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Semantics of an upvote - how to deal with it?

By Piotr @user_1612013-06-18 10:18:39.607Z

One of issues of different social and discussion sites is that up/downvotes have unclear meaning. Is it liking that someone is posting something ("thanks for sharing"), or liking its content (easthetically, intellectually, socially, emotionally, ...), or perceiving that it provided an added value...

For that reason it is common to have "recommended thigs" swamped with posts with a lot of "likes" as they:

  • where posted by someone already popular or
  • has a wide appeal (usually: shallow) or
  • is presonally/emotionally loaded or
  • idealogical things (e.g. "I am for open science, so I upvote everything with it in the title").

The problem is that quality content dissapear. Things that are only to interest of a specialized group (say, developers of discussion platforms), or things requireing reading 50 pages before you can actually judge its value, don't have a good change to get a lots of likes (and hence: spread).

However, complicating voting to much (eg. requirying making a few words comment) can be too much.

Any ideas to deal with that?

E.g.

  • a number tag-valued votes (vide TED.com),
  • to axis: emotional and intellectual,
  • votes 1-5 with post-analysis (e.g. putting low weigth on voters who cannot use it and use only 1 and 5),
  • a few word comments (i.e. "well said", "nice reference", "good idea, poorly presented")?
  • 13 replies
  1. U
    KajMagnus @user_1452013-06-19 03:01:44.015Z

    I'm thinking that:

    1. It should be easy to vote, otherwise too few people will vote.

    2. People should be encouraged to explain why they voted as they did.

    Therefore, I'm thinking about traditional Like/Dislike buttons, which one simply clicks to cast a vote. But after that, a menu is briefly shown, where the voter can clarify why s/he upvoted the comment:

    "Funny/Cute"
    "Insightful"
    "I agree with this"
    "S/he is my idol"

    If the voter ignores this menu, the vote could be downweighted.

    1. UKajMagnus @user_1452013-06-19 03:04:26.840Z

      But there's a problem with this: By default, the computer would probably show Insightful comments first (?). But then everyone will select Insightful as the reason why s/he upvoted a comment (so that they can have their favorite comment appear first).

      Perhaps this problem can be mitigated if the computer somehow learns what kind of comments each visitor likes, and then sorts comments differently, depending on who is reading. Then there would no longer be any reason for the voters to to "cheat" by always classify each vote as being Insightful.

      (How could the computer know? Well, if example person Adam tends to only upvote comments that other people have vote-classified as "Funny/Cute", then the computer would assume that Adam likes funny & cute things, and could try to show such comments to Adam, rather than e.g. Insightful comments.)

      Also, perhaps it should be possible for moderators to tell the computer when someone has obviously misused the voting system, e.g. classified an upvote of a cute kitten as "Insightful". Then that voter's votes could be downweighted.

      1. In reply touser_145:
        UPiotr @user_1612013-06-19 09:37:58.403Z

        I think that a menu is not a good idea. It should be simple, so it should be possible to case a vote within a single click.

        1. In reply touser_145:
          UPiotr @user_1612013-06-19 09:41:07.302Z

          And when it comes to the clarification, in principle it may work, but I am curious if it is not a dangerously narrow region between "I don't care to provide more info" and "I would write a comment".

          BTW: As a radical note: how about voting only by putting comments (just too short comments will be collapsed/gathered). It is not hard to run sentiment analysis to get if they are positive or not. Plus, it can give more info and may discourage from "mindless voting".

          1. UKajMagnus @user_1452013-06-20 05:48:25.118Z

            Re a dangerously narrow region: Yes you might well be right.

            Re voting by only writing comments: I think that's a really interesting idea. Some notes: 1) It'd actually take fairly long to integrate a good sentiment analysis utility. 2) To vote, one would need to release the mouse and start typing at the keyboard. 3) I think some functionality for correcting the computer when the sentiment analysis failed would be needed.

            I also think it discourages from mindless voting. — I think that voting by writing comments might make people honest with their votes. They wouldn't tend to write "Insightful" next to a cute puppet. Doing that would 1) give them a tiny bit bad conscience, and 2) they'd feel somewhat ashamed, because they'd know that the "vote" was auditable — the vote-comment would be associated with their name.

        2. U
          In reply touser_161:
          KajMagnus @user_1452013-06-19 03:21:41.273Z

          I didn't understand this: "a number tag-valued votes (vide TED.com)" — is there a voting system at ted.com? I had a look at the site, but found only thumbs up buttons in the comment section below a video.

          Perhaps you've noticed that Quora has somewhat divided votes along two axis: there're up and down votes, but also a Thanks button :-) However, always when I've clicked Thanks, I also upvoted the related text.

          1. UPiotr @user_1612013-06-19 09:35:09.117Z

            On TED.com you can "rate" each talk by distributing 3 points among (you can also 2- or 3-vote a single position):

            • Jaw-dropping
            • Persuasive
            • Courageous
            • Ingenious
            • Fascinating
            • Inspiring
            • Beautiful
            • Funny
            • Informative
            • OK
            • Unconvincing
            • Confusing
            • Longwinded
            • Obnoxious

            Sure, the choice of tags may be not optimal, but for me it still gives a lot more information than +/-.

            1. UKajMagnus @user_1452013-06-20 05:23:44.767Z

              TED.com hasn't heard about The Magical Number Seven :-)

              TED.com's system is fairly similar to the current rating system @ Debiki? Except that @ Debiki one cannot currently give > 1 point to each "rating tag".

              I like this system with distributing points among a set of "rating tags":

              • If people are truly honest, and if one pick a good set of rating tags, I think this solves the problem you mentioned in the original post (?)

              • A blog post author can grade replies fairly exactly, and in that way somewhat choose in which order the replies should appear (which I like to do), if other people don't leave many votes.

              1. UPiotr @user_1612013-07-02 22:03:16.639Z

                Weighting is IMHO not that important. What would be is:

                • "Like?" (ambiguous) -> "Vote!" (or better: direct voting options)
                • Overall quality:
                  • -2 (below level of this forum)
                  • -1 (not particularly useful)
                  • 0 (OK; default!)
                  • 1 (good)
                  • 2 (an outstanding post)
                • Tags (just some suggestions):
                  • insightful
                  • well-supported (for nice references)
                  • I agree (for things when you agree or sympathize with the author)
                  • well-written
                  • funny
                  • off-topic
                  • biased
                  • vague
                1. In reply touser_145:
                  UPiotr @user_1612013-07-02 21:39:12.087Z

                  I don't know if author can rate post well. If someone writes a very biased and emotional post, (s)he may still consider it "insightful". In short: no-one should be a judge in their own cause.

                  1. UKajMagnus @user_1452013-07-11 04:10:14.458Z
                    1. I agree that there would be problems with allowing people to rate their own comments as "insightful" and similarly.

                    2. I think people would tend to use the "off-topic" tag correctly: if they know that it's okay to go off-topic, as long as they tag their comment as off-topic, then I think they'd use that tag correctly. — But for this, a simple checkbox would suffice.

            2. U
              In reply touser_161:
              Lukas @user_1772013-08-05 19:18:44.654Z

              For me, the first question would be:

              What do we want to use votes / scores for?

              • Encourage good comments, which add value to the discussion, present new viewpoints
                • IMO, Stackoverflow.com is a website where this works out nicely.
              • Prevent not-so-good comments
                • See comment #5 for a possible list.
              • Give people to say "I agree" / "I disagree"
                • In the end, this might lead to "The majority wins"
                • If someone disagrees with something, IMHO he should write a comment and give reasons for it. Just clicking "Downvote" is just too easy...
              • Reward authors for good comments - what is considered "good" is defined by the other points choosen.
              1. UPiotr @user_1612013-08-09 17:15:59.670Z

                And one more (IMHO the most important): to show for a visiting person the best comments (related to "encourage good comments", but not the same).