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RE: (jcwren) RE: Signal-to-Noise Ratio

by Petruchio (Vicar)
on Oct 04, 2000 at 07:50 UTC ( #35222=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to (jcwren) RE: Signal-to-Noise Ratio
in thread Signal-to-Noise Ratio

I am but a lowly monk, with much more to learn here than to teach. But your post makes me wonder.

Is it really desireable to reduce the site's content to an information base? After all, if it's to be a community, a certain amount of non-informational content would seem not only to be tolerable, but necessary.

I think "thank you" posts are a good example. Having a real community requires a degree of civility, and on the Internet that's a scarce commodity. So why not /msg your thanks? Because then everyone doesn't see it. Gratuitous posts of gratitude establish a tone, and establish for everyone an obvious standard of courtesy. Saying thank you, from a practical standpoint, is a waste of time in real life, just as it's a waste of space and bandwidth here. But it makes a difference; I'm guessing that difference could be increasingly important as many new monks arrive.

jcwren: "Ideally, you'd like the reputation of any of your articles to be above the $NORM value"

Now there's something I don't think is of much value... an impossible ideal. I realize you surely aren't suggesting that everyone should be above average, but is dragging down $NORM even something with which posters should be concerned? It seems to me that the voting/experience system is supposed to be modeled after the nature of conversation on such a forum, helping to improve the quality. Modeling our conversation after the voting/experience system does not seem like a good idea to me.

I would suggest a different ideal. If your post has a positive reputation, that's good. It means that at least someone thought well of it, and that more people thought well of it than poorly. If it's higher, that's better. You're making people happy.

Because of the technical nature of the site, you're not likely to feel compelled to say something unpopular because you feel it's true. Nevertheless, this is a good example of why an ideal which, at its root, is strictly majoritarian may not be a good idea. The voting system can help improve content, but can't replace conscience and good intent.

jcwren:"This meant that there were (and still are) some people with very high XP, but virtually no articles. Thus, dividing thier XP by the number of articles written is not representative of how much that user contributed (or, more aptly, didn't contribute) to the site."

If by voting you make no contribution to the site, then it seems clear that you should get no XP for voting. Perhaps this is what you mean. But if you assume that it is useful and good that posts should be popularly rated, then people who simply vote are contributing to the site (assuming they do so responsibly). Perhaps the relative weights of voting vs. posting don't reflect the real contributions made, but that's a different story.

Further, people who achieve higher levels are invited to participate in the maintenance of the site, editing faqlets, moderating content, and perhaps performing other chores I don't yet know of. In this way also people can contribute without posting... the average reputation of your posts just seems like too narrow a metric to me.

Improving the signal-to-noise ratio for those browsing a topic is very important; this is a technical site, after all. But the voting system does not seem designed to do this, but rather to act as a more general index of a post's contribution to the community.

I'm afraid I'm becoming long-winded, so I'll stop. I should say that I don't mean to imply that your views are opposite to everything I've said here, only to offer a different perspective. Having a single standard of virtue (epitomized by the very impressive Erudil) seems somehow un-Perlish.

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