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Ask Slashdot: Going Beyond Comment Threads?

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the tell-a-story-in-140-emoticons-or-fewer dept.

Mozilla 393

asa writes "The Knight Foundation and Mozilla are running a series of news innovation challenges. The goal: get the world's smartest hackers thinking about how news organizations can harness the open web. The current challenge is all about comment threads. This seems like the perfect question to pose to Slashdotters: how would you foster more dynamic spaces for online news discussion? How would you preserve the context of online discussions and stamp out trolls? All ideas, technical, practical or impractical are welcome. What technologies (federation, atomic commenting, moderation, algorithms) would you employ? What are the immutable social dynamics? Knight and Mozilla will work with the best challenge entrants to deploy the solutions in newsrooms at Al Jazeera English, the BBC, boston.com, The Guardian, and Zeit Online. Submissions are open until May 22nd."

cancel ×

393 comments

The Slashdot system seems to work pretty well (5, Informative)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076080)

People can say whatever they want, moderation points stamp out trolls and assign relative values to posts (not always the best system, but not bad), etc. Of course, for it to work, you have to assemble a pretty smart/knowledgeable/literate bunch of people (that's the real trick). And you would still have to avoid kdawson stories, of course. Not a perfect system by a longshot, but one of the best.

Most of the systems I've seen on news sites for commenting have ranged from "suck ass" to "MAJORLY suck ass." Moderators are either too tough (nothing controversial gets through) of too lenient (leading to comment threads loaded with spam). Just go look at the "Wired" story comment sections sometime. Half of them don't work at all, the other half are loaded with spam, and some of their stories don't seem to let you comment at all. And that's from a *tech* magazine.

Re:The Slashdot system seems to work pretty well (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36076142)

the problem is that 'stamping out trolls' also ends up stamping out minority opinions as well as unpopular truth. this fosters a groupthink mentality that allows consensus to take precedence over correct information/conclusions.

Re:The Slashdot system seems to work pretty well (3, Interesting)

The Dawn Of Time (2115350) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076172)

You can't get away from that anywhere humans are involved, but Slashdot really does work better than most sites in that regard. I mean try expressing even a slightly conservative opinion on reddit.

Re:The Slashdot system seems to work pretty well (2)

Warlord88 (1065794) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076314)

Expressing a conservative opinion is difficult Slashdot as well. But I agree that the system here is far better than anywhere else, like Reddit - where karma whoring is rampant and good discussion is often subdued under "funny" comments. Don't even get me started on the lame memes generated over there.

Re:The Slashdot system seems to work pretty well (1, Troll)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076630)

Expressing a conservative opinion is difficult Slashdot as well.

Is it possible that's because of the conservatives on Slashdot? Or maybe it's because of the overall quality of what passes for "conservative thought" circa 2011 and the cognitive dissonance such opinion requires.

Re:The Slashdot system seems to work pretty well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36076470)

I agree, but slashdot still suffers from this. badly. Thus I'm not sure there's a point to this 'challenge.' The bias will come out somewhere, either in the programmer's meta-infrastructure, or the sysadmins' configuration policy.

Re:The Slashdot system seems to work pretty well (0)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076238)

That's where the "assembling a relatively smart/knowledgeable/literate user base" part comes in. Of course, that still won't stop you from getting modded troll for daring to criticize Linux, or implying that Apple users are a bunch of annoying hipsters with a latent homosexual attraction to Steve Jobs--but it still works pretty well.

Re:The Slashdot system seems to work pretty well (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36076446)

Yeah I hate the IPhone, Apple, and Steve Jobs however, I wouldn't dare say it on here. Oh wait I just did :p LOL!

Re:The Slashdot system seems to work pretty well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36076552)

and I would mod you down if I had any mod points. :p

take any apple related thread (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36076378)

Well said. Best example is how any pro-apple comments are moderated to infinity and anything against apple is modded down to hell - irrespective of facts and data.

Slashdot system works well in general though - just not for apple threads.

Re:take any apple related thread (3, Informative)

Freultwah (739055) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076504)

Quite the opposite seems to be true: if you dare to say anything about Apple that ranges from neutral to good (for example, I dare you post a comment where you're critical of hardware support in Linux and mention that you elected to go with Apple instead, because in your line of work, it lets you get said work done way more easily), you'll be instantly labelled an Apple fanboi and would probably be modded as such if the site so permitted. Just head to the most recent story about Apple being evil for not releasing latest WebKit LGPL code and browse through the comments.

Re:The Slashdot system seems to work pretty well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36076538)

Trolls are GREAT! I love watching them get lambasted for their idiocy!! :)

Re:The Slashdot system seems to work pretty well (4, Insightful)

grcumb (781340) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076540)

the problem is that 'stamping out trolls' also ends up stamping out minority opinions as well as unpopular truth. this fosters a groupthink mentality that allows consensus to take precedence over correct information/conclusions.

Does nobody else see the irony of a comment like this being moderated to +4?

The fact that it's been validated by the system it critiques invalidates it.

Re:The Slashdot system seems to work pretty well (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076190)

Oh, and don't get me started on some of the registration requirements for commenting on some news sites. I swear, some of them want everything from my grandmother's street address to my the length of my dick (in centimeters). So if I want to comment, I have to call up grandma and ask for both.

Re:The Slashdot system seems to work pretty well (0)

Desler (1608317) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076260)

to my the length of my dick (in centimeters)

Isn't that easier in millimeters since you would have to use fraction or decimal amounts to give them that figure in centimeters?

Re:The Slashdot system seems to work pretty well (2)

XanC (644172) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076322)

to my the length of my dick (in centimeters)

Isn't that easier in millimeters since you would have to use fraction or decimal amounts to give them that figure in centimeters?

Speak for yourself.

Re:The Slashdot system seems to work pretty well (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076404)

Question: what goes after the kilometer?

Re:The Slashdot system seems to work pretty well (4, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076500)

what goes after the kilometer?

A Tesla Roadster's battery?

Re:The Slashdot system seems to work pretty well (1)

lymond01 (314120) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076426)

God I miss elementary school...

Re:The Slashdot system seems to work pretty well (1)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076420)

the length of my dick (in centimeters). So if I want to comment, I have to call up grandma and ask for both.

This is a good idea. It could make the news commentary system be more like Chat roullette only with more pen1ses.

Re:The Slashdot system seems to work pretty well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36076240)

People can say whatever they want, moderation points stamp out people who go against the Slashdot groupthink

FTFY.

Re:The Slashdot system seems to work pretty well (2)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076348)

Sometimes, it's true. I usually have to save up some Karma if I want to:

a) criticize Linux
b) criticize certain religions
c) say anything politically-incorrect (this is the BIG one)
d) criticize Apple
e) criticize the space program

But keep in mind that most of these things (ESPECIALLY a & b) will basically get you banned or your post completely deleted on most forums. And Slashdot does seem to be getting better. I criticized Linux just today and amazingly didn't get modded down into oblivion immediately (until moderators read this comment of course).

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to insult my Christian, black astronaut friend who likes Apple.

I'm kidding, of course. We all know there are no black astronauts.

Re:The Slashdot system seems to work pretty well (1)

Noughmad (1044096) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076418)

Sometimes, it's true. I usually have to save up some Karma if I want to:

a) criticize Linux
b) criticize certain religions
c) say anything politically-incorrect (this is the BIG one)
d) criticize Apple
e) criticize the space program

But keep in mind that most of these things (ESPECIALLY a & b) will basically get you banned or your post completely deleted on most forums.

I presume your mean b & c, otherwise I'm intrigued by said forums and would like to subscribe to them.

Re:The Slashdot system seems to work pretty well (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076464)

Yeah, I meant b & c. Though a comes close on /.

Re:The Slashdot system seems to work pretty well (1)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076268)

How do you differentiate a troll from someone just drinking the derpaide?

Re:The Slashdot system seems to work pretty well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36076518)

A troll would post this link and say it's something really cool, you have to see it!!!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CD2LRROpph0 [youtube.com]

Re:The Slashdot system seems to work pretty well (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076272)

>>>moderation points stamp out trolls

Moderation points are also used BY trolls to silence people (or opinions) they don't like. For example, saying that you bought an iPad and didn't like it almost-always results in -2 hits to that post. I'm surprised you've never noticed that?

I think Slashdot's system would be vastly improved if the -1 points were expunged, so this kind of behavior could not happen. Also I think it would be better if everyone was assigned a default 0. Trolls would remain stuck at 0, while insightful posters would be modded-up to 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5. The reader could then adjust his reading level to whatever he wishes.

Re:The Slashdot system seems to work pretty well (2)

LordNimon (85072) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076326)

If the default were 0, then all comments would be invisible at first. A whole bunch of people would need to be willing to read comments at 0 and mod up everyone that isn't trolling. That's too much work.

Re:The Slashdot system seems to work pretty well (1)

Noughmad (1044096) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076440)

I browse at -1 you insensitive clod!

Re:The Slashdot system seems to work pretty well (5, Insightful)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076298)

There's one major flaw I've noticed in the /. system: groupthink and herd mentality. Anything that perfectly fits a certain mentality will get upmodded, most things that disagree with it get downmodded. Thus, people who disagree with that thinking (or even just don't care about it) have a disincentive to post, and the site attracts people fanatical about that viewpoint, perpetuating the problem.

For /., the "mentality" is "MAFIAA evil, government evil and incompetent, big corporations bad (except google 'cuz they're good guys)", but it could just as easily be anything. If, say, a firearms news site adopted the /. system, it would probably end up with a strong "Kalashnikov gas-operated rotating-bolt system is perfect, Stoner direct-impingement system is evil" bias (or vice versa). Or an indie gaming site might end up with a "no sequels, artsy plot-heavy faux-retro side-scrollers only, and if it becomes popular YOU SOLD OUT" mentality.

PS: Don't deny that it happens. I've seen anti-MAFIAA comments get +5 Insightful in articles about space travel. And I've never seen anything even vaguely pro-copyright get above a 2.

Re:The Slashdot system seems to work pretty well (2)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076384)

I've never seen anything even vaguely pro-copyright get above a 2.

I have, but it was about GPL, not the death of Walt Disney + 125 years variety.

Re:The Slashdot system seems to work pretty well (1, Insightful)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076578)

To be technical, GPL is copyleft, not copyright.

Re:The Slashdot system seems to work pretty well (2)

fudoniten (918077) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076482)

Groupthink: A derogative term used to disparage a widly-held belief or set of beliefs with which the speaker does not agree.

I've seen highly-rated counter examples for all of the examples of groupthink you cite. Not so many for copyright as it stands today. I would suggest that's because there's not much positive to say. You can get a good rating for "creator's rights are important!" but adding "...for the creator's great-grandchildren!" might lose you some points.

Re:The Slashdot system seems to work pretty well (2)

anyaristow (1448609) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076602)

Groupthink: A derogative term used to disparage a widly-held belief or set of beliefs with which the speaker does not agree.

When we surround ourselves with people who agree with us, and punish people who disagree to discourage them from participating, we get a distorted view of what a "widely-held belief" is.

Re:The Slashdot system seems to work pretty well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36076368)

Yeah, just attribute 0 points to any anon and thus make them invisible: no need to register and no AC comments seen -- it's the best of both worlds!

Re:The Slashdot system seems to work pretty well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36076422)

...moderation points stamp out trolls...

No it doesn't work well. Look at posts from the 90's that are critical of Apple - the "Trolls" said many things back then that get modd'ed up +5 now days.

Look at any thread that says anything critical of FLOSS or RMS - hell just post a personal dislike of the GPL for whatever your reasons are and get mod'ed down to oblivion.

Moderation usually enforces group think and hides original thought.

Or original thought gets buried with the true Trolls.

Re:The Slashdot system seems to work pretty well (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076594)

The Apple thing has gotten a lot better in recent years (as Steve Jobs looks less and less to the world like an idealistic hippie and more and more like a ruthless supervillian petting a cat). There was a time when saying anything even vaguely pro-MS or anti-Apple would get you modded to "-30 retarded" in about a millisecond.

FLOSS and Linux are still pretty bad, though. but I think even they've improved a little recently (maybe that's just my subjective experience).

Not really (1)

suomynonAyletamitlU (1618513) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076480)

We enjoy the slashdot system because we don't mind rehashing the same discussions every time a new story comes up, but it's more than a little redundant.

I would detach comment threads from the stories and tag them; old comment threads could get automatically attached to a new story that's similarly tagged, and then moderated down if it's no longer applicable or up if there's nothing new to say; presumably, some sort of pruning or metamoderation to cut it down to only the best posts. In theory, wise posts could actually have f--king staying power instead of being one-offs on the latest sensationalist headline that have to get rewritten every time a site moderator reposts f--king bullshit that's not actually news until everyone gets tired of writing it, and we could stop pretending that repeating the same damn truths as last week makes you 'insightful,' 'interesting', or 'informative.'

You're right dude (1)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076496)

Slashdot is one of the best I've seen. If you allow anyone to be a moderator, and have unlimited points past 5, you get all sorts of people gaming the system... And the hivemind. Besides those systems were no doubt influenced by Slashdot

I've thought of a superior system to Digg.com, where instead of everyone getting upvote/downvote priviledges on a global pool of points, you could have factional voting. An example is Democrats don't like what Republicans post: So if there are more Dems than Reps, the Reps get downvoted into oblivion. Now if you had your faction, you could see what your faction felt on the subject not influenced by counter factions. It takes some thought in how to do the server code, or you end up with bad server times or glitchy cases where someone changes their faction, and all the votes change.

Re:The Slashdot system seems to work pretty well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36076520)

Slashdot's commentary system sucks. It rewards the quickest posters with karma points and attention. Whoever posts first has the possibility of derailing all later discussion. Comments are ill thought out in the rush for post views. Science stories are trampled beneath the hordes of morons looking for +funny mods. Dissenting opinion is crushed with inappropriate moderation. Old stories essentially vanish out of existence, so previous comments become worthless -- this gives the trolls free reign, able to repost FUD/misinformation again, and again, and again without being noticed; or if they are called out, they can simply wait until the next following story.

Re:The Slashdot system seems to work pretty well (3, Interesting)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076570)

moderation points stamp out trolls and assign relative values to posts

Why should we assume that there's any value at all to having a "dynamic" discussion/commenting section on general news sites?

Part of the charm of Slashdot is the unique quality of the users (at least those with UIDs lower than about 1750000). The stories don't matter as much as the "dynamic" discussions. And the worst behavior of jerks (like me) is kept to a minimum by the modding system. It works because the stories are not the main draw of the site.

On a general news site, where people go for information, there's really little value in any "dynamic" discussion except to let us know the level of stupidity among the readers. If you don't believe me, go read the comments section of your local newspaper. Don't spend too much time doing that though, or you may become afraid to ever leave your house.

Comment sections for general news sites are pretty bad ideas. I don't believe developing better commenting systems is going to change that.

Re:The Slashdot system seems to work pretty well (1)

lymond01 (314120) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076592)

Rather than moderation scores, I'd rather see and "I agree" mod of various types (let's say "Insightful", "Informative", or "Agreed"). But if you disagree, you need to include a reason why. I imagine you'd get a lot of gibberish just to bypass the text input requirement or likely a lot of ("cuz u suck" comments), but it would be a start.

As far as UI tweaks, adding Facebook-like autocompletes for links would be nice.

Group citations too...so when you disagree and add a citation (a link or reference), you can choose from an existing list or enter something by hand which then gets added to that list. "Your citation has been used 27 times."

Three paths (4, Interesting)

symbolset (646467) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076102)

Full identification like Facebook, moderated semi-anonymity like slashdot, full-on unfiltered anonymous chatter. Each has fans and faults.

So make three tabs and call it a day.

I mean maybe I'm missing something, but is there a rule that there has to be one best way?

Re:Fourth Path (1)

hoboroadie (1726896) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076248)

Trolls only. I've been trying to post on presstv.ir for a couple of years, but their moderators won't allow any sane or reasonable views to taint their pseudo-islamic purity.

KIller idea? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36076124)

If I came up with the killer idea in this area do you think i'd tell you?

Don't stamp out trolls (4, Insightful)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076126)

Everyone has a right to speak, even idiots. If you don't like what they have to say, then just add them to your ignore list. Trolls/idiots polluting forums is preferable to censorship like happens on some boards (Sony erasing negative posts about the hacking).

Other ideas:
- no point system or post tally. People don't deserve to get points just because they post a lot. People don't deserve to get points at all, for the mere act of expressing an opinion.
- threading is essential, so the replies are tied to the original post
- keep it simple. Plain text. Uses less bandwidth.

Re:Don't stamp out trolls (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36076198)

Seconded. Censorship should be on the client, not the server. One's man troll is another man's comedian.

Re:Don't stamp out trolls (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076398)

Or one man's troll is Apple's customer.

Re:Don't stamp out trolls (1)

anyaristow (1448609) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076320)

I'd even argue that frequent posters should have diminished comment visibility, as people who spend an inordinate amount of time online are already over-represented in online discussion.

Re:Don't stamp out trolls (0)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076382)

Agreed. Trolling is half the fun. Watching trolls get pwned is the other half. It counts as entertainment - to me at least it's far more entertaining than what the latest bimbo starlet has to say about quantum mechanics.

DO stamp out trolls (3, Interesting)

openfrog (897716) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076390)

Trolls may be a problem. Personnally, I think that special interests groups present a more formidable challenge.

Once they target a thread on an organized attack, either by themselves or through a PR agency too happy to cater to their needs, there is little that a few, by definition disorganized, moderators can do. The tone heats up in minutes, you can see that any of the seasoned intelligent commentators stay away from such threads. Sometimes, they back off from the site entirely.

Slashdot has a pretty impressive record, and the administrators surely have valuable experience in this regard. Even then, from time to time, you see the sturdy moderating system collapse under an persistent assault. This is always a disheartening experience for me, to see bullies have their... I mean our, cake.

In these times, I always wonder what we could do to prevent this from taking place. I do think that an awful lot is at stake: public interest, to say it in two words.

Re:DO stamp out trolls (1)

anyaristow (1448609) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076516)

I think that special interests groups present a more formidable challenge.

You've described every direct and veiled appeal to slashdot readers to participate in surveys, visit what slashdot considers ridiculous websites, write congresscritters, etc. Is it a problem only when others do it?

Stamping out trolls (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36076140)

How would you preserve the context of online discussions and stamp out trolls?

Punching them in the face over TCP/IP.

Well, you did say impractical ideas were welcome!

Re:Stamping out trolls (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36076456)

Perhaps require that everyone's testicles be hooked up to electrodes before posting? (What about girls? They don't use the internet, so there's no conflict.)

Read the article (2, Insightful)

icebattle (638355) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076148)

Make it impossible to post a comment without having first RFA.

Re:Read the article (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076288)

Hey, this would be a great idea for someone looking for ways to improve commenting on stories!

Re:Read the article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36076338)

So, no posting without having an installed, encrypted eye-tracker that ensures the posters' eye-balls have scanned every line of the FA?

Re:Read the article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36076530)

Yes! Yes! A million times yes! Also, shock their balls if the try to post anyway.

lessons from usenet (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36076162)

Many usenet readers provided an astonishing number of features that we have lost in the move to web forums. Maybe something was gained, but much was also lost.

Killfiles were useful to stamp out trolls. These days there could be a feature similar to adblock subscriptions that would block known trolls across all forums.

The reader features themselves on the better clients were MILES more advanced than what is done today in web browsers, even with AJAX. A web browser is a good tool, but it isn't the right tool for everything. It doesn't seem like the right tool for large scale discussion forums, although it can "suffice" for them - it just isn't as good as a dedicated application. Also with a dedicated app, you get your choice of which one to use. With a web forum, you get whatever the forum software gives you to. It takes choice away from the user and places it with the site.

Usenet is still around (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076286)

There are still discussions on technical topics, and trolls are relatively tame in those newsgroups. Usenet nodes almost universally use spam filters now, which helps a lot. Usenet is not dead and there is no reason to refer to it in the past tense.

Re:Usenet is still around (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36076526)

The best solution is to integrate Usenet into the Web, and the use of killfiles and filters. Dammit, I liked my 'No Hitler. EVER' filter.
Sadly, Usenet is a loss-leader. Even with the binaries stripped out, it is still a huge torrent of packets mucking up the ISPs resources.

MOD AC UP (1)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076434)

Actually an interesting point. Maybe some webservice could be implemented as a substitute to the vanilla browser capability? That'd be a great idea and one that I've at least never considered.

Re:lessons from usenet (1)

straponego (521991) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076444)

Yep. A modern client should have collapsible threading, notifications (via various methods-- SMS, email, facebook, IM, controlled by user per site/domain). It shouldn't be tied into Facebook just because FB has a half-way competent implementation; it should be an open standard that does *not* require a single, real, trackable ID. But it *should* involve a computational cost to generate accounts, to mitigate spam. And killfiles, reputation services (think adblock lists) should all be in the spec (so you can subscribe to lists for spammers, trolls, shills, and "people who for all intensive purposes dont know how to use your apostrophe's").

With slashcode? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36076254)

If you're asking slashdot, then the obvious answer world be "with slashcode"

Multiple axis Slashdot (2)

istartedi (132515) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076256)

I've always thought that assigning negatives and postivies to Slashdot mod categories was limited. I'd like to see mutiple axes of moderation, with the axes you want to view left up to the users.

For example, I might really enjoy viewing (-2*Troll+Funny) as opposed to the default (Funny-Troll).

Do it like USENET (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36076266)

Ask Thunderbird developers: Usenet has all of it: threaded discussions, personal bozo bins and if you prefer a more detailed approach to outright plonking you can score articles. Add to that a Bayesian spam filter and what else do you need? The only thing on the web that comes close to it is /.

Oh well, Usenet is decentralized too and it now has great retention, great local search, etc, etc... I guess sometimes innovation is copying something that's already been out there for like 30 years.

Slashdot system somewhat effective. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36076276)

Where slashdot fails:
a) Anonymous Cowards are seldom read, and seldom moderated up.
b) the Javascript filtering makes it impossible to search.
c) Mandatory login to get rid of the 50 comment limit.

Where Twitter and Discq.us have fared better:
1. Universal login, so I don't have to keep creating accounts on 10,000 damned sites, blogs, and everything with a comment field.
2. Disqus - "Likes" somewhat like a karma system.
3. Twitter - Followers, eg follow those that contribute, so by this nature it "whitelists" when they comment, and hides all other comments by default.

Where they've failed:
1. Any jackass can create a twitter account, this is the number one problem, verifying identity, while keeping off trolls and sockpuppet/meatpuppet/astroturfers. We don't need to verify WHO they are, just that they are only ONE UNIQUE person. The easiest way to do this is by having state/national ID database that is queried upon creation of facebook, twitter where a [x] This is my true name, box is ticked. If the box is not ticked, they are defaulted to greylisted (eg slashdot anonymous coward) and have to rely on the karma system alone. If the box is ticked, then the karma system no longer applies and instead a civility meter is kept by twitter/facebook, too many people complaining about that person's behavior will push them into greylisted and down to blacklisted if they're being obnoxious everywhere. Once they're blacklisted, the site has to explicitly allow the person immunity from the blacklist (eg put them on a whitelist) to allow them, otherwise they're effectively silenced.
2. Search Spam. Twitter's search function tends to show more spam than anything useful. This could be better effectively if they simply "end-tailed" all the links being posted and eliminate links or entire spammer "teamfollowback"'s by looking for the same link being posted by people with no posting karma. 250,000 followers and only one comment, yes that's a spammer.

Re:Slashdot system somewhat effective. (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076396)

+1, Insightful

I have no mod points, so I'm hoping this comment will make the parent be read more. See his first point about ACs.

honest objective: information or education? (1)

prgrmr (568806) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076280)

Open discussions can either be primarily informative with an "anything goes from anyone" approach, or primarily educational in that some attempt is made to improve the signal-to-noise ratio by dealing with the trolls and spammers. In either case, any given forum will have to initially take a perspective to be either informational with the exercise left to the reader for picking out the wheat from the chaff; or if their perspective is educational and hence doing some guiding of the discussion for relevance to the topic. And clearly, some venues will have a more obvious beneficial choice to make than others. This is the internet, and I would hope by now that we can get over the false notion that there is a one-size-fits-all solution for anything.

Crickets can Stamp Out Trolls (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36076294)

Add a "Crickets" button similar to a "Like" or "+1" button; the count is indicated next to the post.

Pushing it is the equivalent of saying "Not going to dignify this with a response." The idea is that the troll has gotten up on stage, spewed a bunch of crap into a microphone, and 5000+ people have utterly ignored it ... the only sound is that of crickets chirping.

political threads aren't productive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36076308)

Usually whenever the news has obvious political implications, many posts will be repetitive advocacy for one side or the other, often laden with mudslinging and sarcasm directed towards the other side. This may or may not be useful as an emotional outlet, but it's hardly enlightening. Unfortunately it's hard to get around that without heavy-handed moderation.

Learn from facebook and twitter (1)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076324)

I think a facebook twitter combo would be a pretty good solution. On a given newsfeed you should be able to see the comments of those who you are following. You would obtain those friends through a one sided relationship like twitter (i.e. they don't need to grant you permission) and you could also see the posts of those who belong to specific groups (i.e. I hate Republicans or I hate Democrats) -> that way, you could find more individuals to friend. You could perhaps also have an option to see posts from random individuals who have a high degree of popularity (i.e. many followers) so as to spice things up a bit. The ignore feature would be just as important, you could eliminate certain folks from your newsfeed or certain groups. The ignore would override any setting for group following.

It's pretty common sense and allows people to see what they want and from whom they want so I'm not sure why this has not been done. It's computationally and architecturally a bit demanding, but not much more so than facebook itself.

The downside is that you'll enable people to wall themselves off from the viewpoints of others, so there will be a lot of in-group discussions without outsiders telling them they are wrong. But this is human nature, already happens for the most part and really isn't of concern to a site that just wants to generate traffic.

Can anyone poke holes in my idea? If so, I'd actually like to hear it. I've wanted to see this type of thing for a while.

Re:Learn from facebook and twitter (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076644)

Actually that's a really good idea. Better implement it soon before someone else does...

Oh yeah, let's ask /. (2)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076328)

Let's ask /. this question:

How come after year, I mean it's been more than a decade for me here for sure (if I remember right), how come after all these years this site hasn't figured out the simple things about comment threads?

COMMENT THREADS!

Look at this fiasco [slashdot.org] - that's a comment about somebody leaving yet another comment in that thread, and quite a number of comments there are the same, redundant stuff, and why?

Because /. can't do comments threads right. [slashdot.org]

Of-course you can disable this crap on /.

(Account, Discussions, Classic Discussion System (D1))
and
(Options, Simple Design)

but a story on /. about a better design for comments threads - now that's irony.

So to the question:

How would you preserve the context of online discussions and stamp out trolls?

- I will say: forget trolls. Get the basics working and don't screw it up first of all - let the people SEE what the thread is first of all. Don't hide comments in threads by default.

As to trolls, etc: have simple "like/don't like" and have thresholds, nothing else should really be done. You can't get rid of trolls, and look what /. is doing and don't do it.

Do NOT force people to log out and post as ACs if they rich some weird 'threshold' (number of comments they can leave under their user name per 24 hours) - what good does that do? People register other accounts or they post as ACs. This is NOT good for discussions.

Do you have a discussion forum or is it a chat room (IRC like)? I think that's the first and only really important question. Do you want to keep history of all the comments or not?

Here is what /. is really doing that's pretty stupid: not showing the entire history of comments for non-AC users. As stories age, they disappear, contexts disappear. What's the point of having any history on line if it's uselessly unsearchable? There is no index.

There is no way really to link to an older discussion that maybe of some value.

Also for various political reasons on this site, comments are often moderated high up, and then after a while they are moderated down [slashdot.org] only so that people wouldn't be noticing them, even if they are totally pertinent to discussion, no trolling, no flame, those are just unpopular views and a coordinated moderation attack pushes them down where nobody is reading.

Don't allow political dissent to be drowned on your site by shills and just by those who don't like what you have to say. Have the "like/don't lie" feature - that's useful. All this other nonsense is just counterproductive if you don't want to run a site, that's dominated by one single mindset.

User-based comment moderation (2)

L1B3R4710N (2081304) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076330)

I've always thought that allowing users to moderate comments is a good idea, but it seems that a lot of people either don't know how, or think it's a waste of time. If users were exposed to the merits of moderating comments and the good that can come from it, it could be a good venue for filtering flaming and trolling. However, by that same token, users could simply utilize other users to downvote/rate other comments because of a disagreement, argument, or whatever. It'd be nice to find a way to prevent this while still allowing users to do comment moderation.

So it has nothing to do with comments... (2)

gr8_phk (621180) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076352)

The goal: get the world's smartest hackers thinking about how news organizations can harness the open web. The current challenge is all about comment threads.

So what does "harness the open web" mean? To the news organizations it probably means "make money". Comments are largely irrelevant for that. If news organizations want to attract readers (assuming that translates to "make money") they need to do two things - 1) report news that people feel is interesting or relevant. and 2) provide intelligent analysis of the news (not discussion forums). They could use a forum to generate ideas for further investigation/reporting/answering tough questions that the media doesn't do too often. Of course by the time they ask questions and do some further investigation the story will be a bit old. And this also doesn't work with stories about tornadoes and celebrities.

Ask Slashdot: Going Beyond Comment Threads? (1)

omar.sahal (687649) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076360)

get the world's smartest hackers thinking about how news organizations can harness the open web.

Or how about we don't! The new organizations can do there own dirty work. If someone could harness the power of the web, in a manor that helps the media, this would have value, it would potentially make someone very rich. Media has its own agenda, it isn't in our favour (as in the public) the worlds best hackers should be doing what they have always done.

News is about trolling for eyeballs. (3, Informative)

djl4570 (801529) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076374)

News is about trolling for eyeballs. The most sensational, shocking, scandalous and salacious stories attract the most eyeballs which means more advertising revenue. If it bleeds it leads. How can trolls be stamped out when the news media culture is rooted in a form of trolling?

Re:News is about trolling for eyeballs. (1)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076506)

"News has become about trolling for eyeballs."

Let's not lose sight of that.

Oh, wait, it always was about the eyeballs. I remember when you could attract an audience with factual reporting and insightful analysis, based on investigation and jornalistic reporting. Now it's mostly sensationalism and opinion made up like news.

Yep, I'm that old.

mynutswon; beyond superficial talknospeak (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36076376)

atmosphere infactdead, replaced with atmostfear.us (Score:mynutswon; left to our own devices)

once one lie is 'infactated', the rest becomes just more errant fatal history.

disarm. tell the truth. the sky is not ours to toy with after all?

you call this 'weather'? what with real history racing up to correct itself, while the holycostal life0ciders continually attempt to rewrite it, fortunately, there's still only one version of the truth, & it's usually not a long story, or a confusing multiple choice fear raising event.

disarmament is taking place based on the pure intentions of the majority of the planet's chosen to be depopulated, population. as the biblical fiction based chosen ones have only one ability, which is destruction for personal gain, they just don't fit in with all the new life extending stuff that's we're being advised to ignore. life likes to continue, advance etc... deception & death appear to have similar ambitions. with malestromous monday on the horizon, wouldn't this be a great time to investigate the genuine native elders social & political leadership initiative, which includes genuine history as put forth in the teepeeleaks etchings. the natives still have no words in their language to describe the events following their 'discovery' by us, way back when. they do advise that it's happening again.

see you at the million babys+ play-dates, conscience arisings, photon gatherings, georgia stone editing(s) etc...?

autosearch for duplicate posts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36076380)

So many sites have very poor verification that a post has been submitted. If user 'x' submits post 'y' and then submits post 'z' with the same verbiage, would be nice for the system to see the duplicate post and not post it. Would also like to have the ability to delete a post/thread if I was the one that posted it. Those two changes would cut down dramatically on the number of bogus posts in my opinion.

trolls make it interesting (1)

cod3r_ (2031620) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076388)

W/out trolling there is almost no reason to even read the comments..

A quick idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36076410)

After thinking about this for all of one minute, I thought that an interesting way to go would be to separate a single large community of readers into smaller communities. It would be like going from a message board posted in the kitchen of a massive office, to lots of little, different message boards at each water cooler. You would often see the same people, thus forming a less anonymous message board. Just feels this would mimic real life a little more closely.

url-based commenting (2)

StripedCow (776465) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076430)

Why not take it a level further and allow commenting not just on news stories, but on any desired url?

A comment-system could even be integrated in the browser. Imagine just opening a webpage, clicking the "comments" button, and seeing a bunch of moderated comments (perhaps even in slashdot style). Now that would be awesome!

Re:url-based commenting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36076508)

It's been done and it failed.

Re:url-based commenting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36076634)

You mean like reddit?

my wish list item for comment threads (1)

fred fleenblat (463628) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076442)

what I'd like is a comment system where the comments are shared across sites.

If a popular news item comes up, I might be interested in the editorial slant at theregister, but perhaps I first saw it on digg, and there's a tech angle at slashdot that's interesting too. It's the same *story* and I want different news outlets to do their own research, conclusions, and editorializing, but it would be cool if the comments were shared so that if someone posted a witty +5 remark on slashdot, people on digg would see it and could respond there, even if they don't have a slashdot account.

do our job for us, ignorantly and hypocritically (1)

MichaelKristopeit411 (2018832) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076448)

freedom of speech or DO NOT WANT.

if you only want the content that you want, then don't rely on others to provide it for you.

labeling your opposition as a "troll" to justify "stamping them out" is quite cowardly. anyone that suggests otherwise is completely pathetic, and well deserved of a true stomping.

slashdot = stagnated

Tie downmods to karma (1)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076476)

You have to build positive karma to earn downmod points. Still limit how much they can be employed but require positive contributions to earn the ability to downmod. Too often we see sockpuppet accounts downmod unpopular opinions or mark them as troll simply because they disagree. There's no disincentive if these sockpuppet accounts accrue modpoints simply by sitting around.

Everybody choose their own view. (4, Interesting)

migla (1099771) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076488)

How about everyone getting to choose their own way of tagging and displaying every comment and user with an optional added numeric modifier for every tag?

Some days I might want to see (or hide) for example what the most popular "+3 Constipated"(and up) comments from anyone modded at least "+2 United-Fruit-apologist" by self described "Anarcho-Marshmellowians". At other times I might choose something less ridiculous, involving tags like "Conservative", "Insightful" and the like.

One could also choose to view comments in the style of reddit or slashdot (except maybe everyone would always have points, so the slashdot style would be filtered by mostly most popular moderators calculated in some way.)

Life is about trolls and trolling (1)

bstender (1279452) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076490)

If the forum is open to everyone and it's about politics, then you are going to deal with a lot of trolls and zealots and astroturf operations. You cannot avoid that, but for my money, just letting it be what it is and having some type of "report spam" button is the way to go. Cut it off after some number of days or hours hrs. Oh, and allow anonymous comments and make sure it's threaded.

4chan (1)

Noughmad (1044096) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076498)

It's perfect.

now to the important stuff (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076546)

The correct way of building a site like this is to make sure that the moderation system is web3 compliant, which means that every new user has to go through the strict Natalie Portman filter, where she looks at the picture of the user and those, who she finds acceptable are allowed to join. Those, who she finds attractive are allowed special privileges on the site, they can talk about pouring hot grits down her pants, and some, who are especially lucky, she meets in person, they become the moderators. Of-course those of us, with the biggest heads are forced into compulsory sexual relations with her, and the rest of the users must obey them, including the moderators. This will keep the club tight and exclusive and very intelligent, obviously.

Aggressively promote citations. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36076548)

In addition to the moderation continuum, comments could receive visibility proportionate to the sources they cite. Select the text specifying your statement, and click the (hypothetical) “Prove It” button. The user is then guided through some process to provide material from independent parties. The site running the forum could vouch for sources it deems reputable (e.g., Wikipedia, Congressional Budgetary Office). Users can propose additional sources, and moderators could consider adding them. This differs from free-from hyperlinking in that the citations can not (or are less likely to) be trash. By tying visibility with researched material, competition is introduced among the users to provide factual material that supports their opinions.

Rhetorical Tagging (1)

Xync (593460) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076598)

I've always wanted to see the ability to tag a response (or the article itself) with its rhetorical type and fallacies in particular. Maybe add some extra categories for "citation needed", "supporting evidence", "contrary evidence" that I don't think would exist in a traditional rhetorical set (could be wrong there). Let moderators (probably users) do more than just say "this post sucks". Let them list WHY it sucks. The moderation could be more concretely proven as accurate or inaccurate, and even better, it might train the readers to spot the nonsense not only in responses but elsewhere as well. Of course, that could be bad for newspapers and terrible for advertisers.

Hack the forum culture before hacking the code (2)

schwaang (667808) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076612)

What's needed in most news comment forums is human moderators consistently applying well-defined local cultural rules about what's acceptable.
When those rules are made explicit and then enforced, they can become a self-reinforcing part of the culture. Users get educated in the process, and educate the newcomers, requiring less professional community management.

You cannot replace this kernel of human etiquette with a technological solution and expect to get better "discussions" than, say, here on Slashdot.

So first find the sites that do rules+human moderation well enough already to host the level of civility and discussion you hope for, and distill out the minimum rules and moderator involvement needed to get there. Then add the tech.

Trolls aren't much of a problem (1)

Rix (54095) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076618)

Sure, they can be disruptive, but at least they're making an honest, intellectual effort to contribute in their own maladjusted way.

The real problem is your audience. For a general audience newspaper, you get the general public, and unfortunately they're stupid, superstitious, and easily frightened.

solution: unique personal IDs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36076620)

The only real solution is to establish a system of unique personal IDs.

Establish a trusted organization that uniquely veries each individual and assigns their IDs. This agency (private or government, but preferably private non-profit) would provide each verified individual with however many unique IDs they need to maintain their privacy. (e.g., slashdot never knows who you are, but they know that your account is unique).

This neatly solves the pervasive problem of corporate entities that use many anonymous accounts and comment-farm trolls. Every account and every comment would be associated with a unique individual.

Voting/karma systems are still useful to weight the integrity of of each individual's posts. Of course the weight of the voting/karma should be based upon the history of whomever is voting.

Totally anonymous posts could still be allowed, but marked/downgraded so they appear later and carry less weight.

Yeah, I know, I am posting this anonymously on slashdot...because I have no idea who owns & manages the slashdot account info database. If we had a good personal ID system, this would not be an issue.

I have an answer but you won't like it. (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076624)

Ultimately the problem here is that just because everyone *can* speak... doesn't mean everyone who does speak has something worthwhile to add. In addition - anonymity makes it easy to be a jackass as it removes any connection to real-life consequences.

So my undoubtedly unpopular answer is to require verified ID for all posters*. Further require that all posters use their real names as contained in their verified IDs. Even with that you'll still get some amount of trolling/flaming, but it will require much less time to manage than otherwise.

* Before anyone comments on the implicit hypocrisy, you can see that my "homepage" URL contains my name [even if the site is offline]. I don't hide behind an online identity - I am who I am, online and off. Helps keeping me from saying things I'd not want associated with me ;)

Easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36076654)

Make sure that all kids in public schools get a healthy dose of the dialectical method and reason from first grade all the way through high school. Encourage parents to take courses in language, logic and persuasion at their local community college and to pass that knowledge on to their kids. Wait a couple of generations and we should have a good foundation for sane discourse on whatever comes after the Internet.

What's that? We're encouraging STEM disciplines at the expense of liberal arts education and we need technology solutions to make up for the fact that we're no longer teaching basics of argument that have been around for thousand of years?

Good luck with that.

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