/ Routes- The Voting System

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MarkRoe - on 13 Mar 2013
It's come to my attention that UKC is full of people who vote for upon the grades and quality of routes that they have never climbed and sometimes know very little about. To give an example: last summer myself and my brother tried a route a that in all probability hasn't seen an ascent in a number of years, (due to it's grade, location ect). Both of us managed it on lead with one rest and vowed to return for the clean lead. I added the route from the FRCC website to UKC, logged it as dogged, and voted on the grade and quality of the route. When I looked at it again yesterday (despite it almost certainly having never been attempted since) a number of people have voted on it, seeming randomly.

The same theme can be seen in lots of routes, especially those at the highest grade. Routes like Indian Face and Equilibrium have votes all over the place in every category, presumably mostly by people who have done little more than look at it or watch a video.

Please get me wrong, i'm not bitter and I don't have an answer for this. I just wonder why people do o.O
The Pylon King on 13 Mar 2013
In reply to MarkRoe:

I did some new routes that were literally dug out of the hillside (old quarry with probably 70 years of vegetation and earth) and someone put them in their logbooks for the year before i did them! very odd!
Offwidth - on 13 Mar 2013
In reply to The Pylon King:

There's nowt as strange as folk.
deepstar - on 13 Mar 2013
In reply to The Pylon King: Probably Balcombe!
patrick_b - on 13 Mar 2013
In reply to deepstar:

On a vaguely related topic, if a load of people vote a route as the grade above or below - eg Fate at Stanage http://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/c.php?i=9967 at what point does the grade get changed?
MarkRoe - on 14 Mar 2013
In reply to patrick_b:

I've wondered this myself. I think the final say would be down to the next guidebook author for the area, but I imagine sites like this influence their decisions.
Jonny2vests - on 14 Mar 2013
In reply to patrick_b:
> (In reply to deepstar)
>
> On a vaguely related topic, if a load of people vote a route as the grade above or below - eg Fate at Stanage http://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/c.php?i=9967 at what point does the grade get changed?

The crag moderator or UKC can change the grade (on UKC), there is no automatic means by which it happens though. As for guide book writers, hopefully they know enough about their areas to filter out the noise.
Jonny2vests - on 14 Mar 2013
In reply to MarkRoe:
>
> The same theme can be seen in lots of routes, especially those at the highest grade. Routes like Indian Face and Equilibrium

Routes like that are bound to attract weird behaviour. I'm more surprised that people bother 'ballpointing' new stuff.
puppythedog on 14 Mar 2013
In reply to Jonny2vests: 'ballpointing' brilliant .
deacondeacon - on 14 Mar 2013
In reply to MarkRoe: Fate Is E2 in the Stanage Definitive and I found it pretty tricky at the grade (I did it yesterday). Fate is a funny one really as it has difficult moves with serious fall potential but it's not really a sandbag as you could just grab one of the next routes if it all gets too much.
It would be nice if the moderator bumped it up to the newer grade of E2 but not the end of the world if he doesn't.
Offwidth - on 14 Mar 2013
In reply to deacondeacon:

Thanks for that... some common sense and a recognition that UKC is far from the last word on grades.

Unless things altered recently there is a problem with logbook grade changes as all the votes get lost when this is done. I know they are looking for improvements in this area, which will be very welcome.

The way to defeat the outliers and herd voting is for anyone experienced, who supports the idea of the UKC database, who climbs an obscure route or a route where the grade is creeping or on anything else that needs a reality check, to make a comment. As a guidebook worker I take comments seriously from UKC experienced regulars but take any grades with a large pinch of salt. I'd say UKC voting averages, on large voting numbers, is a quarter to half a grade too high on popular soft touches at Stanage at HS and VS. If UKC votes can't get it better than this on some of the most climbed routes in the country it shows that they need to be regarded as data with a known (likely consistent) bias.

At lower grades there is always the undistilled view of Moff and I (as BMC guidebook work is a democratic collective, even for a volume editor) on Offwidth:

http://offwidth.uptosummit.com/guides.html
patrick_b - on 14 Mar 2013
In reply to Offwidth:

Makes sense. Thanks. I wasn't sure if it got to a certain critial number of votes and changed automatically, but as all the votes get lost when it changes then I can see why they don't change often.
deacondeacon - on 14 Mar 2013
In reply to Offwidth: yeah the ukc database is a great resource largely due to the comments rather than the grade voting. Without sounding elitist perhaps it would be a good idea to recommend that people only comment on a grade when they've led the route. Comments such as "tr/os" or "used side runners" and then claim soft for the grade aren't really giving a fair representation of the route.
I also don't think there's anything wrong with a big overlap in grading, if you knew exactly how hard a climb was going to be it would definitely take some of the fun out of it. As long as you're not being sandbagged onto a chop route.
Jon Stewart - on 14 Mar 2013
In reply to deacondeacon:
> (In reply to MarkRoe) Fate Is E2 in the Stanage Definitive and I found it pretty tricky at the grade (I did it yesterday).

Good work - I've been up to those top moves loads of times and never had the bottle to do it. Rather amused to see it on a ticklist entitled "UK's Best Slab Routes"!

deacondeacon - on 14 Mar 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart: it's not even one of the best slabs at stanage lol. Crux for me was topping out into the snow. Tbh it's right up your street, perhaps you've only been on it in the summer? Cold conditions'll be a big advantage on it.
patrick_b - on 14 Mar 2013
In reply to deacondeacon:

It's not even the best slab at High Neb, never mind Stanage!

It's E1 in my old definitive guide, so I'd expected nice runners in the pockets! A couple of bold balancey steps and it's over though, so top end E1 sounds reasonable. Especially as it's so escapable all the way. I agree, it's good to have some flexibility in the grades, otherwise there'd be no fun!
The Ivanator - on 14 Mar 2013
In reply to MarkRoe: I have that familiar sinking feeling that this thread is headed inexorably towards a discussion of contentious gritstone slab grades ...and we all know where that leads :-(
The Ivanator - on 14 Mar 2013
In reply to MarkRoe: The problem with people voting on stuff they haven't climbed is a wierd one - perhaps UKC should restrict voting to routes that climbers have logged? Although this still depends on people logging honestly. On the whole I suspect it would discourage some random voting as claiming an ascent of a route you've not climbed seems a little more taboo than just chucking random votes around.
The seperate issue of inflated voting is fairly inevitable I feel, people are on the whole more likely to "big up" their achievements than admit the route they've just climbed is a soft touch for its respective grade. If the data is viewed with this in mind then it is still a helpful tool.
The votes (especially in the more accessible grades) reflect a broad range of climbers - from the very experienced who have made 100's of ascents at the given grade to those who are just breaking into a new grade, the opinions of all these climbers are valid. I abhor the idea that your opinion on a grade is only relevant if you have climbed x amount of routes at the grade - if you've been on the route you are entitled to an opinion!
MarkRoe - on 14 Mar 2013
In reply to The Ivanator:

I agree! The first person to say the three words (followed by 'E1 for sure') will be hunted down and dragged face first down the thing :).
GrahamD - on 14 Mar 2013
In reply to The Ivanator:

I vote only on routes I've climbed but I never keep a log.
The Ivanator - on 14 Mar 2013
In reply to GrahamD: I knew there had to be a flaw in my plan! You don't subscribe to the internet generation's "I log, therefore I climb" malaise then?

The Ivanator - on 14 Mar 2013
In reply to GrahamD: What about a pop up question to confirm you've climbed the route when you attempt to vote on it, that might work.
In reply to MarkRoe:
> It's come to my attention that UKC is full of people who vote for upon the grades and quality of routes that they have never climbed and sometimes know very little about. To give an example: last summer myself and my brother tried a route a that in all probability hasn't seen an ascent in a number of years, (due to it's grade, location ect). Both of us managed it on lead with one rest and vowed to return for the clean lead. I added the route from the FRCC website to UKC, logged it as dogged, and voted on the grade and quality of the route. When I looked at it again yesterday (despite it almost certainly having never been attempted since) a number of people have voted on it, seeming randomly.

A lot of people have been filling their logbooks with legacy ticks hence, the fact that a route hadn't been climbed when you uploaded it, nor since apparently, doesn't mean the ascents are bogus. There are hundreds of hard trad routes across the country that were once very popular but now see much less traffic.

Of course the date of the ascent may give you the impression it was climbed a a separate time, but I think some people are rather sloppy with their dating after all, I have no idea when I did some routes on obscure routes on high Lakeland crags. I probably couldn't even be sure of getting the right decade, never mind month and year! If you just want the tick then it is quicker to ignore the date.

> The same theme can be seen in lots of routes, especially those at the highest grade. Routes like Indian Face and Equilibrium have votes all over the place in every category, presumably mostly by people who have done little more than look at it or watch a video.

That doesn't surprise me - celebrity routes and all that.

Overall I don't think "UKC is full of people" who do this, I think there may be a few weirdos out there who like to create bogus logbooks. This is almost certainly swamped by true data on the vast majority of routes.

Alan
In reply to Offwidth:
> Unless things altered recently there is a problem with logbook grade changes as all the votes get lost when this is done. I know they are looking for improvements in this area, which will be very welcome.

I know I have said this before, but this time we really are about to sort this. I have an email from Nick asking me to test the new system which I'll get to later today.

> The way to defeat the outliers and herd voting is for anyone experienced, who supports the idea of the UKC database, who climbs an obscure route or a route where the grade is creeping or on anything else that needs a reality check, to make a comment. As a guidebook worker I take comments seriously from UKC experienced regulars but take any grades with a large pinch of salt. I'd say UKC voting averages, on large voting numbers, is a quarter to half a grade too high on popular soft touches at Stanage at HS and VS. If UKC votes can't get it better than this on some of the most climbed routes in the country it shows that they need to be regarded as data with a known (likely consistent) bias.

I don't disagree with this. I have always maintained that grades need a much larger majority of votes to be considered for an upgrade than they do for a downgrade. This is due to human nature of regarding routes they found hard as undergraded and routes they found easy as their own brilliant performance.

We have maintained a consistent policy on this for all our recent guidebooks.

Alan


Monk - on 14 Mar 2013
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:
> (In reply to MarkRoe)
> [...]
>
> A lot of people have been filling their logbooks with legacy ticks...
>
> Of course the date of the ascent may give you the impression it was climbed a a separate time, but I think some people are rather sloppy with their dating after all, I have no idea when I did some routes on obscure routes on high Lakeland crags. I probably couldn't even be sure of getting the right decade, never mind month and year! If you just want the tick then it is quicker to ignore the date.


I'd forgotten that I've done that before. I sometimes go to a crag page and just tick all the routes I have done there. No details, no dates. Until I changed the date of ascent to a rough guess at the year, it looked like I'd done all the routes very recently. This seems like a potential answer to the OP's observation.

Ivanator - I am a bit haphazard with my grading in the logbooks. If I have lots of time, then I vote on the grade, but I often don't. Sometimes I only vote if I think the guidebook/UKC grade is a bit off. Similarly, I haven't got all the routes I've climbed in my UKC log, so I have to admit that I sometimes vote on the grade of a route that isn't in my logbook.
In reply to MarkRoe: We're just coming up for the 1 millionth vote in the Logbooks :)

As Alan says, there will always be a few strange folk who want to fake an onsight of an E10, but that is drowned out by the wealth of good data. More voting please! It would be great if people could vote for every single route or problem they tick.

Cheers
Simon Caldwell - on 14 Mar 2013
In reply to deacondeacon:
> Comments such as "tr/os" or "used side runners" and then claim soft for the grade aren't really giving a fair representation of the route.

You can get a good idea of the technical grade though. And if you're honest can probably get a feel for what the adjectival guide might be without side runners...
Fraser on 14 Mar 2013
In reply to Nick Smith - UKC:
>
> More voting please! It would be great if people could vote for every single route or problem they tick.

I usually try and do this, but one thing I've always thought would be useful is the facility to retrospectively amend the grade / stars you awarded to a given route. On quite a number of occasions I've wished to adjust either the grade or the stars I've previously given.

Could this be catered for?

In reply to Offwidth:
> Unless things altered recently there is a problem with logbook grade changes as all the votes get lost when this is done. I know they are looking for improvements in this area, which will be very welcome.

There we go - now changed.

http://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/c.php?i=9995

You ask we deliver ;-)

Alan
Offwidth - on 14 Mar 2013
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

On Eastern Grit I've been very impresed how you took a sensible view on grades likely slightly inflated by UKC/Rockfax votes. Same for the popular crags I know on Western grit (eg Roaches) but its hard to get sensible views on obscure stuff (like Ravenstones far right... which is why I was surprised to see you include some of it when better and more popular crags missed the cut). I do think your graded lists sub-divisions do suffer a bit more from over reliance on votes (ie easy for the grade cf mid cf hard).

Ivanators point is true that its easy to spot the trend on popular Stanage climbs but at some point the herd votes drop and the experienced vote is more accurate. Ivory Tower is a good example E0 from votes yet most people thinking Inverted V is mid VS would regard this as E2.
Jonny2vests - on 14 Mar 2013
In reply to The Ivanator:
> (In reply to MarkRoe) I abhor the idea that your opinion on a grade is only relevant if you have climbed x amount of routes at the grade - if you've been on the route you are entitled to an opinion!

Yes, but it doesn't mean all opinions are equal, some are just garbage. Opinions from someone who's done a 100 of a grade are surely worth weighting higher than someone doing their first few.

At the same time, its hard to be consistent about grades that are too far below your limit.
In reply to Jonny2vests:
> Yes, but it doesn't mean all opinions are equal, some are just garbage. Opinions from someone who's done a 100 of a grade are surely worth weighting higher than someone doing their first few.

Except for someone who has done 100 VS leads but normally climbs at E5, then I'd put more weight on the opinion of the person climbing at the grade and comparing it with other similar routes they had done.

They may both be talking nonsense mind.

Alan
Fraser on 14 Mar 2013
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

> You ask we deliver ;-)

I'm asking ;-)

> "one thing I've always thought would be useful is the facility to retrospectively amend the grade / stars you awarded to a given route. On quite a number of occasions I've wished to adjust either the grade or the stars I've previously given.
The Ivanator - on 14 Mar 2013
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH: Liking the new look voting, good move. Any thoughts on pop up confirmation that you've climbed a route if you are attempting to vote on something you haven't logged? Possible?
Also the retrospective alteration of voting is something that appeals in this quarter as well, what are your thoughts?
In reply to Fraser:
> I'm asking ;-)

Two in one day, don't push your luck!

I think what might work here is a 'remove my vote' option. I can't see a problem with that though since we already have the system in place for photo votes.

I'll discuss it with the code wizards.

Alan
In reply to The Ivanator:
>
> Also the retrospective alteration of voting is something that appeals in this quarter as well, what are your thoughts?

Surly your best impression of the grade of a route is the 1st time you do it. Why might you want to change that grade later?


Chris
The Ivanator - on 14 Mar 2013
In reply to Chris Craggs: On the whole I'd go along with this, but there are routes that I voted on before I had done many at their respective grades that I feel I could now make a better judgement on the difficulty and quality of.
Jonny2vests - on 14 Mar 2013
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:
> (In reply to Jonny2vests)
> [...]
>
> Except for someone who has done 100 VS leads but normally climbs at E5, then I'd put more weight on the opinion of the person climbing at the grade and comparing it with other similar routes they had done.
>
> They may both be talking nonsense mind.
>
> Alan

Yeah, I said that too, last sentence.
Simon Caldwell - on 14 Mar 2013
In reply to Chris Craggs:
> Why might you want to change that grade later?

1. You chose the wrong vote by mistake
2. You logged the wrong route by mistake
3. The route changes following rockfall,loss of crucial hold, etc
4. You find an easier method the next time
Offwidth - on 14 Mar 2013
In reply to Toreador:

All good points I wonder how many more we can think of:

5 You had a panic attack first time and realise it was in fact easy later.
6 Your vote was a long time ago and grade changes mean that it has been lost.
7 New technology has made the route easier.
8 A protection placement has broken.
9 A key peg now looks shit when it once looked OK


I make a point now when I get scared to recheck. I don't think its possible to grade accurately when you are terrified.
deepsoup - on 14 Mar 2013
In reply to Offwidth:

10 It's an offwidth and the first time you climbed it you were facing the wrong way.
Jonny2vests - on 14 Mar 2013
In reply to Toreador:
> (In reply to Chris Craggs)
> [...]
>
> 1. You chose the wrong vote by mistake
> 2. You logged the wrong route by mistake
> 3. The route changes following rockfall,loss of crucial hold, etc
> 4. You find an easier method the next time

I see your points, but arguably you're opinion might be tainted with retrospective analysis. The onsight experience is once and once only, and thats how the grades are defined.
In reply to Offwidth:

... and when we release our Rockfax app then you will be able to vote while at the crag, just after your skin-of-teeth ascent/failure - not the best time to vote really. The cold light of the pub later on might lead you to a reassessment of your performance, especially if your mates waltz up it putting your ascent into perspective.

Perhaps we should put a time delay on app voting.

Alan
In reply to Jonny2vests:
> (In reply to Toreador)
>
> I see your points, but arguably you're opinion might be tainted with retrospective analysis. The onsight experience is once and once only, and thats how the grades are defined.

Thank you - I was going to say that but couldn't be bothered,


Chris
Simon Caldwell - on 14 Mar 2013
In reply to Jonny2vests:
> The onsight experience is once and once only, and thats how the grades are defined

But they're also for the easiest method aren't they? If you miss that then your opinion is likely to be wrong.
Jonny2vests - on 14 Mar 2013
In reply to Toreador:
> (In reply to Jonny2vests)
> [...]
>
> But they're also for the easiest method aren't they? If you miss that then your opinion is likely to be wrong.

But as long as your not at your limit or miles above it, then you have a decent chance of finding that sequence, hence my earlier point about opinions. And if the sequence is really that bizarre, then the grade should reflect the technicality.
Simon Caldwell - on 14 Mar 2013
In reply to Jonny2vests:
Not saying it happens often, but worth having the option for when it does
jimtitt - on 14 Mar 2013
In reply to Jonny2vests:
We did an experiment years ago regarding onsight and worked grading for sport routes. I bolted a route in Greece and 6 experienced climbers (3 were instructors and one a guide) two of whom had written guidebooks climbed it onsight. I chalked every possible hold and belayed while the others looked away.
The onsight grade suggestions varied from 6a to 7b.
Working the route/with beta two gave 6a and the rest 6a+.

So what grade can you give in the guide? To onsight the sequence wasn´t obvious but on the other hand if you believed the grade given was correct and you found it nails you would know you should look harder for the correct holds and not get led astray by the attractive but useless jug out to the left.

Jonny2vests - on 14 Mar 2013
In reply to jimtitt:

I think grading sport routes is a different matter. I was talking about UK trad.
Fraser on 15 Mar 2013
In reply to Jonny2vests:
>
> The onsight experience is once and once only, and thats how the grades are defined.

I see your point too, but grades aren't always for the onsight. It just seems to me to be more flexible having a system which permits a degree of reconsideration or correction.

In reply to Jonny2vests:
> The onsight experience is once and once only, and thats how the grades are defined.

I don't think grades are quite as you suggest.

I have tried to deal with the subject of onsight v redpoint here under Sport Grade heading - http://www.rockfax.com/publications/grades/

copied here...

Onsight or Redpoint?
An onsight grade assumes that you turn up at the base of the route and climb it with no prior knowledge; a red-point grade assumes that you have practiced every move on the route until you know it intimately before your ascent and the redpoint grade is the grade of the route on the final clean ascent. Some sport routes can become significantly easier once you know a trick or a sequence, and others barely change in grade at all no matter how familiar they are. For example two routes could both be given 6c+ for the onsight ascent, yet one of them becomes dead easy once you figure out the sequence. This presents a grading problem since, in reality, one of the routes is a lot easier than the other and it is conceivable that someone could hit the correct sequence on their onsight.

What generally tends to happen with grades across the world is that routes are graded in the style that they are usually climbed. So for easier routes below about 6b+ the grade is almost invariably an on-sight grade. For routes above about 7b it is almost always given a redpoint grade. In between is a bit of a grey area and the practice can vary from location to location.

Rockfax guidebooks cover routes in areas of mixed sport and trad climbing so we tend to go for the redpoint grade in the 6c to 7a region however we do make a slight qualification of the Rockfax ‘onsight’ grade; we use the ‘first try – easiest method’ grade. This basically assumes that you are climbing onsight, but you do use the correct holds and sequence.
jimtitt - on 15 Mar 2013
In reply to Jonny2vests:
> (In reply to jimtitt)
>
> I think grading sport routes is a different matter. I was talking about UK trad.

Unless I missed something in the thread there wasn´t any distinction made and certainly there isn´t in the voting system.
In both the sport and trad grading system there is an band above which worked routes and grades are the accepted rule unless suddenly everyone has started onsighting English 6c and above and the guidebooks are reflecting this.
Jonny2vests - on 16 Mar 2013
In reply to jimtitt & Alan:

I agree. But I was replying to the thread rather than the OP, which to me seemed to be talking about UK trad. And when it comes to trad at 6c and up, then yes my argument breaks down somewhat, but the amount of climbers that affects is vanishingly small.
Offwidth - on 17 Mar 2013
In reply to Jonny2vests:

I think you need to read his list again and remember your years of analytical training and maybe apologise ;-;

1) & 2) & 3) Maybe retrospective but that would be the point!
4) Surely retrospective but onsights need to take this into account at least on a nominal basis. If you climb well on a route with a tricky sequence some climbers will spot it and find it a breeze, most won't. Alternately if you climbed like a heap of shit and the method was obvious to a calmer climber you were just plain wrong. Grades are defined as a nominal average of an adequately experinced climber in standard conditions, not on any old individual experience.

PS I like Alan's equivalent of counting to ten. Plus if you add reasonable to his definition of the easiest sequence for an onsight its pretty good. I remember a few arguments like this on grit extremes and my view remains if the move is there and not almost impossible to spot then you grade for the correct tech grade and maybe adjust the adjectival to allow for the difficulty of spotting the trick.
Jonny2vests - on 18 Mar 2013
Dear Professor Yaffle,

Thank you for your guidance in this matter. If one day I am worthy of using your shite for toothpaste, please do not hesitate (as I know you won't) to point it out. Your work on the General Theory of Relative Grading, once finished, I'm sure will prove to be a seminal work and all this pish and banter will be replaced by Grading Tomography or whatever you decide to call it. 'All non-trivial zeros of the Offwidth function have real-part one half'; very elegant, good luck with the proof.

Your Padawan learner,

J2V
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