Who's up for a little taxonomy? Let's take a quick look at what 'karma' means to different subsets of redditors.
The first distinction is obviously whether or not said user cares about karma (reddit points) at all. Some couldn't give less of a shit. To them, reddit is about browsing and finding interesting things – it has nothing to do with scoring upvotes. Next, among people who do care about karma or at least keep track of it, most users want positive karma. It's instant gratification that people like your submissions – whether they be comments or actual links. If you have a lot of positive karma, you have been accepted, multiple times, by the reddit community. Congratulations.
There's also a subset of users who care about karma, but instead seek negative karma. They want to be downvoted into oblivion. These people are trolls, and you'll likely see them tossing chum into the lakes of reddit's most easily outraged communities.
To comments trolls, the more negative karma, the better. It's a badge of honor. The Daily Dot points out that a super successful comment troll can sport some serious negative karma. For instance:
Well, it looks like reddit is taking away that badge.
In a r/modnews post, admin Delmorz recently laid out some new rules regarding negative comments karma. It's going to be capped at -100.
Not internally – just publicly.
"Later this week, we're planning to deploy a change that will cap the amount of negative karma displayed on a user's profile page at -100. A "bottom end" for displayed karma already exists for link karma (which can't go below 1)...We decided to allow comment karma to go somewhat into the negative before capping since there is definitely value in being able to distinguish between an account with few comments and one that's been significantly downvoted."
"This change is intended to address both the increasing amount of 'downvote trolls' and also hopefully help lessen the amount of crazed-mob-downvoting that happens in a situation like someone ending up on the wrong end of a really important argument about jackdaws or something."
Jackdaw? That's a reference to events that led to the banning of one of reddit's most popular users, resident science smart guy u/unidan.
Delmorz clarifies that this just affects the negative karma that's displayed:
"This will only affect the amount of negative karma displayed on a user's profile page. There is no change at all to how much comments can be downvoted, no change to the scores of individual comments, and the full amount of negative karma will still be tracked internally, just not displayed."
Many users have wanted this for a long time, and for those who fail to see the humor in going for troll glory, this should be a welcome change. Is this going to eliminate the trolls? Haha. No. But it does take away a troll trophy.
Image via Wikimedia Commons