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Moderation is a game. The only way to win is not to play.
What is the value of a dollar? The answer is that a dollar is worth as much as the government says it is worth. Money is a game we play to create scarcity in the face of abundance; it is a means of keeping track of something imaginary. So what is a Karma point worth? Well, it's worth whatever CmdrTaco says it's worth. Karma is an imaginary thing that has gained value through an electronic construct. sound familiar? The truth is that Slashdot is in many ways the first of the Massively Multiplayer Role Playing Games. Before the first castle in Ultima Online, there was a user with the most Karma to blow.
Slashdot has changed quite a bit since those days. We have a strict levelling system defined now. Here are the various levels you can achieve, and the powers you are granted at each level:
Last I checked, here are the various levels in the vast Role Playing Game that is Slashdot:
(Your score in the game is called 'karma'):
- Score: -24 to -10: Ghost. Ghost players attack (post comments) with a -1 threshold, making them unable to hit any target except those who choose to be hit. Ghost players are limited to two attacks per day, and the label 'Terrible' is placed next to their name.
- Score: -9 to -1: Zombie. Zombie players attack with a threshold of Zero, making only their subject lines visible and reducing the effectiveness of their attacks. Zombie players, like ghost players, can only attack twice per day, and the label 'Bad' is placed next to their name.
- Score: Zero: Dying player. In this transitional state, a player appears to be a normal player, but the label 'Neutral' is placed by their name to signal that they are close to death.
- Score: 1-12: Journeyman. A journeyman player can attack ten times a day with a score of one. The label 'Positive' is placed by their name.
- Score: 12-25: Adventurer. An Adventurer attacks with the same effectiveness as a journeyman, but has the label 'Good' placed by their name.
- Score: 26-50: Sword Saint. A sword saint can devastate his opponents in combat, attacking with a bonus of +2 and flaming them up to twenty-five times per day. Sword Saint players have a distinct advantage, but they are not invincible.
So how do you turn a Sword Saint into a Ghost? Well, player killing is alive and well on Slashdot. I'm not going to go into the details of player killing in this article, but suffice it to say that it is possible to defend yourself from normal players but not from Editors. The best way to defend yourself is to create as many separate accounts as you can, and continue levelling them up. This is very time consuming, and it's one way to keep you 'hooked' on the game.
Guilds are a recent addition to the game of Slashdot, and they were retro-fitted and bolted on in much the same manner that many MMORPG's added guild support after product launch due to massive player demands. Basically, Guilds allow you communicate more easily with your allies and gain bonuses to your attacks when attacking enemies, though these bonuses are temporary and cannot be used for player killing.
How do I win the game?
Before addressing how to win the Slashdot MMORPG, it's important to look at how other similar games are won. For instance, how do you win at Ultima Online? I believe the answer to that is that if you play, you have already lost. The only people winning in the MMORPG market are Origin, Microsoft, Verant, et al, i.e. the people taking your money. The more time you spend playing, the more time you spend losing. While you are questing for karma, trying to get just one more level, you are losing. Perhaps the only way to win is not to play.
Consider for a moment that when you mark another account as a foe, you assign a numeric penalty to that person's comments which causes you to never view them again. This means you have judged everything this person will ever say in advance, and deemed those future words not worth viewing. You have prejudged them. You are engaging in automated prejudice. How do you explain that to your kids?
The only way to win is not to play
The game is a construct not just to waste your time but to manipulate what you say. If you have ever altered what you post to Slashdot because of fear of karma retribution or the possiblity of a karma reward, then you have bowed to the pressure of an artificial system, a plastic reality placed upon you in order to control you.
I challenge you to break free of the system. You can still post comments to Slashdot without playing the game. You can do it very easily. Just post everything as an anonymous coward. How will people know it's you? Use you public key to sign your comments. If everyone did this, the game would be over, and everyone would win. It's a huge prisoner's dillema, to be sure, but only if you are still worried about getting a high score.
This journal is probably being read by quite a few Sword Saints thinking to themselves 'how can I afford to stop attacking with my +2 bonus??'. Stop thinking inside the box. It's probably harming your brain.
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