A foolish consistency

So, the Slashdot trolls turned Movable Type crapflooders got themselves a front page post at Kuro5hin. Whatever.

There were a couple of amusing moments, though. I rather liked Rusty, no stranger to irony, borrowing a line from the original poster as a sig:

Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups using software that doesn’t scale.

Also, responding to the only thing that comes close to being an actual point, that blogs can’t be avoided because Google throws empty Trackback popups in the results for some searches, a nice re-troll from ubernostrum:

If a bunch of bloggers with room-temperature IQs can automatically hammer Google into tiny, tiny bits with just a few keystrokes of effort, then obviously Google is a horrendous steaming pile of badly-designed shit and you should be thankful to MT-based Googleflooding for exposing this fact.

Heh. Just a bunch of helpful white-hat Googleflooders, that’s us. No different than the white-hat authors of FloodMT.

But what has me a bit puzzled is the original poster’s contention that

It’s worthwhile to have one blog about a subject. It may be worthwhile to have twenty blogs about a subject. However, having 20,000 blogs about a small number of subjects is absolutely useless.

It seems a bit odd that a Slashdot troll, whose reason for being is to fight the unfair power of the Slashdot moderation system and especially the unfair power of the Slashdot editors, would suddenly turn 180 degrees and claim that there should be only one person, or at most twenty, who will be the sole arbiters of what does and doesn’t get talked about in blogs for any given subject. Do I have the Slashdot troll position wrong? Is it not that moderation and editorial decisions are bad, just that it should be the trolls, rather than the editors and moderators, who get to make the decision? I thought it was supposed to be about freedom, not about petty jealousy.


Comment by Jacques Distler #
2004-02-03 15:30:35

Yes, you have their position wrong. It’s all about petty jealousy.

(And about the travails of being 13 and hormonally-challenged — mustn’t forget that.)

Comment by Scott Johnson #
2004-02-05 04:17:56

My opinion is that it’s about petty jealousy and the (perceived) stupidity of the editors.

Comment by James #
2004-02-03 16:03:05

I think, Phil, that you’ve got the position of the original trolls pretty well covered. But today’s ”trolls” are a different breed; the original generation of Slashdot (and kuro5hin) trolls have long since gone away over the Sea, leaving only half-hearted imitators and incessant crapflooders, of which the GNAA are good examples.

What would be interesting, in my opinion, would be a ”meeting of the minds” of sorts; the MT community (and bloggers in general) are currently facing, for the first time, one of the major problems that’s plagued sites like Slashdot and k5 for a while. Each side, I’m sure, has plenty of information that would be useful to the other. For example: MT users are able to adapt much more rapidly to the tactics of crapflooders, writing and installing new plugins and patches with amazing speed. On a larger site like, say, k5, you’ve got the overhead of the CMS (Scoop, in this case) and the existing userbase of thousands who expect the site to Not Be Broken. So playing with the guts of the system while it’s running doesn’t work so well, but a site like k5 has something the average MT blog doesn’t: a gigantic collection of sample troll and crapflooder material, the collected detritus of years of posting by hundreds or even thousands of juvenile attention whores; a glance at k5’s hidden comments, for example, could be a good start for training a Bayesian crap filter.

So sometime I think it’d be pretty interesting to see folks who are interested in fighting trolling/flooding of MT/blogs get together with, say, the Scoop dev team or some of the guys at Slashdot. It could lead to a very fruitful exchange of ideas…

Comment by Phil Ringnalda #
2004-02-03 22:30:55

I don’t know whether any of the blogging software developers are going to take your very good advice and get in touch with the Slashdot and k5 devs, but I do know that I’ll be taking a peek at Scoop to see if there’s anything there that I can borrow: I’ve looked at Slashcode before without finding much, but somehow I forgot to look at Scoop. Thanks for the idea!

Comment by Matt #
2004-02-04 23:47:39

It is good advice, but I’m not sure where to start. K5 seems a lot more approachable. I’ll just do what you’re doing and dig through Scoop. If you come across anything interesting let me know.

Comment by Phil Ringnalda #
2004-02-05 00:28:29

So far, what I’m seeing is pretty much what James said:

k5ís attitude toward trolls and flooders has always been pretty laissez-faire; posting crap there is more likely to earn you style tips and sneers of ”amateur” than it is to get you banned.

I think the problem is that they can tolerate so much more than an individual can: if every post is going to get a few hundred comments, it doesn’t much matter if some of them are crap, especially if you have multiple people who are able to flush the toilet for/on people who haven’t yet learned basic polite behavior.

That’s what’s currently catching my attention, the idea of comment moderators: there are quite a few people I’d be happy to allow to temporarily hide a comment, until I got a chance to decide whether to approve it or delete it, and there are people that I assume would be happy to have me do the same for them. I can imagine it turning into an ugly social situation in some cases, but, for example, I subscribe to Sam Ruby’s comment feed, and quite often see spam that slips through after he goes to bed less than an hour after it’s added, when he won’t see it for several more hours (a period that I think of as ”when Googlebot inevitably visits”), and I’d be happy to send it into a hidden limbo of some sort (probably still visible in the same sort of way that hidden k5 comments or -1s at Slashdot are visible, with an extra effort to be sure Googlebot can’t ever see them).

Two approaches that occur to me so far: either let everyone vote comments both up and down, probably requiring more than one vote to hide them, or only let a few trusted people vote them down, and then leave them down until the blog owner decides. Either way, I’d only do it for comments that I hadn’t already approved myself, sort of like moderation in reverse. Assume a comment should be displayed, unless a reader or two says ”maybe not”, until the owner says one way or another for sure.

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