A Guide to the ATS Rewards System: Points, Flags, Stars, Karma and Wats

page: 1
44
<<   2  3 >>

log in

join

posted on Sep, 19 2012 @ 02:36 PM
link   
I find myself answering questions about this system over and over again, It just keeps coming up, and my answers are often brief and incomplete. My intent here is to solve this problem once and for all (or until the next change) so that any of us can point to this thread and say, “It’s all in here.”

Why me? Just because. I like to play around with numbers. I like statistics. I like regression equations. I put my spices in alphabetical order. My 2000 books are cataloged. Maybe I’m classic OCD. And I’ve been around awhile and know how it used to be.

HISTORY
And it used to be different. “The System” was based around points. You earned points and spent them at an ATS store to buy background colors or tag lines for your Avatar. For 500 points you could buy access to the Way Above Top Secret forum which really had nothing secret in it; it is just a place that is not crawled by the Google Bot so you don’t see your post on the Google front page in a search.

As that system was phased out another one appeared that granted Gold, Silver, or Bronze status as a contributor, complete with a nice little badge for you Avatar. Sayings below the badge would say, like, “This is an aware mind.” Depending on the number of stars, flags, and posts you had. You can still see some of these as members copied the badges to preserve their status when the system changed yet again.

One thing is clear: The trend is toward simplicity. ATS used to be much more complex in terms of the rewards system. Every time it changes, it gets less complex. Another place you can see this is in moderation. Five years ago you could get dinged as little as 15 points for the most trivial of transgressions. They simply do not do that any more. To those of you who get “upset” over moderation all I can say is you should have been here five years ago. This thread is not about moderation issues and this is the only time I will mention it.

POST BORDERS
The current Gold and Silver levels still remain as a thin outline for your posts, though the demarcation for how you earn such a status is now somewhat obscure. I really do not know the formula. I seem to have silver, but I don’t know exactly why. Bronze seems to have disappeared. One thing is certain; there are fewer people with such designations. There were too many people achieving Gold and Silver, so they upped the ante. The current system is much more subtle than the older one.

POINTS
And speaking of points. You get one point for every post. You get two points for every reply to a thread you have started. You get “applause” points if a moderator thinks highly of a post you made, usually one that makes a significant contribution to a thread. “Applause” comes in the form of 250 or 500 points. You can also win a tremendous amount of points for participating in ATS games, debates, contests, and the like. Points do not appear with your posts and are only shown on your profile page.

You can get negative points if you post something that violates Terms & Conditions in the form of content or manners & decorum. Sometimes this can be because you are extremely nasty in a response, calling names, for example, or if you solicit business or violate T&C in some other way. Going off-topic can get your post erased, though it does not always result in a points deduction. Deductions, at least in my experience, are 1,000 points at a time.

What do points get you? Right now, nothing special. Today points aren’t really used for anything substantive. If you look at someone’s point total, you can get kind of an idea of where they are at. Someone with minus 2,000 posts is probably a new member who isn’t settling in well at ATS and is probably a candidate for being banned next time they transgress. Someone with tens of thousands of points has probably been here awhile and made steady contributions.

So why are points even there? My guess is that it is already built into the code, so they just left it in case they decide to use points again later in a future upgrade. If you’ve ever done computer programming you must know that “maintaining the code” is not trivial and tearing into something that is perfectly working is not really a good idea. If it works, leave it alone.

One more point on points. It doesn’t matter how many points, flags, or stars you have, you can still get banned. I’ve seen people with 15,000 stars and points nearing 200,000 get the boot. None of your “earnings” here protects you. ATS has a policy of not discussing such issues, particularly about individual members. My only point is that you ought not get cocky about your scores.

FLAGS (F)
You earn flags based on threads you start. Your thread is flagged by other users, who can remove a flag if they grow disaffected with your thread. Flags feed into the Karma and Wats scores. You’ll see many users without a lot of flags. These people are not “thread starters,” but they may have a lot of stars. This is, I believe, to encourage “user provided content” which is one of ATS’s key phrases in its marketing.

STARS (S)
You earn stars based on posts. You are starred by other users if they like your post, but they cannot remove a star once they give it to you. Stars also feed into the Karma and Wats scores. You will find a lot of people, perhaps even a majority, profess that stars “don’t mean anything” or even that other users “whore for stars.” It’s not just users who have stars who say so. Users in the top 100 profess to “not caring” about stars as well. In fact, I would go so far as to say it’s politically correct to dismiss stars. After all, we’re all equal, right? The 12 year old living in his Mom’s basement is equally to the retired CIA agent in his knowledge about how the world works.




posted on Sep, 19 2012 @ 02:36 PM
link   
2
That’s fine. Whatever floats your boat, but the fact is you have nothing to do with it. Other users give you stars and flags based on their own criteria. Sometimes you get stars because of your humor. Other times you get stars for expressing the prevailing opinion and being politically correct. Other times you earn stars for being a contrarian to prevailing opinion. To claim getting stars is a popularity contest is a simplistic opinion. It’s more complex than that.

And sometimes stars “aren’t fair.” You see completely inane posts being given stars and those that take hours to prepare slip beneath the ATS consciousness with no stars at all. Meh? It’s a fickle business. But OVER TIME stars come to those who put some effort into their posts and elude those who don’t take posting seriously.

How you use stars is your own business. If you don’t care about stars, you probably shouldn’t be reading this post. From my perspective I simply cannot read all posts on ATS. If I’m moving fast, I’ll pay more attention to posts with stars or people who have accumulated many stars and just skip those with none. I don’t have that much time to waste. On the other hand, I give a person a break if they are new. Hint: Karma can help identify bright new posters here. See below.

NEGATIVE STARS
Many members have suggested that ATS incorporate a way to express disagreement with a post, a kind of “negative star” system like a thumbs-down. This is discussed quite often in the Board Business forum. Quite clearly ATS prefers “positive reinforcement” as opposed to any sort of negative rating system and they have opposed any suggestion of such.

The issue is that even on ATS there is a prevailing point of view. Having a negative rating system would tend to encourage dumping on contrarian views. You can still disagree with a post and vehemently argue your own point of view, but don’t expect an anonymous negative rating system any time soon. It has been discussed and rejected many times.

POSTS (P)
Simply a tally of how many posts you have made. Posts feed into the Karma and Wats scores, but not always in a positive manner. See why below. Though short posts are frowned upon, they aren’t really illegal here. A short post CAN be pithy or very funny. It’s just that posts like, “I agree.” Or a simple smilie will likely get dinged. They don’t contribute anything worthwhile.

KARMA (K)
I’m indebted to member Sherlock Holmes for figuring out these formulas. As far as I know, ATS management has never been explicit about the current scoring system. I believe Sherlock may have back engineered the formulas mathematically. I’m not really sure. In any case,

It's ((stars * 15) + (flags + applause) * 10)) / posts. So if you take the following example you get:

7466 stars 3979 posts 524 flags 87 applauses
((7466 stars * 15) + ((524 flags +87 applauses) * 10)) / 3979 posts
(111990 + 6110)/3979
118100 / 3979 = 29.68, rounds to 30

So the K score is 30. Note that the overwhelming variable here is stars, which are multiplied by 15. You get much less for flags (starting threads) or ‘exceptional’ posts that earned applause, both of which are multiplied by ten. Applause, which can earn you 500 points a whack, are counted the same as a single flag here. “Applause” amounts to a staff-given flag. So right off the bat flags and applause are worth two-thirds of what stars are. But the whole thing is divided by number of posts, which means the more posts you have, the lower your Karma Score. If you had 5,000 posts instead of 3979 in the example above, your Karma Score would be 24. If you only had 2000 posts your Karma Score would be 59, twice what it is. Therefore, making posts that do not earn stars is to your detriment. It is better to make one pithy post than two throw-away comments that don’t add to the conversation.

Here’s where new posters get a break. It’s not as much a measure of quantity as it is a measure of quality. Someone with 100 posts can have the same Karma as someone with 10,000 posts. Note there is a minimum. People start out with a Karma of 20 just as a baseline. It goes up or down fairly rapidly depending on how you do after that.

One way of looking at this is the posts to stars ratio. Someone like me has a 2:1 ratio, i.e.: Two stars per post. I’m not claiming that’s stellar performance, but it’s probably okay, but it’s nowhere near someone like sandman, who has a 5:1 ratio. When you see a ratio like that, as well as the resulting high Karma score, sandman is someone to pay attention to. He does not waste his posts and usually has something interesting to say.

Karma is discussed in a very lengthy thread here: www.abovetopsecret.com..., where Skeptic Overlord says, “The karma calculation places a high weight on stars, a secondary weight on staff applause, and a tertiary lesser-weight on Flags; then compares all that against the number of posts. So that it is indeed possible for a new member with few threads, but great ideas in lots of replies, to achieve a higher "KARMA" than long-time high-WATS members.”

The sentiment is right but the information is no longer correct. Flags and applause have the same weight. But this was two years ago, which just shows that things can change. Nevertheless, the Karma score is essentially a weighted ratio calculation with more emphasis on stars.

edit on 9/19/2012 by schuyler because: add



posted on Sep, 19 2012 @ 02:36 PM
link   
WATS (W)
It's (number of posts ÷ 600) + (number of flags ÷ 80) + (number of stars ÷ 170). As an example:

(3979 posts / 600) + (524 flags / 80) + (7466 stars / 170)
6.63 + 6.55 + 43.91 = 57.09, rounds to 57

So this Wats score is 57. Here you see an opposite (and far simpler) sort of formula. Here stars are worth half of what flags are and posts themselves are worth about an eighth of what flags are. Flags are dominant. Here nearly 4,000 posts earn 6.63 points and a mere 524 flags earn almost as much at 6.55 points. But since there are so many stars, even though they are worth half of what flags are, it still gives a boost. But clearly, flags, earned for starting threads, is the dominant theme here. Also, in this score posts don’t hurt you because they are added in, not a part of a ratio. In the previous formula, lowering your post count raised your score. In this formula, lowering your post count lowers your score.

And this is kind of a problem. The Wats score isn’t really doing what ATS wants it to do. Though flags do dominate in terms of how much a flag is worth, it still can be overwhelmed by stars. In this case flags get you 6.55 points and stars give you a whopping 43.91 points. The second problem with Wats is that it just grows and grows. Because of the nature of the formula, if you stick around and post, your Wats score will gradually go up. Once you establish a posting pattern it’s very difficult to get a Karma score to go up, but you don’t have to do anything special to get a Wats score to go up. There is no downside.

Is this important? Well, the list of the Top Fifty Posters on ATS www.abovetopsecret.com... is based solely on the Wats score. It does not take into consideration Karma at all, which isn’t even listed in this Hall of Fame. If you listed members by their high Karma scores, the list would be completely different. You can get to this by clicking on the small green “W” on the extreme left of the menu you get after clicking TOOLS. You can hardly see it.

There is some old information out there. For example, Skeptic Overlord said Wats was calculated this way: www.abovetopsecret.com... ((Flags x 5) x stars)/1000000, in September, 2010. But apply that formula and you get

(( 524 * 5) * 7466)/1000000
((2620) * 7466)/1000000
19,560,920/1000000
19.56

That may have been true two years ago, but clearly is not true right now.

FORMULAS
I am not claiming the formulas I used above are exact. There may be some other variables in there. I can’t tell because I do not have access to the source code. However, it has worked every time I have applied them within a point, so my claim is that these formulas are a very good predictor of actual scores. The numbers used here are from my own scores in the past. They are as accurate as you can get without certain knowledge of what they really are.

ADDITIONAL STATISTICS
You can see where someone stands by going to MEMBERS from the TOOLS menu. www.abovetopsecret.com... Here you can sort members by posts, stars, or flags. Another interesting page is the site statistics: www.abovetopsecret.com... Out of 270,000 members, there are only about 300 with more than 5,000 posts, a little over 15,000 with more than 100.

edit on 9/19/2012 by schuyler because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 19 2012 @ 02:48 PM
link   
Thanks for clearing all that up. I never quite figured it all out. I did wonder what the points system was for. It would be nice if they would bring back the ability to buy things with points.

Nicely done.



posted on Sep, 19 2012 @ 02:57 PM
link   
I was wondering about those damn borders
I figured it had something to do with post count but never bothered to ask.



posted on Sep, 20 2012 @ 01:02 PM
link   
A very good write up, I was wondering what the single capital letters with the numbers by them were for a while. You should get mad staff applause for explaining those formulas. One more post to go before I can flag things (20 total)!! YAYEE

Thanks for the much needed information! ('
')



posted on Sep, 21 2012 @ 09:14 PM
link   
Thanks for posting this. I'm new here so this helps.
Cheers.



posted on Sep, 30 2012 @ 04:33 PM
link   
The Karma thing.. either I don't get it or the explanation above is wrong. You say,


Karma is discussed in a very lengthy thread here: www.abovetopsecret.com..., where Skeptic Overlord says, “The karma calculation places a high weight on stars, a secondary weight on staff applause, and a tertiary lesser-weight on Flags; then compares all that against the number of posts. So that it is indeed possible for a new member with few threads, but great ideas in lots of replies, to achieve a higher "KARMA" than long-time high-WATS members.”


I know a member with 1 post, and 2 stars as of this writing, that has a Karma of 50. He just joined too. He has no applause. This post:

[snipped]

If you want to turn this into a conspiracy, this member is a Mason and whats more, just created his own Mason like secret society. I wonder if that had any pull. LOL.
edit on 30-9-2012 by JohnPhoenix because: addition
edit on Sun Sep 30 2012 by DontTreadOnMe because: Please refrain from singling out members in such a manner




posted on Sep, 30 2012 @ 07:19 PM
link   
reply to post by JohnPhoenix
 


Apply the formula and see if it works. You can send the numbers to me and I'll take a look. Don't send an ID--just the numbers. Remember that I said Karma has a "bottom line" when you first start to post. The minimum is, I believe, 20.

Remember also that I said these formulas are pretty good predictors of scores. I'm not sure of the exact formulas used because I don't have the source code.



posted on Oct, 1 2012 @ 12:04 AM
link   
That was interesting.. the post i linked to and it's thread is now deleted. I'm sure the mod who snipped the link out of my post above knows why.

Can you tell me why the thread was deleted? (I did take a screenshot of the post and the guys numbers)

schuyler the numbers are simply, Posts 1, Flags 0, Stars 2, Wats 0.01, Karma 50. The member has no threads started, no applause and 10 ATS points.
edit on 1-10-2012 by JohnPhoenix because: addition



posted on Oct, 1 2012 @ 12:48 PM
link   
reply to post by JohnPhoenix
 


Here are the results for your poster. Indeed, the reported Karma score is way off, but as I said originally, Karma starts out with a bottom line of 20. In this case the “real” Karma score is 30. It looks to me like to 20 “bonus points” have not yet erased. If you keep track of this poster, who, after all, has made only one post, my guess is the Karma score will fall to the formula within a few posts.

Karma: ((Stars * 15) + ((Flags + Applause) * 10)) / Posts
((2 Stars * 15)+((0 Flags +0 Applause)*10))/1 Post
30/1
30

The Wats score is correct at .01. The formula works.

Wats: (Posts / 600) + (Flags / 80) + (Stars / 170)
(1/600) + (0/80) + (2/170)
0.00166666667+0+0.0117647059
0.0134307257, Rounds to
0.01

Here are your scores.
P 3,418 F 591 S 4,793
W 41 K 23, App=15

Karma: ((Stars * 15) + ((Flags + Applause) * 10)) / Posts
((4793 Stars * 15) + ((591 Flags + 15 Applause) * 10)) / 3418 Posts
(71,895) + ((591 + 15) * 10)) / 3418
((71,895) + (606 * 10) ) / 3418
(71,895 + 6060) / 3418
77,955 / 3418
22.8 rounds to
23

Wats: (Posts / 600) + (Flags / 80) + (Stars / 170)
(3418 Posts / 600) + (591 Flags / 80) + (4793 Stars / 170)
5.6966 + 7.3875 + 28.1941
41.26 rounds to
41

Both Karma and Wats reflect correctly. It is my contention and belief that if you apply these formulas to the scores of members, 99.999% of the time the formulas are a fairly accurate picture of scores. I invite anyone to do the math on their scores or anyone else’s and to report discrepancies.

You managed to find one person with a single solitary post where the Karma score doesn’t work on a point I had already mentioned in my original paper. Meh?



posted on Oct, 1 2012 @ 05:25 PM
link   
Oops. Forgot to add your 15 flags in there, so it should be 606 / 80, but the score still works out because 15 isn't a big enough number to change the answer. My bad.



posted on Oct, 1 2012 @ 05:29 PM
link   

Originally posted by schuyler
reply to post by JohnPhoenix
 


Here are the results for your poster. Indeed, the reported Karma score is way off, but as I said originally, Karma starts out with a bottom line of 20. In this case the “real” Karma score is 30. It looks to me like to 20 “bonus points” have not yet erased. If you keep track of this poster, who, after all, has made only one post, my guess is the Karma score will fall to the formula within a few posts.

Karma: ((Stars * 15) + ((Flags + Applause) * 10)) / Posts
((2 Stars * 15)+((0 Flags +0 Applause)*10))/1 Post
30/1
30

The Wats score is correct at .01. The formula works.

Wats: (Posts / 600) + (Flags / 80) + (Stars / 170)
(1/600) + (0/80) + (2/170)
0.00166666667+0+0.0117647059
0.0134307257, Rounds to
0.01

Here are your scores.
P 3,418 F 591 S 4,793
W 41 K 23, App=15

Karma: ((Stars * 15) + ((Flags + Applause) * 10)) / Posts
((4793 Stars * 15) + ((591 Flags + 15 Applause) * 10)) / 3418 Posts
(71,895) + ((591 + 15) * 10)) / 3418
((71,895) + (606 * 10) ) / 3418
(71,895 + 6060) / 3418
77,955 / 3418
22.8 rounds to
23

Wats: (Posts / 600) + (Flags / 80) + (Stars / 170)
(3418 Posts / 600) + (591 Flags / 80) + (4793 Stars / 170)
5.6966 + 7.3875 + 28.1941
41.26 rounds to
41

Both Karma and Wats reflect correctly. It is my contention and belief that if you apply these formulas to the scores of members, 99.999% of the time the formulas are a fairly accurate picture of scores. I invite anyone to do the math on their scores or anyone else’s and to report discrepancies.

You managed to find one person with a single solitary post where the Karma score doesn’t work on a point I had already mentioned in my original paper. Meh?


Jeez man, your post made my eyes blur and my head hurt



posted on Oct, 1 2012 @ 07:53 PM
link   
This thread should be stickied in BBQ!

That said, whenever someone asks about the p,f,s,w,k, I do a quick ATS search with the terms "schuyler" and "karma", and it takes me to a post where you've explained it previously. And yes, I always mention your UN, and link back to the thread. Now, thanks to you, I have a new thread to clip snippets from.

Great job!



posted on Oct, 4 2012 @ 05:23 PM
link   

Originally posted by schuyler
reply to post by JohnPhoenix


You managed to find one person with a single solitary post where the Karma score doesn’t work on a point I had already mentioned in my original paper. Meh?


Er.. I may not have read through your original paper very thoroughly. LOL Nevertheless, I suck at math but find this all interesting. Thank you for your time on work on my question.

Actually.. I was rather hoping there were some ATS Founder / Masonic conspiracy here.. kinda thought someone gave this guy Kudos/karma simply because he was a mason.

I suspect the thread was removed because the very person that owned the site was selling a product and that would be against ATS rules.



posted on Oct, 4 2012 @ 05:34 PM
link   
I like the star system myself, it not only tells me people were paying attention to a post, but an overall feeling of positive or negative response.
I don't think I would like the negative stars, to easy for trolls to abuse it.



posted on Jan, 1 2013 @ 06:15 AM
link   
EDIT TO ADD: Got my answer and CONGRATS to Rising for the Top 50!

edit on 1-1-2013 by silo13 because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 1 2013 @ 06:26 AM
link   
reply to post by schuyler
 


Thank you for the effort you have put in to your post

But in all honesty i couldn't care less why or how stars or flags or whatever are awarded or acquired

It is not why i am here.



posted on Jan, 1 2013 @ 01:29 PM
link   
TY op., & those that added to the explanation. It's helped me tremendously! I had no clue what the w, or k meant...


Looks like my karma went down??? Hhhmmm....
edit on 1/1/13 by j.r.c.b. because: Added info



posted on Jan, 1 2013 @ 01:30 PM
link   

Originally posted by marvinthemartian
reply to post by schuyler
 


Thank you for the effort you have put in to your post

But in all honesty i couldn't care less why or how stars or flags or whatever are awarded or acquired

It is not why i am here.


Yet you read all about it!
Actually your attitude is the most common one here. Nearly everyone here will say the same thing, even Beezer and Phage, who top the list. No one wants to be caught being on the wrong side of this. It's like saying you are against Gay Marriage and voted for Romney at a party of Democrats or admit you aspire to be an officer in a barracks full of enlisted men. It just can't be done; and to express a disdain for such things has no downside and assures eevryone else you're on the right side. For myself, I believe this kind of attitude comes from a cuklture that has managed to substitute equality of achievement for equality of opportunity. In such a culture everyone is exactly equal. No one is smarter than anyione else. Everyone puts their pants on the same way, and if someone winds up with more than someone else, it couldn't be because they worked hard or did well; they must have cheated or been given unfair privileges by TPTB.

Nothing personal. We have 275,000 members (cough!) who all feel the same way.





top topics
 
44
<<   2  3 >>

log in

join