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Sections Without Borders

By rusty in News
Sat Mar 04, 2000 at 11:50:45 PM EST
Tags: Kuro5hin.org (all tags)

I've been mulling over a new idea for the organization of Kuro5hin for a little while, and I'm at the point where I've come up with as clear an idea of it as I'm able to, so I think it's time to let all of you have at it for a while, and see what we come up with. The very very short summary is this: I want to do "sections," to better focus content and discussions, but I don't want to create little cubicles of content that never interact with each other. I know when I say "sections" you're all going to think of Slashdot's sections, but I think they implemented sections wrong, and I think we have a chance to improve on that here.

Read the full explanation below, and then let me know what you think of the idea. Like it? Hate it? Got suggestions of your own? I'm all ears.

Here's the problem: Kuro5hin seeks to address a couple of major topics (namely, "technology" and "culture"). I want Kuro5hin to be a discussion forum, but I also have no problem with straight news showing up here from time to time. I notice there's some tension and disagreement between different factions of readers about what content is appropriate here, and I'm looking for the best way to head that tension off before it becomes a rift. Also, I'd personally like to expand the scope of the site a little, and make it do more for you.

As usual, what I'd like to do is make everyone happy. Some of you want this to be "Slashdot-like" in content. That is, you come here for news and links, and read comments for informative information. Others want discussion in depth, because you get your news elsewhere, or you just like the people who discuss here. These are both perfectly valid viewpoints, and both are things I'd like Kuro5hin to provide. I feel that the site, as-is, doesn't quite meet either of these needs exactly, though, but shades in between them.

What I'd like to do is create a system of "sections." For example, there might be News, Technology, Science, Freedom, Editorials, Features, Quickies, a section specifically for discussion of Kuro5hin... you get the idea. Any and all of these sections could be different, these are just examples. Different people could just spend most of their time reading the sections that they were most interested in. So if you don't care about editorial discussion, but just want the news, you'd probably stick to the News section, mostly.

The front page would be an overview of the sections, and list new stories, most active (discussion-wise) stories, perhaps stories with the overall highest-rated discussions, etc. Section front pages would look much like the front page looks now, with a list of current stories, older stories, user-configurable boxes, and navigation to the other sections.

But what I don't want is a bunch of little cubicles that never interact with each other. I think Kuro5hin is a community, and we may come at things from different angles, but we have a lot of the same interests. I think preventing people from talking to each other, just because they come to the site for different reasons, would overall do more harm than good.

I think this problem can be prevented. Here's how I propose to do it:

  • When someone submits a new story, they choose a "topic" (same as topics are now). They also choose one or more sections that the story is appropriate for. For example, a usability review of the just-released Mozilla M14 might be appropriate for "Software," "News," and "Reviews." Users would be encouraged to submit to multiple sections whenever multiple sections are applicable.
  • Each section would have it's own submissions queue for moderation. That way, when you vote on a story in a section, you're voting on both the quality of the story, and the applicability of it to that section. You could easily vote "No" in one section, but "Yes" in another, on the same story.
  • The same story could be posted in different sections, at the same time or at different times, or only in one and not in any others, depending on how moderation goes within each section.
  • When a story is posted, however, it only has one discussion thread. So imagine our example Mozilla review gets posted in "Reviews" at 12:00 PM, and people post some comments on it. Then at 2:30 PM, it reaches the post threshold in "Software," and gets posted there. The comments from "Reviews" will be posted with the story, even if you actually come to the story through the "Software" section.
I hope the mechanics are clear. What I want to accomplish is to allow different people to enjoy the site for their own reasons, but still encourage discussion amongst everyone. This is why comments are all intermingled, regardless of what sections the story appears in. But while maintaining cross-conversation would hopefully maintain the sense of community we have, I think having a section hierarchy would allow people to focus in on the content they're really interested in.

So the questions I have for you are as follows:

  • Is this a good idea? Why should I do it, or why shouldn't I?
  • If you think it's a good idea, how should the inter-section navigation work? It needs to be (IMO) easy and obvious to get from any story to any other story, regardless of section. This should require no more than two clicks.
  • Are there any things which should be added or changed from my plan above, that would make it a stronger system?
As always, you, the readers, tend to provide the best ideas for where the site should go, so please don't hold back. Any changes that do happen along these lines won't be for a week or two, at least, so if the topic interests you, Hotlist this story, because you'll have some time to discuss it.


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Sections Without Borders | 45 comments (45 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
Very nice read... (1.00 / 1) (#2)
by rajivvarma on Sat Mar 04, 2000 at 09:30:51 PM EST

rajivvarma voted 1 on this story.

Very nice read

Rajiv Varma
Mirror of DeCSS.

This is a great feature to implemen... (5.00 / 1) (#1)
by ramses0 on Sat Mar 04, 2000 at 11:01:37 PM EST

ramses0 voted 1 on this story.

This is a great feature to implement, but you're right, the UI needs to be really good before it will be more harm than it's worth.

A word of advice- ditch those crappy little icons in the upper right hand corner and make -that- area represent your different sections. I'm pretty sure that stuff is just a holdover from when browsers didn't render information in tables unless it had all of it, so impatient /.'ers could compulsively reload to check for new stories. :^)=

On each user's personal preferences page, you'd have to allow them checkboxes to "subscribe" to different sections. After that, moderation gets a lot more complicated. I know you'll figure out the best way to do it, but spend an hour one day figuring out the *right* division of "topic" and "sections".

A user shouldn't be able to moderate in a section which they're not subscribed to (that's just dumb), and a user should only have to view the text of a story once, no matter how many section's it's been posted to. That's where the moderation interface gets tricky.

Other than that, this will be a great new feature that will keep you up many nights. Good luck!

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

Re: This is a great feature to implemen... (none / 0) (#5)
by rusty on Sun Mar 05, 2000 at 12:18:33 AM EST

A word of advice- ditch those crappy little icons in the upper right hand corner and make -that- area represent your different sections.
I was thinking about this too, in the subsections. Should there just be links out to the other sections, or story lists, or what?

On each user's personal preferences page, you'd have to allow them checkboxes to "subscribe" to different sections. ... A user shouldn't be able to moderate in a section which they're not subscribed to (that's just dumb)
Why do people have to "subscribe"? I'm a little unclear on the purpose of that. I figured if you weren't interested in a section, you probably just would read it much.

Do you think that story moderation should include votes for each section, in one interface? I had envisioned it much lke the current system, where there's a "moderate stories" link within each section, that only lists section stories. I suppose there might be some redundancy when stories are in several sections...

Like I said, I've thought it through as far as I can. There are still a couple points I'm stuck on. :-)

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Re: This is a great feature to implemen... (none / 0) (#29)
by ramses0 on Sun Mar 05, 2000 at 06:23:29 AM EST

(sorry for the double post, but could you please make this stuff default to "unformatted". I really don't want to have to type in [p], [/p] all over the place to post a comment)

I think someone else has already explained really well what ~subscribing~ to sections means. Gosh, rusty, we're on the same page, what's up with you??? ;^)=

Anyway, on a user's preference page, default to "all sections have a 'yes, please show me' checkbox". When a user goes to moderate stories, make sure that they can only moderate stories which they can possibly see. That is to say, if I don't subscribe to the "news" section, I can't vote (+1, post in news), or (-1, don't post in news) because I have no ~rights~ to the news section as a reader.

I realize that if you were a butthead, you could just subscribe to whatever you wanted to for 10 seconds and vote on whatever you wanted to, but I think it's a reasonable restriction to have in place.

For the "sections" idea (in the upper right corner), maybe this would be a good chance to start generating (and caching!) site/section/story statistics. Something like: "News, 1 new story, 5 new comments", "K5, 1 new story, 17 new comments". Either keep these statistics for a set amount of time (like "today") or get all personalized and make it since they've last clicked "catch up" or "mark all as read" to use terminology from newsgroups.

And about your other question. It is -critical- to the usability of the site that a user -never- has to read the same story idea more than once. I don't know the best way to represent the moderation UI which will make this possible, but I'd think you could come up with some good ideas as to why it's bad. 1) it taints a user's preception of a story when they vote on it for the second, third, or fourth time. 2) you get "didn't I already vote on this" responses which could be annoying.

Moderating all the stories with one fell swoop would perhaps be difficult to imagine, and difficult to get the right UI, but I think it's well worth the brain-effort.



[ rate all comments , for great justice | sell.com ]
[ Parent ]
UI thought (none / 0) (#42)
by eann on Mon Mar 06, 2000 at 10:25:23 AM EST

One of the things that really annoys me about Slashdot's sections is that occasionally, there's good stuff on the other pages that doesn't make it to the main page, but I can't see it without cluttering my screen with slashboxen (and scrolling for a week) or clicking on each of the section names. I think the multiple-section stories will help, but I'll propose a third option for subscriptions: "show headlines only".

Oh, and try to pick section colours that aren't quite as garish as that other site, too. :)

Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men. —MLK

$email =~ s/0/o/; # The K5 cabal is out to get you.

[ Parent ]
Make it so!... (none / 0) (#3)
by fvw on Sat Mar 04, 2000 at 11:50:45 PM EST

fvw voted 1 on this story.

Make it so!

Re: Sections Without Borders (4.00 / 1) (#4)
by Matthew Guenther on Sun Mar 05, 2000 at 12:15:23 AM EST

Interesting idea, it will probably need some tweaking to work well, but this seems to be a good starting point. I've got some random thoughts:

  • Although there should be separate submission queues, I should be able to do all of my voting for a story on a single page. I envision a page like we currently have, except with more combo boxes (one for each category the story was submitted to), and a single "Vote" button.
  • The number of votes a story requires to be approved should depend on (at least partially) the number of categories it's submitted to. An exponential relationship could encourage posting to two or three sections, but discourage excessive cross-posting.
  • For navigating between sections, it would be beneficial to have a user-configurable box that showed the current stories for different sections. This would help users navigate quickly around sections they had the most interest in. For getting to stories in other sections the user would have to go to the section front page, and then click on the article.
  • As for putting stories on the front page, perhaps voting should still be allowed after an article has been posted, and the highest-scored story(s) from each section would show up on the front page.

Again, these are just some random thoughts, with little thought given to implementation difficulties and all that ugly practical stuff. However I think you should at least try it; A ton of theory isn't worth a pound of jumping in and finding out for yourself.


BTW: rusty, I originally attempted to post this comment when I voted, however during the time I was writing, the story was approved and put on the front page. When I clicked "Vote" it told me this, and that my vote had been recorded, however my comment was lost. Is this a "feature" or a feature. :)

Re: Sections Without Borders (none / 0) (#6)
by rusty on Sun Mar 05, 2000 at 12:28:12 AM EST

How about this (for voting): you go to the submissions queue, and it shows you new submissions, and some little icons to indicate what sections they're being considered in. Then, you click to vote on a story, you get the story, and a list of categories that the submission was sent to. Next to each is a "yes" "no" "don't care" checkbox (or list or whatever). You set your vote for each section, and hit "Vote!" and it all goes through at once.

I had intended to make the thresholds independently configurable for each section. So maybe "Quickies" would have a low threshold, but "Editorials" a high one. As a story gets posted or dumped in each section, your option to vote for it, in that section, would be removed.

About boxes: this sounds reasonable. Kind of like hotlists, but by section.

I think the main front page wouldn't be a list of stories, like it is now, but a compendium of smaller section lists. Probably titles-only, with a global "highest X" list as well.

And about the voting issue-- this is sort of a feature. There were problems stemming from people loading the vote screen, then actually submitting their vote after the story was already posted. What should happen, though, is your comment should get posted to the story, even though your vote didn't technically count. Mea culpa. So it's kind a feature, but also kind of a "feature." :-)

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Re: Sections Without Borders (2.00 / 1) (#7)
by analog on Sun Mar 05, 2000 at 01:26:37 AM EST

Big question: can you store per user preferences? If so, you wouldn't need major changes in the way the front page looked. Each user could subscribe to the sections that interested him/her, and then only stories belonging to those sections would show on the front page. The rest of the site could work basically as it does now.

Re: Sections Without Borders (none / 0) (#8)
by analog on Sun Mar 05, 2000 at 01:28:43 AM EST

Okay, I see three seconds of looking at what I was doing would have answered that. No prob then; why not do it as I suggested above?

[ Parent ]
Re: Sections Without Borders (none / 0) (#9)
by rusty on Sun Mar 05, 2000 at 01:37:53 AM EST

Possibly. BTW, the user prefs selection will be expanding greatly. I know you all want to store much more stuff. It's coming. :-)

Hmm. Each user could subscribe to sections, and have those appear on their my.kuro5hin (ha!) custom homepage. That's a pretty good idea.

I do want some kind of general "front page" section overview, though. Recognized users may never need to go there, but it'd be a nice intro for new users. I also want to be able to display "only News stories" etc.

Yeah, I like the section subscription idea though. And that wouldn't be too hard to do, either.

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Re: Sections Without Borders (none / 0) (#13)
by analog on Sun Mar 05, 2000 at 02:39:49 AM EST

I had been thinking that for 'unrecognized' users, things could work as they do now; IOW, the default behavior would be the same as subscribing to all sections.

Once you've got the idea of being able to display according to section, you could have tabs on the default page that would only display stories in that section; actually there's no reason said tabs couldn't be on all pages. Who knows when I might want to check out a section I'm not subscribed to just to see if there's anything interesting to see.

[ Parent ]

Re: Sections Without Borders (none / 0) (#21)
by rusty on Sun Mar 05, 2000 at 03:59:01 AM EST

I was also pondering tab-views for sections. So maybe, if there were section tabs, section subscriptions (for a users personal page), and users could still hotlist stories to watch, maybe that'd be enough to hold things together?

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Upper right hand corner (3.00 / 1) (#39)
by joeyo on Sun Mar 05, 2000 at 04:02:59 PM EST

I don't know what your plans are for the "picture box" in the upper right hand corner, but it would be a pretty cool place for a drop down box that could let you go in between sections. Ie, the default would be to show everything but you could switch to "news" or "K5" or what have you, click and go.

This would have the nice side effect that visitors to the site could easily switch between sections without needing a cookie. Also, the upper right hand corner could have more elaborate choices for logged-in users.

BTW, I just noticed that everyone is saying K5... I think I may have coined that..

Cool... :)

"Give me enough variables to work with, and I can probably do away with the notion of human free will." -- demi
[ Parent ]

Re: Upper right hand corner (none / 0) (#40)
by rusty on Sun Mar 05, 2000 at 05:36:53 PM EST

I think you did coin K5. good nickname. I liked it :-)

Yeah, that'd be a good use for the top RHC. A select that reloads the "top stories" list in that box, per-section. I think having redundancy in section navigation is crucial. There should be several different way to get where you want to go. I'm currently thinking "tabs" or tab-like things on the main page (above the story list), a RHC thing like you suggest, and the option to create boxes to watch a particular section or sections.

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Re: Tabbed sections & the front page.. (none / 0) (#41)
by driph on Mon Mar 06, 2000 at 12:30:13 AM EST

Tabbed sections is a good idea.. perhaps you could include within each section title the number of new stories.. Something like "Culture(3 new)" ...

Hmm.. Maybe the front page could show the most active stories from each section? Choose a number of articles for the front page, and they could rotate via activity.. That way, new users see, in theory, the most popular and entertaining articles, while everyone with preferences set could either a) open to the front page to see the most active, or b) open to their particular favorite section...

I'm still wondering about articles being crossposted between sections..

Vegas isn't a liberal stronghold. It's the place where the rich and powerful gamble away their company's pension fund and strangle call girls in their hotel rooms. - Psycho Dave
[ Parent ]
Re: Sections Without Borders (none / 0) (#11)
by moonboy on Sun Mar 05, 2000 at 02:05:07 AM EST

How about this... You could have a center "section" where ALL stories are posted (say the middle of a table) and on both sides have the "sections" where all of the posted stories in the middle are categorized. The categorization could be done by the voting of the site visitors (as you suggested.) Pardon the reference here, but one thing I have not liked about Slashdot is that we readers never get to see all of the stories that are posted. I'm certain that many stories that have been submitted to Slashdot, were never posted, and they may have been something I would have been interested in. Granted, I (and I'm sure most people) don't want to see Troll/HotGrits/NataliePortman stories get posted, but I don't want someone (as in an individual) "deciding" what gets put up and doesn't. This should be the job of the readership (kind of self-government) and overseen by you, perhaps. Or am I way off base? Just MHO. Thanks for letting me share.


"Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds." - Albert Einstein

Re: Sections Without Borders (none / 0) (#18)
by rusty on Sun Mar 05, 2000 at 03:42:42 AM EST

Granted, I (and I'm sure most people) don't want to see Troll/HotGrits/NataliePortman stories get posted, but I don't want someone (as in an individual) "deciding" what gets put up and doesn't. This should be the job of the readership (kind of self-government) and overseen by you, perhaps.
Rest assured that story moderation will remain the same. The readers will always have the final word in what gets posted. You have been moderating stories, haven't you? ;-) See the "Story Moderation" link in the Admin Tools" box, on the right of the page. And see the FAQ for more info.

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Site feature request (3.66 / 6) (#12)
by Anonymous Hero on Sun Mar 05, 2000 at 02:33:46 AM EST

I would like to submit a feature request, in the hope that it will be considered for addition to this site. It might seem like a simple feature, however it is actually a feature that's lacking from EVERY site on the Internet.

This is the feature idea:

A feature so that people who have opinions that don't mirror the opinions of the "elite" people of the site, opinions that DON'T blindly follow the dominant paradigm, and opinions that don't fit into the same old tired liberal mindset could enjoy the following benefits:

1. Not be labeled as a "troll" for having an unpopular opinion.

2. Not have their messages deleted or moderated down.

3. Not have their beliefs ridiculed.

This site, like most others, is guilty of all three. Anyone who has a dissenting opinion from the Almighty Gods of the Site might as well just keep their mouths closed.

God forbid someone other than a young rich white male heterosexual Liberal atheist try to post a message at this site. The disclaimer OUGHT to say:

"You are not logged in. If you don't have a user account yet, by all means go make one, if you're a young rich white male heterosexual Liberal atheist, and you don't have any "unusual" or "dissenting" opinions! If you do have one (a user account, not a dissenting opinion-- we don't want any of those!), you can post some "I agree" notes as "yourself" by filling in your nickname and password below. Otherwise, your comment will be posted as Anonymous Hero and will be deleted unless you act enough like a young rich white male heterosexual Liberal atheist.

Posting by people who are not young rich white male heterosexual Liberal atheists is not tolerated here. Any comment may be deleted by a site admin, and all posts other than those writen by young rich white male heterosexual Liberal atheists might be deleted, especially if they disagree with us. Individuals who aren't young rich white male heterosexual Liberal atheists but wish to contribute to the discussion will be judged on a case-by-case basis, and depending on whether or not they disagree with us on anything, may or may not be allowed to post here. We promise them nothing. Also, even posts by young rich white male heterosexual Liberal atheists may be deleted as well, if they disagree with the mainstream Liberal opinion. This is fair warning. If you don't know what a young rich white male heterosexual Liberal atheist is, you're probably not one, so watch your step. :-)"

WHEN will people learn that INCLUSION will result in a richer and more satisfying life than EXCLUSION? WHEN will people learn that supressing unpopular thought will not make it go away?

Are people SO afraid of their own beliefs and ideas being challenged that they must deny those who disagree with them the right to speak, the right to air those dissenting opinions? If they people you disagree with are so wrong, then there's no danger in what they have to say, right? By admitting that you are afraid of what they have to say, you are admitting that you don't have enough faith in your own beliefs, and you MUST prevent anyone from challenging them at any cost. At ANY cost, even locking out people who don't disagree with you, even creating exclusive web communities where only people with "compatible" opinions are free to speak... surely you'll be safe there!

Well, people who disagree with you aren't the danger. It's the people who deny others the right to air their opinions who are the danger. THEY are the enemy of the free society. When someone attempts to control speech, he is trying to control THOUGHT. And when someone tries to control thought, he is trying to control EVERYTHING.

There's a big world all around you. Do you dare to look outside your shell, and see the variety of people out there? Do you dare to say "Hello!" to them and listen to what they have to say? Maybe you should TALK to the African Americans and the gays, and find out how they think, why they think it, why they do what they do, and what's important to them.

Nah... they're just trolls, like everyone else who disagrees with you, right? Delete their words, and their words can't hurt you, right? Ban them from your web pages, and your web pages will be safe from them, right? Deny them, delete them, ban them, silence them, and KNOW that you're superior to them, KNOW you're right and they're wrong, and they'll never be able to get to you, right? Right?



Re: Site feature request (none / 0) (#14)
by Anonymous Hero on Sun Mar 05, 2000 at 03:07:15 AM EST

I'd also like to say that what one person may consider a "troll", some other person might consider to be a remarkably insightful opinion. You're threading on dangerous territory when you start not only telling them what kind of opinions they CAN'T have, but what kind of opinions they MUST have. Unless someone who runs this site has some kind of psychic ability, I doubt they're omniscient enough to know what's a "troll" and what isn't. Are you so high-and-mighty that you can know an author's thoughts just by reading what he writes? Now, I almost got caught by Godwin's Law here, but I'll hold my toungue and not levy some of the more serious allegations I could levy about the practices of this site and its administrators. In fact, I see no need to lecture them further at all: if they don't listen to *ME*, then the WORLD will teach them their lesson. The harshest way to learn a lesson is to learn it by making a mistake. Let's watch "kuro5hin.org" make its mistake and see how long it maintains its elitist and sacrimonious practices after it realizes that the world isn't as simple as "We're right, they're wrong, we're good, they're bad."

[ Parent ]
Re: Site feature request (none / 0) (#16)
by rusty on Sun Mar 05, 2000 at 03:20:54 AM EST

its elitist and sacrimonious practices

I read your mind, and the word you wanted was "sanctimonious."

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Re: Site feature request (1.00 / 2) (#25)
by Craig McPherson on Sun Mar 05, 2000 at 04:25:00 AM EST

Yeah, yeah, you're right about that one. That was my fault, my vocabulary failed me for a moment. But the self-contradictory statements were 100% intentional, I assure you.

[ Parent ]
Re: Site feature request (5.00 / 3) (#34)
by rusty on Sun Mar 05, 2000 at 02:26:25 PM EST

Oh yeah, and I think I was probably 'treading' on dangerous territory, too. Although "Threading an dangerous territory" does have kind of a nice poetic ring to it. :-)

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Re: Site feature request (5.00 / 1) (#27)
by ramses0 on Sun Mar 05, 2000 at 06:06:50 AM EST

Hey rusty... Now might be a good time to think about that idea for "controversial" comments. Eventually you'll have to bust out with a different dialog than "Lowest first, highest first, unrated then highest, most controversial then lowest, ignore ratings, etc..." But as our AH kindly pointed out... dissenting viewpoints do have a tendency of being repressed. Someone mentioned before the idea of "variance". I'm sure you can bust out a good link like the above. Adding a "Variance" or 'σ' to each comment appears to be pretty simple: find the mean (done already), for each rating find how far away from the mean they it is, keep a running sum of the squares of the differences, then divide by the total number of ratings. I don't know how to sort by those numbers, but at least there's a start. Kudos on the excellent troll, Craig ;^)= If you're only half as insightful as this when you're not trolling, I think Kuro5hin has picked itself up another interesting person to talk with. --Robert
[ rate all comments , for great justice | sell.com ]
[ Parent ]
Ok, last time on this... (5.00 / 2) (#15)
by rusty on Sun Mar 05, 2000 at 03:19:29 AM EST

Wow. That was a hell of a comment, and despite being sorta off-topic, I'm definitely leaving it here. In case you were wondering, I rated it 5 too.

I'm rusty, the young rich white male heterosexual Liberal atheist owner of kuro5hin.org.

Actually, I'm not much of a liberal, in the screwed-up sense it's used in American politics, anyway. I shade between libertarian (sorta classic liberal I guess), anarchist, and pragmatist (if that's even a political philosophy).

But on all the other counts, boy have you got me pegged. Ok, I'm not all that rich either, but for a 23 year old, I make a good living. So I'm definitely young, white, male, and heterosexual. And a little liberal, and a tad richer than some.

Now that we've got the labels down, let's talk freedom. You can say any damn thing you please here. If I don't agree with it, I'll argue with you. If it's total nonsense, to which no argument could possibly even apply, *and* it's not funny, or even amusing, *and* it's been posted anonymously (and therefore no one is willing to stand up and take credit for what they have to say), I might delete it. So the criteria for me to actually identify and remove a troll is very very specific.

I won't delete your comments because you have, or espouse, a different race, gender, belief, worldview, or grammar than me. I *will* delete them if you insist on posting the same tiresome crap in every story, regardless of content, just to satisfy some childish need for attention (c.f. Slashdot, all stories, for references of this type of behavior). "Hot grits" is not a gender, or a race, or a belief system, or an oppressed minority (despite what some of the people in sid=moderation on /. would have you believe). Those are the sorts of posts I'm talking about when I say I'll delete trolls.

A few other responses:

Well, people who disagree with you aren't the danger. It's the people who deny others the right to air their opinions who are the danger. THEY are the enemy of the free society. When someone attempts to control speech, he is trying to control THOUGHT. And when someone tries to control thought, he is trying to control EVERYTHING.
I'm trying to protect the freedom of regular contributors to this forum who have something to say to speak and be heard. I'm trying to keep the noise down, and the signal up. That's my only goal. I don't want to censor your opinions. And I'm sorry you got that impression.

Think of it this way. If I ran into your living room, off the street, and started hollering about Hot Grits, you'd call the police. You'd have me removed from your home, because I was spouting gibberish and being a nuisance. I can't even imagine you could make a "freedom of speech" case about that.

Now take the analogy further. Say I hung a sign outside my door that said "Discussion Salon, 12PM to 9PM, tea will be served." And I waited. And after a while, a few nice people showed up, and we sat around and had a good discussion about some stuff. Hopefully we wouldn't all just agree on everything, or it wouldn't be a very good discussion, would it? So we might argue a little, but no one's going to be kicked out for disagreeing. That's the point of discussion. Then imagine the same guy running in screaming about Hot Grits. While I may have said "Discussion Salon," and opened my door to the public, this person is clearly not the least bit interested in discussion, and just wants to hear himself babble about Hot Grits. If I didn't do something about this pointless nuisance, all my guests would go elsewhere, where they could talk and be heard. Eventually, they'd figure out that free speech is not about any idiot being able to say anything they want anywhere they want, but is in fact, about The Government not being allowed to lock someone up because they said something The Government doesn't like.

I am not The Government. I'm just a guy with a website. I want it to be a good place for people to discuss issues, and if that means sometimes I have to remove nuisances that impede that discussion, well, that's the unpleasant task I'm stuck with.

There are millions and millions of websites out there. If I decide some naked & petrified post doesn't belong on mine, there are literally thousands of other sites at which that poster could spread their message. So I don't think I'm even limiting anyone's speech.

And the old standby: if you don't agree with my policies, and you think you should have a forum where anyone can say anything at any time, you are always welcome to start your own. There are many sites that will even host your discussions, for free. So if I'm truly being a fascist, in your opinion, please start your own site, and I'll put it in my .sig.

There's a big world all around you. Do you dare to look outside your shell, and see the variety of people out there? Do you dare to say "Hello!" to them and listen to what they have to say? Maybe you should TALK to the African Americans and the gays, and find out how they think, why they think it, why they do what they do, and what's important to them.
I live near Dupont Circle, in the middle of Washington DC. This is generally known as the gay area of town, so I do know a lot of gays. I talk to them frequently. In fact, my girlfriend just got back from a drag show down the street (I didn't go because I was preparing the Scoop 04 release-- she said I would've had fun). DC is an incredibly diverse city, Black, Hispanic, Indian, Asian, Ethiopian (damn good food, Ethiopian!), and on and on and on. I live with all kinds of people, and different races or colors or sexual orientations do not bother me in the slightest.

Of course, you didn't know any of that, because you don't know me. You just saw my troll policy and made a few assumptions, most of which were wrong. Just because you can label someone a young, rich, white, male, liberal, heterosexual American (hey, let's throw that in too!) doesn't mean you know a thing about them. Just like if you said I was an old, gay, poor, black Ethiopian. Either way, they're just words. What's amusing is that you used them so freely above to attack what you think of as "bad," and then lambaste me below for supposedly doing what in fact, it was you who did.

I hope that answers your concerns. And please make a user account. You seem like someone who has a lot to say. We like that. But next time, maybe check out what the truth is before you go on a long rant based on your assumptions.

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Another idea. PLEASE READ THIS A.H.! (none / 0) (#17)
by rusty on Sun Mar 05, 2000 at 03:39:32 AM EST

In fact, I have an even better idea for you. I don't know if you've read the FAQ yet, but stories here are posted by the community. Meaning anyone can submit a story for consideration (even anonymously -- click "submit story" at the top or bottom of any page), and all registered users can vote on whether they want it up on the front page or not. Their say goes-- once the story gets X votes, it's posted. I don't have "final approval" or anything. I can remove stories at any time, but I've never done that, end expect never to have to.

So, If you'd like a forum in which to air your concerns, and discuss this issue, where it won't be offtopic, please write up your opinion of my system and submit it as a story. If the people want to talk about it, they'll post it.

Please do read my explanation above, before writing this up, though. It may narrow your focus a bit, and hone your viewpoint. There's even a topic called "freedom." I encourage you to post it under that.

I don't want to make unilateral decisions, so I'd welcome the community's opinion on troll policy. If I'm in the wrong, I'll fix it.

So, I think at the very least you can't justifiably claim that I'm trying to silence you on this matter. I await your response, and seriously do encourage you to post an editorial. If you choose not to, I might submit one myself, with reference to your posts as a view to consider.

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Awesome, man! :) (2.75 / 4) (#24)
by Craig McPherson on Sun Mar 05, 2000 at 04:21:13 AM EST

LOL. Great post. Well, I've got an account now as you suggested.

My first impressions were wrong. You're a k-rad fellow, and you've got quite a cool site here. I hope it really goes places.

I would just like to point out that the BEST trolls, the REAL trolls, are the things that you DON'T realize are trolls. I think I just proved that.

Now, here's the "irony". "I like naked and petrified girls" gets deleted, because nobody believes it. Everyone assumes it's a troll. "Help! My rights to free speech are being repressed by the evil white males!" gets all kinds of special attention lavished on it, because people BELIEVE it. Why do people believe the latter but not the former? Because EVERYONE whines about free speech, but most people don't care a lick about petrification. It's a simple matter of familiarity. However, NOW we get to the "IRONY" that I mentioned: and that is that I DON'T think "my rights to free speech are being repressed by the evil white males" (heck, I AM one of the evil white males), while I *DO* like naked and petrified girls. So people BELIEVED the one that was FALSE and DIDN'T believe the one that was true! That, friends, is the HEART of trolling: believability, and one of the things that the Masters know how to exploit and manipulate.

They will be here. And you won't even recognize them. So be nice to everyone. :)

Good night, but thanks for the fun AND for the Insight. I'll be sticking around and hopefully I'll be on-topic from now on.

[ Parent ]
Re: Awesome, man! :) (5.00 / 1) (#32)
by rusty on Sun Mar 05, 2000 at 01:39:10 PM EST

Ow. As the jargon file says: "YHBT. YHL. HAND.". Ok, fair enough. I see your point. Try to stay on-topic though, eh? Thanks :-)

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Re: Site feature request (4.50 / 2) (#19)
by analog on Sun Mar 05, 2000 at 03:45:37 AM EST

Interesting. Actually, this is pretty classic behavior. You're mad at people for labelling you, so to show how much more open minded and understanding than them you are, you're going to label them. You will lay out a nice, juicy, nasty label to apply to people, one that you're fairly certain most won't want associated with them, then proclaim loudly and ad nauseum that anybody that doesn't agree with you or want to hear what you have to say by definition belongs to that group.

Now, I don't know what your particular bugaboo is. It doesn't really matter. You are doing, and far more strongly, that which you've accused everyone else of. If you want people to listen to what you're saying (and I really have to suspect from the above that that's all you want; after all, anybody who might disagree with you and actually want to discuss it is a 'young rich white male heterosexual Liberal atheist', and we all know they have nothing worthwhile to contribute), completely alienating them is not the best way to start.

I know you don't want to hear this. I know you've probably got any number of terrible things you can say to me or call me for even hinting at it. But if you find that whatever group you are in consistently doesn't care to listen to you, it might not be because you're black, or poor, or gay; it might just be because you have nothing worthwhile to say.

[ Parent ]

Re: Site feature request (4.50 / 2) (#20)
by rusty on Sun Mar 05, 2000 at 03:52:16 AM EST

I agree, up until the part about not having anything to say. I think this AH does have something to say. Anyone who can say that much *must* have something to say. This person is angry, though, for some reason. I suspect you're right, that they feel un-listened to.

Well, hopefully they'll post a story about the troll policy, if they still disagree after reading my reply, and have a forum to speak and be listened to.

Which, after all, is why I have the troll policy I have.

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Re: Site feature request (5.00 / 1) (#22)
by analog on Sun Mar 05, 2000 at 04:09:47 AM EST

Okay, maybe that didn't come across as I intended. Does this person have something on his mind? Obviously. But he (I'm going to use the male here because it's convention; I'm not making assumptions about what AH's sex actually is) doesn't give any indication as to what it is he's upset about, other than that nobody is listening to him. For all we know (and yes, I'm fully aware of how flippant this statement is; I'm trying to make a point) he could be ticked that noone will listen to him about Microsoft's clandestine plans to take over the plastic garbage bag industry.

It seems fairly certain that whatever he's got to say, he's used to people refusing to listen to it. My point was that if this is so, it's not a given that the problem is that the audience is made up of narrow minded bigots (which appears to be his contention). And even more importantly, if you want people to listen to you and give your viewpoint due consideration, calling them narrow minded bigots isn't going to accomplish it, even if they are in fact exactly that.

[ Parent ]

Re: Site feature request (none / 0) (#23)
by rusty on Sun Mar 05, 2000 at 04:19:36 AM EST

True. Calling your desired listeners names is not really the way to go about changing their minds.

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
You hit the nail on the head there. (2.75 / 4) (#26)
by Craig McPherson on Sun Mar 05, 2000 at 04:42:08 AM EST

"Actually, this is pretty classic behavior."

Excellent, you've just pointed out one of the KEYS to good trolling. *Classic Behavior*. The key to making people think you're serious when you're not is to emulate bahavioral patterns that they'll recognize. The key is to make them realize, as soon as the first paragraph, "Oh, I know THIS type of person. This is the type of person that [for example] prattles on about free speech and how they've being oppressed by the majority when really they're guilty of the very thing they're condemning." Or, "Oh, I know THIS type of person. This is the type of person that think everything that ever came from Microsoft is inherantly evil." OR "This is a typical liberal zealot" OR "This is a typical conservative zealot" OR "This is a typical libertarian zealot", etc. etc. etc. Once the person has LABELED the persona you're using with one of their pre-existing stereotypes, they'll BELIEVE that your persona is actually that type of person.

That's why my "naked and petrified" posts got deleted. That persona didn't match up with anyone's pre-existing stereotypes, and so they didn't believe it. They immediately shouted "TROLL ALERT!" not realizing that the REAL trolls were slipping by every day, unnoticed. Trying to get a persona as ridiculous (in most people's opinions) as my "Naked and Petrified Guy" believed by the masses is an uphill battle compared to getting them to believe the sincerity of "just about right-wing maniac." Thus, RWM makes a much more subtle and effective (though in my opinion, less humourous) troll than NPG does.

Just my 2 cents on the issue. Natalie Portman for President!

[ Parent ]
Re: You hit the nail on the head there. (5.00 / 2) (#33)
by analog on Sun Mar 05, 2000 at 01:59:33 PM EST

Mmm, got me. Funnily enough, I almost explicitly pointed this out as a troll (albeit one of very high quality as compared to what you find at slashdot), but you did a good job of maintaining plausibility. Would've been really rude to call you a troll if you really had been an 'outsider' pouring his heart out. ;)

Actually though, this is (if there is such a thing) a good kind of troll. It's an excellent way to provoke discussion (as you've proven admirably), and it makes people think about what they're reading. It's always interesting to me to see how willing people are to back off to avoid a less than flattering label being applied to them. I think Rusty's reaction to it bodes well for the future of Kuro5hin.

[ Parent ]

New Site Slogan? (5.00 / 3) (#35)
by rusty on Sun Mar 05, 2000 at 02:56:21 PM EST

"Kuro5hin.org: Our Trolls Are Better Than Yours." :-)

Seriously though, maybe I should change the warning message to explicitly talk about spamming, instead of trolling. Considering the two words have gotten quite mixed up, as Craig has demonstrated most convincingly, and what I'm really concerned about is spamming. That is, posting repetetive offtopic gibberish in an effort to drown out coherent discussion.

While Craig's first post was offtopic, it wasn't gibberish, and it actually stimulated discussion (as you pointed out), so it doesn't fit the criteria. I'm more concerned about stuff like what PQP did do /., lots of randomly generated "stuff." Which I'd say is spamming, more than trolling.

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Some Quality /. Trolls (5.00 / 1) (#43)
by joeyo on Wed Mar 08, 2000 at 09:59:02 AM EST

Even /. has some quality trolls ocasionally. You can find some in the "secret" section, trolltalk or in this thread.

As a bit of some side commentary, it seems that any good conversation thats left in /. is in the secret nooks and crannies. I guess even K5 is one such nook. I guess all I am saying is that I hereby lend my support for the sections without borders.

Rusty: One thing to consider: syndicating content between various Scoop sites is very cool too. I know you're on top of this, but please consider at least the syndication of stories if not comments. (Maybe a story could be flagged by its author for reposting and if it gets posting on one scoop site it would then be entered in the voting booths at other scoop sites.) Just a thought.


"Give me enough variables to work with, and I can probably do away with the notion of human free will." -- demi
[ Parent ]

Troll backstory (5.00 / 2) (#44)
by rusty on Wed Mar 08, 2000 at 10:08:36 AM EST

Even more interesting, courtesy of my server logs, is sid=k22320inchfan. I have no idea what the sid means, but there's a lot of meta-troll discussion in there. My favorite is this thread where McPherson discusses his infamous "freedom" troll right here on kuro5hin. I seem to have changed his mind about me personally and the site policy.

Do I really come off as a "stuck up twit"? :-)

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Re: Troll backstory (5.00 / 1) (#48)
by Inoshiro on Sat Mar 18, 2000 at 11:18:09 PM EST

Naw, I think it's just the haircut :)

[ イノシロ ]
[ Parent ]
Re: Site feature request (1.00 / 1) (#31)
by Paul Dunne on Sun Mar 05, 2000 at 08:59:10 AM EST

I'd like to suggest a feature, whereby whining rants such as the above would at least have some minimal identity, in the form of a kuro5hin user account, attached to them. In other words, goodbye "Anonymous Hero".

As for "freedom of speech", you've got it confused with the right to barge in anywhere you like and shoot your mouth off. That isn't freedom of speech; no matter what your sex, colour or sexual preference, it's called being a jerk. And you don't have any "right" to do that, here or elsewhere.
[ Parent ]

Re: Site feature request (none / 0) (#38)
by rusty on Sun Mar 05, 2000 at 04:02:54 PM EST

Do read the threads below though. Ok, it was totally offtopic, but a point was being made, and I think it was a worthwhile point.

If Anonymous posting does become a problem, though, I'll disable it. So far, I think it's ok, since it provides some people with a non-threatening way to become involved in the site community. I find that A.H.'s do tend to make accounts once they've posted once or twice. This one did, anyway.

Fear not, faithful User Number 12. I won't let them wreck our site. :-)

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

HELP, HELP, I'm being repressed!! (none / 0) (#36)
by joeyo on Sun Mar 05, 2000 at 03:48:18 PM EST

Apologies to Monty Python.... :)

"Give me enough variables to work with, and I can probably do away with the notion of human free will." -- demi
[ Parent ]

Definition of a troll (none / 0) (#45)
by Inoshiro on Sat Mar 18, 2000 at 10:39:32 PM EST

I do not define a troll as someone who has a disenting opinion.

I define a troll as someone who cannot post anything meaningful to a conversation, ie: grits/petrified people. I define flamebait as a message in which the person might have had good content, but could not think straight enough for long enough to avoid swearing or otherwise taunting to make it usefull.

Your post is not a troll posting, nor is it flamebait. Granted, it is a bit extreme (likely because of abuses at other sites), but you don't swear about it and directly challenge everyone :-)

I'm a young, poor, white, liberal (true liberal, not these "slight left of centre" liberals who are as bad as conservatives), athiest. I agree with your point because I have seen abuses on other sites. The thing is, you have to trust people in order to get something back. I think we can trust Rusty, as he's the only one who can actually yank a post.

Now I'm going to read the rest of the thread. I hope they are as interesting as yours :)

[ イノシロ ]
[ Parent ]
Re: Definition of a troll (5.00 / 1) (#46)
by Inoshiro on Sat Mar 18, 2000 at 10:49:58 PM EST

Good petrified people: stories/pictures

Bad petrified people: <scream>XX/YY NAKED AND PETRIFIED</scream>

Good grits people: here's how to make good grits.

Bad grits people: <scream>HOT GRITS AND OTHER BREAKFAST FOOD INTO MY PANTS!</scream>

Any questions? :)

[ イノシロ ]
[ Parent ]
Re: Sections Without Borders (none / 0) (#30)
by henrik on Sun Mar 05, 2000 at 07:24:26 AM EST

>a young rich white male heterosexual Liberal atheist Argh! I feel hit. That nailed me down 100%. Now the funny thing is that on these sites, a young rich white mail hetrosexual liberal atheist is mainsteam. Figure that.

Akademiska Intresseklubben antecknar!
Re: Sections Without Borders (none / 0) (#37)
by neonman on Sun Mar 05, 2000 at 03:53:03 PM EST

I like your idea about having articles submission for multiple sections. I was thinking of implementing that in my own weblog project. I guess I should just drop what I'm doing and install scoop :). I haven't had a lot of time to work on mine lately anyway.
Aaron Grogan
Sections Without Borders | 45 comments (45 topical, 0 editorial, 0 hidden)
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