OpenBSD Journal

Moderation Feature

Contributed by dhartmei on from the feature-bloat dept.

One reoccuring annoyance in the original OpenBSD Journal were floods of troll (or just off-topic) comments in response to some controversial posts.

As an experiment in dealing with this, there's now a moderation feature which allows all readers to supply feedback about the quality of comments. Besides the link to post a follow-up comment there are now two additional links, Mod Up for comments you consider worth reading for others, and Mod Down for those you wish you hadn't read yourself. Moderation results (mod sum/count) are shown after subjects, and comments with sums below a threshold can be omitted from listing. Readers who don't actively set a threshold see all comments, as before.

Whether this is a useful approach will have to be seen, and the scheme will likely need adjustments. But let's try to gather some feedback first.

p.s. I just noticed that my "clever" script grepping for bad crawlers and worms in the web server logs and adding them to a pf blacklist table was including "POST", so I've been refusing connections from you after you posted a comment or article. Major blunder on my part, all fixed again, sorry.

(Comments are closed)

  1. By Wouter ( on

    Hey, I think it's a good idea, lets hope it'll work :)

  2. By Anonymous Cheese ( on

    Whoa, the lack of this feature alone was the sole reason it was a pain in the ass to get what was relevant from the posts on Good job, keep it up, and looking forward to being able to create a user account in the future. ;)

  3. By Anonymous Coward ( on

    Another nice feature would be to let people preview their comments to avoid HTML problems.

    1. By Daniel Hartmeier ( on

      Makes sense, added ;)

      1. By Anonymous Coward ( on

        Now that's service! Same with respect to getting the RSS feed completed.

  4. By Berk S. Daemon ( on

    Cute, ;)

  5. By ltratt ( on

    I might be slightly worried that this is still relatively open to abuse if a troll just presses "mod up" a lot on their own posts. On similar forums, this sort of facility seems generally available only to logged in users, although there is often a "report abuse" button which anyone can use.

    BTW, excellent work on getting this up and running so quickly Daniel!

    1. By Daniel Hartmeier ( on

      Resistance to abuse is obviously an aspect in the scheme of this, so by all means, play with it and try to break it. You should see that you can only cast one moderation vote per comment and IP address (none if the comment was posted from the same IP address).

      That's not exactly "per user", but I'll add features to prevent mass voting through scripts (from distributed addresses) soon.

      I'm curious, wouldn't most readers prefer not having to log into accounts? And if abusers would go as far as scripting an attack from hundreds of different IP addresses, wouldn't they just as well create that many fake accounts (using separate email addresses), too?

      1. By Anonymous Coward ( on

        I do not know about most readers. I, for one, prefer not having to log into account in order to post and moderate.

      2. By Anonymous Coward ( on

        I'll bite: I have no problem logging in at all, by all means add the feature - I'll use it.

      3. By Nate ( on

        I really like not having to log in at all. So far the moderation setup seems good to me, a big improvement over before. The only question I have is how do you read the messages below the threshold? Thanks. nate

        1. By Daniel Hartmeier (2001:470:1f00:250:1::1) on

          You mean how to see only the messages below the threshold (just the bad stuff)? Can't do that, yet. Why would that be useful? ;)

          If you set no threshold, you see everything (including the bad stuff). Set it to 0, and you only see comments with values 0 or above (omitting comments with values less than 0). Same for other threshold values. Large positive or negative values are probably useless.

          1. By Anonymous Coward ( on

            How does one reset the treshold? I mean, if I set it to some value to filter out the cruft, but later I want to see everything again. How do I do that?

            1. By Daniel Hartmeier (2001:470:1f00:250:1::1) on

              Oh, it's not stored anywhere except in the form on the page. See the Threshold: [ ] [Change] thing above the comments? Just enter your threshold there and press the change button.

              If you're tired of re-entering your value (it's remembered across links, where possible), use a bookmark like to start with threshold 0.

          2. By Nate ( on

            I wouldn't want to see anything below 0, I was jsut being stupid and missed the little threshold form box. It is kinda jammed in there, so it's not very visible. I agree about seeing the garbage, I don't want to see it, I was worried that it was set by the site, and that there would be constructive comments that fell below the threshold. Thanks again for all the features you've implemented, this site just keeps getting better. Nate

      4. By mk ( on

        please, no mandatory user accounts, a lot of people post interesting comments as anonymous cowards, logins just push the identity verification problem one step deeper, and "anonymous" exchange of information was one of the net's nicer points before 1-KlikTM buying came along... or am I still delirious? and daniel, thanks again for all your fine work.

      5. By ltratt ( on

        > I'm curious, wouldn't most readers prefer not having to log into accounts?
        > And if abusers would go as far as scripting an attack from hundreds of
        > different IP addresses, wouldn't they just as well create that many fake
        > accounts (using separate email addresses), too?

        It's relatively trivial to make account creation difficult to spoof (hence those irritating, but hard to spoof, "type in the letters from this picture to your right" things), or at least hard enough that most people who could automate it probably wouldn't bother ;) The bar on that can probably be set higher than stopping spoof moderating.

        Personally I think posting should not require logging in (though frankly it's a lot easier if one posts regularly to a forum and it remembers one settings from post to post). Moderation should. Moderation implies responsibilities which I think in this case means having to use an account.

        Another cool thing some forums do if you log in is to show you the new messages since last time - that can be a real time saver if one uses a forum regularly!

      6. By almeida ( on

        I like accounts, even if it's only to remember my preferences. I like going to a story on Slashdot, for example, and have the comments automatically sorted older to newest, nested, and with a threshold of 3. Letting people set their own defaults is nice. One of the things I didn't like about deadly was the limited options for viewing comments. Threaded comments are much appreciated. If you can give me a cookie to remember that I like threads by default, then that's even better.

      7. By James Frazer ( on

        Right, I don't want to have to log into an account. I have a million and 2 accounts -- one for ever webpage I visit it seems. Thanks for making this consideration. Good work!

  6. By Anonymous Coward ( on

    So that explains the "downtime" of past weekend. I already thought the hosting company was having problems and all tech staff were on vacation :)

  7. By Anonymous Coward ( on

    Let's test the moderation feature: please mod this comment DOWN, so that we can see it disappear :-)

    (Yeah I know, I should insert a troll here, but I'm not good at that :-) )

  8. By Iota ( on

    Might be a good idea to make it percentage versus number of "thumbs-up" votes. Otherwise you're basing it on number of votes. If I decide right now 3 is a reasonable threshold, as the community grows I'm going to have to keep changing that. 5/100 people giving a post a "thumbs-up" is obviously not a good post, but it's still going to match the threshold. However if I set it for 70 (percent) even if there are 1000 votes (yeah, right..) for a comment, I wont see it unless 700 of them are "thumbs-up"

    1. By Iota ( on

      Or perhaps I just wasn't paying attention to the negative numbered comments. I still don't think percentage would be such a bad idea..

      1. By Daniel Hartmeier ( on

        Right now, if 100 readers voted, only 5 of whom positive (ergo, the other 95 negative), the sum is -90.

        The case where both numbers of negative and positive votes are more or less equal is probably moot (the sum stays around 0). The more interesting question is whether (8/8) (only 8 votes, all up) should be treated the same as (8/100) (100 votes, 54 up, 46 down).

        If you have suggestions for formulas (with explanations of their benefits, preferably based on experience ;), let me know. As input we have number of positive and negative votes (and therefore total number of votes, obviously). The result of the formula should be comparable to one (or more, though that would make things more complicated for users) threshold value (integer, float, percentage).

  9. By Anonymous Coward ( on

    I noticed the change in expanded and it looks great! I like the indented shading as well as the text.

  10. By Paul ( on

    a separate issue that i've noticed is that when you view a comment the original article comes up.. with the comment beneath it

    this gets extremely annoying after one or two comments...

    1. By Daniel Hartmeier ( on

      Better? Thanks for the hint.

      1. By Paul ( on

        boy, you're fast
        if things in the real world got done this fast...
        anyway, that is much better...
        the last thing i've noticed has to do with the way comment trees are displayed, it is often the case that comment trees show all comments at a given level under a given node... this is not the case here, but is at, for example
        i like the way they do it, and believe that it is an improvement for those who want to read all comments

        ask if you want/need clarifications about what i mean, going to K5 should be clarifying, but if that offends your sesibilities.... ;-)


  11. By cAPTAIN^k ( on

    In "expanded" mode, the comments disappear into the void that is the right hand side of the screen. Good work with the site, I love how you're doing things :)

  12. By cAPTAIN^k ( on

    There appears to be a static "More by dengue" in the "Related Links" box at the top right hand side of each article :)


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