I've been moderating again this morning. Or at least, I've been trying to. In the end I just gave up. It isn't worth it, and I find I don't even know how to do it.
The discussion? this one. As one relatively sane participant put it:
Every year we get another story or two like this and they still have their hands over their ears going "LA LA LA - I CAN'T HEAR YOU."
How right he was. We find posters claiming:
- Warmer temperatures will be better (and are needed to save our economy)
- It's been happening for 50,000 years, it's nothing to do with us and it doesn't matter anyway
- It's happening on other planets as well so it can't be our fault
- Polar bears drowning is nothing to do with us
- Global warming is not a threat to nature
- Who needs polar bears anyway?
- Send them to Antarctica
- 'natural selection will simply start choosing bears better at swimming...'
- Come to sunny Manitoba
- La la la! I can't hear you!
With people like this, what hope is there for rational discussion? They're all completely, raving, off their trolleys, certifiable crazies! Am I suppose to think any of this is insightful? Interesting? Informative? It isn't trolling or flamebait - they really believe these things. It certainly isn't funny.
When a bunch of people get sufficiently divorced from reality, moderation simply becomes meaningless. I just give up. The whole United States seems to be one big lunatic asylum. And the lunatics have taken over.
Yet again I'm metamoderating, and I came across this post. What's wrong with it? Nothing at all. It's both interesting and informative. So what's the problem? Well, it had been moderated insightful. Insightful it is not; it contains, as far as I can see, no insight, just good solid interesting information. So I had to metamod it unfair.
Moderators, if you see something that's informative, for heaven's sake moderate it informative. And if you aren't certain what a moderation option means, for heaven's sake don't use it!
Perhaps, as well as Fair and Unfair we could have Harsh and Generous...
Here's what's raised my ire:
More info in Japanese press release
See here for the Japanese press release.
Highlights: 8MB flash memory (4MB for data), 512kB RAM, runs at 24MHz or 48MHz, touchscreen uses Decuma handwriting recognition (Decuma is a Swedish company with Sony VC money; Decuma is also used in Sony Clies & cellphones). FM/Midi sound, vibrator; PIM, mail client supports POP/SMTP.
Can communicate with SD form-factor PHS card, Wi-Fi card, Bluetooth etc. Tri-color LED, sound and vibration alerts for incoming data.
I figure it's a much more useful device in Japan where connectivity is ubiquitous, than the US. But it will have a tough time competing with the likes of the J-SH53 and its successors.
OK, so what's wrong about that? It's very informative. Well yes, it is, and if it had been modded '+1 Informative' I'd have happily OKed it in metamod. So what's wrong? Some charlie had moderatied it '+1 Insightful'. Well, I mean, I ask you... Can you see anything insightful in that? It's a pure information piece.
Insightful is not the same as Informative. It's different, and different in a way which is useful. If you don't know what these words mean, please find out what they mean, before you moderate.
Here endeth the rant for today
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
- There is simply too much traffic for any 'elite corps' of moderators to be able to do an effective job; and
- 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!
not brilliant enough.
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'.
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.
OK, I don't keep a journal on Slashdot. Live with it. If you want to know what I'm thinking, you'll find my comments here, on my own websites [personal] [work], or you can regularly find me on Usenet groups like scot.general or uk.rec.sailing. You'll also find me in some other places on the Web, almost always under my own name (I can't be bothered with 'handles'). You'll find my open source contributions here. Yes, the email address is genuine; yes, I do read it.