Select-a-reason for negative votes?

2:28 p.m. on October 23, 2013 (EDT)
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Just occurred to me, but have y'all ever thought about combining the down vote with a reason for it?

That way the reviewer knows what their review is lacking and where it can be improved.

This could be as simple as choosing a reason from a multiple-choice list, and would still maintain anonymity. At least this way the down vote has a listed justification, but isn't as simple as a one-click decision.

And - most importantly - the reviewer receives feedback he or she can use to improve the review.

11:15 a.m. on October 24, 2013 (EDT)
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Interesting suggestion -- I think there are some possibilities here. We're working on a flagging mechanism for bringing issues to moderator's attention, so this might fit into that somehow. Another approach would be to require a comment to go along with a downvote. I'll have to think about it a bit.

11:37 a.m. on October 24, 2013 (EDT)
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Much appreciated, Dave.

Like I mentioned to you - getting a negative review without a reason almost seems like being issued a ticket without being told what it's for.

If there was a way we could incorporate a feedback element into negative reviews, at least then we would turn them in a positive direction, where they would then serve to improve the quality of reviews.

Thank ya as always, sir.

-HRH

10:14 a.m. on October 25, 2013 (EDT)
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I think the more that there is to have to comply with as the reader the fewer people that will read the reviews. If I am required to justify every remark I make...there are plenty other places to interact with reviewers and not make a career out of it. This is  ot a writing workshop and if the review is not helpful and I vote it down I vote it down. Why should I have to justify that. There already is a feedback element called COMMENTS.

10:31 a.m. on October 25, 2013 (EDT)
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Yes, Gift, but not everyone down-voting always has the decency to accompany their down vote with a comment explaining why. 

Most importantly, it really does foster a positive attitude and gives the reviewer an opportunity to edit or add to their review. This frames the negative vote in a positive light.

 

9:12 p.m. on October 27, 2013 (EDT)
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Maybe a compromise that doesn't require the down-voter to type an explanation is to make the down-voting process a multiple-choice affair.  i.e. "down vote - information not useful", "down-vote - offensive content", "down-vote - I don't like the poster" (haha).  Anyway this approach would be easy and could help give the poster an idea why the reader(s) didn't like their post.

9:32 p.m. on October 27, 2013 (EDT)
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That's more along the lines of what I'm suggesting, Bill. Nice eye.

Certainly don't expect anyone to want to write a paragraph-long, free-form essay to justify a down vote, but I think some explanation would be helpful.

8:22 a.m. on October 28, 2013 (EDT)
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Doesn't have the decency to comment.

by the time all the requirements you suggest are added this is going to be the most un-user friendly place on the web. A vast majority of TS visitors who read the reviews are simply going to move on and use other sites that don't require a birth certificate and thumb print to participate.

9:00 a.m. on October 28, 2013 (EDT)
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G2G, you do realize this would be to serve a positive and practical purpose, right? I'd say the goal of this site would be to foster good reviews that were well-written. You make what would be a small change sound like a stint at Guantanamo Bay. One click. That's it. If this is as big an inconvenience as you're making it out to be, I'm worried at the frequency with which you down-vote reviews.

9:19 a.m. on October 28, 2013 (EDT)
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GOG and HRM - I have both perspectives simultaneously in my head! We need to keep the barriers to entry low, but foster high quality reviews. There is a tipping point at which the increased weight of the interface will be too heavy for most users to lift, so to speak. You're both on the money!

3:40 p.m. on October 31, 2013 (EDT)
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HornRimmedHiker said:

G2G, you do realize this would be to serve a positive and practical purpose, right? I'd say the goal of this site would be to foster good reviews that were well-written. You make what would be a small change sound like a stint at Guantanamo Bay. One click. That's it. If this is as big an inconvenience as you're making it out to be, I'm worried at the frequency with which you down-vote reviews.

 In the spirit of this thread I wanted to tell you why I downvoted this post.  You seem to be attempting to browbeat someone into submitting to your opinion rather than at least respecting their opinion enough to argue your point in a more civilized manner.

Making it more cumbersome to downvote will reduce the number of downvotes.  Would that be a good thing?  And before you start making any assumptions, I have yet to find the review I felt an urge to downvote myself as far as I can recall.  I just think it is a valuable feature for people who are so moved and don't think it should be discouraged even as a side effect of an "improvement".

4:17 p.m. on October 31, 2013 (EDT)
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Browbeat? Hardly.

The idea isn't to make justifying the down-vote a preventative discouragement. It's to turn the down-vote into an impetus to create a better review, and make up for what it misses or lacks. It seems this point is being missed. I truly don't think one additional click is cumbersome. Given the amount of times folks click mice and tap touchscreens at any other time and for any other reason every day, really, I don't. If it is a little more effort, it's effort made for a good reason and a positive outcome.

I guess - more than anything - I'm disappointed folks don't seem to realize the value of knowing why something was down (or even up) voted, and using it to build upon something (instead of tearing it down). Sure, it may be easier to spare someone an additional click, but nothing is gained in that convenience. 

We're speaking in hypotheticals, and this is an idea I'm simply suggesting and discussing. That's all, really.

I don't expect you to agree with me, LS, nor for anyone else to. But, so long as we can sit here and have a civil conversation about it, that's fine. It's a discussion forum and not a lecture course. Moreover, no one idea can truly serve the community if it isn't considered from both sides.

This is entirely an opinion and my opinion - naturally, others may disagree. But I'll maintain it, and I'll be an advocate for it, because what good is an opinion if it's not worth holding onto to begin with?

4:37 p.m. on October 31, 2013 (EDT)
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I don't have a dog in this hunt, but I offer this observation --


Take a look at HRH's recent reviews of the Mountain House meals (Spaghetti and Chicken a la King).  Very descriptive write ups, all the facts and data about the meals, how to prepare the meals, etc. -- with pictures of the products, to boot.  Probably a textbook example of how to write a well-organized, thought out and informative review. 

And yet, it received a down vote.    It makes me very curious as to why.  What more could HRH have included in his review -- since it's about as all-inclusive as it can get.  How could he have changed/amended the review such that it would not receive a down vote?

Maybe it's just me, but it appears those down votes were done out of pure spite.  Again -- just my observation based on what I'm seeing.

And what HRH is trying to get at, I think, is how to improve on his next review, so the down voter doesn't feel compelled to do so.

My two pennies.

4:58 p.m. on October 31, 2013 (EDT)
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Perhaps I should have made it more clear why I would make every effort not to encumber a user from taking an action I want them to take freely.  I spent a large portion of my life as a computer programmer and a fair amount of that time was spent carefully considering UI and all of its implications.  It isn't about avoiding change.  It is about avoiding change that will have a negative result.  You didn't answer my question; Would less downvotes be a good thing or a bad thing in and of itself?

I think that fact that you can't see what was wrong with your post despite my making it clear to you also calls into question how beneficial it would be to provide you with more feedback.

6:57 p.m. on October 31, 2013 (EDT)
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I will add this...if I down-voted (let's say an F) on a student's essay I would immediately get calls for feedback so that the student can attempt to improve their essay next time (actually the student that gets a B will go nuts for feedback...while the student that gets an F will just drop the course).

I do not think requiring typed feed-back is necessary...though if I down-voted a person's review...I would like to think I would suggest why I down-voted the review (by asking follow-up questions).

Like some have suggested...I think adding a few "click-able" options that provide standard feed-back (too little detail + too much detail + unclear + inaccurate) would be really helpful...and I really do not see how including them would have much of an impact on the overall number of down-votes....but if it did we would probably need to revisit this issue...because I think down-votes can be a good thing in cases where the reviews are simply terribly written...but to be honest...I don't down-vote 99% of the terrible reviews...because it seems more harmful to me than helpful for the other person.

7:24 p.m. on October 31, 2013 (EDT)
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I have only put a down vote on a review once. That was because the review was not at all helpful. To "write" a review, one assumes that it needs to be written by someone who can put words into a sentence that makes sense. And have the ability to put sentences together to plot a progression. To be honest, I have noticed a number of reviews lately that seem to be blather, just to gain points…quantity not quality. These are reviews that are written with limited experience with the product, and no reference as to how much experience the reviewer has had with this type of product. "I have a had a number of_____in the past and this is the best by far" is not helpful unless I know your bg and why this product is better. Name the others. Where have you used it? Telling me that you have used it twice, and like it without telling me where you've used it, doesn't give me any useful information.

Please everyone, ask yourself what you as a reader would want to know. Try to be helpful, rather than just write a review to garner points and tell me how cool your boat, pack, tent…etc, is, or that it is a hot color, or that your experience with it was "awesome". And please, think like an editor. You are asked to be a writer. If you can't write, learn to write before you write a review.

Sorry for the rant. Lately, I've been excited to see some great gear on the review board, only to find my time wasted by reading material that belongs in a second grade writing class.

While I agree that a comment why I down voted might be worthwhile for an average review, I shouldn't have to waste my time giving feedback on all the things wrong with a three sentence review, of which there are a number. Alicia has posted a helpful guideline for what makes a good review. And there are very good examples of killer reviews. Read them, use them as templates, and don't burden the rest of us with poorly written drivel. 

7:59 p.m. on October 31, 2013 (EDT)
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Joseph makes a damn good analogy, here.

Our "F" students - the ones posting reviews simply as a contest entry and nothing more, aren't going to gain anything from negative review feedback.

The "B" students, on the other hand, actually want feedback so they can improve upon themselves and their work.

Obviously, re-tooling the down-vote system as a whole wouldn't be helpful to either party. I will admit that realization, and gladly.

Erich, I wouldn't apologize for your rant. Not at all. You were one of few to actually offer solutions and not just perpetuate the argument. 

If experience matters as much as it does, well, why not model it on reviews like Backpacker Magazine does, and make a special section that states:

1.) Duration Used

2.) Season(s) Used

3.) Weather Conditions

G00SE and I discussed this idea while hiking the River-to-River Trail, and the thought sticks...I'd say this is much more important information than, say, the price paid for the item.

But that's another discussion for another day. 

This topic came about because I just published two thorough reviews. Both of which were down-voted seemingly out of spite and without justification. One of the commenters works in the outdoor industry and found it a helpful review. 7 people up voted it. And not only did it gain "Killer Review" status, but it was featured in the weekly newsletter. I highly doubt the TS staff would e-mail their thousands of members a review they weren't confident in.

At the very least, if you down-vote a review that someone [demonstrably] spent a significant amount of time writing, do them a solid and leave a comment suggesting what more it could offer or what more it could discuss. If it makes you nervous to post the comment below the review publicly, send me a private message saying the same and you can maintain your anonymity. 

It doesn't do us good to clam-up, plug our ears, or turn a cold shoulder to another. A lot of times, a little communication goes a long way, and brings this community closer as a result. Let's just talk it out, folks. 

8:29 p.m. on October 31, 2013 (EDT)
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It seems to me the simple solution is to make "reason for downvote" optional, or has already been suggested, make it a simple part of the downvote "click" (select one choice).

I've yet to issue a downvote. I think I might if the review was obvious spam or blathering, but those seem to be taken care of without my help :).

8:36 p.m. on October 31, 2013 (EDT)
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Neither have I, Bill. I honestly don't see the point of it.

To me, I would think either A.) the reviewer cares more about contests than reviewer rep points, or B.) it could offend someone and serve as a deterrent from writing another.

Sometimes I'll leave a comment, asking more about the item, with the hope that person will include their answer via updating their review.

It gives them the opportunity to revise their information without being penalized for it.

10:12 p.m. on October 31, 2013 (EDT)
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giftogab said:

I think the more that there is to have to comply with as the reader the fewer people that will read the reviews. If I am required to justify every remark I make...there are plenty other places to interact with reviewers and not make a career out of it. This is  ot a writing workshop and if the review is not helpful and I vote it down I vote it down. Why should I have to justify that. There already is a feedback element called COMMENTS.

 I have to agree with this and were trying to reinvent the wheel because one person is taken aback..

10:29 p.m. on October 31, 2013 (EDT)
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You're thinking the short game, Denis.

This situation is an example why could afford to be mindful of things like feedback for down votes, in whatever form (or not) it may take.

Am I the only one who's had these concerns, or these thoughts? Likely not.

I'm unashamedly outspoken, and am here for folks either too nervous or too shy to speak their minds and say the same. A few of them I've managed to get out of their shells and writing reviews, but I wouldn't want them to become discouraged when people respond negatively to them. If there was a way to turn it into a positive, there wouldn't ever be that problem.

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