Using the Karma system to call for a show of hands - profitable?

by [anonymous]1 min read5th Mar 201129 comments

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Not saying its a efficient use of time for the Karma hoarder, but I do wonder if it generally is a reliable way to gain karma. We sometimes see a call for a show of hands here where a comment is up voted by those that agree and a later comment is down voted for balance.

This is purely anecdotal but it seems to me most of the time down-votes don't balance out the up-votes. Does anyone else have this experience? This seems a question we can answer approximately by having a bot mine the text of the archives. I feel that making the bot would be made easier if we had as many samples of such use of the Karma system as possible. However if I'm the only one with this observation or if those with this observation are in the minority its probably not worth the effort (at least for someone with my skill set) .

Some LWers may be relying on others who don't agree with the motion but want to be "fair" when it comes to Karma to down vote the balance. Perhaps there are just fewever people who don't agree with the motion but down vote the balance post, because it contributes to enforcing norms of how they think the Karma system should be used, than there are people who agree with the motion but don't down vote.

 

As to explanations, off the top of my head:

  • Selection bias.
  • Trivial inconvenience to access the down voted balance
  • A fraction of posters simply forgets to down-vote
  • Some posters might up-vote unthinkingly because they like the suggestion not because they agree with the motion.
  • People don't see a problem with a slightly positive imbalance if they think asking for the call was a good idea. If they think its a bad idea they are due to LW norms farm less likley to down-vote. Especially if this particular pair of posts is balanced.

Edit:

It appears I was ignorant of the implicitly accepted social convention that bascially amounts to downvoting the balance being optional for those who don't want to reward the person making taking the poll (or perhaps don't want to reward him beyond the current imbalance).

I'm still interested in what factors do or don't play a role in up and down voting such pairs of posts and how they compare to other form of participating Karma-wise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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29 comments, sorted by Highlighting new comments since Today at 9:43 AM
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Not saying its a efficient use of time for the Karma hoarder, but I do wonder if it generally is a reliable way to gain karma. We sometimes see a call for a show of hands here where a comment is up voted by those that agree and a later comment is down voted for balance.

Making polls is a reliable way to gain karma to about the same degree that making any other comment is. This is how it should be.

Downvoting the 'downvote for karma balance' is optional. It is not there to ensure that the poller does not get any karma for making the poll, it is there to allow people to contribute to the poll even if they do not want to reward the person for making the poll.

[-][anonymous]10y 3

Downvoting the 'downvote for karma balance' is optional. It is not there to ensure that the poller does not get any karma for making the poll, it is there to allow people to contribute to the poll even if they do not want to reward the person for making the poll.

Ah, I see, so I was ignorant of the social convention. Thanks.

Though one can still wonder how well they are rewarded compared to other posts.

Though one can still wonder how well they are rewarded compared to other posts.

Absolutely. I'll be interested to see an analysis. :)

[-][anonymous]10y 2

Well then I will put writing up that bot on my to do list and post results in this thread.

I'm thinking of first comparing it to the following generic measures:

  • Posting a new comment (average thread, upvoted/downvoted/neutral)
  • Replying to a comment (average comment, upvoted/downvoted/neutral)
  • Posting a new topic
  • Posting a new topic in Discussion section

And when one gets the data on the distribution of up votes and how they relate to word count (in itself perhaps even more interesting), and controls for it things might really get interesting.

"The more you attempt to study the Way, the further you stray from it"

I think that's wrong, so I'm glad the Twelve Virtues of Rationality, doesn't say that, it says things like:

The Art must have a purpose other than itself, or it collapses into infinite recursion.

Do not ask whether it is “the Way” to do this or that. Ask whether the sky is blue or green. If you speak overmuch of the Way you will not attain it.

[-][anonymous]10y -1

If I understand that right, that is most discouraging.

You have that right!

I say bollox!. If the 'Way' can't stand up under acute scrutiny then the Way is broken and needs replacing. ;)

My overall impression from this post: is there a point to this? Should we be concerned with people potentially gaming the karma system through polls? From what I've seen, the amount of karma gained through this method is too small to be significant in any way, shape or form. Anyone that concerned with trying to raise their karma without expending significant effort could get way more by being the person to create the monthly quotes thread as often as they can reasonably manage.

[-][anonymous]10y 1

Not concerned about it any way. It was just curiosity on my part as to how it compares to other methods of gaining Karma in itself regardless of the practical value of such debate.

The discussion section does have quite a few threads with only idle speculation in them, it seemed to me at the time of making the the thread that it would only be visited by those with a similar interest and ignored by others.

I'm really sorry I wasted your time.

Was the title misleading? Is there a alternate formulation that you think would work better?

[-][anonymous]10y 8

Up-vote if you have noticed people profiting in Karma slightly when posting a comment asking other people up-vote a post to show how many people agree with X and its balance.

[-][anonymous]10y 1

Fixed.

[+][anonymous]10y -5

Posting an article about the use of polls to accumulate karma: unprofitable.

Are there actually any "Karma hoarders"? I've never encountered such behaviour, and it seems like all the people with a large amount of karma have gained it honestly.

Good point. Since karma is gained by making constructive and insightful posts, any "exploit" that let one generate a lot of karma in a short time would either be quickly reversed or result in the "karma hoarder" becoming a very helpful member of the community. I think this post is more a warning that you may lose karma from making such polls, though since it's possible to gain or lose hundreds of points by making a post to the main page this seems irrelevant.

Can someone explain to me why they felt that this post needed to be downvoted to -8? I may have dropped it to negative two/three because it was a very marginally interesting meta-post that I didn't want to see more of, but I don't understand why it's dropping into oblivion.

Polls are far from the most "profitable" karma-hoarding exploit available.

E.g., I could probably write a script with a few days research that would create a new account, log in, and upvote every single one of my comments for a boost of several hundred karma. Run that script once a day and within a month I'd be on the top-ten list.

But... so what? I'd be disconnecting a rewards system from the behavior it was designed to reward and simply triggering it manually. More succinctly: I'd be wireheading. While I don't endorse wireheading, I do endorse the freedom to choose it, at least in the absence of negative externalities.

Admittedly, in this case there would arguably be negative externalities: this practice makes karma scores less reliable measures of whatever-they-measure-now, so if I value measuring whatever-that-is, then this practice removes some value from this site for me, and is perhaps worth preventing on those grounds.

And perhaps the same is true for other "exploits," like polls and so forth.

I don't find this too compelling, as I don't think karma scores are particularly reliable measures of anything important now (though I do enjoy watching the numbers climb up).

But if I did, I would prefer to concentrate my attention on the big exploits, not the minor ones.

One more anecdote: I set up a poll last week and got net negative karma out of it.

individual comment karma is valuable, but overall karma count is just to encourage contributing. people get fuzzies from looking at big numbers next to their name (where "big" is a function of the numbers next to the names of people whose status is known).

[-][anonymous]10y -1

If this is really a bias problem rather than a people-want-to-give-the-poll-creator-karma problem, then the trend should reverse if we reverse the up and down parts of the poll.

Downvote this post if you agree with it.

This would make voting more expensive, as downvotes are a limited resource while upvotes are not.

It's possible I misremember, or the policy changed, but I thought that you couldn't cast a total number of downvotes more than one-fourth your karma.

On further investigation, it looks like you're right, except that it's four times rather than one-fourth. (Thanks go to jamieastorga for pointing out the page.)

Testing...

No, it seems the rule is that you have to have at least 1 karma before you can cast any downvotes.

[-][anonymous]10y 1

Upvote this post for karma balance.