CHEF-KOCH's Microblog ✨

Lemmy.ml admin defends the up and down-vote function which only echo chambers bias

Introduction

This is my point of view and experience after using Lemmy.ml for almost one entire year now. It practical extends to all platforms that advocate a global visible voting system. The underlying points I present apply to the whole problematic in general and is not a Lemmy, Reddit etc exclusive problem, but I observed it directly on Lemmy and use it as example, it is not meant to smear Lemmy, the Mods or involved people, it is my own perspective on things, nothing more and nothing less.

I do not call any names nor call someone in specific out, because this post here is not meant as aggressively attempt convincing others or the admins, it is designed to show that the system in general is wrong and serves no purpose and even creates overall more problems.

Info

The Lemmy.ml admin and moderator of several communities defends the position that an up- and down-vote function has some value and use - it does not - and I prove him wrong with this blog post.

Hopefully he comes to some sense and realize that such a system is toxic and has no use in a modern unbased digital society.

The problem in using a vote system and how it works, in short

The voting system that Lemmy uses has compared to Reddits system no Karma, which makes Lemmys entire system useless to begin with. So why support and defend this at all, makes no sense.

What it does is to show people which community is most based, and nothing but this. There are legitimate smaller communities who do not get much attention because they get down-voted for no reason at all. On the other side, bigger communities making it more frequently in the news because news writer think that higher interest means it is more useful or the quality of it is possible better. It often ends-up in the media spreading half researched threads, blogs, and articles that can quickly debunked or do not necessarily reflecting the entire truth.

Lemmy people cannot farm Karma which is the key difference between Reddits Karma system and a Lemmys voting system. You up or down-votes you receive are in general not visible to others on their profile page. The voting system only shows up and down-vote arrows or lets all them indicators on the submission as well as community comments. The system is so designed that other see the counter even if they are not logged into Lemmy. The logic here seems to show some sort of transparency.

Mentioning the toxicity of the voting system on Matrix

After I explaining it in the official Matrix channel he, among some others refused to accept my very valid and very strong arguments with the words like Lemmy.ml might never remove or change that - other instances might do that and pointed basically out that this is a per-community thing. Which is overall true because you can configure your Instance to disable the down-vote function but AFAIK, last time I inspected it there was no option in the documentation mentioned to entirely get rid of it.

I do not see why Lemmy should not address this, better now then in some years.

The arguments he overall had in a nutshell

  • The function is harmless because compared to Reddit it has no Karma.
  • If we remove it, it would be useless and there would be no benefit compared to other platforms.
  • Not everyone abuses the system.
  • From his experience based on what he saw it is okay to stick with it. Remember that he is admin, moderator as well as coder, so he people might fear down-votes or he as instance owner can manipulate the system anyway, you know how people think these days.
  • He mentioned multiple times that because of the removal of YT down-vote function this might has repercussions on the system, assuming that we remove the down-vote function, but this is not what I imply. I argue that the removal of the entire voting is a good thing, I do not say remove only parts of it.
  • The system indicates quality of post or submission, ideas etc.

Counter argumentation

  • This is not about YouTubes recent change, a change that clearly showed that the people who care and are deeply involved abuse - most of the time - not always of course, the system. Others that are not involved deeply usually tend to do not care about such systems for a reason, because that might come back at you. Entire down or up-vote rates occur, you can loose your sponsors or your channel because someone pays others to abuse the system and you get the trouble for that because it might be against ToS which affects you channel, content etc. The comparison to YouTube in general does not scale and is NOT my point, the point is to entirely remove bias from the beginning by removing the entire voting system altogether.
  • Other forums and platforms do not have a voting function and they work just fine, why imitate Reddit and then try to remove only parts of the problem and not the entire underlying problem. This is only part of the solution and half measurements.
  • Every post has the same value, no matter if it is useless too me or you. Exceptions are stuff and submissions that clearly violate code of conduct or common society rules.
  • What gives someone the right to say blue is better than red, if not bias. So this is a bias function and not a voting system. Why defend based votes this makes no sense and is absolute pointless.
  • People should be encouraged to use the comment function and should not be afraid of it because they need to fear to get smeared every second from random trolls. The communication should make their voice and decisions public with reasonable argumentation and not with oh I like or dislike, let me use the buttons and no one ever knows why it got up or down-voted. Assuming someone would counter argue this with the reason, yeah but you need to visible write something which could create problems, there is still the code of conduct and you can decide to let it go and just move on if it bores you. This is not suppressing voice, you just decide that you move on to the next post or read some other comments, before you actually do something and not use the system before you start acting irrational.
  • People do not see it as - harmless. The admin fails to see the connection as well as the bigger picture here. People actually weaponize their vote because most people think up-votes means truth and down-vote means you are wrong, this is not the case. Truth itself. has no bias and also not voting system itself, or do you kiss or slap a random person on the streets, no this is unthinkable. Weaponize means that people abuse the system to hide daily submitted content from the front-page, the lists that new guest see because the submissions that are up-voted are directly visible to guests.
  • Up as well down-voting has no value at all if there is no karma or bias involved because what it does is to give people that are more interested in using or abusing the system a higher chance of use or abuse it to show in acceptance. Lost of people do not care and do not vote at all which means the once that are based freely down or up-vote whatever they like, which might then do not reflect every aspect of the entire picture why post x is up or down-voted. Lets say someone says Trump is cool and explains it in one topic, what will happen. The ones that hate him down-vote it, the fans up-vote it, and then others who are not interested move on, block the word Trump - without voting even if they dislike him, which was the reason they blocked him or because they are not interested in politics and then you basically have two based sides using such a system.
  • Hate or love raids. I just call them that. What it means is that people who hate you, or your content or previous comments of you might popup down-vote without any reason or logic to payback because they dislike what you said in other discussions. The same goes for love, maybe you sympathize with someone and then see a post from him, which might end-up, or the chance is higher and more likely to up-vote him even if his post is crap.
  • It lowers the fun for everyone. People need actually be afraid to post something because people directly down-vote it without even leaving a comment why, well because they are based. The same goes the other way around, some fans create fan based communities and other people see that who might also sympathize with the original service, product etc. and automatically up-vote for no reason at all.
  • People only read the title, misinterpret it because they do not read the actual content and the comments and randomly dropping a like or dislike. Do you, in the real world give a random politician or someone on the streets your signature, NOPE. People see it as this, that is absolutely clear. If it would not be the case less people would weaponize their chance for payback trough such a voting system.
  • The system can be easily manipulated, you can tell others about a specific comment or entire post, get people on your side and they up or down-vote. It is really that simple. There exist entire communities and raiders who do this on purpose, to influence something that benefits them and make others look bad on purpose. It is against ToS but history showed that people are even willingly to pay others for selfish reasons or because sympathy reasons. They pay for Bots, or other users and system to gain views, clicks, votes etc. You find that all on the internet.
  • In case you are already based you usually aggressively try to convince mods and others, to take other peoples content down and if that attempt fails because the mod reviews such reports and comes to the conclusion nothing is wrong, some people start pointlessly arguing, which is not only annoying to read but also annoying to moderate since it typically creates walls of texts. The overall thing is that truth is not what more people say, claim or spread, truth is what actually happened or happens and has no place for some sort of good bad voting system or misinterpretation.
  • You can construct, misinterpret and fake actual events how you interpret or misinterpret it then upload it or spread it otherwise on other platforms and instances. That means people who are interested in drama automatically up-voting it, I observed that on several occasions. People misinterpret a situation because it benefits them or they want attention because they feel mistreated and create a thread that servers their bias, thinking and is designed to discredit and smear, slander and to call-out others. The voting system wrongfully echo chambers and supports such attacks that are not even worth your time.
  • In case your community is smaller or bigger you can get almost no influence or get higher influence on others as well as make them look bad or good. Influence can play a role in how the actually outcome will look like.
  • You can hide freely behind and in the system. Mods on Lemmy cannot see who subscribed to your own or other communities. If you do not like someone or his community you can undermine his community, follow you or your community and then each time you create a comment or post something they get a notification, which results in an up or down-vote for or against you, just to make you look bad or something that is bad look better than it is to gain more attraction.
  • You can down-vote your own submission, what purpose serves that, that is so useless.
  • Lemmy offers an user option to show or hide the score, however that option is enabled by default and even if you disable it, you still see the up and down arrows. A problem with this option is that you, at least on desktop, still see the counter for a short period during page reloads.

Workarounds

  • Give community mods a way to disable the system entirely. For example political centered communities are know to be more headed, same like COVID-19 discussions etc. It makes sense to let the mods decide to activate or disable such a system entirely.
  • Disable it by default and only enable it if absolute necessarily for an instance. The Instance owner should get the configuration that disables the system by default and then the community and mods should come to a consensus.
  • Introduce an alternative system but I would argue there is no system for that because they are all based. If you remove down-vote with a poop emoji and up-vote with a heart emoji, nothing would change at the end of the day.
  • Cosmetic ad-block the entire up and down-vote buttons system to hide it, but that does only hide it for you.

I think the admin is naive

The admin seems to be naive, the motivation for not acting is unclear. It clearly has more down-sides and we had the history with Reddit, YouTube and so many other platforms, such systems are destined to fail. Even if Lemmy does not scale in such an example, the platform might grow and you get the same problem. People tend to abuse whatever they can to smear, troll, discredit as well as undermine other platforms for their purposes. Lemmy is not special or an exception in this regard.

I speculate he is afraid that someone could think that because of the removal of such a voting system it could somehow restrict freedom of speech, which is not the case. You still can as explained make your case by submitting articles, comment, questions and DM others. In lots of cases you can sort things out via DM, blocking users or communities in your Lemmy settings which lots of people refuse to do because they want to create drama and use every change to payback whenever they can, even if you make people aware of such a function they typically refuse to use it.

Other platforms and forums do not introduce it for a good reason.


Conclusion, such function serves no purpose

Example

If you go to vote for a politician you do not up or down-vote him, you decide to support him and not trough any up or down-vote button but with you actual voice, the difference is comments vs signature. Not signature vs. up or down-vote. You still can, on top of that support someone additional with donations, a good comment or by showing your findings if that is what you want to do to help even further.

Remove the entire system, and I also highly doubt there will be any replacement as it creates more problems than it really helps. The entire system creates hate, fear or euphoria and echo chambers entirely only bias of fake accounts or people who have interest to troll, slander and to spread and support misinformation. The ones that play by the book are usually the people who create interest threads.

Site Note

No, I do not have something against been up or down-voted in general but I have something against the fact that people abuse the system for wrong and selfish or mainly as payback reasons.

I saw lots of threads, post where people getting on purpose slandered and if you report them over to Mods they might see it different or at the end if you help others you are the one who get in the middle of a shit storm. I personally burned my hands for the community very often and got lots of unreasonable hate back because people are simply like that, they do not self-reflect, have less acceptance, because why should they if they are anonymous or can hide behind the system, these are all very good and strong reasons. I say do not go and do what the mass does set an positive example to other platforms and people + instances towards what I think is the right direction and could create less hate or echo cambering.

Echo cambering bias also violates Lemmys own code of conduct because everyone should feel welcome, which is not the case if you need to fight bias, trolls, raids and attempts to convince the mass you are right and others are wrong, which the voting system only supports directly or indirectly. Depends on how you see the system as whole.


You think I am naive and wrong, alighty then - in case you got stronger arguments against my observation - you know how to find me.

I just wanted to get this out and written down.

Greetings,

CK

#Lemmy

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