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Karma Changes

2 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 22 December 2009 12:17AM

As recently (re-)suggested by Kaj Sotala, posts now have much larger effects on karma than comments:  Each up or down vote on a post is worth 10 karma.

Negative votes on posts have had karma effects all along, but for some reason Reddit's code imposed a display cap (not an actual cap) of 0.  This violates a basic user interface principle: things with important effects should have visible effects.  Since this just got 10x more important, we now show negative post totals rather than "0".  This also provides some feedback to posters that was previously missing.  Note that downvoting a post costs 10 karma from your downvote cap of 4x current karma.

The minimum karma to start posting has been raised to 50.

Thanks to our friends at Tricycle for implementing this request!

Comments (85)

Comment author: CannibalSmith 22 December 2009 01:28:08PM *  12 points [-]

GOD DAMN IT!! I WAITED SO LONG FOR ELIEZER'S KARMA TO GO JUST A BIT ABOVE 9000! KAJ SOTALA, YOU RUINED IT, YOU BASTARD, HOW COULD YOU! THAT'S IT, I'M QUITTING THE INTERNETS!

Comment author: CannibalSmith 22 December 2009 01:29:24PM 2 points [-]

At least I can now make ten times more comments like this before I run out of karma.

Comment author: wedrifid 22 December 2009 01:32:59PM 0 points [-]

(Why 9000?)

Comment author: CannibalSmith 22 December 2009 01:37:58PM 5 points [-]
Comment author: MatthewB 24 December 2009 08:06:33PM 1 point [-]

That is hilarious! And so pertinent.

Comment author: MichaelGR 22 December 2009 04:01:18PM *  0 points [-]

For us non manga/anime geeks, could you provide some context please.

edit: Found this: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=over+9000

edit2: I originally linked to encyclopediadramatica.com, but changed the link to Urban Dictionary because someone mentioned that the ads contained pornography (I had not noticed that).

Comment author: wedrifid 22 December 2009 04:18:00PM 1 point [-]

edit: Found this: http://www.encyclopediadramatica.com/Over_9000

(Link contains pornographic advertising if anyone cares about that sort of thing.)

Comment author: MichaelGR 22 December 2009 04:23:58PM 0 points [-]

Thanks, I just changed it in case anyone was reading this from a workplace or anywhere where they could get in trouble by clicking on the link.

Comment author: Kaj_Sotala 22 December 2009 05:31:02PM 0 points [-]

:D

Sorry. But hey, over 37000 is certainly above 9000 as well, isn't it?

Comment author: CannibalSmith 23 December 2009 11:38:53AM *  1 point [-]

37000 > 9000 but it's not "over nine thousaaand" (I would have up/down-voted Eliezer's comments to keep his karma at exactly 9001). The joke is also killed by the fact that Eliezer isn't the only one with that much karma now.

Comment author: LauraABJ 22 December 2009 02:23:10AM 9 points [-]

I think this change will prevent people from posting anything even remotely experimental. Is this what we really want?

Comment author: Psychohistorian 23 December 2009 03:58:01AM *  5 points [-]

There's a consistent pattern to what gets voted down.

"Experimental" isn't what gets voted down. Arrogance or confrontation combined with poor thinking/writing gets voted down. If you're making a really big conclusion, you need to make your premises really clear. If you're not confident in your point, or if you're incredibly confident in your point, you should frame your post more as raising a question than answering one. And you need to respect basic rules of grammar and spelling; lesswrong is probably in the top .1% of civility for this type of forum, and users like it that way.

If you exercise a certain degree of humility, use a spellchecker, and avoid being confrontational, it is very unlikely you will be voted down. You might not be voted up, but people will be hesitant to punish you if you are humble and friendly, as opposed to arrogant and antagonistic.

Of course, I have to admit I'm thrilled about this new system; I've had maybe a dozen good top-level post ideas bouncing around, and this should motivate me to start posting them. But I think there's a consistent pattern to what gets voted down; polite posts that use a spellchecker almost never get voted down, even if people aren't interested in them.

Comment author: LauraABJ 23 December 2009 05:08:09PM 4 points [-]

"If you exercise a certain degree of humility, use a spellchecker, and avoid being confrontational, it is very unlikely you will be voted down."

This will hopefully be true with the new system that shows negative scores (I for one will be a lot more loath to vote down anything below +2), but I'm not sure it has been true historically, as I have seen posts that I liked and were all of the above that have been voted down. I'm not entirely opposed to the karma changes, as I can see that there will be positive effects via motivation, but I think a modification may be helpful: Instead of downvotes being automatic -10, why not let negative scores on posts be -2 or -3? It would still make people think twice before posting, without scaring the bejeezes out of lower karma posters, and readers won't feel as bad about voting down things that really oughtn't be here.

Comment author: Oscar_Cunningham 22 December 2009 10:29:14AM 5 points [-]

If someone starts a post with "Rationality is wrong..." or similar, I'm much more likely to downvote it than if they start it with "I've got these scenarios where standard rationality techniques seem not to work..." To this extent at least the presentation of the ideas matters as much as the content. So I hope that these rules will cause people to present their ideas more cautiously, while still posting experimentally. If you are thinking of posting something controversial, it might be worth seeking advice from the other users who you think will be interested.

Basically, I think downvotes should work as an "utter stupidity" filter.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 22 December 2009 03:23:15AM 11 points [-]

Well... sorry to put it this way, but when you said that, I checked to see if you'd posted anything, and you hadn't. There's a rule I have which often offends people, and yet it seems like a very important rule, which is when someone tells you that change X will prevent people from doing Y, and they aren't doing Y, you probably want to check with people who are currently doing Y about that.

Comment author: Yvain 23 December 2009 12:29:52AM *  21 points [-]

Take as a sample some of the people who have made nonmeta top-level posts in the past week or so and aren't super-regular posters. I count Shalmanese, David Balan, Matt, Mr. Hen, Warrigal, and JHuffman. A few of the posts I downvoted, but none was so abominably stupid that the person involved should be ridden out of town on a rail.

I looked up how long it took each of those posters to earn their 20 karma/50 karma based on comment points alone (not counting comments replying to their own posts). IE, how far do you have to go back for all comments between then and now to total >20/50 karma? It was quick and involved a lot of skimming and mental math, but it was something like:

  • Matt: 20 September, 50 May
  • JHuffman: 20 April, 50 March
  • MrHen: 20 July, 50 June
  • Warrigal: 20 early Dec, 50 early Nov
  • Shalmanese: 20 September, not at 50 yet
  • David Balan: AFAICT only comments on his own posts

If these numbers are representative of people who aren't super-regulars but like making top-level posts, they're getting comment karma on other people's posts somewhere like five to ten per month.

That means it takes someone with their usage habits 2-4 months to get 20 comment karma and 5-10 months to get 50. It also means that if one of these people's first posts made a dumb mistake and got them voted down to -5, then at 50 point threshold it'd take another 5-10 months for them to be able to make their second.

The cost of having too low a threshold is that there are a few dumb posts that never get promoted to where anyone can see them anyway. The cost of having too high a threshold is that we miss out on interesting information and the community doesn't expand.

Lower the posting threshold back to 20, and maybe do something about first post downvotes.

Comment author: LauraABJ 22 December 2009 05:27:25PM 18 points [-]

At the last less-wrong meet-up I attended, several people noted that they did not even comment for fear of getting negative karma on comments. I was one of only two people out of 12 with karma over 25, and some of these people are long-time readers. People who avoid posting based on the new rule might not be karma optimizing, but then you need to consider what's the purpose of karma to begin with-- is it to create a hierarchy based on score, or is it to discourage trolls and encourage useful comment? If it's the latter, I think the new rule will discourage more first-time posters than it will encourage, as 5 downvotes on a post will literally wipe away what might be a few month's worth of collected karma from shy commenters.

Comment author: Bongo 28 December 2009 11:01:01PM 6 points [-]

I spend half an hour on average crafting a LW comment and don't post half the comments I write. Usually, I'm anxious post-comment but positively surprised by karma.

Note that maybe commenting fear causes the high quality of LW discussion.

Comment author: LucasSloan 23 December 2009 12:33:41AM *  4 points [-]

I suspect the same motivations will apply even in the absence of a direct numerical representation of people's peer's opinions. I, for example, posted a lot less than I would have liked to on The Octagon because I feared verbal or even non-verbalized disapproval.

Comment author: byrnema 23 December 2009 01:11:29AM *  5 points [-]

I occasionally post despite fears of disapproval, but then immediately after posting my anxiety levels will become so uncomfortably high I delete the comment. Perhaps some people have noticed me doing this, but if they knew how anxious I felt I believe they would understand. It's kind of neurotic...

I also have some social anxiety as well. A usual amount, I think. And then I tell myself that posting on Less Wrong (which is not the 'real world') would be good desensitizing training. I think it has helped some, but occasionally it has the opposite effect. I once had a minor panic attack at a conference moments before giving a talk -- not because of the talk, but because I realized I wouldn't be able to delete a comment or a post I just submitted and thought I might regret.

Incidentally, the chances of me making a comment (and leaving it) doesn't correlate as much with my perceived quality of my comments as much as with my anxiety threshold at that time. Since I'm not very good at gauging my anxiety response, I tend to always rewrite my comments more and more conservatively until the first idea is all but lost. Then I'll submit the comment just because I spent so much time on it.

(Please don't respond that I probably shouldn't bother commenting; I kind of know that. I'm curious if the whole thing improves over time.)

Comment author: taa22 28 December 2009 11:31:54AM *  7 points [-]

Heh. I once drove ~45 minutes to a Less Wrong meetup in Santa Clara, made a U-turn at the end of the block the house was on and drove straight back home.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 28 December 2009 07:32:17PM 5 points [-]

Is there anything useful you can say about anything we could change that would stop that from happening again?

Comment author: taa22 28 December 2009 08:10:36PM 13 points [-]

Well... I would say that it was one part not knowing what to expect - was I just going to mingle in this house full of extremely bright people for a few hours? I wasn't sure I was going to know what to do with myself.

It was one part doubt about my own.. uh.. qualifications for being there. I haven't commented much on my main account, nor made a submission (I hope you'll forgive me for using a throwaway account for these comments). I'm a college senior whose done well in every class (from lit. to programming to organic chem. to math), but I don't yet have a passion, nor area of expertise, so I wasn't sure that I would be able to contribute much... or even last long (i.e. be able to carry on) in a conversation with the opinionated and up-to-date scholars there.

I guess the advice I would give would be this: cater more to shy / socially anxious people. Maybe have a snippet you can paste at the end of every announcement, just summarizing what goes on there and who all is welcome, what the ecology / environment is like, etc. Tell people what the sufficient conditions are for their being welcome.

Comment author: radical_negative_one 23 December 2009 02:05:00AM *  4 points [-]

Please don't respond that I probably shouldn't bother commenting; I kind of know that.

If you have a social anxiety problem then i expect that reassurances from a stranger on the internet won't have much effect. But if it's any help, then from a glance at your user overview page it looks like what you say has a generally positive reception. So it looks like you can write here without worrying about disapproval, based on your karma score at least.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 23 December 2009 01:19:17AM 3 points [-]

This seems like a problem that some other online community would have encountered before. Is there a standard solution for it?

Comment author: MatthewB 28 December 2009 12:57:33PM 2 points [-]

I'm right there with you on this. As taa22 mentions below, there are often things that I do, and put a great amount of energy or expense into, only to give up for a variety of reasons (usually self-consciousness, which is the strangest thing to me, since I spent most of the 1980s on a stage of one kind or another, at the center of many people's attention).

I've noticed that I tend to do better when I try to censor (Allcorn, got it right this time) myself less than I usually tend to censor myself (I self-censor to a great degree, which is exactly what it sounds like you are doing).

This brings two issues to my mind:

• Are you destroying what you originally intended to say (in which case, I will not touch my original thoughts, as written the first time)? or • Are you strengthening your original intended thoughts (in which case, revision can often be a good idea. If this revision is not done in an attempt to censor oneself, but to further reveal a thought)?

I just recalled something... There are exercises that actors & musicians often do before they go onto stage in order to decease stress over potential mistakes. Is it the case that you might find something f this sort beneficial? It seems to me that irrational fears are often best countered by direct action, even if it seems to have nothing to do with the fears in question (this is what your typical theatrical warm-up exercises are geared to address)

Comment author: whpearson 22 December 2009 11:41:23PM 3 points [-]

Well I won't be posting anything more experimental. I can't for a long time. Unless I spend inordinate amounts of time commenting and karma farming.

Comment author: wedrifid 23 December 2009 03:43:57AM 1 point [-]

Post a half dozen posts that aren't particularly experimental. Then branch out. This tends to be a practical social approach even without a formalized karma system.

Comment author: MrHen 22 December 2009 03:12:57PM *  3 points [-]

I guess I can speak from the position of doing a little of Y.

The latest is currently at -4, but I'm fine with it. If every post from now on goes -4 I can make 9ish more posts. I think I've posted three articles in all my time here, so at this rate I have nothing to worry about. I figure none of my posts are going to be terribly popular because I am still learning everything and will be talking about simple, uncomplicated things.

Of course, if I keeping posting and getting -4, I will probably just move into the open thread. :)

Comment author: komponisto 22 December 2009 04:01:42AM 2 points [-]

By way of providing feedback from someone who recently posted for the very first time: while I don't think the new rules would have prevented me from submitting my three extant posts, I do expect that I will be more cautious in the future than I otherwise would have been. (I'm well known to suffer from karma-loss-aversion.)

I'm not opposed to the change, however -- votes on posts should be worth more than votes on comments. (Also, my karma more than doubled when the change was made.)

Comment author: wedrifid 22 December 2009 06:03:17AM 1 point [-]

I think this change will prevent people from posting anything even remotely experimental. Is this what we really want?

You might be right but that tendency would be a result of risk aversion and not anything approximating expected karma optimisation. Assuming reasonable English skills, the ability to proof read and the exposure to the content of this site required to know how the karma works you can expect a significant net karma gain from posts even if you add a lot of experimental noise.

Comment author: Vladimir_Nesov 22 December 2009 01:29:11AM *  9 points [-]

Note that downvoting a post costs 10 karma from your downvote cap of 4x current karma.

Does it mean 10/4 actual karma (10 points of downvote cap), or 10*4 points of downvote cap (10 points of actual karma)? (I expect the former.)

The number of remaining downvote points should be visible, otherwise at some point people run into a brick wall that should be avoided by calibrating the rate of downvoting rather than by being unable to make high-certainty downvotes. Even better, allow unrestricted downvoting, but recalculate the efficacy of downvotes based on voter's karma and number of downvotes.

Comment author: wedrifid 22 December 2009 03:23:59PM 3 points [-]

The number of remaining downvote points should be visible, otherwise at some point people run into a brick wall that should be avoided by calibrating the rate of downvoting rather than by being unable to make high-certainty downvotes.

It is more of a 'putty' wall. If you run out of downvotes, go to what you previously downvoted and select the least disliked post.

Even better, allow unrestricted downvoting, but recalculate the efficacy of downvotes based on voter's karma and number of downvotes.

Would this depend on the order in which you made your downvotes and the karma you had at the time of voting? If so, I may intermittently go through my past votes and redo them such that my influence is maximised. If not, the karma calculation system would become decidedly non-trivial.

Comment author: MrHen 22 December 2009 03:04:16PM *  3 points [-]

Voted up for displaying the number of remaining downvotes but I'm not a big fan of sliding karma effects.

Comment author: cousin_it 22 December 2009 11:20:17AM *  8 points [-]

My incentive for writing thoughtful comments goes way down. A lingering thought appears: "shouldn't I rather be spending this effort on writing a post?" This may be an intended outcome, though.

Comment author: MichaelGR 22 December 2009 03:59:31PM *  2 points [-]

Maybe you should probe your hunger for Karma points and find out what it is that you expect to get out of the accumulation of these points. Is it a Hansonian quest for status? Something else maybe? Would you really be commenting less, or not writing thoughtful comments, if this website dropped the karma system entirely?

Comment author: cousin_it 22 December 2009 04:15:26PM *  9 points [-]

Yes, it's a quest for status. I deliberately set out to be on the "top contributors" list and was thrilled when I made it. I spent days researching, drafting and rewriting my best posts. When I noticed how many upvotes Yvain gathers with his long thoughtful comments, I consciously tried to imitate that style. Not sure if such motivation is typical for this community, but I believe some other top users (e.g. Alicorn) share it.

Comment author: Alicorn 22 December 2009 06:10:14PM 3 points [-]

I am motivated by karma, yes; I've mentioned this a few places. (And with the new weighting it looks like I am in third place if only the dratted list would update.)

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 22 December 2009 06:05:17PM 1 point [-]

You're actually using an excellent karma-whore strategy - posting links to good, unfamiliar stuff. Links may not get promoted but they still get karma, and they're easy to write. You just need something good enough to link to.

Comment author: whpearson 22 December 2009 11:11:42PM *  4 points [-]

Heh, looks like I'll never do another post in Lesswrong. Some of my previous posts weren't at all popular. I think I'm at something like -100 karma in total I think.

Comment author: Yvain 22 December 2009 02:23:12AM *  4 points [-]

Why change minimum karma to start posting?

Comment author: AngryParsley 22 December 2009 03:18:06AM *  1 point [-]

There are more people on the site now, so it's easier to get karma. A lot of newbies haven't read many of the sequences. If they start posting too soon, we could end up with a lot of garbage in the new posts list.

I don't know if anyone else behaved this way, but at first I commented until I had enough karma to post, then I started lurking. I've never posted anything, but it's nice to have the option. Maybe this change will entice more lurkers to comment.

Comment author: Larks 23 December 2009 12:10:39AM *  0 points [-]

I did exactly the same, though I did rough out a post on how to protect your friends from falling into traps that you knew they would be soon taught at university/school. With these changes, I'm under the cap again, which might ironically make me write the article properly.

Comment author: Kaj_Sotala 22 December 2009 05:25:23PM 5 points [-]

Blink. Ooo-kay, so this explains why my karma total jumped from roughly 970 to 4026. I thought I was seeing a bug. I'm not sure if I'd have made top-level posts quite this valuable - I'd probably have picked a 5x multiplier or so - but at least this certainly encourages me to write more top-level posts. Thanks for implementing my suggestion!

And yes, there is something silly about being motivated by an abstract number on a small-ish community site, but I can't help my ancestral status-driven urges.

Comment author: Vladimir_Nesov 22 December 2009 10:25:05PM 2 points [-]

This post should be promoted regardless of its rating.

Comment author: LauraABJ 22 December 2009 07:25:48PM *  2 points [-]

Question: Can negative karma be eliminated by merely deleting a negatively rated post?

Hm, though that might be a problem if the post is already quite old or has a lot of comments...

Comment author: Alicorn 22 December 2009 07:28:17PM *  4 points [-]

1) Karma changes have not historically disappeared when the comments or posts responsible for them have been deleted, as far as I know.

2) Deleted posts can still be accessed if you know the permalink, and the comments remain in place too. Deletion only makes the post inaccessible through certain avenues like the sidebar.

Comment author: LauraABJ 22 December 2009 07:29:15PM 0 points [-]

Thank you.

Comment author: Bo102010 22 December 2009 01:22:51AM 2 points [-]

For about 30 seconds before I read the Recent Posts list I thought someone had systematically upvoted all my comments. Glad to know it was intended...

Comment author: wedrifid 22 December 2009 12:39:52AM *  2 points [-]
  • Eliezer_Yudkowsky (37013)
  • Yvain (16498)
  • Vladimir_Nesov (3449)
  • Alicorn (4687)
  • PhilGoetz (4067)
  • MBlume (4348)
  • cousin_it (3941)
  • thomblake (1733)
  • pjeby (1854)
  • ciphergoth (2553)

Cute. The change is retroactive but hasn't updated the top score list. I expect this will change whenever one of the lower karma individuals makes a comment (or receives a vote.)

I also note that you have gained 28,639 since I viewed a comment from Nic_Smith 20 minutes ago. Nice work. ;)

Meanwhile, Phil now has 820 karma from one post. Perhaps that is worth taking another look at?

ETA: Voting up PJ one did not correct his position relative to thomblake. It seems that list is not updated in real time.

Comment author: CronoDAS 22 December 2009 07:10:50AM *  1 point [-]

The list has changed a bit, but it's still out of order...

Eliezer Yudkowsky (37146)
Yvain (16523)
Vladimir Nesov (3453)
Alicorn (4689)
PhilGoetz (4079)
MBlume (4359)
cousin it (3964)
thomblake (1733)
pjeby (1876)
CronoDAS (1807)

Wait a second. How the heck did I end up in the top contributors list? O_O

Comment author: wedrifid 22 December 2009 07:25:35AM 1 point [-]

Wait a second. How the heck did I end up in the top contributors list? O_O

I wonder if there are other people at around the ~1900 mark that haven't posted recently. Sometimes that sort of weird stuff happens in these scenarios. Or, perhaps wyou actually are no 10 karma wise.

Comment author: matt 23 December 2009 06:07:01AM 0 points [-]

Most of the stuff in the sidebar is cached, and for varying times. Caching doesn't explain the bad sort. We'll look into it. -- matt (Tricycle)

Comment author: wedrifid 22 December 2009 12:29:27AM 2 points [-]

Thanks Eliezer. That 10 times multiplier is a big one! Perhaps that may overcome some of my (and other user's) akrasia when it comes to actually publishing the top-level post worthy ideas that we neglect because spending an hour (for example) feels prohibitive in the moment.

Hopefully this will not lower the quality of top level posts by encouraging people to migrate from comment threads to a top level post prematurely. Even then the process of making that migration may encourage people to think things through more thoroughly.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 22 December 2009 01:04:52AM 0 points [-]

If they do, downvote them into oblivion and they'll learn pretty fast (now that negative scores are actually displayed).

Comment author: wedrifid 22 December 2009 05:54:24AM 0 points [-]

That works. Noticing that you have 200 less karma than you did yesterday should give a bit of a hint.

Comment author: PeterS 23 December 2009 04:16:07AM 1 point [-]

Doesn't this post belong in the December 2009 Meta-Thread?

Comment author: Bindbreaker 28 December 2009 07:58:40AM 2 points [-]

Why is this post being downvoted? It seems a valid question to me.

Comment author: wedrifid 28 December 2009 01:21:51PM 1 point [-]

Why is this post being downvoted? It seems a valid question to me.

It is a valid question. I suspect the downvotes were in lieu of the valid answer, which is 'no'.

The Karma system was drastically altered and seeing the karma numbers jump around by up to an order of magnitude (well, technically more...) is somewhat surprising. It would be confusing if the change notice was hidden away in a mostly ignored thread.

Comment author: PeterS 28 December 2009 07:19:09PM *  1 point [-]

And yet, of all those who downvoted, not one took the time to actually provide that valid answer.

The post currently sits at -2 according to my latest refresh. It seems other readers agree - we don't want to see a meta submission like this at the top-level.

It would be confusing if the change notice was hidden away in a mostly ignored thread.

Agreed. LW needs a blog or something to list recent updates and give heads-ups about these kinds of things. Reddit does that, and it works well. This post neither belongs in the new/promoted feed, nor in the meta-thread (despite what I appeared to suggest in my original comment) - the former is inelegant and the latter impractical.

Comment author: wedrifid 29 December 2009 08:21:14AM 1 point [-]

And yet, of all those who downvoted, not one took the time to actually provide that valid answer.

It would seem that they took the question as a rhetorical normative claim, for which downvotes are an appropriate response.

LW needs a blog or something to list recent updates and give heads-ups about these kinds of things. Reddit does that, and it works well. This post neither belongs in the new/promoted feed, nor in the meta-thread (despite what I appeared to suggest in my original comment) - the former is inelegant and the latter impractical.

That would be a nice feature to have if it was suitably unobtrusive. But given how frequent such updates would be I don't mind them appearing as posts.

Comment author: Houshalter 18 June 2010 07:35:14PM 0 points [-]

I have negative karma to the point where I will probably never get it back :'(

Note that downvoting a post costs 10 karma from your downvote cap of 4x current karma.

Wait, downvoting costs karma? I might have downvoted a post once back when I had karma. That might explain it. Can I take it back? Please?

Comment author: Blueberry 18 June 2010 07:38:55PM *  5 points [-]

Downvoting doesn't cost karma; it's just that there is a limit to the number of posts you can downvote and that limit is based on the amount of karma you have. Downvoting a post reduces that person's karma by 10 and thus counts 10 against your limit (but doesn't change the amount of karma you have). You can take back a downvote by clicking "Vote down" again, but it won't change your karma.

Comment author: wedrifid 18 June 2010 08:01:23PM *  4 points [-]

I would actually kind of like it if it did cost karma to downvote. It would mean something to me when I downvoted a post that was irrational or in my judgment out of line socially.

What would be even better is if it were possible to downvote comments multiple times at an exponentially increasing cost. There are some comments that are in such contrast to my preferences that I would be willing to spend 63 votes (1+2+4+8+16+32) to down-vote 6 times. This would sometimes reduce the need to do 'costly signaling' in the form of comments with strongly assertive and direct criticisms.

I can imagine myself thinking "No, that is blatant bullshit but I know if I call you on it you will throw more bullshit and drag me in to your drama. I am willing to pay 31 karma to discourage the bullshit without the (minor) physiological and psychological stress of engaging in futile social conflict with unreasonable people."

Comment author: JoshuaZ 18 June 2010 08:54:13PM 5 points [-]

I think this is a bad idea. Making people have to pay to downvote will result in them feeling like they've invested in the notion that a post is bad. Moreover, they will be more likely to blame the individual in question for the loss. This could when combined with standard cognitive biases be quite damaging to good thinking.

Comment author: wedrifid 18 June 2010 10:49:24PM 0 points [-]

Making people have to pay to downvote will result in them feeling like they've invested in the notion that a post is bad.

That cognitive bias would certainly come in to play. Although part of the appeal of the concept is that it would partially replace a far worse contributor to that bias.

When we encounter 'bad' posts - usually a combination of bad rhetoric with disrespect - the natural reaction is make a counter signal, to punish the slight and to assert a boundary to observers, showing that you are not someone that it is ok to walk all over. Without downvotes really meaning anything the way people do this is via conflict in comments. That is to say, minor social trauma combined with public commitment. This is an order of magnitude or three more significant than spending some karma.

Seeing the karma it costs right there in simple integers puts things into perspective. How much do I really care about some silly non-sequitur or straw man that Bob is throwing at Sally? Or the patronising ignorance that Sally is throwing at me? Is it worth spending 7 karma on? Is it worth paying any attention to at all? Why don't I just ignore the crap and go find some interesting, insightful comments to engage with?

Moreover, they will be more likely to blame the individual in question for the loss.

Or less likely to experience situations where a clever rhetorician is able to bluff the casual observer into thinking that their 'opponent' is worth downvoting. If it costs to downvote you aren't going to do it unless you look more closely the comments. There are few things that can influence the way I think about someone more than if they manage to turn the crowd against me unjustifiably. To my instincts that is a big deal.

This could when combined with standard cognitive biases be quite damaging to good thinking.

I expect there would be some who would find it easier to think clearly with the actual system and others who would find it easier to think clearly in the speculative one. I have no doubt that I would be in the latter category.

In conclusion: I find counterfactual system intuitively appealing. The dynamics are too complex and too distant for our speculation to be reliable. I could just as well have my press secretary challenge yours to a duel. ;)

Comment author: cupholder 18 June 2010 08:34:57PM 2 points [-]

Upvoted as an interesting idea, although I am not sure I agree.

Comment author: wedrifid 18 June 2010 09:52:39PM *  2 points [-]

I'm not even sure if I agree! ;)

If I thought it was even remotely likely to be implemented I would have to think about it.

Edit: Italic "I"s look like slashes!

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 18 June 2010 08:16:32PM 2 points [-]

That's just considering the effects of you having the awesome exponential downvote power. Would LW look much different if everyone had it?

It seems to me that the current system works pretty well. In general, posts at -2 aren't worth reading, and there isn't much drama associated with downvoting.

Comment author: Blueberry 18 June 2010 10:13:36PM 3 points [-]

Would LW look much different if everyone had it?

I think so. Consider a controversial post that three people really love and three people really hate. It would be at 0 without the exponential downvote power, but very negative with it. The effect would be to make LW blander by silencing posts that offend a small number of people.

Comment author: wedrifid 18 June 2010 10:58:05PM 1 point [-]

Consider a controversial post that three people really love and three people really hate. It would be at 0 without the exponential downvote power, but very negative with it. The effect would be to make LW blander by silencing posts that offend a small number of people.

A good point. Any system in which increasingly costly downvotes were allowed would have to allow an analogous system for giving extra upvotes at a price too.

It would be at 0 without the exponential downvote power,

That phrasing makes it sound like the downvotes are increasing exponentially with cost, not the reverse.

Comment author: Blueberry 18 June 2010 11:47:16PM 3 points [-]

I guess we should call it a logarithmic downvote power, then.

Comment author: wedrifid 18 June 2010 10:01:14PM 0 points [-]

That's just considering the effects of you having the awesome exponential downvote power. Would LW look much different if everyone had it?

I was considering the general case. It is definitely hard to predict what the outcome would be. My hunch - once people adapted it would barely make any difference.

Comment author: wedrifid 18 June 2010 08:01:24PM 2 points [-]

I would actually kind of like it if it did cost karma to downvote. It would mean something to me when I downvoted a post that was irrational or in my judgment out of line socially.

What would be even better is if it were possible to downvote comments multiple times at an exponentially increasing cost. There are some comments that are in such contrast to my preferences that I would be willing to spend 63 votes (1+2+4+8+16+32) to down-vote 6 times. This would sometimes reduce the need to do 'costly signaling' in the form of comments with strongly assertive and direct criticisms.

I can imagine myself thinking "No, that is blatant bullshit but I know if I call you on it you will throw more bullshit and drag me in to your drama. I am willing to pay 31 karma to discourage the bullshit without the (minor) physiological and psychological stress of engaging in social conflict with unreasonable people."

Comment author: Cyan 18 June 2010 09:08:10PM *  4 points [-]

I have negative karma to the point where I will probably never get it back

I doubt this. I scanned your comment history, just looking at the karma of each comment. I didn't bother to keep a running total, but I think you're only at around -20 to -30. I bet if you care enough to review the high and low scorers, you can easily figure out how to make comments that avoid downvotes, and within a few days or weeks, you'll have accumulated positive karma.

If I were you, I wouldn't bother to track karma that closely unless I had some top-level post I really wanted to make.

Comment author: Houshalter 19 June 2010 12:11:24AM 0 points [-]

If I were you, I wouldn't bother to track karma that closely unless I had some top-level post I really wanted to make.

Or if I, you know, wanted to post more frequently then every 8 minutes!!!

Comment author: Cyan 19 June 2010 12:27:29AM 2 points [-]

I had no idea. My apologies.

Comment author: AdeleneDawner 19 June 2010 12:14:01AM 1 point [-]

...was that feature announced anywhere? I certainly didn't know about it, and the others might not have either.

Comment author: Houshalter 19 June 2010 01:16:22AM *  0 points [-]

Yes unfortunatley. I don't know where it was announced, but after posting this, if I try to reply to some one else it will tell me "you have to wait another 8 minutes before submitting again". Maybe it is ten minutes, I'll check.

EDIT: It's every ten minutes actually.

Comment author: cupholder 19 June 2010 03:42:20PM 2 points [-]

I wouldn't worry about it too much. I post regularly here, and a 10-minute speed bump wouldn't make much difference to me. The extra time can be an asset, too; you could use the extra time to run your posts through a spelling checker, for instance.

Comment author: Risto_Saarelma 19 June 2010 06:09:49AM 1 point [-]

The comment delay thing staying on from comments from weeks ago, even after you've made a bunch of newer comments with net positive karma, doesn't seem like a desired behavior.

On something like Metafilter, things like this would be resolved by talking to the moderators and them making case-by-case adjustments, but the moderation style on LW seems to be a bit more hands-off.

Maybe this could be reported as an issue with the karma system in the LW codebase issue tracker?

Comment author: JoshuaZ 18 June 2010 09:21:13PM *  1 point [-]

Downvoting doesn't cost karma directly. The phrasing was a bit off. What they mean is the following: There's a maximum limit to the number of downvotes you can have. That limit is 4 * karma. But, votes on top-level posts are amplified by a factor for for total karma and for how much they count towards the 4 * karma limit.

Edit: How does one do *s without triggering italics? Edit: And thanks very much for that.

Comment author: AdeleneDawner 18 June 2010 09:43:03PM 1 point [-]

Edit: How does one do *s without triggering italics?

Like this: 4\*karma

Comment author: orthonormal 21 February 2010 10:15:29PM *  0 points [-]

The minimum karma to start posting has been raised to 50.

That's weird; I just noticed that the author of this post was new to LW, and at 38 karma (with no lost karma from downvotes since submitting it).

Comment author: komponisto 21 February 2010 10:16:49PM *  0 points [-]

It was changed back to 20 a while ago, for some reason.

Comment author: orthonormal 21 February 2010 10:18:46PM 1 point [-]

OK, I hadn't known.

In this case, I don't mind; but in general, the 50 threshold seems better than 20 to me.

Comment author: komponisto 21 February 2010 10:33:50PM 0 points [-]

I agree.

Comment author: wedrifid 29 December 2009 08:26:27AM 0 points [-]

Was this post deleted or is it being filtered from my posts view based off low vote vote? The latter cause could also explain where a couple of other posts have disappeared to recently (the ones by that /S\w+/ guy for example).