Here is a quick update on the topic of moderation. Having spoken with our head of moderation cum webmaster we are thinking along the following lines:
- All in all, our moderation system works and it does not need radical changes. We will therefore make no major changes.
- We are probably going to ban anonymous comments. Those concerned about privacy can post under any assumed handle.
- We are thinking how I, Andrei, could quickly flag an unhelpful comment, probably with either a symbol or a short sentence.
In this last case, the message will be “I, the host, find that comment unhelpful/silly/etc.” That will just be a warning for the readers and a quick way to remind everybody to stay on topic.
So no big changes, but hopefully an improvement on the margins :-)
Also, we will not use Captcha or Discus: I personally find them terrible, and rather ineffective.
We will keep you posted before making any changes.
I think, the 3-point programme proposed by you is truly an optimum response to the problem of nonsense comments. Hope, the abolition of “anonymous” commentator will itself resolve half of the headache! And, you already have an efficient hardworking team of moderators.
I applaud this decision especially the last part where you would place “I, the host, find that comment unhelpful/silly/etc.”
If you placed this sentence with 3-6 words (mostly the same) in front of the comment it would allow us to quickly move on and spend zero emotional energy with that post. I think it would likely reduce the responses, both pro and con, to the comment as well.
Love this direction.
We are probably going to ban anonymous comments.
That was (almost) a consensus opinion across the board. I only glanced at the comments posted on the first installment of moderation issues, and not having anonymous comments was a common position.
Yes, it’s mostly a good thing to ban anonymous (unsigned) posts. Keep in mind that whenever a thread gets swamped by them, then it’s a deliberate strategy by people who wish both to wreck/disturb the discussion as well as to hide their own comment history. Put bluntly, it’s driven by malice, cowardice, and infantilism. I just thought it might be a slightly better idea to give these posters a taste of their own medicine, consigning them to a 100% meaningless collection of wholly unrelated, unsigned posts where they can go search for their rubbish to their hearts’ content.
As for the idea of passing judgment on silly/unhelpful posts — yes, that also makes sense all right as long as it doesn’t become an overwhelming burden. Maybe that’s something which the ban on unsigned posts makes feasible.
Well, banning “anonymous” will not help much, as even a name like “Nussiminen” may stand for an individual
or some group of individuals or some agency—who shall really know. Judge the comment on its merits. But in a
way “anonymous” is actually a more honest approach, that the commentator simply does not care to have his/her/its true name and identity revealed, and declares it do. A fake personal name would make little difference.—I wager most anonymous unencrypted comments can actually be traced precisely to who posted them if one would want to take the trouble.
Banning anonymous solves the problem of people who don’t sign their posts because they want to hide their own comment history or are too arrogant/lazy to select a handle. It has very little to do with anonymity as such. Your argument that “even a name like “Nussiminen” may stand for an individual
or some group of individuals or some agency—who shall really know” is entirely moot. What matters to 99.9% of us coming here is to have a forum with zero ambiguity as far as the submissions posted are concerned, and anonymous (unsigned) posts en masse destroys precisely that.
Good sense prevails.
Excellent choice of changes. I’m positive this site will work even better than befote.
Consider simply not posting clearly unhelpful/silly/etc. comments. That way your readers will not be burdened by them. (Personally, so as not to burden Andrei too much, I’d just let the moderator make the call. I assume they are all reasonable people.) For those comments which may be a little “off topic”, or a bit “off key”, or are “on the fence”, but contain some sense, possibly providing some utility somehow, they can be flagged as such by the moderator, or Andrei can simply flag it with a follow-on comment? ? ?
sounds great – I’m happy for you you have such a long term and faithful team and readership. The true blues won’t be hurt.
With all due respect, I don’t see how banning Anonymous improves things (in fact, it surely makes them worse).
As others have noted, Anonymous is often used by bots, trolls, flamers and retards. So essentially, it’s a cunning (and very effective) trick, that encourages bots, trolls, flamers and retards to IDENTIFY themselves.
All genuine readers/commenters know this. So a comment by Anonymous is a instant red flag that the comment may be trash.
It only takes (a human) a second to think up some fake Display Name (and bots even less).
And just as a burglar who walks around wearing a nylon stocking over his head is much easier to spot than one who doesn’t, a bot, troll, flamer or retard who calls themselves Anonymous is much easier to spot than one who calls themselves “Straight-Bat” or “Bill Nelson” (for example – and not that these gentlemen are bots, trolls, flamers or retards).
To keep the bot-posted spam comments out, you might want to consider deploying the open-source Honeypot plugin. It is invisible to human users, widely used, and keeps most bot postings out very effectively without bothering the moderators. Installation is routinely simple, no setup required for basic operation, simply enable honeypot for the comments form.
The WordPress plugin is here: https://wordpress.org/plugins/honeypot/
For those who are curious how it works, the principle is very simple. The plugin embeds an invisible honeypot input field (innocuously named ‘url’ or ‘name’ or some such) in the form being protected. Human user submissions never have the honeypot field filled in because they never see the invisible field in the form. Software bots, however, notice the field in the form, and most of the time automatically fill in the honeypot field with random or malicious input. The server simply discards (or logs, if set up to do so) submissions that have the honeypot field filled in.
Disclaimer: This poster has no connection with the honeypot plugin or its developers, merely a happy user.
That’s viciously cunning. I think I’ll add it to my site.
and thus gets proven some anonymous comnents are worthwhile :)
How long before the bot can not input anything into invsible field. Afterall to make a field invisible, it needs a descriptor that, just like the browser validates, the bot can too…
You’re quite right. A bot could THEORETICALLY detect that the honeypot field wasn’t displayed in the browser.
And most bots just scrape the HTML on the web page (which can be done quickly and easily).
So most of the cheap and nasty bots will fall into the honeypot (IMHO). It’s only the well-funded (eg; three-letter agency), ones that will identify the honeypot. But then, will they want to reveal themselves by leaving the field blank? Methinks not (unless the target/goal of whatever they’re doing justifies it).
Happy to see these changes take place, esp number 3. I am so naive and busy that I am thankful to have someone pre-read these comments and tell me what is acceptable and reasonable to spend my valuable time on. Of course, I usually only read certain commenters anyway because I know these few are always acceptable and have the right views. But it’s still good to have someone looking over my shoulder and guiding me.
And I am glad so many of your reader’s comments below reflect my view. It is really a source of comfort that it is such a close-knit and protective site.
Well done, Saker! Keep up the good work.
I sometimes post as Anonymous, not because I want to be anonymous, but because I write a comment and forget to fill in the name and e-mail. I notice some other comments that identify people who’ve done the same.
Flagging unusual posts with big ?? tag would suffice.