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  • How Should We Improve Seeking Alpha's Comment Rating System? 97 comments
    May 12, 2009 7:38 AM

    Eli Hoffmann, the stellar managing editor who oversees Seeking Alpha's news products, points out that our comments ratings system isn't working well:

    If you look at this Market Current, you'll see that there's not one comment that garnered a net positive rating, despite the fact that there were some well developed ideas.

    That's wrong, and I'm concerned it's a problem. I'm concerned if this trend continues, people could become disincentivized to comment - especially those who have high ratings and are scared of losing them.

    What's the solution? I don't know - maybe positive only?

    We've noticed two specific problems with the way comments ratings are being used:

    1. Some people just abuse the comment ratings, and abuse of negative ratings feels worse to the victim than abuse of positive ratings.
    2. Many people use the rating as "agree or disagree", instead of "this comment adds value -- even if I disagree with it -- or doesn't add value".

    The result is that comment ratings aren't doing a very good job of providing the best commenters with the exposure they deserve.

    A quick aside about Followers versus comment rating schemes: The number of Followers you have provides an accurate community measure of your popularity (= how good you are?), because the rating is the result of readers' real preferences and behaviour  -- "I want to see what you are writing". In contrast, rating a comment as positive or negative involves no future commitment, and isn't a reflection of actual reading behavior. So ultimately, we think that the number of followers you have is a much better indicator of your popularity/quality than comment ratings. But number of followers has one disadvantage: it measures your popularity/quality as a person, not the popularity/quality of a specific action of yours. When someone follows you on Seeking Alpha, they track your articles, instablogs, StockTalks and comments, and you can't tell which of those they think are particularly worth reading. In contrast, comment ratings have the advantage that they tell you exactly how good readers thought this comment was. For that reason, we think there are advantages to having both schemes -- Followers and comment ratings -- so we don't want to remove comment ratings altogether.

    Now back to the key question: How should we fix comment ratings? If we simply remove the negative rating so that you can only rate people positively (think Digg), will that incentivize people to write as many comments as possible regardless of quality, because they can only get positive ratings?

    Are there other solutions we should be thinking about?

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Comments (98)
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  • SA Editor Eli Hoffmann
    , contributor
    Comments (704) | Send Message
     
    Thanks David for bringing this issue to the forefront.

     

    The idea of having comments "fade out" as they're voted down has been raised. I'm concerned that opens an even bigger window for ratings abuse, if you can make someone you disagree with disappear by voting them down enough.

     

    OTOH, I have often thought that the ability to "ignore" specific commenters that grate on one's nerves would be an easy solution to allow users to skip comments of other users they find consistently annoying. It does at times make for awkward threads if you've muted someone to whom someone else is responding, but I think the benefits outdo the losses.

     

    Floating top-rated comments to the top of the comment stream is another popular idea. It concerns be because a) it disrupts the chronological order of comments, which is sometimes valuable and b) because it makes newer comments, which haven't yet been rated, less likely to be seen at all. However, as an option ("let me see the top comments on this article") I think it would be good - but I'd prefer to keep the default view as we have it currently.
    12 May 2009, 08:09 AM Reply Like
  • Mary Hunt
    , contributor
    Comments (138) | Send Message
     
    Abuse reporting is a related issue, I think. On one hand, we want to encourage the community to be self-monitoring and report abuse. But as with the ratings system, it is being used for personal vendettas. Users need to be aware that managing editors can see who is reporting abuse. If we see someone conducting a vendetta we may ban that person from site use. Unfortunately, any system can be 'gamed' and there are people 'gaming' the ratings system by giving blanket thumbs-down to all the comments of people who, for one reason or another, they don't like.
    12 May 2009, 08:20 AM Reply Like
  • Mick Weinstein
    , contributor
    Comments (105) | Send Message
     
    I think there are essentially 3 types of comments: helpful (enhance the conversation), unhelpful (say nothing) and abusive.

     

    If you can make 'report abuse' work well (which requires continuous monitoring and battling false reports), then that one is taken care of. You're left with distinguishing between the first two - trying to bubble up the better comments to give them and their author the attention they deserve. These are the comments that really move the discussion further.

     

    My sense is that voting down is hard to implement effectively to this end - it's more prone to abuse than voting up (you can vote down everyone except yours), and as David says some users will always interpret 'vote down' as 'I don't agree with this', while the publisher wants it to be always understood as 'not a helpful comment'. We've also observed that some clearly abusive comments are just voted down, since that's the first thing some users see that expresses negativity. So there are three types of potential false reports on a vote down: abusive voters, 'I don't agree with this (though it's smart)', and 'It's abusive (but I'm voting it down instead)'. That's too much room for error.

     

    So my current thinking is that just 'vote up' (or 'good comment', or 'I like' etc.) would probably be a more effective filter - and we could offer a 'view by most liked' option. This would probably work best if we had nested comments (replies get indented underneath), and the whole thread would effectively be voted up if you vote up even a reply.

     

    One interesting thing, though - our 'Top Commenters' seems to be working well even with the vote-downs0. These are indeed very strong, high volume commenters
    seekingalpha.com/leade...

     

    So it would be interesting to see how eliminating all 'vote downs' would impact this list.

     

    Also, note that Digg does have vote up/down on comments - but not main entries. I don't know if vote down really works for them, or if they also run into these difficulties.
    12 May 2009, 09:06 AM Reply Like
  • Mark Anthony
    , contributor
    Comments (3601) | Send Message
     
    David:

     

    This could be a very good idea: When displaying a certain commenter (b) 's comment to a certain author's article, next to the "thum up" and "thumb down" click bottom, you should also display a 3 way statistics of this specific commenter's positive comments on this specific author, negative comments against the author, and total comments on all authors.

     

    For example, if a certain commenter has a statistics of 0/35/36 against me, the readers can interpret the numbers and see the commenter is probably a paid basher: He posted a total of 36 comments on Seeking Alpha, 35 out of 36 are negatives against me, and nothing positive for me.
    12 May 2009, 09:19 AM Reply Like
  • Ricard
    , contributor
    Comments (3829) | Send Message
     
    Maybe a 'rotten tomatoes' type system would work in conjunction with the pluses and minuses. Next to the author's name could be a credibility measure, like % of positives to total votes, or something like that.

     

    As far as the number of negative votes are concerned, maybe it's evidence of a widening of the readership to include those with wildly differing opinions - I'd suspect that many people out there are very conflicted as to what the market is going to do next - much more than usual, at least.
    12 May 2009, 10:41 AM Reply Like
  • dieuwer
    , contributor
    Comments (2291) | Send Message
     
    Why do only comments have a thumbs up or down button?
    I think at a minimum the article itself should have thumbs up and down buttons.
    12 May 2009, 12:38 PM Reply Like
  • daveddawg
    , contributor
    Comments (42) | Send Message
     
    I would much rather vote on the value of the article than on the comments.
    This would raise the standard of articles submitted. What a bummer to read an article and have learned nothing. Some comments are very insightful and others are idiocy. Voting on comments tends to skew towards the first people to post after an article is submitted, while the last comments, even if they are the most insightful, tend to get less read, and less votes.

     

    One suggestion might be a sideways thumb, not up or down, but neutral. However, this requires more data management by SA, and I suspect they are trying to save $, so they will get rid of voting on comments, and only allow voting on articles.
    12 May 2009, 08:32 PM Reply Like
  • David Jackson
    , contributor
    Comments (1230) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Thanks for your ideas and suggestions so far.

     

    Eli: Love the idea of being able to "mute" or "ignore" someone. Question: should the number of people who have muted you be somehow shown to users, or integrated into a ranking of how many followers they have?

     

    Mick: you make a strong case for getting rid of the "vote down" option. Thank you for laying this out so clearly.

     

    Mark Anthony: You've put your finger on something important: if we keep the negative ratings, we need greater transparency about users' rating history with respect to specific authors. I need to know if someone *always* trashes an author's comments.

     

    dieuwer and daveddawg: The problem with article ratings is that the problems we're seeing with misuse of comment ratings gets magnified with articles. We did have ratings on articles a while back, and we removed them for this reason. We found, for example, that if someone wrote a bearish article on AAPL, a large group of readers who are diehard Apple fans would negatively rate the article. They didn't differentiate between AAPL the stock and Apple the company. That would understandably frustrate the authors, who would suffer from the negative ratings. We concluded that the number of Followers an author has is a better indicator of quality, although it's not granular to the level of the individual article.
    13 May 2009, 03:11 AM Reply Like
  • Richard Shaw
    , contributor
    Comments (1012) | Send Message
     
    A separate invitation only discussion thread for persons who are not anonymous and who are willing to have contact information displayed (as is or should be the case for all authors) would probably contain a higher average quality of comments with more exchange of ideas and data, than the current public threads which have the clearly obvious problems that anonymous comments enable and permit, and which cause many readers to ignore the discussion thread not wanting to waste time sorting through the comments to find those actually worth reading. The second, private thread membership would be subject to revocation if SA decided that the member was not making high quality comments and supporting opposing views or interpretations with facts or arguments that are so importantly missing in a large percentage of opposing statements made in the public threads -- and of course the personal attack mode commonly found in the public threads would be prohibited.
    13 May 2009, 08:11 AM Reply Like
  • Richard Shaw
    , contributor
    Comments (1012) | Send Message
     
    The voting method is a good general idea, but it suffers from lack of meaning. Some vote UP or DOWN because they disagree, while others vote because of the quality of the comment or support for the argument, and others vote negatively in relation to unwarranted or abusive comments.

     

    Perhaps different voting criteria would be helpful.
    13 May 2009, 08:13 AM Reply Like
  • fatcat
    , contributor
    Comments (740) | Send Message
     
    Go over to MarketWatch,they have the same system....look at the thumbs down that come in waves and against any comment,even a casual one.

     

    possible some of the same people migrate here.SA generally has a much higher class of comments than other sites,by far...
    13 May 2009, 10:19 AM Reply Like
  • Ricard
    , contributor
    Comments (3829) | Send Message
     
    Eliminating the "vote-down" aspect would favor volume over quality. The 'fear' of producing something of low quality deters some (not all) people from spamming the same, undesirable theme, over and over again...there are certain people on this website who generate an enormous negative stream only partially balanced by positive feedback.

     

    Compare 'Cetin Hakimoglu' to 'John Lounsbury'. If you eliminate negative feedback, Cetin's track record (which, by a 'rotten tomato' standard would barely reach 30%) would become higher than the currently highest rated commenter by an order of two, even though John Lounsbury has an overwhelming percentage of his feedback coming in as positive ~75%.

     

    On May 12 09:06 AM Mick Weinstein wrote:

     

    >
    > So my current thinking is that just 'vote up' (or 'good comment',
    > or 'I like' etc.) would probably be a more effective filter - and
    > we could offer a 'view by most liked' option. This would probably
    > work best if we had nested comments (replies get indented underneath),
    > and the whole thread would effectively be voted up if you vote up
    > even a reply.
    >
    > One interesting thing, though - our 'Top Commenters' seems to be
    > working well even with the vote-downs0. These are indeed very strong,
    > high volume commenters
    > seekingalpha.com/leade...
    >
    > So it would be interesting to see how eliminating all 'vote downs'
    > would impact this list.
    13 May 2009, 10:45 AM Reply Like
  • John Lounsbury
    , contributor
    Comments (3972) | Send Message
     
    I would second the private thread suggestion of Richard Shaw. I would also suggest that a separate rating file be kept for each commenter containing only the ratings submitted by authors for comments on their articles. If a commenter has a very high negative rating across many authors, that individual's comments could be reviewed and the staff could contact him if appropriate, to ask for an explaination.

     

    I also like the idea of having two comment rating categories. A. (1)Agree or (2) Do Not Agree and B. (1) Well argued/written or (2) Poorly argued/written.
    I have many times disagreed with a well constructed argument. I have written comment responses to comments stating my disagreement after voting thumbs up because of the comment quality of presentation rather than the conclusion or opinion.

     

    Finally, I would recommend closing comments ratings on an article a few days after publication. I have observed occasions (in the comment ratings of others as well as my own) that a commenter has picked up 50-100 negative ratings in a few hours yet there are no significant changes on the first couple of pages of comments. After the time expiration, someone can still post a comment but it would not be open for rating.

     

    I think the discussion participation in the comment streams is a significant positive feature of Seeking Alpha. I sometimes learn more in the comment stream than from the article. I have been prompted a few times to tell commenters on my articles that their comment discussion was done better than my article's discussion or covered an important point that I had not addressed.
    13 May 2009, 11:04 AM Reply Like
  • Ergo
    , contributor
    Comments (186) | Send Message
     
    Random 2 cents: I love reading this site, and the comments are very educational. I also believe that debate fosters better ideas, and provides a control mechanism on shoddy journalism. Personally, I don't comment a lot b/c I'm not a financial manager, and I noticed quickly that off-the-cuff remarks are voted down. Thus, I "try" to only chime in when I feel I have something to add. To this extent, your rating system is also an effective control on posters like myself. //// Regarding the idea of separate threads: it sounds distracting. I find it pretty easy to filter through comments for the images of those who are good commentators. But up to you guys. I'm mostly a reader a here.

     

    13 May 2009, 11:44 AM Reply Like
  • mikebrah
    , contributor
    Comments (253) | Send Message
     
    I think the most effective thing to do would be to have a weighted voting system.

     

    What I mean is, frankly, Cetin's votes should have absolutely no effect on a commenter's rating (regardless if he gives positive or negative). Conversely, when John or Prudent or any other high rated commenter gives you a rating it should count for more.

     

    I'm not a webmaster, so I have no idea how difficult it would be to make a program like that. But I think that if the community has made you one of the Top 100 then the market has spoken and it is saying that your opinion is worth more than someone at the bottom of the rankings. So your opinion should be "worth" more.

     

    You could probably just make the weighted system have a pretty general correlation, i.e. Top 10 commenters have double the weighting, top 100 are 1.5, top 500 are 1, and then the lower you get the less weight your ratings have. Cetin's ratings should be discarded.

     

    The idea that I can write a well thought out comment and have John or Prudent give me a thumbs up and then have Cetin give me a thumbs down and cancel it out is very inefficient. Cetin has proven himself beyond worthless and the top commenters, in contrast are very valuable.

     

    I think this would be very executable, but like I said I'm not a web programmer.

     

    MM

     

    13 May 2009, 12:11 PM Reply Like
  • PROXIMO
    , contributor
    Comments (368) | Send Message
     
    SA --- Thanks for addressing the situation.
    13 May 2009, 12:32 PM Reply Like
  • FocalPoint Analytics
    , contributor
    Comments (5859) | Send Message
     
    The biggest problem I see with the current rating system is it's being gamed. For example -

     

    Self rating your own comment. This encourages lots of one vote one liners. You know who you are…

     

    Multiple accounts. How do I know these exist? I see a lot of comments that have little to no content, yet those comments get 2 or 3 positive thumbs up. I look at their comment stream, and guess what, most of their comments have plus 2 or 3 thumbs up.

     

    Manipulating ratings:
    A good example of that occurred with the SA author Michael Fitzsimmons… One day he was moving up in the ratings. the next day, all of his earlier comments had negative 1 ratings. Another example is to sign on with a spare account and rate all your ratings with a plus, and people higher on the ratings with a negative.

     

    My suggestions are: 1) remove the ability of people to self rate their own comments. 2) Keep a daily count of net positive and negative ratings provided by each commenter. That should quickly identify the people that are manipulating ratings, first strike - they should have their positive ratings set to zero. Second strike, account name is purged.

     

    I also think you should consider changing the scale from its current thumbs up / down format which is being interpreted as agree / disagree. If you want people to rate an article on its relevance ask them to do that. For example:

     

    Relevant, and agree
    Relevant but disagree
    Irrelevant / Inane comment.

     

    The first two count as relevant, the latter as irrelevant.

     

    With respect to the followers ratings, I believe you have missed a major way the followers feature is being used. I have noted that some readers are just following the top 100 commenter. That way their comments appear in the side bar on the right side of the Home page. For example I have four people following me… three of the four are following 100s of commenter… only one is just following me - so I guess I have one person that is interested in what I have to say, not four. Frankly, I am delighted to have even one, so that's great. In addition, you will find quite a few commenter that are following themselves!!! I presume that is so they have quick access to the comment stream of an article they recently commented on. Of course, if the followers count was interpreted as a measure of value, then I would expect some of those multiple accounts to appear in the group of followers.
    13 May 2009, 03:51 PM Reply Like
  • 31October
    , contributor
    Comments (519) | Send Message
     
    You could try weighting the numbers:
    The total rating number could be multiplied by the number of individual raters, reducing the weighting of busy raters.
    Example: currently 100 positive/200 negative is +26.3/-73.7 %.
    If the sum were multiplied by the number of raters, (assume 10 & 50), then the ratio changes to positive*number of raters and negative*number of raters, divided by(100*10 + 200*50), for a positive 9.1% and negative 90.9%.
    (Or visa versa for a John Lounsberry.)
    The number of people who comment becomes as telling as the rating itself.
    13 May 2009, 04:30 PM Reply Like
  • Ricard
    , contributor
    Comments (3829) | Send Message
     
    BTW, just be looking at the numbers in this one article, it seems someone doesn't like me! My ratings have dropped by over 50 points since last night. And as of now, I'm also the only person here with any negative ratings. I feel honored, lol.
    13 May 2009, 05:10 PM Reply Like
  • Mill Rat
    , contributor
    Comments (80) | Send Message
     
    I have read several excellent comments / ideas in this discussion. Among those that have "resonated" well with me are the following:
    1) Having separate ratings for (a) article quality and (b) one's personal agreement / disagreement with the conclusions. (as was described by Shaw and Lounsbury)
    2) As was stated by Ergo, I, too, have learned much from some of the comments in various articles.
    3) In support of Mikebrah's comment, the ratings from the well-respected commentors and contributors should, perhaps, have more weight.
    4) I am intrigued by "31October"s weighted average solution. It appeals to me.
    5) This leads me to an idea: I would be very interested in how Geoff Considine might approach the rating question. I hope the staff will seek his input / ideas.

     

    Even though I have been reading this website for many months, this is my first comment on this website. Since, I don't consider myself an "expert" on the various topics covered, I merely read and try to learn. (Incidentally, my favorite contributors are Richard Shaw and Geoff Considine.)

     

    Bryan

     

    13 May 2009, 07:53 PM Reply Like
  • mikebrah
    , contributor
    Comments (253) | Send Message
     
    David,

     

    I hope you're still checking this. I have to say, enough already with Cetin.

     

    For awhile, it seemed like he just popped up on most articles, advertised for his blog and went on his merry way. But now, an increasing number of articles and comment streams have become consumed by Cetin and the blizzard of "anti-Cetin" posts he always evokes.

     

    For example, one of the news stories tonight was a story about how dividend reductions are going to be an additional burden for the market to overcome. In the piece, Eric Roseman contrasted the current paltry dividend rate of the Dow to the 10%+ in 1929. He went on to explain how a portfolio that had its dividends reinvested actually recovered in 7.5 years. It was an interesting piece, and one of the great features of SA is the link to outside material.

     

    Anyway, I read the piece and I saw their was a comment stream with 20 comments. I was looking forward to an insightful user dialogue about what I just read.

     

    But no. Literally EVERY comment of the 20 comments was either Cetin's nonsense or a malicious response to Cetin's worthless drivel. He is cancerous to the entire SA community and is running the risk of turning SA into just another Yahoo message board where people just bicker mindlessly.

     

    This has got to stop. For your sake, and ours.

     

    MM
    14 May 2009, 02:07 AM Reply Like
  • mikebrah
    , contributor
    Comments (253) | Send Message
     
    Maybe a "Survivor" type system where a large enough group of members can vote/ban other members? It would have to be carefully thought out, lest we turn into Lord of the Flies.

     

    But a community should be able to exile the village idiot.

     

    MM
    14 May 2009, 02:10 AM Reply Like
  • Cliff Wachtel
    , contributor
    Comments (1776) | Send Message
     
    Hi David,

     

    Good that you raise the issue. It's your ceaseless drive to improve the site that has made it so valuable to so many of us. I constantly here people tell me they learn more at SA than anywhere else, including the paid services.

     

    A few points to consider:

     

    1. I've had experiences in which every comment I made, no matter how innocuous, complementary, or popular (as per + votes) got exactly 1 negative vote -every comment. Someone had a vendetta, but unless you've software to pick out that pattern and invalidate these, I don't see how you stop them otherwise.

     

    2. I get my share of criticism, and some of it is very valuable. Don't want to discourage that under any circumstances. The stupid criticism is more of an embarassment to the commenters than me. I ignore them in principle unless there is moral issue involved (equating certain countries defending themselves with Nazis (can you guess which one?)) etc. I believe it was Edmund Burke who said that all evil needs to triumph is for enough good people to do nothing.

     

    3. In addition to the current comment stream, you may wish to offer readers an option to rank articles for usefulness or have some other simple way for readers to give you a more precise idea of what they like and why they like it.

     

    4. What I'd LOVE to see is a spell check option for the comments. Yes, I could first write comments in Word, check them in Word, then cut/paste, but that's too much trouble when trying to answer a lot of comments at brief intervals.

     

    Cliff
    14 May 2009, 03:24 AM Reply Like
  • Cliff Wachtel
    , contributor
    Comments (1776) | Send Message
     
    a follow up to my last comment

     

    5. Also, if I get a comment, I'd like to get notification via email or some source where I can just see a straight list of all comments needing reply. At times I get behind in my replies and some get neglected. If I had a standard notification in my email, I could search my email for all the unanswered comments. Or maybe authors could have an unanswered comments inbox?

     

    That would be much faster than my scanning through my articles for comments I haven't answered, and thus make it much more likely that I answer them in a timely manner.

     

    14 May 2009, 03:36 AM Reply Like
  • David Jackson
    , contributor
    Comments (1230) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Just a quick note to say: I'm tracking this discussion carefully, and really appreciate all the suggestions so far. I wanted you all to know that even if I'm not yet responding to the ideas, I'm actively listening, and this thread is also being read and discussed by a bunch of other people in Seeking Alpha. There's a lot for us to think about here.
    14 May 2009, 03:58 AM Reply Like
  • SA Editor Eli Hoffmann
    , contributor
    Comments (704) | Send Message
     
    It seems to me from the great feedback here that the first and most critical feature we need is "ignore." To answer your question, David, I think users should have access to how many ignores they've earned, but I would stop short of giving them the information of who's put them on ignore which could be inflammatory.

     

    Aside from the beauty of being able to turn out someone who doesn't interest you, an ignore feature would largely stop the troll-generated comment threads that mikebrah bemoans, because trolls would quickly be ignored by large sections of the community.

     

    As far as the concern that a positive-only ratings system would incentivize people to comment as much as possible, how about if your rating is not based on overall # of positive votes, but rather on the average # of positive votes per comment. That would move insightful commenters up to the top of the leader board, where we want them. (And how about publishing a commenter's rating next to his avatar, like ABC +5.2?) To avoid one-comment-wonders invadingt he most-popular list, we could set a threshold of minimum 50 comments before someone appears there.

     

    I like 31October's idea of weighted comments too. To add to that, we could consider algorithmically weighting a users ratings by his own rating, so that top-rated users' ratings are more influential than weak-rated users. We could also add weighting for contributors.

     

    I agree that rating articles is even more susceptible to gaming than rating comments. I think that to some extent, the comments themselves are a form of rating an article. Perhaps it would be nice to add "most commented" to our lists of most-read and editors' picks. (Most commented does appear on instablog posts, but doesn't seem to appear on regular posts.)

     

    Agree with Cliff that contributors should be getting comment notifications by email. Many message boards also give you the option of "subscribing" to a comment thread, so that you're notified when there are new comments.
    14 May 2009, 04:08 AM Reply Like
  • anarchist
    , contributor
    Comments (1281) | Send Message
     
    I personally don't pay much attention to the gold and silver medallions as they are like holding one's finger to the wind to see which way the financial wind is blowing that day. Cliff's suggestion is really a good one, I like the idea of the author of an article being able to easily see and answer questions asked about his or her article.

     

    On May 14 03:36 AM Cliff Wachtel wrote:

     

    > a follow up to my last comment
    >
    > 5. Also, if I get a comment, I'd like to get notification via email
    > or some source where I can just see a straight list of all comments
    > needing reply. At times I get behind in my replies and some get neglected.
    > If I had a standard notification in my email, I could search my email
    > for all the unanswered comments. Or maybe authors could have an unanswered
    > comments inbox?
    >
    > That would be much faster than my scanning through my articles for
    > comments I haven't answered, and thus make it much more likely that
    > I answer them in a timely manner.
    >
    14 May 2009, 09:03 AM Reply Like
  • Illusional Delusion
    , contributor
    Comments (346) | Send Message
     
    I agree with the need for an "ignore" function. There are too many comments that I think is spam and add no value to the discussion. Jokes aside, I hate filtering 1-2 liners saying repetitive things, even if it is things I agree with. However, even "ignores" can be abused, so I think if SA could devise something to see if it was a consolidated effort to snuff out information by flooding comments/ratings?

     

    On May 14 04:08 AM Eli Hoffmann wrote:

     

    > It seems to me from the great feedback here that the first and most
    > critical feature we need is "ignore." To answer your question, David,
    > I think users should have access to how many ignores they've earned,
    > but I would stop short of giving them the information of who's put
    > them on ignore which could be inflammatory.
    >
    > Aside from the beauty of being able to turn out someone who doesn't
    > interest you, an ignore feature would largely stop the troll-generated
    > comment threads that mikebrah bemoans, because trolls would quickly
    > be ignored by large sections of the community.
    >
    > As far as the concern that a positive-only ratings system would incentivize
    > people to comment as much as possible, how about if your rating is
    > not based on overall # of positive votes, but rather on the average
    > # of positive votes per comment. That would move insightful commenters
    > up to the top of the leader board, where we want them. (And how about
    > publishing a commenter's rating next to his avatar, like ABC +5.2?)
    > To avoid one-comment-wonders invadingt he most-popular list, we could
    > set a threshold of minimum 50 comments before someone appears there.
    >
    >
    > I like 31October's idea of weighted comments too. To add to that,
    > we could consider algorithmically weighting a users ratings by his
    > own rating, so that top-rated users' ratings are more influential
    > than weak-rated users. We could also add weighting for contributors.
    >
    >
    > I agree that rating articles is even more susceptible to gaming than
    > rating comments. I think that to some extent, the comments themselves
    > are a form of rating an article. Perhaps it would be nice to add
    > "most commented" to our lists of most-read and editors' picks. (Most
    > commented does appear on instablog posts, but doesn't seem to appear
    > on regular posts.)
    >
    > Agree with Cliff that contributors should be getting comment notifications
    > by email. Many message boards also give you the option of "subscribing"
    > to a comment thread, so that you're notified when there are new comments.
    14 May 2009, 10:11 AM Reply Like
  • rcprofit
    , contributor
    Comments (26) | Send Message
     
    I love the interactability (if that is a word) of the site, that’s what makes SA great (and this site is way better than a standard message board), so don’t take anything away, tweak and add to make things more accurate.

     

    Idea from another site I frequent…

     

    ... The comment section on bleacherreport.com isn't much to talk about (see link to article with comments: bleacherreport.com/art...). However, the do a great job with the articles author rankings. You may need to sign up to see how it is structured.

     

    Depending upon how much you contribute you become:

     

    Senior Writer (Top)
    Columnist
    Analyst
    Scribe
    Contributor
    Member (Bottom)

     

    The more you contribute to the site, the more say/pull you should have in commenting on an article.

     

    I do agree with the other posters, as far as thumbs up, thumbs down is clear enough on whether something was good bad or indifferent.
    14 May 2009, 02:20 PM Reply Like
  • rcprofit
    , contributor
    Comments (26) | Send Message
     
    meant to say on my last comment ............. "I do agree with the other posters, as far as thumbs up, thumbs down ISN'T clear enough on whether something was good bad or indifferent."
    14 May 2009, 02:24 PM Reply Like
  • Ricard
    , contributor
    Comments (3829) | Send Message
     
    BTW, I found something interesting (in case anyone else is new at this whole troll stuff):

     

    www.flayme.com/troll/#Why

     

    Besides the fair warnings about just ignoring trolls, the site makes some astute observations:

     

    How can troll posts be recognized:

     

    Repetition of a question or statement is either a troll - or a pedant; either way, treatment as a troll is effective.
    Missing The Point - Trolls rarely answer a direct question - they cannot, if asked to justify their twaddle - so they develop a fine line in missing the point.
    Thick or Sad - Trolls are usually sad, lonely folk, with few social skills; they rarely make what most people would consider intelligent conversation. However, they frequently have an obsession with their IQ and feel the need to tell everyone. This is so frequent, that it is diagnostic!
    14 May 2009, 03:41 PM Reply Like
  • Illusional Delusion
    , contributor
    Comments (346) | Send Message
     
    Indeed, especially for a financial info website like SA, trolls and spam are way more dangerous (think "pump and dump") than abusive language, so I think SA should put that at the top of the list. Abusive comments are easier to ignore and flagged as people tend to lack reasonable thought when they post abusive comments. Trolls, however, is like propa ganda.

     

    On May 14 03:41 PM Ricard wrote:

     

    > BTW, I found something interesting (in case anyone else is new at
    14 May 2009, 04:05 PM Reply Like
  • E Thomas St.
    , contributor
    Comments (139) | Send Message
     
    An ignore function would solve most of the problems I have with certain stuff immediately.
    14 May 2009, 04:55 PM Reply Like
  • John Lounsbury
    , contributor
    Comments (3972) | Send Message
     
    I see that some comments favor a weighting system. I disagree. Some of the newest (or rarely commenting) commenters have made significant comments. I don't think SA should lean toward being an insiders' club.

     

    The maximum discrimination might be to identify Top 100 Contributors in a way similar to the way contributors are identified. But I am not sure about how this would conflict with my desire to avoid an insiders' club.

     

    I hope that all this good input can be netted out to some positive changes.
    14 May 2009, 05:02 PM Reply Like
  • mr freddo
    , contributor
    Comments (306) | Send Message
     
    Here is the problem. The higher your rating, the more you generate negative votes from other top rated commenters who wish to keep their position. The system is open to blatant ballot stuffing and also blatant negative voting.

     

    So I wouldn't get too excited about being a top rated commenter as a result. I could be the number 1 commenter tomorrow if I really wanted to go to all the trouble to give John Lounsbury 1182 negative votes on all of his comments.

     

    For those who wish to have highly rated comments, here are a few tips:

     

    - say that gold is going to $5000
    -say that we will be living in caves in 6 months.
    -say that AIG executives should be imprisoned.
    -say that Geitner should be fired
    -say that all Wall Street bonuses should be confiscated.

     

    For a low grade:

     

    -say that things are getting better
    -say that everything is going to work out fine
    -say that the market will rise to 10,000 by year end
    -say that Cramer is a genius.
    -say that gold is going to $300 per ounce
    -say that our system actually is working wel.

     

    Personally, I have decided to write what I please and not worry about the rating.

     

    14 May 2009, 05:58 PM Reply Like
  • ramisle
    , contributor
    Comments (723) | Send Message
     
    I would hope that SA would be more concerned with editorial integrity.
    Perhaps it isn't just the comments that need to be policed.
    Take for instance a recent article that made recommendations of high yield dividend stocks, and it turns out the dividends had been cancelled on half of them. The author was called to task for this, but not before the article appeared on Yahoo and MSN Money. That can't be good for SA's rep.
    Maybe some kind of arbitration system could be used for misuse of SA.
    Such as an author who spams everyone else's articles. Or consistently misrepresents the facts.
    14 May 2009, 06:10 PM Reply Like
  • PROXIMO
    , contributor
    Comments (368) | Send Message
     
    Mr. Freddo's comment above says a lot.
    14 May 2009, 07:42 PM Reply Like
  • Illusional Delusion
    , contributor
    Comments (346) | Send Message
     
    Indeed, I personally received an email for flagging spam and trolling telling me to STOP flagging spam and trolls because they are not deemed to be "abuse". My opinion for SA dropped dramatically since I got that email and actually visit SA much less since I find it hard to read something I find worthwhile without spam, trolls and just random "pump and dump" articles.

     

    I have started reading less articles on SA outside those I follow because of those that ramisle mentioned. I have even started to read less from SA bar some time after browsing other websites like Bloomberg after I received the email.

     

    There are good comments out there that are from both the bullish and bearish camps, but trolls and irresponsible writings are what deters me from SA most. I do hope this discussion will help improve SA's quality though.

     

    On May 14 06:10 PM ramisle wrote:

     

    > I would hope that SA would be more concerned with editorial integrity.
    14 May 2009, 07:59 PM Reply Like
  • PainfullyAware
    , contributor
    Comments (1089) | Send Message
     
    The More Complex The System - The Easier It Is To Corrupt.

     

    I do like the "Follow" feature because of "Where" some I follow go on SA and also for "What" others I Follow add to the nuance of understanding of complex issues.

     

    "Filtering" is best left to the audience. I fear as John Lounsbury, with the creation of more "Criteria" Elites Tend To Crush The Opposition.

     

    I like the Idea of having a way to "Highlight" those with "Better" comments, but the true tool is the "Follow" button if you see someone that continually ads value.

     

    **********************...
    I would suggest the "Anti-Follow" button for those who are easily annoyed by those with less to add to the discussion. As a Function - when engaged on a "Commenter"; their comments IN THE COMMENT STREAM would be "Color Highlighted" and easily seen in scrolling giving ease in ability to skip. This Would Allow Filtering Of Perceived Detritus, Without Destruction Of The Comment Thread.
    **********************...

     

    Since we are discussing changing the "Thumbs" - I would prefer a 5 division scale of "Agree" to "Disagree" with the default as neutral (3). Actual Rebuttal Is Still The Best, but this would allow feedback when time is short. A similar scale for "Adds Data" and "Does Not Add Data" might be a helpful user initiated metric. Both of these will be corrupted, but no more than the "Thumbs".

     

    As for attempting to eliminate someone from commenting - The "Report Abuse" should be the instigator with editorial review. Idiots Will Be Idiots - but in recognizing Idiots the boundaries are further defined. Even Fools Have Insight Sometimes.

     

    It Is Divergent Viewpoint That Gives True Resolution Of Situation.
    14 May 2009, 08:38 PM Reply Like
  • PainfullyAware
    , contributor
    Comments (1089) | Send Message
     
    I prefer the "Wild West" to the "Police State" when Mining Data.

     

    I subscribe to the "Police Yourself And Check Validity Of Your Data BEFORE Acting" school. Caveat Utilitor - Let The User Beware.

     

    Not everything looks the same from different vantage.

     

    The SA editors would have to be super human and omnipotent to stop "Bad Data" from getting through. Their Track Record Is Exemplary In My View; Based Upon The Chaos They Must Read. Time Is A Limited Resource.
    14 May 2009, 08:54 PM Reply Like
  • Illusional Delusion
    , contributor
    Comments (346) | Send Message
     
    Sounds like a great idea. In fact, I got an idea off what you said.

     

    1) Make comments collapsible
    2) Introduce a "do-not-follow" function just like the "follow" function
    3) Allow options to default "do-not-follow" list to be collapsed but still show the ratings so that people can decide to uncollapse it if needed
    4) Make ups/downs only doable in uncollapsed form so that trolls have additional steps to take before making biased recommendations

     

    I hope this is not complicated, but every little step forward is a good step. Any form of rating system can be gamed, so while there is always a way around the best mechanisms, striving for improvement while not increasing complexity will make SA better.

     

    On May 14 08:38 PM PainfullyAware wrote:

     

    > The More Complex The System - The Easier It Is To Corrupt.
    14 May 2009, 08:59 PM Reply Like
  • ramisle
    , contributor
    Comments (723) | Send Message
     
    Painfully Aware

     

    I agree, the editors would have to be experts in all sectors.
    Only Cramer tries to make that claim.
    But each of us probably has one sector they are obsessive about, and have proof of our facts. And if we were allowed to post a "BS Alarm", it might be a way to weed out the gamers. Violators would be graded on the validity of their claims.
    If there was a purpose for the Abuse button, I would think that would be it.
    14 May 2009, 09:29 PM Reply Like
  • John Lounsbury
    , contributor
    Comments (3972) | Send Message
     
    PainfullyAware wrote:

     

    "I would suggest the "Anti-Follow" button for those who are easily annoyed by those with less to add to the discussion. As a Function - when engaged on a "Commenter"; their comments IN THE COMMENT STREAM would be "Color Highlighted" and easily seen in scrolling giving ease in ability to skip. This Would Allow Filtering Of Perceived Detritus, Without Destruction Of The Comment Thread."

     

    I actually follow at least one author of whom I am often critical, on the basis that he presents information that is either (1) misleading (because it is incomplete) or (2) inadequate because it is accompanied by no meaningful analysis or discussion. However frustrating it is many times to read these posts, I do get research ideas from these relatively trivial psots, some of which lead me to learn something new.

     

    Some readers may not be into figuring out things as I am and therefore may not benefit from this author's posts in a meaningful way, but I would not want to restrict his activities. I intend to keep on following this particular contributor.
    14 May 2009, 10:23 PM Reply Like
  • doubleguns
    , contributor
    Comments (7946) | Send Message
     
    Could you keep track of commentors and see if they are a constant thumbs down or thumbs up. This would allow you to find those that are on a witch hunt. See if they constantly rate someone the exact same way. Barring Cetin or those like him of course since they have earned it. Again we also have folks coming in under numerous names to comment as often as they like.

     

    Finally don't allow commentor's to rate thier own comment if that is happening. You should be able to figure that out.

     

    However what ever the solution I dont want to see a bunch of complicated mumbo jumbo because simplicity is harmony. Just get rid of the abuse.

     

    No I am not a system analyst so I cant give you the road map to this solution.
    14 May 2009, 10:48 PM Reply Like
  • PROXIMO
    , contributor
    Comments (368) | Send Message
     
    doubleguns said "However whatever the solution I don't want to see a bunch of complicated mumbo jumbo because simplicity is harmony. Just get rid of the abuse." I agree. It would really be a shame to inadvertently turn readers away in an attempt to improve the system.
    14 May 2009, 11:46 PM Reply Like
  • dcb
    , contributor
    Comments (1364) | Send Message
     
    I never thought about this. I must say it was interesting because I noticed I started to get a high rating, then all of a sudden lost of neg marks. such is life. if people are that petty, I feel sorry for them.

     

    I guess there is no way to be able to have one person eliminated when reading. the same way you can edit a personal add so you don't show for someone. there are people I'd prefer not to read.

     

    some of the racist rants i could do without.

     

    I think the system is really being abused. I see huge problems in the macro economy and like the fact that things are reported in SA that aren't in the main stream media. If you write something that points out how what the government is telling you isn't true it does appear that some kind of army from nowhere has arrived to slam you. This didn't happen before, it is disturbing, and I wouldn't put it past companies to actually be paying people to go through the boards. But, established interests have never really liked media they can't control. I generally read bearish articles but don't prowl the bulls shouting them down. I also appreciate a good bull article, but do have trouble understanding how they happen to explain the macro issues as something that doesn't matter.

     

    Would you consider having someone who does a bit more technical analysis with explaining.

     

    On May 14 05:58 PM mr freddo wrote:

     

    > Here is the problem. The higher your rating, the more you generate
    > negative votes from other top rated commenters who wish to keep
    > their position. The system is open to blatant ballot stuffing and
    > also blatant negative voting.
    >
    > So I wouldn't get too excited about being a top rated commenter as
    > a result. I could be the number 1 commenter tomorrow if I really
    > wanted to go to all the trouble to give John Lounsbury 1182 negative
    > votes on all of his comments.
    >
    > For those who wish to have highly rated comments, here are a few
    > tips:
    >
    > - say that gold is going to $5000
    > -say that we will be living in caves in 6 months.
    > -say that AIG executives should be imprisoned.
    > -say that Geitner should be fired
    > -say that all Wall Street bonuses should be confiscated.
    >
    > For a low grade:
    >
    > -say that things are getting better
    > -say that everything is going to work out fine
    > -say that the market will rise to 10,000 by year end
    > -say that Cramer is a genius.
    > -say that gold is going to $300 per ounce
    > -say that our system actually is working wel.
    >
    > Personally, I have decided to write what I please and not worry about
    > the rating.
    >
    >
    15 May 2009, 01:02 AM Reply Like
  • dcb
    , contributor
    Comments (1364) | Send Message
     
    I see you have figured it out too.

     

    On May 14 03:41 PM Ricard wrote:

     

    > BTW, I found something interesting (in case anyone else is new at
    > this whole troll stuff):
    >
    > www.flayme.com/troll/#Why
    >
    > Besides the fair warnings about just ignoring trolls, the site makes
    > some astute observations:
    >
    > How can troll posts be recognized:
    >
    > Repetition of a question or statement is either a troll - or a pedant;
    > either way, treatment as a troll is effective.
    > Missing The Point - Trolls rarely answer a direct question - they
    > cannot, if asked to justify their twaddle - so they develop a fine
    > line in missing the point.
    > Thick or Sad - Trolls are usually sad, lonely folk, with few social
    > skills; they rarely make what most people would consider intelligent
    > conversation. However, they frequently have an obsession with their
    > IQ and feel the need to tell everyone. This is so frequent, that
    > it is diagnostic!
    15 May 2009, 01:04 AM Reply Like
  • Mayascribe
    , contributor
    Comments (9654) | Send Message
     
    First of all, I'm glad that SA introduced the rating system. But in every new system there are flaws. I see the flaws somewhat ego-related. I see a lot of duplicate cut and pastes, too, which I feel is a waste of everyone's time.

     

    There are a lot of wonderful ideas and quibbles presented above. I hope SA changes the ratings system to in some way account for quality and inciteful writing, from both the authors as well as the commenters

     

    The thumbs up or down may have come from how Motely Fool has its members rate stocks. But, I don't think the format applies properly here.

     

    As an avid reader, I regularly see the same folks at the top of the comment stream, which means to me that they feel this is some kind of competition/attention-... game, rather than offering to us readers worthwhile investing insights. It's almost as if, in this insanely volatile market, that they would rather be at the top of the comment stream, then make prudent at-the-moment decisions about their investments just after the bell rings.

     

    There are so many top commenters, as well as authors, who I now refuse to read; what they write is so far off the semblence of reality, that I believe they are just gaming the site, just to make a thumbs up, or pocket a check.

     

    For instance, I read a lot about precious metals, energy and financials, and I have seen outrageous predictions that are so far away from reality that it makes me want to drop a pocket atom bomb onto SA for allowing this nonsense. To me--this is the most important part of all--is to have a way to vote about the authors themselves. That is the best way to clean up the quality of writing here. It's almost as if SA is about quantity, rather than quality. But, I have to add, that there are a handful of authors who are absolutely fabulous.

     

    My thougths of the rating system is to drop the thumbs up and down, and add a disagree or agree, plus a valuable insight category. To have a category where people reject a commenter is likely useless, because all the commenter has to do is sign up under another name and continue his unabashed terrorizing. There likely is no way around that, unless SA has the ability to identify through an IP address.

     

    One other idea is to have a "multiples" effect. That is if a commentor has a four to one ups vote vs. down vote, then that person is someone I want to follow, whether thay have written 20 comments, or 2000. Though, it might be best to allow only those who have 100 plus comments to qualify.

     

    This website has greatly enhanced my investing decisions. To improve the mathematical quantifications to enhance my (our) positive reading experience, should be only behind SA's desire to improve the quality of the authors themselves.

     

    15 May 2009, 01:13 AM Reply Like
  • Mick Weinstein
    , contributor
    Comments (105) | Send Message
     
    ramisle, thanks for this. I don't know what article you refer to. We have an article dispute system for matters like this, and we're very quick to respond to any material errors in articles we publish. Would you please follow the steps here
    seekingalpha.com/artic...

     

    and we'll look into it right away.
    Thanks,
    Mick Weinstein
    Editor in Chief
    Seeking Alpha

     

    On May 14 06:10 PM ramisle wrote:

     

    > I would hope that SA would be more concerned with editorial integrity.
    >
    > Perhaps it isn't just the comments that need to be policed.
    > Take for instance a recent article that made recommendations of high
    > yield dividend stocks, and it turns out the dividends had been cancelled
    > on half of them. The author was called to task for this, but not
    > before the article appeared on Yahoo and MSN Money. That can't be
    > good for SA's rep.
    > Maybe some kind of arbitration system could be used for misuse of
    > SA.
    > Such as an author who spams everyone else's articles. Or consistently
    > misrepresents the facts.
    15 May 2009, 03:35 AM Reply Like
  • Boaz Berkowitz
    , contributor
    Comments (85) | Send Message
     
    Excellent suggestions here.

     

    David, I like your positive rating only idea (similar to digg) which is properly the simplest and most direct way to avoid most of these problems. I would also require users to wait a minute or 2 before leaving another comment or rating another user's comment to help reduce spam and abuse.

     

    I also like the idea of having 2 separate ratings, one for the quality of the comment and one to say whether you agree or disagree. The only problem is I fear many users would still give any comment they disagree with a negative rating which is why I still favor the digg concept over this one.

     

    I'm intrigued with the "ignore" suggestion. If there are particular commenters a reader can't stand, it would be great if they could prevent themselves from even having to see those comments. But I don't know how well it would work in actual practice. Spammers are used to getting blocked anyway so they are always signing up for new accounts. It would be worth thinking more about though.
    15 May 2009, 08:07 AM Reply Like
  • ArkansasAngie
    , contributor
    Comments (198) | Send Message
     
    I was fine with the voting systme till I saw mu count drop by nearly 100 within an hour.

     

    I asked for my points to be re-installed -- they were not, and I've not posted since till now.

     

    The way this was achieved was creating a new alias and systematically goinh thru my old posts and thumbing down.

     

    An idea is to stop thumbing after some number of days.
    15 May 2009, 09:12 AM Reply Like
  • Righteous Dude
    , contributor
    Comments (18) | Send Message
     
    I have seen John Lounsbury rip other commenters apart (without cause in my opinion) -- yet he is consistently ranked #1 in comments. And now he comments here and wants to create an "elite club" with super voting rights to further cement his standing. It would be more honest if you change the site name to "johnlounsbury.com"

     

    I stopped paying attention to the ratings months ago. When someone makes a comment that is even slightly critical of Obama, you get massive down thumbs. When someone writes something anti-Bush, you get massive thumbs up. The mainstream media is already slanted, we don't need a repeat here. Further, partisan rants have nothing to do with investments.

     

    I have to echo the point made initially (I think) by ramisle -- that SA needs to pay more attention to the accuracy of what authors are writing. I have noticed a number of errors -- including a case where the author recommended dividends that had stopped paying (I am not sure if it is the same article ramisle saw). There are a HUGE number of articles that "report" whichever political party's talking points and propoganda -- and report these as fact. Neither party is being completely honest, so any author that wants to claim "analysis" should really be talking about the pros and cons of whatever argument.

     

    You won't find Alpha by regurgitating either party line.
    15 May 2009, 12:30 PM Reply Like
  • Ricard
    , contributor
    Comments (3829) | Send Message
     
    Gee, I hope that's not me! I noticed you added me recently, and I didn't know what to make of it. But that's ok, you can say it, I can take it right on the chin (sob)!

     

    On May 14 10:23 PM John Lounsbury wrote:

     

    >
    > I actually follow at least one author of whom I am often critical,
    > on the basis that he presents information that is either (1) misleading
    > (because it is incomplete) or (2) inadequate because it is accompanied
    > by no meaningful analysis or discussion. However frustrating it
    > is many times to read these posts, I do get research ideas from these
    > relatively trivial psots, some of which lead me to learn something
    > new.
    15 May 2009, 01:40 PM Reply Like
  • John Lounsbury
    , contributor
    Comments (3972) | Send Message
     
    Arkansas Angie - - -

     

    Several in the comment stream have made a similar note. The most recent egregious example I observed affected prudentinvestor, who gained 100 thumbs down overnight. I looked at his comment stream and only saw a few thumbs down on the first few pages. Obviously massive deep time slamming.
    15 May 2009, 02:00 PM Reply Like
  • John Lounsbury
    , contributor
    Comments (3972) | Send Message
     
    I have a thought. Could the comment stream each reader sees be personalized? For those who have established a hatred for some commenter, could they request the comment stream they see omits any comments from people they put on their "do not want to see list"? The agravation some readers apparently feel could be avoided.
    15 May 2009, 02:06 PM Reply Like
  • dcb
    , contributor
    Comments (1364) | Send Message
     
    Yes, in my post I have noticed the recent concerted attacks on people. Is there a way to determine if someone in the same IP is using multiple names to attack.

     

    I will note you find the same sort of posts on tech ticker when someone points out an inconvenient truth the government or financial industry would not like. they get ganged up on. What a lovely democracy we have.

     

    On May 15 09:12 AM ArkansasAngie wrote:

     

    > I was fine with the voting systme till I saw mu count drop by nearly
    > 100 within an hour.
    >
    > I asked for my points to be re-installed -- they were not, and I've
    > not posted since till now.
    >
    > The way this was achieved was creating a new alias and systematically
    > goinh thru my old posts and thumbing down.
    >
    > An idea is to stop thumbing after some number of days.
    15 May 2009, 04:17 PM Reply Like
  • ramisle
    , contributor
    Comments (723) | Send Message
     
    Hmmmmm!
    Here mine....
    Everyone has a right to his/her opinion,
    Hopefully, if you want to be published in Seeking Alpha..
    You make an effort to make it an informed opinion!!!
    15 May 2009, 08:52 PM Reply Like
  • MMMPARSLEY1
    , contributor
    Comments (67) | Send Message
     
    And we sometimes wonder why the tax code has to be so complicated! Look at how complicated properly structuring something as simple as a Seeking Alpha Commenter Reward System can be!

     

    I guess I'm not trying to say that our income taxes need to be as complicated as they are, but rather than it's best to find a simple, straightforward, user-friendly system than as "perfect" a system human minds can develop. At some logical point, there is a degree to which seeking perfection outweighs the benefits of a simple, yet slightly flawed system which everybody can understand.

     

    Personally, I feel that the current reward system could use a little fine-tuning. Perhaps a simple mathematical formula that combines Positive vs Negative Ratings as a percentage (which would reward quality posters who post less frequent but high-quality posts) and also as a sum total would work. The main point I'd like to emphasize though is err on the side of simplicity over erring on the side of complexity.

     

    15 May 2009, 09:08 PM Reply Like
  • Ricard
    , contributor
    Comments (3829) | Send Message
     
    Cetin,

     

    I agree about the rankings, especially when it comes to gaming them, of which so many people here have illustrated the negative effects.

     

    I also agree that the ideas are more important than anything else - whenever I talk about or look over finance-related topics, I expect about 90% of the material to either be corroborating a viewpoint I've already held (learn nothing new) or be something that I can debunk on the spot. It's that 10%...if it's even 10%, that I look for in order to change my perspective. That 10% ends up steering the ship, but it takes filtering through 90% of the garbage to get there.

     

    What that means is that I don't like the garbage very much. Seeking Alpha allows for some powerful filtering tools as it is already, in that the list of people I follow tend to monopolize the time I spend looking for finance-related stuff, and for good reason. It's upped that 10% to something higher...much higher than it was just by reading the Wall Street Journal, 10Ks, and S&P reports, that's for sure.

     

    But here's the thing. Like I said, that 10% I look for has nothing to do with corroborating my opinion, but rather changing my opinion in light of different facts or a perspective I hadn't considered before.

     

    That was my biggest beef with you...not that I disagreed with your perspective, but that I was forced to see that same perspective everywhere...EVERYWHERE I looked. I didn't learn anything new by reading it the second time or the seventieth time. It lowered that 10% to (what was for me) borderline unacceptable. I had been accustomed to a much higher percentage of enlightening material on this site.

     

    One thing you've taught me to respect (and this is a reflection of the value I placed on your repeated commentary) is that irrationality has a tendency of being very, very persistent. That goes a long way in explaining market bubbles, and, as I'm sure you'd agree with, market depressions as well, IMHO. So in that sense, thanks. I hope whatever choices you make from here on out benefit not only viewers like us, but you and your website as well.

     

    BTW, who is Ned??

     

    On May 15 08:41 PM Cetin Hakimoglu wrote:

     

    > Here's my take. It don't matter how you rank. What matters if your
    > ideas. Just because you're in the top 10 or top 50 doesn't necessarily
    > mean your ideas or commentary is superior. Tell it like it is; bullish
    > or bearish. Someone someone disagrees that's their problem.
    16 May 2009, 01:02 AM Reply Like
  • Vienna
    , contributor
    Comments (173) | Send Message
     
    I would like to thrown one general baseline comment. Something has has brought the current crisis is that certain statistics and facts often get presented the way we want to see it.

     

    SO if we have a voting that lets say ignores cetins vote, we will create a system that only shows you the positive stats you would like to see.

     

    And on the contrary I think most of the people on this site, like to accept that spmetimes other people think in a differen way. I think we just need to accept this, and not produce a rating system to our favour.
    16 May 2009, 06:05 AM Reply Like
  • AJB7
    , contributor
    Comments (47) | Send Message
     
    Thanks for taking time to address an issue in need of reform. I would suggest several changes.

     

    * SA should really put into place a commentator block feature for each user. It would really be ideal if SA could monitor all the village idiots and ban them, but this is unrealistic since there is room for SA editors to make mistakes, it is more work for SA editors, it took several months (much too long) for SA editors to take action in recent cases, and even then there was apparently no banning so we’re still stuck listening to someone who is by admission immature, malevolent and probably unbalanced. Just let people decide for themselves and be done with it. The trolls can talk to themselves or have their own followers and no one else need be bothered.

     

    * Just get rid of the negative but keep the positive voting choice. I have noticed that many fine, well thought out comments are receiving net negative votes, and indeed the entire comment stream on several fine articles are net negative. Obviously, there are people out there who are curmudgeons or trying to manipulate scoring. Research shows that if you want to encourage creativity in groups, ban or get rid of negativity in discussions. Although I have not commented much, I have found it very discouraging to write a well thought out comment only to find it bashed with negative comments without the negative commentators caring to comment on why they find my comment objectionable. Negative voting is an easy way out; let the curmudgeons speak if they object or they can remain unheard. Positive votes still may be tallied.

     

    * If you are going to rank commentators on the number of positive votes (assuming now negative voting has been banned), several modifications are in order. Obviously raw number counts are inadequate since the more frequent commentators are more likely to be the top vote getters. This does not take into account quality. Dividing the total number of positive votes by the total number of comments gives a better quality representation. However, this suffers from small sample inaccuracies so that a commentator who has made one comment but received 20 positive votes (20:1) will be judged of better rank that someone who has generated 1000 positive votes over 500 comments (2:1), whereas the latter commentator, most would agree, should be ranked higher.

     

    This defect could be corrected by multiplying the positive/total comment stream ratio by the square root of the total comments made by the commentator. Thus, a commentator who has commented 100 times and received 400 positive votes (4/1 ratio) would receive a score of 40 (4 times the square root of 100). This same score of 40 would be received by a commentator who received 800 positive votes over 400 comments (2/1 ratio times the square root of 400). The logic here is that short term extremely high ratios are unstable and should be discounted accordingly. Anyone below 100 total comments should just not be ranked.

     

    I spent about 20 minutes thinking up this plan, but if a little more time is spent I’m sure you could improve upon it or come up with something better along the same lines.

     

    * Mr Freddo’s point about how to increase your voting score is well taken (write that “gold is going to $5000” or “AIG executives should be imprisoned”, etc), but I do not think this requires any adjustments by SA. Personally the state of public mania about these issues gives me information, and as always, information is the most important commodity. If I don’t wish to read these commentators I can use my new SA commentator blocking feature!

     

    Anyway, just some feedback on a Saturday morning to a fine website. Thanks.

     

    16 May 2009, 09:29 AM Reply Like
  • History Buff 24/7
    , contributor
    Comments (415) | Send Message
     
    To everyone who has read this or posted comments,

     

    I think it’s great that people are congregating and thinking about ways to improve the process. As I’ve read through the posts I have refrained from voting on anything, I think this article should be a neutral zone where some ideas can be hashed out in terms of dealing with some problems and improving the overall experience.

     

    I think there is a place for “thumbs down” votes as well as “thumbs up” votes. Is there a line that constitutes abuse? Certainly, if someone logs in and gives an anonymous thumbs down on every article they look at, as far as I’m concerned, that’s abuse. If they do 99 thumbs down and 1 thumbs up, I think that’s also abusive. Is it something that Seeking Alpha can do anything about? I don’t know.

     

    As far as the “reporting abuse” feature, I have only used that to report people whose profanity and ethnic slur filled comments make me feel they have no place on this site. I believe that is a legitimate use of the feature.

     

    I believe that the vast majority of people who read the site are not the problem. I believe a few bad apples are causing the problems by engaging in vendettas and using the following tactics:

     

    Going into a user’s comments stream, tracking back to the articles, and systematically trying to trash their rating by giving their every comment a thumbs down.

     

    Giving a thumbs down to every comment on an article (say one with a bearish bent) regardless of the quality of the comments or the presentation thereof.

     

    Boosting their own scores (relatively) by systematically knocking down the scores of other commenters.

     

    Giving thumbs down indiscriminately or anonymously without posting comments so that the other users can’t respond to their criticism or even necessarily know what the person took offense to. (And also, I might add, insulating themselves from any rating consequences by refusing to post their own comments)

     

    After reading the comments from User 283977, Mr Freddo, Doubleguns and Arkansas Angie it is clear that other users share these concerns.

     

    Beyond the technical solutions to these problems I think a certain amount of self policing may be in order. When I see an article that has gotten plastered by a troll, I’ve been giving a lot of fairly indiscriminate thumbs up on it just to counterbalance the baneful influence of the trolls. I know it seems kind of stupid and time-consuming, but I guess my theory is you want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

     

    And until the trolls problem is somewhat dealt with, I would not remove the ability of users to give their own comments a thumbs up to counterbalance some of the nasty ones. We know that people are gaming the user ratings, let’s not take away a (small) defense against that unless a way is found of dealing with the underlying problem.

     

    In closing, I would prefer not to censor any legitimate viewpoints, even if I consider them wrong or foolish. But for people who are messing with the system and trying to trash everyone they disagree with or who posts on articles they disagree with, I would hope there is some kind of solution.
    27 May 2009, 01:53 PM Reply Like
  • David Van Knapp
    , contributor
    Comments (10174) | Send Message
     
    IMO, by rating comments by the thumb's up MINUS thumb's down metric, SA is encouraging over-commenting, a race to volume. Maybe that's what the editorial staff wants, lots of comments.

     

    A better goal would be a race to quality. Therefore, I would take a batting average approach: net thumbs up DIVIDED BY total comments. You'd get a totally different list of Top 10, Top 50, etc. For example, the top commenter at the moment has a +1951 rating based on 1227 comments...an average "good minus bad" average of 1.6 per comment...not exactly a rousing endorsement. By contrast, the person ranked number two has a +1750 from just 500 comments...a batting average of 3.5. Who is contributing "more" to Seeking Alpha? I contend it's the second person, not the first, even though he's contributed fewer than half the comments. I'd rather read a shorter list of good comments than a long string of good and bad ones.

     

    Commenters farther down the list of Top 100 have batting averages of 4, 5, and more. They are much more valuable to the site. So what is SA seeking? Quality or quantity?

     

    For those of you who favor eliminating the thumb's down, the same batting average concept could be applied to the thumb's up number only. Personally, I favor the keeping the thumb's down--there needs to be a way to express either disagreement with the comment or the fact that it is a lousy comment.

     

    I agree with those who think the articles themselves should be ratable. Perhaps some categories could be established, like,
    --contributes to the discussion and understanding,
    --well-written,
    --badly written,
    --detracts from the discussion and understanding.

     

    People could check off boxes quickly to rate the articles.

     

    I don't totally agree that "followers" is a good measure. I'm not sure how they do it, but some authors seem to have huge numbers of followers, but their articles largely pass unnoticed, judging by the number of comments. That makes their number of followers suspicious. Is there a way that they have gamed the system and dumped in mailing lists of phantom followers?
    29 May 2009, 09:26 AM Reply Like
  • thiazole
    , contributor
    Comments (2146) | Send Message
     
    I know this thread hasn't been posted on in a while, but I have a comment/question on a more current problem. We've all seen the countless spam posts for IamNed. It is frustrating as they are a canned 1 or 2 sentence statement that rarely make any sense and are posted over and over and over in different threads ending in a link to IamNed. If you complain about it, I suspect the author will use his many login names to give you a bunch of thumbs down (since people who complain about this spam tend to get a bunch of thumbs down). Perhaps we need a new button that instead of reporting abuse (which if you read any one of these posts, you wouldn't realize what it was), it reports the post as spam. Then the posts would be investigated correctly and deleted with the author banned (and all his/her thumbs ratings invalidated). I think this would really put a monkey wrench in this person's spamming ability. It will be interesting if he sees this post. I'm sure it will make him angry and cause this post to get a bunch of thumbs down as a result.
    6 Aug 2009, 03:23 PM Reply Like
  • David Jackson
    , contributor
    Comments (1230) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » We've been testing a solution for spam comments, and you should see something soon.

     

    But we also rely on our readers to report spam as abusive as that flags the spam for deletion. So please, if you see spam comment, do hit the "report abuse" link.
    18 Dec 2009, 02:30 AM Reply Like
  • Cliff Wachtel
    , contributor
    Comments (1776) | Send Message
     
    Hi Dave,

     

    Reminder: consider a feature to allow email notification of new comments to a given article. At least authors should get this so that we can choose to respond without constantly checking for new comments (I don't), ideally anyone should be able to be notified about new comments, at least periodically. Some of the best content is found in the follow up comments, a massive resource that is not being used.

     

    Some of these are better than the articles themselves (mine included!)
    20 Dec 2009, 01:34 AM Reply Like
  • Michael Clark
    , contributor
    Comments (8538) | Send Message
     
    I like several ideas here. I never use the thumbs down button (almost never); if I disagree with someone sufficiently, I comment on the post.

     

    Apparently some people just go through the articles and give negative ratings to those they don't like or those who are threatening their overall rankings in the Top Ten or whatever. We can take the negative votes out of the overall equation in tallying the rankings....and base it only on the positive comments. Actually, you want controversial ideas on the web site, ideas that stir people up. If the majority is always behind the curve, then you don't want unpopular ideas to be evicted because they are too new or 'off the wall' for the majority. I'd get rid of the negative button entirely.

     

    I do like the idea of showing how a ranker has ranked someone historically, to get a sense if their is a vendetta or a 'group black-balling' in effect.

     

    I agree the original article needs a mechanism for ranking (thumbs up or both).

     

    Another thought might be that only those responding to a post be allowed to rank the post. If you respond the ranking buttons pop up (along with the historical ranking stts, person to person). This would make going through comments and just blasting someone with thumbs down anonymously (drive by shooting) no longer possible.

     

    Good luck.
    20 Dec 2009, 02:35 AM Reply Like
  • David Jackson
    , contributor
    Comments (1230) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Hi Cliff,

     

    You'll see something related to your suggestion soon (hopefully in January).

     

    In the meantime, you can track all the comments on your own articles, and there's even an RSS feed you can subscribe to of them. Look here in the right hand column of the page that shows your articles: seekingalpha.com/autho...

     

    David

     

    On Dec 20 01:34 AM Cliff Wachtel wrote:

     

    > Hi Dave,
    >
    > Reminder: consider a feature to allow email notification of new comments
    > to a given article. At least authors should get this so that we can
    > choose to respond without constantly checking for new comments (I
    > don't), ideally anyone should be able to be notified about new comments,
    > at least periodically. Some of the best content is found in the follow
    > up comments, a massive resource that is not being used.
    >
    > Some of these are better than the articles themselves (mine included!)
    22 Dec 2009, 01:44 PM Reply Like
  • David Jackson
    , contributor
    Comments (1230) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Michael, very interesting suggestions - thank you.

     

    On Dec 20 02:35 AM Michael Clark wrote:

     

    > I like several ideas here. I never use the thumbs down button (almost
    > never); if I disagree with someone sufficiently, I comment on the
    > post.
    >
    > Apparently some people just go through the articles and give negative
    > ratings to those they don't like or those who are threatening their
    > overall rankings in the Top Ten or whatever. We can take the negative
    > votes out of the overall equation in tallying the rankings....and
    > base it only on the positive comments. Actually, you want controversial
    > ideas on the web site, ideas that stir people up. If the majority
    > is always behind the curve, then you don't want unpopular ideas to
    > be evicted because they are too new or 'off the wall' for the majority.
    > I'd get rid of the negative button entirely.
    >
    > I do like the idea of showing how a ranker has ranked someone historically,
    > to get a sense if their is a vendetta or a 'group black-balling'
    > in effect.
    >
    > I agree the original article needs a mechanism for ranking (thumbs
    > up or both).
    >
    > Another thought might be that only those responding to a post be
    > allowed to rank the post. If you respond the ranking buttons pop
    > up (along with the historical ranking stts, person to person). This
    > would make going through comments and just blasting someone with
    > thumbs down anonymously (drive by shooting) no longer possible.<br/>
    >
    > Good luck.
    22 Dec 2009, 01:46 PM Reply Like
  • thiazole
    , contributor
    Comments (2146) | Send Message
     
    If we rank articles, I think they should be ranked by a more complex ranking than just thumbs up or down. Perhaps a score from 1 to 10 or something like that would be better. Otherwise, I give a mildly good article the same rating as an awesome article.
    22 Dec 2009, 04:31 PM Reply Like
  • tripleblack
    , contributor
    Comments (13451) | Send Message
     
    On May 13 11:04 AM John Lounsbury wrote:

     

    >snip<
    > Finally, I would recommend closing comments ratings on an article
    > a few days after publication. I have observed occasions (in the comment
    > ratings of others as well as my own) that a commenter has picked
    > up 50-100 negative ratings in a few hours yet there are no significant
    > changes on the first couple of pages of comments. After the time
    > expiration, someone can still post a comment but it would not be
    > open for rating.
    >
    > I think the discussion participation in the comment streams is a
    > significant positive feature of Seeking Alpha. I sometimes learn
    > more in the comment stream than from the article. I have been prompted
    > a few times to tell commenters on my articles that their comment
    > discussion was done better than my article's discussion or covered
    > an important point that I had not addressed.

     

    First, let me say that I deeply appreciate the efforts of SA and their staff. I work staff elsewhere, and I know what a tough job it can be.

     

    I want to particularly second John's suggestion as to closing older comments for further judging. This would bring whatever abuses might occur to a more visible level, and make the process a little less easy for those seeking to push some vendetta.
    22 Dec 2009, 05:05 PM Reply Like
  • Freya
    , contributor
    Comments (2266) | Send Message
     
    Boaz knows how I would handle the Thumbs Issue so I'll not belabor it. But as I read all of the above comments, I noticed that the number of Thumbs deteriorated drastically on those further down the line, even though some were as good as others. People post their Comment and leave, never to return again.

     

    David, if I see commentators get reamed just because they associate with people whom someone else doesn't like, first I get irritated, I then call it like it is. And then I get even if it persists.

     

    I have always believed in the right of any commentator to give themselves a Thumbs up, they would not leave the comment if they felt it was poor. These days, I give myself zip unless I know I'm going to get a negative regardless of what I say.

     

    I would suggest the following: No comments, No thumbs either up or down.
    You are not allowed to rate comments unless you have something to say.
    If you have nothing to say, then your ability to give a rating is abrogated.

     

    Trolls thrive because they have the ability to remain hidden.

     

    And if they are Forced to leave a Comment on an old Article, it will be brought forward and they will be Identified.
    22 Dec 2009, 06:22 PM Reply Like
  • GoneFishing_73
    , contributor
    Comments (41) | Send Message
     
    Let me second this comment. The barrage of up and down comments based on the list below has discouraged many from the site and stopped them from commenting.

     

    I would also suggest that only the last 500, last 1000 comments be used for rating, some number to reward more recent comments.

     

    Maybe limit the number of comments per user for a specific user.

     

    On May 14 05:58 PM mr freddo wrote:

     

    > Here is the problem. The higher your rating, the more you generate
    > negative votes from other top rated commenters who wish to keep their
    > position. The system is open to blatant ballot stuffing and also
    > blatant negative voting.
    >
    > So I wouldn't get too excited about being a top rated commenter as
    > a result. I could be the number 1 commenter tomorrow if I really
    > wanted to go to all the trouble to give John Lounsbury 1182 negative
    > votes on all of his comments.
    >
    > For those who wish to have highly rated comments, here are a few
    > tips:
    >
    > - say that gold is going to $5000
    > -say that we will be living in caves in 6 months.
    > -say that AIG executives should be imprisoned.
    > -say that Geitner should be fired
    > -say that all Wall Street bonuses should be confiscated.
    >
    > For a low grade:
    >
    > -say that things are getting better
    > -say that everything is going to work out fine
    > -say that the market will rise to 10,000 by year end
    > -say that Cramer is a genius.
    > -say that gold is going to $300 per ounce
    > -say that our system actually is working wel.
    >
    > Personally, I have decided to write what I please and not worry about
    > the rating.
    >
    >
    22 Dec 2009, 06:27 PM Reply Like
  • Freya
    , contributor
    Comments (2266) | Send Message
     
    David, no matter how bad an article is:

     

    The Authors go unscathed. An Article can be totally misleading, provide false statements, use opinion as Fact, provide links which dispute the Article itself because the Author Just read the Headline and ran with it.

     

    When confronted with Facts, They attack you and get their followers to attack you. That's the Main reason I do not bother with Articles anymore, there is no recourse against a truly abusive Author.

     

    And they rarely retract the False and Misleading Opinions they just presented as Facts.

     

    I would like to add 2 buttons at the bottom of each Article. Fact? Fiction?.

     

    Commentators should be able to vote on each without being Attacked by the Followers of the Author.
    22 Dec 2009, 06:39 PM Reply Like
  • Mayascribe
    , contributor
    Comments (9654) | Send Message
     
    Freya: I like both of your ideas. I also believe that any thread that has not had a comment for say a period four months, the thumbs up and down should be shut down, and only able to be opened up again if another current comment is made.

     

    Often, I see an old article related to, or contributors referring to earlier pieces.
    22 Dec 2009, 07:07 PM Reply Like
  • robert.b.ferguson
    , contributor
    Comments (10802) | Send Message
     
    I am in complete agreement. One should post exactly what one thinks regardless of the rating scheme what ever it might be. It only becomes a problem when folks get fixated on being in the top whatever. I still think that an ignore member function to prevent interaction with your posts would be beneficial. That way if some one is trying to game the system by thumb trolling you can hit the ignore member button and they can no longer rate your comments.

     

    On Dec 22 06:27 PM GoneFishing_73 wrote:

     

    > Let me second this comment. The barrage of up and down comments based
    > on the list below has discouraged many from the site and stopped
    > them from commenting.
    >
    > I would also suggest that only the last 500, last 1000 comments be
    > used for rating, some number to reward more recent comments.
    >
    > Maybe limit the number of comments per user for a specific user.
    >
    >
    > On May 14 05:58 PM mr freddo wrote:
    22 Dec 2009, 07:15 PM Reply Like
  • Freya
    , contributor
    Comments (2266) | Send Message
     
    You know what would really be nice? I would like to be able to address a comment directly like in "Reply to" Or leave a "Msg to".

     

    Instead, its just a matter of luck on whether you see a query or not and whether someone sees your Reply or not.
    22 Dec 2009, 07:24 PM Reply Like
  • Tom Au, CFA
    , contributor
    Comments (6774) | Send Message
     
    Closing ratings on comments after so much time makes a lot of sense to me. That way, there would be much less "back rating" of comments for "strategic" reasons.. And where it was done, it would be much more obvious.

     

    Also, separating ratings into agree/disagree, versus well argued-poorly argued, would be helpful.

     

    I would not want to limit the number of comments rated unless it became abusive. Some people write few comments and get a "big bang for the buck." Others (like yours truly), follow a "high volume" strategy. The only thing to be against is "spam" (replicating comments on numerous posts for visibility without regard to relevance).

     

    On May 13 11:04 AM John Lounsbury wrote:

     

    > I would second the private thread suggestion of Richard Shaw. I would
    > also suggest that a separate rating file be kept for each commenter
    > containing only the ratings submitted by authors for comments on
    > their articles. If a commenter has a very high negative rating across
    > many authors, that individual's comments could be reviewed and the
    > staff could contact him if appropriate, to ask for an explaination.
    >
    >
    > I also like the idea of having two comment rating categories. A.
    > (1)Agree or (2) Do Not Agree and B. (1) Well argued/written or (2)
    > Poorly argued/written.
    > I have many times disagreed with a well constructed argument. I have
    > written comment responses to comments stating my disagreement after
    > voting thumbs up because of the comment quality of presentation rather
    > than the conclusion or opinion.
    >
    > Finally, I would recommend closing comments ratings on an article
    > a few days after publication. I have observed occasions (in the comment
    > ratings of others as well as my own) that a commenter has picked
    > up 50-100 negative ratings in a few hours yet there are no significant
    > changes on the first couple of pages of comments. After the time
    > expiration, someone can still post a comment but it would not be
    > open for rating.
    >
    > I think the discussion participation in the comment streams is a
    > significant positive feature of Seeking Alpha. I sometimes learn
    > more in the comment stream than from the article. I have been prompted
    > a few times to tell commenters on my articles that their comment
    > discussion was done better than my article's discussion or covered
    > an important point that I had not addressed.
    22 Dec 2009, 07:36 PM Reply Like
  • GotLife
    , contributor
    Comments (1275) | Send Message
     
    Yes, yes, yes. Hope I'm not abusing that word.

     

    On May 12 12:38 PM dieuwer wrote:

     

    > Why do only comments have a thumbs up or down button?
    > I think at a minimum the article itself should have thumbs up and
    > down buttons.
    22 Dec 2009, 08:37 PM Reply Like
  • David Van Knapp
    , contributor
    Comments (10174) | Send Message
     
    Tons of good ideas here.

     

    One thing I've never understood is why anyone's rating is based on thumbs up minus thumbs down. That rewards high-volume commenters. Perhaps that is what SA wants. But I ask, who is contributing more to the site and the community...people who write lots of mediocre comments, or people who comment more selectively but put more time and thought into their comments? I think the ranking should be based (or an alternative ranking based) on the ratio of thumbs up to thumbs down. Who has contributed more to the community...someone who has posted 1000 comments and has a net rating of +900 under the current system (i.e., less than 1 more "up" vote than "down" vote per comment), or someone who has posted 500 comments and has a net rating of +1500? I would say it's the latter.

     

    Also, I agree with those who have said that the use of up and down to disagree with comments should be separated somehow from ratings to rate the comment's contribution...making a good point, being well-argued, etc. I follow only a few people, and they are not necessarily the ones who have high rankings under the currrent system. They are the ones whom I have learned make high-value comments. The current system not only rewards volume over quality, but it obviously also rewards longevity over newbies...but the newbies might be making the most cogent comments. Again, a rating system that uses ratios rather than cumulative totals would level the playing field on that dimension.

     

    Comments that come later in the game are obviously seen by fewer people, but I don't think they should be cut off as some have suggested. If someone goes on vacation for a week, they should not be prevented from commenting on a week-old article. In fact, if they are someone I am following, I want them to be able to comment, and for me to be notified of that fact.

     

    Finally, and I don't know the solution for this, but the comment system is often used to elevate the government-doubters (or government-haters), those who want to trash anything positive-sounding, etc. I don't know if that's an emotional reaction to the current rally and how many people missed it and are pissed off about it, or whether that is endemic to any group of commenters at any time. But the result is that negativity tends to get rewarded and positivity--including suggestions on how to profit in varying market conditions--tends to get punished. That is a strange result for a site that is "Seeking Alpha"--that someone who posts a comment or article on how to gain alpha gets punished. Whatever changes you make, please don't do anything that rewards blanket negativity. Some of the highest-rated commenters are high-volume blanket negativists--and that's a shame.
    23 Dec 2009, 12:33 AM Reply Like
  • APSamuels
    , contributor
    Comment (1) | Send Message
     
    There are a handful of very interesting themes in this discussion (each deserving of its own discussion) but I wanted to focus on just one: the "rating" of commentators. I have tried to group my thoughts around a couple of themes. If I could boil the (unfortunately) long comments below into one theme it would be:

     

    Where have you seen other rating/ranking systems and what can we learn from them?
    ----------------------...
    My (random) thoughts:

     

    The Algorithm:
    ---------------------
    While there are lots of good ideas about the way to build a better self-generating, data-driven rating system, there is an acceptance that any transparent system can be gamed. It's no surprise that Google relevance rankings are fairly opaque and constantly evolving. While it minimizes (eliminates?) gaming it does require a not significant and ongoing investment in managing the algorithm (just look at the whole SEO industry). Which is fine ... if that is your main business, but a big challenge if it is not. (Is this a space that SA should be playing? Is there a third party rating system that could be licensed?)

     

    Human Intervention:
    ----------------------...
    There is an interesting piece comparing and contrasting the different food rating systems (eg, Zagats, Michelin, Yelp, AAA). culinarytravel.about.c.... There are a lot pros and cons of each system but, IMHO, one of the interesting insights is that "reliability" increases the more that there is independent human intervention. While Yelp is "based on the opinions of real people" there are frequent allegations of manipulation. As we move through the Mobil and AAA models, manipulation is less of an issue but it is a bigger business model challenge for Mobil/AAA to be able to create and maintain those ratings.("Restaurants pay a fee to be considered by AAA".)

     

    It makes me wonder if this is a natural extension to the SA business? The SA contributor status and SA certification are examples of credibility and relevance filters on the information overload of financial commentary. Taking it a step further to provide a credibility/relevance rating to the commentators would be another useful exercise. But how much effort would it be in human resources? How timely would it be updated? Would it be accepted? Who would pay for the ratings - the rated or the user of the ratings (where does that sound a familiar issue?)? Would people pay to be rated (even if the rating was bad)? Would (some) readers pay extra for a better rating system if it saved them time and increased the efficiency of their research process?

     

    Hybrid Model:
    --------------------
    Epinions had an interesting hybrid model (www.epinions.com/help/...) with Category Leads, Top Reviewers and Advisors. While they have some algorithm and some behind the scenes intervention, it does seem a complicated process. Having too many options only substitutes one information overload problem.for another.

     

    So .... I was wondering, where have you seen other rating/ranking systems and what do you think we can learn from them?

     

    alan
    23 Dec 2009, 01:09 AM Reply Like
  • optionsgirl
    , contributor
    Comments (5058) | Send Message
     
    Personally, I would like to see a means to opt out of ratings. I'd do it in a heartbeat and make room for other commentators. (Term limits!) It bothers me when people rate a "thank you" or some other comment that isn't intended for that purpose. The only time I thumbs down is if I feel the comment is misleading, incorrect and documentable, or abusive.
    23 Dec 2009, 03:56 AM Reply Like
  • Freya
    , contributor
    Comments (2266) | Send Message
     
    OG: Am in total agreement and for FWIW, I'm sorry I put you on the Spot so many times. I'm not sorry we met, though.

     

    How about a New Year's Resolution? Thumb Deflation?
    23 Dec 2009, 05:02 AM Reply Like
  • optionsgirl
    , contributor
    Comments (5058) | Send Message
     
    You have nothing to apologize for. I deliberately and consistently ask you for your opinions on stocks and on world events and how you view them. There is no one in this world who can force me to engage in any conversation or activity I don't want to be part of, because ultimately, my decision to weigh in on any matter is my decision alone. I wish us all a profitable and happy 2010, so we can get down to business!
    And Freya, if you had not encouraged me to continue to invest after the Lehman collapse, I might have stood aside and watched the rally from the sidelines, because the geopolitical climate we are in scares me to the core. So, I have much to thank you for, and nothing but admiration for you and Conan.

     

    On Dec 23 05:02 AM Freya wrote:

     

    > OG: Am in total agreement and for FWIW, I'm sorry I put you on the
    > Spot so many times. I'm not sorry we met, though.
    >
    > How about a New Year's Resolution? Thumb Deflation?
    23 Dec 2009, 06:28 AM Reply Like
  • Freya
    , contributor
    Comments (2266) | Send Message
     
    You either get in the Boat or get in the Boat with a life preserver, either way you can't recoup unless you try to get out of the Swamp.

     

    Mindset and Investing through the 1970's helped us. Most people on SeekingAlpha never went through that particular Morass.
    23 Dec 2009, 09:20 AM Reply Like
  • Plant the seeds
    , contributor
    Comments (227) | Send Message
     
    Freya makes a good point. There is lot of articles that are a stretch of the truth if not outright lies with definite agenda. A lot of good authors & commentators have simply voted with their keyboards and left. A few like Thiazole have taken a lot of abuse and are still sharing their thoughts generously, some like John Lounsbury have handled the ugliness with a equinamity and courtesy that I really admired. It is tough to be polite when people are shouting at you.

     

    I myself post a lot more on Morningstar.com these days and find that people are more polite and do not lash out just because they disagree, a lot less agendas more people trying to invest better.

     

    I also think that highlighting the commentator board leads to most of this behavior, as people fight and claw to get to the top of the list. On morningstar, there is no reward for commenting a lot and people respond when they have something to ask, tell or say. They also highlight quality comments by picking specific threads and picking out the best comments. I got a mention recently that really motivated me to comment there in quality not quantity.
    news.morningstar.com/a...

     

    Bottom line is that you do not have a shortage of comments & commentators, maybe time to work on the quality, netiquette and argue fairly.

     

    On Dec 22 06:39 PM Freya wrote:

     

    > David, no matter how bad an article is:
    >
    > The Authors go unscathed. An Article can be totally misleading, provide
    > false statements, use opinion as Fact, provide links which dispute
    > the Article itself because the Author Just read the Headline and
    > ran with it.
    >
    > When confronted with Facts, They attack you and get their followers
    > to attack you. That's the Main reason I do not bother with Articles
    > anymore, there is no recourse against a truly abusive Author. <br/>
    >
    > And they rarely retract the False and Misleading Opinions they just
    > presented as Facts.
    >
    > I would like to add 2 buttons at the bottom of each Article. Fact?
    > Fiction?.
    >
    > Commentators should be able to vote on each without being Attacked
    > by the Followers of the Author.
    23 Dec 2009, 10:20 AM Reply Like
  • H. T. Love
    , contributor
    Comments (17497) | Send Message
     
    As I said to Seeking Alpha in an e-mail long ago, I don't think folks should be able to vote for themselves. /That/ is not "peer review".

     

    Regardless, there are many good ideas posted above. But I have trouble deciding the value if this. Not because I disagree with some kind of rating system, but because I don't know what "value" is extracted from it.

     

    If the "value" extracted from voting results are for SA purposes, we would look at it one way and design a system, including mechanical tools to reduce opportunities for abuse, to suit that need.

     

    If the value is for SA community members, we might design it another way, again with abuse prevention designed in.

     

    From my POV, regardless of the value desired, I almost never give a thumbs down but for inflammatory or purely rude posts. I much prefer to give thumbs up for 1) Good contributions to a thread, regardless of whether I agree or not, and 2) folks that consistently demonstrate a helpful sharing behavior, and I am not as critical of what's in the comment (as to how much it contributes to the thread) as they can't all be "home runs".

     

    That's my peer review for /my/ "values".

     

    Based on what I understand now, I would like to eliminate thumbs down (the ones I usually give a thumbs down might be better handled with an abuse function - if SA can operate that process without causing a lot of angst) and use a scoring system that incorporates a ratio of comments to thumbs ups, rather than a count. With no thumbs down, it's harder to "game" things for ego gratification, potential commercial benefit or "vendettas".

     

    One last thought. I have found only one case where the rating system seemed useful to me. One comment to me raised my ire (hard to do usually) and I popped off on them. Another commenter posted a reasonable statement that maybe I was to harsh in my response. As part of my reply, I pointed out that the one that raised my ire had a very large /negative/ rating on his comments, which I felt might support my original harsh response.

     

    Other than that, I've never had a use for it. I don't consider it in who to follow and I would hope no one chooses to follow me based on that, even partially.

     

    Adding sub-categories of ratings and/or additional items to vote only adds more opportunity for abuse and more on-going issues for SA to deal with. So I don't think that's a good idea.

     

    If most of the community gets no benefit from it, that leaves only benefit to SA to justify it.

     

    So, what benefit is derived and who receives the benefit?

     

    HardToLove
    26 Dec 2009, 03:18 AM Reply Like
  • Freya
    , contributor
    Comments (2266) | Send Message
     
    For some reason or other SA uses Followers as a means of determining the Value of an Author. How many "followers" would disappear if a Time constraint were added to the Mix?

     

    If a "follower" hasn't Logged In on SA for over 3 months or some such number, that person should automatically be removed as a Follower of a specific Author.

     

    I don't doubt that many have left for parts unknown yet are still kept on the Rolls.
    26 Dec 2009, 05:24 AM Reply Like
  • GotLife
    , contributor
    Comments (1275) | Send Message
     
    Having had time to think about your questions, I would like to add my support to maintaining the positive and negative rating differential. Many of the downsides to the negative postings could be eliminated if the authors and commentators would refrain from flaming those they were in disagreement with. I see supposedly highly rated authors, whose articles are factual and objective, resort to demeaning and derogatory replies to a few commentators. I even suspect a few of having an alias identity just to do the same. In sports it is called "rabbit ears."

     

    I also value the differential because I recognize over time, someone with a 1000 positive comments but 1500 negative comments has been rightly identified by a great number of SA readers as one who may indeed have an alternative view but probably one not well grounded in education, analysis or forecasting. I would like to know that so I don't waste time attempting to educate or inform through replies.
    28 Dec 2009, 08:53 AM Reply Like
  • H. T. Love
    , contributor
    Comments (17497) | Send Message
     
    David,

     

    If you want to see abuse of the thumbs in action, have Kobi give you a list of who gave me about 200 or 300 thumbs down in the last few weeks. I have no concern for it, but it is important to many and I suspect this user has nailed others too.

     

    As I suggested in another comment somewhere, this can be mechanically detected and possibly corrected.

     

    I'll search for the comment if you want it.

     

    HardToLove
    31 Dec 2009, 09:02 AM Reply Like
  • thiazole
    , contributor
    Comments (2146) | Send Message
     
    I just had two more thoughts on how the commenter rating system could be dramatically improved. The first is more elaborate and would be harder to do, but I think it would benefit commenter's the most. The second is along a similar vane, but would be easier for SA to initiate.

     

    1. Force people to justify their thumbs ratings with a small comment that only the person being rated can see. Ie, you could say "I'm giving you a thumbs down because you are mistakenly saying that unemployment insurance claims are counted in the household unemployment rate survey" (a mistake I've seen at least 20 times) or "You've posted this same comment in 8 different threads and it has nothing to do with this article". By the same token, you must also leave a blurb if you give a thumbs up, like "You provided info that I hadn't seen before". You could have a 5 word minimum for the comments and a spell checker that will invalidate thumbs given when people leave something like "akjsd sldkjjklsf" as the comment.

     

    This will do two things that I think are very important: a) it will force people to justify their thumbs ratings instead of giving blanket ratings to every comment they didn't agree with - by doing so it prevents abuse/overuse of the thumbs system (because it now takes a little effort to give someone a thumbs up or down, so leaving 100 thumbs down to someone you don't like would take a lot more effort). b) it will provide valuable feed back to people (like myself) who get incensed when they make a comment that they believe contributed well to the discussion, but got a bunch of thumbs down for it anyway. The only real downside I see to this is that it could be another thing to police if people start leaving offensive or threatening comments.

     

    2. This one would have a similar effect but would be easier to institute. You could limit the number of thumbs that people can give each day - like 5 thumbs up and 5 thumbs down per day. When the person puts his/her cursor above the thumb on someone's post, it will tell them how many they have left for the day before they use it. This will prevent most of the thumbs abuse that we are seeing. It will do something else as well - it will force people to reserve their thumbs for only particularly good or bad comments, thus eliminating frivolous thumbs ratings. Obviously, this would need to be coupled with the inability to give oneself thumbs up. Because this would deflate the number of thumbs given every day, you would need to also set an expiration of older thumbs ratings - like a thumbs rating expires after a year. This would also require that people remain fresh with their comments instead of creating a regime of thumbs from being popular years ago.

     

    I know these thoughts are kind of raw, but maybe someone could refine them to make them more user/administrator friendly.
    6 Jan 2010, 06:05 PM Reply Like
  • Northern Dancer
    , contributor
    Comments (737) | Send Message
     
    "This one would have a similar effect but would be easier to institute. You could limit the number of thumbs that people can give each day - like 5 thumbs up and 5 thumbs down per day. When the person puts his/her cursor above the thumb on someone's post, it will tell them how many they have left for the day before they use it. "

     

    Great contribution thiazole, but I have to strongly disagree with putting a limit on the number of thumbs per day. I often read 40 articles per day that might contain 200 superb comments. And according to Murphy's law, once my limit is hit, I'd read the best comment I'd seen in a month. Your thoughts are very much appreciated, but I respectfully veto this idea. At the same time, I myself could be criticized for not yet contributing any ideas. I need to put more thought into it.
    .
    6 Jan 2010, 06:15 PM Reply Like
  • robert.b.ferguson
    , contributor
    Comments (10802) | Send Message
     
    thiazole, Northern Dancer: Greetings. I'm with Northern Dancer regarding thumb limits for the same reason. However the idea of having to justify a thumbs up/down is very appealing. If an individual wants to rate comments knowing the thought process behind the rating would be a helpful critique for the commenter and perform the other valuable functions you out lined.
    6 Jan 2010, 07:21 PM Reply Like
  • H. T. Love
    , contributor
    Comments (17497) | Send Message
     
    I think the having to justify a vote would deter the trolls, but it would also reduce the urge for real folks that appreciated a good comment to vote. IMO, the mechanical detection of trolling (and correction) or elimination of thumbs down, etc. would be sufficient.

     

    I've posted an outline and suggestion of one possible mechanical detection of trolling activities. If SA gets to the point of actually considering such, I can help them locate my previous comment that outlined it.

     

    HardToLove
    6 Jan 2010, 07:28 PM Reply Like
  • lower98th
    , contributor
    Comments (1420) | Send Message
     
    I've noticed that some commenters have a negative follower...and interacting or commenting after them attracts the same "troll." It has certainly made me think about how I vote with "thumbs," and where I comment. In a perfect cyberworld, I vote down only racist/sexist/obscene remarks, and hit report abuse for commercial sales spam or terrorist type stuff. But in this imperfect world I find myself defensively upping good commenters on even unremarkable comments when I see they are being down-trolled. And though I never voted myself an up until recently, I have recently stooped to doing so when a slew of one-off downs shows up on every comment, even old ones.

     

    I vote for adding an individual statistic of voting thumbs...up and down, or a percentage, featured prominently. That way the real negative influences will be apparent, and eventually will probably not like the "publicity." So L98 would show a 90%+, and Cetin would show a 90%down.
    6 Jan 2010, 08:15 PM Reply Like
  • davel
    , contributor
    Comments (3366) | Send Message
     
    I am not sure what the issue is.

     

    Yes pos/neg sometimes reflects whether the reader agrees or not with the posting.

     

    There is really no way to regulate this.

     

    What it does do is give a gross measure of how an aggregate feels about the posting. As you say, this is a measure of an individual discrete posting rather than a general assessment of your views.

     

    Unpopular views are just that.

     

    Just as there are contributors that seem to put out empty missives there are these individual ratings which sometimes reflect beauty contests.

     

    Even with your criticism I see these ratings as useful.

     

    In the end I see no alternative.

     

    Just having a positive rating button is useless. You might as well have no rating on a blog post at all.
    20 Aug 2010, 04:49 PM Reply Like
  • samram
    , contributor
    Comment (1) | Send Message
     
    interaction ,and need social skill
    cheap cars for sale
    7 Nov 2010, 08:04 AM Reply Like
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