I was wondering whether Aether should support downvotes or not, seeing that they are often misused on other discussion platforms to suppress content that is disliked rather than non-contributory or low-quality. People may then not view content that was heavily downvoted, even though it may have been high-quality.
Should we rather use some other mechanism to serve that function? If so, what would it be?
Personally, I’d suggest that we experiment with two-dimensional weighted voting.
In a word, it would allow users to express both whether they agree or disagree with (alternatively, like or dislike) a piece of content (and how strongly so) and whether they think that that piece of content is high-quality or low-quality (and how strongly so).
In practice, it could look like this (for users): upon clicking on the voting icon, a square with two scaled axes would appear. One for the quality of content, the other for the level of (dis)agreeance. A user, who had for instance found a piece of content to be very high-quality, but who somewhat disagreed with it, could then express that opinion by click and dragging right to the top of the square, but somewhat left of its center.
That simple mechanism would therefore allow us to distinguish between those two criteria and better capture the intention behind a vote, and help alleviate the issue of seeing deeply unpopular content being buried despite its high quality. It would also allow users to express how strongly they feel about a piece of content by letting them adjust the weight of their vote. Plus, it wouldn’t be too cumbersome to use (in my opinion).
(Voting strongly should be slightly inconvenient or cumbersome to do, so as to deter users from voting strongly every time, thereby rendering strong votes meaningless. In practice, that could mean having to move one’s mouse only a little for a soft vote, but more and more as the vote gains more weight.
Axes should also be sticky, so as to make it easy to vote with respect to one criterion only (we shouldn’t need to try and aim precisely).)
We could also put in place some additional mechanism to let users rate content with regard to other criteria (how informative it is, or impressive, exciting, funny, etc.). I do not expect users to rate all the content they read, but allowing them to do so could still be useful. They may still bother to do it for content they find especially informative, impressive, etc., and that would then allow other users to sort content with regard to one or several of these criteria and find content tailored to their interests.
(We could then also display for any piece of content a chart (that could look like this) showing how it was rated with regard to all these criteria. That’s not really important, but I find that cool.
We could also plot the number of votes as a function of vote strength, find the average vote strength and so on… That would also be cool, and interesting.)
What do you think?