|Fear of Post Counts?|
Evidence of addiction...
We've all seen post grubbers who try to boost their post counts with lots of low-content posts. Oddly, however, on a forum conversion I just did, I've had a few members express the opposite worry.
The new forum (like WebmasterWorld) has post counts and member levels. A small minority of members have expressed variations on the following theme: "I hate the post counts! I'm afraid to post now, since I'll see how much time I spend here."
As humorist Dave Barry would say, "I'm not making this up!". I'm assuming that these members will adapt, but I'm curious as to whether other forum operators have seen this. I was really surprised.
I'm like that in a way, though I don't worry (or care!) how much time I spend on fora here or otherwhere.... I just don't like the whole post count thing. I don't like ranks/titles either....
I understand that on an info forum it can be important so that the relatively new have a "benchmark" to compare against (though there are all too many times when that's just bunk). I just don't like comparisons/competitive titles, etc. I don't have a competitive bone in my body, and I don't worry about how many posts I have or don't have, or which title is attached to my nick. In fact, I haven't a clue without looking how many posts I have here, or what my "rank" is.... it's just NOT IMPORTANT.
you know, most times folks who have been doing the forum thing for a while do tend to forget about post count, just so happens that you take a good look at those numbers under your name and your eyes bug out of your head :-)
(i need to get a life, we whisper to ourselves lol)
if the rankings that come with increased post count are a bit difficult to obtain then most community type forum members usually have a celebratory attitude about it.
i've actually never had or heard complaints about having titles or showing the number of posts made.
On my own forums, I have certain forums (the ones that would be used to increase post count rapidly) set to not count towards a member's post count. I have yet to have anyone complain, but maybe no one noticed ;)
I also have the ability to set post levels, I went with "newbie" "regular" and after 2000 posts per member, they become a super member.
I see no value in post counts at all!
It is quality that matters, not quantity. Quality is difficult to measure of course!
Another BBS I visit often allows members to rate the quality and usefulness of posts, members are ranked accordingly.....seems like a slightly better system to me;)
My own BBS doesn't show post counts or rank members at all. Every contributor is "rated" as equal to the next person. I personally like the "classless" society concept, and the fact that everyone's input is as important as everyone else's.
Putting a badge on someone as "newbie" because they only just found your BBS doesn't seem right to me. At the end of the day the fact they only just found your BBS is most likely because you are the "newbie" at getting your site ranked in search engines.....so what right do you have to brand someone else for your own failing?
i do understand your point, but there is no such thing as a 'classless' society.
rankings ARE important in my opinion. in knowledge based forums (what's the real plural of that word?) i think they are essential. the more knowledgeable a member is, the more they post. i think it's important for new members to that type of forum to be able to tell whether a either has or has GAINED sufficient knowlege to have their thoughts on things paid attention to.
this isn't to say that just because they are new their posts don't have merit, but if they ARE an expert in certain fields and like to share/help others that will show in the amount of posts they make.
those who make senseless 'i agree' posts in a knowledge based forum to boost post count should definitely be monitored and dealt with swiftly.
I've always used "fora". Don't know that that's right.... though Webster's says it is....
Post counts and ranks tend to cloud reality. Someone may be listed as a "preffered" or "senior" member only because they have the gift of gab.
A good example is where a senior user, who has been on the web since before the word "internet" was in the dictionary gets a "New User" or "Junior Member" designation. Then, the guy that can't find his arse with both hands and a map is a "preffered" member because of his constant questions, or questionable advice. (not taking a stab at anyone, just making a point).
The reason for the ranking system I believe, is to breath LIFE into the forum. In other words, they want you to post! Nothing worse then staying up late for days getting your forum just right and then not getting any visitors.
ACTIVE boards, that do not have a problem with being a virtual ghost town should really not do this.
Just my opinion.
|Putting a badge on someone as "newbie" |
Mine doesn't actually use the word "newbie" it uses something site-specific, but it gets across that they are a new member.
Post counts can serve a valuable purpose - knowing that a piece of advice came from someone with a few thousand posts can help in evaluating the quality of the advice. Just because someone posts a lot doesn't mean they know everything, of course - but I'd guess that a comment from someone with 5K posts is likely to be more credible than someone with 5 posts.
I think most of it is a reaction to change. Some people hate change, and will view new or different features in the worst possible light. I'm guessing it will be a non-issue in a week or two.
> but I'd guess that a comment from someone with 5K posts is likely to be more credible than someone with 5 posts.
This would have been true in the past, the naive years of 90's. There are now organized groups and paid tasks force to push for post counts so that *some* members become -as you say- *credibles*.
Then, these operators who achieve the status of authorities by virtue of their post count engage in spreading their own ideas, manipulating the information available and even engage in outright spamming of the board, one way or another.
We may not see all the consequences of this in this particular forum but the convincing quality of a high post count is on everyone's mind, thus the desire to take advantage of it. Now a days, the only assessment one can make about postcount is that the poster has plenty of time to spare, or is a moderator, or someone with a goal in mind. As anything else in business, once a certain falacy turns into an accepted fact, it becomes subject to exploitation.
A better gauge for measuring an *experienced* poster is the estimation of how many years he/she has been around, whether participating or lurking. Either way, that poster probably has a good handle of what goes on, understand the rules and knows who is who.
I find the labels usefull for identifying trolls. Sure, there are big cloak and dagger organisations, but then there are also people who get assasinated on teh street, doesn't mean I don't go there. Point being, it discourages basic trolling.
I would miss post counts, because I often find myself in the middle of unknown names, posting views with as many different directions as there are posters. When I look at the counts, I realise they're all new, and they're jsut guessing, except that they express tehir guesses as truths (which experienced members rarely do).
Bottom line is, I think a basic newbie/long-time member ranking is usefull anti troll munition, while post counts would be missed by me, but I can see how they could be down without.
I fear that an attitude towards post counts like Kilroy's could ruin a community.
It is that sort of 'only experienced people are right' kind of atmosphere that makes newer people scared to post comments or suggestions, or not wanting to bother because they don't think anyone will take notice. New members are what keep a community going. I'm not saying that their advice is always of the same standard as one from a more experienced member. What I am saying is that assumptions shouldn't just be made based on their status because that labels posts by a 'newbie' worthless.
Both fora and forums are ok.
The rule is: when the origin of a word is foreign (eg forum comes from Latin), the plural can be either 1- the plural form in the foreign language (Latin plural for forum is fora) or 2- the standard plural construct in the adoptive language (Add an s at the end of the word as in forums).
Other example: scenario (from Italian) -> scenarii or scenarios.
Sorry for this diversion.
I personally quite like counts and titles, they give an idea (and just that) of the expertise level of the people posting and replying to your questions. And more often than not I find there's indeed a strong correlation between the posters' seniority and the quality of their replies.
Now it is a fact that some do attempts to boost their counts with valueless posts, the 'I agree', 'lol' and the likes... I've also seen so-called 'gurus' posting newbies' questions.
At the end of the day, it is also about users interpreting these counts and titles for what they really are: just indicative pieces of information.
Now I'm only a 'new user' with 20 or so posts here, who am I to post comments like that? :)
Also, please note then when referring to more experience, I (and possibly others) mean experience with the conventions of this particular forum. somebody might be a specialist related to teh question at hand, but they might not be familiar with the way facts and opinions are generally expressed in the forum.
For example, some fora encourage guesswork, and each post is an assertion of guessed fact, while others are more contrained and try to clearly mark guesswork, and show fact as true, verifiable fact. If you know the poster is familiar with the forum, it will be much easier to estimate the true intend of their post.
e.g. If somebody posts in forum3 "Google update started tonight" and has 2000+ posts I'll read it very carefully, because "Google Update" has a very specific, serious meaning in the context of this board. while a post count of under 20 might indicate a more speculative post of somebody who is not familiar that his comments might be taken so deeply seriously (For example due to the fact that "Google Update" might mean commercial fortune or failure to many posters).
Just to clarify that by experience I do not mean that a small post count means less ability to answer the question or issue at hand. It just means a little more salt may be needed.
killroy, you've hit the nail on the head. A high post count means that they are experienced in the forum, and possibly in the area you are discussing. You should respect your elders' opinions because of their experience, but that doesn't necessarily mean they know more than a someone newer to the forum. But a large post count may mean that they are more dedicated to the forum, that they have been researching the subject for a while, or that they have a large interest in the subject.
We evaluate people everyday based on how they look. It's human nature. Post counts are a way to give an impression of the person speaking. It's not a perfect solution, and it could very well be misleading. But so can the way someone looks. Which is exactly the point. You should always look beyond that first impression and decide for yourself about the quality of the post. But people need a way to weight their opinion with something tangible.
I often also judge the quality of someone's post on their avatar or signature. If I see a britney spears avatar and a quote about rainbows, I might think that post has less value than something more professional or cooler. :)
Good analogy, chadmg. When we meet someone in person, we have lots of cues to evaluate their credibility - their appearance, dress, manner of speaking, apparent knowledge of a topic, etc.
Online, there are fewer cues. We can evaluate the content of a post for seeming credibility, we can look at past posts, and we can look at the poster's info - name, avatar (if any), post count, date joined, and perhaps profile info. Certainly, this is skimpy information, but it's something.
A very small post count coupled with a promotional post sometimes helps to flag up a forum spammer, or someone who is not who they say they are. But once your new member has served a probationary period then the post count becomes less useful to users. You might care if a member has 200 posts or 2000, but do visitors? Perhaps the whole post count thing is a little like the page counter, best not to display openly.
I'm saying that post counts are valuable as a user. I look at the post number all of the time on the forums I visit. Having the exact number does not matter, true. But the range matters, and those ranges are arbitrary. You could put labels on people, Newbie, Junior Member, Senior Member, but these labels are different on every forum, so it's hard to tell what they mean. Some forums allow you to even create your own label. I've toyed with the idea of making labels that include the range and removing the post counts, such as...
Junior Member (10-200)
Senior Member (200-1000)
Super Member (1000+)
Will this lower the amount of junk posts by users who want to increase their post counts? I'm not sure. Is it someone's insecurities that make them dislike post counters? Seeing a high post count might demand a level of respect, but a low number doesn't command no respect. I think people might be more self-conscious of their post count on a forum where there are cliques and flamers and such. In a respectful forum such as this one, I think it is less of a problem.