Dynamic Karma & Static Karma

The current karma system tracks one number for each user. This number is used both as an indicator of “is this user’s writing worth paying attention to” and as a voting weight (using the new powers-of-five system). I think this is hugely broken and splitting these two apart could make the karma system more effective and also simpler in some sense.

One important way in which the current system is broken is that it forces a painful tradeoff between wanting to easily delegate moderation power (which should ideally have a more local scope, and be used up rather than taken away), but also wanting to conservatively signal the importance of contributions (which should include both positive and negative votes over long time horizons).

I expect the idea to not be taken seriously enough, but meh sometimes I just feel like trying anyway. Here go some (tentative) rules of how such as system could work:

  • “voting” is a transaction that takes some positive amount X of dynamic karma from one user, and to another user gives:

    • upvote: X amount of static karma, as well as X (for some ) of dynamic karma

    • downvote: -X amount of static karma, no change in dynamic karma

  • every user’s dynamic and static karma is the lifetime sum of what they received by being voted on, starting from zero

    • however, moderators receive a constant stream of dynamic karma for free (e.g. 50 per day)

  • static karma is publicly visible, and dynamic karma is private

  • how much dynamic karma to use for a single vote is left to decide by the voter

    • the default (one click) could be 1% of currently owned dynamic karma (or 1 if an user has less than 100 karma)

    • it should probably be capped at some fixed value to reduce abuse (e.g. max 10 points per post and 5 per comment, coming from the same account)

  • if a moderator is not using their dynamic karma, then above some value (e.g. 500) their “free” dynamic karma should instead be distributed to the community as “dividends” paid proportionally to (positive) stakes of static karma—this is to prevent stagnation from having not enough karma in circulation

A quick example for :

  • M is moderator, A and B are two new users on the site

  • M upvotes A’s post (+5):

    • now A has +5 static (publicly visible karma) and +2.5 dynamic karma in their private account

  • A likes B’s comment, and upvotes it twice:

    • now A has +5 static and +0.5 dynamic

    • B has +2 static and +1 dynamic

  • B upvotes A’s reply:

    • A has +6 static, +1 dynamic

    • B has +2 static, 0 dynamic

  • actually turns out both A and B were sock puppets of a spammer, who tries to again upvote between the two accounts. A has one dynamic karma left to upvote B:

    • A has +6 static, 0 dynamic

    • B has +3 static, 0.5 dynamic

  • that’s it, there’s nothing more the spammer can do until someone else upvotes them (bringing in external karma)

  • indeed, no individual (or clique) can increase their static karma more than 100% above the amount they were trusted with by other users, regardless of how many accounts they open

  • also as a price for trying to cheat they lose moderation power, which seems fair game