Sick and tired of trolls

Unanswered Question
Aug 19th, 2010

The scenario is always the same:

A no-previous-posts someone comes in with an opinionated believing about something. Often it is in the form of a question, to which only some answer will be accepted.

When the plain truth is exposed to the person, even with plenty of supporting motivation, some insisting reply is received, and then low ratings of 1 or 2 when generous. Typically the person will never shop up on the forum again.

One example for all:

I routinely respond to these people, and very interestingly I never get a factual reply to say where I was wrong. Only sometime, I get apologies, of the type "I was new and not sure".

Now, I understand that it maye be difficult, that we should just put up with these, that there can be one hundred reasons against, but I am afraid that unless we can have protection from unmotivated low ratings, I will have no desire anymore to post answers.

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Overall Rating: 4.5 (55 ratings)
burleyman Thu, 08/19/2010 - 12:07

Read through the post and you are correct. I would ask thought you consider those as someone not worth dealing with in the future as they are ungrateful. I would ask that you continue posting as you along with many others in this community have a great wealth of knowledge and I along with many others depend on your knowledge and your giving of your free time. I myself have read and learned much from your posts and if you left it would be a big loss to this community. There will always be people out there that just don't get it but that should not stop anyone from doing good. I personally thank you for your time and the knowledge you have shared and I hope to learn much more from people like you.



Leo Laohoo Thu, 08/19/2010 - 15:37

Hey Paolo,

I think, in my humble opinion, everyone of us who are regular solution contributors are "victims" of some new form of human behaviour:  the lack of understanding.

Some believe that you, for example, (or anyone with a "badge") work(s) for Cisco and, therefore, is obligated/obliged to give a response of their choosing and/or liking.  (Emphasis on the phrase "response of their choosing and/or liking".) Even if the solution they are trying to verify is wrong, if they don't like your answer, don't expect them to give you a high score (or a score even).     And some have little or no understanding about the ratings systems.   Some posts, and in their excitement about the correct solution to their issues, seem to forget about their posts and leaving it un-"Answered".

I have seen and read a significant number of your posts (Ricks, Jon, Rob and even Edison and Joe) and 90% to 95% deserve a high rating but didn't all all because of the observations mentioned above.

As a result of this observation, I've taken a leaf from your book and ask posters to not forget to "rate our useful posts" or if they say that the solution has been rectified, I'd also follow-up by asking them to mark the thread as "Answered".  I check my score regularly, I make it an effort to "thank" the people who gives me some form of rating.  In my opinion, if you took the effort of giving me a rating, then it's polite to reciprocate and give thanks.   Very lame reason frankly, but I believe it's justified.

There is no easy reason to this.  CSC has tried various ideas but each one doesn't seem to be the right "fit" for the job.

Paolo Bevilacqua Fri, 08/20/2010 - 03:11

Leo, you exposed the issue perfectly.

Maybe, what has not been discussed before, would be if some "super-partes" people could the remove unfair ratings, and block further ratings on any given thread.

I do not care much If I give a great answer and I am not rated. What bothers me, is that any anonymous, with near to zero understanding in networking can come and vent his frustration with the fact he has to buy a different router (just an example), taming my reputation here.

BTW, I chimed in and re-balanced on the link tread above. At the cost of seeming contentious,. I'm not giving up yet.

burleyman Fri, 08/20/2010 - 04:34


Thanks for sticking it out. Like I said before I rely on people like you for not only resolving problems but in your sharing of knowledge so myself and others can learn. I went to the post you referenced and read it and I rated it as it should have been rated, I know it is not much but it boosted the ratings so other may look at it for correct solutions. I have read not only your posts but others and have learned much and when I go to those posts in the past I have just gone there and left with out rating because it was not my question so I did not rate. Well what I am going to try and do going forward is when I read a post that is not mine and it helped me in anyway or if I see that it resolved the posters answer I am going to rate them myself going forward.

Thank you Paolo and everyone for all you contributions, what I have learned from you is tremendous and I thank you.


Paolo Bevilacqua Fri, 08/20/2010 - 05:03

Burleyman, thank you very much for your appreciation. Words like yours certainly help seeing things in balance. You see that my knowledge is primarly of a practical nature, and I have no problems sharing it with people that can appreciate it.

CSC moderators: please understand how the continued provocation led me to the the closing statements in the thread referenced.

If you judge that it has to be removed, I will certainly understand your actions.

burleyman Fri, 08/20/2010 - 05:42

No problem. Remember there are far more people out there that apprecite what you and all the others contribute than there are the type you ran into.


Rob Huffman Fri, 08/20/2010 - 06:28

Hey Paolo, Mike & Leo,

Excellent thread indeed and coming from three experts like you guys

it carries alot of weight.

Sadly, this is just "human nature" and cannot always be avoided. We have all felt

the pinch of unfair ratings that really suck, but what can you do?? The only reason

we really come here is to try and help each other out with solutions. Some people like our

ideas and others don't, but we keep on trying! It's not in our nature to give up because someone

doesn't know how to participate fairly. NOT GOING TO HAPPEN!!  Don't let the [email protected]!3rds get you

down Paolo, you're too good for that my friend!

This does highlight something that I (and others) have been pushing for some time now......the

need to eliminate the 1&2 point Ratings altogether! They are of no value and only cause situations

like this. Let's all work together to convince Dan and Tim to scratch these Ratings off CSC.

Just for a little added levity and info here let's look at this thread from a great "Ask the Experts" from

not too long ago It might make us all feel a bit better;

Hi Janelle and Jimmy,

First off, thanks for taking the time out of your schedules to participate in this event!

My question is this, most of us in the service industry have taken some type of customer service training, but how do you deal with the 1 out of 100 clients that you just can't seem to win over?
You try to provide great service,timely, friendly and with great follow up etc. And they still seem to have some level of distrust? Are there just some no win situations?

Thanks again,

Here is the nice response from Janelle;

From Dr. Barlow;

Hi Rob:

Thanks for your question. Indeed, there are those people who are very difficult to win over -- for a variety of reasons. And the number may be higher than 1 out of a hundred.

? There are some no win situations. Bottom line. You won't please everyone. Don't set it as a target.

? You don't always know what is going on in the customer's mind. The key question is whether they come back, not whether they look like they distrust you. There may be reasons for that distrust that have nothing to do with you.

? Talk with them. Tell them you are working very hard to meet their needs, but your sense is that they don't seem to respond in a way to indicate this is happening. Ask them if you are misreading them. Engage them in a dialogue. You may actually learn something very important from them, or at least open up a dialogue where they become more conscious of how they respond to you.

? If yours is the type of business where the customer deals with one person, perhaps they just don't get along with that person. Consider asking someone else in your organization to interact with this person.

? Finally, don't blame yourself if all your customers don't like your offering. Attempting to please everyone is not the best strategy in the world when it comes to building a brand.

Good luck,

Janelle Barlow, Ph.D.

Cheers Guys!


burleyman Fri, 08/20/2010 - 06:57

Great post as usaual Huff.....+5

Now putting me in the area of "three experts like you guys" is a big streach indeed but thanks for that and it made me chukle...

I do agree the 1 and 2 ratings should be removed they serve no use here, just don't rate if you think they are not helpful.

What are your guys thoughts on someone like me who goes to a thread and reads it and finds it knowledgable but did not post, should I rate it if it helped me in learning something new.

Also, what are your thoughts on listing the people who rated a hover over the ratings and it will show a list of who rated and what they rated?



Leo Laohoo Fri, 08/20/2010 - 17:33

Hey "Smooth" Rob,

Guy, you sure know how to butter people up ... or you can't count!  He he he ...

I sure ain't categorize as an "expert".  I will be happy to fall in the ranks of "someone who knows some stuffs" but one thing though, I am a person who likes to learn.  I learn from people like you, Paolo and more.  I also learn when THE experts correct my mistakes and set the records straight.

So to all the "experts" (too many to name and I don't want to start name-dropping), y'all see that badge beside my name?  Well you guys/gals are responsible for giving `em all to me.

Anyway ... let me bring some humour here ...

Question:  What's the difference between a politician and a snail?

Answwer:  A snail always leaves the slime BEHIND.

NOTE:  Dan, I don't believe I have yet to see a network guy who also happens to be a politician.  So I hope I am still following the rules. 

PS:  If some of you reading any of my posts think that I've "crossed the line", please let me know.  I try to police myself but sometimes ... things happen.  Remember:  Don't drink and post! 

Daniel Bruhn Fri, 08/20/2010 - 07:35

Ratings my favorite CSC topic.  It always seems to bring out the best in us :-)  I'll try and respond to all your questions here:

1.  Poor Ratings---  Do not assume the person who posted the question is the one who rated you poorly.  You need to remember ANYONE can rate responses.  This was intentional so others could rate content they find useful.  We can remove this and only allow the author to rate content, but I assure you overall ratings will drop.  If someone rates you a 1 or 2 I would suggest not calling it out and just let it go.  If you do, it will only encourage them to rate all your other responses a 1 or 2.


2.  Correct answers go unrated---  This is an issue in all communities on the web.  Not everyone takes the time to rate content.  I encourage all of you to rate content whether it's your post or not.  When other users come to a community and see rated content they are more likely to also rate.  We are looking at migrating to a new version of software that would allow Cisco to mark questions as resolved.  It would show on the site as "resolved by moderator".  Thoughts on this?

3.  Eliminate 1&2 ratings---  If we removed the first 2 stars then 3 would technically become 1.  I'm not opposed to the concept but trying to understand how it would work.  The only thing I can think of is remove stars 1&2 from the front end but in the computation keep them intact.

4.  Allow users to see who rated---  To be honest, I don't think we want to go down that path.  That won't do much except cause wars between users.

Our goal is to have the most fair and useful rating system as possible.  That said, it will never be perfect.  Ratings are a key discussion at all community conferences and no one seems to have found a perfect solution.  I encourage everyone to continue giving us feedback.  Ratings are a significant part of CSC and we will do our best to make them as useful as possible.



Leo Laohoo Fri, 08/20/2010 - 17:39

If someone rates you a 1 or 2 I would suggest not calling it out and just let it go.  If you do, it will only encourage them to rate all your other responses a 1 or 2.

You got a point here particularly the "retaliation" side.

We are looking at migrating to a new version of software that would allow Cisco to mark questions as resolved.

I like the bit where if a post is marked "Answered" an automatic "5" ratings is registered.

Paolo Bevilacqua Fri, 08/20/2010 - 08:49

Thanks all for the great discussion.

Dan, I like the idea .2. above, as I mentioned before my only change proposal would be some kind of "right of appeal" to unfair low rating. Possibly followed by a rating ban on the appealed threads only. This to prevent further siding on controversial matters.

Be reassured it is very clear to understand who low rated on certain threads, because they all follow the simple dynamics I have exposed above, so please give my proposal a thought.

On the other hand so far I have not seen anybody vindicative enough to pervasively misuse the system, beside than the occasional frustration-driven low rating, so overall I am happy with the system as it is now.

Leo Laohoo Sat, 08/21/2010 - 17:55

I have not seen anybody vindicative enough to pervasively misuse the system

Don't encourage them.
marikakis Sun, 08/22/2010 - 16:04

Regarding issue 2, as far as I understand, most regulars would prefer their posts to be rated by the authors themselves. This is logical I think, since the author is the person being helped mainly and other regulars might not always have the time to set the record straight, especially when they have many of their own posts often going unrated. Anyway, I think many regulars do rate each others posts and if cisco could give a hand, I can't see why would anyone disagree with that.

Back to the authors: The rating FAQs are ok as long as one is willing to read them. However, most people do not like to read long documents in order to do a simple thing (e.g. use a cell phone, use a DVD recorder, open a CSC discussion). Generally, if you want to increase your chances of someone reading something it should not be long (are you still with me? ). How many times have you checked a "Yes, I agree" without reading the agreement?

I have one suggestion at the moment: put some pressure on the authors for feedback. So, where can we find the authors and ask them for feedback? I guess we can't chase them with the rifle around the corner outside their homes (please don't ask "why not?" ). E-mail notifications (suggested in the past) can go unnoticed. I believe a good place and time to catch the author is when author is here in CSC and tries to open a new discussion.

(BTW: the e-mail feature for posting replies has the side effect of some authors opening discussions, then losing touch with the CSC web interface, and eventually makes possible for them to avoid to log back in, not only for posting replies, but also for rating of posts.)

The first time author opens a discussion, everything flows as usual (or perhaps with a short message about ratings) and author can get away without rating the replies. The second time authors tries to open a discussion, author receives a webpage asking him/her to rate any of the replies of the first discussion before proceeding. That is if he/she hasn't done so already and first discussion is idle for say 1 week. At this point, author also receives some short piece of advice ("avoid low ratings, etc", no fancy words, no lots of reasoning). Author also has the option to say "No helpful replies received" or anything else, and this can appear on the thread for everyone to see. If author provided feeback either in the form of points or in the form of a comment, they can go on and open another discussion. Additionally, the total number of ratings by author could appear on the thread, which would expose the identity of ratings of the author to some extent, but not totally. Still, this is not necessary for the rest to work, I agree with Dan on his 4th point, who wants to open the Pandora's box? (Such a variable might also help the code to determine if author rated a discussion by examining a single value).

Some authors might open discussions close in time and could get away without rating, but generally they will eventually receive the page if they keep opening discussions over time. Others might open 1 discussion in their lives, in which case they can get away without rating. In such cases we might not want them to rate anyway (or we might risk going from issue number 2 to issue number 1 above). Since things are loose the first time, any complexity associated with the opening of discussions for newcomers is not increased. Also, if something like that was implemented it would affect only future discussions.

There can be more complicated solutions (the one I had thought initially was more complicated), but this particular suggestion is messing up with the opening of discussions, and the more complicated it is, the more we risk being left without discussions during a potential software debugging phase.

So, you won't have to ask for ratings anymore (which might reduce tension inside the thread). System will do it for you. If author is a bit exposed, their ratings might become more appropriate. Anyway, the fairness of ratings is difficult to handle (since it requires knowledge from the author's part), so cisco could give a hand on this one. I haven't thought this fully, since we have many people here to make improvements if necessary and if suggestion is generally acceptable. One advantage of this suggestion is that it shifts the burden of ratings from regulars/cisco to the software (automatic, less personal) and the author (who is the one being helped). I personally wouldn't have gone that far, but it seems many people get frustrated with the ratings. So, why don't we all stay here until we either find solutions or conclude that some issues cannot be solved and get on with our lives?

Richard Burts Mon, 08/23/2010 - 13:06

I agree that we want to find ways to motivate users to use the rating system. But I worry that a web page to nag the user about rating might become counter productive: if a user feels pushed into rating will they tend to rate high or to rate low? If a user feels pushed to rate - how many of them will just hit cancel and go away from the forum??



marikakis Mon, 08/23/2010 - 13:53

Hi all,

Rick, I see your point about the webpage. As I said previously, I wouldn't personally have gone that far, but I think in some cases some threads tend to have tension because people keep asking for the ratings anyway. And once they don't get them or get poor ones (user feels pushed in a similar manner that you described), the tension might move from one thread to another. The advantage of the webpage is that it's not personal. I won't defend the idea any further, since I don't personally ask for ratings, I hardly ever participate in ratings discussions and I wasn't doing it for me anyway.

I have been the victim of 1-rating twice (if I remember correctly). The first time I was angry. It was unfair (or so I thought). The second time I wasn't angry. I let it go. In both cases I wondered what I had done wrong. Ok, in the second case my phrasing might have looked insulting in some way I didn't intend. I tried to avoid that in future cases. In one later occassion author was angry with something I said. I didn't respond, so I got away without getting the 1-slap. Anyway, my point is that the advantage of low ratings is that they can help members to behave themselves and keep a more professional environment. Just because some people are asking for help that doesn't mean we should treat them with disrespect. And remember: if you always do what you've always done, you will always get what you always got.

BTW: The "youtube generation" is out you know, so watch out because some of them might have entered the networking field. Have you seen how thumbs up/down on youtube work? No logic at all or "if I like what you like"  thumbs up, "if you dislike what I like" then thumbs down, etc. Which reminds me of the approximate lyrics of a play "I will listen to her only if I like what she has to say".

Kind Regards,


Richard Burts Mon, 08/23/2010 - 15:05


I have received my fair share of 1 ratings and sometimes I do wonder what caused the person to rate that way. Sometimes I wonder about "what if I had phrased it differently".  But I believe that the low rating usually has more to do with the reader and less to do with what I said. So I have learned to let them go and to move on.

I may be in a minority but I would vote to keep the 1 and the 2 in the rating system. We may try to say that 3 keeps its original meaning, but I do not believe that most raters would really feel it that way. If 3 is the lowest score available then 3 becomes not very good. And I do believe that there is some merit in having a score that says "not helpful". There have been some posts (though not so many) that I thought were really bad (or really wrong) and I have rated them as a 1.



marikakis Sun, 08/22/2010 - 16:51

One more thing regarding Dan's comment on point 3:  If we removed the first 2 stars then 3 would not become 1. Each number is also associated with a characterization. 3 means you were at least helpful. 1 means you were not helpful and is technically equivalent to "go away".

Leo Laohoo Mon, 08/23/2010 - 15:50

I have received my fair share of 1 ratings and sometimes I do wonder what caused the person to rate that way.

Hate to say this but I've seen alot of you gents/gals receive a low rating for a perfectly good answer to a poorly written question.  The answer why a low score is mostly a new trend of "human behaviour".

People don't like to be told that their multi-thousand dollar equipement/design is wrong because of the lack of understanding of the equipments and/or technologies.  They want someone like you guys/gals to tell them that although they got the wrong equipments (and they can't return/exchange it) it will still work.  Like, for example, someone purchasing a 830 router on e-bay and hoping it could do 100mb of full duplex and full encryption with full BGP table.

This is one main reason why I hate telling people that their design or equipments purchased is not up to "specs" because of the risk of getting a low score or no score at all.  One thing I've tried, with mixed results, to make it go down "easy" is to put a light tone of humour.  Like the "example" above.

Daniel Bruhn Tue, 08/24/2010 - 15:06


The rating system isn't something we can simply turn on/off or make edits to.  I promise we will be doing a review on how ratings work.  Our goal will be to see if we can make it more user friendly.  I ask all of you to continue giving feedback, but to be honest, if we decide to make changes it won't happen overnight.  Ratings are a significant part of CSC so any modifications would take time to test and implement.  I'll have to ask patience from everyone on this.  If anyone thinks someone is abusing the system please send me an email and we'll review it.



marikakis Tue, 08/24/2010 - 15:34

Hi Dan,

When your team will be reviewing how ratings in CSC work, you might also consider adding a way for us to vote for Dan for the next president of the USA. Because you have politics in your blood man (and I am saying this in a positive sense)! I am always curious to see how you will manage to maintain balance in every situation!

Kind Regards,


Daniel Bruhn Wed, 08/25/2010 - 12:52

Hi Maria,

Thanks for the kind words.  I'm not so sure voting would go my way.  As you can see by this thread I have enough problems keeping everyone happy on CSC   



Richard Burts Mon, 08/23/2010 - 12:50


I like the idea of having something like "resolved by moderator". There are frequent instances where a response to a question is obviously the correct answer but the original poster does not acknowledge it and this would be a way to address this situation.

I agree with you that eliminating the 1 and 2 ratings would not be particularly useful. And I certainly agree that Allow users to see who rated would probably cause more friction than it solves problems.

I try sometimes to provide positive reinforcement to a user, especially if they seem new to the forum, when they do rate or when they post to a thread that they started and indicate that they found a solution and what the solution is. I think that many of us could better  about rating good posts and about providing some positive reinforcement to users.



burleyman Mon, 08/23/2010 - 13:03

After thinking about showing who rated who I agree there is not much value add for that and I can see where it could cause some issues. I do still think the 1 and 2 ratings could just be hidden and 3 could still be 3 points and so on just hide the first two ratings. I don't think there is any value in those rating except to cause hard feelings kind of like showing who rated value add for either.  Just my two cents. 


marikakis Tue, 08/24/2010 - 05:03

Paolo, I apologize for not clearly sympathizing ealier about this issue. When I decided to participate in this thread the initial link to a thread you had posted was gone, so I see now I must have been missing an important part of the situation (that is the frequency of events). Sorry again. Anyway, it seems to me that the frequency of those events is rather unusual. Have you determined any specific patterns or when exactly all this started happening? Or have Dan's admin tools found anything weird related to those events?

Paolo Bevilacqua Tue, 08/24/2010 - 13:22

Hello Maria, thank you for your interest, actually you do not have necessarilty sympathize with me altough I am such a nice person

Seriously, I think the problem is due to the open, excessively permissive nature of the rating system. Here is what the Gent. reported in the case above:

OK, you are right.

I hate Cisco's rating system. I moved the cursor over the stars checking the written ratings and I show the rating was choen. I wasn't able to modify any more.

Guys, ANY system is welcome, but please change this.

marikakis Tue, 08/24/2010 - 14:04

Hey Paolo, not all my own thoughts are nice and gentle, but, unless there is some reason I perceive as "good", I try not to post them. Even if the reason is indeed good, I know I will regret it. Because e.g. Jon might see it and I know he won't like it (BTW: where is he? I bet he doesn't like the tension either). So, I would suggest we all tried from now on to maintain a peaceful environment for the shake of everybody regardless of others' efforts in the opposite direction.

[...] Anyway, we probably need to stop gossiping threads here. Or do you think the authors can't read them? Especially when this particular discussion is seen as an "incoming link" within all threads that were pasted here.

One more thing: if Dan finally removes the 1&2 ratings, then the idea with the webpage I posted previously might involve less risks, so think about it.

Message was edited by: marikakis

Jon Marshall Wed, 09/01/2010 - 14:55

Maria's right, i don't like all this tension

I think part of the problem is that some people are more literal than others. So for example i have given many answers where technically speaking i was indeed somewhat helpful so strictly speaking that should be a 2. But most posters don't give a 2. However i genuinely think some do simply because as far as they are concerned the answer has not completely answered their question.

In fact if you do answer the question correctly what exactly should the mark be -

helpful ie. yes you were you answered the question

very helpful - well yes you were but you still answered the question

extremely helpful - ditto

It has almost become a convention on NetPro to expect a 5 for an answer that resolves the question but i can see why some people get confused ie. if 3 (helpful) means the question is answered, then an answer that partially anwers the question is only somewhat helpful ie. 2. There is nothing to tell people that actually a fully answered question should be a 5 and then you work backwards from there. And if 3 is not meant to mean you answered the question how exactly is that being helpful.

I do think that Paolo gets more than his fair share of 1's and 2's and i suspect, as he rightly says himself, it is because he is generally more blunt than most of us and i hope you know i mean no offence by that Paolo. But that doesn't excuse the low marks.

My issues with getting rid of 1 is that there are generally not helpful answers ie. someone asks a question, the responder just posts a link to a doc that has no real relevance to the question asked or the answer is just wrong. I have been rated 1's fairly and unfairly as i have indeed got answers wrong in the past. And if the argument is that asking users to rate so helpful content can be found easily then surely any good forum must also have a way of highlighting the answers that are simply not helpful and should be avoided. I think the issue is more to do with what happens when a 1 is given unfairly than it's actual use as a mark.


The 2 mark i have never really been a fan of but that's another story !

If there was a simple solution i'm sure Dan/Tim and the forum members would have come up with it by now. I have said in previous posts and agree with Rick here that we need to be very careful we don't end up badgering people about ratings as they will simply go elsewhere and that's not what i want to see happen. I like getting ratings as much as the next person and i think some thought does need to go into exactly how you distinguish between 3,4 & 5 but i still believe overall it evens itself out although there are weeks where it doesn't seem that way ! ie.

i can post 10 answers into the same thread going over all the design implications of L2/L3 and not get a single rating

but then i can simply post "yes" when someone asks if x can do y and i get +5


marikakis Wed, 09/01/2010 - 15:47

Jon, I've read your interview and it's there: you don't like flames! Besides, I've seen that in action!

It's so good to see you man! I was wondering how you were doing and if you have finally decided which CCIE path to pursue!

I agree with you that the characterizations in the ratings are vague. I believe some part of the problem has to do with the de facto meaning that regular members have given to the ratings over the years. For example, 5 means polite and documented correct answer, 4 means that you might have a small mistake or something is missing etc. New members have no obligation of knowing what old members mean when they assign a rating.

And another thing: When I first came to the forums, I couldn't figure how the ratings were given. I thought that cisco was reviewing the posts and handed them out!!! So, keep that in mind if you see an author not giving you a rating or not reacting to bad ratings you might be receiving.

So, what if we changed the characterizations for the ratings?

Jon Marshall Thu, 09/02/2010 - 02:36


Really good to see you again as well !

Just been catching up on the latest threads in this forum and i was really sorry to hear about your brother, glad to hear that things are looking better for him. And sorry to hear about the CCIE lab as well but i know that with the proper time to study you will have no problems and i'm not just flattering you

I'm not having the best year myself so to be honest CCIE is the last thing on my mind right now.

As for the ratings, i really do think we should modify the characterizations of 3 4 and 5 and i like your descriptions which would make a lot more sense and i think would help new users to "choose" the right rating.

I still think we can solve some of this by self rating ie. if you see a post that has been unfairly rated then add your rating to bring the score up.  I am also in favour of a moderator(s) actually removing the 1 mark from an unfairly rated post but i still think in a technical forum it's important to know which answers are genuinely not helpful or even dangerous. After all NetPro is meant to be a technical forum and not just a "points accumulator" and it's unrealistic to assume there are no wrong answers.

I must get used to calling it CSC and not NetPro but for an old timer like me it's hard - we don't like change

Edit -- i've just read Mike's post on ratings and how to use them and i think his descriptions work really well so perhaps they could be used or at least as a starting point.


Daniel Bruhn Thu, 09/02/2010 - 14:51


First and foremost, I hope the rest of the year goes better for you.  You bring up many good points.  One in particular that has also been considered internally is changing the characterizations for ratings.  I'd like to hear thoughts from everyone on what might be better descriptions?  Below you'll find what we have today.



1 Star - Not Helpful

2 Stars - Somewhat helpful

3 Stars - Helpful

4 Stars - Very Helpful

5 Stars - Extremely Helpful

marikakis Thu, 09/02/2010 - 16:26

Hi all,

My initial thoughts on this follow:

5: correct, documented

4: correct, undocumented

3: partially incorrect

2: completely irrelevant

1: completely incorrect

0: clarifications asked

The logic goes like this:

1) The "resolved" check mark deals with the completeness of the answer, so for the other posts the factors that could matter might be (if we want to encourage people to post): relevance, correctness and documentation (either by configuration/test, experience, supporting documents). I believe this will also encourage members to document their posts as much as possible.

2) For the rating of 3 I chose the negative word "incorrect" to put emphasis that something is wrong in the post. Had I chosen the phrase "partially correct" we could risk 3 being the dominating rating when a post doesn't resolve the author's question.

3) The rating of 1 is obvious (I think)

4) Why do I give more points to an irrelevant post than an incorrect one? Well, maybe incorrect is more dangerous. In any case, my goal was to avoid unfair ratings of 1&2. Which one of them gets more points doesn't really matter to me.

5) I have added a "dummy" rating of 0 (the code doesn't really have to do anything) to silently discard situations where a member asks for clarifications and might get some other inexplicable rating. However, a post might contain helpful information besides the questions and still get a 0. I'm sorry but I can't figure right now how to better handle this. You have chances of avoiding 1&2 however.

6) An impolite post will likely get a 2 in this arrangement. I've chosen not to explicitly express the "politeness" factor for various reasons, with one of them being the length of the description of the rating.

Those are my initial thoughts on this. One problem is that it contains some "bad" words, so in the future, some of us might start feeling nostalgic about the times were we got a 2, but at least contained the word "helpful" in it, even in a "somewhat" fashion.

Maybe we could start a separate thread on this to encourage people to share their views because some might be discouraged by the length of this thread.

Kind Regards,


p.s.1 Jon, I also wish you the best and I feel embarrassed I forgot to say this in my previous post.

p.s.2 I just saw the edit of Jon's post, but can't figure right now how to put in a few words what Mike suggests. I mean, "1: never use"? Same goes for the rest. I have recently posted a "survival guide" that was only a few lines in a wild thread in IP Telephony to cool things down. Still the goal of the descriptions is a different matter and people are not keen on reading any documents to do a simple thing like start a discussion. That's why we are

trying to compress everything into the characterizations of the ratings.

marikakis Mon, 09/06/2010 - 18:33

Hi Dan and all,

Nobody, nobody likes my "wonderful" idea. I think I'm gonna cry!

So, it seems everyone can smell 4's coming instead of 5's if my idea is implemented, right? But who will be the first to say that it's ok to have undocumented posts or that we shouldn't reward people who do document their posts?  Anyway, in some cases the description "correct, undocumented" might be unfair or might not even apply, other times we might not even be able to judge if something is correct since it's not documented, so all this looks like trouble.

In my opinion, the rating system as it is now generally works in favor of the members. It's probably more common to see "unfair" ratings of 5, than unfair ratings of 1&2. If we try too much to optimize the uncommon case, we might mess up with the common. (BTW: Dan, do you have any statistics you can share with us about the frequency of each individual rating?)

One last proposal from me:

1) we make the descriptions for 1&2 ratings look bad and let's hope they won't be easily assigned (e.g. use the descriptions I posted previously or anything else you can think of)

2) we leave the rest unchanged

3) consider the use of a dummy 0 rating for some cases (if it's possible to be implemented with the current user interface)

Also, consider changing the description for the 5 rating to "you are the man"!  This isn't strictly part of my proposal, but I can't believe I failed to say this in my previous post. In one of my older posts in another thread I had said I would ask about this if changing of descriptions was ever brought up and this might be my only chance!

One more thing: the solution that leaves the current rating system unchanged is the easiest to implement and become familiar with. It also requires the least amount of agreement among the members. To be honest, this is the idea I liked more from the beginning. It only requires learning to appreciate the benefits that come from the flexibility of the current system and ignore small dark spots.

Kind Regards,


burleyman Tue, 09/07/2010 - 04:50


Your ideas are usual.. I have been swamped so I have not responded. After reading all the pro's and con's and looking through the past ratings it looks like rating one's and two's is not that common and maybe I over reacted in defense of someone who I value there knowledge and them getting wrongly rated. There is not going to be a easy or fair resolve to this and I think we should just do some of the suggestions that were presented here. If someone sees a blatantly incorrect rating, rate it yourself correctly and that will bring the average up. If you see a post that stood out as something that you think would be helpful to others, rate it even if it was not your post. Try and ignore unfair posts and actually continue to help or just drop it. If you get a low rating and you know it is undeserved just acknowledge to yourself that you helped and some people just can't always appreciate that, and remember the countless others you did help.


Sorry for stirring up the hornets nest on this.....sometimes I never learn Whatever you and your group decide I am 100% behind you and thank you for all that you do for us.

Thanks to everyone,


Daniel Bruhn Tue, 09/07/2010 - 10:30

The million dollar question is whether the current rating characterizations are being misinterpreted?  If they are we could alter the bottom two so there classifications are better understood.  The following are a couple of ideas to add along with Maria’s:

1 Star – No Help

2 Stars – Not Helpful

3 Stars - Helpful

4 Stars - Very Helpful

5 Stars - Extremely Helpful

1 Star – Terrible

2 Stars – Poor

3 Stars - Helpful

4 Stars - Very Helpful

5 Stars - Extremely Helpful

That said, there could be some serious unintended consequences.   If members currently understand the classifications, and are rating what they truly feel the response is worthy of then this is only going to exacerbate the problem.  We’ll then have just as many low ratings but those who receive them will now feel worse.  Just some food for thought.



PS:  No promises, but I'll see if I can pull and share some rating stats

PSS:  5 rating should be "you are the man"?  I can't support that.  What about "you are the woman"?

burleyman Tue, 09/07/2010 - 11:34

Here is my two cents..

1 Star Incorrect Information

2 Stars

Slightly helpful off subject

3 Stars - Somewhat Helpful

4 Stars - Helpful

5 Stars - Extremely Helpful


Daniel Bruhn Tue, 08/24/2010 - 14:33

Hi Maria,

It seems what causes the most negative ratings is asking respondents why they rated a particular post poorly.  Once that occurs users seem to pile on and rate all your posts negatively.  I can assure you questioning users about their actions only causes more harm.  I highly recommend just letting negative ratings go and you'll be better off.



Paolo Bevilacqua Tue, 08/24/2010 - 15:11
It seems what causes the most negative ratings is asking respondents why  they rated a particular post poorly.  Once that occurs users seem to  pile on and rate all your posts negatively

Actually that never happened in my experience. and I know I got more 1s than other people due to my propensity to be blunt. Note here I am not talking about any low rating received in petty bickering.

In fact (as in the example above), after making an observation about the rating received, I have often received apologies and the person tried to correct their mistake with further fair rating.

What we are all asking here, Dan, is a way to stop, limit or make difficult for anyone without previous reputation, to slap 1s and 2s at will.

Seems very reasonable to me.

burleyman Wed, 08/25/2010 - 05:09

I have been sitting back and thinking about this and first I want to say thank to Dan for doing all he can for us, he has been patient and respectful through this whole thing, he is a true asset to the community and to Cisco.....Thanks Dan ( and of course your team)!

When Paolo got slapped I was dealing with some similar things here and I just vented and went off, which is not normal for me, I am pretty easy going. That got me thinking why I post to this community, is it for ratings and recognition or is it to help other people learn and resolve problem quickly. I do it because I want to learn more myself and share what I know, as little as that may be, it helps me cement the knowledge in my head so I get better at what I do, also it is great to help someone out of a jamb. Here is what I am going to try and do going forward. I am not going to ask for ratings or even acknowledge low ratings but will thank for appropriate ratings. If someone slaps me with a low rating I am just not going to acknowledge and in fact continue to help that person and treat them just like nothing is wrong.

If nothing happens with the ratings that is fine, some of the people here made some excellent arguments as to why they should not change which has brought me back to the middle. Me, I am just going to post more, look for ratings less and hopefully learn a lot along the way. Thanks to everyone here for all that you have shared and while you me get a low rating for whatever reason, trust me when I say there a far more people out there that value your input and learn from it.....thanks!!!!


Daniel Bruhn Wed, 08/25/2010 - 12:46

Hi Paolo,

Your point will be looked at in our review.  Obviously, I can't make any promises on the outcome but everything will be taken in to consideration.



Paolo Bevilacqua Wed, 08/25/2010 - 16:40

Dan, thank you much for that. I have total confidence in your decision process. Can I throw another idea, if you guys want to keep the low ratings, at least have a "chillout" popup that informs of the actual meaning and strong statement of a low rating, then allows the user to continue if he/she so decides.

Of course my insistence was not due to thinking that you would not pay attention to the matter, I was simply reporting the events as they happened (and slighty bothered me).

marikakis Thu, 08/26/2010 - 16:19

Hey Leo, the "issue" you report is very common or haven't you been to WAN, Routing and Switching lately? I bet Paolo won't like this (I've seen this happening before). Paolo seems quite happier to me right now. Is there a reason we would like this to change?

Regarding the gossiping of another thread, I have self-censored one of my previous posts. It always feels better to remove something at will instead of having the moderator do it!

marikakis Sat, 08/28/2010 - 13:44

Hey, Leo, that was hmmm respectful!!! (BTW: we don't have an icon with sb laughing on the floor)

I have a thread that is not funny, but interesting in its own way (look at the rating and the last post):

As Dan already said, we should not assume that the authors are the one's rating us poorly. I've seen threads that look similarly weird (because the authors, based on their past, either hand out good ratings or no ratings at all), but in this one the author (as an experienced user who knows what this means) denied handing it out.

Hey Dan, I wouldn't like to be in your place! Now, I'm sure you and your team are doing your best to handle the situation, but keeping everyone happy is in many cases just not possible (as I'm also sure you already know). One of Rob's previous posts suggests it's hard to please everyone (in another context, but I believe it holds in many contexts, and in politics as well ).

Leo Laohoo Mon, 08/30/2010 - 19:43

Tell y'all what ...

If anyone thinks they deserve a ratings (or higher) but didn't get one, send me a PM or whatever.  I'll rate y'all. 

Rob Huffman Tue, 09/07/2010 - 12:28

Hello all,

I couldn't help but jump back in here to comment on all the great ideas

being bounced around

+5's to Maria, Mike, Leo and Dan for your ongoing commitment to trying to solve

the un-solvable. We'll never find a solution that pleases everyone so I'm going

to back away from my wanting the removal of 1 & 2 point ratings. This clip from Maria

says it all for me;

"One more thing: the solution that leaves the current rating system unchanged is the easiest to implement and become familiar with. It also requires the least amount of agreement among the members. To be honest, this is the idea I liked more from the beginning. It only requires learning to appreciate the benefits that come from the flexibility of the current system and ignore small dark spots."

I had some 2 pointers last week that I thought were undeserved, but instead of

getting upset I grabbed a cross-over cable, made a happy face out of it

(like Zen-master Mike) would do, grabbed a Beer (to have a virtual toast

with Leo) and thought about the tough times that Maria and Jon

have been going through lately and the mess we've stirred up here

for Dan and thought "it just doesn't matter".

Let's get on with the more important things in Life.

You peeps are the BEST!!! Health and Happiness to all of you!



marikakis Thu, 09/09/2010 - 19:55

Mike, my ideas are not always good. In case you haven't noticed, in my previous post I practically killed my own idea with my own sword. The crying part or Drama Queen (or name it what you will) is just a joke. Other members are more familiar with crazy things I might say and they respond accordingly. Dan for example suggested the "you are the woman" solution for the 5 rating. [This might actually be good. Me and the ladies get the 5's and you guys start begging the authors to give you lower ratings. Most authors will be more than happy to do so, so things will go your way. And when the authors want to punish you they will give you a 5. This is actually perfect! ]

Rob, I can't believe I missed you getting 2's. I thought I had fixed at least the most recent of those around. If I ever see such a thing I will see what I can do to fix it. Generally, if member remains polite and has a cross-over cable around with a happy face, that's what I will do.

The fact that I have various serious issues to deal with right now (or my personal opinion about the true value of ratings) is not really the reason the recent rating discussions initially made me hold my head in despair. I could see the dead end coming. It's just that I've seen this before (or "the scenario is always the same" as Paolo would say):

1) members complain about the unfairness of the rating system

2) Dan recognizes what we are going through and offers a shoulder for us to cry on

3) Dan inevitably asks for solutions

4) solutions are proposed in the best case (otherwise this step is skipped), but Dan has the responsibility if there are bad consequences from any selected solution, we don't (and wouldn't even like to take this responsibility)

5) everybody goes away until the next time and here we go again.

If this topic is indeed very important for members and is brought up again, I would personally like us to have cold heads, go directly to step 4 and stay there. As usual, trying to solve a problem yourself and assume responsibility for the solution is the best way to see how hard it is.


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