(I know I posted the Glasscode/Half-empty story already, but some people wanted a detailed description of the rating system, so here goes :))
Glasscode is a non-submission queue system. That is, everything people post gets put on the site, immediately. To keep things sane, however, there is a point system involved which will restrict when, where, and how often users can post depending on their performance.
The posts to the site are content rich blobs called "Ideas" .. much like kuro5hin submissions but with the addition of file attachments. These Ideas appear much like stories on kuro5hin or /., complete with comment threads. The main difference in the appearance of both Ideas and comments, however, is the presence of three small "Rating" buttons. A green plus, a red minus, and a yellow neutral one. As readers peruse the site, they can rate all comments and Ideas with a single click (1-Click Rating? :)) b/c of a window which spawns in the background.
Every user has a certain amount of points associated with their account. Ideas and Comments also have point values, which is the sum of all the pluses and minuses people rate them with. (Neutrals don't do anything but increment the rating count for that post, more on this later.) The math involved is such that a user's points provide both a "karma" level and also reflect the users ability to post. The way this is taken care of is as follows.
Every Idea on half-empty (or any Glasscode site) gets posted into a category. There are the root categories (Art, Computers, etc.) which are divided into subcategories. (Currently, users are not allowed to post into root categories, but this is an option.) Each category has two numerical values associated with it. The "point percentage" is a percent value which represents the percentage of a users points they "risk" when posting into the category. For example, if user Joe with 100 posts an Idea into the "Cars" category, with a point percentage value of 25%, Joe can gain or lose up to 25 points on his Idea. Also noteworthy is that Joe cannot risk more points than he currently has between all of his Ideas and Comments. The second value associated with a category is the "minimum point cost" .. this keeps folks with low points from posting. If Joe's 25% "risk" didn't come up higher than the minimum point cost, then Joe cannot post into the category.
How are these numbers determined? Well, every five minutes Glasscode does some statistical work to set them. First, it calculates the point mean of all the users, and the standard deviation. It then counts the number of Ideas running "Live" on the site (more on what this means later) and calculates the percentage of the total Ideas in each category. Using these percentages, it assigns a point percentage cost to each category between a manually set min and max value. The most active categories get closest to the max, the inactive ones get the min. As for the minimum point cost, it again uses at the percentage of total Ideas in each category. If 10% of the Ideas are in category A, the minimum point value is set so that the top 90% of users will be able to post into it. This is calculated using the normal curve generated from the point mean/SD. Pretty odd to actually be using statistics I learned in high school, but it seems to work in a fair manner.
Well, as stated earlier, every time you post something, you "risk" a certain amount of points based upon the percentage cost associated with the category. If you have 100 points, for example, you cannot "risk" more than 100 points across all of your postings until you get a point reward.
So the question then becomes, how does one increase their points? The key is the rating system outlined above. When a user posts an Idea (or a Comment within an Idea) .. the Idea is "Live" for certain number of days. After the time is up, the Idea is archived (along with its comments) and points are added or deducted to each user depending on their posting's performance. This performance is measured in a few ways. First, the rating system determines the ratio of the points earned to the number of votes (kind of like kuro5hin) .. so now we see the significance of the Neutral button. A little bit extra is added onto this ratio for every reply to the Idea/Comment, and every time the Idea was read by a unique user. This final number, between 0 and 1, determines how much of the "risk" taken is given back to the user or taken from the user. There is a manually set variable to tell Glasscode what ratio value to take as making the user break even and not gain or lose points. Getting complex now, eh? :)
One more thing to note is that small amounts of points are awarded for rating stuff. This is to make sure nobody digs a hole they can't (albeit slowly) climb out of.
Of course, all this is magic running in the background. The users rate and get a magical "Post" button when reading in categories that they can post into at that given moment. Their points go up and down each day as their posts close out. The point value for users, when calculated in this way serves a few different things:
1) A "karma" rating. Users with high points have posted popular, consecutive Ideas, because their "risks" are percentages. In order to get to say, 300 points, you couldn't do it in one jump. You'd have to make a few good posts to get your percentages to a point that you could reach 300.
2) Posting ability. Users with high points can post in the most active categories (because of the normal curve) and will be able to post more because their "risks" will bottom out to below the minimum point cost for each category in more steps.
3) Bonus points. Users who are in a high enough percentile on the normal curve get bonus points tacked onto their Ideas/Comments when posting (like the +1 bonus on /.) These aren't included in the rewarding process, but cause their Ideas to show up on the front page more often and have their Ideas/Comments appear higher in the listings if the user is sorting by highest.
The front page is generated each hit, drawing Ideas out from the pool based upon their youth & popularity.
Whew. That's alot of stuff :) Hit me with some constructive critisism! One thing specifically I've been stuck on is if there is a better way to make sure higher point users have even more posting ability, but still have to take the associated "risks." The current system gives a user with a lot of points a few extra posts between archivals, but not that many, because the "risk" is based on a percentage.