If you are following the other threads in this forum about the coming version of a2k (tentatively scheduled for launch this month) you know we are launching the new software soon and beginning to explain the changes. For an overview of why we are including a rating feature please see this thread:
The basics are that we are going to have the community be more responsible for maintaining the culture they want and the individual more responsible for their own experience.
Many people who have used other websites with rating features are concerned about the abuse of the system and while I'm sure there will be some of that on the new site we are also going to do a lot more to prevent it than other sites you may be thinking of did.
So here I want to talk about how it can be positive for the community and the ways the community can help to make it so.
1) We are not making a simple number on the screen. Many sites with ratings systems don't do anything other than change the number associated with the user or content. This makes it completely pointless except for the purpose of vanity, which is not something that any site can serve well.
We are using the data to provide editorial control to the users. The content users vote up will be more prominent. The content users vote down will be less prominent and sometimes hidden.
Getting all the details right is going to require tweaks to the way it's done and we probably don't have it nailed yet and will learn a lot after launch but we are committed to making it more useful than just an arbitrary number on the screen.
2) We are committed to preventing abuse of the system. We are going to work hard against those who use sock puppetry. Other systems allowed a lot of fake accounts and multiple votes. We are going to silently discard fraudulent votes. If you create a second account to vote for the same thing, your vote will not be added to the aggregate vote even if it seems to show up for you. The downside is that legitimate users who share the same computer will not have both votes counted but this will prevent the basic level of sock puppetry.
But there are other ways to get around something like that that is predominantly based on IP addresses and we expect people to try. We also will address that through vote weighing algorithms that will dramatically reduce their effectiveness.
We don't think we've got this nailed out of the box but will adapt the technology to fight this. We aren't making the free for all that Abuzz was for example so don't assume the abuse we'll see will be of a similar scale.
3) The community is going to have a big share of the responsibility in keeping this positive. We'll do our part to shape the technology, and and prevent scale of abuse but the users can do their part by:
- Voting based on objective site values and not whether or not whether they like the person or agree with them.
- Not using the ratings for character assassination. We will put algorithms in place to react to this so don't expect to be able to go on a binge of voting down all of someone's posts just to get at them. We are going to build ways for the system to learn from its data and excessive use patters like that will trigger loss of trust and authority for your votes. In short, if your actions look like a malicious robot your account will likely be treated that way.
- Using the vote to help keep this place civil and up to our standards.
In the past, if someone was abusive or disruptive or just plain being stupid the only way to deal with them is to try to ignore them (with no consequence to the abusive or disruptive person) or to respond to them and feed the attention to the behavior because of all the site being based on activity.
Now we are making the collective judgment of the users an editorial control, so use it! The people who want to abuse it will, and the best defense against abuse of a ratings system is a lot of honest use of it. If we have enough members using it we can make code to mitigate the abuse but without the members establishing the positive use pattern it will be much harder to do so.
So vote away. Now that everyone can help with the moderation please do so. The site will be better for it if it is more than just a few bearing this burden.