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I don't care about ratings/votes, modding up or down, threads, XHTML/CSS or any of that stuff. There is only one reason why I signed up for an account and that was so I no longer had to look at the anonymous posts. I hoped that people with accounts would have better posts. The quality of posts at OSNews has gone down quite a bit in the last 18 months...
Eugina had it right: no linked reply per say and no threading, no score - just a way to flag a message as needing review.
The idea of banning accounts and reviewing scores and looking for cheaters - its all a waste of time. Its some sort of silly game. All that I want is to read news and review some intelligent replies - all the system needs to be able to do is hide/remove poor messages as soon as possible. Get a pool of 16 or so trustworthy 'sub administrators' who are able to scratch bad posts and who, among them, are likely to be on at any time of the day. Then just let them clean up those posts and forget about all this other stuff. Really, sometime computer programmers come up with difficult solutions to simple problems.
I can appreciate your perspective, although experience tells me you've overestimated the public in both the quality of posts and the amount of moderation required. The "Report Abuse" method means people need to be online and on our site for extended periods, and we know that that generally leads to someone getting involved and thereby losing all objectivity.
Eugina had it right: no linked reply per say
What's objectionable about linked replies? Nearly everyone I speak to thinks that's one of the best new features.
Oh, this is nice. My comment got voted -1. I have been a regular on this web site for years and never abused/trolled it. I used to post as APW [before accounts] if you want to check me on this...
So I speak my opinion and I get voted as "bad". This is really friggin childish. That is why the "report abuse" is better. Someone can report abuse, if the staff agree then it is removed. if they don't its not like I get any negative marks against me. now me, a faithful and regular user looks like a troll in your database.
as for replies - frankly want I want to see is throughful comments on the news item, not a discussion. I left slashdot a long time ago (maybe 4 years ago) because I hated reading all this stupid little childish bickerings. It might have changed since, but I was so disappointed by it then I just don't have the heart to try again.
If discussions really were useful I'd alright with them, but most of them are just nit picks and jabs. Focusing on replies - and especially thread views - encourages this idea of everyone commenting on everyone else. with no reply button and no threads, hopefully people only add a reply when they have something to say. and hopefully they only post when they have read the article and have e a thoughtful/insightful addition to make.
I'm sorry I'm fustrated. I've been a professional software developer for 13 years. When I setup CMS systems for my clients (e.g. XOOPS) they don't use a large number of the features and they find the forums features confusing. As a user of OSNews I can appreciate their feelings...I don't want lots of extra icons/text at the bottom of the posts (heart, replies, +, -). it is distracting and entirely unnecessary for what I want out of the system. thats just my opinion, I'm not trying to represent anyone else.
clean and simple is what will improve the user experience. challenge each new feature, prove that it is needed.
BTW - I think the website is generally fine looking and I like that it renders in all browser engines. so I'm not all negative.
Nothing's wrong with linked replies per se, except that if a lot of replies are made to replies of replies, then things start getting really unmanageable. This is why, if linked replies are going to be implemented, a thread view needs to be implemented too. I'd say it's either all or nothing: optional thread view or back to the old way with no linked replies, but just plain linked replies are a pain in the ars, in my experience.
Now that I think about it, Gadrel's right: linked replies do encourage people to nitpick instead of filtering their thoughts for the maximum effect. Unfortunately, I don't think there's any going back at this point.
I think the quality of comments has significantly improved in the last 18 months.
It used to be that trolls ran the show, plunging most discussions into the same flamewars over and over and over again. And then the moderators would kill whole troll-created threads, at which point self-appointed "concerned" members of the community would lash out at their "tyrannical moderator overlords" with all manner of accusations from "trampling free speech" to "biased news postings." *sniff* I'm feeling nostalgic.
Now people for the most part just try to discuss things calmly and rationally, providing genuinely insightful comments. It's very refreshing to click on the comments link with the expectation of learning something useful such as how to fix a common problem or why a major company has made a seemingly strange decision.
Of course, the fact that I now post here very rarely has absolutely nothing to do with the improved commentary.
I don't think that the quality of posts has changed all that much in either direction. If you look at the 100+ comment topics, they still devolve into the same tired arguments about subjective nonsense. There is much less complaining about the tyranny of moderation, but various anonymous and some people with accounts (pravda for example) complain about the moderation of their inciteful comments.
There's not much that can make discussion better; it is well within the purview of the people that use the site.