Some thoughts on Slashdot's moderation system

June 8, 2007

Slashdot's comment moderation system is one of those wisdom of crowds things that are periodically held up as exemplars; community feedback, allowing the best to bubble to the top and so on. People who actually read Slashdot comments, even only showing high scoring ones, may be aware that it doesn't necessarily work this way.

One of the reasons for this is that Slashdot's '+1 Funny' moderation option tacitly encourages off-topic comments, because it encourages people to be funny even if there is nothing to their comment besides humour. As a result, an appreciable amount of the high-moderated comments on any random story are merely random humour.

The moral here is that people do what you reward them for, so be very careful what you reward them for. Especially in communities, where there is public feedback that amplifies those rewards.

As an occasional moderator, I also have to say that Slashdot's comment moderation interface is not great for its intended goal. The view of comments that I really want is 'most recent comments first, only for comments below a rating threshold', because this is what I want to pick out missing gems. (A comment that is already high-rated probably doesn't need me boosting it further.)

Comments on this page:

By nothings at 2007-06-09 10:09:01:

Fortunately, if you're logged in on Slashdot, you can customize the scoring of various comment flags (preferences -> comments); I've set "Funny" to be -1... (this is actually a delta over the normal score, not a replacement; and in fact now I'm going to change it to be -3, since I sometimes delve into the 4s and see them).

I used to have Informative and Interesting bumped to +1, plus allowed karma bonus, but now the first two have no bonus and karma bonus is disabled, just because as slashdot has grown there are more mod points out there so more posts make it to the top of the list, and I've needed to fight that explosion.

But yeah, it would be nice if they could do something like automatically change your comment-view defaults if you have mod points; I gave up on modding myself. I also gave up on meta-moderating, because I found myself wanting to mark "funny" mods "wrong, not funny", but that wasn't an option.

Written on 08 June 2007.
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Last modified: Fri Jun 8 21:47:17 2007
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