Blog Post

6 years ago

Alternatives to UFELTA

◊ Posted by A β Pseudolonewolf
Categories: Features The SiteUFELTA
I've been thinking at length about what to do with the rating system, and it might be worth giving it an overhaul.

I want to keep the general concept the same, but the actual letters could change, maybe. I mean, I thought of the UFELTA criteria fairly quickly one day and didn't really refine them very much, and now I find that they may not be the best way of rating a post's qualities.

I could do 'FLUTEGA', where 'G' is a gratitude rating as mentioned before, which basically just shows whether you thought the post was overall worthwhile or worthless. The FLUTE ratings would be a way of positively or negatively pointing out specific aspects of the post that you liked or disliked.

Or I could change the letters completely... One idea that I had was tying them to how the post made you feel, emotionally, with aspects like...

The post made you:

...for example. The problem there is that the negative emotions all seem fairly similar, and/or vague, even though they're not meant to be. There's a difference between a post that really angers you and one which you merely think is annoyingly lacking in worth.
Of course, better emotion categories could be devised that would work better than those. ('SLAT' sounds amusing though.)

If you have any ideas for what criteria posts could be judged on, which would apply more widely than the UFELTA ones, suggesting letters would be appreciated! Not as additional ones to what we have now, but entirely new sets of them.

on 7 Roots



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Entertaining has a lot of overlap with thought provoking. I think a merge might be better. I suspect the same would apply to gratitude- it would heavily overlap with all the other categories because if someone has provoked your thoughts then you will probably have gratitude to them. If there was a pie chart the pies would overlap.

Your idea of the emotions- that could be pretty good. Maybe have a wheel of the emotions you said and let us rate that along with the post. It could be a thing like the agree- something that would let us judge the person. If they got a lot of angry emotions we'd know they were an angry person. I do know some angry people. And happy people.

There's an effect I've noticed with the rating system too. If you don't get many ratings on a post it will not be that high, and that will drag your ratings down. And sometimes a short and not very entertaining or exciting post is necessary, if you want to clarify a point to some person. A system where you were rated based on the sum of your ratings would be better. The current system encourages people to post less.

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Not really, I guess.

From what you've written here, it seems that "good enough" posts can actually drag down your "excellent" rating, which was the case at the beginning, but apparently isn't now anymore. Before it was an average of orbs, and it indeed would cause some members to avoid posting short posts, even if they would be helpful. However, currently it's some function of your positive ratings, and probably has something to do with positives-to-negatives ratio.

Also, if you want to get the highest orb, you need to get a certain amount of positive ratings (100, if I remember). So it actually encourages people to post, at least at the beginning. If we connect it with the suggestion made before (posts losing their power over time, so they won't affect ratings anymore) it can keep them posting, me think.

So yes, that's what I said in not too long and not too excellent either post, hoping it will be good enough not to drag my rating down. Or something.

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I don't believe adding letters to UFELTA is the answer. Right now UFELTA is simple and useful, bordering on what I'm willing to deal with to rate a single post. Less letters might actually be better, seeing as U and T are often used for the same thing, and F, E and L are used less often. From a limited sample, I see that some people prefer to rate on one or two letters and leave the rest alone.
What I'm suggesting is less letters, but the same system. For example, combining U and T since they're very closely related, and will more often than not have the same rating. (I can't imagine a useless yet thoughtful post, or a useful yet thoughtless post.) Of course, then you'd have mainly two ratings on any given post, rather than three...
What I, personally, would like is the return of some kind of personal rating system. I'm posting this right now so that I can get an orb, mostly so that I can state my opinion, but I know deep-down that I really want a shiny new orb. Since I frequent the chat, but *not* the forums or comments, I won't get very many ratings. (And this will probably get a pretty bad rating, since it's very wordy for how much content it contains.)
tl;dr: Simpler ratings are better, leaving less room for possible accidental abuse, and ensuring that people actually rate instead of ignoring things they don't feel like rating on. (That's probably not what's going on, but I know I'd rate whatever I could with at least UFLTA if I used the forums/comments.)

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The UFELTA system isn't really faulty or defective in any way... If people used it correctly, it would work fine. The problem is that people use the wrong ratings on a given comment; they want to use as many of the ratings as they can, so they end up giving ratings in areas that hardly even apply to the comment, rather than only using one or two ratings in areas that do apply.

If you do decide to change the system, it might be best to make it as simple as possible, to help prevent accidental abuse. A good "general purpose" letter might be "Content," which would be positive if the post had useful or entertaining content of some kind and negative if it was unhelpful, redundant, trolling, or the like. It seems very similar to U, but could be used in more situations, I think.

Other letters I can think of include "Attitude," akin to F but again, I think it applies to more kinds of comments. For example, it could be used not only on posts that are cheerful and upbeat but also those that are mature or simply go out of their way to be unoffending (I have noticed a lot of very phlegmatic comments but did not quite know whether a +F rating was appropriate). "Attitude" might not work so well next to "Agree," though...

The "emotions" thing might work, too, but I can see people getting caught up in it and making all negative ratings on a post that they dislike. I also think that the recipients of negative emotions might be more likely to get offended by what they perceive to be unfair ratings. It's one thing to be rated down because "you were being rude and thoughtless," but it's another thing entirely to lose ratings because "your post was boring and it made me mad!" I know that's not how the system was intended, but I think that's how it might come across in practice.

Edit: A few hours ago, in the chat, people were talking about this and I thought of a third letter, "Readability." Positive for posts that are well written and clearly get the point across, negative for posts with poor grammar or that fail to effectively communicate a message. I guess that would make CARA... The letters are similar to those of UFELTA, but there are fewer, which I think is a good thing, and the letters apply to more situations... Of course, these are all just suggestions.

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It's difficult to try and envisionage a complex post rating system. I think the best I can do here is tinker around the edges of UFELTA. These suggestions are offered as guides (which will need adjustments or changes before they will work well).

The first thing is that there's been several times when I've been trying to rate posts, and I've wanted to "appreciate" or "like" someone else's post... posts that I thought contributed to the community and to me personally, yet there wasn't really anything I could rate them with UFELTA for (because UFELTA is more for "stronger" attributes. So I am very strongly in favor of a like/appreciate option.

Another point... I would like to propose that "Entertaining" and "Language" be merged. I agree that they are two separate things, with two separate definitions; but for the purposes of the site, they're actually interconnected, like smell and taste. This is my reasoning:
- A badly written post is also likely to frustrate you to read; enough so that you would rate it down on entertaining too
- The wording for what sort of posts should get a +Language rating: "Instead, positive L ratings would be for clever and engaging use of language. Perhaps the sentences are remarkably well-formed, or the person plays with puns. The language itself should make you smile, regardless of the content, to get one of these ratings." Well, this actually sounds entertaining/enjoyable to me.
So from my perspective, I think there's a benefit in amalgamating Language and Entertaing into "Enjoyable to read (well written and witty)" and "Frustrating to read (poorly written or the joke falls flat)". Because <b>in the context of writing a post for this website</b> anything that is rated entertaining is likely to be rated good language, and anything rated unentertaining is likely to be rated poorly in language.

I think there is a benefit in having one of the UFELTA also encompass unfunny jokes - if a post makes jokes that are poorly delivered, too soon, or just plain fall flat, we need a negative rating to give it.

Here's something different. Suppose you rate a post on UFELTA... and then actually leave an automated comment as well that says WHY you gave that rating. So for example, I rate a post as useful. I then get a further option to specify either "I learnt something new" or "This answered my question". So to (very badly) draw a tree about it, it would look like
(edit: Oh Pseudo, why won't you let me use consecutive spaces ;_; This looks less messy in edit mode. When looking at the below diagrams, please pretend that the apostrophes aren't there. Also forwardslashes don't show up in the post...)

"I learnt something new" <---- "Useful" <---- (no rating) -----> "Useless" -----> "Spam"
"Answered my question" <__/ ''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''' __> "Pointless reiteration of what posted already"

Entertaining might look like

"Hahahahaha!" <---- "Entertaining" <---- (no rating) -----> "Boring" -----> "Dull, uninteresting post"
"Pleasure to read!" <__/ '''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''' __> "Your "joke" wasn't funny"
"Quite clever!" <__/ ''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''' __> "Too much words, not enough content"

You kind of see what I mean? Perhaps even from there we could go one step further and allow people to customise the compliments to something a bit more personal. For example, I might customise "Hahahahaha!" to "Ha! Very good!" while someone else might customise their "Hahahahaha!" to "That was hilarious". Just for a personal touch.

Well, just some thoughts. Hope this was useful for inspiration. Another thing that might help with refining UFELTA - if you got a report that shows the total number of each rating given out - it might be interesting to see which ratings have been overused and which ones aren't used at all.

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First off, I'd like to report a bug. It seems that Agrees and disagrees shouldn't count towards a person's orb, but with the current system, they oddly enough do. (I gave one member who had a low rating some Agrees, and saw how that member's orb went up) It's quite annoying, since it's unfair for users to get low ratings because they happen to like posting in discussion-threads. D: (If I were to give a member with no ratings two disagrees, then (s)he'd be red! O.o)

Anyway, uh, regarding the topic...

I'd like to side with Tophat's suggestion to make ratings slowly fade away to get people to actively comment if they want ratings, and so an orb tells that a member is a good and active contributor.

And a letter to suggest... well, how about a thing like 'Helpful' for a post that goes along with the point of the thread well, or is helpful in a sense that it teaches you something new? With this, you can give posts in threads about problems a Helpful if they solve the problem, but a thread asking for opinions could also get helpful replies if they give good opinions with back-up. Uh, it'd sort of be like a combination of the U and T rating, except it depends on the posts, and I do think 'Helpful' sounds less vague than 'Useful'.

The negative rating could be something like 'Doesn't Help' for posts that add nothing to the discussion, don't address one of its points, and so on... Hmm, I do realize though, that this rating only really helps with replies to things, so perhaps there should be another kind of rating for introductory posts? So you combine U and T, and make them based on 'First post' or 'Reply'?

Another suggestion, since these current ratings are all quite, uh, 'static', why not make the new letters more 'dynamic', as in a rating can serve multiple purposes? An Useful can only be gotten in certain threads right now, so perhaps if the ratings are more dynamic, they can be easier to give and cover more different types of posts?

EDIT: Also, it would be a good idea to mention it when you change the orb-calculation formula somewhere, since I've seen quite some members come into the chat confused about why they're purple and not green.

EDIT2: Uh, small thing here. You have a Like and Dislike list, yet the interest pages have a Like and Hate section! Shouldn't it be Dislike on those pages? (And where's the Love section, baby? <3)

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I do dislike some things about UFELTA, but mostly, they aren't UFELTA's fault. More the people who use it. People who dislike anything about a person or their post will be fairly biased, and lower the rating of a post, based on completely insignificant things that are probably misinterpreted. I have experienced this a lot already, and my rating has dropped from Green to Yellow, due to just a few people misinterpreting things.

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It depends what you say in the forums that makes people rate the posts into the color that they are. Maybe it's their personal feelings or past experiences while encountering you in the forums, the chatroom and any other places that you dwell in that gets you that rating and they may just be plain honest while rating our posts. All I have to say is that you have to deal with the color you have for awhile or start understanding that the rating system is being used by fair and honest users.

(The rating system could be abused or used wrongly by the Trolls. Put that in mind that the ratings may change due to the actions you do around this site and outside of the site. You also can't expect to stay the same color after you post again and again.. D:)

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I'd first like to say that I think you are putting too much effort into the rating systems at the moment. Many aspects of the site are still down, and that should probably be first priority to get fixed.

On to the ratings, then.
The new system is an obvious improvement over the old one, for one main reason. The way the ratings themselves are calculated. It encourages forum posting, discourages negative posts, but, unlike the old one, doesn't penalize you for average, brown/blue worthy posts. Since any amount of positives will result in an increase of rating, it gives far more incentive to post comments and threads. I find that the actual criteria of the rating system to be less important than the calculations.

Now, a particular point I'd think would improve the system is by causing old enough ratings (perhaps over 6 months or so) to no longer have any weight, possibly with a sliding scale down. They would still be visible on the userpage, of course, but separate from the "active" ratings. With this system, everyone's ratings would gradually reset to brown with inactivity. Thus, users with a bad intro to the site would find themselves alleviated of negative ratings, while users who wanted to maintain a green or cyan rating would have to post regularly. At the moment, with the ability to rate wearing off after a time, a user could obtain a high rating, then simply keep it without actually continuing to contribute anything, while a constantly renewing system would allow you to see who is *currently* an active participant in the forum community. This system would allow for negative ratings to have a less long-term impact, prevent "1-hit wonder" green posts, and encourage a constant presence in the community.

Now, for UFELTA, I'm somewhat uncertain. It does present a number of useful criteria, though things like U and T are much more commonly rated than F, E, and L. But the same would probably be the same for any similar system, with certain criteria often being ignored. Frankly, this is going to happen, but it's a better negative side than the old system of 7 had.