So we made a very small tweak to the XP/Leveling system. Whereas it used to require 500 XP to reach Level 1, and 1000 XP to reach Level 2, it now requires 400 XP to reach Level 1 and 900 XP to reach Level 2. All other level's XP requirements have remained unchanged.
In light of the decline in E2's active userbase, the purpose of this very modest change is twofold - to get new users into the system faster, and get more votes into the system sooner.
There is some backstory to this change. When the XP/Leveling system was overhauled back in 2008 the final plan that the tfxp usergroup unanimously approved actually had Level 1 status starting at 300 XP. Thereafter, the XP requirements to reach each new level smoothly ramped up by 200 XP per additional level until flatting out at 2500 XP required to reach each next level starting at Level 12. However, at the last moment, right when we were going to put the plan into action, alex, who had already approved the plan, changed his mind about 300 XP and decided it was a bit too low and insisted that it be increased to 500 XP or else he would withdraw his consent to allow the plan to go forward.
So that is what we did. And 500 XP was probably fine at the time, but I and others in the tfxp group always felt that starting at 300 would be slightly better, to get new users into the system quicker. And now, with very few new users even reaching Level 1 (if you don't believe me, go to Everything's Best Users and set it to "show new users" to see how many new users have reached level 1 in their first two years), and votes on new writeups at roughly half the levels they were in 2008, lowering the XP requirements seems even more sensible now.
The only reason we didn't revert back to the original tfxp plan now is that it would require changing all the levels' XP requirements, which would be disruptive to a lot of people, whereas starting at 400 XP allows us to only change the first two levels, while keeping a sensible progression of XP requirement increases.
To see why, let us compare the current requirements with the previous requirements and the original plan:
|Level||2008 final version||new adjusted version||original tfxp plan|
As you can see, the original tfxp had the aesthetic beauty of starting at 300 and smoothly ramping up by 200 per level in the following progression of XP needed:
300 500 700 900 1100 1300 1500 1700 1900 2100 2300 2500 ...
Whereas the modified version insisted upon by alex started at 500, stayed at 500 for three levels, then suddenly and inexplicably jumped by 300 XP to 800, and then increased by 200 XP after that for a while, before one last jump of 300 (from 2200 to 2500) as follows:
500 500 500 800 1000 1200 1400 1600 1800 2000 2200 2500 ...
The new system, as currently implemented, not only lowers the requirements for the initial two levels sligthly, but also smooths out the progression a bit, so we start at 400, and increase by 100 for the first two levels, before increasing by 200 after that, as follows:
400 500 600 800 1000 1200 1400 1600 1800 2000 2200 2500 ...
I still prefer the elegant consistency of the original tfxp plan, and I do think starting at 300/800 would be better for the site at its current stage, but going back to that plan at this point would actually require increasing XP requirements by 100 for every level after Level 3, which would probably be ill-advised, so we'll stick with 400/900 for the time being.
I should mention that from time to time people suggest that maybe we should just give votes to everyone as soon as they sign up. This would certainly achieve our goals of getting more votes into the system and getting people voting sooner. However, there is a serious danger to giving votes out right away or even making the Level 1 XP requirement too low, which is that it would make it too easy for malicious users to set up hundreds of dummy accounts and immediately vote their own writeups to the heavens to gain extra powers or else massively downvote those of their enemies. This was what alex was worried about, and he was not wrong.
In this day and age, one could easily write a simple script to create 1000 accounts and have them all automatically vote on your writeups every day. It would completely undermine the E2 system, which is premised on one meatspace human = one vote, and on leveling up to new powers gradually over time through excellent writing. So as much as we would like to get new users voting as soon as possible, we do have to set a fairly high bar for getting votes, and make it require some actual writing that passes muster with editors and other users first.
In other news, I created THE HALL OF THE IRON to keep track of how many times people have made it to IRON NODER status. If people are interested, I may add another table showing the total number of "iron nodes" submitted per person across all years (regardless of whether they ultimately reached IRON NODER status or not).