidance we offer on considering nodes. Perhaps we need such a guide on the value-judgement aspects of voting (and as a member of SDC, I'll take that as encouragement to draft some suggestions). Thanks!

      Updated: Struck ill-considered words in 2nd para.

      Updated, again: See mr_mischief's citation of the guidance on voting that I missed.

        Isn't a gratuitous ad hominem attack "bad?"

        It is. But who can objectively judge that a certain node poses a gratuitous ad hominem attack?

        And, far more to the point, if a node shows no effort and flies in the face of Monastery guidance, isn't it reasonable to adjudge that node "bad?'

        It probably is, but people might still find the replies it spawns very useful, and thus think that the original node still deserves an upvote.

        Even if something falls obviously into one category, for somebody from a completely different cultural background it might be not the case.

        I agree that it would be nice to have some guidance on how to decide what to vote up or down (or if to vote at all). But we should be very clear that it's only guidance, not rules.

Re: Thoughtless voting?
by tinita (Parson) on Jan 30, 2011 at 13:58 UTC

    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
    wow... please think about what that actually means. "If you vote for the minor communist party you will be taken away your right to vote, because the majority voted for the democrats or the republicans, so you must be wrong!"
    Creation of a (strictly limited) order of Monks -- ... 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)
    What the hell is the meaning of voting if you are influenced like that?
    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?
    one of your examples was: "Reputation: -9 (+3 -12)" so there were 3 upvotes (which were undeserved in your opinion). the node still has a negative reputation of 9. so where is the problem?

    You know, I'm not in the group of people that scream "Censorship!" whenever some forum content is edited or even only moved in a different section. But clearly your suggestions would have a manipulative effect. Please think if it was like that with real elections. Some guys standing in front of the polling booths and telling everybody: "You know, this candidate for the animal rights party is a disgusting idiot, please do not vote for him".

Re: Thoughtless voting?
by ChuckularOne (Parson) on Jan 29, 2011 at 15:01 UTC
    I imagine your node will get a lot of "Ironic" down votes.

    I started on perl monks over 10 years ago, back when EVERY vote counted as an XP. Lots of new monks skyrocketed up the ranks through XP whoring. At times I wished I'd cashed in on that XP bonanza, but more typically I'm glad I did not.

    I am not the most prolific contributor by far, but I do agree that there should be some kind of additional control. Something along the lines of a Y number of articles with more than Y up votes per level (where Y=the number of the level you are advancing to) as well as XP.

Re: Thoughtless voting?
by CountZero (Bishop) on Jan 30, 2011 at 10:04 UTC
    Speaking of a horse being flogged to death, many times over ...

    Yes indeed, there are no rules about how one should vote. There is no accountability for your voting behaviour.

    And by right there shouldn't be any.

    But experience shows that on the average the XP value of a node fairly reflects its "value". It is all statistics: don't sweat the detail, just look at the general trend.


    A program should be light and agile, its subroutines connected like a string of pearls. The spirit and intent of the program should be retained throughout. There should be neither too little or too much, neither needless loops nor useless variables, neither lack of structure nor overwhelming rigidity." - The Tao of Programming, 4.1 - Geoffrey James

      And by right there shouldn't be any.

      I'm not comfortable with the OP's post because I feel he has gone beyond the ethical discussion of why we vote into advocating for constraints on how people should assess value. Each of our assessment of value is a private right. It is the very essence of voting. If that is what you mean to say when you proclaim "and by rights there shouldn't be any" I agree.

      There is a saying where I come from "With the simpleton... with him, you must begin to ask the questions for him." One reason why bad nodes get up-voted from time to time is that we don't all assess intent or hard work the same way. One person's perception of laziness is another person's perception of an honest struggle to ask the right question. Where one person sees condemnation, another might see cause to give the benefit of the doubt.

      On the other hand... :-)

      At least part of the OP's intent is to remind us to take care in our votes, however we choose to use them. With that goal, I agree wholeheartedly.

      Do you really, really mean to say that all discussion of the motives and reasons for voting is over and done? It never needs to happen again?

      Not every vote is cast with the intent to assess value. Votes can be cast for favoritism or anger. They can be cast for XP bonus or the XP can be used as incentive to read and learn more by spending time searching for nodes worthy of a vote. Votes shape behavior so they do have moral implications. If my action has the potential to influence another human being, isn't there some connection between moral choice and vote? Doesn't that part of the discussion need to happen again and again from time to time?

      If having a discussion on how we use our choices meant it never had to be had again, I suppose we could throw out nearly all of human moral discourse. There are certain kinds of conversations that do need to be repeated because they are based on values and choices that can change, be forgotten, or need to be reassessed from time to time.


        Yes, indeed I meant that "Each of our assessment of value is a private right. It is the very essence of voting". We up- and downvote for all the right and wrong reasons one can think of. And we only have to answer to our own conscience for such voting.

        Of course there is nothing wrong with expressing from time to time our personal ideas about how one should vote. See it as the public statements made by politicians around election time. But alone in the voting booth, it is again you and your conscience.

        And nobody should try to put someone extra in the voting booth to check if you are voting the right way.

        I guess that is what I find a bit unsettling about the OP's suggestions. For instance "Penalizing upvotes where some sufficient (...) ratio of Monks have downvoted a node". It is the equivalent of someone looking over your shoulder to check if you have voted the way a good boy (or girl) should have done.

        Freedom of conscience -- freedom of speech -- freedom to vote anyway you like. Some rights just cannot stand any restrictions.


        A program should be light and agile, its subroutines connected like a string of pearls. The spirit and intent of the program should be retained throughout. There should be neither too little or too much, neither needless loops nor useless variables, neither lack of structure nor overwhelming rigidity." - The Tao of Programming, 4.1 - Geoffrey James

Re: Thoughtless voting?
by mr_mischief (Monsignor) on Jan 30, 2011 at 17:37 UTC

    • Your node intentionally shows information specifically hidden by the interface until after a vote is made by the viewer. I don't know of any specific rule against this. I would think someone would get the hint that there's some reason or reasons that information is by default hidden. One reason, of course, not to peg it down in a node is that it is subject to constant change.
    • You also judge a node specifically and largely because it is posted by "a Monk with more than 500 posts and fewer than 50 XP" which is the very definition of an ad hominem attack on the node. There is often talk of ad hominem attacks being bad, like in Re^2: Thoughtless voting? in fact. Yet you yourself just used one. I don't think asking which module or method of a module would be worth further study for a very clearly specified task is a bad question at all. It may have been avoided with enough research, but then this resource is here for all of us to not have to figure out every detail on our own. Perhaps you expected a catalog of every spreadsheet module and every method of them listed in the node. Even when the same poster goes on to ask for a code example, it is something that could easily be answered "Look at the "worksheet() and worksheets() methods of Spreadsheet::ParseExcel and ask any specific questions you have about them if you can't get one to work for you". That's not writing a program for someone. It's lending a small hand up by pointing out a couple of lines of documentation for one of many modules that seem they could be of use. I think the reason the monks in that specific thread were slow to point out a short example doesn't have anything to do with the nodes being particularly bad in themselves, but the fact that they were posted by someone with a pattern of asking for and then ignoring advice. There's a difference between wanting to ration your time to offer it where it will be more useful (or even down-voting the node) and telling others there is no possibly redeeming value to the nodes in question and that they are not allowed to up-vote it for asking a question that spawned a useful answer. That useful answer, BTW, was of a particular module of interest to people who came along later and found the thread when they did search for answers before asking. That could be really useful. These people might not even know or care about who posted that root node and the negative pattern of behavior that lead to the down-votes and the answers of other members disappointed in it. They were perhaps voting on the node itself and not on its value in the context of who posted it, which is exactly what you ask people to do when you decry ad hominem attacks. This node is completely different when read out of the context of personality than the one about being "rusty" writing template systems and actually wanting a working program rather than as little as a line or two.
    • You want to penalize people who mostly get a chance to use the site on weekends. Weekends start and stop across a range of 24 hours even if you assume the same two days of the week. You suggested this for no reason other than you apparently are not one of them. Yet you posted this root node about it on a Saturday. At least it was Saturday in my time zone... I don't care where you are because when you say "weekend" and post when it's the weekend anywhere the site is used you should be aware of what you're saying.
    • You want to empower certain members to be ward bosses who have the power to control the voting of others. If monks want to respond to a node and criticize it, they have that power now. I don't see making one monk's opinion capable of getting a node voted down to oblivion any less open to abuse than the ability to vote up a questionable node. In fact, it seems much more open to abuse.
    • You talk of multiple up-votes and whether or not nodes deserve multiple up-votes. Yet at some level there is no such thing as deserving multiple votes in either direction. Each voting account can only vote for a node once. Each account is limited in its number of votes allotted, so there is not even a vote per node per user. What matters at the time of the vote is whether the holder of that account determines the node is worth one vote up or down. That's all. This site may have its cliques, but I have yet to see the sort of organized political machines you suggest which control blocks of votes. As far as I know, nobody here gets together and plans proportional voting for a particular node to show an agreed community level of approval and disapproval. Votes are one monk making a decision about casting one vote on one issue using a supply of ballot slots smaller than the issues available for voting. Node reputation is a result of popular opinion, not planned to represent it beforehand.
    • I think being "astounded" that someone read a node you wrote and found it worthy of a vote is pretty silly. Also, did you realize you can gain a small amount of XP (2 points) just for logging in sometimes? Do you ever check the reputation of your recently posted nodes to see which have been voted up? Remember when wondering why that each vote is one vote, and that a reputation of +12 means twelve more people thought +1 than thought -1. It doesn't mean anyone in particular thought it deserved a +12 in proportion to other nodes and decided to make it so. Claiming astonishment sounds almost like you're fishing for someone to point out for your edification why your nodes get voted up.

    For these reasons, I think your node deserves the negative vote it (the node, not you) got from me. This meets with the guidance offered in How should I spend my votes? -- General Voting Guidelines about down-voting a suggestion that "you think it would make the site less usable/functional". That page did exist when you opened your rant but you never mentioned it, for whatever that thought is worth. There are also pages linked from the FAQ about node approval, node moving, placing nodes on the front page, editing nodes, node consideration, node reaping, what XP and node reputation each mean, how to post effective questions, and how to word effective node titles among other topics.

    Yet your suggested solutions are not to point people to these educational and informational resources which exist, even while asking for more education and information in one small bullet point of your post. You want to penalize people based upon when they use the site. You want to tell people how to vote. You want to penalize them for a single up-vote because you or some number of your cronies (whom you've told to down-vote the node) cast votes you feel are somehow more important than theirs.

    Perhaps silliest of all is you're so concerned with people up-voting a node frivolously in order to game the XP system that you suggest abolishing XP for contributing to the site through voting. This is throwing the baby out with the bathwater. It's even further clear how thoughtless this suggestion was when you consider that changing the rules does not keep people from playing games with the rules rather than within them. If you take away gaming XP by voting you only heap more incentive for people looking to game the XP system to post numerous nodes containing obsequious replies and hasty meditations sheathed in trite expressions and false profundity.

    I'd much rather see a thoughtless vote for a node than a thoughtless vote against it. You seem to sway very far the other way, so far as to have people told to vote against a node without their own consideration of desert. In any case, I'd much rather have thoughtless voting in the system than a higher number of thoughtless nodes.

      mr_mischief: For the open record, thank you for your citation of How should I spend my votes? -- General Voting Guidelines. I should have cited that myself and appreciate that you brought it to our attention.

      But our common ground pretty much ends there.

      I'm not going even to try to address the many points you made based on interpretations or extrapolations which go far beyond anything I've actually written. However, I will respond to the utter nonsense and unjustified conclusion in your assertion that I "judge a node specifically and largely because it is posted by (a Monk with a particular history)." No, the statistics cited are not an ad hominem attack -- they're data supporting my assessment that the OP knew better than to post such a node.

      Second, your hypothesis that "...the reason the monks in that specific thread were slow to point out a short example doesn't have anything to do with the nodes being particularly bad in themselves, but the fact that they were posted by someone with a pattern of asking for and then ignoring advice."

      I'm having a hard time distinguishing the negative impact of OP's "pattern of asking for and then ignoring advice" -- a wilful waste of your time, my time, and that of others (and conduct that inconveniences numerous electrons) -- from "bad in (it)self". The OP and the patently lazy first-followup contribute --even though only trivially -- to the load on PM's servers. Yes, seeking the answer in the docs, or with Super Search or would require a tad more effort by the SoPW, but since the writer had been advised -- repeatedly and often over many years -- that doing so is more in consonance with the Monastery's norms than lazily asking what might be characterized as 'the same old question," why should we regard the node as meritorious?

      You argue that the node would be "of interest to people who came along later and found the thread when they did search for answers before asking. That could be really useful. Useful? Maybe. But highly redundant, and, thus, wasteful of PM's resources? I think so.

        The OP knowing better than to post a node lacking certain content such as what has been tried is not mutually exclusive of the question being asked being a useful question. The node is incomplete perhaps. It may be rude in the author's omissions, but it is not rude in the content it includes. It defames nobody, incites none to violence, advertises no product unsolicited, contains no profanity, and in fact blames no other member of the site for answering or not answering in any particular fashion. The question can quite easily be answered for posterity even if we have reason to believe answering briefly and clearly with exact information will do the original poster little or no good. I can't say I'd give it a vote to the good knowing the background, but considering it apart from the poster's background I certainly wouldn't accuse people of necessarily supporting the textual content of it thoughtlessly.

        The way you separate the poster's habits from the content of the particular node is just that. Consider the node's content without considering who wrote it. Not everyone is as familiar with the OP as we. They may find something redeeming in the question without knowledge of who asked it or without consideration of that person's past behavior. Don't blame them for that. They are just examining the ideas and not who presents them. Some consider that an ideal. At least one member here has been known to have a similar plea in a signature line used to sign posts.

        Your idea of "highly redundant and wasteful" and mine must meet different magnitudes to qualify as "highly". The poster in question has asked four root-node questions in the past year or so. This person has asked other questions about Excel in the past, but they do not appear to me at this time to be the same question about it. The only thing highly wasteful is that habit of not providing more background research and the false laziness of it. The volume of questions and the overlaps of their content don't seem to be "highly" anything. Ignoring the question for spite and having many people later stumble across it unanswered in searches seems much more wasteful to me.

        Don't think that by defending a node I'm condoning a pattern of behavior. I'm not. I think the node in question could have been much better and that the poster should know by now how to make it better. I'm just saying there are perfectly valid reasons it's not universally voted down and maybe even deserves a little noise in the signal toward the positive based on the merits of the text itself.

        If we only defend the most popular utterances by the most popular of speakers then we do not strengthen our discourse. The popular need little defense. It is by matters of degree and by allowing for faults in good work or merit in poor works that we improve ideas over time. Tearing down the faults of the good for their being faults and building up the merits of the faulty for their being merits is what sets the truest examples. Accepting everything or rejecting everything from a source based simply on preference for or against that source is a sort of self-imposed ignorance. For those who call self-imposed ignorance wasteful, it is sad that they would dismiss a valid question only because the asker will make poor use of the answer. It only becomes two cases of waste where there was one.

Re: Thoughtless voting?
by bart (Canon) on Jan 31, 2011 at 08:16 UTC
    Currently about 1/3 of the votes on your node are downvotes. According to you that should either be all, or none. Would you think that is fair? I don't.

    I downvoted your node. Why? Because of the arrogant assumption that oozes out of it, that everybody should vote like you do. That you know best.

    Everybody should have their own opinion. There's already enough complaints of the "hive mind" of Perlmonks, so we definitely should not encourage that.

      Maybe its the bold <rant> tags that pushed you over the edge?
Re: Thoughtless voting?
by Anonymous Monk on Jan 29, 2011 at 16:48 UTC

    Does node reputation matter?

    Can you filter search results by node reputation?

    What you gonna do about it?

Re: Thoughtless voting?
by iguanodon (Priest) on Jan 29, 2011 at 14:48 UTC
    I upvoted this node just to see the vote tally. And I received 1 experience point! I call that a win-win :)
      And I upvoted your reply just to see your vote tally. And I also received 1 experience point! This could be the makings of a beautiful pyramid scheme ;)
        Alas, the pyramid has crumbled already ;)
        No Xp for me for upvoting yout reply...


Re: Thoughtless voting?
by ww (Archbishop) on Jan 30, 2011 at 17:27 UTC

    At this point, I'm becoming afraid that some of my phrasing is so clumsy as to lead respondents far from anything I'm advocating.

    1. My rationale is that before casting any vote, up or down, we should have made a careful judgement about the value of the node's content; that what appears to me to be random ('thoughtless') upvoting is per se, a bad thing for the Monastery's utility and reputation. That belief led to my attempt a desire to spark considered conversation and thoughtful assessment of whether what I think I see is anything we -- all of us who care about PM -- need to be concerned about, and, if so, whether some approach to discouraging 'thoughtless voting' is desireable and workable.
    2. I'm NOT "proposing" any of the "flawed" options listed in the OP; in fact, my real hope is that some wiser head will come up with an approach that provides better value for whatever cost it might impose on the Monastery and the Monks
    3. Nothing in my word "penalizing" is intended to suggest any more draconian remedy than is already applied to those who spend an excessive proportion of their allotment on downvotes. The notion of taking away "your right to vote" is more than a few steps beyond anything in my list.
    4. As to "advocating for constraints on how people should assess value..."

      Actually I favor conscientiously applied *personal* constraints (something we call those 'ethics' or the like), but definitely do NOT "advocate constraints" in the sense of favoring externally imposed limitations designed to prohibit or prevent people from assessing value for themselves.

      Rather, I note that we restrain ourselves from many actions; most agree that defecating in the street is something we won't allow ourselves to do; conventionally, murder is deprecated. So too, in some cultures, is offering disrespect to one's parents. Why should we not restrain ourselves from casting upvotes for nodes which fail -- for the voter -- some test of "goodness." If anything, my arguement would be, 'if it isn't affirmatively good, don't upvote it. Simply refrain from voting!'

    And, yes, I do realize that many nodes with a few positive votes also have negative overall rep. But random upvoting -- like random downvoting -- dilutes the value of rep. (Personally, I don't check best nodes or worst very often. Mostly, if I pay a visit there its because there's a shortage of new nodes or threads (past day or so) so I'm looking for something to learn from... and higher rep suggests some large plurality of those voting regarded a node as very good... or very bad. I'd love to see the day when that's actually a valid metric.

      I don't see where you've made a good case that something needs to be fixed. Your assessment of "random upvoting" is based on your failure to understand why somebody would upvote a particular node. You fail to even link to the nodes so I won't waste time trying to look at the details that you fail to present.

      But even just from the information you provided, the upvotes don't surprise me at all. A node getting to -12 for "lack of effort" is a quirk of the voting system (being mildly annoying in a well-noticed way can lead to getting a lot of downvotes despite the mild nature of the annoyance) and I'm not at all surprised to find people that conscientiously and helpfully try to counter that quirk by upvoting nodes where they perceive that the accumulation of downvotes is too extreme for the actual offense.

      Knowledge of this quirk is evident in that worst nodes was already mentioned.

      - tye        

      As I've already said in this node, there is no vote for "very good" nor "very bad". There are two votes, or a lack of a vote. Those are '++', '--', and '+=0'. There is no way short of registering and voting under multiple accounts to apply any sort of qualifier of scale to a vote except deciding whether or not to leave the vote unmade.

      One hundred monks who barely think a node deserves a '++' but vote that way confer upon the node the same votes that count the same toward reputation as one hundred monks who think the node is one of the best ever posted and likewise vote '++'. They confer 100 votes upon the node in either case. Those who think it is highly worthy are more likely to respond with praise, but they cannot vote '+=5' and only '++'.

      The plurality is the only way nodes get a net reputation, not by magnitude of votes but by quantity. There is a huge difference between being widely popular and being well-loved by any individual.

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