Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login
Tell HN: A proposed change to assigning karma to submissions
12 points by RiderOfGiraffes 2306 days ago | hide | past | web | 24 comments | favorite
There's a very long thread about karma, submissions, comments, bots, and improving HN over here:

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2386443

One of the proposals in particular strikes me as having real potential:

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2387216

Problem is, it's deep in a long thread, and not many people will see it. Hence I post this to help it get some attention. It's not mine - tt's better than anything I've thought of.

(edited to fix the link (even though it's (not clickable)))




I liked my idea better.

The basic proposal is that submissions cost x karma, where x is a predefined value that should be relatively small (say 25, 50?).

To submit a post, you must have at least x karma, and you SPEND that karma on the submission.

If the article is upvoted at least x times, the karma is refunded. If it doesn't, then that karma is gone.

For 'failed' articles (meaning articles that did not get enough upvotes to attain the refund), submissions from that submitter now cost y karma, where y = the previous x * 2.

Assuming x is 25, my second submission after a failed first submission now costs 50 karma, but only has to reach y/2 karma to get the refund. The refund action sets x back to the default, base x value.


I agree that your proposal will most likely make people think harder before submitting, but it doesn't solve the problem of sharing karma amongst several people who see the same link and perhaps should be equally rewarded. The scheme lunk to here helps to prevent the rush to submit, and therefore allows time for reflection, while simultaneously rewarding people more equitably.

All the schemes proposed have good points and bad points, but I think gjm11's proposal has lots of good points, and some good features that yours doesn't have.

To some extent, of course, it's irrelevant, since none of these are likely to see the light of day. Having said that, gjm11's scheme seems fairly simple to implement.


With a delay on 'approval' from when it was posted, and a karma split to all submitters, why wouldn't I just watch /newest and repost all the articles that get submitted that look like they have even a little traction.

I then don't have to come up with any new articles, I just watch /newest and leech karma from everybody who submits anything worthwhile.


Because it doesn't even go to "newest" before either getting enough duplicates or enough time has elapsed?


Ah, I didn't get that part. Yeah, that works.

If you're going to have a plan in which karma is awarded for story submissions, that probably works as well as mine -- I just personally have found myself downvoting MUCH more than I ever have lately, trying to enforce quality.

That most of the downvotes go to people with fairly young accounts isn't lost on me, and while I hate to be the old curmudgeon hollering about the decline of HN (especially since I haven't been here nearly as long as many,) I don't want the quality standards to suffer more unnecessarily.


I like bmelton's idea better as well.

> but it doesn't solve the problem of sharing karma amongst several people who see the same link and perhaps should be equally rewarded

I don't see the point why the system should hand out gold stars for effort. Whoever comes first, gets to host the thread. What's wrong with that?


Personally, I see that effect as part of the cause of the rush to submit mediocre links, and I don't think bmelton's idea will fix that. Further, rightly or wrongly, I get a vague sense of injustice knowing that one person submits a valuable link and gets loads of karma, while someone else independently submits the same link moments later and gets none at all.

It doesn't seem fair.

I know, life's not fair, and anyone who says otherwise is trying to sell you something, but even so, it nags at me. A good system should be fair, and be seen to be fair. If it isn't, it's like a code smell. Maybe it works, for some sense of "works," but there's probably a better way to do it.

But really, at this point I no longer care. I'll watch the debate with some disinterest.


> But really, at this point I no longer care. I'll watch the debate with some disinterest.

Come on, don't be like that. You started this thread! Let's just argue the pros and cons, there is nothing personal about that.

> Personally, I see that effect as part of the cause of the rush to submit mediocre links, and I don't think bmelton's idea will fix that.

But you said you believed that it will make people think harder before submitting a link, so we basically agree that the number of submissions will come down and people will focus more on what's important to them. bmelton's solution would be easy to implement and easy to understand. It will improve the quality of posts, and it will mean less trash on the /newest page as well, leading to better chances for good material to surface.

By the way, I don't agree with bmelton about the last part where the cost of submission climbs steadily. Just make it a fixed amount. Let's say 20 karma.

The only problem I see with this approach is that it will be easy for people with a lot of karma to abuse the system. Nearly every user name I click on has several thousands of points to spare.

At this point I believe we are in danger of taking this whole karma thing too seriously.


  >> But really, at this point I no longer care.
  >> I'll watch the debate with some disinterest.

  > Come on, don't be like that. You started this thread!
Only because I thought it was an idea with some value.

  > Let's just argue the pros and cons, there is nothing
  > personal about that.
Never said or thought there was.

  >> Personally, I see that effect as part of the cause
  >> of the rush to submit mediocre links, and I don't
  >> think bmelton's idea will fix that.

  > ...
I've just started a point by point reply and I've realised that I really don't care. I'll let people who do care argue the pros and cons - I don't think it matters, it won't change. Besides, if I've learned anything, I've learned that everything I believe about people's behavior is probably wrong.

  > The only problem I see with this approach is that it
  > will be easy for people with a lot of karma to abuse
  > the system. Nearly every user name I click on has
  > several thousands of points to spare.
I first came to this site when PG asked me to submit a link that I'd sent him. If I'd had to accumulate karma before submitting I wouldn't be here. Perhaps that's themain thing that bothers me about such barriers to entry. The really clever people I personally know would mostly just not bother and go elsewhere. Many of the mediocre people would stay, comment, get karma, and feel a sense of accomplishment.

Who would you rather have?

  > At this point I believe we are in danger of taking
  > this whole karma thing too seriously.
But like it or not, it will - and does - drive a lot of the behavior on the site. Getting it right, or even getting it better, would be a Good Thing(tm).


> Besides, if I've learned anything, I've learned that everything I believe about people's behavior is probably wrong.

What do you mean by that?

> If I'd had to accumulate karma before submitting I wouldn't be here. Perhaps that's themain thing that bothers me about such barriers to entry.

Many communities have these barriers and in the occasional situation where HN's submission quality suffers, it's partly due to the fact that people can submit links without limit.

> I first came to this site when PG asked me to submit a link that I'd sent him.

I believe most people come here to comment first, then later they discover how to post their own links. It's basic etiquette to find out more about a site's style first before imposing content on it like this. It's highly unusual for (non-spam) users that are not already part of a community to post an article. In your very very special case, this process was inverted because you were specifically invited. PG could easily have given your account a "free karma bonus" to allow you to post.


  >> Besides, if I've learned anything, I've learned that
  >> everything I believe about people's behavior is
  >> probably wrong.

  > What do you mean by that?
Every time I've tried to reason carefully about the effect something will have, or the factors that will drive behavior, or the reasons people will do things, I've been wrong. I've been reading things like Dan Ariely's irrationality pieces, and Freakonomics, and other similar works, and nothing really resonates with me. In discussion with my wife and other close friends the consensus is taht it a very real sense I'm simply "not normal."

So protracted discussions about what might or might not "fix HN" are likely - for me - to be unprofitable. Experiment is essential, and I don't have the means.

Or the time.


It only climbs on 'failed' submissions. If I submit something stupid, it eats my karma and costs more for the next submission.

It keeps climbing until I post something good.

This can decay over time, or be capped, or something like that, but the point is to penalize careless submissions.


Aren't they already penalized by the fixed cost? The problem I have with this is that for a new HNer, 20 karma is a lot. And chances are good that the first submissions won't be successful, so after a while it becomes easier to just make a new account and start over or abandon HN. It will lead to a lot of disappointment. Now contrast this with the "establishment", it'll be a meaningless restriction for regulars who have both a lot of karma and a lot of fans.

I do like the decay idea, however. That would work. In fact, maybe there is some merit to having decaying karma totals altogether, not just for submissions.


20 karma is, I think, an arbitrary amount, but the actual amount should be structured around 'how long it should take someone to get used to the rules around here'.

Frankly, my biggest complaint of late is that too many people are posting too much nonsense, and while I'm sure we've all been guilty of it at some point or another, my concern is that as the nonsense gets more acceptable, we go the way of the dogs.

Also, yes, there is an incentive to discourage growth. In years past, HN was self-selecting to the degree that only people who fit with the community would bother to stay. The old guard was ruthless with the downvotes, and exercised a mutual desire to keep the garden clean. Now, so many people join each day that it simply isn't possible for the 'core group' to exercise this control.

Many would consider this growth a positive, but in an environment where the ultimate goal is to preserve its values, its quality and its intellectualism, then 'for the masses' isn't something that should fall within its description, or in the actions of its members.


I believe you are essentially right about this. Leaving aside the fact that the quality of comments left by the "old guard" is not always in proportion to the upvotes they get, I agree that as HN grows the problem of quality control is essentially a problem of karma inflation. With this inflation, the weight of an individual vote lessens dramatically and it becomes especially evident in the article submission mechanism where there are no downvotes at all.

Encountering a user with less than a thousand karma points today is exceptionally rare. That's why 20 points feel so arbitrary. The more I think about this, the more I believe the karma system itself is vulnerable to issues scale. There are a number of ways to "fix" this, but I don't think any of them will actually be implemented here because they would change the nature of the community too much.


In my scenario, there is no X+1 award. The only karma you get for a story submission is the karma you get back if it proves of value. There is no award for submitting a very good story whatsoever.


> 1. When a link is submitted, it doesn't actually appear on HN until a certain (fixed?) time T has elapsed after its first submission.

And what is T going to be? That means HN won't be able to react quickly if something unexpected comes up.

> 3. Karma from article upvotes is shared equally between all those users.

Doesn't that mean people will submit "obvious" links even more often, because shared Karma off a large cake is still easier than making an insightful comment. At least right now, people have to check whether the link was already posted. With this proposal, I'd just have to submit every Slashdot and Quora link known to man and be assured that I'd get karma for it.

> 5. Breaking news doesn't appear on HN as quickly as it does now; but if lots of people are submitting it, it still gets in pretty fast. (Maybe good, maybe bad.)

I think this is a solution to a non-problem. Even though a duplicate link-checker would be great for HN, the real issue is low-quality links that sometimes make it onto the front page; every once in a while even a submit bot finds something interesting. I'm fine with that, since the overall quality of articles is still very high.

If we're actually complaining about how every blog blurp of certain HN personalities makes it to the front page, then I'm afraid the problem is not with the site's code, but with the way we personally handle reputation around here. And I don't really care which user gets the karma for the next jacquesm story.


A much easier change would be to simply not give users karma points for submissions. Karma only for comments.

Those who object saying that there won't be any incentive left for submitting are clearly on HN only for the karma. It won't be so bad to lose them.


The other reason in favour of doing that is that comments get both up and downvotes and therefore represent the net perceived value of the user's contributions.

New post submitting is almost guaranteed to be upvoted. (I don't know whether flags give negative karma, but I'm pretty sure people flag less often for different reason)



Link to the proposal goes to a blank page (just the header, no content)


The proposal is taking me to a blank page.

Edit: It's fixed now. Disregard.


Aaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrgggggggghhhhhhhhhh !!!

Sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry - dogfood, dogfood - check your work, use what you produce, follow the links properly.

Mea culpa - apologies - link now fixed.


over engineering to solve what problem?




Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | DMCA | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: