LTP: On Stars and Sneetches and Democracy

Heavens to Tennant, readers.  When you don’t like something, you go all out.  I’ve been pointed towards discussions all over the World Wide Web where people are upset about being able to give comments a thumbs-up or some stars.   As promised, we’re here to listen to your concerns and explain what it is we were trying to do.

First and foremost, it is not a star system just like Other Ladyblog.   We think  each one of you is just as worthy as another.  I don’t have a triple secret confidential notebook where I record how many stars everyone has for their comments.  (I do have a triple secret confidential notebook filled with odes to David Tennant. Oh, that fate or a Google alert would bring David Tennant to our ladyblog.)  I’d say 99% of the time, over the weekend while we were trying it out, people used it as a tool for good, and only to give positive feedback.   One comment, which ended up being a joke not really built for print, got a few low ratings.  I’ve made more than a few comments in my day that would have benefited from a little more thought before I hit submit; I think a quiet rating creates a lot less of a kerfluffle than bringing in the Mod Squad or the Ban Cannon of Justice.

Is there the potential to be a raging asshole with the ratings? Sure, but nobody was.  Even when the complaints started spreading, no one tried to prove a point by being a tool.  Like it or not, you’re good people.  You care about your fellow people and you like hearing what they have to say.  This is why we can have nice things; you know how to play with them responsibly.  I’ve never seen a group on the Internet that could even vehemently disagree with each other with respect and kindness the way our little community does.

So all of that gets us to this: I put in the thumbs ‘n’ stars plug-in after getting several requests for a way to give positive feedback to comments and a return of the “like” button we had on Persephone 1.0 for posts.  That particular plug-in isn’t compatible with our current version of WordPress, so I chose this alternative.   One of the benefits, my well-meaning agitated ones, is that it is tweakable.   With the current config, I took out the thumbs-down, because that’s solely an asshole button.  I can configure the plug-in to display any combination of stars and thumbs for posts or comments.  So these are the options:

A: Thumbs-up/thumbs-down; five-star rating for comments/ten-star rating for posts

B: Thumbs-up only; stars for comments and posts

C: Thumbs-up only for comments; stars and thumbs for posts

D: Nothing for comments; stars and/or thumbs on posts.

E: Trashing the whole system.

Please to leave your choice, and if you don’t mind, a reason for why you want it that way.   We’ll discuss it as a staff and make a decision.

The other point of contention from the weekend was the Comment of the Week thread, where both the comments and the star rating (is that irony?) showed that some of you are really not fond of that feature.  If you all really don’t like it, we’ll kill it.  It was a blast reading all the comments from last week, but it also took me five hours.  I can make use of those five hours, so it’s no skin off my back if you don’t want it.   If you’re voting “no,” though, I’m gonna make you work for it and offer me a suggestion of what I can run in its place.  Muahahahaha.

There’s always the possibility of the Weekly Kitten.

These kittens are fighting the patriarchy.

Also, a gentle reminder that Persephone brings you 95 pieces (give or take) of fresh, original content per week by an entirely volunteer staff.   There are no ads on our pages.  Being an Amazon affiliate has made us 97 cents.  We pay each other in pep talks and emails about historical porn.  We do all the care and feeding of the server, we manage all the tech issues, we do all our own promotion, we write/edit a shit-ton of words every week and we keep you entertained with our witty banter in the comments.  We’re as busy as a ladyblog beehive over here.  There’s no guarantee we’re going to see your complaints if they’re in spaces we don’t visit regularly.  If you’ve got an issue you’d like resolved, there are at least six ways you can track us down where you can be sure we’re going to see it.  We can’t fix what we don’t know is broken.  At least until our superpowers kick in.

Published by

[E] Selena MacIntosh*

Selena MacIntosh is the owner and editor of Persephone Magazine. She also fixes it when it breaks. She is fueled by Diet Coke, coffee with a lot of cream in it, and cat hair.

82 thoughts on “LTP: On Stars and Sneetches and Democracy”

  1. Okay, there are no more stars, and no more ways to like comments, other than to actually reply to it.

    In appreciation, consider collectively leaving 70+ posts on one of our book reviews, international news stories, political round-ups, Badass Ladies of History or even a recap.

    Speaking of, it’s time for us to get back to devoting all of our energy to bringing you content. We’ve spent more hours than I can count working with the complaints and concerns in the past seven days, and as a result we’ve made four major changes to how we do things. For now, we’re all going to have to be happy with how things are, because we’ve got to get back to the business of being a ladyblog.

  2. Hello! This is my first time commenting since seeking refuge here (and I love it). I’d go for C – it’s a way to agree with people when you have nothing more constructive to add than “YES!”, and ratings for posts would seem to provide useful feedback, so.

  3. I vote C, but either stars OR thumbs on posts. I agree with other comments that it may be redundant.

    Also, I object to Weekly Kitten. There are many adorable creatures out there – e.g. puppies, baby platypus, koalas, etc who deserve just as much time as kittens. Weekly Cuddly?

  4. I would like C. My second choice would be anything else that does away with a Likert scale rating system for comments. I’m terrified by the possibility of making a comment and being rated 3 or 4 stars. What would those one or two missing stars mean? That Commenter A liked my argument, but is irked by my poor grammar? That Commenter B thought my point was just OK, and wanted to make sure I didn’t think that my comment was a work of genius? I recognize that the starring system hasn’t been used on Persephone for those purposes this weekend, but the use of the starring system could evolve. Also, if so far we’ve almost only been using 5 stars or no starring at all on comments, then we might as well have just a thumbs up or no thumbs at all, no?

  5. I’m fine with a thumbs up/thumbs down system, but only because I don’t suspect anyone here would abuse it. I’ve been at other blogs and forums where it was used to move friends’ comments up, and hide the “disagreeable” comments. Because the system was automated, once a comment had enough thumbs down, it was deleted. Needless to say I didn’t stay there every long. Provided there is actual, human moderation, I can see how this could be useful, but it’s also easy to “game.”

    1. Also, I know this is a little off topic, but I gotta say that I find the way the comments post newest first to be frustrating. I like reading comments as expounding additions to articles and the way they’re set up now, I have to scroll all the way to the bottom of the page, scroll up, and then scroll down again whenever commenters are discussing things. It seems a little counter-intuitive to how one would read a webpage.

      1. I think you mentioned this on tumblr last week? Like I explained there, the comments are in the order they’re in because when they were the other way around about 30 people asked for them to be this way. It makes the open threads, where we get the most comments, a lot easier to follow.

        Parent comments are in most-recent-first order, but child comments (replies to parent comments) are oldest-first.

  6. Hey everyone, just a reminder that we brought this here for a discussion. We are actually interested in hearing what everyone has to say, that’s why we made the poll. This isn’t about who is “right” or creating a popularity contest. We’re seeing how people feel so that we can continue to create an environment where everyone feels that they have a voice, even if we don’t ultimately go with what they wanted, because we’re not going to be able to please anyone.

    1. Hey, don’t hate on the icons! (mostlybecausetheyweresortamyidea) ;)

      I like those because it helps me keep everyone straight. Also, I’m not around a lot in the comments (I do mostly back-end stuff), so when people see me commenting in here, I want them to know I didn’t just appear out of thin air with all this information, haha.

  7. I do like the thumbs up option on posts and I think even comments. There are times when people so eloquently express something that my only reaction is “Wonderful. Thank you. Thank you so much.” and that seems like a really silly, insubstantial comment to leave. In those situations, I like being able to give a comment or post a “like,” just to signal that I read it and appreciated it.

    I do not like the star rating so much. I am tempted so far to just give all 5 stars because it feels mean-spirited to give something less for earnest participation. I don’t always agree with what people say but I’ve yet to run into a thoughtless or cruel comment or post.

    And speaking as someone who posts this blog? I know I do not want to see my writing rated on a 10-star scale. True that’s probably my own issues at play, but I’d rather deal with people disagreeing with me openly as opposed to just rating me down anonymously. I would not be sad to see the stars go, unlike the simple “thumbs up” button.

  8. I think I’m in the minority on this one but I don’t like the stars OR the thumbs up (but if we’re going with one or the other I’m going to say thumbs up because it’s less cluttered).

    I don’t really like thumbs up in general (including facebook) because it seems like kind of a cop out, a way to feel like you’re participate without actually participating. I assume the same amount of people will read my comment (and agree/disagree) regardless of whether the thumbs up option is there. I like responses to my comments but somebody taking.02 of a second to click the thumbs up button doesn’t make a difference to me.

    I think the comment of the week is good because reading clever things posted by others encourages me try to be as clever as possible in my own posts, but I think it could easily move to a commenter submitted type thing.

    1. I don’t really like thumbs up in general (including facebook) because it seems like kind of a cop out, a way to feel like you’re participate without actually participating.

      It kinda is, but — at least for me — sometimes I just don’t have the time to leave a thorough and well thought out addition to the conversation.

      I sneak some time at work, I read, I think “hells ya!”, I want to let PersonXorY know “hells ya!” but don’t want to junk up the meaningful comments in the thread with it, click “thumbs up”, message received!

Leave a Reply