If we're going to look for a mathematical solution for this new leveling problem, we need to figure out how we're going to take the data (a user's writeups with their reputations) and draw the most useful conclusions out of them. Based on the data we have, what's the best way to determine what a user has contributed to Everything? We have to consider what makes someone a good noder. I haven't been around for too long, but I'm learning. I look up to many noders for the following reasons:

  • I learn something when I read something they wrote. We have a ton of excellent factual writers.
  • They make me laugh. All too many noders try to write funny nodes and fail miserably. Those who succeed should be rewarded.
  • Their writing is straight-up quality. When I see a writeup by certain noders in the "New Writeups" nodelet, I know I'm in for some good reading.

What's the correlation between average reputation and noder quality? Well, because of our current voting system, a general answer is obvious. The better you are, the more upvotes you'll get. It's been said that factual nodes will get you nowhere. Perhaps, before I got here, factuals weren't valued as highly. But in my experiences I've found the exact opposite to be true. I have found, however, that factuals get less attention (meaning total votes) than other nodes. I try to maintain a high standard of quality for my writeups. If an excellent writeup of mine ends up with five upvotes and no downvotes, while a node about sex ends up with a reputation of 100, that does not change the quality of what I've written. This is to be expected -- if a random node about engineering and a node about a more curious topic are written at the same time, human nature dictates that more people will read the latter one. There's nothing wrong with that, because you read what you are interested in. I'm here to read about what I'm interested in, and to share my knowledge and experiences. I think that most noders are here for the same reasons.

A node on any subject can differ in quality. A funny writeup can make me fall out of my chair laughing. A half-assed attempt at a funny writeup can be so bad that it will have a halo over its head before I can even read it. Factual nodes, as well, can be thorough and informative or short and worthless (or, even worse, incorrect).

As I've voted on writeups by good noders, I've noticed one consistent thing among all types of writeups. They have their upvotes and downvotes, but a reflection of the quality of a writeup is generally found in the ratio of upvotes to downvotes. Good factuals are rarely downvoted massively, but receive less attention, while humorous or opinionated nodes receive more attention but also more downvotes. Thus, I propose that the ratio of upvotes to downvotes that a user has received be used as a factor in the new leveling scheme.

By no means do I propose this ratio for use as the only criterion for the new level system. The same should hold true for the other proposed plans. No matter what sort of criteria we use, no number or status can precisely rank which users are better than others. To do so concretely would not only be a Herculean task, it would be unfair. There's no way to say that noder X is "better" than noder Y. Call me crazy, but when I click on Everything's Best Users I don't see it as a ranking. I see a list of people who are committed to this site, whether they are regular users, editors, or gods. For the new leveling system, plenty of good ideas have been thrown around already. The administration knows we have an intelligent user base. Putting all of our ideas together, instead of relying on one statistic, will undoubtedly produce the best solution.

That being said, I would also hope that we don't complicate the leveling system too much. There is a lot that new users have to learn about E2 already. The current scheme is easy to understand, and if we make the new scheme too convoluted, many new users with tremendous potential may be turned off. Current users won't like the idea of having to figure out what they need to do (and not do) to get to the next level. It's all about striking a healthy balance.