Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 10th Jan 2012 23:53 UTC
OSNews, Generic OSes The last few weeks there's been a considerable amount of chatter on the web about whether or not a news website, blog, or some hybrid thereof, needs comments. Since we are working on the next version of OSNews, which means I've been thinking about things like this a lot, I figured I'd pen down my thoughts on comments.
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phoenix
Member since:
2005-07-11

Contrary to what you might expect, content isn't everything. Input consists of so much more than content alone, something that's often overlooked. The most important of these is the commenting engine itself. A site can be filled with top-notch content, comprehensive reviews, great video material, and so on. They can be quick with news, have interesting scoops, and can generally be fun to read. They can put an extraordinary amount of time and love into every aspect of the site...

...and then they slap on a generic third-party cross-website commenting engine which isn't particularly good to begin with.

That right there describes http://anandtech.com ;) Absolutely brilliant articles, reviews, news, etc ... and one of the worst commenting systems ever. Especially if you want to know which ones you've read, or be notified of replies, or anything actually useful.



My only beef with the OSNews commenting system is that "seen/unseen" status is stored client-side, in the web browser, and not server-side, in the user's account (where it belongs).

Meaning, if I read X number of comments on my work computer using Chrome, then go home and read the comments using Firefox everything shows up as "new". Even just switching from Chrome to Firefox on the same computer is annoying as the "seen/read" status stays in Chrome.

"read/unread" status really needs to be saved with the account, so that if follows you from browser to browser, computer to computer, etc.

Edited 2012-01-11 00:14 UTC

Reply Score: 11

Comment Quality Reflects the Readership
by lfeagan on Wed 11th Jan 2012 00:21 UTC
lfeagan
Member since:
2006-04-01

OS News has a couple of factors that make comments useful rather than nuisanceful.

The readership's generally high level of education and maturity ensures that a majority of comments are accurate, on-topic, and free of derogatory remarks.

The number of readers is small, which keeps the comment volume at a level that all can be reasonably read before responding. The small number of readers also limits the financial benefits of targeting osnews.com for spam comments with advertisement/scams. If I were a spammer, I would target a larger site with a more diverse (n00bish/gullible) readership, such as slashdot.

Most articles have between 20 and 100 comments, which is about the upper limit of reasonable. I enjoy being able to read all of the comments and having most be useful. If articles routinely had 2000 comments, I would imagine a pretty high percentage would be rubbish, for a variety of reasons. I might start to think more about eliminating comments under those conditions.

Thanks to Thom, David, and the other OS Newsers comments are useful. Good work.

Reply Score: 21

kragil Member since:
2006-01-04

I totally agree.
Just because comments work on a site with a fairly "mature", educated and focused audience does not mean it can work for some gadget blog with millions of readers, where posts get thousands of comments and the quality can become really Youtube-esque. A tailor made solution might work there too, but the complexity of the problem is a few orders of magnitude more difficult (maybe even next to impossible, surely the no intervention part is)

Reply Score: 4

Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

I enjoy being able to read all of the comments"


That is why I think it was such a good idea to just have a: "Read more of this thread... >" when a thread gets really long. So you can easily stop reading it if you don't care about that discussion.

Reply Score: 2

Using other sites comment sections...
by kjmph on Wed 11th Jan 2012 00:42 UTC
kjmph
Member since:
2009-07-17

I don't post a lot, but I read almost all the comments. I have picked up this habit, and if I find myself going to other websites, I also read all the comments. The only problem is the discussions on other sites can be inane, inaccurate, or flaming. I think the community here is an important consideration.

Reply Score: 6

Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

I've been dialing it back a bit lately, reading lots of comments but trying not to comment as much myself (with the exception of the recent WP7 article). I'm not one of the most prolific posters here but I've managed to make both friends and enemies so I guess I've had a lot to say over the years. But, I've been trying (both in the real world and online) to cut back on the chatter and listen a lot more. I've found it to be invaluable in learning to better deal with and understand others.

All that said, I absolutely love the community here and find it to be a very inviting and friendly place for us technology geeks to hang out. Much better than the incoherent babbling of Slashdot, and much more accessible than otherwise great sites with bad comment space as referenced in the article.

I say, keep up the great work guys, I for one love what it has become!

Reply Score: 3

Commenting engine
by ebasconp on Wed 11th Jan 2012 00:57 UTC
ebasconp
Member since:
2006-05-09

Thom: Your commenting engine is not perfect, but is actually very good (I do not think it has any problem actually, but that does not mean that it cannot be improved even more). As several commenters said above, the high quality of the comments is directly proportional to the quality (education, 'madurity', etc.) of the readers; but, as you also said, a tailor-made commenting engine fits perfectly with the site as a whole and shows a lot of respect for your readers.

Thanks for the good work, Adam and Thom.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Commenting engine
by Laurence on Wed 11th Jan 2012 12:14 UTC in reply to "Commenting engine"
Laurence Member since:
2007-03-26

Thom: Your commenting engine is not perfect, but is actually very good (I do not think it has any problem actually, but that does not mean that it cannot be improved even more). As several commenters said above, the high quality of the comments is directly proportional to the quality (education, 'madurity', etc.) of the readers; but, as you also said, a tailor-made commenting engine fits perfectly with the site as a whole and shows a lot of respect for your readers.

Thanks for the good work, Adam and Thom.


I'd personally like to see greater text formatting controls (eg bullet points and perhaps nested quoting). But on the whole there's not a great deal that needs to be done.

Also, I still think hyperlinks in comments should open new tab/window by default.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Commenting engine
by cmchittom on Wed 11th Jan 2012 14:10 UTC in reply to "RE: Commenting engine"
cmchittom Member since:
2011-03-18

I'd personally like to see greater text formatting controls (eg bullet points and perhaps nested quoting).


I'll second the bullet points (and add real numbered lists), but nested quoting already works

This is the first quote.
"This is the nested quote
"

Okay, strike that, I guess it doesn't. I would have sworn I'd seen it before, though.

Also, I still think hyperlinks in comments should open new tab/window by default.


And I think that a website opening a new window by default is at an annoyance level on par with punch-the-monkey ads. ;) Doing something the user didn't ask for is pretty much Always Bad.

Edited 2012-01-11 14:13 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Commenting engine
by Laurence on Wed 11th Jan 2012 15:41 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Commenting engine"
Laurence Member since:
2007-03-26


And I think that a website opening a new window by default is at an annoyance level on par with punch-the-monkey ads. ;) Doing something the user didn't ask for is pretty much Always Bad.


If it were talk about the main site itself, then I'd perhaps agree. But I think as the links are unaffiliated with OSNews they should therefore not navigate away from the site.

I guess there's no right way to do this - just personal opinion ;)

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Commenting engine
by Thom_Holwerda on Wed 11th Jan 2012 15:52 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Commenting engine"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

Shift+click? Right click, select "open in new window"?

I usually do the former, and hate it when sites open stuff in new windows - it's more jarring and destructive.

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: Commenting engine
by phoenix on Wed 11th Jan 2012 17:11 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Commenting engine"
phoenix Member since:
2005-07-11

And don't forget middle-click. ;)

Personally, I use middle-click just about everywhere when clicking links in comment threads, even for replies. It just nicer to open a new tab, write the reply over there, post, then close the tab and return back to exactly where you were in the thread.

Especially with the horrible way the read/unread status stuff works on OSNews. If I didn't open a new tab but just replied in the same tab, when I returned to the thread ... it would all be marked as read!! A definite no-no.

Reply Score: 3

Comment by Anonymous Penguin
by Anonymous Penguin on Wed 11th Jan 2012 01:01 UTC
Anonymous Penguin
Member since:
2005-07-06

You have always known what my beef with OSnews comments is: the +/- peer moderation.
Minus votes aren't fair in many cases, they just mean: I don't like/I don't agree, not "you are breaking a rule"
Sometimes they ever mean: I don't like you
As an administrator of a forum with 800,000 users, I believe I should know what I am talking about. We have only allowed "like it".

Edited 2012-01-11 01:05 UTC

Reply Score: 5

RE: Comment by Anonymous Penguin
by Morgan on Wed 11th Jan 2012 01:07 UTC in reply to "Comment by Anonymous Penguin"
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

You're correct that the "mod down" ability allows unscrupulous people to censor ideas they don't agree with, but unfortunately there isn't a really good way to have metamoderation that properly deals with spam and deliberate trolling otherwise. How do you handle spammers and trolls on your site without dedicating way too many hours to moderating by you and your staff?

Reply Score: 4

Anonymous Penguin Member since:
2005-07-06

1)We introduced 2 quizzes. That on its own was plenty to stop spammers, but the very occasional one.
2)Since IPB 3.2 we have very good filters.

Nowadays we have 0 (zero) spammers.

In fact the very nature of my job has totally changed: from "policeman" to community manager.

Reply Score: 3

Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

That's awesome! The only sites I manage are a personal writing blog and a local weather blog, both using Wordpress, and even with Akismet and similar plugins it's hard to keep the spammers at bay. And I get very little traffic to both sites.

Reply Score: 2

Anonymous Penguin Member since:
2005-07-06

We have quite often in excess of 2000 visitors ;)

Right now it it is quiet, "1684 users are online"

Reply Score: 2

ssokolow Member since:
2010-01-21

That's awesome! The only sites I manage are a personal writing blog and a local weather blog, both using Wordpress, and even with Akismet and similar plugins it's hard to keep the spammers at bay. And I get very little traffic to both sites.


Have you tried a combination of Bad Behaviour, Spam Karma 2, and the Akismet sub-plugin for SK2? It still works with current WordPress and, in the half decade or so I've been using it, it's had a 100% accuracy rate.

I still have to moderate trackbacks, because Spam Karma 2 doesn't have enough data to be sure about them, but I don't get very many of those and you could always turn them off if comments are enough.

Reply Score: 2

kateline Member since:
2011-05-19

How do your quizzes work? Do you mean questions that have to be answered correctly in order to post, and this eliminates machine-generated spam?

This would get rid of spam, but how do you manage trolls?

Thanks for your feedback.

Reply Score: 1

Anonymous Penguin Member since:
2005-07-06

Our quizzes have 2 aims:
1)Stop spammers
2)As ours is a highly technical forum, we want to make sure that our users have a basic computer knowledge.
Quiz 1 let's them write in the "New Users Lounge". 13 questions, 10 answers must be correct.
Quiz 2 allows them to write everywhere, 15/20.

We have very few trolls, possibly due to the quizzes as well, but we have also 30 members of staff who deal with all issues which might occur.

I hope this answers your questions ;)

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by Anonymous Penguin
by stabbyjones on Wed 11th Jan 2012 01:14 UTC in reply to "Comment by Anonymous Penguin"
stabbyjones Member since:
2008-04-15

If I notice someone is being down-voted for making a valid comment I mod them up, I'm sure others do as well.

Having a yes/no system is not a problem it's all about the community that uses/abuses what you give them.

Reply Score: 8

Anonymous Penguin Member since:
2005-07-06

If I notice someone is being down-voted for making a valid comment I mod them up, I'm sure others do as well.

Having a yes/no system is not a problem it's all about the community that uses/abuses what you give them.


Yes, many do, but not enough.
Human beings will always abuse what they are given, if they can (not all of them, of course).

Reply Score: 2

Laurence Member since:
2007-03-26


Yes, many do, but not enough.

The problem is if you've already commented then you can no longer vote.

This is also why older comments rarely get voted on when compared with newer comments.

Reply Score: 4

phoenix Member since:
2005-07-11

This is annoying. It forces you to either reply or moderate, but not both. ;)

Would be nice if you could moderate a small number of times after replying to a thread.

Reply Score: 4

Laurence Member since:
2007-03-26

Indeed. I could even understand if it just prevented you from moderating inside a thread you've commented in, just so long as it was intelligent enough to allow you to moderate outside of that thread.

Or better yet, just disable down-voting inside that thread.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Comment by Anonymous Penguin
by bryhhh on Wed 11th Jan 2012 08:24 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by Anonymous Penguin"
bryhhh Member since:
2005-07-22

Why not have a moderation system like on the stack exchange Q&A sites. Users on these sites earn reputation from being up voted, the higher your reputation, the more 'moderation' power you have. If you vote down a question or answer, both the poster and your own reputation will be reduced. The site also encourages you to post a reason why you've down voted a question or answer, so that the OP can improve their post based upon your feedback. This mostly discourages needless down votes, however it doesn't stop them, and like your self, whenever I do find down voted questions or answers, especially when nobody has bothered explaining why they've down voted, then I'll counter the down vote with an up vote, except it cases where the down vote was clearly justified of course.

Reply Score: 3

sorpigal Member since:
2005-11-02

If I notice someone is being down-voted for making a valid comment I mod them up, I'm sure others do as well

I certainly do this. If it's particularly egregious I will also post a chastising comment, which may serve to shame down-moderators and usually Streisand-effect's the post they were trying to suppress as my reply encourages others to take a look and up-mod it.

As long as a few are vigilant the problem is a minor one.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Comment by Anonymous Penguin
by wannabe geek on Wed 11th Jan 2012 01:20 UTC in reply to "Comment by Anonymous Penguin"
wannabe geek Member since:
2006-09-27

My thoughts exactly. Why not have a two-dimensional ranking system? One dimension would be perceived quality and the other one would be agreement. Then you could configure your account so that, for instance, you see all high-quality comments, regardless of how popular the views expressed are.

Reply Score: 6

drstorm Member since:
2009-04-24

I support this idea. It sounds interesting!

I had a very hard time on multiple occasions to refrain from down-voting someone's comment simply because I strongly disagreed with it.

I am sure that I am not alone in this. And that's just it! I believe that many people here actually fight this urge - and quite successfully! I think that that is one of the things that make this community great.

Reply Score: 4

Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

When I disagree with someone I post a comment to see if I can convince them or atleast let them know a different side of the story.

Reply Score: 2

drstorm Member since:
2009-04-24

So do I, but that's not enough damnit! ;)

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by Anonymous Penguin
by WorknMan on Wed 11th Jan 2012 03:55 UTC in reply to "Comment by Anonymous Penguin"
WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

You have always known what my beef with OSnews comments is: the +/- peer moderation.
Minus votes aren't fair in many cases, they just mean: I don't like/I don't agree, not "you are breaking a rule"


I have noticed that more often than not, any sort of negative remarks made about *nix or FOSS in general get modded down by overzealous fanboys, so I'd be in favor of getting rid of the moderation system. If need be, have a method in place to report posts as spam or obvious trolling, but not the generic '-1' we have going right now.

BTW: Thom, glad you are dialing back the patent stuff - I guess all that bitching did some good afterall ;)

Reply Score: 3

YellowRoze Member since:
2012-01-11

I've been a reader for some years now and never bothered to sign up. Now however, that just changed.

Dial down the patent news? but I like the patent news!
Of course, I'd rather have a world where copyright and patents didn't interfere so much in the development och software in general but now that we live in said world, I want to know whats going on.

To everyone his own, where do I go to get the patent stuff?

Reply Score: 2

Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

For very in-depth patent news can I suggest ?: http://fosspatents.blogspot.com/

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by Anonymous Penguin
by sorpigal on Wed 11th Jan 2012 12:59 UTC in reply to "Comment by Anonymous Penguin"
sorpigal Member since:
2005-11-02

Minus votes aren't fair in many cases, they just mean: I don't like/I don't agree, not "you are breaking a rule"


This is a real problem. Perhaps a solution would be to require every down-vote to come with a reply. So, upvote all you like, but make it "Downvote and reply" - in which you must make some justification for your choice.

Or, perhaps, it could be done stackoverflow-style where you need e.g. 3 votes of "Troll" before the post is slapped with any negative score, at which point it drops 3 points immediately. That way one guy saying "Troll" and one saying "Inaccurate" and one saying "Off topic" don't have any effect; a consensus must be reached, first.

As an administrator of a forum with 800,000 users, I believe I should know what I am talking about. We have only allowed "like it".


I passionately hate this misfeature. It misrepresents reality, badly. Some things are bad and it should be possible to identify them as such. Allowing only positive moderation only works in a utopian world, which we don't have. Requiring it in this world is the same as lying to yourself. I distrust any forum where you're only permitted to express positive opinions.

Edited 2012-01-11 13:02 UTC

Reply Score: 6

Anonymous Penguin Member since:
2005-07-06


I passionately hate this misfeature. It misrepresents reality, badly. Some things are bad and it should be possible to identify them as such. Allowing only positive moderation only works in a utopian world, which we don't have. Requiring it in this world is the same as lying to yourself. I distrust any forum where you're only permitted to express positive opinions.


It seems to work fine with us ;) User should only be able to say "I like it". Staff should get rid of crap.
During the years I have got rid of idiotic, arrogant members of staff.
IMO, that is the root of all evil (in a forum). OTOH I run the forum with an iron fist in a velvet glove, and that works very well, believe me ;)

Edited 2012-01-11 13:17 UTC

Reply Score: 2

sorpigal Member since:
2005-11-02

I believe that it works. I also believe that it doesn't scale, is discourteous and encourages passive, eloi behavior. I won't tell you to stop, but I'll say it's bad and shouldn't be done here.

Reply Score: 2

Anonymous Penguin Member since:
2005-07-06

I also believe that it doesn't scale, is discourteous and encourages passive, eloi behavior.


I allow freedom of speach more than any previous administrator, so I don't know why it should encourage eloi behaviour ;)

Reply Score: 2

sorpigal Member since:
2005-11-02

It sets up a worldview in which positive is okay but negative isn't. This is a somewhat subtle psychological thing, which you would be totally justified in doubting exists, but of which I am personally convinced. It's harmful to represent a world in which there is officially no negative. The rest of my opinion flows from that.

I am also against political correctness on TV and in public forums, for similar reasons. Politeness for the sake of suppressing negativity is evil.

Reply Score: 2

Anonymous Penguin Member since:
2005-07-06

Don't you think that if we allowed any kind of negative behaviour and expression in forums and media, we would soon end in a world which would be even worse (if that is possible) than the one we live in?
Which good would be allowing "fsck the black, the Jews, foreigners, gay people, my political opponents, women are inferior..."
Didn't Nazism start like that?

Reply Score: 2

sorpigal Member since:
2005-11-02

Don't you think that if we allowed any kind of negative behaviour and expression in forums and media, we would soon end in a world which would be even worse (if that is possible) than the one we live in?

There's a wide gap between "Censoring all negativity" and "permitting all negativity, unregulated." I only advocate the latter sometimes, usually for hyperbolic purposes.

Which good would be allowing "fsck the black, the Jews, foreigners, gay people, my political opponents, women are inferior..."

Per the above, I wasn't advocating allowing that. In fact, I was advocating giving the user permission to disallow that... with down-moderation.

Didn't Nazism start like that?

Godwin's law! Thread over.

Edited 2012-01-11 14:02 UTC

Reply Score: 3

Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

There are several comments here that I would have liked to show my agreement with, but the restrictions are preventing that, I find the current voting system meaningless because of that.


Perhaps a compromise would be to make upvoting unrestricted and just limit downvoting?

An alternative solution that others have suggested is to split "moderation" and "voting" into two separate functions. The moderation would only have downvoting and it would be a privilege that could be revoked if it was used abusively.

Reply Score: 3

drstorm Member since:
2009-04-24

Sorry for not being able to up-vote you, because I already posted.

That's the one annoying thing about OS News commenting system. I guess it is alright for this limit to exist within the thread I posted in, but not in all the others.

Reply Score: 3

lfeagan Member since:
2006-04-01

Sorry for not being able to up-vote you, because I already posted.

That's the one annoying thing about OS News commenting system. I guess it is alright for this limit to exist within the thread I posted in, but not in all the others.


Yes, this is quite frustrating. I was the second or third comment and now there are 90+ and I can't up/down vote even though there are new directions the discussion is taking. Am I supposed to avoid making any comments early so that I can retain the ability to vote later? If no one wants to be first to comment so they retain their ability to moderate, then there will no comments to moderate.

Reply Score: 2

cmchittom Member since:
2011-03-18

Or, perhaps, it could be done stackoverflow-style where you need e.g. 3 votes of "Troll" before the post is slapped with any negative score, at which point it drops 3 points immediately. That way one guy saying "Troll" and one saying "Inaccurate" and one saying "Off topic" don't have any effect; a consensus must be reached, first.


I really like this idea. Though of course, then somebody has to decide how many votes is "enough."

Reply Score: 1

sorpigal Member since:
2005-11-02

Though of course, then somebody has to decide how many votes is "enough."

It's not so hard to decide. In the first place just making it 2 or 3 would be sufficient to begin with. In the second place you could base it on a kind of activity factor: How many replies there are or, if OS News tracks this, how many logged-in viewers there are. The ide being that e.g. two votes of "Troll" on a story with 10 views is probably sufficient, but maybe 10 votes on a story with 1000 views would be more appropriate.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by Anonymous Penguin
by ricegf on Wed 11th Jan 2012 13:55 UTC in reply to "Comment by Anonymous Penguin"
ricegf Member since:
2007-04-25

I'm not sure that's much of a problem here, actually.

On a couple of occasions, I felt a poster in a long thread was being intentionally obnoxious, and without realizing it began voting down his or her comments as I read through the thread (I rarely downvote otherwise - it takes a rare form of obnoxiousness ;-). On the second or third downvote, or something - not sure as I've only seen it a couple of times - I got something like a "You've already moderated this poster, let someone else take it from here" message, realized what I was doing, and stopped.

It's also good negative reinforcement. One reason I rarely vote comments down is recognition (encouraged by the above message) that others may find the comment valuable even if I find it obnoxious. Better to let others "take it from here" than to censor the poster.

In any event, I vote for keeping the message. :-)

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by Anonymous Penguin
by jptros on Wed 11th Jan 2012 16:59 UTC in reply to "Comment by Anonymous Penguin"
jptros Member since:
2005-08-26

Maybe OSnews needs community elected moderators for the comments section with the ability to nix a comment at their discretion. This would probably cut down the situations you've described to nothing assuming we can keep responsible people wielding the power. There would still need to be guidelines in place on how and when authority should be exerted over what people are saying.

Reply Score: 2

Anonymous Penguin Member since:
2005-07-06

That is basically what I have always said: a forum moderated by "official moderators", responsible to somebody.

Reply Score: 2

Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

That is basically what I have always said: a forum moderated by "official moderators", responsible to somebody.


Won't happen. We're not going back to the single point of failure days. Completely, 100%, out of the question. Our community moderated system is such an insane improvement over official moderators that going back would be utterly, utterly stupid.

None of the niggles the system has justifies throwing the system out. There's enough ideas in this thread for tweaks, but that's it.

Reply Score: 2

Anonymous Penguin Member since:
2005-07-06

Well, it is your forum and you can run it as you see fit, of course. However you could have a poll between your users.
For me it has meant that I have only written a fraction of the comments I could have written, and most of them have been pretty useless, as you can't speak up your mind without being modded down to the hell by zealots and trolls. Do you love zealots and trolls? Again, you forum, not mine (fortunately).

Reply Score: 2

Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

Well, it is your forum and you can run it as you see fit, of course. However you could have a poll between your users.
For me it has meant that I have only written a fraction of the comments I could have written, and most of them have been pretty useless, as you can't speak up your mind without being modded down to the hell by zealots and trolls. Do you love zealots and trolls? Again, you forum, not mine (fortunately).


I respect your opinion and all, but you're obviously approaching drama queen territory here. Your stats are clear as day:

"Number of Comments: 1038 (537 voted up, 35 voted down)" In addition, you've received a total of ~140 downmods and ~750 upmods over a period of 7 years.

I'd hardly call that "you can't speak up your mind without being modded down to the hell by zealots and trolls". Please, let's focus on the facts here.

Reply Score: 1

Anonymous Penguin Member since:
2005-07-06

Indeed, because after the first few months I learned that you have to be a hypocrite if you want to survive here.
Your statistics should confirms that I got most of my downmods towards the beginning.

Edited 2012-01-11 20:57 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by Anonymous Penguin
by tanishaj on Wed 11th Jan 2012 21:33 UTC in reply to "Comment by Anonymous Penguin"
tanishaj Member since:
2010-12-22

You have always known what my beef with OSnews comments is: the +/- peer moderation.
Minus votes aren't fair in many cases, they just mean: I don't like/I don't agree, not "you are breaking a rule"
Sometimes they ever mean: I don't like you
As an administrator of a forum with 800,000 users, I believe I should know what I am talking about. We have only allowed "like it".


Well, I like that real noise can be voted down. But I agree that the "popularity contest" effect can also be a problem.

Perhaps it make the most sense for upvotes to overpower downvotes ten to one or some other ratio. That way, stuff that everybody agrees is just trolling or noise can get voted out of sight while stuff that is merely just "controversial" sticks around to be read by all.

Reply Score: 1

Comment by ssokolow
by ssokolow on Wed 11th Jan 2012 01:33 UTC
ssokolow
Member since:
2010-01-21

There's also the psychological effect on the readers. I don't know why (maybe I'm just a masochist) but I ALWAYS want to see at least a few of peoples' reactions to things... even if it's scrolling down to something marginally less pointless on the occasional ThereIFixedIt or GraphJam pic my mother sends me.

For that reason, I specifically select for sites with commenting and against sites without.

Excellent point about things like Twitter though. People forget that Twitter was and still is designed as an SMS listserv with a web UI. No wonder StatusNet/Identi.ca's threaded view STILL beats Twitter's closest equivalent.

Reply Score: 3

Kroc Camen
by M.Onty on Wed 11th Jan 2012 01:48 UTC
M.Onty
Member since:
2009-10-23

I agree with your points Thom, but I also like Kroc's take on commenting:

http://camendesign.com/hello#hello-iii

Some web sites are supposed to be forums (you know what I mean, like a real world forum, not a BB), and so benefit from comments. Some are supposed to be publications, and so are better off leaving it to other authors to respond on their own sites. A web master should know which his or her site is.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Kroc Camen
by ssokolow on Wed 11th Jan 2012 02:34 UTC in reply to "Kroc Camen"
ssokolow Member since:
2010-01-21

Keep in mind that, as mentioned, it IS a continuum.

Most of the stuff I follow is more on the publication side of things (eg. most Planet Mozilla blogs) but that doesn't mean I'm willing to do without seeing a little of the reaction to it too.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Kroc Camen
by sorpigal on Wed 11th Jan 2012 12:52 UTC in reply to "Kroc Camen"
sorpigal Member since:
2005-11-02

I disagree. Comments should be everywhere and, importantly, whether the owner likes it or not. Obviously site-integrated comments are somewhat superior, but I would support a generic decentralized comment system that can attach threads of replies to specific URLs such that just by visiting them I can see whether there were comments and read them if I choose. I imagine such things already exist, but if they don't they should.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Kroc Camen
by ricegf on Wed 11th Jan 2012 14:02 UTC in reply to "RE: Kroc Camen"
ricegf Member since:
2007-04-25

Early in the web's rise, something like this was released. Technically its trivial to implement, but if I remember correctly the commercial sites claimed copyright infringement because the comments altered their "publication" (even though only for those who specifically chose the changes - like the legal fight over the ClearPlay on-the-fly DVD remixer) and the system shut down.

Perhaps you'd like to launch that feature again? Perhaps with a branch of Firefox or Chromium?

I guess the news commenting sites are the closest we have today. *sigh*

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Kroc Camen
by sorpigal on Wed 11th Jan 2012 14:03 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Kroc Camen"
sorpigal Member since:
2005-11-02

I think it would be far more acceptable today, in our web-2.0-y world, than previously. I'd also like to see it as e.g. a Firefox extension so that it doesn't interfere with the web page's "presentation" - thus avoiding some technical and legal issues.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Kroc Camen
by Neolander on Wed 11th Jan 2012 18:51 UTC in reply to "Kroc Camen"
Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

I think it is not as simple as forums vs publications. On my OSdeving blog ( http://theosperiment.wordpress.com ), which probably counts as a publication by your criteria, I enjoy comments for two major reasons :

1/On content/objective posts, they give people an occasion to report mistakes without going through the hurdle or writing a mail or something even more complicated. I know I hate writing mails to people, why should I inflict it on others ?

2/On opinion/design/subjective posts, they allow me to see what other people who come around there think on the subject, which allows me in turn to broaden my intellectual horizons.

Have to admit that I have small enough of a user base to resort to manual comment moderation, though.

Reply Score: 1

OS coments == World's best
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Wed 11th Jan 2012 02:59 UTC
Bill Shooter of Bul
Member since:
2006-07-14

If you check my profile, I've only been a registered user for a while since 2005 or 06? But I was here much earlier. The comment system that previously existed was pretty terrible ( pretty much the mobile version of this site). Now its awesome! We're treated to comments by some of the people who really make really cool stuff work, and that's awesome. Slashdot used to be like that and kinda is every now and then, but the trolls really did take over along with the over emphasis on games.

Congrats to David, the comment system is perfect!

Reply Score: 2

RE: OS coments == World's best
by Lennie on Wed 11th Jan 2012 12:42 UTC in reply to "OS coments == World's best"
Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

Yep, the signal to noice ratio on Slashdot is horrible these days.

What surprises me more is that articles that do interrest me most get less (horrible) comments.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: OS coments == World's best
by ricegf on Wed 11th Jan 2012 14:05 UTC in reply to "RE: OS coments == World's best"
ricegf Member since:
2007-04-25

Their meta-moderating and moderating systems are also subject to abuse - that drove me from being a daily slashdotter to visiting once a month at most. Maybe it just became too large and began attracting less savory people as well?

In any event, as I've mentioned more than once, OS News is my favorite site now, both due to the topics selected and even more for the discussion community. I learn a lot, and occasionally get to contribute something worthwhile as well.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by BushLin
by BushLin on Wed 11th Jan 2012 03:10 UTC
BushLin
Member since:
2011-01-26

I started getting worried for a moment when reading the beginning of your article, that you might be even considering dropping commenting.

The comments are the main reason I visit this site so much!
(obviously I also love reading about left-field tech stories)

I think my favourite part of the system is the modding up or down reasons. They actually make you think about what you're doing and the result is more rational.

Reply Score: 4

Alfman
Member since:
2011-01-28

Agreements:

Let me say, I enjoy being able to voice my opinion here and discuss topics with others. Without that, osnews would be less interesting. Twitter and friends are certainly no substitute for interacting with other osnews readers directly.


Some criticisms:
The comment voting system doesn't serve very well the purpose that we users use it for (this sentiment is often reflected in the comments). Osnews admins want it to be used for moderation, but the fact is it is not being used that way. And even if it were, the notorious spammer some months ago shows that it's not all that useful for "moderation" either (at least from a user's perspective - I want you guys to block spam, but not unpopular opinions).

Users are trying to use it to gauge the overall community opinions, but we cannot because of some rather silly limitations (ie we've already posted comments of our own). It could be paranoia, but sometimes we observe voting anomalies that suggest that trolls are using duplicate accounts to vote, while this is not osnews fault, the problem is exacerbated by the fact that people playing by the rules often don't get a vote.


Presentation:
I find myself clicking on "parent" just to see who the comment was in reply to, could osnews show the parent comment's author?


Login problem:
When I try to login after hitting "reply" the first login always fails.

Edit bugs:
Could you fix the edit bugs where spaces are unexpectedly added to every paragraph? Also, once displayed, the comment spacing information is lost.


All in all you guys have done a fairly good job and I'd like to thank you for your efforts.

Reply Score: 3

Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

ie we've already posted comments of our own


This is really my only beef with the current system. We're all grown ups here and we should be trusted to actually moderate even after commenting.
It's just lame.

Reply Score: 5

Vanders Member since:
2005-07-06

"ie we've already posted comments of our own


This is really my only beef with the current system. We're all grown ups here and we should be trusted to actually moderate even after commenting.
It's just lame.
"

I can see the reason for it (essentially to stop people down-voting replies to their own posts). How about a compromise where you can't moderate posts that you've replied to directly or are direct replies to your posts?

Reply Score: 7

ricegf Member since:
2007-04-25

+1 (since I've already commented :-D )

Reply Score: 6

acobar Member since:
2005-11-15

I find myself complaining from time to time to the "once posted can not moderate" "feature".

Perhaps, the moderation system would be more useful if, instead of just +1 or -1, it could display also positive (for informative, insightful, funny and agree), negative (for inaccurate and disagree) and "go ride" (off-topic, troll and spam). We would still see the total score, but have at hand also a better filtering tool.

The problem now is that even when some comments are insightful or informative it does not mean that I agree with them and things can be funny and off-topic. Even troll comments can carry useful information from time to time.

So, I would propose something you could pick up to 2 options from 3 columns:
[] informative(+1)..[] agree(+1).....[] off-topic (-1)
[] insightful(+1)...[] disagree(-1)..[] troll (-1)
[] funny(+1).........................[] spam (-1)
[] inaccurate(-1)

It would generate a range from -2 to +2. It could also balance out things a bit (like funny but off-topic for those of us without sense of humor).

You could set a spam threshold (like -20 spam tags) that would "freeze" the account) and also a troll threshold (like 100 troll tags). May lighten your duties on this kind of behavior.

We could have the footer display something like:
Reply Permalink Bookmark Score: 1 7+ 5- 1#

Hum, perhaps, a bit too much.

Reply Score: 3

Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

As an admin account, you can see who voted what on any given post.

While I certainly don't think that the identity of voters should be made public, I tend to agree that it could be good if users could see why a comment was voted up and down.

Reply Score: 1

No comment.
by unclefester on Wed 11th Jan 2012 04:13 UTC
unclefester
Member since:
2007-01-13

No comment.

Reply Score: 8

Invisible?
by DHofmann on Wed 11th Jan 2012 05:30 UTC
DHofmann
Member since:
2005-08-19

The OSNews team had to remove (in official parlance: set to 'invisible') just 1400 of them.

It would be better to collapse them, and make sure "nofollow" is turned on so they don't affect search ratings. Sometimes there are gems hiding in the collapsed comments on other social networking sites.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Invisible?
by Alfman on Wed 11th Jan 2012 05:46 UTC in reply to "Invisible?"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

DHofmann,

"It would be better to collapse them, and make sure 'nofollow' is turned on so they don't affect search ratings. Sometimes there are gems hiding in the collapsed comments on other social networking sites."

I wholly disagree, osnews shouldn't give spammers any presence at all.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Invisible?
by DHofmann on Wed 11th Jan 2012 05:48 UTC in reply to "RE: Invisible?"
DHofmann Member since:
2005-08-19

I agree. However, whether it's spam or not is a judgment call.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by abstraction
by abstraction on Wed 11th Jan 2012 06:12 UTC
abstraction
Member since:
2008-11-27

What I would like to have is more user generate content. Often I've read an article and thought I would like to write a short follow up on this article but never bothered because of the submission process. Some sites have the possibility to add links to people who blogs about the subject "Today I read an article on osnews about xyz and here is my thoughts on the matter...". This could be integrated into the site so people could either link to articles about the matter or perhaps write their blog entries directly on osnews.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by OSbunny
by OSbunny on Wed 11th Jan 2012 07:12 UTC
OSbunny
Member since:
2009-05-23

Most of the time I come here for the comments. It's that simple. Most OSNews articles are little more than summaries of something that the author found elsewhere on the web. The only reason to visit this site is to read the responses of visitors in the comments section.

On other sites the comments section is like the cherry on top. On good sites you are likely to find at least one or two comments that air a very unique perspective on things. That is what makes it all worthwhile.

Reply Score: 3

Without Comments, No Community
by benali72 on Wed 11th Jan 2012 08:15 UTC
benali72
Member since:
2008-05-03

Without comments, a web site lacks a community and becomes sterile.

I would suggest changing the Comment Engine at OSNews to allow moderation regardless of whether one has commented on an article, and to allow comments to be added as long as the article remains on the first page.

Removing these artificial limitations would increase the volume and quality of comments here.

Reply Score: 7

RE: Without Comments, No Community
by bryhhh on Wed 11th Jan 2012 08:27 UTC in reply to "Without Comments, No Community"
bryhhh Member since:
2005-07-22

+1; I'd definitely up vote your comment, but I've already posted in the thread.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Without Comments, No Community
by sorpigal on Wed 11th Jan 2012 12:48 UTC in reply to "Without Comments, No Community"
sorpigal Member since:
2005-11-02

I agree that commenting should remain enabled as long as the article is on the front page, but this is probably difficult. Certainly it will give an unfortunately varying length of comment time, given the sometimes sporadic and sometimes frantic rate of articles around here.

Moderating after you've posted is dangerous. I'd prefer it if moderation were turned off for your own posts and replies to them (basically, to threads rooted at posts you make) rather than being "on or off" for a whole story. It makes sense to say "You're talking in this thread, so no more moderating in it" more than for a whole story. Often times I find myself wanting to moderate one tangent of comments on a story but comment on an unrelated one.

Reply Score: 4

Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

+10 to this ! ;)

Reply Score: 1

BeamishBoy Member since:
2010-10-27

Without comments, a web site lacks a community and becomes sterile.


Although it caters to a different audience, a famous counterexample exists which disproves this: Andrew Sullivan's site.

Sullivan deals mostly with politics in his blog but - famously - draws a hugely wide readership. He's repeatedly floated the idea of allowing comments on his posts but his readers have always overwhelmingly voted to keep comments off the site.

Instead, he and his team hand pick emails submitted by readers and publish them as posts. The signal-to-noise ratio on Sullivan's site is enormous as a result.

Reply Score: 1

Suggestion for comment engine
by odegard on Wed 11th Jan 2012 09:38 UTC
odegard
Member since:
2012-01-11

I've been a reader for many years, haven't felt the need to comment before now.

#1 If SPAM is the target, and different opinions the victim og the current system, I believe this can solved be shifting the cost of casting a down vote and an up vote. You wouldn't waste an expensive down vote trying to sink a competing opinion when other readers easily can lift it up again.

Now the problem is, why would you waste en expensive down vote on spam? Well, perhaps the comment engine can do some math... if there are 99% down votes and 1% up vote, it's spam and all down voters are reimbursed.

#2 I don't mind the patent news either.

Reply Score: 2

Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

The biggest problem is not the voting. The system and its algorithms are smart enough as it is to even deal with systematic downvoting of a single user; ask kaiwai. He was being downvoted systematically by a group of people for no reason. Obviously, he wasn't happy about this, so in the end, we banned the responsible accounts and fixed it.

Interestingly enough, though, it didn't affect his stats at all, because the system realised what was going on. It was pretty impressive to see.

The biggest issue is not up or downvoting, but the fact that people attach a value to the comment score. Individual comment scores mean nothing, which is why we've toyed with the idea of hiding it altogether (and possibly using other means to indicate comment quality). A few downvotes means fcuk all, but because of the score we display, people assume it's ravaging their standing if they get a few (understandable, since the score is there for all to see). However, it means nothing. The system is smarter than that.

Edited 2012-01-11 09:48 UTC

Reply Score: 1

ricegf Member since:
2007-04-25

FWIW, I like seeing the scores. Probably the math nerd in me.

I generally expand hidden messages, too, for the same reason I slow down to look at a car wreck - but I like the action of expanding a hidden comment as well.

*shrugs*

Reply Score: 6

earksiinni Member since:
2009-03-27

Sometimes I enjoy the comment scores precisely because of their unfairness.

I get downvoted into oblivion sometimes, especially when I make an ironic jest that gets idiotically interpreted as an attempt at trolling. I also remember once submitting an (admittedly premature) article on this site relating to my research that got blasted to bits by people who didn't have the time or desire to read what I had written carefully (or click "page 2").

In complete seriousness--honestly, no sarcasm--I like that kind of feedback. It shows me 1) what to expect at a "gut level" from a highly educated very technical audience, and 2) how to write better comments and articles that will get through to that audience. Life isn't fair, and I would be afraid that with a "fairer" comment system that I wouldn't get that kind of insight. I learn just as much from the ignorant replies here as from the brilliant ones.

Reply Score: 3

i think they're important and interesting
by Glynser on Wed 11th Jan 2012 09:48 UTC
Glynser
Member since:
2007-11-29

Actually I noticed that quite often I only read parts of the article or just skim it, but spend most of the time on reading the comments.

Not just on this website, but on others as well (so please don't get me wrong, I don't want to say that the articles are not worthy to read ;) I just found out I'm mostly interested in people's opinions)

Reply Score: 3

Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

Actually I noticed that quite often I only read parts of the article or just skim it, but spend most of the time on reading the comments.

Not just on this website, but on others as well (so please don't get me wrong, I don't want to say that the articles are not worthy to read ;) I just found out I'm mostly interested in people's opinions)


You're not alone in that, and that's perfectly fine. In fact, it's great. To me, comments are on equal footing with out content.

Reply Score: 1

sorpigal Member since:
2005-11-02

Comments are content, really. On a topic I only vaguely know it's sometimes more useful to know "what people are saying" about it than whatever the blurb is that the company is pushing. "Company foo is synergizing bar by rolling out XYZ, which will serve to bolster its stagnating quux business." - well, the first thing I want is someone more familiar with the company or its industry to tell me whether this is bullshit or not, more so than I want a review of the new XYZ product.

Reply Score: 3

Comment by sorpigal
by sorpigal on Wed 11th Jan 2012 12:41 UTC
sorpigal
Member since:
2005-11-02

It is impossible to discuss comments on the internet without bringing up Slashdot. Prior to /. comments everywhere was certainly not the norm, especially on news sites, but thanks to the veracity of its userbase and the relative sophistication of its moderation system, it became evident that comments can actually add value.

After becoming familiar with Slashdot and its comments it began to feel weird to hit a site with news postings without being able to comment. I observed in around 2002 that one day all things would have comments systems attached, especially and importantly things that are politically related such as sites discussing lawmakers, laws and campaigns. While this has broadly been borne out it certainly hasn't happened in the best possible way.

There is so much value in comments that it completely outweighs any negatives that might seep in. Being able to always see the counter-opinion to what was written is fundamentally good. The fact that whatever is said anywhere with comments available is not only open to criticism but open to a kind of automatic "equal time" in the same venue is a quite staggering shift in the way we communicate. You may watch some bonehead on TV say something dumb and you may complain about it to your friends, who saw it with you, but any insights you have are useless to everyone else. You don't get a chance to air them, so you don't matter. With online commenting the playing field is level. You don't have to be anybody and you can still be heard.

Of course this means that griefers and trolls are highly visible, too, which means a moderation system is a must. Since you can't compete with everybody it has to scale out with the userbase automatically, which means users have to also be moderators; now you've got another problem! How do you avoid homogenization of opinion? How do you prevent the (for example) perponderance of Apple fanboys from drowning out legitimate critique of Apple products? Worse, how do you prevent sockpuppets from stuffing the ballot box and giving undue prominence to truly fringle opinion? Should the fact that most people disagree, which is what makes it a fringe opinion, be a reason to suppress its expression?

There are no entirely complete answers, but it's pretty clear that not dealing with these problems just won't work. Comments are too useful to simply not have them. A site without comments is less valuable, to me, especially on unfamiliar topics, because I can't trivially learn whether what I'm seeing is broadly agreed upon, flawed, or what have you. Think of user reviews of products on e.g. newegg--I simply won't buy a mouse without reading product reviews that can communicate more than just "1 star" or "5 star" - they tell me things like "The mouse is too large for my hand, which makes it awkward," but I like large mice! Clearly it's the one for me.

Further, without comments I feel that I am trapped, cut off and preemtively without recourse should something go wrong. I don't want to ever return to the days of complaints falling on deaf ears and of suggestion cards that disappear into the bowels of a company without any noticable impact. With a comment system I know that I can have my voice heard, even if only by other concerned customers, citizens, etc..

Comments bring the vast digital world, somehow, back down to a personal level. It's a crowd of people in a public place holding a mostly democratic discussion of whatever topic is at hand, except that there's no fear of violent retaliation for speaking out of turn. With comments we are no longer passive consumers or sheep, we are now active participants in the discussion.

Reply Score: 8

RE: Comment by sorpigal
by ricegf on Wed 11th Jan 2012 14:16 UTC in reply to "Comment by sorpigal"
ricegf Member since:
2007-04-25

I tend not to read comments on political sites because of the polarization and name-calling. It's sad, but it accurately reflects what the USA is seeing in our government from both major parties.

Sometimes I just want to slap our politicians upside the head and yell, "Play nice!!!".

Reply Score: 2

I for one...
by siraf72 on Wed 11th Jan 2012 12:46 UTC
siraf72
Member since:
2006-02-22

violently agree with most of what was said in this post.

Edited 2012-01-11 12:47 UTC

Reply Score: 1

Comment by IanOliver
by IanOliver on Wed 11th Jan 2012 13:37 UTC
IanOliver
Member since:
2012-01-11

Thom, I completely agree with your comments on err... comments. Tackling spam and idiot comments can be tough work, but the benefits of having great discussions in the comments far outweighs the effort needed to have them.

In fact, even though I've read OSNews for a long time, only today have I actually signed-up and posted this, my first comment here.

I guess comments vs no comments is a bit like (as you say) a discussion in a room of people (albeit with a 'leading' voice - the author) vs one man with a megaphone.

As you're re-doing the site, may I make a small request? In the RSS feed, could we have the full article/post content, including links please?

Reply Score: 1

RE: Comment by IanOliver
by Thom_Holwerda on Wed 11th Jan 2012 13:52 UTC in reply to "Comment by IanOliver"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

As you're re-doing the site, may I make a small request? In the RSS feed, could we have the full article/post content, including links please?


If everything we're doing came in the form of a list, this would be number 2.

It's going to happen.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by IanOliver
by IanOliver on Wed 11th Jan 2012 16:51 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by IanOliver"
IanOliver Member since:
2012-01-11

That's great Thom, thanks ;)

This is off-topic, I know, but I'd be happy to help out with any HTML and CSS advice or bits you might need looking at.

Reply Score: 1

jabbotts
Member since:
2007-09-06

Those are the two things I run into most here I'd say.

Make moders accountable. I'm not loosing sleep over having a commented moded down but I often want to know why. Off topic? Is my information incorrect? Is someone just pissed that I don't support there pet belief?

A reasonable way to make modding acountable would be interesting. A better report or more obvious way to access why one has been modded. Maybe modding requires a one line comment or similar?


Make the displayed name a variable. When I first signed up, the form did not make it clear that the name given would be displayed and that it could not later be changed. For lack of a "cancel my account" option (or my lack of looking for it hard enough) one would have to orphan an account and setup a new one just to change the display name.


Third request; don't do what Tech Republic did with the last site overhaul. The made a complete mess of the commenting system they previously had in place (among other poor layout decisions).

Reply Score: 2

Enlighten the OS devs, please Adam?
by kjmph on Wed 11th Jan 2012 16:05 UTC
kjmph
Member since:
2009-07-17

While I can bore you to death about virtual memory or drivers, I really don't know what makes the comment system so good. I suspect there is an underlying algorithm and heuristic capturing method to the madness? In the context of this discussion it would be cool if Adam would pipe up about his good work and teach us OS devs a little about web dev.

Reply Score: 1

Adam S Member since:
2005-04-01

Would you be interested in a blog-like article about the system?

Something along the lines of this, which I recently wrote for another site?

http://blog.phish.net/1325785809/phishnet-technology-report

Reply Score: 2

kjmph Member since:
2009-07-17

Yes, indeed. That's a good example. BTW, The Mockingbird Foundation is in Queensbury? Seriously? I grew up there...

Reply Score: 2

come for the articles stay for the comments
by REM2000 on Wed 11th Jan 2012 16:17 UTC
REM2000
Member since:
2006-07-25

This has been said before by many other posters, but i will add my own comment as well. I do like the articles on OSNews, they are well sourced with excellent content and has made me a regular for a number of years. What really keeps me coming back though are the excellent comments, members are knowledgeable and generally good natured to each other, i enjoy reading the comments as these tend to extend/expand the original article and if my design or chance there always seems to be a good balance of both sides to build a good picture and have a good discussion.

I think the moderation works generally well, i have seen a few good posts modded down for no discernible reason however i don't see fighting or general trolling, people generally have good opinions and these are generally modded highly, it's rare to see a highly modded post with no useful content.

I like the site layout as it's very clear to view individual articles so i hope the new designs are not too drastic. Overall OSNews is one of those rare corners of the internet that are populated with good people to converse with.

Reply Score: 2

Following replies
by earksiinni on Wed 11th Jan 2012 18:23 UTC
earksiinni
Member since:
2009-03-27

My only suggestion would be to make it easier to trace back what comment a reply was in response to. Drawing lines tree diagram-style would be distracting, I think, but you could use some CSS/JS magic so that when you click on the header for each reply it would draw a faint line back up to the original comment being replied so that users could scroll back up to find it. Does that make sense? Please ask me to clarify if not because I'd really love to see a feature like that in the next version of the site. It's really hard to follow replies in busy threads ATM.

Also, try not to block users who are trying to comment about previous spammers in the comments section of an article devoted to the commenting system. I recommend achieving this by turning the irony setting on your blacklist down from 11 ;-)

Reply Score: 2

RE: Following replies
by Thom_Holwerda on Wed 11th Jan 2012 18:30 UTC in reply to "Following replies"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

The new design we're currently working with will make threading a hell of a lot easier to follow.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Following replies
by earksiinni on Wed 11th Jan 2012 18:30 UTC in reply to "RE: Following replies"
earksiinni Member since:
2009-03-27

Sweet.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Following replies
by BeamishBoy on Wed 11th Jan 2012 23:37 UTC in reply to "RE: Following replies"
BeamishBoy Member since:
2010-10-27

The new design we're currently working with will make threading a hell of a lot easier to follow.


One of my bugbears about threading here is as follows: a comment thread with a lot of replies will eventually display a "Read more..." link when the thread depth passes a certain point. This is great as it helps to avoid a single very active thread from overwhelming the entire discussion.

However, after clicking the "Read more..." link once, it seems that it shows up again far too often on the child pages. For instance, another three nested replies will see another "Read more..." link, which takes you to a new page, and so on, and so on. It seems very clunky to me.

Reply Score: 2

Trololol
by Neolander on Wed 11th Jan 2012 18:30 UTC
Neolander
Member since:
2010-03-08

(Disclaimer : This comment is not meant to be taken seriously. Really, it isn't.)

It really does not surprise me that many of the people who advocate turning comments off use Apple stuff : freedom of expression advocacy and use of iOS just don't go well together... ;)

Reply Score: 4

RE: Trololol
by lfeagan on Wed 11th Jan 2012 20:03 UTC in reply to "Trololol"
lfeagan Member since:
2006-04-01

Too much choice can be bad (overwhelming). But too little choice is even harder to solve. I recently picked up an Apple Airport Extreme while on a two week visit with relatives as their wireless sucked. I got better signal from the neighbor across the street's unsecured AP. But after coming from SonicOS and OpenWRT, I found the lack of settings for the Airport rather stifling. Apple included just barely enough to be sufficient. While this was fine for my ad-hoc needs, it would not have been acceptable to me on my own networks.

Similarly, a friend that used and liked Gnome for many years recently upgraded to current and found that desirable configuration capabilities were no longer present. This led him to try KDE4 after I had been pushing him on using it for years. The Gnome leadership seems to share Apple's "There is one and only one right (reasonable) way of doing things." While trying to find the best way to do things in the simple/wizard mode is good and noble, there should also be an "advanced" escape hatch. I find TinkerTool invaluable when on OS X.

Edited 2012-01-11 20:05 UTC

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Trololol
by Neolander on Wed 11th Jan 2012 20:11 UTC in reply to "RE: Trololol"
Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

I couldn't agree more with what you said in this post.

To defend Apple's approach of minimal GUI settings tools, though, it can be seen as a way to focus on the features that matter most, and leave more obscure settings to CLI tinkerers and community-baked tweaking tools.

This approach can even work quite well as long as the community has the right to code whatever it wants, such as this TinkerTool soft which you mention.

However, I don't think it will continue to work well indefinitely when hardware and software begin to be tightly controlled to the point of privacy invasion and censorship, which seems to be Apple's current idea of a perfect computing platform.

Edited 2012-01-11 20:14 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Random tidbits:
by earksiinni on Wed 11th Jan 2012 19:13 UTC
earksiinni
Member since:
2009-03-27

Other suggestions, now that I think about it:

1. Enable SSL-encrypted logins. I wrote in about this once and I think that David said that I was the only person to have ever asked about it and so I should just use a unique phrase for my password. Fair enough, but the expectation in 2012 is that all serious major sites that require logins do it through SSL. I'm sure that this audience in particular would appreciate that; I would not be surprised if some super savvy types have been put off from commenting by precisely this issue.

2. When you log in to post a comment, first it makes you log in twice, and then it doesn't even return you to the original post that you were about to comment on. Very annoying.

3. I, for one, am against moving the avatars to Gravatar or any other centralized service for the same reasons I don't trust Google Docs or Facebook. I was about to put up an avatar but now I'm not sure whether I will because I don't want my e-mail address passed on to another third party service. (Click on your avatar logo in the upper right hand corner, read the blurb about Gravatar, and tell me that it can't be interpreted as implying something like that.)

Reply Score: 2

RE: Random tidbits:
by Thom_Holwerda on Wed 11th Jan 2012 19:15 UTC in reply to "Random tidbits:"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

I, for one, am against moving the avatars to Gravatar or any other centralized service for the same reasons I don't trust Google Docs or Facebook. I was about to put up an avatar but now I'm not sure whether I will because I don't want my e-mail address passed on to another third party service. (Click on your avatar logo in the upper right hand corner, read the blurb about Gravatar, and tell me that it can't be interpreted as implying something like that.)


The design we're currently working on doesn't have avatars at all.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Random tidbits:
by earksiinni on Wed 11th Jan 2012 19:47 UTC in reply to "RE: Random tidbits:"
earksiinni Member since:
2009-03-27

OSNews is just going to become one big WP7.

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Random tidbits:
by ricegf on Thu 12th Jan 2012 11:55 UTC in reply to "RE: Random tidbits:"
ricegf Member since:
2007-04-25

No avatars?!? But avatars are a quick way to visually identify frequent posters. Do you have a similar shorthand method for recognizing the regulars?

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Random tidbits:
by neutralTTY on Thu 12th Jan 2012 14:29 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Random tidbits:"
neutralTTY Member since:
2012-01-12

Only names...

I just signed today.

Avatars are cool, yes, but it's not necessary for identifing valuable/cool/good comments.

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: Random tidbits:
by ricegf on Thu 12th Jan 2012 17:36 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Random tidbits:"
ricegf Member since:
2007-04-25

Avatars are cool, yes, but it's not necessary for identifing valuable/cool/good comments.


No, but they really help in identifing valuable/cool/good people. :-)

Reply Score: 2

Comment by Luminair
by Luminair on Thu 12th Jan 2012 05:20 UTC
Luminair
Member since:
2007-03-30

I can't believe discussion is even a topic of discussion. Either you're antisocial, or you're not and you find a way to make comments work. Next!

Reply Score: 2

Stack Overflow
by sbenitezb on Thu 12th Jan 2012 17:56 UTC
sbenitezb
Member since:
2005-07-22

I like the SO way of moderation. I think it's perfect.

Reply Score: 2

Mod for the people, by the people.
by Bounty on Thu 12th Jan 2012 19:59 UTC
Bounty
Member since:
2006-09-18

I'm not a fan of dictatorships. I've seen several instances of mods targeting specific users just because they disagreed with them. Ocassionally it blows up and a mod loses thier power, but not often, since mods often are tight with the site leadership. Also people are afraid of said mod taking it out on them, so they stay quiet.

I think the sort of... democracy you have here works much better. About the only change that might help those truly paranoid about fale negative votes, would be a free (once per user per post?) upvote category called "Not Trolling/Spam" that's only available on -1 posts. However, I don't think that's really necessary, as most -1 posts I've seen belong there, and the rest I'd upvote anyways.

Reply Score: 2

OFF TOPIC
by Tuishimi on Fri 13th Jan 2012 15:54 UTC
Tuishimi
Member since:
2005-07-06

This is completely off-topic but I cannot believe there has been no article posted about the recent decision in the Netherlands regarding Pirate Bay.

Edited 2012-01-13 15:54 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Comments
by Priest on Fri 13th Jan 2012 17:13 UTC
Priest
Member since:
2006-05-12

I have been reading OSnews for probably 10 years. I think the comment system on reddit is my favorite and really one of the main reason I visit the site since most the articles are cat pictures and stuff I mostly don't care about.

Edited 2012-01-13 17:17 UTC

Reply Score: 2