April Fools: Announcing: Karma 2.0

Ever since we started work on the new LessWrong, im­prov­ing the karma sys­tem has been top pri­or­ity for us.

We started giv­ing users a higher vote-weight when they them­selves had ac­cu­mu­lated enough karma, and have plans to im­ple­ment var­i­ous more com­pli­cated schemes, such as Ei­genkarma. But we re­cently re­al­ized that more im­por­tant than how karma is calcu­lated, is how karma ac­tu­ally in­fluences the user ex­pe­rience.

The key pur­pose of a karma sys­tem is to al­lo­cate the at­ten­tion-band­width on the site to­wards users who make the most valuable con­tri­bu­tions. His­tor­i­cally we have done this via sort­ing, but sort­ing is only a small frac­tion of how we can pos­si­bly al­lo­cate at­ten­tion. And as soon as we re­al­ized this, the next step was ob­vi­ous.

Ad­just the size of your con­tent, based on your karma

This means, as you get more karma on the site, your com­ments liter­ally get larger. At the be­gin­ning, you will be a mere dust-speck among gi­ants in the com­ments, but af­ter you en­gage with the site for a bit, your words can tower over those of your con­tem­po­raries.

This changes ev­ery­thing. Ver­ti­cal space on the page is now prop­erly al­lo­cated ac­cord­ing to our best guess about what con­tent you will want to read. Peo­ple’s in­fluence and his­tory on the site is clearly com­mu­ni­cated to any­one skim­ming a com­ment thread. Com­pet­ing with your friends for karma now liter­ally trans­lates to de­ter­min­ing who has the larger “D”. The pos­i­tive effects are too nu­mer­ous to all list ex­haus­tively here.

We be­lieve this truly rev­olu­tionizes the way karma works on LessWrong, which is why we are proud to call this new sys­tem “Karma 2.0”. We also be­lieve there are many more promis­ing im­prove­ments in this di­rec­tion. We are soon plan­ning to ex­per­i­ment with col­or­ing your com­ments green or red based on the ra­tio of up­votes to down­votes your con­tent re­ceived, and ad­just­ing the line-height of your posts based on our es­ti­mate of how vac­u­ous your claims are (to prop­erly sig­nal to the user the cor­rect ra­tio of con­tent to “hot air”). Stay tuned for the up­com­ing “Karma 2.1” and “Karma 2.2″ which will im­ple­ment these fea­tures.

How­ever, if for some in­scrutable rea­son, you want to dis­able Karma 2.0, you can do so by edit­ing your pro­file (click on your user­name and then click “Edit Ac­count”) and check­ing the “De­ac­ti­vate Karma 2.0″ check­box.

Signed Oliver Habryka, Ben Pace, Ray­mond Arnold, and Matthew ‘Vaniver’ Graves