The great moderator conspiracy.

I've seen it in the journals and comments at LISNews, and I've been seeing it for years at Slashdot:
"The moderators are out to get me"
"Disagree with the moderators and you're in trouble"
and so on….
Today I will explain the great LISNews moderator conspiracy.

Tinfoil hats on:
We're out to get you. Just you, you've been singled out because we don't like you. We don’t like what you say. We don't like what you do, and we don't like how you smell.
Now take your tinfoil hat off, for the truth.

LISNews, unlike Slashdot, has just several thousand visitors a day (Slashdot probably does that in an hour). LISNews, unlike Slashdot, gives almost everyone with an account the power to moderate (and I think metamoderate now) each and every day. On any given day the actual number of people who choose to moderate is rather low, but the fact remains, it can be any number of well over 3,000 people who moderate any one comment. There is no group of moderators that have the power to take you down. No moderator clique that has the power to take away all your karma. The entire LISNews community is "the moderator" and unless you've managed to anger over 3,000 people, they're not all out to get you. Chances are, if you have a comment that ended up at -1, you deserved it.

The moderation system was put in place to make good comments stand out, and to make bad comments disappear (for those who choose to ignore them.) Anything below 0 is for the most part not seen by many people, and any number above 1 is read by most everyone. At a busy site like Slashdot it's possible to browse at +5 and see the best of the best, and not worry much about missing anything (At LISNews, I'd stick with +2, or even just +1).

There are just a few simple rules to moderating. You can't comment and moderate on the same thread. You can't moderate your own comments. You're limited to just 5 points a day (one point = 1 vote). And you can't moderate more than once on a comment. That's about it. Exceptions to that rule: those of us with super-secret and exciting authors powers can moderate all we want (I've seen very little evidence of abuse, we really have better things to do most of the time).

Metamoderation allows anyone to moderate the moderations. I think I now have the code set to allow everyone metamoderation powers each day as well. When moderating, you give support to a comment, when metamoderating, you give support to a moderation. So as you metamoderate, you're simply agreeing with how someone else moderated a comment. Those who are frequently disagreed with are denied moderating powers. (note: I *think* everyone can metamoderate, can you confirm that?)

I know this is not a perfect system, especially here, we just don't have enough people participating to make it hit on all 8 cylinders, but it's a system that does a pretty good job. It's rare for a comment to make it all the way up to 5 (comments can range from -1 to +5), it's actually rare for a comment to be moderated more than 2 or 3 times (comments can be moderated a total of 10 times). There are opportunities for abuse and mischief, but for the most part it just doesn't happen. People who moderate and metamoderate do a good job, it's just that simple. They're not out to get you. We all do what we can to make it a useful and interesting site to be a part of.

So if you think "the moderators" are out to get you, you're just paranoid, and you probably need a new tinfoil hat.


Last time I checked the US & Canada were free countries where people are allowed to chose what they want to read. Or more importantly what they do NOT want to read!

And you know what it would be nice if some people could learn to censor themselves, anonymous. Oh, no, I tried to censor him/her. EEK! A thousand lashes with a wet noodle for me.

Ya know, people censor what they read everyday. I don't read every single story, journal, and comment posted on LISNews. Damn, another thousand lashes with a wet noodle for me for censoring again. Damn, i try so hard not to do it.

Did you ever stop to think that maybe the person/people tangognat is censoring are the people who AGREE with tangognat?? Maybe she/he wants all the disagreeable stuff. You didn't think of that in your rush to distract from your earlier post which totally misunderstood what tangognat was asking for.

Nice try at deflection...but we all still noticed your big faux pas.


This is a some what humourous thread. Still I've learned a lot from it. I didn't understand the role 'karma' played in the rating system.

I tend to agree that anon posters are a small on line curse. On every board I post to, the unregistered guests seem to throw out more whines, personal complaints, and flame bait than the majority (there's always exceptions)of registered posters.

Anon, you worry way too much about unimportant things. If you are really that bothered by how it works, why not register and become more involved? My threshold is set low because I want it all. Foes? Those are some of the more interesting people. To me, blocking people I disagree with is silly.

You can't alter the fact that individuals will like, dislike, love or hate whom they will. That is part of being a human.

I'll say it again, Anon, you should register and become more involved. It will alter your experience here.

I suppose I should eventually do some moderating myself. Oh, woe is me. :)

"Is there any doubt that pchuck gave Anon that -1 rating?"

Impossible! One cannot moderate and post, or for that matter post and moderate the same discussion.

Those who register get the moderation instructions. If you were to register you would be presented with them.

"A system which allows people to categorize others as Friends, Foes or Freaks encourages people to select and reward those that are just like them, while rejecting and abusing everyone else."

Oh please, look at my list of friends or fans or whatever it is, there are as many liberals (progressives) as conservatives there if not more. Your argument is pointless when people with open minds and divergent opinions get together.

I don't moderate down any comment I disagree with because I disagree with it. I moderate flamebait down, I moderate off topic stuff down, but for each one of those I am sure I do five funny, insightful, or informative mods.

I do understand the need of anonymous commentary, perhaps someone wants to post only very occasionally and does not want to register, perhaps a "that was a good" comment that does not want to register as they post so infrequently. However using anon because they want to hide is something cowards do.

Pseudonyms are fine, ask Mark Twain. Slashgirl and others don't hide behind their names, they simply prefer their pseudonym. I'm not sure why you need to know more. If you really must know M.D. O'Neil is my name, I use mdoneil as a user name several places. It worked for GK Chesterton, and HR Pufnstuf so it should be ok for MD ONeil. I have said several times on the board I am from Clearwater, Florida and I am in the phone book so that should be good enough for you I hope. Do you want my driver's license number?

In case you didn't realize life is a system that allows people to be categorized as friends, foes, freaks, and fans.

Here's an example of how the Scoring system is mis-used. pchuck's comment is basically the same as Anon's...yet pchuck has two points (presumably because she or he has a LisNews account) and Anon gets a -1 Troll rating. Yet pchuck's comment is a Troll worthy as Anons.

Is there any doubt that pchuck gave Anon that -1 rating?

Day Off for Many Public Library Workers

Re:He Knew the Best Time to Exit... (Score:2, Redundant)
by pchuck (2762) on Friday June 11, @10:13AM #7237)
( Last Journal: Friday May 21, @12:19PM )
Blah, blah, blah. All the cockroaches come out and voice their little opinions.

Re:He Knew the Best Time to Exit... (Score:-1, Troll)
by Anonymous Patron on Friday June 11, @11:23AM (#7247)
Greetings fellow cockroach! ;)

Heh. I might be considered a "mad cow" but I am not the one who uses the login madcow on LISNews.

Sorry to disappoint.


"If Anon is not acceptable than using "fake"
names like "slashgirl" or abbreviated names like "mdoneil" isn't acceptable either"

I disagree and slashgirl is not a fake name, it's a nickname. And yes, people do call me by that name. People like me, tomeboy, fang face, etc are all quite recognisable, I think. Probably would be even if we posted anon. If someone uses a consistent ID when they post then they are owning their comments. As for mdoneil, what if he happens to go by his initials, MD in real life? Is his login still "hiding"? No. Not that it is now. Besides...if you never meet the people here in Real Life, you can NOT ever be assured that the name they are using is their real one. I could claim my name is Alana Doyle. It might be, it might not. But you would never know for sure.

I only have one acct at lisnews; I can't speak for anyone else. And I agree that multiple accts can allow a person to hide.

"If one reviews the comments here it's clear that only a small group of people participated which is even more evidence that "the few" get together to stomp on and attack whatever or whoever they decide they don't like."

Yeah, our next meeting is Tuesday at 7 pm EST. We're going to discuss who we're going to pick on and mod down next. Hope everyone can make it. [insert sarcasm for those who won't get it]. Please. what happens is that like minded people will often post in support of one another. That has happened on every msg board and mailing list that I have seen. LISNews is not unique in that regard. And if I'm one of the "chosen"? Well, "they" are doing a pretty good job of not showing it in that old aclu thread. ;) Of course, I realise that people are just exercising their right to disagree with me.

A person could try and abuse the mod thing, but from what Blake's posted he hasn't seen that happening and if it did, maybe he'd take action, maybe not. I don't know.

If you take the friends/foes/freaks things so seriously and you don't like what happens around here...why do you bother? Why do you care how the LISNews "culture" is set up and regulates itself. Is someone forcing you to post and read what goes on here? I kinda doubt it.

I don't understand why you bother with us if you dislike the system so much.


If Anon is not acceptable than using "fake"
names like "slashgirl" or abbreviated names like "mdoneil" isn't acceptable either.

Signing up for multiple accounts using multiple names is also another way to hide.

If one reviews the comments here it's clear that only a small group of people participated which is even more evidence that "the few" get together to stomp on and attack whatever or whoever they decide they don't like.

A moderator with an agenda can and probably does zero in and downrate certain comments by certian people because they can't tolerate or accept difference or dissent.

A system which allows people to categorize others as Friends, Foes or Freaks encourages people to select and reward those that are just like them, while rejecting and abusing everyone else.

This creates an environment of meanspiritedness, competition and revenge.

Such a system benefits no one.

I agree with slashgirl on this one.

Often times anon is short for annoying. If you want to be annoying fine, but be annoying publicly.

I'm agreeing with liberals now, LISNews is really a bad influence. You are the people the nuns warned me about. :}

Before we get rid of the mod ratings system, let's get rid of the anonymous login. And man, if I could rate my tantrums at 5 everytime, don't you think I would? The higher the number, the better of a bully I'll be. Cool. Oh, btw, fyi: I almost never rate an anon posting as I feel they don't deserve a mod--up or down. Can't put your name to it, don't need the points.

At least I own my comments. I don't hide behind and bully people from the cloak of anonymity.


Of course not.
There is no conspiracy.
There never is.




If slashgirl's comments are consistently rated at 2 or above, it is probably because she's built up enough Karma (points for posts that have been moderated up) that her posts start at 2. My posts start at 2, because I've got good karma as well. All anon people start at 0, and because they have no account, cannot accumulate karma. There is no conspiracy.

So YOU are madcow!

slashgirl doesn't seem to be capable of anything but making sure that her tantrums are moderated at 2 or above and making sure that us Anon folks are all getting 0 or negative numbers...

She just proved that the conspiracy theory that a small group of folks are rating themselves and their pals comments highly and trashing the comments of those they disagree with is TRUE!

How about eliminating the Scoring system?
It is being abused.

Put slashgirl and her fellow bullies out of

The certain people (person?) he is talking about is me. (Should that be I?) Or at least I've been made a foe (I can tell by the little blue frowny face next to his name.)

If someone doesn't want to read my comments that is fine by me. Some people don't like my opinions and if they don't want to hear anything that differs from theirs that is OK with me.

So if people want to exclude my comments that is just dandy. I may end up preaching to the choir, but I think most open minded people want to hear commentary that differs from theirs, even if just to think what a kook. I know Rory and I, slashgirl and I, Dr. McCook and I, don't agree on everything. However I agree with some of the things that each of those librarians have to say. I think intelligent discourse is useful; to shut out anyone is anathema to me. However I won't condemn anyone for it.

I think I am the first foe, as I have never seen a blue frowny face before. Yipee for me!

ROFLMAO! It'd be fun to watch you try...but you have to sign up for an acct first.


Thanks, that answers my question on why I suddenly had the ability to metamoderate as of yesterday. Are you only supposed to be able to metamod once a day? Because I did yesterday morning and later on in the day I was being asked again if I wanted to metamoderate.

Ha! That would be funny :)

I fear your awesome slashcode powers!

It's still censorship... but certainly anyone who wants to "supress" the comments of someone he or she disagrees with or a person that he or she dislikes can do that and be very comfortable in their pleasant little ego-feeding empire where everything makes me feel good and everyone agrees with everything I say and nothing that upsets or challenges or disagrees with ME will ever happen...what bliss!

"If I choose not to view Blake's comments, I could set him as a foe and ignore him"

Not that you would! That gives me an idea though, I'll make it so all my comments are +100 so everyone will see them!

As I wrote in the original post "The moderation system was put in place to make good comments stand out, and to make bad comments disappear (for those who choose to ignore them.)"

First of all, my point was there are no LISNews moderators, everyone is a moderator.

Second, the system is designed to do that, it's the entire point of moderation. People don't want to read every comment, and this gives them that ability. It's not cenrsoship if you're doing it to yourself.

The information there is set up so that ONE PERSON CAN CHOOSE AS AN INDIVIDUAL TO IGNORE ANOTHER PERSON'S COMMENTS. It has nothing to do with a moderator repressing someone elses comments. If I choose not to view Blake's comments, I could set him as a foe and ignore him, for example :)

Why don't you read more carefully before crying censorship?

I'm going to become a moderator just so I can supress every comment madcow makes!



Wasn't this just what we were talking about...
!!!!! That the method of LisNews moderating
PREVENTS such censorship????

Whoa...what the heck is going on here...
You're giving instructions to enable someone
to get rid of the people and comments she
doesn't like...didn't we all just agree
that LisNews moderators don't do that???

People can rate comments below a threshold...
those are the comments I LOOK AT FIRST.

Everthing's a chore with slashcode, though this one isn't too bad I guess.

Step 1: Set a person as a "foe" (find their name on a comment or something and click on the little face next to it, and then set them as foe).

Step 2: Go to Your Comments>, find the "People Modifier" (assign a modifier to different people), and give Foes a -6, that takes away 6 points from every post they make.

Step 3: "Find Threshold" on that same page. Set it to 0 or 1, or even higher, but I'd stick with 1 if I was you. Your foes will always be at -1, so you won't be reading them no matter what.

There's a million options on Your Comments>, you can play all sorts of fun games with the comments you see.

Blake, I'm wondering how/if I can suppress comments by certain people. I don't see a way to do it so far.

When did the 100 limit on karma points disappear? That's a good question, I was messing around in the Db the other day, and apparently I upped it to 102 somehow. Not sure how that happened, but I guess it can stay. Someday I'll make it a million and see who makes it to the top first.

Good explanation. This suggests that slashcode with a medium-sized community of mostly-polite, mostly-intelligent people works pretty well.

(My opinions on ./ are best kept to myself. It's fair to say that it's not bookmarked here...)

Now, Blake: When did the 100 limit on karma points disappear? And why? (No, I don't really care about karma, but it's right there in your face on journals and elsewhere)

"'s important to be aware of who is moderating (has it turned out to be the same few?)"

Well, here's some numbers:
We have 3,061 user accounts.
75 people have moderated, ever. The top 20 busiest account for 437 out of 2013 total.

29 have metamoderated. The top 1 metamoderator has done it 1023 times, that's more than the other 28 combined.

270(ish) have left a comment.

"and how they moderate (does anyone routinely down rate the comments of one person or political persuasion?)"

Not that I've noticed, that doesn't mean it doesn't happen, it just doens't seem to be a big problem.

The tinfoil hat only works to block the rays that come from above and horizontally at certain angles... to be really safe complete coverage of all exposed parts is the only thing that works...and for the eyes...the lenses that turn
dark when hit by rays are best...

Anyway now that I'm wearin em all...

A system where any account holder can moderate seems good and democratic...much more open than other systems where a group of likeminded individuals (RL/MR)trash whoever they don't like... in theory anyway...'s important to be aware of who is moderating (has it turned out to be the same few?)
and how they moderate (does anyone routinely down
rate the comments of one person or political persuasion?)

Of course OMA (Omnipresent Monitoring Algorithms)
could probably be set up to find out who is moderating, how frequently, and what kind of
ratings are given to who their comments...

but...perhaps that's a task best left to the ultimate conspiracy theorist...Don Saklad.

The same thing has happened to me on Slashdot, so maybe there's something with the default settings in slash that does it?

It's not a big deal to me if I get a metamod link more than once a day. I like metamoderating better than moderating anyway. It's less work on my part :) but I'll willingly do either.

there's a variable in there I can mess with, it's X number of minutes between each time you can metamod, not sure what I've got it set to now, I thought it was about once every 24 hours er-so, but it could be less.

Not really sure what the right number is.