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Why not remove the downvote feature on comments?

If a post is seriously bad it can be flagged as spam/abuse or something.

Otherwise it just degrades the quality of discussion.

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    In a community like this one, or maybe even just this one, I came to regard downvotes as constructive criticism most of the time. I’ve never seen someone being downvoted to oblivion, in fact even a -2 is pretty rare to come across. And when people ask for clarification, there’s usually someone who answers genuinely instead of finger waving some kind of silly ‘do not discuss the downvote’ convention.

    This was demonstrated in the thread about terminals, where you made a terse remark about resizing: “it doesn’t work”. I disagreed with what you said, and disagreeing isn’t enough to merit a downvote for as far as I’m concerned - but because you did not take the time to explain what you meant at all and just left it at “it doesn’t work”, I found the comment itself to be unsubstantiated, unproductive, and as such, incorrect as well.

    Incorrect because resizing works fine for me and incorrect because you didn’t care to explain - those two combined - were my reason for downvoting.

    Sometimes being downvoted happens to me, too - but whenever I get downvoted, I assume sincerity and apply introspection. Although I actually don’t even care whether the downvoter was sincere or just in a grumpy mood - there’s always something fruitful to take out of it that makes downvotes a useful and valuable.

    Lobste.rs facilitates interaction between its members. The quality of interaction depends on the amount of care people put into their comments, and as was demonstrated so beautifully by the reactions you received when you asked for clarification regarding your downvote, over here people usually do their best to maintain a higher level of quality than on other places where elitism, moral high grounds, self-proclaimed authority or trolling have become the norm.

    To me, a lack of introspection resulting in these kinds of suggestions degrade discussion quality a heck of a lot more than downgrades themselves. I wish you would have read the responses people gave for why you were downvoted and continued the dialog there, instead of requesting removal of the downvote functionality not just for yourself, but for everyone site wide. Luckily the dialoge, both there and here, can still be resumed.

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      That’s also how I feel. The conversation that floats to the top here tends to be interesting, and sincere engagement - even if it’s disagreement. That is emphatically not the case everywhere; anyone who’s spent time on Reddit has probably noticed how the only category of remark that consistently gets upvoted is easy jokes that make fun of somebody.

      To whatever extent people don’t feel that way, I think it’s great to have a conversation about it and look for ways we can do better. As I said elsewhere in this thread, I don’t personally support removing downvotes but I can imagine that there could be other changes I would support, especially if they’re based around reinforcing social norms.

      It would be wrong for me to be one-sided on this, so I will also say that I do think maybe every few threads, somebody downvotes a comment basically just to be petty. I don’t know the motive of any individual but in the aggregate, many otherwise-inexplicable solitary downvotes are certainly just trying to silence someone.

      I think it’s great that the rate of dubious downvotes is comparably low, but I’d like to invite anyone who feels up to it to talk about why they think that sort of thing is bad for the community (if they do - disagreement is always okay too). Maybe seeing that lots of people here dislike the practice will help reduce it. :)

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        I’ve never seen someone being downvoted to oblivion

        Please allow me to introduce myself…

        Seriously, though, downvotes are the only way to express disagreement for the less verbally inclined among us. What are they supposed to do if you take this away from them? Comment ‘-1 troll’?

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        I think complaints about down votes degrade the discussion much more than the down votes do.

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            It might replace some downvotes with low-content “I disagree” comments, since people often want to express it when they read something they don’t like (as lots of angry comment sections out there show). May be better that folks who disagree but have nothing novel to say about the topic just push a button and move on.

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              We should discourage people from replying to posts because they might make a fool of themselves?

              How is a comment “low-content” compared to a down vote which has none at all?

              Isn’t the goal of lobsters to have a community that’s thoughtful and respectful enough to have conversations in the comments? Vote battles are better?

              I’d say this line of reasoning is the anti-thesis of lobsters.

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                Not ‘cause people’d make fools of themselves, but because the comments to register disagreement if you don’t have much to add are mostly not ones I want to read (“What? No.” or “That doesn’t make sense.” or such). Note that under this proposal, those in-place-of-downvote comments themselves could not be downvoted. :)

                It is a nice hope that lack of downvotes would lead to thoughtful conversations, I’m just not that optimistic.

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                  How is a comment “low-content” compared to a down vote which has none at all?

                  It’s about the signal-to-noise ratio. “I agree” is extra words to read without any content. Whereas a downvote is nothing extra to read (unless you’re the one being downvoted I guess).

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                We can all start by being the change we wish to see in the world.

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                  There would come “suggestion: add downvotes!” posts.

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                I think I like open downvoting, even on stories. I think my highest-voted lobste.rs comment is pointing out that this recent story was substantially wrong, despite initial upvotes that presumably came because people thought the claim seemed important if true: https://lobste.rs/s/cp7bd3/your_license_use_react_js_can_be_revoked_if

                Wrongness isn’t a flag reason, and seems like it shouldn’t be because moderators removing incorrect stories would leave them with some difficult calls that involve opinion and will make some folks mad. But the average opinion of lobste.rs users, including ones that don’t like it, seems useful enough to sort by.

                Maybe the current hide threshold is harsh, or along with the reason menu we could show a little blurb about liking good-faith discussion? But downvotes seem too useful to do away with.

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                  Your suggestions are good ones; if the community feels this is an issue, that’s the kind of approach I’d like to see. Maybe not those exact things; my gestalt impression is that I haven’t seen a comment in the collapsed-by-default state that I didn’t think was probably better that way. But tweaks of some sort that convey social norms.

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                  I like the current system, which prompts you for a reason. It’s enough of an extra barrier to prevent some amount downvoting, and it also helps explain to the downvotee why people disliked the post.

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                    Yeah, I really like having the reasons.

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                    I’ve seen systems with only upvotes, and they seem to work pretty well. Downvotes often only serve as a landslide “remove this disgusting filth” behaviour, where a few people would downvote a comment and then it is seen as the will of the community, so the comment just keeps being downvoted by people automatically. At least that’s how it happens on reddit.

                    Here there is also the problem of graying out “unwanted” comments. I don’t particularly care about downvotes per se, but lobste.rs actively makes downvoted comments extremely annoying to read. Why? Let people form their own opinions instead of indulging in pavlovian conditioning.

                    Another good thing would be to hide comment ratings until you vote on them. Or just for a time, like reddit does it.

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                      Along the lines of “let people form their own opinions” and thinking slightly sideways, what about de-coupling the rating from the sum of up/down votes? That is, keep downvotes, and simply display them along with the total upvote count. Give people an option to sort based on summing them, summing their absolute value, ignoring ups, ignoring downs, etc.

                      If the argument is that removing downvotes removes a meaningful avenue for communication, I suggest that the information lost by simply summing all votes is similarly stifling, and it would be interesting to see what sort of interactions a more transparent and nuanced rating system would enable.

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                        Yeah, I think “+13/-20” gives a much better picture than just “-7”.

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                      I disagree, and question your motive.

                      The quality of discussion has much to do with the effort put into communication; the lack of which spurred your thorough downvoting. …And before you assume I was one of your detractors, or that I’m otherwise protecting my right to downvote you, the only votes I made were “up”, for those brave souls who attempted to squeeze meaning from your words.

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                        I disagree, and question your motive.

                        We’ve all been downvoted before. The recentness of him being downvoted does not in any way detract from the legitimate reasons to remove downvotes.

                        Also, you’ll note that the thread you link to (collapsed until I upvoted it), contains some really useful/interesting commentary from other people that would have been hidden.

                        But, I do think that your second point brings up the legitimate question about what to do with comments that really don’t belong on the site (i.e. spam). IMO, OP addresses that fairly well when he suggests:

                        If a post is seriously bad it can be flagged as spam/abuse or something.

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                          We’ve all been downvoted before.

                          Not sure what the point is you’re trying to make.

                          The recentness of him being downvoted does not in any way detract from the legitimate reasons to remove downvotes.

                          Whether it detracts or not, and whether his (and your) reasons to remove downvotes are in fact legitimate, remains to be seen. If memory serves me right, you’ve been a proponent of this on more than one occasion, but so far I haven’t seen any argument I could relate to. Unless you mean ‘legitimate’ defined as “constituting or relating to serious drama as distinct from musical comedy, revue, etc.” Because while I haven’t felt dramatically about it myself, I have indeed seen some seriously dramatic arguments..

                          (Sorry for the snarky joke.)

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                          I feel like having been on the receiving end of sometimes-opaque downvotes would be a completely fair motive for a suggestion like this. I get downvoted too, and it does kinda hurt. Most of the time I try to learn from it, even if that lesson was “shouldn’t have engaged”. That’s a coping mechanism that works for me, but it’s not as if community members are expected or required to be unemotional about that sort of thing.

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                            Most of the time I just visualise it as someone behind his pc saying ‘meh’ when I’m downvoted for an unknown reason, so then I just ‘meh’ back and let it go. I know my own intentions are good, so that’s what I rely on - not unemotional, but admittedly less emotional. And when I do catch myself writing something downright unfriendly, I just don’t press submit.

                            And sometimes it helps to make up my own reason for why I’d downvote my own post. I guess that’s my coping mechanism, but one that does work pretty well.

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                          I like this idea. Besides the other upsides mentioned (upsides, heh) I think it would make the community feel friendlier.

                          Also, I notice that so ridiculously often on other websites, comments that are perfectly true/accurate but are inconvenient, are downvoted. This happens especially often in cases where an authority or leader of some sort is being questioned (on very reasonable, but “inconvenient” grounds), and it seems to promote groupthink.

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                            I think it would make the community feel friendlier.

                            On the other hand, from what I’ve found looking for <=0 comments after this came up, and from what I see fall into the negatives on other sites with comment voting, it looks people downvote comments for unfriendliness reasonably often. So you have to compare any gain to what you may lose from unfriendly stuff getting more airplay.

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                              So you have to compare any gain to what you may lose from unfriendly stuff getting more airplay.

                              I agree and recognize the double-edged nature of it. Previously I had also suggested hiding votes except to the author. That was an interesting discussion. I particularly liked @michaelochurch’s objection.

                              In the end a lot of this comes down to “is it worth it for @jcs or whoever to implement it”.

                              I personally like the idea of trying out these various suggestions/ideas on a trial basis, just to mix things up to see how we feel and increasing the possibility that we stumble upon something that works even better than the status quo. For controversial changes the end of the trial could include a vote to decide whether or not to keep the changes or revert. I’d set the voting threshold at 60% for such a thing.

                              But again… I can see @jcs (or whoever else is working on the code) finding such a system more trouble than it’s worth implementing.

                              EDIT: Anyone know what happened to username mentioning?

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                                Anyone know what happened to username mentioning?

                                There’s options in settings to get an email or pushover notification if someone @ mentions you.

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                                  I have noticed that that incantation does make jcs show up, although it’s possible he just refreshes a lot or something. :) I don’t feel up for reading the code right now; does anything happen when I say @itistoday?

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                                    does anything happen when I say @itistoday?

                                    No, but also it used to be that saying @Irene would turn the text into a link to your profile.

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                                      Yeah, I had wondered whether there was a notification part separate from the highlight part. I guess not.

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                                        I can’t remember seeing this, but I can remember proposing it in a comment, and jcs replied that he’d receive the mention.

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                                  I take your point for sure, but it’s also the only mechanism that lets the community decide when to turn off somebody’s microphone, without moderator involvement. Unless you feel like there are never appropriate times for that, I think downvotes do more good than harm.

                                  That said, I know that being on the receiving end of them hurts and I wonder what social mechanisms we could use to make that rarer or blunt the sting.

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                                  Couple mentions about this in this thread, but having downvotes requiring a “reason” might be interesting. Then downvotes could actually become constructive criticism (a little like the Slashdot system?).

                                  Downvote -> [ Irrelevant | Being too much of a Jerk | Disagreeing a lot | Other ]

                                  This lets us be a bit more honest about why we’re doing it? With a nebulous “Other” to allow downvoting anyways.

                                  You could keep “Disagreeing” to be honest about why some downvotes happen, or maybe you remove it so that when we downvote, we can think about our own motivations.

                                  This recent post From eevee is relevant (TL;DR is “don’t be a jerk” is a pretty good rule).

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                                    We already do this. :)

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                                      Oh, I have never downvoted anyone (too much high-quality content ;) ), didn’t realise this was a thing

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                                        Haha, I figured. Welcome to lobste.rs.

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                                    I agree. I often notice comments are downvoted for not being politically correct. It’s a shame!

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                                      “Political correctness” means “not being an asshole”, and I think someone being an asshole is pretty much the best justification for downvoting. Mere incorrectness can be fixed with a short, well-cited comment, but asshole behavior needs a fairly large stick attached, or it will take over a community.

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                                        “Political correctness” these days (at least) means “not saying things that could upset people even if you are saying what you think is true”. It’s not about not being an asshole, it’s about being nice at the expense of being honest.

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                                          Or that’s the excuse given by people who like being raging assholes. “Oh, I’m just being honest. Sorry I’m not ‘PC’ enough for you.” Either way, perhaps not a useful term.

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                                            Why can’t it be both? Yes, there are assholes who use that as an excuse. There are also people who shut others up using political correctness as a pretense. Both exist, and, in my experience, people are perfectly capable of detecting assholes but completely freeze up when perfectly reasonable things they say result in accusations of racism and other -isms. My experience is not representative, of course.

                                            But the point is it’s not black and white. You should be fine saying things you think are true. And as long as that is ok, there will be trolls using it as an excuse. I’m all for accepting the existence of trolls if the price is free speech.

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                                        Did they give this reason in a comment, or do you assume this is the reason? There’s no such option underneath the down arrow (lol), so while I’m not saying that you’re wrong, I would still like to see some examples.

                                        Also, was it related to suckless, or is the hat irrelevant here?

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                                          Seconded for not wearing the hats unless they are relevant.

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                                            It is relevant, as suckless.org members don’t care about political correctness.

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                                            See my comment history for instance ;)