Path: news.mathworks.com!not-for-mail
From: "John D'Errico" <woodchips@rochester.rr.com>
Newsgroups: comp.soft-sys.matlab
Subject: Re: FEX: the ML file exchange censored and stifled by the makers of MATLAB (TMW)
Date: Tue, 7 Apr 2009 09:41:01 +0000 (UTC)
Organization: John D'Errico (1-3LEW5R)
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"Matthew Simoneau" <matthew@mathworks.com> wrote in message <grdkfd$aqe$1@fred.mathworks.com>...
> We've been paying close attention to all the feedback.  We were surprised that the contest triggered this reaction, but welcome the chance to discuss these deeper issues.
> 

I believe the FEX has some major flaws as it is now.
Surely it can be improved. What should be done
though?

Here are some ideas that have come out recently. 
(Not all are my own ideas.) I'd love to hear any
feedback around them. These ideas may be
considered separately, or in combination with
others I've listed.)

1. Remove the author's page, where all authors are
compared. This turns the FEX into a race for some
people, a competition for them. It becomes a point
a vanity for some, that they are the author with the
most downloads. (Still allow an individual author to
know the number of downloads for ONLY their own
files, as the number of downloads for a file may be
an interesting piece of information.) But NEVER
compare authors or even report the total number of
downloads. This only invites vanity issues.

2. Never count multiple downloads for ANY file from
a single IP address in any download count. I really
like this idea in some form, as the small children who
choose to fluff up one persons downloads (either
their own counts or another person they know) now
are wasting their time by trying to fluff the counts
and the vanities of their target.

3. Implement a good citizenship measure. This is
something that appears on various websites in a
variety of forms. A slashdot style of "karma", or
perhaps something modeled on Stack Overflow's
"reputation" measure might work. I'd suggest any
measure that encourages behavior as a good citizen
on the file exchange (and newsgroup too) by
offering tools for others to use, by working
constructively to improve the quality of tools that
others have provided. Any of these measures are
ways to help makes the site more user moderated.
Individuals who show themselves to be consistently
responsible are then rewarded in a variety of ways.

4. Remove the multiple stars as feedback. Make it
a simple yeah or nay signal, a thumbs up or thumbs
down signal. Make that signal an invisible one, in
the sense that I don't know who just gave my file
a poor rating. This way an author (or some stalker/
follower/rabid fan of the author) cannot take revenge
on the files of that person because of a rating.

5. Do not allow ANY individual to make large numbers
of negative ratings.

6. Remove the ability to make any negative rating
signals. If you can't say something good, then don't
say it at all. Just have a single "I LIKE IT!" flag that
anyone EXCEPT the author can click on, and any
individual IP address cannot do so more than once
for any single file. (You can still add constructive
reviews that say what you wish, as long as it is
constructive and on topic. The good citizenship
measures described above should figure in here.)
Disallow the author from giving their own code a
thumbs up.

7. Any constructive reviews made should be editable
by the author of that review, and ONLY by that
person. It should not be necessary for the website
administrator to be involved to make an edit or
remove an ill-considered statement.

There are surely many other ideas. 

I do think that repairs along some of these lines
should be made as soon as possible. Please add
your feedback here. They are listening to what we
say.

John