commit: 6b2ca8a - #414 (2014-03-05 12:54:44 -0500)
From the article: You start by introducing a reputation mechanism like karma to improve some outcome - say, to increase the quality of comments, or to apply a threshold to restrict voting to trustworthy community members. This seems like a plausible and even elegant mechanism at first, until you discover the terrible side-effects.
Humans are fundamentally status-seeking social apes, and you've now introduced a visible measure of social worth that people will be driven to maximize. In the real world, we have a word for those who spend their lives accumulating karma - we call them politicians. And so, within karma communities, we see the rise of a political class - persuasive centrists who cater (perhaps unconsciously) to a constituency, and who express (perhaps eloquently) opinions calculated to appeal to the masses and avoid controversy. Hacker News and many subreddits are dominated by people like this, whose comments are largely predictable and rarely add anything new or unexpected to the conversation.
At the bottom end of the food chain, we have a different class of creature with the same basic aim as the politicians, but without the persuasive charm needed to pull off the political approach. These are the karma whores, who use a mixture of frank pandering, provocation and calculated outrage to achieve the same aims.
The karma maximization game often acts contrary to the goals we aimed to achieve by introducing karma in the first place: the tenor of the community suffers, the diversity of opinion declines, and the karma whores post pictures of their cats everywhere.
It's a thought-provoking article, Mark. The point is that if a system can be manipulated – then people will manipulate it. He suggests that if you get your story a little momentum (perhaps by asking your friends/followers/list to provide a few up votes) then it's much more likely to get picked up by the community and pushed further up. And on the other hand, links to perfectly fine stories often languish.I'm afraid people are out there gaming the system and that's that.The author now relies more on personal recommendations – from people on Twitter he has come to trust, for example. If you want to stay up with the real news in whatever niche you're interested in that certainly makes sense - rather than expecting a karma-driven system always to get the cream to rise to the top. I hadn't thought of this but now I have it seems obvious - so thanks for the push! :)
Don't think this is happening here? Observe Inbound.org for a few days. Watch how slowly anything changes on the Hot page. Watch the incoming page and see the tons of very good posts that go by day after day with nary a second upvote.
cogent observations in that Mark. Alas a saturday submission around here is going to decay during a likely quiet time and probably lose appeal because of an unreasonable failure to gather momentum, like lado himself explains. Yes, alot gets missed, unvoted for, and poor stuff contaminates the Inbound stream all the time. Sometimes items take off due to luck, engineered or otherwise.
Meh. I think that the karma is a good thing. In the past few months more and more people are actually starting conversations on here as opposed to just postings links.
Stuart, I agree that it's been good for commenting. But I think my points about how static the Hot page is, and how little upvoting there is on Incoming, stands. Upvoting shares doesn't earn you Karma, so people don't bother. But you couldn't Karma-incentivize it because then people would just upvote everything.
Little correction - upvoting a shared post gives you 1 Karma point ;)
Does it Max? Thanks for the clarification. I thought I'd tested that (upvoted a post and then went back to check my Karma number). But maybe Karma doesn't always update instantly.
I feel a bit weird here on inbound as I see some smaller private networks working it's way around. I upvote only the good stuff, but some articles that hit the first page are simply not worth it. Karma or not, these systems are usually easy to cheat. I hope that inbound will not become such a thing.
Some really good points, well written and it speaks the truth of a reality that has existed since the start of Social News. I've been in the "behind the scenes" of rings years ago with sites like Digg & Mixx. It is almost not even a "ring" per se but you establish contacts of others that are submitting too, so it would be silly not to build a relationship. It always did influence the frontpage though. With that said, these networks still seem to elevate quality content for me, reducing my time to find it. Twitter does that as well. The problem has been there in the beginning and has always persisted, probably more than people know. Inbound has seemed to stay pretty clean IMO. It's smaller size helps keep promoters trying to acquire monetizable eyeballs out of the fray.