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[META] Something Shiny and Two Things Boring

I've got a new feature almost ready to go. I'm pretty stoked about this one because I've been wanting it for quite literally years, but it was never possible on Reddit.

Hey, guess what? We're not on Reddit!

But before I continue, I want to temper expectations. This is a prototype of a first revision of an experimental feature. It is not going to look impressive; it is not going to be impressive. There's a lot of work left to do.

The feature is currently live on our perpetually-running dev site. Log in, click any thread, and go look below the Comment Preview. You'll see a quokka in a suit asking you for help. (His name is Quincy.) Click the cute li'l guy and you'll be asked to rate three comments. Do so, and click Submit. Thank you! Your reward is another picture of Quincy and a sense of satisfaction.

So, uh . . . . what?

Okay, lemme explain.

This is the first part of a feature that I'm calling Volunteering. Once in a while, the site is going to prompt you to help out, and if you volunteer, it'll give you a few minutes of work to do. Right now this is going to be "read some comments and say if they're good or not". Later this might include stuff like "compare two comments and tell me if one of them is better", or "read a comment, then try to come up with a catchy headline for it".

These are intentionally small, and they're entirely optional. You can ignore it altogether if you like.

I'm hoping these can end up being the backbone of a new improved moderation system.

Isn't this just voting, but fancy?

You'd think so! But there are critical differences.

First, you do not choose the things to judge. The system chooses the things it wants you to judge. You are not presented with thousands of comments and asked to vote on the ones you think are important, no, you are given (at the moment) three specific comments and information is requested of you.

This means that I don't need to worry about disproportionate votecount on popular comments. Nor do I need to worry about any kind of vote-brigading, or people deciding to downvote everything that a user has posted. The system gets only the feedback it asks for. This is a pull system; the system pulls information from the userbase in exactly the quantities it wants instead of the userbase shoving possibly-unwanted information at the scoring systems.

Second, you can be only as influential as the system lets you. On the dev site you can volunteer as often as you want for testing purposes, but on the live site, you're going to - for now - be limited to once every 20 hours. I'll probably change this a lot, but nevertheless, if the system decides you've contributed enough, it'll thank you kindly and then cut you off. Do you want to spend all day volunteering in order to influence the community deeply? Too bad! Not allowed.

But this goes deeper than it sounds. Part of having the system prompt you is that not all prompts will be the system attempting to get actionable info from you. Some of the prompts will be the system trying to compare your choices against a reference, and the system will then use this comparison to figure out how much to trust your decisions.

That reference, of course, is the mods.

I've previously referred to this as the Megaphone system or the Amplifier system. One of our devs called it a "force multiplier". I think this gets across the core of what I'm aiming for. The goal here is not majority-rules, it's not fully decentralized moderation. It's finding people who generally agree with the mods and then quietly harnessing them to handle the easy moderation cases.

(We have a lot of easy moderation cases.)

There's another important point here. The mods are only human and we make mistakes. My hope is that we can get enough volunteer help to provide significantly more individual decisions than the mods can, and my hope is that the combined efforts of several people who don't quite agree with the mods in all cases is still going to be more reliable than any single mod. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me if there's people out there who are better at judging posts than our mods are! It's just hard to find you; some of you may not even comment, and you're pretty undiscoverable right now, but you will certainly get a chance to volunteer!

Also, this will hopefully improve turnaround time a lot. I'm tired of filtered comments taking hours to get approved! I'm tired of really bad comments sticking around for half a day! There are many people constantly commenting and voting, and if I can get a few minutes of help from people now and then, we can handle those rapidly instead of having to wait for a mod to be around.

Wow! You get all of this, with absolutely no downsides or concerns!

Well, hold on.

The big concern here is that virtually nobody has ever done this before. The closest model I have is Slashdot's metamoderation system. Besides that, I'm flying blind.

I also have to make sure this isn't exploitable. The worst-case scenario is people being able to use this to let specific bad comments through. I really want to avoid that, and I've got ideas on how to avoid it, but it's going to take work on my part to sort out the details.

And there's probably issues that I'm not even thinking of. Again: flying blind. If you think of issues, bring 'em up; if you see issues, definitely bring 'em up.

Oh man! So, all this stuff is going to be running real soon, right?


First I need some data to work off. Full disclosure: all the current system does is collect data, then ignore it.

But it is collecting data, and as soon as I've got some data, I'll be working on the next segment.

This is the first step towards having a platform that's actually better-moderated than the current brand of highly-centralized sites. I don't know if it'll work, but I think it will.

Please go test it out on the dev site, report issues, and when it shows up here (probably in a few days) click the button roughly daily and spend a few minutes on it. Your time will not be wasted.


Right now this site's block feature works much the same as Reddit's. But I want to change that, because it sucks.

My current proposal is:

  • If you block someone, you will no longer see their comments, receive PMs from them, or be notified if they reply to your comments.

  • This does not stop them from seeing your comments, nor does it stop them from replying to your comments.

  • If they attempt to reply to your comment, it will include the note "This user has blocked you. You are still welcome to reply, but your replies will be held to a stricter standard of civility."

  • This note is accurate and we will do so.

That's the entire proposed feature. Feedback welcome!

User Flair and Usernames

We're going to start cracking down a bit on hyperpartisan or antagonistic user flair. Basically, if we'd hit you with a warning for putting it in a comment, we'll hit you with a warning for putting it in your flair. If anyone has a really good reason for us to not do this, now's the time to mention it!

Same goes for usernames. On this site, you can actually change your display username, and we're just leaving that in place. So we'll tell you to change your name if we have to. Extra for usernames: don't use a misleading or easily-confused username, okay? If it looks like you're masquerading as an existing well-known user, just stop it.

I'm currently assuming that both of these fall under our existing ruleset and don't need new rules applied. If you disagree strongly, let me know.

The Usual Stuff

Give feedback! Tell me how you're doing? Do you have questions? Do you have comments? This is the place for them!

Are you a coder and want to help out? We have a lot of work to do - come join the dev discord.

Jump in the discussion.

No email address required.

Not sure if there's anything you can do about this, but I will confess to a niggling doubt when I do the mod-duty thing: I don't know whether I'm being weighted positively, zero, or negatively, and in the latter two cases I'm wasting my time and/or being manipulated.

So, first, I'm not gonna do the negative-weight thing, it clamps at zero.

I'm not sure how I want to handle it from there. I don't want to waste people's time; at the same time I don't want to give people a strong hint as to whether they're being positively weighted. The nice thing about not telling anyone at all is that it makes it much harder for malicious users to exploit the system.

Suggestions welcome.

I don't want to waste people's time; at the same time I don't want to give people a strong hint as to whether they're being positively weighted. The nice thing about not telling anyone at all is that it makes it much harder for malicious users to exploit the system.

How about making the system blind unless the user spends a substantial amount of time (say, two weeks) with a weight of 0, at which point you graciously let them know they're screaming into a void? Otherwise the capybara gives everyone a pat on the back every once in a while, whether their weight is 0.01 or $MAXVAL.

This makes it hard to game because it's mostly a black box, but gives people assurance that what they're doing matters and doesn't waste their time. A malicious actor probably won't spend a month getting an account into good standing to do janny duty and waiting for Pass/Fail feedback before trying again, especially with no fine-grained data on what they did wrong last time.

Yeah, there's a reason I said "not sure if there's anything you can do about this".

My current understanding is that, right now, you are helping Zorba accumulate the data he needs to determine whether this meta-moderation stuff has any hope of working at all.

After I click on the squirrel and rate some comments, it would be nice to be plopped back from whence I came, typically the current CW thread. A clickable link might be better than autonavigating.

Or you could just open the squirrel quokka link in a new tab, and close it after hitting the submit button.

Yeah but this is what code is for

I think there should be a report option for "inflammatory" claims without sufficient supporting evidence.

There is a growing issue of conspiracy and agenda driving posts and there should be some way to push back against this other than getting into endless discussions with insane people.

This could be anything from discussions around covid, the war, the cathedral or "the Jews", Trump etc. There are things to say about all these subjects (both agreeing and disagreeing with the mainstream narrative) but that doesn't mean that inflammatory posts without evidence don't degrade the quality of discussion and scares of reasonable contributors. This is even more of a concern when the pipeline for getting new users is so limited since the transition off-site.

If someone wants to make a well-reasoned and supported argument for contraintuitive positions on these subjects then I'm all ears, and I expect most of the rest of the forum. I don't even mind the rightward drift of the forum that much despite being politically leftwing, its interesting to read posts by conservatives, i don't get that much anywhere else. What isn't interesting is reading aggressive, poorly supported and often barely coherent conspiracy tinged ramblings.

Some suggestions for the Inbox:

  1. I think displaying the notified comments in context is a bad idea. When multiple people resond to one of your comments it gets unwieldy and you have to scroll around to find the comment thats actually new. Also indentation gore. If I need the context, Ill open a new tab to read it anyway.

  2. Opening Inbox automatically marks all as read, and theres no way to turn it off. Back on reddit it didnt do that, and there was even a button to mark them unread again. I used to leave things set to unread if I meant to respond to them later. I cant do that now and I dont have a good replacement.

Also if I have suggestions for evaluating the volunteer data, where should I make them? Some of you comments suggest you might not want it to be public knowledge how exactly you use them.

Yeah, I think we've concluded that we should change to a Reddit-like display for that, which is probably not happening now but will hopefully be soon.

You're welcome to post it here if you like - initial implementations will have to be publicly available anyway - or send it to me in PM if you'd prefer.

Well, obvious part is getting the regressions for (user, judgement) against various mod decisions. Getting interactions between different users is propably not feasible, but we could try clustering them. (Which reminds me, is there still any interest in this?) This could let us consider interactions between those, and help assign comments to volunteers to get a representative quorum faster. Do you think you can afford to double-check all decisions that went against the user? And there should propably be some report number over which to check approvals.

How would you document actions the system took? You wanted people to not know they had an impact, but the modlog would obviously show the action as not taken by a human, and however the modhat comments are handled would show it too.

I checked the modlog for this and have some suggestions there as well: First, bans arent robustly connected to their modhat comments. If you view all actions you can tell chronologically, but filtering for bans you dont get it. Also there apparently arent modhats for removed comments, or did I just not find them? No list of currently banned users either. I think it would also be nice if the list where you select a mod action to filter for had little numbers showing how many of each occured in the last month or so.

Also: I know how to programm in principle (coming from mathematics), but I dont have experience with git, interacting with databases, etc. How much of a time investment do you think it would be before I could contribute to dev?

Possible bug report: under yesterday's comment by Stefferi that starts: "More of a personal opinion:" I can't see any responding comments, whether logged in or not. But I know there is at least one, by MeekestOfAllTime , since I commented in the subtree. I can still see it if I go through my comment, but if I just view the megathread, or click on stefferi's comment, the response and subtree isn't there. Maybe he's isn't approved? but then why did we see it in first place.

edit: ignore, it's visible now.

I also had this problem for a while, for some reason, for what it's worth. I managed to find the replies through the latest comments function.

Bug report: Without being logged in, this post of mine does not show up in the current CWR thread while sorting by new. It does show up when sorting by old, though. I can reproduce the error on Firefox mobile, Brave mobile, and TOR(firefox) on Desktop.

Hmm. It's working now, but I did have to click the "load more comments" button. I assume you tried that?

If so, there might be an issue where posts can sneak through the load-more-comments threshold, and there just happen to be enough new replies now that it's passed that window.

Hmm. It's working now, but I did have to click the "load more comments" button. I assume you tried that?

Yes, I had to click the "load more comments" button first. Afterwards, it did not show up (when sorting by new). It does now. Thanks for looking into this. It was more of a curiosity.

Bug in the sign-up page using Firefox on Android.

Text editing in the Username field behaves erratically. eg. I typed "solved" and then pressed backspace 5 times. Here are the actual results:






Expected results:







  • A few other erratic behaviours, but backspace was the most consistently wrong.

  • Fairly easy to work around. Just takes a bit more time to get it saying what you want it to say. I went ahead and created this account with no other problems.

  • Presumably the JavaScript that validates what I'm typing is somehow responsible.

  • Encountered both before and after a reboot of my phone.

  • Not reproducible in Chrome.

  • New phone, latest Android, Firefox up to date.

  • I didn't experiment with the other fields on the sign up page.

Welp. Issue added.

Another bug. In the formatting of code blocks.

10 PRINT "Hello World"

20 GOTO 10

In the preview, these 2 lines show up 'together', but when I submit this comment and it appears on the main page, there is a whole empty line between them. (Enough space for another line of BASIC!)

for those looking at this (cc @zobrathut), does some things to make single linebreaks as paragraph breaks

Added another entry to the Great Preview Problem :V Thanks!

I've just signed up after lurking for a good while, please forgive me if I'm a little out of the loop and this has already been addressed or explained. Is there a reason why I'm automatically upvoting my own comments? It seems like kind of an odd feature for the community (if anything I would think you should, by default, upvote the comment or top level post you're responding to) plus I feel a little self conscious looking at the little highlight showing the implied numerical value of how proud I am of myself(1). I'd be very curious to see if anyone else has/had any feelings whatsoever about it.

I agree that 0 as the initial state would be preferable. I've always thought this to be inspired by mechanics for hiding downvoted posts: if you get yourself an unprincipled hater and he goes around downvoting all your fresh comments, they instantly go below 0 and may become collapsed by default, which would prevent them from being seen (or gaining upvotes), so there's an extra 1 to start with.

Of course this is silly, you can get 2 haters, and anyway there are better solutions.

P.S. it was exciting to think you are the Ratboy Genius, but surely we cannot be so lucky, can we?

Of course this is silly, you can get 2 haters, and anyway there are better solutions.

Or a downvote-maximizing AI

As valuable as it would be for the simulation narrative if I were the original article, no, I am not Ryan. Just a long time fan of his work, before he became a staple on /f/

The default is always 1. Same for reddit or HackerNews.

Reddit has the same feature.

My interpretation of this feature is that, if you find yourself embarrassed at being forced to upvote a comment that you made, then you shouldn't have made the comment in the first place.

I'd also say that this removes the incentive to upvote your own comment, which is an incentive I'm happy to eliminate.

Thank you, and greyenlightenment too! I have never and would never make an account on reddit and probably not hn either, so I guess this is one of those little shibboleths that you wouldn't even think about if you were familiar with those kinds of message boards. It still seems odd to me like laughing at your own joke before anyone else does, but if that's the industry standard I'm not complaining. Learn something new every day.

Just curious: how did you end up here? When we moved offsite a lot of people worried about being cut off from the pipeline of new users. But, if you never even had a reddit account, then you're a proper newcomer.

When we moved offsite a lot of people worried about being cut off from the pipeline of new users. But, if you never even had a reddit account, then you're a proper newcomer.

As RBG has personally attested to but I can confirm is a non-unique case, there exists a set of people who wanted to participate but didn't want a Reddit account. I, for instance, have a "no big platforms" rule, and /r/ssc and /r/themotte are the only things that even tempted me. So obviously, you move off Reddit and you get all of us, but that's not an ongoing thing.

I too would pretty regularly lurk, but didn't have a reddit account, because that would lead to even more endless timewasting than already goes on. This may be similarly unhealthy, but should be more manageable.

I stumbled across Scott with Meditations on Moloch back in 2014, slithered down the rabbit hole, lurked the CW thread in its different iterations ever since, following this particular group of people (as opposed to the various branches and offshoots ie. schism, CWR). I've never been on board with Rationality™, but I found Scott's writing sometimes excellent and often thought provoking and I enjoyed reading the kinds of discussions that happen here. As I mentioned above but could've made more clear, I wouldn't want to participate in discussions like these on any type of social media that obviously and consistently works an behalf of the assorted intelligence agencies. Not making an account here immediately after the off-site move was a function of my personal laziness and also not really wanting to participate. I happen to have a large amount of free time at the moment however, and have been meaning to practice my ability to write well.

I don't know that I could be considered the modal new user for the site.

Do I understand the database structure correctly, and this site supports sub-"reddits"? If yes, why would you encourage absolutely disgusting demonic behavior like this:

come join the dev discord.

In theory, yes.

In practice we've put absolutely zero effort into making sure they still work properly. They probably don't.

Also, my experience is that realtime chat is a lot more useful for the necessary sort of discussion than Reddit-style posting.

Also, the dev discord predates this site by quite a bit.

Two problems:

  • The place is a ghost town, whatever conversations are happening there, I wouldn't call them "real time".

  • Might be easier to get feedback from other users on how to implement features and fix bugs, if it's all happening on the same site.

But if it doesn't work then meh....

There's realtime conversations pretty often when there's actual dev stuff to talk about. We have limited dev time because it's all volunteer; however, the realtime conversations that do happen are pretty important.

There's also the issue tracker that's available for everyone.

The Motte isn't designed for this kind of communication and the dev time required to make it work just isn't worth it. Better to specialize given our limited resources.

Is there a feature (or working on one) to skip to new posts like the old ~new system on SSC?

I'm honestly not familiar with that system; can you explain how it worked?

New posts (to you) were displayed with the word ~new at the top (much like how new posts here have a bluish hue).

This meant you could ctrl-F and jump to things you had not read.

Oh, that makes sense. Yeah, that'd be really easy to do - in fact, you could probably do it yourself in a custom CSS stylesheet, but it sounds useful enough that I'd rather just add it to the site.

Thanks for the suggestion!

As an alternative that would be very useful to me but maybe not everyone would be some kind of internal comment content collapse and a button somewhere at the top of the thread to "collapse" all read comments.


That sounds great.

Why do I get a notification if someone blocks me? Someone with a really cool username just blocked me and that's bringing me down a little.

We should probably change that, yeah.

I disagree, better to know. Also provides an additional justification for moderating comments like "blocked".

Not getting notifications for responses to many of my comments. Some recent update probably fucked that up.

Just a theory: you don't have like a million tabs open with one of them including your notification page, do you? Just asking because the same thing happened to... uh, my girlfriend... in canada.

Argh, that's going to be a pain to track down.

Any idea when it started? Do you happen to have a lot of people blocked?

Edit: Also, do you mind if I trawl around in the database to look at your notifications? Technically this means I'll probably see your private messages, if you have any, but I don't care about that I just want to look at the database stuff.

Started 2-3 days ago. Didn't block anyone. Blocked by 1 user, but that user is nowhere near any of the posts. I think there is some public/private profile tomfoolery going on here, I am not sure about that but one of the users notifications I did not get has a private profile.

Hrm. Maaaaybe?

Do you mind if I trawl around in the database to look at your notifications? Technically this means I'll probably see your private messages, if you have any, but I don't care about that I just want to look at the database stuff.

Go ahead

We currently have no idea what's going on. It looks like you're receiving notifications for all replies to your comments and the database says they're being "read", which mostly means that it generated a page with the notification included, but it does mean it isn't just being skipped by the notification-page code.

It's possible they ended up buried deep in your notification page somehow and they didn't get bubbled to the top, but we tried some stuff and couldn't reproduce that.

I know this might be tough, but is there any way you can find a comment that you didn't get notified for, give me the link, and search in your notifications page to see if you can find it in an unexpected place?

FWIW, I've noticed something kind of related - if you make a post that gets a lot of direct replies, you do get notified for all of them, but the newest ones are at the bottom of the comment responses on the notifications page, so you have to scroll past all of the older replies and their full subthreads to see them, which is kind of easy to miss. It might help to sort the replies on the notification page as newest-first.

The weird part is that I've had this reported, and seen this personally, and I cannot reproduce it.

Ugh. Will go file a bug for it and pester our devs.

Alright, I'll summarise it for you within a day.

After noticing this issue, I went back to my profile and reopened some of my comments to make sure I didn't miss any replies, this could explain them being "read".

I'm not discounting the chance that I missed something, I'll work backward and let you know tomorrow.

So the way "read" works, as I understand it, is that it just marks things as "read" once they're displayed on your notifications page. It doesn't matter if you open them or not, it matters once you open the page. It's there mostly as a check to ensure that they're being displayed at all - there's some theoretical ways they could be hidden, but the "read" bit is set after all those checks are applied.

My vague theory is that there's a problem with sorting, not with actual display, so they were there, just possibly deeply buried in an unintuitive place. But this is conjecture.

Anything you can find out is appreciated; in a day or two we're also going to be putting some more code in to help diagnose this and/or solve the sorting problem, if we can unearth it. So keep me posted, regardless of what you figure out - if it keeps happening, we'll keep messing with it until we figure out what's going on.

All the responses to my comments are there on my notification page. I think the ordering is correct.

However, to be more specific, In this specific comment. I only got the notification when 'SomethingMusic' responded to me, notification as in the red bell icon. The other two responses are there in the /notifications page, but I don't recall seeing the red bell icon for them.

More comments

+1. Same problem, same timeframe, did not block anyone, my interlocutor does not have a private profile though.

I have a little trouble with using this, since there are some comments I think are Poor but not Bad (but they're not Good, and Bad is the only option I have) while others are "made me laugh but um, probably deserves a finger-wagging" (but Deserves A Warning seems too harsh).

Otherwise, it's interesting to engage with this, as it makes me put aside my immediate reactions to think "never mind how it appeals or does not appeal to me, do I think it is good, bad or otherwise in general?"

"The janitor feature makes people more thoughtful posters" wasn't an intended result, but now that I'm thinking of it, yeah, I can totally imagine that.

And yeah, you're running into roughly the same problem other people do. I think I should probably write a paragraph of About that goes over that, but the tl;dr is that the hard problems are the ones we most need people's attempts to solve.

But don't worry too much because every actual warning or ban will go through a mod :) There is an upper limit to how much you can screw up without someone responsible assisting you!

I usually just mark those as neutral

Quick Volunteer Janitor analysis update!

I've got it spitting out Pretty Accurate Results, to the point where the best way to find bugs is now to look for posts that it thinks we should have modded but didn't, or posts that it thinks we shouldn't have modded but did, and figure out what happened. As a quick cursory glance, the answer in about half the remaining cases is either "we made a mistake" or "ehhh, that could have gone either way", which suggests it's now about as accurate as the mods are. And there's still things I have left to improve! So this is Very Promising overall.

One of the more fascinating results of this was to look at the most accurate volunteers. Out of top ten, nine of them have made less than 100 comments; in fact, half of them have made less than 25 comments, including two of the top three. My tool spit out a giant list of names and I said "who the hell are these people" and I had to go look them up to see if they were actual people. They are! They're just people who don't post a lot. This all suggests that there's a ton of near-lurkers out there who are reading stuff in detail and who have a very good idea of the community norms.

Hello, lurkers! Thank you for being here! I'm not even directing this to the set of you who are volunteering (but extra thanks to you), but to everyone who's reading; part of my goal here is just to be a place for people to see discussions, and I'm glad to know that there are people who are seeing discussions. Y'all are great.

I've got a few more pieces to put in, then I have to figure out how to connect this to the live database in a useful fashion, then I'm going to be initially setting it up as an assistance tool for the mods. If everything pans out, though, it's going to be handling the vast bulk of the moderation work for us in the future (though we're still going to be the ones verifying warnings and bans and writing the actual messages; no fully-automated harsh penalties will be applied.)

As part of this changeover I plan to set up a bit of a more formal warning/ban system so we can link related posts. Right now there's an issue where if someone goes and spams terrible posts over half the community, we tend to attach the ban message to one of them and just ignore the rest, which leads to people thinking that "the rest" did not get moderator attention. With this tool it'll be easy to group those up and just click a little checkbox that says "make a link to connect all these", and the goal is that users will see a note on each questionable post saying "this was bad and deserved moderator attention, but we applied the actual moderator action to this other message, [click here]".

Anyway, y'all are doing great, thank you for the frankly unexpected amount of quokka-clicking you've been doing. This will all make the community better.

This is a really cool feature/stab at crowdsourced modding! Well done!

I find it really fun to use, too.

The last janitor-duty thing I got gave me only two posts. Have you changed it? (I think two might be a bit worse effect/friction ratio than three.)

At the moment it pops up the window if there's any posts, then gives you up to three. It's possible to get as low as one if you're unlucky. I'm going to end up tweaking this to something like "wait until you have three posts unless one of them is getting kinda old, in which case just give up and give the user what you have available".

(it's actually possible to get "zero" if the last one got approved between you seeing the banner and clicking on it, but it'll just show you an apology and not start the cooldown timer)

Are people who conduct more ratings given higher weight than those who conduct fewer? There are some days when I don't get around to checking The Motte, and I'm wondering if my "score" suffers as a result.

In the current implementation, it takes a reasonable number of ratings for it to start being confident that you're consistent. But I think once you've rated twenty or thirty posts, that effect is essentially gone.

Right now there's no time-based falloff; I'll probably add one at some point, but it's going to be on the order of months, not on the order of days.

I have no plans to turn this into a Daily Quest :)

I'm a lurking volunteer. I just had given to me to rate. I felt a three way conflict.

  1. It is a superb piece of satire, obviously good.

  2. I'm satired-out. There is a lot of satire on the internet. Too much, give me a break. Gut says: puke!

  3. I like the rule, which the comment is breaking. That should be a warning.

I went with "bad". The instruction do say go with your gut.

I think that the disagreement rule is a good rule that we should uphold, partly for the stated reason, partly for my point 2. It might be easier for the volunteers to uphold it if there were a button with a label that was the terse version of "Brilliantly funny sarcasm, but bad, because brilliantly funny sarcasm is fentanyl for discussion."

Yeah, there are absolutely nasty edge cases.

The big reason I've been avoiding adding more buttons is because the decision I'm asking you to make is the same decision the mods have to make. You're right in that that is a good summary! But at some point we need to decide what to do about it, whether we need to respond or not, and saying "there are both pros and cons to this comment" is a completely accurate statement that nevertheless fails to answer the question.

Also, this is all planned to be algorithmically handled, so if a computer program gets that response, well . . . what's it going to do with it?

Even in the tests right now, I'm boiling all the responses down to "bad" and "not-bad". I do plan to extend that in the future to capture some of the nuance people are providing, but that's hard, and I have no idea how I'd deal with something complicated like you're suggesting there.

tl;dr: Yeah, it's a tough situation, thank you for making a decision, that is exactly what I wanted you to do :)

Sometimes I suspect I've been handed an AAQC reported comment because I can’t see what’s wrong with it. Then I check context and I instantly see why someone thinks it’s bad. Sometimes the inverse happens.

Hello, lurkers! Thank you for being here! I'm not even directing this to the set of you who are volunteering (but extra thanks to you), but to everyone who's reading; part of my goal here is just to be a place for people to see discussions, and I'm glad to know that there are people who are seeing discussions. Y'all are great.

Hi to you too and thanks.


I'm glad we're still doing sensible moderation, and not the permaban on the slightest misstep that is now common on /r/SSC, sadly.

Are you planning to use deep learning here, or explicit algorithms?

Explicit algorithms. I don't think we have enough sample data to train something up from scratch.

Okay, good.

"you can be only as influential as the system lets you"

A small step toward a AI ruled world. So far so good!

Making rationalatosk open in a new window should be a top priority imo. I want to help out, but every time I do all the new comments turn old and sometimes that's hundreds of replies, and I end up missing new posts on old threads.

I have been on a couple of forums with a magic system which only marks a post read if it has been on your screen - would that be a feasible option? Because that would be even better.

You should be able to just open it in a new window manually, for what it's worth; we can make it a default, but you can do it on your own also.

I do plan to add a link to make that easier but nothing's stopping you right now!

I have been on a couple of forums with a magic system which only marks a post read if it has been on your screen - would that be a feasible option? Because that would be even better.

I'm curious how that's implemented; the concern is always server load. On the other hand, maybe we could make that clientside? Wouldn't be persisted across devices but maybe that'd be okay.

Zorba, why is it that when I click on notifications and see a bunch of replies to a comment I posted I need to scroll down to see the new one. I click on notifications, see my comment and a bunch of replies I’ve seen already and must then scroll past ten of those to see the new one I’m apparently being alerted to.

Because the system kinda sucks, honestly, and we've had more critical things to deal with than fixing that.

Sorry. There's still warts in a lot of places. We're slowly taking care of them.

No problem, thanks for all your tireless work.

You should be able to just open it in a new window manually, for what it's worth; we can make it a default, but you can do it on your own also.

God damn it I am a fuck up. I must have been jittery when I tried to do that the first time because it didn't work, so I thought it was some kind of button. Never mind me. I also meant to write this as a reply to crows' post -_-;

Hah! No worries - you're actually not the first person to ask this, so if you're a fuckup, so are other people. And that suggests it's something we need to improve :)

I've started getting posts old enough to have vote counts visible, I think it'd be a good idea to at least hide these on the screen even if it'd be trivial to find them. I'm sure it slightly biased me.

what s wrong with vote counts visible?

Maybe it pings your social approval bias and you think if you shouldn't go against the possibly better informed crowd. Or it triggers contrarianism and makes you prefer the underdog. In any case I don't think it helps you soberly compare it to the fair rules.

Whoops, didn't think of that. This is also hard to do right now but I've tossed it into the list.

Any updates on the volunteer data? "Who knows" is perfectly acceptable, but I'm just very curious about it. I think it's a neat experiment and would like to see this on other websites.

The holidays were busy and I'm finishing up another task before I get to it. No updates beyond that, sorry. Soon, I'm hoping!

Please make the "click here" link open in a new tab.

That's reasonable, yeah. Lemme add that to the list.

(But you should be able to do that manually if you want, that's just normal web browser functionality.)

I think the cases I find trickiest are the ones where I want to say, "This is a bad post, but the one it's replying to is worse and they both deserve moderation", or "This is bad but not for the obvious reason", or "This is a good contribution phrased in a terrible way", or any other judgement more nuanced than just good or bad.

Oh yeah, those are terrible.

But part of the goal of this is to sorta crowdsource moderation and take some load off the mods. And those are a good example of the tough decisions we have to make all the time.

So, yeah, understood, but nevertheless, at some point we need to make a decision :)

But look on the bright side: just pick a somewhat-approriate option randomly, and chances are good someone else will have picked the other one randomly. This is intentionally set up as a statistical deal, which is a luxury the mods don't have!

I think there ought to be an "other" option with a text box kind of like there is for the report button.

The problem is that we're never going to read those - the entire point of this is to automate it. "Other" would be the same as saying "I refuse to answer", and I intentionally don't want to introduce that because it would let people skip out on dealing with tough cases.

To be blunt, that sounds more like problem on your end. Do you not read the reports that are marked "other"?

Likewise letting non-mods skip out on the tough cases doesn't actually strike me as a downside.

You are not making the decision for the mods. You are telling them where/which direction to look at/away from. Low resolution/dimensionality is sufficient for that.

Sure, I understand that I'm not modding. I also understand that more detailed feedback would create additional workload for mods, which is the exact opposite of what this system is supposed to do.

I just stress a little when I worry that the option I select might be misleading.

Too many people I think seem to be using the flag button for disagreement instead of the post breaking a rule

Yeah, I think we generally end up ignoring something like 90% of reports.

Although note that you get Quality Contributions in the mix as well.

I keep getting slates of comments that are all good or all quality. It reminds me of those multiple choice tests where the answers are all the same letter, and you start to wonder if the examiner is messing with you.

I admit I'm slightly tempted to put that weighting into the system intentionally, entirely because it's funny.

But nope, just pure luck right no w:)

It would be great if the preceding comment was included when you're doing janitor duty. Context is important.

I agree, and would specifically like to have just the parent post. Seeing the full context is often too distracting IMO. Plenty of things, especially short things, are tough to evaluate as good or bad without seeing the 1 or 2 level parents of the discussion - was it a nasty sneer in response to a reasonable point, or a continuation of a well-received round of joking around?

It's on the list of things to fix. Right now, recommend opening the Context link in a new window.

What should I do if I got Janitor Duty but the post was "Deleted by author"?

Oops, found the conversation below.

Yeah, as a general rule, "do anything you want, then report it just like you did here" is the right response, I'll filter stuff like that out of the data once I'm working on it.

Fix should now be pushed, though :)

Not the biggest deal but probably need at least some button to deal with this situation


I'm actually just going to filter those out from the possible chosen comments, they won't show up at all.

Regarding comment reviews, I wish these was a middle ground between bad and neutral.

I was asked to review a comment that was just "comment deleted by user." I gave it a neutral, just wanted to point out that if the comment was deleted because it was heinously awful, it may mess up your calculation of whether people are good meta-mods if that isn't taken into account. And also, kind of pointless to spend reviews on deleted comments.

Yeah, gonna just filter them out entirely. Thanks for the headsup :D

Same here, including the judgment of "deleted by user" as "neutral".

I suppose there maybe should be a "mu" option.


Yeah, I just left the page because I didn't really know what to do for that. I felt like giving a neutral to a bad comment would be seen as poor meta-modding and I have no idea if they can still see deleted comments or if they can see the time that I rated the comment in relation to when it was deleted and I'd rather earn my bad meta-mod reputation honestly.

Same happened to me. I resisted the urge to cheekily rate it as good or bad and also went for neutral.