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More Metamoderation needed

yog (19073) writes | more than 8 years ago

Slashdot.org 6

In recent years I have noticed that comments which have the slightest political overtones, especially those that support the Republican government, get moderated down as "troll", "flamebait", or "overrated". Once a comment has a zero rating, most readers will not see it because the default settings skip over zero and -1 comments.

In recent years I have noticed that comments which have the slightest political overtones, especially those that support the Republican government, get moderated down as "troll", "flamebait", or "overrated". Once a comment has a zero rating, most readers will not see it because the default settings skip over zero and -1 comments.

This is a form of mob rule and censorship that is inappropriate for a public forum. I know of no other internet forums that allow anyone to effectively censor my comments. A real moderator who is fair and dedicated to preserving quality discourse is much preferable to the haphazard system which Slashdot has become.

I have also noticed that informative comments are sometimes attacked by ignorant moderators who either failed to understand what the poster said or mistakenly thought it was a duplication of another post.

Clearly, people given moderator privileges are using them to attack those with whom they disagree rather than to improve the dialogue. I have started metamoderating religiously and I will moderate as unfair most attempts to censor legitimate comments. Unfortunately, an army of one is a bit outnumbered in this war.

I think it's time for Slashdot to move to a better system; it was an interesting idea nine years ago when online discussion forums were just getting rolling, but today Slashdot seems clunky and dated, its moderation system strange and ineffective. You can't post and moderate in the same topic, which today seems like a pointless limitation given the tremendous abuse of the moderation system.

Comments are welcome!

cancel ×

6 comments

Ok, I'll bite. (1)

SavvyPlayer (774432) | more than 8 years ago | (#14997763)

Your call for meta-moderation is iteself a form of meta-moderation. Please cite a few examples so that we may validate (meta-moderate) your meta-moderation.

Re:Ok, I'll bite. (1)

yog (19073) | more than 8 years ago | (#15012341)

Savvy Player,

I have seen hundreds of examples from when I moderate, metamoderate, and post comments. In my own case I have posted comments which were on topic only to see them modded down (usually, "overrated") apparently because someone disagreed with my opinion or else viewed my claims as unsupported.

I have no problem with people disagreeing with my comments, but when they seek to moderate me down below the level where most people will see me, they are abusing the system. Anyone who clicks on my name will notice that my comments are thoughtful and well written, even if I call it wrong on occasion.

Moderation shouldn't be about getting rid of "wrong opinions"; it could and should enhance the discussion by filtering out the garbage and line noise that afflict so many online discussion sites. I would love to browse at +2 or +3 all the time, but I can't because good, intelligent posters are getting modded down to 1, 0, or even -1 for no good reason.

Metamoderation in turn is supposed to reduce the abuse of the moderation system, but it's only as good as the metamoderators, and I have seen some of my moderations marked as unfair for completely unknown reasons.

At a certain point you can just throw up your hands, conclude that slashdot is dominated today by 18-year-olds with no perspective or common sense, and move on to some other more exclusive site, or you can stay and try to fix the system. I'm trying to fix the system but it feels like an uphill battle.

Cheers,
Yog

Re:Ok, I'll bite. (1)

SavvyPlayer (774432) | more than 8 years ago | (#15014362)

I share some of your frustration, and my solution when reading a well-written post has been to add its author to my friends list, thus granting that author immunity not only to unfair moderation, but a far more prevalent problem: lack of any moderation at all. This also has the fortunate side effect that I automatically see all posts made by friends of those authors as well due to the friends-of-friends bonus. As a result, I see a lot more when browsing at +2 than I had previously.

Not every post is modded down strictly for its opinion content. For example, if I read a post that happens to have been modded +5, that is well written regardless of my own personal bias, but its author chooses to close with some kind of personal attack or other derogatory remark against its Parent or GP, I will likely mod overrated, as in my view such behavior hurts the overall discussion. Obviously many people will miss this subtle point when ascertaining the motivation behind such a moderation. I've also modded down posts that base an otherwise well-written argument on a false-premise, but only when I am unable to join the discussion for one reason or another.

I am not convinced the system is as broken as you suggest, although I understand how frustrating it can be to offer meaningful input to a system only to watch it disappear into 2 oblivion. Perhaps the comment system would benefit by allowing moderators to express what about the post qualified it as "overrated" (in 100 characters or less). This would give the author something more concrete to think about anyway.

Re:Ok, I'll bite. (1)

yog (19073) | more than 8 years ago | (#15014681)

Perhaps the comment system would benefit by allowing moderators to express what about the post qualified it as "overrated" (in 100 characters or less). This would give the author something more concrete to think about anyway.
Hi Savvy Player,

That's an excellent idea. You might suggest it via the feedback or bugs link.

-Yog

Maybe, maybe not (1)

menace3society (768451) | more than 8 years ago | (#15086357)

I don't disagree that metamoderating posts you don't like because you don't agree with them is wrong, but I question whether the problem is as widespread as you think. I have seen an awful lot of posts that are aligned as vaguely right-of-center (that is, right of the fictional "standard American moderate", which is itself far to the right of the average slashdotter) get modded down, but I've not seen a lot that were, in my opinion, particularly original or thoughtful. I think a lot of the right-wing rhetoric is nearly the same perspective as the Republican "party line", and far more people endorse completely the current administration and its policies than than endorse the Democratic party line (During the election I don't think I saw posts saying that John Kerry was the perfect candidate modded to +5, whereas at least some people got top mods for saying that nobody could be doing a better job as President than Bush). Now because you can read these same thoughts elsewhere, people are probably inclined to think they are neither interesting, insightful, or informative, and consequently if they got modded up along those lines those moderations will be considered overrated. Since (to take an example) I can read about why abortion is a sin against God just about anywhere on the internet, it's possible that I'll mod down a highly-modded post that doesn't give me any new information, and I'll use "overrated" unless the post is clearly flamebait or a troll, since that's the only legitimate moderation for that case. If it were an interesting or insightful argument for banning abortion, I'd mod it up (in general I'm more likely to look for things that deserve to be modded up than try to mod things down, but that's probably just me). But I'd also be inclined mod down a post that called for withdrawal from Iraq (even though I was against the war from the beginning) if it didn't provide any informative, insightful, or interesting thoughts on the subject.

In general slashbots seem pretty willing to moderate fairly. For example, slashdot is generally pretty tolerant of criticism of Apple and praise of MS (although MS bashing still gets too highly moderated, but that's a different problem) in spite of constant claims that Slashdot is pro-Apple (Apple is just in the news a lot) and anti-MS. *Fair* criticism of Linux is also usually modded up, but it can sometimes be hard to separate what's fair from the trolls.

Now, this is not to say that there's not any abuse of the moderation system for political reason, since I'm sure it happens, but that's mostly because the system is broken is small ways: 1) "Under-rated" and "Over-rated" affect karma, but can't be metamoderated--I think they probably just ought to be removed on the grounds that they don't add anything but potential for abuse to the mod system. 2) "Funny" doesn't give karma, but can be metamoderated. If someone wants to piss away a mod point on humor, why should they be punished? 3) Even if you set a low threshold, slashdot will not show *all* the comments above that threshold--which means that posts need to be modded up multiple times to become visible, and only once or twice to vanish. 4) You need to be a logged-in user with Excellent karma to be equidistant from top and bottom possible moderation; however, in that case, you also have more karma to potential lose from negative mods. Again, this makes it easier to mod you into oblivion that to get a post to where everyone can see it.

The blurbs on the metamod page like "This moderation is [ ]fair [ ]unfair" should be replaced with moderation-specific ones a la "funny", e.g., "This comment is [ ] interesting [ ] uninteresting." or "This comment is [ ] flamebait [ ] not flamebait." Mods of "Over/Under-rated" could be handled by "This comment should be rated [ ] Highly [ ] Poorly".

I don't think there's a better solution to the problem. To do it like wikipedia, with a number of confirmed editors who've proven their trustworthiness would take enough people to think that /. is worth that kind of commitment (I wouldn't; I've already spent more time commenting on this journal entry than I do posting on slashdot in a day), and the editors we already have are too busy submitting the same article over and over again. A full-time employee would be nice, but the job'd get boring and would cost too much money.

Re:Maybe, maybe not (1)

yog (19073) | more than 8 years ago | (#15093353)

Hi, Menace 3 Society,
I don't disagree that metamoderating posts you don't like because you don't agree with them is wrong, but I question whether the problem is as widespread as you think. I have seen an awful lot of posts that are aligned as vaguely right-of-center (that is, right of the fictional "standard American moderate", which is itself far to the right of the average slashdotter) get modded down, but I've not seen a lot that were, in my opinion, particularly original or thoughtful. I think a lot of the right-wing rhetoric is nearly the same perspective as the Republican "party line", and far more people endorse completely the current administration and its policies than than endorse the Democratic party line (During the election I don't think I saw posts saying that John Kerry was the perfect candidate modded to +5, whereas at least some people got top mods for saying that nobody could be doing a better job as President than Bush). Now because you can read these same thoughts elsewhere, people are probably inclined to think they are neither interesting, insightful, or informative, and consequently if they got modded up along those lines those moderations will be considered overrated.
I think you're confusing your subjective experience with what the overall community requires. Why should someone get modded down just because the individual moderator does not find them interesting or insightful? Clearly, if they were modded up then someone else thought they were interesting/insightful/informative (the 3 i's?) and wanted to express their approval. Is it really right for another moderator to negate this action with an "overrated/troll/flamebait" attack?
Since (to take an example) I can read about why abortion is a sin against God just about anywhere on the internet, it's possible that I'll mod down a highly-modded post that doesn't give me any new information, and I'll use "overrated" unless the post is clearly flamebait or a troll, since that's the only legitimate moderation for that case. If it were an interesting or insightful argument for banning abortion, I'd mod it up (in general I'm more likely to look for things that deserve to be modded up than try to mod things down, but that's probably just me). But I'd also be inclined mod down a post that called for withdrawal from Iraq (even though I was against the war from the beginning) if it didn't provide any informative, insightful, or interesting thoughts on the subject.
This is a case in point. You didn't find this post informative, though others did, so you hit it with an "overrated". Now because only a few people (relatively speaking) have moderation points at any given time, I would argue that moderation should be used for the greater good of the online community, not just to satisfy an individual's narrow perspective. Someone else out there found a post about abortion interesting or informative enough to rate it as such, and what you're saying is, no, I disagree that it's informative so down it goes again. I would argue that the comment should be left as is, unless clearly it's a crock, in which case lots of moderators will consense on modding down.
In general slashbots seem pretty willing to moderate fairly. For example, slashdot is generally pretty tolerant of criticism of Apple and praise of MS (although MS bashing still gets too highly moderated, but that's a different problem) in spite of constant claims that Slashdot is pro-Apple (Apple is just in the news a lot) and anti-MS. *Fair* criticism of Linux is also usually modded up, but it can sometimes be hard to separate what's fair from the trolls.
Despite what you say, I've noticed that quite often people will moderate based on their political views rather than on objective evaluation of a post. I will moderate as insightful or informative posts that I disagree with, sometimes vehemently, because they were well written and argue their point cogently. When I find someone else has modded a post down that was well written even though I might disagree with the poster, I tend to metamoderate them as unfair.
Now, this is not to say that there's not any abuse of the moderation system for political reason, since I'm sure it happens, but that's mostly because the system is broken is small ways: 1) "Under-rated" and "Over-rated" affect karma, but can't be metamoderated--I think they probably just ought to be removed on the grounds that they don't add anything but potential for abuse to the mod system. 2) "Funny" doesn't give karma, but can be metamoderated. If someone wants to piss away a mod point on humor, why should they be punished? 3) Even if you set a low threshold, slashdot will not show *all* the comments above that threshold--which means that posts need to be modded up multiple times to become visible, and only once or twice to vanish. 4) You need to be a logged-in user with Excellent karma to be equidistant from top and bottom possible moderation; however, in that case, you also have more karma to potential lose from negative mods. Again, this makes it easier to mod you into oblivion that to get a post to where everyone can see it.
I agree with all of these points.
The blurbs on the metamod page like "This moderation is [ ]fair [ ]unfair" should be replaced with moderation-specific ones a la "funny", e.g., "This comment is [ ] interesting [ ] uninteresting." or "This comment is [ ] flamebait [ ] not flamebait." Mods of "Over/Under-rated" could be handled by "This comment should be rated [ ] Highly [ ] Poorly".
I think this is not a bad idea but it effectively makes everyone an indirect moderator, unless you take away the open metamoderation privileges and give them out only to people with karma. As it is, I've seen one or two of my moderations get rated as unfair when in fact they were very fair. One in particular that I remember was a duplicate post from that "attack slashdot" website that compiles highly rated posts and then floods Slashdot with them, or was doing so. Someone in the discussion pointed out that a comment was a dupe, so I modded down the dupe (after confirming on the other website that it was a dupe) and some stupid metamoderator modded me as unfair (whew, was that clear as mud?). I emailed the editors about this and they told me they were going to deal with the attack site.
I don't think there's a better solution to the problem. To do it like wikipedia, with a number of confirmed editors who've proven their trustworthiness would take enough people to think that /. is worth that kind of commitment (I wouldn't; I've already spent more time commenting on this journal entry than I do posting on slashdot in a day), and the editors we already have are too busy submitting the same article over and over again. A full-time employee would be nice, but the job'd get boring and would cost too much money.
Thanks for your thoughtful comments. -Yog
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