First, do we want to allow members to express a negative response to a post via the click of a button? Such as a "dislike" or "disagree" button? Think about it very carefully, think about it if you are the author of a post and received such a response -- what is your reaction?
One idea that comes to mind would be to make it so that only someone that posts within the same thread has the ability to rate a post negatively. This would eliminate the "drive by" negative rating and only allow someone who has actually made a comment in the thread to express their negatively on other posts within the same thread.
You could think of it as a "Here's why I rated your post negatively, ...".
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The problem is that it's so hard to say something in writing already, without the facial expression and voice inflection, without it being taken much more seriously than you meant it.... even if you meant it completely non-critically. If you really mean it as a criticism, it takes a lot of care not to come across more strongly than you wanted to. Suppose someone just clicks on something that means they disagree, with no other comment at all. Ouch. Very hard to think that won't be taken pretty seriously.
Yes, if you require someone to be a steady contributor, maybe having x number of posts in the thread, you could lower the temperature some. You could also have something that required that you post your reasons when you click the Disagree button.
But honestly, the more I think about it, the less I like the Disagree button idea at all.
I know some have said they wanted it, but is there a really good reason to put it in? If I disagree with somebody, I want to explain why, so they at least don't take it personally. With no explanation, especially if it's just a "negative rating" that means "I don't like your post," there's really no way not to have it be taken personally most of the time.
For example, if someone clicks on "Thanks," I like that. If they don't do anything, I shrug and go on. If they clicked "Don't Like" and just went away, or even if they said why, I think I would be pissed.
So I'm getting closer to the idea of forgetting the "No Thanks" button, fwiw.
The following 5 users say Thank You to bobwest for this post:
I see it slightly different. I think that the Thank You button should be for when some one has helped YOU out in some way. So it could be they fixed/updated your indicator to posting some information/link etc that was in some way really helpful to YOU.
And instead of using Agree and Disagree, just use a Thumbs UP and Thumbs DOWN button.
Add a Thumbs UP button for when your reading a thread and some on has really posted a good answer and helped some one else out and you want to reward that person for helping and really hitting the nail on the head. An atta boy so to speak.
A Thumbs DOWN button for when you dislike what has been posted.
(And the following I want to get Big Mike's feedback on...) BUT you have to enter some text as to why you disagree. This text will will come up when the user hovers over the users name in the Thumbs DOWN section so as to see why the thumbs down was left. Abuse the text in the thumbs down section by just saying just because, or I just disagree or whatever X amount of times and lose your right to leave thumbs down responses for an X amount of time. The user would have to be more specific about why the Thumbs DOWN was left. Would that even be possible? To hard to manage?
Or you could just have the Thank You button and Thumbs UP button for the reasons stated above. If you don't receive either of the 2, the member will just have to assume what was posted wasn't helpful or useful and have to move on. Or at the very least, neutral or somewhat obvious etc. Either you get positive feedback or you don't....
I think there is a good chance of getting tangled up in the semantics of the different terms.
For example, I click "Thanks" quite a lot. I do it when someone has posted something that I agree with, or even disagree with, but think it is solid and has value. Also, when they do something helpful for me directly, as you said. Or maybe they made me laugh. Basically, it's an acknowledgement I'm giving them, and I want to say that what they did was good. (Even if I disagree with it. ) -- So you can see how the semantics comes in here. Someone else may mean something different. The common meaning is that the Thanker approves of it; why he does, or what he exactly means, probably differs for different people.
For example, I gave your post a Thanks just now, because I thought it was a reasonable way to think about the situation. I don't really agree, and you didn't do anything for me. But it made sense, and I wanted to say so.
Maybe I'm too free with the Thanks. Who knows? It just means "good job" to me. Does it mean the same to everyone else? Probably not, at least not all the time. If we put in the dual meaning of "Thanks" means someone helped me, and "Thumbs Up" means something else, would everyone use them that way? I don't see any reason to think so.
So, I think we are in danger of getting too complicated with all these nuances of meaning that will not be the same for everyone, anyway.
I also am starting to get pretty definite in thinking that the "Thumbs Down", or "I Disagree" or whatever is not a good idea. I can understand that some members want it and want to be able to punch the button and show disagreement, or disapproval, or whatever, but then what are they going to feel when they get one? The person getting the Thumbs Down probably deserves better. I know that you wrote that they should then type in why, and I would agree with that, but then what's the point of the button anyway? They can write a post and say what they think.
Just the way I'm looking at it now. It may be worth 2 cents, and maybe not....
The following 3 users say Thank You to bobwest for this post:
I am leaning towards no to dislike or disagree with names because it would keep the friendly attitude that is here now.
Some comments after articles have anonymous thumbs downs but not for thumbs up. CNBC (Disqus) for one. That would be the only way I would be in favor of thumbs down. Except they don't give the count of thumbs down. I think there should be a count of thumbs down.
The following user says Thank You to ron99 for this post:
When you mentioned "friendly attitude" I realized why the "Thumbs Down", or "No Good", or "Don't Like" option has been bugging me -- it's just basically unfriendly, and I think it would affect the generally friendly attitude here.
And I think the anonymous disapproval idea would make it even worse, because it would encourage piling on, hitting the Disapprove button with no accountability for it.
Then, say you get slammed with a Thumbs Down. Are you going to be real interested in making another post? Or will you be less interested in participating because people have a simple way to slam you, and you'd prefer to not have more of it?
I have been convinced today that having an "I Disapprove" type button is a terrible idea in a forum that prizes openness, no matter what safeguards are put in place. I think it really invites opposition and rudeness. Let's just drop this idea.
Well maybe if a poster gets a lot of "I Disapprove" votes they will step back and consider why that happened and change their "I know it all" attitude.
There have been times when a new poster comes into a thread and makes a totally clueless post(s) without bothering to read the thread and understand what it is about. I try to factually point out what he said was incorrect but some posters refuse to admit they were wrong. They think they know it all. If a majority of posters let them know they were incorrect then that would help. A majority don't post to correct the incorrect post but they probably will click on I Don't Agree.
The following user says Thank You to ron99 for this post: