The full site update and post is coming up this weekend (barring unforeseen complications) but this is deserving of its own news update being as we had so many weigh in on it alone. While most of you really dug or were neutral on the idea, there were a few criticisms and most of them had some degree of validity. Most specifically the one that said you can see cause and effect more clearly if you change less at once. We absolutely cannot argue with that, so there's been a change to the Experiment.
The Spam moderation and abuse checking mechanism thereof are still going in. The Disagree moderation is still going in and Overrated is still going away. Moderation and posting in the same discussion in any order is still going in. What's not going in is moving all the current downmods to +0 mods. We're going to hold off testing that until we see if this solves most of the problems or not.
Because of another criticism, we'll also be changing how mod points are given out for the duration of the experiment. You may or may not have noticed but we already tested that over Christmas day and the day after by giving everyone who'd been registered a month or more and had "willing to moderate" checked mod points. The dataset is pretty small to infer much from but for the most part the people who said "give us more points and we can self correct" were correct within that two-day span. Not all the bad downmods were corrected by any means but quite a lot of them were. If we can keep this level or better of self-correction-of-jackassery going, I don't see much need for more drastic changes to the moderation system or even for meta-moderation really.
On a personal side note, I dig the fact that basically every comment out of the 150 that the Experiment post got was positive, constructive, or some combination of the two. Calling us bloody idiots is all good from a free speech angle but pretty much every one of our naysayers stepped up and added useful criticism as well. This makes me proud as hell to work for a project with a community that much better than the other site. Hats off to you guys.
I've been hinting around about this for a week or two, so here it is. I circulated this proposal around the staff mailing list before Thanksgiving and got nobody telling me it sucks and to die in a fire, so it falls to you lot to do it if necessary. Let's be clear beforehand though. This is not a complete solution; no meta-mod consideration included for instance. Nor is it a permanent change. What it is is an experiment. Unless you lot are overwhelmingly opposed, we'll run it for a month or two and either keep it, keep parts of it, or trash it entirely based on staff and community feedback. We're not the other site and this isn't Beta; what we as a community want is what's going to happen.
So, here's the deal with the bit that's likely to be most controversial right out front. Bad downmods and mod-bombing both suck hardcore but you can't really get rid of them and still have downmods even with meta-moderation because you still have the same ideologically driven few who think Troll/Flamebait/Overrated means Disagree. To that end, I converted all the downmods to +0 mods and added a proper Disagree +0 mod. They affect neither score of the comment nor karma of the commenter but will show up beside the comment score (and be subject to user adjustment from their comments preferences page) if they hold a majority vote. It'll be entirely possible, for instance, to have a +5 Troll comment and equally possible that the same comment will show as -1 Troll to someone who has Troll set to -6 in their preferences.
Underrated and Overrated are also out. For Underrated, I for one would really like to know why you think it's underrated. For Overrated, it was almost exclusively used as Disagree, which we now have.
Second, everyone who's been registered for a month or more gets five mod points a day. We're not getting enough mods on comments to suit the number of comments; this should have been tweaked a while back but we quite frankly just let it slip through the cracks. Also, the zero-mod system will need the extra points to reliably push comments from +5 insightful to +5 Flamebait if they warrant it. We may end up tweaking this number as necessary to find the right balance during The Experiment.
Third, we're introducing a new Spam mod. As of this writing it's a -1 to comment score and a -10 to the commenter's karma; this may very well change. Sounds easily abused, yeah? Not so much. Every comment with this mod applied to it will have a link out beside the score that any staff with editor or above clearance on the main site (this excludes me by the way) can simply click to undo every aspect of the spam moderation and ban the moderator(s) who said it was from moderating. First time for a month, second time for six months; these also are arbitrary numbers that could easily change. So, what qualifies as spam so you don't inadvertently get mod-banned?
- Proper spam. Anything whose primary purpose is advertisement.
- HOSTS/GNAA/etc... type posts. Recurring, useless annoyances we're all familiar with.
- Posts so offtopic and lacking value to even be a troll that they can't be called anything else. See here for an example.
Caveats about banning aside, if something is really spam, please use the mod. It will make it much, much easier for us to find spam posts and attempt to block the spammers. One SELECT statement period vs one per post level of easier.
Lastly, if I can find it and change it in time for thorough testing on dev, we'll be doing away with mod-then-post in favor of mod-and-post. Without proper downmods, there's really just no point in limiting you on when you can moderate a comment.
Right, that's pretty much it. Flame or agree as the spirit moves you. Suggestions will all be read and considered but getting them debated, coded, and tested before the January release will be a bit tricky for all but the exceedingly simple ones.