Linked by David Adams on Tue 9th Sep 2003 16:18 UTC
OSNews, Generic OSes You may have noticed that we've implemented a system that allows readers to report comments that abuse our forum rules, in an effort to improve the quality of the conversation and make the job of moderating the comments a little easier for OSNews volunteers. However, this reactive solution is only half of the effort that will be required to make OSNews a better place for reasoned debate. The proactive, and more important, effort is the responsibility of all those who use the comments system. It involves showing a little restraint before being lured into the fray and contributing to a negative atmosphere.
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looks good
by debman on Tue 9th Sep 2003 16:42 UTC

I think this is a good idea and a very moderate (no pun intended) solution.

Re: looks good
by Joe Radkowski on Tue 9th Sep 2003 16:49 UTC

Yea I agree. What ive enjoyed the most about osnews over the past years that I visit it is the maturity. The signal-noise in the posts are alot less compared to other sites that attempt the same subject matter. Only recently has implementing moderation seemed like a justified job to do. Usually i tend to ignore the 1 or 2 posts per pages that are either OT or flamebait but it has been getting to be a chore to do so.

re looks good
by dabooty on Tue 9th Sep 2003 16:52 UTC

i especially like the way a reviewed comment can't be reported again

the trolling seems to have gotten a little better than it was a month ago, i hope this system will make the osnews comments a little more high-quality

i always enjoyed reading osnews comments (even if i didn't read the article) because it used to be filled with people who express their intelligent views in well-written posts, and there weren't 100 posts to scroll through

by justin on Tue 9th Sep 2003 16:54 UTC

Very good solutions, over all. Can't say that I haven't fallen prey to the odd troll or two over my time here.

Maybe we feed the trolls to the grues once and for all?

Threaded comment system
by Beavis on Tue 9th Sep 2003 16:56 UTC

Good idea, now how about a threased comment system?

v My Fellow Citizens
by Traal on Tue 9th Sep 2003 16:59 UTC
by Michael on Tue 9th Sep 2003 17:00 UTC

I have been reading your articles for about a year and find this site to be a treasure trove of information.

It is unfortunate that some people have so little of a life that they take pleasure in annoying others and waisting our time !

Keep up the good work and I know that people like myself will help you with this issue.

You're doing a great job !!!


good first steps
by Publishing Review Board on Tue 9th Sep 2003 17:04 UTC

Dear Mr. Adams,

Congratulations. The first step in fixing a problem is admitting that you have a problem. I'm happy to see that you, the publisher, realize there is a problem on OSNews.

As you wrote, OSNews will be posting controversial material. In my experience of Internet communities, controversial material leads to arguments. And completely civil arguments are very rare, even on a super moderated system such as /.

So it seems that you want to have your cake (posting inflammatory articles, allowing editors and publishers to post their own super-biased opinions) and eat it too (uh, "don't feed the trolls"). From the past frequency of inflammatory material, I can only assume that those "ten cents" starts adding up at some point. Either that or the inherent bias in your current editorial staff comes out via a "post lots of troll topics" and "act like trolls ourselves" perversity.

My opinion is that a moderated system such as the one /. employs is the best answer I've seen to a community-regulated system. Relying on a few super-biased editors is definitely not the answer. And "report abuse" is so entirely subjective that it is worse than half a solution. It's half a solution in the wrong direction. Perhaps you could implement an "off topic" link that if some number of differnent users clicked on it (say 5), it would move the post to an off topic area for review. In order for a community to be open, where people are encouraged to speak, "report abuse" is simply not the right thing.

I will also mention that there is no "imploring the community" to "not feed the trolls" that I've seen work. OSNews prides itself on defining a troll comment as any comment that does not agree with an OSNews editor's biased opinion. For a reader, that basically removes all desire to make OSNews a good community. Who wants to please an autocrat?

Other than moderation, what I've also seen work to improve comment quality (but not necessarily editorial quality) is forcing people to use real identities or forcing people to pay via credit card (implicit real identity).

Perhaps you need to do some soul searching on what you want OSNews to be. If you want it to be regulated by the community, more moderation infrastructure is required. If you want it to remain the province of a few snobby editors and their pet topics, then keep it mostly the same.

For my readership, an OS-related Slashdot type site would be an amazing thing. There's a potential to build real value, both for the reader and the publisher. It could be "Slashdot lite" as the content of OSNews will likely be far less than what is covered on /.

Everday I am on /. helping moderate the site. It feels good to be part of a community where participation and free speech are encouraged. It's a much different feel than OSNews. Much more open, free, and fun.

What I don't want is more of the same at OSNews. I read OSNews much less than I used to, mostly because of the editorial staff and the constant flamewars, trollwars, biased and/or stupid and/or beaten-to-death editorials that the OSNews staff engenders. Not to mention how they do not understand how to show restraint and jump into many conversations with their own super-biased comments. Or just randomly delete messages that they don't like.

Once again, congratulations on admitting your site has a problem. Putting the issue on the table is a great first step. You've got a popular website and this is definitely an important decision point for you.

Good luck.

The Publishing Review Board

I like it
by Aitvo on Tue 9th Sep 2003 17:06 UTC

Does it eliminate the read moderated posts link? I don't like that idea, and at the same time I do like that idea. haha What's the plan for those that would report every single comment?

Actually, though you probably meant it as a joke, it's actually an interesting thought. Similar to the thoughts about physical security an interview with Bruce Schneier that I read recently The answer is not to ask terrorists to please not commit their acts of terrorism, but instead focus on the vulnerabilities that can be addressed the most readily and have the maximum impact. Implementing complicated technology can be costly and intrusive, and sometimes fails to pay off. Requiring commenters to log in, and then creating a byzantize auto-moderation system burdens both the reader and the site, and there's no guarantee it will work. Likewise, reinforcing a cockpit door and reminding airline passengers that they can fight back is likely to have more effect in preventing an airliner-as-weapon scenario than all the intrusive, costly, and time-consuming high tech scans we can imagine. Periodically reminding responsible readers that their reactions are as much to blame for the flamewars as the troll provocations is an easy and effective solution that doesn't burden anyone.

Re: The Publishing Review Board
by David Adams on Tue 9th Sep 2003 17:15 UTC

I will admit that on occasion the site moderators have succumbed to the temptation to use their power to mod down posts that disagree with their views, and have been too eager to join in the fray themselves. Though I think you're blowing the problem way out of proportion, I hope you will be happy to hear that we have quietly taken action to prevent this from happening in the future, including revoking some moderators' priviledges.

Good idea.
by Anonymous on Tue 9th Sep 2003 17:23 UTC

This is a good idea, but it might be best if it were available to subscribing user only. This will only temp people to flag every post as a troll, or flamebait, and in the process taking up the editors time that could be better spent researching new stories.

RE: good first steps
by Danny MacMillan on Tue 9th Sep 2003 17:25 UTC

The things that I like about OSNews are precisely the things that /. does differently. If this site becomes like slashdot, I won't read it anymore because /. is boring. Sure, the comment moderation system increases the signal-to-noise ratio on /. but because there are no editors even the signal is noise.

Editors are biased. Of course they are -- everybody's biased. Good editors make for good reading, not because they are unbiased, but because they are select.

by Rugbuz on Tue 9th Sep 2003 17:26 UTC

I do agree that this is a necessary action.
I hate reading comments that really belong into the "OS wars" section on the forum.

If some people wouldnīt use each and every article to start attacking things not related to the article, this wasnīt necessary.

Unfortunately the majority always suffers from a loud minority. Negative examples:
- (german newsticker). Donīt ever read the comments section. There is not a single discussion about the article. Only kiddies writing lots of bullshit. I am glad OSNews doesnīt intend to become something like that...

v Eugenia
by Anonymous on Tue 9th Sep 2003 17:26 UTC
Please do not feed the trolls
by Stu on Tue 9th Sep 2003 17:27 UTC

"Awww, but Mummy, they're so cute and fluffly! Please let me feed them" :-)

But seriously, a good move which should edge things back to what they used to be.

It'll be a shame in a way though. Some of the better trolls make for real fun reading sometimes. Perhaps you could set up a system where posts from known trolls are collected so we can go and have a good laugh sometimes at their expense - a bit like a zoo!

by Erwos on Tue 9th Sep 2003 17:34 UTC

I'd like to chime in and point out that I've had more than a couple of well-reasoned, on-topic posts that moderators didn't agree with that were removed. A /.-like system makes it far more unlikely that that sort of abuse would happen in the future.

If it only works 90% of the time, well, you've just beaten the current system, which is totally in the hands of a few chosen people, not your entire reader base, and works maybe a hot 50% of the time.


good policy
by linuxlewis on Tue 9th Sep 2003 17:38 UTC

This is a great! Too many times you have trolls and flamers drowning out the intelligent comments. Its nice to see that we will see less junk and more substance.

Just in time...
by DeadFish Man on Tue 9th Sep 2003 17:53 UTC

The ratio of off-topic posts and trolling were getting bigger and bigger with time. Even if such effort donīt work properly all the time, it is better than no moderating system at all.

Now, if you guys put a preview button here in the comments section, OSNews readers will reach the nirvana. ;-)

DeadFish Man

terrorism vs. censorship
by Publishing Review Board on Tue 9th Sep 2003 18:00 UTC

"Censorship reflects society's lack of confidence in itself. It is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime."

Potter Stewart


Somehow I don't think censorship is the answer to terrorism.

Any system that relies on the arbitrary whims of a few openly biased editors is censorship.

The very idea that someone's comment is "abuse" is antithetical to free speech. As so many posts that didn't agree with an editor's opinion have been regarded as "trolls" by the editors, it begs the question: "Is every differing opinion an act of terrorism?".

Instead of editorial censorship, the community could self-regulate. These sorts of self-regulated communities tend to be healthy communities. Much like well-functioning democracies are good places to live. Slashdot is not the most highly regarded and popular tech community on the net for no good reason, after all.

I'm not saying OSNews should be Slashdot. Just self-regulating with clear, open, and universally applicable policies, especially if the editors are going to join discussions and post their powerfully biased opinions.

The current content moderation policies are ambiguous and hypocritical. The editors themselves don't stick to them. As far as I know, no one has made actual terrorist attacks on OSNews. I've seen far more abuse of power by the editors than I have seen terrorist attacks.

For OSNews, the more that can be done to get the editors focused on great content instead of comment censorship is a win for OSNews and the readership.

The Publising Review Board

P.S. By the way, I see already one comment has been censored from the main discussion. That's a shame as although Eugenia contributes tremendous value to OSNews, her "everyone is a troll who doesn't agree with me" attitude, penchant for posting troll topics, and disregard for her own site policies seems like part of the problem that should be addressed openly, not censored.

by CrackedButter on Tue 9th Sep 2003 18:00 UTC

Or you could just stop reporting news where OSX and Apple is concerned! ;)

correction (and i'll second the vote for "preview")
by Publishing Review Board on Tue 9th Sep 2003 18:07 UTC


"Slashdot is not the most highly regarded and popular tech community on the net for no good reason, after all."


"Slashdot is not the most highly regarded and popular tech community on the net for good reason, after all."

Correction submitted at 11:07am PST

The Publishing Review Board

RE:  terrorism vs. censorship
by Late Worker on Tue 9th Sep 2003 18:11 UTC

> Somehow I don't think censorship is the answer to terrorism.

Somehow i think that osnews is not a school, neither unicef, nor UN. If someone is a real jacka$$, he/she should be moderated down, without a second thought. We all come over here to have some good time, not get angry over some pests that want to destroy our good time and the time of the editors. Sorry, but if moderation can fix that, I am all for it. If you want to get more philosophical that that, get into real world problems about terrorirsm, not about online discussions.

> Instead of editorial censorship, the community could self-regulate

Which will require passwords and logins for the readers/moderators. I prefer it the way it is now: Simple, anonymous, accessible.

v A damn fine idea!
by Iconoclast on Tue 9th Sep 2003 18:11 UTC
RE: Or
by linuxlewis on Tue 9th Sep 2003 18:11 UTC

I agree. For some strange reason a company with such small marketshare has the most ardent supporters and detractors. So its intersting that Apple can attract so much attention. Even the haters love to comment on Apple and MacOSX.

by j on Tue 9th Sep 2003 18:13 UTC

Why not set up a wiki server for comments?

by spaceboy29 on Tue 9th Sep 2003 18:16 UTC

Keep up the good work, I come here multible times a day to read articles and comments. I must be a geek

re: late worker
by Publishing Review Board on Tue 9th Sep 2003 18:28 UTC

I'm not the one who originated the terrorism analogy. I don't think it is a good analogy.

First, I'll note that terrorism is an incredibly subjective word. It is worse than "troll", especially considering that there have been no acts of "terrorism" on OSNews as far as I know.

Second, I don't think taking away rights from the citizens is the answer to terrorism.

Third, often it is oppression and injustice that causes the terrorism in the first place.

Lastly, if comment quality is important, why would a person object to the small hassle of setting up a user name and a password?

The hit in accessibility would only be there if you wanted to comment or to moderate comments. It distributes the moderation effort over the community instead of bottlenecking it with a few editors who in practice are going to end up biasing moderation more than a larger group of users.

If anything, maintaining the current system allows for a higher volume of dissenting opinions -- i.e. "terrorism" in the words of the publisher. My comments so far would have been moderated down -- censored -- as "trolling" in the past, no matter if they are "on topic" or not.

I've put in my two cents. As I said previously, unless the publisher decides to upgrade his editorial staff and policies, nothing will change. Moderation done by a few select and incredibly biased people is censorship. A censored site is only worth a quick glance, not any significant investment of time.

The Publishing Review Board

cute trolls
by mads on Tue 9th Sep 2003 18:30 UTC

"It'll be a shame in a way though. Some of the better trolls make for real fun reading sometimes. Perhaps you could set up a system where posts from known trolls are collected so we can go and have a good laugh sometimes at their expense - a bit like a zoo! "

yuo we need a Troll zoo, great idea, i second that ;) - we must preserve some of the endangered species on earth

RE: My first moderated post
by Iconoclast on Tue 9th Sep 2003 18:30 UTC

Hey, that's pretty cool. Seriously, congratulations OSNews people on making a really cool feature.

I was just joking by the way (which should have been obvious). I don't hate you all. Just whoever modded my post. ;)

RE Cute Trolls
by Iconoclast on Tue 9th Sep 2003 18:32 UTC

yuo we need a Troll zoo, great idea, i second that ;) - we must preserve some of the endangered species on earth

I agree, but we already have the "moderated down" section. I always check there first because the most entertaining comments are usually there.

RE Publishing Review Board
by Iconoclast on Tue 9th Sep 2003 18:37 UTC

All of your points are very good. However, I look forward to using this new system; or at least watching it be used.

I picture a scenario much like the one in an early episode of the Simpsons, where the Simpson family all go to counseling and end up abusing their shock-therapy helmets; using them for revenge instead of using them constructively (if indeed that can be possible). It sounds like fun to me.

Moderating with "Report abuse" link
by Ian Christie on Tue 9th Sep 2003 18:45 UTC

This sounds like it could really work well, especially if the system would flag a post as "troll" or "abuse" after a certain count of clicks to the link and. It would involve logging the complaining user's IP so as to ensure that someone doesn't click the link 100 times to get a post flagged, because they don't like the guy.

Clarification of current modification system?
by Brian Hawley on Tue 9th Sep 2003 18:57 UTC

I just noticed the new moderation system and this subject today, and I would like to know if my impression of how it works is in any way accurate:

If you think a comment is innapropriate for its section, abuses the forum rules, etc., you click on the "Report abuse" link. This then flags the comment for review by the editors of this site, who can decide whether to "moderate down" the comment or mark it as "Already reviewed", and thus not subject to further reporting.

Am I right here? This is not a criticism - I think this system could work very well as long as there is some review of editorial abuses (if any), and a previous message implies that there is such a review mechanism. Good work!

I just wish that there was some easy-to-access documentation of this practice so that I wouldn't be spending so much time trying to figure out what the changes mean. I read this site every day so it's not too difficult for me, but there are bound to be people who haven't seen the site yet - why confuse them?

I would suggest putting a ? link with an alt attribute of "What is this?" next to the "Report abuse" link or the "Already reviewed" label, linking to a page (not popup!) explaining the moderation process and policies. This is just a site usability suggestion - I know you are into usability.

On the other hand, the Troll Zoo idea sounds fun, sort of like the pictures of shoplifters displayed at the counter of my local comic shop. That and an "OS Wars" forum could be draws for those looking for a good laugh, and might clear some of the existing topics of a little noise ;)

re: Publishing Review Board
by A.K.H. on Tue 9th Sep 2003 19:05 UTC

Moderation done by a few select and incredibly biased people is censorship.

That is not always true. Take, for example, evolution being taught in Kansas schools. The majority voted (moderated) that evolution should not be taught in schools. This is censorship and it happened because the majority of poeple in Kansas are die hard religous people.

Similarly, if the majority of a the reader base of a site such as osnews is biased, slashdot style moderation is also censorship. I remember when slashdot first put in their moderation system. At the time the majority of the readers were pro-linux anti-anything else. And the moderation REALLY showed that. Now a days, it's reader base is bigger and better distributed so the moderation system is working a little better.

The point is, a small number of unbiased reasonable moderators can do a far better job than a large number of biased moderators.

Re: Clarification of current modification system?
by Brian Hawley on Tue 9th Sep 2003 19:10 UTC

Me: I would suggest putting a ? link with an alt attribute of "What is this?" ...

Whoops, I mean alt="What is this?" attribute for an img link, title="What is this?" attribute in the a tag for a regular text link. Gotta keep up with those standards ;)

v Linux users are communists
by jmf on Tue 9th Sep 2003 19:32 UTC
by N.N. on Tue 9th Sep 2003 19:37 UTC

While you are updating the system. How about adding a preview feature. I often see posts with bad formatting or spelling errors, that would have been noticed by the author.

'fya ask me..
by Joe Redneck on Tue 9th Sep 2003 19:48 UTC

I never understood the point of some people have nothing better to do than spew crap, big freakin deal. It's just as easy to just ignore posts you dont want to read.

It's just a website. They're just anonymous opinions and comments, even if they might be off topic or trollish rant. It's strange to me that seemingly intelligent people invent reasons to get all bent out of shape dumb posts or a statue of the ten commandments.

RE: Preview
by Eugenia on Tue 9th Sep 2003 19:48 UTC

>How about adding a preview feature.

I just tried again to do it an hour ago. The way I want to do it (without spanning variables between many php files and without duplicating the code of comment.php), can't be done without javascript (basically, I want to open a new window (preview.php) when "Preview" is clicked, but to retain the form values of the main form, which is normally targeting comment2.php instead of preview.php - I don't want to have a 2-step procedure for it). And Js is out of the question on a site like osnews for its basic usage (we only have js for ads that were given to us to be used "as is"). As I said many times in the past, OSNews is designed to work on all browsers the same, even on very old ones and mobile ones, so things like heavy CSS, JS etc, are all out of the question.
I prefer to lose the "preview" feature than introduce Js or to unesessarily complex and duplicate my code all over the place. Of course and it can be done, but not without some serious duplication and re-coding at places, something that I am not willing to do today.

v ...
by Anonymous on Tue 9th Sep 2003 20:01 UTC
v ...
by Anonymous on Tue 9th Sep 2003 20:03 UTC
I agree sort of
by teknishn on Tue 9th Sep 2003 20:07 UTC

I like this, but only to an extent. I was just browsing through comments on the earlier SCO post and decided to check the moderated down ones. I have to say that of the 4 or so comments that were mod'd down (one was mine), I think there was really no reason to mod them down. They didnt look very trollish and profanity was definately at an acceptable level in my book. I dont understand why some of them were mod'd. Are we going to moderate a post just becaused it contains the words "pissed off" or "ass whoopin".

Come on now. The rules here are a good baseline, but dont need to be followed to the letter. I think better judgement needs to be used here. SCO took a stab at the open source community in that topic and I took a non profane stab back and got moderated. And I have no doubt that 99% of the audience in that forum would agree with my post.

RE: I agree sort of
by Eugenia on Tue 9th Sep 2003 20:09 UTC

I was not the one who moded down your comment in the SCO story, but I agree 100% with that moderator. I would have also mod down your comment. The fact that SCO is not a saint, doesn't make that comment any better.

RE: Publishing Review Board
by Wrawrat on Tue 9th Sep 2003 20:37 UTC

I don't think OSNews is doing censorship. You can access those moderated down comments, after all. It's not like they were deleting them.

RE Cute Trolls
by some idiot on Tue 9th Sep 2003 20:39 UTC

As a self proclaimed Troll, I can assure you we are not endangered, as evident in some of the other "OS review" sites and message boards.

RE: Publishing Review Board
by Eugenia on Tue 9th Sep 2003 20:41 UTC

>It's not like they were deleting them.

The only comments that _are_ deleted are the very vulgar/ugly/racist/truly-bad ones. The rest, are moded down. The rest (99,5%), are just staying live.

good first steps...
by Berend de Boer on Tue 9th Sep 2003 20:52 UTC

I hope the steps will not lead to a /. commenting system. Only paying customers and funny postings seem to get high ratings. Copy the contents of a link gets you a high informative or whatever rating. And insightful posts? Sometimes the reviewers get lucky, but as often they don't.

/. is just swamped by people who try to be funny to get high ratings. OS News comments tend to have more content.

IMO just a mechanism to report a troll is good enough. The other side of the equation are the posters themselves: just cut your toe(nail)s.

An improvement, for sure...
by Great Cthulhu on Tue 9th Sep 2003 20:55 UTC

...although some sort of peer moderation would have worked as well. I do understand the technical difficulties, though.

In the meantime I'll do my part by trying to not feed the troll, and reporting them instead.

Keep up the good work!

Re: I agree sort of
by teknishn on Tue 9th Sep 2003 21:01 UTC

Youre absolutely right, but in this case SCO gets to be heard (as always) and I dont. Isnt this defeating part of the point of the forums? and was my comment that offensive? Perhaps I went too far with my comment, but I still maintain that, having followed this story VERY closely since the beginning, it was a fitting response and Im sure most of the audience would have agreed. Despite that, I thought a couple others that were modded down were far less an issue than mine. In all seriousness most of us are grown adults, many at least partially educated and we can handle some language beyond a 'G' rating as long as its not in bad taste IMO

RE: I agree sort of
by synergy on Tue 9th Sep 2003 21:02 UTC

i also think that a bit more relaxed handling of posts or comments containing profanity as well as more relaxed and less categoric or agressive reactions or comments of _some_ of the mods would really help creating a much better atmosphere at this site-it's really not just the visitor's fault!

the most offensive comments can be modded down, of course, although i would prefer no kind of censorhip.

nevertheless, one of the most interesting sites if one is interested in all related to it

RE: I agree sort of
by teknishn on Tue 9th Sep 2003 21:15 UTC

Exactly, I believe in modding down posts that are truly offensive or pure garbage troll bait. I didnt think mine and a couple others that were on that last SCO topic were offensive at all. The others werent even close IMO. What SCO is doing at this stage amounts to extortion and lies in the very least, and by me simply stating that Im going to raise my middle finger to SCO with no other profanity or anything gets me moderated....sheesh.

Dont get me wrong here, I still love this site and how the forums are handled compared to ZDnet or /. .....but I sure dont want it to go to the other extreme where every post has to pass through a Disney filter.

Re: Clarification of current modification system?
by Jens on Tue 9th Sep 2003 21:40 UTC

ALT tags only show up in text-browsers, when you select not to view images, or in Internet Explorer. The rest ignore them (as they should). The TITLE tag is the correct one to use.

There is not a "correct one to use" when you want accessibility. We use both at OSNews, because we want to work the same with all browsers. So, when we have screenshots and stuff, we use both ALT and TITLE.

Screen door filtering.
by BR on Tue 9th Sep 2003 21:46 UTC

Censorship is others doing the job, we should be doing for ourselves. Usenet is a closer example of the way it could be. The individual reader deciding who's worth reading. With scoring one can even organize on importance(1). If there's any bias? It's were it properly belongs. With the reader, not the readee. I've suggested something similiar for Slashdot as well. There could even be a "pay attention to moderation" button, for those who trust the judgement of others.

(1) With filters getting ever smarter. This becomes easier.

Re: Clarification of current modification system?
by Jens on Tue 9th Sep 2003 21:54 UTC

I was commenting on the popup-tip thing and what to use for that effect. According to W3C all images must have ALT tags for accessibility, so they are certainly "correct" to use.

Re: Clarification of current modification system?
by Brian Hawley on Tue 9th Sep 2003 22:05 UTC


So, the belt-and-suspenders approach is the norm at OSNews. Good, whatever works. I don't want to start an accessible flamewar ;)

I don't want the suggestion to get bogged down in specifics - I think a moderation help/context page would be a good idea. However to implement it so that people completly unused to this site would be likely to find the info they need would be best. No need to have mistaken abuse reports...

by Adam Scheinberg on Tue 9th Sep 2003 22:33 UTC

There is not a "correct one to use" when you want accessibility. We use both at OSNews, because we want to work the same with all browsers. So, when we have screenshots and stuff, we use both ALT and TITLE.

alt and title works for images, but title also works for links. We could title the link with a lengthy description of the abuse system. I think a [?] with the ? being a link to an js alert window would be good. Then the missing features would only be missed by those who probably already know what's going on and still, lose no great functionality.

RE: Threaded comment system
by synergy on Tue 9th Sep 2003 22:50 UTC

i would prefer such much over the current "moderating down"-approach. would give more overview and, because people could follow just the threads they're interested in without having to read the one which they're not, would allow a much more uncontrolled and free discussion!, the biggest german it site, does exactly that.

by Crispin Clear on Wed 10th Sep 2003 00:28 UTC

I'll continue my "voluntary exile" (i.e., to not post here).

But I can give some contribution, since my last suggestions went unheard.

Lee Nooks

>> How and what to comment on OSNews

Ok, let's see...

>> There are some rules around here that everyone should follow. Please make sure you read them all before you post your comment.

Alright till now.

>> If your comment will not comply with the following rules, it will be moderated down (and it will only be viewable on a seperate web page). If your comment is unlawful it will be deleted.

This is only fair.

>> And if you continue doing it, your IP will be banned in the Apache level and you won't be able to access OSNews again.

Arguable, but fair, I think.

>> We need to maintain a certain level of quality on OSNews, we will not allow this site to become a house for trolls. We need educated, intelligent people to read OSNews.

Noble ideals, just don't make threats you can't deliver...

>> We have enough traffic, thank you very much, so we can fully afford to only have a readership that understands and endorses quality.

This signals incoming problems. Valueing dissenting voices is the mark of the true wisdom, IMHO. YMMV.

>> Submission of a comment on OSNews implies that you have acknowledged and fully agreed to the following terms:

I posted many times without having read this. Perhaps you should move the link to the top... Anyway, let's proceed to the commandments...

>> 1. No bad mouthing or cursing.

I refrain from such lowly terms, but someone using bad mouthing can nonetheless enlighten us.

>> 2. No attacks to other users or news editors of this web site.

What is an attack? Some people here feel attacked all the time. If I cite an example, _this_ would be seen as a personal attack!

>> 3. Whatever you got to say, say it in a calm way, and explain your reasoning as an adult, and not as a 10-year old kid.

I tried this, and it didn't work. Besides, what's the point in bringing this up? What if the reader really is 10 y.o.?

>> 4. Despite popular hallucinations, OSNews is not an open source news web site.

It is. Maybe not solely, but it carries a lot of open source material. We have a saying in my country: "Don't spit in the plate on which you've eaten." Enough said.

>> Mindless bashing at Microsoft or *any other* OS vendor IS NOT ALLOWED.

This is very disqualifying of your audience. Try to convey the idea without associating "mindless" with your readership. Even at Slashdot, this would look bad coming form the editors (and they don't do that, unless in a joking context).

>> We support Microsoft the same way we support Linux, BSD, OSX etc.

You can remind any incovenient person that OS makers cannot be subject to criticisms regarding its commercial practices (I'm trying to be impartial here, this is *not* my opinion).

>> We try to report equally on all OSes.

Again a noble ideal, IMHO unfeasible.

>> We have had some Linux fanboys bashing at Microsoft on any Microsoft-related news story we had, even if their bashing had nothing to do with the actual news presented in the story they were commented on. THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE and degrades the discussion quality on this web site. If you have a freaking problem with Microsoft, it is not our problem, and we do not want to hear about it. If your problem is related to the news story, by all means, DO discuss it. CALMLY. No bashing. No trolling. Just *discuss* it.

Unless you really believe your readership is composed mostly of young boys, and you're trying to use "kid language", this manner of talk is inadequate. Even then, you should set an example of how one should use English properly and politely.

>> 5. Make sure you have read the whole news story before you start complaining for something that it might have been already explained in the article but you "missed it".

Ok, a little sarcasm could be even funny, were it not for the tone in item 4. Now it looks aggressive.

>> 6. No stupid zealot OS wars. LISTEN to what other people say, and then comment on. Having a single dimensioned approach on your comment over and over again that might end up in a flame war, will end you up banned. You have been warned.

More than once in my life, I saw someone reinforce repeatedly the same argument, up to the point that one of the bystanders got the idea and said: "Ok, folks, the guy may be into something..." I mean, don't shoot anyone too fast. Again, the final menacing tone is useless. You recognize people of authority because they're respected without showing signs of power.

>> 7. No off topic comments. No bad-taste sarcasm. No cyber-vandalization of any kind.

What is off-topic? What is bad taste? (These are rhetoric questions, I surely want disgusting posts removed).

>> 8. OSNews is not just about operating systems. We are reporting on other technology news, on development issues and articles, hardware, and if are short on news, we might kick in some sci-fi movie news or other stuff we might find cool. This is normal. We do OSNews for fun/hobby, so it has to be fun for us too. Comments like "this article is not OS news" will end you up get flamed.

Agreed, but didn't you intend to say "end up getting you banned"? English is not my native language; I could be wrong here.

>> 9. Do not reply to already moderated-down comments. This will cause your comment to also get moded-down, no matter how good it might be.

All rules should be like this one (except the word "modded", perhaps better written as "moderated").

>> 10. Even if your whole comment might be nicely crafted and written, but you got one line of text that does not comply with the above, it will result to the moderation or deletion of the whole comment. You have been warned, again.

You know, nobody can be 100% perfect. Many people from different places, with different political views, strive to craft a comment as technical and impartial as possible -- not everybody is a troll, you know.

I'm sure you already have been using common sense in moderation, so is this rule really needed?


Finally, of course you know the IP addresses of everybody who post here (and probably also of the passing-by readers).
I recently read an opinion that publicizing IPs scare just the good people, while trolls generally take precautions, considering they intend to cause damage. If this is truth, you end up losing the good posters.

Finally, Slashdot moderation does not work. I often have to read news at threshold 0, because registered people automatically get score 1, regardless of what foolishness they post.


Good job
by Roberto J. Dohnert on Wed 10th Sep 2003 01:24 UTC

Finally someting to keep the trolls and flamers at bay. I do love OSNews and I enjoy doing articles for OSNews but I was getting tired of the nonsense that goes on here. Good Job David and Eugenia

this is getting too nice
by april_fool on Wed 10th Sep 2003 01:44 UTC

Fact is though, many Linux users are dedicated socialites. Despite recent efforts by Apple, Mac hardware still is relatively expensive-looking. Every time you have a scheduled reboot of Windows, the entire system goes down. SCO is... umm, a company headquartered in Utah. Now I don't have anything against the people of Elbonia, except that it's a technological backwater and they dress funny over there.

v RE: Comments, Trolls, and Flamewars
by Bortok on Wed 10th Sep 2003 02:13 UTC
v RE: Comments, Trolls, and Flamewars
by Eugenia on Wed 10th Sep 2003 02:23 UTC
v RE: Comments, Trolls, and Flamewars
by Eugenia on Wed 10th Sep 2003 02:27 UTC
by Good Grief on Wed 10th Sep 2003 04:09 UTC

An interesting addition to OSNews. I hope it serves well =)

And thanks, Eugenia, for explaining the preview function situation. While I still think it's been in need more than a new moderation system, I now appreciate the complexities of its implementation.

And lastly, think about giving moderators a sense-of-humour test before giving them their badges. I've managed to express very strong opinions on OSNews in civil, respectful tones and not be modded down: the only time I've ever been modded down was when I was -mocking- a BSD troll (and no, the BSD troll I was mocking didn't get modded down for his/her trolls).

enlightened =! humourless

Anyways, enough belly-aching. I'm glad you mods and staffers take a vested interest in OSNews, because I like coming here =) Keep up the good work!

by OSnews daily reader on Wed 10th Sep 2003 08:29 UTC

I've been reading osnews daily for a few years.
I used to read every comment of every headline, by today this is impossible.
This became a pain.
It would take more than 1 day to read all the crappy comments posted, and i'd have to change my pseudo :-)

So, i skip many, many comments, and focus on the news.
Is this a loss for me as an interested reader ?
This should be the real question, from the osnews staff's point of view.

Maybe a double-level forum could be of help ?
- one level is reserved for specialists (recognized registered users) to post,
- the other level is let to everybody's convenience, including trolls.

Then when reading comments, you can choose which level you want to see, or both.
Just an idea...

phlame on?
by bobbIE on Wed 10th Sep 2003 13:00 UTC

let's come up with some new&interesting adjectives to support eugenia's quest for complete censorship/corepirate nazi protectionism. using gooed manners, seems a little under the task.

meanwhile, be nice to each other, as we're all we've got to help us survive the assault on yOUR planet/population buy the previously mentioned corepirate nazi/walking dead contingent.

RE: Preview
by N.N. on Wed 10th Sep 2003 14:50 UTC

I'm not sure about what you mean about avoiding a two-step procedure, but here is my suggestion.

I see the problem about duplicating code, but you could use the same comment.php file for preview as well.

Separate the code from comment2.php into a file that you include into comment.php if you want to submit the article

As you probably know, the submit-buttons can have a name and value, so even if you use the same form, you can just check the value of the submit-button to know what kind of action the user wants.



<input type="submit" name="action" value="Preview">
<input type="submit" name="action" value="Submit">

// the user has posted the form.

if($_POST["action"] == "Preview")
else if($_POST["action"] == "Submit")

If you want to keep the values that the user has entered you could just do something like this:

First you initialize the values at the top of the file

$name = isset($_POST['forum_name']) ? $_POST['forum_name'] : '';

Then you can just display the values in the form. If the name has not been set, you will just get an empty name (or the name set by the cookie)

<input type="text" name="forum_name" value="<?php echo $forum_name;?>">

by skwirlmaster on Wed 10th Sep 2003 16:38 UTC

About time, IMO. I don't know which was worse, the number of troll posts, or the number of responses to them. Definite step in the right direction.

this is not enough
by the arbiter on Wed 10th Sep 2003 16:40 UTC

This is not a solution. It preserves the privilege of moderator abuse, and does not prevent trolling. Sorry, I'm still out.

-the arbiter

Re: I agree sort of
by Danny MacMillan on Thu 11th Sep 2003 17:48 UTC

What we need ... is a "Blockbuster Video" (or "Rogers", I forget which one) style moderation system, where each comment is reviewed and ranked like this:

Objectionable words and phrases: 239
Nudity: None
Implicit Violence: Implied, offscreen.

And so on. Then we users could set up very specific filters where we just don't see the posts which contain too many (or too few!) profanities. And we would only see the posts that don't upset our world view. And happiness would follow.

Re: I agree sort of
by Danny MacMillan on Thu 11th Sep 2003 17:49 UTC

Singapore: Disneyland with the death penalty.

"You lift your middle finger? Time for a good caning!"

Good idea
by Kingston on Sat 13th Sep 2003 00:11 UTC

There are too many trolls.