On Upvotes and Downvotes

At 1am the other day, I got into an argument with someone online, in a video game forum. Someone had made a post saying they had cancer. Whether that was true or not, no one knows, but someone in that thread was advocating not seeing a doctor and treating cancer with orange juice and turmeric. Of course, this set off my angry button as someone who goes around calling himself Medic. I replied to this insane person, saying that, whether the person really had cancer or otherwise, their suggestion of unproven food fads was fucking retarded, they should have been ashamed of themselves, and you should always see a doctor if you have a serious medical condition.

Later, I found out my post had been deleted, but the post advocating turmeric as a cure for cancer was still there. Later still, the thread was closed (but not deleted) by a moderator, with the following message.

In the future, if you don’t like a comment someone makes, downvote and move on. Engaging will result in punishments to your account. Thanks.

The person suggesting to treat cancer with food though, their post wasn’t deleted until the thread was closed and no one could interact with it then anyway.

I was very annoyed by this. Annoyed enough to actually write an article about it. But more importantly, it made me think, this is how all Reddit-like sites are these days. Clicking I Like or I Dislike is everywhere, from over-negative Youtube to Reddit’s system to the one-way upvotes only stuff on places like Facebook. They rely on a system of self-moderation, followed by mods deleting, well, whatever they want. Silent moderation. The sites advocate (I like that word) using upvote and downvote buttons in order to agree or disagree with a thread, picture, post, whatever.

I feel that’s lazy. It stifles the desire to argue. You’ve clicked a button and silently disagreed that the news media these days is too sensationalist, time to move-oh look! A cute kitty! Woah! That’s so adorable! Upvote! Oh hey, someone made a cool statue of a video game character, upvoted!

And so on and so forth. Meanwhile, the person who’s claiming that vaccines cause autism isn’t being confronted. You can downvote all you want, but they’ll just laugh and claim that it’s only big pharma and autism doctors who are downvoting, so they must be right. No one says “YOU ARE WRONG ALL THE EVIDENCE LINKING AUTISM TO VACCINES HAS BEEN DEBUNKED AND THE DOCTOR INVOLVED LOST HIS MEDICAL LICENSE FOR MISTREATING CHILDREN!” or anything like that. People remain unchallenged and never have a chance to be proven wrong and change. Maybe they won’t ever change, even if you do argue with them, but a chance is better than sitting by idly and hoping those red arrows mean something.

We don’t have that option on SPUF. One can offer recognition for a good post with reputation, but if someone disagrees with you, a SPUFer HAS to argue their point. They can’t just silently make a vote then go away and never have their opinions challenged. That’s (one of the reasons) why I’ve stuck with SPUF for so long. People like Caldoran have stuck to their guns for years. And some people can change their minds. I changed my mind on random crits years ago – I was an advocator (that word again) for them at first, then I became neutral upon seeing both sides, then I became an anti-crit person too.

If we’d had a system where upvotes and downvotes were a thing from the start, SPUF would just be another r/tf2, which mostly consists of amusing gifs and videos. Yes, we have reputation and the star rating system, but neither affect the content of a post.

And the fact that I should just downvote rather than confront people offering dangerous beliefs? That’s fucking retarded. Downvotes never change opinions, words do.


Also known as Doctor Retvik Von Schreibtviel, Medic writes 50% of all the articles on the Daily SPUF. A dedicated Medic main in Team Fortress 2 and an avid speedster in Warframe, Medic has the unique skill of writing 500 words about very little in a very short space of time.

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