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On Leaderboards, Skewed Voting, Niero, and Dtoid


‘Those with great power now have great responsibility.’

That was you, yesterday. I detect a disheartening mix of irony and hypocrisy. As someone who can change our community in a weekend you have a responsibility to be good to that community. To warn us. To talk to us. To listen to us. And to listen is not to acknowledge the good whilst shunting the bad in sweeping dismissals or just to flat out ignore it. To listen is to take all feedback and respond appropriately. That means that if you are wrong, backtrack – I have tried to no avail just to get an inkling of remorse from you, to test your understanding and personal willingness to act on feedback.

You have failed that test. So please listen.

For things like the quickposts and the livefeed, do what you want but always listen to all feedback. I don’t see the point of them, but I don’t like social media – so I’m not about to. So don’t think that what I say is some blanket statement about all changes. They are not. I see your thinking about those now. Some of these changes are fantastic; others have a lot of potential but have been badly implemented. Others are flat out awful. I am going to talk about the awful. Because you still don’t get it.

I am, of course, speaking of two things with that last statement.

  • Faps = Followers
  • Leaderboards

I have not seen one person besides you defend those in more than a sentence. We’ve waxed lyrical for 3 days about it. That should speak volumes in itself, but apparently our words fall on deaf ears. So do not be afraid to backtrack – frankly it looks like that fear may be the only reason you stick to these two features, because the argument you make is… well, let’s go through it.

Friends and Bacon

Ok, it’s not a great analogy so I may be wrong when I say this. But your argument appears to be split into three: 1) that this gives us two different ways of judging success 2) it gives people power, and 3) that the new way is good

All are incorrect. Firstly, this leaves us one way of judging success. The old way. The way that has worked brilliantly and without fault for 6 years. 1 dixon to 1 vote. Now the number of fappers. The number of people who liked my work enough to say so. The number of faps now means nothing. To quote from TheAngriestCarp:

‘My main problem is that now I have absolutely no way to judge quality. With the one person = one upvote system, you had a definitive metric for how enjoyed a blog was. Now it's just bullcrap. You have some blogs with twenty one-vote Faps, some with two fifty-vote Faps, and some with over a hundred Faps added by the fucking people who wrote the blog.

It's goddamn useless. Not to mention a lot of people just seem to add all their upvotes to shitpost blogs and blogs featuring dumb injokes for no other reason than that they have a shit-ton of upvotes to give.’

The number of faps is skewed so heavily by influence that the system has lost all meaning. Something that has no meaning is of no use – and just causes confusion and anxiety. New bloggers will ask ‘well why aren’t I getting 400 votes?’ when the post before it did, even if they are of the same quality. Faps is no longer a metric, because it has no meaning now. What does it tell me? Popularity? Kinship? Nothing useful, that’s for sure.

Then we go onto why it isn’t good. Again. This is where a change of perspective is required.

Imagine you are just someone on the internet. You like vidoegames, maybe you want to talk about the industry. Maybe you just want to write ‘FucKonami’ repeatedly and compare it to other AAAs. (Note: that’s one of the blogs I’m writing but not posting because the site is a mess).

So you’ve looked at the IGN blogs, and decided they are too impersonal – not enough community. Then you’ve perhaps dug around the internet and wound up at Destructoid. Will you like what you see?

We (and I do speak for the majority here, going from what mangled metrics I have) would not like it.

From RadicalYoseph: Now it is less welcoming since newcomers will feel like their opinion doesn't matter as much. I would not have started writing blogs here if a leader board or the current upvote system was in place.

From OverlordZetta: I mean in all honesty, all of this emphasis on numbers in itself has made even the "X fappers" thing feel kind of dirty.

From SirDavies: Having all the numbers in the open will probably be intimidating to newcomers both in terms of how they are received (old timer orgy at the top for sure) and how they fit into the community; only being able to give a single upvote to a pool of hundreds doesn't make their presence feel impactful or appreciated. Multiple popularity gauges is a radically more competitive environment which I'm not sure many will find welcoming or conductive to personal/professional growth.

From JoyfulSanity: I still think it's going to only encourage playing to the regulars and will cripple the presence of niche blogs

From Dango: Welcome to the world's first class-based video game site.

From Elsa: I too want only 1 upvote per person... otherwise it truly is meaningless

From Nekro: Now I can see the prospect of writers becoming too scared to actually publish anything because of a hostile and competitive environment

From Zetta(Again): the community would become fragmented and, worse still, cliquey. And that's a best case scenario, or at least one of them.

From Dango(again): ‘It's such a surprising push towards making the blogs less inclusive than ever before. I won't keep blogging here if it stays, as I didn't join to be part of some clique’

From Ooktar: if the close knitted like minded community we have here is gonna be ignored and pushed aside for useless features that nobody asked for in order to reel in an audience that for all anyone knows doesn't even exist, then I just don't see the point of being here anymore. I came here because this was a site that actually interacted and seemed to care about it's community as people and not as numbers.

From JoyfulSanity(again): sat at what would now be ~20 faps when other blogs are pulling in over ten times that amount and getting leaderboard recognition, I probably would have figured that there was no demand for that kind of content and just given up.

From CynricCyning: I think how stupid this system is highlighted by the differences between our blogs on the issue- 7 less people have liked my blog, but I have ended up with 7 more upvotes (at the time of writing). It's dumb.

From SeymourDuncan: Turning your follower count into a sort of levelling system diminishes the purpose.

From Manchild: For newcomers, who is going to take the time to click the one below if there is such a massive numerical disparity in what they will perceive is a "score" of some kind.

Some themes I have picked out from these comments:

  • The new system is made redundant by the metric we already use still being there – 1 vote to 1 person, new users will be confused by this. 1 to 1 was easy to understand.
  • Those who want to post niche content will be deterred
  • You reduce users to numbers when we see each other as people – nobody, new or not, likes to be viewed as a number
  • Competition is scary, new users who just want a place to write will be deterred
  • New users are worth nothing compared to more embedded members – you really are just shoving the words ‘YOU HAVE NO VALUE!’ in the face of new users.
  • It creates a class focussed community. Nobody but those at the top likes those. Definitely not the folks at the bottom, again, it scares them
  • You turn blogging into a competition, when it is a hobby to almost all of us

Hopefully you now understand why a leaderboard is detrimental. If not, I’m sure we’ll gladly spend another 3 days trying to tell you, though if we reach the stage where sock puppets are required I might just give up. You say ‘power to the people’ but all you are doing is shifting the balance of power, into the hands of some who deserve it but also some who haven’t been here in years but still have followers. But doing that also means that you take power out of the hands of the average user. You give power, sure, but to a small number at the cost of everyone else.

Now, as you say, no site has done this before (probably because they realised how bad it is, but let’s ignore that for now) but what you are doing is not unique in the history of the world. This is an outlandish example, but go with me here. Time for a history lesson.

It is early 19th Century Britain. For a long time it had a parliament elected by the people (well, property owning men, anyway). They elected MPs who could nominate laws, bringing their ideas to the forefront of the platform by themselves. See the comparison? I hope so. Bills are like blogs and MPs are like bloggers, if you don’t. But over time, particularly during the 17th and 18th centuries, MPs increasingly bought votes. MPs were increasingly elected not on their merits, but because they either played to the crowd (See G.O.P election or Nigel Farage for how that has not changed as much as we’d all like) or used their influence to secure their dominance. This led to the creation of rotten boroughs – constituencies of only a handful of people that could elect an MP, and who got their voices elevated above the rest. Power to those people, but power diminished for everyone else.

Over 3 centuries of this the problem had become endemic. In the 1831 General Election over a quarter of MPs were elected by fewer than 1000 people total. In 1832, rotten boroughs were eliminated, MPs were elected based purely on votes - buying votes was made illegal and the secret ballot was introduced. The effect was 1 vote to 1 person, and although that has not stopped people playing to crowds, it significantly lessened the problem (beforehand an MP could literally stand up and say ‘war with the slimy French!’ and stand a decent chance of getting elected) and ensured that no MP had too much power. Because when they got that power, it corrupted them. That’s still a problem and it’s one of phycology, not of politics. Give bloggers too much power, and we will start to misuse it. Gradually, not out of malice or thirst for power - but because that is the culture created.

Giving multiple votes to individuals via the wallet damn near destroyed British democracy and was a major reason why the US Constitution tried to eradicate it from the start. 1 vote to 1 person saved it. But the Tory Party defended rotten boroughs, saying that they provided stability and would allow talent to rise to the top very easily. They cited Pitt the Elder, whilst you cite Jim Sterling. But all democracies on earth followed Britain and the US in the removal of rotten boroughs because they saw what it did for the quality of MPs and of the society in general (though I think the Dutch might have done it when they became a republic, but nobody else cared). Anyway, the point is – your system has been tried, not by a website, but by a government. And it failed dismally and too slowly to stop until it was too late. A very simple lesson was learned: being fair creates a fairer and better community.

It is something you do not understand in relation to the blogs, but it is at the core of how the C-blogs have operated for several years.

Ok, history lesson over, sorry if it made no sense but hopefully I summarised it at the end well enough.

Basically, leaderboards and skewed voting causes more problems than those it fixes (not that you've actually explained what those problems are) - and the way to solve it is to revert to the system of a week ago.

I was going to write about what I want from the blogs and why I joined them, Manchild has done a good (if gross) job of it, so go read: http://www.destructoid.com/blogs/Manchild/blogger-blue-balls-302036.phtml

But here are my two cents.

I want to write about games. And about gaming. And about the gaming industry. I don’t want a competition. I don’t want to be a number. I don’t want to be judged by my follower count. I want to write, and for what I write to be good. When Chris comments on one of my blogs that means far more to me than being 7th on a leaderboard. Or even a sexy badge. I would gladly go from hero to zero on a list for more of the real, genuine appreciation of people I admire. And I bet you that almost everyone who writes in the blogs feels the same way. You cannot keep ignoring this, to do so is idiotic and disrespectful but most of all – it is just plain wrong. Respect our wishes so long as they do not hurt the site. That is all we ask.

So here are my wishes, there are other, smaller things, but these are the most important and the ones I would do almost anything to see happen:

  • 1 person to 1 fap, end of story. No multifapping circlejerks, no leaderboards. Basically just put voting back to how it was a week ago. We liked it.
  • A ‘sorry for my mistakes’ from you – I cannot overstate how much it would mean to all of us to hear you say this, because from what I can tell it is something you have never done. Maybe not now, maybe not tomorrow, but when things have been ironed out. Because you owe us the decency to admit errors. Everyone owes that kind of respect to everyone.
  • To de-muzzle the managers. We need them most at times when we feel trodden on, but they are cooped up – able to make only vague statements, that sucks for them as well as everyone else. And you make their jobs harder than they need to be.
  • To be left alone for a few months (on the changes side of things) when this is done – communities grow for as long as nobody rocks the boat without the passenger’s say so. You stunt your own growth in ignoring this. In just 4 months you have rocked the boat 3 times, each a wound to the Dtoid community. Stop. For your good as much as ours, as these events bring you down as much as it brings us down (though there are a lot more of us so you are really outnumbered on that front)

And this is perhaps the most profound thing you need to understand. Because honestly I feel like these changes are a symptom of a much bigger problem.

You own us. And you think that gives you the right to do anything. But communities are not owned by 1 man. They are owned by the community at large; some people have bigger voices than others. Some people just sit there quietly on the sidelines. Others get annoyed and tell it how it is. But we are all a part of the community, you are but one member – you think you are more important than all of us combined. You must remember: communities grow from the bottom, not from the top, and all who are worth their salt should be treated as equals.

That goes for friendships, for corporations, for entire nations. And for the nifty little part of the web called Destructoid.

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About James Internet Egoone of us since 2:56 PM on 04.21.2015

Howdy! Welcome to the little corner of the internet that a part of me calls home. Here's some stuff about me.

Occupation: Student

Hobbies: Videogames, Chess, Philosophy

Interests: Law, Philosophy, Gaming

Chores: PC maintenance, Uni prep

Current Thought: Damn you Witcher 3! Damn you Crones to hell!

Favorite Game: KotOR 2 for reasons, but Witcher 3 is now joint first, bloody marvelous game.

Current Game: The Witcher 3

I am a fan of the written word as well as the spoken variety, so you'll find me doing a lot of written stuff. Every couple of days hopefully.

Here is a nifty list of what I think is my best stuff.

Destructoid C-Blogs
How Cities: Skylines Almost Screwed Up My Exam
Why the PR Man Can Lie
On Mods and Money
How Mass Effect Made Me Like Music
Questing For Immersion
An Afternoon With the SWG Emulator
How to Buy a game in 2015
Some Upbeat Thoughts on Bioware
The Pain of Playing Old Games
Why Citybuilders Are Not ABout Building Cities
On Valve's Inability to Follow The Law
Band of Bloggers: KotOR

Some Written Word on Game Design
Ambivalence and Not Caring

Front Paged Things
Bloggers Wanted: KotOR 2

Kotaku UK
The Best Zombie Game Out There

That covers the bio, right?

Oh, right - name. I'm James, in case you couldn't guess.