What other less-toxic system could work instead of karma? (kbin.social)

Hey! Thanks to the whole Reddit mess, I’ve discovered the fediverse and its increidible wonders and I’m lovin’ it :D

I’ve seen another post about karma, and after reading the comments, I can see there is a strong opinion against it (which I do share). I’d love to hear your opinions, what other method/s would you guys implement? If any ofc

@Sir_Kevin@lemmy.world avatar

That real question is, what problem are we trying to solve? Then we can go from there.


In wondering about that myself. What is the problem?

blivet avatar


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  • Valdair,
    Valdair avatar

    This is why it’s useful at the account level. It’s also useful at the post level in order to build a sorting algorithm which raises the most engaging/important/interesting submissions to the top. Within a community it is important to help define what that community is - irrelevant and low effort content is suppressed and relevant/high-effort gets boosted. Moderators can enforce this by just removing and pinning too, but that’s almost always too unilateral, and the voting system is generally better because it’s expected that then you get a representation of how people in that community feel about it. It’s a good system.

    jayrhacker avatar

    I can imagine some tweaks to help improve how karma is implemented:

    • Use Bayesan Inference to produce a 'shit/shinola score' for contributors instead simple up/down vote totals

    • Experiment with different recency biases for the score; you can trust that people will change over time

    • Generally figure out what you'll be using karma for and make sure you have a way to measure how well it's working


    I’ve googled Bayesan Interference, however I don’t understand what you meant by it. Could you elaborate please :)


    Here is a good general explanation of Bayesian inference.

    I think @jayrhacker is suggesting using such techniques to predict "troll" or "not troll" given the posting history/removed comments/etc. My personal thought is that whatever system replaces karma, it should be understandable to the typical user. I think its possible Bayesian inference could be used in developing the system, but the end system should be explainable without it.


    Thanks for the link. To anyone that does’t know about Bayesian inference, do check it out!

    Now I have an existencial crisis thanks to the video 😂 the funny part is that thats the same thing used to detect spam email…


    Spam detectors are pretty opaque by their nature. In contrast, karma is pretty easy to understand: "x number of people upvoted comments or posts from this user". This lets people understand a score even if they don't agree. If a karma replacement behaved like a spam detector, it would probably just annoy people.

    Sporting brackets may be a better analogy. They are developed with statistics in mind but are understandable to the average sports fan. I think a karma replacement should have similar properties.


    That sounds awesome! You seem to be quite knowledgeable about mathematics. May I ask what is your background?


    Computer science. However, statistics is more of a hobby than anything. I am just intrigued by the idea of federated social media in general so I have thought a bit on how I would personally make it work. Perhaps I will make some more in depth blog posts about my ideas at some point.

    @Jo@readit.buzz avatar

    You can check their post history? Karma doesn't tell you anything, really. Mine went up tenfold one day just because I replied to what ended up as the top post in a top thread in a much bigger sub than those I normally post in. Some people spend all their time in big subs making short, smart remarks that get a lot of karma, others spend their time in enemy territory battling people they disagree with. Some toxic people have a lot of karma because they hang out in toxic subs.

    The problem to be solved is how to order threads. Old skool bulletin boards just bump the most recently replied one to the top. Which works well on an old skool bulletin board as long as it isn't too large, but very badly on a big site where a few big active threads can drown out all the others.

    I don't know what the solution is. But the numbers don't mean anything without checking the context. Karma is useful for ordering threads/comments, and giving users a bit of dopamine when they get some attention. But there (probably) are better ways to do it.


    I don't even know that karma/upvotes are good for ordering threads or comments. It just encourages gamification, group think, and snark.

    I'd say get rid of down votes, replace upvotes with emoji reacts, and sort based on reacts + replies, but that's probably just encouraging gamification, group think, and snark, too.

    Reddit, like other centralized social networks that are trying to monetize us, prioritizes time on site and generic "engagement". Those are what generate the most money for the company.

    They're not what's best for us as users.

    Maybe what we need to do is allow users to quickly and easily hide comment chains - not just collapse them, but dismiss them entirely - and allow for user-scriptable and shareable sorting algorithms. We drop down votes entirely, because they're just used passive-aggressively anyway, make blocking users as easy as possible, with temp blocks and notification silences at the ready, and then forget about user reputation points entirely, because they're as meaningless as Dragonball Z power levels.

    @Jo@readit.buzz avatar

    Good stuff, thanks.


    The thing is, high karma on Reddit doesn't mean someone has a history of thoughtful engagement. Just as often, if not more, it means someone whose well timed with zingers on popular posts.

    And incentivising that kind of take-down behaviour actually creates toxic communities.

    blivet avatar


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  • Kichae,

    As an anarchist, by most people's standards I'd be considered a "political extremist", yet I haveover 236k karma on Reddit. I got it by being helpful more often than I was an asshole, and by being judicious with replies on Rising posts.

    Does fact that that's a pretty big, positive number actually matter that much if I'm in a mood, bring snarky and rude, and refusing to engage with you in good faith? Should it?

    If you had quick access to a button that blocked me for, say, 72 hours, and the ability to make private notes about me would you bother even checking the number? Or would you just decide that I'm being a jerk and you don't want to deal with me anymore right now?

    Edit: See, this is why downvoting isn't meaningful. Someone discusses something with you in good faith, tries to highlight an issue, proposes an alternative solution, and you just passive-aggressively downvote. So, I can only conclude that you're not discussing things in good faith. So, I'll just follow my own advice on this one.


    Not related to the subject at hand, however, I’d love to hear a lil bit more about your view as an anarchist. Do you think that is one of the reasons you are part of the fediverse?


    Or you could have a system where trolls and bad people are simply banned in stead of needing users to figure it out themselves


    That seems way better that some token system that becomes a game.


    How would you find those bad actors?


    They get reporterd and the admins ban them. Simple as that. And the same holds as for the rest of the fediverse, servers that don’t moderate well will get defederated. On Reddit bad actors can just run around unhindered, here not so much.


    Repetitive low-effort posts and comments were common on Reddit


    That it true… if they don’t “earn” anything for low effort comments, then they will diminish


    They very often get hundreds, if not thousands, of upvotes, though.

    Deceptichum avatar

    They’re common on the internet and real life in general.




    Not a problem at all. I understand that we are ego-driven, but then again, the fediverse is a new working paradigm. We are here because we want to. Genuinely curious what you guys thought!

    CynAq avatar

    We want to discuss topics. This is a place to do that.

    Simple need, simple solution.

    You don't need an extra incentive to make people talk about things if people talking about things is the thing you want. You don't want to incentivize people who don't want to talk about things to be active somewhere you want people to talk about things because then those people will start doing the thing your'e incentivizing them for instead of talk about things.

    I personally only want people who want to talk about things here, and don't want people who don't want to talk about things.


    I am not sure I followed, sorry

    Deceptichum avatar

    Basically they only want autistic levels of Internet “debate” and don’t want people having low effort fun.


    Exactly this. You want to incentivize discussion, not the dopamine rush casino/arcade that just leads to low effort, low quality posts. If people want to be here for discussion, then they will either lurk and consume, or participate earnestly. Don't put systems in place that reward the opposite.

    Usernameblankface avatar

    I think you're onto something here


    Number go up, makes brain happy


    Number go down, makes brain sad ;(

    @hyorvenn@lemmy.world avatar

    Monkey sees negative numbers, neuron activation, monkey leaves Lemmy


    Monk tap where Apollo used to be on phone. Monk end back up on lemmy


    There are few things Karma system helps with that come to mind.

    For others:

    • Reputation
    • Activity

    For you:

    • That endorphin XP boost when you level up. Makes you more likely do engage after the first hit.
    • Gives you an idea how your comment has been received by others.

    Presumably there are other things as well, these just quickly came to me.


    That is a good way to think about it. What is the need from the reader's perspective and from the poster's.

    One would certainly read a post with low upvotes from a author with high reputation if you are interested in the specific magazine. I wonder if the reputation should not be topic bound and not just general. That would be useful from the reader's perspective.


    Some kind of implementation of what you said would solve Reddit's problem of mods reposting and deleting content untill it "goes viral".


    The exciting thing about this space is that much of it is undefined. It is all about the protocols and the main features at the moment. The 2nd generation tools will be born out of what we discuss now and think about now.

    How do you make sure a user is not trapped in his special interest bubble and still gets to see content that has everyone excited? How will we make use of the underlying data, on both posts and users to suggest and aggregate content.

    I think there will be more than one solution eventually, different flavours of aggregators running on the same underlying data.

    So much possibility. And we control it. If you don't like the way your lemmy instance or kbin aggregates, choose another site or build your own. The data is there.

    TheDeadGuy avatar
    1. The first problem is people tend to follow the hive mind. If it's downvoted, they will also downvote and vice versa. They also will believe a comment with lots of upvotes and won't fact check.

    2. The second problem is people will abuse a karma system. Bots can increase the reputation of an account to make them seem more trustworthy

    3. The third problem is that the current system let's you see who is downvoting/upvoting. People take it personally when they are disagreed with and will retaliate since they can see those users and stalk their account

    I don't think these problems warrants a change in the current system. The transparency is a crucial feature. Seeing the number of downvotes serves as a great red flag to warn readers that a comment might not be true even if it has a larger number of upvotes.

    This does take away the anonymous part of your social media voting experience, but the ability to manipulate the platform is greatly decreased. People that get riled up about disagreement will need to chill and you will need to block those individuals that can't.

    I think this will allow the development of a more mature community by taking away some of the anonymity


    The third problem is that the current system let's you see who is downvoting/upvoting. People take it personally when they are disagreed with and will retaliate since they can see those users and stalk their account

    I actually really like this. I've been downvoted a bunch, my kbin karma sits at negative, but it's kinda neat to see that I haven't been downvoted by complete assholes (based on their history) -- makes me appreciate that we might just have different view about a thing (or I've acted like an asshole to no surprise). Nonverbal communication can be a powerful thing.

    Do I think it's feasible to leave as it is if this whole thing explodes in popularity in a new magnitude while Reddit sinks? No I don't think so.

    TheDeadGuy avatar

    It's a definitely an area to watch but I'm a huge believer that transparency makes a community better regardless of size. If you being brigaded or abused it's visible to everyone and you can block those accounts if you wanted

    The ultimate hope is that social media evolves for the better

    CynAq avatar

    I also believe in transparency makes social media better, under certain circumstances.

    In real life, talking to people face to face, there's a huge amount of limiting factors to what you can say and do, and that's a good thing.

    Somehow using the same principles online can be beneficial. The flip side is, online also exposes everyone to everyone else. The reach, both ways, is enormous compared to what's physical possible IRL. On top of that, IRL, moments are transitionary. Nothing stays forever. Online, everything you do is tracked so there's no possibility of privacy ultimately. IRL, everything is ultimately private because the reach is too limited.

    It's a complicated issue, all in all.


    On the one hand yes, but also, this makes it much less incentivizing to downvote instances of abuse, discrimination, far right extremism. A lot of those people are not okay mentally and hiighly committed to harassing anyone who disagrees with them, I constantly hear stories of a single disagreement leading to years of harassment on hundreds of alts.

    Tashlan avatar

    You sound like a normal person who doesn't take shit personally -- some people really, really do take negative feedback on social media the way that you might someone keying your car, and I worry about the repercussions of downvoting the 'wrong" person who might seek reprisal. An anonymous downvote button feels like an "oh, fuck off" button, a public one feels like "fuck YOU for real" to me.


    This is indeed a new debate that I’d like to have 😂


    Well said there's probably more of a barrier without the anonymity which in itself can be also unhealthy for the whole system (less user engagement). Though now thinking about it maybe that's not a bad thing. Less bandwagoning on downvotes etc.

    But truely angering some unhinged lunatic by downvoting who will then dox you, harass you and possibly kill you doesn't sound great. But that's a danger you're susceptible to just by existing on internet.

    Tashlan avatar

    Oh yes, I once had someone tell me they wanted my family to die in a fire and suffer while doing so because I didn't think Guardians of the Galaxy was the sort of comic that would make a good movie. I was wrong, but you know, I think I was the only person who ought to suffer for that mistake.

    I do tend to think that this is one of those things that the Fediverse, by not demanding everything be monolithic, is uniquely capable of dealing with because instances could provide per-community options (public up and down, private up and down, maybe an actual "fuck you" button) and people could try and figure out what works best for their unique forum.

    TheDeadGuy avatar

    How about, agree/disagree and informative/troll


    Karma already barely matters on Reddit unless it's negative. It's useful in that case because it lets moderators automatically reject membership in a community for people who are overwhelmingly downvoted for contributions.


    Yeah, the question strikes me as, "Reddit has this thing. A lot of people don't like that thing, but how could we still have it without people not liking it?"

    I think we're good as is.


    Good point, take my:

    handshake, pat on the back, slightly too long hug point thingy.


    I was thinking maybe some kind of ranking system like Street Fighter 6?

    I know everyone seems to be hating karma but I do like that dopamine release. Ofx it will get abused… but what if there are just tiers, rather than seeing a number go up.

    And at the highest tier, it doesn’t matter anymore. That was you can see who is most active and it kind of gives just a bit of prestige. Furthermore, you won’t see a number going up forever, so after awhile it’s not like you want to keep gaming the system to see the number go up. But at the same time you can feel some some of progression.

    Anyways, it’s just a random thought I had as I am grinding on SF6 today haha. I could easily do without karma but it’s just a thought.


    What would you think about actual levels that the users could have and increase as they participate in conversations. That would not take into account the quality of the posts tho

    Leafeytea avatar


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  • Tashlan,
    Tashlan avatar

    This tends to assume that each individual is a sincere member of a conversation, but real parties also don't have swarms of robots and clones wearing disguises coming in to try to destroy your house. User reducing visibility is a strong first-line defense against bad actors that doesn't require 24/7 moderators. If you poke through big, popular Facebook pages, like the NYT, and look through their comment sections, you'll often find a ton of copy-pasted spam, scams, etc. ("this psychic saved my marriage! this accountant made me a bitcoin millionaire!") I don't believe the up/down system can be the only way to preserve the ability for people to have conversations, but we shouldn't forget what problems these systems were created to solve.


    The problem isn't the points, it's the people. Everything starts to suck beyond some critical mass.


    I agree that it might get toxic at one point, but I'd much rather see extra preventive measures to stop repost bots, karma farming and so on rather than removing points altogether. Maybe it also helps to see karma breakdown by community: say you see someone answering a technical question on a specialised community - it would be of little to no relevance there that they might have 10000 points on r/funny or r/aww - I'd much rather see their points on that specific community.


    Score the posts, not the individuals. Attaching imaginary points to any kind of activity instantly turns it into a competition.

    Instead, any scoring should focus on actual content, which is basically what the up/down vote is.


    I like this, and I also remember forums where you knew that that type was good but weird, that one was nice but not very good etc etc. You had to build your "real" reputation because it was an enouy small space.

    I hope Reddit will explode and create gazillions of normal sized subs...


    I couldn't care less about karma, what I really want is a way to see what I upvote, otherwise I feel that what I upvote is meaningless (for myself, I like to boost content that I like though).


    As a moderator, looking at karma is one of the ways we can automate the blocking of potentially unwanted content.


    We need the karma-equivalent of PageRank. Every vote should not be treated the same, just as Google doesn't weight every link equally. The "one user one vote" system is the equivalent of pre-Google search engines that would rank pages by how many times they contained the search term. But it can't be as simple as "votes from higher-karma users are worth more" because the easiest way to build insane karma is to build a bot or spam low-effort replies to every rising post. Still, the system needs to be able to extract the wisdom of the crowd from the stupidity of the crowd, and the only way to do that is to apply a weighting gradient to users and their votes.


    How would you separate the wisdom of the crowd from its stupidity?


    If there was an easy answer, someone would have implemented it already. Obviously, it's a challenging problem, and I don't claim to have the solution.

    I think expanding the voting dimensions (a la Slashdot) would make it easier to create an algorithm, but it pushes complexity to the user, so that's a tradeoff.

    But, even with up/down votes, I think there are potential ways of identifying users whose votes deserve more weight. For instance, someone who up-votes both sides of an argument chain (because both sides are making good-faith responses and adding to the conversation) should be boosted.


    That makes sense, thanks for the reply :)

    @Kuma@lemmy.world avatar

    This may be a dumb Idee so please go ahead and tell me if it is. It seem ppl use it to know who to block in advance. What if you get a red name or some kind of info on the profile if the account has been blocked by other users and it is above 10 or 20 blocks? Would that help? That would suck for that account because it will forever be the ass hole account. But at least no one would really want to farm that except the trolls who want ppl to know they are trolls.

    I like how it is now tho. It is good when the mods are responsible first and foremost instead of a system.


    I like that way of thinking, however, people could exploit that. Imagine you are in a chat about colour blue, then you say colour red is better. You get downvoted for having an opinion different from others. That would make people follow the hive-mind so their colour doesn’t turn red

    @Kuma@lemmy.world avatar

    wait, are you saying ppl would block the person with a different opinion so their account 's name turns red (essentially bulling) so it will make other ppl block that person too even tho the person said something like "red is my favorite color!"?... ppl are scary. I guess we shouldn't have a system then because we can't have nice things :(


    We can defo have good things, but first we need to change our ways of behaving. For instance, I was completely addicted to karma, but reading the comments here I’ve come to understand that this is not a reddit 2.0, but something completely different with so much freedom and potential. This is an opportunity, for me and others, to enjoy a new concept of social network :)


    Karma should have a half-life, so it's not a forever thing. Have each karma point lose half of its value every three days. Makes it more transitory.


    But what if the thread is old and someone came across it from google looking for information?


    The thread doesn't get deleted - the user just loses the karma. So you post something helpful, it gets a ton of upvotes, and those votes expire over time. I come along, find your post via Google, and upvote you, that is a fresh upvote and counts, until it ultimately expires in six months, weeks, whatever, or gets a halflife as @meldroc said.


    Posts should just be upvoted and downvoted with no credit given to the person who posted. Same goes for comments. In my opinion, upvoting and downvoting should just help the user find the most relevant information. Content that people upvote is the most seen. Content that people downvote is the least seen. Posters and commenters stay on an equal footing with no points system.


    Maybe we could still have karma, but display it as a ratio of good:bad karma or something? Active user and most of your interactions get upvoted, green dot. New user or not active for a while? Gray dot. Established user and all your content gets downvoted all the time, red dot.

    Get banned from 50+ subreddits? Your color dot gets changed to a picture of u/spez.

    @applejacks@lemmy.world avatar

    best idea I have heard thus far


    The worst part about using reddit when I first signed up was having to deal with celebrity redditors with bajillions of karma sucking all the air out of any thread they visited. Thankfully, it seems like over time people calmed down a bit with that, or maybe I just started browing non-defaults with more tight-knit communities, but you still have dumb novelty accounts that kind of ruin the experience (if you've ever been got by /u/shittymorph, you know what I'm talking about).


    Yeah, but without the karma system these memes would never have existed. That's not to say the karma system is good. Quite the opposite actually.


    Karma and votes should stay but be hidden to other users. Karma is a good way to detect bots and trolls, but just admins and moderators should see it to act on them if needed. And up/down votes should be hidden too because of the hive mind phenomenon that it produces (Experienced on Reddit): often, the funny or sassy or apparently clever comment gets upvoted and sometimes, the comment with knowledge about the post gets downvoted because the first joke was funny. Many people may not have an opinion about the issue but upvote the funny guy and downvotes the real answer just following the hive. Hiding it, each person reading must decide by themselves if they upvote or downvote a comment.

    Prizes and awards could maybe stay, not sure


    Prizes and awards could maybe stay, not sure

    They should be used to fund the servers.

    In combination with invisible vote scores and no karma it would be a good way to highlight great content without feeding into dopamine addiction.


    often, the funny or sassy or apparently clever comment gets upvoted and sometimes, the comment with knowledge about the post gets downvoted because the first joke was funny

    This is why I like the option of having different vote categories with corresponding sort options. Sometimes I'm specifically looking for information, sometimes I'm just killing some time and don't mind the fun.


    yah, karma was garbage, I think we are better off without it.


    Would you implement any other system?


    Nope, its fine the way it is.


    Call it "updoots" instead.

    @FarLine99@lemmy.world avatar


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