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Hi folks,

For the first time, I’ve deliberately reversed a decision of jcs’s. I wanted to highlight it with an announce post to talk about what led up to it, a related new feature, and more about moderation in general.

A few years ago jcs changed the code so that deleting a comment also hides any replies (effectively deleting them). Reversing this does mean that if a thread devolves into a big ugly flame war there’ll be an entry in the moderation log for every comment deleted. But I can’t think of a time we’ve had one and I’m confident we won’t anytime soon, so this seems a fair tradeoff.

This came up because yesterday I deleted a comment and, to my surprise, that deleted the thread. The comment was a snarky one-liner that admitted it was a “daily hate post”. The replies were generally good, but they were working uphill against a negative comment that detracted from a serious discussion (more on that near the end).

I’d like to apologize for the bad log entry I wrote when I deleted the comment, which was ‘don’t make “hate posts”’. I thought of how the entry is sent to the comment author and failed to consider that this wouldn’t at all be clear to anyone else reading the mod log. (There was a meta thread about this by a non-native English speaker using the phrase “hate speech”, which is the term for a contentious political/legal topic.) I’m sorry for this confusing message and will take care to write future messages to be clear about why a moderation action happened. And I regret a flippant post about Usenet I wrote. I edited in what I should’ve written in the first place, but it was still bad.

I’ve also added a feature to the codebase to add moderation log entries when a moderator’s hat is used on a comment. (I swear we had a thread or issue proposing this a while back but can’t find it.) I’ve manually backfilled logs to the passing the torch story. If you look in the moderation log, you’ll see most actions have been correcting story tags and titles, with a few comments. My basic approach to moderation is to make the smallest possible early intervention with the best chance to nudge a thread away from spiraling negativity. And most often that’s just going to be a moderator leaving a comment reminding people to be kind.

It’s worth noting that code changes to lobsters and the deployment playbook don’t appear in the moderation log. Every code change that touches on UI is in some part a moderation decision. People who want to be totally informed should watch the projects on GitHub. People who want to be involved should check out the good first issue.

Talking more broadly about moderation, the site has never been without manual moderation and won’t be in the future. The moderation log and the bottom of the user list sorted by karma reflect the comments deleted and users banned, but more fundamentally, voting isn’t designed to solve every moderation issue. Communities like Usenet, 4chan, and YouTube with little to no human moderation sink into useless garbage. On the other end of the spectrum, MetaFilter is an enormous, vibrant community because of its approach to moderation.

Rather than stop to write a comprehensive treatise about Lobsters and moderation, I’ll link to previous comments I’ve made on: what I think Lobsters is for, the environment I want to foster, difficulties with text-only Twitter, and, recently, some thoughts on moderation tools.

Since becoming sysop I’ve been acting a lot more conservatively than I recommended in those comments. Probably the biggest difference has been that I haven’t moved to create a downvote reason for hostile comments, which I argued strongly for before it fizzled out mostly based on naming. It feels like a larger change than I’m comfortable making while new to the position. The other major change has been to how I previously posted an occasional story that I wasn’t sure was on-topic. “On-topic” has been famously ill-defined here and I figured I couldn’t judge the border if I always played it safe. I’ve stopped because I worry about a presumption that something must be on-topic if a moderator posts it.

Lobsters has a healthy community and I’m glad to help it grow. Some of this will be experiments like the ‘here be dragons’ threads that didn’t work out. (GitHub links because there was never an announcement or explanation, which I don’t plan to repeat.) Part of it will be updating the ‘about’ page when I can bring it together to explain succinctly, without having to link to a bunch of old threads. Mostly it will be more comments under a moderator hat reminding people to be good to each other.

Hope you enjoy the new features, and thanks for your patience as I learn the ropes.

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    Thanks very much for this detailed response.

    Free speech and public moderation is a core community value on this site. After all, the site was founded in response to capricious, arbitrary, and unannounced moderation on HN.

    That said, I think that jcs might have been a bit too light in his hand in moderation and I approve of pushcx trying to improve the quality of discussion here.

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      I agree, especially with this sentiment:

      Communities like Usenet, 4chan, and YouTube with little to no human moderation sink into useless garbage.

      As much as technologists want to believe that the right software will enable the virtues of humanity to shine through, it’s ultimate a human problem that can’t be solved with a technological solution. I wish I could find it now, but there was a study on unmoderated vs moderated hate speech in online communities which found that moderating hate speech does, in fact, extinguish it, as opposed to it finding other avenues.

      Moderation does matter.

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        At Tumblr I think we solved it (mostly) mechanically. I left in 2015 so some of this may have changed, but we felt very strongly that “sunlight is the best disinfectant” and we did not delete content unless it was child porn, self-harm, or gore. You can still go see terrorist cat blogs posting under #catsofjihad. The community was great about shutting down those who were abusive, and the mechanics of response were important for that. Once you created a post, anyone could reference your original, even if you deleted it. Tumblr threads are not trees, but the particular chain of responses that are favored by whoever decided to respond, giving responders full control over the context, making responses far more clear. You lose the full-picture, but gain clarity of context. This was backed up by a support team that was usually great about taking action when abuse was happening. The clarity of context is what I believe gave the community the tools it needed to effectively self-police. This is something I believe is sorely missed in other platforms.

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          we felt very strongly that “sunlight is the best disinfectant”

          This is, unfortunately, naïve, even to the point of being malicious—always in consequence, even if not in intent. And exponentially moreso online, where vectors for abuse are numerous and practically zero-cost.

          https://twitter.com/yonatanzunger/status/914605545490857984

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            I don’t think your link has anything to do with the mechanism in my comment. Twitter gives total contextual power to the content creator, not to the responders. A malicious user deletes the tweet and the responses lose their power. This mechanism totally strips the community’s ability to self-police. I’m in agreement with the author of the link you posted, and I think twitter has made terrible trade-offs. There’s a reason tumblr has tended to be the place where many members of marginalized communities find the first group of people that accepts them, and these communities flourished there. That doesn’t happen with G+.

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              There’s a reason tumblr has tended to be the place where many members of marginalized communities find the first group of people that accepts them, and these communities flourished there.

              To be fair, this only applied if the community was not sufficiently odious that Tumblr nuked them.

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                What do you mean? We let terrorists post anything that was legal…

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                  If memory serves there were a bunch of tags and adult blogs (some of whom were legitimately scummy folks doing commerce) that got rounded up and purged. I think around the time of Gamergate there were also some blogs purged, notably [REDACTED–see edit].

                  (Do yourself a favor: don’t search for that last one. There is nothing there that will make you a happier person. It’s some of the most hateful and misogynistic stuff posted online. Again, do not read it. I found it by accident through webcomics circles, and saw it descend pretty immediately into awful shit.)

                  EDIT: On second thought, I’m going to actually censor that last one. They’re shitty human beings and I don’t want to drive traffic their way, even for the curious.

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                    I mind this kind of censorship, be it self-induced or by moderators: I believe it is everyones own judgement to see for themselves and learn about it. Why mention it in description but not allow further research? In my opinion, your post is no longer credible because I can not verify it independently.

                    (Edit: Reverted autocorrect. Perhaps add public record of post edits?)

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                      I remember a few cases where certain tags were blocked on mobile because if one of the app store testers found porn using a test of the app it could lead to them rejecting an update. Once, this unfortunately included tags like bisexual, gay and lesbian. It was not a fun decision to make, because it hurt the communities we tried so hard to protect, but Apple was holding the business hostage with this, and we chose to block lgbt tags in the short term and figure out something else later. There was significant blowback.

                      We often mass-blocked clusters of associated spammers, which is uncontroversial as far as I know. Other controversial mass-blocks may have happened, but I don’t remember them.

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          I agree, on both points. Transparency has always been a core goal of the site, and should continue to be. And I also think it makes sense to do at least slightly more moderation than there has historically been.

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            I personally think the quality is/was fine and don’t care if there are flame wars as long as they’re not just 4chan style insults.

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            @pushcx could have handled this better, but let’s not make a huge deal out of a single event. There is a learning curve with doing anything new, and overall, I appreciate the moderation that has been happening since the handover. It has, frankly, made me more interested in this community. @pushcx has shown that he is willing to listen to feedback and have a dialogue about moderation concerns, which I think demonstrates exactly the kind of behavior a moderator ought to have.

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              I do wish he would show some signs that he’s actually factoring community opinions into his actions rather than just going “uh-huh, uh-huh, yeah, cool ideas, but I’m just gonna keep doing what I do”. Just as you have to cease your actions in order to validate an apology, you have to be willing to question your own ideas in order to accept feedback.

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              I appreciate the detailed response and very thankful for the code changes regarding how thread deletion works. I do believe that having the ability to remove pin-pointed comments without whole threads is a better mechanism.

              I am concerned how and where moderation is going. I asked yesterday on IRC:

              21:16 < mulander> pushcx: is this your site or do we curate content as a community?
              21:16 < mulander> if it's your site and your content than I have nothing more to say than to step down
              21:16 < mulander> and just shut up.
              21:17 < mulander> if we are moderating as a community then sometimes the moderation has to accept that a large portion of the userbase wants some content present
              

              to which you replied:

              21:17 < pushcx> mulander: It's both.
              

              I don’t think ‘both’ works. With the last mod action we as a community exercised moderation transparency and I think that worked out fine as it did many times before. I do believe a site needs moderation but it should always be the last resort and I hope this site will not end up with yet another pamphlet that I will have to cross reference before posting an article or a comment.

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                I do believe a site needs moderation but it should always be the last resort and I hope this site will not end up with yet another pamphlet that I will have to cross reference before posting an article or a comment.

                “Moderation as a last resort” is - in my opinion - something that comes from a very narrow view of what moderation is. Moderation that only applies at the very last moment is bad moderation. It’s an ongoing process, which only rarely shows in technical moderator action like deleting complete or parts of posts.

                It can definitely be both. In the end, pushcx is the person willing to keep the lights on and to deal with all ramifications of running this site. I’m fine with that person being the final instance. That can definitely be both - there’s interactions between the person running the site and those willing to support, and in that interaction lies a lot of potential.

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                  “Moderation as a last resort” doesn’t preclude moderator intervention, it’s about having a gradient for how problem behavior is dealt with. I’ve been able to keep the number of people I had to ban in #haskell-beginners on Freenode IRC very low (only a couple occurrences) despite building a constructive, focused, and friendly community because I was present and responded to problems in ways other than banning people. It’s now one of the more peaceful and helpful IRC channels I’ve ever had the pleasure of participating in and it’s not so because I resorted to the banhammer every-time someone said something I felt was out of step with my goals for the community.

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                    Sure. The whole point of my post is that moderation is so much more then wielding the banhammer. “Moderation as a last resort” excludes that viewpoint, though, by focusing on only the technical details.

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                  Thank you sharing your concerns. And for bringing up this conversation, because I think there’s more worth talking about.

                  I said “It’s both” because neither perspective can give a full understanding of Lobsters alone (or of any social site). I especially think it’s not only the first because no one can exercise dictatorial power over a voluntary community, everyone is free to leave at any time. And people have left in Lobsters’ history over the near-absence of moderation, mostly quietly. But there’s some maintenance and moderation that need a single person. I’ve been debugging log rotation and backups for the last week, I can’t post root’s ssh key for the community to take over the task. And less frequently, that means deliberately setting norms and expectations for the community, like that we need to prefer substantive counterpoints to dismissive repartee.

                  I think aside from the confusing moderation log message I wrote, the biggest problem with that action was that it was unpredictable. Predictability is vital for effective moderation, and it’s clear from the reaction that I wasn’t. I’ve been working on updating the about page that has not seen much updating since Lobsters was much, much smaller and being vague was a virtue that led to the community experimenting and defining itself. I haven’t rushed to finish because I’m trying to take my time and think hard about what Lobsters has grown into the last five and a half years, and the challenges it faces as it continues to grow, rather than slap something up. Which… is what I did with a thoughtless moderation log entry.

                  I agree and disagree with the idea that moderation should be a last resort. In a large community the little nudges I wrote about in this post are useful for avoiding Eternal September. But the large actions like banning users absolutely need to be a last resort after every other option has failed.

                  And I share your fear of a site where opinions are so constrained that there might as well be a list of orthodox positions. We’ve had some wonderful conversations where people have disagreed about technical and even political topics, which is rare and valuable on the web. I hope to preserve and expand our ability to have those conversations. A pamphlet of required opinions would be an abject failure.

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                    And less frequently, that means deliberately setting norms and expectations for the community, like that we need to prefer substantive counterpoints to dismissive repartee.

                    With the utmost respect for the work you put in and your contributions to the site, please do not use your moderator powers to try and shape the norms of the community.

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                      Could you point to communities where you think this has worked out particularly well? In the last few weeks I’ve been analyzing all the communities I’ve participated in or read substantially, and they’ve either been so small that everyone knows everyone or have moderators doing exactly this. (And it’s certainly been the case on the ones I’ve moderated.) But this could totally be personal style of what I think is a healthy community causing selection bias, and I’d love to break out of it if that’s the case.

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                        I could, but you might not agree with what I believe to be successful communities. That is why I ask that you don’t use your moderator powers to try and shape the community.

                        You are already very influential within the community, so I feel that a lead-by-example approach is more appropriate and effective than trying to tailor the content of the site to what you feel the community wants.

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                          So, let’s just state an obvious examples of a “successful” community with low moderation: 4chan.

                          A large part of Internet shibboleths come directly from there. A lot of really influential art and music and even code originated there.

                          But, is it really worth it to wade through all of the garbage every day? Is it worth skipping every third post from some /pol/ idiot blathering on about white-supremacy? Do you really want to see yet another low-quality bait post about intel and AMD?

                          Similarly, HN used to be fairly lightly moderated (and the current system has its flaws, Lord knows!). But a lot of just plain spam and garbage became cultural norms there: product posts, trivial tech news, politics, whatever.

                          When reflecting on this problem, my advice would be: don’t only consider what moderation would censor, consider what no moderation would allow.

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                          https://lobste.rs/s/kmpizq/deleting_comments_instead_threads#c_uh4my1

                          I successfully shaped the norms of #haskell-beginners without wielding a banhammer. Only a couple problem people have had to get banned in the channel since it started in May 2014.

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                            One thing to consider is the different audience sizes between a Haskell beginners IRC channel and a general technology link sharing website. What works for one might very well not work for the other.

                            We’ve witnessed time and time again how the quality of gathering places went to shit as the audience size increased and TBH, I would love to find a place where this doesn’t eventually happen. If heavy moderation is a way to get there (these various other places always felt like places where only little to no moderation was happening), so be it.

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                          With the utmost respect for the work you put in and your contributions to the site, please do not use your moderator powers to try and shape the norms of the community.

                          I don’t see where that was implied.

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                            I stated it pretty explicitly:

                            And less frequently, that means deliberately setting norms and expectations for the community, like that we need to prefer substantive counterpoints to dismissive repartee.

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                              I was more at miss with the “using moderator powers” part. There’s so many more ways to shape norms.

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                                I could’ve been clearer there. I was specifically referring to shaping the norms of the community by means that are not available to every other user - such as removing content.

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                        I hope this site will not end up with yet another pamphlet that I will have to cross reference before posting an article or a comment.

                        I seriously doubt that will happen, and agree that I don’t want it to happen.

                        And I think ‘both’ does work.

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                        There’s a “troll” flag specifically for comments like this. Please don’t take this responsibility upon yourself. If there’s even a chance that the comment was made in good faith, mods should stay far away from it.

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                          I disagree. It’s too easy for hatred to snowball. If widely hated technology X comes up, comments hating on it will get highly upvoted. Even though I dislike the trend, I am tempted to participate, because often I also don’t like widely hated technology X and I want to vent my frustration too. But venting frustration isn’t actually productive, it just puts me in a sour mood.

                          The question is, do we want to allow communal bitching, or try to foster a more positive environment? I try to fill my life with positivity and happiness, so I leave communities with even a moderate proportion of complaining, like HN and slashdot. Lobsters has traditionally been quite positive and pleasant. For me that’s it’s greatest feature.

                          I recall when I first joined I rarely had a negative reaction to any user comments. But lately I’m seeing more and more negative content. And I admit I’m guilty too, I have lashed out at (what I perceive to be?) negative attitudes, which only fuels the flames of negativity.

                          I’m 100% for negativity moderation. If I’m being an asshole and my comment gets deleted for it, then good riddance. I will appreciate the reminder that It’s better to be kind, thoughtful, and considerate. I will rephrase my comment to be more productive, or let it lie if I never had anything positive to contribute in the first place.

                          Actually, that makes me think of a potential moderation strategy: comment hidden until rephrased without hostility. What do you think @pushcx? Or what about a “request non-hostile / productive rephrasing” flag, separate from upvoting and downvoting. Feedback from peers is preferable to moderation, but I don’t think votes are expressive enough. If someone makes a great point, I want to upvote. But if they’re an asshole, I want to downvote. So instead I do nothing, and the situation doesn’t improve.

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                            If I’m being an asshole and my comment gets deleted for it, then good riddance. I will appreciate the reminder that It’s better to be kind, thoughtful, and considerate.

                            I doubt that you will appreciate it when you will not agree that you’ve been an asshole. Especially in the case of that deleted comment where not only author but also some group of users considered it surprising that it was removed.

                            Since that rules of commenting here are vague at best, moderation should be limited only to comments that are clearly and strongly harmful to the community.

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                              Since that rules of commenting here are vague at best, moderation should be limited only to comments that are clearly and strongly harmful to the community.

                              So it’s okay if comments only mildly harmful to the community are allowed to become the norm, and we end up with a shoddy community?

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                                The most likely way for lobsters to become shitty is if we start having activist mods. We’re fine without censorship, thank you.

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                                  I disagree. I agree with what pushcx said in this post:

                                  Communities like Usenet, 4chan, and YouTube with little to no human moderation sink into useless garbage.

                                  Moderators exist to keep discussion civil. If you believe active moderation is inherently fascist, then how do you propose maintaining civility?

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                                    By being a small invitation based tech community mostly.

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                                      We’re not. We’ve got 8k+ users now.

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                                        8k+ users now.

                                        Yes, out of that only 3448 has more than 0 karma, and 725 that have more than 100. I don’t know… this doesn’t look to me like a huge number of active/posting users.

                                        In my opinion this site is still quite small.

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                                          The example communities get millions of uniques a month, even HN does. I think I regularly recognize the majority of posters in a given thread.

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                                        Civil is one thing, but banning posts that point out something new would be considered an abomination by the long beards is not fair. It’s a policy that actively benefits anything new, regardless of it’s characteristics.

                                        SystemD, too, had it hard. Why protect Electron?

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                                          Explain to me how “ugh I hate Electron / systemd” is a novel or interesting idea.

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                                            Your post is neither novel nor interesting, but I don’t support it being deleted.

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                                              But my post is not negative / hateful. I specifically addressed hateful comments of negligible value, a key component of my argument that you’ve blatantly ignored. And I do not recall suggesting censoring criticism of Electron, or systemd, or anything else. Only moderation to encourage civil and productive discourse. I even suggested moderation alternatives to deletion, which you’ve also ignored.

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                                          False dichotomy. We’re not asking for little to no human moderation, we’re asking for moderation at the behest of the community at large. If the community asks for a lot of moderation, use a lot of moderation.

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                                            It is a false dichotomy, because I was pointing out the false equivalency of moderation == censorship. Perhaps I was reading into it too much, but the characterization of moderation as censorship implied a desire for no moderation, to me anyway.

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                                              That’s not the sense that I got.

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                                        By ‘moderation’ I was thinking of deletion of comments - sorry if that wasn’t clear.

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                                          I also suggested hiding until rephrasing, or a specific avenue for feedback on tone. What do you think of those?

                                          And your doubt is unfounded, I do not ever disagree that I have been an asshole. That judgement is not mine to make, as I cannot disagree with how someone else feels. If I believe I haven’t said anything wrong then I instead assume there was a miscommunication. That’s part of why I suggested enforced rephrasing rather than deletion.

                                          And if the group of people is surprised my comment got deleted because they believe I have a right to be an asshole, then I disagree with them.

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                                            Edit: dupe

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                                              I’m not really willing to subscribe to the lowest common denominator definition of asshole. I’d probably just leave if posts I didn’t think were bad were getting deleted regularly (mine or anyone elses).

                                              I think just downvoting them into the grey realm is plenty.

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                                                Since you have nothing to say about my alternative to deletion, and instead are continuing to fear monger about mods deleting posts regularly when directly presented with an alternative, I will assume that you have no interest in a real discussion and would prefer to complain endlessly.

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                                                  downvoting them into the grey realm is plenty

                                                  That is your answer right there - which answers your question to me from few post back.

                                                  To be honest your last post is great example of post devoid of any value. You could have just leave this particular thread but instead decided to insult other user…

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                                                    Actually, that answer specifically makes no sense as a reply to my comments. From my first comment:

                                                    It’s too easy for hatred to snowball. If widely hated technology X comes up, comments hating on it will get highly upvoted.

                                                    And the rest of the comment doesn’t track with anything I’ve said either, which I felt was valuable to emphasize as my motivation for not replying further. Perhaps the value was minimal, but I really do not think downvoting is enough and didn’t want to leave it without a response. You’re right though, I was a little rude. I personally consider it rude when puts me on the spot to consider their ideas while flagrantly ignoring mine. Rudeness snowballs easily, and I’ve just fallen into that trap. This would be a good situation for a peer-suggested rephrasing feature, since I could easily rephrase my comment to avoid being rude and provide more value.

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                                        The question is, do we want to allow communal bitching, or try to foster a more positive environment?

                                        I’d lean strongly towards allowing communal bitching, especially if the alternative is forcing positivity. I gravitate to less positive communities because I want harsher feedback. I regularly make things that simply aren’t very good. If someone doesn’t feel like they can just say that without moderator interference, this harms me. I lose valuable discussion, and I worry if people dislike what I’m building but aren’t telling me because it wouldn’t be seen as “positive”.

                                        Therefore, I see force-fed positivity as an anti-goal. I want a community with carefully thought out positions, where statements are supported, arguments make sense, and people back up what they say. I don’t want them to shy away from telling me that I did something dumb.

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                                          I think there’s a difference between bitching and being critical. Compare the thing that was deleted (“daily electron hate post”) with [this] in the same thread. The latter comment by @qbit gets the same idea across (‘electron is heavyweight’) but does it in a way that’s comprehensive and informative.

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                                            I think there’s a difference between bitching and being critical.

                                            I agree. But he comment I was responding to was pushing for ‘negativity moderation’.

                                            For bitching vs being critical – we generally don’t need heavy moderation to enforce it, especially when that moderation has a stated goal of enforcing positivity. Downvotes are mostly sufficient. An account that posts nothing but thowaway comments should probably skip directly to a warning and then a ban.

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                                              Choose which reply to your comment you would prefer. One is non-negative, one is negative, both have the same meaning.

                                              Reply 1: By negativity moderation, I don’t mean enforced positivity in all things. Constructive criticism is valuable, and can certainly be accomplished without negative tones like hostility, superiority, derision, and plain old pointless complaining. “This sucks” style comments aren’t useful criticism, just useless negativity. There is no reason criticism and feedback can’t be provided in a positive way or neutral way. Yes neutral, because neutral is non-negative.

                                              Reply 2: Have you heard of constructive criticism? I don’t appreciate you reducing the nuance of my argument to the point of stupidity, unless you really are dumb enough to conflate non-negativity with enforced positivity. Is it really too complicated for you to criticize without being an asshole? Cause if you can’t sort out how to convey the same meaning in different tones, go back to your “less positive” communities for those with an inadequate grasp of the English language. If you had actually read my comment properly you would see that I specifically don’t like unproductive communal bitching, like basic “this sucks” comments with no real value.

                                              I would prefer a community that fosters reply 1 and shuns reply 2. I believe we all have the capacity to choose our tone, thus my idea of enforced or suggested rephrasing rather than outright deletion.

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                                                I concur with this. pyon’s reply to me in another thread is a good example of a “Reply 2”-style post that diminishes my desire to participate in the site.

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                                                  Except the question at hand is whether you’d prefer

                                                  Reply 1: Constructive criticism

                                                  Reply 2: [Comment deleted]

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                                                    There are other strategies for moderation, as I pointed out in my original comment.

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                                                    I prefer interacting with people who are willing/able give me reply 2. It doesn’t leave me guessing, and I’m not good at guessing. I’ve recently been involved in a few of emails with Theo De Raadt, and it’s been rather refreshing to have bad ideas immediately called “bullshit” (in one case, in the same email that was telling me how the work was appreciated.)

                                                    There’s clearly a lot of variation in how people prefer to interact, and your preferences aren’t universal. Edit: And, I don’t think that moderating your preferences is going to have a good effect.

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                                                      De Raadt and Linus control large projects that people want to participate in and contribute to. There’s a “carrot” there that makes it possible to overcome the “stick,” for some people, even if it’s distasteful. Lobste.rs is a discussion site. I am here only because I like to talk about tech, and I like to read tech material. It’s a small carrot. If people are assholes here, it makes it less rewarding to participate, and reduces my opinion of the people involved. I would rather people be more circumspect, take a bit longer to consider how another person might receive the message they’re typing, and what it might contribute to the site.

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                                                        Okay. Since you prefer a rude style I will reply in a rude style, just for you.

                                                        I have no fucking clue how reply 1 was in any way less clear than reply 2. If anything I think reply 1 is more clear, since my actual reasoning isn’t obscured or diluted by insults. Can you really not tell I think you’re full of shit from reply 1? “Constructive criticism […] can certainly be accomplished without negative tones.” Does the word certainly mean something different to you? Undoubtedly; definitely; surely. “There is no reason criticism and feedback can’t be provided in a positive way or neutral way.” No reason. As in literally zero reasons. When the amount of valid reasons is zero, your reason is not included. I consider your idea that rudeness enhances criticism absolutely incorrect. Ergo I think your idea is bullshit.

                                                        I think it’s utterly ridiculous that you need someone to be rude to jostle your brain into parsing English correctly. And it’s irresponsible to pretend your inadequacy is an acceptable justification for encouraging people to act like assholes. You know full well that vitriol turns people away from communities, and discourages contribution. If you somehow don’t know that, then grow the fuck up and clue in to reality because that’s a pretty fucking basic instinct that most humans develop as children.

                                                        I don’t think that moderating your preferences is going to have a good effect.

                                                        Then consider actually reading my comment, and you may notice my suggestion for user feedback on tone as an alternative to moderation.

                                                        I did not want to be rude, but you quite literally asked me to be rude. I hope it has helped you understand my position, and doesn’t “leave you guessing.”

                                                        1. 1

                                                          Okay. Since you prefer a rude style I will reply in a rude style, just for you.

                                                          Your first paragraph confuses ‘poorly written’ and ‘rude’. Formatting may have helped. The second one, however, is excellent. I appreciate that.

                                                          Can you really not tell I think you’re full of shit from reply 1?

                                                          It does take more effort for me to parse, yes. I’m not sure why you find this surprising, given that in the second message you are crystal clear about that. Then again, you’re talking to a person who has been accused of being “not human”, so… shrug, make of it what you will.

                                                          I think it’s utterly ridiculous that you need someone to be rude to jostle your brain into parsing English correctly.

                                                          And yet, here I am, ridiculous in my inadequacy.

                                                          Then consider actually reading my comment, and you may notice my suggestion for user feedback on tone as an alternative to moderation.

                                                          Which, as I said, removes a lot of dynamic range in the conversation. Hopefully, vitriol is used relatively rarely, but adding a layer of policing is not an improvement, for reasons I already stated. In any case, it seems like your idea of a pleasant community is one that I find unpleasant. I’ve happily wandered away from groups like that in the past, because I just didn’t find anything that interested me the culture.

                                                          Anyways, for now, I’ll just remain happy that you’re not a moderator on this site, and move on. I usually avoid this kind of discussion, and I’m eager to get back to that state.

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                                                            I don’t propose to outright ban anything. But after a certain topic has generated a couple of “lets jump on the hate bandwagon” threads, I’d probably start axing comments doing nothing but trying to start another one. If a comment has genuine criticism, that’s different.

                                                            User feedback doesn’t mean banning certain tones either. If the community finds a vitriolic comment acceptable in context, then there’s no problem. That is different from the hate bandwagon situation, and perhaps I didn’t provide adequate distinction.

                                                            Feedback from peers also isn’t moderation, it’s just a suggestion. I’ve read many comments where my reaction is “you’re right, but you’re also a total douchebag so I’m not going to up vote you unless you rephrase.” If there was a simple anonymous mechanism to enable that exchange, I would use it, and the author would have the option of rephrasing or not. From a moderator, enforcement should only be used in more extreme cases, or cases where the comment is purely vitriolic with no useful feedback.

                                                            Another possible mod tool is a private warning. A mod flags a comment, and the next time the flagged author hits reply in the thread it reminds them they have been issued a warning for hostility, and to keep their next comment more civil or it may be deleted / blocked awaiting revision for civility.

                                                            There’s no reason to get totalitarian about this, a little encouragement towards civility can go a long way.

                                              2. 2

                                                Where would you draw the line between bitching and commiseration over a commonly acknowledged criticism?

                                                1. 1

                                                  Hostility and bitterness mostly. “I hate Electron it’s awful” and “Electron causes a lot of problems for me” are pretty different. It’s a hard line to draw precisely but I think certain comments obviously only exist to express hatred.

                                              3. 2

                                                We also had a handy thread exploring how to use votes correctly. :)

                                              4. 8

                                                Probably the biggest difference has been that I haven’t moved to create a downvote reason for hostile comments

                                                I still want this to happen. I see it as a positive step in helping to community moderate certain kinds of interactions, tho I don’t think the comment you deleted falls under such an umbrella.

                                                1. 6

                                                  Thanks for the transparency and also the hard work you and the other mods put in.

                                                  As an aside, why are some usernames in the user list set to green?

                                                  1. 9

                                                    They’re less than a week old.

                                                    1. 2

                                                      Those are recently invited users.

                                                      1. 2

                                                        They’re new.

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                                                        I think what rustles my jimmies here is you’re essentially a mod because you support the site (thank you for that, btw) – maybe hosting and mod duties should be separated as so one lobster doesn’t hold all the power?

                                                        1. 7

                                                          Clawlateral commission set it up so that @pushcx has sysop, @alynpost has sysadmin/hosting, and various others have access to certain things for redundancy.

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                                                          All this meta-talk concerning the deleted post warrants that the post be undeleted: for two reasons.

                                                          1. People can not form a proper judgement of the post themselves, if the actual content is not available. It was mentioned in the previous thread that the comment was on Web Archive, but that is a matter of timing and luck.

                                                          2. The comment had brought a lot of value, namely by being deleted bringing up these discussions. Hence, it is worth being published, for two reasons: 1) if all such comments would spur this activity, people might become incentivized to write similar comments (whether that is Good or Bad, is not something I judge). To base similarity, easy access to the original content is useful. 2) For people who disagree, it is useful to collect and learn from similar “low value” comments, to decide on a strategy to explain and convince to authors to write something otherwise. Without the data, by censorship, it becomes harder for both sides.

                                                          1. 3

                                                            This is a fair response. Thank you.

                                                            1. 3

                                                              I’d urge you again to make a hostility-based downvote available. The current downvote reasons suggest that off-topic or me-too comments are worse than hostile comments, which I don’t think would be true in the kind of community I would want this to be.

                                                              1. 3

                                                                Maybe just dragon the post next time rather than deleting it?

                                                                1. [Comment removed by author]

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                                                                    While I respect your decision to leave, why not give the new team a few weeks to find their feet and listen to community feedback?

                                                                    1. [Comment removed by author]

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                                                                        I think “overwhelming” isn’t the right category. Quite a number of people agree in the comments that it’s not content they want. There’s a wide agreement that the way it was done was clumsy. Happens. This also reflected in this post by pushcx, which doesn’t fit your claim that he doesn’t listen. I’m very shoulders down on this whole thing.

                                                                        1. 2

                                                                          Fair enough.

                                                                          I also happen to think that the comment shouldn’t have been deleted, but I also think the mod response to the fallout is transparent and honest.

                                                                      2. 15

                                                                        Forum culture 101: People who make a spectacle of leaving never really quit.

                                                                        1. 13

                                                                          Please don’t challenge people to leave. You can’t see it because their comment was deleted when they left, but somebody took you up on it already.

                                                                          We can talk about this. :)

                                                                          1. 3

                                                                            I think it’s very important to respond negatively or at most neutrally to someone threatening to leave. Any kind of remotely positive response creates the wrong dynamic/incentives.

                                                                            1. 8

                                                                              It’s a free web service. Announcing an intention to leave doesn’t have to result in some “customer retention” script.

                                                                              Encouraging someone to leave in a negative way is of course unacceptable.

                                                                          2. [Comment removed by author]

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                                                                            You mean comments I don’t like? Yeah, nah I’m out of here.

                                                                            I’d love to have that reason.

                                                                            Maybe clicking it shouldn’t do anything though! :D The “I don’t have an objective reason to downvote but I HAVE TO press a dislike button to feel better” button.

                                                                            1. 1

                                                                              Bye! ☺

                                                                            2. 1

                                                                              Whatever, maaaaan