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Flayrah adds rating-based comment visibility

Edited as of Sat 25 Jan 2014 - 22:52
Your rating: None Average: 4.1 (9 votes)

Today I enabled a feature that I've been toying with for a while: rating-based comment visibility.

The aim is to discount poor comments and mediocre replies while promoting good comments. You can see it at work in recent popular stories.

The algorithm is still subject to tweaks, but here's how it works now . . .

Each comment starts out with a three-star vote, or the effective rating of its parent if it is lower, plus another three-star vote. These hidden votes are added to the displayed votes to determine the effective rating. This dampens the impact of the parental and initial votes (so one 1-star > five 2-star).

The rating is then decreased by 0.8 and divided by 2.2 to determine the post opacity. In short, comments rated below three will become less visible, encouraging readers to skip them. Replies to poorly-rated posts are also discouraged, because they inherit the parent's rating as a vote.

I've spent a few weeks tweaking the system, and I think it works reasonably well. However, if you don't like the effect, you're welcome to disable it. Simply go to your user page, click Edit, scroll down to "Block configuration", and de-select "Rating-based comment visibility", then save.

You can also hover over a comment to temporarily make it fully visible, or click it to make it visible until you refresh.

I'm aware of the potential for "groupthink". It's up to you to make this work. Please rate comments on their quality and relevance to the original topic, not your agreement with the opinion expressed.

Also, remember that there are five levels to choose from. I don't want to look in the database and find every vote is for either five stars or one. :-)


Your rating: None Average: 2.3 (4 votes)

Reminded me of an XKCD:

I think the mouse-over might be more relevant than the actual strip.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (2 votes)

A few of them are getting pretty good at that.

Your rating: None Average: 4.7 (3 votes)

Hey there GreenReaper. I would post this comment in that news article where you were asking for ideas for the site, but I'll post it here. Perhaps add a Flattr button for each news article. I know I would happily Flattr a couple of the well written ones, though seeing how I generally Flattr a lot of stuff you'd probably only make €0.05 off me. Plus to receive Flattr, the account holder must be willing to spend €2 a month himself, so perhaps a bad idea. Nevermind.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (2 votes)

If they provide a submission method that I can integrate into AddToAny, without any upfront costs, I'd be glad to do so. Otherwise . . . yeah, it's a neat idea, but it seems like the return would be negative.

If there were things I wanted to support, it might be different, but they seem to be shooting themselves in the foot with the "give to get" requirement - they don't have enough people signed up. You also need to reach €10 to withdraw anything.

People wishing to give money can donate to WikiFur; Flayrah uses the same server. A great option for spare PayPal balances!

Your rating: None Average: 3 (3 votes)

I would very much prefer rating-based article visibility :)

Your rating: None Average: 5 (2 votes)

Strangely, very few stories seem to be rated below three stars . . .

High-rated articles are featured on the front page. However, they tend to suffer from people rating them based on the topic, rather than the quality of writing, unless it is clearly of very high quality. In addition, many stories are never rated.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (2 votes)

With more lower-rated stories, I'm giving this a go. Let's see what happens.

Your rating: None Average: 4.2 (5 votes)

Ratings now include karma. For most users, this will be beneficial. The implementation owes much to Giza's work on fivestarstats.

The effect of the change is that each comment now has an initial vote corresponding to the poster's average comment rating. Think carefully before getting into an argument that nobody else cares about, as it may affect your past and future comments.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

How does this affect those posting as visitors or under generic names?

While karma based systems work well for some sites, I think there is a readership threshold below which its effectiveness degrades significantly. Too many people rate based on whether or not they agree with a comment, and not the quality of the comment. While this can be a problem on sites like Slashdot too, usually they have enough people that seem to fix that except when for very minority opinions. As opposed to here, where it seems many comments get rated by one person, often some nasty patterns (or potential patterns, hard to do much more than guess original intentions), like low rating for the other person in a two person argument that might just be from the other person, or some people getting "stalked" by negative reviewers regardless of what they post. I suppose the former example is eliminated by Slashdot's style of blocking ratings from people who have posted in a particular comment, but that would further limit the number of ratings.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (2 votes)

That and it'd promote people being a guest rather then themselves when making comments that they feel should be made but might be controversial, which is not a good idea.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (2 votes)

Those posting anonymously are currently not affected by karma. They also gain no benefit from it. I considered applying it, and I may still do so, but their current average ranking is 2.79 and I'm not sure I want to fade visitors' posts by default.

For comparison, the overall average is 3.10; the registered user average is 3.35 and the vast majority have 2.9 or more.

People can already choose to remain visitors, or to post anonymously on occasion (Slashdot offers a checkbox for this). However, what they have to say may be less read. Part of the point of karma is that it protects your expression of opinion. Not much, but enough that one or two dissenters cannot easily take you down.

In my experience, posters who occasionally say something controversial but worthwhile tend to attract more supporters than detractors. Those who say it in an obnoxious manner, or who consider themselves on a mission to convert the unbelievers, less so.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (2 votes)

As of April 2012, anonymous posters are also subject to a karma bonus/penalty.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (2 votes)

IP based or just all under an umbrella? Doesn't effect me as I never post anonymously, but I'm just curious.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (2 votes)

Yes, it's IP based. While anonymous users are on average less highly-rated than registered users, we have many anonymous users who contribute positively, and they will be rewarded for it if they retain the same IP.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (2 votes)

Is there a way to view my own karma rating?

Your rating: None Average: 5 (2 votes)

Sure! I've added ratings to the user profile. All the votes are public anyway.

I included submission ratings as well; sadly, they should be considered "for amusement purposes only", as people tend to down-vote 'bad news' and up-vote 'feel-good' stories.

Your rating: None Average: 3 (3 votes)

Comment folding has been implemented for very low-rated comments. You can click a comment header to unfold it.

I may tweak the sensitivity, but it seems to provide the right balance. It takes at least two "poor" votes to hide a comment unless your karma is severely negative. For most registered users it will take three, unless the thread is already low-rated.

Replying to a folded comment may be bad for your karma as others seek to remove the thread. Don't feed the trolls.

Your rating: None Average: 2 (2 votes)

I don't know about this..
Since ratings are often based on biased feelings most of the time, ignoring the important kind of useful information, especially the ones promoting open and good feelings to avoid hatred, I don't think certain comments should be hidden. But noticing, I think it may be an option at least.
I was one of those who got (kind of I think) hidden for trying to help a better environment somewhere (Suggesting negativity to be less so people who read the comments or articles won't feel bad or offended and other things.). It was some A&O "article". It may have not just been that one too I think. I also seen more positive comments (I think) rated down.

I also seen very negative selfish comments on this site that has been rated like 4-5 starts, badly talking about other people's thoughts, like for example, one talking about other interests "not" (or "lower") counting and thinking it's a problem but not there own, and worse using the similar thoughts as a tool in front of everyone. That example was also in that same area, but I seen other negatives in other places too.

So are all "low" rating comments trolls? Not all the time. Maybe I could suggest another way to hide the comments maybe? Ratings are often biased (people who may agree with the lower ones may not see it), badly but not all the time and I think it's very important to never take "star-ratings" seriously as a tool especially since people can probably be effected by the possible negative biased of it.

Your rating: None Average: 3 (2 votes)

Maybe it's just me, but I found this later than I probably should have. Maybe this, or, preferably, an updated version which clearly explains the current rating guidelines, should be more prominently linked on the main page?
Also, I'm still not done digesting, but I had the same problem finding it.

So, back to the ratings: Stories should be rated according to how well they are written (preferably adhering to the style and quality guidelines from the manual of style links you provided), and comments should be rated according to how well they address the story?
I think calling a 5-star rating "awesome", a 2-star rating still "okay", but a 1-star rating "poor" makes it a bit confusing. Maybe the ratings need different names assigned to them? Also, maybe 5 stars is a bit too much to choose from? Maybe 3 would be enough?

Anyway, it's not like I know better... or anything, for that matter. I just want to know what the guidelines are and try my best to adhere to them.

Your rating: None Average: 4 (2 votes)

It's up to you how you use ratings. I would rate interesting, relevant and/or well-argued comments and stories highly, and rate down those which are irrelevant, poorly-argued, or poorly-written. The point is to help promote reading of the best material, and discourage the reading (and posting) of less-good work.

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About the author

GreenReaper (Laurence Parry)read storiescontact (login required)

a developer, editor and Kai Norn from London, United Kingdom, interested in wikis and computers

Small fuzzy creature who likes cheese & carrots. Founder of WikiFur, lead admin of Inkbunny, and Editor-in-Chief of Flayrah.