@Craven de Kere,
Craven de Kere wrote:
I may be mistaken, but the last time I looked at reddit's code (it's open source now) they were using that for editorial purposes too.
If that's true, it's a surprise to me. The membership frequently decry the use of downvoting things merely because you disagree with an opinion, or something doesn't interest you. The preferred approach in such cases is hiding the post, unsubscribing from its subreddit, etc. If merely hiding content indeed has an impact, I would expect it to at least be less than that of downvoting, or to have more of an effect on personal recommendations.
I'll admit though that this becomes less of an issue as membership increases, and more people vote on things. But to continue playing devil's advocate...
Your comments (elsewhere) that people should just get over seeing a -1 next to their posts seem a bit naïve of human nature. The majority of users will care, even if only a little. That's a good thing, since it encourages people to actually contribute something worthwhile, which then becomes more visible, and as a result more people benefit. It's in the site's best interest for people to want to play the "high score" game, so especially until voting participation increases, I think it's best to discourage inappropriate downvoting and encourage editorial participation by providing more options.
By downvoting something I am actively punishing it for being uninteresting, inaccurate, untoward, redundant, full of penises, or whatever. I mostly do this out of self interest. Not only am I hiding the content from my view, I'm also attempting to discourage people from posting similar content of little value.
But sometimes I merely want to hide something. By not giving me that option, I am more likely to do nothing, which doesn't help my experience and gives you less data to work with. Maybe a topic was interesting to me before, but I've already contributed to it all that I'm going to. Maybe my goal in hiding something is merely to see new content at the top of my default topic listing, based on whatever way I've sorted it. There could be any number of reasons, but the bottom line is that downvoting vs. hiding topics is often done with different intent, and I think the algorithm could benefit from taking such differences into account. The only downside I can see to an added "hide" link would be the additional clutter (slight, if done well). I don't think it adds to the learning curve, since I think the difference between a "thumbs down" and "hide" is intuitive to most people.