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Slashdot Forum Updates 202

I've made several major and minor changes again over the last few days. Mainly again regarding moderation, but also you ought to see a few minor UI improvements on the homepage and the comments as well. I like 'em. Hope you do to. Click the link to read some comments on updates to the moderation system (especially important for moderators- you guys have lost some power, so read why :) and more importantly, read my suggested requirements to be eligible for 'Jury Duty'.
The most significant change involves moderators posting comments and moderating within the same discussion. This is no longer possible. If you post a comment in a forum, you can no longer moderate. More so, if you moderate, and then post a comment, all of your moderation will be undone.

Why? Right now 400 people moderate. But when 4000 people moderate, I think it becomes much more important to make people chose: do they want to participate as a moderator, or as a speaker. I don't think its fair to let people do both.

I'm getting closer to implementing the mass moderation system folks, and I figure now is as good of a time as any to address the biggest issue: Who will moderate. Please don't worry about what moderators will do for the moment, lets just talk about who ought to be allowed to contribute as a moderator. We can talk about what moderators will be able to do another day- each of these topics are tricky and confusing unto themselves so lets try to keep them seperate and solve them one at a time.

Here is my proposal for defining an "Eligible Moderator". Note that not anyone who is eligible will be a moderator. It'll be like Jury Duty- this is the group that will be eligible for Jury Duty. And like Jury Duty, nobody will be on Jury Duty 24/7, 365 Days a year, you might only be allowed to moderate a few comments a week. Maybe less. I don't know yet what size "Jury" we need. We'll play with that. But who is eligible? Here is my list:

  1. You must have a user account. Sorry. I need some way to tell everyone apart. This is required.
  2. You can't be a newbie. I plan to enforce that by only making the first 2/3rds of User Accounts eligible. So if your user ID is greater than about 21,000 right now, you'll be ineligible. Don't worry, we get lots of new accounts, so this body will grow.
  3. There will be an option in the user accounts to simply say "I don't want to moderate". By default, everyone will want to be moderators, but you can turn this off.
  4. You must have a positive alignment. Your alignment is the sum of all moderation done to all of your comments. The last batch of moderators were selected from those with positive alignment. I'm changing that to 'non-negative' to widen the scope. Note that the default score of a comment (right now that is usually 1) has no effect on alignment.
  5. You must be a relatively active Slashdot Reader. I've got a script that figures out how many time each reader hit Slashdot in the last 48 hours. I'll count the number of articles & comments each user read. I'll throw out any account that was inactive, and the Eligible Pool will be something like the middle 33% of all readers. This will throw out anyone who only loaded a few pages yesterday (this guy isn't interested in moderating anyway) and it will throw out the psycho overactive guys who load Slashdot 1000 times a day (there are a few guys, but mainly this will prevent someone from simply pressing reload a few hundred times to get moderator access). Frankly the narrower that slice is, the less likely automated attempts to gain moderator access will succeed. Plus we can randomize it a bit. Select 1000 random users from the middle third? This will require some tweaking when it goes into place.

I think these requirements will let us a get a cross section of lurkers and posters. Most important, it should prevent evil tricks being used to gain undeserved access. And finally, it requires you to be an active reader and not a newbie.

And as always, anyone who doesn't like it, can simply disable all moderation and enjoy Slashdot in all its uncut splendor. I've even added Links on the homepage to accelerate that process for those who want it.

I'm looking for feedback, but it would really help if we stay on topic here: Just help with ideas about who. Don't worry about what moderators do, or how much they can do: Each of those topics are seperate issues. I've put a lot of time and thought into them too, and I'll hopefully address them in the next few days seperately so we can give them the full attention they deserve.

Bring on the feedback.

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    I do not have an account and will likely never create one. I think I have posted twice, several Anonymous Cowards deep in a thread. Reading /. regularly keeps me sounding wise when I am talking to the suits.

    I have a feeling this is going to be huge and this moderation method will be copied many times. What a great system.

    It increases my guilt though. In addition to using Open Source without contributing, I now get the benefits of the new slashdot without participating in the moderation process. Perhaps you should start selling hair shirts?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Like many others, I feel that it is counterproductive to forbid moderators from participating in discussions under which they have moderated. (stopping to take a breath....) A per thread restriction would make much more sense.

    If I were a moderator, I would only be moderating under discussions which I found interesting. The obvious reason is that if a discussion was boring to me I wouldn't be reading it. So the choice would be narrowed to moderating under discussions I find interesting or posting comments under discussions I find interesting. All things being equal, I'd choose to post comments.

    That's all fine and well, except that if most other moderators feel the same way then the model breaks down. I have moderated under discussions in which I have participated, I have moderated under discussions in which I have not participated, and I have skipped moderating under discussions in which I have participated. (stopping for another breath....)

    The point is, I find participating and moderating to be mutually exclusive. It appears that this move is guaranteeing us that we will always lose either good comments or good moderation.

    Take it for what it is worth.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    There are a couple things I don't like about this new system.

    1) I only read stories I am interested in. If I am interested in them, I will post. If I post, I can't moderate. Odds are, if I post, and later learn something in another post that proves me wrong, or has the oppisite point of view written well, and is relevent, I would WANT to give it a +1, but no longer can. I think moderating posts in that story is a GOOD thing. I can deal with not moderating things in the same thread, but force me to choose to read or post to the whole story feels like I have to have one hand broken if I like the story too much. Makes me wanna screem if I post something, then 10 minutes later I see someone posts something good (who agrees OR disagrees with me) and they are buried at the bottom of the story with 20 "This site is already 'slashdotted'" or "Wow, Cool-First Post" crap above it.

    2) what's with the middle 2/3 junk? If the moderator guidlines make sure the moderator isn't abusing thier privilage, what's wrong if they only load slashdot once every other day and read just what they like, OR, read through every single story 10 times a day?

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Keep It Simple, Stupid.

    Slashdot is getting to the point of confusion. I read the comments and see them everywhere. Its not clear which are replies and which are "new" posts. For new people coming to Slashdot this could cause even greater confusion. I've been reading for about 1 1/2 years now and I'm used to how comments work and have kept up-to-date on Slashdot features. But login accounts, moderation, thresholds are getting to be almost web site "bloat". There is a thing in the coding world known as "feature bloat". I'd rather not see that happen here.

    Rob, I know you are trying to make Slashdot a better site, but I believe more features can only do harm at this point. I suggest higher quality news and less reposted news. After all, Slashdot is a news site.. its focus should be on news.
  • I'd just like to voice my enjoyment of the recent moderation practices. I've found that I typically agree with the moderators as to what is a good read and what isn't. Perhaps I don't read as many comments as I once did, but I do have time to read more articles and some of the best comments on thoes articels. I'm happier and am looking forward to this next round of changes.
  • My user ID is 72. Does that mean I can call
    myself a hardcore, long-time Slashdot reader?
    I actually didn't start reading Slashdot until
    it started to get popular, but happened to be
    pretty bored at work when Rob implemented user
    accounts so I got one of the first. But it
    feels good to know that in 50 years, after we've
    achieved World Domination(tm), I'll be able to
    tell my grandchildren "I had user ID #72!" :)
  • One thing that doesn't seem to have been addressed is whether people's threshholds will be taken into account. Presumably, for someone to be an effective moderator, they need to be open to all of the posts (not just those with positive values, etc); otherwise, you have people moderating only those items which have already been moderated. Perhaps a person's default threshhold should be taken into account in the selection process. If a person does use a higher threshhold, this should not necessarily eliminate them, but if they are selected as a potential moderator, then they have lower their threshhold.
  • I have mixed feelings about this- it does seem silly to not be able to moderate a topic that one is interested in. But at the same time this would keep someone from pushing his own agenda in both posts and in moderation. If you are a poster, post! If you are a moderator, moderate!

    Assumedly, thiough, one could post as an AC and still moderate the thread. If this expanded moderation system hits prime time I think that AC's will be more usefull and important not less. That is to say, if you have something slightly caustic or unpopular to say you can say it as an AC and not worry about having your good name "tarnished" (your account downgraded) by an abusive moderator, and thus not be worthy of moderation.

  • I wonder if it wouldn't be better to establish a smaller group (500-1000) of moderators who knew that abuses would be more noticeable and that they were accountable for the way they used the privilege, rather than a larger group who felt less restricted or weren't as clear on what should and shouldn't be moderated up or down?

    It seems to me that the latter would invite "piling on" in some cases, while the former would encourage more judicious moderation.

    Maybe judgments of appropriateness should be separated from ratings based on popularity. For example, allow all users to score posts they like but allow only moderators to down posts that are "bad."

  • Is that (350) I see on my my UID? How nice if it is :) Okay, so I fit that criterion. Now, what I wonder is:
    Rob says that they'll pick from a middle group of slashdot readers, trying to filter out psychoes. Do I count as a psycho because I read half or so of the stories but slashdot _IS_ my home page in Netscape?
  • The idea of moderation is to separate relevant postings from white noise. It is not about censorship and preferring certain political views.

    Your idea is orthogonal to the current system and may be implemented additionally. Rob?
  • You listed the moderation changes in detail, but what are the other changes? :)

    Maybe my reading comprehension skills need work or something :)

  • This is the first time I've posted anything in ages. The new moderation system seems to be working exceedingly well.

    Anyway, it just occurred to me that perhaps these problems have existed and been discussed in the past by academics. There has been talk in these forums about "democracy" but I think the term is used without really understanding what it means. There are a lot of other political systems which might be more applicable to /., particularly in light of what Rob has suggested.

    There are alternative political systems (such as anarchy, anarcho-syndicalism, and other left-wing systems) which are actually formal systems of government (i.e. control), with sets of rules for management of a community. Now, I am only suggesting that CmdrTaco could find some resources on the 'net (e.g. by Noam Chomsky) which might give him (and us) some more ideas for this moderation thing. I don't personaly know much about these systems, but I do know they exist and are proposed by some brilliant minds as solutions to some of our social problems. Perhaps they can be applied here first ;)

    Even rational talk about non-US political systems on /. is generally flame bait, and I'm trying to avoid that. All I'm saying is that there are lots of community systems already in existence IRL, and that maybe we could learn from them as well.

  • I'd hope that a moderator with something good to say would post instead of moderating. Of course, this leaves the moderation up to the lurkers, who can't be moderators because they don't post...

    [snif snif] Hey, I smell a catch 22 here. Maybe you should only actively post until you become a moderator....


  • Hopefully though, if a person has something they really want to say they will say it. There will be plenty of other people to moderate the first posts, etc. Especially when you consider that they can only go down a maximum of two points (if posted while logged in).

    One other effect I haven't seen mentioned, which I think is important. The way Rob is talking about setting this up will discourage people from moderating in threads where they're emotionally involved; they'll want to post instead. This can only have a positive effect on objectivity.

  • my impression was that comments and moderation for a particular article would not be permitted, though the word "forum" makes it open to interpretation - hence ambiguous.
  • I see people posting as ACs who mention they are moderators. How is this done? Does a moderator log out, post their comment and log back in? Or are all moderator comments automatically ACs?

    #630, but not a moderator. So there.
  • Posted by Mike@ABC:

    I can't help but wonder if the moderation vs. posting scheme will work. If a moderator has something really cool to say, but has to choose between that and supporting someone else's comments (or blasting a idiot comment down to -1), I think we'd lose out on some good perspectives.

    As for the number of moderators, well, 4000 seems like a lot. Maybe I'm wrong, but the bigger the pool, the bigger the chances for someone to abuse the privilege.

  • Rob indicated that he selects moderators somewhat at random...therefore, if you don't see moderator options, he obviously didn't select you...and he said that people seeking moderator privileges in slashdot would be treated the same way as people seeking ops privileges in IRC: the privileges would be forbidden...

    Who am I?
    Why am here?
    Where is the chocolate?
  • since AC's are scored at 0 by default and users are scored at one by default, all logging out, posting, and moderating up would do (effectively) is post an AC at normal user status (and let a moderator moderate and post). However, there are some impractical features to this type of ploy:
    1. Moderators get 1 point per 100 posts...assuming an average of 1000 posts per day (probably low), that means 10 moderator points. This is an awful waste of moderation points given that it neither advances the anonymous moderator's post into the (apparently common) score 2+ threshhold, nor leave them points for moderating. If an AM moderates five of his posts (not uncommon for people to have five posts in a topic), he doesn't have many points to play with. Perhaps one way to avoid this would be to observe moderators who log in and out frequently (since some are bound to try being AM's) and stripping their privileges, but I have a feeling that the sheer waste of moderation points will discourage most moderators from taking the AM approach.

    Who am I?
    Why am here?
    Where is the chocolate?
  • In the last presidential election, you had a choice to vote for three people. Who those three people were was decided by an oligarchy, not a democracy. You don't get to choose who the president is, you only get to choose the best out of three candidates. If it was a true democracy, you'd get to nominate your own candidate. Of course, then the entire government would spend 4 years counting votes, there would usually be three or four candidates with the same amount of votes, and the winner would only have a few thousand votes at the most. What's my point? You decide

    You can nominate whoever you want. You can even vote for none of the above, which is the best way to curb a candidate's ... candidacy, as a politician cannot run again for office if the vote of "none of the above" is in the majority.

    The problem though has nothing to do with the popular vote at all though. It does, however, have to do with the electoral vote, something that has chased us even down to Mr. Clinton's first election. (George Bush had beaten him in the popular vote, but the electoral college overrides)

    We need to vote for politicians who are willing
    to abolish the electoral college and let teh citizens think for themselves

  • Hmm.... I like "post as moderator." The moderator can chime in with his/her views, yet the post is clearly labeled as "this is a moderator."
  • I just went back and re-read the proposals on who will be eligible, after reading through the comments. I think the jury-duty idea is smack on - it sounds almost random to me. Using the selection process seems logical to me as well. I dunno if it'll work, but it sounds okay. One thing I'd like to know right now, though, is how many times I've hit and read through /. a day - I would venture that I'm not eligible due to obsessive hitting :). I have no idea how long I've been reading /. either. Rob, can you email me this info?
  • Slashdot sure has gotten a lot more complicated since this all started... Personally, I like the added functionality and the increased speed. However...

    Moderators? Alignment? A random 1000 users from the middle third? This is starting to sound less like even USENET and more like AD&D.

    "Hi, I'm pb (1020), Neutral Good Slashdot User. I'd like to be Chaotic Evil, but people liked too many of my posts, I should troll more."

    I think Rob has some good ideas on how to make this work, and I'm glad it's not my problem. I see his point with not commenting and moderating at the same time, it seems a little strict, but I can't think of many better ways to do it. The thing is, I comment on what I know about, and I'd want to moderate on the same topics. Maybe just not being able to moderate in a thread that you've posted in would be better, either way this doesn't sound easy, though.

    Good luck, guys, and keep up the good work.

    ...I just want to cast 'Wish', and create some new boxes on the side. :)
  • With moderation clued people will want to post. Other clued people will reply. And as a moderator, you are more important because your responsible for higlighting the best

    This only makes sense if moderating skills and writing skills were opposit skills. They aren't. In fact, they are probably complimentary skills. How can you trust the judgement of a moderator and not respect his opinion.
  • Those of us us who have time to wade through the more numerous lower scored posts will have the time and patience to read ALL posts to be able to moderate ALL posts effectively.
  • User tracking is not *that* difficult. There are records being kept about who posted what article (even if it's just to show the "by XXX" line), and what score the article got. Since all the articles are already in an SQL database, there would be *no* problem at all to do some statistics about them. (If I'd know about the table format, I'd probably be able to find some SQL statement that does just that, and I'm not that good as a database programmer!)
  • Slashdot is slowly becomming the Emacs of news forums, ie. having millions of features that only those who were there from the start will understand, in other words, it is over-engineered. The shier complexity of the moderator system, and its proposed increase in complexity in the near future, are an extreme example. My policy when coming up with solutions to problems, when the solution gets even half as complex as Rob's moderator mechanism, is to assume there must be an easy way and try to find it. Let's look at where this entire mechanism came from... first comment posts. When the whole debate about first comment posts first came about my reccomendation was to either randomise comment ordering, or to disply comments in reverse ordering. That would make "first-comment" postings irrelevant. Instead we now have a super-bloated system which raises all kinds of questions about whether it is censorship.

    I guess it is unlikely that Rob will scrap the moderator system now having put so much work into it, but I still think he should.


  • Now that slashdot is counting how many times people visit this site, shouldn't it have a privacy policy stating what information is gathered, and what it is used for?

  • Ok, I don't have this clear in my head quite yet, but I just thought about it..

    What if users had a 'pool' of points that they could use to up/down ratings on messages. Perhaps based on the average rating of their own messages or something..

    I'd also limit it to only allowing each person to down a message by one point. This way it requires MORE then 1 person to bring a message down to nill..

    I'd also say that only 'experienced' users have this ability, by causing it to only affect a certain 'percentage' of accounts, like, 10,000 accounts, 50% have ability, first 5,000 user accounts..

    This brings moderation to a 'group' level, and basically allows everyone a 'vote' on message levels..

    An example would be this. A very technical reader often has his posts raised to like 4 or so. He has the ability to affect '8' posts, but he alone can't bring a post down to -7, that'd require 8 people thinking it stunk. An average user, with posts around 1 or 2, could affect 2-4 posts. Perhaps a step system, where some formula that comes from the ether shows how many 'points' you have access to..


  • >Of course, there needs to be some type of
    > control on this, so people just don't score
    > their friends high to get them to be
    > moderators...hmmm...

    That's what's nice about the new system. The 'highest rated' people don't automatically become 'the most eligible'. They have to be active, and with a positive level..
  • You seem to be bringing up more a question of what the moderators should be able to do, than who they are.

    Well, my intent was to point out how moderators should be selected, but you are right that I didn't express that very clearly. Contrary to what Rob says, I think that who would be a good moderator is related to what they can do.

    The point I tried to make was that even a "gang of 400" is effectively the same as "everyone votes", because the chances that group of people that large is very far from the norm is very small. Even if you work to make a group of 400 different, it will be hard to move it that much from the norm. You could create a "litmus test" and move the norm on one particular subject, but chances are you would still be close to the norm on other subjects.

    My other point is that having everyone vote (or effectively everyone) leads to a Tyranny of the Majority and that can stifle well reasoned, but unpopular views. One way to counteract this is to give each moderator the ability to use up most of their voting power on one post.

    So, I think Rob should either have a "small" group of moderators, say 50-100, which are carefully selected to promote diversity and contrary views, or he should use a much larger group (effectively everyone) and have options that promote contrary views.

    But I certainly want there to be a large enough pool of moderators that those minority opinions are well sampled.

    According to my statistics book, the "sampling theory" says that any group that is larger than around 30 or so is going to be OK if you only have a one dimensional distribution. Slashdot would need a larger number because of the diversity of topics and the different ways to "judge" an article, but unless you have less than a hundred or so moderators, you are going to almost certainly have someone in that group that will agree with a particular article.

    Look at how the US constitution is structured:

    The people who wrote up the US constitution also were afraid of the Tyranny of the Majority and did several things to counteract it.

    First, they made a representational government rather than a purely democratic government. It is much easier for someone with a well reasoned, but unpopular idea to convince a few other representatives that the idea is good than it is to convince the entire population.

    Secondly, they created the Bill of Rights and an independent judiciary. Again, it is easier to convince a small jury or a judge of a well reasoned, but unpopular point of view than it is to convince everyone.

    Neither of these are perfect in practice, and they don't strike me as being useful for slashdot. Do you really want campaigns to elect moderators or have a grievance system that lets people who think a moderator is biased against them the chance to over rule a moderators vote? Personally, I don't think that /. is important enough to put that much effort into it.

    This leads me back to either having a "few (50-100), specially select moderators", or something like the ability for moderators to use up most of their voting power to promote an unpopular opinion. Other ideas are most welcome.

    P.S. While I disagree with some of your post, I very much enjoyed reading it. It made me think. This is why I read and post to slashdot.

  • IMHO: Every reader should be able to moderate/cast a vote on any item at any time subject to appropriate weighting.

    In another post about the Tyranny of the Majority [] I argue that it isn't necessary to have everyone who reads /. to be a moderator because even 400 moderators is, statistically speaking, going to be a very close approximation of the whole population.

    I think that allowing everyone to vote is more of a political decision than a practical decision. I would prefer if every non-AC could vote, but only if the problems with keeping diversity of opinions and preventing self-selection can be worked out. Otherwise, I think we would be better off with fewer moderators. There is also the point with fewer moderators, abuses are easier to track and fix.

    If their posts have been well-received, their moderation carries weight. If their previous moderations have agreed with other highly-ranked moderators, their moderation carries weight. If they are CmdrTaco, their moderation carries weight. (emphasis mine)

    This will lead to a very self-selecting group. The more you agree with the folks in power, the more power you are likely to get. I think this is A Bad Thing. It works well for google because you are trying to find self-selecting groups.

    [...] if they're anonymous, [...] their moderation carries less weight.

    I can't see any meaningful way that AC's can have a vote. If you let all AC's vote, then anyone who wants to really change a score can just go in and keep boosting the score as an AC. If you let the AC's only vote once, then most of the time AC's wont get to vote.

  • [ ... ] the basic idea is that if you moderate the same way as a lot of good moderators do, then you too are a good moderator.

    Ok, so /. is already Linux-centric. Chances are the current group of moderators tends to think that linux==good, everything else==bad. In order for you to become a moderator, you have to match the current moderators, so you have to tow the party line. Even if you start off with only a mild bias, this self=selecting process is going to make things much worse over time.

  • I think this reasonable in that it makes a "Jury Memeber" (JM) think about whether they want to post to participate or moderate. JMs, as you said, won't have that many opportunities to moderate since their point allocation will be low.

    The REAL drawback is that the best moderators for a particular subject are the best clued. Now we have the ones we most want posting and moderating deciding which to do.

    OTOH, limiting the points sufficiently may overcome this, the same way it overcomes the "Tyranny of the Majority" by preventing emotional votes. You don't have enough votes to be flippant with them, you have to save them for when they count. Also, I gather marking up is more important than squelching, and the moderator system is geared to that by the -1..5 system.

    All in all it sounds OK to me. Especially the backing out of moderation if you just HAVE to post. That lets you moderate first and participate if no one else gets to your point.
  • There are lots of good ideas here but the opinion that seems to stand out is to not exclude moderators from discussions in which they are inclined to participate. I cannot comment on how well or how poorly the current model works from a mderator's point of view, but it seems that the way to prevent human failure is to either limit or over-ride the human.

    The idea proposed above about excluding a moderator only from threads in which he or she posts seems good, but who knows how it will work out. Will it cause moderation to become too much of a chore? I know it would for me. I want to post. I want to mod. Aaack, this is a good thread and I must choose...

    Are there any other ways that the human failures could be reliably eliminated?

    Implementing the mass-mod system seems like a good start. It may turn out that restrictions on mod/post activity will be unnecessary because even if a mod pushes a post that conflicts with his down, another will pump it up. If there are enough mods, the poster will be lost in the noise.

    The only requirement here would be that enough mods read at the raw-and-uncut -1 level.

    I think that we should try these ideas out. Don't just pick one or a certain set and run. Give them all a spin. We are breaking new ground here. Let's find out what works.

  • Instead of letting a moderator choose between moderating or posting, make the decision for him/her.

    That is, have a unique (pseudo)randomly selected jury of about 50-100 moderators for each story. If selected for jury duty for that story, you would then have it displayed on your custom front page with some indication that you are a moderator in this forum (regardless of topic/author filtering).

    Once selected, you would then be expected to "fulfil your civic duty" and moderate posts in that forum, without the option of posting. Naturally you would still have the option of choosing whether or not to be in the pool of jurors from the outset. If the juror pool were sufficiently large and each jury were sufficiently small, the incidence of being ineligible to post in a particular forum would be quite small, and, IMHO, an acceptable price to pay.

  • I was under the impression that moderators had an extra option on the Comments page? I think I match the qualifications listed, but I don't see anything.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I like the idea of a "Post as AC button" this would be nice for situations like this where I want to reveal I'm a moderator. Perhaps "Post as Moderator" would be better. The moderator account could have the moderator ID# and moderation history. This would make biases clear without silencing the moderators, who are presumably among the better posters by the way they are chosen.

    I don't agree that moderators should be limited from posting on fora they moderate. Per thread might be OK, although I must admit I don't see the point. If a post is valid, it is valid whether or not a moderator posts it. Since moderators can't moderate their own posts (a good idea), and can't reveal that they are moderators, a moderator's post should be treated no different from any other. Any more draconian measures will only encourage the workarounds that others have mentioned.

    More on topic: a jury system is fine with me. I'm glad to be a moderator, but feel no particular right to be one. I personally feel that anyone that has had a positive alignment over the past 7 days should be eligible to moderate. To mix things up, alignment points made while moderating would count only as half. The moderators would be chosen every day as a weighted random drawing based on alignment. This would create the kind of limited meritocracy we are looking for.
  • Tradewars 2002.

    Ah the good old days.
    Rob "CmdrTaco" Malda
    Pants are Optional

  • Segregating moderation/judgement from participation is a standard (and good) measure used to enforce objectivity. This is the reason they screen jurors for trials, etc.

    Im going to talk about jury selection for a moment-- please pardon the digression. It really does relate to /.

    The court room inquisition of jurrors is called "voir dire" and we are made to think that it is a legitimate attempt to form an "impartial jury." This is not so.

    The only purpose is to stack the jury with bias- to build the desired bias into the jury so that the jury can be controled by the court.

    The Supreme Court has often commented upon this: "Tendencies, no matter how slight, toward the selection of jurors by any method other than a process which will insure a trial by a representative group are undermining...weakening the...jury...and should be strongly resisted." (Glasser V US, 315 US 60) Fairness "necessarily contemplates an impartial jury drawn from a cross section of the community; jurors shall be selected...without systematic and intentional exclusion" of any "stratum of society." (Thiel V So.Pac., 328 US 217, 1946).

    How does this relate to /.? Good question. The moderation system, as it exists now, works. Quite well in my opinion and, judging from the posts I've read, many people agree and want to keep it like it is. It works because there are a (relatvely) small number of moderators and Rob is able to keep them in line.

    But Rob (understandably) does not want to have to keep a close eye on the moderators- especially when a new group is chosen. The obvious solution to this is to make the pool of moderators larger. But this attempt will be in vain if the moderators are chosen based on how they have been moderated in the past or even on how long they have read slashdot. When a large group is used it is essential that they form a cross-section of the population. If not, factions become more exagerated not less.

    This is not to say that Rob and Co. should not reserve the right to stop abusers from moderating. To stretch the jury analogy even further- felons can't serve jury duty.

    Maybe my ideas are misguided or are too big of a step for this old webpage to take. Please let me know. As I said I think the current system is working well. But if we increase the size of pool of moderators we need to make sure that the moderators are chosen fairly.

  • Weren't the original moderators selected because their postings were consistently high quality? I see that that's still a requirement for the new system...

    It seems to me that placing restrictions on posting for a set of people who were chosen originally because their postings were high quality would defeat the entire purpose of having moderators, which would be to get high-quality postings...
  • Wouldn't the "post or moderate" concept work better if moderators were simply restricted from moderating replies to their comments, rather than all comments?

    This makes far more sense than Rob's initial idea. You should not discourage people who are good enough to be moderators from providing posts worth moderating (up).
  • The moderation/posting restriction is only a hinderance.

    There is nothing to stop a moderator from logging out, posting as an anonymous coward, and then moderating up their own (anonymous) post. Sure it's a bit harder and takes longer, but that is about the only thing it will do.
  • by X ( 1235 )
    The one group of people I'd like to see somehow represented in the moderators group would be lurkers. I don't know how you'd select them, but I'm thinking if you can find really old accounts, which haven't posted a thing, but which visit the site regularly.

    I'd also like to say I think the idea that you either post or moderate is a great idea. This prevents moderators from monoplizing the conversation. The only catch is this: if I'm a moderator, why wouldn't I just create a 2nd account for posting?
  • Don't ... over-democratize the process -- that way lies chaos!

    At least, that's how the traditional wisdom goes. But I don't agree. I just have the weird feeling, and I am more and more certain that we live in interesting times, and something really extraordinary will grow out this whole "thing".

    I guess, the silent software revolution around Linux, Open Source, Slashdot, Communities (not the way the current "media" buzzwords for it) are just the innocent seeds of something really-really better. Even "Open Source" was an interesting, but failed and tried method in the eyes of outside observers a few months ago. (I mean, it's alive since a very long time, and Gates has "proved" that the other way is better, eh?).

    I'd tell don't be afraid to try old things, if they sound right, and their failure is not fully reasonable. This is a new world we are building.

  • That way, when I notice a poster whose comments are really cogent, I can mark that person as a potential moderator.

    My problem with this idea is that being a good writer doesn't necessarily mean you would be a good moderator, or vice versa. The same is true for good programmers != good documentors, etc.

    How can you easily judge the quality of a moderator? Seriously, I don't know. Suggestions are welcome.

    How do you tell the difference between someone who is trying to promote a "contrary view" and someone who is promoting crap? If someone posts an article before they meant to, and then repost the completed article, should a moderator lower the score of the incomplete one? What might be considered "off topic", or "redundant" to one moderator might not viewed differently by most other people.

    The problem of selecting "good moderators" strikes me as a very hard problem, and one I don't have any good ideas of how to solve.

  • I see people posting as ACs who mention they are moderators. How is this done? Does a moderator log out, post their comment and log back in?

    Yes, that is all the moderator, like anyone else, has to do is log out to be an AC. It is also all that a moderator will have to do to be able to post to a story that they have moderated. This doesn't make sense to me.

  • Why? Because some people post too goddamn much.

    Although I'm guity of posting too much, I do agree that it is a very serious problem.

    IMHO, I think that when calculating your "alignment", you should have a small penalty for every article you post and for every byte you post. People who post lots of long articles and occasionally get a score of 2 or 3 are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

  • And I'll tell you why. Because he's relatively detached. We occasionally see him post something when it directly involves him, and he's rarely defensive... He has the best global view of making everyone happy.

    This is somewhat marginally analogous to time I spent as a wizard on a MUD. The absolute worst wizards were the ones that still played the mud with a different character. They were too involved with the game to see that making areas loaded with easy experience and powerful weapons ultimately made for a less enjoyable game.

    Of course, there were the wizards that never played the game, and had no real concept of what was going on from the player's perspective. Those wizards were not so good, either, but they were better than the overinvolved ones.

    Anyway, yeah.
  • Why not run a poll to see what the community thinks of the current system? Personally, I like things the way they are now.

    The 400 moderator system seems to be doing well. The real issue is rotating that batch of 400. Trying to up the number would be an interesting experiment, but seems a little unnecesary. It would raise the administrative overhead (both in terms of CPU time, and Rob time). IMHO, it would not add that much to the experience.

    I've noticed that setting my threshold at 2 is just about ideal. Off topic posts have not been a problem. Neither have inaccurate, or well intended but not-so-useful posts. Maybe a few good posts may get passed by, but if that is a real concern for you, don't use moderation.

    Experience is what you get when you were expecting something else.
  • Before I get on my soapbox, let me make a couple of simple statements to think about whilst you read my comment:

    I think moderation is a good thing, and that (as several others have stated herein) who is more important that what is done.

    Also, I believe that no automated process should be used to decide moderation.

    Now let me expound. The problem with automatic moderator selection is that the algorithims used must eventually become public -- whether Rob publishes them or someone figures them out. Because of this, there will always be those who gain moderator access by deviant means. To weed those out, there would need to be moderation of the moderators, and I doubt anyone wants to invest the kind of time needed to implement that - least of all Rob.

    What I suggest is to use an existing moderation model, and slightly modify it to fit the /. purpose. My personal suggestion is to use the IRC model - but make it a bit less haphazard.

    Consider the following: We all trust Rob to be the "ubermoderator", since he does own /. anyhow... So why not have Rob pick a handful of trusted /. users to be "operators"? These "ops" would be allowed to moderate comments, as well as manage who will become moderators.

    Each "op" would likely have his/her own ideas about whom would moderate well, and therefore could add to the diversity. To elimate the "my freinds are all welcome" syndrome, perhaps two ops would need to agree to create a moderator.

    Also, perhaps moderators could appoint "helpers" to assist them in moderation. To keep the balance of power in check, a skewed scoring system could be used (i.e. ops can knock an article up/down by 5 pts, mods by 3 and helpers by 1), and mods could be held responsible for the actions of their helpers. In this way, if a helper is misbehaving, the moderator who appointed him would have incentive to remove him/her - even if (s)he may be a friend - to protect his/her own moderator status.

    I know this is much more complex than I have made it seem - and I welcome those who wish to point out the flaws in this theory.

    And, of course, I welcome e-mail from anyone who would like to discuss it more in-depth than should be done in this forum -- but please take a moment to reply to this comment in some way: I'd really like to know how the /. community views this idea, as I am thinking about it for a site I am developing as well.

    Long live the Free Mind!

    Posted by the Proteus

  • Would it be worth a try to let readers nominate moderators? That way, when I notice a poster whose comments are really cogent, I can mark that person as a potential moderator.

    Of course, this posits that good comments come from people with the balance and judgment to moderate well. I think that's true as a first approximation.

    How to use this input, however? Count up the number of times a particular poster gets nominated, and the highest numbers get moderator privileges? (`Nomination' is really voting.) Alternatively, if the count goes over some threshold, have a human look at that person's posts and decide yea or nay. (`Nomination' is just that, with other criteria for acceptance.)

    I suggest giving the first mechanism a try, because there are some folks whose judgment I respect, and would like to see have some input based on their abilities rather than pure numerology. (<nose color="brown">Not that the numerology isn't a damned good shot at automating a tough call.</nose>)

    • nomination would allow for notably-clueful newbies to get moderatorhood
    • only logged-in readers can nominate (and only nominate a given poster only once)
    • keep an eye on who gets nominated to watch for attempts to stuff the ballot box

    Maybe nominations can come only from readers in domains other than the nominee's? Perhaps only from the older 2/3 of the population? (Both of these to prevent someone from registering an bunch of IDs and performing auto-nomination.)

  • If someone makes a habit of posting as AC so that they can moderate as well then they will loose their moderator status because they haven't been posting.

    I think the 'post or moderate' choice will tend to reduce the effective moderation. It will create a situation in which each person needs to decide if they want to participate or judge, but with a limited amount of time available to each person, and only the people who participate allowed to moderate I see the whole thing becoming very cyclic.

  • Whilst I think Rob is heading in the right general direction I can see a few problems.

    I have to agree with those who say moderators should be able to moderate and post to the same news story.

    I only read those stories which interest me (maybe 1 in 3) and these tend to be ones in which I already have an opinion or in which I have some expertise, otherwise I wouldn't be interested in it in the first place. Hence my moderations *and* my comments should be considered acceptable for that particular story.

    Secondly, when I read postings, I've taken Rob's advice and set my threshold to +3 and listing in descending order of score. This has reduced my reading time dramatically and is overall a Good Thing.

    The trouble is, if I'm made a moderator, then I will only see comments which have already passed a first phase of moderating. Now, considering I'm only reading a few choice postings anyway, I don't mind if I get an extra tab next to each so I can go +1 or -1, but there's no way I'm going to take time to read AC postings.

    I imagine a lot of lurker, experienced users like myself will feel the same. If we're added to the ranks of moderators, we will only be moderating the "quality" posts, hence +5 is too low for an upper limit.


    Michael Snoswell
  • You know, Rob, I knew you were dedicated to slashdot and that it took up a lot of your time, but this kind of stuff, with moderation access schemes this complex, is really first rate stuff. Even though I enjoy moderation, it is excellent to know that I can switch it off with a click and look at slashdot in all of the comments in their, ahem, "glory".

    Still using MSQL, maybe it's because I don't do SQL much that I have no idea how you did all of this.

    Keep in mind, Rob, that the kind of stuff you're implementing right now is the kind of stuff people get paid wheelbarrows full of dollars for. (But don't let that convince you to take a job elsewhere and desert /.!!)

    I honestly don't care if I become a moderator, but I don't think it would be that bad...kinda cool.

    One possibility would be to also have the moderators stick to a certain quota of grading too, although I don't know how feasible that would be - depending on the articles, to make moderators stick to a relatively standard value, for example, if you're a moderator, and the sum of all of your moderation is -1200, something's wrong. Likewise, if you have a value of 5000 points assigned to the various articles you've moderated, that's not good either..
  • All though I don't know if Rob would approve, you can always do exactly what you're doing now, which is, post as an anonymous coward and still be able to moderate the discussion. I think the main thing was that he didn't want people to abuse the priveledge of moderation because of the fact that so many people aren't very objective in general, and aren't necessarily going to be objective in posting and moderating. (Not saying anything about you, just in general)
  • Segregating moderation/judgement from participation is a standard (and good) measure used to enforce objectivity. This is the reason they screen jurors for trials, etc.

    The idea is that the best moderators are those who do not have particularly strong views on the subject. The best people to moderate the GNU/Linux vs. Linux discussions, for example, are those who don't really care, either way - they are more likely to be fair and impartial.

    For the same reason sports have impartial referees, /. could benefit from impartial moderators. This is, in my opinion, a great way of enforcing this.

    Granted, it doesn't stop the lurkers with strong opinions from moderating subjectively, but it's a good start.

    Keep up the great work, rob!

  • It's interesting to see how moderators moderate moderation comments :)

    Seems they are busier then usual. Very opinionated when it comes to moderating, I guess.
  • I believe I'll have to re-read all of Rob's points on how moderation works, how they get their points, etc... but what about this?

    Let moderators post AND moderate any article.

    But... for each single article that is read by a moderator, they are given only 1 (one) moderation point, which they can use to promote or demote only a single post within the comments relating to that article. Once they have moderated any post (within a given article) up or down one point, that's it. They have no more moderation power over any other posts within the same article. And if they don't use that single moderation point while the article is available on the front page of /., they lose it. This would prevent the moderators from posting a comment for a given article as an AC and then moderating it up (since they'd only be able to moderate their own comment to a 1 which they could do if they were logged in anyways). Having only ONE point to offer for moderation would make sure that these moderators use their point very wisely.

    I really do think that if a moderator is allowed only to moderate OR post, there will be less quality posts, and the moderators will be forced into silence when we could also be getting feedback from them.

    Just my $.02.

  • How will the move to 4k moderators affect the enforcement of the moderator rules already in place? In particular, the rule of secrecy, that a moderator cannot reveal herself to be a moderator, strikes me as agonizing to enforce with 400 moderators, and nearly impossible with 10 times that many. (perhaps an e-mail address to report alleged moderation violations?)

    Two suggestions: First of all, I'm starting to have a little difficulty keeping track of all the changes to the system. Is there any page or FAQ or something which thoroughly explains the moderation system as it currently stands, and if not, could there be one?

    Secondly, would it be possible for the user-info page to report the user's 'alignment'? I know I, for one, would be curious to know my alignment, (although I post so seldom that I could probably work it out by hand). This might even have a beneficial effect on the community. Ratings of this sort have a way of stimulating the competitive spirit, and if /.ers began competing for high alignments, it would probably have a substantial positive effect on the intellectual level of the comments. If nothing else, folks who consistently get moderated down might shut up. On the other hand, this would have no effect on ACs, and might cause people to post any random B.S. if they thought they could get it moderated up even a point.
  • There should be no other rules. Let everyone moderate, and on any forum. Otherwise, Rob is acting as some kind of Russian-like intelligencia, believing he always knows best.

    Direct Democracy never works with large groups. Never, ever works. We -need- a smaller representative body to moderate for the whole - I for one do not trust the slashdot reader base to moderate my articles properly or fairly.

    Then again, I don't trust the American people to vote for a good president who'll act fairly and not make our country look like a bunch of raving fools. I guess I'm way off base. [evil grin]

  • Ok, let me see if I understand how this works. Once you're selected through [insert process here] you are in a pool of aproximatly 1000 moderators. If you are in this pool, occasionally you will be called upon to moderate some subset of the articles available in a similar fashion to the way things are currently moderated. But, if you are randomly selected to moderate an article, you aren't allowed to post comments about that article? If you're chosen to moderate an article, do you have the choice of not moderating and commenting? If not, it might deprive the /. community of valueable comments these people might make. If you are allowed to choose to moderate, I'd think it would discourage people from moderating subjects they were interested in (and might make good judgements about what to moderate). If you're not allowing people to moderate their own comments, I don't see the harm in them moderating the thread they're reading (dispite the possibility of people moderating down comments against them or their position). Anyway, I'm sure the modeation system will settle out into something that works well.

    BTW, how does your script check to see how many comments people read when they're in flattened mode?
  • You shouldn't look at it as restricting participation as a consequence of moderations, but vice versa. Once a person becomes involved in a debate, expecting objective moderation from them is unrealistic. This is recognized by most rules of order.
  • from first posts to me too!s to a damn good article that i think deserves better than a 0 or 1, i wade through it all in all its "glory." these are the people who need to be moderators. if you have your threshold set anything above 0 then you are allowing the moderators to point out the better articles to you. not to say that i dont set my threshold higher on articles that im not as particularly intresetd in, esp on the gnu/linux vs linux wars/holy wars. mostly tho i read through every post in a thread that im interested in. quite a few times i've said to myself "gee, glad i've got my threshold set low otherwise i would have missed this comment."

    these are the types of qualities that make for good moderators.

    (no, im not trying to nominate myself not boost my ego. But _if i was a moderator_ those are the values that i would expect to uphold)
  • I think there are a lot of people out there who've been around for a while but have only recently relented and made an account.

    I don't think it's fair to call them newbies just because they didn't sign up earlier.

    Instead use the 2/3 cutoff to stop people from creating new accounts specifically to abuse the system.
  • There are, however, only so many hours in the day. I'd prefer not to spend my free time reading about Amigas, because I have no interest in them. I might as well read a crochet magazine.

    Other than on a purely literary and common sense basis do I know the difference between a good Amiga--or crochet--post and crap.

    I does make a "sort of" sense, and I'm not sure it isn't actually the best way to handle mass moderation. But since I don't have time to read about Amigas and Palm Pilots, I'll likely be checking the "No Jury Duty" box.
  • There seems to be quite a but of "Oh NO! We can't have Censorship!" going about, and quite a bit of arguement about what exactly constitutes censorship.

    Well, It doesn't matter - there is, in truth, no real difference between the two. I've worked for quite a bit at a small semi-pro science fiction magazine, and a good editor's job is mostly censorship! Anyone who decides what will and what will not be seen is almost by definition a censor, and would only be called an editor if their views and tastes and background where coincidentally exactly the same as yours.

    This is simply because they would select different articles than you would, and by hidding things from you that you would normally be willing (even eager?) to see they are acting in the capacity of censors!

    So, what can be done about this? The only permanent solution is to give each user a view customized to their perferances, prejudices, and interests. (Admit it, we all have them!) Fortunatly, this isn't impossible in the modern age of computers. Simply (sarcasm) have each user rate as many comments as they like on a scale of one to ten, and store each user's reactions. Use an AI system similar to the movie recomendation making one to customize each users views.

    After all, Rob's got all this CPU time just going to waste, doesn't he?

    It seems to be a law of the net that as readership of a public forum goes up, the SNR goes down. This is simply for the same reason that superbowl commercial time commands millions of dollars a minute. So, in order to keep slashdot readable, there will have to be some form of editorship to keep the SNR at a reasonable level. I commend Rob for seeing the inevitablity of this, and for the valiant efforts to come up with a solution that is both workable and fairly fair.
  • Your ideas for picking the moderators are good ones and I don't really see a need to change those criteria until you're proven it's not a good model to work from.

    Now here are some suggestions...

    1. Restricting a moderator from posting in a topic they want to take part of, and vice versa, is a double edged sword. Sure if they post, they already have an agenda which may indicate a biased slant on other posters they moderate, but here are two arguments against that...
    • There seems to be a greater chance of a moderator who posts to an article to have a greater understanding of the topic than those that don't. Ergo they should prove (percentage wise mind you) to be better moderators than those who have no desire to post.

    • If you're forcing moderators to read replies to articles they have no interest in posting to, it sounds more like 'work' than something worthwhile.

    2. Moderators should receive Peer-Review at intervals during their "career" here at /. Something that brings up their moderations for review in an anonymous "poll" where no one knows who they are but they can evaluate a random snapshot of their moderations.

    I have my threshold at 2, which was great in the begining where some really nice posts showed up but now I'm seeing more, and more, replies like "Who is this Linus guy?" being scored a 2.

    Perhaps this could also be helped if there was a grading scale like.

    -1 Raw, off-topic, flaming-flamingo slug-fests
    0 One liner comments, not much meat to 'em (AC Default)
    1 Light on content, but interesting (Registered Users Default)
    Raises an interesting question or point
    3 Like 2 but well done
    4 Wow, great insight...this could be another article
    5 Are you sure you're not RMS or ESR?

    ...although I might be straying a bit off topic, this will probably be an issue in the future: How to police the moderators?

    Just my 2
  • Anyway, I have a user account so people will know who's posting in the first place. That's the whole point, or at least so I thought.

    Agreed. I like people to know "who" I am. My nick, SeanNi, is the same one I use every single time. Anyone who wants can click on my "User Info" link and look at other posts I have made. They can then form their own opinions about whether or not I am worth reading, and they know (or have a better handle on) my biases when they do read my posts.

    Better parsing and interpretation makes for better dissemination of useful content. (not to mention more convoluted verbiage :-)

    If I was unable to post and moderate at the same time, I would probably end up creating a second account, such as "SeanNi2 (same as SeanNi)" or some such thing and posting that way. I would definitely not want to do that, though. It feels much too much like "cheating".

    But it is a moot point, since as I have mentioned elsewhere, the way things currently stand, I do not want to be a moderator.
    - Sean
  • I had no idea users' behavior was tracked so specifically on slashdot. I know you guys have no intention of using the information in evil, microsoft-like ways, but I would have appreciated a warning along the lines of: "once you become a user your actions on slashdot will be monitored and will affect your eligibility for moderator-ship."
    Internet people seem to be extremely privacy-conscious, and yet slashdot is tracking their reading habits.

    what do people think?
  • 1. Another slap in the face for us cookiephobic conshies. I can't be alone in associating cookies with ASP and all things Microsoft - maybe it's the way you can't turn them off in IE3. It's a freedom thing. Anyway the cookie crumbs'll be all over your smug face when M$ patent them à la CSS/doorknobs. Would it kill you to propagate that smidgeon of state in a munged URL? Pre-cookie browsers? It's not as though - judging by your workrate of late - you're afraid of a good hard hack. It's possible to be a model Slashdotter - a 24/7 unanonymous lurker - without actually being logged in.

    2. Personally, I like the "What did you think of this article?" radiobuttons ("Not worth reading","Worth reading","Very worth reading") on JavaWorld []. If every comment had one of these you'd soon sort the clueful from the Kiplings. People would only vote for the ones they rated or hated because it's such a pain in the Gates to interrupt your clickstream. As for the number of moderators - why arbitrarily limit it? As someone posted earlier, it's much easier to let everyone have moderation power equal to their running approval rating. What is it ESR says about egoboo and geek credits? Words made flesh - or rather code: the more votes you receive the more you can spend. Simple to implement - well, simple for me to say at any rate :-) - and self-regulating.

    3. Geek du jour, jwz [], once posted a defence of some earlier eroded liberty - was it the noble right to anonymity? - where he basically said: if you assume people are gonna abuse the system they will. Treat people like original sinners and they'll crack open a few misdemeanours just so as not to let you down. Too many precautions against the dark side and you start to squeeze the force.

    4. Props for what you've done so far. It's good. It's getting better. One in the eye for those who thought Signal v Noise would end in a penalty shootout.
  • Make all moderation actions public knowledge. What I mean is that any reader should not only be able to read scores and filter by scores, but be able to read a list of which moderators performed which actions.

    The reader should have the option to keep a "Moderation Killfile". If a particular moderator is being unfair in his moderation actions or if the reader doesn't like that particular moderator, the reader could put that moderator in his killfile (with the obligatory *PLONK* sound), and Slashdot would ignore that moderator's actions when peforming the moderation processing for that user.

    For that matter, Slashdot could have Usenet style killfile capabilities in general for those who like to use that sort of thing.

  • I'm not sure why you would want to adopt a "jury duty" model for slashdot moderatorship. Why not just let long-term members decide if they want to moderate a story or not. Once they moderate a post, they can't participate and vice versa. All other restrictions apply as well. I guess this could be gotten around (people could set up two accounts), but that seems like more work than fun.

    Maybe I don't understand the idea, but it does seem too limited to me. Or maybe I'm just annoyed that I waited so long to set up my account.
  • Like someone way above mentioned, I've been reading /. for months, but only recently bothered to make an account because of all the neato customizations you had. I'm somewhere in the 24ks as far as user numbers go. So that might not be the best solution for weeding out newbies, but I suppose you need to figure out somewhere to make a cut.

    I'd like to voice my vote for moderators not being able to moderate the thread they're posting to, not the entire article.

  • Yep, you can log right out and be an AC..

    I wonder, with rob's idea that if a moderator has moderated and then posts all moderation done by that moderator is 'undone'.. what is to stop that moderator from moderating then logging out, posting as an AC, OR logging into his/her spare account to do their posting.. does he have some kind of way to prevent this?

  • I agree. And it's part of a bigger problem too. The problem is that Rob wants to give good articles higher scores, but he doesn't trust /.ers to do it right. So he's tweaking, which is the wrong thing to do.

    Essentially, what Rob is doing is statistics. He wants a lot of data (moderators), and wants good results. But with statistics you have to use the data you get. The only thing you worry about is errors in collecting data. In this case, thats making sure that people don't moderate on more than one account. But that should be it.

    There should be no other rules. Let everyone moderate, and on any forum. Otherwise, Rob is acting as some kind of Russian-like intelligencia, believing he always knows best.

    Of course, you don't have to just average the scores. that might not work. Instead you could perhaps use some kind of collaborative data techniques.

  • I work in electronic commerce (yes yes I know ....)

    Recently, I set up a specialised portal (like a really really simplified /.) but on e-commerce. Every morning, I do the rounds on all the e-commerce sites to pick the most interesting articles. I have since become a highly highly valued resource for the people I work for because I am so well informed.

    The more I read, the more my "opinion" becomes less subjective.

    Hence I dont think that the big readers should be cut out.

    Isn't possible to null the "cheaters" by simply upping the moderator threashold so that if you DO post a 100 times then you have to have posted a 100 intelligent comments. (in which case you aint a cheater, just obsessive ...... )

    I think letting the big readers moderate is more important then letting 0+ posters moderate.

    is there maybe an other option to achieve this?
  • IMHO: Every reader should be able to moderate/cast a vote on any item at any time subject to appropriate weighting.

    If their posts have been well-received, their moderation carries weight. If their previous moderations have agreed with other highly-ranked moderators, their moderation carries weight. If they are CmdrTaco, their moderation carries weight.

    If they're new, if their posts have been downgraded, if they're anonymous, if they're participating in the discussion, their moderation carries less weight.

    PS offtopic, but to wrap up and simplify this whole enterprise: 1. make news items and comments the same, and 2. allow very highly-ranked moderators to post news items.

    (Then you just tweak the weighting/ranking criteria to keep the subject matter and style of the whole thing focussed the way you want: ie the slashdot that we know and love :)
  • My personal preference would be for moderators to be choosen by some kind of emergent criteria. That is, for example, a strong positive score on all posted comments. Of course, there needs to be some type of control on this, so people just don't score their friends high to get them to be moderators...

    Why not use the method used by Google to rate web pages? That is, your ranking is based not only on the rankings that other people give your posts, but also on the rankings of the people who have ranked your post.

    It seems to work extremely well for Google, and it would seem to be very applicable to this case as well.

    99 little bugs in the code, 99 bugs in the code,
    fix one bug, compile it again...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 02, 1999 @02:11PM (#1950911)
    "I wouldn't want to see those with a proven track record forced to choose between moderation and input except where it makes sense."

    I'm a moderator, and I personally find it really annoying that the threads I like best and mark up, I can't annotate or add something to -- I have to log out and post as an AC, then hope that another moderator marks me up (well, I could do it myself but that would be cheating).

    I think that CT's proposal is good in theory. In practice, I don't think it will work and I'd rather stick with the current one.

    But hey, I only got picked a week ago. I can't say I haven't been corrupted by power, because I _know_ I get a thrill out of LARTing first posters, but picking from a random pool of 400 posters of quality guarantees at least minimal quality, and prevents me burning out from reading tons of 0 and -1 articles and trying to figure out which if any really deserve anything one way or the other.

    On the other hand, it basically destroys accountability. If one of the 400 is being bad, CT can squelch him and replace him with a known good one. Change the pool every two weeks, and CT will have to do that EVERY time, and doing it with people who are inexperienced at moderation.

    I personally went nuts on the first day trying to figure out whether DaBuzz was being an offensive prick arguing about Katz, or if he genuinely had a point. I eventually gave him the benefit of the doubt and moderated him back to 0, only to get him kicked back to -1. Meanwhile an AC had mentioned the same point and gotten a 2. I could have saved myself the agony if I'd known better.

    I suppose it comes down to personal choice, but I would rather have an informed judge than a random jury. But that's just my view.
  • by Tony Shepps ( 333 ) on Friday April 02, 1999 @12:18PM (#1950912) Homepage
    It appeals to the hacker mindset to come up with some sort of algorithm to pick and maintain moderators. But now we're dealing with human beings; and as meat becomes part of the algorithm, it becomes harder to predict its nature.

    If people asked to become moderators, were expected to read and apply guidelines in order to stay moderators, and were occasionally reviewed to make sure they were in fact applying guidelines... the whole site would probably be more interesting in the long run.

    If the guidelines are important, it will become more difficult to maintain them as more people become moderators -- no matter what sort of algorithm is applied. Think about the difference between the suggested model with thousands of moderators -- and a site with 30 moderators, all of whom are directed and good at what they do.

    As it is, the algorithm is (apparently) going to now exclude moderators from operating on the stories that appeal to them the most, and anonymity prevents them from peer review and/or personal reward. This worries me. I wonder if it will inevitably end in CmdrTaco posting a lot of desperate pleas for moderators to apply the guidelines well and correctly. (Such appeals have already been necessary with hundreds of moderators, and it will only get worse.)

    And I suspect that moderators will disregard requests to not simply promote messages they agree with -- and with thousands of them online it will be impossible to police them. If only 10% go that way, with no fear of reprisal, a number that is expected in other online forums (see Usenet), it will cause a lot of problems.

    Lastly, as more and more minds are applied to review of anything, there is a homogenization effect that occurs -- through averaging. Extreme views, though they may be pointed, useful, interesting and important, are more likely to be moderated into average scores. Consider the difference between messages that earn half "A" and half "F" scores (resulting in a "C" grade) and messages that earn all "B" scores. Are the "B" messages more useful? They represent a certain type of message: non-offensive, lightly interesting, but *boring* in the long run... homogenized.

  • by JRaven ( 720 ) on Friday April 02, 1999 @01:52PM (#1950913)
    Frankly, the changes all sound pretty good to me -- _especially_ the exclusivity between moderating a forum and posting to it.

    Why? Because some people post too goddamn much.

    I've been reading Slashdot for a while now (I'm definitely below that 21,000 mark), and while the 'First post'-ers and the trolls are annoying, the thing that makes it unreadable is the shear repetition of the same tired opinions.

    The average forum at Slashdot gets (if you're lucky) maybe five truly different opinions -- each rehashed by about 20 different people who either haven't read the previous comments, or just don't care that they're repeating the same things that have been said before.

    We're not talking about poorly written opinions by 3l33t d000dz here. These are well-written posts. They just add absolutely nothing new to the discussion. They're the 500-word equivalent of a "Me Too!".

    Take a look at the profiles of most of these posters and what do you see? A long list of recent posts. Did most of these posts add anything worthwhile to the discussion? No. Did some of them? Most definitely.

    At this point, I'm all for anything that will give a person a reason to pause and think before they decide to fire off another post to Slashdot. If you _really_ have something worthwhile to say, well, go ahead and post. But if not, please just sit back and moderate. You'll be providing the readers of Slashdot a far greater service.

  • If someone has to choose between commenting and moderating, that forces a conflict of interest. If they choose moderating, then it will encourage them to give positive points to comments they agree with, as a way of voicing their opinion.

    Yet you've said that, ideally, moderation shouldn't be about agreement, it should just be about accenting worthwhile comments.

    So I think that particular change goes against your intended goal.

    I understand that this is an intricate business to figure out, and will likely undergo changes for a long time.

  • by Orion ( 3967 ) on Friday April 02, 1999 @11:48AM (#1950915)
    It makes a sort of sense to me... it just means that if you are a moderator you should read articles you *aren't* interested in. This would make you the most objective person possible.

    Moderation is a service we are volunteering for on Slashdot. That may mean we have to do things we don't like... including reading articles we have no interest in.
  • by Evan Vetere ( 9154 ) on Friday April 02, 1999 @11:52AM (#1950916)

    This is shaping up well. Coupla quick ones:

    3. There will be an option in the user accounts to simply say "I don't want to moderate". By default, everyone will want to be moderators, but you can turn this off.

    I think it'd be smarter to actually make people visit their user account and hit the switch to become eligible. Signup should require -some- action on part of the user. It'd make them feel more like they've got a stake in this - they weren't just given Mod status, they asked for it.

    [I] will throw out the psycho overactive guys who load Slashdot 1000 times a day (there are a few guys, but mainly this will prevent someone from simply pressing reload a few hundred times to get moderator access).

    Isn't this a bit overdoing it? It's the avid readers you -want- to participate in the moderation. Throw out the top 5% or 10% maybe, but I bet a lot of that top slice constitutes your major comment-posting / discussion-following userbase.

    (Heck, I'm probably one of those top 10%. :)

  • by cholko ( 10212 ) on Friday April 02, 1999 @11:38AM (#1950917) Homepage
    I don't like the idea of the moderator not being able to moderate and post at the same time. Granted some twink could abuse it, but hey! There are going to be others here as well moderating the moderator!

    So, instead of preventing a post by a moderator in a conference if he has "moderated" someone simple flag his message as from a moderator who has done some "moderation" with in the conference.

    IOW - Let him post his ideas (we would lose too many good ones - or worse no moderation).

    Should he/she have done some "work" in the same thread them flag his message as (active moderation within this discussion).

    Perhaps highlight changes made by moderators and the moderator that is visible ONLY to other moderators. Basically if the message is still visible mark it in a special color and attach the moderators name to it (again - only visible to other moderators)

    This allows policing of the police.

  • by T-Ranger ( 10520 ) <> on Friday April 02, 1999 @11:41AM (#1950918) Homepage
    Your missing the point... With a sufficiant user base, there is likely someone with the same point of view as you. And with good moderation, the desier to post will return.

    The literary quality here has droped to the point of bathroom stalls. With moderation clued people will want to post. Other clued people will reply. And as a moderator, you are more important because your responsible for higlighting the best

    Look at computer books, even technicial computer books. Proably 50% of them are crap, and thats only the published ones. Proably 95% of compputer books writen suck, and only the top 90% are published. Look at ORA books. There always the best. They solocit good authors, and they publish good independents. If Im looking for a book, and know nothing on the topic, and there is a ORA book, then I buy the ORA book. In effect they moderate out all the crap, and guarentee ony good stuff.

  • by lalartu ( 13962 ) on Friday April 02, 1999 @11:35AM (#1950919) Homepage
    I do not agree with the "no moderating of forums you post in" aspect of the change.

    If forced to chose between posting and moderating,
    I think I would chose posting(since I personally tend to lurk this is not as much of an issue).

    If the majority of moderators(that posted), decided that they wanted to post, although the quality of the posts would be good(on average), I'm not sure that I would ever see them. I currently read at a moderated score of >= 2. With the moderators posting instead of moderating, or vice versa, I think the quality of both the posts, and the moderation will suffer.

    Admittedly, the number of people who are/will be moderators, all don't post(thankfully?), so my aregument is on the weak side.

    I must say in defense that doesn't it make sense to have people who are involved with a particular discussion have access to moderate it? Allowing them to take the cream of the crop as it were, and raise it's level for those people who are only interested in the best.

    In reading the other comments thus far, I believe that a compromise allowing people to both post and moderate in the same forum, with the exclusion of
    a thread they are involved in.

    This also brings up the idea, of allowing moderators to moderate within a thread they are posting in, but only above the level of their post(thus allowing them to raise the score of a previous post and respond to a previous post as well, but not allowing them to supress responses to their own post).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 02, 1999 @10:29PM (#1950920)
    How about this?

    Gang of 400 and any further posters with abnormally high alignments get a single checkbox on random posts which is -1. High alignments can only moderate down.

    Logged-in Users get a single checkbox on random posts which is +1. Low alignments, the inarticulate, lurkers, and MEEPT (assuming MEEPT is an account) can only moderate up.

    Random is treated as a percentage of the alignment, meaning high alignments would cause a larger number of posts to be accessible. This would also be pseudo-random from the user ID number, meaning that reloading the page would not change the distribution of accessible posts.

    Scores would not be displayed, and would be restricted to -1 to 3. A poster's own posts are always shown to that poster, regardless of score. It'd be OK to post and moderate at the same time. The result would be emergent with the following likely results:
    • moderators get to use scores to ignore annoying posters, but can penalize something given a high score improperly
    • posters can use scores as they wish, and vote for what they like, and also trawl at -1 to watch for moderator abuses if that concerns them
    • such moderator abuses are likely to happen less with moderators permitted to read at their preferred filtering levels
    • poster abuses, such as rampant very high scores, are less likely when it's pseudorandomly accessible, and also less likely when posters cannot penalize posts without moderator status. The lower top limit is to deal with an expected tendency for high scores to just keep getting higher and higher as high-alignment filterers begin seeing them.
    • those of high alignment are no longer asked to read at -1 to watch for abuses, which is wearying and causes huge unwieldy pages :)
    • people will be more bored with their power when they do not have the ability to suppress opinions they do not like.
    • moderators will be less vindictive with their moderating of unpopular opinions when they are encouraged to read at a filtering level that suits their sensibilities. You can't moderate what you can't see, and with the 400 assigned specifically to penalizing and noise-reducing duties, not to playing watchdog, moderators will be allowed to set higher filtering thresholds.
    • as this is developed, a larger percentage of moderators can be established. There will be a cutoff point at which things even out, probably at an alignment somewhat, but not radically, above 1.
    • this might be dynamically variable as a function of average alignment, automatically compensating for floods of highscoring by shifting the moderator cutoff point to a lower alignment and creating more -1 moderators.
    • everyone would be allowed to talk about moderating, with the understanding that running about boasting about downscoring things is just begging for being shunned and disliked. Rather than the high-alignment mods being the source of all power, their public admission of that status would mean one thing only- that they got to censor posts, and for that reason they would have to be ready to justify their decisions or risk being 'silenced' themselves in an orgy of metamoderation... that would lower all participants below the threshold for moderation and permit them only positive votes, with increasingly less influence as their alignment fell.
    • Diabolically clever, no?

    Simple, effective, self-correcting in lots of ways- I'd like to see CmdrTaco try this. It would decouple moderation from intent to affect outcomes- it'd become a more broadly based thing in which the desired demographics could be controlled from Taco Central by tweeking the autocalibrating threshold value and the pseudorandom weightings :)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 02, 1999 @11:30AM (#1950921)
    Why the hell would you block moderators from moderating forums they are interested in enough to post to?

    This just turns the whole moderating thing into a big chore that prevents you from getting involved in the discussion.

    Right now, when I moderate, it's just something I do as I go down through a thread. I read the article, then go through the comments to see if anyone else had anything interesting to say. 90 percent of them don't, but the 10 percent who do get a boost, until I get to the bottom and decide if I have anything to add.

    The new system means you have to decide whether to participate in the discussion or help weed out the crap/add to the good. That's annoying.

    Nevertheless, Rob, I think might sort of work when you get 4k people doing the moderating.

    And I really like the random draft model you are considering. That is a concept that I have thought society as a whole should entertain: randomly drafting people to do unpleasant tasks that no one wants but which need to be done.

    Overall though, there was no need to #make# moderating an unpleasant task. It was kind of fun when you could just hum along and do it without worrying about the consequences to your own freedom on /.


    It's fun watching this stuff evolve anyway.
    -A temporary Coward-
  • by davie ( 191 ) on Friday April 02, 1999 @12:44PM (#1950922) Journal

    Wouldn't the "post or moderate" concept work better if moderators were simply restricted from moderating replies to their comments, rather than all comments? If a user is considered worthy of moderator status based upon the overall value of his comments, shouldn't slashdot encourage his input as well as his moderation, limiting moderation only when he might be most inclined to abuse it to subvert dissenting opinions?

    I wouldn't want to see those with a proven track record forced to choose between moderation and input except where it makes sense.

  • by wayne ( 1579 ) <> on Friday April 02, 1999 @11:44AM (#1950923) Homepage Journal
    Personally, I am very concerned about the "tyranny of the majority." That is, if you have a democratic process where everyone gets one vote, then 51% of the people can easily silence the other 49%.

    I think it is very important promote contrary views. I think it is very important not to become a self selecting group, where only certain views are tolerated.

    Statistically speaking, even a sample of 400 people taken at random is going to be indistinguishable from the entire population. So, having 400 or 4,000 or 40,000 moderators makes very little difference, because they all effectively represent the entire population of slashdot. OK, so Rob isn't selecting people at random, but it is not clear to me that the typical moderator is much different than the typical /. user either before or after this new way of selecting moderators.

    One of the methods that has come out of studies on the voting process is that giving each person more than one vote, and let them distribute those votes any way they like, promotes diversity. This is contrary to the "one person, one vote" view that is so ingrained in the American thought process, but it doesn't give anyone more power, it just gives minorities a chance to target their vote to their own views. This lets the 49%, or 15%, or whatever a much better chance of getting 49% or 15% of the final voice, instead of nearly 0% that typically comes out of a democratic process.

    I also don't want an elite few deciding which articles are most interesting, but with the number of people reading /., 400 isn't "a few", at least when compared with most elected offices.

  • If a person is forced to choose to moderate or post exclusively, the I would fear that someone would moderate with the goal of making their feelings on the subject clear.

    I'm not saying this is deliberate, but that moderators are human and are not given extensive training to understand their own motivations for their actions.

    So, I'd like to suggest the following:
    That a moderator be allowed to either post or moderate on thread level. If a someone posts on a thread then that person cannot moderate on any subthread posts or on any posts at the level of the parent post.

    This would help keep things in balance, eliminate some potential conflict of interests, and not ban these people entirely from discussions they are interested in or knowledgeable. Note also, this can still block out a person's ability to moderate for an entire article if they post at the root or child of root level!

  • by mooman ( 9434 ) on Friday April 02, 1999 @02:12PM (#1950925) Homepage
    We are having vigorous debate about the implementation of moderation systems, but I think before we consider any of them, each needs to be held up to the singular purpose of moderation:

    Moderation is solely intended to improve the signal-to-noise ratio

    The whole reason Rob's put this system in place is so that readers (me, you, and everyone else on here) can choose the "quality" of the news and information they read on here.

    Everyone is free to pick whatever filter settings suit their needs. I'm usually busy, read /. from the office, and want to just keep up with news headlines related to the technology fields I'm in. Slashdot, prior to the moderation, was not very conducive to quickly getting *facts*. Now, we have this great chance to optimize some schema to fix this.

    Most of the posts on here seem to worry about security (preventing people not selected as moderators from becoming moderators). I'm not sure how applicable this is. This worst thing that I can imagine happening in this case is that they post something useless and inflamatory and then bump up the score of it Well, with 400 or 4000 (or whatever) moderators, aren't the odds high that someone else will come along and say "this is just flamebait" and dock its score back to the appropriate level?

    Lots of the scenarios on here are really fears that are more applicable to *posting* abuses not *moderating* abuses. I think the only way to abuse this system of moderating is to be fickle or biased. And few of the proposed ideas for selecting moderators would have any effect at preventing that.

    I think the only requirements for anyone to moderate, should be something like:
    1. Agree to be impartial. (You may think Macs suck, but if someone posts something insightful about them, you give it the props it deserves and bump up its score)
    2. Agree to always score things against the single measuring stick of signal vs. noise.

    I think that anyone adhering to those two tenets would do a fine job moderating. And if we're worried about keeping those people honest, the idea of a "score balance" that alerts anytime someone skews significantly to some + or - threshold would identify those people.

    By having a large number of moderators who all agree to the above, it's sure to dilute the effect that any one or few malicious "fake moderators" might have on the system.

    Remember the only point of moderation is to rate articles on an "importance/insightful/useful" scale so that readers can filter based on their scores. Getting into details like "moderate vs. post" detracts from this purpose. Let's keep it simple.

    I welcome any comments for or against these ideas...

    mooman (Who just wants any system for quickly keeping up with current techie news without all the flamewars)

  • Moderation will/should raise the signal to noise ratio. Use the filters. This should keep the "Me too posts, and the "fist post KNEEP" posts from bothering you.

    The goal though is to not need to filter on that level of post, and instead filter on the quality of the posts.(read further if you would like my opnion on what to do about that).

    Slight diversion of topic follows:

    I see where you are comming from, but we were all newbies once, trying to . Excluding newbies is not the answer, some times it really feels good to flame the living crap out of someone, or berate them for their ignorance.

    Yes, /. is cool, it has lots of usefull information, You can say to your friends, hey did you read that article on /. today(Woo Hoo instant proof of your imminent geekdom).

    If you were a newbie, and you were comming to /. looking for new information, trying to not be a newbie any more only to find out that because you are a newbie you cannot get away from being a newbie(that would suck, think about the potential loss we could suffer).

    The answer has been and always will be user education. At times I hate to admit it, talking about lusers and coworkers(cow-orkers) making your job painfully hard because they are stupid.

    With rare exeption, a good program of education and available resources(and a willingness to learn) will take the worst person you have to deal with and at least make them tollerable.

    In summary:
    Don't alienate newbies, we were all newbies once.

    You don't have to hand hold newbies, just point them in the direction of the information they need and be available to answer questions.

    User education is the key to a happier existance(OK, a ST1550 makes a good LART and brings a smile to my face, but that goes against the point of this post)


    The answer instead of creating nerds. geeks. BOFH./. may be an educational page. Like hey here are some general guide lines, this is good this is bad, whatever.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 02, 1999 @11:13AM (#1950927)
    Hi, I'm a moderator and I qualify for "jury duty", but I doubt I'll moderate a comment and have it stick ever again. Here's why:

    I post to friggin' often.

    I only really read those threads that I'm interested in, and because I'm interested in them I usually post a comment or a follow-up someplace.

    Not letting moderators moderate in particular threads that they either started or in which they participate isn't a bad idea, but not letting them moderate in whole forums seems kind of counterproductive. You want people who are active to be moderators, but you don't want them to be active and moderate....

  • by Elwood ( 4347 ) on Friday April 02, 1999 @11:41AM (#1950928) Homepage
    As a long time /. reader (well, ok just over a year and a half, but that is a long time for me to keep hitting the same site), here are my simple ideas.

    Moderation is needed. I have seen this site grow quite a bit over the last year, and that is good. But the singal to noise ratio has gone up alot, Malda is doing the right thing by setting up moderation.

    I also belive that who moderaters may be more important then what they can do. Considering the fact that most people just use the defualts, moderators will set the tone for the whole site.

    The question is, who do we want setting that tone? Who do we trust? And what do we want that tone to be?

    For instance, as Linux has gone mainstream over the last year, and Slashdot right along with it, the "unwashed masses" have decended with a vengence. These are the people that use Linux not for its merits, but because it is cool. And part of the "coolness" is coming to the Geek sites and belonging. These are the people that cause the most noise, they are the ones that the "old timers" get annoyed with the most.

    Now, God love the newbies, some day they may very well teach everyone a thing or two. But they have to grow up. They are quick to flame, and quicker to post without understanding the topic.

    Now, I have always thought that Slashdot has reflected the nerd computer user communtiy, not Linux or Open Source or whatever. And it has done a good job doing it. But as the community changes to embrace the onslaught of newbies, and slashdot changes with it, where do the hardcore users go?

    I think the plan that Taco has layed out is a good one for letting slashdot reflect the reader base. What my idea is, whynot have a, or or whatever for the old time readers. Those of use that would come here before it was hip. Those of us that want a place to dicuss topics with other like minded people, not newbies doing their best to be accepted.

    How that would be done, I have no idea. Whats to stop the newbies from russing in there so they can say they are hardcore? I dunno. I just know what I would like to see, not how to get there.

    Now this may very well be a stupid idea, and I am open to that suggestion. But anyways, I have babbled enough now..
  • Your argument is good in theory, but not in practice.

    When picking, for example, a juror for a trial, the "pickers" (whoever they are; sorry, I don't know the American judicial system that well) are fairly certain that they know what will and will not be relevant in the trial. For example, if there is a trial of a murderer, they can be fairly sure (at least well above 50%) that the proceedings will not involve methods of apple picking. Therefore they can choose jurors who are not knowledgeable about the murder, and therefore impartial. They don't have to worry about how much knowledge the juror does or does not have about the methods of apple picking.

    Unfortunately, the same does not apply to Slashdot forums. As anyone who's read them very much knows, the chances of a forum in response to an article on ESR of going off into some completely unexpected direction (for example, methods of apple picking, to belabour a point) are quite good.

    Within any one forum, the threads can become quite splintered and evolve into many sub-discussions. Moderating one of these should have no effect on whether or not you can post to another.

    I definitely agree with the post you responded to that moderator/poster limitations should apply by thread, not forum. I am a fairly active poster on Slashdot; usually posting in the region of 50-60 posts per week, sometimes more, sometimes less. Often, these posts are quick, off-the-cuff comments that could be omitted without much consequence. However, every now and then I post something that I put a fair amount of thought into, and honestly believe is "worth" posting. This one, for example.

    At the same time, I often see a post that consists entirely of "Rob is a flaming communist asshole!" or some such drivel. I would definitely like the ability to moderate those ones down into oblivion. (Can you tell that I'm not currently a moderator? :-)

    Anyway, I honestly can't see why or how this should be affected by the fact that I posted something else in the same forum.

    There is also the other side of the coin; moderating comments upward. There are two issues here: partiality and knowledge. While I agree that a moderator should be impartial to the comments they moderate, that does not mean they should not be knowledgeable. I don't have time to go through every article on the Slashdot main page. How do I decide which ones to read through? Obviously, the ones that interest me. And as a general rule, those subjects that interest me are usually the ones that I know most about. Partial or not, I think it makes sense that a moderator should have some knowledge, or understanding of the topic they are moderating comments on. Perhaps not in terms of demoting the "Rob is a flaming communist asshole!"-type comments, but certainly in promoting the ones that have good technical content.

    But it is these same subjects, the ones about which I have the most knowledge, that I would be the most interested, and qualified, to post on. Slashdot tends to deal with very technical discussions, not a "simple" guilty-or-innocent decision. (Yes, I know it's not that simple, but still does not require the same level of technical knowledge to discuss the issue; where it does, people are brought in to explain the terms, etc. for the laymen.)

    Keep in mind another area where technical knowledge is useful. Nomination selection for the Academy Awards. The voters are picked from other directors, actors, technicians and the like. They all work in the film industry. And while they will all vote on the movies, actors and so on from all categories, this is not true of the initial selection. When picking the '5 selected movies' in any category (ie: the 5 options for 'Best Picture'), the academy members are only allowed to have a say in the selections for their own discipline. In other words, a director only has a say in choosing the 5 films that will be up for "Best Director". Why? Simple. Because of the technical knowledge of the field which is necessary, and which non-directors simply don't have.

    I happen to think that this is directly translatable to moderation of Slashdot forums.

    But most tantamount, please don't restrict the abilities of moderators simply for the sake of restricting their abilities. I can think of no good reason to do this, especially when dealing with an area that is so integral to Slashdot, the posting of comments.

    I know that if this is the situation that remains, I for one would have no interst in becoming a moderator. I am, for the time being, setting my preference to "I don't want to be a moderator". And yes, I meet all the criteria for being one.
    - Sean
  • by genehckr ( 23251 ) on Friday April 02, 1999 @11:16AM (#1950930) Homepage

    One thing I didn't see in Rob's suggestions: it seems only logical to have some balance between restriction and privledge for moderators. So, given the way the system is (or was), the need to choose between moderation and participation makes sense. Given the way the system is going to be (or is), it seems too restrictive. If everybody (or most everybody) is potentially eligible to moderate, restricting participation as a consequence of moderations seems excessive.

    As far as choosing moderators: I think the current system (the Gang of 400) has been working just fine. Don't inadvertently take us backwards by attempting to over-democratize the process -- that way lies chaos!

    My personal preference would be for moderators to be choosen by some kind of emergent criteria. That is, for example, a strong positive score on all posted comments. Of course, there needs to be some type of control on this, so people just don't score their friends high to get them to be moderators...hmmm...

    Must think more...

A university faculty is 500 egotists with a common parking problem.