The Mighty Buzzard writes:
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?
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.
Not five minutes after I griped about moderation on this site, there's a sign of improvement! Way to go, SoylentNews!
It's the power of Open Source... and TMB will need a new keyboard.
Meanwhile, in closed-source land, Microsoft Outlook still won't let me Mod my boss's emails Overrated or Flamebait...
I like under and overrated. The issues I have is 5+- is not enough, Capping KARMA at 50 is stupid. Do not toss out the baby with the bathwater. But this to poll vs comments in article!
IF you must change:Give BOTH points to raise and lower score AND classifications. Give every one 5 points to use every day, period, in ANY quanity I want to give from all 5+- to 1+-. Every one also can classify a comment (good/bad/funny/sad/horseshit/whatever. The two things are not one system nor do they have relationship to one another UNLESS you add a general channel class.
Channel class takes us farther down this rabbit hole, making general viewing class, so if I want to follow to the TROLL's view of the information I can choose that.
In the a system like the V-chip, it is limited one view point, very limited. Current mod system is that too. If the V-chip had say 100 channels, with Baptists getting to score one, Nudist another, Police Federation a third... I could pick the groups that I like to follow and score level I want to limit by. Then only the options that match both (or average of many) would be what I want to see. If I score an item then all the views that I am associated would get a equal ticks up or down.
Some really interesting ideas there. It'll be really interesting to see how they work out.
I fully support this kind of experimentation. Slashdot was always a cut above on their comment system; but as comments have generally degraded in the rest of the web over the years, so have they degraded there. The "Disagree" mod is a long-awaited feature; perhaps a "Poster doesn't have a clue what he's talking about" mod would be another way to avoid the more generic negative mods.
Anyway, good move.
I'm looking forward to these changes as well. Slashdot may have had a proper metamod feature, but their system had been stagnant for a long time. These kinds of experiments keep the site exciting.
The best part about this is the "disagree" mod -- the less ambiguity in online communication (hell, all communication), the better. The post-and-mod changes will also provide more "honest" posters with an opportunity to explain their disagreement in a reply.
The staff have been doing a bang-up job in balancing the community demands and striving to create a more perfect system while mitigating all of the bullshit like spam. It should be noted that any one angry person has the ability to machine-gun spam a discussion because of the removal of the "Slow down Cowboy" filters, which was prompted by community complaints.
Great job, fellas. Glad to see my twenty bucks is well-spent, I had to give up a whole weekend's worth of booze-money for 'dat star.
Endorsement of these changes by someone who has described himself as a "professional troll" [soylentnews.org] does not bode well.
Where's that disagree mod when I need it! Mr. Ethanol pushes the edges of the moderation system (maybe not here, but certainly at slashdot) and sees the darker side of moderation. His input is very valuable. Certainly a lot more valuable than the standard cookie cutter group think poster. You know, the kind that posts stale and obvious jokes and boring generic comments that conform to the collective bubble -- it's a trap! +5 funny; micr$oft sux +5 informative, etc. Their input, their comments, their existence has no value.
"Poster doesn't have a clue what he's talking about" mod
That would be awesome, but probably greatly abused.
I was thinking of a different phrase: Not even wrong [google.com]As Buzzard notes below, it really needs an explanation of -why- it's garbage; that requires a new comment.So, no. Not a good idea.
No R&D experience?If it doesn't work, try something else.Again, however, I can't see it adding enough to be worthwhile.
The couple of times I would have wanted the "Poster doesn't have a clue" mod I had to think hard about either a) ignoring the BS or b) calming my hyperbolic response enough to contribute something worthwhile about why it was apparent (to me) that poster didn't have a clue. I agree with Buzzard completely on that sentiment, and I'm interested to see how the "Disagree" mod plays out.
(also thanks for the intro to mr pauli -- interesting read, particularly the 'Personality and reputation' section w/ the quote. "The Pauli effect" sounds like a both awesome and horrible ability for a **scientist** to have.)
Someone did suggest a Factually Incorrect mod a long while back. Could be worth revisiting. By all rights it should be followed by a citation though so it would be better to go in after mod-and-post does.
I support "factually incorrect", but also the ability to positively mod someone with a great reply to one of my comments (dangerous if abused, frustrating right now). Post-and-mod will take care of the second one.
It will just be abused by people who won't alter their existing world view no matter what, and so conclude that the poster must be factually incorrect since they can't possibly be.
And what if a certain group doesn't LIKE the facts, hmmm? Go to Slash and look at a Linux article and see how quick the bullshit piles up, it quickly turns into the circle of loon [tmrepository.com] but there as here there are a few that worship the great GNU and for those the only "facts" that count are the ones that support their own biases. its like debating a scientologist and pointing out the universe isn't 100 billion trillion years old, doesn't matter that facts show that isn't so because that is what they believe so fuck you.
So for your idea to work one would have to decide what counts as a "fact" and what does not. Does regular websites count? What about Wikipedia? Do you need 1 page to count as a fact or 2? 3? The parameters would have to be defined otherwise you could just go to the blogosphere and find any looney to back you up, hell I could probably find 3 sites that support the Timecube for the love of pete.
perhaps a "Poster doesn't have a clue what he's talking about" mod would be another way to avoid the more generic negative mods.
Actually... what about the opposite. "+1 Expert". If there was some way of categorizing the discussion, enough of these could give a person an "Expert" status. Some badge or indicator that they know what they're talking about. Maybe it starts their posts at a higher score, or makes them more resistant to downmods in that area.
It's much harder to abuse / grief with an upmod than a downmod.
I like that!
Does the spam mod count as one mod point or zero? Because there's been a couple of spam floods with dozens of posts. If abusing the spam mod earns you bans then it should not cost a mod point.
i think reporting spam should be free to be used by anyone (as it is on most other sites). how that report is treated is the tricky bit.
if dealt with in an automated manner it could be prone to abuse, but if handled by humans it could become a tedious process with slow results.
limiting reporting of spam to moderators would eliminate a lot of the abuse risk, but would also limit the ability of users to report spam to it may also adversely affect effective response.
i like the direction SN is going with attacking spam, so kudos to TheMightyBuzzard and the dev team for their contributions.
perhaps another anti-spam measure that might be one for the to-do list down the track is the addition of anti-spam rules that test a comment/journal/submission against a bunch of rules that will automatically allocate offending items to binspam. this could be prone to false positives, so new rules that haven't been tried and tested might have an experimental flag that flags something as potential spam without automatically deleting it. example rules might be things along the lines of comments that contain exactly the same text posted within a certain time period, or comments containing external links not in a whitelist by same ip address within certain time period, etc. these sorts of tools could potentially be very complicated, which is why i like the development of a soylentnews api that is progressing in the background. using such an api may enable other non-slashcode devs to get involved in automatically reporting spam. antispambots that develop some trustworthiness after testing may get some kind of authorization to delete as well, but now i'm getting into navelgazing territory.
I don't really like that idea because then we start getting into Slashdot flag territory, which will likely create a nightmare for the admins when people start abusing it (I sure hated that feature and abused the hell out of it in Slashdot, flagging insightful comments with the text "-1, Homosexual").
Making it a mod option can at least restrict it to users with decent standing.
We already do have the capability to slap a regular expression in and block anything matching it. We just don't use it except in one very specific case unless I'm mistaken.
Could we handle that better with a capability to achieve Negative Karma?
Spam floods wouldn't require modding each such post in the flood if the -10 Karma kicks in AND karma can go negative.Modding any ONE of the flood should be sufficient to call the staff's attention, and rather than burden them (or us) with the jobof tracking down all the spam posts, they could just negative karma bitchslap that account.
Then the Preferences / Comments setting that currently reads:
"Karma Bonus (modifier assigned to posts where the user has good karma)"
could also have a companion setting
"Karma Penalty (modifier assigned to posts where the user has NEGATIVE karma)"
If that had a default setting of some minus value, say minus 5, then that spammer's posts (all of them) would simply fall off the screen of must users. One righteous Spam modding could essentially kill all that user's posts.
However, this all falls down when the spammer posts as AC.
I like the idea.
I do not know how easy it is to implement but say I wanted to assign +3 to people with karma > 45 for instance...
That way I would get heavy bias toward the top people here.
No use trying to hit 50, as often the top people here have strong opinions and have collected a cadre of people who downmod them out of spite.
Seen that happen too many times; however these folks usually bounce back to the rail within the day.
We have several dozen really good folk here, and I am quite interested in their take on what has been run up the flagpole.
Well, you can already bias the Good Karma folks, but I don't think there is such a thing as negative karma yet.
If the display for negative Karma stopped at 0 (so even if you had -100 Karma, your page said 0) or even a false value, and was accompanied by an ip-shadowban, I could see that improving things.
One point. We could hack it up to cost zero but there really should be enough points to go around what with twenty thousand or so being given out every day. Free Spam mods would also mean anyone could mod every post on the site as spam and overwork the poor editors and admins, so I'm thinking dishing out a few extra points if necessary is probably a better solution.
I like many things about this scenario. For one daily points as I can never seem to get mod points on days that I really want to mod on. The change to post or mod is great also. I like that we are doing a trial phase for this and look forward to testing it.
For one daily points as I can never seem to get mod points on days that I really want to mod on
I agree, the change to 24-hour expiration has worked out well because I seem to have them expire less often. There are also times when I don't have points but wish I did after reading a discussion. As long as the "5 mod points per day" is not cumulative I think it'll work just as well as the longer expiration period has.
Not cumulative, just five per day. For starters. Lots of people don't use the ones they get so we could end up having to go as high as ten points a day to everyone.
If there won't be downmods possible anymore, I think you'll require more points in circulation to bump up the quality comments. Otherwise a large proportion of AC posts that are relevant and on topic will share score with flippant or useless posts that don't deserve an upmod or a Troll mod.Underrated was useful in the past, I used it where a post I disagreed with, or had no opinion either way had obviously been unfairly modded down. With no downmods that should be redundant.
5 is good to me.Frequency is a problem.Or maybe I get my mod points when I sleep and they all expire.
Although I was subject to it with my very first comment on here...
1. Comments that were posted within minutes are much more likely to be modded up. If they were mediocre quality compared to later posts, only downmodding can rectify that.2. Sometimes mediocre comments get bumped up to 5 (at least on /.)
You could make it cost 2 mod points if it's abused too much.
Aside from that, I really like the changes.
Mediocre quality shouldn't be downmodded, just not upmodded as much. Even so, there's really no harm. It's not a game, modding is just intended to separate the wheat from the chaff. Sure it's nice to get a post modded to +5, but if you're reading, you need to read the surrounding context to really appreciate what a +5 post is saying.
The "not a game" thing is probably the best way to look at the whole thing when it comes down to it.
Mediocre quality shouldn't be downmodded, just not upmodded as much.
Except in both of the cases I mentioned.
Where are my mod points? I have been registered since July, have good karma. Shouldn't I have 5 mod points?
Patience, young Skywalker. It just hit github today and I've still got some commits to add before paulej72 signs off on the pull request and merges it. Then a couple weeks on dev for testing so we don't massively screw up anything on live. Just giving you lot an early heads up and a chance to shoot it down if you don't like it.
Patience, young Skywalker.
Patience, young Skywalker.
I'm old, with no time for patience ...... OK, I'm exaggerating. See my other reply, in which I acknowledge that the changes wont be implemented for some time.
It looks like I jumped the gun. I read the article again and I see that these are changes which won't be implemented for some time.
This is fantastic. I had 3 comments in a single article modded Overrated last week and was wondering about meta-moderation or something similar, as it was quite obviously abuse. Personally, I really like the idea of punishing or even blocking abusers.
Please add a mod type titled 'Sarcastic' because lumping it in Funny or Insightful or Interesting does not do justice.
Yes please. Now it is for you to decide if I am being sarcastic, serious or funny.
Why not simply provide a way for adding some kind of 'sarcasm sign' to one's own comment when posting? It would make your intention clear to everyone.
Have it appear (as an icon maybe) at the end and/or the start of a comment.
Sarcasm usually starts with a capital letter and ends with a period.
You mean like the <sarcasm> tag [github.com] we're adding in the regular update as well? Thank thors for that one.
Oh an attempt at sarcasm. I didn't see that one coming. You're really good that this whole "internet" thing. Have you considered teaching? I'm sure we could all benefit from your brilliant posting techniques.
Funny or Insightful or Interesting
Now that we've got a proper disagree because numerous mods, in practice, meant "disagree", a proper "agree" might not be far away.
In practice, it appears: Funny means I agree and LOL, interesting means I agree and I'm too lazy to verify if its true or not and too lazy to research, and insightful means I agree and I know it to be factually correct either by verification at this time or being an expert on the subject.
Could probably abstract "agree" out of those three classes.
Now for a really controversial proposal, how about just laying the cards on the table and issuing a "groupthink" "antigroupthink" mod pair?
I would love to see a "Wrong" mod. This site is rife with people who think they know something, such as on a scientific topic, but they are just flat out wrong. What they say might sound plausible to someone who doesn't know any more than the person making the comment, and this results in the person getting modded up. It isn't hard to find +5 posts where someone has replied to them showing them where they are wrong. You should be able to bring that +5 back down.
Oh, I would love to see that. This place has just as much groupthink to it that Slashdot ever had, but people seem to be in denial about it for some reason (perhaps a feeling that only the cream of the crop switched sites?).
The abstract "agree" is possible, simple even, but I'd really rather hear why we agree or disagree via a more specific mod or better yet a comment. We've got some of the best quality comments out there and I'd hate to do anything to muck that up. Hence not adding a thumbs-up/down button for a separate agree/disagree score. The Disagree mods have always been for those who'd rather silence speech than refute it and an Agree mod would equally be group-think. Bad up-mods however are much less of a problem because nobody filters out too highly rated comments like many people do ones rated too low.
Seems like most the times I see people complaining about being down-modded due to 'groupthink' it's because their particular pet conspiracy theory got modded down. If 'groupthink' is insisting on factual and verifiable posts then I'm all for it.
In that vien, a post that is factually incorrect but sitting at +5 informative deserves an 'Overrated' mod.
Personally, I think this is a too-complicated technical solution to a social problem (that isn't really that much of a problem to begin with).
To clarify, though, I fully support testing this to find out if my personal feeling is correct or not....
Yep, that's my feelings on the matter more or less. I'm not entirely convinced this will work out for the better but we can at the very least salvage any good bits from it.
> Personally, I think this is a too-complicated technical solution to a social problem (that isn't really that much of a problem to begin with).
Bingo. Mod-bombing is rare as hen's teeth here on slashdot. This entire scheme seems like a waste of time and increased complexity for minimal gain. The effort put in so far is a sunk cost, but I wish it had gone to something more straightforward like getting metamoderation functioning.
Whenever Buzzard disagrees with someone's conclusions his go to move is to demand analytical proof -- the "prove it" card -- so I ask, where's the proof that bad moderations are a significant problem here?
Mod-bombing is rare as hen's teeth here on slashdot.
Ah... I think you may be lost. The Green Site is that-a-way [slashdot.org] :)-----On topic: changes seem mostly good, looking forward to testing period.
Still, good question - let's see the proof before going off all half-cocked.
I read it as "here or on /." -- I'm pretty sure he meant to include an or. There's probably something wooshing over my head, but I've typed this much so I'll post it.
Nah, I just brain-farted, meant to type soylent and that's what came out instead.
For your "prove it" card's answer. I offer the Scientific Method: Research, Hypothesis, Experiment, Analyze Results. The Experiment will be along very late December or more likely the first week of January and we all get to find out together if we have a Theory or just a few salvageable bits of code.
That of course is a ridiculous response, as I knew it would be.
All it would take to "prove it" is an analysis of all down-mods with evaluation as to whether or not they are were even somewhat justifiable. Probably take about a day, maybe two, of effort with access to the back-end database - run a report to list all of those posts along with the post they were responding too and the summary they were posted too. But you haven't done that. Furthermore, even your bullshit answer won't cut it either because without a baseline to compare it to your "experiment" is meaningless - how do you intend to show an improvement in quality of moderations if you don't even know what the current quality of moderations is?
This is all just self-indulgent fucking around simply because you can. Give a man a little power and not enough real work to keep him occupied and this is exactly the kind of thing that happens. Just like every government ever.
And if I did all that, you still wouldn't believe me because you hadn't run the queries and seen the evidence yourself. You're not a person who's willing to be pleased on this matter no matter what you're told unless I'm terribly misreading you.
Which is entirely beside the point. Perception is the key here and if enough users perceive a problem, then it is a problem; period. I don't know if you honestly care about the issue or if you're just trolling but the result is going to be the same either way: when the community says there's a mod problem, we're going to try and fix it.
All it would take to "prove it" is an analysis of all down-mods with evaluation as to whether or not they are were even somewhat justifiable. Probably take about a day, maybe two, of effort with access to the back-end database
How the hell would you do that? It's wildly subjective.
Groupthink modding is a real problem. Its not JUST related to pet conspiracy theories, political or religious views.
You can get mod-bombed just for badmouthing (badkeyboarding?) Apple, Tesla, or praising anything about Microsoft, Google, or (horrors) Monsanto.
Various mod armies came with us on our exodus from that other site. They are alive and well. They live among us.
You failed to mention the white elephant in the room: try pointing out that Snowden can't actually walk on water or turn water into wine and see what happens to your mod score. And oh yeah, one must be a government shill as well to think those unpure thoughts.
Snowden is now in Russia, where currently the temperatures are such that water is solid. Therefore it should be easy for Snowden to walk on it (provided he doesn't slip, of course).
Now, turning water into wine may be a problem, but who would want frozen wine anyway? ;-)
Wine won't work but if he has water and potatoes (“of course he has water and potatoes! Duh. Russia!?”) he could turn it into vodka and then it won't freeze either :3
I can walk on vodka, I've done it before.
Groupthink modding is a real problem.
My favorite example of the outcome of groupthink modding is modern Reddit. The seemingly homogenous beliefs and attitudes of the reddit crowd were what made me first understand the propaganda power of forum modding -- instead of discussing or arguing so-called "controversial" points, just "downmod to oblivion". This nature is what drove me away from participating there.
Although I'll admit that part of the reason I contribute on Soylent is that I feel the community (in general) is sympathetic to my worldview (and maybe willing to be swayed a little more :), I haven't witnessed the modding problems I saw on Reddit, or to a lesser extent /. This may be due to the (small) size of the community, but I'd like to attribute it to the type of people who make up the community.
everyone who's been registered for a month or more gets five mod points a day.
Yay! My patience pays off! I hope I use the responsibility wisely, and I do not become part of the "mod armies" you speak of!
homogenous beliefs and attitudes of the reddit crowd were what made me first understand the propaganda power of forum modding -- instead of discussing or arguing so-called "controversial" points, just "downmod to oblivion". This nature is what drove me away from participating there.
Although I'll admit that part of the reason I contribute on Soylent is that I feel the community (in general) is sympathetic to my worldview (and maybe willing to be swayed a little more :),
Ah, it all becomes clear now! We are all here to be swayed by you and your "controversial" opinions! Wish I had known that earlier, so I wouldn't have down-modded you for being an ass.
How about, instead, just as a suggestion, we all sway you a little bit? I am very surprised by the number of fragile egos here on SN that have to interpret being modded down as someone just having a different opinion. That is not what it is about at all. You may disagree with this, in fact I am pretty sure you do. And that means, . . . oh, it's hopeless. Sway me a little more! I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.
Ah, you didn't know the Internet was made to spread propaganda?
Seriously, I said **part** of the reason. Why would I take part in a community where I didn't respect the attitudes, knowledge, experience, and beliefs of the other members? I'm not sure where you get the "fragile ego" bit from -- I may or may not have a fragile ego, but I've been downmodded on this site a bare handful of times, and I didn't "run away" or cry in my cereal. I've got a hell of a lot more important things going on in my life than **commenting on the Internet**.
To be honest with you aristarchus, this is the first forum I've contributed to on a regular basis. I didn't leave Reddit because I was downmodded too much -- I chose not to participate/contribute there because I didn't like what I saw, discussion-wise and groupthink-wise. There's a poster here, anubi, who's sig is: "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." **This** is an attitude I think is sorely missing in our technocentric culture (particular on /.), and I feel like Soylent is an environment and community where an attitude of "Prove all things" can actually be taken seriously in the discussion of technology.
Also, I feel like I got a good overview of the problems w/ systemd :) My linux-fu is not advanced enough to make a meaningful opinion there, so I "allowed" myself to be swayed by various Soylent commenters.
This is the first forum I've contributed to on a regular basis.
Hey! Me too! And I am shocked and amazed (in a good way) that you bothered to respond to my rather sarcastic post. So there may be hope for the Soylent Community after all.
But my point was (omg, here he goes, again), that some positions are modded down not just because the majority disagrees with them, but that the majority disagrees with them because they are just wrong, and as such there is no point having a debate over the issue. Take for example our MikeeUSA who repeatedly says the Bible authorizes him to kidnap young girls. Now, I, for one, disagree with this. But I do not just "have another opinion on the matter", I think that MikeeUSA needs to be found, as the FBI no doubt is already doing, because he is a pervert. Got that? Not just another opinion. A pervert. Thinking so different that there is no thinking involved. Now this is how many people think about questions like Global Warming, Obamacare, Nuclear Power, and Ayn Rand. Anyone who brings these up is just a pervert, and not worth engaging in debate, since they have their fixed position and are only interested in "swaying" more people to their cause. So, which side are you on? I look forward to reasoned debate amongst free persons.
Now this is how many people think about questions like Global Warming, Obamacare, Nuclear Power, and Ayn Rand. Anyone who brings these up is just a pervert, and not worth engaging in debate, since they have their fixed position and are only interested in "swaying" more people to their cause.
You pretty much just defined bad down-modding and group-think for me. Thank you.
Various mod armies came with us on our exodus from that other site. They are alive and well. They live among us.
And why do you reckon this is a bad thing?You perceive an eternal life in paradise (all bliss, no conflicts) as a good life?
(I swear sometime I miss coldfjord, even our Ethanol-fuelled is an amateur by comparison.Sorry, Ethy, nothing personal, no disrespect meant or implied).
I think mod armies a bad thing because people having 27 different accounts just so that they are sure to have mod points and coordinating with their like minded buddies to bury other points of view is childish behavior.
The former is a bully, the later is a gang.
Personally, I think this is a too-complicated technical solution to a social problem (that isn't really that much of a problem to begin with).
Agreed. Adding "Agree" and "Disagree" mods just sounds like an invitation for disaster. The whole point is that we aren't SUPPOSED to mod like that. Changing the modding system to support it is reconciling the system to reality, when we should continue working to reconcile reality to the system.
See, there's the rub. Trying to change human nature is essentially a guaranteed recipe for failure.
The way I see it we could implement meta-moderation. The problem is how to pick meta-moderators. If you mechanically select them you end up with exactly the same people meta-moderating as moderating with exactly the same results. If you hand select them you invariably fall victim to cronyism and meta-moderation, and thus regular moderation, quickly becomes reddit-like tyranny. The former seems pointless and the latter I'm not okay with even if I'm the one picked as the head tyrant.
It's a damned thorny problem, so we're trying to save time by skipping what we already know doesn't work and trying things we're unsure of.
I would say that trying to fix a social problem with a technical solution is almost as doomed.
It's a damned thorny problem,
so we're trying to save time by skipping what we already know doesn't work
We do? We know the current system doesn't work? It seems okay to me.
What I was talking about were all the options we've seen others try and fail at. Like going to reddit's system or implementing slashdot's version of meta-moderation. Those are both known failures.
As for ours... Right now, very unpopular views often get shot down to -1 and stay there, never to be seen by many people. That's not good for the conversation. I think we can do better. This may be how, it may not, but not trying anything new is a guarantee of nothing changing.
I never understood why Taco stopped trying to fix moderation. Sometime around 2003 he started getting lazy or pulled in another direction. Why the hell was there never a spam or disagree option? They're so obviously needed.
Having just tried tackling it myself, bet you a dollar it's because it's an extremely intractable problem. Some people are just narrow-minded and moderation can not stop that, it can only really attempt to convince or cajole them into making an open-minded choice instead.
The above makes it easy to zap trolls, but very hard to suppress interesting controversy.
Alternately, instead of squaring the upvotes you could take the factorial or raise 2 to the power of the upvotes. The required function is non-linear and grows rapidly. So you could do upvotes!-downvotes or 2**upvotes-downvotes or similar.
Interesting idea. Socked away for the next go-round of moderation-pokery as it would be best to test out several algorithms.
mmm... I worry that it will make the site very friendly to organised astroturfers and corporate propaganda.
And on the whole, I think I'd sooner Soylent reflected the views of the members than skewed everything with positivity. I value the opinions of the Soylent community. It'd be nice to be able to tell what they were :)
(That said, by all means try the experiment. I'm just mulling over possible consequences)
Here's how I understand the Overrated mod:
Imagine that you see a post e.g. at +5 Insightful, and you think that it is indeed insightful, but does not deserve a +5, because it is not that insightful. Then it is overrated.
I indeed see little value in Underrated. It was valuable at Slashdot because there Funny didn't get Karma; if you considered something funny enough that you wanted to give the author Karma for it, but didn't want to misuse other moderations like Insightful for it, then Underrated was a good option. As I understand it, here Funny gives Karma (as was originally the case also on Slashdot), so using Underrated for that purpose is not necessary.
Exactly. If we're going to take the teeth out of over- and under-rated, then I'd like to see more Reason options (e.g. "redundant", "needs citation", "lacks clarity", ad hominem, etc.).
Often I use over- and under-rated mods because none of the other options quite fit my reason for the mod. Maybe we need something that will cut down on the "Me too!" posts (like this one? ;) ).
Needs Citation may very well go in. Was wondering how to word that.
Like this [xkcd.com].
Or did you mean this [xkcd.com]
- Posts so offtopic and lacking value to even be a troll that they can't be called anything else. See here [soylentnews.org] for an example.
I searched and mostly found lots and lots of paper dispensers.
Things I wish I could unknow....
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.
I don't quite understand how this would help anybody. It seems the steps you would have to go to to cause trolls to fall of the page would be some sort of simultaneous equation of negative praise filtered through positive berating with a side order of attentive ignoring.
I don't get it...
I don't quite understand how this would help anybody.
This is a subtle problem. Or at least to me it appears so.
You see, it seems that we want to measure two aspects with a single metric - mod/karma points; specifically, the two aspects are
The downside: because of nature of two aspects are different in nature, paradoxes may appear from the use of a single coin (e.g. putting a monetary value on life from a narrow perspective, like depicted in this post [soylentnews.org]**. Or maybe: pirate music for profit - a victimless crime - pay with life years in jail)
Maybe it would be good to have separate modding for "message value" and another one for "poster behaviour value".But... this would create an economy with two different coins (so, different karma types?) and I haven't explored enough all the implications to say: "This is my proposal. It works like this and that and those are the risks".
** I linked it on SN only because it's easier to isolate the relevant quotation.
I'm not entirely certain it will, hence The Experiment. If we want to solve a problem nobody else has been able to handle, we're going to have to try things that haven't already been tried though.
Well, I'm fine with experiments.
I just worry when even troll mods become positive mods.
When I start writing the documentation for a project, and I find myself explaining totally bizarre processes or results, I usually go back and re-write some portion rather than document an absurdity.
Are we so abhorrent of down-mods that we will throw the baby out with the bathwater?
I think that the source of the problem is that the mod categories have a Personal Insult as the strongest negative score. Informative, insightful, funny, underrated, and overrated all seem to pertain to the post itself, but Troll pertains to the poster.
Maybe overrated should be renamed unpersuasive or factually wrongandTroll should be called incendiary, uncivil, or combative tone.
Or Maybe the whole problem goes away if people can just vote "disagree" rather than being tempted to use a rating that amounts to an ad hominem attack.
Possibly, that's what we're trying to find out. The idea came from the discussion here [soylentnews.org], if you're wondering.
How about not letting someone use their mod points unless they are browsing at -1? Make the drop-down boxes disappear like they do when you've commented in a thread.
Thought about that a long while back. I forget who vetoed it but the primary reason was there's value in moderating even if your filter is set to +1, so let them keep their filters. We may revisit it again for the next round of moderation-pokery though.
A middle ground could be that it costs more mod points if you don't moderate at -1.
That's not a bad idea, but you'd have to figure out how to handle the case when the person only has one mod point left.
Looking at the big picture, I'm not sure I agree that there is much, if any, value in moderating from a +1 or higher value (and I would add 0-level too). I think it lends itself to groupthink where you are biasing popular opinions. I think if someone isn't willing to browse at -1 when they want to use mod points, this site is better off if they didn't mod at all. Forcing them to browse at -1 doesn't guarantee they'll give any extra consideration to AC or modded down comments, but they shouldn't be rewarded for ignoring them in the first place.
No No No No, quit changing things! Go sit on your hands if you want something to do! It's not that bad. You don't need to "fix" this.
Besides, as I understand it, the GNAA posts will not be modded off the default page that visitors see, just marked as troll for them to see. Sometimes, there's dirt you DO want to sweep under the rug so that guests and visitors don't see it and think badly of you despite your far more numerous positive qualities. Goatse, GNAA, the new Wigger troll -- if you've been around long enough you realize these are just some kind of twisted-not-so-funny attempts by idiots who _think_ they're being funny, and you get that these posts are not reflective of the wider community. To a stranger though, these things will be in their face (they won't have an account to set trolls to -6) and will reflect badly on us. Perhaps horribly badly. That is a far worse detriment than somebody whining about unfair mods. I rarely see those last long -- most are corrected.
TL:DR -- without actual downmods, trolls will define how we appear and who we are perceived to be, to visitors and guests. That is worse than the (mostly imagined) problem with unfair downmods.
To a stranger though, these things will be in their face (they won't have an account to set trolls to -6) and will reflect badly on us. Perhaps horribly badly. That is a far worse detriment than somebody whining about unfair mods.
I would argue that the person who judges a community on a scant handful of post, which are in fact being *actively rejected* by the community, is not the sort of person we want around anyway.
Free Speech Forever
These people aren't going to be members. That wasn't my point. Say for an example a reporter is doing a story in which something SN related plays a role. That person has public influence and whether wrong or right, the SN choice to display GNAA posts for all to see is going to reflect badly on us.
If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him.
Yeah, but goatse makes it effortless.
You think that the rare case of unfair mod is more important than SN's members' public image.You think that presenting our worst face front and center for the general public to see, is a good thing.
I disagree. I guess that's about all there is to say.
NO, I've explicitly explained that it is in fact IMPOSSIBLE to present a face that isn't offensive without draconian censorship, and that we therefore shouldn't try.
downmodding GNAA is hardly draconian censorship. It's more like flushing the toilet after taking a dump.
I'm not arguing against downmodding. Downmodding is what we ALREADY HAVE. You were talking about removing comments like that completely.
Rereading your initial post, I'm not sure if that's what you're saying, but if it isn't I don't know what you're trying to:
Sometimes, there's dirt you DO want to sweep under the rug so that guests and visitors don't see it
without actual downmods, trolls will...
We already have a Troll mod. If you're not logged in, don't you browse at 0? In which case, the worst posts will be collapsed anyway.
I was not talking about removing them, I was talking about hiding them unless you go looking. That's what downmodding does. It sweeps them under the rug -- somebody can peek under the rug. Deleting them would be doing a real cleanup and throwing them out.
As items swept under the rug, and not displayed without a person taking an effort, it improves our public image without draconian (delete it) censorship. Leaving that garbage on the default display level however, is a mistake from a public perception point of view.
I guess it depends on whether you consider "collapsed but still present" to be "displayed" or not. The argument could be made that a first-time reader may not know how the moderation scheme works, yes.
Position noted. Hope you can hang in there for the duration of The Experiment at least though, because most people seem in favor of at least giving it a try so far and we're a community-driven site above all things.
Without downmodding equivalent I see several problems.Hardest is that it does not prevent mod-clique when 6 posters will post to different topic and they will mod others to +5 for mediocre comment.Sockpuppets also work but are easier to detect.
Agreed, it's not too terrible a problem though. At worst you have to see some mediocre comments. That's not nearly as bad as having a good one hidden by the same group of echo-chamber zealots though. IMO anyway. Your opinion may vary.
My humble opinions:- Good: Regular mods points to all long term subscribers- Good: Getting rid of some often abused tags (underrated, overrated)- Good: Making some negative tags +0- Bad: Making all negative tags besides "spam" +0. I may well be proven wrong but it seems way to easy too abuse this. If you can find five accounts (friends, sock-puppets, co-conspirators) to upvote a comment, then it will always be +5 no matter what a thousand people think (unless it's spam). Perhaps we could have some downvotes worth -0.5, (or if it's an int field then two downvotes are -1, to achieve the same idea). These might include "abusive", "irrelevent", or "incoherent"- Great: Spam mod- We'll see: Punishment levels for false spam-modding.
- Extra suggestion: Remove the ceiling on karma for users, and on scores for posts.
In conclusion it's a most worthy experiment, and and I expect most of these measures will prove good enough to keep. Thank you.
Not really possible given the size of the columns they're stored in in the db. We can raise the crap out of at least karma though and very well might before this all goes live. Comment scores though, that's a bit more tricky. Lot of places for things to go wrong and would need significant testing that I'd rather not subject you lot to as guinea pigs.
I think the limits for moderation are OK. However user-defined modifiers should IMHO not be capped. So if you set a +2 modifier to Insightful and the post happens to be +4 insightful, you would see it at +6.
I agree that the "spam" mod is great, including the penalty for misuse. I'm not thrilled that this "tactical banhammer" is the *only* available downmod. Given the penalty for misuse, there should be a way to add a comment for non-immediately-obvious sins (eg. "The link is to goatse.cx")
However they are rated, I like the idea of more descriptive downmods, and I think we should add prospecticle's "abusive" "irrelevant" and (I particularly like) "incoherent", along with "citation needed" suggested elsewhere.
I'd also like some more upmod and neutral categories -- sometimes "Interesting" (to me it means "coherent and brings something I hadn't considered") "Insightful" (to me: "coherent and expresses its viewpoint very well") and "Informative" (to me: "provides additional correct facts") don't really cover it all. I'd love to have the ability to rate a comment in an argument chain "+1 Touche", for example.
Oooh, I dig the +1 Touche. Yoink.
ob: http://xkcd.com/810/ [xkcd.com]
And just in case anyone doesn't get the cartoon, a further explanation is available,
I don't regard that as a troll, even though I disagree with what he said. I responded and so did several others, so you could say that he stimulated useful discussion.
That's unless you want a forum that strives to reach consensus, which is what I sometimes see on the green site for certain hot button issues which I don't think I have to name. In those cases the moderation is overkill, it's like a whitewash. Slashdot/SN PC is no better than liberal PC or conservative PC.
It was definitely a troll but you have to know poutine's history of doing nothing but trolling us since the very beginning to really appreciate that. Personally, I don't think he should have lost comment score for it though and think the new system will suit well-thought-out trolls right down to the ground. Looking for consensus is exactly the opposite of what zero-mods are aiming at.
There have been a few times on The Other Site (my number there is in the 30K's) that I've wanted to rate a comment "+1 Troll"
Sorry for the hijack, but this post reminded me about a problem. When i clicked on the link to check out poutine's posting, I read the comment and then hit the back button and ended up at the top of this story. Same thing happens when I moderate. Does this happen to others? Shouldn't I end up at my previous position in the page when I hit the back button?
No worries about the hijack. Nothing much we can do about the Back button behaving like that because we have to set no-cahce headers on comments pages or we'll end up with "issues". We can certainly put a link on moderation pages that will take you back to the last comment you moderated on the story page you were just at though.
Fair nuff. I was looking at meta-moderating as more of a public system for all mods rather than an Editor/Admin-only, Spam-specific undo link.
AIUI, it only applies to the "Spam" mod, though, as a check against abuse.
If you present it as "a spam report function tied to mod points" (which it really seems to be) rather than as a moderation type itself, while trying to avoid slashdot's horrible "flagging" it might come across as less contradictory. Maybe a "Flag Spam" clickable that applies the "Spam" moderation to the post rather than selecting it from the dropdown.
Thought about that but decided to roll it in as a mod anyway so that people could -6 it from their preferences page or not as they choose.
I've been on this site and the Other Site for years (mostly lurking), yet I've never seen any explanation of how the moderation system works.
Apparently I have a "karma" of 24 here and now, but what that means, or how I got it, or what I can do with it, I have no idea.
Consequently I play no part in the moderation process. I'm sure I can't be the only one.
If there's a brief and lucid explanation somewhere, assuming no prior knowledge, I'd be grateful if someone could point me to it. Thanks in advance!
Karma is largely useless for the duration of The Experiment. Mostly a bragging right. Normally it would make you get mod points faster. Only seriously negative karma has any real effect on anything else though. IIRC it limits the number of posts per day you can make, though we've ramped that up to where it's essentially a non-issue.
Moderation though, well it's fairly obvious what it does to comments. As for what those scores are good for, you can tweak all kinds of settings on your comments preferences page [soylentnews.org] that allow you to do things like only see posts with a score of +2 or better, add extra modifiers specifically typed comments like say giving Spam posts a -6 adjustment so they never show up or giving Troll posts a +2 modifier because you think trolling is hilarious. You can also set someone to a friend or foe by clicking on the little face icon by their name and adjust comments of your foes to -6 so you don't have to see them or +6 so you can always see them to argue with.
There are really quite a lot of settings in there to play with. Try as many or as few as you like out until you find a reading mode you prefer.
It all sounds good to me, +1 to the previous poster who said it would be good to see a detailed explanation of how it works (Maybe a wiki page article and a link on the front page). I look forward to the changes, though, when they go live!
Related in a way but also a future development suggestion. When I read an article I generally read it once, if it is interesting I may add a comment and I may mod. But generally from that point onwards I won't go back to the article, mainly because its hard to know which comments are new since I last looked at the article. There is an ordering of show newest first (ignoring threads) but this kind of defeats the purpose of reading comments in the nested format. I think having the ability to flag posts you are interested in and to then highlight new comments since you last looked would be a good tool to help generate views on comments that were added some time after the article was posted.
Another point is around the whole concept of Karma, what is Karma and what is it used for on the site? If I have Karma 7, how am I treated differently to someone with Karma 23?
Sod's law - just after I read this I spot a link on the right hand side talking about moderation (although it doesn't mention the various categories and what they mean) and karma :)
Looks like Karma > 0 is the only meaning full statistic and its means you can moderate. Fair enough...I will stop asking now :)
...then highlight new comments since you last looked would be a good tool to help generate views on comments that were added some time after the article was posted.
Maybe the way to do this would be to have a way to flag you are interested in an article (so you only do this for interested stories) and then to store a date against it (not sure what mechanism would trigger this) and any articles after that date are then coloured or flagged slightly differently. You wouldn't then have to store information on individual comments but you would still get power of notifying the reader of new content. You could also then have a section on the front page to only show favourited articles.
The article comments are locked after a certain period so clearing these favourite articles at that point seems like a fair compromise.
Like this [pipedot.org]?
I use a separate table that is basically a uid + sid + date. When you visit a story, the date is updated. Comments are then colored blue or gray so that the new comments easily stand out.
Yeah, I'm not so much concerned with the size of that table at ~5k registered users, I'm more concerned that there's no way in hell it would scale well.
I'm all for progress and experimentation, but I see a few problems with this proposal.
I think the main problem with moderation recently was simply not enough mod points being distributed. When enough points are around, the system works by people correcting wrong mods by moderating in the opposite direction. That's the case where I use Underrated and Overrated. When -1 Troll is used as a disagree mod, I mod the comment up with Insightful, Interesting,... or Underrated. When a comment was modded to +5 Insightful, but it is then pointed out in a reply it is in fact wrong, I use Overrated to bring it back down. I think just having enough moderators is an even better measure against abuse of the moderation system than meta-moderation.
The reason there is a moderation system is to give readers a nice overview of interesting comments, with the best ones highlighted (expanded) and the junk hidden. Having +5 Troll posts defeats this purpose. Yes, I can set Troll to -6 in the preferences, but why do I have to set this just to return to (something like) the old situation? The default should be what most people want, and I suppose most people want the troll posts to be hidden.
I like the idea of a spam mod, but I think its use should be limited to ban real spam. Otherwise you are creating ambiguity: is this just a negative comment or a real troll? For trolling I would just keep the -1 mods, and then other moderators can correct in case of ambiguity, as I described above. This makes moderating a democratic process, with different people voting for or against a certain comment.
To that end, I converted all the downmods to +0 mods and added a proper Disagree +0 mod.
To that end, I converted all the downmods to +0 mods and added a proper Disagree +0 mod.
Congratulations, you've just turned the entire moderation system into a Facebook "like" button.
Eliminating the ability to downmod is not necessary if there are enough mod points in the pool that moderators can cancel unfair downmods.
If, as a poster, you cannot learn to cope with unfair downmods, and avoid the fair ones, then you're just a crybaby and/or a jackass and the sooner you ragequit the happier everyone will be.
Second, everyone who's been registered for a month or more gets five mod points a day.
This is the only worthwhile idea in the plan.
We're not the other site and this isn't Beta; what we as a community want is what's going to happen.
This proposal is about as radical, unnecessary, sudden, and arbitrary as Beta. Tread carefully. I'm only one user, but my goodwill is hanging by a thread.
you still have the same ideologically driven few who think Troll/Flamebait/Overrated means Disagree
If that is the problem you're trying to solve then for heaven's sake propose a solution to THAT problem. Use meta-moderation to identify those users and deny them mod points. Oh wait, why don't you just redesign the moderation system instead, what could possibly go wrong?
Use meta-moderation to identify those users and deny them mod points.
If you can tell me how without meta-moderating becoming simply another level of group-think, I'm all ears. Meta-moderation never worked well on the other site and it wouldn't work well here unless we decided to become tyrants and appoint only meta-moderators we think are fair. I'm not cool with either of those options but I also haven't thought up a better way to implement it, which is why it's still in limbo.
You may have a point on the like button thing though, we'll have to wait and see. You also may be right about simply enough mod points being out there solving the problem; I suppose we could even try dishing a bunch more out now and not wait until January. I'll talk to paulej72 and see if he's okay with rolling that out as soon as possible.
And it's important to be clear, this isn't about anyone being butthurt over being downmodded. We're all big kids and we can get over it. It's about unpopular points of view being suppressed to the detriment of the conversations they're part of. SN as a site has the sole purpose of having the best conversations we can. I mean it's kind of why we exist. That means we don't just allow dissenting points of view, we actively need them. So if something like bad downmodding is hindering that, it needs to end if at all possible.
Also to be clear, my reference to crybabies and jackasses was not intended to refer to The Mighty Buzzard or indeed any specific person, and the subject line was a rhetorical device to call attention to my disagreement. I understand and respect the good intentions behind the proposal.
If you can tell me how without meta-moderating becoming simply another level of group-think, I'm all ears.
Umm ... yeah. You got me there. This is the difference between someone who created a proposal and someone who's reacting to it. The one who created it has more invested and has thought things through better.
You also may be right about simply enough mod points being out there solving the problem; I suppose we could even try dishing a bunch more out now and not wait until January. I'll talk to paulej72 and see if he's okay with rolling that out as soon as possible.
In all seriousness, changing one aspect of the system at a time will give you better insight into what works and what doesn't, than changing three or four things at once.
Hence the proposal. I'm up against a logical brick wall as far as I can see and could use some crowdsourced lovin.
That's really a pretty good point. I can't think of much besides the Spam mod and the Editor+ undo button that really badly need to go together. We generally work on a 2-3 month release cycle and I guess my brain's kind of gotten used to it being the way things are done.
Use meta-moderation to identify those users and deny them mod points.If you can tell me how without meta-moderating becoming simply another level of group-think, I'm all ears.
Lets assume that the majority of people moderate correctly. Now imagine a system where each moderation decision has to be agreed upon by 2 moderators. You have doubled the amount of effort, but you havealso made the proportion of incorrect moderation decisions much lower than it was before.
Now imagine you don't want to double the amount of effort. So instead you create an extra layer: meta-moderation. The extra layer does add value. Bad stuff can still happen, but less often than it does without this extra layer of mostly-correct moderation decisions.
That's my theory anyway.
Meta-moderation never worked well on the other site
Ah. Damn. I don't know anything about that, so can't really comment.
What I will say is I believe the main moderation problem is people using it as a way of expressing agreement/disagreement. And I still think [soylentnews.org] the best way to combat that is to have a completely separate system for expressing agreement/disagreement. That way no-one, whether moderator or meta-moderator, can be in any doubt. This should make both moderation and meta-moderation more straightfoward. And I think meta-mod then has a good change of success.
1) WOOHOO! Sounds like I might finally get some mod points! I've had 50 karma for months and haven't gotten a single mod point yet...
2) I'd personally be a *little* more lenient on mod banning people for false spam reports. I'd rather deal with a couple jerks than accidentally ban someone who was trying to do the right thing. Maybe add one more tier at the bottom, a day or a week or something, maybe even just a warning the very first time. And make the rules VERY clear if you're going to ban first-time offenders -- ie, when you flag something as spam, a second page (or popup/overlay?) appears that says 'By flagging this comment you agree that it violates one of the following guidelines. A false report will result in your account being banned from moderation for [duration]' Also, your strikes should expire over time -- set up a three or six month cron job that just decrements everyone's number of strikes by one or something. Ideally this value should be visible in the user's profile somewhere too. And be very clear when you give examples of what should and should not be flagged -- I have *no idea* what you mean by "HOSTS/GNAA posts"
3) I'm not sure how removing downmods has any connection to the post and/or moderate thing. I always understood the concern as up-modding other posts in the same thread to try to get yours noticed. Ie, you make your karma-whoring post on top of some troll or otherwise crap post, then you upmod that post in the hopes that people will upmod your post refuting them. Or you upmod a reply to your comment so people will view the parent. How would you gain an advantage by downmodding other posts? Silencing dissent?
4) Downmodding is VERY necessary and should not be removed!!! Otherwise all it takes is someone registering 6 accounts and they can shill all they want and have all their posts modded +5 informative, and they just have to shill well enough to not be blatantly obvious as spam. Granted, no matter how many accounts you have, "IPOD SUCKS GO BUY A ZUNE LOLOL" is gonna get flagged spam. But something like "I used to have an iPod but I had some trouble with the iTunes software and found the Zune much easier to use" isn't clearly spam -- in fact, I'd expect anyone modding that as spam to be banned. But it adds nothing to the discussion, and it sure as hell shouldn't be so easy to get that instantly and permanently modded to +5 insightful.
Right now all it takes to keep the shills at bay is that we have more good moderators than bad. In fact, we could even handle more bad moderators than good as long as the bad moderators weren't all working together. With the proposed changes it sounds like it will be impossible to fight these kinds of posts even if we have a million good moderators and only a half dozen bad ones.
As much as I hate CAPTCHAs, this is the ONLY effective way I know off to stop spambots/crapbots from autoposting here if the CAPTCHAs themselves are essentially impossible to solve algorithmically.
Show one CAPTCHA to a poster to solve and let them post additional messages without another CAPTCHA.
You can't stop spammers/crappers/griefers who use 'Mechanical Turk' methods (basically free pr0n to solve CAPTCHAs) to get past them.
To thwart that, you have have some sort of IP-based rate limiting and bring up additional CAPTCHAs when this rate is exceeded. Sadly, this will impede the users who make a lot of worthwhile posts in a short time in order to minimized the spam and crap posted here. This posting rate must be sufficiently tuned and randomized to prevent spammers/crappers/griefers from continuously posting their junk by 'flying under the radar'.
Repeated offending IP-addresses/netblocks can be blocked automatically and should only be unblocked manually via email/phone(?)/snail mail. The recieved info must contain concrete proof it came from a human being who pledges not to spam/crapflood here again. If it happens again (and again), you can charge monetary damages which MUST BE PAID in order to be unblocked. Otherwise, the IP-address/block is permabanned. A permabanned IP-address/block should only be unblocked if it can be proven that it has changed hands to a new owner. This approach will work with static IP-addresses allocated to businesses/individuals but not (so much) for dynamically allocated IP-addresses assigned by an ISP.
I can't bring myself to do that. Algorithms are better at solving captchas than I am.
As for IP/subnet-based rate limiting, we can do that but it was specifically removed as it annoyed the community more than spam did at the time. I don't think we're quite to the level of spam where it needs to go back in yet.
IP/subnet bans we really try not to hand out, especially permanently. As anyone who spent time on irc back in the 90s can attest, they are entirely too easy to circumvent and come with collateral damage.
What we do do though is if too many of an IP/subnet's posts have been downmodded recently, no I don't know the exact calculation for this on the live server, they are barred from posting again for 72 hours. I found this by being blocked from posting on my own dev VM the other day after doing a lot of moderation tests but haven't looked into it much yet. It's quite possible it's even disabled on live; you'd need to ask paulej72 or NCommander as they'd have been the ones to do it.
Another potential defense: DNS/IP moderation to thwart commercial spammers.
Find/compile/buy(?) and keep updated a DNS-name list of ALL known online payment gateways and e-commerce platforms (eBay, Amazon, Paypal, Clickbank, Gumroad, etc.) and their IP address ranges (dotted quad and uint32 formats).
When a post containing links to content containing any unwhitelisted e-commerce links is posted, it is temporarily 'hellbanned' [wikipedia.org] untill it is moderated--the poster can see but everyone else cannot until it is approved and is displayed to everybody. To cut down the moderation workload as much as possible, a 'whitelist' of approved domains/IP address ranges that contain webpages containing e-commerce links are automoderated and posted for all to see. One site that SHOULD to be whitelisted like this is Wikipedia and all its subdomains due to the fundraisers they have in order to stay online as a proven valuable internet resource:
There could be more deserving sites out there that could be added to this whitelist.
The above method will increase your bandwidth and CPU processing costs and could be gamed by griefers/'insane' marketers [e.g. use the HTTP(S) HEAD command to avoid downloading a 5+ MB 'link farm' (e-commerce mall) HTML page. ]
This method should stop for-profit spammers but won't stop the HOSTS/GNAA/ETC. griefers as those posts likely have NO e-commerce links in them to detect, moderate, and plonk. It also won't stop spammers who use B1FF [wikipedia.org] and other tricks in their posts to avoid dectection. For those, have a 'this is spam' link so the offending posts can be downmodded, analyzed, and 'programmed against' in the future.
Feel free to pass this post on to paulej72 and/or NCommander -- perhaps they can use this information to help protect Soylent News from being ruined by spammers/griefers.
P.S. Due to recent news of the takedown of THE PIRATE BAY, please maintain suitably geographically distant offsite mirror copy/copies of of Soylent News to guard against catastrophic/complete loss of this valuable online internet discussion forum. This wasn't done by one business in one of the WTC towers on 2001-09-11 as their off-site backup was in the OTHER WTC tower....