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.
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.