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To solve this problem, I suggest that if one makes a commitment to contribute to the success of a site, but then does not follow through, they should lose some token reputation on the area51 site.

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What rep? Seems like the users most likely to commit and forget are the same ones that followed a Twitter post in and don't have any rep! –  Shogging through the snow Jun 15 '10 at 18:42
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That is a problem, but not a good reason to take something away from people who are just trying to be helpful and charitable. I'd also love to see that proposal go into beta, but I'm not going to commit to it, I can't, I don't understand Persian and it illustrates a problem. Its exactly as you described it in another question, a catch-22. If I commit to a site and some tragedy happens in my life, should I be penalized for it because I had no time? Its almost always better to be positive, even when enforcing a 'social contract'. –  Tim Post Jun 15 '10 at 18:47
    
@Tim - If something happens that changes the course of your life, then reputation hardly matters - life comes first. It's not much different than missing out on a bounty question because something else came up. In general, most people will know ahead of time whether they can visit a site three times a week for a few minutes each time and whether they are capable of answering several questions that might crop up on the site. If they commit with no intention of doing even this basic work, then they should be penalized. Only a tiny percentage of people will be penalized because tragedy happened. –  Adam Davis Jun 15 '10 at 18:55

2 Answers 2

I think, in this case, a 'carrot' approach is better than a 'stick' approach. Instead of punishing those that don't follow through with their commitments, we should be rewarding those that do. For example, I think that users that follow through on their commitments should count more in the commitment phase than users that don't.

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That's not a bad idea. If you have a history of "starting" sites, the community can trust you more to start a new site. Not something that can be implemented immediately and easily, though, we have to build up some history. But the current "User points" calculation takes care of that to some degree - the more sites you have a substantial reputation on, the more you count towards a proposal. –  Adam Davis Jun 15 '10 at 18:41
    
+1 I like this approach. –  squillman Jun 15 '10 at 18:42
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+1, life happens and you should have priorities. You might get fired, you might get promoted, you might get married, you might find out that you are soon to be a parent. All of this takes away from free time (well, ok, getting fired might increase your use of the site for a while). One of my favorite quotes is "Life is what happens while you are making other plans", or something to that effect. –  Tim Post Jun 15 '10 at 18:43
    
@tim - see my response above. Yes, this will affect those whose lives change drastically after they make the commitment, but the vast majority of people will know in advance whether they can contribute or not. We have two clear examples of people who cannot possibly contribute to the beta signing up. Clearly they are pushing a proposal forward that's not ready to move forward. The site may well die because it has hundreds of commitments from people who clicked on a link for a friend but will never visit the site again. –  Adam Davis Jun 15 '10 at 18:57
    
(-1) This proposal sounds good, but it actually fails. The problem is that the users who follow through on a single proposal therefore by definition do not have as much time to follow through on any other proposal. A user following one site would be very valuable to it, a user following two would be valuable to both, but less, and following three or more generally means you can't hold down a full-time job anymore. Everyone's commitment should count the same, because we can't assume that their strong contributions to "Web Applications" will entail strong contributions to "Food and Cooking" –  devinb Jun 16 '10 at 7:24

I would think that it would have to be pretty hefty amount of rep to have any real effect. I can see that there could be a pretty big (good) feeling of martyrdom for the people to commit for the reasons in your example if this is implemented.

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Perhaps. Rep is different on area 51, and if you go below 50 you can't really do much on the site at all. –  Adam Davis Jun 15 '10 at 18:42
    
@polly yeah, but it's really trivial to get back above 50. Not much of an deterrent there. –  squillman Jun 15 '10 at 18:43
    
What do you suggest? If we have Jeff and/or Joel come and personally TP the offender's house, it might actually make the problem worse. –  Adam Davis Jun 15 '10 at 18:59
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@Pollyanna: Yes, but I for one would pay to see the video. –  Shogging through the snow Jun 15 '10 at 19:09
    
@Polly (Was actually getting ready to blow this out and turn it into a comment but you got your comment in and I didn't want to torch yours.) I like Kyle's suggestion. @Shog I'd split that bill with you! –  squillman Jun 15 '10 at 19:12
    
@shog9, @squillman If we start a kickstarter fund for some airplane tickets, I bet lots of people would contribute to see Jeff and Joel do that. And they might actually do it too. –  Adam Davis Jun 15 '10 at 19:31
    
@Polly I could provide a list of candidates they can start with... –  squillman Jun 15 '10 at 19:35

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