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Simon Brooke's Journal: Immoderately irritating

Journal by Simon Brooke
OK, I don't write in my journal. Except that today I do. And I do because I'm irritated by the metamoderation system.

OK, what's wrong with metamoderation? Metamoderation is the best bit of Slashdot. It's the reason that Slashdot is the best and most usable news and discussion system currently available in netspace -- I include Usenet, which in turn is better than all other Web-based discussion forums except Slashdot.

What's good about metamoderation? Moderation of contributions allows a system in which anyone can post any dross they like, and yet the reader can still read a reasonably coherent, well informed and interesting discussion. You can't, on an open, internet based system, prevent people posting dross. That is why Usenet is being destroyed by trolls. But with effective moderation the trolls can be excluded from the discussion without preventing them posting in the first place and without censoring their posts.

The problem, of course, is who gets to decide what is a useful contribution and what is not? The Slashdot solution - more or less everyone who is willing - has to be the right solution both because

  1. There is simply too much traffic for any 'elite corps' of moderators to be able to do an effective job; and
  2. The community moderating itself steers the discussion and level of debate in the way the community wants.

The problem with almost everyone moderating is that the trolls also moderate, and they will moderate in deliberately perverse ways. So quis custodiet ipsos custodes? The answer, of course, is we do, through meta-moderation: again, a self-balancing mechanism. Brilliant!

But...

not brilliant enough.

'Funny'

In my opinion, things moderated as 'Funny' on Slashdot almost never are (and equally, the things I find genuinely funny on Slashdot are very rarely moderated as 'Funny'). So these days I don't metamoderate 'Funny' moderations (and I have the 'Reason modifier' for 'Funny' set to -1). I'd like to be able to say in my profile that although I'm happy to metamoderate in general, I'm not happy to metamoderate 'Funny'.

Perverse moderation

Not all moderation which you don't agree with seems perverse. Sometimes you'll see a post that has been moderated as 'insightful' and you don't feel it's very insightful. You may metamoderate to say you don't agree, but it's not perverse. It's just that the judgement of the moderator is different from yours, and that's OK - normal slip in the system.

But sometimes you see moderations which clearly are perverse. A 'goatse' poast, for example, moderated as 'insightful'. Or a post expressing a perfectly reasonable point of view moderated as 'Troll'. It would be useful to be able to say why you either agree or disagree with a moderation. Simply 'agree' and 'disagree' doesn't feel to me enough.

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Immoderately irritating

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