A proposal of feature improvement:
A FLAG /DOWNVOTE should contain a justification.
Provide a valuable feedback about the downvoted /flagged content both to it's author and the rest of the Steemit community.
I found myself in a strange and difficult position lately: I wanted to do something between downvoting and flagging a comment. Details do not matter much at this stage of the story. It is not about being right or wrong here, but the sole act of using the flag button. It seems to be easy: one click and it is done, right? Okay, two. You have to confirm it. Still, sounds like an easy thing to do. Maybe, even too easy?
After several years in the IT industry, code interviews, interviews, discussions with colleagues, I think I have understood quite well the power of feedback. Flagging gives no information, so I left a comment to the author together with a flag. I wrote that I don't want to discuss it in details in the comment section (not to start an off-topic), but if he felt treated unfair, I would like him to catch me on the Steemit Chat so we can talk about it. It didn't go exactly as I would imagine it at first, but we discussed it with @jtstreetman and solved. Overall, the story ended happily, no harm was done. I would even say there was a positive outcome from it. This situation got me, however, thinking about the real problem.
Steemit seems to struggle a bit with the confusion over the small flag button in the top right corner. There are no rules how to use it. It is both a downvote (a subjective vote) and a flag (reporting a form of abuse). What is more important, while such vote has significant consequences, the platform provides poor to none support to put a meaningful feedback together with it.
IT CAN BE IMPROVED!
A bit about voting
The voting system consist of three options. Let's summarize them briefly:
An upvote is a fairly easy one. It represents a match between user's voting criteria and 'tested' content. What kind of criteria? There are many, like an interest in a topic, sympathy to the author, identification with the presented thesis or idea, a high probability of a reward for voting, etc. Overall, a justification for this choice is that an upvoter and/or the platform benefit(s) from the vote.
A lack of a vote
I assume, it can be described by two simple negations:
- I am NOT aware this content is posted.
- I do NOT want to pay for it.
Both conditions can have multiple reasons, but it is not the subject of this post. It should be, however, an important observation for users, that the lack of votes can be sometimes even a stronger indicator of the issue than downvotes.
It is a difficult one, especially because two completely different features are mashed into one button.
A flag means a very low value of the content for the platform, statements in the conflict with fundamental rules provided by platform creators, e.g. plagiarism or spam in case of Steemit. A downvote reflects personal preferences and can be biased by user's emotions.
Searching Steemit back and forward in order to get more insight about thoughts and opinions of users proved me right about the existence of the problem. It is a serious one. The acceptance of @blakemiles84's suggestion could partially solve it. If you do not like it, just ignore it. It would also match with a suggestion found in a short discussion on Github.
Flagging is for:
- Fraud or Plagiarism
- Hate Speech or Internet Trolling
- Intentional miss-categorized content or Spam
For a difference of opinion or offensive material please use the comment section and seek support from your peers.
Unfortunately, it seems not to represent the reality. I have found posts talking about whales using flags to downvote the content which they don't like, completely muting smaller users. It is the result of the power of reputation. A flag not only can remove a post or a comment from the public view, it affects the account and future work of the author. I was totally surprised when I saw that even Dan does it - He can make users vanish. On the bright side, I have seen cases where whales actually saved flagged users. Overall, a flag is used as a downvote, no doubts. What caught my attention the most, was a lack of the crucial part - a feedback.
People benefit from feedback, not flags.
During several years in the industry I have observed how a feedback or its lack affects people, products, companies, etc. It is not always easy to give a valuable feedback, but it definitely helps people to understand motives and improve.
There is a clear reason why all social media platforms allow users to like, promote, share, +1, upvote a content - positive emotions. If a user can see 30, 64, 232 upvotes, it makes him/her at least a bit happy. It boosts one's self-esteem and potentially influences further actions positively. Even in such cases there is a lot of room for a feedback, but it usually appears (Steemit users do actually a fairly good job in this area, I have to admit it).
On the other hand it had been already seen in the past that the idea of a "dislike" can create a lot of controversy. Such feature may be not the best idea at the early stage of any project, before users show an adequate level of maturity (you don't give kids knifes to play with). While a silence and a lack of interest can be a good punishment already, a flag without feedback can make one's day really bad. Downvoting seems to make sense on platforms like StackOverflow where posts have a Q&A format. Even there people from different social and ethnic group can feel offended by negative votes, but rules are quite clear and limit abuses. The story is less colorful e.g. on Reddit. Despite 'reddiquette', users often downvote posts on the basis of loosely defined terms. I believe Steemit should step up and not follow Reddit in this approach. It is not only about one's ego anymore but real profits from the reputation and written content.
How to address the problem?
There are simple options available already: comments, posts, DM on a chat. However, the best one would be a modification of the feature itself. Below, several possible options.
This button is used used to downvote or flag the content. It is the approach used currently. Both reasons result in the same consequences. I have to assume it is done this way on purpose.
It is also possible now, but unfortunately, it is used that way rarely.
Make the confirmation box contain checkbox with several predefined categories like: Fraud, Plagiarism, Hate Speech, Internet Trolling, Intentional miss-categorized content, Spam, Downvote. Make it mandatory. If the reason is a biased downvote, call it that way.
Proposed way is to add both:
Promote people's work, give them feedback, let them improve.
Prioritization of a backlog is crucial for every product. I would like to raise a question: what is more important for Steemit? A great engine, or a great community? An average user can see a fairly simple platform to post and vote not technical things inside. Despite my love of computer science, I would vote for a better user experience over engine improvements.
The discussed feature would greatly improve the quality of a user's life. It may be a step towards making a real difference in the way people interact with each other on social media. Let us all both improve our work and provide feedback to others, not only when everything is 'great', but also in difficult cases, without unnecessary emotions or making off-topics in a comment section.
Finally, the proposed approach would open a way to limit and expose all kinds of abuses of power, vindictive behavior or strategic or political moves. It would make Steemit the first platform which not only says it promotes higher ideals, but which actually pushes forward to achieve them.
I would like to put it on the list of issues on Github, but as in many cases I am biased by our own perspective.
You know what I think, I would like to know your opinion.