The Karma System was introduced in early 2018 and was added to give the community more ways to award good behavior and dissuade wrong information or bad actors. In some aspects, this has worked. We've seen a significant increase in the community downvoting content that is unhelpful, incorrect or spammy. This has even gone on to help moderation efforts to some degree as when we notice a downvote spike, we can take action against a user if they're violating the rules. On the other side of this, the system has been gained by bad actors to move their content to the top.
Moving away from reflecting on the past, some users may have noticed their karma score fluctuate drastically on 14 February 2020. This is because we ran code that manually verified each vote to ensure that it was valid at present time. Some users noticed a gain from this as some downvote brigades were removed, while others noticed a drop in karma for various reasons. We didn't initially report on this as we wanted to investigate what caused such a huge fluctuation. Our findings were extremely troubling and the aftermath of not reporting on it immediately has left some users curious as to what has happened. What we learned is the amount of banned users since the last run of this code drastically influenced the upvote and downvotes supplied to a post. While this does not necessarily mean the aforementioned users had bad intent with these votes, however we'd like to exclude these users from votes going forward as some of these accounts were made purely for vote manipulation.
This investigation was started after a recent thread received several upvotes and then within a very short window of time was shot down severely. What we found were several user accounts created to downvote the aforementioned thread using a VPN/Tor browser. This is what prompted us to re-count votes and what led to such a drastic change in some users votes.
As mentioned before, some users have mixed feelings about the karma system as a whole. Some users view it as a deterrent to post in fear that they will be attacked because someone disagrees with their posts, while others try to rack up internet points by submitting more content. To promote an open environment here, voting has been disabled on this thread.
So what can we do?
- We could remove the karma system entirely.
- This solves the issue of vote manipulation.
- This solves the issue with those who disagree with voting on posts.
- This does not solve the issue with low-effort, spammy, unhelpful or wrong information being spread
- We could disable the ability to downvote content and only have a "Like" button.
- We tried doing this about 6 months after releasing the Karma System and this was widely disliked change.
- However, we may bring this back as a permanent staple.
- We could display who voted what on each post.
- This may cause people to either not vote or for people to cause drama over
- This would not be a retroactive move, all old votes would still be anonymous
- We could remove "Upvote" and "Downvote" and replace it with reactions.
- We could implement new restrictions to voting.
- These would have to be discussed internally and with the community before implementing.
- We could do nothing and leave the system be.
We understand that everyone in this community wants a fair, balanced and friendly community. Even one person can severely impact the community and its morale to continue writing good posts. We'd like to gauge your feedback on what we should do and what you'd like to see happen. As previously stated, to prevent brigading on this thread, we've disabled voting. If you agree or disagree with someone else's point on this thread, please respond telling us that and why.
We appreciate your patience and cooperation. Thank you for your continued support.
We'll be releasing a thread regarding "Maintaining a Healthy Community" in the coming days after we discuss it internally.
– Donut Team