Welcome to TrollBack for April 2004. April started off rather slowly, with The List picking up a number of the strongest submissions in the last few days. We'd like to welcome USAPatriot to TrollBack. TrollBack regrettably did not see any posts that were made last month by this user, although if we had we would have had these posts [1, 2, 3] in The List.
TrollBack would like to welcome back b.foster and Lover's Arrival, The to TrollBack; it has been far too long between posts for these two legends, and we hope to see more material for next month's issue. Thanks to some fan-whoring last month by an anonymous TrollBack fan, we have a number of new readers that we'd like to welcome.
Answering the Mail Bag
We had a few emails in the past month we'd like to take some time to answer. The letters have been edited slightly.
Letter #1: Encyclopedia Article on Slashdot Trolling
As someone who reads (and infrequently writes for) the Wikipedia (1), but regularly reads Slashdot, I feel you are a rather respected (wellknown at least) part of our community which is covered quite extensively in the Wikipedia under "Slashdot" (2), "Slashdot subculture" (3), and "Slashdot trolling phenomena" (4). What this is only lacking is any real mention of you. You can directly contribute any information about yourself into the articles using the "Edit this Page" links on the pages. I'm in no way affiliated with the management of the wikipedia, but I feel that the article(s) could stand to benefit from additional information regarding your work.
Thank you for your letter. We notice that link 4 is a 'featured article candidate' on Wikipedia, which presumably means it will make the next edition of Brittanica. We'd like to suggest that the wikipedia definition of the Slashdot Troll 'community' is quite different to the what many of the purist trolls might define. For something a little more grounded in history, TrollBack suggests the following reading materials as a starting point on any wikipedia definition: The Slashdot Troll FAQs written by spiralx, jsm, and an Anonymous Coward.
As far as a mention for TrollBack goes, perhaps something along the lines of being Slashdot's best known alternative publication. The TrollBack team likes to think they have made a positive contribution to the community, particularly in recording moments that might otherwise be lost and forgotten about as the drudgery of Slashdot's normal programming continues.
Letter #2: Dear TrollBack
I tried to follow Pan T. Hose's posting this month. Unfortunately my favorite Mensa Babe, PhysicsGenius, tps12, Professor Collins, Amsterdam Vallon and Boromir son of Faram haven't posted anything this month (oh God, how I miss them!), so I've got only links to Pan T. Hose's texts. (I've read lots of great comments by ObviousGuy lately but I haven't saved the links.) So here are my favorite ones, some of which you might consider including in the next issue of TrollBack.
Thank you for your letter. TrollBack misses these accounts as well, and if the account holders are reading, perhaps they might consider a come back. It should be noted that Boromir son of Faram is tps12's follow-on account. tps12 stopped posting when he had 1337 comments to his name. TrollBack would also like to backup this letter's mention of ObviousGuy. ObviousGuy has been carrying TrollBack for a few publications now, and it is appreciated.
Over at Kuro5hin, the proverbial hit the fan in a major way in April. It seems accurate to suggest that in the past few months, K5 has been chock full of meta-wankery and whining about so-called crapflooders. Rusty pulled the plug on new account creation and anonymised any account that posted a photo-shopped photo involving his wife.
As could be expected when you're the recipient of whining and bitching, Rusty kept a low profile. So the site with the highest meta-overhead of any popular nerd site saw an article titled 'Where is Rusty?' voted up rapidly to the front-page. Momochrome summed the whole situation up in a single comment that turned the tables back on those who have created the most noise of late.
A fair amount of anguish has been expressed over the lack of a comment search feature in scoop that worked well. In this very story, localroger suggested that the answer to scoop's comment searching was to generate a flat file that consisted of all words that had been posted in all comments to date, with comment ids associated with each instance of said word. In order to ensure this superb search strategy ran as fast as possible, it was to be implemented using assembly language. At that stage of events, localroger was completely serious about it.
Realising he had been cut to pieces, localroger decided that he'd try and get some credibility back with a follow-on story, this time as a troll. That story got voted to section. Shortly after the story got section, localroger posted a diary where he bragged about his brilliance. Shoeboy's comment sums localroger up in a few short sentences.
As reported first in 31337, slashdot math struck again this month, with a comment that is 30% Underrated + 20% Insightful + 20% Interesting == +5 Funny. As 31337 gets flushed of old posts, we think we should preserve some of the most insightful meta-commentary ever seen:
Could the figure be made less helpful?
One possibility might be to eliminate 'Score:' as a number entirely and instead represent it with a smudge of color made up of smudges of various colors as chosen by the moderators.
This brings with it a multitude of advantages, not the least of which is the reduction of the point modifier system for mod attributes (such as 'Interesting') to a color wheel, but also the potential to alienate the colorblind portion of the community. Best of all, if the new moderation system follows a subtractive color mixing model most comments will be rated 'brownish', which coincides quite nicely with my online experiences and posting history.
There's been a lot of change to the moderation system of late. Many of you may have noticed that being moderated up as Funny doesn't raise your Karma. This means that a post that 100 moderators think is Funny and 100 moderators think is Overrated will bounce between 4 and 5 100 times, lowering your karma by one each time. The result? In one post you can go from +50 (Excellent) to -50 (Terrible). This is progress. +1 Funny is now a weapon. There's also a huge penalty to anyone whose post is first moderated up a bunch, then moderated down a bunch. This happens most often when people point out spelling errors in stories; later, the spelling error is fixed by editors and the original poster is moderated down. So you lose 50 karma because you helped an editor fix a spelling mistake. You've also lost a bundle of moderation tokens.
CmdrTaco has had a busy month by all indications, given a recent spate of journal activity. In between his attempts to purchase a high resolution Tivo to see bad television more perfectly defined, he's been sharing a lot of his brainstorming about how to "fix" that which he considers not broken: The Moderation System. Some of you who have been following the story for years may recognise many of his new insights as your own comments, shot down years ago by Rob as items that "won't scale" and resurrected as innovations on his yellow legal pad. There's talk of bringing back trusted moderators (though this time his AI will do the selection for him, no blacklist required), talk of de-gaming the system by removing all the scores, and a small trickle of two-year-old "unscaleable" common sense lifted straight from user feedback to the Post of Doom.
Finally, it has been proposed that Slashcode could use Bayesian Filtering to identify troll posts on slashdot. We'd like to help the slashteam waste their time by identifying trolling legends to feed into the filter. This month's nominee is Sheetrock, truly a Slashdot icon.
Bayesian Filter Food Award
TrollBack would like to present a special tribute to TrollBack regular Sheetrock, who never ceases to amaze the team with the quality of posts made. TrollBack has featured 30 posts by Sheetrock in the previous 13 editions of Trollback. The decision to confer an inaugural award to Sheetrock came with this post, which shall forever be known as the "Great Wall of China through Japan" post. TrollBack will now provide a short review of 5 select posts that we love, and we're sure you will too.
- The original chopstick post.
- The original intelligent design post.
- Why doesn't windows have an auto-update feature?
- The spittoon post.
- The great wall of China through Japan post.
When TrollBack nearly folded a distant 15 months ago, Sheetrock wrote a moving eulogy, and a special place in TrollBack's heart for Sheetrock was found. The award's prize is a permanent listing in TrollBack's friends section. A round of applause for this gentleman, please, and an acceptance speech if you're reading, Sheetrock.
(-1,7,18) ObviousGuy | Take an object, leave an object
(5,14,51) conner_bw | Sigh.
(-1,3,3) Lover's Arrival, The | My husband used to play Neverwinter nights
(2,10,51) dolo666 | Linux Changelog Email Publishing
(5,4,4) Debian Troll's Best | How would Google manage a 100K-node cluster?
(5,6,9) Debian Troll's Best | Asian-language localized UNIX tools
(-1,14,32) Anonymous Coward | DATUM not data
(1,4,7) Sheetrock | Time for something new?
(3,19,26) ObviousGuy | Do we need this kind of humor here?
(0,15,44) b.foster | Python's dirty little secret
(-1,7,36) USAPatriot | More Leftist Propaganda
(5,15,24) USAPatriot | Excellent
(4,4,120) Anonymous Coward | *MAGNETIC* fans in my PC?
(5,14,61) Sheetrock | Sadly...
(5,18,28) USAPatriot | Stupid
(4,7,8) Anonymous Coward | We're banning Yo-yos
(1,5,8) Debian Troll's Best | Any system software updates also?
(-1,8,18) Sheetrock | A consideration.
(-1,6,16) Samir Gupta | On Xbox's lack of success in Japan
(-1,13,33) Mr. Darl McBride | A link on swbell.net? Oh, that'll last.
(1,21,42) Sheetrock | Fantastic.
(5,18,) timecop | What Lies Ahead for Linux...
- Freston gets a big bite
- Ascii Enactment Players provides slashbots with a DRM flowchart
- This month's affirmative action award goes to the AC who posted this over and over again.
- A one line throw-away comment starts a mammoth Israel flame-war.
Finally, we'd like to take you back down amnesia lane. This month, we feature the infamous Shoeboy vs Merlyn episode that took place on slashdot back in April 2001.
Merlyn is a 'perl monk', which means he is a perl expert and likes to engage in relations with camels. Merlyn had been fired and taken through the courts by Intel, after it caught him cracking passwords in a self-appointed security review without authorisation to do so. Slashdot featured a story about how he had been taken to the cleaners and lost an appeal. You'd think that being a master of password security, you'd set your slashdot password to something half reasonable. Apparently not.
In a crushing irony, his slashdot account password at that time was "slashdot" and was guessed by Shoeboy. Shoeboy had a fetish (and probably still does) for Larry Wall's daughter, and proceeded to make a few posts as Merlyn saying that having become a criminal, he'd never be able to settle down with Heidi an lead a peaceful life.
Many of Merlyn's friends jumped to his defence: coward! defamation! insulting! Remove the offending posts! Merlyn tried denying his password was slashdot when the account was returned, but was quickly corrected [1, 2]. Shoeboy was accused of being an asshole, but defended his actions. 'You're not going to press criminal charges?' was shoeboy's cheeky response. Shoeboy, as it turned out, did not 'crack' any password, and was lucky that Merlyn had spent a fortune in the courts already.
That's it for this month!