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corbettw's Journal: Moderation stalking -- UPDATED -- UPDATED AGAIN, LAST UPDATE 18

Journal by corbettw

Once again, someone went and down modded five of my comments in a two to three minute span of time. All of these comments were from stories that ranged from one to three days old, not old enough to be archived, but not exactly active, either.

This time, I decided to write to the powers that be: Rob "CmdrTaco" Malda. So far, it's proven to be an exercise in futility. Below is the email conversation we've had up to this point, going from oldest to newest email. Be sure to read the whole thing to keep things in perspective, and read on to the end where I've included a call to action.

Monday September 24, 9:04 am CST, from me to Taco
Rob,

My username on Slashdot is corbettw, and I think I'm being "stalked"
(for lack of a better term). I'm hoping you can help.

For several months now, there's been an ongoing campaign by some
person to mod all of my comments down. Just today, when I logged I had a message
about comment moderation: five moderations with minutes, all on different
stories, and all negative. Usually they're Overrated (which, of course, isn't
meta-moderated), but sometimes they're Troll (which is ludicrous).
It's obvious to me that someone is doing this on purpose. I've seen my
karma rating go from Excellent (where it's been for years), down to Good,
and now today down to Positive. Is there anything you guys can do to stop this
kind of stalking moderation?

I know there are more important things in the world than one's karma
rating on /., but it's still pretty annoying and is the only negative thing
on an otherwise favorite site. If there's anything you guys can do to cut
down on this, it would be much appreciated.

Cory

Monday September 24, 9:40 am CST, from Taco to me
I'll look into this and see if anything suspect is happening. Thanks
for the heads up.

Monday September 24, 2:41 pm CST, from me to Taco
I don't know if Slashcode gives you the ability to do this, but maybe you could put a check in place where, if someone moderates comments by the same user more than twice in a 24 hour window, they lose any moderation points in their pool and all recent moderations (within the previous 24 hours, for example) are undone. Though you might only limit it to negative moderations, since it doesn't really hurt anyone if someone gives their friends positive moderations all at once.

Just an idea, I have no idea how workable it is.

Monday September 24, 5:30 pm CST, from Taco to me
there are a number of checks in place to prevent extreme abuses. Don't worry ;)

Monday September 24, 9:25 pm CST, from me to Taco
Well, you might want to double check those checks, because they don't seem to be working all that well. I've heard from several other people today that they've been hit by the same thing.

Like I said before, my karma has gone from Excellent down to Positive. Maybe you guys just need to do away with Overrated, and keep a link to metamoderation up on the front page on a more regular basis (instead of swapping it out for the firehose and other links, like you started doing a few months ago).

Tuesday September 25, 7:03 am CST, from Taco to me
if anyone really thinks this is happening, they need to contact me and
not bitch somewhere that I might not see them. I gotta say- the # of
people that blame conspiracy on simply being modded down by random
users is pretty amazing... what you describe DOES occasionally happen.
But more often, people just can't BELIEVE that 3 people might call
them out on their obviously wonderful perfect flawless genius posts :)

Meta moderation is a difficult thing. We need more people to do it,
but the link is being ignored.

As for karma going from excellent to positive, I don't see that as
much of a big deal. Karma doesn't matter except to be negative or
positive really.

Tuesday September 25, 7:11 am CST, from me to Taco
Don't misunderstand me, it's not that Positive karma is bad, per se. Hell, I wouldn't even care if it was Negative, it doesn't really affect my life. But the speed with which it's dropped is the concern. And I'm not talking about 3 mod downs, I'm talking about 5, all within two to three minutes, all on stories that are two or three days old. It's blatantly obvious that one of my foes is going through my recent posts and modding them down. This isn't what the moderation system is meant for.

I'm a sarcastic, opinionated, guy (which is why I like Slashdot, duh). So, yeah, I'll say trollish things sometimes, or make a snarky comment that's not directly on topic. So the occasional Off-topic or Troll mod doesn't faze me. It's the obvious pattern of stalking behavior that's going on that has me concerned, and that's what I wanted to bring to your attention.

Not everybody is willing to contact you directly about this, for whatever reason(s). Rather than ignore an obvious problem, why don't you post a story on it? Bring the problem out into the open, and give people a forum on the front page for addressing the problem. You might be surprised how many people this has happened to.

Tuesday September 25, 7:25 am CST, from Taco to me
the faq pretty clearly explains to contact me in cases of abuse.

Tuesday September 25, 7:57 am CST, from me to Taco
OK, so now someone has contacted you about it. Now what?

That's where it stands as of now. I'll update as things progress. In the meantime, if you're reading this, and you've experienced the scenario I've described, PLEASE EMAIL CMDRTACO at Slashdot and share your experience(s) with him. He's obviously willing to ignore this problem until enough people complain about it.

UPDATE:
I just received another email from Taco. Here it is:
Tuesday September 25, 8:08 am CST, from Taco to me
I've looked into the allegations of abuse and made my decision about
what needs to be done about it. It's my policy not to explain
specifically what I find (or don't) or what I do (or don't do) in
response.

Hopefully this satisfies you... and hopefully you understand the need
to be coy on the matter... I've had this work out both ways- if I
find no abuse and tell you, sometimes readers will go post and bitch
that I'm a liar. If I *do* find abuse and tell you that, sometimes
readers will turn around and post their 'haha' message to say someone
got busted.

Quite simply, the mod system is an ongoing project with problems and
mistakes... its a constant balancing act... and since we have a small
percentage of assholes, there will ALWAYS be little problems in the
system. The question is how much we can do to stop assholes without
restricting the vaaaast majority of readers who are cool and
trustworthy.

September 25, 8:13 am CST, from me to Taco
Fair enough, although I have to say it's usually better to be open and up front about things like this rather than hide. That policy hasn't worked out too well for the current administration in the White House, I'm not sure why you think it'll work out any better for you.

My only goal in this is to help improve the Slashdot experience, so to help with that I've posted about this in my journal. I'm trying to raise the attention level of this problem.

I'll let you know if I see the same problem re-occurring. Hopefully more people will start contacting you directly about it, and it will finally get resolved.

(Yes, I'm assuming you're blowing this off. I have no evidence to the contrary, and most of your emails on this subject have displayed a very dismissive view on the problem. If that's not the case, then please let me know.)

LAST UPDATE:

Last email from Taco (it's his site, he gets the last word)
September 25 8:51 am CST, from Taco to me
Well, your journal post at least clearly demonstrates why I don't
spell out results of abuse investigations to readers...

Anyway, despite your attitude and insinuations, I welcome notification
from anyone with legitimate concern of abuse. While real abuse is
fairly rare, reader feedback is a key part of us dealing with the
problem when it arises.

So that's the end of the story, kids. Just make sure you email Taco about any problems, and we can all make this a better place to trade ideas and thoughts.

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Moderation stalking -- UPDATED -- UPDATED AGAIN, LAST UPDATE

Comments Filter:
  • How do you know that the moderations all happened within a two or three minute span? You would notice if you were watching your user page carefully, perhaps, but that seems a little obsessive. :-) I don't doubt that it happened that way; a mod-bomber probably just pulled up your user page and went directly to some older comments. That would be the amount of time it took, most likely, but I've never found any way to track when a moderation occurred.

    When dealing with the editors, it's better to avoid appea
    • How do you know that the moderations all happened within a two or three minute span?

      If you set your preferences correctly, you'll get a message (in e-mail or in slashdot messages) about moderations to your messages, with time stamps.
      • by johndiii (229824) *
        The mods are aggregated into one message per day, which usually arrives a little after 6pm US Central time (I've always assumed that they do their updates at midnight UTC). I never noticed a timestamp, though I normally delete the messages with only a cursory glance at the contents, if even that.
    • by corbettw (214229)
      MH42 answered the question about the moderation time stamps.

      I try to metamoderate at least four or five times a week (basically, when I'm work and have some free time). I tend to get moderator points about once a month on average, and when I do I try to target either one conversation and upmod unmoderated comments, or else I go through my friends list and give one or two upmods to as many friends as I can (with a focus on those who don't have a karma bonus already). I try not to use down mod more than once
  • BTW, I can understand Taco's reasoning. I will tell you that they do look at this.

    In particular, About 2 years ago, I kind of stalked "2" nics. It was actually 1 person who was playing games with his nic, and admitted it when s?he was called enough on it. Interestingly, I did it for a different reason. I have worked several times with the feds and have very unique knowledge due to that work(well, I would guess that less than a dozen ppl on this site have similar knowledge; but strictly a guess). I caugh
    • You might find my journal article The New Internet Version of WMD [slashdot.org] interesting; the software described is basically a melding of Instant messaging and an email list, with it subscribers can be notified of an event anything from a physical event to an website poll and a flash-croud be assembled, an organization could dedicate one person to watch several site who could direct a hundreds or even thousands people there when a topic of interest came up!
  • I was noticing your other journal entries, and tried to respond but was not able to, so I will do it here.

    While it is interesting to see that other planets may be undergoing warming, that would indicate that yes, some (possibly all) of our warming is natural. Personally, I seriously doubt it. [livescience.com] But in the end, what does it matter? One of the bigger issues from all this, is that oil has lead to all sorts of problems for the west. The reason is that we have used up the bulk of our oil and are now dependant o
    • by corbettw (214229)
      I'm all for ending our dependence on foreign oil. It's just that that's not what the global warming religion preaches. After all, we could build more oil fired electricity plants, or even extract gasoline from coal (not the cleanest way to get it, but it can be done). Either of those would solve the no-foreign-oil goal. But they also fly in the face of the global warming crowd.

      Not to mention, if it truly is the sun that's causing all or most of the global warming, focusing on elimination fossil fuels would
      • The GW gases are capable of amplifying the effect of the sun. That is a fact. So, if the sun's output is increasing and is the root cause of our problems, then having GW gases will only amplify its effect. OTH, if we lower the gases and perhaps increase other pollutants (such as jet vapor trails or sulfides), we can reflect more sunlight out, which could be useful if science can prove from where our heat issue is coming from.

        In the end, it should be obvious to all that some form of global warming IS occur
        • by corbettw (214229)

          I think that all in the west would agree that being dependant on groups of ppl that want to kill us really is not in our best interest.
          No argument there.

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