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Should an author be allowed to remove his own story from the mod queue?

By demi in Meta
Wed Jan 30, 2002 at 07:54:06 PM EST
Tags: Kuro5hin.org (all tags)

Watching the journey of this story through the moderation queue and into the Culture section, I can where a slightly modified, better story could have taken its place on the front page of k5. It strikes me that many of the editorial comments that users make are based on minor proofreading issues, such as 're-section the story properly and I will vote for it', 'fix the spelling/grammar/links', or 'too vague, improve the focus and I will +1'. The problem is, without editing there is no way to heed those suggestions unless the story is rapidly voted down. What usually happens is that a potentially excellent story doesn't get enough -1 votes to remove it from the queue, and it must languish there in the Palookaville of failed contenders, or slowly accumulate enough votes to reach one of the sections.

What I propose is to avoid the issue of editing entirely, and to simply allow the author to delete a story if he wants to fix the problems and re-submit it. The ability to delete would only apply to stories (not posts or diaries) that are currently in the queue. You wouldn't be able to delete anything after the story leaves the moderation queue.

How it could help.

If used responsibly, then the editorial comments people make, constituting a kind of proofreading by public ridicule, could be put to good use. The author could take the suggestions and comments and so forth into account and use them to make a good story really, really great. Although it is the comments IMO that make k5 worth the lost time, consistently well-framed and eloquent stories show that the amateur media can equal (or exceed) the work of the most highly paid syndicated columnists.

The case against editing.

To deflate that last sentiment a little bit, there has always been a problem in my mind with editing comments made in public forums. Basically wherever editing is allowed it seems to be used very frequently, sometimes making the content of replies and follow-up posts confusing. Sometimes it's better to say something controversial, and possibly wrong, so that it can be discussed and there can be learning and understanding. The other matter I am concerned with is the spirit of the public forum. Sometimes people say things out loud that they wish they could take back. If you allowed people to edit every thing they said or published in real life, we all would sound like Bill Clinton or Gary Condit. Nobody should be able to change any story, diary, or comment after it has left the ethereal realm of the moderation queue and entered the corporeal world of k5.

On the more practical side, I have no desire to call for an extensive re-work of Scoop, so being able to delete stories seems like it would be easier and less disruptive to implement.

How it could abused.

I don't like the idea of someone being able to halt discussion on a topic that has progressed differently than they desired. Say I submit a story on gun control and it (unsuprisingly) turns into a US vs. EU flamewar, and I don't like that. Should I be able to delete the story, regardless of the quality of the debate that it is generating? Sometimes it's good to go OT, because I often learn how one issue is peripherally related to another that way.

I also worry that such a system would contribute to less dilligent attention to fact-checking, spelling, grammar, and the very issues that I wish could be improved. Would giving someone the power to delete posts make more people submit low quality 'first drafts' which would be submitted, pulled, and re-submitted to a crowded mod queue? Would they rely even more on other people to fix shoddy content?

Disclosure: I posted a diary on this topic to see whether or not this suggestion would generate any interest.


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Allow authors to delete their own stories in the mod queue?
o Yes, authors should be able to control their own work during the story submission and moderation process. 77%
o No, authors should not have control over stories they have submitted for moderation. 10%
o I don't know. 7%
o I don't care. 3%

Votes: 77
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Scoop
o this story
o diary
o Also by demi

Display: Sort:
Should an author be allowed to remove his own story from the mod queue? | 40 comments (36 topical, 4 editorial, 0 hidden)
+1, FP - I've always wanted this. (4.16 / 6) (#3)
by porkchop_d_clown on Wed Jan 30, 2002 at 05:44:54 PM EST

Until a topic has been voted up (or down) the author should be able to make edits. It seems like it should be possible (after all, it's only programming! (grin)) to save previous versions of the article as "editorial topics" thus ensuring that no one could deny or alter what previous versions of the article actually said.

In fact, that sounds like an overall strategy: New version of the article becomes the new root of the tree, the previous root - and all editorials - move one level down. Effectively the old article becomes the first comment to the new article and all old editorials become replies to that comment.

Sounds easy. Whose gonna do it? (Don't look at me. I'm face deep in Linux SCSI gizzards.)

People who think "clown" is an insult have never met any.
As long as the votes are reset... (5.00 / 6) (#5)
by mech9t8 on Wed Jan 30, 2002 at 05:51:37 PM EST

...otherwise someone could get it close to posted, change it to a troll, and get his buddies (or fake accounts) to mod it up...

[ Parent ]
No editing (OT). (5.00 / 7) (#6)
by demi on Wed Jan 30, 2002 at 05:58:45 PM EST

Just deleting stories. You halt voting on the story, it leaves the queue, and it could be archived somewhere if necessary, but I have made some arguments against being able to edit things on both practical and philosophical levels. Of course, you are free to disagree with me here.

[ Parent ]

Yes, and an editing proposal (3.88 / 9) (#7)
by Weyland Yutani on Wed Jan 30, 2002 at 06:10:32 PM EST

I think this is a great idea. I've seen it happen that even when the author explicitly asks for a story to get voted down, it still gets slowly voted up: voters often don't wade through all the editorial comments.

Now my suggestion, which is unfortunately harder to implement. As I see it, most of the stories that are resubmitted are really good. They're well-argued, don't miss out crucial facts, contain useful but obscure facts that were pointed out the first time around, and are well presented and formatted.

However, many of the stories that go through the first time are absolute crap. They're just badly presented, they duplicate earlier stories, miss information and have gaping holes in the logic.

So I propose that every story should have to go through the queue twice. After the first time it can be altered by the author, but the new version has to be voted up again.
Spinning my wheels on the launchpad, spitting I dunno and itch

Another (similar) option (4.94 / 17) (#9)
by iwnbap on Wed Jan 30, 2002 at 07:08:20 PM EST

As well as "-1, dump it", have a "-1, rewrite this" as an option. As soon as the story gets sufficient rewrites (say 10), the author can opt to delete it and resubmit.

This deals with the "it's become an unrelated flamewar" problem.

Eventually (if the good authors of scoop get lots of time on their hands) this can throw the story into an editing facility.

Add resectioning, and it's good (4.20 / 5) (#10)
by irksome on Wed Jan 30, 2002 at 08:10:21 PM EST

There are a lot of stories that get voted down for a resection. I think if the author was allowed to change this themselves, while a story is being voted on, it would be a good thing.

I think I am, therefore I'm not.
I'm not sure ... (4.00 / 2) (#22)
by Ranieri on Thu Jan 31, 2002 at 04:26:04 AM EST

If you allow the author to make changes (such as for example, resection, or even edit) while the story is being voted you need to
  • Allow the user to change his (or her :) vote.
    In fact this might not be a bad idea anyway.
but you also need to
  • Attend the user to the fact that the story has changed, and that his vote might be obsolete.
This poses technical as well as philosophical problems. If the user does not react in time (for example because he's in a different timezone, sleeping), his vote will end up counting for a different (or differently sectioned) story than the one he originally voted for.

All considered, i strongly support the "delete only" option. It is, in my view, the only option that guarantees consistency between story, votes and comments. It is also comparatively easy to implement.
I'm not concerned that the author might delete the story if he does not like the way the discussion is going. Considering the outspokenness of the average K5er, the queue will instantly fill up with stories of the type "Why $USER is a fascist censoring goatf###er", and $USER will understand that this behaviour is not appreciated.
Taste cold steel, feeble cannon restraint rope!
[ Parent ]

Maybe some people will think I'm picky but... (2.33 / 6) (#11)
by vadim on Wed Jan 30, 2002 at 08:42:37 PM EST

his own? What, there are no stories posted by women on k5?

Of course I guess it could be argued that in English (and in almost any language, for that matter) writing something gender-neutral without making it ugly is almost impossible. I almost always will use "s/he" but I agree that his/her is a bit ugly. It looks like we need some way of referring to an unknown gender.

In Spain we sometimes use the @ for this :-)
<@chani> I *cannot* remember names. but I did memorize 214 digits of pi once.

See also: (3.00 / 1) (#13)
by thadk on Wed Jan 30, 2002 at 09:09:24 PM EST

The Epicene Pronoun

[ Parent ]
I KNEW someone would pick up on that. (4.00 / 1) (#15)
by demi on Wed Jan 30, 2002 at 09:54:32 PM EST

So I was going to put something about indefinite pronouns in the 'disclosure' comment, but I feared that it would appear too craven.

[ Parent ]

A strange Swedish word (none / 0) (#21)
by Echo5ive on Thu Jan 31, 2002 at 03:25:25 AM EST

In Swedish, "han" = "he", "hon" = "she". There's a rare word (I've never heard it spoken), "hen", that's completely gender neutral. I'm not even sure if it's a real word or something very dialect specific.

On IRC you often se "h*n" used as the Swedish version "s/he". Well, at least among geeks. :-)

And, just for lingual comparison, "his/hers" is "hans/hennes" in Swedish.

Frozen Skies: mental masturbation.

[ Parent ]
Just use the feminine preferred (4.00 / 1) (#24)
by abe ferlman on Thu Jan 31, 2002 at 09:02:42 AM EST

Use the feminine preferred for pronouns until the tide has turned and linguistic usage embraces it. Then go back to the masculine preferred.

Eventually some influential linguistic innovator will embed a genderless pronoun into the language. It's happened with other syntactical elements (consider the Universal Negator, popularized by Wayne's World: "I'd like that... NOT!"). Until then, it's affirmative action for differently gendered pronouns.

You know, maybe I should submit an article about this topic. Anyone think it would make front page?

[ Parent ]
It'd be nice (none / 0) (#27)
by vadim on Thu Jan 31, 2002 at 05:54:08 PM EST

I think it's an interesting subject to discuss. I already thought a bit about this, but I really found the problem when writing a chat server!

The idea is that the server must be very user-friendly, and everything that is possible must be done on the server side, so clients are as small and simple as possible. One of the ideas was internationalized messages. However, that's not easy. Suppose this very simple one: "$user has left the room". That's gender neutral in English and in Spanish, but not in Russian. So, for that purpose, messages can be gender dependent if the user agrees to reveal his/her gender in the profile. The string looks like: "$user hasn't received your message because F{she}M{he} has left the room.". Also, a "U{}" could exist when the gender is unknown (s/he).

Back on the topic, I like your idea :-) I think it'd be nice to see some discussion on this topic, and not only thinking about English. The Internet has made communication so easy that now it has created the problem that we often don't know who are we talking about.
<@chani> I *cannot* remember names. but I did memorize 214 digits of pi once.
[ Parent ]

some gender-neutrality (4.00 / 1) (#25)
by arjan de lumens on Thu Jan 31, 2002 at 10:54:26 AM EST

I have seen "hir" as a short-form of his/her - looks OK in writing, but not when you try to pronounce it.

Also, there is the form "s/h/it", which is sometimes useful as a gender-neutral insult.

[ Parent ]

Man, woman. (5.00 / 1) (#28)
by Jacques Chester on Thu Jan 31, 2002 at 06:09:29 PM EST

his own? What, there are no stories posted by women on k5?
I cannot speak for his, hers, she or he. But "man", in its original meaning, is sex-neutral. "Woman", however, is sexist, meaning "wife-man". This is why it is more sexist to have "chairwoman" than "chairman". If you call every chairman chairman, without regard to sex, then you are using the word as it was originally meant. And fighting sexist language.

See Jacques Barzun's Dawn to Decadence for a more in-depth explanation.

In a world where an Idea can get you killed, Thinking is the most dangerous act of all.
[ Parent ]

re: Man, Woman (5.00 / 1) (#39)
by Mysidia on Thu Feb 28, 2002 at 10:41:10 PM EST

At least until the word "human" is replaced with "hu-man/woman"... but it's 98% insanity anyhow... he/man can be used if gender is unknown, man is a substring of 'woman' and 'he' a substring of she anyhow.

Perhaps gender-associated pronouns should lose that quality altogether and he/man used in all contexts (because they're shorter) *eg*

-Mysidia the insane @k5
[ Parent ]
What about... (3.00 / 1) (#31)
by pwhysall on Fri Feb 01, 2002 at 08:20:57 AM EST

..."their own"?
K5 Editors
I'm going to wager that the story keeps getting dumped because it is a steaming pile of badly formatted fool-meme.
[ Parent ]
no kidding (2.50 / 2) (#12)
by Lelon on Wed Jan 30, 2002 at 08:56:40 PM EST

I identified this problem years ago. I only vote +1 FP, 0, or -1.

This sig is a work in progress.
Yes to a simple delete story (4.20 / 5) (#14)
by TON on Wed Jan 30, 2002 at 09:22:55 PM EST

In the diary discussion I rambled on a bit about lost topical comments. After a little more thought, I don't think this is much of an issue and may in fact be a good thing.

It's tempting to jump right into discussion while a story is in the queue, but people will adjust. If I know that my topical comments may disappear, I'll get used to that. Especially if a submitter hints that they will be deleting the story, people will get the idea that it's better to hold their fire. I don't think it will take that many editorial comments to nail down any weaknesses in a story. Deletes may come pretty quickly. Knowing that a story may be pulled might really encourage people to submit editorial comments, and hold off on the topical until the story is finalized.

"First, I am born. Then, the trouble begins." -- Schizopolis


no (1.20 / 10) (#16)
by Stick on Wed Jan 30, 2002 at 10:38:05 PM EST


Stick, thine posts bring light to mine eyes, tingles to my loins. Yea, each moment I sit, my monitor before me, waiting, yearning, needing your prose to make the moment complete. - Joh3n
Already working on the code. (NT) (5.00 / 8) (#17)
by rusty on Wed Jan 30, 2002 at 11:44:08 PM EST

Not the real rusty
Really? Cool (3.50 / 2) (#18)
by R343L on Thu Jan 31, 2002 at 12:41:15 AM EST

Was this something that was already on the scoop future feature list or did you just decide to start it now? I know the idea has been floating around, so maybe you were thinking about this earlier...

"Like cheese spread over too much cantelope, the people I spoke with liked their shoes." Ctrl-Alt-Del
[ Parent ]

The problem is ancient (4.66 / 3) (#19)
by rusty on Thu Jan 31, 2002 at 01:13:25 AM EST

The basic problem has been on my mind for a long, long time. Demi's suggestion just kind of made me realize that it would be easy to add, and gets us about 90% of what we really need. Instead of waiting for the 100% solution, it seems worth it. Definitely a case of WorseIsBetter.

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Hrm... (none / 0) (#20)
by Canar on Thu Jan 31, 2002 at 02:07:27 AM EST

I don't like the idea of someone being able to halt discussion on a topic that has progressed differently than they desired.

I certainly hope that this breed of user would not bother posting to K5... That seems rather shallow. Any and all conversation can be beneficial.

Disown, don't dismember! (none / 0) (#23)
by abe ferlman on Thu Jan 31, 2002 at 08:56:27 AM EST

I've come across this issue a few times myself, and I have what I think is a better solution.

1. Give authors the right to disown their content, so that a formerly attributed comment becomes anonymous.

2. Secondarily, give authors the ability to include a corrected or updated version of their post.

3. As a tertiary option, give users the ability (perhaps on by default) the ability to automatically view the corrected versions only, or to view the corrected versions along with the originals, etc.

This approach seems to satisfy all the arguments *against* allowing corrections, but still allows them and gives readers/authors more freedom in the matter.


Another point in favour. (4.00 / 1) (#26)
by static on Thu Jan 31, 2002 at 05:00:17 PM EST

Being able to delete (your own) stories while they're still in the queue should also cut down on the topical discussion that occurs before the story gets out of the moderation queue.


topical (none / 0) (#32)
by garlic on Fri Feb 01, 2002 at 06:08:51 PM EST

what's wrong with topical discussion before it leaves the queue?

HUSI challenge: post 4 troll diaries on husi without being outed as a Kuron, or having the diaries deleted or moved by admins.
[ Parent ]

Queue. (none / 0) (#33)
by static on Fri Feb 01, 2002 at 11:37:07 PM EST

I didn't think the queue was for topical discussions, only editorial and moderation.


[ Parent ]
No, I don't want that. (3.00 / 1) (#29)
by ambrosen on Thu Jan 31, 2002 at 07:14:53 PM EST

What I would like is for there to be editing in the queue. I know all the problems that this causes and think I have a workaround. It's like an edit queue, I think, but I have forgotten the exact mechanism for that.

  1. The user submits their story, and only editorial comments are allowed on it.
  2. People write editorial comments, and the submitter responds with edits if they feel the comments to have been helpful. People are free to vote at this stage. The story may be dumped, but may not be posted. It may be necessary to have an upper limit of say, half the post threshold on positive votes.
  3. The submitter feels that the story is ready to go, and selects an option "editing complete".
  4. Users may now add topical comments, and vote.
  5. People who voted before the editing was complete may now vote again, but if they choose not to, then their original vote holds. It is best to defer voting to this stage if you don't trust the submitter's editing.

This looks pretty easy to implement, and I can't see any real faults apart from a touch of extra complexity on the UI side. It also avoids the problem of a vindictive author pulling a story just because they don't like the way the discussion is going, even though the rest of K5 is enjoying it, and others would like to see it.

Procrastination does not make you cool. Being cool makes you procrastinate. DesiredUsername.

Thief!! (5.00 / 1) (#34)
by mumble on Sat Feb 02, 2002 at 06:31:01 AM EST

I wrote the following comment before I read all the comments. Lo and behold I found you have come up with something similar to my idea. I still prefer my idea over yours though, so I will post my version anyway.

OK, here is my take on this:

The problem is that we are seeing submissions to the queue that are raw, and should have been edited before it was even submitted (for example, by a friend.) But since we are having this discusion, it is obvious that people do NOT self edit. So, why don't we bring in an external editor? What I am proposing is an edit queue. When posting a submission you would have 3 options, submit, submit to editing queue, preview.

Here is how it works:

  • The edit queue is only visible to a small trusted set of editors. (I am not sure how to pick editors. Maybe someone else has a good idea :))
  • Only the author and editors can post comments about the submission, or edit the submission, while it is in the edit queue.
  • No one in the edit queue votes. You are there to improve the quality of the story regardless of whether it will finally get published.
  • Once all the editorial changes have been made, submit the story to the normal submission process. If at this stage there are still errors, then you are justified in voting -1 for even relatively minor mistakes. They should have been fixed during the editing stage damnit. And if you decided to bypass the editing queue then it is on your own back if you have mistakes left in there.
Thoughts? I think it would work well, but hey, I am just a peon floating in the wind. (Who is slightly dyslexic, so excuse my spelling please.)

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"They must know I'm here. The half and half jug is missing" - MDC.
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[ Parent ]
A proposal for highlighting editing changes (none / 0) (#35)
by mumble on Sat Feb 02, 2002 at 09:46:29 AM EST

A proposal for highlighting editing changes in a document. (eg, modified documents in the editing queue.)

Here is my idea. Use curly brackets {} and the pipe symbol | to indicate different versions.

ver1: My gf is cool.
Ver2: My bf is ugly.
Proposed-notation: My {bf is ugly|gf is cool}.

Just a {brief memo|quick note} to the {acting |}head of the department of {physics|maths}.

Note, nesting is allowed too.
Just a {brief memo|quick note} to the {ex-|{acting |}}head of the department of {science|{physics|maths}}.

For nested brackets, you could abbreviate it somewhat.
eg: {science|{physics|maths}} => {science|physics|maths}
and {ex-|{acting |}} => {ex-|acting |}

An extension of the idea is to allow versioning of the changes.
ver0: Just a quick note to the head of the department of maths.
ver1: Just a quick note to the head of the department of {1physics|0maths}.
ver2: Just a {2brief memo|0quick note} to the {2acting |0}head of the department of {2science|1physics|0maths}.
ver3: Just a {2brief memo|0quick note} to the {3ex-|2acting |0}head of the department of {2science|1physics|0maths}.

Any comments?

stats for a better tomorrow
bitcoin: 1GsfkeggHSqbcVGS3GSJnwaCu6FYwF73fR
"They must know I'm here. The half and half jug is missing" - MDC.
"I've grown weary of googling the solutions to my many problems" - MDC.
[ Parent ]

Good idea. (none / 0) (#36)
by citizen on Mon Feb 04, 2002 at 05:13:23 PM EST

I'm not entirely sure that an editor phase is appropriate. Really, submitters should have the discipline to proof their own work, or simply email it to a friend for checks.

However, if there is popular support for an edit phase, I see this as being the best way. A distinct edit phase where no one is allowed to moderate, only point out mistakes.

I don't know that an editor elite is necessary. I think everyone has the potential to point out mistakes. If the author disagrees with an editor's comments, he/she may simply ignore them.

[ Parent ]
Also wik. (none / 0) (#38)
by citizen on Mon Feb 04, 2002 at 05:44:21 PM EST

The editorial queue should differ from the moderation queue, in that the story gets bumped up to submission, only by the choice of the submitter. The whole post by scoring thing wouldn't really work for edits, since it can be a cyclic process.

Along those lines, whenever an author makes changes to a story, all non-new (from the author's perspective) edit comments should be removed. That way the author can get a good idea that the story is ready by seeing an empty edits list after a certain period of activity.

[ Parent ]
Diarize (5.00 / 3) (#30)
by I am Jack's username on Thu Jan 31, 2002 at 08:18:00 PM EST

Allow the writer to turn it into a diary entry to remove it from the mod queue.

Also, instead of "Dump it! (-1)", allow users to vote "Make it a diary. (-1)".
Inoshiro for president!
"War does not determine who is right - only who is left." - Bertrand Russell

Diarize good. (none / 0) (#37)
by citizen on Mon Feb 04, 2002 at 05:19:26 PM EST

Better yet, replace "dump it" with "diarize". That way all that work someone put into their story isn't wasted. The author could then have the option to remove any diary entry.

[ Parent ]
Emphatically,Unequivocally,YES!!! (none / 0) (#40)
by msafrin on Sun Oct 06, 2002 at 04:06:02 PM EST

The author of a submission should absolutely have the right and ability to remove the contents of their posts as they see fit for all the obvious reasons.

Should an author be allowed to remove his own story from the mod queue? | 40 comments (36 topical, 4 editorial, 0 hidden)
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