For the past few years Liliputing’s comment system has been powered by a WpDiscuz, a plugin that takes the native WordPress comment system and supercharges it with additional features.

But one of those features seems to be at least a little controversial: voting.

So I figured I’d ask the community what you think: should we keep the ability to upvote and downvote comments? Or is it more trouble than its worth.

These are basically the options — I can enable/disable voting or just disable guest account voting

Honestly, I don’t pay that much attention to the vote counts. But from time to time I do get an email from a Liliputing reader complaining that the voting takes away from their pleasure of perusing the website.

I know folks are a lot more likely to write to complain about something they don’t like than to let me know about a feature they’re happy with — so I figured it’s time for a weekend poll.

There have definitely been a few times when I’ve noticed someone seems to be abusing the voting system to downvote (repeatedly) every critical comment of one brand or another.

I’ve also noticed that from time to time there can be rather heated debates between individuals in the comment sections of some Liliputing articles.

I typically take a pretty hands-off approach to comment moderation and only manually remove comments that are obvious spam or those that appear to be personal attacks.

Voting, I tend to ignore… but I’d like to know whether you think voting makes the comments section more engaging or more frustrating?

Also, before you say anything, yes I know there’s an issue that prevents users from editing comments after they’re published. I haven’t found a solution yet, but it’s on my radar.

Update 10/15/2019:

A little more than half of the first 200 responses to the poll said to get rid of comment voting, while a a third said to keep it. But one idea that came up a number of times was to simply eliminate the downvote option.

So I’m going to try that for a little while — I’ve disabled guest voting and hidden the downvote option. Let’s see if that leads to a more positive experience for everyone, and if not then I might shut off comment voting.

It seems like plenty of folks hadn’t even noticed it was there in the first place anyway. 

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33 replies on “Weekend poll: Liliputing comment voting — like or dislike?”

  1. Looks like getting rid of voting won. So when are you planning on removing it?

    1. I’m going to start by hiding the downvote button and see how things go before I decide whether to pull the plug entirely.

      1. You could also disable guest voting to mitigate the mass voting via VPNs/proxies. I really doubt those comments with 100s of votes really were from 100s of unique people.

  2. Brad, thanks for making this poll on my behalf. 🙂

    My take. I’ve just had the time to read Jeff Atwood’s (author of Discourse and Stack Exchange) post. You might fined it relevant. He suggests Discourse for commenting: https://blog.codinghorror.com/please-read-the-comments/

    My main two takeaways:

    – I’m especially not fan of the negative voting, especially publicly. If you can do it in a way that only you can see it, maybe it’s fine. Jeff’s idea is the best community moderation is self moderation

    – Both Jeff and I dislike threaded replies. They make keeping up with comments under a post much more cumbersome. Of one want to reply to someone, he can always quote the post.

    These two are separate issues. You can implement or not them separately.

  3. I think the down voting is actually a bit comical. I mean some people are likely really sensitive about it. Like seeing a negative on their comment means they can’t sleep at night. Brad you can do what everyone else does or be daring. Having the voting on comments is a unique feature. I don’t see how anyone can engage in sharing of opinions on the internet without having a thick skin. I think the fact you can profile posters and see who is doing what is a bit lame. Isn’t that a form of spying?

    1. What I’m saying is the fact you can “profile” who is clicking a vote, up or down, is a bit odd to me. I would have assumed something like clicking up or down wouldn’t be collected as data. In that sense, since it’s not private, I would feel a bit odd about using it now. If I down vote you, for example, that could be problematic for me. Would anyone think this data is collected and analyzed in this way?

      1. Nope, I don’t see that data. I just see what you see, which is largely why I tend to ignore the votes — I get an email notification every time someone leaves a comment on *any* post, so I tend to keep up with the comments via email rather than by looking at the website itself. I do not get email notifications about upvotes and downvotes, which is why I rarely notice them at all. And the backend of the comment system doesn’t provide me with any information at all about the votes. So I have to go out of my way to click an article and scroll down to the comment section to see if any comments have been voted up or down. I have no idea who cast the votes.

        1. Thanks Brad for clarifying that. I misread your post (obviously). In light of that, the aspect that I do like about it is that it’s unique. Society is awfully sensitive so I guess seeing down votes or being in a negative balance causes long term emotional damage. I don’t know. However, it’s a unique feature to your site and because it spices up the comment section and creates mini grudges, it’s fine. You could be like everyone else and get rid of it, but I see you as more of an independent thinker than that.

  4. I like the voting. I use it mostly as a way to acknowledge someone’s response to my comment or question.

  5. Disable voting. This is not a popularity contest. Can always reply with why the disagreement.

  6. Personally I am for voting, but in order to avoid abuse, can you maybe only disable downvoting, like youtube and other forums (where you can only like a comment, not dislike)? Nobody complains about likes but some complain or abuse downvoting/dislike. At the beginning I thought that what youtube had done was unfair, but now I have come to realize that’s probably the best solution, given how human beings are…

    1. That’s not a feature wpDiscuz has natively, but there might be a workaround. I might consider giving it a try depending on how these poll results look in a few days.

      1. There might be a way to hide the downvote button with some CSS code. But all it would take is for someone to inspect the code, and they could modify it to bring back the button

    2. I also dislike only +Likes because there is a danger to await them and become disappointed when none come or others attract more. Any Likes system favours writers writing stuff liked by those liking to issue Likes; other writers might not write bad stuff but simply such stuff not liked by the Likers. Although such imbalance is less pronounced on a tech site like this than on a specialised topic site with a small community, there is some aforementioned imbalance.

      1. Yes, to be precise youtube does not show dislikes to others, but you can see your own and they impact the ranking

  7. I think voting gets in the way of cultured debate. If you can press a “down” button, you don’t give reason, don’t argue, don’t have points. It’s literally a digital “boo-ing”. That’s not conversation. Sure, it might turn out that once we get rid of voting comments will be like “You don’t like the things I do? Well, your mom is fat!”, but that’s still better than writing some personal thought or take on an article or test, and getting a downvote without reasoning. Or sometimes getting a downvote for simply your name, because someone systematically looks up and downvote every single thing you write.

  8. Personally, I’d prefer if voting was gone. If you agree/disagree on someone’s comment, then you can respond and have a civil discussion.

    A semi-middle of the road option would be to disable the “Allow guests to vote on comments” option in the screenshot in your article. Puts a little bit of effort on folks and could make it more difficult for the folks doing mass up/down voting using proxies/VPNs that’s already apparent in this very same article.

    1. It’s too bad there isn’t an option to just have a + vote. That signifies you agree, and a separate comment isn’t necessary. But a – vote doesn’t signify anything, other than an ability to express a coherent thought. (Except for the “Disable voting.” comment above, where it effectively became a poll.)

    2. I prefer someone vote me down than mock my comment in a response. I have never received any indication that anyone ever responded to one of my posts, so there was never any opportunity for any discussion to take place civil or not.

    3. This voting system should be disabled. If it’s easily gamed like the one in this site, then there’s no point in having it.

  9. If people don’t care about the voting based on some of the above comments, then might as well get rid of it. Makes for a less cluttered webpage.

  10. I hadn’t noticed that there was voting, but since we have it I think it should transition to an Electoral College type system.

    This is not a topic likely to come up over at Geekwire. They don’t seem to have any comments on most of their stories.

  11. People notice the vote tallies? Since when? Oh, dear, I didn’t realize they should mean something to me.

  12. I think the voting is fine…for this site. Assuming I’m correctly interpreting up and down votes as simple “agree/disagree”, I think things should be kept as is, with oldest comments first. There’s not a lot of comments here and everyone is quite polite, in comparison to a lot of other places. So voting here just means there aren’t a bunch of short agree/disagree posts littering the place…as far as I know anyway.
    But you’d be doing humanity a favor if you could make sure the voting on this site doesn’t affect a commenter’s reputation on other sites they “login with”.
    This is because other sites have problems with how the numbers you score on your comments/posts ARE your worth as a person, and that makes you do terrible things to make them bigger.

    1. Your Liliputing comment and voting history stay with Liliputing. Since we stopped using Disqus two years ago, all of your comment information is stored locally on our servers and nowhere else.

      1. I ignore voting numbers other than “That’s unusually high/low”
        I am more interested in competent comments rather than “Right on!” etc.

        And yes I am glad the ratings stay with Li(one el)iputing than all over the place.
        Still the NSA is interested in this sign and has the data-sets.

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