The Ethos of Help

  • Moderator

    Here's a half-formed thought: Part of the character of the Vivaldi community is that users like to help each other. Given that users rarely thank other users for their help, a commenter, mod or anyone who gets at least one "thank you" for every ten comments is in fairly rarefied air. What if there were a >1:10 Club? What if there were a club of users whose aim was to maximize their number of "thank you's" per number of posts? Would this or would this not promote and strengthen the ethos of help that exists here?

  • Here's a half-formed reply:

    It might, but i wouldn't be willing to bet the house on it. To date in my time amongst our V fora community, i have rejoiced in the many intelligent articulate helpful good-spirited courteous members, but also been [warning, my naivete showing] confused, shocked & disappointed at the small(?) but distinct cohort [most often newbies, but not always, & some newbies are excellent] who IMO are plain rude & ill-bred by, once someone has entirely solved their problem / enquiry for them, never bother posting back to say boo, let alone the requisite "thank you". Other times, they might write another post in the thread, but utterly fail to say the magic words. I have no comprehension of the reasons for the implicit rudeness of this behaviour. For my part, i simply like to help people anytime i can. I do not do it specifically to be thanked, but simply to help… however whenever someone remembers their manners & says thank you, i feel happy.

  • Moderator

    That dynamic, I'm sure, will never change. People will be people.

    However, I think it is possible to reinforce the natural inclination of many people to help, and that that atmosphere can spread.

    If there is a perceived reward, no matter how tenuous, some people will start looking at every new topic as, "Is there a way I can help this person?"

    And if it is a KNOWN and acknowledged FACT that various members are actively pushing to increase their "thank you" count, people who might just blow it off and take for granted that they owe nothing for having been helped, might be moved to say "thank you" with the button. I've lost count of the number of times someone said "thank you" in their responsive comment, but never pushed the button.

    It's just an idea. It's a concept centered around the idea of a community that is even a bit more conscious of help and gratitude than this one is now.

    I reflect on real life here where I live, where we had one neighbor who never helped and never expressed gratitude for help received, and over a matter of years earned our strong resentment for their many thoughtless slights and offenses against our peaceful enjoyment of our land. (We helped keep their animals alive - they actively contributed to such poor agricultural practices that they promoted the repeated flooding of our property. With manure-laden water) The people they sold to were immediately both helpful and grateful for help, and between us we have already improved both the emotional/spiritual and PHYSICAL condition of our tiny corner of the world, because every act of help, every expression of gratitude, has motivated each of us to do even more. I think the idea is transferable to multiple fora. That's all.

  • @Ayespy:

    What if there were a >1:10 Club? What if there were a club of users whose aim was to maximize their number of "thank you's" per number of posts?
    Would this or would this not promote and strengthen the ethos of help that exists here?

    Three questions by Ayespy - who can resist to answer? ;)

    Competitions are kind of attracting but in this case you can struggle as much as you want and success is only determined by an unknown third party. I wouldn't want to participate in such a race.
    'Ethos of help' sounds a little aloof. What attracted me to join this community was the 'friendliness'. Questions were not answered by reprimands like 'you are in the wrong section' - only because of languages I have seen it at all - or 'your question was already answered a zillion times' or 'read the manuals before writing'. I would love, if the community had the strength to continue this pace!
    Character isn't a thing you change easily. If there was a 10:1 club, most rude participants would stay rude and I wouldn't expect a flood of new 'thank yous'.
    By the way, your posts I know to be very seldom 'half-formed'. Thank you for your dedication to this community! - Yes I pushed the button. :P

  • @Steffie:

    … however whenever someone remembers their manners & says thank you, i feel happy.

    Agreed! 'Please' - 'thank you' - 'you are welcome' aren't very complicated phrases but there are people who'd rather die than use them.
    You need to scoop your motivation not from third party reactions but from your own gain in knowledge.

  • Moderator

    Yeah - this isn't something I see as a sea change, or even as a competition - more a tweak or a nudge, and something for already-help-disposed users to have a little fun with, just trying to boost their own number. It would not be a race between users, but a race between my numbers yesterday, and my numbers today.

    I participate in the allexperts community as an expert. I answer questions about a subject in which I have expertise, for users who are curious. Our performance is scored according to knowledge, courtesy, promptness, clarity, etc., by the users themselves if they care to select a score.

    But there is one number I pay more attention to than any other - and that is the average number of hours between question and answer over a 90-day period and over my entire tenure in the program. I try like crazy to get that number lower with every question and every answer. I'm not competing with anyone. Just trying to be better. That's kind of how I look at it.

    But hey - it's just an idea

  • My opinion, FWIW. :)
    When I first read your post, I thought, that's a great idea.
    Then I thought… what if this 'reward' system becomes the reason why people are going to help, instead of... well, just wanting to help.
    Maybe people are going to force others to thank them ("I helped you - thank me!"), or are arguing like "my answer is better than yours so I need to be thanked as well!". :)

  • Moderator

    There would be no change in "reward" system. People can already thank each other. All it would be, is a group of people recognizing a common purpose - like a club composed of women who wear red hats (there is such a club). The "reward" would be operating among others of like mind. A secondary reward would be a possible slight increase in conviviality in the community - a bit more of a good thing.

    There's an RV'ing club called the Good Sams. It was founded in 1966, springing from the idea that RV'ers could join a club based on mutual help - and anyone who was a member would know other members by their decals and bumper stickers, and not be shy about helping them or asking them for help. As the club grew over 50 years, there were many more formal activities and benefits, but there is still a core group of members called "standby Sams" who offer help and referrals to any club member who happens into their town or area. The reward is, in large measure, the act. That it has made RV'ing more social is a not-surprising spin-off effect.

    There has been no observable negative effect of RV'ers competing to win awards for being "nicer" than anyone else.

  • Hmmm… some kind of Vivaldi Good Sams... sounds good!
    But I guess they would become the Good Antonios then. ;)

    Personally, I'd love to be part of this 'club' but first I'll need to learn quite a lot.

  • Moderator

    I have somewhat mixed feelings about this idea. I can understand wanting to get more acknowledgement for your hard work, but I am not sure if this is the best way to go about it.

    On all forums I know that have a "Thank you" button, it is there as a quick alternative for people to say thanks who don't want to create a post for that. It would therefore never occur to me to also press the thank you button if I had already thanked someone in an actual posting. I assume the same is true for many/most other users, which is why using the "thank you ratio" as a performance metric is a bit problematic in my opinion.

    There is always the law of unintended consequences to think about, too. If the ratio of thank yous to number of posts is what you want to optimize for, it is actually detrimental to create posts that have a low expected value of thank yous received, such as posts asking for additional information or clarification, or replies to a user with a very specific problem that is unlikely to be shared by other users.

    In other words, the system would create an incentive for focussing on a smaller number of high value posts at the detriment of being as prolific of a helper as you can be.

    If there were rewards associated with having a good thank you ratio, it could also create implicit (or explicit) pressure on users to give out thank yous as lteric has already suggested. This is probably the last thing we would want, because we want users who come here for help to have the best experience possible and not leave with that awkward feeling of having been mildly coerced into handing out thank yous.

    That said, of course I, too, am happy if someone posts a quick thank you or hits that button if I have helped them with their problem. My main motivation for helping people on the forums, though, is to help create as many satisfied Vivaldi users as possible who stick with it and make it their primary browser. Because the more happy Vivaldi users there are, the brighter Vivaldi's future will be and the more resources will be available for adding more of those juicy features that we all crave for. :)

  • Moderator

    I don't want more acknowledgement for my "hard work" (which is really just making comments I feel like making, when I feel like making them.) I just thought it would be kind of cute if the forums had its own little "Optimist Club."

    My suggestion was made with an eye toward increasing conviviality and a helpful attitude, plus perhaps some esprit de corps.

    I'm becoming sorry I mentioned it. The lion's share of comments have introduced ideas and factors which were not part of what I brought up, and warn of the dangers of there being a club of users who take some notice of a favorable statistic. It's pretty clear that no good idea goes unpunished. :S

    The whole platform will be changing anyway, and I'm sure the idea will not be relevant to the new setup.

  • Moderator

    I did like the spirit behind your idea and the optimism, Ayespy, I just thought that that particular implementation might not be quite ideal. Sorry if that came across too critical.

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