Popular social aggregation site Reddit announced yesterday that their common rating system of upvotes and downvotes — which indicates user approval or ranking of a post to the site — was being tweaked.
In a Reddit blog post, admins explained that the former system in which an individual post’s number of upvotes was displayed next to the number of downvotes would be replaced with a percentage ranking.
Instead of a (xxx|xxx) rating, Redditors now see “xx% liked this post,” a move explained by u/Deimorz on the r/announcements subreddit.
(Incidentally, 61 percent of Redditors “liked” the post.)
In it, u/Deimorz says that the update is more useful for the sites users, allowing them to gain an overall better picture of a post’s relevance and that it improves upon the former method of “vote fuzzing” by Reddit’s algorithms:
“The ‘false negativity’ effect from fake downvotes is especially exaggerated on very popular posts. It’s been observed by quite a few people that every post near the top of the frontpage or /r/all seems to drift towards showing ‘55% like it’ due to the vote-fuzzing, which gives the false impression of reddit being an extremely negative site. As part of hiding the specific up/down numbers, we’ve also decided to start showing much more accurate percentages here, and at the time of me writing this, the top post on the front page has gone from showing ‘57% like it’ to ‘96% like it,’ which is much closer to reality.”
Anticipating the backlash from Reddit users (which happened), Deimorz adds:
“I realize that this probably feels like a very major change to the site to many of you, but since the data was actually misleading (or outright false in many cases), the usefulness of being able to see it was actually mostly an illusion. Please give it a chance for a few days and see if things ‘feel’ better without being able to see the specific up/down counts.”
Ironically, the new upvote and downvote elimination decision is making it nearly impossible to determine how universally accurate comments in the ensuing thread might be — but sorting for “best” reveals a generally across the board dissatisfaction with the move.
Users feel that removing up and downvotes not only removes context for comment rating, but also encourages several other unpleasant consequences for the site, including:
* Reduced functionality for popular Reddit apps and extensions like Reddit Enhancement Suite;
* Encouragement of “vote brigading,” when users from one subreddit en masse attempt to obstruct or bury a thread in another (often opposing) subreddit of which they do not approve;
* Inability to discern which comments are simply controversial versus those which are uninteresting;
* Lack of roll-out time preventing users and developers from adjusting to the change;
* Inadvertent cancellation of subreddit-specific submission competitions, such as a photoshop contest.
In later posts, u/Deimorz explained that the new Reddit upvote and downvote hiding was conceived to combat brigading and vote-cheating, which was said to be harming smaller subreddits.