In introductory psychology classes, students learn about several experiments in which animals are trained to perform various complex behaviors — and compete with other animals — in exchange for casino chips or other tokens, which could be traded in for food or other desirables. Later, other researchers discovered something bizzare — animals would perform and compete just as intensely even if the tokens couldn't be exchanged for meaningful reinforcements.

Sound like anything you recognize?

As long as people actually do have this inane desire to compete for something as meaningless as XP, though, it's essential that we make the its acquisition be correlated to the improvement of the database. While I understand that changing the entire voting system is, at least right now, out of the question, I propose a very simple addition that I believe could have a profound effect on the quality of contributions:

Make Writeup Node-Fu Public.

That's it. No changes to how XP is attained, no changes in how votes or C!s or anything else is distributed... simply make writeup node-fu be one of the basic statistics, along with #WUs and XP, displayed on everyone's home node.

Of course, the only way anyone will really care about this new statistic is if it can be compared against other users. Thus, an additional "Everything's Best Users"-esque ranking is needed, ranked by WNF instead of XP, and perhaps there should be an option in Preferences to sort the Other Users nodelet by WNF.

Possible problems:

Users with only one or two writeups are at a major advantage, as they have a much smaller denominator to contend with. Perhaps WNF alone isn't the proper statistic — perhaps ΣRep should be factored in somehow ... though I wouldn't recommend using it alone — I feel someone with 50 writeups at +8 should be ranked higher than someone with 1000 writeups at +2.

The current upper-echelon will not like this. Because of the way XP is currently disbursed, i.e., mostly through voting, many EBU-ers would not make the new EBU-style ranking.


Your comments and questions are welcome and desired.

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