Axe Grinding

Hi. I’m sorry I’ve been incommunicado, but I was away last week and missed the bulk of this. There are due to be system upgrades that will reveal the identities of the agreers and disagreers. I believe it’s supposed to be rolled out this week.

That said, I do not have the ability to identify those agreeing and disagreeing, so I’m not concealing any inside knowledge.

I do maintain, and I’m not being cheeky here, that the “un-trolling” button RemcoW mentioned does exist, and the remedy is just to mark those you agree with. Nobody likes to be called a troll, but I think some of you are potentially overstating the actual effects of the miscreant(s). I’ve relayed your concerns to Doug, and I do appreciate that you are letting us know.

@cdaquila ;

I don’t generally like to be a pain in the butt, but your statement:

I think some of you are potentially overstating the actual effects of the miscreant(s).

does not make sense in light of the fact that the disagree/agree system was deployed in the first place. If people aren’t going to pay attention to how many disagrees a user has, then it seems that it is of no utility and therefore its implementation was nothing more than an exercise in frivolous “because we can” thinking.

If, on the other hand, the system was implemented because users are actually expected to look at the agree/disagree numbers in determining whether or not to listen to them, then it is not overstating the actual effects to be concerned that my disagree rating is more than half of my agree rating.

In short, either you want us to care about the ratings or you don’t. If you don’t, then the only logical response is “Then get rid of them.” If you do, then the only logical response is “Stop the trolls from being able to abuse the system.”

I got 4 disagrees when I told my of experience with rain-x and it smearing, and I explained it had been a long time since I used it and it might be better now. Like some others I’m beginning to think agree and disagree buttons may not be much help and may lead to a lot of abuse.

If you disagree please explain why you disagree, punching a button doesn’t really help anyone.

@rwee2000 , @shadowfax - I agree, as I said above. Get rid of all buttons except ‘agree’ and ‘flag’ (for moderator’s eyes only).

@shadowfax, I see what you’re saying, but there’s a little more nuance to what I’m saying than the dichotomy you established above. I didn’t say that one’s number of disagrees is irrelevant; rather, I’ve been arguing for people’s disagrees to be considered in the context of the full set of reactions given to one’s posts. To me, it’s taking on the appearances of a glass half-full vs. half-empty question.

Earlier today, I swept through a bunch of profiles to take a semi-random sample. It’s true you’ve got 45 disagrees, and it is half of your agree rating, but you’ve also got around 35 likes if memory serves. I looked at it and saw all the agrees and likes, and it left me with an overwhelmingly positive impression of how members of the community have reacted to your posts. Basically, as the sample size gets bigger, the picture changes. If you had ten ratings and three were agrees or likes and seven were disagrees with 13 “trolls”, I’d be very concerned. Same went for ok4450’s profile, and a bunch of others. A handful of profiles of other regulars actually surprised me because their posts had not been reacted to very much at all. Many have used the system, and it shows that you (and a bunch of others) offer a lot of help to a lot of people.

There is also the content of what people say, and how they say it that rises above pure numbers. It’s never been about, “oh, we have reactions now, so numbers replace content,” or “the numbers don’t mean anything,” but adding context. So if I am Car Talk Community green, and I come in and I get advice from shadowfax and ok4450, I will see they’re both highly regarded by their peers…but if they provide contradictory advice for some reason, does it mean I trust one over the other based solely on numbers? No. It’s just not possible.

After this add-on was launched, we’d decided to leave it in place for a few months to see how it played out. This discussion has been helpful, and I’m talking to Doug this week about what to do. As they say on Reddit: TL;DR: All I mean to say is that the 45 disagrees don’t exist in a vacuum. You have lots more positive feedback than negative.

For gruff old mechanics and DIYers, we seem pretty thin skinned right now.

It’s the internet. You can’t take it personally.


Yes, I see what you’re saying, but what of the person in your example who is relatively new, but who knows what they’re talking about and falls victim to the troll? He gets everything he posts disagreed with, and the “green” gets a false impression of him.

Further, regarding my profile, unless that green guy actually goes through all of my posts to see what people were agreeing with, for all he knows 85 people agreed with me that speed limits should be raised - and therefore that metric means absolutely nothing when evaluating whether or not my advice will break his car. Even though my “agrees” do come from a mix of opinion-jawing and actual car advice, the user cannot know that unless he combs through my profile. I don’t think anyone is going to seriously suggest that anyone is going to do that on a regular basis.

Trying to use an agree/disagree ranking system as a basis to judge mechanical advice is only valid if the only posts that can get agree/disagree tags are those dealing with mechanical advice - which as you know is not all that goes on here.

And really, what this comes down to is what some of us have been saying all along - Reddit-style upvoting has little to do with increasing the quality of a conversation, and little to do with the actual merit of the post in question. In the case of the majority of my, and OK’s, and others’ I’m sure, disagrees, it has everything to do with a twit who’s trying to game the system because he thinks internet revenge is worth something.


I agree! And I don’t take it personally. But the flip side is that, like you, I spend some of my time here helping other people out with car problems. If I were to rack up a boatload of marks that falsely tell people “this guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” then there isn’t very much point in bothering to spend that time here since whatever I say won’t be taken into consideration anyway. You and I have both been victims of, and publicly commented on, some idiot downvoting us out of spite and currently have about the same ratio of disagree to agree/like (though I’m winning on disagrees >:) ). If another troll comes along and decides to twit us, that ratio will change for the worse, and new users will increasingly tend to assume that what we say about cars is suspect.

It just doesn’t make much sense to me that CT moderators would put a system in place which would allow that to happen.

The last thing to do to voluteers (any organization) is to criticize them when it’s not needed. This is more an ‘advice board’ than a ‘discussion board’.

@shadowfax, I get where you’re coming from. I’ll pop back in when I have more to tell you.

texases, can you clarify who’s doing the criticism in your comment?

The “disagree”, “off topic”, and public “flag” buttons are the criticisms. I don’t see how they benefit anybody.

Just so you know, its not me. If I think someone is wrong enough to disagree with, I’ll do a post saying so. On the occasions that I’ve been wrong or stupid, I appreciate hearing about it. It would be nice if you could go back and pull or edit your post based on the errors being pointed out or maybe you can and I just don’t know how.

@shadowfax Thanks. So this is how we edit, huh? Click on the little gear? Who woulda thunk.

This will be a lose/lose situation. If the regulars were able to isolate themselves from criticism in a clique those who drop in with a problem might get a well meaning answer that is totally wrong and follow the costly but incorrect advice. But then, as it is, the spoilers who surf the net looking for an opportunity to throw graffiti can find sitting targets with pristine walls to sully. On several occasions I have misread the problem or posts subsequent to it and made some suggestions that were totally out of place. Someone here has pointed out my errors, sometimes quite critically, but honestly I appreciate them getting to the point even if not very graciously. But honestly, I appreciate knowing who finds fault in my efforts. If someone surfing through who has only a passing knowledge of automobiles contradicts me I ignore it while criticism from the regulars here brings me to do some serious re-thinking of my advice. But regardless how this is settled my skin is somewhat thick and for the most part I can look at the critique page for regulars here and recognize when there has been a vendetta against someone.

Bing: I didn’t think it was, for the record. And to edit your post, click on the little gear in the upper right hand corner of it. (This, btw, is another short-sighted element of the redesign. Before, we had an “edit” button. Everyone knows what an edit button is. Now we have a gear (I’m not sure why anyone would be expected to realize that “gear” equals “edit”) that drops down a menu which only has 1 choice - “edit,” (therefore making the dropdown menu redundant - might as well just go straight to edit upon clicking the gear) and to make matters worse it’s the exact shade of grey that is the universal “unselectable button” signifier).

There is also the problem that not all browsers even work with this ‘system.’ I use the syandard Android browser and don’t see any of it. I have no idea who has agrees and disagrees or whether I do or don’t. I even made a point of finding another browser that showed them and hated it. Hated is a strong word but it’s what I felt. They degraded my experience as well as cluttered up my little smartphone screen.

Just when I thought everything had settled down on my end the problem has resurfaced. I’ve attained another 30 or so disagrees just this evening alone and a wad of off topics.

Must be a college student home for the summer… :wink:

If I were you I think I’d just quit looking at the score. For what its worth, I tried to give you an agree the other night and it wouldn’t let me. Maybe my computer or maybe its a glitch.

As a college professor (now retired for a year), I had to give student evaluations. The responses were anonymous. I received a few negative comments from time to time. In fact, I didn’t feel that I was doing my job if all the students liked what I was doing. My function wasn’t to be liked by the students. My job was to challenge them. Our department chairman read all our evaluations. One time he wrote a comment when he returned the evaluations to me that they were very high and so I must be a good teacher. I sent him a note back and said while it is nice to receive high eavaluations, my real concern is that the students really learned something.
I told my students this before I passed out the evaluation forms and walked out of the room: You can put anything on the evaluation form that you want. It doesn’t affect me at all. When I go home, I have a dog that likes me all the time, a son that likes me most of the time, a wife that likes me some of the time and a cat that can’t stand me. If you want to be in the same category as the cat, it’s o.k. with me. Now the reason the cat can’t stand me is that when we adopted the cat as a kitten straight out of a friend’s barn, the kitten was infested with fleas and she was miserable. I was elected to give the kitten a flea bath. I got rid of the fleas and the kitten was no longer miserable. However, she didn’t realize that I had done something good for her. All she understood was that I gave her a bath and cats hate water.
There are some top notch mechanics (of whom I am not one) that respond on this board. You may not be telling someone what they want to hear, even though you may have given the solution to the person’s problem or sitiuation. I took care of our cat’s problem, but she didn’t like the solution. By the way, the cat is now deceased. The cat we have now doesn’t have fleas and likes me.
I need to learn not to leave my computer logged into this board and walk away while Mrs. Triedaq is around or I’ll get zapped on my responses. I hope that the posters, and particularly the really good mechanics, will take the “disagree” scores with a grain of salt.

“I need to learn not to leave my computer logged into this board and walk away while Mrs. Triedaq is around or I’ll get zapped on my responses.”

I like it when Mrs T responds. You could get a lot of Likes and Agrees if you gave her a little more time chatting.

“Just when I thought everything had settled down on my end the problem has resurfaced. I’ve attained another 30 or so disagrees just this evening alone and a wad of off topics.”

Maybe someone likes getting your goat.

Once again, if you agree, there is no need for a post. I like the agree button for situations where there is conflicting advice, its a time saver (for those who can use it) to vote on the best answer. I don’t like the disagree button, if you disagree, say why. The like button is just a popularity contest. The flag is useful to help the moderators.