100

Jeff Atwood's Mar. 19, 2010 SE post Should the weight of question upvotes be reduced? asked about reducing the question upvote reputation changes from +10 to +5, with some discussions there both for & against it. In particular, though, his blog post Important Reputation Rule Changes, also on Mar. 19, 2010, which describes the retroactive change, states 3 main reasons for this change:

  • While we value good questions (and asking a great question is absolutely an art), we want to explicitly encourage people to provide the best possible answers. Without people interested in providing good answers, the questions are moot. We know that answers have more intrinsic value than questions, and the reputation balance should reflect that.

  • The question asker already enjoys a substantial benefit beyond reputation gain from upvotes on their question — namely, they get great answers to their question! Thus, the asker shouldn’t need as much reputation gain.

  • There are a few users who ask hundreds, sometimes even thousands of questions. Over time, these users generate a fairly sizable reputation entirely through the tiny trickle of upvotes gained by these questions. In a sense, we want to discourage question asking a little bit, and make sure that people who ask questions are doing it for the right reasons and not to generate reputation.

Somewhat later, Jeff Atwood's June 11, 2011 blog post Optimizing For Pearls, Not Sand says

Incoming questions are a universal constant, all around us in countless billions. But answers — truly brilliant, amazing, correct answers — are as rare as pearls. Thus, questions are merely the sand that produces the pearl. If we have learned anything in the last three years, it is that you optimize for pearls, not sand.

and

That’s why we’re determined to keep question quality high, even at the cost of refusing a little sand. It’s true that you can’t have Q&A; without questions, but having the wrong sorts of questions is far more dangerous. The fastest way to kill any Q&A; site is to flood it with low-quality questions.

Now, Sara Chipps' Nov. 13, 2019 blog post We're Rewarding the Question Askers announcing the reverse change, i.e., question up votes are now retroactively going from +5 to +10, states

... Three years later, a decision was made to devalue upvote reputation on questions. The idea was that this change would encourage people to focus on providing good quality answers rather than asking questions.

We can look back on this decision with the benefit of hindsight. This decision may have been the right call then with the information we had at the time, but we have seen the effects it has had on our community. We reward people who give answers at a higher rate than people that ask questions.

I find it interesting, and rather telling, that nowhere later does it explicitly say anything about how the earlier change seemed to affect the number of questions asked, the quality of the questions or anything else like that. Also, it doesn't directly address, and in particular refute, any of those 3 points originally made by Jeff back in 2010 as to why the question up votes reputation change was being decreased then, nor his later post about how, although you want to keep question quality high, you especially want to encourage good answers. From my admittedly somewhat limited experience, especially compared to some longer term, more involved members, I believe those initial points still mostly apply today as well.

I think if you're going to reverse an earlier change, you should address the reasons for that previous change to indicate how they no longer sufficiently apply, or that other new reasons which counteract them are more important. Apart from Sara's brief statements about how we "can look back on this decision with the benefit of hindsight" and "we have seen the effects it has had on our community", is there any other discussion about this? In particular, is there any hard data to support that the earlier change was a mistake, or that this current change will overall improve the situation?

I believe the net effect of this change will be site-specific. My main concern is the change was made mainly to try to get more questions being asked (in particular, get more traffic to the sites), even though the overall quality of the questions may become somewhat worse on many sites, in particular the main one of Stack Overflow. Nonetheless, I hope I'm wrong and that things will generally work out better than before, or at least not any worse.

Update: The SO meta post What was the context of the decision to lower the value of upvotes to a question? asks a similar question to this one. There's currently one answer by Cody Gray which gives some of the background & reasoning. That is the sort of thing I'm asking for here. I hope we eventually get even more details here and/or in that other post.

  • 10
    @Lyd My post has nothing to do with Monica. I'm not sure how you consider it to be a "rant". I'm saying a change is being made to reverse an earlier one, claiming it's an improvement. I'm asking if there's any discussion about how the original reasons are not relevant enough any more or if there are new reasons which are more important. SE can, of course, make any change they want, but I'm just asking if there's more justification for it than what I'm aware of. I'm sorry if this wasn't clear in what I wrote. I'll check to see if I can reword it better. – John Omielan Nov 13 at 20:44
  • 4
    To address this, we could also change the +10 for answer upvotes to +20. Yay! Double rep for everybody! – Kimball Nov 13 at 21:10
  • 4
    @Lyd this is the third (or second?) comment I've seen of yours calling people names. Your comment is not helpful and is a non-constructive rant. If you don't agree with the question, down-vote, if you feel it should be closed, vote respectively, if you have suggestions, suggest them constructively. – Script47 Nov 13 at 22:00
  • 2
    @Script47 My sincere, constructive, opinion is that we are hurting all our causes and forcing a lose-lose scenario by blindly becoming an outrage dust devil every time SE does anything. If we sincerely want change, this is not the way to go about it. – ByBw Nov 13 at 22:13
  • 16
    @Lyd Originally, you wrote "acting spoiled, entitled, and planting outrage seeds everywhere", implying this is my behavior. With your comment above, are you claiming I'm acting as an "outrage dust devil", whatever that means? That is, to me, hardly a constructive opinion. You are, of course, free to disagree with what I wrote,. Nonetheless, please keep your language civil. If you do, I believe you'll even find your opinions may carry more weight that way. – John Omielan Nov 13 at 22:17
  • @JohnOmielan I'm claiming that we can do a lot better in the ways we are choosing to use while interacting with SE inc, and that avoiding the current lose-lose scenario is in everyone's best interest. (you have since heavily edited your comment) – ByBw Nov 13 at 22:21
  • 11
    @Lyd Thank you for the more appropriate tone & language of your comment above. I disagree that just asking for some justification from SE for their decision is a "lose-lose scenario". If they give a few good arguments for why they made this change, the community will likely generally accept it better, with this being a "win-win" as the company may appreciate getting positive responses, and the community will appreciate SE at least trying to better communicate the reasons for their decisions to us, even if they still don't listen well, or we may disagree with at least some of their reasons. – John Omielan Nov 13 at 22:26
  • 42
    Sara Chipps seems to really enjoy stating vague things about effects on the community without really citing any particular evidence. Do the employees on StackExchange really analyze any data, or are these statements pulled from thin air? – The Anathema Nov 13 at 23:35
  • 3
    It would be hard to in the current climate, even setting aside everything since August. Some ideas: bullet 2 is only true sometimes (some tags you can get upvotes but no answers). People are very picky about voting on self-answers even though these tend to be the questions the authors put the most effort/research into (something the community insists they want to see). Also, MSO is very vocal about wanting better questions and question score has gone down, so it could be another incentive to get people to write better questions to separate them from meh questions. – Troyen Nov 14 at 2:10
  • 7
    @TheAnathema The change wasn't based on any data other than a journal article that calculated that women were more likely to post questions than answers. That's it. This is not about rep levels or privileges or quality. It's about a misinformed notion of how equality works. I'm usually the last one to trot out the old "political correctness" phrase, but this is actually a textbook case. (The evidence has since been removed from the website and hidden, via abuse of the "redacted personal information" feature (there was no personal information on it) but you can find it on archive.org) – Lightness Races with Monica Nov 14 at 14:54
  • @TheAnathema Thick methane I think – James Nov 14 at 17:21
  • 3
    @TheAnathema, the question, referred by LightnessRaces, can be found on web.archive.org/web/20191105161629/https://… – MiFreidgeim SO-stop being evil Nov 17 at 7:55
  • @TheAnathema The recent change from 5 to 10 for answers appears to be entirely dataless-driven. I remarked on that in Sara's SO blog post of 13 Nov but my comment was not allowed by moderation. I wrote about it again in this answer. – Ellie Kesselman Nov 18 at 2:36
  • @LightnessRaceswithMonica wow, the question was helpful and informative. It is a shame it was removed. It linked to this user provided analysis, drawing from Data SO and behavioral research external to SO, and is quite nice! It is a sad situation when four paid employees of SO can't do as robust of an analysis as one unpaid user contributor. – Ellie Kesselman Nov 18 at 2:48
  • 1
    @EllieKesselman Indeed! – Lightness Races with Monica Nov 18 at 11:37
73

You know as well as I do that the answer is "no". Or at least - not in a way visible to most users, or even to users active on meta.stackexchange.com .

This is another example of the apparent paradigm shift in SE Inc.'s management of the SE network - towards unilaterlism and arbitrariness, as myself and others have claimed before. Once they realized the way they conduct our-and-their affairs is simply unacceptable to the vast majority of users (who are aware of the situation), they seem to have decided to avoid public contact and "rule by decree".

I could be wrong about this - and will gladly delete this answer if we hear otherwise from the corporate leadership. If we don't, then that sort of proves my point.

PS - Please do not construe this answer as opposition or support to the actual planned change. I have an opinion about that, but under the circumstances I would feel uncomfortable even voicing it; just like with the pronouns issue.

  • 1
    I try to be an optimist and hope the company will give a better explanation at some point. That is one reason why I asked my question. However, I agree with you it's quite unlikely. – John Omielan Nov 13 at 20:52
  • 1
    @JohnOmielan: Indeed, I would like nothing better than to delete this answer, but this is the obvious interpretation of the information we have. – einpoklum - reinstate Monica Nov 13 at 20:53
  • 11
    The company doesn't have to consult us on every single decision, and so far no one has given an argument that doesn't appeal to emotion about why we needed to be consulted this time, or the negative impacts of this decision. It's all "why weren't we consulted", and it seems to be the case on every single thing SE does now. We want to be heard, while not saying much of value. – ByBw Nov 13 at 20:58
  • 7
    @Lyd It's hard to estimate the negative impact if the blog post does not provide us with a research report or any data analysis to begin with. I find it also ironic that the author of that post has donated more than 2 downvotes for every upvote they ever made on SE while preaching the importance of rewarding good posts. – dfhwze Nov 13 at 21:03
  • 8
    @Lyd: Doubling question reputation is not "every single decision"; it's a very significant decision and with a lot of symbolic/site-philosophical meaning. – einpoklum - reinstate Monica Nov 13 at 21:05
  • 8
    @einpoklum-reinstateMonica Every decision SE makes recently is being met with the same wall of noise, which includes "why didn't you consult us", it's not exclusive to this scenario. A lot of people already got their rep increase, and it wasn't that much at all. How significant the change is only time will tell, but to me it seems like another storm in a glass of water. – ByBw Nov 13 at 21:13
  • 7
    @Lyd: That is absolutely not true. Even for very visible ones, like recent UI changes. SE Inc. makes lots of decisions, and most of them aren't met with a "wall of noise". – einpoklum - reinstate Monica Nov 13 at 21:20
  • 4
    @einpoklum-reinstateMonica We'll have to agree to disagree on that one. To me, the state of Meta SE for that last couple of months is the very definition of noise. – ByBw Nov 13 at 21:22
  • 6
    @Lyd People around here see SE as the enemy and therefore have a strong cognitive bias to see everything they do in a negative light. This is just one more example. – user215040 Nov 13 at 21:25
  • @einpoklum-reinstateMonica As I state in my updated answer, a partial explanation is given in this SO meta answer. It's at least a start at providing a better explanation. – John Omielan Nov 14 at 1:12
  • 1
    @metasnail: This is not an example. I did not say this change was a bad idea on the merits - I only commented on the way this decision was made. – einpoklum - reinstate Monica Nov 14 at 6:18
  • @metasnail Well, what do you expect. According to the recent blog article, which ends with an exciting start to working hand in hand with the community to build a better Stack Overflow. ... well, people who consider dropping stuff on me to then call that "working hand in hand", sorry, I really don't see them as "friendly" any more. They dont want us as stakeholders, we rather follow their orders. And note: I have no problem praising SE Inc. for going good work, just did that the other day. But I have also no problem to point out there epic fails. Which, unfortunately, is much easier to do. – GhostCat says Reinstate Monica Nov 14 at 12:32
  • @GhostCatsaysReinstateMonica: You're mis-interpreting what she means by "the community". – einpoklum - reinstate Monica Nov 14 at 13:31
  • I know, I know. Silly me. If the former community simply accepts that we are all just soulless robots coming here to take orders from SE Inc., and to provide the content and moderation efforts required to keep their business running ... everything is perfectly fine. No disappointments, no disillusions, no nothing. Just people earning money, and others helping with that. – GhostCat says Reinstate Monica Nov 14 at 13:38
  • 1
    @Lyd There are best practices and generally accepted guidelines in making minor and certainly major website changes that impact some or all users. This isn't pettiness on our part. Also, we would have been glad to help SO figure it out using Data SE just like we did in the past. – Ellie Kesselman Nov 18 at 3:08
19

The only time I heard about that was the question by Robert last week.

This seems to be the earliest "appearance" on the "stage". Correction: the first question was asked by Jo King, but it was closed and deleted rather quickly.

Obviously: another epic fail in communication, by the company, and the director of Public Q&A.

Really boils down to: they seem to really not understand our motivation at all any more. Why else would they first invest time and energy to prepare that recount, instead of first having a discussion on it?!

And just to point out the priceless irony, keep in mind that last sentence of the blog announcing the question-weight change:

an exciting start to working hand in hand with the community to build a better Stack Overflow.

(my personal 2 cent: if that is how "working hand in hand" works at SE Inc. these days, then I am really sorry for the people who have to work there)

  • 6
    Regarding "... the earliest "appearance" on the "stage"", note this basically same earlier question of Should the weight of question upvotes be increased back up to +10? was asked about 2 days earlier than Robert's, but it was closed & deleted relatively quickly. – John Omielan Nov 14 at 7:51
  • 1
    @JohnOmielan Thanks for that link. I will add it to my answer. Fun fact: due to the 5->10 update, I am at 10K now and can look at the deleted question. Seems that the 10K rep is the essential minimum these days to enable reasonable participation on MSE ... – GhostCat says Reinstate Monica Nov 14 at 9:43
  • 4
    SO has ghosted the community. – Trilarion Nov 14 at 10:08
  • @Trilarion Maybe we should all just change our nickname to "GhostCom" (munity) then. ;-( – GhostCat says Reinstate Monica Nov 14 at 10:12
  • Director of communication? – Stop Harming Monica Nov 14 at 10:37
  • 3
    @GhostCatsaysReinstateMonica you said it was a fail by the "director of communication". If you mean Sara, that's not what she is. – Stop Harming Monica Nov 14 at 11:49
  • @StopHarmingMonica Thank you. Updated the answer accordingly, to give the exact position. – GhostCat says Reinstate Monica Nov 14 at 11:59
9

There wasn't any discussion for the community and none of the users. The following question may be "Why?".

Takeaway: the changes we made are increasing the number of questions getting posted on Stack Overflow, without decreasing the quality.

  • They're trying to increase traffic.

...along with some new feedback mechanisms we will be announcing next week are an exciting start to working hand in hand with the community to build a better Stack Overflow.

  • They're trying to make users forget about Monica, half of the moderators retiring, and admire their new reputation level.

Three years later, a decision was made to devalue upvote reputation on questions. The idea was that this change would encourage people to focus on providing good quality answers rather than asking questions.

  • They are trying to show the community that they can change anything they want without asking the users because they know better.
  • 1
    And the question now who helped them having quality content? If community-based isn't going to work for them now they should've announced it and changed the system, rather than leaving us in dark and arbitrarily took decisions and publish them without consulting to the community. – Mukyuu Nov 15 at 3:36

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .