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posted by martyb on Friday August 23 2019, @06:17AM   Printer-friendly
from the tragedy-of-the-commons dept.

I was going to post this to a particular story, but thought this might generate more attention and discussion as a general submission.

Seriously, what is going on with all these troll mods? Just because you disagree with someone, thus earning a "disagree" mod, does not mean that person is a "troll." To steal a definition from Urban Dictionary:

An Internet troll, or simply troll in Internet slang, is someone who posts controversial, inflammatory, irrelevant or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum or chat room, with the primary intent of provoking other users into an emotional response or to generally disrupt normal on-topic discussion.

Just because you disagree with someone, does not mean they are trying to do the above. Be faster on the "disagree" and slower on the "troll." Under such abuse, it is hard to have a good discussion and, in itself, is trollish behavior by "generally disrupt[ing] normal on-topic discussion." Other than people disciplining themselves, a concerted effort to police such abuses, or making moderation logs public on the bottom of a comment where the score is shown now, I'm unsure of what to do about. As it stands, it is getting increasingly ridiculous to read what discussion is here on any topic remotely controversial, and is expanding outside of even those. It is starting to drive me away from the site, and I'm somewhat confident it is doing the same for others. I'd be interested to see what others think about the depth of the problem, if they even believe it even exists at all, and what solutions you all have for it.

[Ed note. This story is published exactly as received. First off, it bears repeating that complaining about moderations in the comments often leads (rightly) to an off-topic moderation. That is a contributing factor to my decision to run this story. Secondly, moderation is something that I on occasion have found I've fat-fingered and given a different moderation than expected. Thirdly, in the grand scheme of things, a comment's moderation is — relatively speaking — small potatoes. It is NOT a measure of your IQ or value as a human being. or standing in the community. Just accept that stuff happens and that as likely as not, someone will be along to moderate it the other way. Which is a good opportunity to say: PLEASE USE YOUR MOD POINTS! Lastly, if you think a comment was moderated in error, then send the CID (Comment ID) link e.g. "(#876543)" in an email to admin (at) soylentnews (dot) org. Keep in mind however that we are all volunteers here and there most likely will be a delay between when you send out an email and when we can get around to it. --martyb]

[Updated: 20190823_111312 UTC See comment from JR who far more precisely and eloquently expressed the idea I was attempting to. I concur with his assessment. If I want people to upmod a comment of mine that I believe was unfairly downmodded, then I need to be willing to upmod other's mis-modded comments. For perspective, so far this month, anywhere from ~150-~350 mod points were used in any given day. It bears repeating: use your mod points!]

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  • (Score: 2) by janrinok on Saturday August 24 2019, @01:31PM (21 children)

    by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Saturday August 24 2019, @01:31PM (#884713) Journal

    Can you give me a more precise time (and tz) for the occurrence, or even a more accurate window? 'Earlier this morning' gives me far too big a timeframe to pin it down to anything in particular.

    I am not interested in knowing who people are or where they live. My interest starts and stops at our servers.
    Starting Score:    1  point
    Karma-Bonus Modifier   +1  

    Total Score:   2  
  • (Score: 2) by AthanasiusKircher on Saturday August 24 2019, @01:48PM (20 children)

    by AthanasiusKircher (5291) on Saturday August 24 2019, @01:48PM (#884724) Journal

    At this point, I really don't care, because I will no longer believe anything you or any admin says here, no matter what excuse you come up with.

    But if you legitimately don't believe TMB is a disingenuous jerk who needs to be stood up to, maybe you won't believe he's capable of crap like this. I already said it was roughly about an hour after my ranty post (with all the all caps) last night. I don't have a more precise estimate than that.

    • (Score: 2) by janrinok on Saturday August 24 2019, @02:10PM (8 children)

      by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Saturday August 24 2019, @02:10PM (#884736) Journal
      Look, I'm offering to try to find out what happened. If you've already made your mind up and simply don't want to know then just say so. Bytram also had a problem last night/this morning but without access to the DB I cannot do any more investigation. But I have already flagged it up as an important issue - because I want to know what happened too.
      I am not interested in knowing who people are or where they live. My interest starts and stops at our servers.
      • (Score: 2) by The Mighty Buzzard on Saturday August 24 2019, @02:27PM

        by The Mighty Buzzard (18) Subscriber Badge <> on Saturday August 24 2019, @02:27PM (#884751) Homepage Journal

        Dollars to donuts he hit Preview instead of Submit.

        My rights don't end where your fear begins.
      • (Score: 2) by AthanasiusKircher on Saturday August 24 2019, @04:49PM (6 children)

        by AthanasiusKircher (5291) on Saturday August 24 2019, @04:49PM (#884812) Journal

        Well, look, if you don't find it extremely coincidental (i.e., beyond belief) that a journal entry that I explicitly declared would be my last interaction with this site, and where I called out TMB for really bad behavior, calling the other admins to action is the ONLY time that I can recall in years of interacting with this site that I've ever seen a post appear and then disappear... if you think that's just some sort of weird coincidence, or you believe TMB's bullshit that I would somehow just hit "preview" and forget to submit what I intended to be my last interaction with a community I've supported for years... if you really think that any of that sounds likely, you're already a lost cause.

        But I already came close to saying that about you in the journal entry too, so all I'm getting here is response from the specific two admins I called out, who are both trying to act like I just did something stupid, so it must be an error: "nothing to see here."

        If there's one thing I hope I've accrued over the years here is that I don't make shit up. I try my best to seek out facts. And I've gone to the bat for this site against those who would criticize it many times. My post history is there for all to see. I do NOT make such an accusation against an admin in this community lightly, but it beggars belief to claim this will turn out to be some random error that just HAPPENS to coincide with the perfect opportunity for an admin to abuse power and protect himself by deleting a post from a user who is leaving the site.

        (Yes, I'm still leaving. Whether that has an impact on your "investigation" or not, I don't care. I'm sticking around to see the ridiculous spin you guys may try to put on this. I want to make sure that everyone knows what you're doing. I'm already out a bunch of money recently for putting my faith in a site administered by a troll, but I took my chances. I was willing to just leave last night, but this sort of action is an egregious offense against the community, and that has tipped me from "I don't care what happens to this godforsaken place" to "People need to know there's serious internal problems here before I depart.")

        • (Score: 2) by janrinok on Saturday August 24 2019, @05:15PM (4 children)

          by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Saturday August 24 2019, @05:15PM (#884821) Journal

          all I'm getting here is response from the specific two admins I called out, who are both trying to act like I just did something stupid,

          You have had a response from 1 of the 2 admins that you called out. I'm still waiting to see what we discover.

          I am not interested in knowing who people are or where they live. My interest starts and stops at our servers.
          • (Score: 2) by AthanasiusKircher on Saturday August 24 2019, @05:52PM (3 children)

            by AthanasiusKircher (5291) on Saturday August 24 2019, @05:52PM (#884835) Journal

            Jesus Christ, really? You aren't even aware of what you wrote [] as your initial response? "I've been here and didn't see it, so nothin' to see here. Are you sure you aren't an idiot and actually didn't post it?" And you said that despite the fact that my first post clearly stated a time frame that wasn't within the time frame you claimed to be present in your post.

            I'm willing to believe your post was more in ignorance than actively trying to be a snow job, but realize that your first reaction was PRECISELY what the "other admin" has basically already concluded.

            I knew TMB was a troll. I wasn't aware until this thread (before our present discussion) how much you seem to support trollish behavior. So no, I don't trust you. I don't trust anyone here anymore. Sorry, but that's gone.

            • (Score: 2) by janrinok on Saturday August 24 2019, @06:42PM (2 children)

              by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Saturday August 24 2019, @06:42PM (#884853) Journal

              I didn't say:

              I've been here and didn't see it, so nothin' to see here. Are you sure you aren't an idiot and actually didn't post it

              What I did say was:

              Are you sure that you posted it successfully?

              by which I was asking if the system had accepted it properly and I did not suggest that you were an idiot. Did you access it from the front page or did you do all of your editing from the editing pages and then press submit? Can you give us more details of the sequence that you tried to deselect comments or re-enable them again? Did it appear at the top of the journal list - in which case we might find evidence of it in the list of journal posts? If you are not prepared to answer simple polite questions then it will significantly hinder our chances of finding out what happened to it.

              We have had a couple of minor hiccups since the system went down a few days back. These are nothing unusual but, for the moment, we are looking at each one. Bytram had a problem downloading pages at around the same time that you stated that you posted your journal. Bytram is at work and so we cannot get all the details from him until he gets home, logs in (which might not be today) and we get to discuss the problem. We also need TMB to look closely to the DB logs to see if there are any artefacts that your post left behind i.e. at what stage of the posting sequence did it go missing? If you are expecting an immediate answer then you will be disappointed.

              If you have already reached your own conclusions then so be it, and if you are still in a mind to you can go on your way. I am trying to be polite, civil and to find out what happened. I haven't got any irons in this fire, so if you don't care what we find I will wish you well for the future and I am genuinely sorry that you are leaving us. You have supported this site well, as you have claimed, and I think that the community will be the poorer for your leaving.

              I have no idea what you wrote about me in your journal - nor do I care - but I do care if there is a problem with posting in general. I also care that you are making serious yet unsupported allegations and claiming that there is some kind of cover up going on behind the scenes. I can only shake my head in disbelief as to what you think we spend our time doing here. But that doesn't prevent me from offering my help in finding out what occurred.

              I am not interested in knowing who people are or where they live. My interest starts and stops at our servers.
              • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 28 2019, @09:22PM (1 child)

                by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 28 2019, @09:22PM (#886980)
                His post shows up for me.
                • (Score: 2) by janrinok on Thursday August 29 2019, @06:07AM

                  by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Thursday August 29 2019, @06:07AM (#887185) Journal
                  Are you saying that you can see the Journal entry that has allegedly been deleted - or are you missing the point of the conversation?
                  I am not interested in knowing who people are or where they live. My interest starts and stops at our servers.
        • (Score: 2) by The Mighty Buzzard on Sunday August 25 2019, @02:08PM

          I find it highly unlikely that you genuinely believe I shied away from an argument of any sort.

          My rights don't end where your fear begins.
    • (Score: 2, Touché) by Sulla on Saturday August 24 2019, @03:43PM (1 child)

      by Sulla (5173) on Saturday August 24 2019, @03:43PM (#884784) Journal

      That doesn't fit what we have seen of TMBs actions in the past. There is nothing you can post that is more scathing than your typical Aristarchus journal, and he does not block those. He appears to much prefer to continue to argue which he cannot do if you don't make a JE. Not that i think he couldn't have done it, i just think he would prefer wait so he can stir the pot more.

      Ceterum censeo Sinae esse delendam
      • (Score: 2) by AthanasiusKircher on Saturday August 24 2019, @05:00PM

        by AthanasiusKircher (5291) on Saturday August 24 2019, @05:00PM (#884815) Journal

        Aristarchus is a known troll. While I appreciate his good moments, it's clear he's a troll a lot of the time. I sincerely hope that my post history here demonstrates that I am not. While I admit to very rarely losing my temper (literally like half a dozen times over the past three years), and perhaps in another dozen or so posts over the years, I may have gone overboard in responding to a person acting like a jerk by acting too much like a jerk in return, 99% of my thousands of posts here have been trying to support the community, to be informative and offer facts, and to promote quality discourse.

        So, yet another rant from Aristarchus is unlikely to garner much concern. Maybe a journal entry from me might have been perceived as carrying more weight and seemed more threatening or sowing more dissent. I don't know.

        To me, it does seem a stupid thing to TMB to do, but the last time I "took a break" from this site, I didn't come back even to read comments on my post for a week, and then I did take a break for several months. Maybe he didn't expect me to show up again this morning. Which I wasn't planning on doing -- I logged out last night and navigated to the site this morning without logging in, just curious to see what comments may have appeared on my journal. Except it wasn't there. I tried searching. No dice. I thought maybe there was something that determined which journal entries could appear in the "list," so I logged in, and it was gone. Hence my posts in this thread.

    • (Score: 2) by martyb on Saturday August 24 2019, @06:27PM

      by martyb (76) Subscriber Badge on Saturday August 24 2019, @06:27PM (#884846) Journal
      I am at work right now checking in with a cell phone and won't be home and able to check the DB for several hours, but when I can, rest assured I will look into this and respond with what, if anything, I have found.
      Wit is intellect, dancing.
    • (Score: 2) by martyb on Sunday August 25 2019, @03:11AM (7 children)

      by martyb (76) Subscriber Badge on Sunday August 25 2019, @03:11AM (#885051) Journal

      I said I would look into the site DB when I got back home and I have done so.

      I'm a bit rusty on the schema for the site, but persevered and worked things out and came to a few conclusions:

      I have, so far, found no evidence of any tampering or deleting of someone's journal story.

      IDs for the journals table are a key field and appear as monotonically increasing values; I found no gaps in their sequence.

      I did find a journal entry posted by AthanasiusKircher titled "test" and to which some comments were posted... one of which explained that he was testing what happens when trying to delete a journal article.

      Be aware that I am making an intended distinction between there being no untoward deleting of a journal article and there being (so far) no evidence found of such activity.

      Rest assured that I will continue to look into this and will report on anything I find. Unfortunately, I had an exhausting day at work and need to get some shuteye, and tomorrow has all the markings of being even busier at work, so don't expect anything more for a day (or more, though I will certainly make the attempt as soon as I can).

      tl;dr: So far, no impropriety has been found with the journals posted to this site, but investigations are not over and will continue; I will report back with what, if anything, I find.

      Wit is intellect, dancing.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 25 2019, @06:14AM (6 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 25 2019, @06:14AM (#885080)

        I'm not supporting either side of this conflict, but deleting the rows with the highest values for an auto_increment field in MySQL and then committing that transaction before any other transaction issues a query against that table will just reuse the deleted values because those row values are still unused and increment. In addition, you can manually reset the starting value of the row to whatever value you want. Also worth mentioning is that the person or persons capable of doing such a change are probably in the position to change whatever logs they want on the machine as well. But that's what paranoia will do to you.

        • (Score: 3, Informative) by martyb on Sunday August 25 2019, @09:54AM (5 children)

          by martyb (76) Subscriber Badge on Sunday August 25 2019, @09:54AM (#885123) Journal

          Thank you for the reply!

          If you look closely, you will note my choice of language was deliberate to allow that exact possibility (deletion of an entry and subsequent reuse of the now-available-again ID), but I was not certain of that possibility; I appreciate your confirmation!

          Something that got edited out as I was trying to express what I had found so far (and while fighting a strong urge to got to bed and sleep) was about the test journal entry. Though I could not find the actual text of the 'test' journal entry (that would be in the journal_text table), I did see reference to such an entry in the journals table which provides an "abstraction", if you will, in which various time stamps as well as local and foreign keys exist.

          NB: DELETED can come in two forms. An actual removal from the database (DELETE * FROM ... WHERE ...) is one of them. The other is flagging an entry as to be ignored and thus making it effectively deleted (UPDATE TABLE foo SET visible = FALSE where ...) and, yes, those are general, conceptual examples and are not intended to refer to anything in our actual database.

          It is way too early for me to be up, but the upshot is that — for the test journal entry — I found references to said journal entry, and what appear to be comments made to that test journal entry, but did not see the *text* of that journal entry. Whether that is because it really doesn't exist or because I'm still getting up to speed in some respects with the schema is still open to discussion... I am making no statement or assumption one way or the other with that!

          With respect to the purported deleted journal entry, I have NOT, as yet, found any vestiges of it: neither an abstraction of it in the journals table, nor the text of it in the journal_text table, nor a comment made to such a journal entry. That one is a bit murkier to sleuth out as there is much more data to sift through. I am explicitly claiming "absence of a finding (so far)" rather than a "finding of an absence" and am remaining open to the possibility that I may just have missed something.

          That all said, to summarize I *have* found evidence to support that a test journal entry was made, comments made to it, and that that test journal entry was deleted (as the user said they had done). I have not found any evidence of a separate, non-test, journal entry being made, deleted, or any comments having been made to it.

          Related, if somewhat tangential, I have lost count of the number of times I thought I had finished processing a story submission and posted it to the site only to find that I had *previewed* the story, but had as yet not clicked the submit button, so it was still sitting in a browser tab awaiting final release. I am beginning to suspect that something like that may have happened here. It is just that, a suspicion, among all the other possibilities I am keeping open as to what may have happened.

          My comment to which you replied was made after a *long* day at work and a meeting afterwards when I would rather have just had a bite to eat and gone to bed (I was *tired*) and this comment is made way too early in the morning before I have even gotten up for the day. Today promises to be even busier than yesterday. But, the community deserves a timely, honest, and independent examination so I have posted this comment with my updated findings. NOTE: I have no illusions that a sufficiently-skilled and motivated person could hide their work to preclude discovery, but Occam's razor suggests caution with that line of thinking.

          That's it. My brain is tired and I am going back to bed. I hope this has been informative and helpful. Thanks again for your reply and for the salient information you provided.

          Wit is intellect, dancing.
          • (Score: 3, Informative) by AthanasiusKircher on Sunday August 25 2019, @02:53PM (2 children)

            by AthanasiusKircher (5291) on Sunday August 25 2019, @02:53PM (#885191) Journal

            MartyB - I will only say that I thank you for your effort. I would like to say that I of all the admins here, I put most faith in you. Though I must admit that I truly do not trust anyone here anymore. But I am willing to believe that you put in an effort to do the right thing here. As I said in my deleted journal entry, this place is too good for you. I encouraged you to find another place to volunteer your time.

            Yes, I made a test journal entry to figure out whether the system responded as I recalled it did when my journal entry went missing. Yes, it had a few comments despite the fact that I actually hit a "delete" link somewhere, which asked for confirmation for the deletion, but then didn't delete the entry. (I'm not sure why.) After I saw it started to accumulate comments, I tried another method and used the checkbox to attempt to delete it (I just wanted to get rid of an obvious "test" entry), which did work.

            As for the actual missing journal entry, I've already stated some things, but let me repeat the following facts:

            (1) I intended this journal entry at the time to be my final interaction with a site I've supported for several years. I find it highly unlikely that I would have accidentally hit "preview" and just left.

            (2) As I mentioned in the above posts, I encountered an error when I tried to post the entry with "comments disabled" (which I had never attempted before). It throws up an error that says you can't do that. I find it weird that such option appears in the drop-down list, but is apparently disabled. Since the error appears at the top of the page, I at first didn't understand why the journal wasn't posting. So, I probably hit "preview" and then attempted to "save/submit" several times (I think the journal system says "save" not "submit," but I'm not going back there now) before I even noticed the error. I was very clear on which button did what, since the "submit/save" button wasn't working for me at the time.

            (3) Once I saw the error message and figured out what the problem was, I deliberately made the change to allow all comments. Then I made an additional comment at the end of my journal entry about my annoyance that the system has an option for "comments disabled" but doesn't actually allow you to do it. (I also encouraged all the trolls I knew would show up to have at it in comments, since I didn't care anymore.) I hit "preview" then to make sure my new comment was added correctly at the bottom of my journal entry, with correct formatting (as I used either italic or bold for that latter portion of my message). I then hit submit. I remember all of these steps so clearly, because I had never encountered this particular obstacle before in posting a journal entry (or anything) on this site. And I distinctly remember the change in screen when I finally hit submit, since I had deliberately previewed the final change and then hit the submit button. And I had previously encountered (as I said) several times when it wasn't doing what I wanted to due to the "comments disabled" button, so I deliberately checked to make sure it had finally gone through correctly.

            (4) My recollection is that I even navigated back to my journal entries and saw the new entry listed there, because I had tried doing so before when I was encountering the "comments disabled" error but hadn't realized the error message was at the top of the page yet. I will admit that whether I went through this final step or how I did it is a little hazy, but I do recall doing several steps to verify the entry had been posted, due to the previous problem I mentioned in (2) above.

            (5) Once I had verified the entry appeared to be submitted, I logged out. This is also an extraordinary step, because I almost never log out of this site. Once again, I find it unfathomable that I would have done so without making sure that my final step had been taken and posted correctly (as I recall it had).

            (6) As noted in one of my comments, TMB subsequently made a post not that long after my journal entry that took my comment about not using negative moderation for "punishment" and turned it against me. In addition to all of the above, and the fact that my journal entry went far beyond any criticism of him before, calling our editors and admins to action against him, it seems incredibly coincidental that he would appropriate my language from the missing journal entry and use it to support his point. I'll admit this is a bit more tenuous, but given TMB's pattern of taking terminology from posts he's arguing with and twisting them to make them seem like they're supporting his argument, it's really weird that he posted that particular comment in response to mine.

            Take from this what you will. I hope my thousands of good comments and contributions to this site will at least give you some pause to consider that I would not make something like this up. I also have made clear over the years that I am NOT prone to conspiratorial thinking and generally fight anything that sounds like a conspiracy theory, so I make this accusation with great hesitation and only because I have deep concern about the integrity of this site. I hope my general attention to detail displayed in my attempts to post factually correct posts will also convince you that I am unlikely to be mistaken in all of this, and that I am the sort of person to take care in an action like this (i.e., when making a final farewell post to a site). I'm not saying I'm infallible. But I have a much stronger collection of memories about this particular process of posting due to the unusual roadblocks I experienced before my post went through, so I'm very sure I saw different behavior on the site when it did finally get accepted.

            Regardless of whether this brazen act was done by TMB or another admin in support of him, I am unequivocally convinced that this site has lost its integrity and has corruption that inhabits its admins and/or editors. I am now more likely to believe Aristarchus than I am to believe most of the admins of this site, which is a very sorry state of affairs.

            • (Score: 2) by The Mighty Buzzard on Sunday August 25 2019, @06:05PM

              Believe what you like. That I argue vehemently against censorship in all its forms and levels (including against you in this very story) every time it's brought up should tell you that much. If not that then the fact that I never pass up a decent argument on any subject should clue you in. But whatever. Your butt is hurting because I disagree with you on censorship and you're going to write whatever mental story it takes to keep on believing that you're right.

              My rights don't end where your fear begins.
            • (Score: 2) by martyb on Monday August 26 2019, @01:57AM

              by martyb (76) Subscriber Badge on Monday August 26 2019, @01:57AM (#885469) Journal

              The additional details and steps is a big help!

              Given I have decades' experience testing software and know full-well how hard it is to provide good documentation of what happened when something unexpectedly went sideways...what you have provided is MOST helpful! I am impressed!

              In short, I am not done looking and this exceptional level of detail will definitely help guide my search!

              Thank you VERY much!

              Wit is intellect, dancing.
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 25 2019, @07:24PM (1 child)

            by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 25 2019, @07:24PM (#885326)

            I understand that. What I was trying to point out is that if a story was deleted by one of your sysadmins who know their way inside and out of the database and systems, that would leave no real trace to find. So your evidence of "I found nothing" won't be convincing against the evidence of their memory. Likewise, from your perspective, their possibly mistaken memory won't be convincing against the missing evidence of tampering. I was trying to temper expectations and feeling of defeat on both sides because this may be one of those situations that, absent something else happening, detente is not possible and a satisfactory outcome will remain elusive.

            • (Score: 2) by martyb on Monday August 26 2019, @01:40AM

              by martyb (76) Subscriber Badge on Monday August 26 2019, @01:40AM (#885464) Journal

              Thank you for that.

              I sincerely mean that, too!

              Imagine, hypothetically, that there was evidence, but it was not found because nobody even looked. In my mind's eye, that would be even worse... so I will continue to look until I am convinced I have left no stone unturned. Then, I can in good conscience say to the best of my ability I did look and was unable to find anything.

              It'll probably not be happening tonight or tomorrow, though. I am absolutely knackered after a VERY busy day at work, and the closing shift, at that. Add that I have the opening shift tomorrow, I need to get some sleep. But rest assured I have not yet finished my search.

              Thanks again for providing an impartial perspective on things!

              Wit is intellect, dancing.