A guide to interpreting the slew of new feedback options on posts


#1

For better or for worse, the forums on SRK have been moved to Vanilla Forums.

One of the questions that a lot of people have is what exactly all the feedback options are on the post and when to use them.

While this is in no way official, I’m listing what I’ve found helpful, as well as some examples that show the differences.

The short answer to all of this is that the feedback is whatever you want it to be. As a community, it’s generally up to us to determine what conventions are in order to keep things moving smoothly.

Note, most of this is based on my being a moderator on the programming site Stack Overflow (and we only have 15 moderators for a site that gets millions of pageviews a day as well as thousands of new posts, but granted, a different audience with a different goal), which has many similar concepts in different formats.

General Advice

Whatever you do (flag, like, agree, disagree), you should be focusing on the content and not the user. We all have users we like, agree with most everything they do, etc. However, the feedback, in order to help serve the greater community, should focus on the content.

The ideal is that content that you post will be useful for anyone else that comes back and reads it in the future. Focusing feedback based on the user doesn’t help anyone else that does this as there will be posts that have a disproportionate amount of feedback that isn’t based on the content.

Feedback Options

Flags

Flags are used to mark posts by users that have a clear malicious intent. I believe that moderators are informed of flags so that further action may be taken.

Spam - This is used for content that is solely to promote or advance something else. Typically, bot-like behavior is what should trigger this flag. Namely, if the space on the page is being used to promote something (no matter what it is) and not contribute to the conversation, then it’s spam.

Troll - Any content that is being used to derail the conversation on hand. It’s not spam in that it’s not promoting anything, but it’s disruptive to what’s trying to be achieved in the other posts in the thread. Rickrolling is a perfect example.

Abuse - Content that is clearly intended to be malicious towards another person or group.

The Rest

Off Topic - Not quite the same as trolling. Trolling, by definition, is off topic, but with there’s a specific intent of derailing the conversation, whereas with off topic, there is not. There are people that are new, or people that are desperate for help and just want to get a response to the issue at hand and without prior research, just post in any textbox that they see (we’ve seen this a great deal on our Meta site, where people ask programming questions on a site that governs the main site. It’s like asking strategy questions in the SRK feedback group). If the intent is not malicious, but the post is clearly not a part of the conversation, then use the off topic button.

Disagree - You do not agree with some or all of the post.

Agree - You agree with some or all of the post.

Like - You like the post.

But what’s the difference between “agree” and “like”?

That’s a question I’ve been seeing a great deal. First, agreeing and liking a post are not mutually exclusive (although by definition, agree and disagree are and the system currently prevents you from doing both). Feel free to use both if you feel it’s appropriate.

Agree should be used when an opinion or statement of fact is put forward and you want to show your support for the opinion or the veracity of the fact being put forward. For example, if the post content is “all apples are red”, agree would be used if you wanted to support that statement, and disagree would be used for when you wanted to disagree. Personally, I’d disagree, as Granny Smith apples are green, so the statement “all apples are red” is false.

Like, however, is used for when you simply like the content, for whatever reason. It’s a measure of popularity, nothing more. It shouldn’t be used to determine the voracity of the claim made in the content. You simply like it, for whatever reason.

This is why like and agree can be used together. Even disagree and like can be used together. You can agree, disagree, or have no opinion on the voracity of the content (or maybe, there isn’t a claim being made), but it tickled the cockles of the heart. That’s when you’d like it.

I’ll keep this updated, and show some examples, but hopefully, this will be helpful to people as everyone acclimates to the move to Vanilla Forums.


New Forum Software FAQ (WIP) for Vanilla
Why are like and agree/disagree mutually exclusive?