1. 18

I do not feel that aggregate user scores add any worth to the discussions we are having and I sometimes experience anxiety episodes when I see my own score.

Can we please stop having a popularity contest and either kill off or at least hide them?

What do you think, fellow crustaceans?

  1.  

  2. 24

    If your score is above your post count you’re doing fantastic. I don’t think anyone in this community treats them as a popularity contest.

    1. 7

      I also don’t have the impression. There’s a couple of highly active users here, they have a lot of karma. I can also tell that by seeing their name all the time.

      Personally, I rarely look up the total score of others and mostly look at mine as a generic “people took interest in my comments this week”. I don’t care that much about the long-term sum. But I do somewhat care about the uptake after investing much time in that platform.

      I sometimes look up the average score of others, but only out of curiosity. That happens maybe once every three months.

      It was a useful info for me though, when I was new to this community. Am I talking to a regular? A newbie? A lurker? This is all useful context.

      1. 3

        It was a useful info for me though, when I was new to this community. Am I talking to a regular? A newbie? A lurker? This is all useful context.

        This is the important part for me. It would be fine to hide the specific score and only show a classification like “newbie”, “link poster”, “active commenter”, “senior” which might include more data like “age of account” and “rank”.

      2. 2

        This is actually a brilliant idea! I think showing the average would be way more helpful and would guide participants toward writing less, higher quality comments.

        I think it’s way more useful:

        If we consider that someone who has written 10 comments and has a score 100 adds much more to a debate than a user with 1000 comments and a score of 1000.

        Currently the user with the better contributions looks worse than the person with the lower quality contributions.

        1. 5

          would guide participants toward writing less, higher quality comments.

          That assumes the comment vote = quality. It really doesn’t. It means it’s what one or more people in that thread in that context wanted to see, what a pile didn’t, or something in between. The metrics are inconsistent. Many comments with info in them also get either no votes or just one. There’s also whether it’s a hot-button topic where taking a certain position always gets a vote boost.

          There’s enough problems connecting comment votes to any objective metric of quality that I don’t use averages for it. I have a guess that it’s probably OK if over 2. People’s responses to individual comments or private messages have been more reliable indicator for me.

          1. 4

            I think showing the average would be way more helpful and would guide participants toward writing less, higher quality comments.

            I don’t think so, a high average score often only shows who’s expressing popular opinions because they receive a lot of upvotes.

            edit: s/get/receive

          2. 1

            Thanks for the reply. I will meditate on that.

          3. 10

            How is it a popularity contest? I mean, I think they are good metrics, they simply don’t measure popularity. Furthermore, I think that you rarely get to see other people’s karma, since it is not displayed in regular conversations, but in profiles.

            I’m specially shocked by the “competition” part. Are we going to do a ranking in Christmas? No one is going to bash you because of your karma, just relax and enjoy the conversation :)

            1. 5

              Furthermore, I think that you rarely get to see other people’s karma, since it is not displayed in regular conversations, but in profiles.

              I didn’t even realize it was possible to see it for other users.

              1. 8

                Then let me blow your mind: https://lobste.rs/u?by=karma

                1. 2

                  Ok so there was a ranking after all. Dammit.

                  1. 1

                    Great now I have that Eve/Gwen Stefani song stuck in my head…

                    1. -1

                      It’s the usual distribution these things have

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                      1. 4

                        Looks almost like a Zipf-Distribution…

                        Quite interesting, maybe someone should study this a bit (or apply Machine Learning until study pops out).

                        1. 3

                          It would be nice to post long tail posts like this externally on a paste service like gist.github.com. I know you wanted to visualize the distribution but it just makes all of us scroll a lot of screen estate for little benefit.

                          1. 1

                            Ok, I’m sorry if it bothered you, but I felt the act of scrolling really gives a feel for the long tail.

                  2. 9

                    I dislike having a tally of total karma on profiles. I think this same feature is responsible for a lot of disingenuous titles on reddit, posted by people who just want to make their number go up.

                    1. 4

                      Then the solution is the make the number of disingenuous titles go down.

                      1. 2

                        Consider that the same behavior may happen regardless of visibility of karma. A bad actor could judge their success based on rank of their submission and the outrage in comments.

                        1. 1

                          I think there could be benefits in making that private. The user should still be able to see their own total karma though to encourage the “right sort” of contributions and as a bit of back pat.

                        2. 9

                          I use them to guess at impact of some of my comments. Popularity of specific comments also gives me a feel for what people in this community accept, reject, or find contentious. That’s been useful in adapting style or content to the audience. Sometimes the votes also give me WTH reactions or show no activity in ways I don’t learn anything from. I shrug and move on.

                          Now, I could see an optional feature in profiles for people like you that hides the scores of comments. If you turn it on, you don’t see them. I also thought back on HN about something similar for names to force elimination of unconscious bias when reading comments.

                          1. 5

                            The way I understood @mordae they weren’t proposing to hide the score of comments. These do serve a useful function, as you explain. Instead their idea was to not sum these comment (and story) scores up and display them when logged in (own score at the top right) or at user profiles.

                            I actually like that comments are not anonymized. It allows me to get to know users a little over time and therefore better understand the context of their comments. That way it’s possible to understand why they are saying what they are saying without them having to explicitly state that in every single comment.

                            1. 2

                              If my concept, the anonymization would have a feature to expose users’ identity. Just let you respond unbiased or semibiased before doing that if you chose. I agree with you on benefits of it not being anonymous.

                              1. 3

                                I, and maybe other crustaceans often search in the comments for security related articles for nickpsecurity though, so anonymity would be to your detriment :)
                                Our views on politics differ, but I don’t read many of the political stories on lobsters, or I just ignore the comments. I’d like to think most of us are mature enough to not hold a grudge and down vote every comment from a user. Who knows, maybe that kind of grudge behaviour is automatically detected already?

                                1. 2

                                  Very kind of you, Sir! :) Yeah, I don’t let politics get in the way of good, tech discussion with interesting people. That’s childish. I also keep an eye out for specific people. The idea I had when I looked into doing that anonymously was to put them on a whitelist that highlights whatever the automatic alias is when it’s someone on the list. You can always do something to reveal the person but knowing it’s one you follow in general or for specific tags might be enough.

                                  “ I’d like to think most of us are mature enough to not hold a grudge and down vote every comment from a user. “

                                  There was at least one case here in the past. I don’t think it happens much, My tool was more for people voluntarily removing bias from reading or replying rather than just downvotes. It was a general thing I was looking into instead of just for Lobsters.

                          2. 7

                            Using karma points for communities is the best practise for a reason. Don’t get me wrong it is far from being perfect, but probably the least annoying thing you can do. Collecting karma points tend to be motivating for a lot of users which is great for the community since these users bring in most of the interesting content (of course it’s an other story with comments). For the rest of us, I don’t think it is a popularity contest, at least I don’t see it that way. IMO Lobsters did a good job by not pushing karma points too much. (yeah, I know mine’s terribly low) :)

                            1. 2

                              You have one more point now!

                              1. 2

                                Yay!

                              2. 1

                                I’ve never though about it that way. I might have wished for a non-zero score in the beginning, which might have pushed me to post a comment. Much like one leaves his first torrent seeded a little while longer to build a ratio or something. :-)

                              3. 6

                                I think scores are a way to see whether I’m fitting in, and, in specific, what the consensus around specific contributions happens to be. I’m aware that it’s biased, but the overall scores are probably more accurate than not in terms of gauging how much people enjoy what I have to say. It’s a bunch of little polls, one per post/submission, and as long as they aren’t all biased the same way, my overall score should be a useful enough barometer for determining how much crustaceans as a whole like what I do here.

                                1. 6

                                  I think the score should be removed and only the averaging N.NN per story/comment part should remain.

                                  The “by karma” page should become “by average karma”, etc. …There may be some value in a 2D view of that where the second axis is post/comment count…

                                  Unfortunately I fear the changes I propose will destroy my ranking.. not that it’s a popularity contest or anything… :~(

                                  1. 5

                                    The average has its own issues, e.g. it incentivizes not commenting on older or less active threads, even if you have something constructive to say, since they will receive fewer votes. If you switch focus to that, I suspect you’ll increase clustering of activity even more.

                                    (Also it’s easy to go from post count and average to total karma, if people feel so inclined, and post count feels like the least nonconstructive user stat to display.)

                                    1. 1

                                      I agree. There’s also less votes for corroboration since they’re seen as unwanted me too’s rather than a useful part of data collection. Dissent can get many negatives even though it can be positive. There’s also the clickbait effect where focusing on certain topics can get higher votes.

                                      The average has been least useful metric I’ve noticed. And one more thing from statistic’s class: it’s not supposed to be applied to individuals at all. At least I was taught it’s about identifying and analyzing trends across a group or whatever. So, we’d be looking at the values over time of a bunch of Lobsters comparing them and who knows why we’d do that. tldr An individual metric using a technique not for individuals.

                                      Note: I did intro to statistic but not much else. Weak area for me. Just had well-studied folks tell me this a few times. Statistics experts feel free to chime in.

                                    2. 5

                                      I’m honestly way more obsessed with my average score than my total score. Reasonably or not I see it as a measure of the “average quality” of my posts and comments.

                                      1. 4

                                        I’d vote for median instead of mean, it is a better indicator if a user consistently makes upvoted contributions or if they just submitted a hugely popular post one time.

                                      2. 4

                                        I’m not sure I follow what you’re talking about–the only way to see a user score is to click through to their profile or look on the users page.

                                        Do you mean something else?

                                        1. 2

                                          Your own score is in the top right beside your username.

                                          1. 5

                                            Indeed. I would have no problem if it were removed from there. Who really needs that feature?

                                            1. 3

                                              It could have motivational value for someone. On my end, I mostly just try to help people with stuff they might not know about. I avoid most topics and comment styles that get popularity votes. That means my score is significant indicator of impact. A large number in the first year meant high impact. Or that I spent way too much time on these sites versus other activities that could be more beneficial. We’ll just pretend that option isn’t a factor for now. :)

                                              So, that’s at least what I thought as I observed it over time. However, anyone contributing a lot probably doesn’t need to see the score on front page, though, since we’re the type of people to do that anyway. If we’re curious, it’s always in profile a few clicks away. Conclusion: it doesn’t need to be visible even for those of us that use it to assess impact over time. Plus, anyone consistently doing stuff here others appreciate will usually get individual comments or private messages saying so. Eventually.

                                              1. 2

                                                Need? No. But I sometimes use it to estimate the response to one of my comments in “the waiting period”. I think it’s usually a distraction though :-)

                                          2. 6

                                            I sometimes experience anxiety episodes when I see my own score

                                            We cannot change the world to better suit your mood. Write a user script and alter the site to your liking in your own browser.

                                            1. 15

                                              We cannot change the world to better suit your mood

                                              I mean, we absolutely can. Because “the world” in this case is a bunch of code that’s open source. And that code was already written with some moods in mind. For example:

                                              • It requires an explanation of downvotes, in order to reduce ill-considered downvote behavior
                                              • It makes public all moderation logs, in order to increase transparency and trust
                                              • It supports an interface entirely through email, in order to emulate a very specific user experience from the distant past

                                              It’s not at all clear to my why we can’t add this to the list:

                                              • It hides user karma score from the home screen, in order to reduce upvote-chasing and competitive behavior
                                              1. 0

                                                It requires an explanation of downvotes, in order to reduce ill-considered downvote behavior

                                                That obviously did not work. I’m constantly downvoted as “troll” even when posting purely factual comments. “troll” is the new “fuck you”. Oh, there’s a new entry on my top level comment here: “-1 me-too”. How does that make any sense?

                                                When you force people to choose from a list of justifications for downvoting, they’ll either choose an insulting one or a random one. Anything but give up downvoting because they see the error of their ways. It’s basic human nature.

                                                1. 3

                                                  So you’re saying that sometimes it’s worth changing the way we do things because what we do sometimes has unintended effects?

                                                  Well, then I’m glad you agree that we should consider hiding the user’s karma score from the home screen.

                                              2. 7

                                                I personally don’t mind them, but perhaps a profile preference could be added, that hides karma for those who wish to avoid seeing it?

                                                1. 6

                                                  That’s a great way of driving people with anxieties away so they leave the site. And in the end we’re left with just the bunch of users who talk and walk like stefantalpalaru…

                                                  1. 4

                                                    I don’t care either way, but I think the anxiety issue needs a different solution. If the karma numbers concern somebody, then lots of other things will too.

                                                    1. 0

                                                      And in the end we’re left with just the bunch of users who talk and walk like stefantalpalaru…

                                                      You say it like it’s a bad thing :-)

                                                    2. 2

                                                      change the world to better suit your mood

                                                      I think the lyric is “change my life to better suit your mood” (Santana’s “Smooth”)

                                                      self-amusement aside, I like the karma count and don’t see it as a distraction or a significant motivator.

                                                    3. 2

                                                      Personally, I like the karma tallies. For my own use case, I use the numbers as a metric for how my behaviour is received in this community. When I make a contribution and the contribution sees a lot of negative karma, I take that away and think about whether the post was constructive or welcome to the community, or whether or not I happened to stumble on a hornets nest others weren’t ready to talk about. If I receive positive karma, I am likewise encouraged to equal or better that kind of input in future.

                                                      For me, the scores give me an opportunity to reflect on my actions, their impact on others, and whether or not I am even interested in being part of this community in the first place. These are things I subconsciously and consciously evaluate as I interact with lobste.rs, and are in my humble opinion a benefit on the whole.

                                                      Quiet contemplation of our actions is important, missing from our planet in too many contexts, and I believe necessary for successful participation in communities.

                                                      As for the popularity contest, I don’t see that. I don’t see anyone pandering to anyone here, so I cannot agree that there is such a thing. Even the moderators and site founder get treated with the same degree of respect and (importantly) critical thought that a newly registered user does.

                                                      1. 1

                                                        Personally I’d like it to stay. I think it’s fun, and even occasionally useful as others have noted. Having a user preference to show or hide it would of course be fine, if you or someone else felt strongly enough to add it.

                                                        1. 1

                                                          I find it a useful guide when choosing whether to engage with someone or move on. Some users have a habit of arguing in bad faith and it tends to be quite visible in their scores.

                                                          I don’t see much value in showing the current users score in the header; would be happy enough without it.