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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++!

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..

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: 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.

    Starting Score:    0  points
    Moderation   +2  
       Insightful=2, Total=2
    Extra 'Insightful' Modifier   0  

    Total Score:   2  
  • (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.