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An Algorithm To Prevent Twitter Hashtag Degeneration 162

Bennett Haselton writes The corruption of the #Ferguson and #Gamergate hashtags demonstrates how vulnerable the hashtag system is to being swamped by an "angry mob". An alternative algorithm could be created that would allow users to post tweets and browse the ones that had been rated "thoughtful" by other users participating in the same discussion. This would still allow anyone to contribute, even average users lacking a large follower base, while keeping the most stupid and offensive tweets out of most people's feeds. Keep reading to see what Bennett has to say.

As demonstrations and looting took place in Ferguson, some friends of mine and many public commentators expressed disgust with some of the most prejudiced comments tweeted with the #ferguson hashtag. A few high-profile cases led to incidents such as security concerns at one high school and a teacher being fired from another, but most of my friends paying attention said it was more about the steady drumbeat of subtly racist, ignorant, or epically point-missing tweets limping past, often larded with passive-aggressive sarcasm. (Typical example that I just pulled from #ferguson, courtesy of "Wayne Dupree Show": "Liberal Logic 101: Blacks don't commit crimes, Police are just racist. It's sad but that's the narrative being pushed #ferguson #ericgarner". But on the other side, hashtag names like "#BlackLivesMatter" are pretty passive-aggressive too.)

It reminded me of the corruption of the original #GamerGate tag, which today is infamously known for crude sexist trolling, but in its original incarnation (as coined by actor Alec Baldwin), the hashtag apparently referred to some somewhat reasonable questions being raised about ethics in gaming journalism and the statements of one (female) indie game developer. Regardless of what you think of the original arguments or the people making them -- even if you accept, for the sake of argument, that everything they were saying was wrong -- they didn't deserve for the hashtag to be associated with sexist piggishness that became synonymous with #GamerGate, to the exclusion of any discussion of the original points.

Whether a hashtag is corrupted by opponents (#ferguson) or by Neanderthals who nominally claim to be supporting you (#GamerGate), in either case it's possible for a sufficiently large mob to effectively ruin the discussion for many of the participants. In the case of #GamerGate, the point of the original discussion was drowned out completely; in the case of #ferguson, a high proportion of tweets are still aligned with the original point, but a reader is still going to quit reading if each victim-blaming tweet depresses them so much that the next 10 decent tweets won't make up for it.

So, what can you do? You could follow only the people you trust to say something thoughtful (or, at least, not proudly ignorant), and filter their posts for the #ferguson hashtag, but then you'd miss the overwhelming majority of other people's tweets on the subject, even the good ones. You can follow all posts with the hashtag and block the most egregious repeat "offenders", but that won't help much when the problematic messages come from so many different accounts.

What Twitter could do, on the other hand, would be to set up a system for browsing tweets under a given hashtag that would reward the tweets that are given the highest rating by other users following the same hashtag. That would not replace the current Twitter default of strict reverse chronological order for tweets, which hardcore Twitter fans consider sacrosanct. But it could be an alternative model for browsing the tweets grouped under a given hashtag.

Similar to the system I suggested for Twitter to adjudicate abuse reports, a tweet under a given hashtag could initially be shown to a random subset of, say, 100 users who are following that hashtag, and rated as to whether the tweet is funny, informative, interesting, etc. (sound familiar)? Then if the average rating is high enough, the tweet would be shown to users who are browsing the "highest rated" tweets on a given topic.

(The simpler and more obvious solution would be to display tweets as "highest rated" if they had been favorited or retweeted by lots of people. However, this is problematic because it allows a person to game the system by having all of their friends -- or sockpuppet accounts -- "like" a tweet in order to drive it to the top of the pile. By having the ratings come from a random subset of users, this resists attempts to game the system, because there's no way for a user to ensure that their friends will be among the random subset that is selected to rate the tweet.)

This is, essentially, the same algorithm that I've recommended for many other similar problems, even including, say, ways to identify the best new songs in a given genre (so that trance fans can rate the best new trance songs, country fans can rate the best new country songs, and in both cases, the new songs with the highest average rating get the widest promotion to all self-declared fans of that genre). However, there's a signficant twist in the case of rating tweets under a political hashtag. Fans of trance music can be reasonably sure that country music fans are not going to sign up to rate trance songs and given upvotes to the stupidest trance music. But on the other hand, if you create the #ferguson hashtag to discuss reforms to the justice system, there's a good chance that plenty of trolls will sign up to follow the #ferguson hashtag if it gives them the opportunity to upvote racist and victim-blaming tweets that defeat the purpose of the original discussion. Even if you assume that the racists and victim-blamers constitute a minority of users following the hashtag, it might also be the case that they will have a higher response rate whenever they happen to part of a random sample which is asked to "rate" a given tweet to determine whether that tweet is promoted to a wider audience. The trolls might end up constituting a majority of votes cast, which would defeat the purpose.

So perhaps a modified version of the algorithm could work better. As before, new tweets under a given hashtag would be rated by a random subset of users following that hashtag. However, for some random subset of those tweets, the tweets would also be rated by a random subset of all Twitter users. (How to solicit ratings from the general population of Twitter users is a good question. If you simply displayed those tweets to random Twitter users in a sidebar and asked, "Please rate this tweet, even though it's for a hashtag that you're not following," the response rate would likely be very low. But whatever the low rate was, if you display the tweet and the rating request to enough users, eventually you will get a sample of ratings that is statistically significant.) If the system determines that, in many cases, the rating of the tweet's quality from average Twitter users is significantly far apart from the rating from users following that hashtag, then that hashtag can be considered "compromised" (i.e., the majority of people following tweets on that hashtag are probably trolls, or at the least, voting far differently from how average Twitter users vote). And then, perhaps, the highest-rated tweets under that hashtag could be displayed with a disclaimer saying that the ratings have probably been manipulated and are not reliable (but here are the highest-rated tweets anyway, in case you want to read them).

This does raise a philosophical question: What if some subset of Twitter users -- whether skinheads, or communists, or Beliebers -- want to engage in a discussion where posts are rated according to their appeal to members of that in-group, without regard for those posts' appeal to the rest of the user base? Isn't that a perfectly valid form of discussion? My sympathies lie against that point of view. Apart from the fact that the group obviously has the legal right to engage in whatever in-group discussion they want to have, I don't think it's healthy to engage only with like-minded people whose mindset is radically different from almost everyone else's. (In any case, the system could still display the highest-rated tweets, just with the ever-present reminder that those ratings are wildly different from the average ratings given by users who are not following the hashtag. Unfortunately that might just embolden members of the in-group who take pride in the fact that their philosophy sets them apart from most of the rest of the world.)

Unfortunately a "deference to the majority" also means that the protocol wouldn't do much good in cases where the majority really is wrong. If Twitter had existed 60 years ago and had implemented something like what I'm describing, then Twitter discussions of homosexuality or interracial marriage might never have gotten off the ground, because the majority probably would have downvoted anything advocating or even tolerating those lifestyle options. (What year would you guess was the first year in which surveys showed that a majority of Americans supported interracial marriage? 1997.) Peer review, even in the random-sample, non-gameable fashion that I'm talking about, doesn't do much good to advance the discussion when we are the trolls, oblivious to the things we're bigoted and ignorant about that we'll look back and shake our heads at in another fifty years.

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An Algorithm To Prevent Twitter Hashtag Degeneration

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  • gotta be Bennett (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 10, 2014 @02:56PM (#48566125)

    Halfway through the summary I thought, "Trying to apply this to Twitter is the dumbest idea ever. Wait, this must be another Bennett post!" Lo and behold.

    • by CaseCrash ( 1120869 ) on Wednesday December 10, 2014 @03:04PM (#48566223)
      Seriously. I don't normally complain about the crap that gets posted from the same sources over and over that's just trash, but these Bennett posts are awful garbage. This is not your personal blog! No one cares what you think!

      And this idea is stupid as well. It looks like he thought "Hey, lots of sites have moderation systems, why not twitter" and then realized that it, like all moderation systems, would have some problems. How does that rate a whole discussion?

      Is there a chrome extension that blocks slashdot stories with "Bennett Haselton" yet?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Bennet's posts are the best argument I've ever seen for the value of an editor. The guy usually has something interesting to say, but he absolutely sucks sucks sucks at saying it.

        He needs someone to help him put his thoughts in order so that an audience will want to pay attention. That's the job of an honest to god editor.

      • by Wycliffe ( 116160 ) on Wednesday December 10, 2014 @04:05PM (#48566835) Homepage

        Is there a chrome extension that blocks slashdot stories with "Bennett Haselton" yet?

        They let us moderate, metamoderate, and even flag everyone else's comments. They should at
        least give us the "flag this post as spam" option for posted articles. It might help them realize
        which articles suck and which don't. I wonder if they don't just count the total number of comments
        and as Bennett gets a bunch of comments (most of which are saying how much everyone hates
        his articles), they think his articles are popular because they aren't reading the actual comments.

        • They've already got the "block by posting editor" feature. All they have to do is make Bennett an editor.

          Of course, I'm sure they realize that everyone will block Bennett, and pageviews are king at Dice.

          It took a full-on revolt to get the slashdot staff to condescend to comment about the slashdot Beta. It would presumably take something similar to get them to change how they handle the Bennett stories.

          • They've already got the "block by posting editor" feature. All they have to do is make Bennett an editor.

            Yeah, it's very bizarre. He's obviously associated with slashdot somehow. It would make sense to have him post
            his own articles under his own name. His articles are also 10 times longer than other submissions. It would also make
            sense to have them on their own page instead of cramming 10 paragraphs into what is suppose to be a summary.

    • So fucking stupid (Score:5, Informative)

      by halivar ( 535827 ) <bfelger@gma i l . com> on Wednesday December 10, 2014 @03:06PM (#48566245)

      I read the first paragraph, where he confused ALEC Baldwin with ADAM Baldwin. Bennett is ignorant on every topic on which he opines.

    • figures out the algorithm. The problem here is that the mob has figured out how to abuse hashtags. So how long would it take for the mob to also figure out that they can take over the hashtag by making "thoughtful" ratings on the mobs favorite meme. The mob can iterate this process faster than the tweet masters can fix it.

      • The problem here is that the mob has figured out how to abuse hashtags.

        No. The problem is that Bennet Haselton thinks that hashtags should be "owned" by the originators, and that nobody should be allowed to say things that aren't politically correct under those hashtags.

        In other words, Haselton is promoting an "algorithm" for censorship.

        When you get up on a soapbox to spout your views (which is basically what a hashtag is), you have no right to the entire streetcorner. Other people will get up on their soapboxes, too, and say things you probably don't like.

        That's call

        • by s.petry ( 762400 )
          Which is a fully thought out opinion based on the fact that "Tweets" are restricted to so few characters that hashtags are the only way to try and organize things. *that is sarcasm and not directed at you* Personally I perceive the whole Twitter thing as more pointless than Facebook, at least for what people are trying to use it for. It is impossible to express complex thoughts in 1024 characters, you can only point people to well thought out posts in that few characters.
    • by Zocalo ( 252965 ) on Wednesday December 10, 2014 @03:23PM (#48566407) Homepage
      You made it that far?

      I just saw "Bennett Haselton writes", mentally inserted "tldr:" in front of it and came for the LULZ in the comments without even registering what he was drivelling on about.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dolmen.fr ( 583400 )

        I just saw "Bennett Haselton writes", mentally inserted "tldr:" in front of it and came for the LULZ in the comments without even registering what he was drivelling on about.

        Same here. But even before seing the "Keep reading to see what Bennett..." sentence I already though "Hey, looks like Bennett dumb stuff again, isn't it?" just by looking at the title.

        Slashdot was once about "stuff that matters"...

    • Halfway? Didn't the number of paragraphs give it away?
    • Fast reader? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      > Halfway through the summary I thought,

      How'd you get past the very first words, "Bennett Haselton writes"?

    • A miracle occurs every time he posts about Gamergate. Both pro-GG and anti-GG posters lay down their arms just long enough to tell Bennett to go fuck himself and leave /. alone.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      A couple weeks ago, while browsing around the library downtown, I had to take a piss. As I entered the john, Bennett Haselton -- the messiah himself -- came out of one of the booths. I stood at the urinal looking at him out of the corner of my eye as he washed his hands. He didn't once look at me. He was busy and in any case I was sure he wouldn't even acknowledge a mere mortal like me.

      As soon as he left I darted into the booth he'd vacated, hoping there might be a lingering smell of shit and even a seat st

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Is Bennett Haselton singlehandedly financing Slashdot now? Is it his personal blog? Fuck slashdot. I'm gone.

  • by Sowelu ( 713889 ) on Wednesday December 10, 2014 @03:00PM (#48566181)

    Last I heard, the big benefit of twitter is that they didn't censor or hide things, they were uncurated, and gave people exactly what the general public was saying. And you want to CHANGE that?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 10, 2014 @03:01PM (#48566185)

    He knows all about angry mobs.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by idontgno ( 624372 )

      And, quite tellingly, puts forth a suggestion on how to shut them up.

      What I'd like to know is "if moderation hasn't silence Slashdot's angry crowd, why would it do so on Twitter?"

  • Golly ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Wednesday December 10, 2014 @03:02PM (#48566199) Homepage

    I sure wish #BennettHaselton and his pointless #stories and #fluffpieces would stop getting posted on the front page of #Slashdot by #timothy and #samzenpus as #clickbait because they're #lame, #pointless, and the work of someone with an #inflatedego who thinks he has the #solution to all of our #problems.

    #RolandPiquepaille had nothing on this guy.

    Seriously, #STFU, or at least give us the ability to filter this #clown.

    • by skids ( 119237 )

      #like

    • by dnebin ( 594347 )
      Sign the #petition: http://petitions.moveon.org/si... [moveon.org]
      • by s.petry ( 762400 )
        It's not whitehouse.gov so I refuse to sign this petition on the grounds that it won't work. Slashdot has taken no action on this guy, so my guess is that it will take a Presidential EO to achieve.
        • by dnebin ( 594347 )

          That has been most people's reaction. Many just like reading the abuse thrown at Bennett, but not once has anyone said anything positive about Bennett or his opinions. No one signs the petition because, after all, we tend to be a hugely cynical bunch. But unless we try something, slashdot will keep posting his crap and everyone will keep complaining. Slashdot won't do anything because there's no coordinated effort to actually tell them he sucks and they should get rid of his shit. So he keeps posting c

          • by s.petry ( 762400 )
            Actually there are some positive comments about Bennett. Read this thread and you will see quite a few. That said, they are usually followed up by very similar negative comments. The format seems to be "Bennett seems to have a good idea" followed by "it took him 9183747 words to explain his position" and finally "the solution is not realistic".
  • by Anonymous Coward

    How badly I don't want to see unpopular opinions and things I don't agree with on the Internet.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Indeed. The race baiting Ferguson narrative got ridiculed on Twitter and Haselton doesn't like it. How tragic.

      The more urgent need is Slashdot story moderation to deal with Bennett's dreck.

  • All my mod points (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 10, 2014 @03:05PM (#48566239)

    Just went into anyone saying anything bad about this "article".

    Best use of mods ever.

    Down with Hasselton.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I understand that Twitter gets a lot of use but hash tags and 140 word messages aren't helping any argument. Listening to anything that comes through twitter is like saying you agree with the opinions of 12 year old girls gossiping. Twitter, and the tiny attention spam 140 word messages, are not the place to have a proper conversation on crime in the black community and the way it's addressed by police.

    • by darkain ( 749283 )

      Because the URLs to images and full articles that easily fit within the 140 character limits is absolutely worthless to the discussion...

      • What discussion is happening when people are throwing pictures and articles by other people at each other?

        Well Dan, in this article in says Obama is a muslim you see.
        Well Steve, in this article it says he's not, and that you're a racist.
        Well Dan, here's a picture of Obama bowing to a Saudi Prince.
        Well Steve, #diplomacy.

        Real riveting conversation there.

    • You just described the primary reason why Twitter is popular. It really only allows vacuous shouting so it attracts people incapable of forming coherent ideas but still want to blurt out their opinions without having to worry about them being challenged by meaningful discussion.

      It is also good for making fun of people. So it at least can be amusing watching the dynamics of these two incompatible groups of people interacting.

  • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 ) on Wednesday December 10, 2014 @03:09PM (#48566267)

    Benett discovers moderation. Speaking of which, the corruption of Slashdot demonstrates how vulnerable the "editor" system is to being swamped by "weirdos with verbal diarrhea." An alternative algorithm could be created that allows readers to rate whole stories, and vote Bennett into oblivion.

  • Brilliant! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by meeotch ( 524339 ) on Wednesday December 10, 2014 @03:11PM (#48566283) Homepage

    Now, if only Slashdot had some sort of a system whereby submitted stories could be rated "thoughtful", or perhaps "not written by Bennett Haselton", thus preventing the front page from degenerating due to stupid, or offensive, or offensively stupid contributions.

    Seriously - what is this, some sort of test to see how many screen-inches can be filled with the random bleatings of one jackass, before it impacts readership numbers? Like slashdot's version of the "cinnamon challenge"?

  • by Arkh89 ( 2870391 ) on Wednesday December 10, 2014 @03:11PM (#48566285)

    An Algorithm To Prevent Slashdot's Bennett-Haselton-Degeneration...

    Yeah, we need one...

  • by NotSanguine ( 1917456 ) on Wednesday December 10, 2014 @03:15PM (#48566325) Journal

    There are no posts from this jackass over at Soylent News [soylentnews.org].

    There are many reasons I now prefer that site over /., but a lack of Bennett Haselton [rottenecards.com] is definitely one of them.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      A link to Soylent News should be the first post for every Bennett story.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Pfft, piss off. No it wasn't.

    It was a vocal minority that were doing all the trolling in gamergate, being exploded in to HUGE cases by a bunch of whiny people because "I am so like, totally a victim yeah!", not to mention those same people using their pull in "news" websites all pushing the SAME STORY on the SAME DAY to try discredit them before gamergate exploded in to headline news.
    Those same people claiming everyone was trolling, then after those people post picture proof, being called race traitors, li

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Tridus ( 79566 )

      Gamergate wasn't hijacked at all. The thing that Baldwin started with was literally bullshit made up by that developer's ex-boyfriend.

      It started off as sexist BS, and it remained sexist BS. Basing an "ethics" campaign on flagrant lies isn't exactly a good place to get started.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Yes, bullshit, when there was picture proof of encounters with Zoe between them, not to mention the other person that had previous dealings with Zoe that ended very negatively.
        Let's not forget how evil and twisted she is, attacking charity events because it created competition to her.

        There is no sexism involved in this. If it was a guy that this was about, the same shit would have happened.
        It already has happened before when people were using favors of friends to push agendas, it still happens.
        Then there i

        • by Anonymous Coward

          These people DO need help. Serious serious help so they aren't a danger to themselves or others. They think the world is out to get them.

          This is what gets me about anti-GG. Some day these people are going to grow up and realize just how completely toxic and horrible the people they're defending are. I can only hope it's sooner rather than later. I've known women like them. They do nothing but play mindgames and try and destroy anyone they can't manipulate.

          Do these white knight virgin idiots defending them even read what their figureheads write?! Holy shit, those women are nuts! And they have the nerve to call gamers a "toxic community?!" The

      • by lgw ( 121541 )

        It started off as sexist BS, and it remained sexist BS. Basing an "ethics" campaign on flagrant lies isn't exactly a good place to get started.

        It started off as a strong push-back against the latest Jack Thompson, the latest "Mothers Against D&D", against one more attempt to start a moral panic over video games. Fuck Jack Thompson and everyone like him. If it were a bunch of sexist drivel, it would have blown over in a week.

        There's a small corner of gaming filled with adolescent boys who behave about like what you'd expect. Not a nice community. Trying to stereotype all "gamers" as that crowd will of course get extreme pushback, whether as

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Hashtags work exactly like they are supposed to.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Can we please please PLEASE PLEASE have a system in place like this to hide posts by Bennett Haselton?

    That way everybody can down-rate them to oblivion and remove them from the front page.

  • by danbob999 ( 2490674 ) on Wednesday December 10, 2014 @03:24PM (#48566421)
    Having to read a #text full of #hashtags is #painfull. That's why we invented a much better alternative [wikipedia.org] years ago [wikipedia.org]. Twitter is a regression on so many aspects, I can't wait for it to join My Space.
    • by _xeno_ ( 155264 )

      You don't understand the point of hashtags. The concept isn't to link to other tags, the concept is to make your post discoverable by other people. They're hashtags, after all, they tag a post as being related to some concept [wikipedia.org].

      They're just like the tags underneath the Slashdot articles that no one pays attention to, like pleasestop [slashdot.org] and ohnoitsbennett [slashdot.org]. They're "reverse hyperlinks" if you will, designed not to send you to other pages, but to get you there from other pages.

      • I get the point, but I do not agree. It could still be a hyperlink. Clicking on the hyperlink would automatically list recent twits using the given tag. Just like on Slashdot. Putting # signs in the middle of sentences just make it less readable and has no benefit. Underline, or special color is a much better idea.
        • by _xeno_ ( 155264 )

          It could still be a hyperlink. Clicking on the hyperlink would automatically list recent twits using the given tag. Just like on Slashdot.

          Which is exactly how they work on Twitter and Facebook?

          Putting # signs in the middle of sentences just make it less readable and has no benefit.

          Which is why a lot of people stick the hashtags at the end of what they post and not in the middle. The fact that some people "misuse" them (although you can debate that) doesn't mean that they aren't fundamentally different from hyperlinks or they don't serve a useful purpose. They're effectively the <meta name="keywords"> tag in a medium that doesn't accept full HTML.

          Underline, or special color is a much better idea.

          So basically you're only complaining about the presentation of the hashtag?

          • Which is exactly how they work on Twitter and Facebook?

            Except that the '#' is still there and serves no purpose.

            Which is why a lot of people stick the hashtags at the end of what they post and not in the middle. The fact that some people "misuse" them (although you can debate that) doesn't mean that they aren't fundamentally different from hyperlinks or they don't serve a useful purpose. They're effectively the <meta name="keywords"> tag in a medium that doesn't accept full HTML.

            Still not good enough. Even at the end of a message it still waste space (at least 1 character, if not the world word). Why can't twitter just convert # and @ to hyperlinks and be done with it? This way they could be in the middle of messages and still be readable.

            So basically you're only complaining about the presentation of the hashtag?

            Yes. It's a good enough reason for not using twitter. I don't want to see a '#' character on keywords just like I don't want to see '\n' at the end of every line. I have the same complain ab

            • The original intent of Twitter was to be able to send and view the whole tweet on mobile platforms. 140 characters plus 20 for the username is the typical SMS limit of 160 characters.

              If they converted the hash tag into a href={link} with angle brackets, one character becomes 16. As it is, the pound, hash, or number sign still represents a link, but in compressed form.

              You are thinking about viewing on a web platform. The creators were thinking about transfer over SMS. Two entirely different platforms and

              • How hard is it to convert hyperlinks to # when sending over legacy protocols such as SMS? Different kind of links could have different colors or font. Not a real problem. The worse possible solution would be to add characters making text less readable.
  • As demonstrations and looting took place in Ferguson, some friends of mine and many public commentators expressed disgust with some of the most prejudiced comments tweeted with the #ferguson hashtag.

    I wonder, if #PantsUpDontLoot [cbslocal.com] was among the "prejudice" [nypost.com]...

    • The problem with the NY Post article is their reporting (obviously). Throughout their rant they kept referring to comments by the reporters saying "most of the protests were peaceful".

      Most of something means not all of something. The fact that there were burnings and shootings doesn't negate the commentary. If 75% of a group of people don't riot or loot, then that is most of the people.

      While there were those who chose to perpetuate the stereotype of blacks burning and looting businesses, that doesn't nega

      • by mi ( 197448 )

        If 75% of a group of people don't riot or loot, then that is most of the people.

        What the article points out, is that CNN never showed anybody, who did not riot or loot. Given CNN's obvious desire to show such people, their inability to do so — despite repeated claims, they exist — can only mean one thing: there weren't any.

        Which is hardly a wonder, I might add, given who Michael Brown was — a violent thug, who just robbed a store, and attacked (according to variety of witnesses [ap.org]) a policem

        • Or maybe they didn't have their cameras where the looting was taking place. If they only had one crew it would be difficult under the circumstances for them to report it happening.

          The did report on, and show, the body found in the burning car and showed pictures of blacks protecting white-owned businesses.

          As to Brown, no sympathy. As the evidence showed, what some initially reported was completely false and even made up. He was hardly the saint people tried to make him out to be.

          • by mi ( 197448 )

            Or maybe they didn't have their cameras where the looting was taking place.

            They (CNN) did. Looting was all they showed — while talking about majority being "peaceful". CNN's inability to show a single peaceful person there — all the while droning, how "majority is peaceful" — is why NY Post called CNN "liars".

            I suspect, you misunderstood the NY Post article — and/or my reference to it...

  • Why not simply use a weighted combination of rating and age (well, youth) for the ordering algorithm? Turn the knob for rating down to nearly zero and you get nearly the same behavior as Twitter has today. Then you can slowly turn it up if you want a slightly different kind of community. This is basically the approach taken by Reddit, Hacker News, and many other aggregation sites -- they may differ on the exact formula, but it's always some weighted combination of age and rating.

  • by pz ( 113803 ) on Wednesday December 10, 2014 @03:34PM (#48566539) Journal

    It really would be nice to not see these less-than-stellar pieces from Bennett that contain long-winded, half-baked ideas. His ideas are neither particularly good, nor nearly as insightful as he appears to think, especially when it comes to algorithms. Moreover, they always seem to contain some bit of nearsightedness when it comes to human behavior.

    Please, someone, come up with a way of blocking his posts.

  • delete from dbo.FIREHOSE where submitted_by = "Bennett Haselton" ;
    delete from dbo.USERS where username = "Bennett Haselton" ;
    insert into dbo.banned (username, duration) select "Bennett Haselton", -1 ;
  • Is this "algorithm" manage the lines of people waiting to get ice in desert better? Would it cure world hunger too?
  • This issue is common to collective storytelling, which I shall summarize thusly: "Everything is fine until someone gets butthurt, then Godzilla shows up and destroys everything." It seems to be a fundamental issue at the intersection of pure democracy and the human condition. The only functional solution appears to be active moderation.
  • by LessThanObvious ( 3671949 ) on Wednesday December 10, 2014 @04:06PM (#48566843)

    Just because a person creates a hashtag and they get people using it to express thoughts from a like minded point of view doesn't mean they should control it. If others later use it to speak from an alternate point of view whether productive or not, that is just what you get. If you want to hear public commentary, part of that is hearing how many in the public really feel, which isn't always pretty. I guess they'll just have to figure out how to censor tweets from people who aren't politically correct. It's OK people don't actually like open discourse, they like to talk to like minded people who can reenforce how right they are about the issues.

  • by Loopy ( 41728 )

    I just peeked in to see what the comments said (obvious concept of moderation applied to hashtags is obvious) and see that most of the comments already covered what I was going to say. Bravo, folks.

  • by Hussman32 ( 751772 ) on Wednesday December 10, 2014 @04:17PM (#48566933)

    My first post to a Bennett post:

    Quoting Bennett:
    (The simpler and more obvious solution would be to display tweets as "highest rated" if they had been favorited or retweeted by lots of people. However, this is problematic because it allows a person to game the system by having all of their friends -- or sockpuppet accounts -- "like" a tweet in order to drive it to the top of the pile. By having the ratings come from a random subset of users, this resists attempts to game the system, because there's no way for a user to ensure that their friends will be among the random subset that is selected to rate the tweet.)
    End Quoting Bennett:

    Bennett, perhaps if you were to click a trending hashtag, you would see that they list either 'Top Tweets' or 'All,' and you would note that those that were retweeted or favorited would be on the Top Tweet list, just like your recommendation. Except this has been there for years.

    My god, it must be a thousand words to point out existing functionality of an inanely simple concept that has already been executed. I now see what the hullabaloo is all about.

  • This problem sounds suspiciously familiar... queue obligatory XKCD reference in 3... 2... 1...

    http://xkcd.com/810/ [xkcd.com]

  • 1. #banbennett
    2. 127.0.0.1 beta.slashdot.org
    3. there is no step 3.
  • Bennett sucks (Score:2, Insightful)

    by MagicM ( 85041 )

    I hate Bennett. His posts are drivel.

    I have to post this comment because otherwise Slashdot mods might think I clicked in to actually read said drivel. I did not. I only read Bennett posts for the funny comments.

  • #Hashtags should be for soley for viral marketing, and not to illustrate social causes, and help people connect with social causes. Heck, they might ever gather in public places and promote social change. This could work out real bad for the corporate sponsors. We need to nip this in the bud.
  • by turp182 ( 1020263 ) on Wednesday December 10, 2014 @08:08PM (#48568921) Journal

    Stop commenting. Want it to stop? Ignore it completely. I think an obligatory "first post" is fine, and maybe a "I'd like to subscribe your newsletter" (combine the two for uber-points), but that's it.

    Leave it alone, don't feed the creature.

    • You have failed to see the astonishing insights Bennett Haselton offers here, but I will just give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you are confused.

      I just have one question myself about Bennett's suggestion: what is twitter?

  • If you cannot handle listening to uncensored democracy style discourse then maybe you can just stop listening instead of trying to censor everything you do not like.

"It might help if we ran the MBA's out of Washington." -- Admiral Grace Hopper

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