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When you see moderation like this happening...

WIAKywbfatw (307557) writes | more than 9 years ago

Censorship 5

When you see moderation like this happening, then you know that someone is abusing the moderation system for his or her own nefarious reasons.

Let me elaborate.

When you see moderation like this happening, then you know that someone is abusing the moderation system for his or her own nefarious reasons.

Let me elaborate.

A few days ago, I posted this comment to a frontpage story. The story summary was completely inaccurate because it twice mentioned ZDNet when the actual culprit was Ziff-Davis media, which is now a totally unrelated company with totally seperate ownership.

Now, it doesn't take a genius (not that I'm claiming to be one) to realise that when you accuse someone of doing something that they didn't do then you're screwing up. And it doesn't take a genius to realise that when you do that sort of thing in public then you're slandering them (if it's speech) or libelling them (if it's in print). Furthermore, it doesn't take a genius to realise that if you're slandering or libelling someone then that someone might take legal action to both clear his or her good name and gain some form of compensation for the potential damage done.

Slander and libel laws are good things. They protect the truth. If someone goes around town accusing you of being a rapist when you're not then slander and libel laws are on your side, there to help you stop the accuser of spreading malicious lies that will sully your good name and potentially get you physically (and emotionally) hurt. Slander and libel laws mean that when you say or print something then you better be prepared to back up what you say, even if what you're saying has been told to you by someone else: heck, especially when what you're saying has been told to you by someone else.

And, when it comes to slander and libel, you need to realise that a retraction or apology isn't enough. If the person accusing you of rape later retracts his lies and apologises then that doesn't undo all the damage: there's still going to be people out there who think that you must have done something bad, because "there's no smoke without fire", and you're still going to be living in paranoia for a long time, looking over your shoulder and jumping at shadows in fear of someone out to beat your head to a bloody pulp.

So, even when someone admits that they got it wrong, the damage has still been done and can't be totally undone.

Unfortunately, on Slashdot, this kind of casual treatment of truth and libel is an everyday occurance. (Show me the stories from any one day as they were originally posted and I'll show you a bunch of holes and mistruths to stop a herd of charging elephants dead in their tracks.) One of these days, that profligate attitude towards the truth will have the editors hoisted by their own petard. Or, to put it less eloquently, printing bullshit is gonna get the editors in real deep shit someday.

Anyhow, I've digressed. This jounal entry is meant to be another editorial abuse: moderation.

My comment, unsurprisingly, had two types of people replying to it. The first type are those that have something constructive to say, and whose comments enrich the debate. These people, although CmdrTaco repeatedly fails to acknowledge it, are the ones that have made Slashdot: without their insightful, informative, interesting and/or funny comments (add whatever other adjectives you see fit), Slashdot would just be a very bad news aggregation site more notable for being plagued by duped, faked, outdated, inaccurate and/or badly written stories. Without them, Slashdot would wither and die.

The second type of people are those that have nothing constructive to add to the debate. We all know what I mean by that so I won't expand on that comment beyond adding that I don't think they make a positive contribution to the Slashdot experience.

Anyway, let's get back on track. (Again.) Moderation abuse.

The first reply to my initial comment, by srwalter (39999) was off-topic. No ifs or buts, it was just simply off-topic, because it had nothing to do with the story being discussed. And obviously, having been dragged off-topic, my reply to it was off-topic too. But, which of these two do you think got moderated as such?

Well, within a couple of hours of my reply it had been moderated as off-topic. Twice. Yet the post that originally strayed off-topic and all other posts under that thread were unmoderated. The original offending off-topic post was still at +2 but my reply had gone from +2 to -1. In effect, my post had been deliberately buried by someone who didn't want it to be easily visible and read.

Who that "someone" is I'll leave to your own imagination. By the way, did I mention that the editors have unlimited moderation points, and can do what they want to a comment? The potential for abuse is shocking, isn't it?

Anyhow, in the last day or two srwalter's comment has been moderated as a troll, probably by someone who saw it after I posted an entry in one of FortKnox's JE's about the new site that we're hoping to build. But this isn't about trolls being moderated as trolls. It's about truths being surpressed.

I find it ironic that, having posted my original comment to alert people (including the Slashdot editors) to the true facts, the truth about many Slashdot regulars wanting away and actually putting together an alternative site is too much for some people to handle.

To the person (or people) that surpressed my comment, I say this: the very fact that you try to deny the existance of things that you find threatening shows that you can't be trusted not to abuse your powers and responsibilities. It also shows that you're scared.

Face facts. You can try to bury the truth but you can't change it.

cancel ×

5 comments

I absolutely agree ... this is a tyranny. (1)

2TecTom (311314) | more than 9 years ago | (#9941687)

However, despite the valid points you raise, I greatly doubt that anything more than this discussion will result. As far as I can tell, this is a benevolent oligarchy, historically one of the most stable forms of governance. Powerful, popular and enduring, it won't be easy to change or replace due to the adage, "the powerful have no desire to change, those who desire change, have no power. Why would those basking in the "status" quo, ever think to give up their privileged positions? As usual, most people are far more concerned with what they can get, rather what they can give.

I, myself, have questioned the role of those who post stories. See:
http://slashdot.org/~2TecTom/journal/44375 [slashdot.org]

In my opinion, an open, democratic Slashdot would be a far more interesting place for the many, but few people have the courage to abandon a comfortable, no effort experience solely on the basis of "principles" such as democracy, freedom or resposibility and as such, I've given up expecting to see a real change for the better in the short term. However, I believe that given time and articles such as yours, eventually, a better system will either evolve or be created elsewhere.

It's sad really, since, with a little courage and some conviction, those in charge could easily accomplish real reform in short order. However, I really doubt they have the integrity to put the Slashdot community ahead of their own self-gratification. But, hey, welcome to the first-world, eh!

hmm (1)

Frisky070802 (591229) | more than 9 years ago | (#9942029)

Your reply was offtopic and got one offtopic moderation as such, plus an underrated. I don't see the problem. Just because its parent was offtopic too and not moderated as such is no reason to complain. Sometimes people moderate the most recent postings.

That's not to say there aren't abuses. Only that I disagree with this example.

Re:hmm (1)

WIAKywbfatw (307557) | more than 9 years ago | (#9943333)

When I posted this JE the post stood at -1, with two -1 off-topic moderations. It now stands at +1, with two underrated moderations having been applied since that time, which I can only assume were made by people who've read this JE and acted as they saw fit.

The basic timeline was like this:

1. I posted the reply;
2. Within a couple of hours the reply was moderated down as off-topic twice, down from +2 to -1, with none of the other posts in that thread negatively moderated at all;
3. I highlighted the thread in FortKnox's journal, 24 hours later;
4. Subsequently someone moderated srwalter's comment, down from +2 to +1;
5. I posted this JE, a little over two and a half days after my reply;
6. My reply was moderated as underrated twice, taking it from -1 to +1.

The time taken to knock my post down to -1, and the time elapsed until it was moderated upwards are totally relevant. If you don't think that it's a coincidence that events 1 and 2 on this timeline took place so close to one another, and that events 5 and 6 were also so close then perhaps you're not seeing the same things I'm seeing. Suffice to say I don't think it's just dumb luck, fluke or coincidence that my reply was moderated down to -1 so quickly, or that after I posted this JE it received positive moderations to bring it back up to +1.

I've experienced a few instances like this personally, where something unflattering yet honest about the editors or Slashdot has been slapped down to -1 in minutes. And I've seen this pattern dozens of times with other similar posts from other people too. When something happens so regularly you see a pattern emerging that can't be dismissed as dumb luck, fluke or coincidence.

The Slashdot editors abuse their unlimited moderation points. It's been proved in the past (and it's the reason why moderation totals aren't shown at totals scores anymore but as percentages instead), and I think it's safe to say that it's been proven again. The sad thing is that this won't be the last time it happens.

Re:hmm (1)

Frisky070802 (591229) | more than 9 years ago | (#9944091)

OK... points taken.

But the reply was offtopic :)...

Re:hmm (1)

WIAKywbfatw (307557) | more than 9 years ago | (#9944293)

Of course it was off-topic. I don't deny that.

What I find unacceptable is the fact that there's a high probability that it got moderated down because it pointed people towards a (currently on the drawing board) alternative to Slashdot rather than the fact that it was off-topic.

If off-topic moderations were being handed out in an even manner then the post that it was in reply to, or any of the other posts that that comment generated, would have received some off-topic moderations too. They didn't get one between them, but my post got two in less than two hours. Given its content, that's not the kind of coincidence that I believe in.
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