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First, I would like to correct a mistaken but all-too common assumption. Unlike other sites, we at Adequacy do not use the Comment Ratings System to enforce our strict no-trolling policy. The fact that there are no trolls to be found at Adequacy is a result of painstaking editorial effort, not some cockamamie numerological recipe. Any trolling or troll-like behavior that rears its ugly head vanishes not because the mercurial masses have "rated it" out of sight or under some "threshold," but because it has been deleted outright by the ever-vigilant editors.
Now, you may have noticed that Adequacy does not, at present, have a pompous page of detailed instructions and solemn reminders of the Responsibility of the Public Trust which is embodied in the Comment Ratings System. There is a very good reason for this.
You see, here at Adequacy, you are free to use the Comment Ratings System in any manner which you see fit. Unlike other sites that sternly admonish you to use their supposedly precious and powerful ratings-systems solely for causes that have been deemed "good," and never for reasons deemed "evil," we allow and even encourage you to devise your own use for the Adequacy Comment Ratings System, and employ it to further your political agenda, your personal taste, your petty grievances, your romantic fantasies, or whatever else is spinning and spinning and spinning about in your hot, fevered brain when you start pecking away at the shiny numbers-boxes.
With this in mind, a brief explanation of the mundane workings of the Adequacy Comment Rating System is in order. Though the system is cosmetically similar to that deployed at Rusty's Golden Ant Farm, it is in fact quite different.
If you have no particular fascination with mathematical minutia, and if you prefer respond to comments via the written word rather than numbers-box peckings, the rest of this article will be of little interest, and your time would most likely be better spent flying a kite or petting a nice doggie or something. If, on the other hand, you have an axe to grind, or a love of dull systems detail, or a generous impulse to contribute to certain of the Adequacy Editors' scientific pursuits, read on.
To a new user, a "rating," a number between one and five, may be assigned to a comment. This number may be changed at any time, but may not be "unassigned," i.e., removed. If recent comments posted by the user bear an average above a certain mark, that user is presented with a new option in the number-pecking box, and may choose "0" in addition to 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5. Users with this option are referred to as "trusted users" elsewhere on the inter-worldly web-net, but that label would be grossly misleading if used in reference to the Adequacy Comment Ratings System. Here, we refer to such users as Zero Status Users, and any such user may be described as having Zero Status. Zero Status Users may rate a comment "0," and comments with an aggregate rating of "0" are not visible to users that do not have Zero Status.
Similarly, if a user's recent comments bear an average score far below the average for the entire site, that user is presented with a new number-pecking box option, and so may rate a comment "6" in addition to 1,2,3,4, or 5. Such users are referred to as Low Average Users, and may be described as Far Below Average. Comments with an aggregate rating of "6" can only be seen by users who are Far Below Average.
Users who are classified as Far Below Average or Zero Status do not retain those states permanently, as comment rating and user-state assignment is a continual process.
Astute observers will note that I have not provided the precise formulæ for determining Zero Status Users or Far Below Average users. The only reason for this, at present, is to avoid compromising the results of the current experimental phase of certain Adequacy Editors' scientific endeavors. Once sufficient data has been collected, the veil may be lifted a bit, and you will of course enjoy full disclosure if the decision is made to seek publication in the peer-reviewed journals.