[Elections] reputation systems for membership

Lex Spoon lex at lexspoon.org
Tue Dec 27 16:56:23 CET 2005

SqP is a bad source of membership as it stands, if you take the time to
go look at who would be included and who not.  It's just not capturing
the right people right now.

There are other issues to consider, in general, when trying to use an
automatic reputation system to handle membership.  Some issues to keep
in mind:

	1. What happens when someone's reputation *decreases* past the
threshold for membership?
	2. There is no record of rejections.  So new people can try and try
again until they find someone to give them a reputation bump.
	3. For that matter, there seems to be no consideration of people's
judgement skills in the current SqP algorithm.  If someone has a history
of including and rejecting the wrong folks, then their gatekeeping
abilities ought to decline.
	4. Garbage in, garbage out.  Are people really going to put the time in
to enter and maintain reputation designations?  If they don't (and come
on, they won't), then is the reputation algorithm going to produce
anything that's useful?
	5. What about retaliation?  Avoiding #4 probably requires posting lots
of reputation judgements.  This is a recipe for in-group tension.

Finally, I wonder about the reputation system's algorithm.  There is a
big literature on this topic nowadays, but we appear to have rolled our
own without making reference to why ours is better than all the existing
ones.  We have great people in the group, but it is rather arrogant to
dismiss the world of CS research without at least explianing why we are
doing something different.

Overall, I'm in favor of using some list like the one I posted earlier,
and then working out a different system over time that is more
traditional.  I would happily revise this if the above concerns are
addressed or if someone can point to a group or three that has tried
using automatic reputation for membership and has found it effective.

To respond to 2 comments mentioned earlier:

First, Squeak People being mysterious is not just my idea, but Cees'. 
He has explicitly posted that he does not mean for the
apprentice/journeyman/master designations to designate coding skill or
level of contribution, and he ha snot said what it *does* designated nor
why he thinks it shows it to us.  It is as mysterious as it gets.  We
don't know what it says, and we don't know why we think it says what it

Second, I agree that people can hack a membership once they know the
list of requirements.  The list I posted was only intended for the
*initial* membership list.  We have to start somewhere, so I was
wondering if there is some short list of objective criterian that would
generate a reasonable looking list of initial members.


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