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Over the last few weeks and months, we've seen a number of suggestions for tweaking the voting system, including lemming's proposal for voting on the maximum reputation you believe a node should have.

Here's why I think we should leave things alone: (Warning: Long)

  • While the current system can be (and is) abused by some (trolls, votebots, those maintaining multiple logins, XPW's, and so forth), "one monk; one vote" is very "democratic" and easily implemented solution. As chipmunk accurately points out: "If you don't think a node is worthwhile, then don't vote on it."

  • Also, please remember that the best programs are those that use the simplest solution for the problem at hand. Since Reputation (and by extension Experience) is really a darkly reflected indication of a post's (and monk's) contribution to the Monastery, it doesn't really matter what those values are. They're general indications of the community's feelings as a whole; they aren't intended to be accurate.

    If a node gets more Reputation than it "truly" deserves, where is the harm in that? There is none. If a monk attains a level beyond what his Perl knowledge "deserves," so what? As many have repeated (often): "1,000,000 XP and $2.00 will buy you a cup of coffee."

    If, indeed, there is no harm is allowing certain nodes to be "overly" appreciated, there really is nothing to fix. ("If it ain't broke, don't fix it.") Given the number of other ideas that have been kicked around, I can think of several I'd like to see Fearless (et. al) focus their limited development hours (and energies) toward, ideas designed to make the Monastery more flexible, responsive, and easier to use as a Perl resource.

  • Whose to say that your idea of a node's "true" value is correct? What happens if I have a different opinion? "One monk, one vote" lets each opinion carry the same weight.

Nevertheless, lemming does a raise a couple of fair points:

  1. Some nodes are worthwhile, just not that worthwhile.
  2. Some nodes are inappropriately downvoted.

Borrowing from earlier discussions identifies other weaknesses in the current system:

  1. Personality voting is a problem and unfair.
  2. Nodes near the edges of the prevailing attitudes of the Monastery are unfairly voted down because they're controversial or advocate unpopular views, tools, or techniques.
  3. Nodes containing good code requiring effort to understand or appreciate are skipped over
  4. Newbies get unfairly harshed because they're either unfamiliar with our cultural preferences ("RTFM", "Search First; Ask Questions Later", and so on.)

I submit that each "weakness" can be handled through personal discipline and community participation. Point by point:

  1. As chipmunk said, "If you don't think a node is worthwhile, then don't vote on it."

  2. Then discuss the node with other monks via CB (privately or publicly, I don't think it matters.) Build a grass-roots coalition to "save" the node.

  3. Agreed. However, few monks gripe when they gain XP from "personality voting." I recall a comment posted a few months back in the CB, "I'm surprised I just got 30 votes for a FAQ answer." (It's not a direct quote, but it captures the spirit of the comment.) Isn't that just as bad as griping when you get unfairly downvoted?

    It works out over time. A certain norious node was unfairly downvoted to -2 within minutes of being posted. That node is now 14, which is perhaps not where it could have been, but could be argued as a fair reputation...especially concerning the update made to it later.

    Again, if you don't think it's fair, then bring it up with your fellow monks.

  4. Same solution as #2. Let's just call that the Chorus.

  5. This is a failing of the non-voters, not of the node itself. One fixed by people who take the time to understand and appreciate the code. Indeed, when this happens, it suggests the votes that are received are more valuable than those that aren't, for it shows the poster that people did take the time to respond fairly.


  6. Same points as above. [Chorus]

In other words, the system isn't perfect, but if you feel that a node is under-appreciated, then practice the values that we advocate:

  1. Vote responsibly. Vote the content, not the poster or the node's Reputation....however, exercise discretion and compassion.

  2. Use the tools at your disposal to make an informed vote, including (but not limited to):

    • Open or private discussion via CB.

    • Best Nodes and Worst Nodes. Both tell you the Reputation of a node. If you find something cute but not overly so, then use those to make an informed decision.

    • Taking the time to review code that's posted. If you don't grok it, then take the opportunity to learn something from it...and withhold your vote until you do or don't.

  3. Before you downvote a node because it's a FAQ or a common newbie mistake, please invest the time to see if the is a newbie. If so, offer gentle correction, either in a reply or a private message. I believe you'll find that more effective than simply trashing a new member's reputation and experience.

  4. Understand that your vote is important, but no more so than anyone else's. Every vote is an opinion and, like certain body parts, everyone's got one.

  5. If you disagree with a node's reputation, then do something when it's unfairly low, but use discretion when you think it's too high. We have far too many personality conflicts as it is.

  6. Please lighten up about the voting. There are many, many other things we could be focusing our time on. More FAQ's, Tutorials, and Q&A would be most welcome.

In short, the system make not be perfect but it is a reasonable compromise between fairness and maintainability. Indeed, the only failing that it really has is that people make so much of it when it doesn't work immediately to their satisfaction. If the system is flawed, it can still be made to work...but that requires personal discipline, commitment, communal participation, and teamwork.

Remember, the one with the most votes doesn't always win. Instead of tweaking the tools, let's agree to use them more judiciously and appropriately. Let's also accept the fact that this is an imperfect world and get back to learning and helping others learn Perl.

In closing, here's a challenge to those abusing the voting system. Consider, for a moment, the impact you could have if you directed your energies to the good of the Monastery, rather than playing stupid little games with its members. Some of you are clearly talented; so let us learn from your knowledge by posting samples, answers, and ideas for improving the local services. We are here to learn and help others learn Perl. Please save the competitions for outside pursuits.

That's my opinion and I'm sticking to it (with apologies to Dennis Miller and SNL)...


Edit 5/25/2001: neshura

In reply to On Voting by footpad

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