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Buried By The Brigade At Digg

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the because-they-can dept.

Social Networks 624

Slashdot regular Bennett Haselton writes in with an essay on a subject we've dealt with internally at Slashdot for years: user abuses of social news... this time at Digg. He starts "Alternet uncovers evidence of a 'bury brigade' coordinating efforts to 'bury' left-leaning stories on Digg. Digg had previously announced that the 'bury' button will be removed from the next version of their site, to prevent these types of abuses, but that won't fix the real underlying issue — you can show mathematically that artificially promoting stories is just as harmful in the long run. Here's a simple fix that would address the real problem."

Even if you just arrived from Mars and have never heard of Digg, that description of the service should make it obvious how easy it is to game the system, by rounding up groups of friends to vote on stories that you want to promote, or to bury stories that you want to kill. The former type of abuse (and it is abuse, under Digg's Terms of Use; search for "organized effort") is far more common, since people usually have more incentive (commercial or otherwise) to promote their own work than to bury someone else's. And in fact, Digg has announced that the next version of the service will remove the "bury" button, replacing it with a "Report" button for reporting bona fide cases of abuse, not just to bury boring stories.

The thinking seems to be that abusive "digging" to promote a story, is less harmful than abusive "burying", and this has the ring of plausibility — that a creative effort is better than a destructive one. After all, Alternet had previously highlighted several artificial right-wing "digg brigades" mentioned in their story (Diggs And Buries, theliberalheretic, etc.), but they didn't blow the lid off of the situation until their report on the Digg Patriots bury brigade, as if to say, "Now we've found something really scandalous!" Annalee Newitz cheekily reported on how she bought votes to boost a story to the front page of Digg, but probably would have felt guilty if she'd hired a service to bury someone else's story. And when a Digg user organized an effort to bury Ron Paul stories that he thought were "spamming" the system, Ron Paul supporters protested that they were merely organizing to vote up stories they agreed with — the clear implication being that this was more honorable than organizing to vote stories down.

But this, I think, is a fallacy. If a story's ranking is artificially inflated, then the extra eyeballs for that story have to come from somewhere, and they come from users paying less attention to the other stories that the phony up-and-comer pushed out of the way. Artificially bumping a story up is just as harmful as artificially burying a story, but the harm is distributed among many innocent victims, not just one. (By the same reasoning, in fact, you could argue that burying a story does no net harm to other users of the Digg site, because the harm done to one story is cancelled out by the benefit to all the other stories that rise in prominence when the victimized story is pushed out of the way. So by strict economic logic, recruiting friends to boost your own story at the expense of everyone else's, is actually more harmful than organizing a bury brigade!)

So I don't think that Digg's replacing the "bury" button with a "report" button will fix the problem. For one thing, obviously groups could abuse the "report" button in the same way — issuing calls to action to report a story for violating the TOU. Since a flurry of bona fide abuse reports is presumably what Digg uses to identify and remove truly abusive stories like MLM spam, how are they going to tell the difference between these cases and cases of abusive "reporting"? (My suggestion: See if there is a sudden change in the percentage of users who view a story and make an abuse report. For stories that are genuine TOU violations, the percentage of users who "report" it should remain steady; for stories that are victimized by a "report brigade," you'll see a sudden spike in viewers and in the percentage of those viewers who report the story for abuse. This might have worked for detecting and stopping the bury brigades as well, although we'll never know now.)

But more fundamentally, even if this change does stop the "bury/report brigades" from killing stories at will, that only fixes the most obvious symptom of the underlying problem, which is that the system can be gamed by recruiting your friends to vote either way. It won't stop "brigades" from artificially promoting shallow stories that agree with their opinions, which does the same net harm overall.

Indeed, the most long-term harm that the DiggPatriots Yahoo Group might have done is that their cheating was so egregious that it makes other examples of cheating look benign by comparison, and might prevent people from realizing that "benign cheating" is just as harmful. As detailed in the Alternet report, the DiggPatriots group talked openly about cycling through different Digg accounts and circumventing bans on their IP addresses. The welcome message to the Yahoo Group told new users that the group was operating "under the radar." The group leader, a woman with the handle "bettverboten," talked about how to prevent Digg from monitoring their actions. And of course the vast majority of posts were calls to bury stories. But what if all of that had been inverted? If the group had operated in the open, while still focusing on recruiting conservative members? If each user limited to themselves to only one Digg account like they were supposed to? And if they focused not on burying stories, but on digging stories that promoted their viewpoints? Just as bad. It just doesn't sound as bad.

I still think the only way to make Digg a true meritocracy, would be to use some version of an algorithm I outlined in an earlier article, inauspiciously titled "How to Stop Digg-cheating, Forever." The gist of it is that in addition to collecting votes from friends, stories should be shown to a random subset of users on the site (perhaps in a box that occasionally appears at the top of the screen when they're logged in), who are asked to vote it up or down. The votes of a random sampling of users would be more representative of how much value the story would have to the Digg community as a whole. Even if most users who are asked to vote on a "random story" simply ignore the request, all you need is to show the story to a large enough sample that you can measure the difference in responses to a truly good story vs. one that has been promoted by digg-cheaters. You don't necessarily have to run this procedure for every story, only the ones that are about to gain some benefit from a large number of diggs (such as being pushed to the front page), and you need to decide whether the story really deserves that big boost. The only way to game that system would be to organize a group of dedicated Digg users so enormous that they constituted a significant percentage of all users on the system — something pretty hard to do without getting caught.

Still, the only site that I know of, that uses a version of this "random sampling" algorithm is HotOrNot.com, which lets you recruit your friends to vote on the "hotness" of your picture on a scale of 1 to 10 (by sending them a link to that specific picture), but also shows a stream of random pictures to visitors, so that your picture can collect votes from strangers. If the votes from the users who visit your picture via the link are significantly different from the votes from users who see your picture via the random stream, then HotOrNot discounts the votes from users who view your page via the link. This prevents digg-style gaming from people who want all their friends to give them a 10. (Note that if you think about it, this is essentially the same as always throwing out the votes from people who visit your picture via the link. If you collect votes from group A and B, but you only count the votes from group A if they agree with the votes from group B, then you're really only counting votes from group B! All the extra votes really give you is the ability to brag that X many people voted on your picture.)

This seems like the simplest way to prevent Digg-cheating, although there may be others. Still unresolved is how to solve the general problem of "gaming" in traditional media and the blogosphere. For the foreseeable future, it's going to be the simple truth that if a major media outlet wants to run a story, it will be heard, and if no media outlet wants to run it, it won't be heard, regardless of how many viewers or readers would have voted in some hypothetical poll that, yes, they want to read that story, and yes, they liked it afterward. That's true for Internet articles as well, except to the extent that a deserving article might be rescued from obscurity by Digg, but the more that system can be gamed, the less it will reward articles that really deserve it. Digg is gameable because power users can recruit votes from their friends; the media and the blogosphere are so obviously "gameable" that we don't even call it "gameable," because "power users" — media outlets and A-list bloggers — can run whatever they want. Right now, the only way I can think of to change this situation that is even logically possible, would be for a site like Digg to adopt some version of the random-sampling algorithm, and to continue growing in power until a significant percentage of the public (not just Internet users, but everybody) relied on it for information. Then, if you had something important to say, people would hear it, but you wouldn't be able to cheat your way to the top.

The ultimate irony is that Alternet's story may never have seen the light of day, if it hadn't been the beneficiary of the same gameable, non-meritocratic inefficiencies that exist in the media-blogo-outrage-o-sphere, just as they exist on Digg. Yes, the Alternet story deserved to be heard, but you don't get the publicity you deserve, you get the publicity that you organize, and Alternet had the organizational publicity structure in place to get their voice heard. If a kid blogging from his bedroom had infiltrated the Digg Patriots group and made essentially the same discovery, would anybody ever have heard about it? (Well, maybe, because of the political hot-button factor — but even then, only after the story had been picked up by a major site like Alternet.) A truly meritocratic Digg algorithm could make it possible to get a good story out without a lot of organizational support behind it — and to ensure that an organized effort can't kill a good story either.

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tl;dr (5, Funny)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 4 years ago | (#33190440)

Yes... a simple fix...

Re:tl;dr (1)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 4 years ago | (#33190520)

+1 agree

He's wrong (5, Informative)

recoiledsnake (879048) | more than 4 years ago | (#33190780)

But this, I think, is a fallacy. If a story's ranking is artificially inflated, then the extra eyeballs for that story have to come from somewhere, and they come from users paying less attention to the other stories that the phony up-and-comer pushed out of the way. Artificially bumping a story up is just as harmful as artificially burying a story, but the harm is distributed among many innocent victims, not just one.

Nah, burying skews votes by not allowing corrections. Lets imagine that there are 50 people who are gaming the system by being an organized collective and that Digg needs 50 buries to kill a story. If it was Reddit, the 50 downvotes could be balanced by, say 100 upvotes. But on Digg, not even 1000 'diggs' can counter the 50 buries. This allows a small group to have a significant chilling effect and effectively a veto on the content. Artificially bumping up is much less harmful.

Re:He's wrong (4, Informative)

makomk (752139) | more than 4 years ago | (#33191086)

What's more, even if 1000 diggs could counter the 50 buries, because the bury brigade were mass-burying articles as soon as they were posted, no-one else ever saw the articles and had the opportunity to digg them. Abusive digging is somewhat self-correcting - as soon as an article reaches prominence thanks to the mass diggs, a lot more people will see it and attempt to bury it - but abusive burying fundamentally can't self-correct even if the site did allow it to be counteracted in theory.

Oh, and this bury brigade were doing this to every single article from certain sites they disliked such as Huffington Post, effectively making it impossible for any article from these sites to appear on the Digg front page. That's a pretty big deal.

Re:He's wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33191130)

That's not an accurate representation of how the Reddit community works, though. In general, they're not as fucking stupid as Digg users are, but they are just as prone to being sheep.

When Reddit users see that a comment or submission has been modded down, that's the direction they'll keep pushing it in. The first three or four mods will set the direction for the rest of the fools there.

It's hilarious to read the proggit comments, especially when they're absolutely and indisputably correct, but have been modded down because they offended some PHP users or Ruby users or Perl users or NoSQL proponents or some other group of idiots.

Re:tl;dr (4, Insightful)

rwa2 (4391) | more than 4 years ago | (#33191156)

If you've ever used StumbleUpon, it IS a simple fix... everyone rates every kind of article, and only gets notified of articles by like-minded people.

Haha (4, Funny)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 4 years ago | (#33190454)

We have found the conspiracy...and it's a bunch of conservatives!

Seriously, I listen to Rush every day, so I'm surprised and shocked. SHOCKED!

Re:Haha (5, Insightful)

Abreu (173023) | more than 4 years ago | (#33190754)

I am becoming increasingly jaded at the USian right wing and their Obamapanic

Really guys, your president is Center-Right from the perspective of the rest of the world, and it is just sad to see him try to meet the right wing halfway in all of his policies, only to be branded a "dirty commie" over and over again...

The USA needs Democrats with balls to propose truly liberal policy, not watered down compromises, imho

Re:Haha (5, Funny)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 4 years ago | (#33190824)

The last time Democrats in this country had balls, they seceded from the union to keep their slaves.

Re:Haha (4, Informative)

rsborg (111459) | more than 4 years ago | (#33191174)

The last time Democrats in this country had balls, they seceded from the union to keep their slaves.

Ah yes, the Dixiecrats [wikipedia.org] and the Solid South [wikipedia.org] . Funny enough, the voting patterns switched after the Dem party passed the Civil Right bill back in '65... the formerly "I'll never vote Republican" voters switched at the "betrayal". Consequently, Nixon/GOP leveraged this to victory in 68 and 72 using the Southern Strategy [wikipedia.org] ... plus ca change (D->R) plus c'est la meme chose (ah, racists).

Re:Haha (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33191270)

The last time Democrats in this country had balls, they seceded from the union to keep their slaves.

That's bullshit and you know it. The last time the Democrats had balls, the president got impeached for lieing to Congress. At least it wasn't for sexual harrassment. Wait, sounds similar to HP....

Re:Haha (0, Troll)

Beyond_GoodandEvil (769135) | more than 4 years ago | (#33190868)

I am becoming increasingly jaded at the USian right wing...
Congrats, I am becoming increasingly jaded at /. retards who think they're being clever when avoiding using the phrase American to describe people from the United States of America. Oh and big suprise a left leaning site, sorry a progressive/liberal activist news service [wikipedia.org] finds that the evil conseravtives are silencing their voice.

Re:Haha (-1, Troll)

RollingThunder (88952) | more than 4 years ago | (#33191170)

And I'm becoming increasingly jaded at those who can't tell the important part is the "United States" bit, since Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Paraguay, Chile, etc are also in the Americas, and thus their people are technically "Americans", just the same way that people from France, Germany and Switzerland are "Europeans" since their countries are in Europe.

Farking geography, how does it work?

Re:Haha (-1, Troll)

HBI (604924) | more than 4 years ago | (#33190874)

Clue: We don't give a shit what the rest of the world thinks. He's out of touch with mainstream America, and that's all that counts.

Thanks for playing.

Re:Haha (3, Insightful)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 4 years ago | (#33191004)

Except that you've all built up a narrative of what you think mainstream america should be, not what it is. [mediamatters.org]

Re:Haha (1, Troll)

HBI (604924) | more than 4 years ago | (#33191208)

Please, Media Matters is a left wing front organization. Everyone has a bias, but theirs is most obvious.

Re:Haha (1)

dave420 (699308) | more than 4 years ago | (#33191032)

But you replied, which indicates you do give a shit.

Re:Haha (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33191076)

Don't worry, the rest of the world knows that the US of A doesn't give a shit about anyone else other than themselves. If history hasn't proven that I don't know what will.

Re:Haha (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33191310)

awww, look at the cute confused Republican.

Re:Haha (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33191008)

For the past several years, every time the Democrats speak, it makes me want to vote for the Republicans. Every time the Republicans speak, I reach for my checkbook to donate money to the Democrats.

I guess that means the Democrats are winning.

Re:Haha (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33191102)

No, it just further proves that you're an idiot.

What? (2, Insightful)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 4 years ago | (#33191034)

If the near epileptic fit the left had over Bush didn't clue anyone in... how can you be surprised or dismayed by some from the right? After there are zealots on both sides and needless to say, their actions sell news. The news doesn't care about the majority of conservatives or liberals who act rationally, its more fun to find the loons.

The only President the US needs is one who can stand up to Congress and beat them down with the bully pulpit and get this country's finances in order. What we have now is same crap we had with Bush for 6 years, anything goes as one party in power is always ruinous for the US

Re:Haha (1, Flamebait)

SoupGuru (723634) | more than 4 years ago | (#33191088)

Are you kidding?! Obama has the Most Liberal Record Ever! And Kerry held that title before. And Gore before that...

Catch 22 (5, Insightful)

hellfire (86129) | more than 4 years ago | (#33191160)

We also need a populace which will support Obama if he leans left and shows jerks like Palin just how big his balls really are.

But that's the true problem. We have an uneducated, jaded populace that doesn't vote their heart (if they vote at all), we have two parties who don't want to lose any control on government they have to allow a major third party, and we have a bunch of fat lazy rich people who also control much of the media who want to maintain their control on government as well.

Obama was a good choice, IMHO, but he's basically been given crap to start with, and anything less than diamonds from that crap is spun as failure by the political machine. No he's not perfect, but the entire country has been positioned as center right, and our system of checks and balances, while good, has been pushed to the right hard over the past few decades and we don't have enough force to push it back. Even if we did it will take time as our system of government was built to create "stability", and major changes are sometimes harder for no other reason than it's hard to change the status quo.

Re:Haha (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33191248)

Really guys, your president is Center-Right from the perspective of the rest of the world

Okay, two things you should be aware of:

1. People in the US don't much care what the entire rest of the world thinks. Really; it has zero impact on our collective decisionmaking. It's sort of like telling a Dubliner, "It's raining heavilyt in Dhaka today!" The best you'll get is something along the lines of, "Oh, that's nice." It's not going to make him carry an umbrella, because it's on the other side of the friggin' world. If you want to make an persuasive argument, try facts that are actually relevant to the target audience.

2. Calling someon "USian" really pisses them off. If you really need a term to distinguish them from, say, Canadians or Venezuelans, then say, "People in the USA" or something like that. Inventing words to apply to people is a surefire way to get dismissed as a blowhard.

Re:Haha (4, Insightful)

Steauengeglase (512315) | more than 4 years ago | (#33191298)

The solution is a lot simpler. Everyone in the center has to grow a pair and call a troll when they see one. If we did, we could find compromise that could possible move us forward.

Hell, when you boil it down the tea party is nothing but a group of griefers. Who else shows up to claim that the Bhumfarq county council is in league with Obama and the UN to put those funny black signs up on secondary highways (to obviously guide UN tanks in the upcoming invasion)?

Not that the left doesn't have it's own crazies, but they tend to specialize in their own, very specific brands of crazy.

Re:Haha (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33190806)

Similar things happen at other social media sites that allow for submissions and comments to be rated, even those that are considered more libertarian, liberal, or progressive.

Hacker News is a particularly bad site for this kind of stuff. Any original thought or opinion there usually comes with a barrage of downvotes.

It's a problem at Reddit, too. Point out anything remotely negative about Ruby on Rails, Perl or MongoDB in the programming sub-Reddit, and you'll get their fanboy brigades modding your comments down.

It's even an issue here at Slashdot, too. If you suggest that xkcd isn't a funny comic strip, you'll catch a whole load of shit, and your comment will be at "-1, Troll" before you know it.

Re:Haha (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33190932)

It's even an issue here at Slashdot, too. If you suggest that xkcd isn't a funny comic strip, you'll catch a whole load of shit, and your comment will be at "-1, Troll" before you know it.

Bad example, since it's not organized. What is organized, however, is the down-voting of comments not in support of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming. It doesn't matter if the comments are factual, supported by peer-reviewed research, well written and in all the ways you can imagine perfect Slashdot comments - if they're not inline with CAGW views they get -1 overrated and/or -1 troll.

This has been highlighted by numerous Slashdot regulars.

Re:Haha (2, Funny)

easterberry (1826250) | more than 4 years ago | (#33191100)

Yeah, I get hit with the "-1 I Have a Different Ideological Outlook Than You" from time to time. I keep forgetting that that's one of the mod options!

Re:Haha (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33190852)

They love freedom and free speech so much that they're going to make sure that those Real 'Merican Values are kept safely away from Communist-Socialist-Fascist-Community-Organizer-Libral-types. ;)

Left Leaning... (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33190460)

Interesting because aside from the Ron Paul phenomenon that lasted for a few months on Digg, just about EVERY posting is left-leaning as are the comments.

Re:Left Leaning... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33190548)

Reality has a well-known liberal bias.

Re:Left Leaning... (1)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 4 years ago | (#33191002)

Reality has a well-known liberal bias.

Wait, you mean real reality, or the dream reality we all live in? Or did I wake up already?

Re:Left Leaning... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33191258)

Real reality does. The conservatives want to take us back to a reality that never existed and the liberals want to take us forward to a reality that will probably never exist. But, at least with the liberals, there's a possibility that it will happen, whereas the conservatives refuse to acknowledge that they don't know shit about history.

Re:Left Leaning... (1)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 4 years ago | (#33190554)

Ahhh slashdot, where an AC anecdote contradicting the story gets an insightful mod.

Re:Left Leaning... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33190620)

Oh come on - you know its someone with mod points posting as AC and modding themselves.

Re:Left Leaning... (0, Offtopic)

TrisexualPuppy (976893) | more than 4 years ago | (#33190686)

If you continue to post this comment, all moderations done to this discussion will be undone! Are you sure you want to post?

Alas, you found me out! Since the OP is already at -1, I hereby cancel my moderation. Nice call.

Re:Left Leaning... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33190732)

Ahhh slashdot, where an AC anecdote contradicting the story gets an insightful mod.

Well as of 13 minutes after he posted he's not showing insightful. He's at -1 now. Could it be that there are people here at /. that bury comments they don't like?

Seriously, why is everyone suddenly acting all surprised that this sort of thing goes on at places that make it possible? There wasn't much outcry at all a couple years ago when there was a bury brigade that spent all sorts of time making sure that any Digg submission regarding Little Green Footballs was blasted from the front page of Digg ASAP.

I guess it is only an issue now because the left's ox is being gored which is a serious violation of fairness, as opposed to when the right's ox is being gored which is considered to be entirely fair.

Re:Left Leaning... (1)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 4 years ago | (#33191146)

Seriously, why is everyone suddenly acting all surprised that this sort of thing goes on at places that make it possible?

Who's acting surprised? A study was done, showing a conservative group was burying stories they didn't like on Digg.

If anything, it's funny. A group of people who've convinced themselves (with no proof!) that the world is biased against them decide to start actually introducing bias into one tiny system in a systematic fashion. You can't make this shit up.

I guess it is only an issue now because the left's ox is being gored which is a serious violation of fairness, as opposed to when the right's ox is being gored which is considered to be entirely fair.

Nope. Pay attention: Actual investigative reporting was done here and the results were published. You're free to do your own if you'd like to back up some of your more spurious claims.

Re:Left Leaning... (2, Insightful)

RightSaidFred99 (874576) | more than 4 years ago | (#33190764)

Same thing around here. For some reason the early Internet population was rightish leaning (not neo-con Right, more like small-L libertarian right), but nowadays the trend is reversed. The general population is more left leaning. Some of it may be because the US had a larger early Internet presence. I think it's also because early on it was more of the intellectual elite and now even the common rabble is out blathering their opinions on the Internet.

And what about yelp? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33190474)

I have been yelping for about a year and I see the owners of places abusing the crap out of that system. I now actually have yelp staffers emailing me asking me to change my reviews at the bequest of an owner of a restaurant or it will be removed...

Re:And what about yelp? (5, Informative)

aquila.solo (1231830) | more than 4 years ago | (#33190848)

That's not from the owners of places as much as extortion [wired.com] from Yelp itself. If a company doesn't pay to become a "preferred member" or some such BS, then Yelp shows the unfavorable reviews. If the company is a "good citizen," then Yelp shows more of the favorable reviews; even to the point of pressuring users like you to modify their posts.

In short, Yelp is pretty much useless as a source of unbiased information.

Re:And what about yelp? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#33191068)

Name and shame them. Print out the email and post it on the telephone poles outside the establishment. Do it from time to time as a hobby and let's see how long they keep trying that.

How is this new? (5, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#33190478)

Slashdot had this problem long before Digg even existed or was even an idea.

CmdrTaco tried several ways of dealing with it, but it still exists today. Shill accounts designed to moderate down a disliked opinion. Mod down mobs. I have seen this stuff in action on lots of people's posts.

Typically the shill actions and mob actions get undone by the general populace but you can see the effects by looking at the moderation of a hot topic post. 30+ moderations with a crapload of overrated,troll, etc.. when the post was 100% op topic are a prime example of this.

Re:How is this new? (2, Funny)

Anonymusing (1450747) | more than 4 years ago | (#33190672)

If I had mod points, I'd mark you as an overrated troll (because, of course, you're on topic!).

Re:How is this new? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33190718)

Wasn't meta-moderation invented to help ward against this on /.?

Re:How is this new? (4, Informative)

SoupGuru (723634) | more than 4 years ago | (#33190734)

Those global warming discussions are pretty interesting up to 3 hours after posting. Then it starts evening out with some rational discourse and some science. I'm not sure I'd call it organized but it seems pretty suspicious that the rational science loving audience that frequents slashdot would crank up the denier rhetoric so consistently.

Re:How is this new? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33190908)

And how every single story about Climate Change in every single news paper online seems to have a dedicated staff of deniers that respond with in an hour of the story being posted.

Re:How is this new? (1)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 4 years ago | (#33190742)

30+ moderations with a crapload of overrated,troll, etc.. when the post was 100% op topic are a prime example of this.

To be fair, it's possible for a post to both be a troll and 100% on-topic.

Re:How is this new? (5, Interesting)

SashaMan (263632) | more than 4 years ago | (#33190910)

I totally disagree. While of course this happens to some extent, and while in general Slashdot has some pretty common points-of-view (FOSS supporters, generally libertarian leaning, etc.), the level of groupthink and mob rule is many orders of magnitude less on slashdot than on digg. While part of this may be due to the audience, I think the biggest factor is the moderation system. There is no "agree" or "disagree" moderation on slashdot. There are certainly many times I've moderated stuff as interesting or insightful even if I didn't necessarily agree with the sentiment of the poster.

On digg, it's all up or down. You'll frequently see comments like "**** Republicans!" rated very highly. Whether or not you agree with Republican political views, putting four asterisks before their party name adds nothing to the discussion. You rarely, if ever, see a comment like that rated highly on slashdot, unless there's something sarcastic behind it. Of course, now you'll probably see lots of comments like that as responses rated highly :-P

**** Republicans (2, Insightful)

Surt (22457) | more than 4 years ago | (#33191118)

Palin is a MILF!

Re:How is this new? (0, Redundant)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#33191128)

We have an "-1 disagree" it's just mislabeled as "-1 troll" and "-1 flamebait" well, it's not mislabeled, it's just frequently used as such. Probably since every side has a legitimate claim to air time no matter how dishonest, incompetent or corrupt it may be.

Re:How is this new? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33191148)

It is not new, it's a sad fact. If you've ever posted something here which doesn't reflect the (by and large) SlashKos Groupthink, then you've seen it happen to your posting...

What's really so sad about it is that some very thoughtful and intelligent discourse gets modded down and out of sight by what are, basically, punks with no experience in the real world, who only have impressions and ideas that have been presented to them by this mass-media, 15 second soundbite world we live in. They cannot have their own thought; they don't have the experience yet. But they do have teh internets and a keyboard... {roll_eyes}

Re:How is this new? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33191224)

Slashdot had this problem long before Digg even existed or was even an idea.

Digg is rigged. Slashdot is not. Besides being on the internet and a web 2.0/forum site, there is little comparison between the two. Digg used to have relevant news and considered the L1 cache for slashdot. Now its comic relief (I can'st stop reloading it for the LOLs), but little more. I boycotted digg for 6 months or so when a 404ed URL (or host not found, don't remember) ended up as the #1 or #2 story.

CmdrTaco tried several ways of dealing with it, but it still exists today. Shill accounts designed to moderate down a disliked opinion. Mod down mobs. I have seen this stuff in action on lots of people's posts.

Typically the shill actions and mob actions get undone by the general populace but you can see the effects by looking at the moderation of a hot topic post. 30+ moderations with a crapload of overrated,troll, etc.. when the post was 100% op topic are a prime example of this.

Slashdot's moderation sucks in that it doesn't randomize the top level posts (long suggestion of mine), and so thread stealing and nested comments that go to nowhere are common.

Oh, and who would read that long winded thing about Digg. Its just a popular website that has to deal with the big bad internet ppl from time to time.

Digg is just a reflection of our political dialog (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33190496)

aka worthless.

Re:Digg is just a reflection of our political dial (4, Insightful)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 4 years ago | (#33190774)

BINGO! There you go.

I've seen comments on Digg that were spot on about a topic regarding the facts and it would get buried into oblivion because it didn't mesh with the group think. It doesn't matter what the facts are, if you say something that doesn't jibe with what people believe, they'll consider it garbage.

It also varies with time. Many times a topic will get posted multiple times and the same comment will be dugg high one time and then another, it will get buried into oblivion. It's a really interesting phenomena.

We like to hear our beliefs re-enforced. If the facts match our beliefs, more the better; if they don't, well people will just consider it false - regardless of the truth.

I see folks who condemn Talk Radio for creating opinion. I think it's the other way around. I think those guys listen to their callers and get the "pulse" of their beliefs and then just ratchet it up while including the audience's common fears and resentments - I'm not going to mention them here because I know it'll start a whole off-topic posts.

Re:Digg is just a reflection of our political dial (2, Interesting)

geek (5680) | more than 4 years ago | (#33191062)

Imagine going out in public and voicing your opinion, then immediately after having 30 people stand in line to punch you in the face for it.

This is essentially what is happening online and to an extent has always happened. I've been online since 1993 and remember it being the same way back then. Anonymity + opinions = abuse.

The fact that it's politics today just reflects that it was politics back with Bush. The right is getting back at the left for the vitriolic rhetoric they laid on Bush/Cheney/Palin. You could call it karma if you want I guess.

I mostly abstain from posting on the net these days. I like to read comments but I don't post often for this very reason. It's not that I care about being modded down for my opinions so much as I just no longer see the value in it. Comments on websites are often a cesspool of illiterate, bigoted, biased crap.

I guess what I am getting at is, this is nothing new. Not sure why this is suddenly in the forefront again but it does seem cyclical, every few years it comes up again and people act all butt hurt for a while, then the pendulum swings their way again and the complaints go away.

waitasec (1)

OnePumpChump (1560417) | more than 4 years ago | (#33190538)

Wouldn't a random sample just increase the size of the brigade needed to bury or promote a story? I mean they're still going to have the same access to the story that everyone else does.

Re:waitasec (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33191014)

The size of the increase for the brigade would need to be HUGE. The point that is made is if the random sampling was way out of wack to a majority of the other ratings, the other ratings would more or less be ignored as being artificial numbers. Basically, the random sampling would be a control on the other ratings for the article. Like the OP said in the article, Brigades will tend to vote in bursts, as the call goes out. If there's a spike in the initial article's rating in a short period of time, and that spike's rating has no relation to a random sampling rating, the spike's ratings could be dropped or downgraded...

Slashdot is never wrong! (5, Funny)

aronzak (1203098) | more than 4 years ago | (#33190544)

The fix is just to go to Slashdot for all your news, ever.

Slashdot is never wrong, right?

What a joke. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33190552)

So let me get this straight. If people on the right bury an article it's "censoring" and "manipulation", but if the left buries an article it's just digg doing exactly what digg was designed to do?

Leftardism at it's best. If you agree with me you're right, if you don't you're a lying cheating thief abusing our system and the system needs to be change to punish you. As if digg wasn't already a cesspool of left-wing crackpots.

Re:What a joke. (2, Interesting)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 4 years ago | (#33190598)

Hey, find me the research that shows leftists burying stories on Digg, and then you can have your hissy fit

I'll wait...

Re:What a joke. (-1, Troll)

TrisexualPuppy (976893) | more than 4 years ago | (#33191140)

Dear moron,

Do you really think that anyone wastes time doing CREDIBLE research about (as AC called it) "a cesspool" website of stupid user-submitted links for others to look at in their spare time? Do you REALLY need research to give you a warm and fuzzy feeling on the truth of something? Do you understand that research tends to be incredibly biased and that you are probably not a man of the caliber to discern such biases?

--TrisexualPuppy

Re:What a joke. (1)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 4 years ago | (#33191296)

WTF are you talking about? Did you read GP's comment? Do you even understand the flow of this conversation?

I don't care what you think "I think". What happened, happened. I can't even begin to understand what meds you forgot this morning to set you off like this.

Re:What a joke. (3, Funny)

Xacid (560407) | more than 4 years ago | (#33190608)

Is it really "leftardism" if both sides are doing it? That would make the rights "leftards" and hell - that may very well tear the fabric of space-time apart!

Re:What a joke. (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 4 years ago | (#33190778)

Is it really "leftardism" if both sides are doing it? That would make the rights "leftards" and hell - that may very well tear the fabric of space-time apart!

Better known as "business as usual". It has simply moved on from "bury each others stories, deride anyone who says it's wrong" to "provide evidence of each other burying stories, deride anyone who says THATs wrong".

Pretty soon we will arrive at an exponential speedup of the great infinite loop where the right and left become entangled at the quantum level; their deep desire to be the opposite of each other will lead to them performing the exact same activities to counter each others strategies at a relativistic level. Heisenberg and Einstein will time travel from the past using a quantum relativity machine they invented in an alternate timeline to ours, apparently to put a stop to the breakdown but then reveal that they can only help us by letting history (of the future) take it's course.) After all, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.

Then, when that two party system effectively is gone, we will invent some new polarized decision-making scheme to replace it.

The circle of life, and all that.

Re:What a joke. (4, Insightful)

Samalie (1016193) | more than 4 years ago | (#33190682)

No.

Burying any article/opinion just because you disagree with it is wrong. Worse, organizing large "gangs" of people who share your beliefs to bury stories against your beliefs is wrong.

Doesn't matter who is doing it. Just because this article discusses some right-leaners buring leftist stories, doesn't mean it doesn't happen the other way, and is just as wrong.

If it's wrong then why does Digg encourage it? (2, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 4 years ago | (#33191186)

Worse, organizing large "gangs" of people who share your beliefs to bury stories against your beliefs is wrong.

But that's exactly what Digg is designed to do.

On Digg, you mark people as friends - and then you are allowed to "shout" instructions to them.

So what naturally happens, is that large groups of people friend each other and "shout" to bury or digg up stories and comments. Traditionally these have been very large groups of left leaning Digg users.

You might think it's wrong to do this but Digg was designed around the concept that you can bury people with no penalty and they make it easy to coordinate. Unlike Slashdot you can still even write comments after you bury people.

Re:What a joke. (3, Informative)

ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) | more than 4 years ago | (#33190756)

No, it's that one particular right wing group took it even further. Both sides were doing it, the right was just more organized about it. Which seems like a fairly common scenario; the right and left try to swing narratives in their direction, but the right is generally more effective at it. If a group of likeminded users happens to vote up or bury stories, it's mildly damaging. If each of the users registers dozens of accounts, hides behind proxies to circumvent bans, takes orders from a single user as to which stories to bury, etc., it's downright destructive. This particular group was managing to bury 90% of the stories they disagreed with in three hours or less, drastically altering the balance of the front page.

Re:What a joke. (4, Informative)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 4 years ago | (#33191064)

Both sides were doing it

Got any citations to back that up? Go do your own study, then you'll be allowed to spout that shit.

Re:What a joke. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33191182)

Both sides were doing it, the right was just more organized about it.

By organized, do you mean 'willing to suspend rational thought and parrot rhetoric?'

Mainstream Media (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33190568)

I thought the burying of conservative news by all major news organizations except for Fox more than offset the burying of liberal news on Digg.

Re:Mainstream Media (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33190746)

And what color is the sky in your world? Why, I bet it's MAROON!

Thank God.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33190576)

It's just _so_ helpful that you made the name in the story summary a mailto link. I mean, I was hoping I could click on the name to find information and get a mail window popup, that way I can just bug him and ask "Please give me a general overview of who you are."!

Re:Thank God.. (-1, Troll)

afabbro (33948) | more than 4 years ago | (#33190664)

I think we should all email "Bennett" and tell him that his mommy wants him to take out the trash now and stop wasting all his time on Slashdot.

digg mainly highlights popular press stories (4, Funny)

peter303 (12292) | more than 4 years ago | (#33190586)

I read the primary news sources already, so have read most of digg articles. Slashdots seems to find the gems from obscure sources. I like it better.

Are we meant to RTFS? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33190658)

My head hurts. I avoid looking at articles and now the summary is even longer. Good thing I bought 500 aspirins for $8. [amzn.to] I am going to need a bunch.

Digg's biggest fault (4, Interesting)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 4 years ago | (#33190688)

is that it lets people moderate AND post at the same time. That is the #1 reason why it often degenerates into ideological and immature flame wars.

Re:Digg's biggest fault (4, Interesting)

Surt (22457) | more than 4 years ago | (#33191240)

Digg's and Slashdot's faults are pretty much the same: they use a moderation system that doesn't allow the end-user to filter out bad moderators.

For example, on /., it would be trivial to replace meta-moderation with a system that asked:

Would you like to see moderations from this user in the future? If you say no, that person's mods are now 0s to you. We'd all have differing views of /., based on our personal preferences, and organized gangs of moderators would be totally useless. And the more you metamoderated, the better your /. experience would be. Given a higher rate of participation in metamoderation, users with high levels of 'no' could be defaulted to 'off' for all users (becoming visible only if you've explicitly said 'yes' to that moderator).

But it will never happen on any discussion site because it would yield too much of the editorial control.

Re:Digg's biggest fault (1)

TigerTime (626140) | more than 4 years ago | (#33191254)

When i read the title of this story, i thought it was a joke. Digg is extremely liberal these days. I rarely go there anymore, and have since blocked the Political section because its typically nothing but Huffington Post crap with a huge circle jerk of libs giving each other reach-arounds.

Back before the 2008 election there was not near the political representation from other sites. It was much more friendly and less threatening.

If I have to choose between dig and bury... (3, Interesting)

maillemaker (924053) | more than 4 years ago | (#33190736)

If I have to choose between gangs of diggers and gangs of buryers, I'll take the gangs of diggers.

I'd rather see what is most popular, rather than not see what is most unpopular.

But I think the suggested random voting is best.

Re:If I have to choose between dig and bury... (1)

ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) | more than 4 years ago | (#33190924)

Well, as noted, a system with pure "Digg-ing" is just as susceptible to the problem (without introducing random voting). The front page only has so many slots. So the same group of buriers just needs to vote up enough stories they agree with to flood the front page, and everything else is effectively buried.

It might take more time, but then, if that becomes a problem, they can always script a system wherein they manually mark the stories to be buried and vote up everything that isn't on it.

Why bury is worse (5, Interesting)

fermion (181285) | more than 4 years ago | (#33190800)

Skimming the essay the basic assertion seems to be that having too much to read is worse than the occasional killing of a story. This is common thinking of those that wish to protect us from unfavorable information. That there is someone who knows better than you what you need to know. Of course a selection process is neecessary, there is no way to print all the minutia that goes on in the world, but that selection should be based more on interest rather than the facts presented in the story. For instance, if one is interested in Miley Cyrus, then one wants everything on the subject, not just the Disney edited factoids.

Which is why burying is worse. Burying is act of preventing people from hearing differing opinions. While it is true that artificially inflating the importance of information also has negative effect, many different viewpoints can be overinflated, so we still end up with a variety of opinions. A comment system allows all to reflect on those opinions.

It is true that groups can game the system to inflate the ranking of stories, but look at it this way. On has a finite amount of time. It is relatively trivial to use the time to bury selective stories, but becomes more complex if one wants to do the same thing by inflation. One has to inflate a larger number of stories, and at the same time others are doing the same with stories they agree with. All sides are probably going to inflate the stories that reflect best on them, as inflating politically correct but embarrassing stories would not be beneficial.

At the end of the day, and inflation policy is more likely to result is a selection of the best stories from a variety of opinions, while a bury policy will likely cause the best stories to be buries simply because a few people disagree with the viewpoint. The question is one interested in presenting information that people can choose from, or if presenting an opinion in hopes that everyone will agree.

Well, yes... (4, Insightful)

EriktheGreen (660160) | more than 4 years ago | (#33190828)

Despite the fact that they are involve the public more directly and more immediately than any democratic or community based voting or collective decision making system has in the past, internet sites where visitors decide on something still rely on honesty and impartial decision making (with respect to the purpose of the vote) by the voters in order to produce a non skewed result.

Like any voting process whose outcome is meant to reflect the "will of the people", voters must vote only once so everyone has an equal voice, and no voter must be unduly influenced by biased interests. To correctly reflect the views of everyone on the internet, a vote would have to include a significant random sample of internet users, which is impossible. Further, due to the nature of the Internet and web sites, even detecting a biased, stacked or invalid vote is nearly impossible.

While this is obvious to some, it's worth stating explicitly that just because a voting process takes place on the internet doesn't mean it's fair and balanced, and just because something is posted on the internet doesn't mean that it's true.

It can be a shock to those who believe humanity is a step away from an internet based golden age of online government where corrupt bureaucrats and overpaid staff are eliminated, but the internet is just a better way to communicate than we've had in the past. The value of communications has always depended on whom you are talking to :)

Erik

similar analysis of collaborative recommenders (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33190836)

reminiscent of http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/summary?doi=10.1.1.13.2238

More proof that... (-1, Troll)

kuzb (724081) | more than 4 years ago | (#33190882)

...Digg is for morons, by morons.

This could be a good thing (0, Troll)

bigmattana (646048) | more than 4 years ago | (#33190884)

I stopped using Digg a long time ago because it had been taken over by left-wing pressure groups. It started as mostly tech news, but when it tried to expand, left-wing nutballs from the Huffington post and other left wing blogs took over. Every single comment that does not get modded down into oblivion would be considered a troll on Slashdot.

Will pressure from extremists on the other side balance it out or make it even more extreme?

Re:This could be a good thing (2, Informative)

dave420 (699308) | more than 4 years ago | (#33191112)

[citation needed]

How has metamoderation been working, Taco? (3, Interesting)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 4 years ago | (#33190898)

I'm genuinely curious. I haven't metamoderated in well over 7, maybe 8 years. But I'm wondering, is it working? Has it worked before?

Re:How has metamoderation been working, Taco? (4, Insightful)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 4 years ago | (#33191308)

I can tell you that whatever it was 7 or 8 years ago, it was better then. The metamoderation system employed currently is, to be far too kind, a total pile of worthless steaming failure buried in horse shit. Spitballs flung across your office would be more effective tools for metamoderation on slashdot than the current system. Really the only relevant question to ask about metamoderation is why they even bother keeping it up currently, it doesn't do a damned thing.

Although even worse is that the people who get moderator points know this and spend their points with wild abandon because they know that the metamoderation system will never, ever, ever do anything to them.

Go ahead, try the metamoderation link [slashdot.org] . Tell me how many of those 10 comments it asks you about were even moderated at all - if your number is greater than zero you should count yourself lucky.

Dearest Digg, good riddance (0, Offtopic)

Finerva (1822374) | more than 4 years ago | (#33190918)

I can honestly say that I strongly dislike the Digg community for multiple reasons. The most prominent being that the community is largely unbalanced. Anything on the most dug list not pertaining to legalizing weed, @#4% the RIAA!, socializing healthcare, or praising everything Obama does is immediately flamed and trolled.

I'm obviously not an absolutist and can easily side both ways on a lot of issues, but watching an entire community resort to petty trolling when I would much rather read intelligent comments and debate these issues rather than shred the ones I don't like with high school obscenity.

I am fairly happy knowing someone was trying to hopelessly fight the hardcore Digg users, but its a sinking ship.

After a year of using Digg I started to feel like I was hanging out with a bunch of angry internet thugs on the wrong side of town and even though no place on the internet is free of asinine trolling and ignorant flame wars, the last thing I want to do is join a community dedicated to it.

Follow the money (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 4 years ago | (#33190926)

With most of the grass root efforts "useful idiots" can be found to point and click for or against any effort.
Some parts of the world use their military to directly muddy the water on any web expose in near real time, some are more passive and like to target the person posting long term.
The only thing interesting about this is the lack of skill eg wash your names, have new cut outs and ip's.
Steer and provide strawman comments, personal attacks and reshape comments to useless topics, suggest legal issues about a comment, demand links, if backed up with links, note age of data or "opinion pieces" dont count ect.
That can be more chilling, time wasting and demoralising than any mass mob of clickers.
Digg deeper and see who is funding this. Interview the "useful idiots" as a citizen journalist if they let too much personal info slip via related sites. Ask how they can sit around all day and click for their political masters :)

misleading story blurb (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33190928)

At Digg the problem is groups of abusive users; at Slashdot, the problem is a group of abusive site owners [slashdot.org] .

Slashdoters, do you read this article? (1)

stanlyb (1839382) | more than 4 years ago | (#33190984)

So, if a group of "advanced" slashdotters decides to "troll" all the else-thinking individuals, they ..... actually .... succeed ..... Funny, that article devoted to DIGG, is in fact devoted to SLASHDOT...

Faulty premise (1)

prgrmr (568806) | more than 4 years ago | (#33190998)

Humans are inherently herd animals. So creating a web site on the premise that people will always, only act as individuals is unrealistic. This was demonstrated over 10 years ago on ebay when coordinate shilling was a huge problem in certain categories.

Digg is built this way (2, Interesting)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 4 years ago | (#33191074)

It's absurd for a leftist group of people organized via the Digg "shout" system of broadcasting instructions of friends, to complain about a far smaller group of conservatives doing the same exact thing via Yahoo groups.

The proof is in the pudding. Every conservative comment on Digg is buried to hell and back. The front page of Digg is constantly full of pro-Omaba and Huffington post stories. If there really is such a massive conspiracy, why is it having no effect?

The person who "uncovered" this provides no proof for the most dramatic claim, that some people are using multiple accounts - he just speculates it is so.

What is the "purpose" of Digg? (3, Insightful)

JustinOpinion (1246824) | more than 4 years ago | (#33191094)

As with many debates, much of this debate depends crucially on what you think Digg's tools are meant to do (what is, in philosophy, sometimes called the telos, or purpose, of a thing). If you think Digg's purpose is to show "the best" stories, then that requires a certain algorithm (e.g. rejecting votes from brigades in favor of votes from people who are apt to judge whether something is "the best"), but if your objective is to show "the most popular" stories, then a different algorithm is required (just making sure everyone only votes once).

So there are some part's of Mr. Haselton's argument that presuppose a certain purpose to Digg, which may not actually be the purpose that the majority of Digg users care about. (Also worth thinking about is that the purpose of Digg, from the point of view of those running it, is to make money; irrespective of whether the users are happy or the best stories get on the main page...)

The only way to game that system would be to organize a group of dedicated Digg users so enormous that they constituted a significant percentage of all users on the system — something pretty hard to do without getting caught.

This distinctly presupposes a purpose to Digg. From the point of view of many, it doesn't make sense to "get caught" with respect to getting a "significant percentage of all users on the system" to vote a certain way. If the majority of the community is up-voting (or down-voting) a certain way, then the community's feelings are being correctly reflected in the story-ranks. (To those who consider Digg to be a popularity engine, this is perfectly fair.)

If each user limited to themselves to only one Digg account like they were supposed to? And if they focused not on burying stories, but on digging stories that promoted their viewpoints? Just as bad. It just doesn't sound as bad.

It's not just that it doesn't sound as bad... it's that it really isn't as bad... at least for those people who think Digg is "supposed" to be a popularity engine, where each user gets a single chance to "have their voice heard". (In this view, voting more than once is wrong; anything else is fair game.)

Yes, if the purpose of Digg is to really find "the best material" then voting brigades are an attempt to game the system. But honestly if the purpose is to curate the best material, then it's been shown time and again that self-selected, open voting systems suck. You need to either hire curators or use tuned sampling methods (as is done on Slashdot and as is suggested by Mr. Haselton). And even these have plenty of problems with being gamed.

All that to say that I think you need to first decide what goal you are trying to optimize for, before suggesting sweeping changes. I honestly don't think that those who run Digg, or those who use it, are really looking to have a ranking system that promotes "the best" material. They are looking for a ranking system that engages users: and a (broken) popularity system does that just fine.

Statistics (4, Interesting)

mbone (558574) | more than 4 years ago | (#33191166)

(Note that if you think about it, this is essentially the same as always throwing out the votes from people who visit your picture via the link. If you collect votes from group A and B, but you only count the votes from group A if they agree with the votes from group B, then you're really only counting votes from group B! All the extra votes really give you is the ability to brag that X many people voted on your picture.)

No, I don't think so, at least as long as your threat model is "most votes on items are unbiased, but some small number are attacked." Suppose pictures (to stay with the OP's model) are being voted on, with most pictures getting a small positive response (say, a typical picture gets a 1% positive score), and a few getting as much as 99% positive votes, with each picture getting, say, a few thousands of responses. In theory, in this situation, you know the "likeability" of any given picture to a few %. Suppose you want to test the high ranking ones for attempts to game the system. To do that you might get as few as 10 votes from people you select at random. Now, 10 votes would not be nearly enough to distinguish between (say) "50% like" and "90% like," but it would be enough to distinguish between "99% like" and "1%" like or, for that matter, "50% like" and "1 % like."

So, if you think of the overall votes as providing you with statistics, and the much smaller number of 'random' votes as providing a go/no go confidence indicator to detect gaming of the system, both are useful, and neither can replace the other. (You can use the tools of operational research to tell you, for a given confidence level, just how many random votes you need to detect gaming for any given situation.)

The "Underlying Problem" is Democracy (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33191294)

We have another name for people recruiting their friends to follow them in large, trend-setting, often totally uninformed herds. We call it modern democracy. I don't think that's a systemic problem you can really fix, and still have a "democratic" (big quotes) user-operated news source. Of course, the alternative (carefully select who can vote stories up/down, or just have an editorial board) is equally scary. Power corrupts, democracy un-educates. Same as it ever was .

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  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>