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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 The Mighty Buzzard on Sunday August 25 2019, @06:21PM (6 children)

    Ahh, I see what you're saying. Not majority but supermajority. Nah, I couldn't even back that. I'm not sure I'd even back unanimity of verdict, though I'd come closer. If the most unpopular folks don't get to have their say, then we have become tyrants. Should that happen, whether we're silencing them directly or through levels of indirection isn't really relevant.

    In the end you either trust the community to moderate fairly on average or you don't. If you don't then there's no point in having moderation at all. You're never going to achieve perfection but you can achieve a net positive result overall. And I'd say we have.

    You know, the reason I got talked into joining staff in the first place was because I wanted metamoderation working, so it's something I've put a lot of thought and argument into since I got here. I'm not dismissing it lightly or out of hand. I simply don't believe anything worthwhile will be achieved by significantly complicating moderation and using the exact same people you don't trust to moderate correctly to judge each other's moderations.

    My rights don't end where your fear begins.
    Starting Score:    1  point
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    Total Score:   2  
  • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Monday August 26 2019, @04:19AM (5 children)

    by Immerman (3985) on Monday August 26 2019, @04:19AM (#885505)

    And not supermajority of the community, but supermajority of a small sample. As I see it, in any sort of quasi-democratic system you need to trust that most people will work toward the common good most of the time. If they don't, then you've pretty much failed before you even get started.

    But you also need to assume that you're going to have bad apples that game and abuse the system. And that people in large groups tend to adopt a herd mentality that easily tramples over individuals. It's naive not to, and will tend to cause things to fail rapidly once they're in use (on a forum, failure may fall anywhere between "be less appealing/useful than it would other wise be", and "so overrun with trolls and petty tyrants that everyone worth listening to jumps ship.)

    It seems to me that developing a system that harnesses statistical the general goodwill of the community to rein in the bad apples, without notably impacting the variation and falliability of the general populace, would be one of the most powerful tools available to dramatically improving the quality of forums.

    It's also one of the reasons I think it would work much better with very limited censure e.g. taking away the troll mod for a while from people who've shown that they consistently abuse it. Not silencing their ability to post - just taking away the pocketknife of the kid who keeps carving walls and furniture for a while to limit the damage they do, and hopefully dissuade them from interminably damaging the public good once they get their knife back.

    • (Score: 2) by The Mighty Buzzard on Monday August 26 2019, @03:41PM (4 children)

      And not supermajority of the community, but supermajority of a small sample.

      Yeah, that was what I meant.

      The really nasty problem you run into there is who gets in that small sample. It can't be random registered users because a lot of them are going to want to spend the time metamoderating even less than they want to spend the time moderating. And if any of those selected for a moderation judgment blow it off, how long do we keep retrying with new users to get a verdict before we give up?

      If it's not random then it's either admin-picked (which I give a big "oh hell no" to) or self-selected. And the type of folks who desire to wield power over others are the very last type of people you want doing so.

      All of which is to say, it's not quite that easy.

      My rights don't end where your fear begins.
      • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Monday August 26 2019, @04:41PM (3 children)

        by Immerman (3985) on Monday August 26 2019, @04:41PM (#885699)

        A fair point, there's a reason judicial jury duty is compulsory.

        On the other hand, if "jury duty" means spending two minutes judging someone's moderation and casting a vote, it's a fairly minor imposition. Could it be made compulsory without damaging the community? Perhaps hide the rest of the site for randomly selected jury members until they cast their vote?

        I mean, I don't know if I'm at all typical, but I rarely moderate, and am not sure if I've ever meta-moderated. But if I came to browse this morning and was instead faced with a page saying "You have been randomly selected to sit in judgement on a possible troublemaker. Please do your part to keep our community vibrant and take a few minutes to read through the accusation, evidence, and defense, and then cast your vote in order to proceed to the main site", I would happily do so.

        • (Score: 2) by The Mighty Buzzard on Tuesday August 27 2019, @02:45AM (2 children)

          I would too, unless I'd just woken up or was browsing on my phone. A lot of folks don't have as much invested in the site as I do though and would just log out, or blow it off until tomorrow, or close the tab and not come back until they'd been let off the hook. Whichever way folks decided individually, the butthurt would flow like wine. We get really freaking crabby about significant site functionality changes that we didn't argue the hell out of before hand. Check back to all the fun we had when we went to the new threading models if you need a refresher.

          My rights don't end where your fear begins.
          • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Tuesday August 27 2019, @05:33AM (1 child)

            by Immerman (3985) on Tuesday August 27 2019, @05:33AM (#885962)

            It could easily be made very accommodating - let it be put off until later, tomorrow, or even the next day - it's not like you need an immediate verdict, just a little (maybe mildly impartial) human judgement as to whether you're dealing with legitimately undesirable behavior or just statistical noise. And if half the jurors are so disinterested in how the site is managed that they click past the jury nag until the clock runs out... I don't know. Is their engagement with the site likely to change dramatically due to bad apples being identified without their input? Heck - what stops them from just voting at random to make the popup go away? Maybe abdicating responsibility should be a legitimate option, as at least better than the alternative. I would be interested in your thoughts on the problems that would cause.

            As for the butthurt - heck, I won't argue that one. I think a large number of the more vocal members come here for the arguments as much as anything. Still - it might be an enriching topic to argue. I suspect that an enjoyment of watching and partaking in interesting arguments is one of the few common threads that bind together our eclectic community, and promoting a more vibrant environment for that probably one of the few things we can mostly unite in - right up until we start discussing how exactly to do that of course.

            • (Score: 2) by The Mighty Buzzard on Tuesday August 27 2019, @10:41AM

              Run up a journal entry asking for opinions on it if you like. If it sparks enough interest there, sub it as an Ask Soylent story and we can argue the crap out of it on the front page. Mind you, even if we come up with something most folks find workable it'll still be behind many other coding issues that've been piling up on my plate over the last year or so for various and annoying reasons.

              My rights don't end where your fear begins.