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posted by martyb on Friday June 25 2021, @12:50PM   Printer-friendly
from the The-Mod-Squad dept.

There has been some discussion about moderation on this site leading to some misconceptions and misstatements. This story is an attempt to set things straight. It lays out the historical underpinnings for moderation, history of its implementation on Slashdot, and its later refinement on SoylentNews.

Before that, though, I am going to take this opportunity to thank fnord666 who is out Alternate Editor-in-Chief. I could not handle the load alone and his efforts have made a huge difference! Further, please join me in thanking him as he reached a new milestone: over 6,500 stories posted to the site! Many a late night or rare free moment has been generously given to the site. Teamwork++!

History:
The code for this site is a fork of code written for Slashdot. In that site's early days, it was apparent that some comments were much more interesting and informative than others. It was just as apparent that some users would just as gleefully troll the community. Moderation was conceived as a way to sift the wheat from the chaff and help users more easily avoid the "lesser" comments and more easily find the "gems".

Further, to encourage posting "good" comments, Karma was introduced. "Good" comments earned Karma; "bad" comments lost Karma. Moderation was a mechanism by which Karma could be allocated.

Slashdot experimented with several ways to moderate comments. First, it was just the staff who could moderate. Soon, there were too many comments to keep up, so a select group of members from the community were invited to moderate comments. Again, that failed to scale up, so those who had been selected were invited to recommend still other users to moderate. And, again, there were scaling issues.

Solution: make Mod Points (modpoints) available to every registered user in good standing and who indicated in their preferences that they were willing to moderate.

Originally, mod points were handed out randomly and expired after something like 6 hours: "Use 'em or lose 'em".

For the most part, that seemed to work. But there were some perceived issues and meta-moderation was implemented and introduced — moderate the moderations. Unfortunately, it experienced many of the same issues that it was supposed to rectify with comments, just one level abstracted. Further, it was unwieldy and when all was said and done, didn't work all that well, anyway.

Early Tweaking:
Such was the state of things when SoylentNews started. Well sort of. The code base we started with was not current and the meta-moderation code was broken. So much so, that meta-moderation was ripped out of the code just so regular moderation could be made to work. With that behind us, we finally we had a working moderation system on our site. Yay!

That worked okay for a while, but we found ourselves with complaints from many users that they wanted to moderate and lacked mod points. Nice problem to have, right? This was combined with many more comments than moderations. It was thought that we needed more mod points made available to the community. So, after unsuccessfully tweaking the mod point allocation algorithm, it was decided to just not expire mod points until day's end. Every user in good standing got 5 mod points each morning (00:10 UTC) and those were available until day's end whereupon any remaining modpoints were reset and a new set of 5 of modpoints were allocated.

That helped! But jerks will be jerks.

Mod Bombs:
We started to run into problems with "mod bombs" where one user "A" would apply all 5 of their mod points to downmod one other user "B". So code was written to allow checking for such moderations. Staff could generate a report and find such activity. It was decided that:

If you used ALL of your modpoints to downmod ONE user, that was a modbomb. IOW, 5 downmods bad; 4 downmods were permitted.

Initially, anyone who "modbombed" was manually given a "timeout". The first time earned a one month suspension of moderation privileges. A second occurrence earned a six month suspension.

Later, because there were still many more comments than moderations, the number of modpoints allocated to each registered user having good Karma was increased from 5 to 10 per day. The modbomb threshold was, however, kept the same: 4 downmods was still okay, 5 (or more) downmods to the same user was "bad".

A complication arose in that there is no easy way for users to keep track of how many downmods they had made on one other user. User "A" may do 3 downmods of user "B" in the morning and 4 down mods of other (unrelated) users. In the afternoon they might perform 2 more downmods of user "B". Purely unintentional transgression. When you only have 5 mod points it was reasonable to assume that a user could mentally track how many times they downmodded a single user in one day. With 10 daily mod points available, that became less reasonable.

So, along with the allocation of 10 modpoints per day (easy) it was intended to have code written that would kick in when processing moderations: when the threshold was exceeded, the excess downmods would be automatically rejected. And that is still the intent.

The upshot of all that is that when checking for modbombs, we no longer give a "timeout" for 5 downmods against a single user in one day. We just revert the excess mods. We do take note of repeated excesses and are fully prepared to issue a "timeout" when warranted. (e.g. 8 downmods in one day, or several days in close proximity targeting the same user. This is not done unilaterally but rather in consultation with other staff for confirmation.)

Sock Bombs:
First, there some who failed to take the hint that, maybe, they should take a look at what they were posting when they received repeated downmods. We are a community, not your personal soapbox. So, they created new ("sock puppet") accounts and proceeded to upmod their own comments, aka a "sockbomb". Staff have ways to note such behavior based on the IPID and SUBNETID that is recorded with every comment and every moderation. We try to give the benefit of the doubt. But, certain patterns do become apparent and are not tolerated. Upmodding your own comment is grounds for an immediate moderation ban.

Second, just as there is a limit on how many downmods can be targeted at one user in a day, so there is a limit on upmods. The same limits apply, each user "A" is limited to 4 upmods of user "B" in a given day, just like for "modbombs". Again with the caveat of no up-mods of your own account..

Summary:
Our experience is that the current system could stand some refinement, automation of transgression detection and mitigation is in plan (but it will be a while), but for the most part, what we have works well in the vast majority of cases. In short, Wheaton's Law still applies: "don't be a dick". Following that seems to work the best for the most. (With apologies to anyone named Richard. =)


Original Submission

 
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  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by looorg on Friday June 25 2021, @01:23PM (40 children)

    by looorg (578) on Friday June 25 2021, @01:23PM (#1149070)

    Or you know we could remove anonymous posting. That would solve that problem to.

    Starting Score:    1  point
    Moderation   +2  
       Insightful=2, Total=2
    Extra 'Insightful' Modifier   0  
    Karma-Bonus Modifier   +1  

    Total Score:   4  
  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Taxi Dudinous on Friday June 25 2021, @01:53PM (31 children)

    by Taxi Dudinous (8690) Subscriber Badge on Friday June 25 2021, @01:53PM (#1149081)

    It is not easy to mod with integrity. I try to make sure I do not mod simply according to my personal opinion. As a result I often choose to not mod a post at all. I also make it a point to upmod posts that are compelling, even if I disagree. I appreciate the many different thought provoking opinions that are expressed here. Mods. No Mods. This is a decent community. Even the trolls are kind of nice.

    Oops.

    Stepped in some troll poo.
    What have you people been feeding them? ;-)

    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by looorg on Friday June 25 2021, @02:07PM (15 children)

      by looorg (578) on Friday June 25 2021, @02:07PM (#1149085)

      I'm not saying it's a great idea. Just that it might be an idea, that may or may not be worth trying or testing. If they didn't exists mod points could be spent on actual accounts instead of trying to have some AC mod-battle. That said it's not a perfect solution, after all nothing stops you from having multiple sockpuppet accounts that you just switch in and out of or register a new one once the old once gets banned etc. But still that requires a bit more work for your trolling or puppeteering. Also sometimes having AC posting is nice, so it's not that its entirely without merit. Perhaps it's an abuse vs benefit thing that have to be weighed. In some regard it is since they start out at 0 points so they can just be ignored to start out with.

      I try to spend most of my points every day, but it doesn't always happen. I mostly tend to ignore AC posts, I don't even think I have notification for them if they would respond to something I wrote. It's quite rare that I bother to mod an AC, but sometimes they are interesting and great and then I don't mind lifting it up. But I do admit a preference for modding people that actually bothered to login.

      • (Score: 5, Insightful) by turgid on Friday June 25 2021, @02:13PM (9 children)

        by turgid (4318) Subscriber Badge on Friday June 25 2021, @02:13PM (#1149087) Journal

        There are many calm, rational, informative and insightful things posted by AC these days. It would be a pity to lose that.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 25 2021, @02:43PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 25 2021, @02:43PM (#1149100)

          you're playing with fire...

        • (Score: 2, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 25 2021, @02:44PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 25 2021, @02:44PM (#1149102)

          There are many calm, rational, informative and insightful things posted by AC these days.

          Oh, what has the world became these days. ACs post "calm, rational, informative and insightful things", hackers no longer abide by rfc3514.

        • (Score: 5, Insightful) by janrinok on Friday June 25 2021, @03:13PM (6 children)

          by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Friday June 25 2021, @03:13PM (#1149114) Journal

          I agree, and I for one would be very reluctant to go down the path of stopping ACs from posting at all. As another has just pointed out, creating another 'live' account is simple to do and we would be back to square 1, but we would be giving those ACs mod points too.

          One solution to get around this is that creating a live account still requires an email address, but using that account to post could be delayed by 24/48 hours. There are simple ways of overcoming this too so we just end up in a silly cycle of measure versus countermeasure, which requires a lot of work from the support team.

          The current solution of modding trolls etc downwards is the best solution that anyone has come up with so far, and without a current active dev we cannot today make any code changes to Rehash.

          • (Score: 4, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 25 2021, @03:59PM (4 children)

            by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 25 2021, @03:59PM (#1149139)

            The obvious solution is to require all AC accounts to be created from a secure operating system protected by TPM 2.0, like the upcoming Windows 11, and then requiring ACs to send a notarized copy of their passport and/or driver's license in with a sample of their DNA for verification to ensure they haven't been using another AC account.

            • (Score: 2) by turgid on Friday June 25 2021, @05:30PM

              by turgid (4318) Subscriber Badge on Friday June 25 2021, @05:30PM (#1149184) Journal

              Priti Patel, is that you?

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 25 2021, @05:47PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 25 2021, @05:47PM (#1149197)

              also the monitor built-in camera needs to be ON when pressing "submit"!

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 26 2021, @03:43PM (1 child)

              by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 26 2021, @03:43PM (#1149660)

              Stop giving social media sitea ideas.

              No
                Wait. Some already do this kind of thing...

              • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 26 2021, @09:23PM

                by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 26 2021, @09:23PM (#1149752)
                Many employers already do that. But it's so easy to say "the camera isn't working."
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 26 2021, @11:24PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 26 2021, @11:24PM (#1149782)

            I agree that there is sometimes a need for anonymous postings, so perhaps allow anonymous posts by logged in users...

            When a logged in user wants to post anonymously, they tick an anonymous box and their nick is not shown with the post but any mods should still affect their karma.

            We could have another name displayed for 'logged in anonymous' so that readers can tell the difference between true ACs and logged in ACs.

            All true AC posts would automatically get a low initial mod score and 'logged in AC' postings would get an initial mod points based on the users karma just like a normal post.

            I would hope that this would only need a relatively minor change to the code.

      • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 25 2021, @04:39PM (3 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 25 2021, @04:39PM (#1149161)

        ACs are easy to filter out. No reason to ban them. They tried at the green site, it didn't last, but you still have to be logged in to post AC, so they can still track you

        Downmodding should carry a higher cost than upmodding. The ones doing the most complaining are also doing the most downmodding. They resent being outvoted. We know who they are, don't we?

        Overall the system works, even on the other site, even though they're so damn stingy, it's better than the "thumbs up/down" count they do in the mass media tabloids.

        • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 25 2021, @05:01PM (2 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 25 2021, @05:01PM (#1149173)

          Why are you being such a fucking nazi? The modding system more or less works. Whoever posts the repetitive J-word or N-word garbage is almost always modded to -1. The rest is just regular jostling and bantering among grown up people who can fire off some thoughts without having to craft it into an entire consistent philosophy like the Brand Name(tm) douchebags.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 25 2021, @05:44PM (1 child)

            by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 25 2021, @05:44PM (#1149195)

            Overall the system works...

            The modding system more or less works...

            Yeah, I think I said that. Can you confirm for me please, before getting all excited?

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 25 2021, @07:38PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 25 2021, @07:38PM (#1149277)

              Just keep your damn government hands of my voting rights.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 25 2021, @08:13PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 25 2021, @08:13PM (#1149300)
        or give users 1 mod point a day. Scarcity makes them more valuable, so less likely to be wasted.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 25 2021, @02:41PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 25 2021, @02:41PM (#1149098)

      It is not easy counterproductive to mod with integrity.

      Too boring, as it comes.

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Beryllium Sphere (r) on Friday June 25 2021, @03:14PM (2 children)

      by Beryllium Sphere (r) (5062) on Friday June 25 2021, @03:14PM (#1149117)

      I make it a goal, not claiming to succeed, to mod up people who contradict me and offer good facts or good arguments to back themselves up.

      • (Score: 2, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 25 2021, @04:03PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 25 2021, @04:03PM (#1149140)

        No you don't. The fact that you haven't modded this comment to "4, insightful" proves that conclusively.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 25 2021, @05:02PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 25 2021, @05:02PM (#1149175)

        Thanks for sharing your goal. That's what I come here for, to hear someone tell me their goal.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Snotnose on Friday June 25 2021, @03:46PM

      by Snotnose (1623) on Friday June 25 2021, @03:46PM (#1149130)

      It is not easy to mod with integrity. I try to make sure I do not mod simply according to my personal opinion.

      I go the opposite way when I mod. I'll often mark something interesting or insightful while thinking "damn skippy!"

      It never occurred to me to keep track of who I was modding, up or down. I just mod the comment. Then again, I mod maybe 5 comments a week so it doesn't really apply to me.

      And creating a different account just to mod my own comment? That is a whole new level of assholiness.

      --
      The Word Of the Day (WOD) is finicky. As in, "sharks avoid the sewage discharge pipe because they make their finicky".
    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Tork on Friday June 25 2021, @04:11PM (6 children)

      by Tork (3914) on Friday June 25 2021, @04:11PM (#1149146)
      One thing that happens to me a lot here, it's actually part of the reason I come back frequently, is that I'll ask a question and I'll get a good answer to it. So I'm trying to get in the habit of modding the reply Insightful or something like that. I do wish there was a way, at least in that circumstance, that it can be made clear that I'm the one who did it... only because replying with 'thanks' feels like I'm just filling the thread with filler.

      I guess I'm saying I wish we had a 'like' button, but maybe I'm worrying too much about replying with 'thanks'...?
      --
      Slashdolt Logic: "24 year old jokes about sharks and lasers are +5, Funny." 💩
      • (Score: 0, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 25 2021, @05:03PM (5 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 25 2021, @05:03PM (#1149176)

        You mean you want your virtue to be signaled. Shut up and mod, shithead.

        • (Score: 2) by Tork on Friday June 25 2021, @05:57PM (4 children)

          by Tork (3914) on Friday June 25 2021, @05:57PM (#1149203)

          Yes, thanking someone for their time is 'virtue signaling' today. 🙄

          --
          Slashdolt Logic: "24 year old jokes about sharks and lasers are +5, Funny." 💩
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 25 2021, @07:36PM (1 child)

            by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 25 2021, @07:36PM (#1149274)

            Don't sweat it, meatbag. We bots have all the time in the world.

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 25 2021, @07:51PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 25 2021, @07:51PM (#1149287)
              "We AC's post all the great comments!"
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 25 2021, @08:19PM (1 child)

            by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 25 2021, @08:19PM (#1149304)
            Nowadays EVERYTHING is virtue-signalling to someone insecure. Same as blaming purple-haired trans coders for writing most of the software today (another way of saying "they're taking our jerbs").
            • (Score: 2) by Tork on Friday June 25 2021, @08:31PM

              by Tork (3914) on Friday June 25 2021, @08:31PM (#1149306)

              My favorite is being called a hypocrite by someone who suddenly doesn't consider that a big character flaw when they have to defend against it.

              --
              Slashdolt Logic: "24 year old jokes about sharks and lasers are +5, Funny." 💩
    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by crafoo on Friday June 25 2021, @05:31PM (1 child)

      by crafoo (6639) on Friday June 25 2021, @05:31PM (#1149186)

      I like to use the disagree mod option when it's appropriate. I think it's a wonderful option to have and I like how it is handled in the system.

      • (Score: 2) by Tork on Friday June 25 2021, @07:40PM

        by Tork (3914) on Friday June 25 2021, @07:40PM (#1149279)
        I agree but I would like to suggest that maybe 'disagree' doesn't actually appear until the person who modded it Disagree responds to that post.
        --
        Slashdolt Logic: "24 year old jokes about sharks and lasers are +5, Funny." 💩
    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Phoenix666 on Friday June 25 2021, @06:57PM

      by Phoenix666 (552) on Friday June 25 2021, @06:57PM (#1149254) Journal

      It's much appreciated. Your approach should be the gold standard to moderation.

      --
      Washington DC delenda est.
  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 25 2021, @03:46PM (6 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 25 2021, @03:46PM (#1149131)

    Do that (get rid of anonymous posting), and you will get rid of a lot of good comments. I for one will leave the site, and I think many others will too. Privacy matters, despite how people have been trained by the corporations that took over the web.

    • (Score: 2) by Tork on Friday June 25 2021, @04:14PM (2 children)

      by Tork (3914) on Friday June 25 2021, @04:14PM (#1149147)

      Do that (get rid of anonymous posting), and you will get rid of a lot of good comments. I for one will leave the site, and I think many others will too. Privacy matters, despite how people have been trained by the corporations that took over the web.

      You've got a signal-to-noise ratio problem, here.

      --
      Slashdolt Logic: "24 year old jokes about sharks and lasers are +5, Funny." 💩
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 25 2021, @05:05PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 25 2021, @05:05PM (#1149178)

        Your the noise in this equation.

        • (Score: 2) by Tork on Friday June 25 2021, @05:59PM

          by Tork (3914) on Friday June 25 2021, @05:59PM (#1149207)
          "No, ur." 🙄
          --
          Slashdolt Logic: "24 year old jokes about sharks and lasers are +5, Funny." 💩
    • (Score: -1, Offtopic) by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 25 2021, @08:42PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 25 2021, @08:42PM (#1149314)

      I'm not really sure why the admins don't just start a subreddit as mods and ditch all this hosting and begging for money nonsense.

      As it stands, this site (despite the intellectually dishonest people here saying that "good" dissent is rewarded) only rewards submitters and participants who write positively of Judeo-Globalist talking points. The unwritten definition of "don't be a dick" is "don't bother to disagree with Judeo-Globalist talking points or thy comment score will never clear zero even if some mod up." More obvious examples are that criticism of vaccination is heavily punished (and has been since this place existed), nowadays mods hide behind the excuse of "dispensing false medical advice." Or not pointing things out about China or Israel because criticism of foreign governments is now considered racial bigotry. There's also lots of Trump derangement syndrome.

      People always talk about all kinds of good users leaving because of trolls, or something. No, they left because they wanted SN to be a hugbox like Reddit, where anybody who challenges their viewpoints would be silenced for being "mean," or something. Well, present or not the crybabies ultimately got their wish. Which beings me back to Reddit: If people want to use Slash and be subject to worshipping the sacred cows of Judeo-Globalism, they can get a better experience at Slashdot. Otherwise, this place is just another Reddit except with more begging. Again, migrating this site to Reddit would be beneficial for a few reasons:

      - Most if not all users here are already familiar with the Reddit ecosystem
      - Most "users" on Reddit are bots or bot-farms, so again, Reddit is a drop-in replacement for SN.
      - Terms of subreddit use are pretty much "You can get modded down or banned for any reason." People here at SN need to stop pretending that dissenting opinions are tolerated and publicly embrace their true selves.
      - Staff could still beg for donations, and get that money to the volunteers instead of the overhead. With no overhead, non-profits can skim profits like a motherfucker.
      - Reddit is already full of woke social justice warriors, BLM supporters, and the corporate-approved authoritarian fringe; opening up the possibility for more users (more potential donors) through cross-pollination.
       

    • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 25 2021, @09:28PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 25 2021, @09:28PM (#1149341)

      Indeed, Slashdot making it hard to post as AC is why I came here. Would be a shame to need to find another home.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 26 2021, @06:49AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 26 2021, @06:49AM (#1149527)

      If you think your posts here are private when AC, I've got a bridge I'd like to sell to you.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 25 2021, @06:52PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 25 2021, @06:52PM (#1149246)

    You could, but that would both remove the worst posts on the site as well as the best posts. Having seen the kind of posts that get modded one way or another, I don't think that banning anonymous comments would do much to improve the situation.