This really isn't up for debate. Even within staff, there's absolutely no way that we'll agree on a single course of action.
The fact is, however, that I don't have time to deal with this and it's really stupid. I JUST got a PM from a member who was legitimately upset over being called a "derp" in a reputation comment. This member IMMEDIATELY blamed zgmfx19a and then proceeded to go on about HK TW and clans at which point I finally knew what the hell he was talking about. Now, let's look at this objectively:
1. Derp isn't even in the Oxford dictionary. It's not a word. I'm wasting my time trying to console someone over an Internet meme that wasn't intended to be serious from the beginning? Bad use of time.
2. I had to go research a reputation comment so I could say 100% sure that it wasn't a staff member that left it (it wasn't by the way, but even if it was SO WHAT?) Bad use of time.
Instead of trying to do something to make the site better, I have to go on a rep witch hunt because little Johnny got called a "derp". Are you freaking kidding me?
Here's why a comment length won't work: It'll kill off positive reps. People are lazy; especially ggFTW.com members. These guys wouldn't even invite 10 people to join for chances to win $50 gift cards. However, someone fueled by rage and hate will write paragraphs and novels (see:rant forum). Once they calm down, it's back to lazy.
I kinda see the point about identifying trolls but two things. 1) there's no red bar floating above peoples' head in real life labeling them as trolls and bullies yet still somehow they get this reputation. I'm pretty confident that word of mouth will do the same thing here. 2) It's not the trolls and bullies that *get* de-reps, they're usually the ones that give them inciting massive BAW that I must take time out of trying to make this place better to go investigate. Even if I pass the buck to Yuki (which I oh-so-often do), I still have to interrupt and react.
Let's go back to the "but you can't know if they're a troll". I submit to you that even with a long red bar, if you just assume that person is a troll the first time you speak with him or her then shame on you. Shame for not having the clarity of thought to make up your own mind and blindly following what others say like a lemming. A red bar should tell you a couple of things -- that a lot of people think the person is unhelpful -- but you should always make up your own mind about a person. What if they're just misunderstood? What if they play on the HK server instead of TW (to use a VERY relevant example)? What if they just joined at a time when everyone was going through a -rep spree "for the lulz"
Why is it so difficult for a community of grown, mature gamers to either say something nice about someone or nothing at all? Why are we even having this debate? All of the points I see raised are easily dismissed. So you can't look at a long red bar and make a prejudiced opinion that the person is stupid or trolling. You can still look at a short green bar and make at least one valid deduction: 1. Not a lot of people took the time to voice that this person's posts were helpful.
Likewise, you can look at a black box and see that a person probably either does not care what people think or cares too much what people think.
I'm actually going to agree with Adura partially for once. Trolling rep is more discreet. Forcing someone to either keep their negative comments to themselves or step out from behind the cloak of anonymity will almost certainly led to the decline of such comments. People love to hide behind the veil that is Internet anonymity and jeer, sneer, and take stabs at people they would otherwise not do if their names were attached. It's actually a bit sickening, rather, to see this side of my fellow human beings. Nevertheless, it happens.
My suggestion would be: If you don't like a comment someone has made, openly and maturely comment upon it and start a debate. Think that your guild is so much better than someone else's? Then why not talk about all your good points and then let the other person discuss his or her guild's good points? If you do like it, then why not add to the person's rep to show others how helpful you thought his or her post was?
Most of the lolrepdrama is either related to a person's guild or the game server on which they play. Is this really a solid measure of a person? Why should we facilitate a system of anonymous negativity and hate? Why should we create a system in which a new member can be made uncomfortable and perchance leave because someone was feeling "lulzy"?
ggFTW members are more mature than this.
This started as a response to a similar discussion in our staff forum but evolved to the point that I'd rather post it out here.