Sep 17 2008

Mental MagModifications

Category: Uncategorized @ 8:41 am

It’s an idea we’ve been kicking around for a while…changing the contest voting system.  Jakutz broached the subject last week in the comments section of the finalists post.  Before I give you my opinion on the subject, let me say we will always encourage this sort of thing.  If there’s something you don’t like or have a better idea for, let us know.

From my perspective there are two primary things flawed about the rating system.  One is that, as Jakutz mentioned, the earlier entries are viewed more and thus receive more votes.  We could counteract this by reversing the comment order (most recent on top) or by putting the comments in random order.  My problem with this is that in some weeks the contest entries have a very nice flow to them.  This week there is an epic limerick war going on between several members.  Altering the comment order would disrupt that natural sequence.  On a side note, I think MM’s 2nd movie project (after Elves) should be a sequel to 8-mile featuring limerick battles in the ghetto.

The second problem is that our current system only allows you to express approval or indifference (thumbs up or no rating).  From speaking with various users, I know everyone uses this system differently.  Some people give everything a thumbs up except for the entries they really don’t like.  Some people reserve the thumbs up only for their 2 or 3 favorite entries.  I’m sure others fall in the middle ground.  We lose information by forcing users to put all entries into two categories (without even defining them).

We have a proposed solution to the second problem.  We are thinking of adding a double thumbs up option.  This would at least allow people to express an affinity for entries they kind of like (single thumbs up) and express a strong preference for their favorites (double thumbs up).  You may be asking why we don’t go to a number rating system (like a 5 star system).  This was our plan for a while, but there’s something less satisfying to me about seeing an entry get an average of 4.5 stars than seeing it get 20 thumbs ups.

So, what do you think?  Would a double thumps up system give you more flexibility?  What are the ramifications?  Should we return the thumbs down into the mix?  Do you agree with my rationale for not disrupting the comment order?  How about triple thumbs up? Is that thrice as good?  Let us know what you think by posting in the comments section of this post.

51 Responses to “Mental MagModifications”

  1. dlawhon Says:
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    I think more thumbs is a great idea (isn’t that what makes us, as humans, superior, ha). I actually like the number 5 for ranking, maybe 5 thumbs. I don’t know about the thumbs down thing. It just didn’t seem to go so well before, but one thumb down with 4 thumbs up will not affect the vote as much. Allow us to be vindictive without being able to turn the votes completely.

  2. Gabriel Says:
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    I guess there is another option that would allow use of thumbs down without too much trouble. We could just keep separate counts for positive and negative votes. So if an entry was really polarizing it might a lot of thumbs ups and thumbs downs. That would solve both problems: the fact that people used thumbs down strategically and the fact that you couldn’t tell the difference between no votes and an equal number of positive and negative votes.

  3. Jakutz Says:
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    I think you’re definitely right about the flow of comments. The double thumbs up sounds like a good idea too. I don’t think we should go any higher than that though because it would be too complicated and nobody has more than two thumbs anyway. Maybe we could try it out for a contest, but also have the single thumb system with it. That way we could more easily compare the two systems and see what we like best. This could be kind of complicated though, so maybe that’s not the best idea.

    If we use the double thumbs system: I think if you give a thumbs up you should be able to change it into a double thumbs up later. Sometimes I’ll read an entry and think it’s pretty good, but then later I pick up on something subtle that I missed and realize that it’s really great. I don’t think it should be reversible though (no changing doubles to singles).

  4. greg Says:
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    I have lost track of different proposed ideas. That is my way of apologizing right up front if we’ve this before. If it’s someone else’s thunder, or worse, thunder no one wants to claim or listen to…well, I have no apologies and my excuses stink.

    What if we were given a specific number of votes (both negative and positive if need be)on a weekly or daily basis and spending them was up to us. I liked the two thumbs up right away…hold on…incoming idea.

    Could we earn the right to vote more often by offering comments with our vote? We’d love it (feedback) — maybe. But logistically is it slightly easier to try to make Galviston’s “Look and Leave” policy work?
    I admire you for the willingess to tinker with the system. I mention the feedback reward system because in the end it might help us to give you better stuff for merch.

    [Thinking...]

  5. Jakutz Says:
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    This is an interesting idea. I wasn’t around until after the thumbs down had been dumped, so I don’t really know what it was like. Would the thumbs down still be considered when deciding the finalists? Maybe only if there were a lot of them or something.

    Oh, and the 8-mile 2 limerick battles: hilarious

  6. Stevel Knievel Says:
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    I love the idea of a double thumbs up. However, though I wasn’t around when the thumbs down option was available, I absolutely despise that idea! I know what I would do with a thumbs down option: vote every entry thumbs down in the hopes that my entry would win.

    and then i’d feel like a douchebag.

  7. Gabriel Says:
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    A feedback reward would be incredibly useful to us; it’s just very hard to implement. We could make it simple and make every reply comment count as feedback, but then the system is totally open to misuse/gaming. If we make each reply have to go through some evaluation process, then we’ve generated a large chunk of work for me, which makes it harder to make good on the promises I’ve already made to the MM community (forum, improved voting system, free popsicles).

  8. Padma Says:
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    I mentioned months ago that I saw early postings getting more votes. We may not make it thru the whole list later in the week to vote on everything. I suggested then that you consider putting the newest votes at the top. Tiago, who was the top and most highly voted entry that week disagreed. Couldn’t you put newest entries at top while leaving comments to entries in order underneath the postings?

    I’m on another contest site that allows you, after signing in to post, to go back and edit your posts. That would be great for those of us who make typos, or who think of a more brilliant twist to our entry and wish we could fix it.

    I prefer no thumbs down option since one can down-vote your competitors.

    It’s also obvious that the highest voted are not always the ones to go to Finals. And that the winners don’t always make it into merchandise, thus showing the MM Staff preferences, which is fine. I do think that anyone who gets merchandized should receive an Amazon certificate though.

    Lastly, I think that everyone should give written praise for their favorites as that speaks louder than any thumbs up symbol and is not something that can be tampered with, like the voting system can be.

  9. Jakutz Says:
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    Greg’s idea was interesting but Gabriel had some good points. This may be even more complicated, but I’m just going to throw it out there. What if the comments people leave had a their own thumbs up scale. Then if the original person who posted, or maybe even other MM users, thought it was good feedback, they could give it a thumbs up (which could translate to votes or something). This way Gabriel wouldn’t have to do everything.

  10. Bunny Slippers Says:
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    1) Down with the thumbs down; it’s been so much better without that.

    2) I like the single and double thumbs up method better than the points; deciding between 5 point values is more complicated, will slow my rating, and will cause unevenness. For example, perhaps I would only be willing to give a ’5′ once per contest but Jakutz would give ’5′s to anything he thought was really good, maybe 7 entries per contest. This would really skew the end results.

    3) I don’t think the comments should have point value. Comments are wonderful and can influence others’ perceptions, so in that way they may affect the ratings anyway. To ask the MM staff to keep up with all that would be very difficult.

    4) I like the entries in order, preferably the way they are now, but I could adjust to reverse order (most recent on top.) But they must be in order to keep the flow of the banter.

    5) Padma’s suggestion to give an Amazon certificate to all merch winners would be nice but prohibitively expensive for the MM staff I would think. Maybe when the staffers are millionaires they could add that perk!

    6) Going back to fix/improve entries would throw a kink into it I think. Let’s say you give my entry a thumbs up and I change something in a way you don’t like; you can’t go back and take your point away from my entry.

    Ok, that’s my two cents!

  11. dlawhon Says:
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    I really don’t like the “able to edit” idea. If you change your entry, and I don’t like it, I will take my vote back or wish I could. Typos add character.

  12. dlawhon Says:
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    That would work. Then you could occasionally reward the most hated entries or at least acknowledge them. I guess you have done that once before.

  13. Jakutz Says:
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    ha ha, yeah they do.

  14. Jakutz Says:
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    I most certainly would not!

    …well, maybe.

  15. Bunny Slippers Says:
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    Well, you are a wild and crazy guy!

  16. Sherry Baker Says:
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    I kind of liked the idea of a scale… 1-5 or 1-10 to indicate how much you like an entry, but that doesn’t really solve the real problem of the first entries getting preferential treatment simply because they have been up longer.

    What if you simply hold off the ability to vote until all entries are in… by making an entry deadline that ends before voting can begin?

  17. Sherry Baker Says:
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    I don’t like the idea of being able to edit your entry…but if they keep the thumbs up system, I do think we should be able to edit our votes until all entries are in.

  18. Sherry Baker Says:
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    Talking about using the system differently… I thought we were only allowed to thumbs up our single favorite entry! I had no idea we could vote for more than one :/

  19. Gabriel Says:
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    Yeah, we’ve never explicitly told people how to rate, and I know other people have interpreted it the same way as you. For now we’re content for people to rate how they see fit. It’s fine if you want to show your appreciation for multiple entries.

  20. Gabriel Says:
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    The problem with holding off voting is that it’s hard getting enough people to participate in voting already. If we narrow the voting window it would likely get worse.

    One proposed solution we have for the entry order problem is to completely shift contest-entries out of the comments section. We may develop some software that allows users to upload contest entries directly from the main post. There would be some kind of entry display that would only show you one entry at a time. It would allow you to sort entries in a number of ways but it would default to showing you the entries that had been seen the fewest times (thus ensuring all the entries get a fair shake).

    This little entry displayer could also be able to contain audio/images/video so that we could have contests involving other media besides text.

    What do you guys think about that idea?

  21. greg Says:
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    What if you ran contests for two-weeks, with the first week being the semi-finals round with the next week being the finals round. You could even refine the semi-finals round into five daily rounds. For instance, start a contest on Monday and take midnight to midnight entries, then have top five from Monday being the first five entries for Tueday, and repeat the process until Friday at midnight, ending each day with the new top five for the following day so that Friday’s top five are the week’s cumulative top five. If a user thinks her/his entry got overlooked or hosed, he/she can reenter it on any day remaining in the semi-finals. Then take the weekend to set up the finals week which would give everyone five days to vote on the five top entries that have survived the gauntlet. And to avoid the creative lag time of the finals week, you could begin a new semi-finals for the next contest that would run at the same time. The overlap would give us one boring week at the beginning, but I think we can survive. Then every weekend afterwards would feature the awards for one contest, the announcement of finalists for another contest, and the challenge for the next contest. The overlap really shouldn’t be as hairy as it might sound, and you’d have the freedom to implement whatever scoring system you like…maybe even change it up sometimes. I still prefer the positive-only voting, though I do understand the desire to have access to a method of making your strong disapproval matter. Maybe we could give one of three votes for each entry: on up, two up, or one down. That should tame the wild negatives but give the thoughtful thumbs downer a venue for his evaluation.

    Was this worth the time it took to untangle from my magma? I just hope it makes some kind of sense. I submit it in the spirit of brainstorming.

  22. Jakutz Says:
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    What if we got rid of this voting system all together, and instead everyone would rank every entry from 1 to whatever. On their screen they could move the entries around and change the order so the ones they liked best were at the top or something (they could go back to viewing it chronologically though). Then, whichever entries had the lowest scores (the sum of all the rank values it got) would go on to the finals. Magmaddicts might not want to go to all this trouble though…

  23. Stevel Knievel Says:
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    i LOVE that idea

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