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Comment Comment editing and Likes (Score 1) 1839

TLDR version: I spend a lot of time on Xenforo. On Slashdot I really miss the ability to edit comments, as well as a low-friction Like button. I think /. needs that.

The /. commenting system and Mod points (or God points as I call them) are antiquated and its hurting the community.

Here's why:

Slashdot's commenting system evolved in a time when a typical story had 1000-1500 comments. The comment moderation system was both necessary and innovative. Today it isn.t. There isn't a story on the front page of /. right now with more than 130 comments. A rare story spikes with several thousand comments, but that is atypical. We have lost commenters. The needs of the comment moderation system have changed. Web conventions have shifted but /. has not kept pace.

New Voices
I believe contributors come to /., write a comment or two, don't receive any mod points, nobody responds, their comment disappears, they get disappointed and leave. (this is a guess - it would be interesting to back this with actual data).

A low-friction Like button would be a way to acknowledge or reward a post without needing M[G]od privileges - it would be a way to encourage users to participate, and to recognize new voices.. A "Like" could be treated as e.g. 1/4 of a Mod point for filtering purposes. Fleshing out a Like feature could be part of a way of making /. more social, along with building out better Profile page feature (come on - when was the last time any of you read another users profile page here? They are very broken.) I'd also love Alerts, so you can see when a comment has been responded to. Showing a users karma / level next to their comments would be valuable. Heck, why not just port /. to Xenforo! Ok, that's going too far, but you asked for ideas.

The Long Read
The fact that you cannot edit a comment or delete it means users have to get a comment just right first time. You cannot fix typos, add new ideas, refine your argument, or withdraw a point. It promotes rapid fire one-liners and trolling --- but this is already well served by Facebook and Twitter. The /. approach doesn't encourage longer-form commenting and intelligent discussion. And this is where /. is most needed.

Comment editing would I believe mostly be used by users to fix errors and refine their points or to add extra material. Obviously users could also abuse the system - get a highly modded comment, then modify the text to be offensive or completely change their argument, for example. That can be addressed by clearly indicating when a comment has been edited and offering a link to see the full edit history. Adding a "Report Abuse" button would help to out trolls and poor community players.

I'd like to see Slashdot evolve to better serve its existing users, but also to find new kinds of audiences and discussions. Embracing the editable social web is a step towards that.

Comment Attributions longer than the code? (Score 1) 303

The same code snippet gets recycled, munged, riffed on, ported to new languages, rewritten by multiple authors, commented on and then improved, reposted by new authors with bug fixes, and on... The whole value of sites like SO is this kind of sharing. But doesn't that mean attribution, especially for smaller snippets, will become a nightmare?

Comment Cut-and-paste science? (Score 1) 237

Masad is perhaps guilty of the very problem he identifies. He reads a science paper, latches onto the word "intuitive", misapplies it, and so misses a key point in the paper.

In the original study, the authors present the same cognitive test to two different groups, one time using Myriad 12pt, the other gray italicized Myriad 10pt. In another experiment they changed the masthead of a document to introduce nonsense characters like @$Ã. In a third experiment, they had one group furrow eyebrows while doing a test. In each case, they found that the group with the "disfluent" condition (small gray font, @$ characters in the masthead, furrowed eyebrows) performed better than the control condition. From this they conclude that their experiments support the cognitive theory that we have two distinct reasoning systems, a rapid "intuitive" reasoning system and a slow "analytical" reasoning system, and something about disfluency prompts us to switch from our rapid to slow reasoning, leading to improved scores.

Masad summarizes: "The theory behind this is that people will default to relying on the automatic, effortless, and primitive system for reasoning. But if things are counter-intuitive or harder to understand we switch to the deeper, deliberate and analytical mode of thinking." Note how "intuitive" has jumped ship. In the original paper, "intuitive" was a label for our fast reasoning system, contrasted with our slow analytical reasoning system. For Masad, "intuitive" refers not to one of our cognitive reasoning systems but rather to the -input-, he suggests that if the input (e.g. the software framework) is counter-intuitive or harder to understand then we use our more analytical reasoning. There is nothing to support that conclusion in this study ... there is nothing counter-intuitive about using a gray 10 point font. The conditions with higher scores weren't harder to understand or more counter-intuitive, they were less legible and more difficult to read. If we translate this study to programming, as Masad proposes, it suggests that if you change your IDE to Myriad 10 pt gray italic, then all of a sudden your code will get better. Hey, go ahead, try it!

Ok, sure, what Masad is actually doing is using a science paper as a prompt, a poetic license for thinking about frameworks and coding. But the kinds of shortcuts he makes are informative - so I'm going to take some poetic license of my own...

First, I think Masad overlooks the importance of reading. The science paper suggests that something about how we read changes how we think. One thing I've noticed about beginner programmers is that they tend to be poor/lazy readers of code. They skim, treating a library or framework function as if it is are magic black box, never to be questioned or investigated. I've had many experiences where I've sat down with a programmer, cracked open a source browser, read the actual source of the library function they are relying on, and heard a gasp, as they realize their assumptions that the framework code is perfect/threadsafe/performant etc. fall away. "You mean every time I do this, it does a linear search through my entire dataset. OMG" "Well, yes, its just code. All you have to do is read it." Promoting code reading has nothing to do with whether or not the framework is intuitive or hard to understand or has "negative space". Its much more about business management priorities and deadlines and culture.

Second, its significant that Masad took a paper from one context and used it to think imaginatively about a very different problem space. Bouncing ideas around freely like that is precisely what the fast/intuitive (if potentially incorrect) style of reasoning is good for. His claim that we need to "overcome intuition" is wrong, in my opinion - its exactly how we stimulate new ideas and debate. His own thought-provoking post proves it.

Comment Re:Hilarious (Score 2) 172

Blogfather claims to be a champion of links, says they represent the open interconnected spirit of the internet, they are a way to abandon centralism and hierarchies, they are the eyes of the internet, the path to its soul, a way of transferring power out of a site, making us more outward looking, without them a page is blind.

If this is the case, why in the Guardian piece omit a link to the original publication of this story on a blogging platform. Certainly the fact that the story is seven months old and has already been circulated and commented upon is both relevant and interesting. And according to his argument, a link back to the story would transfer power out mainstream media to a blogging platform, which is what he wants. And, he suggests, a link is a relation, not an object. Which suggests there is no reason not to include a link, no cost.

The problem is twofold. First, his notion that a link is a relation is far too simplistic. Links are much more thing-like than he implies, in that they encode a rich and living social dynamic. We can presume, for example, that one reason a link to the original article does not appear here is that newspapers trade on novelty, and reprinting a seven month old blog article is hardly that. Second, the very fact that an article is published on, a blogging platform, only to be picked up and run by a newspaper - receiving wide commentary along the way - runs counter to his argument that the Internet is being killed by Instagram and Twitter. It demonstrates that these things can comfortably operate side-by-side.

I would have much more intrigued had he written his argument without attaching it to his personal biography and the "Blogfather" label. This is what made me question how his piece is better than Facebook. If his argument were more rigorous and deeply considered, the biographical element would be redundant. By linking his argument to his personal background, he shows that he is precisely aiming to ply reputation to boost polemic, and that's a tactic I associate with social media.

Comment Hilarious (Score 2, Interesting) 172

He published the same story in Matter back in June. But in the reprint in the Guardian he fails to link to the original article anywhere.

Pretty much disproves his thesis. The Internet is functioning just fine. Stuff circulates. The link has always been more than a relation between objects.

The blogfather just wants his crown back, and he is using alarmist rhetoric and his personal biography to try and achieve that. In what way is this better than Facebook?

Comment Re:They're called architects (Score 2) 339

They don't want to rewrite the Swift compiler in Swift.

No shit, they aren't retarded. Other than proving something, WHY WOULD YOU? NO ONE DOES THIS unless they are just trying to swing their dick around. You write your languages in C with ASM for the places it makes sense.

Actually there are loads of reasons to do this, and loads of languages do, including (from Wikipedia) compilers for BASIC, ALGOL, C, D, Pascal, PL/I, Factor, Haskell, Modula-2, Oberon, OCaml, Common Lisp, Scheme, Go, Java, Rust, Python, Scala, Nim, Eiffel, and more. One major reason for self-hosting the compiler is to support richer metaprogramming and tooling. Take a look at some of the posts on why Microsoft sunk years of effort into rewriting the C# compiler in C# (Roslyn). Ditto Perl 6 (Rakudo). The Swift folks recognize this, even if you don't. That is why this is the only one of the feature requests they say would be nice to do - they just have other priorities first. My bet is, down the line, as the language matures, they will reach a point where they are forced to rewrite the compiler in Swift.

Nice inflammatory comment though, thoroughly researched.

Comment How do we get mainstream press to connect the dots (Score 1) 61

We need a mainstream front page news article "Government encryption backdoor is exploited by criminals." Instead the mainstream coverage fails to connect the Juniper story to the debate on backdoors at all. e.g. CNN runs with: "Newly discovered hack has US fearing foreign infiltration", an article stoking fears over hackers and cybersecurity without once mentioning the keys put under the mat by the government.

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