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I don’t enjoy navel gazing about comments and moderation here at The Paepae. Every now and then I’m forced to think about it again because someone wants to have a crack at me or someone else in low-value terms. Usually anonymously.

I tend towards no censorship beyond filtering spam (thank you Akismet) and throwing out the garbage. Recently scrubone and I had a wee interchange over his desire to call someone ‘crazy’ and I’ve filtered a few other rants just ‘cos. No big deal. Those people are welcome to comment — as is anyone — if they bring some value. Some of Jacqueline and Cally’s comments, among others, can be pretty brusque but, well, OK. We’re adults.

In the spirit of the excellent terms and conditions of the gay dating website that someone subscribed this blog to (see ‘Some useful cyber citizen guidelines‘), here’s another dose of thoughtfulness considering internet comments:
From www.aranyilaci.neobase.hu‘s guide to the Slashcomments moderation system (1):

What is a Good Comment? A Bad Comment?

  • Good Comments are insightful. You read them and are better off having read them. They add new information to a discussion. They are clear, hopefully well written, or maybe amusing. These are the gems we’re looking for, and they deserve to be promoted.
  • Average Comments might be slightly offtopic, but still might be worth reading. They might be redundant. They might be a ‘Me Too’ article. They might say something painfully obvious. They don’t detract from the discussion, but they don’t necessarily significantly add to it. They are the comments that require the most attention from the moderators, and they also represent the bulk of the comments. (Score: 0-1)
  • Bad Comments are flamebait. Bad comments have nothing to do with the article they are attached to. They call someone names. They ridicule someone for having a different opinion without backing it up with anything more tangible than strong words. Bad comments are repeats of something said 15 times already making it quite apparent that the writer didn’t read the previous comments. They use foul language. They are hard to read or just don’t make any sense. They detract from the article they are attached to.

What do the choices in the moderation drop-down boxes mean?

  • Offtopic — A comment which has nothing to do with the story it’s linked to is Offtopic.
  • Flamebait — Flamebait refers to comments whose sole purpose is to insult and enrage. If someone is not-so-subtly picking a fight (racial insults are a dead giveaway), it’s Flamebait.
  • Troll — A Troll is similar to Flamebait, but slightly more refined. This is a prank comment intended to provoke indignant (or just confused) responses. A Troll might mix up vital facts or otherwise distort reality, to make other readers react with helpful “corrections.” Trolling is the online equivalent of intentionally dialing wrong numbers just to waste other people’s time.
  • Redundant — Redundant posts are ones which add no new information, but instead take up space with repeating information either in the post, the attached links, or lots of previous comments. For instance, some posters cut and paste otherwise legitimate comments in multiple places in the same discussion; the pasted versions are Redundant.
  • Insightful — An Insightful statement makes you think, puts a new spin on a given story (or aspect of a story). An analogy you hadn’t thought of, or a telling counterexample, are examples of Insightful comments.
  • Interesting — If you believe a comment to be Interesting (and it’s not mostly Redundant, Offtopic, or otherwise lame), it is.
  • Informative — Often comments add new information to explain the circumstances hinted at by a particular story, fill in “The Other Side” of an argument, provide specifications to a product described too vaguely elsewhere, etc. Such comments are Informative.
  • Funny — Think of Funny as being a good moderation choice if you actually think the comment is funny, not just because it seems intended to be. Not every knock-knock joke is Funny.
  • Overrated — Sometimes you’ll run into a comment which for whatever reason has been moderated out of proportion — this probably means several moderators saw it at nearly the same time, thought it was Funny, Insightful etc, and their scores added together exaggerate its relative merit. (A knock-knock joke at +5, Funny) Such a comment is Overrated. It’s not knocking the original poster to say so, but it’s probably better to spend your mod points on comments which are deserving of being moderated up.
  • Underrated — Likewise, some comments get smashed lower than they perhaps deserve by overzealous moderators. If you moderate a comment as Underrated, you’re saying that it deserves to be read by more people than will see it at its current score. As with Overrated, if you can think of a more specific moderation reason, do so — if a comment has already been moderated with an appropriate label though, and you just want to indicate that it deserves greater visibility, that’s what Underrated is for. However, if a comment is labeled with a fitting (negative) label, choosing Underrated isn’t such a great idea, because you could end up with contradictions like “+5, Flamebait.”

It’s human nature (for some of us) to create a taxonomy or system of classification for ANYTHING we’re involved in, so I’m not surprised that such a scheme exists. It’s too rich for my blood, or too high maintenance, but I can see where academically-inclined public forum moderators (like at PropertyTalk) might find such an approach useful.

I tend to be a benevolent dictator when it comes to comments on my personal blog. That Slashcomment page refers to ‘a single moderator’s “reign of terror”.’ Oops 🙂

I found this interesting. Especially that line: “Trolling is the online equivalent of intentionally dialing wrong numbers just to waste other people’s time.”

– P

1 Yup, I’m pretty sure Aranyi Laci will be a relation of mine.