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[P]
Why Kuro5hin Is Better Than the New York Times

By turmeric in Op-Ed
Tue Feb 05, 2002 at 04:36:52 AM EST
Tags: Scoop (all tags)
Scoop

Kuro5hin, via scoop, provides a structure that through its democratic nature can prevent cases of internal corruption distorting facts, such as happened in this case at the New York Times.


The New York Times has a good reputation, and for good reason. It has done tens of thousands of stories exploring the truth and lies of various important issues and carefully analyzing the evidence. However it has screwed up in the past and let conflict of interest mess with what it prints. However this particular story really caught my eye.

Let me note that I will mostly refrain from pointing out the obvious analogies with slashdot, slashdroidism, and CmdrTaco of Borg. That is left as an exercise for the reader.

Basically the story is this: a reporter wrote a book about the links between the NFL and the mafia. The NYT lied about what was in the book in order to protect its friendly links with the NFL, and through its influence and power destroyed the book's (and the author's) reputation.

" In the end, my crusade against the owners of professional football and the influence upon them by organized crime was cut short. Instead, I was forced into a personal battle against the world's most respected and influential newspaper, which, in light of its mistakes and refusal to be fair to an individual author, stubbornly hid behind and then jeopardized the framework of the First Amendment. "

Now, is kuro5hin different? Is kuro5hin immune from doing what the NYT did? Technically, no, there is always a way to 'abuse the system' and subvert the democractic nature of scoop. But in actuality, kuro5hin is quite a bit less likely to fall into the same kind of behavior that the NYT fell into. They key, in my opinion, is that for the most part the decision about what gets published and what doesn't is left up to the mass of the voters, not to a hierarchy of individuals reporting to some giant overboss.

Of course that leaves you with the problem that democratic mobs can be biased and ignore the truth. Kuro5hin does have alot of crap stories and a biased readership that votes on the stories. However, I find it unlikely that if someone published a book review on kuro5hin full of horribly false comments that it would be 'swept under the rug' and that the author of the book would have no chance to rebut the accusations.

In the Moldea case if there had been a more democratic decision make process about what was printed and what wasnt, then some corrections or retractions or whatnot could have been printed later, Moldea's reputation would have been salvaged, and the truth of the story would not be hidden from the readers. However, in this case the NYT refused to print any corrections, refused to print Moldea's "letter to the editor" explaining all this, and when Moldea sued, it hired a bunch of lawyers and claimed it was protecting the first amendment rights of its book reviewers. All of these attempts to cover up the problem were prompted by the conflict of interest of the NYT and its attempt to cover this up through its control of what was printed, none of which would be likely to happen at kuro5hin due to its democratic nature.

Now, in actuality there are a few people who control kuro5hin, and they can theoretically decide to destroy stories and circumvent the democratic process of scoop. Perhaps rusty has links to, I don't know, voxel.net, or something, so that makes him want to delete anti-voxel.net stories.

But in practice there is much less chance for 'conflict of interest' to come up on kuro5hin. Partly it is because kuro5hin is volunteer and nobody is kissing the 'overboss' butt in exchange for money for food and rent. But partly it is because there is no way rusty could possibly read and delete all the massive traffic of comments, stories, and votes that go through kuro5hin. This is exactly why slashdot created the 'moderator' clique, and it is why the NYT has hundreds of employees trying to control what is printed. The claim is to increase quality, but the effect is always to eventually introduce bias and censorship. And kuro5hin doesnt have that bureaucracy of control in place.

Therefore, I reckon that a place like kuro5hin has a much better chance of escaping any sort of incidentss of corruption like the Moldea case that happened at the New York Times. If there were some review of Moldea's book in kuro5hin and it was full of lies, the author could have submitted their own comments and/or story about why the review was false.

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Poll
my impression of the NYT
o unimpeachable 2%
o boring 4%
o has a good heart, occasionally screws up 14%
o good reporters, bad management 7%
o full of pro-establishment biased new-yorker elitists 15%
o impeachable, but does a better job than any other paper 5%
o is the propaganda arm of the global illuminatis cabal 23%
o will be bought out by aol-time-warner-microsoft within 5 years 27%

Votes: 85
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Slashdot
o Scoop
o Kuro5hin
o this case
o screwed up
o However this particular story really caught my eye.
o Also by turmeric


Display: Sort:
Why Kuro5hin Is Better Than the New York Times | 46 comments (25 topical, 21 editorial, 0 hidden)
Moderation system (3.83 / 6) (#6)
by Torgos Pizza on Mon Feb 04, 2002 at 05:28:17 PM EST

Of course that leaves you with the problem that democratic mobs can be biased and ignore the truth. Kuro5hin does have alot of crap stories and a biased readership that votes on the stories. However, I find it unlikely that if someone published a book review on kuro5hin full of horribly false comments that it would be 'swept under the rug' and that the author of the book would have no chance to rebut the accusations.

Therein we have the crux of your article. Kuro5hin is indeed almost immune to stories that lack little truth or are completely wrong with the facts. Most major moderation sites are able to filter these out. The fatal flaw in the system is that the system is only as good as the moderators. For K5 to continue to survive, it's important to educate moderators on objectivity and having an open mind. It also takes diligence on our part to properly review submissions and check facts. Otherwise, we risk falling into the same trap as the NYT letting apathy or a passionate minority to overcome reason and logic.

I intend to live forever, or die trying.

its declining. (3.45 / 11) (#11)
by rebelcool on Mon Feb 04, 2002 at 05:36:54 PM EST

View much of the crap that gets posted. Completely unobjective, often factually incorrect and full of holey logic. If it's anti-american or anti-capitalist theres a good chance it will get voted right on up, no matter how poorly written or researched it is.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

Yep (3.83 / 6) (#16)
by TheophileEscargot on Mon Feb 04, 2002 at 06:42:32 PM EST

I can't believe how fast and how far the quality has dropped in the last few months.

I actually miss the days when people would ask for a story to be resubmitted with <p> tags instead of <br> tags, and of "-1 too US-centric".

I blame September 11th for the worst of it. After that any old crap got posted as long as it was terrorism-related, and that quality has become standard.
----
Support the nascent Mad Open Science movement... when we talk about "hundreds of eyeballs," we really mean it. Lagged2Death
[ Parent ]

Quality Control issues (5.00 / 1) (#43)
by UncleMikey on Tue Feb 05, 2002 at 09:47:53 PM EST

I think a lot of the quality issues stem from too 'static' an editorial process.

Think about it: it's somewhat difficult for an author to make changes suggested in editorial comments themselves. They have to go through Rusty and friends, and hope that one of them gets 'round to it in time. Otherwise, the only recourse for an article that has a kernel of a good idea but a flawed presentation is either to vote it down and hope the author rewrites it and resubmits it; or vote it up and grit your teeth at the things you don't like about it.

If the moderation phase for articles were a bit more dynamic, if moderator feedback could actually be taken into account by authors, and votes changed accordingly, without having to completely resubmit, I think the quality of what finally made it out of the queue could be improved considerably.
--
[ Uncle Mikey | Radio Free Tomorrow ]
[ Parent ]

Editorial process hasn't changed much... (5.00 / 1) (#44)
by TheophileEscargot on Wed Feb 06, 2002 at 06:14:28 AM EST

...but the quality has dropped considerably. Not every problem is a technological problem.

That said, the weighing-up-at-350-votes change, and the dropping of the post threshold to 80 have made it a lot easier to get a story posted.

I don't see what the big deal about resubmission is. After the changes have been made, a resubmission only takes a few seconds, and voting on it the same. I think that every story should be resubmitted a few times. The worthwhile articles tend to go through several different drafts, albeit often in the diary section. I generally ask for quite a bit of feedback on proposed stories.

It's annoying that not only are some people not bothered about the quality, they get positively outraged when any mistake or redundancy is pointed out. The attitude seems to be that asking for any more than 5 minutes work on an article = CENSORSHIP.
----
Support the nascent Mad Open Science movement... when we talk about "hundreds of eyeballs," we really mean it. Lagged2Death
[ Parent ]

Time is not the problem. (none / 0) (#45)
by UncleMikey on Wed Feb 06, 2002 at 11:36:54 AM EST

I don't see what the big deal about resubmission is. After the changes have been made, a resubmission only takes a few seconds, and voting on it the same

That presumes, incorrectly, that the poster kept a copy of their article on their hard drive or other non-K5 storage, so that they could edit it and resubmit it with ease. Maybe some people do so, and certainly for any really long posting I probably would do so myself, just because composing in a web-form is sometimes clunky.

But by and large, I do most of my composing right here online, in the webform, and that's the only copy of the article that exists. If K5 drops the article, I have no way of resubmitting it, because I don't have a copy. Maybe I should change this practice. Maybe I will, since I agree with you in principle that resubmission shouldn't be a big deal. Altho' on the flip-side, I have yet to have an article dumped from the queue, so it hasn't really come up for me, yet.
--
[ Uncle Mikey | Radio Free Tomorrow ]
[ Parent ]

Nice try, but no cigar (none / 0) (#46)
by TheophileEscargot on Wed Feb 06, 2002 at 12:55:33 PM EST

You still have access to your own story, even when it's dumped. It's still there, but only you can see it.

Just copy and paste, or do "view source" if you're feeling adventurous.
----
Support the nascent Mad Open Science movement... when we talk about "hundreds of eyeballs," we really mean it. Lagged2Death
[ Parent ]

I'm not convinced (4.50 / 10) (#9)
by TheophileEscargot on Mon Feb 04, 2002 at 05:33:52 PM EST

I like Kuro5hin. It's a good place to discuss things, but in terms of accuracy it's nowhere near as good as most newspapers.

I don't think anyone will disagree that we post stories that are complete bollocks. Now sometimes, as in that case, the bollocks is exposed in the comments.

However, in less clear-cut cases, the system tends to break down. Look at this story on a mysterious piece of "Microsoft spyware" someone caught auto-downloading. There was some debate about whether it was a server DLL, an MSN component, or a genuine piece of "spyware", but no consensus emerged in the comments. The result: a dubious scare story, never refuted.

Furthermore, there are a lot of biases on K5. K5 is biassed towards attitudes that Microsoft is evil, that Open Source software is always better than closed, that in a free market the worst software will come to dominate, that Libertarianism is good. Some of these I agree with, but they give a misleading impression of the consensus views on these topics.

Consider two people, one of whose only news source is the New York Times, the other whose only news source is Kuro5hin. The New York times reader would get a fairly accurate view of the world... but the Kuro5hin reader would inhabit a bizarre alternate universe of conspiracies, junk science, and bizarre politics.
----
Support the nascent Mad Open Science movement... when we talk about "hundreds of eyeballs," we really mean it. Lagged2Death

bias? (2.75 / 8) (#15)
by Danse on Mon Feb 04, 2002 at 06:40:40 PM EST

K5 is biassed towards attitudes that Microsoft is evil, that Open Source software is always better than closed, that in a free market the worst software will come to dominate, that Libertarianism is good.

Not everything is bias. Some things are just common knowledge. If I claimed that the world is round, would you say I'm biased against Flat Earthers? When there's good evidence for something, then it would be silly to try to modify your position to give the other side equal weight.






An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
Balance your media (4.00 / 5) (#20)
by rusty on Mon Feb 04, 2002 at 07:12:48 PM EST

Consider two people, one of whose only news source is the New York Times, the other whose only news source is Kuro5hin.

I think both would inhabit an oddly skewed world. The skews would just be different. The NYT reader would probably be better equipped to interact with the rest of the mainstream-media-fed country though. At the least, his views would be pretty conventional.

People should never trust one source to the exclusion of all others, no matter what the source. That said, I agree that "K5 is better than the NYT" is silly. We're not even in the same field. This is like trying to argue that, for example, TCP/IP is better than NNTP. Yeah, they're both protocols, but the comparison is senseless.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

I know several people... (4.50 / 2) (#22)
by TheophileEscargot on Mon Feb 04, 2002 at 07:25:27 PM EST

...who don't get any news at all. Don't read a newspaper, don't watch TV news, don't go on the Internet. If anything they lead happier lives, than if they knew what was going on. Anyway, people can be functional without any news media at all.

In "The Simpsons", newspapers are banned in Grandpa's rest home because they "anger up the blood".

It all depends whether you're a positivist/idealist of course, but if you hypothesize that there is a "real world", the views of the New York Times reader would reflect it a lot more closely than the K5 reader. You yourself complained about the "Blame America" tendency on K5 after September 11th... imagine if there was someone who actually believed it!
----
Support the nascent Mad Open Science movement... when we talk about "hundreds of eyeballs," we really mean it. Lagged2Death
[ Parent ]

Consentual Reality (4.83 / 6) (#31)
by rusty on Mon Feb 04, 2002 at 10:56:30 PM EST

...if you hypothesize that there is a "real world", the views of the New York Times reader would reflect it a lot more closely than the K5 reader.

If you hypothesize that most of what matters to ordinary people in the "real world" is social, and social reality is determined by whatever set of facts is most widely accepted, than the NYT reader's view of the "real world" would most closely match the common social reality. This is kind of circular reasoning, because the NYT is part of the mediascape that tells us what the reality is, and the major media rarely differ from each other in any meaningful way in their essential reporting.You can just as easily replace New York Times here with CNN, Fox News, the Washington Post, Yahoo News, or a bare AP feed.

On the other hand, I have had this experience with ever-increasing frequency lately. I'll be listening to, say, NPR news, and they'll do a story on something we have already had an article or two about. "Oh yeah," I think to myself. "We had an article about that. It's interesting to see how NPR chooses to present the issue!" Sometimes it fits pretty easily, but sometimes they'll present something as relatively cut-and-dried and factual which clearly isn't, unless you just dismiss K5's version of it as wholly fabricated (something I usually have a hard time doing).

NPR picks some offbeat topics to report on, but when they cover the same stories as the mass media, they typically do it with much the same focus, with perhaps more diligent effort to cover both of the Two Standard Biases. We usually have some relatively unusual bias or angle on a story, which ends up missing some of the facts, but adding a lot of depth to what the major media is reporting.

Anyway. I think my point is that the main reason we don't often plainly reflect the "consentual media reality" is that there is already so much of it out there. Who needs another one? What we do best is dig up shades of gray, which the "just the facts, black and white and read all over" mass media is virtually unable to do, due to having locked themselves into the fantasy of objectivity. We need them -- in fact, I think virtually all of the stories here start from the premise that you don't live under a rock, and have seen or could see the mass media version of the story first. But I think people need us too, because where the NYT leaves off is right where we start. There's a lot more to virtually everything than they ever report.

And one last question: Would you be better off with no news at all, or with only K5?

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

K5 only: more harm than good (4.40 / 5) (#32)
by jasonab on Mon Feb 04, 2002 at 11:18:52 PM EST

And one last question: Would you be better off with no news at all, or with only K5?
Theo can answer for himself, but you might as well ask "would you rather your parents hated you, or you were an orphan?" In neither option do you win!

I'll posit this: being misinformed and wrong is worse than being ignorant (especially if you know you are ignorant). You don't have the information you need to form an opinion or influence someone else. The damange you can do is limited.

Now, let's say you only read K5. You come to the front page and read an article on how the CIA caused both the AIDS and crack epidemics. Your view of the world is radically skewed with no counterbalancing force other than the comments posted. You have no real facts to base your opinion on, only the wild ravings of someone with an agenda to push onto you. In the end, you're horribly misinformed, and you only harm those around you by spreading such disinformation.

People post to K5 because they want to push their agenda on someone else. I don't mean that as a necessarily bad thing, but K5 doesn't have posts about the everyday boring news that make up most of our reality. It doesn't give a lot of background needed to make a reasonable decision. As I've said before, there is a lack of balance.

In the end, my point is you do a lot more harm than good when you are misinformed. It's like urban legend emails: they spread harmful misinformation while crowding out the truth.

[ Parent ]

i dont agree (none / 0) (#42)
by bakou on Tue Feb 05, 2002 at 04:14:39 PM EST

"People post to K5 because they want to push their agenda on someone else."

From my point of view, all media sources are subjective, since a person must choose what is important, and what is not, in a story. When a journalist write a story, he dont write all the facts related to the story, it would be impossible. He must choose. And he choose with his own beliefs, his own judgement, his own values.

More, the media are owned by persons who have their beliefs and their polical agenda too. The owners of the media are generally rich and powerfull, they generally have political links with the politicians, the parties, the establishment. They often use their media to back their political beliefs.

And from my personnal experience, each time I have been involved in an event that were reported in to the "mainstream" media, the story they published was innaccurate, and most of the time it was all false. So if the stories I witnessed myself are representative of the mainstream coverage, I should just have no confidence at all in the mainstream media.

[ Parent ]
Definitely... (4.00 / 3) (#37)
by TheophileEscargot on Tue Feb 05, 2002 at 05:21:44 AM EST

...no news at all.

That might seem odd, given that I spend a fair amount of time arguing on K5; but I think that the reason that debating on K5 is worthwhile is that I have a store of facts accumulated from other news media. Without that, debate on K5 would just be empty flaming. Kuro5hin is only a useful news source if you have access to less kooky news.

I believe the Hippocratic oath used to start "First, do no harm". Someone with no news at all would not be doing any harm. Someone whose only news source was K5, but who went out and voted, would probably be doing some harm to political process.

In "Hogfather" by Terry Pratchett, one of the characters asks why children should believe in the Discworld's Santa Claus figure. The answer given is that people need to start believing in the little lies, like Santa Claus, so they can grow up into believing the big ones, like Justice, Mercy and Duty. If objectivity is a fantasy, it's a fantasy like one of those.
----
Support the nascent Mad Open Science movement... when we talk about "hundreds of eyeballs," we really mean it. Lagged2Death
[ Parent ]

How do you know? (none / 0) (#41)
by SIGFPE on Tue Feb 05, 2002 at 03:08:18 PM EST

but in terms of accuracy it's nowhere near as good as most newspapers
It's not often I can verify newspaper stories first hand, and when I can it's usually because I can test it against some other publicly accessible news source.

What happens if alternative sources of news about the same subject are unavailable so that the newspaper can get away with printing false statements?

On those occasions that a newspaper story has a direct bearing on me so that I can check it for myself I have found that the newspapers are uniformly unreliable. For example newspapers have mysteriously relocated my company from the US to Australia, quoted me as working for a different company, changed my job title very significantly and claimed that we're in partnership with another company when we're not. I think in every single case there has been at least one major factual error as well as numerous minor errors. Newspapers also repeatedly publish press releases with no more verification than the other site checks its submissions.

Additionally in subjects that are a minority interest, eg. science stories, newspapers can get away with very shoddy reporting.

In fact, as the only subjects in which I'm qualified to judge are those about myself and those I know about through work and hobbies (computing, movies, science etc.) mysteriously seem to be those in which newspapers perform so badly, I'm strongly inclined to suspect that all newspaper reporting is unreliable and I'm just not equipped to spot the unreliability in other fields.

If the number of people who might complain about false statements is small enough (eg. experts in a field, the population os a small neighbourhood, or maybe even people in a land far away ravaged by war) that it would be hard for them to make themselves heard then there is little incentive for the newspaper not to print those statements.
SIGFPE
[ Parent ]

My comments and my postings (2.16 / 6) (#13)
by imrdkl on Mon Feb 04, 2002 at 06:23:41 PM EST

are subject to no editorial process at all. Therefore, I am always right. Follow me and be enlightened. Or go read a newspaper. +0

Most important reason we don't ruin somebody's rep (3.33 / 3) (#21)
by odin on Mon Feb 04, 2002 at 07:20:21 PM EST

Let's face it, we don't ruin anybody's reputation or abuse the power of the press because we really don't have the ability to do so. It takes a long time for a newspaper to be able to truly effect things. K5 does not have the clout, let alone independant investigative coverage to effect anything directly. All in all, you're comparing apples and oranges. Now if you'd like to introduce a story about the case in question and the NYT's handling of it, then maybe I'd give it a +1, but as it is, definate -1.

They're just moving closer to average (2.66 / 3) (#26)
by seeS on Mon Feb 04, 2002 at 09:36:11 PM EST

All journalists lie at times.

All newspapers twist the truth (or perhaps nudge it a bit) for their own adjendas.

Why should NYT be any different? The dark side is so much easier!

Do people remember a time when current affairs used to be more than the latest slimming cream fad and some "investigation" on some dodgy used car salesman that stiffed the producer's drinking buddy's cousin. I very vaguely remember that time.

I don't think k5 is better, probably a bit more disorganised so the slants go all over the place, so maybe the whole result is a bit less bias.



--
Where's a policeman when you need one to blame the World Wide Web?
Remember a time? (3.00 / 1) (#36)
by PresJPolk on Tue Feb 05, 2002 at 05:04:29 AM EST

There never was such a time. People have always been more interested in their daily lives than in the Weighty Issues of our Times.

It's just that 50, 100 years ago the average people didn't have newspapers and televisions, usually. Now that they do, the newspaper and televisions are catering to them.

The internet is the logical place for Weighty Issues to be discussed. The barriers to publishing are low, so sites that don't cater to the mass market can exist.

[ Parent ]
Well, there are always two sides, arn't there? (3.50 / 4) (#30)
by delmoi on Mon Feb 04, 2002 at 10:45:40 PM EST

Well, actualy this wouldn't be the first time the NYT pulled something like this. But then again, what's the papers position, I mean how do you know? (did that guy win his libel suit?)

Btw, everyone should read that link. Its a paints a pretty dim view of the NYT, especialy the book review department.

Oh, and major props to google for finding a link from my keywords: "new york times boxing watergate judge book" :P
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
No corruption except what's already present. (3.00 / 3) (#33)
by Sunir on Tue Feb 05, 2002 at 02:59:06 AM EST

It's not possible that Kuro5hin would survive if corruption directly affected the site. Even if Rusty had ties to voxel.net, if stories disparaging voxel.net disappeared strangely, a furour would arise that would destroy the site. Kuro5hin only exists at the bequest of its membership; if that membership is betrayed, it will abandon the site. Unless the membership has nothing better to do with their days than troll the admins of the site.

On the other hand, group think and group shift have already corrupted the authorship. We all know that Kuro5hin is biased in certain directions, so I won't repeat that (as many others have).

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

Soon there will be no difference. (2.50 / 2) (#35)
by Apuleius on Tue Feb 05, 2002 at 04:19:01 AM EST

The internet does not tolerate egregious behavior from print newspapers even if they don't run Scoop. See here.


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
Puhlease... (2.00 / 2) (#38)
by khallow on Tue Feb 05, 2002 at 06:45:43 AM EST

Comparing K5 and the New York Times is just silly. One doesn't expect K5 to produce serious in depth articles like the NYT. They just aren't in the same category. Look at this story. Where's the news? It's just a place for people (like me) to vent. Further, the assertion that K5 is somehow immune from the type of influence that swayed the Times is wrong. Particularly as K5 has no legal resources and can be gamed by a sufficiently bored hacker (which as some people may recall had killed off an older version of K5).

<free-registration-required> (1.33 / 3) (#39)
by cyberdruid on Tue Feb 05, 2002 at 08:45:45 AM EST

We all know why NYT (online) can never reach the heights of kuro5hin.
As far as I'm concerned, it is simple not worth the pointless hassle of registering to read an article which overall will have about as well-written (no more, no less) as all the other stuff on most other sites that does not take pleasure from harassing their visitors.
Before they deleted the standard
id:cypherpunk
pw:cypherpunk
which is available on most sites with required registration, it was OK though.

Why Kuro5hin Is Better Than the New York Times | 46 comments (25 topical, 21 editorial, 0 hidden)
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