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A while ago, Lobsters started hiding “fresh but boring” comment scores.

Personally, I haven’t found this change to be great, for a couple of reasons:

  1. It really doesn’t make sense that I can’t see how my own comment is doing for 24 hours. After just a couple of hours, I’m very interested in knowing if my comment a score of -2 or +4.
  2. As mentioned in the highest voted comment in the linked thread, it’s very common behaviour to see a comment with a score of -1 and upvote it, because you don’t think it deserves to be downvoted. I constantly do this on Reddit, where I wouldn’t necessarily upvote a comment with a score of 1 because I don’t find it to be amazingly insightful, but upvote it if it has a score of 0 or -1, because I don’t think it deserves downvotes.

I think it’s time to revisit this decision. Maybe 24 hours is a bit too long? Maybe let you see your own score after only a few hours, which would prevent people from getting bent out of shape when they’re in a somewhat heated argument and see their comment getting a downvote, but wouldn’t be quite as intrusive? Maybe make it impossible to downvote a comment responding directly to yours, as suggested in that other thread?

Also, are there any statistics or other data which might indicate how big of a difference the change has made in the voting behaviour of the people of Lobsters?


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    because I don’t think it deserves downvotes.

    I’d suggest voting based on whether the comment itself deserves upvotes or downvotes–sympathetic voting somewhat distorts the point of having a karma system.

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      I’d argue that downvoting because of disagreement (and not because of any of the reasons mentioned in the downvote list) distorts the karma system more and sympathetic upvoting is a corrective.

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        I agree. I personally think of downvoting as corrective action. The community’s way of saying “Hey don’t do that” - and when I see someone abusing the downvote there are times I want to be able to try to balance the scales.

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          And if i see you doing that, i will try to rerebalance the scales with a corrective downvote. GOTO 10

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            What exactly is the purpose of that? Do you ever see a comment and go “hmm, I wouldn’t usually downvote this comment, but it has a score of 1 and I don’t really think it deserves upvotes, so I’ll downvote it”?

            Your argument doesn’t make sense to me, but that might just be my lack of imagination.

            What do you select as a reason for downvoting? There is no option for “someone else unfairly upvoted this comment”.

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          I would agree with you about downvoting-as-disagreement. That said, sympathetic upvoting is the same pathology.

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          As others alluded, does this always work? If somebody posts an incorrect comment, should all 100 people who see it downvote it? At a certain point it gets auto collapsed, but there’s still people who will expand it. No mercy, wrong is wrong?

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            I’ve been less attentive recently, for reasons I won’t rehash right now, but in general as a moderator I have not noticed patterns of downvoting somebody simply for being wrong - it’s always been clear to me that posts with large numbers of downvotes were about controversial topics. It’s the topic and an often-imagined classification of participants onto “sides” that leads to massive downvotes, not anything specific about what points are made or their veracity.

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              Sometimes, downvotes are used for clearly wrong factual information. Either by misunderstanding, by bad research or by missing the point of the submitted post. But that’s fine, “incorrect” is one of our downvote reasons and that’s okay.

              It has personally happened to me more then once and I think it’s good. It’s not so much about “deserving” downvotes, but “Incorrect” downvotes are a good way to make sure things move out of scope of the discussion.

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                Absolutely. When that’s the reason, I haven’t witnessed it become a pile-on that goes to -10 or -20, but I’m sure it’s happened at least a few times that I haven’t seen.

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                Indeed. I think that’s the result of some self moderation (sympathy). If somebody posts “XML is the best” they’ll take a few hits, but then it levels off. I’m asking if angersock thinks the ideal situation would be an unending stream of downvotes.

                To expand on my theory, I imagine most voters read a comment and think “this is a -5 comment” or “this is a +10 comment” and then vote as needed to make it so. But this is nowhere close to deciding on an action in isolation based solely on comment content.

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              I’ve been wondering for a long time about positive and negative feedback. Usually when someone’s upvoted, it’s pretty obvious (Thorough explanation, critical answer, …), but someone being downvoted might just ask him/herself why.

              Maybe the easiest way to deal with that is to have downvotes only available if you explain why. Then the number of upvotes explaining the why would be helpful to anyone reading.

              Downvoting here and there without explaining people why they might be wrong won’t help anyone to grow anything but frustration.

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              I’ve been thinking about that too. I’m tired and winding down right now so no detailed writeup. What I noticed immediately after @jcs said something about it was that even 2 votes was significant on a site with so few comments versus views. I sometimes can’t tell if a comment had any impact on intended audience… often 1-3 people here… until some time later. Contrast this to face to face or a site without this feature where I get instant feedback on what I’m doing. So, I haven’t liked the change since it creates the perception (for me at least) of investing effort into nothing. Later, I find out something was or wasn’t worth that effort.

              Another angle is how we’ve had discussions on votes where they’re supposed to signal something. Then, we have this feature which makes the votes invisible. Doesn’t seem to help affect such signaling for a person to continue to do a not-positive-enough or too-negative behavior until the votes finally show. Theoretically, the person might even look like they’re ignoring feedback. That’s before thinking about the habit of ignoring votes that might come from not seeing them for days on any current post.

              Those were at least effects it had on me since it took effect. I also wonder what positive things either came of it or seemed to. The justification for trying it was sound but I’m not sure it was worth keeping.

              EDIT: Just noticed reading the link that I forgot I was one who thought it was a worthwhile experiment. It was. The results weren’t what I expected on my end, though.

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                What’s interesting about a score of -2 vs +4? What action would you take or not take in that first day or so that you’d do differently two days later?

                (And @chadski is correct, it’s 36 hours.)

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                  If I can see that my comment was down/up-voted while I still remember what I was thinking at the time, I can try to take lessons from that and adapt the way I write in the future. If I can’t check until 36 hours later it’s much more effort to learn something.

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                    You’re right, it seems like it was originally 24 hours (https://github.com/lobsters/lobsters/commit/08a64ec4c7c3917d10d393343eb26996d4671ab9#diff-3b4cc13a815e6a32db590e41f5d00d49R438), but has since been bumped to 36 (https://github.com/lobsters/lobsters/blob/30057c7416e0507abeff97f2e99d29a98453d5c2/app/models/comment.rb#L422).

                    As for what’s interesting about -2 to +4 comments, I believe my post and /u/nickpsecurity’s comment outlines a few reasons. In addition, I constantly find my eyes darting to the left to see comment score on both Reddit, HN and Lobsters, just out of curiosity, with no intent to take any action based on the score, and just seeing a ~ on Lobsters is just a small and unnecessary annoyance every time.

                    A score of +4 is actually not that insignificant on this site. If it’s a comment about a relatively niche topic or it’s posted some time after the thread was made, +4 might be the highest it’s ever going to get even if everyone who sees it generally agree it’s a valuable contribution.

                    EDIT: It seems like I’m not the only one who find the ~ somewhat distracting: https://lobste.rs/s/yrb1ja/experiment_with_hiding_fresh_boring#c_pn0ljq

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                      Your story of darting eyes sounds like scores are a distraction from comments that should be further de-emphasized if not removed entirely. I don’t want threads to be high-score tables.

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                        It used to be -, and when there was a number it actually reflowed slightly due to height. I find the ~ a bit less distracting, and the height issue appears to have been fixed as well.

                        I have grown used to the lack of an initial comment score. I could go either way at this point. 36 hours does seem a bit much, but I don’t know much of the behind the scenes impact. I also vaguely recall mostly staying away from the big dragon thread that prompted the experiment.

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                      The way I see it:

                      1. Seeing your own score right away is a quick form of corrective action. Knowing that someone thinks my comment is a troll, or incorrect allows me to correct my behavior, retract the comment, or otherwise help change the course of discourse for the thread. In addition, I see my score go up in the top right when I revisit, but have no understanding of “why.” This drives me bonkers.
                      2. Seeing the scores of other comments doesn’t make sense to me. I try to downvote sparingly, and will often times not vote down a comment that is already at -1, even if it deserves it. We really should be downvoting posts into oblivion if they are deserving of it, and many more posts are than are punished. Likewise, it’s easy to “pile on” a vote to a comment that has many votes, and even easier to side with the author in hopes of getting a karma boost yourself. i.e. “X is bad!” might get 10 points, and agreeing with the author of that, and trying to knock down deflectors is a surefire way to gain yourself some points, even if your opinion is weakly held.

                      In summary: show my own scores so I can course correct. Hide other people’s scores so that commenters agree, or disagree with their own volition.

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                        From my experience the “fresh” timeout is actually 36 hours, not 24.