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Google Patents Your Rights Online

Google Throws /. Under Bus To Snag Patent 584

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the google-patents-meta-moderation dept.
theodp writes "Before Danny Hillis and Bran Ferren invented Google's newly-patented system for 'Delegating Authority to Evaluate Content', Google says users looking for content evaluation websites were condemned to the likes of Amazon.com and Slashdot. From the patent: 'Many sites found on the World Wide Web allow users to evaluate content found within the site. The Slashdot Web site (www.slashdot.org) allows users to "mod" comments recently posted by other users. Based on this information obtained from the users, the system determines a numerical score for each comment ranging from 1 to 5.' The problem with sites like Slashdot, Google told the USPTO, is that 'because there is no restriction on the users that may participate, the reliability of the ratings is correspondingly diminished.' Commissioning a small number of trusted evaluators or editors would increase the reliability of the evaluations, Google notes, but wouldn't allow nearly as much content to be evaluated. Google's solution? Allow trusted evaluators to transfer a 'quantity of authority' to like-minded 'contributing authorities', who in turn designate and delegate authority to additional like-minded contributing authorities. Think Microsoft Outlook 97 Delegate Access meets Slashdot Karma Points, and you've got the general idea!"
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Google Throws /. Under Bus To Snag Patent

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  • by symbolset (646467) * on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @10:38AM (#38213840) Journal

    3... 2... 1... Go!

    Meh. This is more like "We think we can improve on the best thing." I believe we actually had a thread about this here recently.

    • GO GOOGLE! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @10:54AM (#38214066)

      Someone with brains AND A VOICE finally speaks up against Slashdot's miserable organization, wait.....what.....hold on a sec:
       
      Okay, so what am I missing here? Where's the article? I see a link to a patent, a link to a pointless JPEG, and some kid's anecdotal evidence (if even that) that Google hates Slashdot. C'mon, theodp [slashdot.org]. This is the Internets. If you're going to make some absurd comment, at least have the wherewithal to link to someone else's page where someone else actually came up with or cited the idea. Even if it is completely bogus. It looks to me as though you waved your hands, threw some pixie dust, and declared that Google just insulted Slashdot. Where's the beef, sir?
       
      --TSP
       
        captcha: smoked

      • Re:GO GOOGLE! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @11:16AM (#38214386)
        So Google is saying slashdot has a systemic problem with idiotic groupthink and it's skewed moderation?

        I'm with Google on this.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @11:28AM (#38214560)
          It is skewed moderation?
        • Re:GO GOOGLE! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @11:29AM (#38214586)

          But surely the moderators appointing new moderators will either lead to;
          a) Moderating nominating their friends with similar political opinions, which has the overall result of skewing the mods.
          b) People nominating troll accounts so they can troll without their own account being seen, skewing of the results.

          • Re:GO GOOGLE! (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @12:01PM (#38214978) Homepage Journal

            Your a) is my thought. I like slashdot the way it is. Let's suppose that, ohhhh, about 30 people had uber moderator powers. And, of those 30, 17 of them were real fans of Microsoft, 1 was an Apple Phanboi, 1 was a Luser, and the remaining character just didn't give a rat's ass what operating system was in use. So, 17 uber mods nominate Microsoft phanbois, 1 nominates Apple phanbois, the Luser nominates other Lusers, and the odd man out nominates people with sexy names, that he hopes to meet some day.

            Actually - things wouldn't change much, would they? ROFLMAO

        • Re:GO GOOGLE! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @11:35AM (#38214662)

          If you want to deal with Slashdot's moderation system, the largest problem today is what got termed on Digg "bury brigades."

          That is to say, users of one political/ideological persuasion who play a "game" of holding multiple accounts ("extra tickets" in the modpoint lottery), and then expend them en masse against other users if they find ones who they disagree with on political grounds. Mostly, this is used to mass-attack someone's karma.

          Think it doesn't exist? I can only provide anecdotal evidence, because Slashdot doesn't provide ways to track mod behavior on a large scale. But anecdotally speaking, more than once in the past 6 months I've seen past comments of mine that were 2-3 weeks old suddenly get downmodded from +5 insightful to -1 Troll, in the span of about a half hour. Karma falls accordingly. Who would go after 3 week old comments to downmod like that, if not someone playing a coordinated "kill this person's karma" game?

          Slashdot, meanwhile, tacitly approves this by the latest "modding structure" they've added. If you can get enough downmods linked to an account or IP, they will actually be BANNED FROM POSTING for a while. That's an added incentive for the bury-brigaders to try to attack someone's karma by downmodding old posts and new alike, regardless of merit, relentlessly; do it enough, have 3-4 accounts out of 50 with modpoints at a given time, and you can essentially hold a partisan "ban button" at your target's head.

          A better solution would be to disallow downmodding and just raise the ceiling on upmodding from, say, 5 to 20. Pure upmods mean that insightful comments will still rise to the top and can be filtered for accordingly, while stuff like GNAA trolling will stay at 5 or below and will still be easily filtered out.

          • Re:GO GOOGLE! (Score:5, Insightful)

            by stanlyb (1839382) on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @11:42AM (#38214758)
            Or to forbid modding after lets say 10 days. And to forbid sudden down modding from +5 to -1, which is ridiculous.
            • Plus only systems (Score:5, Interesting)

              by Kamiza Ikioi (893310) on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @12:54PM (#38215644) Homepage

              Negativity is always more powerful than positivity on positions. What plus only systems do, such as on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ is rank things purely on their positive ratings, though Twitter's ranking is obscured through the Trending Topics system.

              Plus only systems don't let anyone actively destroy content, but simply choose to promote or not. Slashdot could use the same system using uncapped mod points per post, and allowing to see top X posts, instead of setting which score to see. Of course, this doesn't change the fact that only random users can mod.

              • by c6gunner (950153) on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @01:54PM (#38216440)

                The problem with a "plus only" system is that it encourages the spread of bullshit. You can make up complete nonsense that sounds plausible and intelligent, get modded to +50, and that rating can never be taken away. Even when someone posts a comment explaining in detail why everything you've said is factually wrong, their comment has to play catch-up before anyone will even see it.

              • Re:Plus only systems (Score:5, Interesting)

                by Solandri (704621) on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @02:44PM (#38217098)
                Assuming an equal distribution of votes, negative mod systems only work well if every topic being modded has an equal number of people for and against. If there are an unequal number of supporters vs. detractors, negative mods become a force multiplier allowing the majority to squelch the minority. To quote from my previous post on it...

                Say 4 of 5 people hold a majority view here. Say there are 400 posts representing the majority view, and 100 posts representing the minority view. Say on average there is 1 randomly selected moderator per 10 posters given one mod point, and the moderators' views have the same distribution. And pretend that Slashdot only allowed positive mods.

                There are 40 mods giving +1 to 400 majority-view posts, for an average of 40/400 = +0.1 per post.
                There are 10 mods giving +1 to the 100 minority-view posts, also for an average of +0.1 per post.

                Note how the average rating within each position is the same. Also note that the number of up-mods is proportional to the number of posts supporting each viewpoint. So both viewpoints are represented in proportion to their popularity, and the sum total of their ratings are likewise proportional to their popularity. e.g. if 1 in 50 posts were worthy of a +5 ranking and the rest were +0, the majority view would have 8 +5 posts, the minority view would have 2 +5 posts. Exactly the same 4:1 ratio as the majority-to-minority ratio.

                Now toss in negative mods. Say one in five mods gives a -1 to an opposing viewpoint rather than a +1 to their favored viewpoint.

                The majority view gets 400 posts, 32 +1 mods, and 2 -1 mods, for an overall average score of 30/400 = +0.075 per post.
                The minority view gets 100 posts, 8 +1 mods, and 8 -1 mods, for an overall average score of 0 per post.

                If the ratio of negative to positive mods is greater than the ratio of minority to majority views, the posts representing the minority view actually end up with an average negative ranking. Algebraically:

                p = % of positive moderations
                n = % of negative moderations
                A = majority population
                B = minority population
                Average majority view ranking = Ap - Bn
                Average minority view ranking = Bp - An
                It's pretty easy to see that if A > B, this skews the majority rankings to be higher than the minority rankings. And if A >> B, B basically has no say in the rankings, and the rankings are almost entirely determined by A's opinions.

                In practical terms, this means that if Google allowed user-controlled negative votes on their search rankings, unpopular topics like Linux would be modded down to oblivion by the much larger number of Windows users. Within the scope of Linux, a particular Linux site might be very useful and worthy of a high ranking. But the number of Windows users who accidentally got the site as a search result would probably outnumber the number of Linux users actually looking for the site. Consequently the negative mods from those Windows users who saw it as an irrelevant search result, would outnumber the positive mods from Linux users, and the useful site would wind up with a negative ranking.
            • Re:GO GOOGLE! (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Moryath (553296) on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @01:28PM (#38216076)

              Doesn't address the problem of "downmodding old posts" though. Set it to 10 days, and 9-day-old posts will be the targets. Set it to even 24 hours, and you'll just see direct attacks.

              The problems of Slashdot's moderation system are:

              1) Encouragement of mining.
              - Random distribution of modpoints encourages sockpuppet/"mining" accounts in order to collect large numbers of mod points at certain users' disposal.
              - "You can't mod a discussion you posted in" encourages the keeping of sockpuppets for moderation simply to be able to mod in the same discussions that interest you to read/post in.

              2) Ease of targeting.
              - Ability to see other users' long past posts = easy way to find and target old posts for purposes of a massive downmod attack to karma.

              3) Incentives to downmod versus upmod
              - If you upmod, you feel good about promoting good discourse: this does not apply to most Slashdotters, especially modpoint miners, on the basis of John Gabriel's Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory [penny-arcade.com].
              - If you downmod, you commit a direct attack on someone. You decrease their karma, you decrease the visibility of their post (directly attacking their words), and as something I didn't know about till the parent poster pointed it out, you apparently also can be hit with a temp ban [slashdot.org]: "Also, if a single user is moderated down several times in a short time frame, a temporary ban will be imposed on that user... a cooling off period if you will. It lasts for 72 hours, or more for users who have posted a ton." Therefore, if you go after someone's old posts, with a slew of modpoints from sockpuppet accounts established only to have more tickets in the modpoint lotto, you can actually ban them as described above by the parent poster.

              I can't see how anyone can justify this as a good thing for Slashdot's discussions. I don't care what side you are on in a discussion, either side - or both side - having access to ban buttons is just not going to be helpful. Human nature says they're not using it on the trolls, they're using it to try to silence the other side.

              4) Ineffectiveness of metamoderation
              - Metamoderation only covers a small sampling of the moderated posts, and only results in a very slight uptick to the percentage chance that an account will get modpoints again sooner. Further, metamoderation pulls from the same group of people that are generally moderating, meaning that downmods produced by polarized bury brigade members are relatively likely to be reviewed by other bury brigade members (who are interested in metamodding, unlike the general posting populace).

              Kamiza's point below is absolutely spot-on; the solution to bury brigades is to take away their weapons.

          • Re:GO GOOGLE! (Score:5, Interesting)

            by bigwheel (2238516) on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @11:55AM (#38214916)
            (my first post as a long-time lurker) Seeing the -1 score on the above post seems to prove his point. That's one of the reasons I turn off score thresholds. No doubt I'll also be down modded into oblivion for pointing this out.
            • Re:GO GOOGLE! (Score:5, Interesting)

              by Moryath (553296) on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @12:10PM (#38215096)

              Yeah, no kidding. The "bury brigade" problem [wired.com] is inherent to almost all "community modding" systems. Digg had it the worst because every account has a point to give, and users can trivially make a large number of accounts. Slashdot has the "higher percentage chance" for high-karma posters, but that's not really helpful for two reasons. First, because most high-karma posters would rather post something insightful on a particular topic of interest, and aren't allowed to mod on the same discussion where they comment - thus, most high-karma posters either never use their mod points, or wind up canceling their mods when they see something that makes them want to post instead. Second, because even if you run only one high-karma account, you mathematically have less chance of mod points and less modpoint-holding capacity than the bury-troll who's mining a couple hundred "default karma" accounts that never post (so never get downmodded to troll and lose the ability to receive modpoints) but simply mine for modpoints.

              The underlying problem is that downmodding is simply not a useful tool. No matter what you call it, it's an attack on another poster. In the karma system, you do real damage to their future posts (in the term of "all future posts by this user are at -1 or -2 the previous threshold) if you can gather enough bury-brigadiers drive them from Excellent down to Good or below. Even absent a karma system, gathering a bury brigade allows you to do the equivalent of a shout-down attack, forcing anything you don't agree with below the viewing threshold of most people.

              • Re:GO GOOGLE! (Score:5, Interesting)

                by TimothyDavis (1124707) <tumuchspaam@hotmail.com> on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @12:35PM (#38215412)
                Slashdot should do something like the Netflix challenge, where they release the dataset of modding information that can be analyzed for these kinds of trends. I would be very curious to see what kinds of information about modding behavior the community can dig up.
              • Re:GO GOOGLE! (Score:5, Interesting)

                by ironjaw33 (1645357) on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @12:55PM (#38215656)

                This is a problem inherent with single-blind peer review. In the academic community, anonymous reviewers have the power to reject non-anonymous submissions simply because they don't like the author. Double blind reviews fix this, where both the reviewers and authors are unknown to each other, but it seems that most journals and conferences are single blind.

                The solution to Slashdot would be to have a similar double blind system. If you wish to mod comments on a story, you shouldn't be able to see who the poster is. From the story link on the main page, you'll get an option to either comment on the story and see who the other commenters are or mod comments and not know who the authors are. If you choose the comment option, you won't be able to go back and mod later.

                • Re:GO GOOGLE! (Score:5, Insightful)

                  by nedlohs (1335013) on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @01:28PM (#38216074)

                  Double blind is basically not feasible for peer review.

                  If you don't like someone enough to want to actively harm their career then you are going to be able to recongnise their papers without needing the name to be listed.

                  Just "reject everything that has more than two citations to things written by X" would likely do the job well enough.

                  And for the slashdot idea - you read the comments while not logged in or logged in as another user and then log in as the user with mod points and do the modding.

                • Re:GO GOOGLE! (Score:5, Insightful)

                  by Monoman (8745) on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @01:28PM (#38216078) Homepage

                  Interesting but the "bury brigade" types will have one account to read and reveal who a poster is and all of their other accounts to do bury posts with.

                • Re:GO GOOGLE! (Score:4, Interesting)

                  by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @01:51PM (#38216392)

                  If you wish to mod comments on a story, you shouldn't be able to see who the poster is.

                  This actually matters to some people?!?

                  I use maybe half the moderator points I'm given, and I can't recall ever paying attention to the poster's identity when I was deciding whether to mod a comment up or down.

                  On the other hand, maybe I'm just a weirdo....

            • Re:GO GOOGLE! (Score:4, Insightful)

              by wiedzmin (1269816) on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @01:18PM (#38215956)
              Yes, but now it's at 5, and yours is at 3. So it seems collective thinking isn't as broken as Google claims it could be. In my opinion, 1,000 random users are a lot more likely to crowdsource a diverse, accurate judgement than 10 "trusted" moderators with 20 "trusted" delegates. If half of those "trusted" users are "fanboying" for or against that particular topic, you have 50% of votes being assigned based on personal preference instead of being objective... within 1,000 users impact of 15 users' subjectivity will be a lot lower and has a chance of being offset by subjectivity of the users from an opposing camp.

              I am surprised that Google would be peddling this, it seems to go against their net neutrality principle. If you have everyone generating content, everyone should be allowed to use and provide feedback on that content. Even Slashdot's selective moderation system is too restrictive - how often do you see a great comment that you wish you could mod up, but have no points, or vice versa?

              And if you're worried about bury brigades and want an absolutely, 100% real content and ratings, make a system that prohibits anonymous users (I mean verifying identities via credit cards and social security numbers and all). Then you will have a perfectly accurate system. Except that not many people will want to use it.
            • Re:GO GOOGLE! (Score:4, Interesting)

              by identity0 (77976) on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @04:48PM (#38218562) Journal

              Jesus, we're at two million now? I feel old....

              First, let's get this out of the way - fuck Google for patenting a goddamn forum mod system.

              That said, it's telling that most of the posts here are bashing Slashdot's mod system. As a longtime user, I heartily agree. /.'s mod system has sucked for a really long time.

              It incentivises early posters so later posters get less views even if their posts are more useful; stories with post counts that are high get split into multiple pages but if one thread has too many posts it can break that; the fact that you are judging on a one-dimentional scale where 'funny' is mutually exclusive with 'insightful'...

              I could go on, but I think the bigger problems are more with story selection and the general lack of transparency on this site.

          • Re:GO GOOGLE! (Score:4, Interesting)

            by LordLimecat (1103839) on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @01:23PM (#38216018)

            If you think the problem is ANYTHING like Digg, your memory must be playing tricks on you. On occasion I see posts (some mine, some I disagree with) modded down simply because the view is unpopular, even if stated well and civilly. But it is nothing like digg where any kind of dissenting view would be dug to -250, never to see the light of day again. Notably, on digg, since anyone could mod at any time, there was nothing to stop someone from making 50 sock puppets all with full digg powers, whereas that simply does not work here.

            If there is a complaint I have, it is the groupthink you tend to see on sites like this, but the mods for the most part do their job fairly well. I suppose the one other complaint would be that people mod up TOO much, modding things insightful when noone is even sure if the post in question has a shred of truth to it. You could, for example, get a +5 mod on some days just for making up credible lies about an unpopular politician.

            All that said, the system here at slashdot is one of the better ones out there. The limit on how far something can be buried, as well as to who can do the burying, and the restriction from posting and modding in the same topic, do a great job of keeping the worst offenses to a minimum.

          • Re:GO GOOGLE! (Score:4, Informative)

            by Jeng (926980) on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @02:13PM (#38216704)

            I wonder if the editors might be responsible for some of these "bury brigades"?

            from the faq

            Do Editors Moderate?

            The Slashdot Editors have unlimited mod points, and we have no problem using them.

            Our moderations represent about 3% of all moderation, and according to Meta Moderation, the fairness of these moderations are either statistically indistinguishable from non-admin users, or substantially better. The raw numbers are: 95.1% of non-admin upmods are fair, and 94.7% of admin upmods are fair. 79.1% of non-admin downmods are fair, and 83.6% of admin downmods are fair.

            The editors tend to find crapfloods and moderate them down: a single malicious user can post dozens of comments, which would require several users to moderate them down, but a single admin can take care of it in seconds. This tends to remove the obvious garbage from the discussion so that the general population can use their mod points to determine good. Otherwise, a few crapfloods could suck a lot of moderator points out of the system and throw things out of whack.

            You can argue that allowing admins unlimited moderation is somehow inherently unfair, but one of the goals of Slashdot is to produce readable content for a variety of readers with a variety of reading habits. I believe this process improves discussions for the vast majority of Slashdot Readers, so it will stay this way.

    • by poetmatt (793785) on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @11:05AM (#38214200) Journal

      meanwhile, the headline is written so poorly that I'm impressed by that as well.

      Google throw's slashdot under the bus? How about "google shows slashdot's shortfalls". Slashdot is far from infallible, and the mod system ranges from "useful" to "why the hell was this moderated poorly/positively"?

      However, that isn't the nature of slashdot specifically, it's just an accurate depiction of the internet: those looking for useful things can find gems of very useful information, but there is also a lot of crap and sometimes the crap will be found much easier. This is new?

    • by yog (19073) * on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @11:11AM (#38214302) Homepage Journal

      Google has a point. Slashdot's moderation is far from perfect; people get modded down for expressing politically incorrect opinions or otherwise taking a stance opposed to that of the majority. You might call it a tyranny of the majority, in fact. I've seen quite intelligent, insightful postings modded to 0 or -1 because the person was taking an unpopular stand on an issue. On more than one occasion, I've seen factual statements dismissed by ignorant posters and moderators.

      Suppressing opposing views in a discussion forum does not improve the forum or raise the level of the discussion. People strive to say things that will get them modded up, rather than say what they really believe.

      The point of a discussion, or an argument, or a debate, is to allow multiple parties to express their views, and arrive at a consensus or at least understand what the opposing view is. I've often been persuaded to change my mind in these forums, although the strident nature of some of the posters is grating and counter-productive. Criticize the idea, not the person who expresses the idea.

      I try to meta-moderate when I can (weird how they don't have a permanent meta-mod link on the home page, though--sometimes I have to search for it if I don't see the "Have you meta-moderated lately?" link at the top). But it often feels like bailing out a boat with a thimble.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @11:22AM (#38214466)
        The funny thing is we like this post and apparently agree with the premise.

        But we won't change how we moderate.
      • by impaledsunset (1337701) on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @11:27AM (#38214544)

        Yet, Google's suggestion does nothing to address this issue. At least judging from the summary, you'd just add more layers but have more or less the same system. On the top you'd have a few main moderators selected by some possibly unreliable criteria. They would approve smaller subset of moderators depending on their own evaluation.

        The world like-minded is especially concerning. If it means thinking critically in the same lines, it's OK. If it means having the same opinions, you have been bubbled - a group of opinions different from the ones you've expected are invisible. What's more, sometimes even a bit of uninformed crazy opinions that show a total lack of reason are also a great contribution. If nothing else, they give you the chance to explain how are they wrong or how they are badly constructe, and given that quite a lot of us are unreasonable people around us, ignoring the unreasonable gives you no chance to address their questions.

        I don't see how Slashdot's system is that different. Moderators are selected based on past moderations, and the layers are circular. If others have moderated you nicely, you get to moderate yourself. The internal bias created by this system is not that different than the bias created by a tree system, and I don't see how it's worse.

        More important than the system are the rules that are used to judge the quality of the posts. There should be guidelines that outline carefully what is good and what isn't. Of course, Slashdot has that in a sense, and the labels "Insighful", "Informative" discourage voting "+1, Agree", but that apparently is not enough. But the thing that is really missing are higher standards as well as a way to observe these standards.

      • by MrZilla (682337) on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @11:27AM (#38214550) Homepage

        I think your post was very well written, but I just wanted to comment on this in particular:

        People strive to say things that will get them modded up, rather than say what they really believe.

        This, for me, is the biggest "problem" with Slashdot today. A huge amount of posters go in for that "+5 Funny" post, and apart from articles on politics, it's hard to find much good discussion going on.

        I remember when I first started reading Slashdot back in early 2000 (or could it have been late 1990's?). I used to save threads because they contained so much interesting information (especially about physics and astronomy). Maybe it's just me remembering things better than they actually were...

        But seriously, try reading the comments for any article that has to do with Uranus. Or lasers. Or sharks. Or Russia. Or in fact most any article. "Funny" posts everywhere. The remainder is blatant trolls, whining about the EU/US, politicians, lawyers or accusing everyone of being employed by the company that they dared write anything positive about.

        And on top that you have people modding funny comments as Insightful or Interesting, because "Funny mod doesn't give karma"

        • by kiwimate (458274) on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @11:37AM (#38214694) Journal

          Yes. It's quite amazing just how many comments get modded up to +4 or +5 very quickly for no apparent reason. The other big problem I have is it sometimes seems anyone can get modded up to +5 insightful or informative if they sound like they know what they're talking about, even if they're flat out wrong. I've seen so many comments that get modded all the way up and they're provably incorrect, sometimes even if I don't know the topic but take five minutes to read the article linked in the summary.

          • by BranMan (29917) on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @12:14PM (#38215152)
            Then I'm probably partly to blame. If you see a comment that just flat out WRONG, correct them. Post dammit!

            When I moderate, I am not looking at whether the poster is correct or incorrect - if I agree with them or not - that is immaterial. The point is - does it add to or move forward the discussion? If so, I mod it up. I DO NOT use moderation as a way to impose any inkling of my views onto the subject.

            That is what I believe the moderators are supposed to do, so that is what I do.

            And in meta-moderating I give people the benefit of the doubt when I'm not sure. I really need to feel someones moderation is wrong to mark it so.
          • by xero314 (722674) on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @12:58PM (#38215714)

            anyone can get modded up to +5 insightful or informative if they sound like they know what they're talking about, even if they're flat out wrong

            If you notice the moderation system does not have any options for "Right" and "Wrong", and from what I understand, this was done for good reason. The purpose of the moderation system, on slashdot, is not to determine the correctness of a statement but to determine the readability of the statement. If a person moderates a post upward it's because they believe the statement is worth reading, regardless of whether or not the agree with the statement or believe it to be factual.

            It's far worse that people use the negative mods such as "Flamebait" and "Troll" to down moderate statements they disagree with. But I think in the overall moderation you will find that this is relatively rare. The slashdot moderation happens at such a high volume, and includes meta moderation, that the group as a whole ends up with the result that the majority agrees with. This, in my opinion, is far better than having a select set of the populous deciding what is or is not important to the rest of us.

            Take some time to go back and read some older posts. You will see that the moderation is actually pretty reasonable and accurate. You may not agree with ever bit of moderation, but over all it ends up to be a reasonable representation of the interests of the people that visit Slashdot.

        • by Sancho (17056) * on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @12:18PM (#38215202) Homepage

          I hate "Funny" comments as well. That's why I set "Funny" mods to have a negative impact on the overall score in my preferences.

          Unfortunately, I can't find that option anymore. It seems to have stuck, though. If I log in, funny comments have -1 scores whereas the same comment will have a higher score if I log out.

        • by Sancho (17056) * on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @12:30PM (#38215324) Homepage

          And one more time, because it managed to post from the test account I created to see if things worked.

          https://slashdot.org/users.pl?op=editcomm [slashdot.org] lets you change how various mods affect the final score you see. Then you can set the threshold to not see them. Set Funny to -6 and hide scores of -1, and you won't see funny posts anymore.

      • by Greyfox (87712) on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @11:29AM (#38214578) Homepage Journal
        While it's true that's the usual knee-jerk reaction, usually such moderations are undone by other moderators within a couple of hours if the post actually does make a good point and isn't actively trolling. The system can be actively undermined, but it is fairly self-correcting as well.
      • by Mashiki (184564) <mashiki@gmail. c o m> on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @11:36AM (#38214680) Homepage

        What you're talking about, the tyranny of the majority. Is commonly known as group-think in discussions, where people try to ensure that there's one specific kind of information that people should know, and dissenting views shouldn't be heard at all, especially if they're unpopular.

        The problem with /. is, if you have a pov, and it goes against the opinions of everyone else. You can expect to see yourself modded down, simply because it's unpopular even if true. I experience it often enough, if I cared, well I would. But I don't. "Shouting" someone down by moderation because you don't like what they say, is the mark of the intellectual coward.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @11:42AM (#38214754)

        "Tyranny of the majority" or mob rule/tragedy of the commons/etc. etc.

        Indeed, before I became a permanent AC I had a user account on here and with tedious regularity would get modded down for expressing pro-copyright points of view (this was in the days of Napster). Once I even got modded down as "troll" for posting the definition of NP that is "problems whose solutions can be verified in P". Apparently, the simpler definition wasn't widely known back then; it's the definition we give everybody these days (see Wikipedia). But some bright spark said I was a troll in the comments, and rambled on about non-deterministic Turing machines, blithely unaware that the definitions are equivalent, and thus ignorance prevailed.

        I also dabbled with karma-whoring, which is embarrassingly easy.

        And of course I was accused of "shilling" for my employer (seriously, I posted a pro-copyright comment, someone looked up my IP, mapped it to a Sony range, and accused me of being some kind of astroturfer - apparently I believed in copyright back then because Sony paid me to believe in copyright. Ironic since within Sony I was a troublemaker that was constantly berating the management over email for the kinds of decisions that got them mentioned on Slashdot the whole time. Real irony is that within my part of Sony management agreed with me, and forwarded me the emails they'd sent to the idiots at Sony Music that got all the bad press.)

        Great thing about posting AC is you only ever get modded up :)

        What's interesting about the Google patent is it almost exactly matches my view on what our voting system should be. Everyone gets a vote on every issue, but to achieve practicality they can defer their vote to someone they trust, thus creating de-facto politicians whose position one trusts enough that one lets them vote for them. Each politician can thus issue N votes, and we have perfect proportional representation. Making this into an online system means we can shift our vote around, allocate it to different people on different issues, and elect to vote directly on things that really matter to us. Elections then choose which set of people we wish to govern us, not which set of people we allow to rule us.

        But I acknowledge it's a flawed idea, because it does nothing to avoid tyranny of the majority. So I don't see Google's way as being a step change over Slashdot's way. Just a different permutation of the same concept.

  • by CmdrPony (2505686) on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @10:38AM (#38213844)
    Let's face it, the slashdot moderation system has been broken for a long time. That's where the term slashthink/slashdot group think comes from. If you post a comment that general user base of slashdot likes, it will be modded up. If you post a comment, even a really insightful and interesting one that the general user base doesn't like, it will be modded down. Comments that rank up? Promote free speech, removing copyrights, getting rids of patents, point out how "suits" just don't get us geeks and so on. Comments that go immediately down? Tell informative, but bad points about the current state of Linux, dislike Google, try to be reasonable about copyrights and DRM or say that Microsoft's Visual Studio still kicks ass any other IDE out there.

    I can't find the old post now because it was long time ago, but it went something like this. Every user are given some amount of moderation points, that affect the moderation as a whole. In addition to that, it affects the moderation you see favorable to the likes of you. If they are on your friend lists, their moderation carries more value. If they have moderated similarly to you, their moderation weights more to you. Of course, this should be balanced so that you don't get fully one viewed comments - if some comment is generally modded very high (and forget the -1-5 scale now), it would be displayed to you anyway. If you add to that that comments where you, or similar persons to you have commented, will be fully displayed regardless of their moderation (or some adjustation of that), it would work out really well. Of course, it needs a lot more computation power on the server side.

    For me, personally? I like Reddit's comment system. It has it's faults, but it's better than Slashdot. Interesting posts are on top, and you can just scroll down for more.

    Still, I browse Slashdot at -1 and read what interests me. I come here for the comments, jokes and all that. I like to see it all when the subject is interesting. No moderating system can ever beat your own judgement (even if it's wrong one).
    • by u38cg (607297) <calum@callingthetune.co.uk> on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @10:42AM (#38213904) Homepage
      And the fact is, early, pointless comments like this one get modded insightful, whereas later, superior replies do not receive the same attention.
    • by gfxguy (98788) on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @10:43AM (#38213908)
      Agreed. A lot of junk at -1, but there are far too many comments modded down because of personal views rather than whether or not they add to the discussion, especially when it comes to politically oriented "discussions."
    • by Dreetje (672686) on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @10:46AM (#38213952) Homepage

      Still, I browse Slashdot at -1 and read what interests me. I come here for the comments, jokes and all that. I like to see it all when the subject is interesting. No moderating system can ever beat your own judgement (even if it's wrong one).

      Sure, but it takes a lot of time to go through all comments off a popular topic. I generally like websites where comments/posts are moderated. I also don't have a problem where I have to trust someone, or a group of people, to moderate for me. If I don't like it, maybe the community isn't for me? But I am always open to new experiments, I don't know reddits comment system. I don't dislike slashdot's system much, but perhaps there's better out there, I don't know, not actively searching for it either :P

    • by Jeng (926980) on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @10:48AM (#38213976)

      If you post a comment, even a really insightful and interesting one that the general user base doesn't like, it will be modded down.

      More often the downmods are due to insults and strawmen arguments. you will not be downmoded for making a respectful informative response.

      If you think I am wrong in this please do some searching and find examples.

      • by hedwards (940851) on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @11:13AM (#38214344)

        It's pretty much completely unpredictable. I've been here long enough to know that it's a lot more complicated than that. Putting an insult in whether or not deserved will ratchet up the unpredictability greatly. But you're fooling yourself if you think the moderators around here are intelligent enough to recognize a strawman. I'd be very surprised if that deviated at all from random chance.

        Also, you definitely can get downmodded for a respectful and informative response, it's happened to me fairly often over time. Usually because I'm pointing out something that the Apple fanboys don't like. Of the factions around here they seem to be the ones that are most prone to abuses of mod points. At least in my experience. Probably the second worst would be the pro-legalization libertarians that can't fathom that there might be good reasons to keep drugs banned pending further research.

        I've also noticed some posts will attract a huge number of mod points as the mods battle each other out. In the end there's a very definite bias towards hiding things rather than showing things and I don't think most people with mod points even bother to read the guidelines.

      • by alexo (9335) on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @11:23AM (#38214496) Journal

        If you think I am wrong in this please do some searching and find examples.

        Nah, just mod him down.

    • by zAPPzAPP (1207370) on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @10:51AM (#38214018)

      I don't believe, that downvotes are such a big problem. There are really just three downvote options: Troll, Flamebait and Offtopic.
      Using them on posts that you simply disagree with is obviously against the intention. That does not mean no one does it, but in the end the total numbers matter.
      (You could argue that negative points about Linux are flamebait though... what is the difference between Troll and Flamebait anyway? ^^).

      The bigger problem is, that if you come late to a discussion (and "late" is a short time with this huge userbase) there is no way your comment will recieve any views.

      So even if you have something very insightful to say, unless you are one of the first posters, it will just not get read by any moderators, because it is burried below the threshold. Meanwhile posts that already are on +3 usually get votet to +5 during the day, for no other reason than their visiblity.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @10:52AM (#38214034)

      As far as I can tell Stack Exchange uses the best moderation system. I think more would contribute to gain the privilege to mod comments if /. used something similar, and moderation would be more effective.

    • by polyp2000 (444682) on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @10:53AM (#38214048) Homepage Journal

      This is true,

      But Slashdot is one of the few places I can go on the internet to find comments that are intelligent and well thought out, and where its just as fun reading the comments as the posted article.

      Compare the comments on Slashdot to comments on Digg or Youtube for example.

      I dont necessarily agree with Google out right. Slashdot is a much valued site for me. The site does have flaws , dont get me wrong! However its the community that makes it a worthwhile and Slashdot has that in droves!

      Nick ...

        N....

    • by bjourne (1034822)

      Well, it's better than nothing. Also remember that /. was the first site to employ it on a large scale (long before wikipedia and similar sites appeared) and proved it to roughly work. It is far from perfect though. My personal pet peeve is that long, well thought out posts aren't getting upmodded. Especially if they don't take a stance in a controversial issue but is ambivalent about it. Maybe because most moderators does not have the patience to read through long comments so they do not stick. One-liners

      • by Jeng (926980)

        Maybe because most moderators does not have the patience to read through long comments so they do not stick. One-liners which at first glance may sound insightful, but really are just pointing out the obvious have a much higher probability of getting upmodded.

        It is easier to agree with a sentence than a paragraph. Also the long informative posts may be over the head of whomever is currently modding. If I feel that I cannot make a valid judgement on a topic I don't mod it, but I'll still post usually to find out more.

        People complain about the moderators here as though there is a group of moderators. If you have an account in good standing you will most probably mod at some point.

    • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @10:53AM (#38214056) Journal

      Let's face it, the slashdot moderation system has been broken for a long time. That's where the term slashthink/slashdot group think comes from. If you post a comment that general user base of slashdot likes, it will be modded up. If you post a comment, even a really insightful and interesting one that the general user base doesn't like, it will be modded down. Comments that rank up? Promote free speech, removing copyrights, getting rids of patents, point out how "suits" just don't get us geeks and so on. Comments that go immediately down? Tell informative, but bad points about the current state of Linux, dislike Google, try to be reasonable about copyrights and DRM or say that Microsoft's Visual Studio still kicks ass any other IDE out there.

      There's a difference between being "unpopular" and "wrong." I disagree with you and find that well written -- though unpopular -- posts will be moderated highly. I, myself, have participated in receiving such moderation. You can make valid points about the current state of Linux (without having to be apologetic) as long as you know what you are talking about. Here's one of my own posts where I rip on Google's tax evasion [slashdot.org] and it's moderated +4. That's just a quick one, if you need more, I'd be happy to spend some time to provide you counter examples do your claims. As a developer, however, I must say that your Visual Studio statement is completely without merit and will always be modded down. I come to Slashdot not because I'm afraid of debate but because I thirst for it. The most valuable comments are those that put me in my place.

      I can't find the old post now because it was long time ago, but it went something like this. Every user are given some amount of moderation points, that affect the moderation as a whole. In addition to that, it affects the moderation you see favorable to the likes of you. If they are on your friend lists, their moderation carries more value. If they have moderated similarly to you, their moderation weights more to you. Of course, this should be balanced so that you don't get fully one viewed comments - if some comment is generally modded very high (and forget the -1-5 scale now), it would be displayed to you anyway. If you add to that that comments where you, or similar persons to you have commented, will be fully displayed regardless of their moderation (or some adjustation of that), it would work out really well. Of course, it needs a lot more computation power on the server side.

      That sounds like a really sheltered solution. All I can think about as a comparison is people who live in -- and I'm not picking on them specifically -- a Mormon community only holding their immediate relatives as valid sources of comments. This can be said for any number of things, however, but this proposed "lensing" of Slashdot would just allow people to turtle into their sheltered bubbles. Eventually any contradictory points that I might have been exposed to are safely locked away and I am never challenged. What a horrible, repressed, unenlightened, biased, polarized existence! The website will be a therapist -- telling you only what you want to hear. Disagree with something? Delete the offending friend.

      For me, personally? I like Reddit's comment system. It has it's faults, but it's better than Slashdot. Interesting posts are on top, and you can just scroll down for more.

      Then go back to Reddit. Why are you here? Go back there where you can delete or modify what you just said when someone wants to engage in a debate with you! Never have I been so exasperated as with my brief foray on Reddit. Valid counterpoint? Deletes his post. Now what?

      No moderating system can ever beat your own judgement (even if it's wrong one).

      I think you're hung up on wrong/right versus unpopular/popular opinion. It's not so black and white and there is a blur there but I feel that Slashdot 1) presents a decent mix of stories and 2) the subsequent moderation gives you a good idea of what is popular and generally correct/informed.

      • by yog (19073) * on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @11:19AM (#38214424) Homepage Journal

        eldavojohn #38214056 As of 10:15am EST:
            40% Insightful
            40% Interesting
            20% Troll

        This is a great example of the stupidity of moderators. Some misguided soul(s) consider the above to be a "troll" posting. I don't agree with everything eldavojohn said, but I'm not going to down-mod him and effectively remove his comment from the discussion for thousands of readers. That's ridiculous; he has a right to express his opinion.

        Now if he had said, "duh, yer a fag" or something similar, then that would earn a flamebait/troll/overrated/offtopic from me and (I hope) most intelligent moderators. Stupid grade school insults are off topic and contribute nothing to the discussion.

    • If you post a comment that general user base of slashdot likes, it will be modded up. If you post a comment, even a really insightful and interesting one that the general user base doesn't like, it will be modded down.

      Google's solution? Allow trusted evaluators to transfer a 'quantity of authority' to like-minded 'contributing authorities', who in turn designate and delegate authority to additional like-minded contributing authorities.

      It sounds like Slashdot has randomly created groupthink, but with this new and improved patent from Google, you'll have designed groupthink. This is better why?

    • by Fri13 (963421) on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @11:05AM (#38214204)

      I like the slashdot modding idea, that random group of registered people are given a 15 points what they can spend to comments as they like. One point per comment and you have less biased system than giving a permanent group of people to mod. As everyone mod things judging the comment with their knowledge, was it insightful or then just "WOU!" effect without ever thinking it before what comment said.

      There is always a biased opinions about topics and only real way to avoid is to give random people to vote.
      We know already even among scientists that they can not agree with everything, they have personal bias toward some people and against someone.
      The only real way to actually get the real information to come up is to write, read and actually discuss about the subject.
      But people have started to be very lazy and they don't like to spend more than 10 seconds to read someones comment. Such people don't actually care others person opinions or conclusions how such person build that opinion, important thing for them is that person who wrote, is she/he with them or against them.

      One thing what I always miss is newsgroups modding. And I actually mean the whole newsgroup system.
      Every reader could give points to specific writers by their own taste. So when the person writes, the whole discussion root is going to be modded based those.
      This way reader could set +5 to person A and -5 to person B, so the root where these two would be discussing, would be ranked as 0. If there is person C who reader has ranked as +15 and wrote a message, the root gets +15 points.

      And the newsgroup threading was just awesome. I miss that from every HTML/Javascript/PHP forums today. As all the trolling, unrelated posts etc, got own branch (root) and they could be left outside (closed) by reader if wanted and focus only to the main topic.
      But with those forums what just slaps new messages after each other, it just cause fights and blaming in the end.

      That is one nice thing what Slashdot have maintained at least some manner, but still missing the clarity of newsgroups tree system.

    • by javakah (932230) on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @11:05AM (#38214214)

      I find that with Slashdot, the key to getting a high score really has everything to do with posting shortly after a submission is out. Wait until there are more than a handful of comments and your score will likely to be pretty low. This also happens on Reddit, but it doesn't seem like quite to the extent of Slashdot.

      Reddit on the other hand tends to suffer more from being more of an echo chamber. On Slashdot, you can more often voice a dissenting opinion and still get modded up, opening up more discussion. On Reddit, you just get downvoted and then ignored. What is really needed is two separate controls: one for giving points for a good, well reasoned or stated (non-troll) post and another for whether you agree with the post or not.

    • by mcgrew (92797) * on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @11:13AM (#38214346) Homepage Journal

      Let's face it, the slashdot moderation system has been broken for a long time.

      Can you point to a site with a better system? Google is flat out incorrect (from TFS, didn't read TFA). It assumes that anybody and their brother can moderate, but that just isn't the case.

      Now, metamoderation is a different story entirely. The old metamods worked. You moderated moderations as "fair" or "unfair", and if you got too many "unfairs" you got fewer or no mod points. I'm not sure how (or even if) the new system works.

      If you post a comment, even a really insightful and interesting one that the general user base doesn't like, it will be modded down.

      Links needed. Downmodding a comment you disagree with is an abuse of mod points. I don't know how many times I've undone moderations to respond to some facist corporate whore.

      Comments that rank up? Promote free speech, removing copyrights, getting rids of patents, point out how "suits" just don't get us geeks and so on.

      Anyone against free speech is a troll. There are a lot of comments wanting to do away with copyright, but I can't remember any that were highly modded. How the suits don't get it? Well DUH, I'd mod that one redundant, unless there was additional commentary that needed to be seen (IMO).

      Tell informative, but bad points about the current state of Linux, dislike Google, try to be reasonable about copyrights and DRM or say that Microsoft's Visual Studio still kicks ass any other IDE out there.

      OK, now that's just rank bullshit. I've posted comments pointing out things I don't like about Linux (I'm a fan, but nothing's perfect), and these comments are generally modded up. Now, "Linux SuXOrs" is going to be modded lamebait or troll, and rightly so. I've responded to "get rid of copyright" posts with a response that doing away with it is not the thing to do, but that copyright does need reform, and these comments have never been modded down and many times are highly modded. And, be reasonable about DRM? DRM is a rights stripping abomination that cannot accomplish what it intends to and harms the paying customer. You're damned right pro-DRM is downmodded, pro-DRM is simply a shill or a troll or an incredibly ignorant, non-tech savvy remark.

      Every user are given some amount of moderation points

      Incorrect.

      If they are on your friend lists, their moderation carries more value.

      Only if that's what you specify in your preferences. I don't.

      If they have moderated similarly to you, their moderation weights more to you.

      I don't think I understand that sentence.

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @10:40AM (#38213868) Journal

    Allow trusted evaluators to transfer a 'quantity of authority' to like-minded 'contributing authorities', who in turn designate and delegate authority to additional like-minded contributing authorities.

    Um, isn't this exactly what would promote the problem of politically active users donating time to keep adverse stories repressed [slashdot.org]?

    Quality can be controlled to some extent but biases are much harder to determine ...

  • Uh... (Score:5, Informative)

    by msauve (701917) on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @10:43AM (#38213910)
    doesn't the meta-moderation system essentially do what Google is talking about - I always assumed that if your mods got marked as appropriate in metamod, your chances of modding again improved, and vice-versa.
  • by KreAture (105311) on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @10:48AM (#38213970)
    I believe this delegation is a direct copy of how trusted access on pirate-networks work.
    Can you simply patent a method invented by someone else for illicit and clandestant activities?
    • by jbeaupre (752124) on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @11:08AM (#38214250)

      No, not if it is publicly known. Prior art is prior art. It may get overlooked, misrepresented or just flat out ignored. Assuming your knowledge of pirate-networks comes from some public source, it is prior art.

      But note my caveats: "publicly known" and "public source." If the method (illicit or not) is kept private and not available to the public, it is a trade secret. Not prior art.

      Here's a quick test: to learn of a method, do you have to go through a security check first? If you can't learn of it anywhere on earth without passing through security (electronic or physical), it's probably not public.

  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @10:49AM (#38213996) Homepage
    I can't see Google trying to assert a patent claim against a site that they cited as prior art for continuing to use its groupthink enforcement system. You'd have to be a patent troll of Intellectual Venturian proportions to even contemplate anything so Quixotic.
    • by billcopc (196330) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @10:56AM (#38214102) Homepage

      In case you hadn't noticed, this place has been invaded by a succession of increasingly dumber editors, which are probably rejects from Boingboing.

      Google didn't throw anything under the bus, they just pointed out what we /.ers have known for 15 years. They're not patenting Slashcode, they're patenting "weighted moderation" or something along those lines, where each user has a certain numeric authority assigned to them, which affects how strongly their opinion is weighted in the scoring process. Still, boo urns on Google for patenting such a trivial algorithm, but I'm pretty sure they repealed "Do no evil" a long-ass motherfucking time ago.

  • by Ice Station Zebra (18124) on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @10:51AM (#38214024) Homepage Journal

    Oh so long ago when it sold itself for $$$ to whoever that company was. The bus has been running it over ever since.

  • by mattie_p (2512046) on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @10:53AM (#38214040)
    So who trusts the "trusted evaluators" in the first place? This could easily be abused into more of a group-think than slashdot, if indeed /. is guilty of group-think. I'm thinking more like a personal blog, where moderators must approve all comments. If the mod doesn't like it, the comment doesn't exist for the general public. Do we trust google to moderate our content for us? I mean, I guess we (as a corporate whole) already do, based on their share of the search market, but seriously. How far should we let this go?
  • by tomhudson (43916) <.barbara.hudson. ... bara-hudson.com.> on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @10:54AM (#38214068) Journal
    Users have been known to delegate authority to moderate by either selling their accounts or giving the password to another user. There are also a few troll accounts that are "groupware".
  • by QuietLagoon (813062) on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @10:55AM (#38214086)
    Two questions:

    .
    1 - Why is this patentable?

    2 - Doesn't /.'s meta-mod system help to correct the issue raised?

  • I disagree (Score:5, Insightful)

    by koan (80826) on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @10:56AM (#38214098)

    I think the /. community mods accurately, the good out weighs the bad, and I have had more than one of my comments modded out of existence, and frankly some of my comments deserved to be (we all have bad days) but the thing to keep in mind here is we, we being the members of /., aren't modding for the outside World we mod for the community here on /. so it works well even with the trolls and hopeless pontificates.

    No changes needed in my view.

  • by bigsexyjoe (581721) on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @10:58AM (#38214128)
    I think Slashdot eds are being a little too sensitive. They didn't sue Slashdot or harm it, they simply claimed in a patent that they devised a better system. While I think software patents are dumb, I don't think creating a different system and saying why you think it's better is much of a problem.
  • One other thing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by koan (80826) on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @11:02AM (#38214182)

    The minute /. starts to "Allow trusted evaluators to transfer a 'quantity of authority' to like-minded 'contributing authorities', who in turn designate and delegate authority to additional like-minded contributing authorities." because that is too much like the current system of media control and politics, or in other words go with the flow or fuck off.

    Again, leave it alone it has worked just dandy all these years.

  • Gawker? (Score:5, Informative)

    by jimand (517224) * on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @11:26AM (#38214536)
    This sounds like the Gawker media method where they create starred commentators who can approve/reject posts from the masses.
  • by sandytaru (1158959) on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @11:42AM (#38214750) Journal
    One slip of the mouse and the thing you meant to mark as "informative" is unfortunately marked as "redundant" instead. I've only done it once out of the hundreds of mod points I've handed out, but I am going to feel guilty about that for a long time. The only known workaround for this is posting in the thread, nullifying all your moderation for that thread, but if it was the fifth post you've modded you don't always want to take back the first four... If Google has a means of fixing that, then maybe it's an improvement. As it stands, to me the moderation here is the best we're going to get. Like democracy, it's a terrible form of goverment and never really works, but it's still better than any other system anyone has come up with.
  • by InfiniteZero (587028) on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @11:43AM (#38214768)

    If you ever applied for a patent you'll know it's just a standard procedure in patent application.

    Basically, you list all known prior art to the best of your knowledge, and then state the advantages of your invention over prior art. In fact Google wouldn't be doing a good job (and risk having the patent application rejected) if they didn't mention the Slashdot mod system and its perceived shortcomings.

    Of course, whether the whole idea is patentable to begin with is another story.

  • by jamie (78724) * Works for Slashdot <jamie@slashdot.org> on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @12:46PM (#38215516) Journal

    I think I may want to contest this patent.

    The patent cites Slashdot comment moderation as an example of how not to assign importance to user actions. Its authors were apparently unaware that the algorithm they described in November 2010 is virtually identical to the way Slashdot has actually assigned importance to user voting on Firehose stories since May 2008 (give or take). I know because I wrote it.

    What this patent calls "authority," we call user "clout."

    Multiple clouts, actually. Each Slashdot user has a number that describes how valuable the system believes their up/down votes in the firehose are, and it's separate from how valuable their descriptive tags applied to stories are. (Up/down votes are simply tags with special names, making vote-scoring and description-determination very similar under the hood.)

    It's been a while since I looked at this code -- I work for sister company ThinkGeek [thinkgeek.com] now -- but scanning over our public repository here are some of the interesting parts:

    plugs/Tags/tags_updateclouts.pl [sourceforge.net] - the tags_peerclout table is the way that each type of clout is built. It has fixed entries at gen=0, the zeroth generation, which would typically be the Slashdot editors or other users considered reliable and definitive. To build gen=1, the code looks at how many users tagged or voted on the same objects as the gen=0 users did, and assigns the gen=1 users scores based on similarity (or difference). Then from the gen=1 users, gen=2 users are assigned scores similarly, and so on.

    The gen=0 entries in that table "designate one or more contributing authorities by delegating to each a specific quantity of authority." I don't think I could describe that better myself.

    plugins/Tags/Clout/Vote.pm process_nextgen() [sourceforge.net] - here's where each new generation of user clout is successively determined, for firehose votes in particular. Line 194 invokes the algorithm and line 203 assigns that user their new voting clout. This iterative process is the automated method through which "each contributing authority may in turn designate and delegate authority to one or more additional contributing authorities."

    plugins/Tags/Clout/Vote.pm init() [sourceforge.net] - sum_weight_vectors totals the change in clout for each generation, and possible weight decreases exponentially. If you're in gen=1 the maximum weight you can have is only 60% of the maximum from gen=0, etc. The fraction is smaller than 100%, which helps ensure "that the total quantity of authority delegated does not exceed the quantity of authority the contributing authority was itself delegated." When the clouts are used to determine firehose item ratings, "the ratings are combined in a manner that affords a higher priority to the ratings provided by contributing authorities to which a greater quantity of authority was delegated."

    All this may have changed since it was written. I don't actually know what's running on Slashdot at this moment. I'm just going by the public repository that I knew was on sf.net, and I don't even know if there's a later version of the code available anywhere.

    But I suspect that this system would constitute prior art.

    Also, looking over my code from 2008, boy, I really wish I'd put in more comments.

  • by Phoenix666 (184391) on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @02:26PM (#38216876)

    People on /. have been complaining about this for *years*. Back in the day some /.-ers complained about Jon Katz. Then others complained about anything Stallman related. Still others complained about anything remotely redolent of Microsoft astroturfing.

    The years have rolled on, and the biases editors and community members are accused of have changed too, but you know what? I can still read the comments on any given article here and expect to find insightful information from at least 1-2 actual experts modded high. So, if I want to read about the latest Mars mission, I'm 80% sure to see a comment about it from someone who works *on that actual mission*. Where else can you find that? Digg? I don't think so.

    Knock /. if you will. It's still better than anything else out there. I miss CmdrTaco and Hemos and CowboyNeal and all the others; when CmdrTaco left I was truly sad like a member of my family had died. But the ethos they created lives on, and I hope it never dies.

"Irrationality is the square root of all evil" -- Douglas Hofstadter

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