Voting down and flagging time to stop?

+32 votes
Is it time for WikiTree to delete the ability to flag someone and vote something down?  This seems to be part of social media running an anonymous yet hurtful way of targeting someone or their post.  I like to believe most of these are mistakes..  But I wonder if it is time for social media to leave high school where popularity is the focus and move into the adult world of accountability.  If there is voting up or down and flagging a person (which is not a good thing and often as I have been recently told misunderstood as a good thing!)  shouldn't there also be a way of knowing who did it?  I think if you like something or dislike it, post an honest note with your name...  be brave and don't cower behind being anonymous.  If WikiTree wants to foster collaboration the current down voting and flagging pushes people away from that.  I for one would like to see them either go away or be modified so at least they have accountability.  What do you think?  Do we want honest and open discussions or postings with anonymous voting and flagings?
in WikiTree Tech by Laura Bozzay G2G6 Pilot (614k points)
retagged by Ellen Smith
I wondered sometimes if you can down vote while not being logged into wikitree.
Just tested that and the answer is they must be logged in

10 Answers

+26 votes

Laura you made a great point which I totally agree. When someone votes down a question we should get a notification so we can go to that person and see why they strongly disagreed (which to me is what down voting is showing) and then two people could come to better understanding about the question, comment, post whatever it was. 

We get notifications on "Best Answers" but even there, when a Best Answer is removed, we don't get notified. Someone said to me once, maybe a better answer came up so they should be allowed to change the vote and that "points" shouldn't matter. Well that discouraged me a bit because a few others found their best answers removed and we all agreed, a simple notification should be given as to who did that and why, would show accountability. 

Thank you Laura for posting this concern.

by Dorothy Barry G2G Astronaut (2.3m points)
Dorothy that is another thing I did not realize, that best answers can also be affected.  I agree points don't really matter do they? Maybe to some they do...  but sometimes there is more than one really great answer.  Maybe instead of best answer they should be answers of merit?  Just thinking outside the box.
Laura, again, thanks for asking. I had posted a question myself back in April about why Best Answers and the 300 points you gain matters. I hope this answers your question!!
Thanks Dorothy!   I just think this anonymous negativity is a bit like cyber bullying and I for one am not in favor of it.  I know it is a fast way to say yes or no but it also has the potential of abuse.  Emma also noted below she has seen more of it lately.
I have always been a sticker for if you down vote something please leave a comment. Wikitree is about collaboration. If you disagree with me I'd like to know.
+20 votes
I have noticed the down voting this week and I have to ask, Why?  This is more than the typical, I don't like your answer down voting which is few and far between.  I went from receiving 1 down vote every couple months to several in a week.  Hmmm......
by Emma MacBeath G2G6 Pilot (637k points)
Agreed Emma,  I have had some emails with folks behind the scenes this week with a number of people remarking about this.  Seems like you reach a certain level of points and start seeing more of it.  Personally I like honest open discussions both positive and negative.  Not anonymous down votes.
Like you said, it is incredibly childish.  If you can't respond with words, don't respond at all!

Personally, if someone disagrees with me, I would love to hear their thoughts.  I am not always right and I might learn something from them!
+26 votes
Down with down votes!

But the flags are needed for spam.
by Eva Ekeblad G2G6 Pilot (360k points)
To clarify, the flag isn't just for spam, it's also to make us aware of posts that might need our attention.
Rubén, I disagree with changing the name to "spam" because there can be posts that are all sorts of other objectionable types than spam - i.e., obscene, having information that should not be public, downright derogatory, etc.

You´re right Gaile, I've just seen Eowyn´s comment.

It's difficult to find a one word only name. I think "Admin Alert" would be much more self-explanatory.

Report might be clearer than Flag. Covers both spam and other inappropriate posts.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the G2G software is not our WikiTree software so we can't always customize everything exactly how we might like and with the limited time that our small team has we tend to focus our priorities more on WikiTree and less on G2G.  I know that can get frustrating but that's the reality of it. :)
Thanks Edowyn, that is good to know.  

I think the consensus is:

1.  Keep the flag but can it be renamed (is that doable?)

Suggestions are:  Report or Admin Alert

2.  Require a comment with a vote down or be able to see who is voting something down.  Is that doable?

These sound like minor fixes but sometimes when it is pre-canned software what sounds simple isn't.  Thanks for the heads up!
As Eowyn notes, we are somewhat limited in what we can change in G2G.

If it's within our tech team's powers, we should make flagging a post a 2-step process, with clear instructions included on the second step. That would help prevent accidental flaggings, for the most part.

All web software is stored in plain text files, rather than compiled, so the question is one of the terms of WikiTree's license to use the package they purchased (or acquired under a freeware license), rather than one of actual ability to make changes.

I'm much less concerned with the name of the flag than with providing an explanation of its purpose.  The simplest possible change would be to insert a javascript popup in between clicking the flag link and implementing the action of flagging the item.  The popup would briefly explain what this is for and have two choices - flag this item and cancel.  When the user clicks a choice, the action happens and the popup goes away.  The javascript to make this happen takes about 3 lines of code to implement - a fast typist could create it in under 1 minute - this is not rocket science!

Downvotes could also have a popup that instructs the user to please explain the downvote in a comment and, if they want to track who downvotes what instead of just counting a person's total downvotes, that is not at all difficult to do outside any packaged G2G product, where I expect the totals are accumulated.

The way I read Eowyn's comment is that the "limited time", "small team", and "priorities" will preclude doing anything to improve this, therefore we're all just spinning our wheels here trying to come up with a solution to something that is pretty universally accepted as a problem.
Gaile, excellent explanation for those of us who are not technies.  Love your ideas too.  Simple, but effective.
The programming fix probably is ridiculously easy (for someone familiar with the relevant code), but if it needs to be inserted in somebody else's software package, it could be absurdly difficult to keep it up to date when the software package gets updated. In my limited experience, these kinds of packages typically have a few user-adustable settings, but everything else is pretty much "take it or leave it."
+18 votes
I have used down votes before if the person did not read the question posted and provided an answer which showed that they were more interested in posting rather than providing useful help.

I have seen some posts from the same person over and over that just point to  find a grave  or ancestry when someone asks a question rather than actually addressing the question that was asked.

I think it is important because, it is important to leave questions unanswered if you do not know the answer.

When I skim the G2G forum I first go to those posts that have no answers or few very few answers. However, if someone has given a nonsensical or useless answer to a question, I will then miss my opportunity to help.

By providing useless answers, as some people consistently do, they are making this forum less useful and reducing the possibility a correct answer might be posted.

Please do not take a down vote as a personal attack, but as a reflection of the quality of the posted response.
by Lance Martin G2G6 Mach 8 (87.7k points)
I don't disagree completely with your thought Lance, but every answer I give is with a thought towards helping someone, so if I get a downvote, yes, I do take it personally.

My first 5 downvotes I received here I know who gave them to me and it was based on the fact they disagreed with my answer instead of telling me so. It only takes a few minutes to say, "I disagree." Or "That doesn't answer the question." I've said both before.

Communication is the biggest key to collaboration.
I agree with Emma doing a down vote does not educate the person who is posting what you view as a non answer.  So leave a better answer.  Just because someone has already posted does not stop you from posting a better more complete answer.
I agree with your logic Lance..... posting answers that do not even try to answer the question should be down voted.
I don't downvote them, but I agree with Lance that answers that (for example) provide moral support to the questioner, but don't attempt to answer anything, are deleterious to the function of the forum -- because they reduce the chance that the question will be visited by someone who can provide a good response.

If you want to offer words of encouragement or make an interesting observation about the topic of  the question, please make it a "comment".
I agree with much of what you say here.  When the question is when did this person die, or did this person marry, and there is a link to the profile with names/dates/locations, and the answer is simply a census, or multiple census' or similar.    Those don't answer the question at all.

Others show a bunch of links to persons with similar names- but entirely different locations or time frames because someone didn't click the profile link, just went to familysearch and plugged a name in.

And, yes I  used to skip questions entirely if it showed an answer(s), thinking they were already complete, but finally learned the answer box marked doesn't necessarily mean a thing.

If you want to remove down votes, then I would think we should remove up votes too, and get rid of the points altogether, but some people want to be in a points game, so that probably won't fly.

I agree we need the Flag.  I have seen some ridiculous spam here on occasion, as well as a very rare, distasteful/offensive/nasty post.
I completely agree with you Ellen except in cases like  where a newbie has come to introduce themselves.  In that case there is no question to be answered.  Otherwise, I agree, the flim flam needs to stop or be moved to the comments section like you said.
Yes, there are many items in G2G (not just introductions) that are not actually questions. But when a "question" is truly a request for help, an "answer" that says something like "Good question; glad you asked" or "Sorry, but I can't help you" -- or provides a familysearch data dump with obviously irrelevant results -- can mean that people who might have been able to help won't bother to read the full question and respond.
I'm not disagreeing with you :-)
Here is the last example of where I down voted an answer to my question.
+13 votes
I agree that negative voting should either be removed or assigned accountability. I was close to leaving G2G in my first week at Wikitree because my posts were being marked negative with no possibility to find out what I was supposedly doing wrong. It was later explained to me that it might be because someone reacted to me using answer rather than comment. In my opinion this is not the way to treat a new user who is trying to find their way around the system and culture. I tried at first to find which of my input had been downvoted so that I could offer further explanations, but soon realised that was impossible, so I now just ignore any change in my negative count. This means that the person who gives the negative vote is to a certain extent only hurting themselves. I don't know why they gave it so I can't improve, so there is no point in worrying about it, but I can at least laugh at the fact that if they are doing it to impact points then their purpose is backfiring.

Flags are necessary to mark spam or inappropriate behaviour, but should be renamed. On some e-mail systems the term flag is used to mark a post you want to be able to find easily. This can result in misunderstandings here. Reporting a bad post should also be accountable and should require a reason to be given.
by Lynda Crackett G2G6 Pilot (626k points)
Lynda,  So glad you stayed with us here!   So sorry you had a bad experience but I can understand how confusing that is to new users.

I am relatively new myself having been here only since late Dec / early Jan of 2017.  And yes there is learning curve.  The new tutorial though is very good!
I believe that Team members can see who made downvotes on any particular question or answer -- so there is some accountability.
Ellen how does that work?  Can you tell us how to see that?
She means sysops :)
+11 votes
Making those features less anonymous would be good but removing them would be a bad idea, as others have pointed out they do have a purpose. Also some may click a down vote or fleg by mistake, I know I have, and not catch it or not know how to change it, in fact until recently you could not change a flag set by mistake.
by Dale Byers G2G Astronaut (1.3m points)
Accidents do happen. My only recorded down vote was accidental, and I never figured out where it is.
It might have been a real vote as in a yes or no to a proposed change.  That version of the down vote makes complete sense.
My down vote wasn't a "no" vote on a proposed change. (When Chris sets those up, he asks only for up votes.)

I only discovered that I had made a down vote because it appeared on my G2G profile. I looked at a bunch of questions I had viewed recently, but I couldn't find any where I had recorded a down vote. It was probably caused by an accidental maneuver of my pointing device, and I'll never know where it was.
+13 votes
Wikitree is different than most sites.  Their forums tend to promote discussion through debate and those discussions have a tendency to turn personal.  Wikitree tends to be more question and answer, or posts that are intended to be of general interest.

The vote up means, at least to me, is to encourage other to read the question.  A vote down on wikitree seems to mean you disagree with the answer.  I'm not sure how many times I voted down since I joined Wikitree, but if it is over 5, I would be surprised.  It's been a while, but I would have done it did it if I was confident the answer was factually incorrect, or when the statements made merited flagging. I did this because this was what I was used to and before I really got to know Wikitree.

At least on Wikitree, I believe the negatives for keeping the down-vote far outweigh any potential positives.

I would keep the flag, there needs to be a way to notify administers of postings that are spam or potential to cause problems if not addressed.
by Ken Sargent G2G6 Mach 5 (56.5k points)


Activity by Ken Sargent

Score: 27,970 points (ranked #230)
Title: G2G6 Mach 2
Questions: 24 (5 with best answer chosen)
Answers: 103 (11 chosen as best)
Comments: 266
Voted on: 59 questions, 43 answers
Gave out: 93 up votes, 9 down votes
Received: 455 up votes, 19 down votes
I obviously have a faulty memory.  As you can see, I really don't participate in voting that much.  I said I would be surprised at more than 5 vote downs, but after seeing that I voted down 9 times, it certainly seems reasonable.

Thanks for pointing this out. :)
Dale how did you get this data?  I am sure others would like to know the process.
If you click on someone's name here n G2G it'll take you to their G2G profile page and you can see their stats there.
Thanks Eowyn!  I tried it on myself.  I show I have given out 1 no vote and for the life of me I have no memory of doing that so I have to believe it was a key stroke mistake.  I am more apt to post what I think than use an anonymous no vote.  I have also received some down votes but have no idea why so to me having gotten them has no affect... if you don't know why you are getting something it really has no tangible impact.  To me the concept of no votes is very akin to cyber bullying...  a hit with no accountability or tangible meaningful communication.  I never knew I had any.  Probably because I tend to not track if the number has gone up or down.  I tend to concentrate on what people say.  That has more impact.
Thank You for helping Ken Eowyn, I was away from my computer for most of yesterday and did not see this until this morning.
Thanks Eowyn, I had no idea. But how are people even discovering they've been downvoted, are they just checking their profiles constantly? I can see that it might be vexing if one were notified of a downvote instantly, but apparently I've received 3 down votes in my career and I had no clue.

I've also issued just a few downvotes - the ones I remember were when people have made overtly political remarks on G2G, since we're not supposed to and otherwise I could have made a few of my own. I don't really see the harm here, it allows people to blow off a bit of steam in a less disruptive way than posting.
+15 votes
I came to WT seven months ago. There are so many wonderful people here that want to collaborate with you. The first person i met here, besides the greeters, was Ellen. We worked together on a profile on a direct line descendant and it all came together. Then we found out we are cousins.

I went back looked and I have received 3 down votes. Don't recall them one bit until this discussion popped up. If someone disagrees with a profile I updated, a source I added I would like to know why. Another pair of eyes looking at what changes I made is a good thing. I want to learn and grow.

Towards the end of my Army career, I worked for an Army Col., who told me once, "Sargeant Susnir, you and I are just a couple of old timers in this Army but we need to stay relevant and ready. Lot's of new and young Soldiers coming in now. Got to stay up with them."

I strive to learn something new about WT everyday. I will make mistakes but I need to know what they are. Please don't just give me a down vote. Let me know what it is.

by John Susnir G2G6 Pilot (108k points)
Exactly my point John.  Well said :-)
+5 votes
Last time I made a comment on this I got 2 more down votes.  LOL
by Cheryl Hess G2G Astronaut (1.4m points)
+2 votes
I disagree to delete the possibility to flag. In the European mornings there are often spam postings on G2G and the possibility to get them at least hidden immediately is by flagging them. I never used downvoting, I know some downvoted me, but I don't care about them.
by Jelena Eckstädt G2G6 Pilot (442k points)

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