Policy Review Reinstating Likes in the CAP forums

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I wanted to open a conversation about reinstalling likes in the CAP forums. Reading through the thread that got them removed, I just couldn't help but disagree with the reasoning. I personally think reinstating likes will boost activity, create a friendlier and more supportive atmosphere, and make the forum more appealing to people outside our small community. Outside of that thread I've never really heard the idea that likes can be destructive in a forum setting.

When I see stuff like the PRC and important tiering threads in other parts of the forum operate just fine with likes, including likes on posts from members of tiering councils, it makes me struggle to believe that likes will force a vicious bandwagon or kill activity. They're also an easy way to share support for a post when you don't have anything to say- and a large (though unknown) percentage of ppl in the forum simply follow along without posting- this gives a better idea of what routes are supported and worth polling, while still leaving room for TLT to prompt for more discussion. Sometimes its a way to acknowledge someone's counterpoint as well-written and potentially valid, without going all-in on saying that you support their direction. If there are posts with a lot of likes, these are points that are likely worth building into your own points and counterpoints. This can be helpful to have without the TLT needing to specifically highlight posts. Meanwhile, the TLT is still in charge of posing key questions and directing the conversation in a healthy manner (and people in CAP have shown consistently that they will listen and follow the TLT's lead in this regard) if for some reason the conversation becomes centralized around one particular issue due to bandwagoning. Personally I think if people that are invested in the discussion disagree they will voice that regardless of likes, and plenty of respected CAP peeps have different opinions often, so its hard to imagine a respected member with a huge number of likes scaring people away from posting something contradicting them. If people use nasty comments and bully others to get easy likes, hopefully the mods and TLT will check them on that.

Maybe there is some concern that likes will reveal pre-voting what the favourite results will be, but we already have elements of this with our multiple stage voting system that reveals what's popular before it gets finalized- at least with likes, you can address the favourites early on before its too late and discussion on the forums is closed if they are a threat to the process or concept.

For negatives, it could be troublesome to have likes on the art submissions thread. It could be difficult or discouraging to have a submission with less likes than others. Id be interested to hear ppls thoughts on this also.

What could work is to do a process with likes enabled and test the waters, see if it has any positive or negative effects and then re-evaluate afterwards. That could help prove/disprove their usefulness in today's CAP landscape. Thanks for readin
 
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I agree that it’s time for us to reevaluate the initial decision, and I fully support enabling likes for our next CAP process as an experiment to gauge whether it’s healthy or not.

My main worry, though, is the effect it might have on newer users; more specifically, creating an environment that appears cliquey and drives away new posters who feel like their contributions are not valued. It’s very easy for me to imagine established badged users racking up 10-20 likes on every post while inexperienced posters hardly get any, even if their argument is solid—people often give out likes just because they’re friends with someone or for the sole purpose of helping their ratio, and this kind of effect wouldn’t apply as much to newer folks and I could see it having a negative effect on user retention. It’s also very easy for me to imagine an inexperienced poster saying something that isn’t super thought out or that goes against the general consensus and getting haha bombed. If we went through with this proposal then I would definitely encourage cracking down on haha reacts, because someone who’s been on the forums for a while can usually just shrug that off, but it definitely gives the “you’re not wanted here” message to someone who hasn’t been around for a while.

Positive reinforcement goes a long way, though, and in reality it could end up having the exact opposite effect on new people. And I think all of the potential benefits laid out by pip far outweigh whatever risks we have, so it’s definitely worth just trying it out. Worst case scenario, it will just be for one project, and we go back to normal afterwards.
 

Quanyails

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This isn't really a post for or against likes on art, just some thoughts on what it could mean:

I agree that reactions are a good way to roughly gauge non-artist sentiment on art. If your art is getting dozens of likes, you're probably going to do at least okay in the polls.

I also agree that reactions can be discouraging for newcomers if they see veteran artists getting dozens of likes and their own design getting very few likes. However, this might be an easier pill to swallow--to see that sentiment earlier on--than to blindly submit their design and to see that their design ranked close to the bottom. Because of that, some people might not submit their designs when they might have otherwise, and we might have smaller polls than before.

I think enabling likes will soften the tension from dreading art poll results, since you have a rough idea of where you might place. However, I think that using reactions as a direct proxy for poll results is misleading. I've seen several times where an artist is heartbroken that, after so much effort spent editing and receiving feedback on their art, that their design only does middling in the polls despite all this. I've seen polarizing designs get lots of hype during an art process only to fall short of a more "moderate" design in the polls. Likewise, I can see artists experiencing the same feelings of heartbreak seeing their design get lots of positive reactions, only to find that they don't translate into poll results. That being said, we have this situation in other places already, and reactions may help artists brace themselves in those situations, which could be a net positive for artist health.
 

dex18

As far as I know, I'm immortal
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In terms of reinstating likes back into the competitive process, I would definitely like to see them included in discussion threads, as they could be a good way for experienced users to guide the conversation in a helpful way without being too heavy-handed. However, I would not like (lol) for likes to be enabled during concept subs, as that could lead to dangerous bandwagoning and could make what is already a pretty contentious part of the process a little too daunting for lurkers to get into.
 

jas61292

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Hated likes back then, still hate them now. I think the issues we saw that caused us to get rid of likes, including bandwagoning and detracting from substantive discussion would be no less of a problem today than they were back then. They add absolutely nothing and at the same time I feel they encourage bad posting behavior, where some users would prefer to react than to post, while others would prefer to fish for likes, possibly changing what they would otherwise say. I don't see any benefit in that.

Now, I really am not involved in art stuff, so I can't firmly say how they would be received there. However, looking at the old PR thread linked in the OP, there is one paragraph that really sticks out to me:
Ask any artist: would you rather have 400 favourites and 0 comments or 0 favourites and 40 comments? Comments mean *so* much more. Do I favourite things instead of commenting? All the time. Would I comment more if I couldn't favourite? Definitely. A few artists have complained to me that they feel they get less feedback since we implemented likes to the forums.
For both competitive and art side of things, if we are looking to reverse our decision from 6 years ago, I would ask one simple question: what has changed? Would the posting habits that likes encouraged back in the day not still be an issue today? Would people give more feedback on art, rather than just defaulting to likes? Personally, I don't think any significant change has actually happened. And without a compelling reason, I don't see why we shouldn't just trust that there were actual issues with likes and that we made this decision for a good reason.
 

Rabia

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My only qualm with adding reacts back is that people will most definitely get friends to spam like their posts like they do in literally every other forum, which maybe could skew the opinions of certain users when it comes to considering a submitted concept/ability/what-have-you as good, bad, in the middle, etc.. I otherwise disagree with the notion that likes detract from discussion because sometimes it's simply easier to show your support through liking a post compared to writing some rather unhelpful response going "yes this good me like."
 
Did any other forum ever remove reactions or considered doing so, especially ones like Policy Review or suspect discussions whose decisions have an important, lasting impact and which too seem vulnerable to mob mentality?

[...] I would ask one simple question: what has changed? Would the posting habits that likes encouraged back in the day not still be an issue today?
I guess nowadays reaction-like features are pretty much omnipresent and people just expect them, which in itself means nothing. (Personally I come from a time before reactions and never got used to them anywhere.)
 
There are lots of positives and negatives about having likes being a part of the cap forum overall. Personally I’m agreeing with what Rabia had mentioned about likes being disabled in the forum due with having to do with the user like farming when posting something on let’s say an important discussion such as projects like CAP29. Discussions like that are to be taken seriously and the staff that run it are aware of how the discussions are supposed to be taken cared of. The reason why I brought up a “serious” discussion or thread and why they correspond with likes is because we recently had an issue on the LGBT thread with users reacting with the laughing emoji despite knowing it being seen as something serious. Furthermore, if we had reaction scores enabled and new users who are interested in cap discussions posts something, they could be discouraged from voicing their idea by the reactions they receive if users reacted with the laughing emoji on it.

Art on the other hand I think could be nice to have reactions for as artists can promote their page to other users and get a reaction out of it (positive or negative). This way they have a platform to keep activity in along with being aware of having an audience/fans based on the reactions they receive.
 
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I otherwise disagree with the notion that likes detract from discussion because sometimes it's simply easier to show your support through liking a post compared to writing some rather unhelpful response going "yes this good me like."
While it is easier to show support through likes, I don’t think it has nearly as much value to the discussion to give a post a like, as it is to write a post agreeing or disagreeing with an argument.
Having to write something, means you have to engage with the topic and seriously think about what your opinion regarding the arguments posed is, lest you’d want to just write a one liner, which is discouraged.
It means you might have to read through a post several times, to make your arguments fit the post or opinion your referring to.
Likes on the other hand encourage just skimming through a text and checking it off with a like and moving on, if you feel you agree with it.
This has another implication, that a thread were likes are enabled, might become more hostile, since your basically only required to engage in discussion if your disagreeing with an opinion, rather than positively backing up another member.

I also want to say, that the quote jas posted by paintseagull, hits the nail on the head.
Likes aren’t valuable to progress your design and design in most cases. Yes they can help to gauge, wether a design is liked or not, but they can’t tell you why. How are you going to improve your design, if you don’t know which area to improve on.
This might be less important now, that a large part of the feedback for art has moved to discord, but still I feel it doesn’t add to the process in any meaningful way.
Considering my own liking behavior, I don’t even think, that likes are helpful for the TL or TLT to discern community consensus.
I know that I sometimes throw in likes for the sake of it, or to show that I read something, rather than in agreement to the actual post. And I guess others do that as well.
 

Bughouse

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My opinions on likes are expressed in the thread from 2014 (god I'm crust) and haven't really changed since.
If anything, I am more concerned now about having "likes" in the CAP forum now than I was then, since they are now a broader range of reacts.

They were removed for a reason and should stay that way.
 

Rabia

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While it is easier to show support through likes, I don’t think it has nearly as much value to the discussion to give a post a like, as it is to write a post agreeing or disagreeing with an argument.
Having to write something, means you have to engage with the topic and seriously think about what your opinion regarding the arguments posed is, lest you’d want to just write a one liner, which is discouraged.
It means you might have to read through a post several times, to make your arguments fit the post or opinion your referring to.
Likes on the other hand encourage just skimming through a text and checking it off with a like and moving on, if you feel you agree with it.
This has another implication, that a thread were likes are enabled, might become more hostile, since your basically only required to engage in discussion if your disagreeing with an opinion, rather than positively backing up another member.
I agree that to further actual discussion that writing a thoughtful response is far more conducive. That isn't what I was getting at, though; there have been multiple times where I have nothing to add because I see a post that, in my eyes, conveys what I would have said. At that point, there's no reason for me to say anything further because it'd just be me reiterating what someone else has already said.
 
For both competitive and art side of things, if we are looking to reverse our decision from 6 years ago, I would ask one simple question: what has changed? Would the posting habits that likes encouraged back in the day not still be an issue today? Would people give more feedback on art, rather than just defaulting to likes? Personally, I don't think any significant change has actually happened. And without a compelling reason, I don't see why we shouldn't just trust that there were actual issues with likes and that we made this decision for a good reason.
From what I've been told, the temperament of the community has cooled down significantly since that time. I think we have a pretty close-knit community with many experienced members of project management and a well managed, tried-and-tested process right now. We've learned a lot over the years (surely, since that's what cap is all about) as how projects can be led successfully and this dampens the thread of likes derailing things as TLT have managed to guide everyone through many processes to the point where it feels like clockwork now. I think these are the major differences than back then, but I wasn't around back then so I cant say for sure. Also, its possible that the spirit of CAP has changed over the years that the participants would prefer likes now whereas old CAP folks that have since left didn't like them.
CAP comes across as one of the least volatile competitive communities in Smogon to me. So I think we can use our unique management to help ppl integrate into the process well and avoid using reaction to humiliate others for the most part. I think ppl respond in clear ways when there's disagreement rather than posting shitty things to try and school them. We have one active process thread at a time with usually multiple mods watching it at once, so surely this can be kept under control with a little more freedom given to the CAPpers.

Lastly I don't see likes as a replacement to any part of the CAP system. It can't be used to replace solid writeups, and I don't think anyone on the TLT would fall into this trap nowadays now we have a great system for discussion in place and many veteran TLT. I also believe that ppl are checking in on the CAP threads to speak their minds, and get involved. I don't think likes will remove this desire from CAPpers.
 
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QxC4eva

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Lots of good points in this thread - I'll try my best not to repeat what's already been said.

I do support the idea of bringing back likes as I always felt the lack of likes has kinda alienated CAP from the rest of Smogon. Here's some of my thoughts about art esp to the argument of likes deterring feedback.

Code:
CAP 17 art - 24 submissions, 220 posts (9.16 posts/sub)
--------------------------------------------------------
CAP 18 art - 38 submissions, 279 posts (7.34 posts/sub)
CAP 19 art - 25 submissions, 181 posts (7.24 posts/sub)
--------------------------------------------------------
CAP 20 art - 31 submissions, 151 posts (4.87 posts/sub)
CAP 21 art - 25 submissions, 137 posts (5.48 posts/sub)
CAP 22 art - 29 submissions, 207 posts (7.13 posts/sub)
Some notes,
  • CAP 18+19 were the only CAPs with likes enabled
  • CAP 17 introduced the anti thread hogging rule
  • CAP 22 was the last CAP without discord
I didn't go as far as counting how much feedback there was but there seems to be no connection between likes and posts or posting ratios. Perhaps the complaint by the few artists 6 years ago had more to do with the downward trend of posts during that period than whether there were likes or not.

Regardless, it wouldn't be as much of an issue today cause any artist can go on Discord and get 40 comments for their art. What they're missing out on is the 400 likes part - losing that in exchange for the benefit of maybe an extra feedback or two which could be easily obtained on Discord anyway. The situation today is quite different than before.

So in response to what has changed since the last PRC - 1) we now have Discord as the main platform for art feedback, and 2) we can now observe the aftermath of likes and no likes, and reevaluate our stance on it. I don't think citing the old argument is enough to shut off the discussion entirely.

Likes could very well make people lazy and it could very well encourage bad behavior to those who like to farm. And while it could also discourage posting to some extent, I think that would more likely affect the kind of post that contributes little or nothing to discussion than the more worthwhile, new ideas kind of post. I suspect if someone has truly something to say then they're gonna say it and if they don't then they probably won't - regardless of likes. And if that's not the case, would it mean that CAP18 or 19 had more disagreements than usual since there was no "dislike" option so you have to make a post to express that?

Most of us prefer feedback over likes but one advantage of likes is giving the artist a number to work with. It can play in like a reality check and give them a better feel of where they might stand, which could otherwise be tricky to tell as we CAPpers tend to give warm, constructive feedback regardless of the art quality ;)

Not sure about the competitives side but whatever the verdict is I hope we don't end putting threads in different places based on whether it should have likes or not. That'll be confusing and probably do more bad than good. Likes for everything or likes for nothing - fine with either one.
 
Hey, just giving my input that likes can be useful now that the voting section gets a separate subforum. We don't have to implement them there.
 

QxC4eva

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Moderator
Here's a quick summary of arguments presented in the thread:

Advantages of likes
  • Positive reinforcement for posting on the forums (i.e. boosts forum activity). Makes the forum more appealing / less alienating to outsiders. Provides reassurance that people have seen your post. Easy way for anyone to express support without having to invest time / effort into writing a post. Important posts that are worth addressing will probably be highlighted with a lot of likes.
  • In art: Gives artists an idea of their exposure and who their fans / audiences are. Allows artists to gauge how well they are probably going to do in the polls. Lessens the anxiety of waiting for poll results (promotes better artist health). Reduces the 'shock' of getting a bad poll result. May encourage more entries to be submitted that would otherwise be given up on if not for the likes received.

Disadvantages of likes
  • Encourages a cliquey environment that can drive away new users. Provides an extra method of abuse / bullying. Makes bandwagoning easier. Deters people from posting if they can simply drop a like. Gives popular users an unfair advantage as they can attract more likes due to status. Encourages selective reading based on the number of likes in a post. Causes distraction from substantive discussion. Encourages bad posting behavior e.g. farming for likes. May affect or change what a user would otherwise say. Can be discouraging for people that get fewer likes compared to others. Encourages participation to discussion through disagreement than agreement (creates a more hostile environment).
  • In art: Reduces commentary feedback which means so much more than likes.

As it is hard to prove or disprove many of these points, the moderator team has unanimously decided that we will re-enable likes (reactions) for the duration of CAP 30. We will use it as a trial, and once the CAP is over we will have another PR thread to review our stance on likes.

The mods will also crack down on any reacts abuse or bullying as appropriate.

Thank you all for your input!


Edit: likes will remain disabled in the voting subforum.
 
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