Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?
The Internet Businesses

Dealing With Venom on the Web 326

theodp writes "In a world where nastiness online can erupt and go global overnight, BusinessWeek finds Corporate America woefully unprepared and offers suggestions for how to cope, including shelling out $10,000 to companies like to promote the info you want and suppress the news you don't. And in what must be a sign of the Apocalypse, BW holds Slashdot's moderation system up as a model for maintaining civility in message boards."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Dealing With Venom on the Web

Comments Filter:
  • by Compact Dick ( 518888 ) on Sunday April 08, 2007 @06:15PM (#18658093) Homepage
    Clearly, they must be new here.
    • by GenKreton ( 884088 ) on Sunday April 08, 2007 @06:17PM (#18658111) Journal
      You must admit, Slashdot's moderation system is infinitely more successful than Digg's system.
      • by metlin ( 258108 ) * on Sunday April 08, 2007 @06:29PM (#18658197) Journal
        Today, yes. It wasn't always so, and some of us do remember a time when there was a big hue and cry over this as well. And I do not know how many of you here remember michael, and the whole moderation abuse that happened.

        That said, Slashdot has a relatively mature audience compared to digg (I know, I know). While there are imbeciles here too, for the most part, the Slashdot crowd tends to be in the industry and/or college and seems a tad experienced in the ways of the world.

        Digg crowd, for the most part, seems to be full of highschool kids who just learnt about the Intranets and decided to hop on and share their extremely mature views on things. And give these people the ability to moderate anyone and everyone, you have an inherently flawed system.

        Not that Digg doesn't have the occasional good article or two, but the comments and the participation are not anywhere close to the levels seen on Slashdot. Once again, age plays a role - Slashdot comments, ignoring the idiotic and inane ones, tend to contain a few genuinely good ones. Even if you took an article on something obscure (say, something obscure in medicine or chemistry or whatever), you will find the occasional comment by someone who knows what's going on.

        This is hardly the case with Digg, which has a bunch of kids who have no idea what's going on, and is choke full of nothing but opinions and little else (not that Slashdot doesn't have its fair share of asshats, it's just not as big a number).

        My two cents.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Lord Kano ( 13027 )
          And I do not know how many of you here remember michael, and the whole moderation abuse that happened.

          You wouldn't be referring to the woud you?

        • Slashdot, I read for the comments.

          Digg I _used_to_ read for the headlines & links.
          • by asninn ( 1071320 ) on Monday April 09, 2007 @07:42AM (#18661339)
            Hear, hear.

            There's lots of bad things that can be (and have been) said about Slashdot, but the comment system is one of the things that actually seems to work well. Shit happens on occasion, with troll comments getting modded up or legitimate (if controversial) ones getting modded down, but it's my impression that this is relatively rare and that metamoderation is taking care of it; and of course, nobody and nothing is perfect, anyway, so the fact that there are *some* errors *occasionally* doesn't mean that Slashdot's comment system isn't working.

            And as others have remarked already, a good amount of the comments on Slashdot really *are* insightful, interesting, informative or funny, too. I, too, read Slashdot mostly just for the comments - if those didn't exist, I really wouldn't care much about the site, or at least not more than I care about any other news aggregation site.
        • NO! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 08, 2007 @10:37PM (#18659659)
          Slashdot moderation is seriously flawed.

          A lot of good comments go unnoticed because they get a 0 score (for being ACs), while an entire ocean of useless babble get automatically promoted to +1 (registered users) or +2 (karma loaded jerks).

          And how does a jerk get +2? Just think about how many people voted for some idiot... as one writer once said in my country: "All majorities are dumb."

          Heck, I've seen a lot of +5, Insightful which are (IMO, granted) totally clueless. It really hurts to read them... automatic scores do lower the content-to-noise ratio.

          Of course, it's important to avoid useless racist posts; but a lot of valuable content comes from comments -- and in those, a lot of good-willing ACs contribute with things they wouldn't otherwise say... yes, I know, there is no real anonymity on the Internet, but what is stopping ill-intentioned guys from faking names? (Good people do not want to lie, they'd rather go AC).

          Some stories get 300 +1-rated posts and another 80 0-rated ones: what would go wrong in displaying these extra 80?

          Say what you want. On Digg, you can get the "upcoming stories": non-voted, not-yet-manipulated. On /., registered people see the stories first (I infer this from what I read in the past) and ACs are de facto ignored (this I know from experience).

          Digg is now what /. was 8 or 9 years ago. /. got older, with clogged arteries and deaf: I've written oh-so-many-times about this and nobody has done anything about it.

          As of the last year, I've been even refraining from posting. I may well one day surrender and register, but I'm sure to feel defeated if I do so... and, besides, will /. still matter?
          • Re:NO! (Score:5, Insightful)

            by GTMoogle ( 968547 ) on Sunday April 08, 2007 @11:44PM (#18659921)
            There's no surrender in registering. What are you losing? I have no idea.

            What do you stand to gain? You can realistically have a conversation if you accept e-mail notifications. You gain the ability to moderate down those nonsense +5's, metamoderate the ones that put them there in the first place. Save your prefs, etc.

            The system only has value by having people registered. By refusing to you're merely complaining about things you're being too lazy to help fix.

            There's an advantage to attaching a name to your words, but you always have the ability to take the penalty and detach that name to say something that either needs to be said, or probably shouldn't be said but you feel like it anyway.

            Stop seeing registering as surrender, stop celebrating your sloth (or maybe paranoia, but I have no idea what your reasons are. I can't even understand them). Really, it's just another column in a database that can't realistically even be linked to you. You seem to care by what you say, so why don't you care enough to participate that much? Stage fright?
            • Re:NO! (Score:4, Interesting)

              by cpt kangarooski ( 3773 ) on Monday April 09, 2007 @07:28AM (#18661249) Homepage
              Meh. Personally, I held off on registering until I was forced to because they stopped letting you enter in the name that would appear on your posts manually. (This is why my /. number is about twice as high as it otherwise would be; my then-roommate Altus has a lower number because he didn't wait)

              Really, it's just another column in a database that can't realistically even be linked to you.

              Actually, when the aggregate of all your posts, plus writing style, which is extremely hard to disguise, is considered, it's not that hard to link it, if anyone cares to.

              Me, I support anonymous posting, including being able to post with a handle but without registering. I've never been happy with the present system.
          • Re:NO! (Score:5, Informative)

            by hab136 ( 30884 ) on Sunday April 08, 2007 @11:57PM (#18659965) Journal

            Some stories get 300 +1-rated posts and another 80 0-rated ones: what would go wrong in displaying these extra 80?

            Slashdot does display 0-rated posts, just not by default. What would go wrong? Spam. If people have to go out of their way to view an anonymous post, then fewer anonymous trolls will bother, because their posts will get modded down before they get seen. If 0-rated posts were seen by default, there would be 300 +1-rated posts and 2,000 0-rated posts.
            0-rated posts that are worth anything get modded up.
            You're free to browse at 0, by the way.
          • Re:NO! (Score:5, Insightful)

            by xenocide2 ( 231786 ) on Monday April 09, 2007 @12:12AM (#18660021) Homepage
            Ironically, if you choose to log in, you can change how karma and other affects scores, and still check the box to "post anonymously". Apparently someone posted they use +4 Flamebait. So there is some benefit to registering, since it's difficult to personalize the site and remain "anonymous".
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by arkhan_jg ( 618674 )
            The AC system lowers the bar for entry. It allows people to post very easily. Which is why the vast majority of AC comments are GNAA crap, trolls and the like. Browsing at -1 is a really depressing experience. Even wikipedia, the 'bastion' of free speech has had to put limits on commenting on some articles, forcing only registered users.

            The vast majority of comments should come from registered users, for one main reason - it allows conversation. If you're being commented on by two AC's, you've no way of kno
        • by csguy314 ( 559705 ) on Sunday April 08, 2007 @11:24PM (#18659847) Homepage
          While there are imbeciles for the most part here too, the Slashdot crowd tends to be in the industry and/or college and seems a tad experienced in the ways of the world.

          Sorry, just clarifying the sentence for you.
          And comparing /.ers with diggers? That's like comparing six year olds with two year olds. Or six year olds with Fark-ers. Or six year olds with Fox News.
          Clearly the six year olds are more intelligent, but they're still six years old...
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by xtracto ( 837672 )
          Even if you took an article on something obscure (say, something obscure in medicine or chemistry or whatever), you will find the occasional comment by someone who knows what's going on.

          I certainly prefer those stories. Usually it is in the more obscure stories (some which don't make to the homepage) that have better Signal to noise ratio ans as they are more "obscure" less people try to pose as knowing about the issue.

          Digg comments are completely stupid. Although I like the speed in which Digg gets the new
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          the Slashdot crowd tends to be in the industry and/or college and seems a tad experienced in the ways of the world

          This is the funniest thing I've seen in a week. Although for certain values of "ways of the world", I think you are right. Certainly compared to Digg. I've tried to add something constructive to the Digg comments, but mostly I feel like it's a waste of time. Plus, given the fact that there's no easy way to track your comments to see what others say, or to be able to respond (more than one le
      • by pair-a-noyd ( 594371 ) on Sunday April 08, 2007 @07:38PM (#18658665)
        Digg is OK for churning news links to the surface that one would otherwise not see but as a place to hold civilized, rational discussion on important topics, it's useless.
        Anytime someone says something useful and productive on Digg, it gets buried.
        That is unless it's about tits, condoms or illegal drugs, all of which seem to be priority #1 on Digg.
        Commenting on Digg is a total waste of time. Unless you're a teenager.

        Just goes to show the level of maturity of the average, typical Digg member.
    • Slashdot moderation maintains civility?

      I'd say on most days it does a fair job of at least hiding the blatant trolls from view. The nice thing about Slashdot's threaded system is that heated arguments don't mean the entire story is taken over. Besides, I think arguments in the comments is one reason some people read them.

      Of course Slashdot's moderation is also at the whim of the subset of users that have mod points on a given day. For example on April Fools, all somebody has to do is say "Please mod my post insightful! kthxbye." and they hit +5 in minutes. Alternatively, a story like this might prompt someone to say "Reverse the polarity of the moderation flow!" suggesting moderators go nuts modding up trolls and flamebait and modding down everything else. (That would actually be pretty funny. Read More -- 10 of 381 comments). And of course moderators would probably do it, just to spite the system :)

      (That actually sounds like a funny April Fools joke for next year. Give everyone mod points for the day and then randomize or invert what they do. Heck, even just giving everyone infinite mod points would be funny, and probably break Slashdot in the process).
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by nanosquid ( 1074949 )
        I'd say on most days it does a fair job of at least hiding the blatant trolls from view.

        Unfortunately, it also lets fanboys/shills for platform/company/philosophy X hide comments critical of platform/company/philosophy X. And they do, with great regularity.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Unfortunately, it also lets fanboys/shills for platform/company/philosophy X hide comments critical of platform/company/philosophy X. And they do, with great regularity.

          Yes this is exactly how all moderation systems fail. Regardless of forum, any community driven karma system becomes dominated by agendas. Karma tends to promote group think and more individual opinions are stifled. Even though trolls, redundant posts, and other useless posts are pushed down, so are plenty of thoughtful, intelligent posts.

          On Slashdot, for stories that I care about I typically read threads on 0 up to see a more diverse selection of opinions, because the +5 points are usually either jok

        • Unfortunately, it also lets fanboys/shills for platform/company/philosophy X hide comments critical of platform/company/philosophy X. And they do, with great regularity.

          Are you saying this as a knee-jerk reaction, or are there actual, recent incidents you can cite? As someone who moderates pretty frequently, I almost always browse comments at -1. Not to rain on your tin-foil hat, but my experience is that flamebait/troll/offtopic ratings are generally accurate. Good information, well-argued opinions, and funny jokes tend to rise to the top. Of course, you could unmask this conspiracy by just browsing at -1 yourself, and reveal the secret information about the 200mpg c []

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by rbanffy ( 584143 )
          It is still much better than, say, Digg.

          By letting only a subset of the whole audience moderate, by forcing a choice between posting and moderating and awarding moderation points according to meta-moderation, it is much less likely that a given Company X fanboy or shill has moderation points when an article about X gets posted.

          By financing enough fanboys or shills, Company X can swing the posts somewhat to its side, but those shills would get caught in meta-moderation and would become useless in a short tim
      • by zeroduck ( 691015 ) on Sunday April 08, 2007 @07:56PM (#18658779)

        Of course Slashdot's moderation is also at the whim of the subset of users that have mod points on a given day.

        The more I think of it, the more I think that's a bonus. A huge problem on digg is that people will go through and mod up or down anything that they either agree with or disagree with, without regard to the actual content of the post. At least when mod points are scarce, users generally only use them on posts that are actually deserving.

        As has already been said, there's a great difference in the userbases of each site. I'd be willing to bet that the average Slashdot user is better educated, has more experience (in industry, in life, ...), and is older. Digg is just in it's infancy compared to Slashdot; I think there could be a lot of improvement when they fix their commenting system and their user base ages a bit.

        As a community, Slashdot is pretty critical of itself--but it really is one of the best online communities out there. If you don't believe me, you spend way too much time here.

      • by MobileTatsu-NJG ( 946591 ) on Sunday April 08, 2007 @08:05PM (#18658809)
        "I'd say on most days it does a fair job of at least hiding the blatant trolls from view."

        Erm... if by 'blatant trolls' you mean the GNAA posts, then yes, I agree. However, I've seen quite a few cases of moderation being based on public opinion, as opposed to a more objective line of thought. Unfortunately, I think this has caused the community to develop a style about how they post here that goes against the initial wishes of this system. For example: Take ANY cell phone story and you'll find several +5 comments about how people angrily wish they could get a phone that's just a phone. Umm.. okay. So... that encourages people to make the same post in every story. Microsoft product in a car story? A mad rush to be the first to make a 'crash' joke. Sony? Hehe, you know what I mean.

        I do like the moderation system, I just wish there was a better sense of objectivity. Fortunately, though, my complaints about this have gone down a LOT in the last 5 years. I'm just not sure if it's because M2 is actually working (albeit slowly) or if it's because public opinion has shifted in my favor.
      • Alternatively, a story like this might prompt someone to say "Reverse the polarity of the moderation flow!" suggesting moderators go nuts modding up trolls and flamebait and modding down everything else. (That would actually be pretty funny. Read More -- 10 of 381 comments).

        The mod system is designed to prevent that -- moderators don't go nuts so much when mod points are limited. And I'm very glad of this; if the comments in /. articles ever start looking like this [], I'll be taking a break from /. for a few months.

  • Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tarlus ( 1000874 ) on Sunday April 08, 2007 @06:19PM (#18658129)
    That's not to say that /.'s moderation system completely keeps the nasty posts out, either... it only buries them way out of view. It's still a pretty effective system, though, especially in the way that it automatically picks out the people with the best reputations to handle the moderation. Without manually lowering the viewing threshold, I almost never see rude, disgusting or otherwise insulting posts on here.

    If /. were even more serious about keeping the crap out, they could disable the anonymous coward. But as you can see, it is still open to anybody's input, even without requiring a login.
    • Re:Well... (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 08, 2007 @06:30PM (#18658199)
      My biggest beef with the Slashdot moderation system is the overwhelming majority of posts that are modded high and "funny." It's such a letdown when you want to read good replies only to find that 80+% of the +4s and +5s are "Funny."
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by MMC Monster ( 602931 )
        If you are logged in, you should be able to modify your thresholds a bit better. Don't want to read funny? Set them to -6. Want informative stuff to percolate up? Set them to +3. I change mine from time to time, depending on how much I want to read that day.
    • Re:Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Bearhouse ( 1034238 ) on Sunday April 08, 2007 @06:30PM (#18658201)
      "If /. were even more serious about keeping the crap out, they could disable the anonymous coward.." There's a fine line between an effective system & censorship. Some posts by ACs are interesting, informative, funny... I'm happy reading the good stuff, and if that means I have to burn some time & points modding idiots or sickies down, well, that's a price worth paying. All societies cost - I live in France, and hate paying the high taxes. On the other hand, when I travel to some other places, I miss the ameneties that those taxes bring me and my family.
      • Re:Well... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by fossa ( 212602 ) <pat7 AT gmx DOT net> on Sunday April 08, 2007 @07:46PM (#18658721) Journal

        I like Tufte's thoughts on moderating [], particularly his point about avoiding "the chronic internet disease of 'All Opinions, All the Time.'" Different websites have different goals of course, but there is nothing inherently wrong with refusing to allow anyone to publish any opinion on your website. Tufte's own forum is much lower traffic than Slashdot, but it has the interesting property of discussions that are years long, and the majority of posts are on-topic and very useful. Slashdot discussions more than a day or two old are all but dead. One thing I see often enough that it bugs me is a post like, "So and so behaves in ways X, Y, and Z" and a followup post correcting it, "No, it's most like X, Y, and W"; further posts support the correction or provide links to further info, but as a reader I'm still stuck reading the whole conversation when I'm more interested in the correct information that could have fit into a single paragraph. Discussion sites tend to shy away from editing and consolidating correct information, preferring to leave everything as individual posts. It would be a lot of work to implement, and perhaps even impossible, but I get the impression that the reason nobody tries is not due to the difficulty but because individual posts are treated as sacred; any editing is "censorship". At the very least, one should not be afraid to delete the GNAA trolls and the like at -1...

        Admittedly, editing of comments may be a waste of effort on Slashdot. But many tech blogs will post an article and some points will be corrected in the reader comments. The blog publisher will update the article yet leave the comments as is, creating a confusing page of comments that refer to an article that is no longer there. Is there any reason, other than it's too much work, to not delete the comments that no longer make sense and credit in the article those who made corrections?

        • Re:Well... (Score:5, Informative)

          by MMC Monster ( 602931 ) on Sunday April 08, 2007 @09:42PM (#18659379)
          For a while we had some backslash articles (not to be confused with slashback articles), in which the editor went through all the +4/5 posts and created some sembelence of a new article based on all the information.

          It's actually a nice way to bring closure to a topic or to restart discussion at a much more advanced level.

          Of course, you would probably have to hire a serious amount of editors to do that to every article on /.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Yes, it's an awesome way to maintain group-think too. Those nasties that clash with our world view, criticise our pets, or point-out our fan-boyism just get modded to oblivion.

      And if you call shenanigans with the editors? Everyone in your thread goes to -1 and you never get to mod again.

      Case in point: your post. You first said how nice the system is, then made legitimate criticism over a minor issue, and even a suggestion for improvement. I see now that you are modded as a troll. You've got to drink m
    • Re:Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 08, 2007 @06:47PM (#18658301)
      I think allowing AC posts is great. I often want to contribute to discussions here, but I only post anonymously. Not because I'm afraid to stand behind my opinions, but because it's not uncommon for employers to google potential applicants.

      I try to maintain the same level of civility on the interweb tubes as I do in RL, and AC posts allow me to express opinions that, while I would be willing to have a civil discussion with most people on, may not acceptable to many of the businesses for which I may want to work.
      • Re:Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by maxume ( 22995 ) on Sunday April 08, 2007 @07:22PM (#18658531)
        So if you registered "GeeIDidntThinkThatThrough" as a user name, exactly how worried would you be about someone searching for information about you associating the posts with you?
        • Re:Well... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Petrushka ( 815171 ) on Sunday April 08, 2007 @09:19PM (#18659219)

          I think the AC's point is perfectly valid. I know in the time I've been visiting /. I've posted sufficient clues for anyone to deduce precisely who I am -- not that I particularly mind, as I didn't choose my nick for anonymity.

          And yes, there's a danger in that: the danger of temper tantrums, mostly. If you've never lost your temper online, you're a better person than I am. (I basically just figure as long as I don't say things that are too much more outrageous than what a lot of colleagues say on professional-oriented mailing lists every day, I should be OK. :-)

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by kestasjk ( 933987 )
            Employers don't want humans after all..

            If an employer decided to profile me based on what I said here, and then decided not to hire me based on what they read, I don't think I'd want to work there anyway.
        • Opposite problem (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Xenographic ( 557057 ) on Monday April 09, 2007 @01:46AM (#18660359) Journal
          I have almost the inverse of his problem. I post anonymously, but only when posting from work.

          Why? I don't want them to learn my Slashdot username. Not that I really have anything to hide, but it's more out of trying to retain some semblance of privacy. And they do have that annoying censor firewall in place, though my boss is nice enough not to care what I do online so long as I get done what he wants done.

          Oddly, I end up submitting almost as many stories as comments, and waiting an hour to post another anonymous comment is kind of annoying, but that's somewhat better, because it makes me think about which comments are the most useful, rather than dashing off every post that comes to mind :]

          Slashdot moderation is *far* from perfect... but it's a hell of a lot better than elsewhere. You have to wade through a lot less crap to get to the good stuff than you do anywhere else. Fark comments aren't worth reading, although the photoshop contest pics can be cool. I don't even read Digg, and sites like Groklaw are nice enough, but it's really time consuming to find the interesting posts. Unless PJ reposts them as a story, you'd never know that the 39th post in that huge thread was the interesting one, while all the rest just said "when will SCO get delisted?" (Short answer? They'll hit bankruptcy first.)
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Artifakt ( 700173 )
        I think having the anon. option is sensible. However, the coward descriptor needs to be taken at least partly as humor. I'm willing to stand behind my posts if anyone wants to bother to link my real name to my net-o-nym, but let's face it, only a fool never changes an opinion, and only a bigger fool judges someone solely by a post they may have made as a much younger or less informed person. The problem is, we have people running companies or engaging in politics, who are just such fools. Who wants to be ju
    • There's nothing disgusting or insulting posted as long as you're not Chinese, Russian, Black, Christian, or a Microsoft fan. To say the moderation system works is to say the groupthink here is well-aligned with your own personal values.
    • If /. were even more serious about keeping the crap out, they could disable the anonymous coward.
      Actually, I would argue that it makes slashdot BETTER to have anonymous posting. A certain percentage of those people making junk comments anonymously would actually have signed up and commented as a registered user. Who knows what that percentage is, but even if its low this still keeps a lot of crap out of the normal comment view.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 08, 2007 @06:23PM (#18658147)
    This is great for a big corporation. But the real damage is done when one vindictive person freaks out on the internet and takes it out on a small business. The small business can't afford legal actions and they can't afford to pay some firm $10k to deal with their reputation. However, there are plenty of websites where you can register and file complaints in the public about a specific company. Even if you've never actually done business with them. Or even if you're just going nuts on the company because you forgot your medication.

    I have personally dealt with this where I refused service to someone for harassing my other members on my online business. It's actually less a business than just a hobby, but my name and business name are out there and involved nonetheless. This underage person freaked out and spent months inventing various things to complain about and posting them on every recommendation site possible. They even went so far as death threats and attempting to extort getting their account back or else they'd spread rumors about improper discussions with said person by myself (the owner). Now, again, I never did any actual business with this individual and I knew nothing about them other than they were harassing my users so I shut down their account. That was the extend of it. Yet they have been a thorn in my side for two years now and there is nothing I can do about it. Anyone searching for my company online will find the most horrendous things said about me by a completely anonymous nutjob.
    • by khasim ( 1285 ) <> on Sunday April 08, 2007 @06:35PM (#18658237)
      From TFA:

      "The CEOs of the largest 50 companies in the world are practically hiding under their desks in terror about Internet rumors," says top crisis manager Eric Dezenhall, author of the upcoming book Damage Control.

      An author over-hyping a situation for his new book. How ... common.

      In the beginning, the idea of this new conversation seemed so benign. Radical transparency: the new public-relations nirvana!

      If you've ever worked for or with a PR company, you'll know how wrong that is. "Transparency" is exactly what they do NOT want.

      And so on. This is nothing more than an ad piece.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Colin Smith ( 2679 )

      Yet they have been a thorn in my side for two years now and there is nothing I can do about it.
      There's no such thing as anonymity on the internet... Anyone can be found.
  • by OverlordQ ( 264228 ) on Sunday April 08, 2007 @06:24PM (#18658153) Journal
    If by Maintaining Civility they mean "Only showing what the majority agrees with while everything else is downmodded" then yes, that is a good description. I'm not saying /.'s mod system doesn't have its merits, but it does suffer from groupthink.
    • Groupthink? We in Russia tend to disagree and agree with you simultaneously, in a trollish yet insightfully interesting, informative kind of way.
    • Yep, but.... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by geek ( 5680 ) on Sunday April 08, 2007 @06:40PM (#18658269)
      You can probably tell from my UID I've been coming here a long while. In fact I was a slashdot visitor back before it even had a domain name and was hosted on Rob Maldas University server. That said, slashdot has gotten a lot better than it was and I think in part it's because of the moderation system. People who continuously get modded down for the flamebaiting and trolling eventually get frustrated and leave. Some remain, others are just burning karma, but all in all the system is a solution, regardless of how imperfect it is. Yes some group think comes into play but it's generally only on political matters.

      The bottom line, to me, is that when dealing with humans who by nature are imperfect, no system can possibly be perfect.
      • by Anarchofascist ( 4820 ) on Sunday April 08, 2007 @07:25PM (#18658561) Homepage Journal
        It was always for the comments.

        Slashdot's moderation and meta-moderation system was carefully thought out, and kept ahead of the wave of forum-spam and general "hey look maw ahm on the interweb" disruption that you find in every other forum. For that, it should be held up as an excellent example of the ThinkAboutItCarefully pattern.

        Oh, and my UID's lower so thhhhppppt. :)
      • I think groupthink is more of a problem on Digg, as I inhabit both. Digg has more frequent articles, some interesting and many frivolous, but reading the comments sections is like visiting the nerdy version of a lockerroom and the intelligence/groupthink that goes with such an environment..
    • by jZnat ( 793348 ) *
      If by "groupthink" you mean "groups of 5-10 people", then yes, we have that here. The fact that you were modded up is just another case of proving you wrong.
      • by Southpaw018 ( 793465 ) * on Sunday April 08, 2007 @07:23PM (#18658543) Journal
        By "groupthink" he means people like me, who were banned for being pro-Windows. With enough -1s, inclusive (not a couple of comments scored -1), you will eventually receive one free /. vacation. It's gotten much better recently, but it used to be the point that posting a comment like "I don't think Linux is easy to use at all. The Windows GUI admin tools are much better" would land you at a score of -1. Enough of those, even over relatively long periods of time, and you get banned.

        Been there. Yes, it's stupid and moronic. Yes, it happens. There are plenty of mods who feel "overrated" is there to be used on comments with which they disagree.
    • Score: 3, Insightful.

      The groupthink is having trouble deciding wether or not to agree it is groupthink.
  • by Larus ( 983617 ) on Sunday April 08, 2007 @06:28PM (#18658187)
    In the real world, slanderers will face penalties. In certain countries falsely accusing anyone is punishable by death. In the internet world, people are not bound by such physical punishments. You can kick people off temporarily, but you cannot actually prevent them from returning under a different name - just as you cannot ban a paying player from MMORPGs because of offensive behaviors. The part that needs changing is reception, and most people who read net news are not ready for such.
  • You'd be amazed what kind of crazy-ass posts you can find if you browse at -1.

  • Here's a thought ... (Score:4, Informative)

    by rlp ( 11898 ) on Sunday April 08, 2007 @06:38PM (#18658257)
    1) Treat your customers, partners, and employees fairly.
    2) Empower your employees to deal with problems when they arise and make things right
    3) Obey laws (for instance don't cook the books, backdate stock options, spy on employees and the press).
    4) Have contact information for problem resolution on your web site.
    5) Admit problems when they occur, publicly state what you're going to do to fix them, never cover things up.
  • by e9th ( 652576 ) <> on Sunday April 08, 2007 @06:43PM (#18658283)
    At least it can help weed out the most abusive moderators. I seldom call a mod unfair, but when I do I suspect I'm not alone.
    • by mgv ( 198488 ) <Nospam@01@slash2dot.veltman@org> on Sunday April 08, 2007 @07:28PM (#18658581) Homepage Journal
      At least it can help weed out the most abusive moderators. I seldom call a mod unfair, but when I do I suspect I'm not alone.

      I read people posting and complaining that they never get to moderate. I've often wondered why this is, especially in how slashdot manages people who get negative metamod's, etc.

      Personally I think I get to moderate alot - Probably about once a week, sometimes more often. There are times when I let my 3 days slip by, because its too hard to keep up.

      But I do take the moderating seriously. I actually rarely moderate people down, but rather try and pick the good posts and push them up. On a personal stand I've pretty much stopped using underrated and overrated moderations - I may as well be judged for my actions too. Then again, I've never posted anonymously (which you will just have to take on faith as I obviously can't prove this).

      Anyway, whatever I do, the mod points seem to keep coming back.

      Personally I like to think its because the way I moderate is approved by the majority of meta-mods.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by pikine ( 771084 )

        I usually receive mod points the same day when I bother to spend time looking at deeply nested threads. This seems consistent with the idea that moderators should try to mod well-formulated yet obscure posts up, rather than to mod high-profile posts down. I can't otherwise find a correlation of meta-moderation and the likelihood I get mod points.

        I'm sorry to say I also tend to let my mod points expire. The task of finding gem in a haystack takes too much time for me, and I think other moderators do a good

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by MollyB ( 162595 ) *
      Since I have lots of time, I participate in meta-moderation every time it is offered. Lately, I have been using the 'See Context' link more often (love Cooliris for this), because in order to meta-mod fairly I must sample the responses and/or parent of post in question. More than a few times, the score has changed, sometimes from 'troll' to 'informative' or the like. I am appalled at the number of comments that are rated 'Funny' when few of them actually are. I look at the moderation system as a necessary c
    • "At least it can help weed out the most abusive moderators. I seldom call a mod unfair, but when I do I suspect I'm not alone."

      I gave up meta-modding when I was negatively M2'd a couple of times, never to recieve mod points again. Silly thing was, I was M2'd over a couple of BS posts about Microsoft. Since then, I've registerred a new nickname and get mod points occasionally. Sadly, I'm hesitant to use them. If my objectivity goes against public opinion, I'll have to start all over again.

      I wouldn't mind
    • by faragon ( 789704 )
      Well, that is one of the sides of the blade. The other implies unique moderation vision. I think that the moderation ban it is too much sensitive, as it has to cut abusive modders, but not to eliminate different points of view. The typical algorithm: "if you're against the 90% of the moderation you're a radical", in my opinion, should not be an argument unless you're that radical in most ways.

      I know that diversity preservation it is not easy, as moderation/metamoderation are based in very simple heuristic
  • snake oil (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ceroklis ( 1083863 ) on Sunday April 08, 2007 @06:49PM (#18658321)
    From the ReputationDefender wesite:

    Our trained and expert online reputation advocates use an array of proprietary techniques developed in-house to correct and/or completely remove the selected unwanted content from the web. This is an arduous and labor-intensive task, but we take the job seriously so you can sleep better at night. We will always and only be in YOUR corner.

    No tell me exactly how they are going to remove my old website from, my embarrassing posts in news groups from google groups, or porn pics done in my youth shared by millions on p2p networks ?
    Short of bombing every server on the planet you cannot do anything. Once things are out, there are out, you cannot take them back.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ColaMan ( 37550 )
      We will always and only be in YOUR corner.

      Sooooooo.... what happens when two companies pay the $10000+ to ReputationDefender and have opposing viewpoints?

      RD salesman, to client #1: "Yes, that slanderous party are a tenacious bunch, aren't they? I can sign you up for our premium DefenderPack, it's another $20000.... but what's your reputation worth? You will? Ok, we'll start straight away and do our best."

      RD salesman, to client #2: "Yes, that slanderous party are a tenacious bunch, aren't they? I can sign yo
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Google for "clients of reputation defender" and witness the utter uselessness of that company's services. defender-continued.html []

      Apparently, they just piss off the slanderers even more, and this just causes more and more of the postings Reputation Defenders is supposed to deal with. Look what happens when you Google the name of one of Reputation Defender's first clients: f-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls []
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 08, 2007 @06:51PM (#18658333)
    I have been reading /. for years and never fully understood how it friggin works ..
  • Personal story (Score:5, Interesting)

    by b0s0z0ku ( 752509 ) on Sunday April 08, 2007 @07:03PM (#18658389)
    In October 2001, I was at a university concert in a certain small town in Pennsylvania, put on as a benefit to the Red Cross/9-11 victims. The cops came in and busted the show on a noise complaint. One of the cops, who was notorious in the town for handing out unjustified traffic tickets and being a general scumbag backhanded a girl who wasn't doing anything wrong in the face.

    As everyone was walking out, I talked to the asshole and said "You fucking pig, shouldn't you be helping in NYC, not fucking harassing innocent students who are trying to make a difference?" I got arrested, charged with felony riot, disobeying a peace officer, summary harassment, and disorderly conduct. The two most serious charges (riot and disobeying...) were dropped the next day. The two other ones, I plead no contest to in exchange for 48 hrs. community service and a year's probation with the informal understanding that I leave the state after graduating that spring and completing the 48 hrs. In retrospect, I should have fought it and plead not guilty, but I was young, naive, and had a stupid attorney.

    Anyway, after two years, my record was expunged. However, the original newspaper article; written before I was interviewed but NOT before the police chief was interviewed, remained the first thing that appeared under a Google search of my name for another year or two. Was kind of interesting to explain when I was interviewing for jobs!

    For some reason, this no longer appears at all when you search for my name (I think the campus and local newspapers have put up a robots.txt file, and, anyway, there's more recent stuff by me and my business website on the web).


  • "Chances are there is information about you and your family on the Internet that you don't approve of. It's time you do something about it." (from

    The current administration must love this site! On a more paradoxical note, I bet there's nothing but positive reviews of this website on the web, at least if they're doing their job correctly.
  • by walterbyrd ( 182728 ) on Sunday April 08, 2007 @07:05PM (#18658407)
    Let's suppose scox does not like what is posted on groklaw. So scox signs up for "ReputationDefender." What can ReputationDefender really do? Ask somebody to remove the content?

    Accord to the website: "Our trained and expert online reputation advocates use an array of proprietary techniques developed in-house to correct and/or completely remove the selected unwanted content from the web."

    Yeah, okay. And that would be what? Send an email to the website maintainer? For $15.95 a month, I doubt that ReputationDefender will be filing any lawsuits.
    • And that would be what?
      "It's" name is Tony and he wants a word with you. ;)
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Fnkmaster ( 89084 )
      See the FAQ []. ReputationDefender doesn't serve corporate clients. Also see my other reply [] - I realize the marketing copy in question may not be to your liking, but realize that it's not really targeted at a technologically sophisticated audience with lots of time on their hands and the saavy to deal with these sort of issues themselves.

      ReputationDefender does a lot more than just emailing website maintainers. Obviously, there are additional service fees for higher levels of service, as the article in ques
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by WombatDeath ( 681651 )
      The monthly fee is to perform a search of what people have been saying about you. If you find something you don't like you can ask them to perform a 'destroy' on that particular item, which incurs an additional fee of $29.95.

      You pay the $29.95 to Reputation Defender even if they fail to remove the item. Legal avenues "may" incur a further fee. I expect that their business model is to harvest lots of monthly payments from paranoid people and supplement them with overpriced one-off fees for intimidating web s
  • by MikeRT ( 947531 ) on Sunday April 08, 2007 @07:07PM (#18658423)
    I think the very worst I have seen is FreeRepublic. Libertarians get banned there from posting all of the time for having the wrong views. Hell, even many conservatives get in trouble there for pissing off the wrong people. The "Admin Moderator" user/users will basically just yank your posting privileges if you buck the status quo. You don't have to be a troll or "mobying" (pretending to be a conservative for liberal causes, to manipulate right wing media). You just piss off the wrong people and instead of getting moderated down, you're silenced.
  • "In a world where nastiness online can erupt and go global overnight
    But a new wind was about to blow! Payback. This time, it's for real.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 08, 2007 @08:11PM (#18658841)
    Many years ago I was threatened with a lawsuit over some comments I made on-line. I'd posted under my name and wasn't hiding anything. (The dispute was with a company, not a person). The next day I got a call from their lawyer; fortunately the matter ended up being settled out of court and I didn't lose anything. If I'd only said the factual matter of the case there probably wouldn't have been any question, but I blew my top about every bad thing I felt about them, all statements I would had to have defended. I also had found out just how expensive legal proceedings are; even if you win you lose.

    So today I usually think twice about whatever I post, and there's many times I decide it's better to just hit the delete button. I've been shocked at what some people post online in their blogs; or anywhere on the web with the same user name over and over. They never seem to think that it's very easy today to link it all together and see all the things they assume no one will ever know. You could say I'm just being paranoid, but in today's world it's better safe than sorry.
  • Easily explained (Score:2, Redundant)

    by hey! ( 33014 )

    BW holds Slashdot's moderation system up as a model for maintaining civility in message boards."

    This obviously means that the BW editors are a bunch of fucktards.

    Slashdot even gives moderation privileges to morons who think irony is an element in group 4 of the periodic table.
  • We do OK (Score:2, Insightful)

    by McLae ( 606725 )
    Slashdot does OK.
    Now and then, a nasty word or a Troll sneak in, but the Nazgul consume them quickly.
    Groklaw does ok too. (Trolls there glow orange when they pass the door)

    Those other sites though..... ;)
  • Kathy Sierra (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ( 67146 ) on Sunday April 08, 2007 @08:45PM (#18659041) Homepage
    Anyone else disappointed that this wasn't about the Kathy Sierra [] "venom"? Protecting corporate identities is certainly important, but I was hoping for something else.

    Is it just me?

    Also, the comments about holding /. as a template for moderation... more boring nonsense. Stop feeding the troll.

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Sunday April 08, 2007 @09:50PM (#18659431) Homepage

    The ReputationDefender user agreement [] looks dangerous.

    They become your legal agent. But not your attorney. "You authorize us to be your privacy advocates. In this role, we might contact third parties, including creators of unwelcome content, hosts of unwelcome content, and other parties who might have control or authority over such content. You authorize us to take such action on your behalf, and to identify ourselves as acting on your behalf. You recognize that such contact may have unpredictable side-effects, including but not limited to negative responses from others. We are not your lawyer and cannot dispense legal advice, nor does this Agreement or the Services create any attorney-client relationship or legal representation."

    Then they try to escape any liability: "You agree that you will hold harmless ReputationDefender, Inc., and its officers, directors, and employees, from all claims arising out of or related to your access or use of, or your inability to access or use, ReputationDefender's services, this Web site, or the information contained in this Web site or other web sites to which it is linked."

    As your authorized agent, if they do something they shouldn't, you are liable. That's what "agent" means, legally. [] ReputationDefender doesn't take responsibility for its own actions. That's a dangerous position to be in contractually.

    Usually the people you might let be your agent, in the legal sense, are regulated in some way. Realtors, stockbrokers, accountants, private detectives, employment agents, and lawyers may act as your agent. But those are all regulated businesses, for good reasons. Such people take on liability and usually carry insurance coverage. There are established guidelines for what people in those fields can and can't do. That's not the case here. ReputationDefender, which is unregulated, wants you to take the responsibility for their actions, while being rather vague about what those actions might be. This is an open-ended risk.

    It would be a very good idea to consult a lawyer before signing up with ReputationDefender.

  • by analog_line ( 465182 ) on Sunday April 08, 2007 @10:45PM (#18659687)
    ...and I have personally renounced it.

    I unchecked "Willing to Moderate" in my account preferences, because I know I'm an intensely biased, flawed person, and I would happily ostracize my enemies and laud my friends regardless of the quality, or lack thereof of their posts. I hate a lot of people. A lot of the people on here, come to mention it. Having mod points gives me the power to act on the desire to do something about it, and power (even the power to demote your post because I think you're an idiot, or meta-moderating with an agenda) corrupts. I, apparently, am quite easily corruptible. I couldn't enjoy reading this site, because I was looking to deal with people I thought should be pushed down. Now that I can't do anything about it, it's a lot less frustrating to read things here.

    However, I've set my highlight threshold to +4, because experience has taught me that even a bunch of my fellow random idiots on the internet can't be wrong all the time. Approximately 90% of the stuff that gets modded that high, I can only assume as a result of some kind of emergent reasonableness from a sea of unreasonable stupidity. The other 10% is easily skipped, and doesn't enrage me like reading the vast sea of idiocy those posts have somehow risen above does.

    It's a bit hypocritical of me, to take the product of the moderation system without contributing to it, but if that matters, you shouldn't allow people not to opt out. I don't contribute to any open source projects, either financially or by helping at all, and use the hell out of their software either, and that doesn't trouble me much either.
  • Civility my ass and manly side boobs! I spit upon BusinessWeek and all its stakeholders.

God help those who do not help themselves. -- Wilson Mizner