Confic Voting: Writing Democracy
Updated: Sep 25, 2022
Culture & Community
There is a certain mental disorder that comes when acquiring fake internet points. A false sense of importance. The urge to impose profound meaning on a data point which has about as much to do with your skill or importance as a writer as how many frequent flyer miles you can get flying from Toledo to Albuquerque. Containment fiction in particular has often found itself boiled down to be valued purely by how many people reading it decide to click a vote button. But not all confic voting is created equal. Everyone does it a little differently.
The SCP Foundation Wiki and the Backrooms/Tech Support Wiki both use the basic upvote/downvote dichotomy which in the case of the former has led to massively inflated vote totals on old articles due to the massive quantity of their userbase. Backrooms has some large vote totals but theirs number in the hundreds of voters, not the thousands or potentially tens of thousands when taking into account all voters and not just the net upvote total. The ego that comes from upvote clout is real, as evidenced by every bot for either wiki necessitating a way to present an author's upvote totals.
The RPC Authority and the Wayward Society both use the five-star system. While this avoids the massive dichotomy in vote totals and reduces the bandwagoning voter activity seen on other confic communities using basic up/down voting but it also is more vulnerable to the whims of the malicious downvoter. A one-star vote has a far larger impact in a five star system than a downvote does in a one up/down vote system.
Because of this there have had to be back-bending work done by the RPC staff to clean up when their site was trolled or counter-trolled by people who would leave one-star ratings en masse to frustrate authors who saw their five star rated articles dwindle down to a low rating due to how much the star total can swing based on a handful of votes at either end of the five-star dichotomy.
The Wayward Society has never had to deal with such issues as their site has never been active enough to have massive vote totals, and the reasons for their fall have nothing to do with their voting system. But their lack of issues combined with the Backroom Wiki's lack of extreme disparity in upvote totals shows that both systems have their merits and the problems seen on the SCP and RPC Wikis do not invalidate either way of doing things.
One of the more interesting ways of doing things is the SCP Commune, where the posting of new articles is decided collectively and the only option for voting is to upvote, since the decision on an article's quality has already been settled since something was posted and any deletion will be done if agreed to collectively.
So what is the purpose of all these voting systems? They do not show high quality, a highly rated article is not necessarily better than one with a lower-rating and the difference between ratings is often completely arbitrary. The real reason there is voting at all is for deleting articles that fall below a certain criteria, but not to show any kind of actual quality. However, there is nothing stopping a site like the SCP Foundation or Backrooms Wiki from making their deletion threshold +15 instead of -15.
There has been little change in the overall philosophy of confic upvote/downvoting. It was the former SCP Administrator Light who was first responsible for making the deletion of low-rated articles a matter of policy, and while it has always been for negatively rated things there may be some merit for culling works which might be more middling in their reception. The RPC Authority could think of deleting anything under three stars.
But this will never happen. People treasure their upvote totals, or how many five-star ratings they have, and anything to raise the floor they're standing on is politically impossible for writers. This one-way of voting leads to mediocrity being acceptable and as we see more articles just good enough to get upvotes, we see people learning how to succeed without trying. Democracy in action, you don't need a lot of votes, you only need enough to cross the threshold of victory.