Should we talk about voting again?
Based on replies to this comment there seems to be a decent amount of interest around the topic of reworking voting, so I thought I would start a thread to get some more input. We already had similar discussions about a year ago but it looks like some people's opinions may have shifted somewhat? and as was noted in the comment thread, 1 week wasn't really enough to accurately assess the value of something like making vote counts invisible.
Things to consider:
- Do you think how voting works changes your/other's behavior on this site? and if it does, is this change positive or negative?
- Would you support reworking/modifying voting? If so, how?
- How long should we test said modifications if they are made?
- anything else you consider relevant
To try to head off a little bit of the arguing that I'm sure this will turn into: keep in mind that this is a decision that doesn't have a correct answer. Everything works fine and can be used for great communities:
Everything works, but none of them are "correct"—there are different effects (both positive and negative) from each of them, and it's difficult or even impossible to get a good understanding of how those effects influence people using the site. Different people are going to have different preferences because they put a different value on the benefits and drawbacks of each one.
There's no right answer, and there's no way to prove that any of them are better or worse than any of the others. In the end it's just a choice that will have some good aspects and some bad ones.
These two have a combined method that you wrote, or at least introduced, and asked for feedback on leading to overall positive reception with the only real complaints being that people needed to think for themselves to form an opinion. That solution being temporarily hidden vote counts.
Of course it does, and it would be strange if it didn’t. Tildes is a community, and people communicate differently within a community than they do to a single interlocutor. The change is definitely positive, since we tend to take greater care in our use of words.
No, I don’t think it should change at all.
I like one change at a time - it makes it easier to figure out if it's working. If we change more than just the visibility, we'll be wondering which change was actually necessary. I think hiding them for now is the first step. After we run with that for a while (I think 2 months is enough) we'll see what people think and take another.
Maybe so. Hacker News seems to work hiding votes from all comments but your own. But it’s a very different website.
I see a lot of people talking about how the disparity of voting can be discouraging. I disagree about this being problematic. A lack of voting can be for a variety of reasons. One common reason is that the way a person replied was hostile in some manner. One other reason that you mention is that they are presenting an unpopular opinion.
However, I've seen some very unpopular opinions highly voted because the person who presented it was respectful about how they presented it and did so with ample sourcing.
People need to be incentivized to post, but positive encouragement in the form of a number going up showing that they were seen and heard, especially when there isn't a lot of activity (so less chance of a reply) is absolutely integral to this.
In addition, I can often judge whether a community is accepted or marginalized based on how a member of that community is receiving or not receiving votes. I've also seen people in places of privilege say things which are downright wrong or intolerant and whether those posts receive votes is important to my own understanding of whether the current community is actually accepting and gives me an understanding of where they stand on issues.
Then it should be private. Vote counts, even if only for a period of a few days, should be visible only to the person that made the comment just as the note received when given an exemplary tag is private.
Edit as I meant to address this as well:
In these cases the wrong or intolerant comment needs to be addressed instead of ignored while you make a mental note on where people are standing based on incorrect information.
As I stated in the next paragraph, I disagree because I find it a valuable indicator, especially on topics in which I am not particularly versed, on how people view a particular viewpoint. Of course, it needs to be taken in the context of the actual post itself - presenting a popular opinion in an inflammatory way or vice versa is not going to garner a lot of positive votes.
I do not agree with the idea that an unequal amount of positive reinforcement is a bad thing or that it should be hidden. Understanding how the public feels about an opinion is an important part of feedback. The only time this becomes problematic is when you have an echo chamber and the 'public' opinion is not truly representative of the public but people believe it is (it's only representative of the sample).
I believe the correct take on seeing disparity should be to reconsider how we choose to interact with the functionality of the site and to create discussions around problematic patterns. Talking about increasing diversity, or specifically choosing to reward diversity is a way to counteract this but still allow for public opinion to be shown.
If votes are hidden and there's only 2 replies to a comment and one has 90 votes and the other 2, but one is espousing a potentially intolerant viewpoint, how is an uneducated or unfamiliar reader supposed to understand that the comment with 2 votes represents a minority opinion, especially if the comment with 2 votes appeals to their emotion or experiences in a stronger fashion?
I understand there is a potential downside to this in that groupthink, hivemind, or echo chambers can emerge based on the majority imposing their will and while I think this does happen on occasion on Tildes, we are quite aware of our white male tech bias and people have brought up that they want this to be fixed. The visibility of votes has not prevented this from emerging (and I believe has actually been a good indicator to show that it is a problem) and revoking visibility will not fix issues of diversity.
Which only further cements my point that you'll use a vote count as an indicator of correctness on a topic you are not versed enough to make that determination. The very concept of votes is to encourage discourse by voting for people that provide meaningful discussion. Voting is NOT an "I agree" button. The very presence of publicly visible vote counts encourages mob mentality because even with no one looking over your shoulder you feel peer pressure to agree with others when you see it as you've openly admitted: A highly voted comment on topic in which you know nothing will influence you to take it as fact regardless if it's right or wrong.
The positive reinforcement is still there, it is just private to the person that made the comment only. You later bring up people wanting diversity here, but are ignoring the echo chamber that has been admitted to already being here as well. We have an echo chamber here. The opinions here do not truly represent the public.
And if those votes are public and if the 90 point comment is espousing alt-right intolerance and the 2 pointer is pushing for LGBT rights you expect the uneducated and unfamiliar person to change their viewpoint to the 90 point side even though the 2 pointer appeals to their emotions and experience in a stronger fashion. Your examples are based on the assumption that the group here does not diversify while stating it's sorely needed.
There is also zero evidence that the public visibility of votes has encouraged people to express a desire for greater diversity here. If anything the revocation of publicly visible vote counts, even if only for a short time after posting, will encourage people to express opinions other than the norm thereby encouraging the diversity you're specifically requesting as diversity isn't merely gender, sexuality, and occupation but also ideas from other viewpoints regardless of the individual.
The functionality and idea to hide votes for a period of time already exists on reddit and was written by Deimos specifically to curtail bandwagon voting, both positive and negative, and encourage discussion through such.
I want to point out here that there is no need for such aggression, especially when you're reading into my comment - I never said it was, or that "how people view a particular viewpoint" means whether they agree or don't.
Again, not what I said. I said it conveys the sentiment of others to me.
I think you're far too focused on this as an idea of whether something is correct or not. That's not what I use it for. Knowing how others think and will treat you is critically important when it comes to ideas like say, whether I feel its safe to talk about LGBT issues. If the public sentiment is to harass, cajole, and insult LGBT individuals, this is a good indicator to me that it's not somewhere I will be safe talking LGBT issues. It's a way minorities can understand whether they will be accepted or chastised.
No, I don't. It just lets you understand how people here think, and exposes echo chambers, rather than letting them remain hidden.
There is also zero evidence that it hasn't.
I find it funny that you reference Deimos, and yet he's already in this very post saying that there is no right answer and yet here you are arguing for one specific implementation over others.
Would adding some visible marker based on the Malice label be a good solution to this? Using vote count to determine how acceptable an opinion/mindset is (is terms of tolerance/intolerance) only works in cases where there is an anchor point for vote counts. You example of 90 vs 2 works perfectly. But if we are at a point where votes are visible but both comments have very few votes, say 6 vs 4, the takeaway is left much more to the reader. Does that 6v4 vote count imply (a) 60% of the community agrees/40% disagrees, (b) 60% of the community subscribed to this group agree, 40% disagree, (c) 60% of readers agree and the other 40% disagree with the opinion but think it was well-worded and so deserves a vote, (d) most the community hasn't read the thread (e) any of the other permutations of this someone could come up with that I'm too lazy to type out.
I agree with a lot of your points, even if I prefer the hidden vote counts. The lack of diversity in users and content here is probably the main reason for my constant flux between heavy use and zero use of the site. I just am not sold that votes are the best metric for solving the problems described.
You're absolutely right, the world isn't usually extremes of 90/2, but closer to 6/4, and that's an important indicator as well - it lets me know that the community is split on an issue. Perhaps I know a lot about this issue and can help to clear up any confusion! Or perhaps I don't know, and this is an indicator that if I find this issue important, I should do more research before forming an opinion.
In general, caution should be taken when an opinion is split. My only real advice to you and others trying to understand what a 60/40 split means is that they shouldn't focus on trying to understand it so much when there's simple statistical chance operating on an n so low and far too many plausible explanations even when we do hit statistical significance.
I don't think there's a perfect solution, as Deimos mentioned elsewhere in this post. We should spend more time on focusing how to solve existing problems because this is not fundamentally a design problem, it's an interpretation and human problem.
You might have misunderstood Micycle_the_Bichael's use of the 6/4 example.
His point was (as far as I understood it) that considering the low number of votes, vote counts might not have the impact they were intended for.
It's not a problem of intent, it's a problem of interpretation.
I think the patterns that visible votes create are more negative than positive, for the same reason as many other forms of social media: they serve as a psychological tool for the reinforcement of the majority opinion.
Reddit gives the most obvious case of how this works, but even on facebook and twitter, with no concept of a downvote, people can still be "ratio'd" on Twitter, and one person can be drowning in "angry face" reactions on facebook. This influence carries over to tildes in the opposite direction. Instead of majority opinion being backed by negative reinforcement, it's backed by positive reinforcement, or the lack there of (which was also the case on Facebook when the only possible reaction was likes).
I think the solution of hiding votes from everyone but the poster is the most efficient way to resolve this problem.
I agree that we should hide the votes from everyone but the OP, but I feel like at some point we /should/ show the votes, even at the minimum if it's a month or some long time span after. I feel like visible votes only serve as a psychological opinion for knee jerk reactions, because it influences how you feel with something before interacting and deciding yourself. But if we get rid of that, then votes just become a helpful way to find content others like. Another way instead of time based, could be if the link is clicked, or comments viewed, or any combination of those three would be another solution to hide votes until someone has come to their own conclusion
Yes, let's! I have thought for a long time that votes are only barely functional at relating comments to their threads. Here are some messy suggestions for features which could be activated in deeper threads to benefit detailed communication:
poster self-classification: reinforce your general sentiment by shading your comment to a color matching or similar to the color of the post you're replying to, or use a different shade if you intend to disagree. perhaps other users could help to interpret comment threads by marking color suggestions which could be averaged to brighten (or muddle down) as consensus builds around what perspectives are being presented by the various contributor. I think this could go a long way to helping people realize early when to disengage from threads instead of digging in.
commenter/replier specific subchannels: I would love a button to acknowledge/thank/"mhm"/"oh i c" to people who have responded to me specifically without adding a vote to comments which seem to contradict some portion of mine -- I get the sense that snappy, simple replies which get early votes are tinder for the sort of dogpiling that has been discussed here this week. A short list of basic acknowledgment reacts could supplement the private message system.
alternatives to comment trees!! your first comment in a thread could be required to be directed at the link itself OR to another user GENERALLY, rather than at a single other comment. Subsequent replies between you and OP or the user you spoke to could be displayed in chronological sorts (like the ones we use now) -- or other users beside the commenter and the replier could score the relevancy of the messages; a vote would be an arrow dragged from one post to the other. The premise here is that most threads do not require any kind of sort whatsoever to be legible, and that people tend to recognize when things have grown beyond that scale. if two users are speaking primarily to each other, digging a long hole together, quote-reply intertwining then those posts will follow each other clearly.
All of these ideas could be abused, misunderstood, or just an eyesore -- but to be frank, basic voting is a very dull concept which rarely enhances the dimension of understanding. I recognize why it has been implemented here, given that this site was founded on insights gleaned from years of experience on similar forums, but the fact of the matter is that Tildes is still very similar to its forebears and voting is one of the most obviously vestigial features of that lineage.
The colour classification idea is interesting, do you have any examples of it being used? I've heard of vaguely similar concepts, but never seen it in action.
It is a very interesting idea, but I would not want to be the person responsible for making the UI look good in doing so.
Me neither, but I don't expect that it would be very difficult. We already use bars of color to cover up profile pictures when sharing screenshots from our social media. A simple banner system (or just allowing a colorful mess) is an option. IDK about lookin good; I'm of the opinion that taste in visual interfaces tends to muffle and paper over many useful kinds of expression.
No, I haven't got an example. I don't think it's an entirely original idea but I imagined it after a discussion on this forum where I received a more-hostile-than-expected response after I had replied to a comment in agreement on all fronts. I want to be able to indicate visually that I am On Your Side, and I think it would be more effective than longish comments where I lay out just how many ways I agree with you.
Another: how about a bot that periodically asks users whether they meant a given comment sarcastically? A "please-explain-yourself" machine could work against the kind of interpersonal shock that I think accompanies the escalation of conflict in threads where there's a large disparity between the length of a comment and its reply.
From a completely personal perspective, seeing votes only detracts from my Tildes experience. There is no correlation between the posts I find interesting and the top-voted ones. I'm less likely to comment because I don't want to think about whether other tilderinos will give the comment a vote.
Rather than talk about solutions, can we talk about what problem voting solves? If we have a clear sense of the problem, I imagine there are better ways to solve it.
Just out of curiosity: what is the problem voting is ment to solve?
I mean that was is the intended effect? Is it ment to do something specific and if so, does it achieve that?
I think these are the most important questions asked here, and your comment being at the very bottom (at the time I'm writing this) illustrates my biggest issue with Tildes' current comment voting system: There is a huge advantage to commenting early!
Reading the other comments here, it seems most consider votes a reward for providing quality content. I think this is misguided. The tiny endorphin rush we get from a vote or a reply is what makes social media so addictive, and part of what makes social media anxiety-inducing and a source of depression for many.
For me votes on comments serve an entirely different purpose: They're a tool for rearranging the order of comments, with the goal of the best and most informative comments rising to the top, and those not contributing anything positive sinking to the bottom.
Tildes actually succeeds better than most social media on that point, thanks to comment labels. Labels allow even late comments a chance to rise up if they're good enough to attract the exemplary label, and it allows early comments to sink if enough users label them as not worthy of being that high up. It's also worth noting that allowing downvotes doesn't automatically solve this problem; someone did the math on Reddit and proved that even there the earliest comments have a much higher chance of becoming the top comment.
I've suggested before a very simple change to Tildes' comments voting system, that I think would help it better serve what I think should be its main purpose (rearranging comments): Disallow voting on the top comments! The reason for the early comment advantage is that most users read comments top to bottom, vote on the ones they like, and stop reading before they've read every comment. If we're not allowed to vote on for example the top fifth of comments, there will always be new comments rising up and competing for the top spot, instead of early comments cementing their place up there.
(New comments will still struggle for attention if they're added to the very bottom. A potential solution for this is to give new comments a number of dummy votes for example equal to the average number of votes for all comments on the same level. New comments then get added to the middle instead of the bottom.)
This is an interesting idea, and it's similar to one I've had of having vote "ceilings". It's the idea that once the number of votes on a comment has passed a certain, relatively low threshhold, it has maxed out it's sorting status.
So, if our vote ceiling were set at, say, 15, comments with scores of 31, 22, and 65 would all be treated as having an equal score of 15 in sorting, and the "top" comment would be effectively randomized between those three for users. This lets later comments still stand a chance of rising the ranks, since it's a lot harder for a single early comment to lock in the top spot.
It does have usability ramifications though, as a more randomized ordering might be disorienting to users, especially in larger or longer-running threads, where one would have to re-parse the structure of the comment layout each time they returned.
Which can often be counteracted rather effectively with exemplaries... and yet I notice you didn't use that on @ohyran's comment. ;) I am mostly just poking fun, BTW. I still agree that 'first to comment = more likely to get the top spot', is an issue here, even with exemplaries.
How would that help? It just makes the first comment's position at the top even more enshrined, doesn't it?
Edit: Nevermind, I totally misread that as saying "Disallow voting on top-level comments"... but disallowing voting on the comment already in the top position is certainly an interesting one, that I actually kinda like! It has problems of its own, but I do think it might actually be worth exploring.
As for your proposed idea of putting new comments in the middle of the sort, I honestly get the feeling that may actually have the exact opposite effect you think it will. IMO, throwing new comments into the middle of the sorting will actually make it more likely that they never get seen, than putting them at the bottom does... since at least at the bottom they are often seen by users going to make a new top-level comment of their own (which is one of the reasons the new top-level comment box is down there instead of at the top like on reddit).
And at least thanks to the "Collapse old comments when I return to a topic "and the "Last comment posted" features here, I have actually seen a surprising number of brand new comments get a considerable amount of votes in short order, even in very active topics. Certainly far more often than ever occurs on reddit, anyways. So while "first comment = more likely to get the top spot" is undoubtedly still a bit of an issue here, it's not really that bad IMO.
Hah, right you are! Well, they're asking the important questions, but does that alone make their comment exemplary? I generally reserve that label for comments that have clearly taken a lot of effort to research and/or write.
You know what, I'm going to scroll back up and tag that comment exemplary. Asking the important questions, that may not necessarily require a lot of effort, but it's still exemplary in my opinion.
Something I encountered today was a post that I thought didn't fit the purpose of the site (or the particular group it was posted in). It was a very specific stack overflow-style q+a/help post, meant to be "solved" rather than "discussed." I wanted to somehow register that I didn't think the post was a good fit for Tildes and/or the group but didn't see any way to do so (other than commenting to say so). I wonder if there might be something along the line of "labels" where users can provide feedback that's not necessarily positive but is more nuanced than a generic "downvote." This could then, perhaps in a user-chosen way, influence the homepage sort.
Out of curiosity, what makes you think stack overflow-style, q+a, "please help me solve this" type topics aren't appropriate for Tildes?
I ask because I'm often the one that answers those kind of topics, at least when they are tech related (since my background is in IT and I enjoy helping people here), and I would even personally love for a ~tech.support group to be created eventually.
If it's a matter of them just popping up on your front page too often due to the frequent back/forth commenting they trigger, I could start adding a
ask.tech supporttag to them all so you can filter them out more easily.
I think part of this is the difference between reddit's subreddits (which are mutually exclusive) and Tildes' tags. Ideally I want to be able to follow ~tech and just have it be tech news and discussion—and maybe my original hypothesis (which might be wrong) is that that's what the group was for. If that scope creeps wider to include support posts, then people who don't want those posts have to manually filter out posts by a tag (which are not necessarily consistently applied). I agree it'd be great to have them all in ~tech.support so that subscribing to ~tech doesn't subscribe me to the support posts (I think?), but also:
I'd argue that tech support posts aren't a part of my vision for a strong community site. They're typically only useful to the person who posted, and then they sit around like noise even if they're solved. Unless I'm seeking out the opportunity to help others troubleshoot, there's really no reason I would want to see them. It sounds harsh, and I say this as someone who often responds to various help-style questions on r/askstatistics, r/learnmachinelearning, and r/python, but at the very least I would want it siloed away from generic ~tech content.
Yeah, that's a good point about it basically being opt-out here vs opt-in on reddit, which I can understand why it would annoy some people.
Given how many times I have found solutions to my own tech related problems on reddit, tech forums, and similar sites (even year after they were first posted), I don't totally believe that statement about them being "noise" to be true though. And they actually are interesting to me at least, and likely at least some of the other people who attempted to help the person solve the issues too.
Regardless, from now on I will try my best to tag any tech support topics with something unique so you can filter them out if you want to. And if you have a suggestion for an appropriate tag to use, let me know.
I made a previous comment on this in a thread about color coding comments and having a "best of" page; which I'll copy here as it applies.
I'm also of the opinion that vote counts should be hidden to everyone but the person that made the comment (and possibly only visible to that person on their own user page) either permanently or for a period of 3-7 days. Another idea is a modified version of reddit's "contest mode" in which the order of top level comments is randomized for a period of time before settling back into a set comment sort order. If done here I would prefer the replies to the top level comments not be hidden by default as they are in "contest mode" as that mode, as evidenced by the name, is meant specifically for subs that hold contests.
Publicly declared voting systems are flawed, people will vote with the crowd to fit in, this has been readily apparent on reddit (and here) especially where up and down votes pile on without any actual thought being placed on the content, context, or factualness of the comment. I've watched comments swing wildly from negative to positive when presenting contrary information (leading to negatives) that is followed by someone else backing up the statement with something as simple as "You know, he's right..." making it rocket back into positives. If you want a more "real world" scenario, remember this: Every single election cycle is met with warnings about how X party is going to declare themselves the winner early to discourage people from getting out to vote and how exit polls discourage or rally voters depending on who's winning.
I'd like to see the vote counter on your personal comments moved down to where the vote button is on other comments. As it stands now, it looks a little bit clunky.
Here's what it currently looks like, and here's a simple mockup.
(to answer the actual intent of this question, I think the voting system is fine - having upvotes and labels is a strict improvement over upvotes / downvotes in my book, and votes being visible eliminates redundant forum-style +1 type comments.)
I'd merge vote and label buttons, and add some new labels. Example.
Clicking on vote button will open the vote options (labels). When user selects an option it will add a +1 in vote button. Which option user selected will not be visible to others. User can vote for only one option but can change it anytime. A bit like mix of Facebook reactions and current Tildes system. Internally it remains same.
Yes it does. Sometimes for the worse, sometimes for the better. It usually depends on my guess as to why are people voting (or not) 'for' my comment.
Probably. One of the big examples, at least to me is ratio-ing. If you say something and you get 4 votes and someone replies to you and gets 7, it definitely gives great credibility to whoever replied, but you need to figure out why by yourself. Is it because their comment is good or your comment is bad? Is this a thing of opinions or facts?
As to how, I definitely support the idea of adding labels to elaborate on why the "good" votes are being cast. The main reason I care about how many people vote on comments (often mine but not necessarily) is to try to figure out how many people found my comment usually some mix of vaguely interesting, relevant or just to see if people found some link I posted good. Making those things clearer seems helpful. I also support having a measure of how many people have read your comment (only visible to creator), although that seems contradictory to the goal of privacy.
I also agree that letting people have simple reactions as labels (that don't affect the comment's scoring or ranking) is probably a good idea, because otherwise you can't really compliment people outside of their PMs and while having 12 PMs saying "thank you" and "great comment" in your inbox seems nice, it does seem somewhat cluttersome, especially given the lack of distinction between notifications from PMs and comments.
6 weeks minimum perhaps? Although the election is less than 6 weeks from now so it shouldn't be now.
Not everyone votes in the same way, which means trying to figure out why some comments have more votes than others is not exactly doable or practical.
Sometimes people can say good and bad things in a comment and the vote ends up applying to the whole comment. Being able to single out a specific paragraph or segment in a comment as good or bad seems like an idea worth considering.