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Open Source Social Networks The Internet

How An Open Source Plugin Tamed a Chaotic Comments Section With A Simple Quiz (arstechnica.com) 154

Long-time Slashdot reader jebrick quotes an article from Ars Technica about how Norway's government-owned public broadcasting company "employs open source tactics to fight trolling": The five-person team behind a simple WordPress plugin, which took three hours to code, never expected to receive worldwide attention as a result. But NRKbeta, the tech-testing group at Norway's largest national media organization, tapped into a meaty vein with the unveiling of last February's Know2Comment, an open source plugin that can attach to any WordPress site's comment section. "It was a basic idea," NRKbeta developer Stale Grut told a South By Southwest crowd on Tuesday. "Readers had to prove they read a story before they were able to comment on it"... He and fellow staffers spent three hours building the plugin, which Grut reminded the crowd is wholly open source... "[W]e realized not every article is in need of this. We are a tech site; we don't have a lot of controversy, so there's not a big need for it. We use it now on stories where we anticipate there'll be uninformed debate to add this speed bump."
What do you think? And would a quiz-for-commenting-privileges be a good addition to Slashdot?
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How An Open Source Plugin Tamed a Chaotic Comments Section With A Simple Quiz

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  • My God (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Saturday March 17, 2018 @05:36PM (#56276769)

    Readers had to prove they read a story before they were able to comment on it

    This would end Slashdot as we know it!!

    But in a good way.

    As an additional suggestion, people would only be able to post as AC if they got every question wrong... AKA "Hot Take" mode.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      A Slashdot quiz would, however, have a cheat mode where if you answer "CowboyNeal" to every question you can still post regardless of whether you read the story...

    • And reduce bots (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Okian Warrior ( 537106 ) on Saturday March 17, 2018 @07:40PM (#56277279) Homepage Journal

      Readers had to prove they read a story before they were able to comment on it

      This would end Slashdot as we know it!!

      But in a good way.

      As an additional suggestion, people would only be able to post as AC if they got every question wrong... AKA "Hot Take" mode.

      This would also get rid of a lot of automatic posts (bots), comment spam such as the "gay naggers" thing, and automatic gainsaying.

      It would also slow down the insulters and auto-dissers by making them take a few moments to read the story. As a bonus, those people would become more informed over time.

      I don't know if slashdot is interested in improving the site (whipslash has said that they maintain this site for other goals than popularity), and there may be other considerations such as "no money available", but it would sure make for a nice experiment.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        As a bonus, those people would become more informed over time.

        That assumes that the articles contain something that is informative.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The bots will soon be updated to be able to "prove" that they have read the posts. This impediment will not stand in their way for long.

        • It would be easier to have the bots/script parse the article for the answers than actually reading and remembering the content.

          • It would be easier to have the bots/script parse the article for the answers than actually reading and remembering the content.

            I'm pretty sure that's all I do, and I'm pretty sure I'm not a bot.

            You read the article and with every sentence you wonder if this is going to be on the test.

        • It's what kicked off Skynet.
      • There are lots of technical corrections that need to stay regardless of whether someone read tfa. Everyone knows blah blah well actually that knowledge is outdated and has been superseded blah.

        If the poster is outdated because of tfa the post is even better. It exemplifies a pedantic rather than someone in the field. Like when someone corrects usage but doesn't differentiate between knave girls and gay girls like an English speaker must.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        It should apply to moderation too. Moderating without having read the article is just as big a problem as commenting.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        As a bonus, those people would become more informed over time.

        Just because people read something doesn't make it true, nor does it mean people will find it credible. I can read CNN all day long and just by the mere fact that it's on CNN I will be inclined to believe it's not true or exaggerated until I can confirm with other sources. Others will see it on CNN and believe CNN to be reputable and accept what they're reading. Just because you force people to read articles doesn't mean your forcing them to accept that the article is accurate or credible, and forcing peopl

    • by lgw ( 121541 )

      This would end Slashdot as we know it!!

      But in a good way.

      A good way? [Insert plentiful abuse about you're ancestry and personal habits here.]

      Slashdot would become deadly boring if people actually had on-topic discussions about TFA. How tedious. Admittedly, I miss the days when a discussion about religion would end in a flamewar about text editors, but that wasn't exactly sticking to the topic either. What fun would Slashdot be if there were no risk in discussing the merits of ad blockers vs hosts files?

  • Fair's Fair (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fibonacci8 ( 260615 ) on Saturday March 17, 2018 @05:39PM (#56276791)
    Will editor's have to demonstrate they've read the story as well? Little things like copy and pasted characters unsupported by the site suggest they hadn't.
    • by DRJlaw ( 946416 ) on Saturday March 17, 2018 @06:00PM (#56276901)

      Will editor's have to demonstrate they've read the story as well? Little things like copy and pasted characters unsupported by the site suggest they hadn't.

      The irony is palpable.

      • by fibonacci8 ( 260615 ) on Saturday March 17, 2018 @06:29PM (#56277017)

        Will editor's have to demonstrate they've read the story as well? Little things like copy and pasted characters unsupported by the site suggest they hadn't.

        The irony is palpable.

        Irony would have been if I'd type editorâ(TM)s. (I didn't)
        Irony could also have been if I were an editor and made the mistake. (I'm not)
        Irony may be that I've demonstrated that having read the story doesn't improve the quality of responses. (It really doesn't, it just delays poor quality responses like these)
        However this was merely coincidence. This suggests to me that neither of us should be an editor.

        • However this was merely coincidence.

          Or a quality troll.

          Nothing gets the pedants wound up quite like a obvious grammatical mistake.

        • by DRJlaw ( 946416 )

          Little things like copy and pasted characters unsupported by the site suggest they hadn't.

          Irony would have been if I'd type editorÃ(TM)s. (I didn't)

          So adding an incorrect apostrophe is not a little thing? Because ordinarily "like [example]" does not mean that the preceding object (category) is limited to that specific example.

          Irony could also have been if I were an editor and made the mistake. (I'm not)

          So you're too lazy to self-edit your own writing? I see.

          Irony may be that I've demonstrated that ha

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      But the press release offered by the CIA, State Department is always ready to copy and paste for any media.
    • by arth1 ( 260657 )

      The only real editing problem I saw with this article was the mistranslation of Ståle as Stale. Å is a letter, and not an accent or umlaut, and the correct way of translating å to a character set that lacks it is "aa". I.e. his name transliterated to English should be Staale.

    • Å/å hås been å possible chåråcter on /.. It's in the ISO-8859-1 chåråcter set åfter åll.

      Åt leåst in comments.

    • Will editor's have to demonstrate they've read the story as well? Little things like copy and pasted characters unsupported by the site suggest they hadn't.

      For the record, some of this stuff is not visible in the backend and only becomes obvious once a story is live. Doesn't excuse issues left standing, of course. We are inching closer to end-to-end UTF8 support which will solve much of this, but it'll be a while still as we tackle other issues.

  • Russians (Score:5, Funny)

    by tomhath ( 637240 ) on Saturday March 17, 2018 @05:41PM (#56276799)
    I don't know what this article is about, but I'm sure the Russians are involved somehow.
    • I don't know what this article is about, but I'm sure the Russians are involved somehow.

      You are wrong. Also you didn't read the article about reading the article. So maybe ironically wrong, though I am betting you are just alt-right wrong.

    • by Maritz ( 1829006 )
      Russia sure has found itself many defenders lately. I'm sure your trust in them is well placed; they only want what's best for you.
  • by Terje Mathisen ( 128806 ) on Saturday March 17, 2018 @05:45PM (#56276819)

    Disclaimer: I am Norwegian, so when I grew up NRK was the one and only TV channel available.

    Even so, I do believe it is one of the best public broadcasters in the world: Less resources than BBC but able to do a lot of very good stuff.

    http://nrk.no/ [nrk.no] is one of the news sites I visit every day, and I use their program streaming solution to view the few programs I still care about.

    NRK came up with "Slow TV", watching a train ride that takes 12 hours is almost hypnotic, and the full Hurtigruten coastal express trip is amazing.

    Terje

  • Worth a shot (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ami Ganguli ( 921 ) on Saturday March 17, 2018 @05:54PM (#56276869) Homepage

    I don't know if it would work, but I would try it for random articles and see.

    In the good old days there were fewer trolls, and for a long time the moderation system worked well enough to keep them under control. This might be enough to thin the troll ranks, and tip the balance back towards informed discussion.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I was gonna call you out on the good old days thing, since most people who use that weren't actually there, but then I saw your UID. Holy crap, how many decades have you had that account?

      • I guess it's about 2 decades, now. As far as I remember, there weren't any accounts at all when I started reading.
      • then I saw your UID. Holy crap, how many decades have you had that account?

        Almost exactly the same number of decades that I've had mine. I signed up within a couple of days of hearing about the site, from the only person I knew who wasn't on dial-up for their internet access, and (not by coincidence) the only person I knew who had a monthly internet bill greater than my monthly income.

        I think Slashdot was up in the tens of thousands of accounts within a couple of months (~0.01 decades) of opening up. When

    • Back in my day (and yours too judging by your #) Greased up Yoda Dolls and Natalie Portman's Hot Grits would rule the top 1/3 of any discussion. These days even on topic trolls get modded into oblivion.
  • Charge for Comments (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Dallas May ( 4891515 ) on Saturday March 17, 2018 @05:57PM (#56276887)
    The system I like the best (that I'm not sure I've ever seen actually deployed anywhere) is the concept of charging $0.25 per comment. If the trolls are the ones ruining the industry, let them subsidize it.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Thank you Soros, for taking the time for your well-thought-out and insightful post
      *pockets the roll of quarters
    • How about positively reinforcing insightful/interesting/informative/funny comments?

      • I think this solution is effective for a specific category of abuse, but I can easily think of ways to game it. The only barrier is motivation, which basically translates into the question "How much of a nuisance is it?" If the use of this approach becomes widespread, then they will game it by any of the methods I've already thought of (and I'm confident they'll think of others, too).

        I think the better solution is to use EPR (Earned Public Reputation). To put it in the terms you [mykepredko] have presented,

        • Aren't you talking about /. Karma?

          In any case, my comment was reacting to the idea of charging people for commenting - make it worth their while to put in an intelligent comment.

          • by shanen ( 462549 )

            Slashdot karma has influenced my thinking about EPR, but mostly as an example of how not to do it. I wrote a longer comment earlier when I had a bit of time...

        • I think the better solution is to use EPR (Earned Public Reputation). To put it in the terms you [mykepredko] have presented, you would be paid with an increase in your reputation for the comments you made that earned positive evaluations, and your reputation would be penalized when you did things like propagate fake news or told lies.

          But that's exactly what Karma score is now. You gain reputation, and along with that gain your posts eventually get a higher starting score because of your rep... on a contin

          • by shanen ( 462549 )

            I think karma is only a baby step in the right direction. Collapsing reputation to a single value is effectively worthless. It needs to be fixed on such a massive basis that it may as well start from scratch, which is why I favor EPR (Earned Public Reputation) over a more incremental label such as "enhanced karma".

            Again, only time for the elevator pitch, but let me just say: The dimensions need to be more carefully considered for orthogonality and symmetry. Each dimension should represent distinct and impor

            • That sounds like a good idea in theory but it sounds like so many levers to pull, that I'm not sure moderation would happen effectively. I honestly think Slashdot's system is about the best possible compromise for a general forum system...

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It should be 2c, not 25c.

      Thats my 2c worth.

      • by Quirkz ( 1206400 )

        "That's my two bits" is a common expression. A bit (in coin parlance) is half a quarter. Two bits is exactly $.25.

    • You got it. This needs a cryptocurrency to get everyone to pay for it. You could earn some by moderating and getting upvotes for the best comments. Trade it with the others. The blockchain will also make all comments immutable and proven. How could all this buzz not sell.

      The G20 summit with all the crypto regulations is almost on us, after that I am sure we could make a sexy ICO for 100 million USD funding. Blockchains, crypto, internetz, social medias, what else do you need? an exit (scam) plan of course.

    • by inking ( 2869053 )
      This would very much disincentivize legitimate comments and make the comments section a good advertising space.
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Saturday March 17, 2018 @06:28PM (#56277013) Journal
    Pretty soon plugins will appear that will scan the article, answer the quiz and open the comments link for you convenience to troll.

    Hey, I have an idea. We should create a site trollcentral.com that will allow users to troll multiple comments pages at the same time. The site will provide a list of thousands of links from hundreds of websites, and your one troll comment will be simultaneously posted into all of them!

  • by rastos1 ( 601318 ) on Saturday March 17, 2018 @06:33PM (#56277035)
    These days the journalists do not fully research the topic. It's not what pays the bills and it's not their mission. At best, they just put together a few sentences and rush it to the front page. So I do not expect the article to be accurate and informative and I rather prefer to head directly to the comments section. People, who comment there, are quick to point out flaws in the article, add more accurate information, links, references and personal hands on experience. If the site, that you follow, does not have that kind of comments, it's not worth following.
    • I'm sure if you go back to the 1960s, 1940s, 1920s, etc. you would see the same complaint; "These days the journalist do not fully research the topic."

      I don't think this is a new issue.

    • So I do not expect the article to be accurate and informative and I rather prefer to head directly to the comments section. People, who comment there, are quick to point out flaws in the article,

      So you're saying that people who don't read articles are the best to point out flaws in the articles they haven't read?

  • by mentil ( 1748130 ) on Saturday March 17, 2018 @06:41PM (#56277061)

    How about commenters that pass the quiz get an automatic +1 mod? That could work. Not positive it'd be a good idea, though.

    • No, I like it. +1 for actually RTA.

      • Better still would be allowing comments regardless of getting the quiz right, but starting them with an initial mod of +/- 1 based on whether they got the question correct. Or have a user setting where we could set that value as we choose. It fits more in with the /. tradition of allowing open discourse, while providing tools to cultivate the comments into something vaguely functional.

    • You'd have to add +5 at least, +1 wouldn't be enough incentive for slashdot readers!

  • I'm assuming the poster would be in charge of the questions? That seems like something not everyone would buy into/have time for. Though if trolling is a problem it's a good investment. Reddit could use something like that but it'd be difficult given their post types (how can you make a legit question about an animated gif of a girl falling off a roof?)

  • If you don't get any comments, you can't have troll comments. Brilliant.

  • Vade retro, Satana!

  • That would mean that those of us who leave a site when it pops up the "We see you are using an ad blocker to remove 90% of our content" beg screen would never be able to comment.

    There are a lot of other sources for information on subjects that aren't full of click bait, but wouldn't supply the answer to the "quiz".

  • It's not a terrible idea, it depends on the questions. (And there had better be a bit of randomness in their presentation.)

    Of course, in a few years you might get more bots commenting that humans, but at least they'll have read the summary.

  • The one drawback I can see happens when the quiz covers things presented not in Slashdot's summary but in a paywalled featured article. Not everyone wants to have to spend a nontrivial amount of money for a subscription to NYTimes, LATimes, Washington Post, Wired, or WSJ just to be able to comment on things that appear in the summary or one of the alternate sources.

  • OK so slashdot isn't perfect. But it does have a great moderation system. Why else do we all skip the article and go straight to the comments? All the crap gets downmodded very quickly, so the rest of us can quickly skip to the insightful...or funny...comments.

  • > ... would a quiz-for-commenting-privileges be a good addition to Slashdot?

    YES.

    I also Moderate SlashDot, and I seriously thin that a quiz would be a good way to weed out the "dottard", "dullard" and "dolt" comments.

    It need not weed out autonomous commenting. Sometimes, we need the blow-ins, sleepers, surprisers, and leakers.

    ;-)

  • ... blockchain.

    I mean, I like the idea a lot.

    A lot of commenters don't read TFS or TFA, so I'm all for this new captcha idea, but goddam it, let's exploit the fucking blockchain buzz word so I can tell the people over at Soylent (when they show up) to fuck off because we are too mature for thay asses.

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