I think the issue though is that the "somehow interesting" is apparently often at odds with "worthwhile". Only 1 of the 7 choices specifically calls out the content in question as "valuable", and the fact that people want to keep track of topics for other reasons does not seem to be related to the value or interestingness of the topic. We've got people trying to use the feature to keep track of their own content, people using the feature for moderation (or amusement), and people wanting to continue participation in a conversation -- but not necessarily because the topic at hand is an interesting one; they might want to ensure they continue to reply because they think the OP is spreading misinformation that needs to be countered, or they might be interested in a tangent that arose out of a meaningless or boring topic.
Well in that poll 4 of the 7 choices are implications that there is something meaningful about the topic worth revisiting. That was the point of voting up the topic, to imply that the author created a thread that is somehow interesting or worthwhile.
Looking at the votes and responses, it looks to me like only in a small minority of cases does following a topic imply worthwhile content, and that most uses have no bearing what-so-ever on the value (or lack there-of) of the original post.
These are not the responses of users who want to imply that a topic is "interesting or worthwhile" when they follow it, and their responses seem to be typical of normal usage:
It's annoying that each time I "follow" a thread, the thread creator gets +5 points.
Very rarely when following a thread, does the OP deserve those +5.
I don't want to implicitly rate people, only explicitly.
I auto-follow every thread I post to, but still one needs to follow threads on occasion. In particular, I sometimes follow threads that I am worried will descend into flame wars, and in this case I definitely do not wish to give a rating boost.
But this just doesn't seem right. Following a topic is not equal to giving credits to a topic.
Had no idea following gave +rep.
I follow threads for all kinds of reasons, but it's rarely because its particularly valuable... If posts are valuable I +rep those.
I think I will have to stop using the explicit follow function for now, because +rep:ing when doing it is not my intention.
In general I also do not believe that following a thread means it's actually interesting by itself.
I auto-follow on reply, so the only threads I manually follow (and thus rating boost), are those that aren't actually interesting enough to warrant a reply.
I think we should at least take on board SoTL's suggestion of removing the user's name from the points, but to me it really looks like the majority of our community -- or at least those willing to speak up, and we've only had one objection -- would rather not give those points at all.
I think the reputation system is great, and that it's a fantastic way of helping to recognise and thank people for contributions -- but it won't hold that meaning if our community aren't happy with the fact that the points are being given, or disagree with the reasons behind it.
Edited by jbadams, 16 November 2012 - 07:04 AM.