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I think what makes lobste.rs unique is that the community is generally thoughtful. Low effort comments that are snarky or negative will degrade this over time.

I propose adding a “low effort” tag to identify these comments.


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    We’ve previously had “Low Quality” for stories and “Incorrect” for comments. They were disabled because they’re so subjective that they were mostly used by people disagreeing with each other and wanting to use flagging to punish each other. The tricky thing with designing systems to nudge behavior is that regular use seems obvious but there’s a lot of potential unintended consequences and perverse incentives even before you get into misunderstandings and deliberate abuse.

    It’d be really useful to find a way to make all flags less subjective and more automatic/scalable responsive to abuse like a really grumpy commenter flagging someone’s every comment. (I PM people when I see this, but my oversight is real spotty.)

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      Interesting. Perhaps weighting flags from only observers? I understand the dynamics are complex.

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      This is very subjective! I also don’t think it is good to downvote comments based on quality. Just upvote the good ones. Off-topic and spam flag categories make the assumption that it was done in bad faith, which I think is fair to flag. Already posted and broken link are informative.

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        I agree. Positive reinforcement is far better than negative. It is better to reward new users for good comments (with upvotes) rather than “punish” them for low quality ones.

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          It is in the same category as “off-topic” but adds more nuance. So if the former is valid, I suggest that this is too.

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            I don’t think the nuance is necessary. Low effort comments that are snarky or negative are probably “troll” or “unkind”, else they’re on-topic and discussion remains reasonably free and open.

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            Even with the ability to downvote comments for low quality, Reddit comments are routinely extremely low effort. I wouldn’t like to see pun threads and “hey do you guys remember Queen?” threads here, but I already see some bad puns getting upvoted pretty often.

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            The problems with a low-effort tag:

            • It assumes motivations on the part of the author the flagger can’t know (I feel similarly about other flags, but that’s a lost battle).
            • Not all low-effort replies are bad, wrong, off-topic, or bad-faith. For example, an experience Rust developer might rattle off a one-line comment that neatly answers a question because, with their experience, it’s a low-effort thing to accomplish.
            • Similarly, high-effort comments can be far worse in terms of snark and negativity–so again, labeling something as low-effort isn’t a clear communication of what’s wrong with it.
            • We already have spam, off-topic, and troll flags to address the meat of what would be wrong with a low-effort comment.