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maybe the new kids don't know any better? can we crowd-educate them as to acceptable comments? stackoverflow has used strict categorization of "reasons for flagging post" to great success in influencing how the crowd moderates.

  "-1, poor tone"
  "-1, offtopic"
  "-1, factually incorrect"

Yeah, the slashdot approach to mods might also be worth looking into. They do a sort of randomized statistical moderation thing that makes its less autocratic than other schemes, while still retaining the human nuance.

Extra information in the upvote might help a lot. Right now I can only say "more of this" when I click the up-arrow. But does that mean I like the comment? I like the user? I like the tone? Sometimes I agree with one of those but not the other.

That's a neat idea. -1 doesn't mean much without a comment explaining why.

I do have a concern, though. If this system is implemented, doesn't that mean that the "new kids" will also have access to this system and may use it to exasperate HN's "new kids" problem?

What about modifying the existing HN guidelines to include comments and promote the guidelines more? For example, cite a downvote with an appropriate quote from the guidelines.

If the current rule applies that says you don't get to down-vote until you reach N karma, the "new kids" don't really get to do much. I for one would value a system that forced a down-vote to be accompanied by some sort of explanation of why. I suppose at less than a year old I am still a "new kid" so I will say in my infancy (a few months old) I had a comment down-voted for reasons that were not obvious to me. I was polite. I didn't say anything negative. Yet I was down voted. When I commented on begin down voted and inquired why, that too was down-voted. Some one was kind enough to explain to me that my original comment was "a generic compliment" and basically useless. It was a pleasant compliment (something the OP seems to be advocating here)... yet still garnered down votes. Ironic, huh?

The tone of that comment came across badly. You pointed out they had made a typo - that was your only feedback. You suggested they might not be a human. You used the word "regret", but you clearly have no regret.

There is no irony as to why you were voted down. It was entirely justified.

I think you may have misread my comment here and are addressing the wrong comment. I was talking about months ago... not in this thread. I understand why I was down voted on the comment you are talking about. Clearly I was being a smart ass... taking the OP's suggestion to the extreme. Some people got it.

Good point about the karma limit. I was writing under a different assumption.

What I was proposing in my earlier post was exactly as you say: explain the downvote.

Maybe let everyone downvote, but have tiny radio buttons with reasons next to them. :-)

But with a clear cut system like the one mentioned above, why shouldn't new members get to downvote as well? The system would clearly convey its intended usage, and in the process bring new members up to speed faster. If you still want to impose a restriction, it definitely shouldn't be karma based. I find it a bit counter-intuitive. [Assume maximum evil] You're going to allow someone to downvote others based on how quickly and effectively he can troll the hivemind to give him 500-1000 or heck even 5000 karma?

"New" members shouldn't downvote because they might not downvote the right things, or for the right reasons. I do not consider lurkers "new members."

I also disagree with the idea of karma-driven downvote system. However, I wrote the above with the assumption that those who can downvote know HN values and enforce them. As you pointed out, yes the karma-downvote thing doesn't quite accomplish it's goal (assuming the goal is to allow senior members to act as enforcers). It should change. However that wasn't quite the point of my post.

My original point is: if you gonna say smack, gimme a damn good reason why.

Ah yes. You've got a good point. I find it confusing on how to allow downvotes then. Is age of the account a fair measure? Then what about people who've been here without registering, or people who actually have good discretion.

Maybe enforce a stealth downvote. This would be a case where the downvote button is visible but you use heuristics and probabilistic models to determine to whether actually accept the guys' vote or not, and if yes, what weight to assign it.

Slashdot has been doing something similar for a while. I like their commenting system.

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