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[P]
All Moderation in Moderation

By Signal 11 in Meta
Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 11:17:43 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

I recently left slashdot, in part over the moderation system. I thought that now that everything is settled and squared, it would be a good time to do a writeup on what group-think is, how FUD works, and how to be persuasive in any crowd. Click on the widget to read my screed.


Don't read this article if you think it's about me. You can find more about me here instead. For the rest of you, I want to talk about the herd mentality that I saw, and exploited, on slashdot. It's not limited to that site though.

This is an old problem, and one that I don't have a solution for. The problem is that a lot of people, even intelligent people, can be suckered by a persuasive person to temporarily turn off their critical thinking skills and become emotional about things. Car salesmen, politicians, and managers all do this to some extent. The good ones are amazingly successful. Look at Steve Jobs, for example. The company he is charged with is dwelling in relative obscurity, limited to 5% of the market, and the company is laughed at by the industry. Everyone wonders why Apple isn't dead yet.

I'll tell you why -- because Steve Jobs is a damn good speaker. Go watch one of his videos sometime. He is spectacularily good at getting the crowd excited. I have to admit, when he was introducing MacOS X, (as a sidenote -- I could view the whole video, the audio got desynced halfway through, but I'm pretty sure it's the right one) and he said ".. but we don't have a classroom full of macintoshes to test this, now do we?" I had to wonder out loud what the hell he was doing. 3 seconds later a huge rack 20 feet tall came out of the wall. There it was, 50 iMacs all rendering off that one machine. That was very impressive. Microsoft could only wish they had a hype department that good.

People are a lot like sheep. You give them a leader, and they will follow. The vast majority of people are subservient to authority. Witness the Stanford Prison Experiment, which so vividly described this. These people were made aware when they started they could walk away.. yet these students -- well-educated college students from one of the best colleges in the country.. choose to live in squalor, be isolated. Ultimately, one of them had a nervous breakdown. And they knew going in this wasn't real!

It's the same thing with persuasive writing, although far less severe -- if you sound good, people think you are good. If you act like a leader, you'll become a leader. We're taught in schools to have blind obedience. Don't talk back, don't think, just shut up, do your work, and we won't bother you.

This is the reason why group-think is so popular. Many geeks have a shared heritage -- we tried to resist more strongly than other people. Our school experiences were pure hell -- the holocaust of the geek movement. We didn't want to be part of the group-think and herd mentality that everyone else had.. and they attacked us for it. Viciously.

There are strong social incentives to "go with the flow". This is why people who represent and set the tone for what that flow is aquire so many blind followers. People want to be recognized. They can do that by emulating the behaviors of people who are. It's another vicious circle. In order to be popular, you have to espouse popular ideas. A simple equation, but one we often forget about.

So this brings us back to moderation. How do you promote critical thinking and discourse in large groups? I don't know. I do know that you can become very popular very quickly by going with the flow and ardently guarding the prevailing contemporary opinions. You can even call yourself controversial if you step outside the bounds once or twice.

This is the problem behind moderation systems -- in any large group, the majority rules. It's hardwired into us. Discourse, of course, will be eliminated, leading to a very homogenious set of opinions -- they won't vary much.

Popularity, it seems, does not mix well with diversely opinionated people.

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Display: Sort:
All Moderation in Moderation | 107 comments (93 topical, 14 editorial, 0 hidden)
Tripe (1.55 / 29) (#1)
by dieman on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 07:49:54 PM EST

Thats all it is, no more, no less. Now watch me get modded up for being the 'alternative', but unsubstatiated viewpoint!
---
blah
good essay, but mostly irrelevant ;^)= (3.09 / 22) (#2)
by ramses0 on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 07:53:17 PM EST

Nicely written, but I don't feel that it broaches much topic for conversation. Kuro5hin is probably one of the more truly democratic weblog systems out there. Of the people, by the people, and for the people.

It stands to reason that in a system of majority rule, the viewpoint of the majority will be the one that is best expressed.

Welcome to K5 though.

--Robert
[ rate all comments , for great justice | sell.com ]

Re: good essay, but mostly irrelevant ;^)= (2.60 / 15) (#4)
by Signal 11 on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 07:55:59 PM EST

I'm hoping that someone out there HAS a solution.. because I don't... and I can't start a conversation based on what I don't know. Well.. not often anyway.


--
Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.
[ Parent ]
Re: good essay, but mostly irrelevant ;^)= (3.57 / 7) (#25)
by trhurler on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 09:29:53 PM EST

You'll find that "Ask Kuro5hin," modelled after "ask Slashdot," does not fare well. If you don't have something constructive to say, people are liable to nail you for it. All the more if they get the feeling you might not even care whether anyone has such an answer:)

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Groupthink (3.66 / 18) (#6)
by Dacta on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 08:09:59 PM EST

The problem with groupthink is that it occurs everywhere, and I'm not convinced ther is a technical solution to it.

You see it on developement mailing lists all the time - two people disagree, and the one with the more followers gets everyone else on the list behind them. The other person (who is probably on the list for love, not money) decides it is too difficult, and no one listens to them, so they quit. That reduces the amount of diversive opinion on the list even more, which makes it a self-reinforcing cycle.

I can't see how any group can get around this, except by careful social engineering.

I think the Slashdot moderation system failed not for techincal reasons, but for social ones. I think K5 may (in the future) suffer the same problem.

The best technical solution I see is a benelevant and disinterested (sp?) dictator doing the moderation. Any other way reinforces the herd/groupthink mentaility over the long term.



Re: Groupthink (2.77 / 18) (#10)
by Signal 11 on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 08:17:33 PM EST

I think the Slashdot moderation system failed not for techincal reasons, but for social ones.

I agree, in part. Technical solutions could have softened the impact of the trolls.

I think K5 may (in the future) suffer the same problem.

Honestly, I don't think so. Something about this site tells me it's not destined for mainstream use (even for geeks). Most people don't care about the fare here, so it can't get too popular. That being the case, a smaller group means a greater diversity (odd when you think about it, but it's true).

I mean, look at Technocrat.net, exactly like slashdot except it isn't mainstream. They don't get any trolls there. It's the same thing here. there's just no social incentive to trash the system.

Not only that, but the people who run this site are in it for love, not money. That makes a huge difference in the end.


--
Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.
[ Parent ]

Re: Groupthink (3.00 / 7) (#11)
by aphrael on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 08:21:30 PM EST

Not only that, but the people who run this site are in it for love, not money. That makes a huge difference in the end.

I think the people who ran /. were *originally* in it for love. But i've never been sure, since the andover buyout, that they are *still* in it for love, and - i'm embarassed to admit this, but it's true - my willingness to spend emotional energy on the site decreased considerably as a result of that.



[ Parent ]
Re: Groupthink (3.00 / 8) (#38)
by cesarb on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 11:31:04 PM EST

Is it just me, or are people rating him down because they're afraid of him?

[ Parent ]
Re: Groupthink (4.00 / 2) (#81)
by interiot on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 12:01:13 PM EST

That's certainly possible, as is the possibility that people are rating him up because they don't want to follow the meme and rate him down. And on and on, until, after great thought, you can force yourself to be approximately in the middle when begining to read his posts. Wouldn't it be nice to be rid of prejudices sometimes?

[ Parent ]
Re: Groupthink (3.80 / 5) (#58)
by Dacta on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 03:40:42 AM EST

Honestly, I don't think so. Something about this site tells me it's not destined for mainstream use (even for geeks). Most people don't care about the fare here, so it can't get too popular. That being the case, a smaller group means a greater diversity (odd when you think about it, but it's true).

I'm not convinced... I agree with your a smaller group means a greater diversity point, but K5 is already (sometimes) suffering from being too popular.

I, like you (I think, although I didn't have a log in then, and I don't think you did) remember Slashdot from back before they changed colour schemes.

It reminds me a lot of how K5 was pre-DoS.... but it is hard to be sure that isn't me thinking the old days were the best. That, like the Nothing intelligent is said on Slashdot meme is groupthink, too, you know.

Did anyone else read the AES algorithm selected story the other day? There were some truely insightful comments in that, from people who actually knew what they were talking about. For instance, there was the best explaination I've ever seen of how the NSA strengthened the S-Boxes is DES - much better than anything Schinder (sp?) has written in Crypto-Gram. Of course, it was written in reply to a they chose Rijndael because the NSA has cracked it post, but you'd expect that anywhere, I think. (Okay, you'd really expect it on Slashdot....).

BTW, I just read the (a?) Sig11 vs Taco IRC log. I won't post the URL... but is it real?



[ Parent ]
Re: Groupthink (3.27 / 11) (#18)
by dead_radish on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 08:42:56 PM EST

Frighteningly, when you really look at it, a benevolent dicatorship is often the best type of government. A truly good king (usually only in legends) usually created a much improved kingdom. If the person truly cares for the people they are ruling, and does things that will be for the good, it can work out. But that person must be caring, intelligent, insightful, selfless, charismatic, uncorruptible (is that a word?), pure of motive, and, I would think, immortal. Because eventually they leave, and someone else takes over.

I've always been a fan of benevolent dictatorships. I just would have to be high up in the power structure. ;)

I have no opinion on signal-11 - I don't really read /. comments, and don't care about karma. This whole "testing the waters" smacks somewhat of a patronizing "I'm going to see if you all are worthy of my attention - if you are I'll bestow myself upon you" sort of view. But maybe not. In any case, the prison experiment was interesting, though it seems like an urban legend, and I read the whole post for some reason, so....
I knew I shoulda brought a crossbow. -- Largo. www.megatokyo.com
[ Parent ]

Re: Groupthink (3.42 / 7) (#51)
by Michael Leuchtenburg on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 01:00:37 AM EST

The Stanford Prison Experiment is definitely not an urban legend. It's taught in psychology classes (such as the AP Psychology class I took last year), and written about in many psychological texts. It's true.

It's fucking scary, though. I almost wish it were an urban legend. Doesn't change humans though, whether that one story is true or not. It's just a demonstration.

[ #k5: dyfrgi ]
[ TINK5C ]
[ Parent ]

Aristotilian government (none / 0) (#105)
by kmself on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 09:19:08 PM EST

There's a hierarchy of governments in Greek (IIRC Aristotle) philosophy. The God-King is the best form of government, but the Despot is the worst. Democracy and mob rule are the good and bad instances of popular government. Turns out that democracy is the least of the good, but mob rule is the best of the worst. At least according to Aristotle, whom Bruce Schneier takes pains to point out, was not a hacker. Experimental method was not big with the Greeks.

But I'm inclined to think they're on course in this regard -- the single leader can be the distillation of good or evil, a crowd always has to compromise.

--
Karsten M. Self
SCO -- backgrounder on Caldera/SCO vs IBM
Support the EFF!!
There is no K5 cabal.
[ Parent ]

Re: Groupthink (4.12 / 8) (#48)
by Dr Caleb on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 12:45:52 AM EST

I don't believe that "groupthink" occurs for reasonably strong willed individuals. At least not in my case ;-)

I have my views and opinions. One is to listen to the views and opinions of others. I digest them, mull them, and accept or reject the opinion based on my own criteria. Sometimes that follows the norm, sometimes not.

Spamming is not tolerated here. Any comment may be deleted by a site admin, and all spammers will be deleted.

I think Slashdot used to be a good place for a flock/group/gaggle of 10 or 20 thousand intelligent individuals to express their opinions. It just got too noisy from the hundreds of trolls and their troll offspring.

The slashdot crew has one fatal flaw IMHO. They believe that free speech should be allowed, at all cost. This in itself is not bad, and I see their dilema in trying to form the moderation system to allow that free speech is upheld and opinions are still respected.

IMHO it is failing. I would get moderator access about every two to three weeks. I tried a little experiment of my own. I tried to moderate up the opinions I thought were well formed, enlightened or otherwise deserving, cruising the sections looking for new thoughts - whether they fit my views or not. But that didn't work, I had so few moderator points, and there were so many worthwhile posts. So I tried crushing the trolls to make room for the enlightened. That didn't work ethier. More trolls just sprouted up.

And I felt that posts that I spent time and brain grease on - like this one - never got read because they were too late in an article. So, my only choice was to devote more time to places like this. Places where trolls don't congregate because here you ethier pull some of the load, or you're gone! Social engineering at it's finest!


Vive Le Canada - For Canadians who give a shit about their country.

There is no K5 cabal.
[ Parent ]

Spot on analysis (3.00 / 1) (#104)
by kmself on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 09:09:57 PM EST

Just to say that I think you're on target with /.'s flaws. Dedication to free speech. Crippled moderation (I refuse moderator points for the same reasons you state). A posting dynamic that strongly penalizes late-adds to the discussion (as here). Much what I was hoping to fix in designing the Scoop moderation system.

--
Karsten M. Self
SCO -- backgrounder on Caldera/SCO vs IBM
Support the EFF!!
There is no K5 cabal.
[ Parent ]

I'm a bit torn at this one (2.42 / 14) (#8)
by el_guapo on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 08:13:50 PM EST

One the one hand - it harks of the "Most people are sheep" theory. Not that I don't agree to some degree - I recently got a senior management job at one of the 5 largest mortgage companies in America - worst career move in my life. I quickly left despite the >$100,000.00 retension dollars they offered me. I did this for numerous reasons wrapped up in the above submission. I wanted no part of *leading* these people. (I know that sounds horrible, but if you talked to some of the brighter folks that worked for me, you'd understand) That experience makes one part of my brain thankful that most people don't vote, for instance. I'm not being an ass, just telling the truth. But I also think that there's something big we're missing here. I just wish *someone else* could put their finger on it. (lame example alert) If my wife gets a phone call at 9:00 pm from a LD company, she will sit there for 20 minutes trying to hang up on them. They get a polite and immediate "no thanks" and a quick hangup from me, regardless of if they've acknowledged it (which they never do). So, now that I've typed this, I'm gonna give you the benefit of the doubt in the hopes that a more clued individual has the insite to identify/verbalize what I think a lot of geeks might think. I hope your stay here is pelasent....
mas cerveza, por favor mirrors, manifestos, etc.
What to say? (3.33 / 18) (#9)
by Miniluv on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 08:15:39 PM EST

I always found the spectacle of Signal 11 on slashdot amusing if nothing else. From reading his more obscure posts I could deduce he had a functioning mind, rather superbly functioning in my unbiased opinion, but I'm not sure entirely what he's done to be such an expert on moderation aside from abusing the system.

Having not really followed the escapades of our hero the karma-whore I won't comment on them, just on the piece written above.

My main comment? Thanks Captain Obvious for telling us all what we already knew. There's a title for it cuz it's true, and we all thank you for reminding us, no truly we do. Group think isn't inherently bad, nor dangerous, nor even wrong. It's just not challenging. There are situations in which those above categories apply, such as Rev. Jim Jones and his infamous Kool Aid party, but this is not the norm. People do not die from group think, nor do they kill except in notable, and tragic, exceptions.

Please also refrain from comparing group think to the power of persuasion. These are two TOTALLY different things, and should always be regarded as such. They do at times feed each other, but there are plenty of mighty persuasive speakers and writers who can persuade intelligent, non-conformist individuals.

So what do I think of the above post? The same as I think of just about every other post I read...good points, not so well organized.

Sig11, I liked your farewell post on slashdot much better.
"Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'

Re: What to say? (3.00 / 7) (#14)
by h0tr0d on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 08:38:16 PM EST

but I'm not sure entirely what he's done to be such an expert on moderation aside from abusing the system.

I think you misundertood his post. He's blatantly pointing out that he's not an expert on the moderation system and is looking for some open discussion on it. Most of the moderation discussion at that other site takes place after the fact. Maybe the k5 community should take a more proactive approach and discuss as the community and site transform or grow or whatever they are going to do.

-- It appears that my spleeing chucker isn't working again.
[ Parent ]

Re: What to say? (2.16 / 6) (#16)
by Miniluv on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 08:40:55 PM EST

That's a motive I could definitely agree with, and something I'd like to see happen, but was definitely not what I got from his post...perhaps he'll see fit to grace me with a confirmation that that was indeed his motive?
"Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'
[ Parent ]
Moderation lessons needed. (2.71 / 14) (#12)
by h0tr0d on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 08:31:03 PM EST

First off, I want to say welcome aboard. Tried to send you email last night but discovered this evening that it got spit back at me. Oh well.

You have some very good points here and like you I wish I had some answers. For the most part I believe that there needs to be some serious education for the newcomers to k5. I have seen a lot of what you are talking about. A discussion forum like this should be open to any and all opinions that are valid. However, I have seen some very good opinions and thoughts get moderated into oblivion because they aren't the popular ones or aren't agreed upon. That's why I believe that it is so important to occasionally play devils advocate. To think outside of your personal space and argue for the other side of the story. Not only does this help to balance the discussion threads but you just might learn something from it as well. Not that this counts for much but I hope that this submission sees the light of day on the front page. I think it would do k5 some good as a community to talk about this. Can we find a solution if one exists? Is it worth finding if it does?

-- It appears that my spleeing chucker isn't working again.

Honors classes (3.45 / 20) (#15)
by genisis on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 08:39:49 PM EST

This type of behavoir is very evident in Honors Classes. The brightest students in the school join these programs in order to learn more and challenge themselves, this is quite the oppisite. Out of 20 students about 2 of us actually try to express OUR opinions anf the other 18 express what the teachers wnat to hear. While the teachr praises them for independent thinking, the two of us are quicly ignored because we do not share the same views.

Example:

WE just read "A yellow Wallpaper." In this a woman goes crazy by looking at a old wallpaper design 24 hrs a day. She stats to see woman inside the painting and by the last page, she thinks she is one of these woman.

I belive that she is insane, others though an oppressing man had made her insane. Though I see their points, I do not belive this to be a cause of it. THough the teacher ignores my ideas yet talks about the others for hours at a time. THis is where

As you can see this group thinking is starting to be created within the "intellectual elite." THis is very dangerous if these are to be the leaders of the future. ANd yes most of these students have rich parents and will go to VERY good colleges.

Re: Honors classes (3.10 / 10) (#20)
by Miniluv on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 08:48:02 PM EST

Not to be a dick, but ya ever think you might be flat out wrong?

Having not read said work, and not planning on it either, I can't critique your example, but I can say, teachers do sometimes ignore flat out wrong viewpoints because they are just that. Perhaps it'd be more educational to be a bit more explanatory about it..but it's not always possible.

Now you ask, how would they know that you're wrong? Well, in a lot of cases the authors have come right out and said after the fact just what they meant. Try taking a film class and arguing the Deckard isn't a replicant in Blade Runner...yer flat out wrong if you say he wasn't. Why do I know this? Cuz Ridley Scott SAYS SO and he made the movie.

Never forget that your opinion is just that, and doesn't necessarily have any value.
"Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'
[ Parent ]

Re: Honors classes (4.00 / 7) (#28)
by genisis on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 09:53:11 PM EST

I totally agree with you, and I might be wrong, totally wrong. It is my ideas and it is a different time, I think it was written in 1930. I would like the teacher though to at least tell me that, not just ignore me. I mean its worse to be ignored than to be wrong.

[ Parent ]
Re: Honors classes (3.87 / 8) (#30)
by genisis on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 10:05:21 PM EST

Never forget that your opinion is just that, and doesn't necessarily have any value.

This is where I feel that you are wrong. Opinions do matter and I belive that literature at least fictional should be reviewed and taken opinions on. Though I do not agree with taking a part a story and analyzing it to the bones, I do feel that as a whole it should be talked about and thought about. Each reader should have his/her own opinions, if not then why would u read at all. Literature(I belive) should make you think if it was wriiten for that porpuse, and I belive this was written for u to think. THough, if a book is written to entertain you, then no, you should not alanyze it, just read it. If this was writtten to subconciuosly(spelled wrong) tell you something, then I feel it should be thrown out, for a person should never be told what to do.

[ Parent ]

Re: Honors classes (3.80 / 5) (#39)
by Miniluv on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 11:32:03 PM EST

Opinions do matter and I belive that literature at least fictional should be reviewed and taken opinions on.

Opinions do matter, but not every lit course has the time or resources to go through peoples opinions. I think it definitely out to be an all or nothing proposition though, people shouldn't be ignored because they're outside the norm. That said, there are going to be viewpoints that do not bear discussion in a classroom, and these will come in a variety of forms. It's hard to give specific examples, because these opinions/viewpoints/etc are going to come in very singular forms...basically the gist of it is that they won't contribute anything to the learning process, they would cause more turmoil than honest thought provoking and learning, they're inappropriate to the school setting, etc.

I know saying something is inappropriate to the school setting sounds censorist...and it is, rightfully so. Schools should NOT expose students to anything and everything, they're not there for that.

A good instructor, imho, will lead a discussion into the various questions or ideas posed by a piece of fiction and prune areas of discussion much the same as a moderator would at a debate, or in a newsgroup. They can do this with skill if they are properly trained, and well versed in the material being discussed in class. There's more of this percolating in my head, but I wanna formulate before I post anything more...
"Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'
[ Parent ]

Re: Honors classes (4.57 / 7) (#43)
by Cariset on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 12:00:56 AM EST

But just because you create something, doesn't mean you have control over what happens to it. (Or should have - see the IP debates.) And the same work may mean different things to different people.

Sure, Ridley Scott intnded Deckard to be a replicant. But what if I don't know that? Or what if he had died without telling us that? In any case, my interpretation is every bit as "valid" as anyone else's. Ridley Scott's may deserve special attention, because he directed it and had a conscious hand in its creation, but that's it.

The thing is, creating any complicated work of art draws upon the sum total of your experiences, and can bring out things from your subconscious that you didn't know were there. Anything I do is influenced by everything I've experience beforehand. So although I may have some conscious plan in mind, I can and will add in all sorts of other things unintentionally.

That's one of the interesting things about epics, myths, and fairy tales. They provide a shared basis for culture: archetypes and storys (memes, if you will) that work their way through all the works of a civilization. That's the whole deal with the "Western Canon" - all those works build on each other, in a complicated network that most people (myself included) won't have a hope of understanding.

But IMO that's OK, if we're not concerned with picking out what the author intended it to mean. I think a good work of art should stand on its own, and be interesting even in complete isolation from its intended cultural context. (Ie, I think John Cage's "music" sucks.)

And I'd guess that the poor high school teacher is more concerned with explaining one particular viewpoint, than in seriously analyzing the work. And sadly, that's to be expected from a high school class. College is where you get into the cool stuff. :)

[ Parent ]

Re: Honors classes (4.00 / 8) (#46)
by luethke on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 12:13:59 AM EST

Now you ask, how would they know that you're wrong? Well, in a lot of cases the authors have come right out and said after the fact just what they meant.

In literature it doesn't always work that way. In cases of interpretation it matters more what it means to you. Take for instance "A Road Less Traveled" poem. The Robert Frost in his diary said he wrote it as a satire of a friend he had that always thought his life would have been better had he taken the other "path". That is not typically what most people get out of the poem (did you when you read it?) But does that make it any less insparational to the people who read it and it inspired them? In fact i have had prof's who, even after reading frost's own writing on it, claim that is not what the poem means, when asking the question what does this poem mean it's more subjective and I agree with the prof. If the question had been what did Frost mean when he wrote this ten the prof is wrong and the satire is correct. As for Deckard being a replicant, that is not an interpretation. It is a state, equivalent to a true false question, not "how does this make you feel", which gives it a much better definition of what is right or wrong. That being said I don't know the exact question asked or the writing that they talked about so I can not make a judgement as to whether the teacher was correct or not.

I had similar problems as the person you were replying to. I remember many times a question on a test was asked "how does this (story/poem/writing) make you feel?". I would respond with whatever emotion it brought up i.e. "sad, it reminded me of my grandmother who died 3 months ago". and I would be counted as wrong because it is supposed to make you feel proud or whatever emotion. At least in my experiance, even through most of college, they wanted little drones of what they beleived. It was done subtly like many news broadcasts biased reporting. It was very rare a question like "do you think roe vs. wade was the correct decision?", then answer and state the reason why I think the answer is right. Usually if i disagreed with the teacher I was counted wrong. Fortunatly I am one of the bull-headed belligerant people that will badger the teacher about my answer untill they give me a grade I deserver or justify thier grade better than "I disagree with your answer" (i.e. I want something along the lines of "The reasoning behind you answer is invalid because...."). This is especially true in loaded questions as above - which I have had in class and had to argue my position because the teacher disagreed with me.

[ Parent ]
Re: Honors classes (multiple post reply) (3.40 / 5) (#50)
by Miniluv on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 01:00:26 AM EST

There are some works of art that are entirely subjective as their authors/creators/etc felt they stood on their own, or did not have a single meaning. This is the minority of art/literature/music/life. There aren't many gray areas in life, despite the popular belief. To reuse my example with Blade Runner...no, your opinion about what certain symbolism meant doesn't have any value..because someone created it with something specific in mind and has stated what that purpose was, and what that meaning and symbol was. If they created it and say it means X then X is a fact, not an opinion. It would be the same as saying "I don't think the world is round." but that isn't an opinion, it's being wrong. There's proof, indisputable proof, to the contrary.

There are also works of art which bring out a plethora of emotions depending on the experience set of the person considering the art. This is an entirely different animal, and needs to be regarded as such for rational conversation to occur about it. Yes, teachers aren't the best source of inspiration for the evaluation of every piece of literature or music or what have you, but in HS they are a GOOD source if they are educated and concerned people.

The point I'm trying to convey is this...an opinion doesn't have inherent value just because someone holds it. That's just a sad fact. Plenty of my opinions are worthless, and I recognize them as such...they're based on nothing substantial, and in some cases can be proved wrong. Why do I hold them then? Because I'm stubborn. Does this make any difference? Not really, because they're opinions and shouldn't be taken with any special consideration by people. The only value any opinion has is to the person who has that opinion, and to anyone who can use it to refine their own set, but in the course of having opinions, refining them and maybe discarding them, never forget that they don't have any inherent value, they do not have an inherent chance to be right, correct, etc.

As far as the creator of a work having the right control it's disposition? Why shouldn't they control some aspects of it? Does a musician have the right to control what happens as far as distribution of their music? Damn skippy they do, they created it and the law of the US at least supports that right. Does the writer of a story/poem/script have a right to say what it was intended to mean? Damn skippy they do, they created it with the purpose of conveying said meaning.

Appreciation of art/literature/music comes on two levels IMHO, the first being the attempt to understand what the creator intended, what motivated them, inspired them, and what they wanted people to take away from it. In some cases it's easy, you can read their diaries, memoirs, or call 'em up and ask them. In other cases it's hard or impossible as the author is long dead, left no diaries, or is unknown.

The second level is what it means to you, how it affects you, what emotions it evokes (if any), what you consider to be it's over all value. This is entirely subjective, and usually not the curriculum in an educational program, as there's no real system here. It's impossible to teach a person to be evoked by art...it just happens.

Perfect personal example is this: The pieta<sp> is considered by "art critics" to be one of the best sculptures of all time. I myself do not like it, it is non evocative to me, I in fact would rather never see it again. But, I can recognize the technique used, can study sculpture as an art form and see what was intended from it. The difference is that one is based on a set of criteria which have evolved over the centuries as means for creating and evaluating an art form...is this right? Maybe, maybe not...but it's established. The second, personal form, is something that is rediscovered every single time someone experiences anything. They have their own unique beauty, these two forms...and learning to distinguish them is one of the more interesting things in life.
"Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'
[ Parent ]

Re: Honors classes (multiple post reply) (none / 0) (#102)
by Cariset on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 05:00:24 PM EST

If they created it and say it means X then X is a fact, not an opinion. It would be the same as saying "I don't think the world is round." but that isn't an opinion, it's being wrong. There's proof, indisputable proof, to the contrary.

This is where we differ. I say that if they created it and said it means X, then the only fact is that they created it intending for it to mean X. Intention does not produce reality - if I create a machine and intend it to be a supercomputer, then it doesn't follow that the machine actually IS a supercomputer. So just because I intend my creation to have a certain meaning, doesn't automatically imbue it with that meaning. The only proof that exists can be that I intended to imbue it with that meaning.

Central to this is that I believe meaning is completely subjective. There's an objective world out there, sure, but any attempt to draw conclusions about it relies on our subjective impressions, which can vary rom person to person. And meaning, as a comlpete intangible, doesn't have any objective reality. (And yeah, I do believe there are a lot of grey areas in life - in fact, that everything is grey, unless we delude ourselves otherwise.)

... an opinion doesn't have inherent value just because someone holds it.

I agree. That's the catch of the funny term, "valid". All it means is that you've got a perfect right to the opinion, not that the opinion is just as "right" as someone else's. It all depends on what postulates one bases their world on, and if those postulate deviate too much from the norm, we tend to lock them up in the loony bin.

Appreciation of art/literature/music comes on two levels IMHO, the first being the attempt to understand what the creator intended, what motivated them, inspired them, and what they wanted people to take away from it. ... The second level is what it means to you, how it affects you, what emotions it evokes (if any), what you consider to be it's over all value.

Well, one might say that the first level is only important insofar as it relates to your personal appreciation of the piece of art (ie, the 2nd level). Or one might call it "art history". Me, I just appreciate art based on whatever I know/have heard about it, and don't really draw these sorts of distinctions.

[ Parent ]

Re: Honors classes (multiple post reply) (none / 0) (#108)
by Miniluv on Sat Oct 07, 2000 at 05:20:16 PM EST

This is where we differ. I say that if they created it and said it means X, then the only fact is that they created it intending for it to mean X. Intention does not produce reality - if I create a machine and intend it to be a supercomputer, then it doesn't follow that the machine actually IS a supercomputer.
This is outside the scope of this debate though, unless you refer to the artistic or creative values of that object as a supercomputer...by which I think saying it "is" one automatically makes it an artistic representation of a supercomputer irregardless of how you interpret it. If you refer to it in a non-artistic sense, i.e. does it fit the dictionary definition of a supercomputer this is again a non-subjective argument. Either it does or does not conform to engineering and computational specifications earning it the title supercomputer.

Central to this is that I believe meaning is completely subjective. There's an objective world out there, sure, but any attempt to draw conclusions about it relies on our subjective impressions, which can vary rom person to person.

Drawing conclusions such as you're discussing falls into the second category that I made regarding appreciation of a work of art. There are two qualities that each piece of art, or other piece of reality, has: Subjective and Objective. Subjective qualities are defined by emotions, feelings, thoughts, and other such things which evolve out of the myriad expierences a person has in their life. Objective qualities are hard, cold, scientific (usually) facts which are not truly subject to the same debate. No matter what life experience I have, a Cray Y-MP is a supercomputer, to steal your previous example. I cannot debate the validity of Cray Inc's assertion that it is such a machine because it fits the engineering and computational requirements. Subjectively, I can appreciate it's supercomputing qualities, I can draw conclusions about it's elegance of form, and so on, but I cannot dispute it's objective reality.

Well, one might say that the first level is only important insofar as it relates to your personal appreciation of the piece of art (ie, the 2nd level). Or one might call it "art history". Me, I just appreciate art based on whatever I know/have heard about it, and don't really draw these sorts of distinctions.

I don't think most people separate the two entirely, I myself do not, but I think the categories are still highly significant. Usually, if one is informed of the first set of qualities, it influences their appreciation of the second set. The best examplel I can come up with is this, have you ever experienced some form of art, music literature sculpture painting, that you disliked aesthetically but could appreciate the "artistic merit" of? Perhaps a film you didn't enjoy, but could see the skill with which the director created it? Or perhaps the opposite, a film you loved but knew didn't show much in the way of artistic merit, in that there wasn't any serious effort put into the technical details?
"Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'
[ Parent ]

Re: Honors classes (4.00 / 6) (#55)
by Paul Dunne on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 03:12:52 AM EST

Not so. If you are critising a work of art, one approach to critical theory says you must rely only on what is explicitly contained in that work when making critical judgements. So, Ridley Scott's statement, being outside the film, bears no relevance. It may be more consistent with the film as it stands to say the Dekard isn't a replicant; regardless of what the director/producer/script-writer/whatever intended. And if the film is genuinely ambigious about it, either the question can't be answered, or the film is flawed.

P.S.

I forget how "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep" went? Is the guy *really* a replicant or not? ;-)
http://dunne.home.dhs.org/
[ Parent ]

Re: Honors classes (3.50 / 4) (#66)
by the nameless avenger on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 07:44:46 AM EST

If you are critising a work of art, one approach to critical theory says you must rely only on what is explicitly contained in that work when making critical judgements

What a dumb approach. Works of art, like everything else, are a partly a product of the authors intentions, as well as the social and technological background against which they were produced. (Do you notice how "Do Androids..." makes a lot more sense when you know a little about a) PKD's paranoia and b) the Cold War?). Ignoring this is relativism gone mad.



[ Parent ]
Re: Honors classes (none / 0) (#95)
by Marble on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 03:38:16 PM EST

In the book, there was IMHO no way that Deckard could possibly have been a replicant.

He had a wife and all that other stuff going on...

I think the movie makes a lot LESS sense and is less interesting if he were to be a replicant.

So I consider the whole thing to be Ridley Scott's mistaken opinion.

[ Parent ]

Re: Honors classes (3.00 / 5) (#29)
by genisis on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 09:59:30 PM EST

here's a link to the story: Link

THough the example was not suppose to be about the wallpaper. Also the top of the page has a link to another page that has some info on why it was wriiten.

[ Parent ]

Re: Honors classes (4.00 / 1) (#84)
by cypherpunks on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 12:40:50 PM EST

Dude...in my honors classes in high school (way back in the day), the people who didn't follow the group consensus were the ones who got the most praise and the best grades. (To be fair, there weren't any spoiled rich punks in my high school.) Hell, one of my english teachers wouldn't give anybody an "A" in her class unless that person was willing to speak up. Now, this doesn't mean she promoted pointless arguments that have no backing (that's what /.'s for :) ), because she'd end any discussion that didn't have a point. But she wanted people to think critically and come up with their own ideas and to defend them.

And she'd throw in contradictory questions like "What's the correct opinion?" just to see if anybody was paying attention.

[ Parent ]

Re: Honors classes (3.00 / 1) (#91)
by simmons75 on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 01:39:00 PM EST

Hrm...when I took honors English, it was entirely possible to get your opinion wrong. :^)
poot!
So there.

[ Parent ]
Re: Honors classes (none / 0) (#97)
by cypherpunks on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 04:32:23 PM EST

"The correct opinion" was meant to imply that there was only one valid opinion on a topic.

Valid being defined such that the opinion could be backed up with supporting evidence in a reasonable manner, based on the principles of classical rhetoric.

Everybody else got no mercy.

[ Parent ]
Re: Honors classes (4.00 / 1) (#92)
by simmons75 on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 01:50:42 PM EST

I seem to remember having read this; if I'm thinking of the same work, I'm in agreement with you. It seems to be unpopular in recent years to think that, in the presence of an opressive man, that the woman could simply have been crazy in the first place. :^) For some reason, in Western culture of late, it's entirely permissible to think of a woman as strong-willed, equal to a man, yet still opressible to the point of insanity. Calling this "weakness", of course, is a good way to become unpopular. Nearly every college class I took I did poorly in just because I refused to go with the party line.

Consider something as basic as grammar. In the U.S., in public school, there's *one* set of grammar rules and there's *one* source of spelling (which is different in some cases than U.K. English; I think that the U.K. *may* know something about English :^) Ever seen anything written in Shakespeare's time? Unreadable. No standard rules for spelling. But does that make Shakespeare crap? Apparently not. (BTW don't ever try to argue this in a class where it's possible to get your opinion wrong.) How about Pidgin English? Public school? Not even an issue. I learned about Pidgin English in college; it's considered by many linguists to be a new language, much like English isn't just called Welsh-German-Latin. Written Pidgin is unreadable to the average English speaker. That doesn't make it wrong. The point? Right and wrong is dependent on a certain point of view.

Just remember; you can either be a free-thinker in such an opinion-oriented class such as the one you mentioned, or you can get the grades. If you feel the instructor is treating you unfairly, approach said instructor and be nothing but polite about it. If you're met with hostility and you're nothing but polite, you can take it higher. Even as a student, you have the power to change things for the better.
poot!
So there.

[ Parent ]
Oops posted under editorial instead of topical. (2.87 / 16) (#17)
by Carnage4Life on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 08:41:05 PM EST

So this brings us back to moderation. How do you promote critical thinking and discourse in large groups? I don't know. I do know that you can become very popular very quickly by going with the flow and ardently guarding the prevailing contemporary opinions. You can even call yourself controversial if you step outside the bounds once or twice.

If this has been the purpose of moderation on web boards then it has failed woefully. Moderation on most sites is a feeble attempt to stop the puerile and immature from desecrating the sanctity of discussion. This has nothing to do with promoting discussion or critical thinking.

Here are the things that in my brief experience on the Internet have aided to keep the signal to noise nature amongst participants high.
    10: Treat your readers with intelligence. If the articles, editorials and/or reviews on your site are poorly written, poorly researched or written in an inflammatory manner, it is difficult for any rational or reasonable discussion to result.
    20: Goto 10


Re: Oops posted under editorial instead of topical (4.60 / 5) (#44)
by hypatia on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 12:03:48 AM EST

Moderation on most sites is a feeble attempt to stop the puerile and immature from desecrating the sanctity of discussion. This has nothing to do with promoting discussion or critical thinking.

But slashdot and K5 both have a system where a rating scale is used to try and achieve the two things on the same scale, by promoting, or giving high scores to 'good' posts and demoting or giving low scores to'bad' posts.

In my opinion, positive reinforcement is unecessary. Only quality discussion will promote quality discussion :) If the good posts are there, others will come, if they aren't, others will stay away. Feedback in the form of K5 editorial comments (on stories at least, not on others' posts) is more useful, and feels more natural than a score out of five.

It is also unecessary to try and promote discussion, critical thinking, and diversity. A community will have a certain amount of homogeny in order to form a community in the first place (same language, same geographical area, same interests, same cause etc etc). This tends to encourage further homogeny to a certain extent. I am completely uneducated in group psychology, but I believe it largely depends on the desirability of being in the community. The more desirable, the more the community will become selective in alliowing participation, and exhibiting conformity will place you higher on the list. (This opinion is formed, by the way, from being part of a very closed all-female group at high school, and from running unaligned in a university election on a platform of freedom of the press, against Sydney Uni left ticket.)

In any case, only the brave and the passionate will tend to go against the party-line. Whether the brave and passionate stick around after that and participate in discussion is then up to the community.

The trouble with slashdot is the use of positive moderation to enforce conformity has had the brave and passionate sent down on the same scale with the trolls, and thus there is an alliance of sorts - the trolls can claim the high moral ground and the dissenters become trolls.

The whole problem in the first place is the dissimilarity with face-to-face communities - the continued existence of trolls. In conversation, someone talking incessantly about petrifying Natalie Portman will be scared away, or scare everyone else away quickly, and unless unusally gifted in manipulation, will not destroy a community.

I don't have a solution - I'll just continue doing what I do now - reading slashdot at +2, not willing to moderate, hiding scores and reading newest first. I have tried to rate comments on K5, but will stop since it disturbs my reading to be constantly judging the quality of posts, and the quality of posts and discussion is currently high enough that I don't feel positive moderation is at all useful. And when it becomes useful, I will read it less often, as with slashdot.

[ Parent ]

Rewrite (3.00 / 1) (#90)
by simmons75 on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 01:37:49 PM EST

while (true) { Treat your readers with intelligence. If the articles, editorials and/or reviews on your site are poorly written, poorly researched or written in an inflammatory manner, it is difficult for any rational or reasonable discussion to result. } GOTOs are from the dinosaur age. :^)
poot!
So there.

[ Parent ]
Ain't this interesting... (2.90 / 20) (#22)
by Luke Scharf on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 09:11:44 PM EST

Not to be a confrontational smart-@$$ or anything, but...

This is nicely recursive -- Signal 11 is giving a message that anyone who's read K5 before knows will be well recieved.... About doing the exact same thing on Slashdot... Hmmm...

Of course, since he hits on many of the reasons I like K5, and since the discussion should be very interesting, it's being well recieved with me.... Hmmm...

:-)



How odd... (3.15 / 20) (#26)
by Elendale on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 09:34:17 PM EST

This is an interesting quandary. On the one hand, this is Signal 11 and he is the 'great manipulator' of The Other Site; but on the other hand the post is truely interesting to me and is likely to cause invigorating discussion.

So if i vote the story up i'm following the 'group-think' that Siggy so ardently creates (or not) but if i vote the story down we as a whole lose a great chance for talking about moderation. I love psychological games...

Now i finished with that, i voted the story up ;) In the end i decided whether Siggy is being honest or trying to find a weak spot in K5's 'moderation armor', it is a well written article and will hopefully spark large amounts of discussion. Welcome aboard Signal.

-Elendale
---

When free speech is outlawed, only criminals will complain.


Re: How odd... (3.00 / 13) (#27)
by trhurler on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 09:46:17 PM EST

Precisely what do you find "invigorating" about a rehash of a bunch of lame old generalities and crap pop psychology? Or is it the chance to "discuss" the fact that nobody has any solutions to a problem (lack of critical thinking skills,) created on purpose by public education which no weblog has any hope of ever curing? Maybe you're enticed by the idea of being half test subject and half ego-stroker for a very bright and yet very odd guy who gets his kicks playing with your head and apparently doesn't realize that this makes him as much the dependent as it does anyone else?

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Re: How odd... (3.40 / 10) (#31)
by Elendale on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 10:07:14 PM EST

Or maybe i think the topic has been rehashed with the same old rhetoric and maybe, just maybe, someone has a new idea. Maybe i think that if people are willing to be open minded on a subject- and not automatically assume that no one has anything more interesting to say than they- we may come up with a solution. Just because it didn't work the first time doesn't mean it will never work. Maybe i think that this time we have something with us that maybe will offer something new- be it a new way of looking at the problem or perhaps someone who deeply understands the problem.

Maybe i am intrigued by how people will respond to this very charismatic, but often manipulative, person; especially people who say they are immune to this. Maybe, or maybe not. Perhaps i'm just as devious as Signal is and you played into my hands. You decide.

-Elendale
---

When free speech is outlawed, only criminals will complain.


[ Parent ]
I don't care if he's being honest or not. (3.62 / 8) (#49)
by ajf on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 12:46:51 AM EST

If Signal 11's comment (or story submission, in this case) is going to encourage interesting discussion, why should I care whether or not he's trying to manipulate me?



"I have no idea if it is true or not, but given what you read on the Web, it seems to be a valid concern." -jjayson
[ Parent ]
Demagogues (3.89 / 19) (#36)
by Sunir on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 10:55:41 PM EST

Problem.

Wherever there is population, there will be popularity. Demogoguery is natural, and probably necessary: someone has to lead, and to lead you must be followed. However, there is a point where personal agendas cross with group agendas.

Anyway, this whole manipulate the web log ruckus reminds me of Ender's Game. Peter and Valentine playing the heart strings of the discussion groups. Same "not entirely good, not entirely bad" theme too.

Solution?

I recommend reading How Management Teams Can Have a Good Fight by Kathleen M. Eisenhardt, Jean L. Kahwajy, and L.J. Bourgeois III (Harvard Business Review July-August 1997 pp. 77-85) to see how managed conflict can break patterns of apathy, complacency and consensus by default.

Unfortunately, any organizational behaviour solution requires some form of recognized, strong leadership to set the clear goals. Overly democratized environments or environments with weak leadership invariably degrade into infighting and politicking in order to fill the power vacuum at the top.

Online communities usually kick a ruckus when sysadmins exert their right to control the system, fearing God Kings and screaming about democracy. But anarchy != democracy. I heard once that the venerable Lambda Moo gave up on a pure "democracy" (more like anarchy) experiment as it was unstable, deciding instead on delegated power from the top. Fidonet on the other hand was a half-democratic system which remained fairly focused and stable in its lifetime, despite the continuous flames in FidoNews.

Anyway, k5 here has good direction from the cabal that doesn't exist. /. has no obvious direction. Just look at the last post by Cmdr Taco to see how involved he is these days.

I guess online communities follow the flavour of their creators/maintainers. I'm not sure that is a bad thing, even for democracy/anarchy zealots, as they have the freedom to choose the site that appeals to them the most. It's easy to find something you gel with. I mean, you have that 24/7 broadband pipe for something other than Napster, right?

"Look! You're free! Go, and be free!" and everyone hated it for that. --r

And the point was... (3.03 / 28) (#40)
by MeanGene on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 11:33:06 PM EST

And the point was...

Hear ye, hear ye - I am Signal 11, see me slam the door at /., cheer me here or ye shall loose me as well.

You know something, I read /. for the quick newsbytes and occasionally I pipe in $0.02 - but you want that demigod status and reputation. So when you got cut down to size at /. - you left.

Big fscking deal - there was never much intellectual discourse on /. anyway. You want discourse - try organize a website that would join, say, single urban mothers with dotcom CEO geeks and retired Midwest farmers. But you can never make such a website - so learn to live with the relative homogeniety of the audience and stop complaining about moderation.

"Critical Thinking" (tm) will never exist on a large scale where there's nothing at stake. Nobody's going to loose sleep over something moderated up or down. Aside from the occasional outbursts (when the mood is right), people tend to spend as little effort as possible when there's zero consequence to their thoughts.

Focus, focus... (3.20 / 15) (#41)
by TheLocust on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 11:48:48 PM EST

I agree with Sig11 here. To a point. Intelligent and INTELLIGIBLE discussion among large groups is about a feasible as herding cats. It JUST CANNOT WORK past a certain point. Moderation is necessary, yes, but there still will be factors that govern how the moderators moderate. In /.'s case, it's the fact that the moderators were A) chosen at random (pseudo) and B) that not every randomly chosen moderator will moderate well.

So is there a solution? No, and i think Sig11 is completely right in saying so. While the internet does bring people together, it also tears us apart as well. The only way to have a truly good discussion is face to face, and that will never change. Until then, give me a smaller weblog where I can be heard above the din if i want. When it gets to big, move on.

BTW, props on the Stanford Prison Experiment. Everyone should give that a good hour or so.
.......o- thelocust -o.........
ignorant people speak of people
average people speak of events
great people speak of ideas

Lame Whiners (1.00 / 7) (#42)
by //violentmac on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 11:58:03 PM EST

I find it hard to believe that all you monkey's whine about how you all follow the pack when none of you has the guts to put his money where his mouth is and start their own website. It's all well and good to post some well thought out post on some lame discussion list that no one will ever read, but god forbid you actually take some responsibility and do some real leading. --------- What's the signal 11 kenneth?

Karma whoring: *** NEW FLAVOR!!! *** (3.00 / 14) (#45)
by Grimmtooth on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 12:06:45 AM EST

"And so it begins."

The amusing thing here is that S11, in an attempt to show the weakness in the /. moderation method, found what the ULTIMATE backup moderation method was like. This is moderation as it was back in the old days, before weblogs. Everything that has followed has been an attempt to relieve any one person from taking responsiblity for the content of thier BBS / echo / newsgroup / SIG / etc., but in this case what passes for the 'lead moderator' stepped in and intervened.

Having said that, I happen to LIKE the experiments going on here and elsewhere on self-moderating systems. I'm pretty certain that at least another generation of such systems will be needed before something close to goodness exists, but here and elsewhere are excellent first-generation attempts at it. The Java thingy we read about a day or so ago could possibly be the next generation, or it might be closer to the first -- hard to say.

So are people like S11 providing a service (either well intentioned or a cry for help is irrelevant) in exposing the weaknesses of said systems, or do they get in the way of finding a more comforatable median? Is absolute protection against karma-whoring (or what passes for it) really required in order to hold a decent conversation over the internet? Am I doing that right now? And should I be writing this at 12:09 in the morning? :-)
// Worst. Comment. Ever.

YHBT. YHL. HAND. (2.35 / 14) (#47)
by jellicle on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 12:25:02 AM EST

See subject. You might think that with such a short comment, it's some crappy throwaway thing. Which is why I added this line. But honestly, the whole message of my comment (and I do think there is one, even if it's not terribly deep or insightful) is contained in the subject.

the leader? (1.00 / 7) (#52)
by kkeller on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 01:02:40 AM EST

The Leader is good,
The Leader is great,
We surrender our will
As of this date!

Na na na na na na na na Leader!
Leader!
Leader!
Leader!


Amazing (2.68 / 16) (#53)
by yuri on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 01:40:01 AM EST

I am truly amazed that siggy had not already carved himself a new identy here on K5 already. His first post the other day and now his glorious debut. I say let this debutant have his party by himself. I encourage no further discussion on this post. Let him prove to us that he will not infect these message boards with knee jerk posts just to get attention, or to manipulate discussion with random offtopic brain farts just because he is bored with his job.

If he devotes as much enery to K5 as he did to /. he will overwhelm everybodies good nature here and we will have that other site on our hands.

Signal....go easy here.

Re: Amazing (4.00 / 5) (#56)
by squigly on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 03:16:21 AM EST

Well, if he's a Karma Whore then we're safe until Rusty decides to implement a Karma system. If he's just after attention then he knows how to get it and telling people to ignore him isn't going to help. Being mean isn't going to do a lot (He seems to have the second thickest skin on slashdot) Take him as he comes.

--
People who sig other people have nothing intelligent to say for themselves - anonimouse
[ Parent ]
Historical precedents (3.95 / 20) (#57)
by goonie on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 03:32:46 AM EST

Signal11's karma whoring has an interesting historical precedent. This article tells the story of two Australian soliders back in the early 1940's who were so disgusted with modernist poetry that they cooked up a tragic fake persona of a man whose "ignorant sister" discovered his poetry after his death and sent this concocted, deliberately bad, poetry to the literary journal that these two soldiers most detested. The journal fell for the hoax and hailed the poet as a genius.

However, it gets really interesting when the hoax was revealed and the editors of the magazine were pilloried. They stubbornly insisted that, even though the hoaxers' intentions were nothing of the kind, they had inadvertantly written outstanding poetry. Even more surprisingly, quite a lot of people now agree with that and the poems are now considered a valuable part of the history of Australian poetry in their own right, regardless of the controversy surrounding them.

Step back for a second. Whatever Sig11's intentions, is it just possible that some of his posts were deserving of moderation up because they had interesting things to say, even if he (she?) didn't really mean it?

Re: Historical precedents (4.00 / 1) (#77)
by Simon Kinahan on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 11:30:40 AM EST

Witness the Sokal affair, which is a similar situation where a physicist submitted a nonsense article to a cultural studies journal in order to make a political point.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]
Signal11 History & Groupthink & Misc. Digressions (none / 0) (#103)
by Parity on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 08:58:36 PM EST

Uhm, no. Not that Signal11 can't or doesn't post intelligent comments, but I've been a longtime slashdot reader. I remember when I used to look forward to Signal11's posts... and then, I remember, though I don't remember the topic, one day clicking on a Signal 11 post, thinking 'finally, I'll hear something intelligent...' only to be confronted with a shallow kneejerk answer. I certainly never saw anything worth the time it took to read from the time Signal11 started his 'karma whoring' experiment. The difference in posting style was obvious and drastic if you knew his previous posting style.

I wish I had the references for it, but, for what it's worth, some months back I heard a discussion on NPR about the feedback effect of groupthink. The social experiment went something like this: Poll a group of people on their opinions, and then put them together to discuss a topic; then poll them again. Those disagreeing will all move towards the consensus opinion, even if the 'consensus' is at one extreme of the original spectrum, and those who originally agreed will move towards a -more extreme- view. Repeat this experiment with the same group on the same topic, and the group opinion will increasingly become more and more closed and extreme; dissenters will first become silent, and then find themselves agreeing with the consensus, -even if- it contradicts their original opinion completely. (Perhaps especially if, but I don't remember the details there.) I wish I could find a writeup of the study but I don't subscribe to any psychology mags. Pointers are welcome, I do have acccess to the library, but I've forgotten the buzzword to describe this effect.

Anyway, hearing the interview, I couldn't help but think how -exactly- that described slashdot. Which is why, here, I moderate up people whom I disagree with - as long as they have a non-flaming, reasonable argument or opinion, and I moderate down people I agreewith, if they post a 'me-too' or a vicious flame. (Flame generally being defined as gratuitous negative comparisons like fascists or communists and/or profanity and/or ad hominim attacks; a 'sharp' argument is not a flame, but do try to refrain from calling the other person's argument 'a load of shit' or other gratuitous phrases; if you're right and they're wrong, you only need to say, 'I think you're off track and here is why...'.) I hope that everyone will moderate that way; if we foster a community of civilized debate and disagreement (which is what I see, mostly, but then, I've only been lurking a few weeks and only posting to-day), then perhaps we can escape such a feedback-effect here.


Well. Enough digression, more reading for me now.

Parity Bit


[ Parent ]
Missed opportunity (3.82 / 17) (#59)
by inpHilltr8r on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 04:29:12 AM EST

I had mixed feelings when I saw that name on the front page of Kuro5hin, but was interested to see what insights the famed karmawhore had into the system he so successfully hacked. I was dissapointed.

A bit of (exploratory) Apple bashing? Sure Jobs presents a point of focus for Apple, but his oratory skills are not the reason Apple continues to exist. The iMac, the powerbook, and a solid base of audio/video professionals are the reason. A damn good product with some excellent killer applications.

The stanford prison experiment is truly an interesting subject, worthy of further discussion. But it's hardly an example of groupthink in the large. We're talking about volunteers who knew what they were letting themselves in for, and who were paid to take part in the experiment.

As for "the holocaust of the geek movement." I don't know about you, but although my school years had their lowpoints, they didn't use Zyklon B in the showers. There's a rich 'groupthink' vein to mine in Nazi germany. The hitler youth, the enormous rallies, Hitler's oratory skills (certainly a more influential man than Steve Jobs), damn, it's the centrepiece of the 20th century and it's entirely about mass manipulation, tribal behaviour, and "groupthink".

-1 (could do better)

Re: Missed opportunity (4.00 / 1) (#89)
by simmons75 on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 01:29:55 PM EST

Eh, I realize this is a bit offtopic, but it's marketing that's keeping Apple around. The newer iMac ads have gained a noteriety that's somewhere around the level of the VW Beetle ads of the 60's and the 7UP ads of the same decade. Used a recent Mac? They really haven't improved much, the stock keyboards and mice are crap. What are you offered? Really pretty plastic.
poot!
So there.

[ Parent ]
Re: Missed opportunity (3.00 / 1) (#94)
by Mitheral on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 03:32:43 PM EST

For the people who are buying new G4's; IMac's and powerbooks what the case looks like is important. I've done tech support for a graphics and advertising company. If you were to ask any kernel or hardware hacker they would probably tell the computer wizard graphic artists at that company are decidedly ... wierd. And to the graphic artists the ambience of their workplace is as important to them as the heavy old style IBM keyboard I use is to me. If my keyboard were ever to malfunction (can't imagine it but possible) I wouldn't hesitate to spend the US$130 to buy a brand new one.

So for these people giving up a little proccessing power to get a quiet, cool looking G4 Cube is no sacrifice at all. Though they'd probably all agree with you about the hockey puck Apple tried to pass off as a mouse.

[ Parent ]

Go, Siggy! (3.05 / 18) (#60)
by pb on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 04:42:22 AM EST

I've pointed people to kuro5hin for a long time when they were looking for a slashdot alternative. I think the discussion here is fascinating, and the moderation system is excellent. "Many eyes make all posts shallow", as it were. However, it can be somewhat hard for a newbie to break into any ingrown discussion forum, so I ask you all to give Siggy a break. Be glad he discovered kuro5hin when he did, at least, since many excellent and thoughtful slashdot posers have migrated over there.

Personally, I prefer slashdot for the technology news and the trolls, but mostly for the history, just because I've been there for so long I feel somehow sentimentally attached to it, and want to help out the newbies. But it can get tiresome rather quickly on some days, and the admins have really seemed uncaring for quite a while.

When the great moderation crisis hit slashdot, and it was befouled with cries of "Slashdot sucks", and "Moderation is broken", a few of us tried to think of ways to improve it. Some of the better ideas found their way into kuro5hin, mostly thanks to kmself, IIRC. So its moderation system is definitely superior, and slashdot would have been much better if they had listened.

Recently, slashdot has stopped even caring about free speech and censorship, by disallowing posts based on content which you'd think slashdot would be ardently opposed to considering its opinions in the YRO forum. They also disallow posts based on posting time to stop DoS attacks, flooding and spamming, and would block IPs or ban accounts based on negative moderation. Meta-moderation simply doesn't work on slashdot, and I've seen merely controversial accounts or posts get either bitchslapped, or modded down by a few points way after the fact. And no one likes the karma cap, as it is arbitrary and offers posters no base of comparison for how well their posts are being received on the site.

So yes, I still read slashdot and post to it, but for all the wrong reasons. And if Siggy has managed to wean himself from that, more power to him. Please accept him as a brother and give him a chance; he is definitely more reasoned and fairly spoken than 99% of the slashdot crew, so be polite first and form a reasoned opinion afterwards.
---
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
Everyone get OFF HIS CASE! (2.64 / 17) (#61)
by daani on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 04:53:32 AM EST

Everyone saying things like "let him prove he won't...." and "oh no it's this guy" take a good long look at yourselves! The man is a hacker, nothing more. He seems to prefer social hacking to technical hacking, but the proper response is still to applaud his innovation.

Heh. I was reading /. every day for a few months a while ago, and I never noticed the dude.

/., Karma whoring and trolling (4.37 / 29) (#62)
by spiralx on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 04:54:49 AM EST

For a start I think people here who are treating Signal 11 differently because of his notoriety on /. are falling into the very same groupthink trap that he talks about. If he starts making an arse of himself here then flame him, otherwise pay him no more or no less attention than you would any other k5 poster. Or at least try :)

I think that the /. moderation system encourages a feedback cycle whereby consensus opinions are moderated up, giving them the top spots in an article, which means that more people pay attention to them, thus reinforcing the opinions they espouse. In addition, the editors do have their biases which come across in the little one liners Taco et al write in the article texts, as this little beauty from back in the day shows :)

But the herd mentality encouraged by moderation on /. is what makes both karma whoring and trolling possible. Having a Karma score also turns /. into a kind of game, with the increase in Karma as your goal rather than writing quality posts that start discussions. Both whoring and trolling require a knowledge of how the herd mentality works, and how to manipulate it - one for gain, one for response and misinformation.

Of course, saying that I do enjoy reading /. - no other site has the same character. Sure the quality of discussion there may sometimes be a little shallow, but there are still people there posting good comments and making interesting points.

But the problems that the site's creators and maintainers seem so desparate to fix are social ones, not technological ones. They come from having a large amount of groupthink and a large amount of readers. Things like "lameness filters" simply encourage idiots to get around them, and each time a new lameness filter has been added, I've seen an upsurge in crappy spam posts hit /. for a couple of weeks.

kuro5hin doesn't yet suffer from either of these problems, which is why there aren't any karma whores (or their equivalent) or trolls. There is a lot of diversity of opinion here, and when that's the case trolls just aren't nearly as effective. No technological solution can be anywhere near as effective - a good troll is almost identical to a good karma whoring post :)

I also think moderation for all is a good idea. It means that posts hit the level they should be more often because you're more tolerant of abuses. Also, the fact that mojo isn't such an in your face thing is good - the new system hasn't bothered me at all since k5 came back up.

Anyway, just some rambling morning thoughts :)


You're doomed, I'm doomed, we're all doomed for ice cream. - Bob Aboey

/. Karma and dissent (3.00 / 7) (#76)
by Simon Kinahan on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 11:28:41 AM EST

If you actually check the evolution of many /. threads, one of the recipes for getting a post moderated up is simply to take the /. consensus opinion, and pick the obvious holes in it. Since /. readers are generally educated enough that they like to think of themselves as open minded, such posts move up quicker than those that agree with the consensus.

One of the resident trolls specialises in exactly this form of post and does it really quite well.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]
Re: /. Karma and dissent (3.50 / 6) (#79)
by spiralx on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 11:42:38 AM EST

If you actually check the evolution of many /. threads, one of the recipes for getting a post moderated up is simply to take the /. consensus opinion, and pick the obvious holes in it. Since /. readers are generally educated enough that they like to think of themselves as open minded, such posts move up quicker than those that agree with the consensus.

True, but in a way these posts are also part of the groupthink in that they simply express the opposite of the conforming viewpoint. They're not really independent opinions or constructions. What is lacking is a spectrum of viewpoints with discussion flowing between the two extremes - instead we have polarisation in which we move back and forth between two diammetrically opposed viewpoints with nothing in between.

One of the resident trolls specialises in exactly this form of post and does it really quite well.

Heh, I think we all do to an extent. Which troll are you thinking of in particular?


You're doomed, I'm doomed, we're all doomed for ice cream. - Bob Aboey
[ Parent ]

Re: /. Karma and dissent (none / 0) (#99)
by Simon Kinahan on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 05:03:24 AM EST

Not telling. I don't publicise trolls. Point of principle.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]
Re: /. Karma and dissent (2.66 / 3) (#83)
by cypherpunks on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 12:28:14 PM EST

If you actually check the evolution of many /. threads, one of the recipes for getting a post moderated up is simply to take the /. consensus opinion, and pick the obvious holes in it. Since /. readers are generally educated enough that they like to think of themselves as open minded, such posts move up quicker than those that agree with the consensus.

From my own personal experiences on /. (from over a year ago, admittedly. I don't waste my time with the site anymore, it's too linux-centric and close-minded), this is a really good way to get your inbox flooded with flames and threats (well, unless you post anonymously). Not to mention your servers hacked or DoS'd. The herd mentality was so strong that anything that didn't follow the party line was shouted down quickly (or moderated down quickly).

[ Parent ]

Re: /. Karma and dissent (3.50 / 2) (#85)
by Erf on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 12:55:31 PM EST

Even if it is a deliberate attempt to gain karma, I actually find it sometimes useful to have those (often obvious) holes in the Conventional Wisdom pointed out. I like to think of myself as an "independent thinker", but I know that the opinions of others affect mine as much as anyone else's. Seeing both sides of the story -- even if they're on the extremes -- helps me to form my own opinion, usually somewhere in the middle. (And often I'll wind up agreeing with one of the poles, but have a better idea of why, after seeing the opposing arguements...)

This sort of amounts to fighting sheepthink with sheepthink, I think. Cool.

-Erf.
...doin' the things a particle can...
[ Parent ]

Re: /. Karma and dissent (none / 0) (#101)
by Kaa on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 02:35:32 PM EST

[Slight popping sound as a portal opens and closes]

Err.. Did somebody mention me, or I am hallucinating again?

Kaa
Kaa's Law: In any sufficiently large group of people most are idiots.


[ Parent ]
theory vs practice (3.93 / 15) (#63)
by echnon on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 04:57:19 AM EST

Signal 11 has shown in practice that you can appeal to people with certain kinds of arguments.

But then S11 tries to explain S11's 'mass appeal'. And how does S11 do it ? By using popular but not that very scientific nor provable 'theories' how group dynamics work. S11 is like a brilliant mathematician, someone who has a great skill, that suddenly turns psychologist and tries to explain how reasoning works in general and for everybody. When something like that happens, you often get very biased and just plain wrong theoretical pictures.

Although S11 can appeal the masses - that's a given by now - it doesn't prove anything about people's mentalities. Nor does the Stanford experiment. You can guess - many psychologists and sociologists have done that, but how does 'groupthink' work exactly ? Is it something like a thoughtless herd of sheep? Or is it just a (neurophysical) given in conversation that people who talk in a tone that is happy have more listeners ? Or is it just a given (of physics) that people that talk the most are heard the most ?

The images of groupthink are powerful and have explained great evils and odd behavior of people in history for a long time now. But it's just one paradigm, one way of looking at things, and S11 has been exploiting this as an explanation for his own success - a legitimized and rationalized means of stroking the ego of a sociopath. In the mean time S11 advertises it as a way to 'reform' online forums, to 'analyze' group think and to promote 'critical' thought. The terms and their contexts alone are just a signal that signal 11 still lives in the 20th century.

Maybe people are inclined to go with the flow because that's just the best way to cooperate. Maybe people listen more attentive to friendly conversation because it's a signal (that word again..) that somebody is talking to you that wants you to survive. But if we follow S11's view of critical thinking, babies shouldn't listen to their too friendly mothers and be critical and independent from day One. That's ludicrous ! Thinking is a product of language, language is a product of context, and context is a product of learning in a group of people. Where does that leave 'independent', 'critical' thought? Sure our biological and social inclinations can be abused, but please don't abuse them with popular theorizing

If groupthink is human nature... (3.12 / 8) (#64)
by paranoidfish on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 05:24:03 AM EST

...then exploit it in the moderation system. Even within the "Slashdot Community", there are many different groups. There are the linux bigots, MSCE's, web monkeys, those in management, physics loons, Sci Fi fans, 31137 h4x0rs, trolls etc etc. Within each of these groups a certain opinion will be dominant, although this view may not be shared by other groups. But all of these views are relevant to the discussion (even the trolls sometimes).

Now, if you could get a system to recognise which groups a person empathises most with, then you can have their moderation become more prominant to others in that group. These groups don't even need to be explicit nor exclusive, just comparing your past moderation/reading/posting record with that of a particular moderator will give an idea of how relevant that moderation would be to you [1]. The more you read/moderate/post the more the system knows about you, and the better the content you see will be for you.

Sometimes a view is so strongly supported by a group that it becomes almost representative of that groups views. In that case, show it to everyone. You will end up with groupthink on smaller scales, leading to more discussion between contrasting viewpoints.

Is moderation about offering posters virtual choc chip cookies for doing a good job? Or is it about improving the content for the user? Or somewhere between the two?

([1] yes I know this will take a huge lump of calculations. Everything is theoretical at some point in it's lifespan)



huh? (2.36 / 11) (#65)
by Jack9 on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 06:02:55 AM EST

I've been reading slashdot for 3 years. I've heard of Signal 11, but I dont give ANY comment more than a couple seconds of my time and certainly dont value 1 person's comment over another's. The grammatical quality of the comment IS NOT a good indicator of the importance of the comment. As far as I'm concerned, saying "I'm leaving Salshdot" is a lot like saying, "I'm only going to lurk from now on". When was this news?
Often wrong but never in doubt.
I am Jack9.
Everyone knows me.

Re: huh? (2.85 / 7) (#68)
by Inoshiro on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 08:07:24 AM EST

This is not a "Signal 11 has left slashdot and com here" article, this is a "how moderation systems are affected by human nature" article. Go post your lamentations on the appropriate stories.

--
[ イノシロ ]
[ Parent ]
Re: huh? (none / 0) (#106)
by Jack9 on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 11:47:20 PM EST

My lamentations are comfortable here. Here is just fine. Not many people make the distinction between a "Signal 11 leaving Slashdot" discussion thread and your take... "how moderation systems are affected by human nature" That's certainly not my interpretation. Seems to me that Signal 11 is trying to convey a vague, highly personal point as a nugget of news...and I can sympathize with a large portion of the K5 peanut gallery summed up in our collective 2bit vernacular. Um, no.
Often wrong but never in doubt.
I am Jack9.
Everyone knows me.

[ Parent ]
That was amusing (4.26 / 19) (#67)
by blixco on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 07:48:07 AM EST

We get this great, well worded diatribe about how all people are sheep, and some really good in depth pointers about how much of a herd animal we are...but then we're back to this moderation thing. This guy's a broken record.

Moderation? Moderation vs. Society? This guy's got it in for moderation, that's for sure. Doesn't like the whole idea, apparently.

So, tell ya what: don't moderate. Don't be moderated. This is remarkably easy. Hit usenet, play there for a while...a good long while. Or hit the streets and carry a sign. Or get offline for a month or two. And don't moderate your own activity or internal dialog, either. Just let it out. Don't be a Sheeple! Scream and yell, let society have it...and leave the discussion boards alone. Discussion boards like this are run via moderation, and that's that. There just isn't a better system to reduce noise and spam.

Moderation? Why don't you take up the banner of something important? Maybe something worth the talent you show for thinking and writing. Moderation a cause? Moderation is a method for obtaining filtered text. We know this, we live with it, and some brilliant ideas come out of it. Maybe not *all* brilliant ideas, but more than I ever got exposed to in unmoderated usenet. Moderation? It's a ridiculous banner to rally under, there, man.

Maybe it's just me. Maybe it's not silly to burn up so much time and emotion on something as trivial as moderation on slashdot. Maybe I'm not the type to get into self-promotion. In the end, maybe I'm satisfied that my importance isn't measured by how my writing is judged by my peers. My "importance," if I have any, is subject to only my own judgement.

-------------------------------------------
The root of the problem has been isolated.
Flaw in the system (3.00 / 1) (#88)
by simmons75 on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 01:24:44 PM EST

Slashdot's moderation system has a serious flaw; there's not a good set of checks and balances. There are those that have, say, four or five accounts, and moderate their "w00t slashdot sux" posts up to 4, Funny and moderates anything they don't agree with into oblivion. Moderating down a post on an "Ask Slashdot" post asking how to use a Pantone palette on Sketch (this is a ficticious post, BTW) because it says, "This may not be what you want; consider using Corel Draw on Linux or Illustrator on a Mac or a Windows machine" is a good way to get modded down to at least 0 and marked a Troll. Is this ficticious example trolling? IMHO, no. And therein lies the trouble. I've been modded as a Troll on /. simply for disagreeing with a popular opinion.
poot!
So there.

[ Parent ]
Re: Flaw in the system (4.00 / 2) (#93)
by blixco on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 02:56:15 PM EST

"I've been modded as a Troll on /. simply for disagreeing with a popular opinion." That sucks, maybe you should tell slashdot. You might have an outside chance of getting something changed. Posting those concerns here, though, gets you no where. At all. So, to re-re-iterate: what the hell is a slashdot, and why are all of you so damned obsessed with it?
-------------------------------------------
The root of the problem has been isolated.
[ Parent ]
Re: That was amusing (none / 0) (#98)
by anglerud on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 04:40:08 PM EST

Moderation is mostly a formalism and a convenience online.

Don't be modetared... Offline it's even harder to avoid than online. Everybody evaluates you based on what you say and how you act. When you're talking to someone you evaluate both the content and the presentation. They just don't put a number to your performance.

He spends a lot of energy on posting and starting discussions like this one. If he feels that moderation bases itself on the emotional charge in a post and not the content then I'm not sure that opposing it is such a waste of time for him. (not that I'd spend my time on it, but still).

Personally I think moderation is just a convenience. We can have someone else review the posts and tell us if it's worth reading (ideally).


[Scientific study] is one of the very few things that lifts human life a little above the level of farce, and gives it the grace of tragedy.
[ Parent ]
Isaac Asimov (3.00 / 5) (#70)
by Red Moose on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 09:24:04 AM EST

I am just reading the Foundation series for a second time. What's even more interesting about the whole herd-mentality thing is that it is predictable. For the few years I read Slashdot it was blindingly obvious that as the popularity of linux rose, and how Slashdot seemed to encompass more and more of the general tech community and not just perhaps the "original" geeky type people, that basically it would all go to sh*t. I mean, the moment "The /. Effect" got listed in Wired last year I think was a turning point.

The one thing that stayed high was the quality of the news though. I always check it to catch something new that I would otherwise miss. Of course, my whole post essentially boils down to a "Me Too", but there you go.

Re: Isaac Asimov (4.00 / 1) (#87)
by simmons75 on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 01:18:24 PM EST

Yeah, and *most* annoying (keep in mind that I leave my comment-viewing settings at 0 to get all but the "w00t" posts) were the sheer number of people who posted, on some Linux-related article, "Slashdot is not Linux-specific." Yeah, it is; that's why I read it. I liked it because it had a Linux bias; kinda like most press has a Microsoft bias. :^) Slashdot offers a number of offshoots such as Macslash and the BSD-specific stuff, but no-one takes advantage of it. :^( Instead, they'd rather bitch that Rob lets there be such a Linux bias. I'm glad that there are those people like Rusty that, instead of just posting "i hate your fucking site; change it" actually go out and put together a site that suits their taste.
poot!
So there.

[ Parent ]
Not here! (3.00 / 9) (#71)
by AgentGray on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 09:31:43 AM EST

Somehow I just knew that this would make it to the front page.

I've both agreed and disagreed with Signal 11's writings in the past. However, I do NOT want to be in any part of his grand experiment.

I'm realively new to K5 (read: a baby at one month). I liked it because it offered something different. I don't want it to be a flame war. I haven't seen one here - yet.

To Signal 11 I say this: Stay here and contribute, but perform your groupthink experiments somewhere else.

The great thing about K5 over /. and E2 is that there is no ranking system.

Re: Not here! (4.00 / 2) (#73)
by wesmills on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 10:28:44 AM EST

To this, I must say "Amen." I watched Siggy post what could rightfully be called some of the most inane comments on /., and get modded through the roof for them. I've quit participating in /. as actively as I used to, and am now trying to get into the swing of things with K5. Signal 11, if you want to come participate here, wonderful. Just don't drag K5 through the stuff you "experimented" with on /. I've not been here the longest, but I have been with K5 before it got popular, and the signal-noise ratio is still excellent. Let's keep it that way.

----- Signature campaign to support K5, become a member!
[ Parent ]

There is no Magic Bullet (3.57 / 7) (#72)
by Ruidh on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 09:43:51 AM EST

Any social system can either be hacked or is so oppressive that you wouldn't want to participate.

Social problems can not be solved with systems. They can only be solved by people being willing to do the right things. Sorry to bring messy morality into your nice clean, sterile technological system, but there it is. We all have standards for behavior and when a group colectively (and perhaps unconsciously) agrees on a standard of behavior, it will be enforced. You can submit or you can leave and join another group.

But it's really bad form to whine about how the old group "made" you leave.

"Laissez-faire is a French term commonly interpreted by Conservatives to mean 'lazy fairy,' which is the belief that if governments are lazy enough, the Good Fairy will come down from heaven and do all their work for them."
Re: There is no Magic Bullet (3.75 / 4) (#74)
by interiot on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 11:11:04 AM EST

Capitalism is a social hack. It pits greed against laziness (and greed wins out big time). So far, from a practical standpoint, it's emerged as the best. Social hacks work to a large extent.

when a group colectively agrees on a standard of behavior, it will be enforced

To me, it seems like Sig11 is suggesting that one of /.'s values is "independent intelligent thought" (because otherwise there'd be no point for user-interaction, just watch TV and accept everything the people say). Most people on /. try to think independently. But sometimes they go into group-think mode without realizing it, even though they'd disagree with that behavior, if they could only take a step back and realize what their behavior is.

And yes, a person can always leave a group. A person can also comment on the morals/values they see, can comment on the behavior they see, etc... It almost seems to me like you're suggesting that social commentary isn't useful. Yes, social commentary without action is somewhat hypocritical. But Sig11 has acted, now he's commenting. The problem is...?

[ Parent ]

Re: There is no Magic Bullet (4.00 / 2) (#82)
by Ruidh on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 12:26:40 PM EST

The values of /. might be "independent intelligent thought", but it dosn't always work that way.

I read /. at a fairly high threshold. The highly rated posts are either well thought out or groupthink. It's pretty easy to distinguish the two once you know the biases of the readership there.

The real failure of /. moderation is trying to keep up with the volume. What moderator can read 200-300 posts in a 2 hour old story and find the few deserving of scarce moderation points? The system just dosn't scale.

"Laissez-faire is a French term commonly interpreted by Conservatives to mean 'lazy fairy,' which is the belief that if governments are lazy enough, the Good Fairy will come down from heaven and do all their work for them."
[ Parent ]
Re: There is no Magic Bullet (4.00 / 1) (#86)
by interiot on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 12:59:49 PM EST

Moderation points are given out at a O(n) rate, so the points *do* scale. It's just that an individual moderator doesn't want to take the time to read all the posts because they're fundamentally a reader instead of a moderater. Thus, the posts that get marked up originally are the ones that get all the moderator attention, which isn't really fair.

[ Parent ]
Re: There is no Magic Bullet (none / 0) (#96)
by Ruidh on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 04:04:06 PM EST

The moderator is part of the system. From the moderator's point of view, there are scarce points and lots of comments to make a few judgements on. Sure you can shoot from the hip and apply all of your mod points to the first story you come across, but the complaint about the system is that it dosn't promote all the deserving comments and it over promotes some undeserving ones.

Sure points can be given out O(n), but they probably can't be intelligently applied in O(n).

"Laissez-faire is a French term commonly interpreted by Conservatives to mean 'lazy fairy,' which is the belief that if governments are lazy enough, the Good Fairy will come down from heaven and do all their work for them."
[ Parent ]
Elaboration on the causes (3.71 / 7) (#75)
by dave.oflynn on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 11:18:22 AM EST

I think you've identified the problems quite well, but haven't quite gotten to the root of the causes. Couple of points on people:

1/ Everyone needs to feel accepted, and 99% are insecure about some aspect of themselves. With regard to school, I don't think it's the teachers that incubate this sense of insecurity - it's the other children. There's few things worse than being ostracised by all your classmates. In my experience, a group (of sufficient size) will always pick on the weakest in the group. To avoid becoming the weakest, you side with the majority. And so the majority rules. This is slightly different for online communities, where there can be less accountability, but I think the basic principle still holds.

2/ People like drama. 'Dumb' shows and tabloid newspapers are popular because they massively simplify the issues. In general, people don't like to think. Like it or not, we're part of the 5% that can be bothered to actually think about something like this. Life's hard enough as it is without having to deal with all this abstract shit (is cursing ok on k5?). I've discussed this with quite a few journalists, and they've managed to convince me on this point...

So, to try and tie these points back to the original article: people feel good about themselves when other people like them. Most people can't be bothered to think all the time, so they support whatever point of view rings an emotional bell. Emotional bells are easy to ring. So the herd wins.

In other words, I agree with the effects that Signal 11 points out, but I think the causes are slightly different to those he's identified.

Last quick one: The average age of trolls / script kiddies is probably 15. Teenagers have a habit of doing stupid stuff to get attention ...just ask any parent ;-). that probably explains a lot of the crap on /.

As always, all this is seen through the filter of my world.

later, dave.

Re: Elaboration on the causes (3.66 / 3) (#78)
by spiralx on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 11:33:20 AM EST

Last quick one: The average age of trolls / script kiddies is probably 15. Teenagers have a habit of doing stupid stuff to get attention ...just ask any parent ;-). that probably explains a lot of the crap on /.

Hi, just a quick point in response to this part of your post. Are you talking about spam or trolls? I don't know about the spam, but the real cause of trolling is sheer boredom at work, and out of those of us on /. who do it regularly, the youngest is 19 and at college, the oldest in his forties and working as a company director.

And I'd also be willing to bet that a fair proportion of the spam that hits /. (first posts and so on) is also from regular /. readers - there have been a few times when someone has forgotten to hit "Post Anonymously"...


You're doomed, I'm doomed, we're all doomed for ice cream. - Bob Aboey
[ Parent ]

Re: Elaboration on the causes (3.00 / 4) (#80)
by dave.oflynn on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 11:54:17 AM EST

You may well be right - it was more of a throwaway observation than anything else. Should have marked it as such. Next time...

the youngest is 19 and at college, the oldest in his forties and working as a company director

Maybe it's the mental age of the posters <grin>.

later, dave.

[ Parent ]

maybe i am missing something here (3.40 / 5) (#100)
by StackyMcRacky on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 02:04:10 PM EST

we're talking about web sites, right? so some person gets mad at anews web site and "leaves" and makes some sort of "grand entrance" to another news web site, and we're supposed to care exactly why? what am i missing here? yeah, i know that by posting this , i have completely invalidated my own comment, but i'm really bored in a meeting that just won't end right now. they think i'm taking notes when i type :) where's something actually *worth* discussing?

Appeal to Signal 11 (2.50 / 2) (#107)
by Lode Runner on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 11:10:09 PM EST

Signal 11's other story, _Meaning of Life_ got clobbered while I was writing this, so please forgive me while I repost this appeal here.

Karma Whore of Babylon or not, Signal 11 knows K5's soft spot. I mean, who wouldn't want to vote up an existential story containing links to cool Douglas Adams resources? We're all curious about the meaning of life and we all want a laugh too... Yep, you gotta admit, Signal 11 knows people. I gave it the old +1.

Appeal to Signal 11:

Re: Slashdot and karma

I used to be quite active on Slashdot and racked up a fair amount of karma in my day, but I stopped because I found myself addicted to gaining karma. I'd write anything (and I mean anything) to get those points.

Man, I loved karma points. It was like mental masturbation. I found myself no longer thinking about ideas but just about people and how to extract from them. It felt good and I spent lots of time dwelling in a cycle of self-congratulation. But at the end of the day, I found myself thinking that I didn't earn those karma points, I stole them, and didn't contribute anything original to the discourse. I found myself drawing upon my education but not adding anything to it.

I was no better than the trolls who collect negative points; in fact, I was worse, because I was sucking up karma points that could have otherwise gone to good posts.

The only thing I gained from my karma points (hundreds, spread around a whole bunch of accounts and some as an anonymous coward) was the knowledge that I could manipulate people. But you know, nothing good comes from mass manipulation.

So, I started a new account and promised myself only to post useful, original information. I've earned exactly 12 karma points in six months. But I feel good after earning each one, because, dammit, I earned it!

Anyway, if you want to "crack" K5, it's fine with me, but you're not doing yourself any good. I know... you probably don't want to be told what to do, but sometimes it's useful to listen. And, hey, if you don't want to change your ways, do yourself a favor and work for an adverstising agency. They need people who understand the minds of the 21-45-year-old, white-collar, tech-savvy, male demographic.

Life has no meaning, it is merely a collection of absurdities. -- Jean-Paul Sartre



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