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To me, the site has gotten a lot less informative and interesting since the votes have been hidden. The voting numbers really help me understand what people are thinking: how strong the consensus is, how much support there is for dissenting opinions. Without that data, at least for me the value of the discussion here is significantly reduced.

I would have t agree. There was ask HN recently where someone was asking for advice. The advice I would give was already posted so I up voted, but now the guy doesn't know if the advice had 100 up votes and really well regarded or if he just got really few responses. I could have made a yeah what that guy said comment to make my agreement more visible but that is rather frowned upon.

I'd guess that "yeah what that guy said" comments won't be as frowned upon with the new system.

But how does that affect the "Decline of HN?" I would think that threads filling up with comments where the summary of the content is a "+1" or a "-1" detracts from the rest of the conversation thread. Especially with something that would have normally gotten 100 "me too" upvotes.

Who cares how many points a given comment have gotten? Who cares what other people think? I see voting as a way to bury the clearly trolling or off-topic comments, not as a way to take the temperature of some community.

Maybe you get twenty-three down votes and forty-six ups; the point count isn't going to tell you that. I know that I have comments where the score hovers around one but have maybe ten votes that cancel each other out. What to make of that?

A voting system should have modest goals. (While the Slashdot community hasn't been my cup of tea for a while, I feel like they've muddled their way to a system that works pretty well.)

For example, as I write this, I have 23 upvotes for the parent comment. How does that compare to some of the others? More than the other top-level comments, presumably, but what about the nested comments? Since voting patterns have changed, past experience isn't any guide.

I was going to upvote that comment until you told me how many votes you have -- now I feel like it's probably been upvoted enough.

I agree and here is my solution: two axes of moderation. The big, conspicuous, open-to-everyone up and down vote arrows feed into an agree/disagree poll whose total (agree votes minus disagree votes) is displayed by the comment.

Meanwhile, the useful/useless votes are smaller or perhaps harder to access, like the current "flag" system for comments where you have to click through to the comment's own page first. Perhaps voting either agree or disagree automatically registers your vote for useful, and to vote useless you have to click through like with "flag".

Agreed. Not for all content though. But for what's foreign to me. Ideas, concepts, even products. If I don't "get it" right away, comments help guide me to a better understanding. Lower scores indicate noise. (Not really, but I won't know the difference.) Sorting comments without points isn't enough though; you don't know when exactly the noise begins and where to stop reading.

It's even useful for topics I'm already familiar with. If a comment I don't necessarily agree with has a high score, I'll wonder why. It's a great opportunity to walk down new mental paths or explore different angles about the topic without feeling vulnerable. If any insights emerge while doing this, I'll then follow up with my own comment.

In either case, it's impractical to analyze or reflect on every comment, so points are a pretty good heuristic. Even if it is a broken system, it does help a lot of the time.

It seems one of the main complaints in the current format is the lack of a quick visual guideline to contrast comments amongst each other. Maybe PG can create a numerical ranking system for comments similar to the way stories are ranked on the homepage. It would quickly show readers how informative each comment is in comparison to another without having to reveal comment scores.

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