Dear Editors:

Yesterday I was level 7, and today I'm level 11. That's pretty terrible if you ask me, and not just because it makes a mock of the idea of earning levels (4 levels at a leap?!), but also because I don't see how level inflation could possibly be good for the site. I myself do not feel anything I could describe as the satisfaction of achievement, and I doubt if anyone else does; what I do feel is slightly cheated, like a runner abruptly teleported within a meter of the goal line. What on Earth is really gained by such an unhappy translocation? You haven't won the contest then, you've lost it: the only honest thing you can do is sit down and let the others pass you.

I don't oppose change in the level system as such, of course, but this particular change seems to be a solution looking for a problem. There are problems in the voting/experience system (I should say were, I suppose, since all this refers to the now-obsolete old system), but all of those problems I ever noticed were in precisely the opposite direction. I think, if anything, that we have too many level powers in general, not too few people with access to them; what earthly benefit can be derived from more people having access to things that probably shouldn't exist in the first place is beyond me.

For example, one of my personal grievances with how the system works is and has for as long as I can remember been that there are way, way more new C!'s than there are new writeups at any given time (UPDATE, a couple of minutes later: this very month appears to have been the worst this problem has ever been, even before this present change! Yikes). There are a lot of problems with this: writing for votes is pointless as each C! is worth 20 votes in XP terms, and any piece of rubbish will get chinged by someone (this specifically encourages the abysmal un-poetry dross we are all and always forced to wade through in New Writeups); the chings being far too plentiful makes them not feel the least bit special; they do not seem to actually represent anything, least of all a seal of quality, when everyone has them and hands them out like candy. All of these things have only been exacerbated, of course, with the present reform.

It's my firm belief that the C!:NW ratio should be lower than 1, as it originally and long was, and that either the requirements for level 4, or which level grants C! power, should be adjusted such that this is the case. We know for a fact that the power to C! is the last ability anyone actually cares about getting on this site, so that raising the level requirement for chings would also be a productive way to increase noder output to reach that lofty height; and, if it required a noding rate and quality both above average, then we would be well set up indeed. (I am quite certain that I myself, for instance, should NOT have the power to ching, as I only post once a month or so, and it's typically short garbage; someone like user Zephronias, on the other hand, a prolific and substantial writer, probably should have it.)

If anything, I would endorse collapsing the level system, such that, say, only levels 0, 1, 2, and 3 exist. Levels 0 and 1 remain largely as they are now; level 2 gives you access to the various Gift Shop-type bells and whistles (eggs! Tokens! Vote buying! Cloaking!); level 3 grants the C!, and its requirements are dynamically adjusted by the database at every moment such that only a minority of noders are at this level.

Finally, a C! should probably only give 5 XP, especially since you have yourselves observed that the voting and noding populations are much lower than when these levels were originally fixed.

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I realize that this is going to get the shit downvoted out of it, because most people would rather have C! power than have the site work well, but, what the hell. You defanged downvotes too, so what do I care?

Highest regards as always, and a merry Christmas to you and all,


Dear Editors:

Bitter people exist. Loud people exist. They have ideas about quality, efficiency, information, art. There are meek people too. There are also pleased and satisfied people, but they're a lot less likely to do much shouting because if they don't feel embittered, wronged, or put-upon then they're less likely to speak.

But the way I see it, no person in this community-oriented website is better than any other person, and no person's idea is better than any other person's idea. That statement falls under the presumption that this is, indeed, a community-oriented website and not a heartless encyclopedia of sporadic, inconsistent, and incomplete information made basically obsolete by other incredibly obvious resources. I understand that there are people who disagree with this presumption, because they see E2 differently. That's okay. We all see E2 differently.

The leveling system on E2 is directly shaped by the voting system. Each time anyone casts a vote or throws a C! they're making a decision, and the design of the voting system is to bring incentive with that decision. Not power, ability, rank, or anything else. Incentive, and encouragement. If there is any power whatsoever within the voting system, it's the power held by the voter to make a choice, to build a writeup, to build a user's level so as to grant them more privileges, to build a user's confidence, to build a community, build build build.

Editors, you made a decision in your changes to the XP/voting system. I'm sure it was a calculated, well-intended, well-thought decision by the person or people responsible for the decision. And I wanted to let you know that it doesn't matter much - E2 is a mob, and it will grow as a mob, regardless of the mathematics, the proportions, and the cynics. But more importantly I wanted to let you know that whatever the hell we're building, I support it. And that not everyone is complaining about it.

Highest regards, just another (good) day,

- gail

Dear E2,

I was originally just going to message Clockmaker in private, but I decided to reply to him here in order to share my thoughts with the broader userbase.

First off, I'm thankful to both Clockmaker and GAIL for sharing their thoughts. These are both long-time users whose opinion I greatly respect.

Under the old numbers, only two new users had made it to C! power in the past two full years. Under the new numbers, only 3 additional users did. The effect of these changes is very small indeed. If there are too many C!s in the system, it is caused by the vast majority of C!s given out by old, well-established users, most of whom are way above Level 4.

To do what Clockmaker is suggesting would mean actually clawing back C! power from people who have already had it for a while, which would certainly not sit well with many users.

The only real way to solve the issue of too many C!s is to increase the number of writeups getting posted, which will not happen until we modernize the site, which jaybonci has been feverishly working on for the past two years.

Until jay finishes up the modernization process, any changes we make to XP/Levels is, as I've said elsewhere, little better than rearranging deck chairs. But even after we get some more new users, I and almost everyone else I spoke with during the three-week comment period for this change agrees that we need to get new users into the system faster and get them the main powers sooner.

I'm actually very sympathetic to Clockmaker's idea of using the C! power as something to strive for as long as possible, to wring as many writeups out of people as we can, since that is how we've done things around here for a long time. However, in the end I feel like we have to accept that the internet has changed in the past 15 years, and people can't be expected to wait around for years to get basic site powers.

Highest regards and a very merry season to you all!


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