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imroy's Journal: Yes, the moderation system is screwed up

Journal by imroy

I seem to have an enemy of sorts. From near the end of May I have been getting a lot of "Flamebait" mods on my comments. Now, some of those are probably fair. I don't post very many comments here, I find it just too "busy". I usually only comment when I see something I can really comment on, not just idle chatter. So perhaps a lot of my comments are somewhat heated. But there's clearly irregularities:

  • This recent helpful comment was modded Informative. Thank you. Then some nutter responds with an unprovoked attack. Does he get modded down? Flamebait? Troll? Overrated? No. I respond and that gets modded Flamebait.
  • In a discussion about IPv6 and 6bone someone suggested using 6to4 tunneling. I respond saying that when I traceroute the "anycast" address 192.88.99.1 it goes off to the US, and that I'd rather use AARNET's local tunnel broker service. This somehow got modded Flamebait.
  • In a discussion about MS claiming the OpenDocument format was slow, I agreed with another comment and elaborated. Informative apparently, then flamebait.
  • And finally, in a discussion about problems with mapping drive letters in Windows XP to Novel shares, I explained how DOS (and Windows 3) assigned drive letters to partitions. Oh, and an exclaimation that MS is still using drive letters in their OS's. Someone thought it was informative, but later it was modded Flamebait.

In a few of these cases I remember seeing "positive" mods pretty soon after I posted, with the flamebait mod coming much later. Which seems to suggest to me that someone is regularly checking my posting history to hand out Flamebait mods, rather than reading my comments in the normal discussion and reacting to them. And quite a few of them are pretty deep in the discussion, not top-level comments. So it's not likely that they'd normally read them.

To me, this just another step in the decay of Slashdot. This used to be a pretty nice place. My userid is 755, I am among the first users of Slashdot. I created this account some time back in '96 or '97 when Rob first added user accounts to Slashdot. Back then it was fun. Ask Slashdot was actually helpful. The discussion was much more paced and friendly. Now almost every story gets several hundred comments in a few hours and you have to be very quick to get in a comment that anyone will respond to. If you come "late" then your comment will lie undiscovered at the end where nobody reads, or modded "Redundant".

Which brings me to the moderation system. It was a good idea to start with: make good comments more prominent and bad ones less prominent. But like all things it is open to abuse. So meta-moderation was added in an attempt to reduce the abuse. But that doesn't seem to have worked well. And then there's the problem of Groupthink - the moderation system is like some sort of perverted democracy where people vote on what other people write. Democracy is good (usually) for choosing people, but not for judging individual comments in a public forum. People are basically encouraged to make comments that tow the "party line". But as always, popularity != correctness. As Slashdot attracted more "mainstream" users, I've noticed a number of alarming memes growing in popularity here. For instance, I thought the whole "Microsoft gets attacked more because more people use their software" nonsense had been dead and buried long ago, but now I not only see these comments being made here with little critical response, but modded up as well. It saddens me to see those sorts of comments being made. Now, I admit I've not the most level-headed guy when it comes to Microsoft, but I think it's clear that a good number of Slashdot users now are MS-apologists. And they are biasing the moderation system.

Well that's all I have to say for now. I didn't plan for it to turn into an anti-slashdot rant, but I guess that's just how I feel about Slashdot at the moment.

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Yes, the moderation system is screwed up

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