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