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This will be my last post in this thread.
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Posted Apr 9, 2010 18:53 UTC (Fri) by PO8 (guest, #41661)
Yeah, and what's with "the absence of editorial deletions"? I, for one, am getting a bit tired of trash (see e.g. this off-topic rant) being allowed to persist in the comments lately. I'm a paying customer and would like to remain so; I strongly urge our esteemed editor to maintain at least nominal standards of professionalism in the comments, lest they descend into the mess that drove me out of /. .
I understand that these are judgment calls, and that it's always easier to leave well enough alone. However, a major duty of an editor is to exercise editorial judgment. Compare and contrast the comment that started this thread with Leslie Hawthorn's comments in her LWN interview on gender in open source…there's more than a little irony there IMHO.
Posted Apr 9, 2010 18:57 UTC (Fri) by corbet (editor, #1)
Posted Apr 9, 2010 22:32 UTC (Fri) by felixfix (subscriber, #242)
Off-topic remarks are annoying. The original post was a mildly sexist joke which was still on-topic. It prompted a completely off-topic politically correct rant, and that provoked my completely off-topic rant about being adults and not on slashdot.
Where does one draw the line? The joke was at least related to the topic, and easily ignored. The complaint was 100% off-topic and reeked of political correctness run amuck. We readers have to carry part of the load for lwn's tone. I thought about it for a bit before responding, finally deciding that just as one can't help but make noise in shushing someone noisy in a library, one can't help but make an off-topic post to tell someone new to stop making off-topic posts. The next one to complain and suggest our grumpy editor start deleting posts made the same decision.
I have no idea how I would respond on a different day. I hope our editor is never forced to delete posts simply for being politically incorrect.
Posted Apr 11, 2010 8:09 UTC (Sun) by njs (guest, #40338)
But I'm not too worried, since they don't, well, *exist*. And even if they did, I trust our editor's ability to judge how to best exercise his, well, editorial powers -- is there some reason you don't? (Though you do seem comfortable assuming that external pressure is the only reason he would ever decide to delete sexist posts; on this point I am less convinced, and anyway isn't it rude to threaten him like that? I mean by implying that if he ever took a more actively anti-sexist stance then everyone would think he was a wimp.)
I'm sorry if you didn't notice, but sexist behavior is a fairly topical issue right now, and anyway, being "on topic" is not more important than treating other humans with respect. But it doesn't even matter, because you agree with wingo that "carry[ing] part of the load for lwn's tone" is in any case a good enough reason to make an off-topic post. So if you want to criticize wingo's doing that, I think you need to do more than just complain it was off-topic, or you just look like you're applying a double-standard.
I understand that fundamentally your argument is that the sexist joke was no big deal, and anyone who thinks otherwise is some mindless political correctness spouting drone. I disagree with both claims, wonder whether you actually have any support for either, and suggest that whether you found the joke "easily ignored" is not actually the final word on its importance.
Posted Apr 15, 2010 13:03 UTC (Thu) by jschrod (subscriber, #1646)
Maybe, in your part of the world, "critic of sexism" is "politically correct" and thus to be avoided -- in my part, it ain't so. (I'm not from the USA, to make that clear.) We criticize sexistic remarks because we want women to feel welcome in our circles, not because it is "politically correct" (whatever that means today and for you, I don't care).
And if you think such comments would not deter women, you might want to come out of your closet into the big blue room.
Posted Apr 9, 2010 23:25 UTC (Fri) by jordanb (guest, #45668)
I subscribe to LWN because its articles are valuable to me as a professional programmer, and I think the editors should try to bring the quality level of the comments up to the standards one finds in professional venues.
If it were up to me, I would:
1) Require that everyone who wishes to comment supply their real name. Have the real name attached to every post and police the use of aliases.
2) Provide a publicly viewable comment history for every member, indexable by real name and user name.
3) Allow people to edit or delete posted comments for a period of time. Give people a chance to fix their own enraged-posting mistakes.
4) Draft explicit guidelines for posting, requiring people be on-topic and avoid personal insults.
5) Delete all posts that violate the guidelines.
Of course it's you're site. But I think you overstate the 'slippery slope' or 'anti-censorship' argument. LWN is hardly the only place on the internet that blowhards can make themselves heard.
Posted Apr 10, 2010 12:32 UTC (Sat) by nix (subscriber, #2304)
If someone doesn't care that his reputation makes him out to be a destroyer of conversations, I can't see how having his real name attached would change things.
Posted Apr 10, 2010 15:04 UTC (Sat) by epa (subscriber, #39769)
Posted Apr 11, 2010 9:28 UTC (Sun) by quotemstr (subscriber, #45331)
Posted Apr 11, 2010 4:40 UTC (Sun) by jordanb (guest, #45668)
But really, I'm thinking that the potential role of the LWN comment section should be a professional discussion forum for our industry. If nothing else, using real names helps set the tone, and emphasizes the idea that isn't just another internet grandstanding platform.
Shaping the conversation
Posted Apr 16, 2010 8:31 UTC (Fri) by biged (subscriber, #50106)
I notice that the comment page requests us to be polite, respectful, and informative: these are the values of the site, and comments should conform to those values.
I filled in the user survey, and hated having to note that I was considering not renewing. In fact I hope to remain a subscriber - the articles are excellent, as are the best comments - but if I have to wade through flame wars, if I can't shape what I see and if the editors can't help me, if I stop reading because it's not worth it, then at some point I'll stop paying.
Personally, I read the RSS feed, and that works well if the noise level is tolerably low. Previously I read the comments in context, but that works best if I wait for a week or ten days, which is not a good bargain.
So, two ideas, not new:
Keep the noise level down: by suitable in-band prompting, private messaging or selective defacement.
Help the subscriber to read the comment stream in context: Support a kill-file, have a per-user RSS feed to allow per-article feeds, have a per-user per-article last-read date to offer a per-user page of articles with new comments.
Posted Apr 16, 2010 9:22 UTC (Fri) by dlang (✭ supporter ✭, #313)
Posted Apr 16, 2010 9:27 UTC (Fri) by biged (subscriber, #50106)
Posted Apr 19, 2010 12:41 UTC (Mon) by nye (guest, #51576)
Posted Apr 16, 2010 17:05 UTC (Fri) by corbet (editor, #1)
Stay tuned for other stuff...
Posted Apr 16, 2010 17:17 UTC (Fri) by biged (subscriber, #50106)
(For the personal new-comments page, I see it's mentioned in the FAQ, which of course I hadn't read.)
Posted Apr 16, 2010 8:17 UTC (Fri) by branden (subscriber, #7029)
It was funny as hell and I love ya for it.
Wheat that good is worth sifting through some chaff for, even chaff that includes moronic and hackneyed semi-jokes like muwlgr's.
Posted Apr 17, 2010 16:32 UTC (Sat) by paulj (subscriber, #341)
I disagree with Nix below that "real" names don't matter. A "real" name can definitely make it easier to recognise people.
+1 on 2 and 3.
0 to -1 on 4. I don't think there's any point having LWN waste energy formulating policies. I don't think there's any point in anything beyond guidelines like:
"Try add value with your comments. Try be polite, especially in the face of disagreement or perceived insults."
Completely disagree on 5, except to the extent required by court orders (or other similarly hard-to-not-comply-with orders).
Posted Apr 10, 2010 18:08 UTC (Sat) by PO8 (guest, #41661)
Honestly, if I had posted either of the examples under discussion, I would both expect and hope that they would be deleted. You would be doing me a favor by helping to protect my reputation, and yourself a favor by helping to protect the reputation of LWN.
IMHO (having been involved with open source since before the beginning, and in my capacity as a college CS professor who deals with open source newbies on a regular basis) the "Wild West" nature of open source conversations is not helping us. I think it is a big part of what drives away women, people of under-represented ethnicities, older adults, and frankly a lot of really deep thinkers with a lot to contribute to our work. I would like to think of LWN as, among other things, a haven for those people. The comments should be an accompaniment to the measured and thoughtful LWN articles; failing that, they should at least not be an embarrassment and a source of discomfort and dismay.
Posted Apr 11, 2010 22:52 UTC (Sun) by fyodor (guest, #3481)
That being said, I'd welcome a community moderation system which hides downvoted posts, while allowing people to view them if desired. This can help highlight exceptional posts too. I'm not holding them up as shining examples, but Slashdot, Digg, and Youtube all have systems like this. I'd downvote this whole thread (including the original sexist joke), and certainly the healthcare rant PO8 mentioned too.
Posted Apr 15, 2010 20:27 UTC (Thu) by zooko (subscriber, #2589)
Apparently, that was a big success for that crowd. People hated getting devowelized and started modifying their behavior to avoid it.
I would suggest "remove the vowels" for lwn.net, but what about some sort of "fold it out of sight by default"? I guess the important part is a consensus among the community that this thing should be ignored and not responded to, and ideally not seen at all unless you are morbidly curious. If this consensus is visible to the original poster as well then this might motivate them to change.
Just brainstorming. I think you'd probably better do *something* before too long, because status quo probably won't continue to work, and it might be easier to manage before it gets bad than after.
Heck, maybe you should just try what worked for Boing Boing. Editors get a button that removes the vowels. :-)
Posted Apr 16, 2010 18:23 UTC (Fri) by dmarti (subscriber, #11625)
Trolls will always be with us, but we can at least train people not to feed them. What I want on each LWN comment is a "get back under your bridge, troll" button (icon of a little bridge with a green arrow pointing underneath) that would fold the poster's comments, and the comments of everyone who replied, for a week.
(Anyone running LWN Comment Improvement?
Posted Apr 16, 2010 13:49 UTC (Fri) by ccurtis (guest, #49713)
I haven't heard of any court cases for "community moderation" but I expect it to be treated more like graffiti and less like a published newspaper. TED seems to have a reasonable moderation system where comments that are voted below some threshold aren't expanded by default. Personally, I think I would like to see the entire thread from that point forward be abridged, excepting perhaps comments modded above some threshold.
[N.B. I am not a lawyer and do not claim to have kept up with legal precedents in this area.]
Oh, why not ...
Posted Apr 16, 2010 14:12 UTC (Fri) by ccurtis (guest, #49713)
... at least for now.
According to their summary sheets, editors ARE NOT responsible if they:
* Screen objectionable content prior to publication.
* Correct, edit, or remove content.
* Select content for publication.
* Solicit or encourage users to submit content.
* Pay a third party to create or submit content.
* Provide forms or drop-downs to facilitate user submission of content.
* Leave content up after you being notified that the material is defamatory.
However, editors ARE RESPONSIBLE if they:
* Edit content that materially alters its meaning.
* Engage with users through drop-down forms to create discriminatory content.
Of course, this is U.S. law any may vary by jurisdiction, yadda yadda.
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