The vote system is heavily flawed, and being actively exploited.
Why am I posting this?
I'm leaving the Trilogy; as such, I can afford to post this without any fear of reprisal or reprocussion against me. Otherwise, I would have continued to keep silent about what I have observed to maintian my own status quo.
First, I'm not a big believer in downvoting. I have only cast one downvote once, by accident, and quickly removed it (thus earning a badge for first downvote that I really don't want). This creates an interesting situation for me, because there are several postings that I would have easily downvoted otherwise. Note that I am differentiating downvotes from closing posts, which I have done, usually to move questions to another site.
I have noticed there are issues, and I don't want to leave without addressing them, for the sake of future users. If you think this is about getting more reputation, then why would I bother (a) leaving, and (b) risk damaging what reputation I have? If it's not obvious by now, then it probably never will be - in which case, I'm probably making the right decision to leave.
So let's get started:
- New user signs on, posts questions and answers, has low (sub-1000) rep score.
- Older user finds every single post and question by that user and downvotes; the new user's score forms a smoking crater (negative score), effectively hog-tying them.
- Older user can afford to take the -2 hit for every -10 the new user gets. [ed: this is 100% incorrect, see the /faq] [note to Ed: when did this happen? I've seen several downvotes take -10 of of an answer; so this must be something recent.] So after several thousand points worth of rep, you can effectively take a loss and not even notice.
I've seen it happen on a lesser scale, but it's a matter of time before someone carpet-bombs other people into oblivion.
I don't think you can effectively block against this kind of attack. If you are looking at malicious behavior through a heuristic, then yes, you'll see a pattern; I can only hope that your heuristic will take into account "slow attacks", noise injection, and other ideas that might circumvent this.
The other factor is that in any given community situation, there is always potential for malicious behavior.
A pure-play wiki is a community wiki that you start as such, so there are no reputation points to be gained.
The majority of posted wikis contain non-useful materials; the ones that actually function in some kind of professional capacity are usually sparse at best, or forgotten at worst.
No-one, after a half-dozen or so of these, will come and post, because there are no points to be made. People post in wikis when they have fun; they rarely, if ever, post in wikis that have useful content. If it is a function of human behavior, then I think it reflects on what people are willing to share.
Downvotes are insidious because they too can be gamed by simply deleting your answer. Deleting the answer is not a function of the correctness of the answer, but a function of whatever social or peer pressure the poster faces. It has been suggested that the post of an answer that you have verified to be correct, yet is downvoted into the negative, should be retained. This creates an interesting quandry; it has also been mentioned in this posting that there might not be enough downvoting (see comments). If there is a marked absense of downvotes, then one wonders, is that because people are simply deleting their answers and the downvotes are not counted as a function of that?
Insidious Attitudes. Apply Within
It's a shame that being told I'm wrong without telling me why I'm wrong is an acceptable behavior. "Accept that you are wrong, or I will brow-beat it into you". Great way to influence people. Or better yet, get them to believe that maybe they were wrong.
I have a better suggestion. Instead of saying "you're wrong", how about "go look over here at this link" or "go Google on this term" or some other constructive activity. There is a significant difference between being simply "wrong" and "you're wrong because of X". The first is arbitrary, the second, reasoned. I guess a (poorly-written) description would be the difference between arbitrarily kicking your dog and expecting it to read your mind as to the reason why it was kicked, and punishing your dog for chewing on the couch, showing the dog the exact cause of the problem. If there is no connection between cause and action, then how is one to interpret the actions of others? The first (and probably incorrect) conclusion is to assume they are hostile.
It's interesting to read the comments, and watch how each reason twist and turns. I guess the real crux of the problem with this post is that while I have directly experienced these things, it won't be believable until I provide evidence to the contrary. So, how do I make this happen? Devote a month to delving into data and postings, and get a statistician to dive into it and make their observations? And if that data is presented, is there any vindication to the initial position taken, or is it dismissive as well?
For my own selfish purposes, it is far less effort, far quicker, and less demanding of resources to place a single post, one time, and look for rebuttals. In effect, the request made (admittedly in a trollish fashion) in the form of a single post requires the least energy on everyone's part, and unfortunately, is far more effective because of how human nature works. Asking me to spend significant amounts of money and time to point out a problem is counterproductive; asking me to just shut up and go away (should I be wrong) has the least impact, the most productive gain, and certainly, in the shortest time.
Thank you for all of the commentary, both positive and negative. In less than 24 hours you have managed to accomplish what would have taken me weeks of real-time investigation.
I do hope that all of the sites continue on, as more and more people come to them looking for answers. I also hope that the answers are given, instead of derided.
Lastly, in a (somewhat more evil sense), I have managed to 'game' everyone that has replied in a short period of time, by getting you to do all of the aforementioned footwork I just described. The difference is that my intent was not malicious, but rather, an approach of being informative. I do apologize for this, but as I have already pointed out, I really didn't expect people to believe me to begin with, so a demonstration was in order. Before Jeff considers blocking my accounts, I ask that he reconsider the situation, and think about this: if my intent was truly malicious, then would I have not posted this? Wouldn't it be easier to lurk in the background, attempting to go unnoticed?
The oddest thing I saw was a suggestion of ego being a factor. In a sense it was, given that I had to make this manouver. But I think being described as acting in purely selfish reasons is an accusation that the people here need to back up with their own data. Given that my existing postings would probably be contrary, I think I have also managed to demonstrate just how easy it is to jump to conclusions, or to be treated as maligned, or worse, in a manner that suggest civility is lacking. So, in responding as some of you have, you have completed this demonstration of how discussions can be lacking in civility. And yes, I do acknowledge that flames have been fanned; but it applies in both directions, to me and to the responders. My apologies again.
The tone of this post has gone from one of frustration to one of outlining the entire thought process, and I do thank those commentators out there for urging clarity above hysteria. Perhaps that should be an indication as well, pointing to true civility in the people that are here. Another perspective would be to look at the difference between "could you please clean up the post, and provide more info" and "you're being an egotist, go away".
Do you think new users would respond in a positive fashion to "your question is stupid, get out"? Hardly. They might however go for "maybe if you just looked at X over here...". If civility and professionalism are contrary positions in this line of work, then I don't need to be doing it anymore.
Best of luck to everyone. I don't wish you ill at all; in fact, I hope all of you prosper.