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Hello again, 17th Shard. Forum busybody Kobold King here with some general ponderings on the current reputation system, its few failings, and a utopian pipe dream for how this inexperienced newcomer would try to improve it. Today I speak specifically on the anonymous nature of reputation points. All upvotes and downvotes are given from behind a mask, freely dished out with no accountability. I could downvote a dozen posts of my closest forum friends, and they would have no idea that I'd been responsible. In theory, this is a good thing. Downvotes anonymously given can't be retaliated against, right? Upvotes show how the community as a whole feels about your post, not what individuals think... right? Those are the reasons I've seen proffered before, but personally I find them unsuited for the specific moderation of this community. I have discussed before the problem of random downvotes on the 17th Shard. These are uncommon but hurtful, and serve no purpose as they are often given with no notes or indications as to what the voter found offensive about a particular post. I am not innocent in this regard--there have been days where I have irritably downvoted other users without good cause. However, I have always privately confessed what I have done, and have felt shame and regret from the instant I clicked the red arrow. I was a coward, using the anonymous nature of the web to exercise my own bad attitude. Know that I am not advocating this reform solely to curb my own spiteful tendencies; I merely observe my own behavior and extrapolate onto the community at large. I believe that having members be accountable for their actions, their names attached to every upvote and downvote given, would do more good than harm. Members would be compelled to either refrain from exercising random acts of spite or offer constructive criticism towards those they take issue with. After all, it is only posts that I have regretted downvoting that I appreciated the anonymity. Were votes public, I would quite proudly and without compunction stand against posts with vulgar language or content, or posts that showed meanness or spite towards another member. Stealth downvoters are not the only reason I have for advocating public votes. Accidental downvotes would also be less confusing, as downvotes from members known for mistakenly pressing the red button rather than the green could be recognized as such. These are usually confessed anyway, but non-anonymous votes would be useful even in cases in which the mobile site viewer isn't aware they've downvoted anyone. Finally, if retribution downvotes ever became a problem, they would be obvious and easily identified as such. I imagine that the kind of person who would engage in a grudge-driven reputation war with another member is the kind of person who cherishes hiding behind a wall of anonymity. Taking away that anonymity would compel them to either not engage in such pettiness or would make them easier for moderators to track. So those are my thoughts on how public voting would benefit the 17th Shard downvote system. I also have a few thoughts on how they would improve the upvote experience, if no one minds me rambling onwards a little longer. I have seen it expressed before that upvotes are a sign of how the community as a whole receives one's posts. And to an extent, they are; you will obviously receive more upvotes if the forum as a whole likes you than if a single individual declares you to be the best thing since wrapped chouta. However, the emergence of sub-communities on the 17th Shard have made upvotes a murkier thing than it needs to be. It is no secret that the Reckoners RPG is a veritable fountain of reputation points. The players there wallow in an endless stream of fun and in-jokes, and upvote one another constantly. What is more subtle to observe is the way the RPG's participants rally around one another on boards unrelated to What Happened in Oregon. Members of the Reckoners RPG display a minor preference towards viewing and upvoting the posts of other members of the Reckoners RPG. This is not a bad thing; this is merely a case of friends liking and agreeing with each other. I strongly suspect that the same happens with players of the Sanderson Elimination games, or Guild participants, or even amongst the tightly-knit group of admins that run this forum. While there is nothing wrong with sub-communities supporting one another across the forum, I for one would find it educational to know which posts of mine are upvoted by my friends of the Reckoners RPG and which are upvoted by forum members that I've seldom interacted with. It's easy to get lost in the references and sub-culture of the site, and it would be quite nice to have traceable upvotes to let me know who my most appreciative audience is on any particular post. While I can't express how this would work on technical grounds, but I know that this My Little Pony forum has non-anonymous upvotes, and it seems to use a lot of the same software as we do. I think. As one final disclaimer before I post this topic, let me stress that I don't pretend to know what's best for this forum and this community. That distinction goes to our admins, who have been around since the beginning and have benevolently guided us by the light of their wisdom. While it sounds melodramatic when I say it like that, let me assure you that I mean it definitely. These are only my thoughts on the current system, posted here for evaluation by the admins and fellow members that I respect so much. Does anyone agree with me that upvotes should be made public and traceable? Do you disagree? Do you think I'm a buffoon for even suggesting it? Here's the place to say so.