Reddit has made a major change to its popular social sharing site today by abolishing the count for up and down votes on individual users.
In a post to the r/announcements, admin Delmorz explained the decision as one that will (allegedly) make the site better by cracking down on “cheating.”
“Who would downvote this?” It’s a common comment on reddit, and is fairly often followed up by someone explaining that reddit “fuzzes” the votes on everything by adding fake votes to posts in order to make it more difficult for bots to determine if their votes are having any effect or not. While it’s always been a necessary part of our anti-cheating measures, there have also been a lot of negative effects of making the specific up/down counts visible, so we’ve decided to remove them from public view.
He goes on to explain that “cheating” was creating a “false negativity” what ever that means.
The “false negativity” effect from fake downvotes is especially exaggerated on very popular posts. It’s been observed by quite a few people that every post near the top of the frontpage or /r/all seems to drift towards showing “55% like it” due to the vote-fuzzing, which gives the false impression of reddit being an extremely negative site. As part of hiding the specific up/down numbers, we’ve also decided to start showing much more accurate percentages here, and at the time of me writing this, the top post on the front page has gone from showing “57% like it” to “96% like it”, which is much closer to reality.
He then justifies it:
I realize that this probably feels like a very major change to the site to many of you, but since the data was actually misleading (or outright false in many cases), the usefulness of being able to see it was actually mostly an illusion. Please give it a chance for a few days and see if things “feel” better without being able to see the specific up/down counts.
As a long term Reddit user I find the claims of some vast conspiracy of down voting…interesting to say the least.
Many have claimed previously that many down votes were the Reddit algorithm in play vs any grand conspiracy to down vote popular posts, which begs the question: is Reddit now trying to block data from its own algorithm?
The response to the change hasn’t been positive, with users stating things such as
“This kills smaller subreddits.”
“This very well may be Reddit’s “digg moment.” Where do we go next guys?”
“This change is awful. It completely destroys Reddit’s comment section. Now it might as well be 4chan.”
“Reddit admins lost their minds. This destroys reddit completely.”
While it won’t kill Reddit, it is a bizarre and bad decision, voting being one of the keys of the site.
Be it right or wrong, Reddit users love their karma (upvote score) and now it has been extremely restricted.