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Journal sllort's Journal: Trading $rtbl for ~rtbl 63

Today marks a pretty big policy change for Slashdot. $rtbl, the database flag whose presence indicated a user had disagreed with the Editors and been "blackholed" from the Mod system, has been totally removed. There is no $rtbl flag, no secret list of banned users. Thousands of banned accounts can now participate in MetaModeration and Moderation. Moderator eligibility appears to be affected only by your click count.

What happened? Did they listen to us?

I'd like to believe that, but sadly evidence points towards a different scenario. When the Zoo (journals/friends/foes) system was first introduced, Starship Trooper predicted that it was a plot to maintain an interlockling blacklist of verboten users. I wasn't so sure. ST went on to propose that the account No More Trolls was an Editor-maintained blacklist. Not surprisingly, Mr. Trooper was right all along.

Trading $rtbl for ~rtbl

The secret blacklist $rtbl has been replaced with an open blacklisting system. The first step was implemented today. Take a look at your friends list and your foes list. If you have enough friends and foes, you should see new, pill -shaped icons that represent the second degree of seperation: "foes of friend", "friend of foe", "friend of friend", etc. The next step in this system will be the addition of user-assignable penalties for each relationship. Example : "Don't show me comments by foes of my friends". This would allow you to subscribe to an Editor maintained troll blacklist and drop all comments posted from accounts that that blacklist is tracking. Some users may eventually surpass editors in their dilligence of tracking new accounts they disagree with, and users will be able to subscribe to these blacklists as well.

It is probably a better blacklisting system than SurfWatch ever dreamed of having. A huge, opt-in based referral network which will allow thousands of people to subscribe to lists which will filter out all comments except the ones they agree with.

Once the system is fully implemented, I suggest you subscribe to the new $rtbl. This account will be used to dilligently track hypocrites. For more information on blacklists, visit this site.


P.S. This change is a huge step in the right direction. At least now there isn't undocumented secret blacklisting and skewed M2 voting results.

P.P.S. There may still be ways of banning users from M1 & M2, but I'm getting the news out as fast as I can. Please correct any inaccuracies in the comments section. Jamie mentions "revoking M2 access" in this comment but I haven't found any new mechanisms for permanently revoking M1/M2 access - let me know if you find them.

P.P.P.S. The messaging system notifies Moderators of the voting results of M2 that affected their Moderation. In my opinion, this is the kind of visibility that has been sorely lacking. A good change, even if it took me too long to mention (ok guys?).

P.P.P.P.S. As tps12 points out, I belive that for better or worse this is a good change. Sorry if I came off too negative. At least now, it's all in the open. For now..... things look decent.

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Trading $rtbl for ~rtbl

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  • I assume the 'friend' list will take precedence over the 'foe of a friend' list. Since you and FortKnox are both on there, I'd hate to not see either of your comments.

    BTW- the No More Trolls link is busted on your post.

  • So why is FortKnox (a non-troll) on the No More Trolls Foe list?
    • So why is FortKnox (a non-troll) on the No More Trolls Foe list?

      FortKnox has repeatedly been publicly critical of the Slashdot Administration, and has insulted many of the Editors, namely michael, on repeated occasions. In the mind of whoever is running NMT, this is the definition of Trolling.

      • Well, michael HAS thrown the first punch in that fight.

        And I really haven't insulted any other editor (hell, cliff is one of my fans, and cliff, taco, and hemos are on my friends list).
        • Well, Cliff will probably be able to read your comments, then. However, CmdrTaco is a fan of No More Trolls, and your comments are therefore Troll comments which will be eliminated from CmdrTaco's view. Once NMT is publicized, the majority of Slashdot will subscribe, and you will dissapear from view, unless you are willing to generate new accounts.

          You have to understand that the word Troll has the same sort of meaning here that User does. A very rubbery one.

          CmdrTaco once said (about Thresh: -1) that you if you walk around in a sewer, you shouldn't be surprised if you step in poop. Zoo is basically their idea of "sewer boots". And you are their idea of poop.
          Just like me.

      • ok. however, FK mentions in a recent journal that he had mod points. So I suspect NMT might not necessarily be editor controlled display of the old $rtbl. Not to mention, I think there's a limit to the number of usernames on those lists, and there are way more than 200 troll accounts on slashdot.
        • The bug that limited the number of friends or fans was fixed early on in development. Cardhore actually wrote a script to befriend everyone on Slashdot, and got up to 6,200 friends before the editors wiped his friends list.

          Suffice it to say their is no limit to banning potential.

        • actually this is quite plausible. No More Trolls is one of the few friends on CmdrTaco's friends list, and yet has posted only one comment.

          Also, take a look at No More Trolls foes list. Pretty damn complete list of the logged in trolls. I noticed FK was taken off of NMT's foes list(perhaps for good behavior?)

    • no longer on the list.
  • P.P.P.S. The messaging system now notifies Moderators of the voting results of M2 that affected their Moderation. In my opinion, this is the kind of visibility that has been sorely lacking. A good change.

    Hasnt that been there for a while? I seem to remember a post by jamie hinting at it [], and it's been listed in the message options list [] as "Metamod Results" for some time now.
    • Probably. I don't moderate, so I probably slept through this one. I'm just trying to be thorough. I slept through the change that made IP gagging prevent high karma accounts from posting AC, too. My bad.

      • when it was introduced, it was probably alongside many other features.

        I would say I've never had mod points, but I just noticed that I seem to have them.
        • ok, they seem to have disappeared. that's kinda odd....
          • The same thing happened to me today, I dunno what's up with that. Wish I used them when I had the chance.
          • You sure they didn't just run out? Mod points only last three days, and if you read Slashdot infrequently enough, they'll seem to disappear.

            Although, bizzarely enough, the best way to get mod points is to constantly read Slashdot for a while and then just completely stop. Come back in about a week - you'll most likely have mod points. Dunno why it works that way.

            (If you can't get enough Slashdot, I believe logging out works too.)

            • i'm sure they didnt run out. I'm a daily reader, and sometimes hourly. The drop down boxes simply appeared, and disappeared in less than 5 minutes, without ever using a point (wanted to look for good posts to mod on and stories for which I had an understanding).
              • Weird. I've been a moderator several times, and I've never had the boxes disappear. Here's another thought, though: were you looking at static views of the pages? The static pages wouldn't know if you were a mod or not... (I'm not sure, but I think that Slashcode sends you to the static views if you haven't played around with your threshold and view settings. But I don't feel like testing it or looking at the code. (And the copy I have is outdated, anyway.))

                Who knows, Slashcode isn't exactly the best designed piece of code ever made... or maybe the editors are out to get you - ever pissed any of them off? :)

                (I should look at how the mod code works and see if it's possible that the system can accidently be "fooled" into displaying a moderator view of a page. The next time I get bored...)

                • it's possible there was some glitch or other hiccup in the system, as someone else reported similar behavior. and yes, slashcode could use some serious re-engineering, as it mostly developed as a set of "hack this feature in, now this, now that." alas, most tools to help with such jobs are for C/C++/Java, nothing for Perl.

                  i dont think I've pissed off any editors, and Cliff is on my fans list. I'm willing to side on the possibility of a bug.
  • P.P.P.S. The messaging system now notifies Moderators of the voting results of M2 that affected their Moderation. In my opinion, this is the kind of visibility that has been sorely lacking. A good change.

    It has been like that for long time.. at least 2 months.
  • good move (Score:1, Interesting)

    by tps12 ( 105590 )
    This is a good move. Yeah, it's groupthinky, wanky, and slashbotty, but that's part of what Slashdot is all about. At least, as you say, it's going to be in the open. "No More Trolls" is just the beginning.

    Wait until the specialty censor accounts pop up, e.g. "Gnome Rulez" and "Kirk beats Picard." How about a feminist account that befriends all women? Or a white power account that enfoes all black people?

    It seems also that they're still moving away from karma based on individual comment moderation in favor of a good guys/bad guys approach. Once this system is in place, karma might be made obsolete.
  • I have been thinking about the effects of the recent changes on the moderation system. The new openess seems like a good thing for now. What will happen when the punishments come? There will have to be a way of removing "bad" moderators from the pool. The Post of Doom proved that few things annoy Taco more than moderators who don't agree with him about what is "off-topic". Also, the whole point of M2 is to "catch" the moderators who don't follow the herd.

    So what is going to happen here? Are the mod totals that each person sees on comments going to be influenced even more deeply by the friends/foes system? What I mean by that is lets say that FortKnox has mod points and uses them. Since I have listed him as a friend, will his moderations count more in my view thant those of someone who isn't on my list? And those who list No More Trolls as a friend can miss out on moderations performed by enemies of No More Trolls?

    What I don't get is how M2 figures into the system now? What is the punishment for bad moderators?

    Finally, since there are a bunch of people here who understand the inner workings of /. better than I do, why is the "Parent" link broken for comments where the parent isn't visible? I often want to see the parent of a highly rated reply and I have to click first on the comment# of the reply and then on parent on the new page to see the parent. Simply clicking on parent just shows me the whole discussion WITHOUT the comment I want to see. What is up with that? Bug? Feature? Well-intended feature with a dumb side-effect?

    • Never got into the self-reinforcing part in the parent post.

      The $rtbl obviously made /. look like Taco wants it to. Will the new openess in M2 do the same thing? If I can see how my moderations fare in M2, will I be more likely to moderate in a way that is approved of? If someone actually enjoys moderating and feels they are doing something useful, they will want to keep moderating. If they can see that some of their mods are controversial, will they be less likely to mod that way in the future? Is this good for /.?

      I think that this system might do more to homogenize the moderators than the $rtbl did. We will have to see what the punishment is for being an "evil" moderator.

    • why is the "Parent" link broken for comments where the parent isn't visible?

      That happens when the parent post is below your threshold. You can tell when this is the case by hovering over the link, and it will end in "cid=0". This is also the case of posts that have no parent, i.e. root level posts.

      I would classify this as neither a bug nor a feature, just laziness in that it would take some extra coding to detect this case and not print a link at all. It would be nice if links in this case included a "&threshold=-1" and the actual parent cid#, but I don't think this information is known when the comment is printed (since the parent was probably not included in the SQL SELECT that got the group of comments) and so the best the slashcode can do is just print the link with cid=0.

      I think this is also why the "number of comments" display in the choose-threshold select box is "clipped" for thresholds below the current setting... that is, it is not known how many messages exist at the lower thresholds. I find this highly annoying as well. I would almost bet money that Taco's response to this particular "feature" would be that it would cause too many DB queries to get the true number of posts at every threshold.

      BTW, interesting about the Cardhore friends list. That must have happened recently. Previously, if you went to that url you'd get a couple of megabytes of html listing all 6000+ friends in one page.


      I find the timing of these "Web of friends" slashcode mods interesting. In the last few weeks I had been working on a spider that travels the friends/fans links and creates a digraph [] of the results with GraphViz. I was doing this simply out of curiosity. I had run into the problem of not wanting to get the IP ban for spidering too frequently. Now it seems as if these associations will become more relevant, and I might have the spider do the foes/freaks tree as well.

  • Just to let you know, slashdot doesn't run the exact same version of the Slashcode available. The editors are probably laughing their asses of at all the shit that has been posted thanks to your stupidity (YHBT. YHL. HAND). By the way, I'm pretty sure you are the one I found from that Slashdot doesn't always run the latest version of Slashcode available. If you want to see the real code Slashdot is running currently, look here []

    Did you know that urine is sterile?
    That's right. You can drink it.

  • I think No More Trolls has killed sllort and taken over sllort's account and is posting this journal troll. The evidence?

    1. sllort has not been on irc for a while
    2. I am a new user, and I posted one comment in this thread, and now No More Trolls has freaked me.
    3. sllort himself said that Slashdot does not run the exact same version of Slashcode available in CVS but he supposedly posted this journal article

    BTW: It's only after we have lost everything that we are free to do anything
  • I was surprised yesterday when I suddenly saw "Have you metamoderated today?" appear on my /. frontpage for the first time in months since the PoD. I did some investigating and found this. Thanks for the information.
  • I don't get what they represent (they are not mentioned in the faq yet).

    For example, Mentifex's AI [] is the foe of BankOfAmerica_ATM [] (because he's a competing life form.. long story). Both of them were in my friend list, so MentifexAI got the "foe of friend" pill.

    So I removed Boa_ATM from my friend list (only temporary - I'm a great fan of him), but MentifexAI still gets the "foe of friend" pill, even that Boa_ATM was the only one to define him as a foe.

    So what's the logic?

  • Wow, now I am totally confused.
    • Simple. If a double-green pill icon appears next to a username, one of your friends has chosen them as their friend. It's a good way to find potential friends or people who think similarly to you.

      And you may be interested to know that you appear to be a FOAF to me. Hmmm, maybe I should check out your other comments...

  • Assuming that we will be able to assign moderation modifiers to friend of a friend and foe of a friend qualifiers, we'll be able to filter out comments we dislike without even having to know the person at the other end, and we'll be able to make the comments of people we'll probably agree with more visible. Everyone will have their own stylised version of Slashdot designed to prevent them from ever disagreeing with anyone!

    Hmmm...that kind of takes all the fun out of it, actually.

  • I turned on "willing to moderate" and sure enough - metamoderation came right up.

    What does Troll's fans list [] do? I get the foes list - those are people who are out of the club.

"You need tender loving care once a week - so that I can slap you into shape." - Ellyn Mustard