LISNews How-To: Moderation


I received 3 questions on moderating last week, so I thought I'd write better explanation of moderation, and how it works here @LISNews.

Moderation: The ability of an LISNewster to cast a single vote on a comment. Comments end up being scored from -1 to 5, with each comment having the ability to be moderated up to 10 times, regardless of score. So the score of a comment can bounce around, between -1 (bad) and 5 (great), until it has been moderated 10 times. So if you see a score you disagree with, you can, most likely, moderate it differently.Moderation takes place by selecting an adjective from a drop down list that appears next to comments containing descriptive words like "Flamebait" or "Informative." Looks like this: Moderate As:

At the bottom of the page there you should see a button, like this , that says moderate. Choose an adjective, click the button, and you're done.

Bad words will reduce the comment's score by a single point, and good words increase a comment's score by a single point. All comments are scored on an absolute scale from -1 to 5. Logged-in users start at 1 (although this can vary from 0 to 2 based on their karma) and anonymous users start at 0.

When moderators are given access, they are given a number of points of influence to play with. Each comment they moderate deducts a point. When they run out of points, they are done serving until next time it is their turn.

Moderators can not participate in the same discussion as both a moderator and a poster. This is to prevent abuses, and after much thought and discussion, it will remain this way for the foreseeable future.

Moderators should generally concentrate more on promoting than on demoting. The real goal here is to find the juicy good stuff and make sure everyone sees it. Do not promote personal agendas. Try to not let your opinions factor in. Try to be impartial while moderating. Simply disagreeing with a comment is not a valid reason to mark it down. Likewise, agreeing with a comment is not a valid reason to mark it up. The goal here is to share ideas. To sift through the haystack and find needles. To help stop the echo chamber.

Those of us with super-secret-and-exciting Author Powers have the ability to moderate at anytime. I've not seen any evidence of abuse, so I don't think this is something we need to worry about. Trust us, we're good people.

So, now that you (hopefully) understand the what and the how, you might be asking why, what's the point? The theory is, moderation makes the site better, since the goal here is to share ideas, and since this is an open forum, some ideas are better than others. Moderators sift through the haystack and find needles. Better comments, should in theory, be scored higher, while stupid, pointless drivel should be scored lower. For those interested in only reading the higher scored comments, you have the ability to block out those comments that have been modded down. It's a way for everyone to participate, and it helps keep LISNews open, transparent, and fair.

Your "threshold" is the minimum score that a comment needs to have if it is to be displayed to you. Comments are scored from -1 to 5, and you can set your threshold at any score within that range. So, for example, if you set your threshold at 2, only comments with scores of 2 or above would be displayed. Setting your threshold at -1 will display all comments. 0 is almost all comments. 1 filters out most Anonymous Patrons, and so on. Higher threshold settings reduce the number of comments you see, but (in theory, anyway) the quality of the posts you do see increases.

Moderators are (again, in theory) scored by metamoderation. Metamoderation is a second layer of moderation. It seeks to address the issue of unfair moderators by letting "metamoderators" (anyone logged-in) "rate the rating" of ten randomly selected comment posts. The metamoderator decides if the moderator's rating was fair, unfair, or neither. Currently, In order to be a metamoderator, your account has to be one of the oldest 92.5% of accounts on the system. This means that once you've created your account, you'll have to wait for a while, depending on the rate at which new accounts are being created. I'll work on changing that, hopefully encouraging more participation.


Several comments last week were moderated "offtopic" by someone that were clearly "on topic" but had a conservative viewpoint. I changed the moderation from "offtopic" and made them either "interesting" or "insightful." I wanted to mark them "normal" but could not seem to make that work. If I see the reverse happening, someone marking left leaning comments as "offtopic" when they are clearly "on topic" I will also change those.

It is very "fourth grade" to be marking comments as "off topic" or "flamebait" or "troll" merely because you do not like what is said.

Bibliofuture: It is very "fourth grade" to be marking comments as "off topic" or "flamebait" or "troll" merely because you do not like what is said.

I marked two comments flamebait in the past, and they both got marked "unfair" and I lost karma. Now tell me, are those the types of comments you seek out to overturn? Surely you aren't working under the presumption that those comments were put there out of spite. I don't put them there out of spite. I put them there because the comment fits the description I give it.

You may need to change your outlook about the motivation of moderators.

Don't you mean the top 7.5% ? Somehow the top 92.5 doesn't sound very exclusive to me.

> I marked two comments flamebait in the past, and they both got marked "unfair" and I lost karma.

You win some, you lose some. I make flamebait when I see it. Most often anonymous patrons feel free to make ad hominem attack on positions. Like, 'Well, of course you're against this position, you must be a conservative'. What's great about LISNews is that viewpoints matter, not whether the viewpoint is correct. There may not be a correct answer, but at least use logic to debate people, not attack them.

Sometimes we do change our minds on positions we formerly held.

Well, currently, slashcode excludes any accounts that were created within the last 92% of all accounts, so out of 2831 accounts, only the first 200 or so are elligible for metmod points. This is something I've just noticed recently. If we have several hundred thousand accounts this might be ok, but since we only have a few thousand, it's not terribly useful.

In my own experience (and I'm a raving liberal) the last couple flamebaits/offtopics I moderated--not that I really see a lot of them--were on fellow liberals. I personally agreed with what they were saying, but one person was saying it in a very negative and off-putting way, and the other comment just didn't belong in the thread it was in.

I think my fellow mods are not really going after political viewpoints they disagree with, but I could see how it feels that way. It is important to keep personal viewpoints out of the equation and focus on promoting rather than demoting. Luckily we have a lot of mods who can (I hope!) help create and preserve the balance like you are doing.

I'm one of the people that was recently moderated as "off-topic", even though I was replying directly to the comments that another user made. The person who marked me as off-topic was, at least, consistent, in that the topic to which I was responding was also marked OT.

One interesting thing is my reaction to all of this. While I was upset that I was marked down when I don't feel it was justfied, I was more upset at losing karma (which somebody else in this thread has complained about as well). It's hard for me to convince myself that "it's just a number" and not to put too much weight on it, but apparently LISNews has managed to reify my self esteem.

I find it moderately amusing that I was deemed to be [socially] "conservative", btw.

I am only another moderator. To the best of my knowledge what I do does not effect anyones karma. KC I don't think you have to worry about me overturning moderations of yours. The moderations I overturned were very blatant. The post were clearly on topic and written in a non-troll fashion and were marked off topic.

But then, didn't you say elsewhere that only a dozen of those early adopters have actually metamoderated? Makes you wonder about the dirty dozen (I resemble that remark).

As for karma, without fully understanding the concept, I sincerely hope that I never reach the point where my day is made (or otherwise) by a rise (or fall) in slashcode karma...

I see my posts that have a conservative opinion frequently moderated offtopic, or flamebait.

I also notice that a number of responses to these posts are made anonymously. Perhaps some people are moderating and commenting anonymously to get around the moderate and don't comment restriction.

However I find it amusing when I am moderated offtopic when my post is obviously not, I also think that moderating my posts flamebait when they are on topic but disagree with someone else's view is hilarious. I wonder why these people became librarians when the reject and censor opinions that differ from theirs.

I'd guess that most people with moderating rights (especially authors, who have unlimited moderating rights) have too much pride to post anonymously. I'd moderate your post up, but now I've posted.

Although slashcode setup the inability to moderate after you've posted for fairness reasons, it was actually implemented at the request of offshore betting parlors. Otherwise we wouldn't be able to place bets on posts.

mdoneil, you may want to go back and check out your past comments, I wouldn't describe your moderations as "frequently moderated offtopic, or flamebait," and of the comments that were moderated as such, once was clearly deserving.

As for moderating and commenting anonymously to get around the moderate and don't comment restriction. It can be done, but it requires some understanding of the slashcode, and effort on the part of the person doing it. I've not seen any evidence that it's being done.

>>But then, didn't you say elsewhere that only a dozen of those early adopters have actually metamoderated?

Yes, it's not a participation sport around here.

As for Karma, everything you do each and every day should be done to increase your LISNews karma, there is nothing more important.

not seen any evidence that it's being done.

Ah, thanks. I was wondering about that myself. I was thinking that a person could get an account and participate to build up a bank of points and then post anonymously, without logging in to his account, and then log in and moderate.

I'm not saying it's impossible, I'm just saying that I would most likely be able to see that happening, and I haven't.
Slashcode is really built for this kind of thing thanks to all the craziness that goes on at slashdot.

I marked two comments flamebait in the past, and they both got marked "unfair"

I surmise that was the result of metamoderation. This is a process where Lisnewsterz basically second guess the moderator by moderating his or her moderation. When a moderation comes up, the metamodkateer has three choices. Unfair, Normal, or Fair. The name of the poster is removed from the message header to try to make the process more equitable, since metamoderation is not supposed to be based on the message. Most metamoderation is fairly easy, as most moderations are obviously fair; or unfair, as the case may be. Some are more borderline.

I'm willing to say unequivocally that moderating a message with a positive moderation does not undo a negative moderation, although it does reset the moderation title in the comment header. That's just a reflection of how the last vote was cast, though. And it works the other way as well.

My rule of thumb with moderating messages is: if you're not sure, just leave it alone. The end result of moderating, after all, is to assign a higher or lower value to a message that will affect whether or not it is seen by account holders depending on how they have their COMMENTS page configured. You can assign a minimum value under which messages are not listed; the feature will simply tell you that there are messages below your threshold. (Based on the old Fidonet Twit Filters, I reckon.) If I'm not sure about a comment, at least I don't alter it's standing in the ratings.