Downvoting feature on Brilliant.

So, here's my concern. I think that there should be some restrictions on the downvoting option in Brilliant.

Lately, I'm seeing a lot of my comments being downvoted as if someone has been personally targeting them.

I appreciate downvotes on my comments when I have made some mistake and the downvoter has provided clarification as to how my comment is wrong. I even upvote the downvoter's comment those times. But I really don't appreciate unjustified downvoting.

This nonsensical downvoting is demotivating to those who take their time to write comments here either showing their own approach to a problem (without posting an official solution) or for other purposes.

Seeing one such instance of a comment of mine being downvoted recently, I checked out all the comments I posted recently through my activity feed and noticed that almost 90% of my recently posted comments have been downvoted by one individual (which I believe is someone personally targeting me). I clearly don't see the reason for the downvote.

For example, in this comment, I posted the inductive proof of the claim that was used in my solution in that problem and I clearly don't understand the reason for the downvote on that.

Also, a very recent example is the following comment that I posted just about an hour ago. It was downvoted almost immediately after I posted it. I can't really see what's the problem with that comment.

Here are a few more examples: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, some comments here and there are more.

Almost all my comments since the last 4 days have been downvoted by someone like this without any justification.

I'd like the downvoter to justify his downvotes because I'm very stupid and am not getting the reason for this nonsensical downvoting.

Note by Prasun Biswas
6 years, 2 months ago

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1 vote

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We are invested in maintaining the healthy conducive community that has developed on Brilliant. When various functionalities start to be abused significantly, we will be proactive in dealing with them.

There are many reasons why someone would chose to downvote your comments - It doesn't necessarily mean that you are wrong. It is possible that a particular person doesn't like you, and so chose to target all of your comments.

Calvin Lin Staff - 6 years, 2 months ago

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TBH, is there really a need for a downvote button? I use the downvote button rarely even though I usually go through all the new posts. I've only used the downvote button in two contexts :

  • The person has managed to put a horribly wrong solution which can mislead others. I usually drop a comment as well, though.

  • The comment is off-topic or abusive. If the latter, I tag mods or staff.

Unless I'm missing something obvious, that seems to be the only uses. Even then, it doesn't fix the issue and you usually have to do something else (comment;tag mods).

Wouldn't a report system be better?

Also, a kind of relevant note I made which wasn't addressed.

Siddhartha Srivastava - 6 years, 2 months ago

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@Prasun Biswas , It doesn't matter. The upvotes and downvotes are placed below the comments. So, people are more likely to read your comments first than to see the votes. The votes come after the comments in telling how the comment is. Moreover many people don't upvote a comment even if it's worth upvoting. Voting is purely personal but still one can talk about a 'worth of a comment'. So, when you see 2-upvote and 3-downvotes in your comment, keep in mind that all those who didn't like the comment have downvoted but not all people who likes your comment have upvoted. It doesn't matter how many downvotes you get.

I have some ideas about what can be done about the downvotes. This is to Staff Members :)

  • We can merge commenting with downvotes: just like the reporting system of the problems. When a member downvotes any comment he would also have to write a comment or a reply explaining what is wrong with the comment - Is he not able to understand it? Is it offensive to him? Is it not relevant to the topic being discussed?... . If the person fails to give a reason behind his urge to downvote, his downvote won't be registered.

  • We can also restrict the number of downvotes a person can give : Each day a person would get only 2 votes to spend for downvoting. If he uses those 2 votes he won't be able to downvote anymore (on that day). Again, the next day he would be given 2 votes.

Personally, I feel downvoting demotivating and undesirable. May be also unnecessary. The comment feature, on the other hand, is more effective and must be used rather than downvoting.


Soumo Mukherjee - 6 years, 2 months ago

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Yes, those are amongst the possibilities that we have considered.

Currently, the use of downvotes is mostly (almost exclusively) for "your comment is (logically) wrong", as opposed to "I disagree with you personally". For this use case, it is sufficient for 1-2 people comment as to why it is wrong, and others to vote in agreement/disagreement. There isn't a need for 5-10 people to tell you the exact same thing - if you weren't going to listen at the start, you aren't going to listen with more people, and having 5+ similar comments would just clog up the discussion. To that extent, I agree that "comment feature is more effective than downvoting".
Furthermore, the restriction to 2 downvotes would make it unnecessarily restrictive, esp if there is a discussion and someone is having a mistaken point of view. Instead, this would affect the active members' ability to contribute to the discussion.

Brilliant is not a community of trolls and haters (which I am really thankful for). Almost all of us use Brilliant for personal improvement, and are interested in helping each other improve. Though, being an internet site, we do attract trolls and haters occasionally, I do not think we should be catering to them. The best approach would be to just ignore them. If their actions start to adversely affect the community, we will take more serious action (like deactivating their accounts).

I would want to avoid the scenario on Brilliant where downvoting = "I hate you". Such an environment is not supportive, and we will be taking serious action against such offenses. The way to avoid this isn't to "institute rules that force people to behave in a certain way", but instead to "guide and develop the community to a system of values". If Brilliant does become a site of "I have a personal grudge against you" and downvoting is meaningless, we would remove that functionality.

Calvin Lin Staff - 6 years, 2 months ago

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Umm...when a comment is logically wrong or something is wrong with a comment, someone can (and will) point it out, the rest can agree with what has been pointed out by upvoting. What I meant to say is: If you agree/like=upvote. If you disagree/dislike=comment. And if you agree with the comment made on the wrong comment to fix it, upvote it. If you disagree with the attempt (comment) made tofix the wrong comment then reply (comment) what you think is the right answer. See this is what anyone is going to do (and most of us do). It's natural behavior. And anything the directs a natural behavior to accomplish a desired result, according to me, is a guideline (not a rule)

In a discussion if someone has a mistaken point of view wouldn't it be much better if someone helps the guy to resolve his doubt or change his point of view? Commenting, I think, may help more in this case than downvoting.

I agree that this site doesn't have trolls and haters. That's why I put a restriction on the no. of downvote a member can spend. We can increase it from 2 to 5 or may be 8...

I also agree that putting rules aren't going to help much (and they never help much) when it comes to "development". But if there is a misuse of a rule itself and that affects the main ingredient (members) of a site then we can look forward to alter. (if not completely remove it).My first idea was infarct more of a guideline. The second idea was a suggestion to bring about alteration into an already existing rule(feature). However, I couldn't present them in that way.

Unnecessary downvoting (sometimes) does have a negative impact on people's mind. Prasun may have pointed this out but there are more who might have been affected. Some might have chosen to ignore it.

Anyway, I respect any decision taken by staffs for the members as well as for the site.

Soumo Mukherjee - 6 years, 2 months ago

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@Soumo Mukherjee Yes, I am in agreement with your thoughts.

Where we differ is that I don't think adding additional complexity to the system is as yet useful or necessary. There may come a point in time when we will need to do so / change the system.

Calvin Lin Staff - 6 years, 2 months ago

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@Calvin Lin Yes agree. Also staffs might be more busy in developing the educational/academic features like wiki section and also might be working on new feature. That's understandable and justifiable .That's why I suggested Prasun, in the very beginning, to ignore such things


Soumo Mukherjee - 6 years, 2 months ago

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