Now that the changes have been made I want to describe them here as the thread above may not have gotten all the details exactly right.
Why are we making this change?
There are two main reasons for us doing this:
- Members were using the ratings as currency to either game the system (content free ten-fest threads) or to annoy or get back at other posters for disagreements. Neither of those behaviors were good for the community as a whole.
- Members are not too interested in giving low ratings, and they just want to use the ratings to highlight good content. Perhaps some of the apprehension towards giving lower than the highest rating is due to fear of backslash.
The changes we are making, in a nutshell is to simply remove the negative impact that any rating can have on a user's reputation. So even if someone gives you 1 star, that's still better than not getting a rating. The more ratings you get for each post the better your reputation will be.
Now for the details...
A lot of factors go into converting the number of stars someone gives you into the actual number that affects your reputation:
- The reputation of the user that submitted the rating. The higher someone's reputation is the more weight their rating has
- The scale the reviewer uses to rate posts. This is the dreaded 5 stars to 2.5 star adjustment. Users that tend to give everyone 5 stars will have their reviews be worth 2.5 stars only. While those that spread them around, will keep most of their value. This is to encourage users to use the entire spectrum of rating values and create more distinction between good and great posts. Those that do not want to do this are not hurt by this, and getting 2.5 stars is still better than getting none, so you may continue with this behavior without any consequence.
- The type of content being rated. Each type of content we allow has an internal weight relative to the amount of time a user spends writing or reading that type of content. You are expected to put more time into a blog entry than into a reply in a message board, so it's logical that those have a higher weight.
Let's walk thru a simple example (some of the math has been simplified here for the sake of clarity):
Let's say member X posts a message and it gets rated by:
- Member A, who gives him 5 stars and has a reputation of 97. Member A only gives out 5 stars, so his rating is adjusted to 2.5. Multiplying the reputation (as a percentage) we get 2.5*.97 = 2.43.
- Member B, who gives him 4 stars and has a reputation of 50. Member B spreads out his ratings so this one stays at 4, and factoring in the reputation becomes 4*.5 = 2.0.
- Member C, who gives him 5 stars and has a reputation of 80. Member C gives mostly 5 stars, but a few others so his is adjusted to 3.5. Factoring in the reputation, we get 3.5*.8 = 2.80.
Now let's see what happens when Member D who is a troll with a reputation of 15 and gives him 1 star (which is not adjusted any lower). That will then result in a total of 1*.15 = 0.15. So this value will be added to the prior total resulting in 7.38. It didn't go up by much, but 7.38 is still better than 7.23. So the troll that gives a low rating still helps your value go up.
So to take it further, lets say that member X has posted 5 messages with totals of 7.38, 10.34, 5.10, 20.34 and 31.93. The first four are messages and but the fifth one is a blog entry. So the first 4 are multiplied by 5 each and the fifth one is multiplied by 9. The relative weight of a message is 5 while a blog entry is a 9. That sum is then divided by the sum of all the weights (4*5+9). The result is a 17.35 total value.
We don't know exactly what will happen with this new system. I'm sure some will find a way to abuse it or at least attempt to find a way around it. We will be closely monitoring things to see how it works out and undoubtedly will keep tweaking at it. Once concern is that those that hang out in the less trafficked areas will receive less ratings and thus will end up with a lower reputation. That's possible, but perhaps that's not so bad. If there are more people interested in football than in tennis, it should follow that those that write about football have a higher reputation. I may seem unfair to the tennis fan. However, I don't think that it will be that significant.
In then end, it's probably best to not worry too much about the mechanics of this. To that end, we have removed the Adjusted Rating column from the review lists. It is just causing too much unnecessary anxiety. There are plenty of users with very high reputations that don't care about it, they just got there by submitting good content and not playing any games.