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Fix HN by tying karma to upvotes.
28 points by andrewfelix on Apr 15, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 27 comments
Both HN Articles and comments have been gradually slipping in quality. I think this is probably inescapable as more users with less discerning tastes and attitudes come on board.

However I think the slide towards a reddit style board can be slowed significantly by reducing the influence of new and less appreciated users. By giving long term HN users with high karma (ie. not me, but the people who made HN great) more up-vote power and newer members and those with lower karma less up-vote power.

The current system allows high karma users to down vote, but this power is nullified when everyone has the ability to up-vote. For example you could have one dubious article or comment upvoted 100 times by users with 0 karma.

I propose halving up-votes for those with low karma and doubling the up-votes for those with high karma. This way you retain the influence of original members, and you further incentivise new members to make meaningful comments and strive for higher karma.

EDIT: benologist makes a good point that high karma might just represent a lot of submissions and not quality posts. Perhaps then the up-voting could be tied to karma avg. This was you incentivise posting higher quality comments and articles.

High karma mostly just means you submit a lot of stuff. Age of account is a meaningless metric as well.

I like the suggestion I saw weeks ago of just ditching submission karma. When people have no incentive to automatically or manually dump everything Ars/TC/etc publish then the quality of stories might go up.

Edit: found the suggestion, it was by Cletus:


Another vote for ditching submission karma. Unlike comment karma, it has no direct relation between quality and score - esp. as there are no story downvotes.

+1 on making Karma comments-only.

This would also reduce duplicates.

As for tweaking the "power" of upvotes, I think this would probably have unintended consequences. Like creating an old boys' club perhaps.

How about karma Avg. then?

>How about karma Avg. then?

Step one: Make new account

Step two: Post Techcrunch or similar article guaranteed to hit the front page of HN.

Step three: Use newfound insane karma average to upvote crap submissions.

Step four: ???

Step five: Profit.

I actually like "Remove submission karma.". That should stop the linkbait articles from people who have to have their play money.

I'm okay with removing submission karma. There are also a few other options for reducing the influence of submission karma that we should also consider:

* Have a karma cap for submissions. It could, for example, only give one karma for every ten upvotes (rounded down to discourage people from posting many articles). There could also be a hard maximum.

* Reward less karma if more people submitted the link manually. This gives less karma for popular things such as Paul Graham essays, TechCrunch articles, etc. When other people submit an article, it should still reward the article itself with upvotes, but it would make sense to reward the poster less since it is likely the story would have been posted anyway.

These alternatives are better than removing submission karma in that they still reward people for posting interesting content, but are worse in that they make things a little more complicated.

Remove submission karma is a great idea. Right now the fastest way to get monster karma is to be the first to post a Paul Graham essay.

Here's an idea:

Have karma and voting tied together. Your Karma is basically how much votes you get to give.

If someone makes a good post, people upvote it, spending their precious karma. The person made the post, collects the karma and and they can use it to vote other posts.

We can limit karma by having new users start off with 0. And they only way they can vote/get karma is to contribute positively with quality articles/posts.

Now it works the other way too. Make downvoting take away karma of the OP too, thus making people put more thought into their posts. The downvoting action will cost a vote, so people don't running around downvoting everything without thinking.

Basically let Karma/Vote be a resource that can be used to promote positive contribution and dissuade useless contributions.

The tricky part is balancing the karma in the whole system. Downvoting siphons votes/karma from the system, we need a way to introduce additional karma/votes into the system. Maybe a monthly replenish method where say everyone gets 10 votes each month. But in order to qualify for the monthly bonus, you must first contribute enough (get the up votes) past a certain threshold (say 100 upvotes to your posts/contributions).

I like this idea but I think it is also necessary to show "total karma received", which is equivalent to what we think of as karma today. Otherwise, people are incentivized to hoard their karma to boost their reputation.

This is a great idea. Makes people more mindful of their voting. A good addition might be to tie a similar system to submissions. Doing so could boost quality of content and reduce the noise in submissions.

Great idea. The commodification of karma.

http://news.ycombinator.com/classic shows the frontpage using only upvotes from older members. It's usually pretty similar.

Something I have thought about is giving more weight to rare-voters.

My HN karma is easily 50x the number of votes I have ever given, up or down. But when I do vote, I really mean it.

This is somewhat a problem though if I never vote but happen to vote my buddies post because he is my friend; so maybe it wouldn't work.

To your idea; instead of giving a 4-1 ratio from high-to-low voters; I would propose something like like 0-10 with 10 points for those with the highest karma, and 0 for those with the lowest.

To implement such an approach HN users should not be made aware of the fact that more weighting is given to rare-voters.

Otherwise users will change the manner in which they vote, making frequent voters want to vote less and discouraging participation

Could also weight submission upvotes where the story is clicked and factor rarity between subs, upvotes and downvotes.

Maybe the solution is to let each user choose how articles / comments are ranked. A PHP programmer will just have different interests from someone who has started three companies or who has written a petabyte sort.

This is all written in lisp right? Maybe advanced users could contribute ranking schemes and people could try them out.

Separately: I'd love to see a ratio of points given to points received. And a separate count of total downvotes.

People looking for specific interests , for example PHP / PYTHON would get a better content at the corresponding subreddit on the reddit site.

Even within a given discussion on mongoDB for example, there are just different levels of expertise with system internals.

For example: Upvotes and downvotes could flow through all the posts like a pagerank. So people who like "mongodb good!" comments can see those, people who like "mongodb bad!" comments can see those, and I can see posts that objectively discuss the strengths and weaknesses of mongodb.

Is this more trying to stop HN changing and keeping it the same rather than letting it adapt with the times?

The more people that come to HN the more diverse the topics (within the hackersphere). HN will bring up the most relevant to the majority of the users (mostly).

Maybe the articles brought up today are what most of the users are looking for, which is now what you aren't looking for.

Keeping with the old ways, keeps it old.

This is about trying to stop HN becoming reddit or God forbid youtube. Where there are some great comments and submissions coupled with an overwhelming sea of bullshit. This is about trying to incentivise meaningful comments and submissions.

I don't want to see HN get to the point where interesting posts and comments get lost in a whirlpool of css tricks, poor attempts at humour and thinly veiled trolling.

There doesn't seem to be a whole lot stopping that from happening at the moment except for the fragile karma system.

No. No no no no no.

Karma being valued is a major part of WHY reddit is so awful.

Or what about opening up down-votes to all users again, and then weighting the value of down-votes (karma level) rather than up-votes.

my wish upvotes and downvotes scored seperately

what about combining karma on new submissions with the karma on comments?

It is already combined. There is only one karma number per user. (You might be thinking of Reddit where they are separate.)

Give people a limited number of votes per year. That way you really have to pick and choose what you vote for.

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