Badges for Commentards

This topic was created by Drewc .

Gold badge

Badges for Commentards

Today we introduce badges for commentards. This feature will be rolling out over the next few hours. Check out our story here.

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Happy

Re: Badges for Commentards

Drew,

Thank you, my kind Overlord, for the lovely badge. Just one problem... Where is it?

I notice you've awarded yourself one. That's favouritism that is! [sulks]. Then again, it's just as well, as you've only got your Reg staffer Vulture badge on some of your posts.

I feel all warm and special now. Like some people I've never met on the internet weally wub me werry much.

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Re: Badges for Commentards

Patience, dear.

The badges are rolling out over the next few hours.

I will demote myself tomorrow - but I just wanted to show what the badge looked like.

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Re: Badges for Commentards

Patience? Pah! Want toy now!!!!!!

Surely you should keep your badge. Or just have an extra red one of these, that you only give to staff?

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Re: Jumpers for Goalposts

"The Register currently publishes almost 40,000 comments a month, and forum posts account for more than 10 per cent of site traffic."

Presumably the ultimate aim of the frequent flyer scheme is to get both those figures as high as possible so that you can all put your feet up and watch the ad money roll in. Kerching, trebles all round.

Rewarding volume is just going to encourage certain types to unleash a lot of dross, surely? Kinda sucks for those of us dumb enough to trawl through those comments. Hmmm...

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Re: Jumpers for Goalposts

Most commentard posts riff off articles - produced by 25 full-time journalists - and many freelancers. Much as we would like to put our feet up, I don't see that happening anytime soon. Or at all.

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Re: Jumpers for Goalposts

If an infinite number of monkeys with an infinite number of typewriters can compose the works of Shakespeare - how many monkeys does it take to replace just one Register writer?

More worryingly, how many monkeys are required to replace your average commentard? This could be a new El Reg unit of measurement - for both writing and perhaps software writing quality. So we might say that Windows 7 would require several trillions of monkeys to achieve it by random chance, whereas Windows ME could have been written (probably better) by one monkey, in an afternoon. Probably when it wasn't feeling well, due to some dodgy bananas it had the night before...

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JDX
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Re: Badges for Commentards

When you say "a few hours"...

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Trollface

Ahem

Some of us unleash torrents of dross fo' free, thankyaverymuch.

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Trollface

Re: Jumpers for Goalposts

The answer to "how many monkeys does it take?" is obviously always infinity.

Err, any fraction of infinity, no matter how large the denominator, is still infinity. You seem to be suggesting that "a really big number" ~ ∞

I know you're joking, but its the sort of joke that arts-educated journos make & seeing that there's several billion of those versus the three that know what all the buttons do on their calculator, they need no help with writing nonsense about mathematics.

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Happy

Re: Ahem

Indeed. I'll have you know I sweat blood and tears over my dross. Mostly blood. Blech.

btw - does AManFromMars(n) get a special award for Services To Incomprehension / Comedy / Ability To Never Make Spelling & Grammar Booboos Despite Writing Reams Of Indecipherable Nonsense in Mixed Caps / whatever?

I think he/she/it should.

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Re: Jumpers for Goalposts

"Rewarding volume is just going to encourage certain types to unleash a lot of dross, surely? Kinda sucks for those of us dumb enough to trawl through those comments. Hmmm..."

To avoid this quantity over quality scenario I'd recommend awarding Silver Badges based on upvote to downvote ratio rather than a static barrier to entry of 2000 upvotes. This would reward genuinely insightful posts rather than encouraging hundreds of mundane posts in the hope of gathering a few upvotes here and there.

I'm not making this post out of self-interest btw, most of my upvotes are from AC posts and therefore wouldn't count and even if they did a ratio of 3.6:1 is fairly poor anyway.

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Re: Jumpers for Goalposts

I think the "rewarding volume" argument is bollocks. Spiceworks, Puppet, Zenoss, Petri, Ars Technica...none of these communities (all of which have substantial numbers of contributors that are IT nerds) do not have this issue. It is a non-problem.

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Re: Jumpers for Goalposts

I don't recognise most of the sites you list but having read Ars Technica on and off for the past couple of years I'd say you're wrong on this point.

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Re: Jumpers for Goalposts

To each their own, Fibbles. Personally, I find that Ars Technica consistently attracts the best commenters on the internet. Their community is second to none and the recent enhancements to their commenting system have only increased the signal to noise ratio.

That said, it depends entirely on which articles you read there. I tend to stay away from Ars' technology articles - especially anything to do with Microsoft - or their video gaming ones. "Cyclone of shrieking trolls" about covers all you'll find in the comments section there...and frankly, the majority of Arsians which IQs larger than their shoe size have taken to avoiding those sections as well.

I do however feel that the community that has grown around the intellectual property, internet legality and most especially the science articles is amazing. An example for the rest of the internet. Even the trolls in those sections deserve medals; the quality of their trollish little arguments are that good.

There are – rarely – people who will try to post lots of meaningless drivel in order to drive up post counts. These will get flagged in any forum by the regulars. Those folks are usually astroturfers trying to build a credible-looking account, or just people who want to feel important out of the gate. In either case, they rarely morph into useful contributors to the overall conversation and end up representing such a small fraction of any given online community that policing and enforcement by the de facto mods (at El Reg, those with silver badges) will keep these sorts in check.

One of the things to learn from Ars Technica specifically is the rich discussion they've have recently about the quality of discussion itself. The site and it's community have engaged in very open and honest dialogue concerning the use of upvotes. The idea being to upvote those who truly are adding to the conversation, no – as is all to often the case here – those who we agree with.

Shockingly, it works. Ars has managed to create a community where people aren't downvoted en masse simply because they are disagreed with by the majority. Quite the opposite; if they present an unpopular argument well and support it with evidence, they will get upvoted by that community. Robust debate is generally encouraged, so long as you can back up your claims.

If, however, you are the kind of person who gets their panties in a bunch because you get downvoted when you say "climate change isn't real and I have a link from Watt's Up to prove it" then too bad, so sad. Twats that repeatedly come along and post crap so thoroughly debunked as "anything on Watt's Up, ever" to websites like Ars where evidence is respected above all else are going to get rightly downvoted into the ground.

Not for disagreeing with the hivemind, mind you. They get voted into oblivion for trolling in a tired, predictable fashion using bullshit that's been debunked as "evidence" about eleventy squillion times in every other article on that topic before it. Rightly so.

Conversely, I've seen robust debate where people have poked legitimate holes in individual studies get massively upvoted. Because they presented peer reviewed evidence and/or things like math that can be checked.

Really though, it's all about the quality of the community you want to build. If you are working to build a community of something other than a cyclone of shrieking trolls emoting their gut feelings and prejudices all over the internet like so much pestilence, then I seriously doubt you're going to end up with a problem where people are posting mass quantities of comments to "make it into bronze."

If, however, you are obsessed with providing a forum for the intellectually stunted to wave around their cerebral dirty underwear, you are certainly going to get an increased volume of posts. This will be tightly coupled to a decrease in quality as anyone with a sense of self respect abandons your forums as they degrade into Youtube's comments section.

I prefer to believe that The Register is filled with intelligent, capable individuals who are perfectly willing to help prevent the forums from entering a terminal Youtube degeneracy. I sincerely hope that faith is not misplaced.

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Happy

Re: Jumpers for Goalposts

Trevor,

I've though of a use for the purple badge suggested earlier in the thread. It should be a badge dedicated to those who post big, long, enormous, fucking huge posts. The Purple Prose Badge. As a warning to other users to watch out for eyeball bleed.

Admittedly I plead very guilty of this offence. But when it comes to walls of text, I bow towards your superior waffling skills...

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Re: Jumpers for Goalposts

From what I've read I'd agree that there is some very insightful discussion that goes on at Ars but it's not my experience that is the bastion of enlightenment you paint it to be. The comments on the science articles in particular can become an echo chamber full of 'me too' comments. It has the advantage over El Reg in that there are far fewer trolls commenting on these articles but it is not a particularly inclusive community. On the Reg forums commenters will attempt to explain and educate the less well informed whereas on Ars they're treated with derision. It is a community that often reeks of elitism. I'd say that your perception of the 'good' comments always being upvoted and the 'bad' comments always being downvoted is observation bias. It seems like a community that always gets things right because it is filled with people of similar opinions who reinforce your world view. Ultimately we'll have to agree to disagree here because I wanted to discuss the new badge system not the merits of the Ars Technica community.

The Register is primarily a technology news site. It's all very well for you to avoid articles that are going to act as flamebait for Microsoft / Linux / Apple / Android / PS3 / Xbox fanboys but they make up a fair percentage of the articles posted here. I could quite easily reach 2000 upvotes by posting a few comments on each of these articles stating that "Only idiots buy products from Company A, Company B is so much better". These comments could be completely contradictory and placed one beneath the other but I'd be guaranteed a slew of upvotes. I'd also generate a large amount of downvotes but since these currently count for nothing I'd still achieve that silver badge just as quickly. Even if I obtained the silver badge through decent posts, under the current system there is no incentive to maintain that quality once I have reached 2000 upvotes.

The Reg staff seem to be promoting these badges as a way to discern the merit of a posted opinion at a glance. I'm not particularly happy with such a system as I'd much prefer people judge posts on their content. If we are to have such a system though, it should not be one that is so easy to manipulate. It should not be possible to gain a silver badge by posting drivel on game reviews and then use that badge to give ones opinion authority on science and technology articles.

I'm proposing a system based on ratios, where you can gain as many upvotes as you like posting comments containing words like 'micro$haft' and 'crApple' but it will count for naught because you're likely to get just as many downvotes. You could argue that we should be reporting such posts but in the end we'd be reporting 90% of the posts made to Reg Hardware. I'd also point out that this is not the letters section of some peer reviewed journal, it's the comments section of The Register. A place renowned for its sarcasm and generally laid back atmosphere.

There'd still need to be a starting cap, otherwise new members with, for example, 10 upvotes and one downvote would be obtaining silver badges. I'm happy for that cap to remain at 2000 but it is not sufficient by itself, downvotes need to be taken into consideration.

To be honest I don't understand your hostility towards my suggestion. Your argument seems to be that you personally don't see any manipulation of the system in the small subset of articles you read, therefore we shouldn't bother trying to design a system that is resilient to manipulation.

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Re: Jumpers for Goalposts

u rite gud 2

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Re: Jumpers for Goalposts

@Fibbles my argument is that I don't see manipulation across a massive subset of articles across a wide array of websites, so we don't need to design a system resistant to manipulation.

Design takes time and effort. The more you design something to be resistant to manipulation, the more onerous it becomes to use it. The more complicated the rules are, the fewer people will play.

So no, I don't believe there is a requirement to design the system with the resiliency you describe. If – and only if – we see it emerge as a problem should we then sit down and decide to make the system more complex. Keep it simple. It's a fucking internet forum; not a bridge across a river.

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Re: Jumpers for Goalposts

A 'massive subset' which apparently excludes a large percentage of the articles posted here. Articles which you admit you avoid because the quality of discussion is poor. Articles in which a lot of upvotes are dished out.

Design does take time and effort if what you're designing is complicated. A bit of code that checks if the user has over 2000 posts, then divides their upvotes by there downvotes and checks whether the result is over (for the sake of example,) 6, is not complicated.

I don't understand your assertion that this will somehow make posting more onerous. It requires no extra input from those commenting. If those commenting can't understand a simple ratio on their 'My Posts' page then I do seriously worry about the future of the science and technology sectors.

Is there any chance you can calm down please? It'd be nice to discuss this without being sworn at in every reply.

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Re: Jumpers for Goalposts

That should read 2000 upvotes, not 2000 posts. Sadly I have no edit button.

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Re: Jumpers for Goalposts

@Fibbles a 'massive subset' means I read comments and articles across a wide array of sites. I do avoid certain ones as a daily habit. That said, I also make a point of randomly selecting articles (and non-article comment sections) on the various websites I frequent for in depth analysis, even - I would go so far as to say especially - if they are the types of articles where I would not normally spend my off hours.

In those cases, I am not spending my personal leisure time to trawl the comments and participate as a commenter. I am reviewing the comments with an eye to understanding the community, the various factions within. It helps with understanding my readership and helps with understanding the evolving nature of the IT community; things that help my clients.

Building in ratios and such to the posting system might not seem complicated from a design standpoint. Certainly, when you are approaching it from an engineering standpoint, trying to anticipate every problem and create a rule or bit of code to cope with it seems like the way to go.

The problem is that people aren't machines. You don't engineer communities; people have a natural aversion to rules. I argue that – not only philosophically – but from a pragmatic "if you don't want to have to keep butting heads with your own readership" standpoint, you only enact the absolute minimum necessary rules.

Your suggestion would require adding a layer of regulation for a hypothetical problem that not only does not exist today on The Register's forums, there is little evidence that it exists on the forums of similar communities. It may be relatively simple from a code point of view, but it is "one more thing" to bear in mind as a comment; one more rule on the list.

So my argument is simple: until such time as there is a demonstrable need to address this hypothetical problem, it should remain unaddressed.

As to not swearing, hell no, I won't go. I have no reason to adjust myself to meet your expectations, demands or desires. Ain't the internet great?

Maybe you should regulate it until until it works exactly like you want. It's just a little bit of code…

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Re: Jumpers for Goalposts

Ok, if we're playing it that way.

"Fibbles a 'massive subset' means I read comments and articles across a wide array of sites. I do avoid certain ones as a daily habit. That said, I also make a point of randomly selecting articles (and non-article comment sections) on the various websites I frequent for in depth analysis, even - I would go so far as to say especially - if they are the types of articles where I would not normally spend my off hours.

In those cases, I am not spending my personal leisure time to trawl the comments and participate as a commenter. I am reviewing the comments with an eye to understanding the community, the various factions within. It helps with understanding my readership and helps with understanding the evolving nature of the IT community; things that help my clients."

This is the biggest load of bullshit I've read in a while.

"Building in ratios and such to the posting system might not seem complicated from a design standpoint. Certainly, when you are approaching it from an engineering standpoint, trying to anticipate every problem and create a rule or bit of code to cope with it seems like the way to go.

The problem is that people aren't machines. You don't engineer communities; people have a natural aversion to rules. I argue that – not only philosophically – but from a pragmatic "if you don't want to have to keep butting heads with your own readership" standpoint, you only enact the absolute minimum necessary rules.

Your suggestion would require adding a layer of regulation for a hypothetical problem that not only does not exist today on The Register's forums, there is little evidence that it exists on the forums of similar communities. It may be relatively simple from a code point of view, but it is "one more thing" to bear in mind as a comment; one more rule on the list."

More arse gravy as demonstrated by the numerous communities on the internet that use a ratio system rather than a hard number because it's less open to manipulation (everything from torrent sites to eBay). Replacing one rule with another is hardly adding complexity. Instead of 'achieve 2000 upvotes' the rule would become 'maintain an upvote / downvote ratio higher than 6'.

"So my argument is simple: until such time as there is a demonstrable need to address this hypothetical problem, it should remain unaddressed."

Closing the stable door after the horse has bolted. Always a sound plan...

"As to not swearing, hell no, I won't go. I have no reason to adjust myself to meet your expectations, demands or desires. Ain't the internet great?"

It was a request not an expectation. Perhaps you should pull your head out of your own arse, the fresh air will do you good.

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Re: Jumpers for Goalposts

@Fibbles some communities use a ratio system. Most don't use anything, really. The upvotes/downvotes and badge systems being entirely for the ego of the reader as opposed to a method of controlling the message.

The Register made a decision about they'd like it to go and you haven't even let them give it a try before you are in here dooming about how it won't work. You don't have direct evidence about why it will or won't work, you're just appealing to your own authority as the rationale for why it must be done your way. Otherwise doom.

As to your dismissing my research practices regarding online communities...*shrug*. You can believe or disbelieve whatever you wish. I disagree with your take on human nature, so I am - quite obviously - wrong, lacking appropriate information and possibly insane. It is clear that if I had the information available to you and the social context that you possess to filter it I would reach the exact same conclusions as you because you are simply correct. I bow before you in humble awe.

Regarding your "request" to be nice to your precious feelers: I so no margin in honouring it. I am who I am, I don't pull punches. I "calls it like I sees it;" part of that is a deliberate choice in word usage. The words, tone and even expletives chosen are chosen very specifically to convey what I want to convey. My arguments, my ideas and – in this case – my contempt.

The Register isn't a torrent site, and sure as shit isn't ebay. The whole concept of a ranking system in the first place – badges, titles, what-have-you – is of dubious relevance to begin with. The badges system however does provide a neat way of rolling out new forum features to commenters one "layer" at a time. A great way to ensure that The Register can continue to evolve how it allows it's forums to evolve without simply throwing the doors open to everyone.

My contempt for your ideas and rules stems from the competitive nature of your approach. "Use a ratio," "game the system" and so forth. You would appear to quite blatantly view the badges as a rank. As though they indicate some level of importance.

Quite frankly, I think that's bullshit and not remotely reflective of the kind of community that The Register has tried to build. The badges are emphatically not ranks. They are instead a measure of "this person has been a part of the community long enough to understand how it works and has become 'plugged in' enough that we can trust them not to abuse things like HTML posting, editing and so forth."

The badges are an extension of an already extant internal system by which people were granted forum privileges in the first place. They are not an epenis.

Let's examine this a little more closely:

Let's say that I have 2000 upvotes and 50,000 downvotes. Looking at how downvotes work here on The Register, people downvote people into the ground because they disagree with what that individual says. The community is starkly different from Ars Technica or Reddit, and different again from Spiceworks, Puppet, Zenoss or so forth.

That individual with 50,000 downvotes could be a troll. They could also be the guy who believes something ardently. The Apple lover circa 2002 who isn't trolling, he just happens to be a believer.

The number of downvotes accumulated really isn't relevant. To punish people for getting downvotes in The Register's community – and I am very specifically talking about The Register's community here – is bad form. It would have a direct impact of punishing people for saying things that others disagree with, even if they aren't trolling in an obvious sense.

The Register isn't Reddit, and it isn't Ars. The community hasn't evolved to use the upvote/downvote system as a means of judging whether or not the comment was topical and non-redundant. If you go back, it was originally hoped that this is how it would be used, but this is not how it ended up being used here in practice.

That said, 2000 upvotes is an indication that you have been around here for a while. You could theoretically farm 2000 upvotes in a short period of time if you put your mind to it, but there has been zero evidence that anyone has tried this. More to the point, if you did farm 2000 upvotes in record time, then you probably understand The Register's community quite well. So I don't see the problem in giving that individual a Silver badge and letting them run around with HTML and whatever other advanced forum privileges will eventually come with that badge.

Again: the badges are not a damn ranking system. They are a screening system to help The Register find out which readers can be trusted with some more advanced features. Nothing more, nothing less.

You pass an arbitrary point – 2000 upvotes – and you are considered to know enough about the community to interact with it in a meaningful way. Ratios and so forth would help you create a nice echo chamber in which everyone agrees with one another, but they don't help you create an open, free discussion system where your only real interest in community moderation is keeping the advanced tools out of the hands of newbies, astroturfers and marketing types.

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Re: Jumpers for Goalposts

"You pass an arbitrary point – 2000 upvotes – and you are considered to know enough about the community to interact with it in a meaningful way. Ratios and so forth would help you create a nice echo chamber in which everyone agrees with one another, but they don't help you create an open, free discussion system where your only real interest in community moderation is keeping the advanced tools out of the hands of newbies, astroturfers and marketing types."

That's a decent counter-argument. If you'd posted that 4 replies and some name calling ago you wouldn't have revealed yourself to be the arrogant and egotistical arse you clearly are. If the gold badge you have been given is an indication by the Reg staff that you are a commenter we should all be aiming to emulate these forums are going to go down the shitter pretty quickly.

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Re: Jumpers for Goalposts

If you aim to emulate me, you're a fool.

Of course, the same could be said of quite a few of the other commenters around here, so I'm in good company.

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Awarded to user handle instead of account?

Seems a bit wierd.

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Re: Awarded to user handle instead of account?

Not weird - some people post under multiple handles, and some post mostly but not all as anonymous cowards. If we grant privileges across all variants, we risk giving others the tools to associates these posts to one person.

It makes more sense to impose one handle+ anonymous option restriction per account.

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JDX
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Re: Awarded to user handle instead of account?

I didn't know you could have multiple handles for the same account!

Does this kind of ignorance lose me my badge ;)

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Re: Awarded to user handle instead of account?

When I changed my handle for one single post only I wasn't allowed to change back, so since then my non-anonymous activity is under my second choice of handle. As to anonymity, anyone who googles enough could probably associate both my new and old handles without much difficulty.

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Re: Awarded to user handle instead of account?

Seems a bit wierd.

Seems perfectly sensible. If you "do a shitpeas" and make yourself unpopular, then you can't expect to start posting under another name and keep your privileges.

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Thumb Up

Re: Awarded to user handle instead of account?

Anti-Sockpuppet measures imho

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Coffee/keyboard

Re: Awarded to user handle instead of account?

@Eponymous Cowherd

"do a shitpeas" See Icon.

Speaking of.... Anyone seen Barry lately?

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Where can I check my upvotes?

Just so I know how much more karma whoring I have to do.

And do downvotes negate upvotes?

And what about votes when using Anon (the defacto troll standard)?

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Re: Where can I check my upvotes?

Should be at the top right of your screen, under Forums. You'll have a bit of blurb saying Welcome, John Smith. (Not you? Log in here)

Under that you've got a few links. Click on My Posts and you get a list of all your posts, sorted by topic, with your votes at the top. I have to confess I'm now tempted to find out whether downvotes cancel out upvotes by hitting that tempting thumbs down button, but that would be naughty...

Get whoring!

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Re: Where can I check my upvotes?

Ta for that. Wow:

In total, your posts have been upvoted 4747 times and voted on by Linux/Android users 4034 times.

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Re: Where can I check my upvotes?

In total, your posts have been upvoted 3599 times and voted on by Microsoft fanbois 884 times.

We can all be snarky, dear.

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Flame

Re: Where can I check my upvotes?

Except there aren't really any MS fanbois here. There are only Linux zealots and people who have jobs.

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Happy

Re: Where can I check my upvotes?

"within our readership is a core group, several hundred strong - and not all of them trolls - who are "super-contributors"."

On the other hand...

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Re: Where can I check my upvotes?

If downvotes are included, can I have the email addresses of the 200 or so ba****ds who have deprived me of a gold badge?

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Re: Where can I check my upvotes?

That's trolling talk Spartacus.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Where can I check my upvotes?

In total, your posts have been upvoted 5232 times and voted on by Anonymous Haters 840 times.

Survival of the haterest; they even deprived me of me badge! And that's only the account, not even counting the handle. bastards!

And apparently links and other niceties have been revoked as well. Buncha vultures. *sigh*

Actually, I think it's more or less time to leave this place. Going too much the way of the zuckbook, bitch.

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Re: Where can I check my upvotes?

Going too much the way of the zuckbook, bitch.

Oh god, it's never going to be THAT bad. I hope.

Okay, so it might get a bit Slashdotty, but it's still a tech site and user forums rather than a big online wankfest.

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Pint

Didn't I make 100 posts in a year?

Too many AC I guess...

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Re: Didn't I make 100 posts in a year?

JUdging by your post history you qualify for at least a bronze badge. The article does atate the change is "rolling out" though.. which by that I assume means that somewhere, some old 486 is running a BASIC script that's repeatedly doing SELECT and UPDATE statements, and we'll all get our badges eventually.

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Oh bloody hell.

I can't wait for post edit privileges. Must proof-read before hitting "submit".

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Re: Didn't I make 100 posts in a year?

How did you know what hardware we are running on? Uncanny.

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Re: Oh bloody hell.

I allways ploof lead before hissing subvert!

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Trollface

Re: Didn't I make 100 posts in a year?

...somewhere, some old 486 is running a BASIC script that's repeatedly doing SELECT and UPDATE statements...

That's T-SQL. BASIC would be doing rs.ReadNext and rs.Update.

Shurley, as this is EL Reg, the script should be running on a BBC Micro, and be using PEEK and POKE?

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