I've been pondering the concept of Reddit "karma," and I believe it's time for a serious discussion about its true nature and the impact it has on our communities. I've written multiple posts about this previously here on kbin (https://kbin.social/m/RedditMigration/t/95140/Dearest-developers-Stop-reinventing-the-wheel) with very mixed results in the engagement. Though I am still working on refining the argument.

While the idea behind karma is to provide users with a reputation score or social credit, I've noticed that it doesn't necessarily align with those intentions. Instead, it often serves as a reinforcement for users to stay within their comfort zones and echo chambers, stifling diverse perspectives and constructive dialogue.

One of the main issues I've observed is the tendency for downvoting to occur when a user expresses an opinion that goes against the prevailing sentiment within a particular community. Even if the opinion is well-thought-out, respectful, and contributes to meaningful conversations, it becomes a target for downvotes. This behavior discourages users from engaging or expressing differing viewpoints.

It's disheartening to witness how users can manipulate the system out of spite. Some individuals go as far as visiting other users' profiles and downvoting their past posts to deliberately lower their karma score. This kind of behavior further emphasizes how the current karma system is more of a reflection of how often a user participates in echo chambers that align with their views, rather than an accurate measure of their quality engagement or contribution to the community.

With that in mind, I propose that we reconsider the name of the point system to better reflect its actual usage. Here are a few alternative names that encapsulate the behavior we often see:

  • Echo Chamber Score: Highlighting the tendency to reward users who stick to echo chambers and discourage exploration of different perspectives.

  • Bias Points: The system measures a user's inclination to conform to specific biases or ideological groups.

  • Conformity Score: The score reflects a user's adherence to the prevailing opinions within specific communities, rather than their engagement.

I believe a change in the name would serve as a wake-up call for the community, highlighting the importance of open-mindedness and respectful discourse. It would encourage users to think beyond their echo chambers and engage in meaningful conversations, even if they hold different opinions.

I've previously discussed how it would be more beneficial to leave the rep system in place, but keep the scores hidden to everyone besides the user of that profile. Another thing to think about is the way Steam has a rep system regarding VAC Bans. Instead of banning a profile completely, just some big red text on their profile noting which game or community there were banned from and how often.

I'm eager to hear your thoughts on this matter. What are your suggestions for improving the system to foster more open and constructive dialogue?


dayum lemmy is on fire with science today. steam is a great example but i don’t know lemmy well enough to know if such a system would fit here.


I don't think downvotes do anything. I don't think negative reputation scores represent much more than a user's inability to engage prosocially in any environment, and those users should just be referred to admins. So, I think downvotes should be left in the rear view mirror.

Instead, I think we should replace upvotes with two actions: 1) A 'favourite' action, which could be a single, mod- (at the community level) or admin-defined icon, or maybe even user chosen emote reactions, and 2) a 'helpful' or 'interesting' action. This would allow uses to differentiate between things they find interesting or helpful, and things they just enjoy, and it would give an extra dimension to use in sorting posts and comments.

If we want to attach any kind of reputation score to a user (and I'm not convinced that we should), then we can consider having aggregate breakdowns of those different point pools. Which instances did those points come from? Which communities? If a user has 80,000 points but they all come from c/ElonForGodEmperor, that tells you something significant about how you might want to weight those points.

siuvhne avatar

I'm already disheartened after a single day because I did in fact engage in a thoughtful discourse but was summarily reprimanded. I was hoping this environment would be different than the echo chamber that was Reddit.


You can't pay any attention to reputation on kbin at all. The dev changed how upvotes are interpreted, but the reputation hasn't been updated to reflect that yet.


Just so you know reputation is bugged on kbin right now just so you know. Down votes reduce your rep but upvotes do not increase it. Only boosts increase it. As a result most people onhere that participate a lot have negative rep.

zalack, (edited )
zalack avatar

As far as I can tell your comments were downvoted for either:

  • playing into the "both sides are the same" narrative that there isn't much patience for anymore, especially after Roe being struck down and the decision on Student Loan forgiveness this morning.

  • coming across as concern trolling for right wing extremists. I'm not accusing you of actually doing that, but a couple of your downvoted comments conforn to retorical devices that white supremesist groups commonly use. Looking at your profile I think it was just genuine ignorance on your part, but that's the reason.

In general, there are so many bad actors online that hide behind "just wanting to have a discussion" that people have lost patience with it. I've been seeing that sort of rhetoric my entire life used as a way to trojan horse advocacy for things like barring gay couples from having the same rights as straight couples, defending racism -- not even just racist policies, but straight up "black people are all thugs" racism -- taking away women's rights to choose their own medical care, allowing trans people to exist at all. The list goes on and on. I've just totally lost patience with it, and I'm not alone.

When 9/10 people who "just want to have a discussion" use that discussion to spread misinformation, gaslight, gishgallop, and make false equivalences, eventually you become wary of anyone who opens up a dialog that way.

Blame Ben Shapiro, that was his bad faith weapon of choice and it caught on.

siuvhne avatar

you're not wrong. I feel brow beaten but that's really because politically I have no idea where I stand anymore. I'd probably take it less to heart if I was more firm on my own views. I may seem to tapdance a little around the issues trying to be thoughtful of other people's opinions. thank you for your thorough and kind insight. I have previously kept my opinions to myself but l am trying to grow as a person and that means engaging in meaningful discourse.

zalack avatar

Look, I don't really know you or your personal values, but I would just suggest you keep the following in the back of your head:

When you look at political discussion and debates, which side goes out of its way to try and help people that aren't like them and which side generally is fighting only for people like them.

I disagree with a lot of the policy particulars of the Democrats, but the issue for me is that my only other viable option is a party trying to rip away basic rights from a lot of the population. Right now the basic question we seem to be struggling with as a country is: "should we be using our massive collective wealth to help people?" as well as "should people be allowed to live the way they want, as long as they aren't hurting others?".

If you can answer that basic question, start looking at the policy positions of each party through that lens.


Your comment clearly demonstrates your own bias. You are engaging in what is known as collective punishment or collective blame, unjustly punishing or mistreating individuals who may not have been involved in any wrongdoing, simply because they hold different beliefs or opinions than you and your group. This approach completely disregards the principles of individual responsibility and fairness, ignoring their individual actions and intentions.

Until an individual user posts racist or hateful speech, they deserve either the discussion they are looking for or, if you don't have anything constructive to say, ignore them and don't say anything at all.

It is crucial for you to recognize and acknowledge your bias, as it undermines the credibility and objectivity of your argument. By allowing it to dictate your actions, you are not fostering a constructive environment for discussion. You aren't considering their merit or engaging in meaningful dialogue.

It's important to remember that a person can hold bigoted views even if they actively advocate for social justice. Prejudiced or intolerant views towards a particular group of people, regardless of whether they are based on race, religion, gender, or any other factor, are equally unacceptable.

Remember, it is important to approach discussions with an open mind, respecting the diversity of opinions and perspectives. Only by doing so can we create an environment conducive to productive conversations and the exchange of ideas. Otherwise, we might as well create echo chamber magazines for everything. As an example, instead of "Politics" we'll need Left Politics, Right Politics, Center Politics, Top Left Politics, Top Right Politics, Bottom Left Politics, Bottom Right Politics............. etc.

zalack avatar

I generally used to believe in that precept, that you should approach every debate with an open mind, and engage with anyone willing to debate you. But as I've grown older, I've realized that, while nice in a vacuum, that code is naive. It presumes that the person across from you is engaging in good faith.

As we navigate this new phenomenon of social media, we as a society are beginning to grapple with a few problems:

  • It is easier to spread misinformation than it is to combat it.

  • The Rhetoric of 'reasonable' discussion can be easily co-opted by bad actors to spread misinformation.

  • When you engage with a bad actor, you amplify their voice.

So when you get people talking about vaccines not working, or black people being inherently more likely to commit crimes, or blah blah blah, engaging with that in good faith runs the risk of just amplifying that message. I'm not really sure what the answer to it is. Like, I don't think the Nazi's would have been stopped by more reasonable discussion, and we are at an inflection point in this country where we are having similar discussions over trans rights.

I don't think "always keep an open mind and engage in good faith" holds up when one side consistently and systematically exploits weaknesses in that philosophy to spread misinformation and bigotry.

Lastly, I hit the downvote button on comments that contain misinformation, not as a bid to punish the commenter, but as a way to push falsehoods lower in the chain so good information can float to the top. If there is a discussion about trans rights and the top comment is "I'm just against kids getting life altering surgery", then that gets a downvote, because kids aren't allowed to get gender reassignment surgery, and the comment gives the false impression that they are, and that's what's being debated. It doesn't really matter if the person is engaging in good faith or not. Bad information is bad information, and it should be pushed to the bottom or removed before it spreads erroneously.


I understand the repetitive reasoning behind your perspective. However, the problem lies in your understanding, or lack there of, of misinformation.

Who do you propose is the arbiter of what qualifies as fact or fiction? Because you make it sound like you are qualified to know everything about everything with your ability to downvote... Or, do you think which ever argument is the most convincing to you, that's who is obviously correct...? Or are you more simple than even that and think, "this information is on TV so it MUST be correct!"

When you have a thousand qualified professionals saying the same thing, yet another thousand qualified professionals saying the opposite, what then becomes misinformation, disinformation, or malinformation? Are you still wearing a cloth mask outdoors and getting your boosters?

I love how everybody throws around comparisons to fascism and Nazis these days. We could focus on the left or the right and easily create a list of all the things we've done that was similar to things Nazis did. It really isn't hard to do...

During World War II, Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which led to the forced relocation and internment of around 120,000 Japanese Americans.

Under the Democratic administrations of Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, the FBI's Counterintelligence Program (COINTELPRO) targeted various political groups, including civil rights activists, anti-war organizations, and socialist and communist groups.

The Democratic administration of President Woodrow Wilson used the Espionage Act of 1917 to suppress dissent during World War I. The act was employed to prosecute individuals who criticized the war effort, including socialists, pacifists, and anarchists.

Democrat Bill Clinton invoked executive privilege to withhold information in various investigations, including the Whitewater controversy and the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

Democratic President Barack Obama faced criticism for the use of drone strikes and the extensive use of executive orders.

The Democratic administration of President Barack Obama faced criticism for its continuation and expansion of surveillance programs, such as the National Security Agency's mass surveillance programs revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

We could talk about how Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, continued and expanded the "War on Drugs" policies. Which disproportionately affected minority communities and led to mass incarceration, raising concerns about civil liberties and racial inequality...

Good old "Drug War Joe".

one side consistently and systematically exploits weaknesses in that philosophy to spread misinformation and bigotry.

Or you know, we could accept the facts that both sides are similarly as evil as the other. Instead of just pointing fingers and creating more disinformation.

zalack avatar

For anyone keeping score at home this is exactly the sort of thing I'm taking about. Like, this comment hits pretty much all of the general devices I outlined.

I'm honestly kind of thankful to you for providing such a clear and illustrative example. Gratz.


Nobody is keeping score, buddy. This includes you, apparently. It's sad to see people who are so conceited. But hey, you lie to yourself as much as you need to, whatever it takes to keep you feeling content. Have a great day, friend.


Lastly, I hit the downvote button on comments that contain misinformation, not as a bid to punish the commenter, but as a way to push falsehoods lower in the chain so good information can float to the top.

Feel free to point out the misinformation and falsehoods in my previous comment, which you downvoted. LMFAO. Talks in circles, blatantly lies, provides no evidence... Sounds like a spineless leftists.


primalanimist avatar

I like the idea of a more nuanced upvote. It's much more useful. Also I agree with you about a reputation system. No matter what you have in place, users will find a way to exploit it. I think a breakdown of the communities that contribute to a reputation score would actually be useful rather than a generic single score. I love both your ideas. I give it the HELPFUL💁 upvote.


I don't care about karma. I just want to be notified when someone responds to my comments so that I can have an actual conversation.

zalack avatar

Kbin has this, but you have to enable it in the settings.


That's the only reason karma is useful on Reddit. A minimum karma is required to participate in many threads. I don't care about it either.

@remer@lemmy.ml avatar

It’s my karma and I want it now!


How do the comment/post scores on Lenny compare to Karma? At first glance, they seem quite similar!


When i first joined a couple days ago i kinda missed the karma, but i see why its bad


How do the comment/post scores on Lenny compare to Karma? At first glance, they seem quite similar!


They’re not combined into a total karma score for the user, just on each individual comment or post.


Oh I see. Thank you!


To anyone suggesting karma is a good anti bot tool, remember there is karma whoring. Nothing is stopping a bot from spamming useless things, and interacting with other bot posts to build karma. This is already happening on reddit when you navigate to weird subs where all the content is coming from one account posting links to the same shitty tabloid site. Yet this content is getting upvotes from something.

Karma is security theater, I think the mods were the true anti-bot force.

@Slab_Bulkhead@lemmy.world avatar

not to play devil’s advocate here, but for the average interwebs John Q. Public user isn’t a karma “fence” that has to at least be climbed, better than nothing at all? but yeah of course its a false sense of security.


Actually I think the whole upvote system sucks. I prefer 4chan, every comment is equal and people just ignore dumb shit. The upvote system promotes popular opinions and discourages saying anything that remotely goes against the flow. It’s what made reddit such a echo-chamber circle-jerk place.


Upvotes can amplify popular views or feel like a popularity contest, but they’re just a tool. You can avoid the echo chamber by sorting comments by “new” or “old”. Upvotes don’t control the conversation, you can choose how you engage.


Yeah but unless everyone does it it means there’s no discussion on downvoted opinions which is what creates the echo chamber effect.


Internet points

@MattTheProgrammer@lemmy.world avatar

Nah, I’m good not seeing the numbers or having the awards and such.


Reddit Karma really just incentives unhelpful but funny/highly agreeable post. Upvotes are fine as a per-thread moderation system, but when you have a total of all up votes it opens the door to circlejerks and discriminating against users with low karma score (which also incentives circlejerks as a quick way to earn enough karma to be a valid user, enables paid shills and enables account selling).

Karma totals is more or less one of the biggest flaws with reddit.


I think we should have karma totals to serve the same purpose as it did on reddit, to keep bots, spam and throwaway accounts out of communities.


I think we should have karma totals to serve the same purpose as it did on reddit, to keep bots, spam and throwaway accounts out of communities.


I think we should have karma totals to serve the same purpose as it did on reddit, to keep bots, spam and throwaway accounts out of communities.


I think we should have karma totals to serve the same purpose as it did on reddit, to keep bots, spam and throwaway accounts out of communities.


Karma totals as an anti-spam mechanic are easily subvertable if you just get bots to upvote each others posts, and because it creates the appearance of a legitimate user it’ll enviably create a account selling industry where spammers and corporate/political shills can just buy a “legitimate” accounts to just bypass karma restrictions.

Right now it might seem strange to buy a lemmy/fediverse account, but if the site ever gets big, then buying accounts would be a good investment for the wrong people.

In the end it just puts up a barrier for new users with an legitimate interest in sharing with the community.


I think we should have karma totals to serve the same purpose as it did on reddit, to keep bots, spam and throwaway accounts out of communities.



  • Loading...
  • Beliriel,

    Not having Karma on Lemmy doesn’t exactly discourage it, but it definitively doesn’t ENCOURAGE it. That’s atleast something and likely to keep it in check.


    If there was one change on Reddit to make it’d be to get rid of karma. Upvotes and such show support and disapproval, but karma just pushes people into shitty social media actions.

    I amassed a huge amount of karma and I have no idea what that meant? The truth was “I posted a lot” that’s all.


    Wouldn’t that be old redditors and new lemmy users?


    Upvoting posts is fine, but Karma I can do without. Back on Reddit sometimes I help somebody with something and I get maybe 3 or 4 Karma. Make a stupid joke in a popular Thread and get that hundred fold. Karma is useless.


    I wouldn’t mind some sort of rating scale at least, but nothing infinitely growing like reddit karma.

    I found the karma useful to see if someone had a relatively well used account, was a karma farming bot, a shit poster, a lurker, or an asshole.

    Maybe just a scale to determine an accounts total relative ratio of upvotes to down votes?


    Oh Dear.

  • All
  • Subscribed
  • Moderated
  • Favorites
  • lemmyshitpost@lemmy.world
  • rosin
  • DreamBathrooms
  • InstantRegret
  • mdbf
  • khanakhh
  • magazineikmin
  • cubers
  • Youngstown
  • slotface
  • Durango
  • osvaldo12
  • thenastyranch
  • kavyap
  • everett
  • HellsKitchen
  • GTA5RPClips
  • ethstaker
  • tester
  • modclub
  • cisconetworking
  • tacticalgear
  • Leos
  • relationshipadvice
  • lostlight
  • normalnudes
  • anitta
  • bokunoheroacademia
  • sketchdaily
  • All magazines