First, I think the proper spelling is Gandhi... and yeah, I'm guilty of the first misspelling in this thread. :-) Rusty: got to admit, I'm glad to hear you're not spinning and wearing your own loincloth. YUCK! <g>
OK, so when the forum maintainer comes out and says "I don't think we're going to implement your suggestion" take it as a clue...
But I do want to respond as it's an interesting discussion:
Now, as for popular opinion ruling with an iron fist, I don't know if I can, or should, do anything about that. It's a voting system. Sometimes the unpopular view will lose, when presented in a forum where it's unpopular. Let's admit it, shall we: sometimes the unpopular view is wrong.
Sometimes the unpopular view is right. This was why I brought up MLK and Gandhi, their views were highly unpopular to the powerbrokers of their respective countries; to the point of inciting violence. But only a few "lunatics" would today call their causes unjust.
You brought up a simple straw man with your "Earth proven flat" hypothetical story submission. Frankly, I consider this a weak argument because the story would obviously be factually incorrect; you address this issue in point two. Even if a story like that made it through the submission queue I'd argue that the editorial staff would be right to remove the story for lack of evidence. Unfortunately, this means manual intervention instead of some procedural check in the scoop codebase.
However, you did bring up one argument that struck me as quite a problem for my proposal:
1.Repetitive comments. 90% of people had the same thought, and posted it with their vote. Debunking an article of course did no good because no one could see your debunking until they'd already voted. Generally stories would post with a dozen or two dozen of the exact same comment. That sucked.Since my proposal would effectively block voters from seeing these comments before voting it would encourage redundant editorial comments. Point one and point three are effectively the same (where you argue for threaded editorial discussion); you're right on both counts. One possible way to solve that problem (given my proposal were implemented) would be to show through highly rated comments... which waters down the proposal dramatically. Another solution would be to allow editorial comments after voting, but not before. But I think this is your killer debunking point against my proposal, Rusty. (JMO) A note: I'm not saying this to either defend or debunk my proposal, I'm actually trying to debate this as "objectively" as possible.
I want to address another issue here, that of both Carnage4life and itsbruce responding with a condemnation of my proposal with a seeming presumption that implementing my very proposal in some way diminishes their intelligence and/or individuality. Here are some quotes:
"I'd rather be credited with intelligence, as the current rules do, than treated as a spineless herdbeast." -itsbruceFirst of all, I don't want to discuss you personally, because that's not the point. I'm not writing this to offend individual users such as yourselves, but to present an opinion (an opinion with which you apparently disagree) on the relative merits of allowing voters to read editorial comments before casting their ballots. You should not take this as a personal insult.
"Your suggestion seems to imply that people are sheep and thus must be protected from their own stupidity." -carnage4life
But to deal with the "herd mentality" issue of humans in general, I think that group psychology experiments have more than borne this out as true. As an example I offer the Stanford Prison Experiment, which was conducted many years back. The gist of this is that normal legitimate citizens (mostly students) were placed in a mock prison setting. Some of them were assigned the role of "inmate" while others the role of "guards". It was quickly determined that those who fell into the role of guards accepted the role and behaved accordingly, with sadistic gusto. Those who accepted the role of "prisoner" fell into the opposite state... beaten and psychologically broken. It's important to remember that these people were normal individuals; mostly college students.
Another good example of this type of study was the famous Stanley Milgram Obedience to Authority experiment conducted at Yale in the early '70s. Basically, Milgram took regular folks off the street and offered them the opportunity to electroshock an individual the experimentee had never met behind a screen. With the hidden person screaming in pain, at the cajoling of the experimenter the experimentee would either raise the voltage and continue the torture, or break down and finally say "NO." to the authority. The point of this experiment was to find out how often individuals would stand up to authority even in a presumed life or death situation and do "the right thing", which here is defined as refusing to torture a complete stranger. Unfortunately, what they found was that very few people were willing to stand up and refuse. This experiment was originally conducted in an attempt to explain how an entire population could have accepted (and even welcomed) Nazi mass murder. What they found is that the vast majority of individuals follow orders from an authority like members of a herd even when faced by a most difficult ethical choice.
Now look, I'm not saying this to offend you personally. You've taken the opinion that I'm calling into question your personal individuality by suggesting that preventing voters from reading editorial comments might help control "herd voting" by the whole community (should one popular member attempt to shift the vote with a comment). Don't take this personally, I don't mean it as an insult to YOU. However, you should realize that there's quite a bit of experimental evidence backing my claim of "herd behavior" among humans, whether you like the results or not. I'm not suggesting that these findings in general back up my specific assertion that the current voting system is skewed to the popular and is thus unfair, well I won't go that far. I'm simply bringing up those studies in order to prove my point; that humans are strongly manipulated by the social pressure of peers.
However, I do think there's good evidence for the assertion that the popular who write well can easily manupulate the general community. I point simply to Karma manipulation ("karma whoring") on Slashdot. Some people have learned to manipulate moderation on Slashdot to their advantage, and gained a hell of a reputation in the process. I'm not saying that's bad, or even good, just that it's true. And it's the justification I use to present my proposal. Some of those folks might even be hanging out here *cough* (fleeing the noise of Slashdot). And this is in many ways a good thing. Certainly it would be wrong to ban Signal 11 (an example, no offense sig11) just because he's a popular and well spoken member of the community; I'm personally pleased to read his comments here. But he is an example of someone with significant peer authority because he's so well known. Certainly others among the community have the same level of "peer authority."
Look, continue to think I'm wrong if you like. Rusty has already said he doesn't think my suggestion would work well on K5; which is good enough for me. Should I ever implement a comment forum like scoop of slashcode I might change the voting system in the way I write. It's an editorial policy issue. From this perspective, if Rusty says "No" to this idea, since he's one of the editors he sets policy. Really, I'm not complaining and I don't mean to offend either Rusty or other readers with these comments. But I will speak my mind, damn the ratings! :-)
Read The Proxies, a short crime thriller.
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