Voting in the Gulch?

Posted by nsnelson 8 years, 6 months ago to Ask the Gulch
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My understanding is that voting in the Gulch should function to highlight good and valuable discussions. It seems to me, though, that there has been an awful lot of emotional voting going on lately. A brief perusal of the recent "abortion debate" threads are easy evidence. Please don't get side-tracked here; the point of this thread is not to continue that debate. But it seems very clear that people up-voted and down-voted comments based on whether or not they aligned with their personal beliefs, rather than on the basis of the particular argument, according to the value of seeing the thought processes involved. Personally, I find value in seeing the arguments on both sides, but find it frustrating to have to dig way down to the bottom to find some really interesting thought. That's not how it is supposed to work here. Even if you disagree with a position, up-vote it if it is a good debate or a good point to ponder. Likewise, just because you like or agree with a comment, it may not be the best contribution to the argument at hand, so perhaps you should not up-vote it.

This view of voting was particularly appealing to me when I joined this Gulch not too long ago. But I wonder if the concept will survive.

Edit: More evidence. In this thread, about prayer, the poster put the topic of his post in a comment. That comment was voted down. Granted, this is probably not the best place for a question about prayer. But to vote down the topic of the post means that the reader has no idea what the post is about until he reads the whole thing. This comment, as much as people may not "like" it, is very important to the thread and should be voted up. See for yourself: http://www.galtsgulchonline.com/posts...


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  • Posted by SaltyDog 8 years, 6 months ago
    Insofar as voting is concerned, I happen to agree with you. I down vote VERY sparingly. I don't have to agree with a poster to see validity in the poster's argument. At the same time, among reasonable people neither you, I, or anyone else for that matter has the right to dictate the criteria others may use to vote up or down on any given post.
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    • Posted by 8 years, 6 months ago
      Right. We probably shouldn't try to dictate, but persuade. What I described is in the FAQs of the Gulch, and is one of the things that appealed to me. It makes a lot of sense to me. Seems very rational: voting based on constructive contribution value, rather than the more mindless "I like that" or "I agree with that" voting that has been going on.
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  • Posted by $ MikeMarotta 8 years, 6 months ago
    I read through a bunch of that topic, and it is as you say. I found jbrenner and AJAshinoff taking hits for asking good questions, and I found a confused run-on sentence with +5. I know no easy solution, except to remove Thumbs Down, which I do advocate.

    I also searched that discussion for "Living Death" and found only two references, both in the same exchange. That essay, "Of Living Death" was one of Ayn Rand's Ford Hall Forum lectures, and an series of articles in The Objectivist, a journal published in the late 1960s. It was her response to Humanae Vitae (Of Human Life), a papal encyclical. You can find it for sale as an MP3 download from the Ayn Rand Institute here: http://aynrandlexicon.com/ayn-rand-wo...

    So, basically, the participants are just making up their own answers based on what they think Objectivism is or should be. And that might have value. It is a basic argument as to whether Objectivism is an "open" or "closed" system. In other words, do the collected works of Ayn Rand (and Leonard Peikoff and perhaps a few others) define the philosophy, or are new questions and new answers possible? One place to look is The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies.

    Interestingly, I found that same thing on a Catholic discussion board. I was curious about whether angels have free will. Their discussion exhibited the sin of pride. They all thought they knew Catholicism well enough to offer an opinion without citation. I finally went to the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia Online and read what Thomas Aquinas wrote on the subject. (I also found an Islamic site, and an Orthodox Jewish site, that both addressed the same issue, though differently, of course. In both cases, they cited scripture, rather than just opinions.)
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    • Posted by 8 years, 6 months ago
      Regarding your first paragraph, I'm torn about the down-vote issue. On the one hand, it is too easy to be abused, and used in a juvenile way, just because you don't like the comment or person making the comment. On the other hand, both up and down votes have very useful functions, that of controlling the conversation, correcting comments that are off track, and sometimes making the Moderators' jobs more easy by down-voting comments that are clearly inappropriate. It is not just a like/dislike feature; it actually controls what people see, and for that reason I think even the Thumbs Down feature should be kept. The problem is that this practical usage takes thought. When you get enough non-thinkers involved, it devolves into a forum no better than Facebook, where people see it as a "Like" button rather than a "This is valuable and more people should be able to see this" button.
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      • Posted by khalling 8 years, 6 months ago
        I rarely down vote. ad hominem mostly. If I'm down voting, I'm also likely flagging at the same time. My argument has always been, even if you disagree, and want to respond, don't you want your discussion to go higher up in the thread? that can only happen with up-voting. Also, it encourages the discussion to continue.

        I have changed my method somewhat to include comments that are not intellectually honest. It's one thing to be confused, quite another to purposely disrupt even if you come off polite and respectful.
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  • Posted by $ MikeMarotta 8 years, 6 months ago
    I agree 100%. The Rebirth of Reason discussion board allows only Up votes (called "Sanctions") noted with a red check mark. As most regular writers there tend to be lifelong readers of the works of Ayn Rand, the voting tends to be for something well said, or perhaps a fine point clearly stated. About 2002, when it was first launched as SOLO: Sense of Life Objectivists, they had Down votes (negative sanctions), but quickly dropped it.

    I visit one other "objectivish" board, "Objectivist Living" which does not allow voting at all. Their software does have a "Like" option, but it is not active. The site has a "Garbage Pile." The site owner, Michael Kelly, is pretty good about running things.

    Another site that I no longer write for, Objectivism Online, has several moderators. The site owner, David Veksler, and I are connected on LinkedIn, so I have no problem with him (and never have), only one of the moderators (apparently).

    The marketplace of and for ideas is wide open. The huge audience here is a draw if you like to write.

    That said, within some inexact latitudes, very few people here have had the opportunity to study Objectivism -- or to interact on any other basis. For example, I took the Basic Principles of Objectivism class from the Nathaniel Branden Institute many years ago. Right now, my local Objectivism club is revisiting those recorded lectures. I am not active at present, but a couple of years ago, I worked through a couple of books (Peikoff/Bernstein Understanding Objectivism; and Rand's Epistemology) chapter-by-chapter with them.
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  • Posted by salta 8 years, 6 months ago
    I'm also disappointed in the "emotional voting" as you call it.
    Just a thought, for the webmaster, different button images might help. The thumbs up/down symbols subconsciously translate into agree/disagree.
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  • Posted by Itheliving 8 years, 6 months ago
    I am all for voting. We want Bernie. We want Bernie. He will take everything from everybody and give to us. Wait. Isn't this about the general election? No? OK. I am voting down on my own comment.
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