Poll: What do you think of the comment rating system?

I like it.
32% (320 votes)
I don't like it.
22% (222 votes)
I don't care for it, but I'm happy to ignore it if it makes other people happy.
42% (413 votes)
I don't like it now, but I might like it if improvements were made. (See my suggestion in the comments.)
4% (36 votes)
Total votes: 991

Good post. I didn't answer, that's my choice.

Go TOD ! Let's speak our mind !

The New Rating System is Awesome. I used to only read this blog once a month, but now I have to check in 3 times a day, just to check how others rated me "Speaking my mind." Go TOD!

I preffered the first one, where you clicked on the arrows. This one has radio buttons and makes the page refresh. That's not good for thoes of us with a slow connection.

Besides the technical, the system just seems to be a way of voting down people who don't agree with the regulars. I already see TOD as starting to become elitist and narrow-minded. This anonymous 'comment judge' is just going to make it worse.

Agreed. I think it's a dangerous change most likely encouraging group-think. In the thread above this one I already saw an example of a post being voted down because it ran against conventional wisdom, though I thought the arguments made interesting and reasonable. If people actively get judged on their contributions, they're bound to either become conscious of what other people think of them, or revel in being independent of it. This leads to people adjusting their posts for social acceptance, or people rebelling, gleeful at their opposition to the 'mainstream' (I'm thinking of InfinitePossibilities as a poster here).

I prefer contributions to be attacked or supported on their factual merit through reasoned replies, not the emotional agreement it induces from a self-organising baseline group via a rating system.

Promoting group-think will be the most likely outcome. TOD already has some pretty strong "mainstream" believes like ELM and the mainstream does not like to be challenged.

Does an up / down vote mean?
- I like / dislike the style the argument was brought forward - down with inappropriate jokes from intercultural trolls
- I like / dislike what the author is saying content-wise - down with global warming is caused by humans deniers
- I like / dislike the amount of time and thinking the author has invested to present new analysis or comments - down with people writing brief messages without giving all the details

The point-system brings simplicity to a rather complex matter. But, I will immediately endorse it, if someone were to proof that humans are very good in immediately understanding new solutions to complex problems they have so far not really understood, joyfully abandoning the simplistic solutions they used beforehand to endow themselves with a sense of control in a complex world...

If the system were to deal only with "ettiquette", eg style and politeness of the text written, that might be helpful. But keep in mind as Luhmann pointed out, one should never infer the validity of the content from the validity of the form.

Well said,
I notice the conucopians very quickly build up negative feedback which might well put them off from posting again.
Although I dont agree with them on most points I would still prefer that they did not feel in anyway intimidated about posting.

Yeah, making the page refresh is PITA, even for people with fast connections, because it nukes all the "new" flags.

Though I suppose it has the benefit of making sure you don't rate a post unless it's really important to you.

The ratings are anonymous to avoid retaliation - downrating all of someone else's posts because they downrated yours. And vice-versa, I suppose - uprating someone's post because they uprated yours.

Though perhaps a better way of dealing with that would be to limit the number of comments each user can rate per day, to force people to be more thoughtful in how they rate posts.

I like it as is, but I'd like it even more if we could filter poorly ranked comments. At this point, I'm trying to get a small farm jump-started (just in case...); I don't have time to wade through as many comments as I did a few years ago. Anything that helps to remove chaff is welcome.

I really appreciate the ability to collapse comments, for example. Now, if I could see the comment ratings on the collapsed header, and filter out the -5 or less, life would be goo-

Well, life wouldn't be good, but it would be a little better.

I'm chagrined to say that it quite dramatically changed how I view comments. I felt an almost uncontrollable urge to scroll down to find the comments with the most negative or positive ratings and then read them. I just couldn't help myself. Is there a way to turn on/off the ratings, so that I could choose when I want to see them?

Thanks for letting us weigh in, and I hope you have time to read the comments about it under other posts.

I like to listen, learn and share. To me, the rating system introduces an element of...judgment, I guess you'd say. And this changes the focus from listening. For me, it's both what I'd call an "orientation" distraction, and a visual distraction.

Otherwise I would've voted in the "happy to ignore if it makes others happy". I'd first like to know more about "What is the happiness it brings?"

I hope I can opt out. Of course, by doing so, I may be (de facto) opted out. (Of course, I may be anyway.)

I'm curious about what people like about it, and also curious what problems Super G and/or others are having that the rating system addresses.

It would help if could view number of negative and positive comments, so could see the comments that are controversial. At present 0 could be no interest or 30 positive and 30 negative.

I very much agree with this sentiment, but again, when I go to rate the item, nothing happens. It seems to work only occasionally, and almost never for TOD Europe or TOD Australia. Even when I refresh the page, I see no change. It either works and we use it if we want to, or it doesn't and it gets removed. I understand teething troubles, but come Monday and it still fails to work properly, it should be pulled.

Now, after I voted and refreshed the page and the vote sitill isn't registered, I refreshed again and voted again, with my vote being counted tis time. Is the software made by Diebold?

I have had very irregular success in using the comment rating system. Sometimes it works; sometimes my attempted rating, even on the main site, doesn't work. Frustrating.

The first day this system was implemented, I looked at the ratings and participated in moving them up and down. Now, I almost completely ignore the ratings because I really have no interest in them. They are just part of background noise. To the extent that my attitude is widespread, they will be of little value as the ratings will be done by the few people who, for some reason, have the ability to rate.

So, I hated the ratings and now really don't give a damn. I would just as soon they go away and don't think they have much use. I didn't check the "if it makes happy block" but if it makes people happy go for it as long as you don't ban people because of it.

If you use Firefox, you can install Adblock Plus and the Adblock Plus Element Hiding extentions. That will allow you to hide CSS elements. I used it to block the rating section and now I don't see them at all.

I really want to be able to decide for myself whether a comment is good or bad. There's no way I can just not look at a rating and I find that it gives me a prejudiced opinion of a comment before I've even read it.

Could you please post the rule you are using to do this? Thank you.

theoildrum.com#DIV(class=extra_voting_forms karma_3_big)

Thank You!! I'd give you a good rating but I just can't see them anymore... :)

Thank you! It's gone and I can now ignore it totally regardless of what TOD does with it.

Thanks Mike! I just installed that AdBlock feature and you gave me my first occasion to use it. Wow, I'll have to consider leaving my entire estate to AdBlock's creator.

That is probably the best. Just ignore it like ads.

i wrote some dumb post against, i was appalled.

There is a long historical tradition here, of scientist voting with hands raised for that or that position, opinion - and having it then made accepted Science. That might concern the number of toes of some exotic animal or the need to stop the plebs smoking or the danger of rays (N, X, cosmic, etc.) Real examples, germane to today.... Solid position papers by high up individuals can also sometimes stifle debate.

Group, collective opinion are often superior to that of individuals. In some areas, that appears to be so.

Guessing, betting, predicting some events.

One popular, engaging read on the topic, is J. S. “On the wisdom of crowds.”


Crowds can be damn accurate, and anyone can come up with examples. Not in Science though, where paradigm changes are most often resisted. (I know that is not really what we are dealing with here.) In the energy field, popular adherence plays a huge role because it is used all day and everyday and feeds the whole of the economy. So if ppl want to double up, or ride electric scooters, and Science might have some things to say about it, but in the messy daily to and froing, other factors (culture, habits, desires, etc.) intervene. In that sense crowd judgments would be of interest.

If I could turn it off, I would. I find it visually distracting.

I also fear that it could turn this place into a popularity contest. I already notice a kind of groupthink, where ratings seem to be positive when the voter agrees, and negative when the voter disagrees. It doesn't necessarily indicate the value that a post adds to the discussion, so it is not really trustworthy. I'm inclined to think that the potential benefit is diluted by these drawbacks.

I agree with Bman. Visually distracting, encourages groupthink and doesn't have any real benefits that I can see.

I'd be very happy if it went away.

> If I could turn it off, I would. I find it visually distracting.

Sheesh, don't look at it.

I agree. I think the rating system was formed to help people get through the comments more quickly and efficiently. But these comments add a degree of complexity that actually hampers the reader from quickly digesting the valuable info and ignoring the sub-threads where people are fighting unnecessarily or discussing what sort of motorcycle they admire most.

Skimming is a skill one develops in high school. One learns to skim as one reads anything. What if "Great Expectations" had pages rated highly and pages rated negatively? It's really absurd.

I'd prefer to skim for myself and judge for myself if a comment is worth reading.

Sure the DBs are long and electricity rates are going up. It's not free to sit here in front of PC. But the ratings make the process of filtering out info. more burdensome rather than less so.

Please get rid of the ratings!!

Reading a DB used to be like wandering at will in a beautiful forest of the mind. Now with the ratings it feels as if there are boring and unneccesary SIGNS everywhere cluttering up the forest---"GO Here!" "Don't read this!" "This guy is crazy!" "Look over here!" "Free Pizza in 10 miles" etc. etc.

I just want to get out of the forest when it has been touched so to speak by the hand of man!

I like the way actively disruptive posters have been called out, and that their posts have such wide variation +ve/-ve shows that it is, generally, the post that is being considered not the poster.

So it becomes a useful tool.

However, I don't like the way it draws so much attention. I suggested before that the results should only be visible o the staff and poster. Someone said that defeated one of the objectives of filtering, which is true, and I'm not sure how to resolve that.

I still think it is proving it's value - hell I think drumbeat comment is already improving in quality a little in some regards - but I a;so think it's massively intrusive. Even if it were hidden from public when under say +-5 it'd help.

I think the theory that it would lead to suppression of differing opinion has been fairly solidly shown to be false - HOWEVER there are indications that those with staunchly expressed minority opinions are more likely to get a down arrow when there is something minor wrong with their post (like being unclear wtf they're on about, or unnecessarily sarcastic), resulting in possibly unfair -2s and -3s.

A possible way to avoid people being negatively rated for disagreements and minor problems in posts would be to alter what the ratings mean, i.e. and up arrow becomes mojo, and a separate box to rate as a troll - mojo can be given freely to good posts, but you've got to consider carefully before troll rating someone (i.e. they break the site rules).

As far as I'm concerned, I think daily Kos created the perfect rating/comment system. It might not be appropriate here due to the lengthier and more detailed postings (with graphics), but I think it would be a good place to get some inspiration.

i don't like it. it will just make it a popularity contest while at the same time preventing actual discussion. it's easier to mod someone down because you don't like their opinion rather then try to prove them wrong.

I love TOD but it is getting too cluttered...

I need a way to filter out badly rated posts. It would also be nice to be able to filter outer certain posters.

Also, if only the first X levels of a thread were opened default, that would be nice.

We got to do something to cut down the clutter.

Some good thoughts here.

My controversial idea is that the privilege of rating comments is reserved for those who help us out by digg-ing and reddit-ing our stories.

Are you getting the hint yet? ..we really want more of you to make a habit of it so that we get up to critical mass for it to take-off. These networks really do bring lots of new eyes to the site which means more influence and more reward for our hard work.


excellent idea - - second the motion

I have found that most comments don't get rated at all and I have not felt the need to vote on comments. I think it is a distraction that doesn't really add anything to the debate. However I think Super G has fantastic snazzy technical skills and more web polls like this one would be helpful to the editors and posters of what areas of content are either neglected or are overdone.

Thanks for trying, SuperG, but I see it as 'way worse than useless as it now exists.

The most trenchant and undeniable point has been made multiple times by others: it doesn't distinguish the controversial from the vapid.

My other reactions, in no particular order, include:

- the anonymity allows those who can't or won't articulate their own thought process to vote, as they might in a gladiatorial contest. I have always valued this site for its fair approximation of real-time peer review based on substance.

- there is no way to enforce any "ground rules" on the use of arrows, so there won't be any. Popularity of poster? Popularity of the idea? Quality of the argument made? Scientific cred? Political correctness? I think there will be a large WTF? factor.

- there are some quite bright posters on the list whose thoughts, even if well-expressed, will not be immediately accessible to everyone. They will tend to slip through the cracks more with such a system in place, I think.

- I don't even want to KNOW what sort of score my own posts receive. What is one supposed to do with that sort of feedback? And living in Hawaii timezone and not getting to the site until late in the day, anything I might post would start with a huge "time penalty". I can ignore it, and will (though NOT to make others happy, that's a disturbing notion on a couple of levels), but the "time zone thing" applies to a lot of folks. There will be a tendency not to post. This may indeed cut down on the number of total posts, but perhaps in favor of early halfassed ones and at the expense of later substantial ones.

Y'know, I've just deleted several other comments, and will summarize instead by saying it's self-evidently a bad idea in this incarnation and will probably diminish what makes TOD unique and useful.

I agree that this is a poor system. The goal of rating is not at all clear. On slashdot, mod points are earned through karma and there are catagories of interest. This allows useful posts to get better notice. These numbers seem much more to be snide anonymous comments, something that slashdot allows in words but which users can filter. The NYT has a recommend button but it only goes in a positive direction. This at least avoids the snide aspect we are seeing here already.

In all, I would say that the anonymity provided by user names is all the anonymity needed on this site. If people disagree, they can do so with substance. If they want to put up a me too post, that is fine also.


Sometimes it works for me, sometimes it doesn't.

Something is necessary , there are so many comments lately there needs to be some way to sort them, but this system just doesn't work.

How about a system where there is a button where we can mark a comment as irrelevant, spam or off topic, essentially black marks. Enough black marks and the post disappears. Only users with account more than 6 months old allowed to black mark. Abuse the system and your account is canceled.

"There are so many comments recently there has to be some way to sort them"-----BUT.....

That is what we have brains for.

We don't really have to read the whole comment thread. If there isn't enough time in someone's schedule, just let it go....we leave many articles in magazines unread wihout regret, we leave many clothes in our drawers unused....who says we have to eat the whole cake????

Who says we have to read the whole thing anyway? If the comments are rated, will the lower rated ones be the ones you skip? And will those be the ones you SHOULD skip? And how would you know anyway??

I voted for the "I don't like it now, but I might like it if improvements were made" choice. I don't think the rating system is useful unless there are ways in which we can set up our account to filter out low-rated comments. Slashdot is a good model of how this could work. At the moment, the commenting system seems kinda pointless.

Any interest in a way to show only new comments? Would require a bit of savvy for context, of course.

Single page blogs do get out of hand. Forums have the advantage of breaking down content to a page at a time; perhaps there's a way of applying that here as well? That'd be far more interesting/useful to me than this rating system, which I'm staunchly ignoring.

The subthread collapse feature doesn't really do it for me, either; usually a thread has so many discrete sections I wind up having to spend more time collapsing them all than it takes to just skim over them in the first place.

I suggest eliminating half the site complexity introduced - - the "bad" half. Just have "up" arrows. Drop the "down" arrows. It seems that that the stated reasons for using the "down" arrows are a little difficult to carry around in your head and, from what I've seen there's a temptation to use them as "I disagree."

Some other method might be explored to deal with abusive comments (ad homs, etc.) - - some blogs have abuse report buttons.

Best hopes for civility and self restraint.

I largely ignore it, but I did notice it yesterday when I was in a minor tiff with another poster. He got some pretty negative ratings for a pretty negative post, which at least gave me the sense that others were also taking his comments as unhelpful.

Want to call that a popularity contest or just being PC? Maybe, but it seemed the votes were used for the right reasons to me. I didn't use that as a victory lap or anything, though, since I was really looking to see if I was getting negatives for my posts in that exchange, which I did not. Sometimes I think the accusations of Groupthink are confusing the rejection of real 'opposing views' with the rejection of unrepentant belligerence .. which is not the same thing. Being a jerk is not evidence of 'independent thought'.

Knowing how tempers run sometimes, I'm sure there are frivolous votes cast, and people probably are reacting to posters that they do or don't like.. I did hit an UpArrow for Alan Drake's question of whether to post more news on LightRail Stories, etc, since I thought that would give him the feedback he was asking for.. while often enough I don't give any special weight to the rating number, since there are so many reasons it might have been knocked up or down.

I did like the suggestion of showing both the number of ups AND downs, or some way of showing the activity of a particularly contested article. Maybe a graph? Ahh, Feh, Data-shmata..


Hi Bob,

This is interesting.

re: "He got some pretty negative ratings for a pretty negative post, which at least gave me the sense that others were also taking his comments as unhelpful."

Was it negative in form, content or both?

Would it have made a difference if someone had put the support for you (and the un-support for the negative post) in words?

AFAIK, the directions are to rate up for insight, information and etc. and down for not adhering to guidelines. So, did the post not adhere to guidelines?

Not to be picky, just that I weigh in not liking the rating so much, and wonder..

For eg., Alan asking for feedback. Could you just have said "Yes, Please do post more light rail news." Or "No, don't post them, rather - save them up and put them in an article once a month or so."

Because, strictly speaking, voting didn't answer Alan's question.

Hi Aniya;

The negatives I perceived in his posts were essentially ad-hominem, challenging my intelligence, instead of addressing my prior post, which had tried to request some patience with hard-headed challengers to his points of view. In all fairness, that suggestion included the accusation that in calling such posters useless, he was engaging in the same hardheaded absolutism that they were annoying him with. Came off as more name-calling than brutal-honesty, it seems.

Ultimately, it was probably not all that helpful a tack on my part, especially with the difficulty of getting the tone right in using text to convey a mild rebuke. It's far too easy for these to be taken differently than you intended them, as we see again and again. I do take note when it doesn't work. Still, sometimes I try. I was pretty unapologetic in my directness towards Darwins Dog, who I thought was being extremely cruel and condescending over and over again.

As far as Alan's query, I tend to disagree that it didn't send an answer. All he wrote was 'Should I post more of these, keep doing this?' , so I really think that a positive rating below should convey 'a general sense of the room..', and work as an informal poll. I agree that it's somewhat vague, but when time is extremely tight, it's nice to be able to keep some responses concise. (As opposed to this one..) Actually, a 'sense of the room' is a good description of this ratings gizmo in general, and would seem to take into account the wild extremes of personality and personal styles that will be inhabiting this 'room'.


I think rating comments in general only makes a website elitist and suppresses dissenting opinions.

These are two things that I think are exactly opposite to the goal of analyzing information and presenting a true, balanced, result.

They have grown on me. Anything with high numbers of comments - either direction - tends to be interesting or at least salient. It helps scroll through faster. I still scan to not miss something useful but not getting a lot of notice, but I can scan faster.

Also, it's an interesting social experiment in what we can expect as times get tougher: if this group cannot cooperate to use this system as intended and continue to play favorites and gotcha games, then there's precious little hope for surviving the current mess intact.


Hi ccpo

re: "use this system as intended".

What is the intent?

I like the new rating system but it needs filters and additional metadata. Look at Slashdot and do likewise.

You know, the funny thing is, the people who get any sort of bump up or down will be the ones people read. That means that the trolls and lunkheads will get what they want and the high and mighty will feel all warm and superior pushing the little down arrows.

Way, way too much like American Idol.

Just let people talk. If you don't want people you don't like posting, just go ahead and bless a few souls with the TOD imprimatur and give them the keys to the printing press.

That this site would be so concerned about the opinions that clash with the politburo approved line is beyond sad.

If you think yourselves so damned important, just close the doors to the clubhouse and post your own little views. No harm, no foul.

Those who don't agree with you will find something else to do.

Jeez. Like junior high school around here.

I'm new to TOD. I've visited a few times in the past, and I started reading regularly a few weeks before the rating system went into effect. Once I started reading it daily, I gained a twitch in my right eye. All said, there is too much content to read on a computer screen during a day. I appreciate the attempt to filter through the content, but I believe the rating system glosses over other more fundamental structural problems. I hope you take this as constructive criticism...

1) Especially in the drumbeat posts, new primary topics are introduced by readers far along within the comments. It's distracting to be forced to rescan the same list of comments throughout the day to find new relevant links to timely links on the web.

2) Comments have a family approach, which is helpful in an archival sense. However, this forces me to scan through the entire body of comments seeking what is new. Subscribing gave me a new tag which highlights new posts since my last login, but the sheer amount of data makes it where I often cannot cover all the new material in one sitting. The next time I load the page, the new tags are reset. I'm back to manually skimming for relevant info.

3) The rating system is aimed at tagging/sorting the content to make it easier to find what stands out. Does it measure quality or the poster's ability to follow posting rules? It seems mostly devoted to popularity, which is fine. TOD should officially state that it merely measures user sentiments. I also believe it would be more useful to show totals of up and down votes. A post with 30 up and 35 down is probably worth reading before a post with a total of 5 down.

4) I'm put off by the mods deleting off topic posts. Is the comment section for all comments, or is it meant to reflect the views of TOD management? This seems arbitrary. It would be better for the reader and more conducive to discussion if the mods harvested the best posts to place in the opening section rather than deleting a few (seemingly random) posts from the comments area. It would benefit the casual reader to see the mod endorsed content up top, and it would benefit the community to have the freedom to discuss freely in the comments section.

5) While I can appreciate grouping conversations for archival purposes, it is really annoying that I can't login to view only new content to a comments thread. So much scrolling and searching... With this volume of content, TOD becomes like a forum lacking the fundamental forum structure. It makes it difficult. Especially in the drumbeat, maybe comments should be tied to the individual articles in the main post. If one article is about sour crude and I'm uninterested in that topic, I could easily avoid reading those comments.

I really enjoy TOD, and the Drumbeat is one of my favorite bits. The main post followed by comments doesn't seem to work for the drumbeat. Especially for this area, I think the rating system is inadequately glossing over more fundamental problems of data management. I want to keep reading the site, and I hope you come up with a content organization solution before I go blind trying to read it all (over and over and over in the case of the comments). The ratings system is useful, but it doesn’t accomplish this goal.

Might be worth considering a system similar to the one that has been used successfully on 'the motley fool' website? Two main points;

1. Only allow +ve ratings. This would address the issue of screening for posts that are deemed interesting or valuable by users without the possibility of -ves and +ves cancelling out. Also not sure how valuable an anonymous and non-constructive critisism (i.e. -ve rating) is, quite apart from the fact that it could discourage some posters.

2. Although I'm newly registered here I've been reading the site for a while. The comments are expanding exponentially and some way of collapsing by author/headline would help. Again, this is a useful feature of TMF.

Hey, if it works then why not nick it ;-)


1. Well, I quit reading comments in most DrumBeats, because I couldn't filter fast enough. This rating system helps a bit, but it's not enough - although I don't have a solution to what would be enough. I agree that TOD NEEDS A GOOD FILTER!

Expandable Sub-threads, for instance? With there own "value"?

2. What is being measured by voting? Probably something different for each voter. That needs to be somehow defined!
Like/don't like
Agree/don't agree
On /off topic
I learned/learned nothing
you're on to something/nothing

Cheers, Dom

how about a forum? or a good search?

i hate loosing a thread because theres too much good news.

  • Step 1: forum.
  • Step 2: rating system.
  • Step 3: ???
  • Step 4: Profit!!!

[Edit - 6:07 PM] Interesting ... I checked back earlier and my silly /. reference was rated -1. Now it's back up to 0. So I'm still karma-less :(

I no longer read Slashdot and rarely look at DailyKos. They have become entrained in a current of groupthink. But I don't think that is the fault of their karma systems, it's just a matter of overcrowding. Without rating systems, those sites would be reduced to a usenet level of flamage in very short order.

I enjoy the rating system. What I fear is regular posters like Darwinian, Westexas, Leanan, Alan from the big easy etc...change their content to get votes, be it conscious or subconsciously. Whatsmore, the rating system can marginalize the optimists like Antidoomer. The great part about this forum is the diverse set of opinions and debate, sometimes fiery. The danger of a rating system IMO is ability of the group to wrap their tentacles around an individual.

The voting seems to be in favor of the rating system. I just hope the commentators and contributors don't become more PC for votes.

I posted my suggestion here:


In short: Letting all users mod all the time invites impulsive modding based on agreement. If the mod system is more like slashdot, people will think more about how they use mod privileges when they have them. Random selection ensures that the system is still democratic.

If moderator points and filtering were added to the comment rating, Drupal would be at the technology level of Slashdot in 1998. If it generated static pages rather than refreshing from the database continually and used memcached like Slash, the pageloads wouldn't be so painfully slow. The problems of scaling this type of dynamic site with group comment on stories were solved and tested a decade ago.

The downside of Slash over Drupal is that it requires root access to the server to maintain and install and it's all carved out of Perl, which makes installation and maintenance a bit of a black art and you can't host it on a $10/month shared server. This become unimportant with high traffic sites and dedicated support personnel with proper training.

Newer isn't better when it comes to moderation. Slashdot's mod system is great for comments. If you browse slashdot at 4+, you will see some pretty solid technical discussion. Try just looking at the high-modded comments on reddit/Digg for comparison.

In addition to memcached, there is also Varnish, a rather nice open source http accelerator, made by the company I work for.

Consolidating and extending a few of the thoughts here, another potential concept.

Lots of folk seem to think that the 'up' and 'down' should be independent, and that I think makes sense - even from the original post the reasons we are told to vote 'up' are not the opposites of the reasons why a 'down' might be appropriate.

So how about:

One Mojo/Kudos/Hi5/WarmFuzzy button that just counts, and separately a button for 'breaks guidelines' which (bear with me here) pops up an option-list or dropdown where the down marker has to identify WHICH guideline has been broken (Trolling, Attacking the poster, unsupported/unsupportable statements of 'fact', off-topic, excessive quoting (copyright), promotion)

Then, display the counts, possibly with thresholds, but show the specifics to staff (identified) and the poster (anonymous)

That way, staff have all the 'evidence' necessary to deal with offensive posters, or continual fallbacks to evidence-free conspiracy theory, etc, and the poster knows exactly why people have an issue with their post.


I had a left-field thought which may be technically infeasible and/or stupid - I wondered if the use of colour shades, rather than numbers, might be a bit more subtle in some ways, but more productive in others, and much less obtrusive. Palest red = one negative; Deep-Red = lots of negatives etc. It might avoid things like looking at a post over and over to see if it's gone up or down a score or two, such as some of us compulsives are inclined towards.

If you have extra CPU cycles then ditch the rating system and go back to showing total posts and NEW posts for each thread like you used to on the home page.
That would we much more useful.
It is hard trying to remember how many posts there were on a thread last time I looked and then try to determine if there are enough new ones to make it worthwhile to look again.

I agree with the others who think the rating system could encourage groupthink. The mojo/troll idea upthread sounds interesting....but what I'd really like to see is to have the [new] comment tags stay where they are until an "Update" button is pressed, no matter if I navigate away or refresh the page. Also, have links open a new page (tab) by default. Is this feasible?

P.S. Thanks Super G for all the hard work.

Dear TOD.

Many people seem to want to maintain the rating system and 'improve it' into a full moderation where the comment that's rated down gets hidden or collapsed to a one liner. They think that TOD is 'improved' by filtering away comments based on democratic voting.

I think this is very short sighted policy which throws the baby out with the bath water.

What these people forget is that comments which people disagree with and thus are rated down are sometimes very insightful - they show us the common fallacies that people make, cognitive or emotional. They tell us what misinformation is our there or how people have misinterpreted something. They give us a chance to review our own thinking and develop better arguments - and sometimes, we might even find something in our own thinking...

I think one of the best tools of thinking is to play the devil's advocate. I encourage other's to do it to me and sometimes out of curiosity and amusement play it on other's to find out just how deep their thinking is. If you've ever attended a public defense of a doctoral thesis, you should know how essential this is to the development and maintenance of scientific thinking - always questioning, doubting, exploring...

Please let us not make the rating system into a 'democratization' of censure. TOD has inhouse experienced moderators who already remove most abusive, lame and commercial messages. Because these people are well known to us, have their reputations to think of, and have very limited time to pursue personal vendettas, their chances of abuse of the system are limited. Any 'improvement' of the rating system into a public moderation system will democratize TOD comments and lead to a mob-rule.

And anyway TOD hasn't increase in size yet to a point of being unmanageable to read which would warrant this sort of action to be taken. Therefore moderation or collapsing of threads is something to be left in the drawer for later use.

Sincerely, Ransu

I hate it so much I used the AdBlock Plus extension to block the ratings section so I don't even have to see it. For me, the TODBan greasemonkey script was very effective in blocking annoying people. But some of the changes to the comments section lately has caused it to stop working. If anyone has an updated version of the script that works, I'd appreciate a link.

What would be great, is for the user blocking to be built into the TOD website itself. Many other forums have that ability so I think it's a common need.

If the point of the ratings is to increase the readership, long term I feel you will lose more posters/readers than you gain. The system is based on an idealized democratic view, whereby the majority usually knows best. Controversial opinions are overwhelmingly rated poorly so far, in fact it appears that controversial opinions are actually rated lower than stupid, trolling comments. This has the result of giving the reader a poor opinion of the insight or lack thereof of the lurker community. IMO there has always been a shared view that TOD readership possessed a somewhat greater insight, as a group, than the sheeple. This new rating system works against that belief daily. OTOH I do feel the system will work well in creating a more homogenous readership group if that is the intention.

As has been suggested previously,the option to turn off the ratings would take care of many objections to the rating system.

There is a psychological element. An example: let's say you enjoy a TV show-use The Office as an example. A cheesy laugh track is added as it is felt that many viewers will miss the jokes and need to be helped along. An option to turn off the laugh track is included. Approximately 33% of the viewers enjoy having the laugh track to help them. As a fan of the show, it does run the risk of losing some appeal as the laugh track might be interpreted as pandering, or the beginning of a conscious dumbing down of the show or site.

You need to keep the rating system?

Why? Remember Hotgar and MatthewD and a few others who basically had to be banned and forced out.

With a few high negative ratings some folks who may lean towards
Hotgarism and so forth might get the idea early on that others don't like how they try to make TOD their own personal sandbox and in doing so damage it for the rest of the readership.

airdale-just my opinion...I have others but mostly these days try to keep it more 'in the furrow'.

I agree with your point. Ratings help some with Hotgar types, but ratings in general are a weak filter. So far I have found them better than nothing, and minimally distracting. The refresh issue is annoying but I appreciate Leanan and others trying new things here.

The biggest problem for me is the huge growth in number of posts. It is too much and takes too much time. Not a lot to do about it. My solution is to read the linked drumbeat articles and not post unless I think it really is worth it and might add something new.

You haven't studied the huge difficulties of voting democracy have you? Votes are not all equal in merit.

The sort of people who are more enthusiastic about clicking on arrows will be the same people who are more inclined to click to vote in your poll.

When you look at the comments when the system was first introduced, it should be clear that there was a substantial preponderance of disapproval, and the reasons were quite cogent and not adequately dismissed.

This latest poll would have been more enlightening if everyone who voted had to simultaneously give their rationale too. You'd then have observed the large preponderance of half-bake behind the like-it camp's votes.

And again on this page the great preponderance of dont-like comments. Looks to me like some joker has hacked your poll today, big time. (Or maybe superG's polling coding has a bug, heaven forbid me suggesting).
(Damb, a second bug that blanks out all my own comments....)

Re the poll, it appears that the administrators of TOD want these ratings for some reason. Rather than like/don't like, you have don't like broken down into 3 categories to make it appear like there is no consensus. The contempt for the readers is palpable.

When I first discovered TOD and Peak Oil, it was exciting and fun to be in the know about something that it seemed like few others understood.

Today I participated in a poll asking if oil would reach $7 dollars a gallon by 2010, a year and a half away. 74% who responded said yes. I think the site was AOL.

Peak Oil and TOD are becoming main stream. Every gas price sign proclaims Peak Oil. Only the brain dead haven't figured out something big time is going on.

High traffic seems to be a goal of TOD. If it achieves that, it will not be the same attractive site it was before. It will have to appeal to the majority to maintain traffic just as newspapers and television do. The best days of TOD may be over.

Ideally tod would best stick to being a site for well-informed discussion, a tool enabling us to identify/agree on the consensus messages that can then be broadcast on other sites elsewhere which are dedicated to publicising.

I suggest that for this purpose we stop the promotional work of digs (to tod) and so on. And set up a separate "popular" site for publicising the conclusions reached on tod. Dig that site instead. Promote tod only to the more informed/dedicated audience.

The comment rating system uses some kind of browser widget (ActiveX? something else?) that does not work in my browser, so I am unable to use it. Even for trusted sites I do not enable ActiveX (security risk is too large, IMO), so I'm not sure if that is it or whether it is just that my browser is old and the voting is using some whizzy new technology (that will turn out to have a shelf life of about six months before becoming utterly obsolete and being replaced by yet another whizzy new technology, if experience serves :-). However, my whole PC is old and it still works fine in general, and I don't like to keep installing new browsers at the risk of making things no longer work fine. If the comment voting used a simple hyperlink to register the votes, it would work for everybody, regardless of the version of their browser, without forcing them to drop their pants down around their ankles and bend over in the security department.

Utopia in Decay

Kevin Cherkauer

It uses javascript:

<script type="text/javascript" src="/misc/jquery.js"></script>
<script type="text/javascript" src="/misc/drupal.js"></script>
<script type="text/javascript" src="/sites/default/modules/extra_voting_forms/extra_voting_forms.js"></script>
<script type="text/javascript" src="/sites/default/misc/comment_collapse.js"></script>

<script type="text/javascript">Drupal.extend({ settings: { "extra_voting_forms": { "only_one_vote": 0, "login_page": "user/login", "base_path": "/" } } });</script>
<script type="text/javascript"></script>

etc ...