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Forum credits and the one million dollar question.

Dude! Guru
Currently Being Moderated
I thought it might be a good idea to discuss matters of the forum's credit system in a separate thread.

Evolving Thread: We are upgrading OTN Forums! This is the place for questions and comments.
We are upgrading OTN Forums!  This is the place for questions and comments.
Justin Mungal wrote:
Thank you for working on upgrading the forums. I think the quality and correctness of assistance received here will increase greatly if:

1) We eliminate the points system. It encourages certain types of people to respond to questions as quickly as possible to earn points, without any regard to the quality of said response. I understand that game mechanics increase participation in a social network, but perhaps we should emphasize a quality over quantity approach in a professional forum.

2) We introduce an up-voting/down-voting system. This way, when dangerous responses are given, the community can quickly down-vote them. After a certain threshold, the down-voted responses will become hidden by default.
Removing any type of reward system may influence who decides to participate in the forum, but it is the original poster who decides if a response was helpful or correct. People who respond to earn points and provide low quality input do not necessarily receive points because they happen to provide some stupid response early in the game. On the other hand, a response is not necessarily better because it was given without the expectation to receive any form of credit. Nor is anyone more competent because he or she appears as a white knight in shiny armor.

The current credit system is not perfect and highly depends on the perception of the original poster, but it does not stop anyone from outlining that a correctly marked answer is actually incorrect. Some personal forum profiles may look better without the point system, which has various reasons, but I think it was not a valid reason to remove the credit system.

I'm against any anonymous up-voting/down-voting system since it invites and promotes polemic and does not reflect what answer actually helped the original poster.
  • 1. Re: Forum credits and the one million dollar question.
    sonyabarry Guru Moderator
    Currently Being Moderated
    We will be keeping the point system exactly as it is today for the next few months, and then we will be expanding it with a lot of planning around how to use it to best encourage the kind of community and culture we want to foster here.

    Simple downvoting won't happen for exactly the reason you gave - it can encourage bullying. We'll be looking at a range of possibilities for how to reward behavior we want to see, as well as a possible range of real-world rewards over time.

    Whatever we end up doing, I'm definitely open to some experimentation to see what works - if something clearly has detrimental side effects that are immediately clear we'll be able to change course quickly.
  • 2. Re: Forum credits and the one million dollar question.
    SomeoneElse Guru
    Currently Being Moderated
    I wouldn't have a problem with up-voting only, no down-voting. In this way, it's similar to a Facebook "Like" and would prevent the bullying scenario.

    The problem with the current point system is that it's controlled only by the original poster. And that person is not always the best judge of which answers are correct or even helpful.

    I've been awarded points for simply referring the OP to another thread or telling him he posted to the wrong forum (or maybe for a humorous but otherwise useless response).

    Using up-voting, if I were to see a post with 50 votes ("Likes") and the others in the thread have none...that would tell me something valuable about that post. I think it would encourage quality posts.
  • 3. Re: Forum credits and the one million dollar question.
    Dude! Guru
    Currently Being Moderated
    I think the emphasis of a technical forum should be to help the original poster and not to provide answers that receive public votes. An answer that receives many up votes does not necessarily help the original poster who may not understand a given answer and is reluctant to admit it because of the voting system.

    Answers copied from documentation or even funny or inappropriate responses may receive up votes, which to my undertanding should be avoided. No system is perfect, but the current system at least requies some more input than just a thumb up or down vote.
  • 4. Re: Forum credits and the one million dollar question.
    SomeoneElse Guru
    Currently Being Moderated
    No system is perfect, but the current system
    ...but the current system is the furthest from perfect of them all.

    It wasn't added until around 2008 and been a joke ever since. A misfire in the Jive software (among many, like Java-only syntax coloring).

    The only real solution is to scrap all forms of voting or points and let each post speak for itself as is.
  • 5. Re: Forum credits and the one million dollar question.
    Dude! Guru
    Currently Being Moderated
    The only real solution is to scrap all forms of voting or points and let each post speak for itself as is.
    … and make everyone equal regardless of contribution and success and scrap my top 10 listing and all the fun ?!
  • 6. Re: Forum credits and the one million dollar question.
    SomeoneElse Guru
    Currently Being Moderated
    … and make everyone equal regardless of contribution
    Not quite. Everyone still has a registration date and a post counter.
  • 7. Re: Forum credits and the one million dollar question.
    Dude! Guru
    Currently Being Moderated
    SomeoneElse wrote:
    … and make everyone equal regardless of contribution
    Not quite. Everyone still has a registration date and a post counter.
    .... which however says nothing about the quality of a user's contribution and sets quantity over quality, which I understood is what you wanted to avoid. Sorry I think you have put your own argument ad absurdum. Age or registration time is not a privilege and hence meaningless.

    I'm used to an achievement-oriented society and expect some form of reward or acknowledgement for successfully helping others or making any kind of useful IT related contribution. I don't think there is anything wrong with that. Some kind of a forum reward system is therefore absolutely necessary if you want someone like me to participate. The reward could be real, just for fun or imagination, and I would not want to dictate what anyone should find valuable about the forum.

    I reject any kind of social engineering that attempts to prefer or limit forum participation and protects special interest groups and their ideology. A reward system can be a strategic and useful tool to "motivate" people and improve skills and promote technical or social content. Unfortunately the current rating system cannot evaluate any status quo prior to its introduction, but overall it can deliver fair and objective results.

    I don't share the perception that people generally provide bad answers to quickly gather points and are also successful in doing so. I admit that the experience may vary between forum categories, but I see no indication that there will be more "quality" answers if there was no rating or reward system in general.

    In regard to past or pre-rating forum experiences, I suggest to put the global emerging and changing of IT in terms of its role and required technical background or lack of it into consideration. I doubt very much that the reward system is responsible for "low quality" answers and actually have not made the same negative experiences. It would certainly be nice though if more posters would provide appropriate feedback to know whether a given answer was indeed useful or solved a problem.
  • 8. Re: Forum credits and the one million dollar question.
    BluShadow Guru Moderator
    Currently Being Moderated
    Dude wrote:
    SomeoneElse wrote:
    … and make everyone equal regardless of contribution
    Not quite. Everyone still has a registration date and a post counter.
    .... which however says nothing about the quality of a user's contribution and sets quantity over quality, which I understood is what you wanted to avoid. Sorry I think you have put your own argument ad absurdum. Age or registration time is not a privilege and hence meaningless.
    No system is perfect, but the age and number of posts is not meaningless. An long term expert on the forum is more likely to have stuck around and made many posts compared to someone who's a newbie (they may be an expert, and that will show if they stick around and keep posting) or someone who only occasionally makes posts (usually indicative of the fact they are just posting to get their own issues answered or just cannot answer other questions). It's as good as the points system.
    I'm used to an achievement-oriented society and expect some form of reward or acknowledgement for successfully helping others or making any kind of useful IT related contribution.
    I'm used to helping people for the sake of being helpful and also learning new stuff for myself from other experts. I don't ask for any reward or acknowledgement. Take my 'status' and my 'points' away, and that won't stop me contributing or learning. It sounds like your society is a "you don't get something for nothing" society.
    I don't think there is anything wrong with that. Some kind of a forum reward system is therefore absolutely necessary if you want someone like me to participate. The reward could be real, just for fun or imagination, and I would not want to dictate what anyone should find valuable about the forum.
    Surely, whether you participate or not is your own choice? You shouldn't be basing your participation on whether others want you to or not?
    I reject any kind of social engineering that attempts to prefer or limit forum participation and protects special interest groups and their ideology. A reward system can be a strategic and useful tool to "motivate" people and improve skills and promote technical or social content. Unfortunately the current rating system cannot evaluate any status quo prior to its introduction, but overall it can deliver fair and objective results.
    Unfortunately it's not always objective. I've seen plenty of people begging for points even to the extreme of one or two members who were saying "Mark my answer as correct, as I want to be a guru"... and that was their motivation... not really about being technically correct or really helping people (and the answers they had given were extremely poor and untested). The existing points system does work in some ways though... as, like the number of posts and amount of time members have been around, it's indicative of how much they've contributed and people have found them helpful, even if it cannot be considered an accurate measure.
    I don't share the perception that people generally provide bad answers to quickly gather points and are also successful in doing so.
    Unfortunately, as a moderator here, reviewing many of the posts made in certain forums, I've seen it all too often. Quick, untested, poor, and unexplained answers, just as quickly marked correct or helpful by unsuspecting questioners who see something that appears to work and think they've got their answer, before the experts can come along and explain why it's not correct. It happens.
    I admit that the experience may vary between forum categories, but I see no indication that there will be more "quality" answers if there was no rating or reward system in general.
    That's true... we'll still get poor answers, but at least the motivation to give quick and dirty answers is removed, so people would be more likely to answer because they truly believe they are helping, not just because they can gain a few 'achievement oriented' points.
    In regard to past or pre-rating forum experiences, I suggest to put the global emerging and changing of IT in terms of its role and required technical background or lack of it into consideration. I doubt very much that the reward system is responsible for "low quality" answers and actually have not made the same negative experiences. It would certainly be nice though if more posters would provide appropriate feedback to know whether a given answer was indeed useful or solved a problem.
    You can doubt it... but unfortunately, I (and many other members) have seen the evidence of it.

    ;)
  • 9. Re: Forum credits and the one million dollar question.
    EdStevens Guru
    Currently Being Moderated
    My two cents on several issues swirling around this and related threads ..

    In general I think we are getting too exercised about creating whatever we (individually) consider to be the 'perfect' environment. The perfect reward/recognition system. The perfect placement of every new thread into the "appropriate" silo. The perfect method of getting all the relevant information from someone asking a question, without having to drag it out of them one message at a time. But step back for a minute. How many of these problems are real problems, and how many are really just minor annoyances? We are dealing with humans, and humans are fallible and messy.

    Are points/rewards/recognition really all that important? Really? I get far more personal 'reward' when someone I already recognize as not only an expert but of sound judgement accepts me as a peer than I do from any contrived point system. (And that applies in the 'real' world a well). The only time I've ever paid attention to points is when someone has 'congratulated' me on crossing a threshold and I had to ask what that meant and how it happened. And it doesn't take long to recognize who the real experts are, without looking at their 'badges.'

    What is the big deal of asking a question in an 'incorrect' forum? Lot's of questions are in a grey area and there is no clear-cut 'correct' forum. And even if they clearly are in an 'incorrect' forum, what's the big deal about pointing them in the right direction? How much skin is it off anyone's back? How much time and inconvenience did it really cost you to either ignore it or point them to the correct forum?


    Information templates. An intriguing idea, but MetaLink already has that, sort of, when opening an SR. And even then I often feel constrained in trying to match my details to their templates. Yes, it's annoying to have to drag information out of a person like your are pulling teeth. But on a practical side, I fear the formality of a template would add to some's impression that these forums are Oracle Support. On the human side, if someone doesn't provide enough information up front, they are really hurting themselves more than the people that are trying to provide answers. And if they continually fail to provide sufficient information even after being 'educated', well, they develop their own reputation.

    Sometimes, additional technology is not the best answer. Sometimes the best answer to a problem is to simply declare it is not really a problem. We've all seen people on these forums looking for help to do 'xyz' and we've told them 'xyz' is a solution in search of a problem. Let's not let our enthusiasm for the forums fall prey to the same thinking.

    If there is any one thing I would like to see, it would be that everyone have a readily recognizable handle, not just their numeric member id.
    That, and autoclosing of threads after some fairly generous passing of idle time. But even that is really just a minor annoyance. I'm always amused when someone uses their very first post to dredge up a years-old thread ... just to say "me too". I've gone through my phase of calling them out. But is it really worth it? We do see other sites where threads get strung out for years due to more and more 'thank you' and 'me too' posts, so it would be nice to have an auto-close function.

    Bottom line? Ask yourself how serious a "problem" really is, and is it worth the effort -- and unintended consequence -- of trying to "fix" it.
  • 10. Re: Forum credits and the one million dollar question.
    jgarry Guru
    Currently Being Moderated
    Perfect post, Ed.

    Us techie types are susceptible to falling into the over-categorization trap. I think seeing that is the real mark of a guru.
  • 11. Re: Forum credits and the one million dollar question.
    SomeoneElse Guru
    Currently Being Moderated
    Are points/rewards/recognition really all that important?
    Hell no, that's why I'm in favor of getting rid of it. Such point systems have never added anything of value to any forum that uses them.

    But it's apparent that a point system of some form is here to stay. Maybe it will cause a performance problem and they'll have to switch it off :-)
  • 12. Re: Forum credits and the one million dollar question.
    EdStevens Guru
    Currently Being Moderated
    SomeoneElse wrote:
    Are points/rewards/recognition really all that important?
    Hell no,
    Hey, how did that get past the filters? A couple of weeks ago I was denied a reference to the early 20th Century American comic pair of Laural and ******.

    ;-)
    that's why I'm in favor of getting rid of it. Such point systems have never added anything of value to any forum that uses them.

    But it's apparent that a point system of some form is here to stay. Maybe it will cause a performance problem and they'll have to switch it off :-)
  • 13. Re: Forum credits and the one million dollar question.
    SomeoneElse Guru
    Currently Being Moderated
    Hey, how did that get past the filters?
    Like the points system, the filters are also bullshit.
  • 14. Re: Forum credits and the one million dollar question.
    Hemant K Chitale Oracle ACE
    Currently Being Moderated
    Let me view it from a different angle.

    Let's say that the points system is not a rewards system.

    Let's say a new person or someone who has not been actively viewing multiple threads raises a post, with a valid technical question. He get's responses from 4 different people, none of whom he knows in real life or even from monitoring forums (because he hasn't been reading multiple threads). He then looks at the 4 different responses. Which one should be "trust" more ? Which one should he think is more likely to be helpful, even correct ? Which response should he, in turn, respond to ? Which response might he ignore ? The only way he can "evaluate" the credentials of the respondents is to look at the points each of them has gained.


    Many moons ago, I had raised a suggestion. Don't list the cumulative points a person has gained since he registered on forums. Only list the points he has gained in the last 30 days. That way, even newer "good respondents" get a chance to be noticed.

    forums is about asking questions and then filtering through all the received responses with follow up on the "better" responses. Someone with little experience of forums or the product is unlikely to know which is the better response he has received.


    Hemant K Chitale
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