People who go back and downvote every post or comment a Less Wrong user has ever made, please, stop doing that. It's a clever way to pull information cascades in your direction but it is clearly an abuse of the content filtering system. It's also highly dishonorable. If you truly must use such tactics then downvoting a few of your enemy's top level posts is much less evil; your enemy loses the karma and takes the hint without your severely biasing the public perception of Less Wrong's discourse.
(I just lost over 200 karma in a few minutes and that'll probably continue for awhile. This happens to me every few weeks. Edit: I mean it's been happening every few weeks for a few months for a total of only three or four. Between 400 and 700 karma lost total I think? I don't mean to overstate the problem.)
Voting buttons have now been removed from user profile pages. There was no good reason for them to be there in the first place, really.
Rationalists: Not above vindictive behavior if somebody is wrong on the internet.
Makes me wonder how many times people have done this to me; it's gotta be quite a few, given how much stuff I've written and how, erm, assertive I can sometimes be.
People actually do this?
What's worse, since downvoting is limited by karma, it's not some random lurkers. Users with fairly high karma must be wasting their time doing this.
Are you sure that someone went ahead and did that and that you didn't just have a few downvotes of old top-level posts happen to occur within a short span of each other? Or alternatively someone could have been going through and reading your comments systematically and they disagreed with a lot more than they agreed so they downvoted more than they upvoted?
This is a really interesting statement. This has never happened to me. And I think of myself of having multiple opinions that strongly disagree with common views here. I wonder if that indicates that I'm not being vocal enough. The strange thing about this is that in order to get a 200 karma downvote someone needs to have a substantial minimal karma (you cannot downvote more than four times your total karma). So someone would need to be putting in a lot of effort to downvote your comments or you are irritating a lot of people. Is there any opinion or attitude of yours that you think would be particularly likely to trigger this sort of response?
This is news. In a reversal of the usual order of things, your karma got run over by your dogma.
When we get very low quality users, I've been known to look through their comments downvoting all the ones I think should be downvoted; does that come under this heading?
I refer to this as "karmassassination".
I don't really get why people downvote at all. I don't do so unless I feel very strongly about something - a comment explaining my disagreement or disapproval is more productive, doesn't make the downvotee feel bad, and I frequently get karma because people will upvote my comment. Win-win-win.
Asymmetric voting reduces the informativeness of the karma ratings. See also EY's point here: that if views are distributed evenly, but people speak up only when they're on one of the sides, then you get the wrong impression about the consensus.
Would you please elaborate on that? I'm somewhat new, but I don't see it that way at all.
Edit: Also, what do you mean by political? Upvoting because you agree with the authors views on, say, cryonics, and not the way in which he reached those views? I've rarely seen something that would traditionally be described as political discussed on here.
Edit again: The only example I can think of is this.
My experience with karma-based community systems in the past leads me to believe frequently people upvote things on the basis of who wrote them. There does exist a kibitzer, but 1) one loses valuable information in the process and 2) the people swayed by political values like this are the not very likely to use it.
I suppose this post is evidence that the opposite direction is true as well.
Edit: I suppose "tribalistic" is a word with closer connotations than "political."
Aside: Every time someone says "would you elaborate," I think of Derrida.
I think there's probably merit to your point, although I'd like to think that's not as true for LessWrong. But I probably don't have enough experience here to have a reliable estimate either way. And even if I did, causality is always difficult to determine, etc. But there are certainly examples where what you say is not the case, although they are obviously not the majority. Often I think that people are more inclined to downvote someone like Eliezer who has the Karma to spare it - had I made Eliezer's comment, I highly doubt it would have been downvoted as strongly.
Edit: Perhaps "has the Karma to spare it" is not the best phrasing, but rather "Is also wildly upvoted all the time and won't feel bad."
Why all the karma bashing? Yes, absolutely, people will upvote or downvote for political reasons and be heavily influenced by the name behind the post/comment. All the time. But as far as I can tell, politics is a problem with any evaluation system whatsoever, and karma does remarkably well. In my experience, post and comment scores are strongly correlated with how useful I find them, how much they contribute to my experience of the discussion. And the list of top contributors is full of people who have written posts that I have saved forever, that in many cases irreversibly impacted my thinking. The fact that EY is sometimes deservingly downvoted is a case in point. The abuse described in the original post is unfortunate, but overall the LessWrong system does a difficult job incredibly well.
The largest bias in voting I've noticed in my own thinking is when someone else has voted down a comment, and I see no reason it should be either up or down voted. It is very difficult for me to not upvote it to counteract the, in my opinion undeserving, downvote.
I've seen voting patterns like that and my example described elsewhere as being, not exactly biases, but a product of there being two or more ways people use the karma system. AFAICT, different people decide to upvote or downvote based on the answer to one of the following questions:
*Is this comment above my threshold of "good enough to upvote," below my threshold of "bad enough to downvote," or in between?
*Does this comment need more or fewer karma than it currently has?
*Does having posted this comment make the poster deserving of another karma point (or "more karma points than ey has already gotten from it)?
People who see the karma system more as a tool for ranking comments will probably use question 1 or 2. People who see the karma system as a tool for ranking users will use question 3. Also, people who ask question 1 will probably use the anti-kibitzer, while people who use question 2 probably will not.
Conversely, when we got trolled an unspecified length of time ago, an incompetent crackpot troll who shall remain nameless kept having all his posts and comments upvoted by other trolls.
It would help if there was a restriction on how much karma one could add or subtract from a single person in a given time, as others are suggesting.
It isn't really clever, but I think biasing the pubic perception of LessWrong discourse is the point of doing so. I don't know how much good it will do to try and alleviate this by appealing to their sense of honour.
I used to think this kind of thing isn't much of a problem, since karma is eventually restored, but then looking at my own and some other posters history I've noticed that the older comments don't seem to recover karma, or recover it so slowly that they haven't done so in 8+ months. In effect this reduces the amount of information one can glean... (read more)
I've a few self-imposed rules on downvoting, I'm wondering how other people handle it :
I never downvote someone in a thread I'm active in (like, I never downvote an answer to one of my comments). Even if I feel the answer is a troll, because I can't trust myself to be judge and party at the same time.
I never downvote someone just because I don't like him. Not that I'm on LW since long enough to really dislike anyone for now - but still. Downvoting (or upvoting) is on the content, not on the person.
I never downvote something just because I disagree. S
I don't know if I'm disappointed or pleased no one has ever done this to me. Apparently I need to be more threatening to people's worldviews.
That said: plausible code solutions for this? Anyone remember what if any restrictions there currently are on downvotes? If I recall it was somehow limited by total karma. Would a hard limit on the number of downvotes you're allowed to give each user per-day make sense?
I really don't like the idea of "legislating morality", i.e. building community norms of behavior into the structure of the site (such as, for example, taking away the ability to delete comments because of widespread disapproval of the way this feature has been used by some [Roko]).
Having said that, I'm really surprised that no one has suggested the most obvious "fix", which would be to disallow voting from user pages. (I don't necessarily endorse implementing this, but if something is going to be "done", this seems the least harmful.)
But I think voting from the user page has a 'legitimate' purpose- in a way that downvoting every contribution from a user over the last 6 months doesn't. I know I've seen insightful comments and thought "Hey, komponisto's contribution on this subject seems sharp, lets see what else he's written" and then proceeded to vote up a bunch of comments from the user page. Voting down comments this way seems somewhat reasonable, too (most obviously in the case of clear trolling).
As for "legislating morality" obviously not every misuse of the site functions requires a code fix and obviously there are some code fixes which have harms that outweigh the benefits. Taking away the ability to delete comments, for example, would leave us with more redundant and obviously wrong comments. But I don't think there is such thing as a 'neutral' site structure that lets community norms float uninhibited. No matter how the karma system is set up it will encourage some types of behavior and discourage others. We can imagine all sorts of alternative karma systems that would encourage very different commenting behavior. Right now the karma system encourages using downvotes as part of a personal vendetta in a way that is not conducive for rewarding contributions or accurately representing the value of comments. If we think such behavior is bad, and we can think of a way to alter the karma system to discourage that behavior while not losing benefits of the current karma system- why not do it?
This is happening to me on a regular basis. I'm not sure what to do about it.
Obviously. On the other hand, does it really matter? The person doing so is harming themselves by wasting their time. You're not really harmed.
I guess you're arguing that most comments have a low number of votes, so the retaliation damages the comment-score-signal. That's reasonable.
I see it happen more to newbies who make incoherent arguments with a belligerent attitude. This is, we can hope, correlated with them taking contrarian positions. (If not we are doing something wrong.)
I don't think that I use poster-karma much to gauge how useful a comment is likely to be -- I do have a rough mental ordering of how competent I think people are in different areas, but this is based on reading their writing, not their karma. So unless you're trying to lower their karma to the extent that they have trouble posting, reducing people's karma doesn't have much of an impression on me.
OTOH, I do use the karma levels of posts to rank their likely usefulness -- I usually sort the comments of a post by 'Top' and only read a portion of the comments ... (read more)
I would love to see a post on the rational behind the reputation system on this site.
Imagine a thousand professional philosophers would join lesswrong, or worse, a thousand creationists. If that happened, would someones karma score still reflect the persons rationality? I'm not saying that this is the case right now, since most people who don't agree with lesswrong won't join or bother to stay around for very long. But technically the lesswrong reputation system is susceptible to failure, it would just need one call by someone like P.Z. Myers to have thou... (read more)
Completely off topic but my ... a few hundred LWers vs. thousands of professional philosophers. That sounds like an idea for a fanfic webcomic.
"A thousand proponents of mainstream philosophy descend upon you! Our down votes will blot out the sequences!"
EDIT: In response to downvotes, I will explain:
No, if someone e.g starts randomly insulting people, or being utterly clumsy in their reasoning, and then everyone would have to voice their disagreement, repeatedly, that would be noise atop of noise. It would crowd out any signal in the discussion.
Some types of disagreement at least need be able to be expressed without noising up the place. One of these is "You're very obviously wrong, and this comment is bad for this place, and it's bad for this place that I even have to use two sentences to you to explain why".
Even in the better cases scenario where there are no trolls or spammers involved -- what makes you think that you have to choose between only the options "Someone disagrees with you and you don't know why" and "Someone disagrees with you, and you're told why" -- and you don't consider the third option "You have no way of knowing if anyone agrees or disagrees with you"?
You seem to think that the only alternative of "downvoting ... (read more)
I'm hoping you meant this ironically.
Ah, now I feel extremely silly. The irony did not occur to me; it was simply a long comment that I agreed with completely, and I wasn't satisfied merely upvoting it because it didn't have any (other) upvotes yet at the time. Plus, doubly ironically, I was on a moral crusade to defend the karma system...
An extremely doubtful assertion - it seems much more likely that a raised feedback threshold would have the effect of reducing feedback levels.
Indeed. This is my experience in discussions anytime there isn't reputation feedback "So, does everyone just agree with me or did no one read my comment?"
Perhaps one could track downvotes and upvotes separately. A post that is at +25 and -25 at the same time is clearly more interesting than one that is at 0 or +2 because no one much cares about it one way or the other.
On the plus side: I just noticed my 30 day karma spike by more than my recent comments rose. I suspect my last assassination went out of scope. :D
Yup, this is a bannable offense on other boards. Ask Louie, he's the only one that has ever audited Less Wrong for voting shenanigans.
Public user karma graphs for users as well as posts seem an interesting if slightly cluttering user interface addition [a neat little graph icon next to the quote bubbles and the chain link], that might help combat this while having the neat benefit of making it easier to infer all sorts of things.
I see my karma go up without anything on my first page of comments changing all the time; it makes me wish I could see all recent changes to my karma so I could go back and participate in any older discussions that might be re-opening.
A way to prevent such retaliation tactics would be if the system only allowed one upvote/downvote by a person per five minutes. At least when directed against the same person.
Personally I'd prefer if the limit was only on downvotes. Sometimes I see a really good conversation and want to upvote 5 comments in quick succession.
Sometimes I see a really bad series of comments by the same person and want to downvote 5 times in quick succession.
Both of these suggestions would be incredibly overbearing solutions to a relatively minor problem.
I know the feeling. I get this on average once a month when I'm posting actively. Well, not every comment I have ever made. That would take about 5 hours for someone to do. Just a couple of hundred. About 3 days of karma when commenting actively.
There may be a use for systematic downvoting.
This is my own opinion, JoshuaZ's comment is merely illustrative. I don't intend to put words in anyone's mouth.
We really should have some actual piece of software that prevents this and punishes those who try it. It shouldn't be that hard to detect.