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posted by NCommander on Wednesday April 02 2014, @12:35PM   Printer-friendly
from the understanding-the-community dept.
We've gotten some incredible feedback regards to the moderation system and the karma system, and trust me, its not going into /dev/null; I'll have a writeup done by the weekend. However, I've noticed something today that made me sit back, and think for awhile. Our community is healthy and vibrant, and we're far more cohesive as a group than we ever were on the other site. Furthermore, our users are significantly more active here than the other site. Almost all of us are from the other site, but there's a huge difference between us and them.

I can sum up the difference in four words: We ARE a community.

While many of us decried the other site calling us an audience, I'm not sure I can say I was a part of the Slashdot community. I read articles, and comments, but I hadn't moderated (or even logged in) on the other site for years. This wasn't always true; I'm UID 700139 on the other site (registered sometime in 2003), and I was fairly active until 2009. Then I stopped. I didn't even post on the Audience Responses post. I've talked to others on IRC, and it turns out I'm not alone; a LOT of people who are active here were permanent lurkers on the other site.

I need to understand why to keep us a community, and to prevent us from just becoming a passive audience. If you're going to post on any story, let it be this one, and tell me your story. We need to know.For this request to make sense, I need to make a distinction between not commenting, and lurking. Lurking is people who have user accounts, but don't sign in, never moderate and never post, even on topics that interest them. They are someone who is completely passive on the other site. Its fine that people comment on every single article; even at my most active on the other site, I posted at best one a month. A lot of people just like to read the comments, and perhaps moderate.

There is nothing wrong with that; those people are still part of the community even if they don't speak often. We've had two stories yesterday that broke 100 comments: Moderation: Discussing !(post^moderate) and OK Cupid Protests Against Mozilla CEO. Looking back at the history, nearly every single article we've run discussing the site broke the hundred comment mark. This is incredible because as of writing, we only have 4007 user accounts total, and slashcode reports seeing 54,620 unique IPIDs* for yesterday.

By chance, Slashdot ran the same article at roughly the same time as we did: OKCupid Warns Off Mozilla Firefox Users Over Gay Rights. This is what made me sit up and take notice. Slashdot does not post their stats publicly, but when DICE acquired Freenet, they posted some rough numbers in the official press release. From that article:

Slashdot, a user-generated news, analysis, peer question and professional insight community. Tech professionals moderate the site which averages more than 5,300 comments daily and 3.7 million unique visitors each month.

As I said before, we don't have a really good idea on the number of unique IPIDs visiting the site, but we do have solid numbers for our daily comment counts. Here's the graph as generated by slashcode for a biweekly period:

Biweekly Comment Count Graph

(due to a quirk in slashcode, the graphs don't update until 48 hours later; our comment count for 04/01 was 712 comments total).

Taking in account averages, we're roughly getting a little less than 10% of Slashdot's comment counts, with a considerably smaller user base. As I said, the OkCupid story made me take notice. Here's the comment counts at various scores between the two sites

         | SoylentNews | |
Score -1 |         130 |         1017 |
Score  0 |         130 |         1005 |
Score  1 |         109 |          696 |
Score  2 |          74 |          586 |
Score  3 |          12 |           96 |
Score  4 |           4 |           64 |
Score  5 |           1 |           46 |
Furthermore, I took a look at UIDs on the other site, the vast majority of comments came from 6/7 digit UID posters. Looking at CmdrTaco's Retirement Post as well as posts detailing the history of the other site most of the low UIDs are still around, and are simply in perma-lurk mode.

Here's the rub. If Slashdot is really getting 3.7 million unique visitors per month, and there most popular articles only get to 1000-2000 comments (Taco's retirement, and the Audience Responses post both reached 2k), then Slashdot's readership is passive. Like, insanely passive. Let's assume that the average poster posts 5 comments a month (which is an extremely conservative estimate in my opinion). then out of those 3.7M unique visitors, only one person out of a thousand (1060 to be specific) is posting a comment. That's a horrendous ratio, especially for a site that allows anonymous postings.

I don't think this is inherent to the site itself; if we are getting 100-250k unique users (and I don't think its anywhere close to that high), then our numbers are still drastically better than Slashdot's. I suspect for every 100 users, one is posting, and if not, they're at least moderating or using the site. On average, we float 200-300 logged in users at a time, spiking up to 800-1000 in the evenings. On April 1st, we saw 3842 unique users logged in every day (out of 4007!).

I don't want this site to become a passive audience, I want people to be involved, and active in the site. This doesn't mean posting, but moderating, or at the very least, browsing while logged in. I suspect the vast majority of us were in the perma-lurk mode on the other site before coming here, and I want to know why. Tell me your stories so we can be a community, and not just a website with an audience. Let me hear them loud and clear, and tell me if I'm wrong; let me know if you were one of the most active posters on the other site, and if so, what sense of community did you feel over there.

* - due to the way we use varnish for ACs, the number of unqiue IPID per day is likely far higher it is in actuality. Due to our setup, the backend only sees one AC every five minutes + all logged in users.

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  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Hairyfeet on Wednesday April 02 2014, @03:33PM

    by Hairyfeet (75) <> on Wednesday April 02 2014, @03:33PM (#24909) Journal

    Which is why I still say AC posts should either be outright banned or at least start with a -1 so that it isn't so easy to shill and troll. It takes...what all of 3 minutes to make an account? and you can put pretty much anything in for data, so you can say you are a 20 year old member of the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders for all the system cares but at LEAST you have to expend just the tiny amount of effort of making the account before just pouring crap on the screen!

    And as I nice bonus I have noticed that places with no ACs have a LOT less paid shills, as its easy enough to see a shilling pattern in their posting. if the person ONLY posts on a single subject AND always in favor of said corporation who is the subject of that subject? Well it really ain't hard to put 2 and 2 together.

    If you want to keep ACs at least give them a default negative modifier so they actually have to post something thoughtful to get up to the same level as those that took the time to register, that is fair. Otherwise there is no real benefit to registering and we might as well become another chan.

    Oh and one other thing THANK YOU MODS for not having that FUCKING TIMER!!! I am a considerate person and therefor like to answer when someone posts a reply, but I only have a limited amount of time in the day to get on here and that stupid fucking slash timer meant that maybe ONE person out of the dozen that responded to my posts would get a reply, the rest ignored. thanks for not having that stupid crap so when I pop on here before work and see a dozen people have responded in a half a dozen threads I can actually have a DIALOG and discussion with them on the subject, Praise the FSM its a miracle! What a great way to encourage dialog, +1000!!!!

    ACs are never seen so don't bother. Always ready to show SJWs for the racists they are.
    Starting Score:    1  point
    Moderation   +1  
       Interesting=1, Total=1
    Extra 'Interesting' Modifier   0  
    Karma-Bonus Modifier   +1  

    Total Score:   3  
  • (Score: 3, Informative) by Popeidol on Wednesday April 02 2014, @03:48PM

    by Popeidol (35) on Wednesday April 02 2014, @03:48PM (#24923) Journal

    AC posts start at zero, and regular users start at +1. The solution to avoiding AC posts without merit is to set your threshold to +1, so they have to be modded up before you see them.

    The system you are describing is already in place, just shifted one digit up.

  • (Score: 2) by githaron on Wednesday April 02 2014, @03:48PM

    by githaron (581) on Wednesday April 02 2014, @03:48PM (#24924)

    Another option would be to have a second slider. The first is for non-AC and the second is for AC.

    • (Score: 2) by egcagrac0 on Wednesday April 02 2014, @07:35PM

      by egcagrac0 (2705) on Wednesday April 02 2014, @07:35PM (#25105)

      Or, to add a "reason modifier" for AC.

      Some people may want to further obscure the AC's, some people may want to undo the default, some people may value the comments of the AC's more than the sheeple who log in to post.

  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by moondrake on Wednesday April 02 2014, @04:43PM

    by moondrake (2658) on Wednesday April 02 2014, @04:43PM (#24990)

    I think its a misconception that ACs are trolls. I lurked (without account) for over 13 years on /. And regularly (perhaps once a week occasionally, but perhaps less on other times) commented. I cannot remember that I ever have been modded troll or flamebait. Though sometimes my highly intelligent (feeling particularly modest today) comment was missed because it started at 0.

    In general, my internet behaviour is this: if I see something on some place that I could comment on (most recently a question about some bug in a linux driver that I fixed locally but had not yet bothered to send upstream), I will not comment and help the person out if I have to go through the trouble of registering. I believe I am not alone in that behaviour. Even here on soylent there are some regular ACs (gweg (sp?) for example) that I appreciate. And I think it is a particular bad idea to downmod an AC before you even read what he has to say. So far, there have been plenty of modpoints so if it is not contributing to the discussion, somebody will be happy to pass judgment (IMHO most people like doing this).

    As you point out, it takes little effort to register, so I do not think this should somehow guarantee that people with an account post better comments.

    There is an even more important reason to value AC posts: it allows people in the know about internal affairs to post something very informative. These people may have accounts, or may not and have been referred by others or have stumbled on the site because an issue was discussed there that they know more about. I do not want to see such whistle-blowing or otherwise very informative comments hidden at -1 and feel 0 makes a good compromise.

    Oh, and the claim that places with no ACs have less paid shills sounds unlikely to me, got any evidence for that?

    • (Score: 2) by Hairyfeet on Wednesday April 02 2014, @07:37PM

      by Hairyfeet (75) <> on Wednesday April 02 2014, @07:37PM (#25108) Journal

      I think you are missing the point friend, which is that its easy to spot patterns when a person has an account but if they can post as AC? they can shill to their heart's content, no way to know if the AC that just posted that loveletter to corp A is the same AC who just posted that second loveletter to corp A or not.

      Believe me I wish it weren't so but we have more than enough evidence to be reasonably certain that all the major corps are paying for "spin control posting" on pretty much any site that crosses their radar. just look at the crapflood of "I heart Windows 8!" AC bombs that hit Slashdot right before the Win 8 release, they even used classic marketing terms like "vertical integration" and "product synergy" that no non marketing drone uses IRL so it was pretty damned obvious yet because they could just crapflood the AC channel there was no way to say who was shilling and who wasn't.

      And I think the other poster nailed it, we need a "no AC" button so that those that believe in the AC system can have it and the rest won't ever have to see it...more choice is of the good, yes?

      ACs are never seen so don't bother. Always ready to show SJWs for the racists they are.
      • (Score: 2) by moondrake on Wednesday April 02 2014, @07:59PM

        by moondrake (2658) on Wednesday April 02 2014, @07:59PM (#25122)

        I guess it would be possible to hash the IP and add it as a AC "id". Not sure how I feel about such an identifier.

        As for the button, yes, I would not object to it, though I would just feel sorry for the people that use it!

        • (Score: 2) by Hairyfeet on Wednesday April 02 2014, @09:45PM

          by Hairyfeet (75) <> on Wednesday April 02 2014, @09:45PM (#25185) Journal

          Why is that? Look at what ACs have become on the other site, you get such "useful" posts as "You must be a nigger" or like my stalker "die you fat fucker die".

          With ACs you are completely killing the point of places like this which is dialogs and conversations. if all you want to do is just throw something on the screen and never see it again? That is what yahoo news is for, but with a site like Soylent the appeal, at least for me, is that you can have an actual discussion of the topic at hand. Since the AC will never see a response its a "throw shit and run" post by design.

          Now if that is what appeals to you? I have no problem with that but it would be nice for those of us who care about conversations not to see ACs.

          ACs are never seen so don't bother. Always ready to show SJWs for the racists they are.
          • (Score: 2) by moondrake on Thursday April 03 2014, @08:36AM

            by moondrake (2658) on Thursday April 03 2014, @08:36AM (#25405)

            I just accept some crap together with very interesting posts. With ACs, we would never have known the details about Operating Thetan Level Three, for example.

            And as Ethanol-Fuelled has pointed out quite literally elsewhere, you get the crap with logged in users as well.

            But I am just rehashing my argument. I fully understand your argument, I just like to point out that not everybody has such an opinion.

            Furthermore, I would be against such a "hide AC" button for anyone with modpoints.

            • (Score: 2) by Hairyfeet on Thursday April 03 2014, @11:54AM

              by Hairyfeet (75) <> on Thursday April 03 2014, @11:54AM (#25468) Journal

              Why is that? I can already state I would never waste modpoints on an AC post as there would b ZERO point in doing so. karma exists so that the posters that post thoughtful and considerate posts float to the top while Ethanol and his "you must be a jew" crap sink to the bottom. Again by the very nature of the AC post it does neither, the AC poster gets no karma and can crapflood all the racist or shilling they want and get no penalty for doing so. in fact if you think about it the AC post is almost by design a troll's wet dream, hell go to the other site and pick ANY article and see the signal to noise ratio when it comes to ACs, you are looking at best a 3-4 to 1 crap versus useful.

              But at the end of the day choice is always of the good and I see no reason those that like AC posting can't have it and those that hate AC posting can't have it blocked, after all we aren't owned by Dice and aren't trying to force shit on the users, are we?

              ACs are never seen so don't bother. Always ready to show SJWs for the racists they are.
              • (Score: 2) by NCommander on Saturday April 05 2014, @11:22AM

                by NCommander (2) Subscriber Badge <> on Saturday April 05 2014, @11:22AM (#26622) Homepage Journal

                This actually isn't 100% true. In addition to user accounts, slash tracks karma on a IPID and SUBID level, so ACs from specific subnets and such actually do have a karma count, its just not used anywhere. I've been debating if we should modify slash to allow IPID karma for an AC to allow ACs to get a +1 modifier as well (allowing their posts to start at +1)

                Still always moving
                • (Score: 2) by Hairyfeet on Saturday April 05 2014, @02:27PM

                  by Hairyfeet (75) <> on Saturday April 05 2014, @02:27PM (#26668) Journal

                  Well if there was a way for the AC poster to have their past history in some way traceable, so we could spot the shills and trolls? Well that would frankly remove every objection i have to AC posts honestly.

                  This is what I personally have against allows shills and trolls to actively derail threads with ZERO risk or way to trace that "yes it is this particular AC" that is doing the damage. Again for a good example look at what happened in the run up to the Win 8 release, Slash was crapflodded by ACs which were ALL staying "on message" and pushing the same bullet points over and over AND OVER and doing everything they could to derail any criticism of Windows 8. Again it was pretty obvious that this wasn't the usual fanboi bullshit as not only were they too on message but the language they used was too scripted and marketing heavy, words like "vertical integration" and "product synergy" and "enhanced user experience" which lets be honest nobody outside an ad agency ever uses in conversation.

                  But if there was a way to look at an AC's history, so we could say "lets see...posts only on articles about X, stays on message pumping up X, tries to derail criticism of X...yep we have a shill here!" and the same thing when it comes to trolls, like the lovely stalker i had for over a year? I would have ZERO problem with ACs. As i pointed out its not like there is any checking of the info a particular user puts in their profile and Ethanol is a perfect example of how accounts don't mean they don't troll, but at least if we could connect a person to their posts, be it account or IP or whatever? at least we would be able to spot those that are actively trying to be disruptive and derail conversations or push an agenda.

                  If you want to see why having some sort of way to connect a user to a post is important you might try seeing if the "I was a professional troll" article is still floating around the net, as it was written by a guy working for a shilling post company. it details how he was sent in to actively derail conversation and to incite a "left versus right" mentality in articles that weren't in the best interests of his clients. Its sad that such things are a serious issue now but they are and having a way to at least try to keep every thread from becoming propaganda would be of the good IMHO.

                  ACs are never seen so don't bother. Always ready to show SJWs for the racists they are.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 02 2014, @10:20PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 02 2014, @10:20PM (#25205)

      there are some regular ACs (gweg (sp?) for example) that I appreciate
      {Deep theatrical bow} 8-)

      That's gewg_ (phonetically "goog").
      When I first used it online, it was almost uniquely googleable (aside from 2 obscure Working Groups).

      Years ago, I had 2 submissions accepted at the other site and, again, years ago, would occasionally post, sometimes even getting modded up. []

      -- gewg_

  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 02 2014, @06:18PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 02 2014, @06:18PM (#25063)

    I have an account at the other site (680k range), though I stopped posting under my account because of personally targeted moderation. I could post identical comments in a thread (using my account and as AC) and the one from my account would often get down modded to oblivion, and the AC post would get modded up. So I just posted as AC for the last several years.

    When I used my account I posted often enough, and submitted a few stories a week, so my karma was always good. The only reason I tried to maintain good karma was so my posting rate wouldn't be limited by bad karma. The effort wasn't really worth it, so I just posted as AC and used varying IP addresses (proxies, VPNs, Tor, etc) to get around the AC limits if I wanted to post more than once or twice.

    I haven't posted often here (either under my account or as AC). The environment seems much friendlier, though the lack of other posts kind of limits the "conversation" part of posting. It's a bit of 'the chicken or the egg', but I'll wade in slowly and mostly lurk. Down modding for "I don't like you" or "I disagree" isn't here yet (I don't think), but I'll wait for the paint to dry to see what SN turns in to.

    Oh, and that "every site needs an asshole" who posts the racist crap? The racism has no place here. The asshole? That often depends on which side of the conversation you're on.

    • (Score: 2) by moondrake on Thursday April 03 2014, @08:51AM

      by moondrake (2658) on Thursday April 03 2014, @08:51AM (#25410)

      This is interesting. Suddenly I feel modding is more like peer review in science than I previously realized.

      One solutions some journals applied is that you do double-blind reviews. I think it would be pretty interesting to hide user IDs when you got mod points. Probably wont work well in practice though (view the site without logging in to see who posted what)

      • (Score: 1) by Yog-Yogguth on Thursday April 03 2014, @09:22AM

        by Yog-Yogguth (1862) Subscriber Badge on Thursday April 03 2014, @09:22AM (#25422) Journal

        Along those lines when this site grows big enough and with liberal supplies of mod points it would be interesting if each moderation would require an identical moderation to take effect, i.e. each mod point would in effect be half a mod point.

        Maybe the server overhead wouldn't be worth it but it would be interesting to see how it worked out :)

        Bite harder Ouroboros, bite! linux USB CD secure desktop IRC *crypt tor (not endorsements (XKeyScore))
        • (Score: 2) by NCommander on Saturday April 05 2014, @11:24AM

          by NCommander (2) Subscriber Badge <> on Saturday April 05 2014, @11:24AM (#26623) Homepage Journal

          This is actually trivial to implement in practice; scores and modscores are stored as floats in the backend; its just everything is set that X moderation costs 1 point, and every mod raises (or lowers) a score by one point. It *is* used in the current karma system (every moderation nudges karma 0.5 in either direction)

          Still always moving