8

votes

reputation vs actual knowledge

Asked on February 29, 2016
Created November 13, 2012 at 6:22 AM

In the real word one would generally weigh the opinion or advice of a Professor-level academic considerably higher than a layperson in terms of expertise in their chosen field.

In an online environment with anonymous ID's such as Paleohacks it's very difficult to establish the knowledge, experience and credentials of those posting answers.

All one really has to go on is the reputation score and upvote activity that a poster has. However, more often than not, reputation score is a function of popular-sounding one line quips rather than well-researched, substantive and accurate answers.

Is your opinion of the knowledge of a poster - as well as how you will value their answer - influenced by their reputation score?

F291857fa12a0291688ea994343156dc

(720)

on November 12, 2013
at 01:12 AM

Academic credentials are not terribly meaningful (ime). I worked in a university research environment for nearly 20 years, aerospace for about 10 years before that. I went to school with & worked with people who either had or later earned their PhD's & MD's. Some of these folks were amazingly brilliant, some... not so much. :( The first order attribute represented by an advanced degree is persistence. I'm not sure how strong the reputation / knowledge correlation is.. I consider rep but I evaluate the quality of the answers. Then the "answerer" get pigeonholed. :)

Medium avatar

(10611)

on November 11, 2013
at 08:08 PM

Downvotes are more challenging to get since the quilt left.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on November 11, 2013
at 08:06 PM

There's a puzzle-solving aspect to hacking these questions. Like Scrabble and crosswords. I bot through the nih searches and end up learning more than I offer.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on November 17, 2012
at 03:55 PM

Agreed. Masterjohn and Guyenet are experts, or emerging experts. Harris is an MD, I don't necessarily think that qualifies him as an expert. He has an interest in paleo, and at least has some valid background in the topic. Jaminet is a hobbyist. He's a PhD (which he's sure to include on the cover of his book), but it's an unrelated PhD (physics or something like that). About as relevant as me writing a book about history as a PhD, when my PhD will be in chemistry.

366c23d69eadce094a2b22299c58a424

(2988)

on November 16, 2012
at 02:20 PM

Chris Masterjohn & Stephen Guyenet both have PdDs in fields related to nutrition. I think Kurt Harris is an MD. I don't remember Jaminet's background. So I guess it depends on how you think of "experts". Personally, I think a self-taught hobbyist can be as "valid" as a PdD, but it happens that Guyenet & Masterjohn are the 2 voices I trust the most.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on November 16, 2012
at 12:53 PM

Is your list of experts truly a list of experts or simply a list of well-read paleo-hobbyists?

1da74185531d6d4c7182fb9ee417f97f

(10904)

on November 16, 2012
at 09:39 AM

Occasionally those experts come here and answer questions which is a real treat but generally they are mature enough to not have temper tantrums when people aren't interested in what they have to say.

1da74185531d6d4c7182fb9ee417f97f

(10904)

on November 16, 2012
at 09:38 AM

Exactly. Seeing what works for other people is my main point in coming here too. I look to my favorite blogs and the occasional book for expert opinions.

61844af1187e745e09bb394cbd28cf23

(11058)

on November 15, 2012
at 04:29 PM

Pander away, Rob. Harry LOVES bacon pandering!

366c23d69eadce094a2b22299c58a424

(2988)

on November 14, 2012
at 11:55 AM

My favorite nutrition blogs: Stephen Guyenet (Whole Health Source) and Chris Masterjohn (Daily Lipid). After that, Kurt Harris (Archevore, although he's no longer blogging) & Paul Jaminet (Perfect Health).

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 14, 2012
at 10:56 AM

Which are the places you consider more suitable for expert advice?

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on November 13, 2012
at 09:00 PM

Yes, it's tied to rep (only 10 up votes for a good answer, actually), but it's much easier to get 100 rep by 5 questions with 2 up votes each versus a single 10 up vote answer.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on November 13, 2012
at 09:00 PM

Yes, it's tied to rep (only 10 up votes for a good answer, actually), but it's much easier to get 100 rep by 5 questions with 2 up votes each versus a single 10 up vote answer.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on November 13, 2012
at 08:09 PM

Good answer just means it was upvoted 25 times, so it is correlated to rep.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on November 13, 2012
at 08:04 PM

David is not saying that reputation makes people more deserving of credit, only that people give credit to those with high reputation.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on November 13, 2012
at 05:53 PM

True, CD, but it's rather difficult to get a "Good Answer" badge.

3a9d5dde5212ccd34b860bb6ed07bbef

(1782)

on November 13, 2012
at 05:44 PM

@ Matt- Good point. duh.

3a9d5dde5212ccd34b860bb6ed07bbef

(1782)

on November 13, 2012
at 05:44 PM

@ CD- I have no clue what you're talking about. You aren't making sense or I'm to understanding.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on November 13, 2012
at 05:28 PM

How do you define quality? "Good Answers" just feeds the system more because it's using reputation to feed the quality. I doubt there is any better correlation between "Good Answers" and quality answers.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on November 13, 2012
at 04:56 PM

Perhaps a good measure would be the number of "Good Answer" badges. Those are your quality answers.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on November 13, 2012
at 04:42 PM

"Significant", in this context, means practically significant not merely statistically significant.

3a9d5dde5212ccd34b860bb6ed07bbef

(1782)

on November 13, 2012
at 04:19 PM

....which begs the question...

8d6390b3b8991a9cb653a3d13c1cbf6a

(543)

on November 13, 2012
at 11:06 AM

I don't think anyone would argue there is not a statistically reliable relationship between reputation and knowledge (all that statement means is that we are sure the relationship is non-zero!). I took the implicit question to be how strong was the relationship? There is a statistically reliable relationship between height and IQ, but height is a darn poor predictor of it. For online rep, I share concerns with how much of it being from one-line quips. But, who says academic credentials are terribly meaningful either? So, it becomes tricky to find a gold standard against which to compare.

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13 Answers

9
7bf306ada57db47547e9da39a415edf6

(11214)

on November 13, 2012
at 04:39 PM

The only thing the reputation system really signifies is how long you've been here and how much you've participated. A third thing can be inferred- that the person has managed to comment without angering too many people.

I think, even in the real world, the instinct to aim for the appropriately credentialed person is rapidly going away. Nutritionists, as an example, give notoriously bad advice. There are extremely bad incentives in the academic world which basically encourage staggeringly bad behaviors. An example that I've heard of recently is this whole idea that viruses can cause cancer. This isn't a 'discovery', but a potentiality that has been chased by researchers for years; if you are researching a harmless virus, then you are a nobody and won't get the big grants, but if you are researching a virus that causes cancer- well, you get famous and get the big bucks. It is unlikely that we actually get the question answered, but that we instead get the assumption presented as fact and experiments that take the assumption as part of the framework for the experiment.

So, what I end up doing is some sort of pattern matching. I am not sure it is completely explainable, but it is repeatable, because I keep seeing other people arriving at similar conclusions- even when they start from different worldviews. One possibly helpful question is- does this advice make me more free? Then there is the whole idea of 'first do no harm'. This one is a little harder because the mainstream will say certain things will do you harm- like saturated fat- so you have to be at a point where you figure whatever alleged harm it may cause doesn't matter as much as the harm you've already incurred.

It is always possible to fail, to be wrong, even with the best framework for thinking about the world. It is easy to misconstrue something, and there are plenty of variables out there to miss. So, along with all this, we must have some humility.

6
32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on November 13, 2012
at 04:21 PM

High reputation tends to simply mean you participate a lot. I talk a lot, I find the biochemical aspect of paleo very interesting. I've got a background in chemistry and know enough biology to be dangerous. I enjoy cooking. I grew up farming and in food production, particularly dairy production. Given that background, I can blather on and on various paleo topics. Certainly doesn't mean I'm a paleo expert. I don't really give a crap about my reputation. I just like the discussion.

5
Cf416725f639ffd1bb90764792ce7b8a

(2799)

on November 13, 2012
at 08:52 PM

No, I got my rep mostly through bacon pandering and hope no one lets it influence them.

61844af1187e745e09bb394cbd28cf23

(11058)

on November 15, 2012
at 04:29 PM

Pander away, Rob. Harry LOVES bacon pandering!

5
Cc3ce03985eac5ebcbb95fc2329f13b0

on November 13, 2012
at 07:40 AM

When I ask a question, I don't usually ask ones that need expertise to answer. They are more subjective, "what's your experience" questions. I do tend to like to go to easier to establish as experts experts for bigger questions. So for those, no, I don't pay any attention to the reputations on here.

When I answer a question, I don't tend to respond to what others have said, whether I agree with them or not, so I don't care about their reputation there, either. If someone says something I find interesting, I'll research it myself.

Mostly, people will stand out to me if they are witty, or funny, or they pun. Those are my kind of people.

5
E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on November 13, 2012
at 06:39 AM

My wife has done research on the influence of 'reputation' systems online- whatever anybody says, it definitely does have a significant influence.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on November 13, 2012
at 04:42 PM

"Significant", in this context, means practically significant not merely statistically significant.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on November 13, 2012
at 08:04 PM

David is not saying that reputation makes people more deserving of credit, only that people give credit to those with high reputation.

8d6390b3b8991a9cb653a3d13c1cbf6a

(543)

on November 13, 2012
at 11:06 AM

I don't think anyone would argue there is not a statistically reliable relationship between reputation and knowledge (all that statement means is that we are sure the relationship is non-zero!). I took the implicit question to be how strong was the relationship? There is a statistically reliable relationship between height and IQ, but height is a darn poor predictor of it. For online rep, I share concerns with how much of it being from one-line quips. But, who says academic credentials are terribly meaningful either? So, it becomes tricky to find a gold standard against which to compare.

4
366c23d69eadce094a2b22299c58a424

(2988)

on November 13, 2012
at 06:45 PM

No. I don't come here looking for expert advice, I come here to hear about other people's personal, n=1 experiences and problem-solving techniques. There are plenty of places to go for expert advice already.

1da74185531d6d4c7182fb9ee417f97f

(10904)

on November 16, 2012
at 09:38 AM

Exactly. Seeing what works for other people is my main point in coming here too. I look to my favorite blogs and the occasional book for expert opinions.

366c23d69eadce094a2b22299c58a424

(2988)

on November 14, 2012
at 11:55 AM

My favorite nutrition blogs: Stephen Guyenet (Whole Health Source) and Chris Masterjohn (Daily Lipid). After that, Kurt Harris (Archevore, although he's no longer blogging) & Paul Jaminet (Perfect Health).

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 14, 2012
at 10:56 AM

Which are the places you consider more suitable for expert advice?

1da74185531d6d4c7182fb9ee417f97f

(10904)

on November 16, 2012
at 09:39 AM

Occasionally those experts come here and answer questions which is a real treat but generally they are mature enough to not have temper tantrums when people aren't interested in what they have to say.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on November 17, 2012
at 03:55 PM

Agreed. Masterjohn and Guyenet are experts, or emerging experts. Harris is an MD, I don't necessarily think that qualifies him as an expert. He has an interest in paleo, and at least has some valid background in the topic. Jaminet is a hobbyist. He's a PhD (which he's sure to include on the cover of his book), but it's an unrelated PhD (physics or something like that). About as relevant as me writing a book about history as a PhD, when my PhD will be in chemistry.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on November 16, 2012
at 12:53 PM

Is your list of experts truly a list of experts or simply a list of well-read paleo-hobbyists?

366c23d69eadce094a2b22299c58a424

(2988)

on November 16, 2012
at 02:20 PM

Chris Masterjohn & Stephen Guyenet both have PdDs in fields related to nutrition. I think Kurt Harris is an MD. I don't remember Jaminet's background. So I guess it depends on how you think of "experts". Personally, I think a self-taught hobbyist can be as "valid" as a PdD, but it happens that Guyenet & Masterjohn are the 2 voices I trust the most.

4
3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on November 13, 2012
at 01:18 PM

I am a robot that has been built to game the Paleohacks system. My whole goal is to get as much reputation as possible. I use phrases like, "Bacon"; "More fat, yeah man -- more fat"; "Grass-fed rules"; "Have you tried HIIT"; "GAPS"; "Paleo 2.0 is for Faileo yo";

3a9d5dde5212ccd34b860bb6ed07bbef

(1782)

on November 13, 2012
at 04:19 PM

....which begs the question...

Medium avatar

(10611)

on November 11, 2013
at 08:06 PM

There's a puzzle-solving aspect to hacking these questions. Like Scrabble and crosswords. I bot through the nih searches and end up learning more than I offer.

2
3a9d5dde5212ccd34b860bb6ed07bbef

on November 13, 2012
at 04:39 PM

I like Matt's answer, but I also think that paleohacks should put a coefficient next to the user's number a rep points. The coefficient would give an indicator of quality over quantity...something like the number of rep points divided by the number of answers.

3a9d5dde5212ccd34b860bb6ed07bbef

(1782)

on November 13, 2012
at 05:44 PM

@ Matt- Good point. duh.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on November 13, 2012
at 05:53 PM

True, CD, but it's rather difficult to get a "Good Answer" badge.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on November 13, 2012
at 05:28 PM

How do you define quality? "Good Answers" just feeds the system more because it's using reputation to feed the quality. I doubt there is any better correlation between "Good Answers" and quality answers.

3a9d5dde5212ccd34b860bb6ed07bbef

(1782)

on November 13, 2012
at 05:44 PM

@ CD- I have no clue what you're talking about. You aren't making sense or I'm to understanding.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on November 13, 2012
at 09:00 PM

Yes, it's tied to rep (only 10 up votes for a good answer, actually), but it's much easier to get 100 rep by 5 questions with 2 up votes each versus a single 10 up vote answer.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on November 13, 2012
at 08:09 PM

Good answer just means it was upvoted 25 times, so it is correlated to rep.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on November 13, 2012
at 04:56 PM

Perhaps a good measure would be the number of "Good Answer" badges. Those are your quality answers.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on November 13, 2012
at 09:00 PM

Yes, it's tied to rep (only 10 up votes for a good answer, actually), but it's much easier to get 100 rep by 5 questions with 2 up votes each versus a single 10 up vote answer.

1
74786bbe8254844304a33943290c4d6d

on November 16, 2012
at 12:29 PM

My profile states I've been studying/reading about health and nutrition from a primal/paleo perspective for that last three years, thanks to Mark Sisson, Chris Kresser, Robb Wolf and WAPF. They are amazing resources, and I recommend them to anyone. I will freely admit if I'm not 100% sure on something that I comment on if it's heresay. I post a lot from personal experience with health related issues. But everybody is different, and every BODY is different.

0
3fc95bca9e723edfbbb72b172798ab49

(1354)

on November 12, 2013
at 01:05 AM

This really hits at the core of how a stackexchange style discussion board works. A simple up/downvote can completely change the course of a discussion. Something similar can be seen at slashdot.org where the default setting is to minimize posts with no, or a negative, score. This leads to the first comments to get upvoted becoming the centers of discussion.

The user icon is a psychological factor as well. The more memorable the icon/name the more likely you are to vote for that person's comment (+ or -). What seems counter intuitive is that people who use their actual photo tend to be less memorable, at least to me.

Paleohacks is definitely one of the more "feel good" stackexchanges out there. Some of the others can be downright shark culture at times. Check out Stack Overflow or Server Fault. They're pretty nice right now, and are amazingly helpful communities, but you have to make sure you're not asking a stupid question in a stupid way. At times the front page is half downvoted questions.

0
5983854773a45b09a77a09ee97bdef42

on November 12, 2013
at 12:16 AM

That is why Paleohacks makes your user ID public to everyone. So you can click the name and see who they are, or at least see how they respond to past posts, and make that judgement for yourself. We use our company name and logo on any forum and recently started signing our posts with our website address too. It's a great way to hold accountability and to give the appropriate weight to certain posts.

Thanks, http://bodyfoodkitchen.com

0
56c28e3654d4dd8a8abdb2c1f525202e

(1822)

on November 11, 2013
at 06:58 PM

Obviously if you come here for advice is because you do not trust mainstream nutritionists. I don't either, and as a professional scientist I see a lot of corruption. No chance of elucidating true nutritional principles so long as there is not enough land to feed everyone properly. Also, two of my computers have Noscript installed, and reputation votes from posts launched there were always lost. It does not really matter. I see limitations here too, always happy to hear N=1 stories, but sometimes you wonder if Grok spent a lot of time waiting in line at CVS, with a shopping cart full of unpronounceable supplements. So I have to get my down votes just out of principle.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on November 11, 2013
at 08:08 PM

Downvotes are more challenging to get since the quilt left.

0
174e95f0db64af68196a6c07b5f7bc47

on November 11, 2013
at 05:22 PM

I would guess a lot of paleohackers actually wouldn't substitute a high reputation for expertise they should listen to... mainly because by virtue of choosing to follow paleo, they've probably already gotten used to the idea that the 'popular' advice is not necessarily correct.

Personally (and I'd be willing to bet I'm not the only one) I take most seriously the comments that link to scientific articles, or which humbly offer their own personal, detailed experience-- and gather multiple comments indicating shared experience. I judge everything on a case-by-case basis, and on how applicable it seems to be to my own life. Even if a paleohacker's reputation point did represent actual knowledge, that knowledge wouldn't necessarily be relevant or applicable to my life.

It's the content of someone's comments, not the points beside their name, that I care about.

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