16 Apr 2000 jrennie   » (Apprentice)

Does Observer status not allow one to reply to an article? I guess I have to relegate my comments to my diary...

So, I was just reading over the "Outcast" Certification patch: AIms and Assessement [sic] article. At first glance, the idea of having a negative rating to discourage spam might seem like a good one, but it is a flawed idea, particularly in the case of Advogato since 1) such negative ratings can be handed out freely and 2) it is trivial to sign up for an account without a negative rating associated with it. An "outcast" rating does nothing to restrict the efforts of a spammer. Advogato has implemented an effective way to reduce spam at the article level: only let people post who have the respect of some number of Advogato members. One way to reduce spam in the diary domain would be to set a minimum time window between advertising diary entries on the front page. One might have Master diary entries advertised up to once a day, Journey diary entries advertised up to once every two days, etc. As with the articles, members that have not achieved the respect of other members would not be allowed to advertise their views quite as frequently or as strongly.

There are systems that deal with negative ratings well. EBay is one of them. When you make a transaction with another person, you have the opportunity to rate him/her based on the interaction. Three ratings are offered: Positive, Neutral and Negative. People generally give Positive ratings unless they have something serious to complain about. The major advantage of this is that sellers are able to easily build a good reputation for themselves if they treat their buyers well. The system doesn't eliminate corruption; many sellers complain of bounced checks and often require a credit card or money order. It does, however, produce more reliable sellers. Those with a large number of sales seem to only rarely get a negative rating.

What can Advogato draw from EBay's rating system? One useful conclustion is that ratings work well when 1) ratings cannot be made on a whim and 2) ratings are based on equal-level, trust-based interactions. From the recent rash of namecalling that we saw on Advogato, one can infer that people are willing to give a negative rating based on a minimal amount of interaction; few are willing to give out a positive rating so quickly. Also, when a Master deems an Observer to be a Dimwit or an Outcast he/she has little worry of losing the Master rating as a result. The so-named Dimwit/Outcast doesn't have any flow to "fight" with. Since EBay allows everyone equal rating power, people are more careful about handing out negative ratings. I'm not suggesting that we switch to a rating system like EBay's---Advogato's system works well for restricting article posting. Rather, because Advogato does not have the qualities of EBay's system, Advogato's rating system cannot deal well with negative ratings.

Getting back to basics, there are certain Advogato "privileges" that one may want to restrict. As I see it, there are exactly two such privileges, posting diary entries and posting articles. I see no reason to restrict the posting of diary entries. One may want to restrict the way they are advertised on the front page: allow more advertisement for Master diaries, less for Observers. There is already asystem for restricting article posting. lkcl claims that we need a class that gives people no privileges. I don't see any reason for this. Everyone should be allowed some method of communication, however restricted it may be. lckl also wants many certification grades. Again, I don't see a point. Apprentice/Journeyer/Master divide up the spectrum pretty well. More classes will cause confusion without providing any benefit.

Anyway, that's all for now. If you write a reply in your diary and want me to hear about it, give me a rating (there's always Observer if you don't think me worth of Apprentice) and I'll take a look at your diary. It be nice if there were an easier way to reply...

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