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More Moderation Madness 316

The quest for a better moderation system continues onward. In response to the huge amounts of feedback I've received in the last 24 hours, I've implemented a few changes to the system that you should note. Click the link below to read about some new features, include the upcoming system for "Meta Moderation".

By far the most popular topic is karma. When it was just called "Points" nobody really cared, but now that I changed the name to "Karma" everyone has input on it. Must have a few MUDers out there. Since I intend to start using karma in a few other places, I added a field to display it on your user preferences page. I might add it to the comments display, but I'm holding on that for now since it will just clutter things up.

Default Comment Scores
For many moons now, users with high or low karma were given either a +1 (k:25) or -1 (k:-10) on their comments. Yesterday I added an additional -1 (k:-20) that I have since removed. Many people argued reasonably against it, so its gone.

In addition, I added a much requested feature to allow posters to optionally pass on the +1 bonus when they post. Many people who have earned the bonus point occasionally wanted to say something that they didn't feel deserved the bonus. I guess thats fair.

Anonymous Posting w/o Logging Out
Due to popular demand, I've added an option to allow logged in users to post anonymously. If you use this option, you are every bit as anonymous as you would be if you had logged out, except if you have a +1 bonus, your comment will still get it.

At some point I may eliminate the old AC posting in favor of this one, if only to eliminate a certain amount of knee-jerk posting, but I'm not convinced on this one. I really believe that people should be able to post anonymously, and this system while it still allows that, it would require a login. Its just a hoop- the comment is every bit as anonymous, but I suspect I'll take some flame for making people jump through the hoop. Then again, the flamers are probably a large part of the problem ;) Anyway, I'm not sold on the idea, so I'll probably leave it as is.

Meta Moderation
So who moderates the moderators? Every day comments are mailed to me with a note saying 'this comment was unfairly moderated'. Sometimes they're right. Sometimes they're wrong. But regardless, it seems like the community should be able to regulate this itself. So I've implemented MetaModeration.

I'm debugging it now, and it should be online within the next few days, but I want to post the concept for evaluation:

Basically, anyone who is eligible to moderate is eligible to MetaModerate [M2]. (Registered users with non-negative karma who have had accounts for "awhile" (the definition of which is likely to change but right now is probably a month or so)).

An M2 gets 10 comments, and the moderation done to them. They are then asked to decide if the moderation was fair or unfair. The opinion of the M2 affects the original moderators karma. In otherwords, if you moderate good, you get better karma, you moderate bad, you lose the ability to moderate in the future. As a side bonus, users will get some karma (on a sliding scale so it won't be much) for being an M2.

Its just a thin layer of accountability, but if everyone plays fair, it'll work. (Just please don't start asking for M3 or M4 moderation or I'll start crying).

Some other stuff
So I labored on my labor day (and Andover even has it officially listed as a holiday!) Thanks for all the feedback (good and bad!) in the last few days, please keep it up. I'm sorry we can't implement all the suggestions, but of course some of them aren't feasible, and some are just silly. But as a whole, I think we're getting better. (Or at least my TODO list is getting shorter ;)

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More Moderation Madness

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  • Surely if you're really defamed you've got a right to compensation from someone, and if records aren't kept, /. would be (and should be)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    puh-lease give moderators more points..we cant mark as many bad posts down or as many good posts up as we wish..more points would cure that.
    P.S. dont remove anonymous posting! not everyone wants to login and post.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    My biggest reason for posting anonymously is that, once in a while, I want to say something without it publically being associated with the company I work for ---either because said affiliation might alter the reception which greets my post, or because I might say something with which the company might not wish to be associated.

    I don't actually _care_ if it's traceable. I just don't want it to be easy ... because it's a consideration, not anything else.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Can we get each message tagged with who moderates what and in what way ? Also a history of moderators moderations would be nice. FC ? :)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    This is getting a bit silly!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I think this is a great site. Every time I log in I learn something new about almost every aspect of my life. Whether it is how good of a human I am or how poor a programmer I am, I always learn something.

    Rob, You have always had great vision for what you wanted to do with /. And I am proud to say that I have been reading your ideas since the days of Chips and Dips(or what ever /. was before it was /.) Keep up the good work.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I've been looking all over my Preferences page and I can't figure out where my Karma score is displayed, nor have I seen any options to display it elsewhere. Where am I supposed to be looking?

    And in the future, it might be a good idea to put that in a more prominent spot in the User Prefs page, since many users will probably want to check their Karma pretty often.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I am not excactly sure who gets moderator status/points, but it seems it is kind of limited. I think it would be a good idea if all registered users (with non-negative karma) had the ability to moderate all comments, and then the moderations for a comment would be averaged. Then people would quickly react to, and correct, unfairly moderated comments, while "well-rated" comments would be left alone. This would make comments be rated at a right level very soon after posting. TN
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Sometimes when I moderate, the order that the stories appear (when sorted by score) is an influence. Moderation points are not absolute values, but realtive to the other posts in the story. I don't know if every single action is defendable outside of the context of a story.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    As far as I am concerned, the moderation system is simply a method of shaping social behavior to conform to the slashdot clique. If you place any value in the point system (status symbol system) and strive to gain more points (status), then you are allowing the small clique of moderators to control your expression. I find this undesirable, I always set my threshold to -1 to negate the status symbol system. I urge everyone to do the same.

    On the new karma point sytem, what is karma? Karma is an abstract idea used to control social behavior, now I understand why it suits this moderation system so well. The clique mentality with the moderation is fine, it is only natural. Although, you should understand there are people who do not want to be a part of this. If you want them to leave, then by all means continue.
  • I did assume that IP's are only logged temporarily.


  • I agree it wouldn't be nice. Hey, I myself wouldn't enjoy reading articles in random order. But, since currently people get to moderate only once in a while, and you have the option not to moderate, it might be considered to require that if you're going to moderate, you're going to have to look at articles in random order for three days or till your points run out.


  • I've given some thought to this IP business, and I think that my point would apply to slashdot today in the case that it logs source IP permanently with each comment.

    If your IP is good enough to identify you, and slashdot keeps a history of every post together with the originating IP, then as correctly pointed out by several comments on this thread, the same objection I raise is raisable right now.

    For "anonymous" posting to be really anonymous, slashdot may noy keep a permanent record of IP addresses for each post.

    Note this does not mean slashdot can't keep a temporary record of IPs. That is, I think the best solution would be for slashdot to keep the IP for each post in recent stories (maybe front page, maybe a bit beyond front page). This could be used to defend the system from abuse-- if some IP is posting too many stories too fast which all are getting downmoderated, slashdot may block the IP group from posting temporarily (say, 18 hours). But when the story goes stale, you get rid of IP info, and anonymity is guaranteed (you still may keep a list of troublemaking IPs).


  • Well, if they moderate posts to appease the majority of meta-mod's, then surely they are also appeasing the majority of /. readers? After all, the mods are selected from the readers, and I thought that was the point of moderation. To remove the crap that the majority of people dont care to read. If they are getting rid of that, then whatever their personal opinion they are doing a good job at moderation.
    Besides, I think its bad form to let personal opinion get in the way whilst moderating and I think (or at least hope) that the majority of /. readers who meta-mod would work to stop unpopular opinions from being stifiled.

  • I have to hand it to you, Rob. This karma thing is pretty evil. I love it!

    One nasty side-effect this will have for me, and doubtlessly many others, is the irrational need to get super high, (might I say Perens-ian []) karma, by posting useful, informative and/or intelligent posts. That is definitely not a bad thing.

    Of course, it can go the other way, for those who will pride themselves on having -188 karma points. This is not a good thing.

    This is going to be a wild and crazy ride!

  • I think its a great idea, even if it sends to that user that there comment has been moderated and why, even if it doesnt show who it is. This would let people know why there comment was taken off.
  • I don't think unlimited points would be the answer, maybe more points. Besides it would be interesting to see if alot of moderators "hang themselves." I think it would be interesting to see how it plays out either way.
  • Out of four or five posts I made in the last 24 hours, two of them were marked as flamebait -- without cause, I feel.

    This seems to be a rapidly increasing problem. I've only noticed it over the past month or so, but many comments are now being moderated down because the moderator disagrees with the ideas expressed in the post. See this post from today. Not mine; just a post I happened to see. Was it off topic? Certainly no more than its parent post, which was not moderated. []

    Interested in XFMail? New XFMail home page []

    1. I think giving moderators unlimited (-1) ability is a Bad Ideatm. It would invite abuse very quickly by removing the incentive for positive marking versus negative marking. This should be obvious without much thought.
    2. My understanding was that it would start with Score:0, but that it would still get the Score:+1 if you have good Karma. Personally, I think this is a good idea. If you have the ability to log on, then posting anonymously holds less credibility and less accountability than posting regularly. As Rob Malda would prefer us to post under our normal accounts as often as possible, I should expect him to discourage anonymous coward posting as often as possible, very much as he does now.
    I just want to add that Slashdot has so far been organized wonderfully. Its popularity reflects this to the extreme.

    Now if only the Malda would implement the Slashdot Mirroring Service like was suggested for the Rusty-Case article.
  • He lready stated that the anonymous button would be exactly like you wheren't logged in at all, so no, otherwise, it wouldn't be anonymous..
  • Whenever I get the opportunity to moderate I try *not* to moderate posts which are already +2 or greater, since I figure every other moderator will do that. I read articles "highest scores first" and if something *really* grabs me and it's already high, I"ll bump it. Otherwise I save my points for the 0s and 1s.

    Only on two occassions have I knocked down users. I figure they'll sit at the bottom anyway.
  • How many people actually have negative karma? Let alone, -10? I have a hard time seeing this as a big problem, but I'm not really up on the stats here...

    As far as getting hit for being redundant, well, I think that is A Good Thing. You should read most of the stuff before you post. If what you want to say (or close to it) has already been said, then you keep quiet. This isn't talk.bizarre where "upping the volume" is considered k3wl.

  • 1. Make moderation points last longer, or maybe not even expire.

    I'd like to see them last a few days longer, but I see the wisdom in the current system. If your points never expire, you might not use them for "unimportant" threads, instead waiting for a thread you really care about. If you know you only have a few days to use them, you may end up doing (desired) moderation sooner rather than later.

    I see things that deserve to be moderated up or down and I can't.

    I imagine we all do. It'd be nice to have a way to show support for a post we really like, but I think we can rely on later moderators to apply points appropriately.

    #2. Someone else mentioned... divide the score of a post into each category... it seems like a good idea to me.

    Agreed. This is a *really* good idea.

    #4. Dynamically generate the moderators. I'm not sure how it's done now, but as slashdot grows the number of moderators it will need grows too.

    Essentially, Slash creates a number of moderators semi-proportional to the number of comments posted. It's explained more further here [].

    One other comment regarding IP Banning... Instead of a simple ban, I think it would be more in keeping with the way Slash is going with all other filtering stuff and make it toggleable. That is, the user can choose to filter out all posts from any IP that has posted more than X items to a given thread that day. I suspect this would be pretty heavy on the server, but maybe there's a clever and efficient way to implement it.

  • I think that this sort of thing is a good idea, but there are some important issues:

    1. What about people connecting through IPMasq/Proxies, or using dynamic IPs? I connect to the net through my uni (forced proxy, and a dynamic IP to the outside world anyway), and this means that one idiot could cause everyone's posts for a period of time (maybe just the time the article stays on the front page, but that's a lot of time for a dialup dynamic IP address).

    What about displaying the ip address in the form Maybe (although this would probably load the server), when a moderator tries to "SuperTroll", this would be disallowed if the reverse DNS lookup contains "cache","proxy", or something similar. This could possibly be abused though.

    2. People may decide to do stupid DoS attacks against the displayed IP, which may affect lots of other people.

    Maybe there should be an option "Ignore -1 posts from this IP", which would still have the problems in 1, but stop people doing DoS attacks.

    2. There's still the potential for abuse. If something like this was done, then setting "SuperTroll" should require _all 5_ of the moderator points to be used, and require two moderators. The person who uses this option won't know if they're the first or second moderator to set this, and so would have to be really sure that they want this.

    Just some thoughts.
  • Put simply, moderation as it is employed here rests upon a single, faulty premise: that everyone agrees upon which posts deserve to get the highest score, and which ones don't. The problems that you are seeing are a direct result of this assumption.

    What you need is something more like GroupLens. This works as follows: Each person indicates, for each message read, whether or not he liked that message. These markings have no direct impact on the general public.

    However, if you decide to use the feature, your markings are compared with others. The markings of people that have made selections similar to you in the past are given the most weight. Therefore, the articles that are given the most points are tailored to your specific preferences.

    This is a far better solution. No more of this points madness; if people are not truthfully marking articles, it hurts nobody but themselves.

    Why is slashdot not using this type of system?

  • Occasionally it happens that one posts a message twice (too much flipping back and forth between pages in the browser and that stuff happens). Or posts a second message that just contains some bit more but is identical in the first part.

    Any solution to this problem?

    I am not sure if it is too much, if I could delete it myself but how about allowing me to flag it for deletion by some moderator - so two folks are involved?

  • That could work well, but it raises a couple more questions.

    1: Should we allow AC to raise that flag? (I think not.)
    2: Now we have another set of points to keep track of, and we might want to figure out how well each persons suggestions are recieved. 3: Do we give/take karma based on the response to the suggestion that a post be moderated? (give fractional karma for each flag you raise which is acted upon, take fractional karma if the post still hasn't been moderated a week later.)

  • I believe (get me if I'm wrong) Rob has reduced the number of moderators from when he originally introduced it. He's said before that he feels that moderation should be a rare thing and only a few comments to an article should ever be moderated in either direction.

    I didn't agree initially, but now I do. I try to read everything at least down to 2, and I think this means you get all the intelligent comments, not just the ones lucky enough to make it up to 5.

    Of course, there are still a few rare ones that make it up to 5, and some of them don't really deserve it. IMHO moderators should focus on looking for diamonds in the rough rather than further moderating up 3's and 4's.

    Perhaps moderating up an article should get harder (requires more points) the higher it starts, so it would cost a moderator a lot of points (or alternatively take several moderators) to bring a 4 up to a 5, but only one to take a 1 to a 2.
  • Say I read an amazing post and moderate it up to +5, then some bozo comes along and moderates it down to -1 flaimbait.. then someone with m2 points see's -1 on it, thinks that's a bad choice--who gets the m2 karma points?

    The way *I'd* implement it, the M2 would be presented with *both* moderation activities and be able to score *both*. Same goes for the second example. Remember, it will most likely be on a sliding scale (say, from -5 to strongly agree) so each of the moderators will get the appropriate response. They'll be accountable only for their actions, not for another's.

    Droit devant soi on ne peut pas aller bien loin...

  • Thank you so much for tweaking the auto-points for good karma. I like to initially read /. stories with a threshold of '2', and it was getting sort of tedious dealing with the generally safe postings of the anointed on the occasions when they weren't really contributing anything new. Initially it turned me off to the good karma bump altogether, but this seems like a good compromise: it'll reward /.'s best contributors and hopefully make reading with a '2' threshold a little more interesting.

    I hope you move ahead with making anonymous posting a privilege of registered membership. If it deters even a few people from just spouting off because they happened by and have no more ties to Slashdot than that it's displayed on their browser at the moment, it's a good thing. There is clearly still room for abuse by registered users hiding behind momentary anonymity, but if an extra hoop has to be jumped through to gain that privilege in the first place, maybe it will help curb the "drive-by flamings."
    Michael Hall

  • Especially in the longer threads, virtually nothing past the first couple hundred posts seem to get moderated.

    Maybe if moderators are required to look at articles with the top-level threads in random order, this could be solved...


  • Or, for comparison look at Rob himself with a measly 6 Karma points []. (as of this posting...)

    What happens when Rob can't post?

  • I'd still log out and go through a trusted anonymous redirector before posting to Slashdot anonymously. And even then it's possible they'll find you, via traffic analysis (hmm, request goes into redirector from X at time T, request goes out from redirector to Slashdot at time T+1, voila!). If you think the NSA is not monitoring traffic going to and from the overseas redirectors, you're nuts.

    Of course, the overseas redirectors are safe from ADM, be that as it may, so don't get too paranoid. Of course, U.S. and Canadian redirectors aren't. A court order can grab their log files. Bletch.


  • What about the concept of story moderation? i.e, moderating the quality of news stories, not just their comments. It seems like a lot of the bitching about whether stories suck could be eliminated. This would also give the story posters a better feel for what the community is interested in. It takes the whole "by the community, not by Rob" thing a step further.
  • I get to moderate about once every 2 weeks

    Really? That's strange. I have been reading/posting to Slashdot since late 1997/early 1998, have a high Karma, read what I think would be an average amount, but have never moderated. Once, I had moderator status, but then Slashdot crashed, and when it came back up, my points were gone.

    Hmmm....I wonder if my account is broken somehow.

    Interested in XFMail? New XFMail home page []

  • It's not necessarily that noone bothers to read that far, but that after a few screenfuls, there is frequently nothing new. It makes very little since to upwardly moderate a post that has the same content as an earlier post that has already been upwardly moderated.

    Also, I know that I'm usually only skimming after the first few screenfuls; I may miss something interesting, but I only have so much time . . .

  • I fear that would lead to moderation by revenge. "He moderated my post down. He's obviously a jerk, lets see if I can find a message from him who deserves to be moderated down."

    Or the opposite. "He moderated my post up. Obviviously a person of good taste, lets see if I can find a good message from him so I can return the favour.".
  • You make a good point, but remember that even with the old style of anonymous posting, it would still be possible, with enough effort and maybe a subpoena or two, to find out who the poster is. Even if slashdot doesn't log a username for the post, it could still log the IP. If it's a static IP, then the poster has been found. If it's a dynamic IP, then the ISP should have in their logs who was using the IP at the time. The only truly anonymous method of posting is to use an anonymous reposter which logs nothing about the poster.

    This is, of course, assuming that slashdot logs IPs for anonymous posts, but from previous talk about temporarily banning posting from abusive IPs, it seems that it does.

  • 1. Not quite. As I understand it, the karma is simply the sum of all moderation done to your comments. If you keep posting comments that never get touched (up or down), your karma will remain constant. If you post a comment that gets bumped up a point, your karma increases by a point.

    2. I agree with this, actually, though I find that I'm adding the +1 bonus to about half of the comments I post. *shrug*

    3. I disagree with the concept of a waiting period *entirely*. I think rather quickly, and can easily make 2 or 3 posts inside of a half an hour that, IMO, are as well-thought-out as I can make them. A waiting period would not be likely to change my posting habits except to discourage me from posting. I'd post one comment, and in that half hour, I would probably get bored and go browse another web site entirely.

  • One possible scenario I see is this:

    An AC posts something *legitimately* anonymously (so as to not be held accountable) that says some incriminating things about company X.

    Company X has a few employees and friends that happen to have moderator abilities on Slashdot. Those moderators "pretend" the comment is a trollish comment, knock it down, and expose the AC's IP address. The AC's hostname turns out to be, say,

    Ruh roh.

    If we could eliminate this possibility, though (perhaps by involving SEVERAL moderators in the decision), it just might work, though if people started realizing their IP address was being recorded in this fashion, and it *was* possible for it to be exposed, true anonymity would be lost and we'd lose some potentially valuable postings and posters.
  • I mentioned in an earlier thread that it would be nice to have a means for determining the validity/authenticity of a particular article.

    Perhaps a scale that included items like "validated first-hand", "validated by web presence", "unsubstantiated rumor", etc.

    If nothing else, a "rumor" flag would be pretty nifty.
  • I basically thought the whole meta-moderation thing was a bit of overkill. Really, the moderators *should* be watching out for improperly moderated comments. Sure, it sucks to have to 'waste' a moderation point fixing somebody else's unfair moderation, but that's what moderators are here for.

    Meta-moderation just seems like an extra level of needless complexity. Perhaps we simply need more moderators to help keep things in check. Perhaps we just need to stress the fact that moderators are supposed to be watching out for badly moderated comments in addition to new comments that are over/underrated. (This includes the necessity that a moderator be reading *all* comments, not just those scored at 0 or 1 or better.)
  • 2) Eliminate Anonymous Cowardice... This sounds extreme..

    Agreed. Since AC is used for a few different purposes, might it make sense to somehow provide a few additional tagnames people could choose from? There are *tons* of AC posts, it'd be nice to at least attempt to differentiate a bit...

    3) Combat moderator overload by making more moderators
    The problem here is that average posts may get marked higher than they should.

    I think we're a tad on the lean side for moderators. Allowing a few more may help. One of the point of points I think is to put some gradiation into the posts, so that the reader is able to match the number of posts to how much time he has. So even if some average posts get marked a tad higher than others, this may be okay. This way maybe instead of having 200 +1 comments, 10 +2 comments, and 1 +3 comment, we'd have 150 +1, 50 +2, and 11 +3.

    1) Make the score system secondary to classification system.

    I *love* this idea! Definitely gets my vote! Extending your idea... Posters could choose to give an initial label their post themselves if they wish - "off topic", "joke", etc. Moderators might change it later, but it'd help key the filters a bit (and might help posters avoid getting moderated down for something that was intentially off topic or a joke.)

    2) Personalize the scoring system for each reader.

    Some have said this would be too complicated, but as long as there are reasonable defaults in the user settings, I think this could be good. Although I'm not sure I would bother with setting points for particular authors, and the point subtraction for AC's is built in (or do you mean to provide an override?) But being able to add/subtract from certain types of posts is very good.

    Hmm... Some people might actually want to see the flame bait and trolls preferentially over the "normal" posts... I guess this could turn Slashdot into one of those old two-sided books that had one story when read one way, but turned upside down there's another story in it. That'd be... odd. Interesting and cool, but odd... -1 Interesting, -1 Insightful, +1 troll, +1 off topic... Probably it'd just encourage bad behavior.

  • In addition, I added a much requested feature to allow posters to optionally pass on the +1 bonus when they post.

    Be aware of a potential loophole here. If one wishes to up their karma, they could write a reply that they know will be good, and artifically de-flate it by passing on the +1 - thus being more assured of getting moderated up.

    Now, I'm not sure if this is abusive, or if it is a "payment mechanism" to lure would-be abusers into writing good comments. ;-) I *think* that it is only abusive if there is a scarcity of moderator points... I think that simply increasing the pool of available moderator points would compensate for this behavior.

    Yes, I'm probably stuck in game designer mode, and this may not even matter since all you get out of more points is this +1 anyway, but hey, points is points. (Btw, I think this new system could *really* make things a lot better. Good work!)

  • Some other posts mentioned displaying a percentage like "10 % funny, 40 % flamebait, 50 % troll" next to the actual moderation score. That way we don't get an abstract value (from -1 to 5) but a more detailed (meta)info about the moderated post. I think that's a great idea.

    People are individuals. Each individual has a different definition of humor, trolling, insight, etc. What is a good comment for one is a bad one for somebody else. All comments are rated by a minority of moderators for all of the audience. We're all here, so why would we need representatives to preselect what is good or bad, why not have us choose on our own? Sure, moderation is optional (just change threshold), but recent events have shown that it's not as reliable as it should be!

    How about an alternative: Every post offers a way to classify it. Every registered reader is allowed to select one of the categories. It's possible to change a selection once it was submitted, so changing votes is okay, but per account you can only vote once per posting. People will read the articles and comments, classify some of the posts, then click submit before leaving and go on. The page displays the total votes and percentages next to the posts so readers always see its classification. Since every reader can vote, even quiet lurkers are helping here (probably the majority - those who read most should be able to affect it as well as those who write there), things should be fair and balanced (if the majority is immature jerks, Slashdot is lost anyway, our whole community would be damned). Abuse wouldn't be such a problem since the reasonable classifications would outweigh the bogus ones.

    There's one drawback: It's not as easy to set a threshold - it can get very complex. To solve this problem, people's preferences should let them set up point values for each category. For example: humor +1, insight +2, flamebait -3, and so on. Then some mathematical formula calculates the final score for each comment which is compared to your threshold. People who don't log in will get a default template or something. That way every registered user can customize Slashdot to their liking, valueing each category the way they want, for themselves.

    The only problem is how to calculate such a per-user-rating and apply it to the pages. That's a lot of processing that should be done client-side which would only be possible by using a Java frontend or something similar. Perhaps it's not possible or usable for Slashdot at our current technology level? But it sure would be the best way! Maybe there's a way if enough people think about it...

    The side effect would be to make moderators obsolete since there won't be any objective scores but only subjective presentation customized to each reader. Putting all registered users back on the same level, no elite, and Coward-ship is a self-selected status. No ego surfing (or posting / moderating) anymore.
  • I can see how karma-as-status could be useful, but I'm worried that people might start acting to increase their karma rather than to improve discussion.

    For example, moderating posts the way that they think that the meta-moderators would like, rather than the way they themselves feel.

    This could lead to opinions that differ from the norm being stifled.

    Some comments on slshdot annoy me, but that's the price to pay for free speech.

  • Could moderation shape social behavior? Sure. Don't let that scare you. I enjoy playing devil's advocate when I see the whole discussion might be missing something important. When I play an unpopular side, I have to be concise and do my best to entertain the masses with questions.

    Not that I would stick up for the Borg assimilating the human population's communication infrastructure, but there are times that a opposing view is needed. It can bring about good discussion and sometimes flames. If an argument is presented in good fashion, I have often seen moderators bump it all the way up in score.

    Its not wrong to debate. It cures braindead clique mentality.
  • In the first week or so of the moderation system, the moderation was just about perfect, IMO. The really good comments floated to the top quickly.

    When you tightened down later, it really seems like the quality level dropped. There wasn't enough reinforcement of good ideas or negative reinforcement of the stupid stuff.

    I think it would be an interesting experiment to try liberalizing the amount of moderator points given away each day for awhile.

    Remember, /. is growing all the time, and the amount of moderation points needed to properly regulate the discussion areas is going to be growing too.

    It probably should be a function of the average number of posts per day or something. If there are 2X as many posts, then there will need to be 2X as many moderators or 2X as many points per moderator to maintain the same degree of collaborative filtering.

    Whatever the formula ends up being, I think we would be better off if there were more points available than we have now.
  • Karma strikes me as a good idea... but maybe we could take it further and have accounts 'die' after a preset time and get 'reborn' according to their karma.

    There could be a sliding scale for such transmigrations, with high-karma posters getting cool priviliges or better html tags and first-posting trolls getting reborn as MEEPT or Bill_Gates.

    Just a thought.


  • their actions when sent before meta-moderators. A Meta-moderator may disagree with a moderators actions, but that doesn't necessarily mean that action was done maliciously.

    I suspect meta-moderators will be every bit as susceptible to abuse of power as regular moderators are. Who watches the watchers who are watching the watchmen?

  • I think all of these ideas are potentially good, but they all have one thing in common: they are all too complicated. Slashdot moderation should be simple and to the point. A percentage system, for example just about quadruples the complexity of the system.

    I do agree, however, with your point #3, (you said 2 twice, everybody makes typos) it would be cool if you could customize Slashdot to a very fine-grained level. But that would be best done with some sort of scripting language (SlashScript?) or something similar that would give you total control over infrequently-selected options. Otherwise, adding 20-30 more User Preferences options is only going to make it more diffucult for newbies, or those who have trouble navigating large amounts of data all at once (such as myself). "My Slashdot" is hard enough as it is.

    Good ideas, though, I just don't think we should use them. :-) I totally agree that the "previous proposals" you identified are not the best solutions by a long shot.

  • I think that a lot of the trouble could be avoided if authors showed more discretion in what they posted. IMHO, Slashdot shouldn't be posting rumors unless there's a high degree of truth to them. Why would the Prix Arxs Electronica jury be announcing that MS was making a Linux distro? Slashdot had no business posting that. Maybe there could even be a seperate section for rumors.
  • by Signal 11 ( 7608 )
    Rob, a long time ago, in a place far, far away, you said that you would try several moderation systems, and see which one worked out the best. As I recall, when the original incarnation of the moderation system came into being alot of people opposed it. Now that it's been around for awhile, and slashdot has quintupled it's membership...

    don't you think it's time for something new?


  • Why not assign an ID to each on anonymous coward on a per story basis? That way it would make it clearer when someone is abusing the system and spamming a story.

    Also it would make having coversations with ACs easier. Assign each AC a unique ID the first time the post to a story and kept that ID for the remainder of the story (use the ip address). It would allow people to be anonymous but identifiable.
  • > I used the new AC checkbox, and my comment was posted anonymously. But my moderation was retracted.

    Sounds like "working as designed" to me. Whether anonymous or not, you could steer the discussion toward your own points by moderating up anything in the same vein (or if you're a real prima donna, down). Personally, I think you should be able to post to an article, say, 24 hours after you moderated on it without retracting the moderations. And with the M2's now, maybe even less of an interval would be necessary.
  • I was happy to see moderation in its first incarnation; too many comments on a topic were popping up to be able to find valuable information. My personal limit is about 40 comments before everything becomes a blur... unless it is something that I am explicitly interested in.

    Personally, I like real information... to be able to get to the heart of a topic quickly enough; humor is fun, and animates the discussion... but sometimes takes too much away from the real content. Other such things (ie flamebait) should also be identified, and filtered at will...

    It is fairly easy to filter stories, but comments cannot be filtered in the same manner. The problem is that the preferences become too complex, and that you have to check your options frequently to discover new features.

    Personally, I think that the system works, as long as at a threshold of 1, you get a "full" discussion, at 2, you get only the "good" comments, and at 3 you get an executive summary. But the current moderation system breaks down when valuable information is nested... too much of the "good stuff" can be three levels down or so-too hard to scan, and too easily missed with a high threshold. But, if it is that deep, it is somehow "off topic..."

    Rob-If you really want to improve the system, you might look at less linear ways of presenting the data. The ideas of having different scoring mechanisms is a start (type of comment, type of information, quality...). I don't have any fantastic thoughts on how to do it right now, but whenever there are 400 comments on a subject, filtering alone isn't going to do enough to control the data... no matter how much moderation is done.

    Ultimately, if /. grows too much more, there just has to be something more...

  • In a way, moderators regulate other moderators already. If a post is marked down unfairly, other moderators will come along and mark it back up. (This assumes that there are an adequate number of moderator points floating around, which IMHO is not currently the case.) This is already a form of "meta-moderation".

    I agree; I think there should be many more moderators with many more points. And a five point scale is hardly enough to get a good "community vote" on what is a good post or not. That's what we really need, a concensus opinion from the most informed, most interested participants of the /. community.

    If I were to moderate and see a good, but not great post with a 3, I wouldn't "plus one" it, but let someone else if they felt it was worth it. But if I saw a post scored 15 of 25, I might feel it needs a little adjustment up or down. And with a larger scale to vote on it, I wouldn't feel bad about moderating a moderately good post downward, as long as I wasn't penalizing someone.

    There are a lot of posts that are redundant as well, but aren't bad in a way that deserves moderating downward if they result in the poster having karma taken away because they aren't unique enough to please whoever has moderation duties at the time. That's nearly as bad a trouble as flamers when it comes to trying to read /. in a hurry.

    I'd take a whole forum of comments deemed worthy by a large group of informed participants over the choices of a few "chosen elites" any time.

    All things considered, I think that things are going pretty well, so far.
  • One thing to keep in mind... Try _NOT_ to make it bloated. I personally like the system as is, but if more functionality is to be integrated into the current moderation, I suggest it be implemented in the user preferences section, and make sure theres a simple brainless fix to view postings. I'm saying this because recently I went to where they added a ton of functionality, and it drove me nuts trying to figure out how to exploit it. It drove me to the point where I didn't even want to deal. This is just my opinnion.
  • this would be pretty nice.

    During a couple of the Instant Messanging stories, it appeared that someone was going through and flaming everyone who mentioned Jabber ( by saying jabber was insecure and we should all use this other client with strong encryption. (i can't remember the name of it-- i think it started with a C. anyone know what this is?)

    But the thing was, you couldn't really tell if it was just one person or many people. I mean, the writing styles were somewhat similar and such, but since it was all Anonymous Coward you couldn't tell for sure.

    While there really isn't anything wrong with this person promoting a secure IMing client, it would have been nice to know whether this was really a massive groundswell of support or just one guy going through and checking for jabber references.

    Just situations like that and stuff..
  • The reader-style of a moderator must be different from the style of a non-moderator; a moderator should typically browse at -1, while, as a typical non-moderator, you browse at 0, or even 1. While moderator access is given by random, it would be good to le people configure two browse levels, one for when they have moderator access, and one for when they don't.

    In addition to this idea, that is just a feature-idea *featurist*, I have a wuestion; What is the reason for the totally random grant of moderator access? Either, you could let everyone have access (Give us one point for each, let's say, 10 of written comments). That /. would perheaps become the Average Stupid /., but not more than it is today... Or, you could give those moderated high (those with high karma), moderator access (Say, one point per 10 recieved points). That /. will probably become a elitistic /., but not more elitistic than today's. So, what is the reason for randomness? But perheaps, there is no reason for it, just that you don't see any reason for non-randomness? But there certainly is a reason for non-randomness: A person, or at least I, want continuity, to be able to predict the load of information to be read today. In addition, when a moderator doesn't have any points left, but sees a very good, new, posting, he or she should be able to collect some more points (by writing some good things), to be able to moderate up that good posting later... Or, at least, that last is a good idea, though, only i sketch...

    To answer the problem; why not give people "restricted moderator access"; i.e. let them moderate down in a thread, but not higher up? That would allow good postings deep down in the tree to pop up to the top. Another solution, that is not that fair, is to double moderator points given to a posting deep down in the tree (Have a factor that increases the moderator points given deeper down, say points_recieved = points_given + 0.5 * thread_depth).

    This might be a bit off-topic, but anyway, I've thought a lot of it, so I'l put it here... It would be nice to have a type of articles that are posted by average users, and not reviewed by Rob or anyone else. Of course they should be filterable! That would allow general comments on /. and other such things. An alternative would be a fixed topic that is allways there, to which people can post anything at any time, and from which old, non-moderated postings are eaten by a garbage-collector.
  • Before people start running enthusiastically towards the cliff dropoff, I'd suggest some thought about what are the desired objectives (besides the obvious troll of "I deserves x karma because my writing is so scintillating")

    Some personal observations

    Fact - you get moderation points the more you post
    Positive feedback loop - more people naturally post
    Negative Feedback - threads get rather lengthy

    Fact - more messages mean less time spent scanning through low-scores
    Negative feedback loop - interesting messages can get ignored in the noise
    Positive feedback - people set higher quality barriers

    Fact - moderation is applied equally to all posts
    Negative feedback loop - early posts are more likely to be well read/received and later ones ignored (think Fibonnacci series and integrate the total number of moderated posts)

    I think we should congratulate Rob on trying to satisfy the largest common subset of /.ers. I would like to offer a few minor variations to the ideas he has suggested:

    - self moderation - give people the chance to nominate their posts as funny/troll/comment etc. This will (hopefully) reduce the load on the moderators

    - give other readers more control over their filter, have the initial coarse numbering scheme, then finer control like (ignore trolls 2, add +1 to person X, add it 50% people consider it funny)

    - 15 minute of fame - one random (or semi-random) post per thread to be given score of 5. This is like random breath testing, if you know that your post could be eyeballed by a sizeable fragment of /. readers, would you be encouraged to be more careful in your average writing? Debateable ...

    - karma seekers - the problem with mass communications is that mediocracy tends to dominate, e.g. newsgroups find inital experts are driven out by the noise. It would be nice if I could permanently donate my karma to the rare gurus that do wander past so that they could be encouraged to post more enlightening information rather than fighting through the history ranks

    As noted in a thread, long long ago, SlashDot is more like a cocktail party than newspaper so if Rob can find good mechanisms for finding and amplifying interesting thoughts, we should all applaud him.

  • 1) If I just click "post anonymously" instead of logging out, and my post gets moderated down, does my karma go down? That's the whole point of posting anonymously -- to be able to say potentially contreversial things without reprimand (beyond flames).

    2) To this end, could the "no score +1 bonus" allow one to decrease one's score to 0 or even -1? Sometimes posts are offtopic but still valid, and so should be posted but pre-moderated down.

    3) (This is a little offtopic, but at least regards improving slashdot.) Remember how Alan Cox said that (paraphrased) "the problem with slashdot is that everyone tries to get 'First Post' instead of 'First Patch'"? Well, why not post bug tracking info on slashdot? Registered users could filter it out. All Rob would have to do would be to give story-posting privs to list maintainers. Then we'd start getting the slashdot effect on bugs.
  • I spend most of my time here lurking, and I've been a member here at least 9 months or so.

    Most of the time what I would contribute to a story has already been said ny the time I read it. So I see no need to add another "me too" post to Slashdot, and I don't. However, there were times that I have posted what I thought were fairly insightful, non-repetitive comments that haven't been asked yet. It's not that often, but I do comment.

    After reading this article I went check my Karma and found I have a -1! I figured maybe I had a zero because I rarely post, but a negative score would indicate someone didn't like what I wrote. But I don't remember when the last time I posted was, and what it was I said.

    And herein lies my problem: I don't know what I did to deserve a negative score, and I have no way to find out why.

    I understand cross linking each and every comment would be a ridiculously large task, but couldn't we at least have a statement like: One negative point scored:Flamebait in article "SoAndSo" in our preferences page?

    I don't care who gave me the score. At least then I can dig up the story(ies) that have done me harm and hopefully make sense of all this.

  • Hey... what if I had a large karma and wanted to be reborn as a high state of life in the form of meept. Are you trying to say that meept is a lower form of life? I'm offended.
  • The changes sound pretty good. You know, there is a philosophical point behind this: you're still debugging it. A while back there was a posting on how Slashdot is ushering in a "new era" and explained how Slashdot's system is better than traditional news. I thought it was bunch of hooey, because it missed the key point: Slashdot is not better because of any feature it has now, it is better because it is dynamic and evolving to be better.

    Another philosophical point is that you are striving to create a system that maintains dynamic equilibrium. The system you are programming isn't silicon but grey matter. You are balancing all our (the readers) conflicting e-motional responses in order to balance the system just right. I find it fascinating how simple decisions (like if you were to remove Anonymous Coward) have unpredictable effects that unbalance the system.

    In any case, here are my suggestions:

    • Put up a stats page. I've got Karma=3 right now ('cause I rarely post). How does that compare to everyone else? I want stats! I want encouragement to post well so that I can get higher karma than my friends! Just like SETI@Home/, this could be the carrot you are looking for to encourage people to post well to begin with.
    • Let me moderate my own posts, as described here. Sometimes I've posted things that I later wanted to retract (primarily, because some later post clarified something and I realize that my original posting was completed without merit). Please give me a chance to moderate down without hitting my Karma before anybody else moderates me down. Conversely, sometimes I post some really good stuff. Please let me add some kicker to it that only moderators can see where I can say "Hey, moderator, this was a really good post". This think this reaches equilibrium, because if I hilite posts which moderators think are crap, they might strike back with a -1 rather than a +1.
  • I think that would open up even a larger flamebait source than requiring logins to post. I've been a moderator a few times, and I try to be as impartial as I can. But, what if the system you suggest was in place, and someone took my moderation the wrong way? I certainly know enough people in real life who take anything that does not completely jive with their way of thinking as a personal insult. This is sadly an attitude I see greatest in the geek community.

  • think we're a tad on the lean side for moderators. Allowing a few more may help. One of the point of points I think is to put some gradiation into the posts, so that the reader is able to
    match the number of posts to how much time he has. So even if some average posts get marked a tad higher than others, this may be okay. This way maybe instead of having 200 +1
    comments, 10 +2 comments, and 1 +3 comment, we'd have 150 +1, 50 +2, and 11 +3.

    I like this one the best. Under each story have five links (as opposed to the two now) with the number of comments. The first is the full monty, flame wars and everything and each one over corresponds with a certain higher score i.e...

    (246 comments, 235, 200, 50)

    Allowing for quickly getting the cream and ignoring the crap (until you want to swim in it :))
  • I read through most of the comments in this discussion, and I've read some past threads on moderation, but I haven't seen anybody suggest this idea for moderating: (I also read the moderator's FAQ last week)

    Unless the moderation system has changed since the last time I used it, you can bump the score up or down. How about being able to instead choose what you think the score should be? That way, a post doesn't accidentally get moderated from 1 up to 5 by four people who really just thought it was a 2. As a bonus, only one of the four moderators' points would be spent on the article.

    I'm not sure how often this happens, but I know I've seen posts in the past that had a score of 5 that I thought were a 2 or 3 at best. I also know I've moderated something up from a 1 only to see it show up as a 4 when I reload after moderating.

    Anyway, just my thoughts...

  • While I agree that anonymous postings are often valuable, I think that it would be better to implement them as an anonymous pseudonym. The bad thing about the current system is that each and every AC is unique. Because of this, you can't give credence to previously-good ACs, you can't tell when someone is attempting to impersonate a previous AC informant, and you can't apply "karma" ratings to repeated AC posts.

    Here's what I would do:

    Implement an "Anonymous Citizen" creation screen that allows you to associate a new pseudonym with a password (without giving any details about who you are). Since only you know the password, only you can post with that pseudonym. This differs from the current /. login in that even /. doesn't know the email address of an Anonymous Citizen.

    Next, try to limit the ability of people to create too many pseudonyms. One way might be to log a count of pseudonyms created per IP and not allow this to grow too large. A better idea (IMO) would be to only allow a pseudonym to be created by a registered user, and limit the number of pseudonyms created per user to something like 1 per month (note that /. would not be keeping track of what pseudonym(s) were created, just a count).

    Finally, eliminate normal ACs and flag pseudoym users as the new Anonymous Citizens. ACs would still be treated differently than registered users, but a good AC could have enough karma to start their posting scored as a 1 or a 2, for instance.

    I think that the benefits of this system would be many. What do you think?

  • Out of curiousity, what opinions do people have about all the posts moderated up to 3/4/5 for being funny?

    While I have a sense of humour, I read comments to see feedback on the article, not the top 10 things about whatever. (As good as a few of the lists have been)

    I think that the issue is that users with the +1 only need to be moderated up once to break into what I call the "stellar" comment levels. (Higher than 2). Only a minority of the comments which hit 4 for "funny" are (subjective) deserving of it. Maybe my issue is that people should start their humour posts without the +1.

    Also, a question. Does anyone know if moderation on anonymous posts (from logged on users) counts on their karma?

    It shouldn't, IMO.

  • This is interesting -- it sounds like MetaModeration, in practice, will only give negative feedback. MetaModerators exist to keep evil moderators in line; thus mm's will likely spend their time searching for badly-moderated posts. I'd be surprised if any moderators end up with positive moderation karma. (And BTW, Rob does mean that there will be a seperate "moderation" karma, right? If MetaModeration affects regular karma, I think a lot of people will opt out of moderation.)

    isn't the quick & easy solution to this to give people karma when they moderate? that way, if you moderate 5 comments correctly you get, say 5 karma points. if a meta-moderator doesn't agree with your moderation he/she moderates it, and 2 points are subtracted, giving you a 3 point total gain. that way, if you do things right you'll only gain karma from the moderation, while if you don't there'll be less karma for you.

    as far as I could read there's only one big karma bowl, not two.

    the difference between the meta-moderation and the regular one is that this one has a specific amount of point set off to mark those comments that were moderated incorrectly. it would also be possible to increase the regular amount of moderation points, but that would be a pseudo-meta-moderation in my opinion, since you're no longer specifically going for the incorrectly moderated comments.

  • Personally, I think that -10 is too high to begin destroying people's ratings, maybe it should happen at -15 or -20.

    It's not as any of them will really restrict someone who really wants to troll or flame or whatever, but I'm at -6 and I've never posted a comment that was meant to be flamebait, nor trolling, and i'm not quite sure if any were redundant or not...

    But that's another thing.. I don't know how you think its fair for people to be marked down for redundancy. Lord knows that a person can't read most posts in /., and usually I don't read more than about 10-15. If there are lotsa things further down in the comments that says the same thing(which is likely when you hit about 200-300 comments) and I don't see it, I get my post moderated down and more bad karma...

    And its only very rarely that any posts ever get moderated up, really...

    Maybe you should implement something to lessen bad karma over time. Ya know, if the people aren't screwing up, they're evidently doing something right and deserve to get their karma up.

    The Daemon

  • Shouldn't ALL moderation be Meta-moderation? I sort of proposed this a while back. For instance, who moderates the Meta-moderators, or the meta-moderator-moderators? Everybody should have some Karma which they can add/subtract from a post. The Karma the moderator gains or loses when moderating is given by a weighted sum of the amount against and towards the direction he/she moderated. For instance, if 2 of 4 moderators post one way, and the others the other way, nobody gains points...they all break even. If a 5th poster then posts one way, everybody in that group will gain some fractional amount of Karma. The more people that post their way, the higher the post's rating in their direction is and the more Karma they gain. This should be the baseline. Of course, excellent posts in the minority should still get "bonuses" or "informative/insightful" ratings, which is person-specific, but totally outside the automatic Karma adjustment. We don't just want to reward people for going with the herd.

    Side effects of this are that if you post to a moderated down thread, you automatically incur a karma those off the wall, or trollish threads will die sooner. Also, if AC is now considered just one person, AC's Karma will fluctuate according to the behavior of ACs...if ACs see their posts being automatically skewed downwards because other ACs are spamming, etc., they will be more inclined to get a real account, or post better posts. There must be a lower limit though (as I suspect there is), because any AC would then be able to screw over all other ACs by spamming, flaming, etc. Those are the risks of being an AC I guess...

    I'm for "Auto-moderation" ;)
  • Frankly, the moderation system here on Slashdot is the best I have ever seen anywhere. It keeps flambait and trolls at bay, underlines particularly good comments when the number of comments becomes overwhelming; it works.

    Personally, I don't think meta-moderation is necessary. Of course, in some specific cases something will be moderated negatively that shouldn't have been, but in general, I have seen these comments go up again within a few hours. Moderators here do a great job, and although the moderation is not perfect, it makes reading Slashdot all the more enjoyable.

    What is the importance of karma? Why go bonkers about it and worry about being negatively moderated, etc? Karma is only an indicator of your moderation history. By having high karma, you are known to post intelligent comments on Slashdot, and it is safe to assume your comments will not be flames or trolls. That's all there is to karma, and I hope it doesn't become a mark of status on Slashdot. As a matter of fact, I would suggest no one but you can see your karma score.

    Other than that, I will always read comments with scores of 0, because you never know when an AC will have something insightful to say. Also, comments at -1 are worth a glance, because it's possible that the poster posted a controversial opinion but still has something to bring to the debate. However, in general, such comments are rarely rated down, a sign that Slashdot moderators are, on the whole, insightful and helpful. -1 comments turn out generally to be posts to the effect of '1st p0st d00d!!' or '1inux sux m1rc0s0ft rulz!!!!'

    So keep moderation as it is; to me, it's way ahead of anything else done on other forums, and there's no need to feel it is imperfect. Kudos to Rob and the gang.

    "There is no surer way to ruin a good discussion than to contaminate it with the facts."

  • This could get interesting.

    ... (Just please don't start asking for M3 or M4 moderation or I'll start crying).

    It's tortoises all the way down, CmdrTaco. Want some recursive moderation code?


  • Don't feel too bad there Rob. I've been working all day (labor day) too. Thanks for all the great work.

    Maybe someone could describe this MetaModeration to me a bit better? I don't think I quite understand it.

    And I really do like the 'Post Anonymously' checkbox - maybe I'll implement something like that for my own site ;)

  • You could make it part of each user's and put it on their User Info page. In addition to SoAndSo has posted X comments, you could add SoAndSo has doled out X amount of Karma on X comments and show the comments the moderator has moderated.
  • The point is: do you post here to please other readers, or do you post here to voice your opinion?

    A lot of the discussion so far about moderation has been based on the assumption that the reading pleasure of slashdot frequenters is of utmost importance. But perhaps it would be a good idea to reconsider this view. What's the point of devising new rules and methods of discussion just to make it more pleasant? There are plenty of unplaisant things that can be said, that still contribute to the value and the reality of a forum.

    I would not call the moderation system censorship. But I wouldn't call slashdot a free speech forum either. Whether this sounds pleasing to Rob's ears or not, any system where there is the possibility of automated filtering based on criteria set by third parties,(other than the writer and the reader) any discussion environment where voices can be volumed up or volumed down at the discretion of some judges.. any such system is NOT free.

    And lack of freedom is never a good sign. Perhaps Rob ought to look towards this direction for some answers as to why the quality of the discussions on slashdot is declining.

    Ironic isn't it..? The majority of people here support free software, yet they cannot handle the more basic concept of free speech.

  • I haven't seen this suggestion yet - would there be a way to use the concept of collaborative filtering?

    For instance, everyone who had a handle could pick which articles they liked or disliked (or maybe by authors :). Then the system would compare that data against what other people had liked or disliked, and then prioritize/score other articles that it thought you might like based on the correlations with other users (like the "What's Related" or Alexis service).

    Dunno what the precise algorithm is. It might be too much additional load on /., and it may end up "Balkanizing" all the comments (you'd tend to only see those Web pages which you agree with).

    I thought it might be a slightly different approach than the pure moderation system.
  • by RealUlli ( 1365 ) on Monday September 06, 1999 @09:32PM (#1699763) Homepage
    The point is: do you post here to please other readers, or do you post here to voice your opinion?

    You post here to voice your opinion, clearly. Moderators are explicitly asked to moderate down only posts that are off topic or flamebait.

    A lot of the discussion so far about moderation has been based on the assumption that the reading pleasure of slashdot frequenters is of utmost importance. But perhaps it would be a good idea to reconsider this view. What's the point of devising new rules and methods of discussion just to make it more pleasant? There are plenty of unplaisant things that can be said, that still contribute to the value and the reality of a forum.

    IMHO, the moderation system is not intended for the viewing pleasure of the readers but to weed out bad posts and to help stand out the really good ones. If you want the raw and uncut stuff, read at -1. I, for myself, read at +2, just because I don't have the time to dig through hundreds of posts, just to find a few gems.

    Moderators are also asked to moderate up comments that they don't agree with, but make a valid point in the discussion (but not posts that say something or other is better or worse and give no reason!).

    I would not call the moderation system censorship. But I wouldn't call slashdot a free speech forum either. Whether this sounds pleasing to Rob's ears or not, any system where there is the possibility of automated filtering based on criteria set by third parties,(other than the writer and the reader) any discussion environment where voices can be volumed up or volumed down at the discretion of some judges.. any such system is NOT free.

    That is correct. This system is not completely free, and IMHO it is good that way. I would just stop reading /. if had not choice but to read all comments. I prefer to read those few that other people (changing people!) deem worth reading. This approch I'd call a democratic approach, because moderators vote, rather than delete postings. IMHO, this is a improvement from usenet, where the approach is anarchistic and I have to keep my own scorefile or read all the posts and the valid points get drowned out in noise.

    Regarding free speech: would you go to town hall and shout "The mayor is a turnip!" and complain about being removed? (Probably he is, but that's another story ;-)) Or would you complain when you are asked the leave the church, because you were talking loudly with your neighbor about the preferences of your ex-lover? IMHO you have every right to say whatever you want, but don't expect everyone to listen, and don't even try to force everyone to listen!

    And lack of freedom is never a good sign. Perhaps Rob ought to look towards this direction for some answers as to why the quality of the discussions on slashdot is declining.

    No, IMHO that's probably because it starts to become more and more crowded. IMHO, the quality didn't decrease too much, but I browse at +2, so... ;-)

    Ironic isn't it..? The majority of people here support free software, yet they cannot handle the more basic concept of free speech.

    Yes, they can. They just have chosen not to listen to everyone that happens to say something. Try joining a few large IRC channels and read everything. Or read news, but not just a few groups, and without kill- or scorefile! /. has grown to dimensions where it needs mechanisms to help people sort out the crap. (It doesn't force them to do that!) Usenet was completely free speech, and with the advent of AOL and the likes, it grew into a failure. So, what do you propose as a solution?

  • by Woodlark ( 3628 ) on Monday September 06, 1999 @11:12AM (#1699764)
    Rob, your explanation of meta-moderation was a bit odd. Maybe that's because you've been ceaselessly laboring all labor-day... What do you mean by "A [MetaModerator] gets 10 comments..." - ten chances to moderate another moderator?

    Maybe I understood his explanation because I've been coding ceaselessly all Labour day, but here goes my attempt at translation:

    "A [MetaModerator] gets 10 comments..."

    An M2 logs in and is presented with a page which contains 10 moderated comments (and hopefully the article which they're commenting on) as well as further descriptors explaining what type of action was performed on them. The M2 then decides whether each decision was a good one, a neutral one, a silly, or even bad/spiteful/baseless/you-name-it one, and so indicates through some form provided for that purpose which is most likely right after the comment.

    The program then attaches these decisions to a description of the moderators' behaviours. If you get a lot of good decision marks, your Moderation Karma increases. If you get a bunch of bad decision marks, it decreases, and you will eventually lose the ability to moderate if I understand correctly.

    Hope that explained it, and Rob, I hope that's pretty much on the mark :)

    Droit devant soi on ne peut pas aller bien loin...

  • by Woodlark ( 3628 ) on Monday September 06, 1999 @11:36AM (#1699765)
    How about stop posting crap about moderation? I could care less about moderation let alone comments, take away comments, Im here for the news, and could give two craps less what someone posts in a comment area, (How ironic, Im expressing my idea IN a comment area). Quit with all this clutter crap and stick to the NEW and FACTS.

    Well, Slashdot isn't just a news and facts site. First off, not everything posted in the articles is correct, and often, they raise more questions. The comment forum does exactly what its name implies: adds a community to /.. And often, the questions which are raised by these articles in the comments are also answered (albeit sometimes conflictingly) in that same forum. The comments forum, thus, is also a valuable place for learning more "news and facts".

    Of course, adding this societal impact to /. does mean that we get all that comes along with a society. That means nonsense, back-biting, trolling, name-calling, as well as the brilliant contributions mentioned earlier, not to mention interjections of much needed (and appreciated) humour. And that means, unless we want this society to fall into anarchical chaos (which I'm sure some wouldn't mind or would even enjoy), we need to create some form of moderation.

    We all who read /. regularly are members of this community, be it occasional or hard-core. Anything affecting this community (in this case, moderation) affects us. Thus, /. moderation is a valid topic for /. news.

    Droit devant soi on ne peut pas aller bien loin...

  • by luge ( 4808 ) <> on Monday September 06, 1999 @12:30PM (#1699766) Homepage
    that those with good karma be the only ones allowed to m2 moderate? Or, alternately, those who have done a significant quantity of posting? I think meta moderation will be significantly more time/patience consuming to do right, and those who are willing to read and post quality stuff might be substantially more likely to take the time to do a good job with meta-moderation. Just my two cents-
    (who is busy picturing Rob rubbing his meta-lamp to summon the GOR, Gor Over Rob...)
  • by MonkeyPaw ( 8286 ) on Monday September 06, 1999 @01:32PM (#1699767) Homepage
    I missed the night the Stevens story appeared, so I missed the whole ugly stupidity surrounding the posts from the AC with an attitude.

    Normally, I leave the filtering on to NOT show the moderated posts under 0, but for that article, I went back and changed it to see what all the hoopla was about.

    Needless to say, I was reminded of the time I spent a few minutes in an AOL chat room where I was instantly assaulted by a legion of 14 year old kids who just learned the same words as the AC in the Stevens article.

    I started thinking of what can be done about these faceless, unaccountable children and came up with a rather extreme idea. What if these AC's could be revealed by IP?

    Here's the idea.
    1- Rob could add the ability to log IP addresses per comment. This normally would just sit in an unused database field.

    2- Inform users in the "post comments" section that extreme stupidity and trollish comments could result in a moderator choosing to reveal their IP address.

    3- When someone is in Moderation Mode, they would have the ability to choose something like "Super Troll" which would reveal the IP address of the person who posted the nasty comments.

    4- Using "Super Troll" would use up 2 or all 3 moderation points. This would prevent people from just revealing IP addresses all over the place.

    5- Perhaps, in the case of the Stevens article, if more then one moderator tags the AC as a Super Troll in more then one comment, then all the AC's comments in the article get the IP revealed. Which would then be referred to as Mega Troll.

    Super Troll and Mega Troll would make AC's accountable and trackable. Perhaps the AC in the Stevens article would have not been such an ass if he knew he could become not so anonymous?

    Many web based chat rooms have turned to posting IP addresses after the chat rooms became filled with stupidity. The process seems to work ok.

    Just an idea.
  • by BJH ( 11355 ) on Monday September 06, 1999 @11:12AM (#1699768)
    I think what Rob's describing is something like this:

    1 - You come to Slashdot as usual.
    2 - You're notified that you have "MetaModerator" status.
    3 - You then wander around stories as usual.
    4 - You see a comment that's been moderated down unfairly (or perhaps given too high a score - some people lately seem to be using two accounts, one for making comments and another with good karma for moderating up their own comments).
    5 - You hit a button that indicates whether the comment was fairly or unfairly moderated.
    6 - The original moderator's karma goes up or down, and yours goes up a little.

    However, Rob's comment could also be taken to indicate that you're given a link to click on which then shows you a list of ten comments that have been moderated (say, within the last day), which you are then asked to score. This seems awfully inflexible and inefficient to me, but then, I'm not the one coding it in Perl...

    (Feel free to jump in here, Rob, and tell me if I'm wrong.)

  • by Reject ( 11791 ) on Monday September 06, 1999 @12:48PM (#1699769)
    Here are my thoughts on /. moderation and what some of the good/bad ideas I've seen from other people are.

    #1. Make moderation points last longer, or maybe not even expire. In the couple times I've had moderation points I only saw a couple things that I thought were worthy of them, and all the rest of the points ended up in /dev/null. Then when I don't have the points, I see things that deserve to be moderated up or down and I can't. I think giving the moderators points and letting them keep them but putting a roof on the number of moderation points they can have (5? 8? 10?) would allow people to moderate what they think is worthy but stop the tyranny of a bad moderator.

    #2. Someone else mentioned that maybe instead of an averaged score it would be a good idea to divide the score of a post into each category and comments could have something like 50% flamebait, 30% troll, 20% funny. I never thought of this before, but it seems like a good idea to me. It would be more accurate, but on the other hand make filtering the bad posts more difficult.

    #3. The idea of allowing users to log in and then post anonymously also sounds great to me and requiring people to do this to post anonymously sounds even better. I oppose completely eliminating anonymous posting because there ARE quality anonymous posts and it's a necessary evil. But still, if you make the anonymous users jump through hoopes to do it it'll stop the knee-jerk ACs while those who actually have something worthwhile to say but need to be anonymous for fear of their job or the like will still be able too.

    #4. Dynamically generate the moderators. I'm not sure how it's done now, but as slashdot grows the number of moderators it will need grows too. If the number of moderator points given out is based on the number of comments posted in the last (insert time period here) instead of static, it would make keeping the code up to date a hell of a lot easier.

    All in all, I don't mind the moderating system as it is but think the above would help improve it, in particular #1.

  • by Anpu ( 29282 ) on Monday September 06, 1999 @11:11AM (#1699770) Homepage
    I agree that we need more total moderation points. Especially in the longer threads, virtually nothing past the first couple hundred posts seem to get moderated. Now this may just be that moderators don't bother trying with such long topics, but I find those are the ones most in need of moderation. You could bump up the number of points a moderator receives a bit, but obviously too many points may lead to abuse. I would consider increasing the number of active moderators at any given time.

  • by thal ( 33211 ) on Monday September 06, 1999 @11:30AM (#1699771) Homepage
    Often times a story that is posted is not necessarily the whole news and the whole facts. Making the comments an integral part of Slashdot enables things that seem fishy to be judged by a wide range of people. For an example (though perhaps not the best one), look at the story about a Microsoft Linux today and how quickly it was named as a hoax by some people who did a little investigating. This was a bit too easy, because it was just an update on the already-linked news story, but you get the idea.

    I'd say "just ignore the comments", but I recently got into a discussion here with people who insisted that you should just "ignore" the bad comments by setting your threshold high and I insisted that we should complain and get rid of non-registered anonymous posting. But I think the "just ignore it" idea more aptly applies here, since you can very easily ignore all of the comments if you want. Separating the good comments from the bad is a bit more difficult.
  • by GFD ( 57203 ) on Monday September 06, 1999 @01:51PM (#1699772)
    I may be waaay off on this but this karma thing may have a lot of power. Face it, people are concious of any type of status and a high karma at slashdot may well be a strong inducement for people to start being constructive. You could even egg this on by posting a page showing the top 50 like a lot of arcade games.

    That said, I would also like to suggest an experiment giving moderators either unlimited points or unlimited points to some threshold of karma. The meta moderation will allow the jerks to hang themselves big time and the heros to stand out.

  • by Smeg}{ead ( 71770 ) on Monday September 06, 1999 @05:40PM (#1699773)

    The attributes "Insightful", "Funny", "Interesting" and even "Flamebait" are rather subjective terms are they not. Surely what we are looking for most as readers of /. is comments that are interesting to us, funny to us etc.

    So how about this for an idea - personally generated scores. Let everyone be a moderator (so long as they are logged in) for as many articles as they like (or don't like). Instead of giving absolute points to articles, give relative points generated on a per-user basis - basically, if I haven't read (or therefore moderated) an article, it will show up with a score that reflects the opinions of other people who have moderated similarly to me in the past.

    That way, if somebody likes reading inflammatory drivel, articles that fit their tastes will show up with a high score for them because other people who like it will have marked those articles "up". Conversely, if somebody prefers reasonable, well balanced discussion, they are likely to find it marked as such by people with similar moderating habits to them. There are flaws with this type of system I'm sure, but it sounds plausible to me.
  • by srayhawk ( 87427 ) on Tuesday September 07, 1999 @03:58AM (#1699774)

    I'm also surprised that this has only been brought up twice. Because I don't think it's been getting enough press, and because I like explaining things, I'll go through it in more detail.

    Any registered user would be able to assign a rating, on some arbitrary scale, to any comment, on the criterion "I would like to see more like this." The system would track correlations between users across comments and use these to generate a prediction of the rating of each comment by each user. The ratings are, of course, used to sort and filter messages for display.

    This addresses several design concerns:

    • Varying interests

      Several posters have voiced the concern that (say) some people will like "Funny" posts where others will dislike them. They have suggested several solutions, for example that there be an option [] in Preferences to set any given qualifier to be treated as a bonus or a penalty, or that ratings be explicitly multidimensional []. The proposed system would handle such things implicitly. Also, it would give a basis for specialized rating that's fundamentally connected (if in a way that's a bit inflexible) to empirical evidence, rather than one that relies on a fixed set of somewhat arbitrarily-chosen and somewhat nonorthogonal qualifiers ("Informative", "Interesting", "Insightful").

    • Abuse of power

      In this design, abuse is fairly difficult. It is only possible to get "power" by granting ratings highly correlated to those of a given target audience. You can only use this power to try to knock down so many comments from that audience's sight before the engine decides your ratings are no longer correlated to those of that audience and you lose your power. Also, the system has a lot of inertia; it should take a large concerted effort to knock out any given comment.

    • Insufficient moderation

      Moderation points are restricted in the existing design because of the potential for abuse; as we see above, that's much less of a concern here. The proposed design also provides (to a certain extent) natural incentives to rate under-rated comments. A user who sees an incorrect rating for a given comment may stand directly to benefit by rating it himself, since it's possible that the engine doesn't yet know about him that he doesn't like that kind of comment. Of course, after the system has had some time to learn about the user, this explanation becomes implausible, and the alternative explanation -- that not enough people have bothered to assign a rating to this comment -- comes to the fore. In this case the user's only incentive to assign a corrected rating is his abstracted "public" self-interest.

    • Overmoderated comments

      In the existing design, certain controversial comments get large amounts of moderation points burned on them in either direction. This represents a waste of moderation effort. In the proposed design, the engine should be able to make a guess as to which user will be on which side of a controversy and show a different rating to each. This should limit the amount of wasted moderation effort.

    • Granularity and roundoff error

      In the current design, ratings are discrete and very granular. In the proposed design, ratings are continuous. (They also can exist over an arbitrary user-chosen range, since they're predicted to match the user's also-arbitrary ratings.)

    • Self-reinforcing selection

      A concern described for example here []. With respect to the collaborative filter itself, every user is his own most powerful moderator; a concentration of "moderating power" within some viewpoint opposing that of the user is (to that user) merely irrelevant. (An exception would be the concerted knocking-out described above.) Of course, selection would still be possible in forces acting outside the filter, such as administration or top-level article-posting, but that's not necessarily a problem.

    Some of the concerns that arise in this design:

    • Implementation cost

      While collaborative filtering has been an interest of mine for a while, I haven't actually looked at the literature on the subject (d'oh!), so I don't know how hard it would be to put together. It certainly wouldn't be trivial.

    • Computation cost

      Again, I'm similarly clueless. I know there's linear algebra and sparse matrices involved, but that's about it. After all the prerequisite number-crunching is done, though, I can guess that the incremental cost of predicting a single rating for display shouldn't be more than about ten or a hundred numeric operations (depending on how much simplicity is chosen for the model that the number-crunching generates).

    • Conceptual complexity

      All the other proposed designs are fairly straightforward, and it's relatively easy to understand their workings and what might go wrong with them. This design is not simple. Understanding of its inner workings requires some technical knowledge, and it may have some hidden pitfalls that aren't obvious without study.

    • Privacy

      The proposed design requires gathering a significant amount of information from each user.

    • Balkanization

      As described in the parent message. [] A related problem is that this design would cause an expansion of the discussion load on Slashdot because off-topic discussions would no longer be discouraged to the people interested in them.

    A few concerns can be addressed by extending the proposal somewhat:

    • Anonymous peoples' ratings

      Clearly, the anonymous reader will need some kind of rating system. One option would be to perform principal-components analysis (that's what it's called, right?) on the entire body of ratings, and then use the strongest correlation as the one presented to the anonymous user as a representation of the interests of the Slashdot majority. Another option would be to take the top (say) five dimensions that come out of the analysis, investigate and hand-label them (#1: popular vs. unpopular; #2: funny vs. serious; etc.), and have the anonymous user assign a numeric weight to each, retained as a cookie.

    • Variable criteria within a given user

      Perhaps some days (or for some discussions) users will be interested in funny comments, and in other cases in serious comments. It might be a good idea to grant users some plural number of ratings categories, such that they can choose one or another (or mix among them, or even among the predefined ratings discussed above) for the purpose at hand. (Perhaps if a user hit the limit of a fixed number of categories, they could "retire" old ones they don't want anymore, to be removed from the engine's model (or whatever it is that happens to old ratings).)

    • Initial knowledge

      It would probably be a good idea to give the engine some automatic ratings categories -- for example, some for authorship, to specify a rating of (say) 1 if a given person wrote the message in question and a no-rating if they didn't. This would give the engine more information to draw from, and in the example would permit it to associate authors with the ratings their comments get.

    • Self-rating

      Some posters have stated that self-rating ("Off-topic", demoting oneself to 1, etc.) might be a helpful option. The proposed design makes self-rating impossible -- one can only give a single rating to any given comment, including one's own, and that rating may get drowned out by everything else that the system knows about the comment (its size, its writer's prior record, etc.). It's possible that this could be prevented by granting the writer the option of telling the system how much he wants the comment to be associated with him, such that his record doesn't reflect on the rating of his less-valued comments and vice versa. While this helps, it's only one-dimensional, so it doesn't help in case the author wants to flag the message 'funny' or something. Another option would be simply for the author to flag his message manually in the subject line, although then the flags might get propagated to replies' subjects and look weird. Of course, the whole thing isn't *that* much of a problem, since misrated messages are supposed to be self-correcting in the first place.

    • Continuity

      The drop-down list that currently selects the rating threshold has to give discrete options. The proposed design gives continuous-valued predictions, so it would probably need an input box or something, with maybe a list box to show what percentiles correspond to what ratings.

    And finally, here are some strictly optional... um, options.

    • Uncertainty

      It's my sporadically-educated guess that the math that you have to use for this job inherently involves tracking of uncertainties -- if only because the sparse matrices need some way to distinguish between "rated as zero" and "unrated". It might be nice to include options in the user interface to make use of this uncertainty directly. For example, one could tell the engine to sort comments at the 95th percentile of their possible range, so as to highlight comments with a high uncertainty (i.e. not-yet-rated ones) for reading and rating; or at the 1st percentile, so as to only show the comments that the engine *knows* are good. At the very least, the engine should display its uncertainty level along with its predicted rating.

    • Advertising...

      ...perhaps a given user's determined preferences could be used to influence the choice of ads?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 06, 1999 @02:38PM (#1699775)
    Somewhat related: I've noticed that when an AC's posting gets moderated up once, it gets a score of 1 (e.g. Score:1, Insightful), whereas a non-AC's posting gets moderated up once to a score of 2 (e.g. Score:2 Insightful).

    Now, it seems to me that an "Insightful" post should have a score of at least 2 no matter what the source. So if a moderator marks an AC's post as Insightful or Informative, it should jump immediately from 0 to 2. I realize this can get complicated really quickly, for instance, if an AC posting with score 2 gets marked DOWN, does it go back to 0 or 1?
  • by Skyshadow ( 508 ) on Monday September 06, 1999 @11:12AM (#1699776) Homepage
    Ever noticed how nothing gets moderated about 3 anymore? I mean, I've seen some really great stuff lately that gets stuck at 3 and stays there. I wonder if there could be some incentive to moderate up...


  • by Seumas ( 6865 ) on Monday September 06, 1999 @01:03PM (#1699777)
    I thought of skipping this article all together and not posting to it. Sometimes one more opinion is one opinion too many. But I love Slashdot. It's my morning coffee. It's something I look forward to throughout the work day and it is a wonderful source of current events and professional insight. Even at its worst, it deserves more respect than 95% of your typical media-slop and geek-pages.

    Unfortunately, Slashdot regresses at times. It grows a square jaw and furry, burrowed eye-sockets. It loses stature and walks in a hunched over lurch. In these times, it can not articulate its thoughts and resorts to grunting and pointing. And each time, even though it manages to return to its typically evolved state, a lot of us worry just a little that it may get stuck in that regressed period one of these days.

    Many of us saw Slashdot regressing again this weekend. The entire Stevens article was appalling. What should have been a brief chance for people to thank the man and talk about his achievements and contributions became a free-for-all where civility evaporated from most of the posting souls and floated into the ether.

    I would never have imagined that the people who frequent Slashdot would ever have conducted themselves so astonishingly and with such a lapse of sympathy. I thought that most of us were professionals. Professionals would not walk into the office and, upon the news of a co-worker's death, start bad-mouthing them and standing on their operating system / programming language / philosophical soap-box.

    That article seemed to be the Columbine of Slashdot. The call to action, if you will. Now everyone at Slashdot seems to be frantically looking for a solution to allow us to moderate ourselves when we can't conduct ourselves in a tolerable manner on an individual basis. (I can only imagine what the people at must have been thinking of this whole drama.)

    But moderation alone is not the answer. We're familiar with the cliché that "absolute power corrupts, absolutely", but whatever degree of power is given to a person can be equally corrupted to that same degree. There are always going to be people who will use their small chance to have power to get a laugh or wreak a little havoc. Even something as simple as ticking the score of a post up and down on Slashdot can't be trusted to some people.

    After reading the Moderator FAQ the last time I wielded moderator privileges, I was of the understanding that the pool of posters was plucked from the group of Slashdoters who were in the median range. That is, they made the average number of posts, visited Slashdot the average number of times and did not have a history of heavily negatively-moderated posts of their own.

    Which means that the people who abused that chance were the same people who had been treated fairly in the past by having their posts moderated appropriately.

    So the answer Rob has devised is to moderate the moderators. This strikes me as a parallel to fixing a government problem with another government program (making government larger).

    I actually agree with this idea, though. The average Slashdot reader is probably a rather agreeable sort who isn't going to misuse his or her points. So when the occasional misuse occurs, the chances that one of the other moderators will correct the misuse is pretty high.

    A typical scenario that I've seen is the following, which occurred to me (I'm using myself as an example, but I have seen others have the same experience):

    Out of four or five posts I made in the last 24 hours, two of them were marked as flamebait -- without cause, I feel. Yet, two of the other posts were moderated to a +2 and a +3. None of the posts were written with the intent to disrupt, inflame, anger, disturb, insult or offend anyone. All were intended to share one person's view-point and eventually, disappear into the Chasm of Old Slashdot Posts.

    One of my posts seemed to be moderated strictly out of bias or maliciousness. While the post had been ticked to flamebait, it simultaneously drew a half-dozen emails from fellow Slashdotter's who agreed with what I said and thanked me for voicing it. A couple even went so far as to say that they intended to make a donation to W. Stevens' favorite charity (which was discussed in an earlier post) after reading my comments.

    My comments were not particularly insightful. In fact, most of my comments are not particularly insightful or funny, even when moderated with such notation. But being moderated down as a result of a moderator's misuse of the system is aggravating and frustrating. Especially when it reduces a post that, at least, had some heart and thought put into it to the same section of Slashdot as the "I'm jizzing in my pants" and "first post" comments.

    I hope that when people receive their moderator-moderating points, they do not just skip them to move on to moderating un-moderated articles, but take the time to browse the previously moderated ones, too.

    I also hope that there is a way to allot karma to moderators. Those who use their moderation points wisely could, perhaps, get an extra point or two. Those who squander them and are constantly over-moderated by other moderators who come along and clean their mess should lose a couple karma points (in the very obvious and malicious instances).

    Moderation seems to be a very fickle thing around here. Sometimes it lifts a hum-drum comment far above the level most would agree it belongs at and other times it kicks a well-deserving comment under the rug to be ignored.

    Nobody knows the absolute and correct answer to the whole problem, but unless moderation is done wisely, fairly and reliably, a lot of people are going to be discouraged from participating.

  • by Fong Sai Yuk ( 33255 ) on Monday September 06, 1999 @11:56AM (#1699778)
    I have one reason I want to keep anonymous posting around. It's the fact that we can get insiders from wherever (Microsoft, Red Hat, Apple, ect.) to post without implicating themselves. While the usual grain of salt applies with most AC's, I have seen plenty of anonymous posts that had to have been from people inside the industry. That kind of information can't be had any other way. Allowing AC's can keep us in the know.

    Makes you wonder how many high and mighty people in the tech world are AC's here....
  • by n8_f ( 85799 ) on Monday September 06, 1999 @04:17PM (#1699779) Homepage
    Here's my two cents.

    1. Karma
      The way I understand your implementation of karma, every post I make influences my karma and goes into the number to be averaged. This means that every post I make has to be awesome. A large number of responses to other people's posts w/ questions or clarifications aren't likely to be moderated up, so when I do post my "awesome" comment, the effect of the moderation applied to it is watered down by all of the unremarkable comments I made. I think that only moderated comments should count towards karma.

    2. Default Comment Scores
      I think that the opposite approach should be taken. The default post wouldn't have the bonus, with a check box to enable it. I see a lot of lame comments at a 2 or 3.

    3. Waiting Period
      You mentioned in the moderation FAQ that you were thinking of implementing a waiting period inbetween posts. I think this is an excellent idea. Imposing a half-hour or hour waiting period between posts would be fine. It would force /.'ers to think about their posts (something too few posters seem to do). (Maybe also remove submit and go instead to a preview screen? Posters could then just hit submit, so in wouldn't be too intrusive, but a lot more people would hopefully proofread, since it would be there. But I digress....) Of course, maybe have some mechanism for posting small questions or clarifications. How about combined with my suggestions above? The default for posts is that they don't get your bonus and that they aren't considered for moderation? Small questions, requests for information, and clarifications are released under this, with perhaps a five minute waiting period. Larger comments that you do want moderated (interpreted as meaning you have something new and valuable to say) are posted with the bonus/moderate box checked, with a subsequently longer waiting period between these types of posts. Most posters seem to read all of the comments responding to their post, so they'll see the comments anyway (perhaps instead of a 0 score they are just given an "unmoderated" status, kind of like NULL). Impose a size restriction on these so that anyone giving a large opinion can't try to dodge being moderate or has to post as an AC (which has no or fewer restrictions).

    4. Moderation
      This is where I want the biggest change. The current moderation system penalizes well thought out comments. The sooner you post, the more likely your chance of being moderated up. Later posts have little chance of being moderated, because most moderators have moved on to newer articles. For example, I posted to the Berkeley removes advertising clause [] article. I researched copyright law and posted a article related to the many posts on GPLing BSDL code. However, because I posted on Saturday, two days later, there is no chance of my comment [] being moderated.
      And what about the commments that are a few layers into a thread? What about the comments tacked onto the end of a thread? The point is, there are a lot of comments slipping through the moderation cracks. I think that you need a radical change to the moderation system.
      Here's my proposal. I realize that it is probably extremely difficult to integrate any of this into your system, but maybe some of the ideas can be adapted to fit in.
      Instead of giving moderators points, give them articles. You use the current system for selecting moderators, except you do a check everytime someone accesses an article. So when Joe Schmoe tryies accessing the "Microsoft's new evil plan..." article, his chances of being a moderator are checked. If he isn't selected, he goes onto view the page normally. If he is, however, he is taken to the moderator version of the page and given, say, 5 comments to moderate. The page looks like the standard version. The article at the top, comments below, but inbetween is the listing of his articles to moderate, listed similiar to the way your articles are listed in your user page. As I mentioned, the rest of the comments are below it, but the catch is nothing (including the 5 to moderate) has a score displayed. Now, Joe's job is to read those 5 (or 3 or whatever) comments (and any of the other comments) and give those five a score. Once he does that and submits it (or he clicks the "Decline" button), he is taken to the standard version of the page and he is free to post comments.
      Couple more things.
      • Comments with the least number of moderations are given preference.
        This way, one comment doesn't get moderated 50 times, and hopefully all comments get moderated at least once. If the threshold for moderator is set high enough, every comment should get moderated multiple times, with the final score being the average of those moderations, possibly weighted by the moderator's karma.
      • Moderators only overlap on 1 (if they only moderate 3 articles) or 2 (if they moderate 5 articles) articles, maximum.
        This is done in the scripting, so you don't have two moderators moderating all of the same articles.
      • Because this doesn't really work with a small number of articles, perhaps you have a threshold of like 20 articles, after which moderation is turned on.
        In fact, you could not display any comments until you get 20 (or 10 or whatever), which would cut down on those annoying posters who try to get first post (like it's a race or something). Or, perhaps you have something like a moderation acceleration curve, where the chance to moderate is modified by the number of posts.
      • People can moderate multiple times (perhaps only do the moderation check once per hour or day).
        So long as comments from any thread they have responded to are banned, there is no reason they shouldn't be able to. It isn't very likely that they would remember what score articles have gotten if they had been there before, and they would most likely get newer articles that they hadn't seen yet. This way, the more traffic a discussion gets, the more moderation.
      • People set their maximum number of comments to moderate.
        Everybody starts at 3, and the better moderators increase in the number of articles they moderate, up to their maximum. Also, perhaps people with a default bonus can only be moderated by people with an equal or greater default bonus. This prevents trolls from getting a large number of articles to mark down, or getting a chance to mark down people who may be over their head. : )
      • Expand the moderation system to include multiple categories.
        Many /. posts have horrible grammar and bad spelling. I've seen many posts over this issue, back and forth, and although I do feel for those people who don't speak English natively, a lot of it seems to just be linguistic laziness. I'm sorry, but how you communicate your point is almost as important as what your point is. You may be the most brilliant person since Stephen Hawking, but if you can't communicate your ideas in a way that other people can understand, it doesn't do anybody any good, does it? I'm not a grammar Nazi, I don't mind capitalization or punctation mistakes (afterall, e.e. cummings made it into an art form), but when I have difficulty understanding a poster's point or even determining what their point is, it's a problem. So writing should definitely be a category. Relevancy should be another. Perhaps something like idea or originality (redundancy). And then an overall or "must read" category. There are some posts that are hard to read and might be irrelevant to the current topic, but that should be read by everybody. Then users could set thresholds on the individual categories.

    These are just some ideas. I have tons more, if you're interested. I realize implementing any of these may be impractical, but maybe they'll trigger something that is. I think that encouraging more moderation is only a good thing, and by increasing the moderation threshold so that every comment gets moderated multiple times, you'll increase the usefulness of the moderation system.

  • by Luis Casillas ( 276 ) on Monday September 06, 1999 @12:31PM (#1699780) Homepage
    I think this is a very serious question. If I log in to slashdot and check the "Post Anonymously" box in a post, clearly my handle won't be revealed to the readers. But does the system log that it was me who posted anonymously? And what guarantees can I possibly have to that effect?

    If in the future, people are required to give a handle or an email address to post "anonymously", their identity could be compromised, since /. would have an email address that might be possible to use to track down the person.

    Not that I don't trust Rob and Co. with my privacy-- they have proved time and time again to be reliable. But such a record of the source of "anonymous" postings might even be exploited against their will.

    Case in point: some guy X posts something "anonymously" in slashdot that offends some powerful company. Company considers the post to be difamatory, and demands slashdot give the email address of the poster. Slashdot refuses; the company sues slashdot for their posting records.

    Even if the suit is unsuccessful, it wouldn't definitely be nice for /. to get harrassed.


  • by Effugas ( 2378 ) on Monday September 06, 1999 @11:04AM (#1699781) Homepage
    I mentioned this in another thread, but bottom-line "Anonymous Posting Is Golden" evidence can be found at the following URLs, posted during the NSA Backdoor discussions: /0940241&cid=13 /0940241&cid=79

    Read these to understand why AC posts are excellent to have around.

    Yours Truly,

    Dan Kaminsky
    DoxPara Research

    Once you pull the pin, Mr. Grenade is no longer your friend.
  • by mcc ( 14761 ) <> on Monday September 06, 1999 @01:32PM (#1699782) Homepage
    i've noticed that sometimes you see real gems maybe three or four levels of replies deep in a conversation.. i mean, stuff that is within the context of that particular thread, but still brings up a point that everyone ought to see.
    The thing where it always displays the full text of posts score:4 or higher is nice, but the problem is the moderators usually don't bother reading messages nested that deep. so they just scroll by without even knowing that message is there, and it stays at score:1.

    maybe you ought to set up some kind of flagging system, something where everyone, even non-moderators can say "this derserves moderating up".. and even though it wouldn't count in points, a little red icon invisible to non-moderators would appear next to the posting's listing in the parent threads. so that the moderators would know it's worth looking at.

    I dunno how well this would work-- seems pretty easy to abuse. You'd have to set it up so people couldn't flag their own posts.. might be worth thinking about though.
  • by Artie FM ( 87445 ) on Monday September 06, 1999 @11:15AM (#1699783) Homepage
    *I also posted this in the slashdot poll*

    The Steven's piece has pointed out several weaknesses in Slashdot moderation. If Slashdot moderation were ideal all you would have to do is set your threshold to 1 and you wouldn't have to worry about this. This is not an ideal system ... so we should think of ways to make it better.

    Here are some of the previous proposals:
    1) Make it easier to score thing negative.
    The current moderation system can be overloaded by spam like attacks. This is useful because you want moderation pts spent on finding good posts, not weeding out bad ones. But how do you make sure this is not abused? or that valid but possibly inflammatory comments are not marked down? Both things will happen.

    2) Eliminate Anonymous Cowardice...
    This sounds extreme.. even if we do something simple like requiring a mail address to post I think many good comments from knowledgeable
    sources will not be made.

    3) Combat moderator overload by making more moderators
    The problem here is that average posts may get marked higher than they should.

    Here goes what I propose as a solution.
    1) Make the score system secondary to classification system. Let moderators classify posts as "Funny", "Informative", or "Flamebait" without spending pts. This way a post might show up as 30%flamebait but 70% funny. This make fair moderation a non-issue because every moderator gets a say about every post. Add a second category to measure the quality of the post as "Must Read", "Good Read", or "Average" this might cost points to moderate or simply be an average of what all the moderators think.

    2) Instead of having moderators make only 5 moderations take a look at post volume on that subject. Discussion threads with a very high number of posts need more moderation than normal. Detect this and let moderators make multiple changes cheaply in these threads.

    2) Personalize the scoring system for each reader. Already in preferences there are ways to add pts to long posts or subtract from short. This would be an extension to let the reader decide what kind of posts show up. Here goes a list of possible features.
    1) each feature listed here may be turned on or off in preferences
    2) add/subtract pts to posts from certain authors.
    3) subtract pts from all AC's
    4) add/subtract from certain types of posts -i.e. humor +1 flamebait -1.

Recent investments will yield a slight profit.