FAQ: Post Ratings and Karma
Why do we need a ratings system?
As Modern Vespa has grown, the volume of posts has gone from a trickle to a deluge, and the moderator staff has a hard time staying on top of every topic. In fact, we've given up on being able to read every post. It just can't be done.

To help preserve Modern Vespa as the helpful community that we have always strived to make it, we now use a post rating system, very similar to the rating system used in the majority of large forum and comment systems on the internet. This system relies entirely on the votes of individual registered users, rating posts with a simple thumbs-up or thumbs down on the posts they find helpful or obnoxious, respectfully.

This system accomplishes a couple of things.

First and foremost, it helps us do a better job of finding the really good posts among the hundreds of thousands of posts we've accumulated here over the years. Computers are good at analyzing numbers, not content, and so we're relying on the large audience at Modern Vespa to help us quantify the good vs. the bad.

Second, we hope this system will curb obnoxious behavior and make users think twice about posting something inflammatory or insulting. If a user values their reputation here, then they might think twice about taking jabs at another user, or a political figure, or generally being less than civil.

Finally, we'd like to identify the really good users who accumulate high marks, as well as the really bad users who are incorrigible and either don't know or don't care that they're being perceived as obnoxious. We'd like to reward the good users. We'd like to get rid of the bad users, or otherwise limit their access to the features of this community.
How does it work?
Every post has a thumbs up and a thumbs down icon in the lower right-hand corner of the post. Click the thumbs up, and the thumb will turn green. Click the thumbs-down, and the thumb will turn red. You can change your mind at any time -- just click the button a second time and your vote will be removed. Click a different button and your post will be changed.

Each vote raises or lowers the rating of a given post, and helps us identify the helpful posts and also the obnoxious posts. In addition, each vote is tallied in the account of the user whose post is being rated, and over time these ratings accumulate into a karma score, or a measure of how helpful (or obnoxious) that user is.

Posts that are, on balance, not very negative or not very positive (i.e. close to zero) are shown as "neutral". Note that this doesn't necessarily mean that the post is a mix of positive and negative votes, although that's one possible reason for a post to be listed as "neutral". It really just means that it's not clear enough to call it one way or the other.

The same goes for a user's karma score. "Neutral" means that their score is close to zero, and could be a little positive or a little negative or a mixture of the two.

An "at a glance" indication of a user's karma can be made from either the mod target signs or the red circles beneath their avatar/username, the targets being positive and the red circles negative.
How many votes do I get?
As many as you want, with a couple of caveats. You can only rate a single post once. As mentioned earlier, clicking a vote button a second time will undo your previous vote. You can only rate a given user once per hour, twice per day, and four times per week. This is to prevent abuse.
My karma score is negative, and I think (user_x) has a grudge against me
While it is entirely possible that a given user has a grudge against you, it is unlikely that a single user is causing your score to be drastically negative all by themselves. As stated in the above section, there are some definite time limits on how often any single person can rate you.

If your karma score is considerably negative, it is quite likely that a lot of people are rating you negative. You should really consider being a little more helpful and a little less incendiary in your posts.
Why can't I start a new topic?
If your karma score is considerably negative, then the forum will prevent you from starting new topics. Sorry, that's the way it is. You should really consider replying to some topics with helpful answers and hope that someone will rate your posts positively.
I get negative ratings everytime I post. What gives?
There are two possible explanations for this:

1. Your posts are more obnoxious than you think
Text is a funny thing. It doesn't convey emotions the same way a face-to-face conversation or even a telephone call does. Choose your words carefully, and think about how they might be construed and the context in which you are speaking. You might think you're being funny, but that might not be apparent to everyone.

2. Your past is haunting you
It is entirely possible that you have accumulated enough people with grudges against you, based on past experience, that they will continue to rate you negatively no matter what you say. It's unlikely that a genuinely helpful post would garner a negative rating, so you should focus on what you can do to be helpful.

If they continue to rate you down regardless, you've probably done something to deserve it. Sorry. Modern Vespa might not be the right place for you.

What does my bias rating mean?
Your bias is listed on your public profile page, and reflects the way you rate posts. If most of the ratings you give are negative, then your bias will say so. If you tend toward giving positive ratings, your bias will reflect that. If you give an approximately equal mix, your bias will be listed as "neutral".

Bias has nothing to do at all with the ratings you receive, only the ratings you give.
I'm new and I'm afraid if I post a dumb question I'll get rated negatively
You probably won't. We see almost no cases where a newbie is rated negatively for asking a question, even one that gets asked over and over. Mostly, the posts that are rated negatively are those that are, well, obnoxious. By "obnoxious" we mean insulting, degrading, spiteful, snarky, mean, prejudiced, superior, or arrogant.

If you just want to ask how to fill up your scooter with gas without it spilling all over the place, fire away.
I don't like my rating being shown publicly. Can I hide it?
No. The ratings are shown publicly as an incentive to be helpful and not act like a tool.
I'm a scooterboy and hate mods. I don't want a target, can I change it?
No. Get over it.
Last Updated Wed, 24 Mar 2010 15:32:48 +0000

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