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Mozilla The Internet The Media

Ask Slashdot: Going Beyond Comment Threads? 393

Posted by Soulskill
from the tell-a-story-in-140-emoticons-or-fewer dept.
asa writes "The Knight Foundation and Mozilla are running a series of news innovation challenges. The goal: get the world's smartest hackers thinking about how news organizations can harness the open web. The current challenge is all about comment threads. This seems like the perfect question to pose to Slashdotters: how would you foster more dynamic spaces for online news discussion? How would you preserve the context of online discussions and stamp out trolls? All ideas, technical, practical or impractical are welcome. What technologies (federation, atomic commenting, moderation, algorithms) would you employ? What are the immutable social dynamics? Knight and Mozilla will work with the best challenge entrants to deploy the solutions in newsrooms at Al Jazeera English, the BBC, boston.com, The Guardian, and Zeit Online. Submissions are open until May 22nd."
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Ask Slashdot: Going Beyond Comment Threads?

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  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Monday May 09, 2011 @05:03PM (#36076080)

    People can say whatever they want, moderation points stamp out trolls and assign relative values to posts (not always the best system, but not bad), etc. Of course, for it to work, you have to assemble a pretty smart/knowledgeable/literate bunch of people (that's the real trick). And you would still have to avoid kdawson stories, of course. Not a perfect system by a longshot, but one of the best.

    Most of the systems I've seen on news sites for commenting have ranged from "suck ass" to "MAJORLY suck ass." Moderators are either too tough (nothing controversial gets through) of too lenient (leading to comment threads loaded with spam). Just go look at the "Wired" story comment sections sometime. Half of them don't work at all, the other half are loaded with spam, and some of their stories don't seem to let you comment at all. And that's from a *tech* magazine.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 09, 2011 @05:09PM (#36076142)

      the problem is that 'stamping out trolls' also ends up stamping out minority opinions as well as unpopular truth. this fosters a groupthink mentality that allows consensus to take precedence over correct information/conclusions.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        You can't get away from that anywhere humans are involved, but Slashdot really does work better than most sites in that regard. I mean try expressing even a slightly conservative opinion on reddit.

        • Expressing a conservative opinion is difficult Slashdot as well. But I agree that the system here is far better than anywhere else, like Reddit - where karma whoring is rampant and good discussion is often subdued under "funny" comments. Don't even get me started on the lame memes generated over there.
          • by elrous0 (869638) *

            Try looking at the comments in the "At the AV Club" section of The Onion sometime. Even though that section is supposed to be the serious part of the Onion, every single poster thinks they're trying out for the regular Onion writing staff. It's like a competition to see who can make the most ironic/detached/funny/irreverent statements in 5 seconds.

        • "You can't get away from that anywhere humans are involved, but Slashdot really does work better than most sites in that regard. I mean try expressing even a slightly conservative opinion on reddit."

          And just try expressing an anti capitalist or critical of capitalism/libertarian/market opinion on slashdot. Slashdot is a bastion of free marketeers, libertarians and virulent 'anti left'.

          The real problem is that language of a population tends to constrain it's thoughts to where the majority of it's population

          • by lennier (44736)

            the US, the most hyper capitalist nation on earth.

            Well, if they stopped drinking all those cappucinos they could be a much calmer capitalist nation.

          • by vegiVamp (518171)

            I've seen that claim before. It's clear that /. is US-spawned and -hosted, but I'm not quite as convinced that the actual majority of people on here are American. Some proper statistics might be interesting.

      • by grcumb (781340) on Monday May 09, 2011 @05:42PM (#36076540) Homepage Journal

        the problem is that 'stamping out trolls' also ends up stamping out minority opinions as well as unpopular truth. this fosters a groupthink mentality that allows consensus to take precedence over correct information/conclusions.

        Does nobody else see the irony of a comment like this being moderated to +4?

        The fact that it's been validated by the system it critiques invalidates it.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          No, it doesn't. Groupthink mentalities foster persecution complexes, so even the groupthinkers agree with the GP.

        • by AgentBif (1061974) on Monday May 09, 2011 @07:45PM (#36077692)

          the problem is that 'stamping out trolls' also ends up stamping out minority opinions as well as unpopular truth. this fosters a groupthink mentality that allows consensus to take precedence over correct information/conclusions.

          Does nobody else see the irony of a comment like this being moderated to +4?

          The fact that it's been validated by the system it critiques invalidates it.

          You make a seemingly poignant and clever remark. However, his comment is not obscure, minority, or controversial... his comment is mainstream, rational, and well accepted, particularly among the SlashDot crowd.

          What he refers to is daring, perhaps "crackpot" opinions that go against the grain of the PC ethos of the internet community. A lot of crackpots are annoying attention-starved irrational, overly emotional, etc, and they often get the down-votes they deserve. But we all know and admire the few epic heros who changed the world with their unpopular opinions because they ended up being a step ahead of the world in insight... We should make sure that the internet does not make it easier to squelch these people, but instead allows them to blossom.

          He's talking about people like the guy who makes rational attempts to critique or debunk global warming science, the guy who enters a discussion forum on a San Francisco newspaper and tries to argue that it's wrong for gay couples to raise children, the Saudi who tries to argue for equal rights for women in his country, that guy who thinks Jar Jar was a worthy attempt at levity in the Star Wars mythos.

          These guys, if they make their cases with reasonable doses of civility, credible knowledge, and rationality, should still be heard, even if their opinions are loathed by the majority. These people make us sharper as a society. They are out of the box thinkers. And some of them could be right.

          Yet, in a pure crowd-sourced voting system, the unpopular opinions will always get squelched unless they manage to provoke a flame war before they are forgotten.

    • by elrous0 (869638) *

      Oh, and don't get me started on some of the registration requirements for commenting on some news sites. I swear, some of them want everything from my grandmother's street address to my the length of my dick (in centimeters). So if I want to comment, I have to call up grandma and ask for both.

    • How do you differentiate a troll from someone just drinking the derpaide?
    • by cpu6502 (1960974)

      >>>moderation points stamp out trolls

      Moderation points are also used BY trolls to silence people (or opinions) they don't like. For example, saying that you bought an iPad and didn't like it almost-always results in -2 hits to that post. I'm surprised you've never noticed that?

      I think Slashdot's system would be vastly improved if the -1 points were expunged, so this kind of behavior could not happen. Also I think it would be better if everyone was assigned a default 0. Trolls would remain stu

      • by LordNimon (85072)

        If the default were 0, then all comments would be invisible at first. A whole bunch of people would need to be willing to read comments at 0 and mod up everyone that isn't trolling. That's too much work.

        • by Noughmad (1044096)

          I browse at -1 you insensitive clod!

          • by eln (21727)
            So do I, but I've definitely noticed that my comments get vastly more attention posting at +2 or +1 than they do when I post as a +0 AC, both by moderators and other posters. Personally, I think you should be forced to browse at -1 whenever you have mod points, but that would probably just lead to a sharp decrease in the number of people willing to moderate.
    • by gman003 (1693318) on Monday May 09, 2011 @05:22PM (#36076298)
      There's one major flaw I've noticed in the /. system: groupthink and herd mentality. Anything that perfectly fits a certain mentality will get upmodded, most things that disagree with it get downmodded. Thus, people who disagree with that thinking (or even just don't care about it) have a disincentive to post, and the site attracts people fanatical about that viewpoint, perpetuating the problem.

      For /., the "mentality" is "MAFIAA evil, government evil and incompetent, big corporations bad (except google 'cuz they're good guys)", but it could just as easily be anything. If, say, a firearms news site adopted the /. system, it would probably end up with a strong "Kalashnikov gas-operated rotating-bolt system is perfect, Stoner direct-impingement system is evil" bias (or vice versa). Or an indie gaming site might end up with a "no sequels, artsy plot-heavy faux-retro side-scrollers only, and if it becomes popular YOU SOLD OUT" mentality.

      PS: Don't deny that it happens. I've seen anti-MAFIAA comments get +5 Insightful in articles about space travel. And I've never seen anything even vaguely pro-copyright get above a 2.
      • by Culture20 (968837)

        I've never seen anything even vaguely pro-copyright get above a 2.

        I have, but it was about GPL, not the death of Walt Disney + 125 years variety.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by gman003 (1693318)
          To be technical, GPL is copyleft, not copyright.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Cogita (1119237)

            To be technical, GPL is copyleft, not copyright.

            To be more technical, Copyleft is copyright, just a permissive and viral license.

      • by fudoniten (918077)

        Groupthink: A derogative term used to disparage a widly-held belief or set of beliefs with which the speaker does not agree.

        I've seen highly-rated counter examples for all of the examples of groupthink you cite. Not so many for copyright as it stands today. I would suggest that's because there's not much positive to say. You can get a good rating for "creator's rights are important!" but adding "...for the creator's great-grandchildren!" might lose you some points.

        • Groupthink: A derogative term used to disparage a widly-held belief or set of beliefs with which the speaker does not agree.

          When we surround ourselves with people who agree with us, and punish people who disagree to discourage them from participating, we get a distorted view of what a "widely-held belief" is.

        • by he-sk (103163)

          The term groupthink was introduced (by Janis, IIRC) to describe the phenomenon that groups sometimes settle on a more polarized consensus than one would expect after querying each individual before they went into the group. That effect doesn't necessarily happen, but it has been observed in many instances. The Wikipedia page lists a few canonical examples.

          I think your "definition" of it is itself derogative, but I agree that groupthink is not very prevalent here. For one, it requires that the group is high

      • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@@@gmail...com> on Monday May 09, 2011 @05:57PM (#36076724) Journal

        And I've never seen anything even vaguely pro-copyright get above a 2.

        Right here, in at least two [slashdot.org] stories [slashdot.org] there are many counters to your claim. GPL is a form of copyright and people demand that be protected and be upheld.

        I think what you are complaining about is that everyone on Slashdot is upset with "The Mickey Mouse Act" and is disgusted that lobbyists determine how long copyright stands so now it's an unreasonable length of time. And yeah, anyone defending that deserves to be modded down. But you're not going to find anybody other than massive studios defending that because why would an artist care that their work is copyrighted past their death? Hell, I would demand it be public domain so that more people could enjoy my work.

        You can post positions counter to "group think" but you have to pose them intelligently and try to achieve a neutral point of view when you do it. An example might be proposing copyright reform down to twenty years but enforcing it even more rigorously to ensure that the artist truly gets royalties for those twenty years. Swearing at people and calling them thieves only illustrates you don't understand the nature of copyright infringement nor how the biggest most powerful players have the public by the balls and all politicians in their pockets.

        I assure you on copyright and patents, I have often posted comments asking people what they thought a responsible length of time was or asking them how biotech firms should recoup their losses on searching for/developing drugs if they should not be able to patent them.

        • by Intron (870560)

          I think what you are complaining about is that everyone on Slashdot is upset with "The Mickey Mouse Act" and is disgusted that lobbyists determine how long copyright stands so now it's an unreasonable length of time. And yeah, anyone defending that deserves to be modded down. But you're not going to find anybody other than massive studios defending that because why would an artist care that their work is copyrighted past their death? Hell, I would demand it be public domain so that more people could enjoy my work.

          Mark Twain used to complain about the limited term of copyright - and considered copyright expiration a form of theft.

          I am interested particularly and especially in the part of the bill which concerns my trade. I like that extension of copyright life to the author's life and fifty years afterward. I think that would satisfy any reasonable author, because it would take care of his children.

      • by timeOday (582209)
        Recognizing groupthink as a problem is one thing, fixing it is another. Even the legal system (laws and court system, all the way to the Supreme Court) are all just low-pass filters that make society's judgments register with society's long-term values. They reduce kneejerk reactions, but they're still ultimately based on nothing but collective values.
      • There's one major flaw I've noticed in the /. system: groupthink and herd mentality. Anything that perfectly fits a certain mentality will get upmodded, most things that disagree with it get downmodded. Thus, people who disagree with that thinking (or even just don't care about it) have a disincentive to post, and the site attracts people fanatical about that viewpoint, perpetuating the problem.

        I agree with you about Slashdot with one exception: a distinguishing quality of the Slashdot metamind is that it's at least subconsciously aware of its own biases. Witness, for example, the fact that your post -- ostensibly critical of Slashdot's readership and moderators -- was modded up to +5. It's precisely that honest admission that the system isn't perfect, and that yes, Slashdot has its systemic biases, that keeps me satisfied with the moderation system as it stands.

    • We enjoy the slashdot system because we don't mind rehashing the same discussions every time a new story comes up, but it's more than a little redundant.

      I would detach comment threads from the stories and tag them; old comment threads could get automatically attached to a new story that's similarly tagged, and then moderated down if it's no longer applicable or up if there's nothing new to say; presumably, some sort of pruning or metamoderation to cut it down to only the best posts. In theory, wise posts c

    • Slashdot is one of the best I've seen. If you allow anyone to be a moderator, and have unlimited points past 5, you get all sorts of people gaming the system... And the hivemind. Besides those systems were no doubt influenced by Slashdot

      I've thought of a superior system to Digg.com, where instead of everyone getting upvote/downvote priviledges on a global pool of points, you could have factional voting. An example is Democrats don't like what Republicans post: So if there are more Dems than Reps, the R
    • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Monday May 09, 2011 @05:44PM (#36076570) Homepage Journal

      moderation points stamp out trolls and assign relative values to posts

      Why should we assume that there's any value at all to having a "dynamic" discussion/commenting section on general news sites?

      Part of the charm of Slashdot is the unique quality of the users (at least those with UIDs lower than about 1750000). The stories don't matter as much as the "dynamic" discussions. And the worst behavior of jerks (like me) is kept to a minimum by the modding system. It works because the stories are not the main draw of the site.

      On a general news site, where people go for information, there's really little value in any "dynamic" discussion except to let us know the level of stupidity among the readers. If you don't believe me, go read the comments section of your local newspaper. Don't spend too much time doing that though, or you may become afraid to ever leave your house.

      Comment sections for general news sites are pretty bad ideas. I don't believe developing better commenting systems is going to change that.

    • by lymond01 (314120)

      Rather than moderation scores, I'd rather see and "I agree" mod of various types (let's say "Insightful", "Informative", or "Agreed"). But if you disagree, you need to include a reason why. I imagine you'd get a lot of gibberish just to bypass the text input requirement or likely a lot of ("cuz u suck" comments), but it would be a start.

      As far as UI tweaks, adding Facebook-like autocompletes for links would be nice.

      Group citations too...so when you disagree and add a citation (a link or reference), you ca

    • by mzs (595629)

      It used to be better though. The lower scored comments at the head of a thread would appear after the higher scored ones. Now the order does not change as you scroll down the page. The ones that were posted sooner appear nearer to the top. I used to moderate by reading a bit, then changing the order to most recent first. Then new ideas I would moderate appropriately. This also helped to see comments that had been modded down unfairly, I could still see them and mod them back up.

    • Moderators are either too tough (nothing controversial gets through) of too lenient (leading to comment threads loaded with spam).

      .. or they're biased, or they want to play the game and be a referee at the same time.

  • Three paths (Score:4, Interesting)

    by symbolset (646467) * on Monday May 09, 2011 @05:06PM (#36076102) Journal

    Full identification like Facebook, moderated semi-anonymity like slashdot, full-on unfiltered anonymous chatter. Each has fans and faults.

    So make three tabs and call it a day.

    I mean maybe I'm missing something, but is there a rule that there has to be one best way?

    • Trolls only. I've been trying to post on presstv.ir for a couple of years, but their moderators won't allow any sane or reasonable views to taint their pseudo-islamic purity.

  • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Monday May 09, 2011 @05:07PM (#36076126)

    Everyone has a right to speak, even idiots. If you don't like what they have to say, then just add them to your ignore list. Trolls/idiots polluting forums is preferable to censorship like happens on some boards (Sony erasing negative posts about the hacking).

    Other ideas:
    - no point system or post tally. People don't deserve to get points just because they post a lot. People don't deserve to get points at all, for the mere act of expressing an opinion.
    - threading is essential, so the replies are tied to the original post
    - keep it simple. Plain text. Uses less bandwidth.

    • DO stamp out trolls (Score:4, Interesting)

      by openfrog (897716) on Monday May 09, 2011 @05:29PM (#36076390)

      Trolls may be a problem. Personnally, I think that special interests groups present a more formidable challenge.

      Once they target a thread on an organized attack, either by themselves or through a PR agency too happy to cater to their needs, there is little that a few, by definition disorganized, moderators can do. The tone heats up in minutes, you can see that any of the seasoned intelligent commentators stay away from such threads. Sometimes, they back off from the site entirely.

      Slashdot has a pretty impressive record, and the administrators surely have valuable experience in this regard. Even then, from time to time, you see the sturdy moderating system collapse under an persistent assault. This is always a disheartening experience for me, to see bullies have their... I mean our, cake.

      In these times, I always wonder what we could do to prevent this from taking place. I do think that an awful lot is at stake: public interest, to say it in two words.

    • - keep it simple. Plain text. Uses less bandwidth.

      I would argue basic markup is critical. If you want a good discussion people need the ability to link to supporting documents. It also helps a lot to put things in lists, emphasize certain words or sentences, and set quotes apart from the reply. Simple markup makes all of that possible.

      And let's not forget support for Unicode!

      I do see your point in limiting the forum to text. However, there have been many occasions where I would have found it hand

  • Read the article (Score:2, Insightful)

    by icebattle (638355)
    Make it impossible to post a comment without having first RFA.
    • by Nerdfest (867930)
      Hey, this would be a great idea for someone looking for ways to improve commenting on stories!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 09, 2011 @05:10PM (#36076162)

    Many usenet readers provided an astonishing number of features that we have lost in the move to web forums. Maybe something was gained, but much was also lost.

    Killfiles were useful to stamp out trolls. These days there could be a feature similar to adblock subscriptions that would block known trolls across all forums.

    The reader features themselves on the better clients were MILES more advanced than what is done today in web browsers, even with AJAX. A web browser is a good tool, but it isn't the right tool for everything. It doesn't seem like the right tool for large scale discussion forums, although it can "suffice" for them - it just isn't as good as a dedicated application. Also with a dedicated app, you get your choice of which one to use. With a web forum, you get whatever the forum software gives you to. It takes choice away from the user and places it with the site.

    • There are still discussions on technical topics, and trolls are relatively tame in those newsgroups. Usenet nodes almost universally use spam filters now, which helps a lot. Usenet is not dead and there is no reason to refer to it in the past tense.
    • Actually an interesting point. Maybe some webservice could be implemented as a substitute to the vanilla browser capability? That'd be a great idea and one that I've at least never considered.
    • Yep. A modern client should have collapsible threading, notifications (via various methods-- SMS, email, facebook, IM, controlled by user per site/domain). It shouldn't be tied into Facebook just because FB has a half-way competent implementation; it should be an open standard that does *not* require a single, real, trackable ID. But it *should* involve a computational cost to generate accounts, to mitigate spam. And killfiles, reputation services (think adblock lists) should all be in the spec (so you
    • by jez9999 (618189) on Monday May 09, 2011 @06:39PM (#36077128) Homepage Journal

      Many usenet readers provided an astonishing number of features that we have lost in the move to web forums. Maybe something was gained, but much was also lost.

      PLONK!!!

  • by istartedi (132515) on Monday May 09, 2011 @05:17PM (#36076256) Journal

    I've always thought that assigning negatives and postivies to Slashdot mod categories was limited. I'd like to see mutiple axes of moderation, with the axes you want to view left up to the users.

    For example, I might really enjoy viewing (-2*Troll+Funny) as opposed to the default (Funny-Troll).

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Where slashdot fails:
    a) Anonymous Cowards are seldom read, and seldom moderated up.
    b) the Javascript filtering makes it impossible to search.
    c) Mandatory login to get rid of the 50 comment limit.

    Where Twitter and Discq.us have fared better:
    1. Universal login, so I don't have to keep creating accounts on 10,000 damned sites, blogs, and everything with a comment field.
    2. Disqus - "Likes" somewhat like a karma system.
    3. Twitter - Followers, eg follow those that contribute, so by this nature it "whitelists" whe

    • by Sarten-X (1102295)

      +1, Insightful

      I have no mod points, so I'm hoping this comment will make the parent be read more. See his first point about ACs.

  • Open discussions can either be primarily informative with an "anything goes from anyone" approach, or primarily educational in that some attempt is made to improve the signal-to-noise ratio by dealing with the trolls and spammers. In either case, any given forum will have to initially take a perspective to be either informational with the exercise left to the reader for picking out the wheat from the chaff; or if their perspective is educational and hence doing some guiding of the discussion for relevance
  • I think a facebook twitter combo would be a pretty good solution. On a given newsfeed you should be able to see the comments of those who you are following. You would obtain those friends through a one sided relationship like twitter (i.e. they don't need to grant you permission) and you could also see the posts of those who belong to specific groups (i.e. I hate Republicans or I hate Democrats) -> that way, you could find more individuals to friend. You could perhaps also have an option to see posts
  • by roman_mir (125474) on Monday May 09, 2011 @05:25PM (#36076328) Homepage Journal

    Let's ask /. this question:

    How come after year, I mean it's been more than a decade for me here for sure (if I remember right), how come after all these years this site hasn't figured out the simple things about comment threads?

    COMMENT THREADS!

    Look at this fiasco [slashdot.org] - that's a comment about somebody leaving yet another comment in that thread, and quite a number of comments there are the same, redundant stuff, and why?

    Because /. can't do comments threads right. [slashdot.org]

    Of-course you can disable this crap on /.

    (Account, Discussions, Classic Discussion System (D1))
    and
    (Options, Simple Design)

    but a story on /. about a better design for comments threads - now that's irony.

    So to the question:

    How would you preserve the context of online discussions and stamp out trolls?

    - I will say: forget trolls. Get the basics working and don't screw it up first of all - let the people SEE what the thread is first of all. Don't hide comments in threads by default.

    As to trolls, etc: have simple "like/don't like" and have thresholds, nothing else should really be done. You can't get rid of trolls, and look what /. is doing and don't do it.

    Do NOT force people to log out and post as ACs if they rich some weird 'threshold' (number of comments they can leave under their user name per 24 hours) - what good does that do? People register other accounts or they post as ACs. This is NOT good for discussions.

    Do you have a discussion forum or is it a chat room (IRC like)? I think that's the first and only really important question. Do you want to keep history of all the comments or not?

    Here is what /. is really doing that's pretty stupid: not showing the entire history of comments for non-AC users. As stories age, they disappear, contexts disappear. What's the point of having any history on line if it's uselessly unsearchable? There is no index.

    There is no way really to link to an older discussion that maybe of some value.

    Also for various political reasons on this site, comments are often moderated high up, and then after a while they are moderated down [slashdot.org] only so that people wouldn't be noticing them, even if they are totally pertinent to discussion, no trolling, no flame, those are just unpopular views and a coordinated moderation attack pushes them down where nobody is reading.

    Don't allow political dissent to be drowned on your site by shills and just by those who don't like what you have to say. Have the "like/don't lie" feature - that's useful. All this other nonsense is just counterproductive if you don't want to run a site, that's dominated by one single mindset.

  • I've always thought that allowing users to moderate comments is a good idea, but it seems that a lot of people either don't know how, or think it's a waste of time. If users were exposed to the merits of moderating comments and the good that can come from it, it could be a good venue for filtering flaming and trolling. However, by that same token, users could simply utilize other users to downvote/rate other comments because of a disagreement, argument, or whatever. It'd be nice to find a way to prevent thi
  • by gr8_phk (621180) on Monday May 09, 2011 @05:27PM (#36076352)

    The goal: get the world's smartest hackers thinking about how news organizations can harness the open web. The current challenge is all about comment threads.

    So what does "harness the open web" mean? To the news organizations it probably means "make money". Comments are largely irrelevant for that. If news organizations want to attract readers (assuming that translates to "make money") they need to do two things - 1) report news that people feel is interesting or relevant. and 2) provide intelligent analysis of the news (not discussion forums). They could use a forum to generate ideas for further investigation/reporting/answering tough questions that the media doesn't do too often. Of course by the time they ask questions and do some further investigation the story will be a bit old. And this also doesn't work with stories about tornadoes and celebrities.

    • by steelfood (895457)

      It sounds a lot like asking how to get ideas to make money from a bunch of people without having to pay them.

  • get the world's smartest hackers thinking about how news organizations can harness the open web.

    Or how about we don't! The new organizations can do there own dirty work. If someone could harness the power of the web, in a manor that helps the media, this would have value, it would potentially make someone very rich. Media has its own agenda, it isn't in our favour (as in the public) the worlds best hackers should be doing what they have always done.

  • by djl4570 (801529) on Monday May 09, 2011 @05:28PM (#36076374) Journal
    News is about trolling for eyeballs. The most sensational, shocking, scandalous and salacious stories attract the most eyeballs which means more advertising revenue. If it bleeds it leads. How can trolls be stamped out when the news media culture is rooted in a form of trolling?
    • by rickb928 (945187)

      "News has become about trolling for eyeballs."

      Let's not lose sight of that.

      Oh, wait, it always was about the eyeballs. I remember when you could attract an audience with factual reporting and insightful analysis, based on investigation and jornalistic reporting. Now it's mostly sensationalism and opinion made up like news.

      Yep, I'm that old.

  • by StripedCow (776465) on Monday May 09, 2011 @05:33PM (#36076430)

    Why not take it a level further and allow commenting not just on news stories, but on any desired url?

    A comment-system could even be integrated in the browser. Imagine just opening a webpage, clicking the "comments" button, and seeing a bunch of moderated comments (perhaps even in slashdot style). Now that would be awesome!

  • what I'd like is a comment system where the comments are shared across sites.

    If a popular news item comes up, I might be interested in the editorial slant at theregister, but perhaps I first saw it on digg, and there's a tech angle at slashdot that's interesting too. It's the same *story* and I want different news outlets to do their own research, conclusions, and editorializing, but it would be cool if the comments were shared so that if someone posted a witty +5 remark on slashdot, people on digg would s

  • You have to build positive karma to earn downmod points. Still limit how much they can be employed but require positive contributions to earn the ability to downmod. Too often we see sockpuppet accounts downmod unpopular opinions or mark them as troll simply because they disagree. There's no disincentive if these sockpuppet accounts accrue modpoints simply by sitting around.

  • by migla (1099771) on Monday May 09, 2011 @05:38PM (#36076488)

    How about everyone getting to choose their own way of tagging and displaying every comment and user with an optional added numeric modifier for every tag?

    Some days I might want to see (or hide) for example what the most popular "+3 Constipated"(and up) comments from anyone modded at least "+2 United-Fruit-apologist" by self described "Anarcho-Marshmellowians". At other times I might choose something less ridiculous, involving tags like "Conservative", "Insightful" and the like.

    One could also choose to view comments in the style of reddit or slashdot (except maybe everyone would always have points, so the slashdot style would be filtered by mostly most popular moderators calculated in some way.)

  • It's perfect.

  • by schwaang (667808) on Monday May 09, 2011 @05:47PM (#36076612)

    What's needed in most news comment forums is human moderators consistently applying well-defined local cultural rules about what's acceptable.
    When those rules are made explicit and then enforced, they can become a self-reinforcing part of the culture. Users get educated in the process, and educate the newcomers, requiring less professional community management.

    You cannot replace this kernel of human etiquette with a technological solution and expect to get better "discussions" than, say, here on Slashdot.

    So first find the sites that do rules+human moderation well enough already to host the level of civility and discussion you hope for, and distill out the minimum rules and moderator involvement needed to get there. Then add the tech.

  • Sure, they can be disruptive, but at least they're making an honest, intellectual effort to contribute in their own maladjusted way.

    The real problem is your audience. For a general audience newspaper, you get the general public, and unfortunately they're stupid, superstitious, and easily frightened.

  • Ultimately the problem here is that just because everyone *can* speak... doesn't mean everyone who does speak has something worthwhile to add. In addition - anonymity makes it easy to be a jackass as it removes any connection to real-life consequences.

    So my undoubtedly unpopular answer is to require verified ID for all posters*. Further require that all posters use their real names as contained in their verified IDs. Even with that you'll still get some amount of trolling/flaming, but it will require muc

    • by epyT-R (613989)

      you ignore the fact that anonymity allows one to express valid positions that aren't popular and/or outright illicit. this is crucial to a discussion being productive. the only thing your platform creates is cliquish conformity. That's hardly discussion. just because there's a 'consequence' for someone posting something, doesn't mean that the subject is incorrect. all the 'consequences' do is protect the feelings of the majority against the opinions of the minority and/or factual, objective truth. this isn

  • The San Jose Mercury News used to have an awful problem with comment threads erupting into flame wars (as much as I enjoyed getting into the middle of them). That was in the time of anonymous commenting. Nowadays they use the Facebook plugin, so your comment appears beside your profile pic and your name on FB. It has become very civil all of a sudden. You have the option of checking a box to post the comment to your profile, something I never select.

  • I did an experiment on Digg and Slashdot a few years back. I posted two extremely similar comments using two different accounts. Then I modded one comment up, and one down.

    Keep in mind that there was essentially no difference between these posts other than their initial out-of-the-gate moderations. On both sites, the one I modded down got modded down further. And the one I modded up got modded up further.

    While the experiment was quick and informal (I'd love to see others expanding the effort...) it

  • by bWareiWare.co.uk (660144) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @11:51AM (#36094730) Homepage

    -----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----
    Hash: SHA1

    A browser plugin that allows you to sign comments to any site with your PGP key.
    A competitive ecosystem of third-party sites developing PageRank style algorithms to categorize signer's quality and relevance in different subjects.
    A browser plugin that hides all unsigned comments, and comments ranked below a threshold.
    -----BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE-----
    Version: GnuPG v2.0.17 (GNU/Linux)

    iEYEARECAAYFAk3KruUACgkQV/+EQ9Wqf+YLlgCfbty8YrbMmCa5JQsSowCyxpCM
    ru4An19+8/cSMtPicCyvAiP5M++W8Tq8
    =pZCQ
    -----END PGP SIGNATURE-----

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