Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Computer Characters Tortured for Science

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 7 years ago | from the shocking-research dept.

Science 306

Rob Carr writes "Considered unethical to ever perform again with humans, researcher Mel Slater recreated the Milgram experiment in a immersive virtual environment. Subjects (some of whom could see and hear the computerized woman, others who were only able to read text messages from her) were told that they were interacting with a computer character and told to give increasingly powerful electric shocks when wrong answers were given or the 'woman' took too long to respond. The computer program would correspondingly complain and beg as the 'shocks' were ramped up, falling apparently unconscious before the last shock. The skin conductance and electrocardiograms of the subjects were monitored. Even though the subjects knew they were only 'shocking' a computer program, their bodies reacted with increased stress responses. Several of the ones who could see and hear the woman stopped before reaching the 'lethal' voltage, and about half considered stopping the study. The full results of the experimental report can be read online at PLoS One. Already, some (like William Dutton of the Oxford Internet Institute) are asking whether even this sanitized experiment is ethical."

cancel ×

306 comments

Excellent... (5, Funny)

Capt James McCarthy (860294) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380058)

So when does this come out for the Wii?

Re:Excellent... (1)

Shadowruni (929010) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380082)

Am I a bad person for thinking this would make a great SHOCKwave game?

Re:Excellent... (1)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380106)

Shortly after Grand Theft Auto: Busted By The Cops.

Re:Excellent... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380188)

Just tie someone up in a chair, throw the wiimote at them in different places, and ask them if it hurt or not. Suitable for all ages. Enjoy.

(BTW, This will void your warranty.)

Re:Excellent... (2, Funny)

foniksonik (573572) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380806)

Late 2007... It's called "The SIMS, S&M Showdown" use your controller to whip, paddle and smack your partner into submission ;-p

seriously I read about it somewhere

Interesting Experiment (4, Interesting)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380092)

Take two groups: One has first gone through this "virtual torturing", the other is the control group. After this, each group will actually torture a volunteer in the same manner. Would the first group have less of an emotional response than the control group? I am sure there are many wrinkles to work out in the methodology, but this would be interesting to see the result of media on human response. It should pretty effectively answer who is right (or how right each side is) in this debate.

Fun for everyone! (3, Interesting)

khasim (1285) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380120)

First off, make it a male character, not a female character.

Then ask them if they'd torture a criminal.

After the torture (for those who do volunteer) tell them that there was a mistake and that the guy was innocent. But their assistance is needed with the real criminal.

Re:Fun for everyone! (4, Interesting)

daeg (828071) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380496)

Expanding on what you said, do the experiment with eight groups.

The first and second groups act as they did in this study.

The second and third groups act as the first and second, but with a man.

The fourth and fifth groups act as the first and second, but with a man, but of a different race (black subjects get a white victim, etc).

The sixth and seventh groups act as the first and second, but with a man they are told is an enemy combatant.

There are a lot of variations of this, and I doubt any of them are very ethical. But being unethical doesn't make the results uninteresting or invalid, but without a sufficiently large group, any results would be generally untrusted (but still interesting!).

Re:Interesting Experiment (1)

jimstapleton (999106) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380132)

That's a neat idea.

Personally, I don't see anything wrong with either version of the experiment. Nobody is actually getting hurt, nad afterwards the unknowning victim (the button pusher) is told that it's all fake either way.

What's the problem here.

Actually, I'm surprised more people quit with the computer program now, knowing it was just a program, than with the person in the original experiment. Are we as a species, finally, collectively growing spines?

Re:Interesting Experiment (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380402)

I don't see anything wrong with either version of the experiment. Nobody is actually getting hurt, nad afterwards the unknowning victim (the button pusher) is told that it's all fake either way.

It's the "unknowing victim" part that's at issue here, whether or not they were told after the fact that it was all an act (though in this case, one would presume that they would understand that nobody is being hurt, yet the results show that it's not that clear cut...)

That said, it would be interesting to compare the results of this study to some other variations... say a computer figure that "wants to eat a slice of pie", and you have to electrocute it to keep it from eating the pie. If a person is given a task other than "just electrocute the guy for the hell of it" are they more likely to go through with it? (This could also be used to measure the effect of stress on reaction time... is the participant going to be able to hit the button in time when the figure reaches out to grab the pie if they know the figure is going to start convulsing? As an "unknowing victim" the participant would even be told that it's a test of reaction time.)

There is a problem with ethics! (4, Insightful)

CyberLord Seven (525173) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380522)

Sure no one gets hurt. In truth, no one was tortured in Milgram's experiment either. The problem arrives when you realize that you have asked someone to "punish" another person and they do it strictly on your perceived authority.

Whether your "volunteer" has actually harmed someone or not, the psychological trauma is very real. That's the part where they describe the very real stress indicators. For those that don't know, the Nazi's kept free liquor flowing to the guards in the concentration camps. Why did they need liquor? Because of the emotional trauma associated with performing such vile acts on another human being.

It makes me wonder if the human subjects of this experiment truly trusted the statements of those in authority that they were NOT shocking real humans. Was something clicking in the backs of their heads warning them that they may be torturing real humans instead of electronic simulations?

Too bad Philip K. Dick is dead.

Re:There is a problem with ethics! (3, Interesting)

Panaflex (13191) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380980)

Happens in Real Life already.. no beer required, just a phone and a husky voice.

Fast food workers torture co-worker [go.com]

Not torture. Entertainment. (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17380126)

I can't think of how many games I have played JUST TO DESTROY THE CHARACTER.

Yes, killing badguys is fun but when it comes to physics and the good guy, it can be A LOT OF FUN to just inflict pain on the protaginist.

Re:Not torture. Entertainment. (4, Funny)

BigNumber (457893) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380148)

Seriously! Who hasn't played Edgar Allen Poe with their Sims character, walling them into a room to see how long it would take them to die. ...or was that just me?

Re:Not torture. Entertainment. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17380190)

I put him in a glass box in the front yard, myself.

Unfortunately, this had side effects. A character from another house in the game stopped by to visit, and even though nobody answered the door, he wouldn't leave. Upshot: the visitor died before the man in the box did, and that character disappeared from the other house. Wouldn't have been so bad, except that character was based on a real guy I knew. Oops.

Re:Not torture. Entertainment. (1)

funkatron (912521) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380192)

A lot subtler than me. I just set off fireworks inside and let them burn.

Re:Not torture. Entertainment. (2, Funny)

Satorian (902590) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380736)

A lot subtler than me. I didn't use Sims.

Re:Not torture. Entertainment. (1)

Lord Bitman (95493) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380242)

I don't play the sims precisely because of the limited and stupid choices you have of how to kill a character.
They could either make it impossible to kill a character ("this is stupid, no matter how much you screw up he doesn't die"), or just make it not fun to kill a character ( not fun)

Re:Not torture. Entertainment. (1)

6ame633k (921453) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380396)

I was talking to a friend on the Sims team about how I played SIMS2, and she said casually - "Oh, you're a builder then" I was intrigued so I asked "what "other" types of players are there?" She said, "Oh, all kinds, but we were really surprised to see how many deviant players there are - you know, the ones that try and find different ways to kill their character." I was a little taken back - in fact, when one of my pregnant Sims died unexpectedly I decided not to save my game, like it never happened.

Of course, if your playing the Sims and killing your characters perhaps your playing the wrong game - might I suggest GTA, Dead Rising or Manhunt?

Why it's fun (3, Insightful)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380512)

Of course, if your playing the Sims and killing your characters perhaps your playing the wrong game - might I suggest GTA, Dead Rising or Manhunt?
I think a large part of the fun of killing off Sims is the fact that it's not really what the game is for. It appeals to the rebellious types, the ones who always tried to shoot the dog instead of the ducks in "Duck Hunt," typed swear words into their old text adventures, or tried to drive the course backwards in "Pole Position" just to see what would happen.

In something like "GTA," killing the other characters is just another expected part of the game. In "Manhunt," it's damn near the whole point of the game. But it doesn't have the same appeal as when you think you just might be experimenting with aspects of a game that its mainstream players don't, or that the programmers might not have even been prepared for.

It's right up there with "Hot Coffee." The mod wasn't necessarily popular because the crude polygonal dry-humping was all that appealing in itself, but because it was a way to get soemthing out of your copy of "San Andreas" that the next guy wasn't, and see more of your game than the company expected.

If they released an official "47 new ways to kill your Sims Torture Pack," where it really was the focus of the game, it just might not be as appealing as it was.

Re:Not torture. Entertainment. (1)

Bluesman (104513) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380430)


Do you mean like this guy: Sim Survivor [buten.com]

Re:Not torture. Entertainment. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17380566)

I did that. It was out of curiosity, not sadism though.

And don't forget your fireplace... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17380924)

Those silly Sims just can't leave that fire alone. I actually felt guilty. :P

Re:Not torture. Entertainment. (1)

TodMinuit (1026042) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380528)

I setup a prison in The Sims once. I blocked everyones door with a desk. Gave them the cot, toilet, and a light. Had to manually move food to their desk. It was fun.

Did subjects know about the Milgram experiment? (4, Insightful)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380130)

I don't see anything in the study that says that they made any attempt to find out whether or not the subjects had ever heard about the original Milgram experiment.

The Milgram subjects almost certainly had no knowledge of whether the situation was real or what the purpose of the experiment was, and probably believed that they were "supposed" to follow orders.

Today's subjects may well have heard something. Even if they couldn't have named "Milgram" as the investigator, they may have had more than an inkling that the purpose of the experiment was to see whether they were virtual sadists, and may have suspected that, despite their instructions, the "approved" behavior was to not to follow orders.

Re:Did subjects know about the Milgram experiment? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17380154)

Where can one download this program?

Re:Did subjects know about the Milgram experiment? (2, Interesting)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380194)

In order for the study to have been tightly-controlled and more importantly, valid, they would have had to control for that. They may have asked if the participants knew who Milgram was, but they would probably have not asked to if they had heard of the experiment, as it would have introduced a slight bias. Mind you, Milgram's experiment was ground-breaking in that it showed that even ordinary people can perform actions contrary to societal norms, which was the thesis based on the "I was only following orders" cant of concentration camp operators during WWII. It is of course not an excuse, but merely an artifact of societal control -- which gets expressed most strongly in a totalitarian regime.

Re:Did subjects know about the Milgram experiment? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17380204)

Ha ha, you fail. The REAL objective of the study was to test literacy in slashdot posters.
FTFA...

"For those 12 in the VC who wanted to stop before the end, 5 claimed to be well-acquainted with the original Milgram study"

The secondary objective was to test for the proportion of slashdot readers that RTFA.

MOD PARENT UP (4, Insightful)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380448)

Also, "ouch" and "touché."

But it's not mentioned in the "methodology" section, and I think the paragraph you mention does cast some doubt on the validity of the results:

"For those 12 in the VC who wanted to stop before the end, 5 claimed to be well-acquainted with the original Milgram study, and therefore we cannot rule out the possibility that this influenced their behaviour. However, if we treat 'wanting to stop' as a binary response variable in order to test for differences between the proportions (using binary logistic regression) then the VC was significantly different from the HC (?2 = 6.691 on 1 d.f., P = 0.0097) whereas knowledge of Milgram did not have a significant impact (?2 = 1.525 on 1 d.f., P = 0.22) and there was no interaction effect between group and knowledge of Milgram."

In the first place, this seems a little bit like throwing in a statistical fudge factor, since it does not say in their methodology that they planned to ask about knowledge of Milgram after the experiment, and they seem to have applied this statistical test a posteriori, whereas statistical tests are only valid if the test to be performed is stated in advance.

In the second place, it's all very well to say that five of the subjects "claimed to be well-acquainted" with the Milgram experiment, but that does not take into account the number of subjects that, while not well-acquainted with it, might nevertheless have had some vague or even subconscious knowledge of it. The Milgram study has been around a long time and is practically in the folkways.

There are probably millions of people who would say they knew nothing about John B. Watson's experiments with rats, who nevertheless would be extremely familiar with the idea of running rats through a maze.

Re:Did subjects know about the Milgram experiment? (1)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380790)

"For those 12 in the VC who wanted to stop before the end, 5 claimed to be well-acquainted with the original Milgram study."

A lot of people "claim" a lot of knowledge they do not in fact have. I suspect if you'd mentioned the experimental design without mentioning the author, very few would have remembered Milgram's name; conversely, if you mentioned Milgram's name, I doubt many would know the great and gory details of the experiment.

If in fact these claims are true, that invalidates the results to some degree, evidenced by the rest of the sentence our anonymous friend didn't bother showing:

...and therefore we cannot rule out the possibility that this influenced their behaviour.

Re:Did subjects know about the Milgram experiment? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17380240)

people are generally stupid. generally speaking.

so no. most people didn't even know Ford was (an unelected) President.

Mod Parent Up (3, Insightful)

fyoder (857358) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380636)

I'd mod you up if I had points, as this is a very good question. How many people reading of the Milgram experiment have wondered how they would have performed? One hopes one would have been the exception, refusing to be a tool of authority used to harm others. Given the opportunity to participate in a recreation of the experiment, one knows how to perform in order to maintain one's self image as a decent human being.

Different subjects in the experiment... (2, Insightful)

Sciros (986030) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380144)

I wonder how different the study would be if the subject of the, um, shocks wasn't an average woman but some burly dude like the Gears of War soldiers or maybe Daniel Craig as Bond, or on the other end of the spectrum a child? Assuming the responses of the virtual subjects were exactly the same (or deemed close enough) regardless of appearance, how they were "treated" by folks taking the study would show a lot.

Also.. the woman in the experiment was really unrealistic-looking. I can imagine level or realism being a major factor in treatment as well.

Re:Different subjects in the experiment... (1)

Sqwubbsy (723014) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380274)

I wonder how different the study would be if the subject of the, um, shocks wasn't an average woman but some burly dude like the Gears of War soldiers or maybe Daniel Craig as Bond

Look, it's cool if you swing that way...really.

Re:Different subjects in the experiment... (1)

Sciros (986030) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380310)

Haha .. the reason I said the latter is because we've already seen him in a torture scene. I could've mentioned Cruise from MI:III because he gets shocked a lot in a torture scene there. Basically folks who people look at and think "oh he's hardcore" and aren't as responsive to that subject's pleas/responses as a result. Heh I hope that makes sense.

Re:Different subjects in the experiment... (1)

Sqwubbsy (723014) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380530)

It sounds like you've really studied these male torture scenes.
Hey, that's cool. Whatever. I'm not that curious, but I'm sure there are others who share your, uh, tastes.

*runs away*

Big Deal (2, Funny)

jpnews (647965) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380150)

This kind of thing takes place in another "immersive virtual environment [secondlife.com] " every day.

Re:Big Deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17380362)

> This kind of thing takes place in another "immersive virtual environment [secondlife.com]" every day.

And considering that this experiment was probably done in SL, and considering the sorta folks that inhabit SL, I wouldn't be surprised if half the participants in the experiment for whom "Measures of stress, such as heart rate and sweatiness of palms, increased" were merely on their way to putting on their robe and wizard hat.

Of course it's unethical (0, Redundant)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380160)

The original experiment was deemed unethical because of the result to the person doing the shocking. No one was actually harmed. The person in the other room was an actor. Substituting an actor for a computer problem doesn't change the fact that the subject _thinks_ he/she is shocking a real human being - and this is the unethical part. Telling the person beforehand that he/she is actually shocking a computer program BEFORE doing the experiment would render it fairly useless.

Re:Of course it's unethical (1)

LineNoiz (616971) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380266)

RTFA - they did know that the "victim" was just a computer simulation.

RTFA (4, Informative)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380302)

Yes, they were told beforehand that they were shocking a computer program. Even so, they felt increased stress levels.

Now, is it still unethical?

Re:RTFA (3, Insightful)

realisticradical (969181) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380904)

Yes.

In fact I'm not sure how this study ever received Institutional Review Board approval for human subjects research.

First I don't see what this study achieves. It recreates an immensely harmful and unethical study with some slight tweaks to make it less harmful. The Miligram study already exists, we don't need to re-try it to ensure that people will follow orders.

Second just because someone is consented to a study does not mean that it is acceptable to harm them. Just to discover how much harm a study does to the subjects does not justify doing that study.

Why is Milgram consider unethical? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17380754)

In my opinion, everyone should take part in an experiment like this to learn something about themselves and their capacity to be manipulated by authority.

It just might reduce the prevalance of sheeple when the real situation arrizes.

People are animals, and are only marginally and inconsistently "civilized" by society. But, as history (and current events) consistently shows, we can't always count on society to do that job. So perhaps educating individuals might help?

Of course, educating certain types of people about how easily the masses can be cowed by authority might be counter productive.

Some links:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_Prison_Exper iment [wikipedia.org]

Unethical? (1)

DebateG (1001165) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380166)

I can understand the issues with the Stanford Prison Experiment, but neither this experiment nor the original Milgram experiment harmed any of the subjects. Can someone please explain why these experiments are unethical? The subjects might feel guilty for "hurting" someone else, but that's about it.

Re:Unethical? (2, Insightful)

Daemonstar (84116) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380376)

Probably because of the stress put upon the participants. In the original experiment, the participants weren't "debriefed" after the experiment. "Forced" torture, actual or believed, can do things within a person who is incapable of handling, or doesn't know how to handle, stress or conflicts with their beliefs.

Ask any current or former soldier and see how they felt when they went to war the first time. Some handle it, some handle it well, some handle it very poorly, but it makes an indellible impression on all of them.

Re:Unethical? (3, Insightful)

kebes (861706) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380434)

The subjects might feel guilty for "hurting" someone else, but that's about it.
Well you seem to think that this is minor, but it really isn't. In the original experiment, people were tricked into believing that they had nearly killed a real human being. In real life, people who are responsible for the death of another person (or for inflicting great suffering) frequently experience a variety of negative emotional effects. The guilt can be quite powerful, and has led some people to depression or suicide.

Of course, in the original experiment the people were eventually told "it's okay, it was just a simulation"... but they may still have felt a deep guilt for a short time, and were probably very emotionall conflicted during the experiment. I've watched some of the footage of the experiment, and it is quite interesting and somewhat scary at times. Some subjects end up begging to the "research authority" to let the experiment end, because they are worried about killing the actor. The anguish and concern in the subjects is quite obvious. (It is also quite scary how many of them continued zapping the actor, even after all their protests, simply because someone in a lab coat kept repeating "please continue with the experiment protocol".)

Though the pain was simulated, the emotional repercussions to the subjects were real. Some may have felt a guilt that continued well after the experiment. ("I know it was just an experiment... but if it had have been real I would have acted the same way... does that make me a bad person?")

This new twist on the experiment (where the subject can very easily tell that the pain they are 'inflicting' is virtual) is interesting. One would naturally assume that the emotional repercussions would be non-existant in such a case, yet this research shows that people nevertheless feel some amount of stress.

Re:Unethical? (1)

mattwarden (699984) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380478)

Have you watched the tapes of the experiment? There is no question that it was harmful to the psyches of the participants.

Re:Unethical? (3, Insightful)

Valdrax (32670) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380710)

The subjects might feel guilty for "hurting" someone else, but that's about it.

Spoken like a man who is incapable of the empathy to understand how believing for a moment that you've killed a man through electroshock might make someone else feel. The Milgram experiment made many of the participants believe for a short time that they were guilty of murder due to peer pressure. That's not something that leaves you to be forgotten for the rest of your life.

Neither is having the self-delusion in one's inherent morality stripped away by being pressured into committing an atrocity merely by being told "the experiment must continue" by a man in a lab coat. Finding out that you're essentially a sheep who will harm others just to avoid the disapproval of an authority figure would be a scarring experience for those involved. The damage done to the subjects' worldviews is a large part of what makes it unethical.

Plus, even if the effects weren't long lasting, causing undue stress on a subject and heavy use of deception are generally considered unethical in psychology experiments. I mean, one of the subjects did get so stressed out that they had a seizure.

What if it isn't really VR? (5, Funny)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380170)

Test subject Andrew "Ender" Wiggin was reported to say, "It took a while to master this VR, but I'm getting better. The simulated victim spills the beans 70% of the time now, but I want to try for 75%."

People have more compassion.... (1)

Denis The SQL Menace (1001608) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380172)

People have more compassion for computer characters than for other people


Denis the SQL Menace
http://sqlservercode.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com]

Mmm, shock me again... (1)

TranscendentalAnarch (1005937) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380174)

Sounds like a regular virtual fetish session.

Of course it's ethical (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380184)

The original experiment showed that the vast majority of people will kill others if they are told to do so by someone in authority.
 

Re:Of course it's ethical (4, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380304)

The original experiment showed that the vast majority of people will kill others if they are told to do so by someone in authority.
Umm, no. Not at all. Milgram's experiment was designed to help determine why people would kill when told to do so by authority figures. It showed that some people would cause harm (not kill) another person when instructed to do so by an authority figure.

John Dean (former aide to Nixon) treats this, and more, in his book "Conservatives Without Conscience", where he helps explain the reasons so many people blindly follow authority (and why some people so like to be blindly followed). Milgram's work was seminal in the study of authoritarian followers, and you do it no justice by blatantly misrepresenting it.

At any ate, the point of this study is that some people do not emotionally differentiate between virtual actions and real actions.

Re:Of course it's ethical (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380548)

It showed that some people would cause harm (not kill) another person when instructed to do so by an authority figure.
Yeah sure, harm to the point of death. 450 volts is quite enough to kill.

 

Re:Of course it's ethical (1)

Satorian (902590) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380884)

450 volts is quite enough to kill.

That's like saying blue is quite enough to kill.

Re:Of course it's ethical (4, Interesting)

PingSpike (947548) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380582)

I agree.

This made me think of a personal antecdote. I don't know how many people played any games from the dungeon keeper series, but I used to play the first one a lot. One of the hallmarks of the game is that you're an evil character. However, as much as the ability to play a different persona appeals to me, every time I set out to play an evil character in any game I end up feeling remorse for killing innocents, even though they aren't real.

Anyway, in dungeon keeper (Real time strategy) you start out with a group of loyal imps. They are weak, small and do all of the mining and grunt work in your dungeon. They are unique in the game in that they can be created, and will always serve you no matter how poorly you treat them. The game allows you to slap creatures to make them work harder. There is little downside in doing this with imps since they won't flee the dungeon in anger and since they are poor fighters their health level isn't really important. Logically, all imps should be regularly slapped for maximum dungeon efficancy. And in fact, the computer controlled rival keepers do just that.

But I couldn't really do it as a matter of course. I actually felt bad, knowing full well that they weren't real. They made noises like they were in pain but of course thats just the computer. It was only when I was in a dire spot (doing a fast gem seam grab at the start of the map and then fortifying the walls to hold off an attack) that I would slap them, and even then I felt kind of bad.

So I can sort of understand how the results are similar to the original experiment. Its evoking an emotional response, and playing it again logic.

Re:Of course it's ethical (2, Informative)

venicebeach (702856) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380600)

It showed that some people would cause harm (not kill) another person when instructed to do so by an authority figure.
According to Blass (milgram biographer & social psychologist), "the percentage of participants who are prepared to inflict fatal voltages remains remarkably constant, between 61% and 66%, regardless of time or location".

Re:Of course it's ethical (1)

rodentia (102779) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380690)

Thanks, Red.

At any ate[sic], the point of this study is that some people do not emotionally differentiate between virtual actions and real actions.

Thus an experimental basis for the assertion that games can create the mental conditions necessary for a criminal act. Also:

Even though the subjects knew they were only 'shocking' a computer program, their bodies reacted with increased stress responses.

Which kind of belies the casual cant around these parts that games are benign entertainments. Is this a basis for banning violent video games? No. Does this suggest that some content is indeed inappropriate for minors, whose moral and emotional character are not yet fully formed or resilient to externalities? Probably.

Already, some (like William Dutton of the Oxford Internet Institute) are asking whether even this sanitized experiment is ethical.

No doubt for the same reason the original experiments were deemed unethical: their impact upon the well-being of the test subjects, not the subject of the *imaginary* torture. Yet such a refined ethics seems so much noise in the face of the conventional barbarities we daily endure or inflict.

Indeed, from Milgrom's paper:

Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process.

Which sounds a lot like my day job.

Re:Of course it's ethical (1)

venicebeach (702856) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380718)

One more comment.
At any ate, the point of this study is that some people do not emotionally differentiate between virtual actions and real actions.
I disagree that this is the point of this study.

We know that people do not differentiate between virtual actions and real actions. This is largely because the way we understand the actions of others is by simulating them ourselves, so whether we are simulating a real or virtual action we are experiencing the same thing. (See mirror neurons [wikipedia.org] for more about motor simulation).

This was used as a tool to retest the Miligram experiment. Culture has changed quite a bit since the original experiments. At the time a guy in a lab coat was next to god - you did not question your doctor. People did not have access to the internet full of information on which to self-diagnose etc. In the late 50s American culture was the height of conformity. The question this study really speaks to is, given how much we have changed culturally over the past 40 years, are we still just as obedient to authority?

Stress.. (1)

Achoi77 (669484) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380214)

People can get pretty stressed over video games, why should this be considered any different? They *knew* it was a computer in the back. Maybe it just shows that humans are capable of exhibiting empathy and are emotional? Maybe the opposite: perhaps it shows that some humans are a little more coldblooded than others and are capable of committing acts society considers not appropriate(regardless of the human/synthesized element? *insert something about Jack Thompson here*

How about horror themed video games? Or horror movies themselves? Would those be considered 'unethical' because it messes with your mind?

I'm just curious

Why unethical? (3, Insightful)

rewt66 (738525) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380218)

I consider myself as having more ethics than the average. I am a Christian (yeah, hold your slams, that's not the point). I try to live consistent with what Christianity teaches. More than once I have said what I felt needed to be said, even though there was some chance that it might cost me my job. Once I have done what I felt needed done, even though there was some chance that it might cost me my life.

I don't see what's morally or ethically wrong with the experiment, even with a real human subject. I mean, the "victim" isn't actually being shocked, whether the "victim" is human or virtual.

Is the fear that the experiment desensitizes the subject to situations where they are asked to obey a command that they should refuse? But the results indicate that the subject is likely to already be in that state. If properly debriefed at the end of the experiment, the subject is more likely to refuse such a command in the future, rather than less.

So can someone explain to me what's unethical about this?

Re:Why unethical? (5, Informative)

justinbach (1002761) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380444)

Speaking as a cognitive scientist, I can tell you that dealing with IRBs (internal review boards) for getting experimental approval gives you a different appreciation of the term "ethics" than might be understood by someone trying to live a morally sound lifestyle (for which, btw, I applaud you).

Essentially, in order for an IRB to approve a study to be performed using human subjects, one of two requirements must be met: either there is ABSOLUTELY NO RISK involved on the part of the subject (i.e. simple psychophysical tests of perception and so forth), or the risks must be outweighed by the potential gain in scientific knowledge that the experiment offers (i.e. clinical trials of drugs that, while risky, hold the promise of curing serious illnesses).

All studies require that subjects sign an IRB-approved consent form that enumerates the risks inherent in the experiment (or lack thereof), and IRBs require a submission of experimental intent and aim so that they may weigh the potential risks and benefits of the experiment. Some people would argue that *any* experiment is ethical as long as you can find subjects willing to be a part of them and sign a liability waiver, but the reality of the situation is that before any subject even has the option to sign their life away an IRB must first approve that such a situation would be ethically sound. Without IRB approval, you won't get published, and without being published, you won't get funding. That's the cycle.

Milgram's original experiments were deemed unethical because of the psychological trauma experienced by the subjects being ordered to up the voltage. They were put in the emotionally distressing situation of having to choose between following the experimenter's (i.e. authority figure's) orders and their own moral code, and this situation has since been deemed unacceptable. The reason for this is that the experiment's potential insights into the frailty of human morality in the face of authority simply weren't interesting or essential enough for the advancement of science to justify the risks of seriously traumatizing the subjects.

As far as I can tell, the reason this experiment is more experimentally justifiable is simply because the "victim" is explicitly virtual--a fact of which subjects are aware--so the situation, as it doesn't involve hurting actual people, isn't as emotionally traumatizing.

Re:Why unethical? (1)

mattwarden (699984) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380502)

Because the victims are the participants, not the "victim" in the other room. That's why it's unethical. Feeling forced to harm someone that horribly is extremely psychologically traumatic.

Re:Why unethical? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17380712)

As a Christian myself and don't see a problem with the experiment IF a few things are considered.

Consider the Enviornment: If I pour motor oil down my gutter which goes to a stream which kills fish and no one tells me, that's bad. I don't feel bad. Heck no. If I was paid to dump motor oil and didn't have this knowledge, I wouldn't feel bad.

Tell me the fish are dying and I'll stop. Pay me more? Sorry, no. It's wrong.

I have lost many "oppurtunities" because I have failed to break the rules. My "ethics" get in the way all the time.

Perhaps the Christian values can be expolored in light of the test. Will someone sacrifice themselves to save another? Seems that most of humans in the test were in fact UNETHICAL.

Re:Why unethical? (4, Insightful)

ebuck (585470) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380732)

It's not the damage to the "virtual" victim that's considered the side effect, the Milgram experiment never damaged the "victim" virtual or otherwise.

It's the damage to the administrator of the virtual torture that's considered unethical. As long as that person has any common sense, they'll eventually discover that they are torturing the subject, and if they persist, they will be led to beileve that they have killed the subject. This should bring the administrator in conflict with their sense of morals, and the experiment is designed to break the virtues of compassion and human decency in a high-pressure situation.

We have all felt the pains of high pressure sales tactics, imagine the mistakes you could make if you were initially told that the test was harmless, then put under high pressure to continue it, eventually leading to the death (real in your point-of-view) of the subject? That's the Milgram experiment in a nut shell, and it relies on abusing the trust the administrator has in the researcher. The researcher deliberately lies to the administrator to achieve the desired results.

The fact that you're later debriefed won't console you because the experimenter lied to you, so they could lie to you about "it's all fake, after all". It also prevents resolution of the pain, because complaining about the stresses incurred while virtually torturing someone will either ostracize you from peers or be dismissed as non-real stress. If you actually tortured someone you could atone (if you wish to) for your actions by helping those you hurt, seeking forgiveness within your faith, or by deeds. But nobody understands redressing virtual wrongs; there's no avenue for repentance.

As a good Christian (in the best meaning of the phrase) can you condone the treatment of the real subjects, the ones administring the virtual shocks?

There's also other scientific grounds for dismissal. If the researcher deliberately manipulates the administrator to achieve the desired results, then is it science? In other "hard" science fields, manipulation of the experiment with a desire to achieve certain results would be a serious infraction of the scientific process, but in the near-voodoo corners of Psychology, it's considered a technique.

The news is that they've reproduced it. This one isn't nearly as reproducable as it claims to be, and the effect doesn't support what every Psychology student is told; that "You would do the same thing in the same situation." which (fortunately) isn't true according to the less fantastic failures to reproduce the same outcome.

Re:Why unethical? (1)

rewt66 (738525) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380902)

OK, I see your point about who is being harmed. I think it's a valid point. At this time I don't know whether I agree with it or not, but it is, at a minimum, a real issue. And if the issue is people are harmed when they are pressured into doing things that are against their conscience, you've got a dilemma with the virtual victims. Since there's no real victim, the subjects are less going against their conscience. But that makes the experiment less able to test what it's trying to test, which is exactly whether an authority figure can pressure people into doing what is, under normal conditions, against their conscience. BTW, I disagree about the manipulativeness of the experiment being a problem. Yes, it's manipulative. The idea is to test how people respond when subjected to a particular set of conditions. To run the experiment, you have to make the conditions occur. That's not being manipulative, that's experimental design.

Re:Why unethical? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17380840)

In my opinion, everyone should take part in an experiment like this to learn something about themselves and their capacity to be manipulated by authority.

It just might reduce the prevalance of sheeple when the real situation arrizes.

People are animals, and are only marginally and inconsistently "civilized" by society. But, as history (and current events) consistently shows, we can't always count on society to do that job. So perhaps educating individuals might help?

Of course, educating certain types of people about how easily the masses can be cowed by authority might be counter productive.

Some links:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_Prison_Exper iment [wikipedia.org]

Re:Why unethical? (5, Insightful)

Valdrax (32670) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380864)

I consider myself as having more ethics than the average. I am a Christian (yeah, hold your slams, that's not the point). I try to live consistent with what Christianity teaches.

Funny. So were most of the original test subjects in Milgram's 1963 experiments. This stands an an irrelevant comment except to basically brag about how you feel morally superior to most people -- and then you have the sheer, unmitigated gall to ask that people "hold [their] slams." That's Pride. We are all sinners; remember that, and you'll do far better as a Christian than to parade around like a Pharisee waving your religiousity around like it's a badge, proclaming that you have "more ethics than average."

I don't see what's morally or ethically wrong with the experiment, even with a real human subject. I mean, the "victim" isn't actually being shocked, whether the "victim" is human or virtual.

The victims are the test subjects -- the people being pressured into harming other people in spite of their normal moral inclination to avoid such a thing. They are being put under stress and are being led to sincerely attempt to cause mortal harm to another to avoid the displeasure of an authority figure. They are caught between their conscience and the pressure to conform. In the end they are harmed in two ways: (a) they are put under immense stress, (b) they are led to commit a deeply wrong act that they would've never considered.

If tempting people to hurt others and causing distress and emotional turmoil (and in one subject seizures) aren't unethical in your worldview, then I think you need to hit the Good Book a little harder and work some more on those superior ethics of yours.

Virtual Rehashed Psychology... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380224)

I was going to make a joke about a virtual Pavlov's Dog [nobelprize.org] but someone already did that. Isn't anything sacred anymore?

Autonomic (1)

mattwarden (699984) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380278)

Hey, surprise! Autonomic responses can't be suppressed by conscious, upper cognitive reasoning. If it could, lie detectors wouldn't exist.

This is a great example of a researcher doing an experiment with zero scientific relevance solely for mainstream press coverage.

(Yes, lie detectors are BS, but the principle upon which they are based would be entirely useless, not just mostly useless.)

Re:Autonomic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17380612)

This is a great example of a researcher doing an experiment with zero scientific relevance solely for mainstream press coverage.

To me the "surprise" is that zapping a pixel causes an "autonomic response".

Training aid for torturers (0, Flamebait)

Animats (122034) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380290)

This sounds like a training aid for torturers. Attorney General Gonzales ("Mr. Torture Memo") would love this.

This is why I believed the reports about Gitmo. (2, Insightful)

Valdrax (32670) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380942)

This sounds like a training aid for torturers. Attorney General Gonzales ("Mr. Torture Memo") would love this.

What do you think all the pressure from above on "getting results" and all the memos supporting more "aggressive interrogation methods" served to accomplish?

Quite frankly, anyone who's seem the Milgram Obedience and the Standford Prison experiments shouldn't have been surprised in the slightest when rumors of torture coming out of Guantanimo started and when the reports about Abu Ghraib and Bagram started coming out. It's human nature. It's the natural, expected outcome of this kind of environment, and the unconscionable lack of oversight oriented towards preventing this sort of thing and, worse, the active encouragement of aggressive methods makes the administration directly culpable for torture of captives.

At worst, it's malice; at best, it's utter incompetence or callousness.

So did our Milgram-score improve?? (1)

gd23ka (324741) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380378)

After the heavy desensitation of the past forty years or so
since the first experiment, it would have been interesting to
see whether we did better on the test.

Score? (1)

Per Abrahamsen (1397) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380488)

Well, more people were able to "torture" something they knew was a computer character, than something they thought was a real person. Conclude what you want from this.

Computer / Photoshopped Pornography (3, Interesting)

purduephotog (218304) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380394)

Something I've yet to see discussed is how this will impact perception of 'photoshopped' pornography. Right now it is illegal to possess any form of 'child' pornography (rightfully so) - and there have been some defense attempts to show that the images aren't real- they're photoshopped. But if they affect the brain in the same manner... well, I'm certainly not qualified to judge the ramifications. Perhaps steeper sentences will come about- who knows... ?

And then there's the more obvious- kill or be killed- games that exist. Not to dip into the Matrix "Your mind makes it real" mentality that you see written into laws now adays targeting violent games but there may be some form of truth to that axiom. To some individuals that can not or will not socialize this may provide the tipping point that triggers their anti-social behaviour.

Interesting research. It'll be more interesting to see how the ethic committees respond.

Torturing to get electron charge? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17380398)

What the heck? I know the Millikan experiment was tough to set up, but torture?

Big difference (5, Insightful)

ErGalvao (843384) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380400)

There's a big difference: Since the participants were well aware that the subject was a computer character this experiment seems to be basically about psychological/physiological responses from the participants, while the original experiment was much more interesting as people really believed they were hurting human beings.

That's why the original experiment, IMHO, is so important: because it exposed the risks of "obedience-without-thinking".

But then again, I have little knowledge about the whole thing, so these are just my impressions.

Is This Similar (-1, Offtopic)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380410)

Is this similar to making someone continue to use Windows Vista?

Return to castle wolfenstein (1)

KruiserX (1008455) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380432)

It just reminds me of that guy in the beginning of the game when you just escape and I can't ignore my inner voice going "Pull the switch, Pull the switch". I can't see the day that I will feel remorse for torturing/killing a piece of data. It's fun and stress relieving.

Re:Return to castle wolfenstein (1)

MSTCrow5429 (642744) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380862)

Well, it was already dead, but yeah.

OT: Slashdotter Firefox add-on (0, Offtopic)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380460)

I know this is totally off topic, but is it just me or is the Slashdotter Firefox plug-in broken now? On a couple of different machines, when I go to open a thread using the Ajax controls I see a partial page of content (including the Slashdot header bar) for a brief instant, then the whole browser window goes white. The only way to read comments is to disable the extension. Is anyone else seeing this? Or is it possible I have a conflict with some other add-on?

Re:OT: Slashdotter Firefox add-on (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17380592)

No idea - hope that helps

Re:OT: Slashdotter Firefox add-on (2, Informative)

vidarh (309115) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380686)

Definitively not just you... I didn't even remember I had the extension installed. Checked just now after seeing your message, and finally the Ajax stuff works again, so thanks :)

Exposure to Video Games Important? (5, Interesting)

DeeSnider (899643) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380508)

And instead of becoming accustomed to the virtual person and ceasing to empathise, many volunteers became more anxious as the study continued. Measures of stress, such as heart rate and sweatiness of palms, increased. These measures are nearly impossible to fake, and confirmed for Slater that the volunteers were actually feeling uncomfortable, rather than performing as they thought the experimenter would expect.

I've got to wonder what the participants' exposure to video games or other "virtual environments" would have on their responses. To a gamer, I'm not sure rapid heart rate, and sweaty palms indicate increased anxiety. They might have just been "getting into the game."

I remember when Half-Life first came out my friend and I spent a lot of time running around beating the innocent bystanders with our crowbars and watching them beg for forgiveness. We weren't doing it because we were sadists, just curious gamers. We'd never seen NPC's react in such a realistic way before, and thought it was "cool". My girlfriend came into the room while we were doing this and was horrified, got really upset and asked us to stop. Not being as avid a gamer, I don't think she was used to dissociating her emotions from video game characters.

I don't think video game violence numbs players to real world violence, but it sure numbs them to video game violence. Seems to me like prior experience would play a major role in your reaction to this experiment.

Re:Exposure to Video Games Important? (3, Insightful)

Vo0k (760020) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380578)

I must say the moment I launched my first nuke at a city in Defcon, I felt really bad about it, and seeing "MOSCOW HIT 3.2 MILLIONS DEAD" really got me thinking. But now I launch dozens of nukes at capitol city of my country without remorse.

Re:Exposure to Video Games Important? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17380796)

> I must say the moment I launched my first nuke at a city in Defcon, I felt really bad about it, and seeing "MOSCOW HIT 3.2 MILLIONS DEAD" really got me thinking. But now I launch dozens of nukes at capitol city of my country without remorse.

Well, if you didn't catch it yesterday, here's a DEFCON mod [slashdot.org] that'll make up for it. (Then again, I felt horrible when I saw 3.2 million happy kids in Moscow, knowing that 6.4 million parents were going to have to buy batteries and put up with "some assembly required", but I got over it too. Ho Ho Ho!)

Why is this ethical? (2, Interesting)

BlueWaldo (651162) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380554)

If the Milgram experiment was unethical how is this one different? They replaced the person who was being fake tortured. The ill effects could still be caused to the person who finds out they are willing to harm someone. The person being replaced was in on it in the first place. Am I missing something? If I'm not I struggle to see how Milgram was unethical.

Re:Why is this ethical? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17380874)

Milgram was deemed unethical because the shockers thought they really were hurting a person, and therefore felt various levels of guilt and stress.

Despite the fact that all of the participants of this experiment knew that they were not hurting anyone, they still felt various levels of stress when given an audio/visual representation of their actions (compared to relatively minor reactions when interacting through a text messaging client), even though the display was of a very low quality. It would be difficult to predict that people would react to pretending to hurt fake people, and so there really was no way to determine the "ethicalness" of the experiment until the results were in.

Personally, I think that the objections to either experiment are bogus, held by people who simply refuse to admit or allow others to admit that good, honest people can be ordered to do abhorrent things, whether it's facing the fact that the people who tortured and gassed Jews were just like everyone else, or that they might be on par with the people hired to break strikes by slaughtering women and children [umwa.org] . God forbid the people in charge might actually have to face accountability for the results of their orders. Will no one rid me of this meddling priest?

Job offer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17380572)

Do those who tortured the character without remorse get offered a job in Gitmo?

Re:Job offer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17380606)

No, but I understand Islamofascists are always looking for new recruits.

Doesn't everyone play this game? (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380588)

Doesn't everyone at least try to play this game in all of the Adventure games they get?

Let's see what happens when we push that stupid git Legolas into the path of the marauding monster?

Uncanny valley (1)

Nutty_Irishman (729030) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380666)

I didn't read the discussion of the paper, but I'm curious if any of this can be attributed to the Uncanny Valley [wikipedia.org] theory.

Maybe... (1)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380674)

Since this experiment was performed in the US, maybe the participants were just afraid that if they went too far, they'd be flagged by Homeland Security as possible terrorists. Or, maybe they were afraid that the testers (or other people reviewing the results) would think lowly of them. That would help explain the stress/nervousness.

Err... (1)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380708)

Ok, so not in the US, but it made a good joke.

Too much time in virtual reality could be harmful (3, Interesting)

banerjek (1040522) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380786)

When people respond to a computer character the same way they would a person or a living thing, it's a sign that people relate a bit too closely to the virtual world.

I hear people talking about TV and movie characters (i.e. actors pretending to be people who don't exist in the first place) as if they are real. People pay real money for virtual goods. However, I've also heard soldiers (particular pilots) compare real combat to video games. It seems like the line between virtual reality and actual reality is pretty dim for some.

But given the amount of time people spend on TV, in front of computers, or playing video games, this is hardly surprising.

PETA (5, Funny)

kybred (795293) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380798)

People for the Ethical Treatment of Avatars.

They didn't mention the other participants (5, Funny)

edwardpickman (965122) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380820)

When they gave the test to Donald Rumesfeld it took three techs to pry the button out of his hand. They said it was the giggling that was really creepy.

Missing the point.... (1)

Ritchie70 (860516) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380888)

As I understood the article, the point wasn't to see if people will "torture" a virtual character. Based on the Milgram experiments, it's a pretty safe bet that if people will torture and/or kill a real human they'll do it to a virtual character.

The point was to see whether people reacted to torturing a virtual character in a similar enough fashion to how they would react to torturing a human that doing Milgram-like experiments with a virtual "learner" would be valid.

I assume the "unethical" part comes in with respect to ordering people to "torture" and/or "kill" a character as part of academic research (as opposed to as part of playing any of a dozen FPS games.)

I don't really see any ethics problem here myself, but I guess I understand the point of view of people who do, and assume those people don't play violent video games or allow their children to do so (in the unlikely event that they are ethically consistent.)

Ethics of this vs. Milgram (1)

lucyfersam (68224) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380890)

The key difference from the Milgram Experiments that makes this an acceptable experiment is that the subjects know the torture is fake. In the Milgram experiments the setup was that subjects were randomly chosen to be Teacher (adminstering shock) or Learner (recieving shock). In reality the random choice was fixed and the Learner was a paid actor, but the subject (the Teacher) did not know that until after the experiment. A large number of subjects from the Milgram Experiments ended up seriously psychologicly damaged because they found our they could kill if told to by an authority figure. In this experiment, the subjects know the Learner is a virtual character and they are not potentially killing a human being. If you don't read the actual study, it would be easy to compare it to the Milgram Experiments, but the setup is really quite different.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

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

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...