Prioritization

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Xerographica
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Prioritization

Post by Xerographica » Thu Nov 23, 2017 9:03 pm

I was really happy when a phpBB economics forum was recently created. Not too long afterwards though the forum got hit by a swarm of spam posters and it was shut down. From my perspective, improving phpBB's ability to prevent spam should be a high priority. But what should be an even higher priority is providing people with the opportunity to effectively signal how high a priority something should be.

The problem with voting is that it doesn't reveal preference intensity. On Youtube I'm sure that you give a thumbs up to plenty of videos... but they aren't all equally important/relevant to you. Imagine if Youtube only allowed you to give 5 thumbs up a month. This limit would naturally force you to prioritize. Giving a thumbs up to one video would mean that you would have one less thumbs up to give to other videos. So you would automatically spend some time trying to decide which videos are most important to you.

Since we all have limited amounts of money, we are naturally forced to prioritize how we spend it. I'm sure if you visit Kickstarter you'll find plenty of projects that you'd like to support. But, since your money is limited, you have to try and decide which projects are the most important/relevant to you. Everybody else endeavors to do the same and the most socially relevant/important projects receive the most money.

Of course there's no guarantee that you'll like the results! Vegetarians certainly don't like the fact that meat is such a high priority for society. But it's definitely the case that most people are going to be satisfied with meat's ranking. Because if most people decided that meat was less important, they would spend less money on it, and its ranking would decrease. Less resources would be used to supply meat.

My suggestion is to give phpBB donors the opportunity to use their donated dollars to help prioritize development. This way people would have the opportunity to effectively signal how high a priority something should be.

Think about a bee hive. A bee discovers a patch of blooming Aloes. She returns to the hive and dances to communicate the location and importance of the patch to the other bees. The longer/harder she dances, the more of her limited and precious calories she spends, and the more important the patch. She doesn't spend her calories to buy the flower patch. She spends her calories to signal the patch's importance. This feedback system of costly signals is necessary in order for the hive to optimally (efficiently) divide its limited workers among unequally important flower patches.

This community's pool of knowledge, talent and creativity is limited. The only way it can be optimally divided among unequally important projects is if each member has the opportunity to use costly signals to help determine the social importance of each and every project.

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Re: Prioritization

Post by kinerity » Thu Nov 23, 2017 10:51 pm

Xerographica wrote:
Thu Nov 23, 2017 9:03 pm
I was really happy when a phpBB economics forum was recently created. Not too long afterwards though the forum got hit by a swarm of spam posters and it was shut down. From my perspective, improving phpBB's ability to prevent spam should be a high priority. But what should be an even higher priority is providing people with the opportunity to effectively signal how high a priority something should be.
phpBB's spam prevention is sufficient. If that forum used the default CAPTCHA, then they are the ones that failed their users.

Xerographica wrote:
Thu Nov 23, 2017 9:03 pm
My suggestion is to give phpBB donors the opportunity to use their donated dollars to help prioritize development. This way people would have the opportunity to effectively signal how high a priority something should be.
phpBB doesn't have "donors".
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Re: Prioritization

Post by Xerographica » Thu Nov 23, 2017 11:03 pm

kinerity wrote:
Thu Nov 23, 2017 10:51 pm
Xerographica wrote:
Thu Nov 23, 2017 9:03 pm
I was really happy when a phpBB economics forum was recently created. Not too long afterwards though the forum got hit by a swarm of spam posters and it was shut down. From my perspective, improving phpBB's ability to prevent spam should be a high priority. But what should be an even higher priority is providing people with the opportunity to effectively signal how high a priority something should be.
phpBB's spam prevention is sufficient. If that forum used the default CAPTCHA, then they are the ones that failed their users.
Let's say that you buy hot coffee and spill it on yourself. Who/what failed? You? The container? The vendor? In any case, there's always room for improvement. People should have the opportunity to use their money to help determine where improvement is most needed.
kinerity wrote:
Thu Nov 23, 2017 10:51 pm
Xerographica wrote:
Thu Nov 23, 2017 9:03 pm
My suggestion is to give phpBB donors the opportunity to use their donated dollars to help prioritize development. This way people would have the opportunity to effectively signal how high a priority something should be.
phpBB doesn't have "donors".
I don't see this as a very big obstacle. Do you?

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Re: Prioritization

Post by kinerity » Thu Nov 23, 2017 11:15 pm

Xerographica wrote:
Thu Nov 23, 2017 11:03 pm
I don't see this as a very big obstacle. Do you?
phpBB has never taken donations. Multiple team members have stated that if users wish to give a monetary donation to give to OSU OSL.

If you think phpBB can do something better for spam prevention, by all means, open an RFC at Area 51 or open a ticket on the tracker.
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Re: Prioritization

Post by david63 » Thu Nov 23, 2017 11:31 pm

Xerographica wrote:
Thu Nov 23, 2017 11:03 pm
I don't see this as a very big obstacle. Do you?
It is a major obstacle if there are no donors. Yes you could create a system of donors but bear in mind that there are legal and tax ramifications.

Also once you have a system in place where "donors" influence the direction in which phpBB moves forward then you start on a "slippery slope" which would totally change the dynamic of the product.
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Re: Prioritization

Post by Xerographica » Fri Nov 24, 2017 12:15 am

david63 wrote:
Thu Nov 23, 2017 11:31 pm
Xerographica wrote:
Thu Nov 23, 2017 11:03 pm
I don't see this as a very big obstacle. Do you?
It is a major obstacle if there are no donors.
I don't think it's very likely that there wouldn't be any donors.
david63 wrote:
Thu Nov 23, 2017 11:31 pm
Yes you could create a system of donors but bear in mind that there are legal and tax ramifications.
I mean, if the local begonia society can overcome these obstacles I'm guessing that this community should also be able to.
david63 wrote:
Thu Nov 23, 2017 11:31 pm
Also once you have a system in place where "donors" influence the direction in which phpBB moves forward then you start on a "slippery slope" which would totally change the dynamic of the product.
The entire point would be for donors to change the dynamic of the product. The question is whether the change would be beneficial or detrimental.

Not too far from where I live is The Huntington. (Honestly I'd be happy to donate some money to dialogue box link creation.) Visitors pay around $20 dollars for admission and membership is available for around $100/year. There's also higher membership levels that come with more perks (ie early entrance).

With the current system the Huntington leadership decides how to divide the money among its three main parts... library, museum and garden. If the Huntington makes a mistake and gives too much money to one part (= too little money to the other parts)... then there will be less visitors and members. So it's entirely up to the consumers to judge how well the Huntington divides money among the three parts.

But what's the benefit of the Huntington leadership having the opportunity to make a mistake? There is absolutely no benefit. This is why consumers should have the opportunity to decide for themselves how they divide their money between the three main parts. Of course this would totally change the dynamic of the Huntington. Its composition would perfectly reflect the dynamic needs of its consumers.

Should your clothes conform to you or should you conform to your clothes? Do you exist for your clothes or do your clothes exist for you? People don't exist for organizations... organizations exist for people. Every organization exists to serve people's needs. Organizations can only do a maximally beneficial job serving people's needs when people have the opportunity to use their money to signal what their specific needs actually are. If it's truly the case that phpBB is adequately serving people's needs for spam protection... then nobody would spend any money on improving spam protection.

The goal is to eliminate the disparity between what phpBB is and what it should be. Achieving this goal depends on all of us having the opportunity to use our money to help determine what it should be.

Really you just need to be able to paypal phpBB and indicate what you want the money to be used for. PhpBB would put the information online so everyone could see and know what the community's true priorities are.

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Re: Prioritization

Post by david63 » Fri Nov 24, 2017 7:23 am

I'm sorry but your whole argument is flawed.

Let's look at
Xerographica wrote:
Thu Nov 23, 2017 11:03 pm
Let's say that you buy hot coffee and spill it on yourself. Who/what failed? You? The container? The vendor?
Take this analogy:
The coffee cup manufacturer (= phpBB) provide a lid with the cup (= spam counter measures). The retailer of the coffee (= board Admin) does not put the lid on the coffee cup (= does not activate spam counter measures). You spill your coffee (= spam bot has access).

Have you heard the saying "You can take a horse to water but you cannot make it drink"? - well that is the case here.
Xerographica wrote:
Thu Nov 23, 2017 9:03 pm
The problem with voting is that it doesn't reveal preference intensity.
The voting on phpBB Ideas uses a complex algorithm to weight down votes, which results in up votes being more relevant. If you introduced a "voting by donation" system then it would, in effect, be the same as just using up votes. If you look at the Ideas forum you will see that there are many ideas that even though they have a lot of up votes they come way down the list due to the down votes.

Also the voting by donation idea totally dismisses the practicality of implementing an idea meaning that the developers could waste valuable time working on features that are of little benefit to the community as a whole.
Xerographica wrote:
Fri Nov 24, 2017 12:15 am
The goal is to eliminate the disparity between what phpBB is and what it should be. Achieving this goal depends on all of us having the opportunity to use our money to help determine what it should be.
That is not true - the goal depends on having an active discussion (which takes place on Area51) as to what the goal is and not allowing somebody to "buy" the goal. If you create a system whereby you can only contribute ideas if you pay for the privilege then you will not only stifle the community but destroy it.

In any event the whole topic about donations was discussed at length about twelve months ago and at that time was considered to not be a viable option for phpBB - to expand it to the point where donations are paying for specifics would without doubt destroy phpBB.
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Re: Prioritization

Post by Xerographica » Fri Nov 24, 2017 8:14 am

david63 wrote:
Fri Nov 24, 2017 7:23 am
I'm sorry but your whole argument is flawed.

Let's look at
Xerographica wrote:
Thu Nov 23, 2017 11:03 pm
Let's say that you buy hot coffee and spill it on yourself. Who/what failed? You? The container? The vendor?
Take this analogy:
The coffee cup manufacturer (= phpBB) provide a lid with the cup (= spam counter measures). The retailer of the coffee (= board Admin) does not put the lid on the coffee cup (= does not activate spam counter measures). You spill your coffee (= spam bot has access).
Who wants their forums to be spammed? The spam protection should automatically be on and anybody can turn it off if they want to.
david63 wrote:
Fri Nov 24, 2017 7:23 am
The voting on phpBB Ideas uses a complex algorithm to weight down votes, which results in up votes being more relevant. If you introduced a "voting by donation" system then it would, in effect, be the same as just using up votes. If you look at the Ideas forum you will see that there are many ideas that even though they have a lot of up votes they come way down the list due to the down votes.
A dollar and a vote aren't the same thing. A vote doesn't cost you anything. A dollar costs you a dollar. Spending a dollar is more meaningful than casting a vote. Spending $5 dollars is a lot more meaningful than casting a vote. Again, voting doesn't reveal preference intensity.
david63 wrote:
Fri Nov 24, 2017 7:23 am
Also the voting by donation idea totally dismisses the practicality of implementing an idea meaning that the developers could waste valuable time working on features that are of little benefit to the community as a whole.
What leads you to believe that a vote reveals the size of the benefit?

Imagine there's a multiple choice survey...

What do you like?

1. computers
2. ice cream

If both things receive roughly the same number of votes it means that they are equally beneficial? Would it be a good idea to use the same exact amount of resources to produce both things? They both should have the same number of geniuses figuring out how to improve them? Innovations in ice cream are just as important as innovations in computing?
david63 wrote:
Fri Nov 24, 2017 7:23 am
That is not true - the goal depends on having an active discussion (which takes place on Area51) as to what the goal is and not allowing somebody to "buy" the goal. If you create a system whereby you can only contribute ideas if you pay for the privilege then you will not only stifle the community but destroy it.
I'm not saying that we get rid of this forum. Everybody could still use this forum to share as many ideas as they wanted. The difference is, donations would be used to prioritize ideas. Donors would use their donated dollars to rank ideas. If you wanted your idea to be ranked higher, then you'd have to spend your money on it and/or encourage others to do the same.
david63 wrote:
Fri Nov 24, 2017 7:23 am
In any event the whole topic about donations was discussed at length about twelve months ago and at that time was considered to not be a viable option for phpBB - to expand it to the point where donations are paying for specifics would without doubt destroy phpBB.
Somehow I missed the memo. Being able to use your money to support specific ideas really wouldn't destroy phpBB. Your garden isn't destroyed if you nurture the flowers rather than the weeds. Same thing with Kickstarter and DonorsChoose.

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Re: Prioritization

Post by KevC » Fri Nov 24, 2017 9:16 am

Xerographica wrote:
Fri Nov 24, 2017 8:14 am
Who wants their forums to be spammed? The spam protection should automatically be on and anybody can turn it off if they want to.
It is on when the board is installed.
It's up to the admin to check it and make sure it's the best way to stop spambots. One spam attack shouldn't shut a board down. Yes you might get a few accounts and posts but it can be cleaned up quickly and then you implement a better system (like the also built in newly registered users group with post moderation) and go back to enjoying your community.

If a board shuts because of a bit of spam (and by the way you should be blaming the bot makers for that not the board software), then there's likely to have been something else fundamentally wrong with the board in terms of members, posts and subject that means no one wanted it to carry on.
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Re: Prioritization

Post by Xerographica » Fri Nov 24, 2017 7:02 pm

KevC wrote:
Fri Nov 24, 2017 9:16 am
If a board shuts because of a bit of spam (and by the way you should be blaming the bot makers for that not the board software), then there's likely to have been something else fundamentally wrong with the board in terms of members, posts and subject that means no one wanted it to carry on.
Boards usually shut down for various reasons... but perhaps in this case it was the last straw. Spam makes boards more work and nobody wants more work.

Like I said, the amount of money that phpBB donors would allocate to spam protection would reflect the additional amount of work being caused by spam. If the spam protection is adequate, nobody is going to have to do any additional work because of spam, and no money would be donated to improving spam protection. There was no point in China using its limited resources to build an even greater wall if its wall was adequately repelling attacks.

Should I really be blaming the bot makers? I'm guessing that they are getting paid, unlike the people who develop phpBB. If a programmer had to choose between improving phpBB for free, or improving bots for money, then I wouldn't be so inclined to blame them for choosing the thing that puts food on their table...
But man has almost constant occasion for the help of his brethren, and it is in vain for him to expect it from their benevolence only. He will be more likely to prevail if he can interest their self-love in his favour, and show them that it is for their own advantage to do for him what he requires of them. Whoever offers to another a bargain of any kind, proposes to do this. Give me that which I want, and you shall have this which you want, is the meaning of every such offer; and it is in this manner that we obtain from one another the far greater part of those good offices which we stand in need of. It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages. Nobody but a beggar chuses to depend chiefly upon the benevolence of his fellow-citizens. - Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations

PhpBB proves that benevolence alone can produce something good. But it should be a very obvious fact that providing compensation would make phpBB even better.

I'm not saying that people should be charged for using phpBB. I'm just saying that it should be really easy to publicly reward the programmers who improve phpBB the most. The larger their reward, the bigger the incentive for themselves, and others, to make even bigger improvements to phpBB.

The idea that incentives matter is one of the most important economic ideas. However, an equally important economic idea is that incentives must be directed. It's great for programmers to have the incentive to improve phpBB's defense... unless the defenses are already adequate. The only way to know their adequacy is to make it really easy for people to use donations to signal their adequacy. When donors direct incentives, improvements will be made where they are most needed.

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Re: Prioritization

Post by HiFiKabin » Fri Nov 24, 2017 7:30 pm

phpBB's SPAM protection used to stop ALL bots

Then the BOT writers managed to work out how to read the CAPTCHAS

... and phpBB board got spammed again

... and new SPAM protection was added

... and the BOT writers managed to work out how to read the CAPTCHAS

... and phpBB board got spammed again

ad infinitum

Its an ongoing battle and always will be. ANY default CAPTCHA WILL be broken by the bot writers.

The answer? Make your boards CAPTCHA as unique as you can. The simple x+y CAPTCHA used to stop all bots. You need to think of something that needs a human brain to solve.

eg for this forum

"Enter 4 of the characters that make up the hair of last person on this forums header"

... and when the bots are programmed with that answer, change the question. Just avoid prime colours, low numbers, etc

As for payment (or whatever you want to call it) I build extensions for the pleasure, the challenge and because I want to. If I was paid for that, it would become more of a chore and less of a pleasure.

Just my 2c of course. Other people have different views (hence paid for styles etc) but I know my particular involvement in phpBB would not be what it is had payment been offered.

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Re: Prioritization

Post by Xerographica » Fri Nov 24, 2017 7:36 pm

HiFiKabin wrote:
Fri Nov 24, 2017 7:30 pm
As for payment (or whatever you want to call it) I build extensions for the pleasure, the challenge and because I want to. If I was paid for that, it would become more of a chore and less of a pleasure.

Just my 2c of course. Other people have different views (hence paid for styles etc) but I know my particular involvement in phpBB would not be what it is had payment been offered.
So we'd be better off if Nobel prizes weren't awarded?

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Re: Prioritization

Post by HiFiKabin » Fri Nov 24, 2017 7:46 pm

Xerographica wrote:
Fri Nov 24, 2017 7:36 pm
HiFiKabin wrote:
Fri Nov 24, 2017 7:30 pm
As for payment (or whatever you want to call it) I build extensions for the pleasure, the challenge and because I want to. If I was paid for that, it would become more of a chore and less of a pleasure.

Just my 2c of course. Other people have different views (hence paid for styles etc) but I know my particular involvement in phpBB would not be what it is had payment been offered.
So we'd be better off if Nobel prizes weren't awarded?
The chance of having one would not interest me at all (nor any other award for that matter) Do people decide do behave in a particular way in order to be awarded a Victoria Cross/George Medal/whatever the US equivalent is. Of course they don't. They do it because they do it.

Am I comparing phpBB software with acts of bravery? No of course I am not, I am just stating MY position (and I suspect the vast majority of regulars on here)

After all, they don't get paid now and they still put the time and effort in.

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Re: Prioritization

Post by Xerographica » Fri Nov 24, 2017 8:03 pm

HiFiKabin wrote:
Fri Nov 24, 2017 7:46 pm
The chance of having one would not interest me at all (nor any other award for that matter) Do people decide do behave in a particular way in order to be awarded a Victoria Cross/George Medal/whatever the US equivalent is. Of course they don't. They do it because they do it.

Am I comparing phpBB software with acts of bravery? No of course I am not, I am just stating MY position (and I suspect the vast majority of regulars on here)

After all, they don't get paid now and they still put the time and effort in.
You initially said that the chance of being rewarded for your time and effort would demotivate you. Now you're arguing that people aren't motivated or demotivated by the chance of winning an award.

Let me try and put this as simple as possible...

Should your behavior be influenced by the amount of benefit that people derive from it?

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Re: Prioritization

Post by HiFiKabin » Fri Nov 24, 2017 8:14 pm

Xerographica wrote:
Fri Nov 24, 2017 8:03 pm

Should your behavior be influenced by the amount of benefit that people derive from it?
It depends on your definition of 'benefit' When people say 'thank you' for what I have done, thats all the benefit I need.

You are arguing for something that will not happen on phpBB (ie payment) You might as well argue that a Lion should be a vegan.

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