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Craig Steiner
07/23/05 00:24
  07/23/05 00:31

Read: 1553 times

Msg Score: +3
 +2 Informative
 +1 Good Answer/Helpful
#97858 - Flashback: Forum moderation & karma
Responding to: Prahlad J. Purohit's previous message
Prahlad originally posted the above message in a different thread. I felt it was a good "seed" on which to base this discussion so I manually made it the first message of this new thread. I had to do this manually in the database so hopefully I didn't mess it up! :)

Prahlad brings up, again, the topic of problems with the system. So let's talk about it.

Prahlad J. Purohit said:
Two of our forum members have left the forum in less than a fortnight. There's certainly some thing wrong with the system.

I think we need to differentiate between something wrong with "the system" and a difference of opinions that have been taken to extremes.

Michael left because of a disagreement over a thread that was closed that he thought shouldn't be closed, not over karma (at least that's my understanding). I respect Michael emmensely and hope he decides to return someday, but I also think he over-reacted. At the time, I actually believed that Michael might be right and Steve might have closed the thread a little too soon. On the other hand, Steve was eventually shown to be 100% right: the original poster had solved his problem and the closed thread was no longer applicable. Michael had a different opinion and basically decided to leave because he disagreed with the moderator on what, in my opinion, was a rather trivial matter.

Alberto left for reasons that are not entirely clear to me. He started by going on a blitz in another thread scoring just about everyone "off-topic." He felt the thread was off-topic and moderated the first message off-topic: I have no problem with that, that's what the scoring system is for. But then he went on and started scoring all the messages he could in the thread as "off-topic". That's an abuse of the system or, at best, a complete misunderstanding of how the system should work. Whether it was an abuse or a misunderstanding, I felt the scoring system was being hurt rather than helped by Alberto's scoring and I revoked his scoring priveleges. He then went ballistic and posted a message that I could scarcely understand complaining about the off-topic nature of the thread... and how did he do this? By posting an off-topic message in a thread he already considered off-topic! Since I didn't feel his post was entirely understandable (at least to me), I emailed him in Spanish to try to understand what he wanted to say in his native language. He responded that he had nothing to say--that doesn't seem accurate, though, since he had just posted a page-long message to the forum.

What these two cases have in common is that they were both, in my opinion, a complete overreaction to a trivial incident and both could have been handled cordially via email--and probably in both cases in manners favorable to these two people. I would not have been against re-opening the thread that Michael wanted open had he asked us politely rather than ordered us to do so. And I very well may have given Alberto's scoring access back if he had emailed me and discussed his misunderstanding of how the scoring system should be used instead of having a tantrum in the forum.

The problems started when Karma was introduced, I have always been against Karma / scoring.

There were problems long before karma. In fact, karma was introduced in an effort to address problems that we had.

This also isn't the first time people have left. We had a very intelligent person who often posted very constructive messages to the forum a few years ago, but in all candor he had an attitude problem. He eventually spammed the forum by posting useless 1-line messages in dozens of threads just to pollute the forum. I had to go through and delete all those messages. I reported the abuse to the ISP corresponding to the IP address in question and the ISP immediately terminated his Internet account. He never came back.

So occasional problems certainly isn't something that came to as a result of karma.

All of us are professionals and have expertise in our native fields for new things we often post here and share information. It makes no sense making a person look good/bad with higher/lower Karma. If at all there is scoring it should only apply to messages to indicate relative usefulness of messages.

I can see where you're coming from and you might be right.

However, the idea behind the karma system is to put a certain emphasis on quality posts while discouraging useless posts. I do think we have seen fewer bad posts during the year we've had the karma system, but it's hard to say whether that's a result of the karma system or the fact that the system now requires members to register first.

Now if we change the karma system so that messages are scored but users have no overall score, will the karma system have any effect on encouraging good posts and discouraging useless ones? I don't know. A lot of people supposedly don't care about their karma score anyway--which is surprising since so many people seem to have a lot of issues with a score that supposedly doesn't matter to them.

Secondly, The forum rules seems to have become more Rigid and Unfair. Sometimes, What applies to member A doesnt apply to member B. This sort of unfair rules cause frustration and people leave.

Unfortunately this is a matter of subjective judgement on the part of Steve or myself.

If a new member comes along and hasn't posted anything and his very first post is off-topic, yes, that'll probably get closed down because we have no evidence that the new member knows what the forum is for. Someone that's been around longer, especially one that has posted a couple of times, will probably be entitled to a bit more tolerance because we know he knows what the forum is for, we know he's used it correctly, and we're willing to let an occasional off-topic thread go by in the interest of this being a "community."

We do try to enforce the rules fairly but it's also a judgement call every single time. We're not perfect and we might not always get it right and others may disagree with us from time to time; I don't think there's anything we can do about that. Anytime a decision has to be made, there will be people that disagree with that decision--especially when there are 10,000+ watching.

Lots of posts are deleted/blocked because there are off topic. I personally do like threads like this by Steve it is really an informative thread [I scored +1 ]. But according the forum rules it is Off Topic isnt it? It is no way related to 8052 microcontroller is it?

It is related to 8052s in the context that many of us that work with 8052s are consultants and could run into the exact same situation. It's certainly more on-topic than many of the "WEOT's" we have and tolerate from time to time.

You say that "lots of posts are deleted/blocked because they are off-topic." I'd say that's incorrect. I receive an email copy of every thread and message that is closed or deleted and it does not happen very often--especially deletions. Given the number of threads and messages posted, the number deleted and closed are a very, very small percentage.

Aside from threads that were closed because they started talking about microcontrollers and ended up talking about bicycle racing (just a made-up example) and aside from threads that were talking about PICs or threads that clearly were becoming heated flame-wars and were closed in an effort to calm things down, what posts/threads have been unfairly closed or deleted?

Lets make this forum more peaceful by making the rules more flexible, equal respect for all the members and same rules for all.

I'm open to any suggestions people have on how we can accomplish that. I basically asked this question a couple of weeks ago and the general consensus was that things were ok the way they are. I'm certainly willing to ask the question again: Is there something I/we should do to make this forum better?

Should we eliminate all rules and let anyone post anything they want? Should we change the karma system in some way to make it better or more fair? Should we suspend the karma system for awhile and see what happens? Should we eliminate the karma system entirely?

Should we go ahead and create another parallel forum where the rules are severely relaxed? I'm not talking about a "hardware forum" and a "software forum" where the two topics are often intertwined. I'm talking about an "Off-topic" or "Chat" forum where clearly off-topic issues can be posted, or if something becomes off-topic in a thread it could be moved there where the rules will be much more relaxed?

I want to hear everyone's ideas. I asked this in the last thread but the only people I heard from thought everything was ok. I want to hear from people that think things aren't ok--but I want suggestions. It's fine to say the karma system is broken, but what's the solution? It's fine to say that you think that the rules aren't applied to everyone fairly, but how can we fix something that's inherently a subjective decision made by Steve or myself? Should someone else make the decision? If so, how and who? Should everyone be able to score messages and have the system close or delete threads/posts automatically based on everyone's response? Maybe, but if people don't like the existing karma system I think they're going to hate that even more.

Believe me, I would very much like this forum to be enjoyable for everyone. It'd also be great if it "ran itself" like it did back in 1998 when I didn't need Steve's help and the forum didn't even give me the ability to close threads or delete messages. I enjoy the 8052 and I enjoy the interaction with all the members but I do not enjoy having to administer or moderate this forum. Every minute I have to deal with disgruntled members is a minute I'm not spending with my wife, not making money, and not outside on my bicycle or camping. This is not something I enjoy nor is it something I always have time to do--which is precisely why I asked Steve to help me moderate the forum years ago.

But if there are any ideas out there of how we can improve things by all means let me know. Anything that can make the forum more enjoyable and reduce the amount of time I spend dealing with "politics" is something that I'm definitely in favor of!

Craig Steiner Webmaster

List of 45 messages in thread
Unfair Moderation.      Prahlad J. Purohit      07/22/05 22:32      
   Flashback: Forum moderation & karma        Craig Steiner      07/23/05 00:24      
      Tougher line      Donald Catto      07/23/05 05:33      
      My $0.02 USD      Dan Henry      07/23/05 12:41      
      Re: Flashback forum moderation and karma      Prahlad J. Purohit      07/24/05 02:36      
      Comments to Craig      David Smith      07/24/05 04:12      
         I think you are right - David      Raghunathan      07/24/05 05:46      
      Status Quo      Raghunathan      07/24/05 06:03      
         In favour of the existing moderation      Jerson Fernandes      07/24/05 08:50      
      Painful truth...      Kai Klaas      07/24/05 08:31      
         The thread      Steve M. Taylor      07/24/05 08:52      
            Kai,Steve      Mehdi      07/24/05 10:10      
            Thread closing was unsuited!      Kai Klaas      07/24/05 12:32      
               ?      Steve M. Taylor      07/24/05 13:08      
               Changing thread-closure policy      Craig Steiner      07/24/05 13:30      
                  I don't understand...      Jan Waclawek      07/24/05 17:02      
                     Nope      Craig Steiner      07/24/05 18:22      
                     Losing posts      Terry Lingle      07/24/05 18:24      
                        Other issues      David Smith      07/26/05 03:31      
                  Yes      Kai Klaas      07/24/05 18:49      
                     Hmmm      Craig Steiner      07/24/05 18:57      
         Very Painful Indeed.      Prahlad J. Purohit      07/24/05 09:01      
            credit where its due      Steve M. Taylor      07/24/05 09:14      
               Mike's      Terry Lingle      07/24/05 10:11      
            Letting Michael go      Craig Steiner      07/24/05 13:19      
         Reason for Michael's leaving      Craig Steiner      07/24/05 13:01      
   don't give in      James Hinnant      07/23/05 00:36      
      not Prahlad      James Hinnant      07/23/05 01:24      
   Old Boys Club debunked      Craig Steiner      07/23/05 02:00      
   Olb Boys Club ailive and well.      Charles Bannister      07/23/05 05:35      
      beware of the plank      Steve M. Taylor      07/23/05 06:01      
         karma      Terry Lingle      07/23/05 09:13      
      If you say so      Craig Steiner      07/23/05 09:57      
         Pot calling Kettle...?      Andy Neil      08/01/05 18:35      
   Who cares ?        Peter Dannegger      07/23/05 11:02      
      I do      Jan Waclawek      07/23/05 15:19      
         You're missing the point.      Andy Neil      08/01/05 19:27      
   Karma is a good actuator !      Mehdi      07/23/05 21:13      
   Moderation      Ian Bell      07/24/05 05:32      
   Two things.      José Félix Díaz Ivorra      07/24/05 08:28      
      Re: Two Things.      Prahlad J. Purohit      07/24/05 08:34      
         Karma for messages, not people      Craig Steiner      07/24/05 13:03      
            made sense to me      Andy Neil      08/01/05 11:52      
               We'll see      Craig Steiner      08/01/05 13:02      
      That's the reason for karma      Craig Steiner      07/24/05 12:33      

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