Site Notes

New Feature: Text Colour Fades on Down-Voted Comments

By Ryan McGreal
Published September 29, 2009

this blog entry has been updated

In my ongoing efforts to achieve the impossible and solve a social problem with a technical fix, I'm trying out a new technique: the text colour of RTH comments with net negative comment voting scores becomes progressively fainter as the score gets more negative.

(Note: I've shamelessly pilfered this technique from the comments section on Hacker News.)

The purpose of this is to discourage both inappropriate comments - comments that use rude or insulting language, are needlessly inflammatory, seek to provoke an emotional reaction from others, are attempts to disrupt and derail the discussion, or abuse evidence and reasoning to defend an unjustifiable conclusion - and the outraged responses that end up usurping the discussion and crowding out more constructive commentary.

Registered RTH users already have the option of setting a comment threshold in their user profiles so that comments with a score below the threshold are hidden by default; but most site visitors read articles anonymously, so this feature does not help them.

I'm committed to preserving free speech (the only comments I delete are spam), but I also want the community to be able to express its disapproval of inappropriate comments in a way that visibly demonstrates that disapproval beyond a mere negative number below the comment.

The text colour never fades completely to white, but it does get pretty faint for highly negative scores. Here is a demonstration of the colours for particular scores:

The fading stops there. Comments with scores lower than -8 don't get any fainter.

Anyway, take a look at at and let me know if you think it's a good idea, if it needs some tweaking to work better, or if it's a terrible idea that I should just abandon.

Update In response to feedback in the comments, I updated the colour filter so that it doesn't start fading until an article has a score of -2. I've updated the examples in the article to reflect this change. I also dialed down the maximum fade so that it is not as severe.

Update 2 In response to feedback in the comments, I have updated the RTH User Profiles so that registered users can select whether to enable or disable comment fading.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Several of his essays have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. Ryan also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on twitter.

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By race_to_the_bottom (anonymous) | Posted September 29, 2009 at 16:06:53

I like it. Subtle and effective, not a sledge hammer like deletion but gets the message across.

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By fade to white (anonymous) | Posted September 29, 2009 at 16:10:49

Hmm I don't know, the -8 color seems pretty heavy handed to me.

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By Meredith (registered) - website | Posted September 29, 2009 at 16:18:57

I think it's great.

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By Hamiltonian (registered) | Posted September 29, 2009 at 16:42:55

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

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By Mahesh P. Butani -- http://www.metroHami (anonymous) | Posted September 29, 2009 at 17:02:15

Hi Ryan,
Nice approach for comments :-)

Could also be applied to articles and blog posts that inflame, incite, waylay, or are simply not well researched - with appropriate or inappropriate titles or techniques.

How does one score this without having readers spend time commenting on the obvious - and having such kind of threads then becomes the standard for our "community discourse". Doesn't readers scoring comments in this scenario becomes a futile exercise?

Could the article or blog itself be made to start fading on the cumulative score; or even by way of a separate scoring that could be made available to readers at the end of each article or post?


On a side note -- I wanted to follow up on a hunch I had, and had a tech friend in the US quickly run thru a sample of various posts/articles with comments from RTH - on an advanced pattern recognition tools that I was involved with years ago. This was done with various custom parameters such as buzz words, ideas, concepts, trends, repeating words (ideas)etc... and the quick snapshot that emerged was revealing of the thoughts and direction that prevail on the RTH community. His quick comments were that as in many online forums the discussion here was showing to get circular very fast, and vary few action triggers were generated at end of discussions based on total word counts. Unfortunately I could not get him to send me the visual images of these patterns as this was done on his work computer... but if you are interested there are some similar tools available (possibly freeware too)which you could work on in more detail to analyze the content and comments here.

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By synxer (registered) | Posted September 29, 2009 at 17:03:53

I think its fine, but the problem with the scoring system is that people are labeled (A Smith, Capitalist) as problem-visitors based on their poor taste in words on previous comments.

Later, when the ilk mentioned above do make a comment that is relatively sane and perhaps even thought-provoking, they get auto-heat from some members.

It almost seems, perhaps not true, that some visitors are auto downvoting people if they see the dreaded minus sign under another visitor's comment. A small issue. Perhaps there is a web/human 2.0 social experiment in figuring that out. I would like it if the comments were rated on their tact, not if you have a different take on the subject matter.

Ryan, to continue what I was saying before regarding article submission:

I would like to see a feature where if your comment had tremendous merit and relevance the comment would have an option to transition to a blog entry. Adrian Duyzer essentially did this with the Connaught Debate (See http://www.raisethehammer.org/index.asp?...

The ideology of this approach would be that respected users would not only benefit in comment voting, but their respected position at RTH would allow their opinion to be expanded and debated just as other articles on RTH are.

This isn't a relatively wild idea, but with some brainstorming from other members I am sure some sort of mechanism could be put in place that allows more contribution to the site.

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 29, 2009 at 18:22:25

synxer, that's a great point. Hopefully certain posters will start making sane, thought-provoking comments more often as a result of this.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted September 29, 2009 at 19:40:38

@Hamiltonian hyperbole much? BTW nice to see the negative comment shading in action.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted September 29, 2009 at 19:45:25

IMO, FWIW, I agree with the folks who have suggested it smacks a wee bit of censorship. I think the down-voting is sufficient, and must plead guilty to occasionally downvoting posts by notorious trolls simply because of who wrote them. Will try to reserve downvoting strictly for damaging posts in the future.

As you were...

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By Mahesh P. Butani -- http://www.metroHami (anonymous) | Posted September 29, 2009 at 20:26:46

Hey!!! I just got down voted on a comment a few minutes ago -- My post did not even contain: race, class, taxes, religion, Connaught, high-rise, low-rise, developers, politicians, urban, suburban, LRT, BRT, global warming... What gives???

Well...Ryan, that does go to prove my hunch for the second time :-)

One just has to see the 'votes' (never mind doing a pattern analysis)... to see that certain posters who dislike certain posters have started to use the voting mechanism to leave a trail of their displeasure across the various blogs/articles on RTH.

Certain voices here scream for transparency in our politics. And then they go right ahead and practice their own version of in-camera voting to vote down even innocuous views similar to the one made by me above. - Not based on a counter view, not explaining their vote, merely exercising their right to vote behind the safety of anonymity.

In many ways this can very easily begin to mimic the many imagined forces of evil - that 'certain poster' on this blog are claiming to fight.

Something is indeed rotten in the state of Denmark!!! I think it is time for 'Highwater' to step in and weigh in on things here. :-) I did got a "swell" post from Highwater once in the past... that beat any +/- vote I have ever gotten!

I think that certain poster here who have helped grow this community building project called RTH over the years, have ended up taking ownership of this space -- and are having a hard time letting it go... so that it can evolve and have a life of its own with a multiplicity of voices and even the occasional screams and rants.

Sounds familiar? It is called - old Hamilton politics! That thing we end up spending so much time on fighting, that we forget what it is that we are fighting.

Ryan, I don't think it is a matter of fading comments or articles that are negative -- it is more a matter of fading ownership of this project by those that have claimed ownership of this space -- so that RTH can grow from under the deep shadows that are being cast over it, and evolve into a agile "distributed" platform of views representing a broader cross-section of our community.

Are you ready for the NextHamilton? It is all about "open" source or open vote - they say... or is it?

In the end it does not matter how RTH is used, or for what fights it is deployed or hijacked, or whose voice is subjugated or made to be heard, or who wins the elections or who looses. What really matters is whether it maintained its "First Principles" in the process.

It is (or will be) the fifth anniversary after all... time to reflect, to grow. Time to start voting with a conscience.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted September 29, 2009 at 20:48:47

Um. Upvoted?

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted September 29, 2009 at 20:51:09

Thanks for all the constructive feedback!

fade to white wrote:

the -8 color seems pretty heavy handed to me

Maybe so. That's pretty trivial to tweak.

Hamiltonian wrote:

Downvoting isn't strong enough?

This follows directly from downvoting and is intended to be a visualization of the net score for a given comment.

As for calling people unpatriotic, burning books and hanging people, I think we both know the analogy is ridiculous.

The site remains unequivocally committed to free speech. I'm not deleting any comments (aside from obvious spam) or banning any users, despite considerable pressure from some quarters to do so. That's a matter of principle, as it commits me to acknowledging that once we start deciding which comments get to remain, it's a slippery slope to deleting comments just because they express difficult or unpopular viewpoints. I'd rather err on the side of being too liberal.

However, that commitment to free speech doesn't preclude supporting and promoting community standards that encourage respectful, civil and honest discussion. That entails the ability for the community to identify comments that violate those standards, if not to delete them.

Could also be applied to articles and blog posts that inflame, incite, waylay, or are simply not well researched

I floated article voting some time ago and the response was resoundingly negative. If an article is poorly researched and/or written, the comments already provide an efficient vehicle to critique and correct them.

His quick comments were that as in many online forums the discussion here was showing to get circular very fast, and vary few action triggers were generated at end of discussions based on total word counts

Well, that tells me just enough to make me think I'd like to see more detail. I've certainly worried about the information/action ratio, and one result of this was my proposal last week for creating an organizing platform around RTH:

http://raisethehammer.org/blog/1508/

I still think there is lots of potential to develop this idea (if only we had more time!).

synxer wrote:

Later, when the ilk mentioned above do make a comment that is relatively sane and perhaps even thought-provoking, they get auto-heat from some members.

At first that seemed to be the case, but I've noticed more recently that when users whose posts are frequently downvoted actually post comments that are more civil and responsible, they are getting upvoted. Some examples:

  • http://raisethehammer.org/blog/1517/#comment-34120
  • http://raisethehammer.org/article/944/#comment-34156

I like the idea that the comment voting system encourages responsible behaviour by a) giving people a way to respond to trolls without getting dragged into a back-and-forth that crowds out the rest of the discussion, and b) by judging comments case-by-case rather than by who wrote them (as would a user blacklist or ban).

I would like to see a feature where if your comment had tremendous merit and relevance the comment would have an option to transition to a blog entry.

Now this is an exciting idea! I've said for years that at least half the value of this site is the often brilliantly insightful and informative comments, and I'd love to see the content grow more richly nested in this way.

I'd love to implement something like this, but I don't dare touch it until I get the site running on the new codebase I'm (slowly) working on. The administrative back end of the current site is very ugly and hacky and it would take an awful lot of mucking about to get something like this working.

Also the site currently has no coupling between Authors (with real names and bios) and registered users (with usernames and optional details). I'd have to reconcile these somehow before pushing a comment to the front page.

Finally, I'm a stickler for spelling and grammar (I am an editor, after all :), and I'd want to maintain editorial oversight for anything posted as an actual blog entry or article.

Nevertheless, these are all technical problems to solve, not objections to the idea.

Mahesh wrote:

it is more a matter of fading ownership of this project by those that have claimed ownership of this space

One of my objectives over the past year or so has been to reduce my own direct responsibility for the site and its content by pushing more power out to the user community. See, for example:

  • http://raisethehammer.org/blog/1207
  • http://raisethehammer.org/article/875

Comment voting has been a part of that by establishing a way for the community to maintain standards of civility and decorum. I can't single-handedly push a comment up or down beyond my one vote - the comment's score is the result of everyone who votes.

It's obviously not perfect (no system ever is) and can't meet everyone's needs (no system ever can), but it has done a pretty good job in general.

Maybe I should tweak the comment fading so that it doesn't take effect until a comment has a net score of -2 or -3; that way a comment won't be 'punished' unfairly if one individual has a personal objection to another and targets their comments unfairly.

Again, if you believe someone is voting unfairly (i.e. not according to the comment voting guidelines), speak up! That, in turn, will get others thinking about and discussing whether, how and why they vote; and that discussion will help the community self-regulate.

Obviously there's still more to do. As I've mentioned, I'm working on building a new codebase for the site using all open source technologies (Linux, Apache, MySQL, Python, mod_wsgi, web.py, sqlalchemy), and I plan to open-source the codebase itself under the GPL once it's ready to go live.

[Comment edited by Ryan on 2009-12-14 23:19:52]

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted September 29, 2009 at 20:55:17

By the way, I updated the colour filter so that it doesn't start fading until an article has a score of -2. I've updated the examples in the article to reflect this change. I also dialed down the maximum fade so that it is not as severe.

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By fly on the wall (anonymous) | Posted September 29, 2009 at 21:21:15

No one can accuse you of being not open enough. Problems aside RTH is a breathe of fresh air in the Hammer where most channels are locked down and you only get to hear what the folks with the money want you to hear. Just keep on listening to the feedback!

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 29, 2009 at 22:10:12

can all of ASmiths comments show up white as soon as they are typed??

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 29, 2009 at 22:10:28

JUST KIDDING. LOL

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By jonathan dalton (registered) | Posted September 30, 2009 at 00:09:33

I just set my filter to -2 and haven't looked back since.

One deficiency in the voting system is often the responses to the really bad messages get upvoted, so not only do you end up reading them but you get tempted to unblock the original.

How about an 'irrelevant' button? It would point sideways. You would use it to vote comments off to the side into their own separate discussions.

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By Mahesh P. Butani -- http://www.metroHami (anonymous) | Posted September 30, 2009 at 00:33:24

Ryan,

>>> "Well, that tells me just enough to make me think I'd like to see more detail..."

The details which I don't have access to presently are based on stuff like this:
www.conceptsearching.com/Web/UserFiles/File/Concept%20Searching%20Lateral%20Thinking.pdf

("Because of the way the mind works to create fixed patterns we cannot make the best use of new information unless we have some means for restructuring the old patterns and bringing them up to date." -- Ed!)


>>> "One of my objectives over the past year or so has been to -reduce my own direct responsibility- for the site and its content by pushing more power out to the user community...."

Not just yet. Hamilton's 'Summer of Love' is still a work in progress!! So for the time being do please stay put and listen to this while you hang in there: :-)
www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mb3iPP-tHdA&feature=related

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted September 30, 2009 at 08:08:15

jonathan wrote:

How about an 'irrelevant' button? It would point sideways. You would use it to vote comments off to the side into their own separate discussions.

Interesting idea! I should note that the new site will have threaded comments, which ought to help in this regard.

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By UrbanRenaissance (registered) | Posted September 30, 2009 at 08:52:10

Can't wait for threaded commenting!

jonathan hit the nail on the head with his post above. The problem isn't just the people posting derailing comments but also those who respond to those comments. By responding to some off topic or ridiculous post you validate the post just as surely as if you upvoted it. By allowing tangential threads to be isolated by users pushing the "irrelevant" button we allow the main discussion to remain on track and allow those who wish to pursue the tangential discussion (valid or otherwise) the ability to do so.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted September 30, 2009 at 09:57:09

UrbanRenaissance wrote:

The problem isn't just the people posting derailing comments but also those who respond to those comments.

Absolutely. A principal goal of trolling is to sidetrack other readers into irrelevant secondary debates rather than constructively discussing the real issue.

The term "trolling" comes from the fishing practice of trailing a shiny lure or juicy bait behind a slow-moving boat in the hopes of catching fish that can't resist the urge to bite. (Of course, the secondary reference to the troll under the bridge is also applicable.)

One reason people may feel obliged to reply to an obnoxious troll is concern that if the comment is allowed to stand unchallenged, it will: a) indicate that the troll has a legitimate point and/or b) be regarded as a representative sentiment of the community.

In light of this, a major purpose of comment voting on RTH is to give readers the ability to respond to an inappropriate comment without having to post a reply to assert their rejection of the inappropriate comment.

A strong negative score on an obvious troll confirms that the opinion expressed therein is illegitimate and/or non-representative, hence allowing other participants to interpret the troll as damage and route around it (to borrow a quote from John Gilmore).

For the most part this has been working. The number of discussions lost to trolling has declined dramatically since comment voting came into effect, and the overall quality of discussion (based on my own entirely subjective reading of the comments) has improved considerably.

Consider, as a single example, the Mad Connaught discussion, which went a record-setting 127 comments before finally getting derailed after a troll by "andrea" provoked several indignant replies.

(Ironically, one of the people who criticized "andrea" for the personal attack and suggested "putting forward some thoughtful ideas" instead was "A Smith", traditionally one of the more epic trolls on RTH. Whether this is an indication that A Smith is prepared to be more civil and responsible in exchange for having his own opinions taken seriously or is actually an ingenious meta-troll remains to be seen.)

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By UrbanRenaissance (registered) | Posted September 30, 2009 at 11:19:11

The concept of a meta-troll both amuses and terrifies me.

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By synxer (registered) | Posted September 30, 2009 at 13:19:40

can all of ASmiths comments show up white as soon as they are typed??

Greasemonkey script?

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted September 30, 2009 at 13:43:58

can all of ASmiths comments show up white as soon as they are typed??

The reason I didn't want to add this kind of function, aside from the fact that it promotes 'gaming' the system with dummy accounts, is that it does nothing to encourage people to be more civil and responsible in their comments. Once a person has been blacklisted (er, make that white-listed), they have no more incentive to choose constructive participation.

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 30, 2009 at 14:28:40

um... I was kidding.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted September 30, 2009 at 14:33:46

I was kidding.

I know. :) I was responding more to synxer's suggestion of using a Greasemonkey script. (Incidentally, It was someone's suggestion of writing a Greasemonkey script to hide comments on RTH that first prompted me to start thinking about implementing a comment voting system.)

I just wanted to use the context of your comment and synxer's reply to explain why the site doesn't have a blacklist.

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By Hamiltonian (registered) | Posted October 01, 2009 at 06:54:53

So a Jonathon Dalton can set his filter at a desired "rating" and not see any dissenting opinions ("just following along", where have we heard that before?).

Others only get a faded out version of an opinion that does not meet with the consensus. Doesn't sound like censorship of any sort, not at all.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted October 01, 2009 at 07:13:29

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted October 01, 2009 at 08:12:37

A Smith wrote:

On the one hand Ryan fully supports free speech (obvious spam excluded), yet then tells us the "community" (code word for majority) has the right to decide what comments can be classified as being "respectful, honest, or civil".

There's no contradiction. Free speech dictates that members of this community have the right to decide - and communicate - their belief that your comments are disrespectful, dishonest, and uncivil.

You're entitled to post whatever comments you want; others are entitled to express their disapproval of your comments by voting them down; you're entitled to complain about this; and so on.

I cannot choose what comments you are allowed to see; but I can decide what comments I want to see. And if I change my mind about what comments I want to see, I can change my profile to reflect that at any time. (For the record, I have the comment score threshold turned off on my account, so I see all comments no matter their score).

Now, you're welcome to argue that some people are not voting fairly - i.e. they are not voting on comments based on the comment voting guidelines:

http://raisethehammer.org/article/874/

That's a fair argument, and I hope people will read it and take it to heart. The voting system works best when most people follow the guidelines consistently.

In fact, I have seen cases on the site where someone complained about unfair voting, and others changed their votes in response - which seems to me to be constructive free speech in action.

However, since no one has the power to deny anyone else the right to read whatever comments they want, your hyperbolic references to Mao and Stalin are ridiculous on their face.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted October 01, 2009 at 08:14:34

Hamiltonian wrote:

Doesn't sound like censorship of any sort, not at all.

Jon decides what he wants to read == not censorship.

Someone else decides what Jon is allowed to read == censorship.

See the difference?

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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted October 01, 2009 at 08:28:41

What ASmith says: "Bla bla bla free speech wah wah wah Stalin and Mao bla bla bla"

What ASmith means: "I'm really pissed off because you're making it harder for me to troll your site!"

Keep up the good work, RTH!

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By zookeeper (registered) | Posted October 01, 2009 at 08:51:13

@nobrainer Don't feed the troll. Just let him whine into the combox then downvote and move on.

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By synxer (registered) | Posted October 01, 2009 at 09:39:16

(For the record, I have the comment score threshold turned off on my account, so I see all comments no matter their score).

Ryan, same for me. Not because it isn't a useful feature, but because I don't "trust" the community will vote fairly.

I keep the threshold feature disabled because I am concerned I will miss out on another perspective. It's fair to say that, at times, the right perspective is persecuted to a degree.

Most of the time I don't agree with the right, but I find myself intrigued by how others see a situation. You feel closer to their understanding because of this.

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By stuartburt71 (registered) | Posted October 01, 2009 at 11:39:08

Ryan >> I cannot choose what comments you are allowed to see; but I can decide what comments I want to see.

I just registered under a fake user name and set my comment threshold to "-8". According to you version of free speech, this should allow me to view every comment with a rating above "-8", yet for some reason, negative comments are still faded out and very difficult to read, why is this?

Ryan >> since no one has the power to deny anyone else the right to read whatever comments they want, your hyperbolic references to Mao and Stalin are ridiculous on their face. is this not a flat out lie

Really, then why are comments that are above my threshold score faded out?

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By UrbanRenaissance (registered) | Posted October 01, 2009 at 13:37:21

stuartburt71 raises a good point, why not allow the user to set a value at which the fading out begins, rather than the arbitrary value of -2. That is, assuming you even decide to keep this colouring scheme idea since it appears to be getting heavily abused in this very discussion.

Perhaps it would be better to remove the text colouring and focus more on implementing threaded commenting. Maybe start a blog post where we as a community can discuss how we want it to work. (In terms of how tangential threads are to be separated or merged with the main conversation, and how to prevent a conversation from branching off to the point where it gets unwieldy to navigate for example.) Once we have a general framework I'm sure the programmers on the board (including myself) will be more than happy to lend a hand with implementation.

We also as a group need to stop the knee-jerk downvoting against users like A Smith and Capitalist. Often times they make a valid, albeit unpopular point that is well within the rules but they still get downvoted. Whereas others with more left leaning views will make a blatantly off topic or insulting post without getting a single downvote. Some of us apparently need a reminder that the voting isn't about whether or not we agree with what's being said but rather how it is presented.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted October 01, 2009 at 13:42:09

UrbanRenaissance wrote:

stuartburt71 raises a good point, why not allow the user to set a value at which the fading out begins, rather than the arbitrary value of -2

That's a great idea, and I was going to reply to stuartburt71 and suggest something like this - but then stuartburt71 launched a sock puppet attack against the site, and I have spent the past while cleaning up all the fake accounts s/he created.

Comment fading is still a trail feature, and I'm sure there are ways to make it work better - like your suggestion. It may turn out to be a bad idea, in which case we can remove it.

Comment threading is also a critical part of the solution, and I have stepped up my work rewriting the codebase so we can get that implemented sooner rather than later.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted October 01, 2009 at 13:44:31

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted October 01, 2009 at 13:52:59

A Smith,

Your belligerent tone is unhelpful, but your suggestion has merit, as I indicated in my previous message to UrbanRenaissance. I'm happy to make comment fading a customizable option for users if people think that's a good idea.

As I wrote in the announcement, "I'm trying out a new technique ... take a look at at and let me know if you think it's a good idea, if it needs some tweaking to work better, or if it's a terrible idea that I should just abandon."

Also, I should point out that fading the text is not the same as blocking it. The text is visually de-emphasized, but it's no less present or accessible than any other text on the page.

Frankly, I've seen websites where the default colour scheme was harder to read than even the faintest colour of a down-voted comment.

With a faded comment on RTH, you can easily read it by highlighting the text, copying it into a text editor, turning off the style, viewing the source, and so on.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted October 01, 2009 at 13:57:47

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

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By zookeeper (registered) | Posted October 01, 2009 at 14:08:50

@Ryan please don't feed the troll any more! You've already responded to the one bit of his previous comment that had merit, of course he ignored that and now he's back to flat-out trolling again. Just downvote and move on.

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By birdie (registered) | Posted October 01, 2009 at 14:14:28

That's funny, Ryan's "blocking" ASmith from seeing the comment but ASmith can still see the comment. How is that "blocking" again??

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted October 01, 2009 at 14:19:37

Ryan >> I should point out that fading the text is *not* the same as blocking it.

What is the goal behind fading comments? If users already have the ability to block down voted comments based on their personal threshhold, why is this extra step necessary?

It would seem the only benefit this fading feature adds, is to allow the majority to make it harder for people to read unpopular comments. Do you think it's a good idea to allow the majority to make comments they don't agree with harder to read for people who don't share this opinion? If so, why is this?

Please explain what this feature adds to the current system of threshold viewing?

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By zookeeper (registered) | Posted October 01, 2009 at 14:25:50

@birdie Please don't feed the troll.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted October 01, 2009 at 14:43:14

Note: In response to feedback in the comments, I have updated the RTH User Profiles so that registered users can select whether to enable or disable comment fading.

http://raisethehammer.org/manageprofile/

Comment fading is currently enabled by default.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted October 01, 2009 at 15:34:41

Ryan >> Maybe I should tweak the comment fading so that it doesn't take effect until a comment has a net score of -2 or -3; that way a comment won't be 'punished' unfairly if one individual has a personal objection to another and targets their comments unfairly.

Why should unpopular opinions be PUNISHED at all? Users can currently set threshold limits to block out comments that the group deems unworthy, so why is this extra step necessary?

Why should people who enjoy reading unique opinions have to jump through extra hoops just because the majority doesn't like what they read.

Ryan, if you truly believe in free speech, why are you looking to PUNISH opinions by erasing them, simply because they are unpopular?

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted October 01, 2009 at 15:41:11

A Smith wrote:

Why should unpopular opinions be PUNISHED at all?

Read the comment voting guidelines:

Please DO: Downvote comments that: use rude or insulting language, are needlessly inflammatory, seek to provoke an emotional reaction from others, are attempts to disrupt and derail the discussion, or abuse evidence and reasoning to defend an unjustifiable conclusion.

[...]

Please DO NOT: Vote on comments based on whether you agree with the author's opinion. Comments should be rated for the quality of their argument, not which side they've taken.

http://raisethehammer.org/article/874/

Your comments do not get voted down because they are unpopular. They get voted down because they use rude and insulting language, are needlessly inflammatory, seek to provoke an emotional reaction from others, are attempts to disrupt and derail the discussion, and abuse evidence and reasoning to defend an unjustifiable conclusion.

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By realitycheck (anonymous) | Posted October 01, 2009 at 15:43:47

Why enable comment fading by default? As an 'unregistered' viewer, I have no 'right' to downvote anyone, yet the comment scoring that 'registered' users employ forcibly limits my ability to view comments others have deemed as unacceptable. In order to overcome this I would have to register and disable the fading. This effectively forces me to relenquish my right to privacy.

Has any consideration been given to how this 'font fading' practice reconciles with the Ontarians With Disabilities Act?

I suggest comment fading be disabled by default, and those registered users that wish to employ it may enable it independantly. That way comment score filtering and comment fading are handled in a consistent manner.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted October 01, 2009 at 16:19:54

Ryan >> Your comments do not get voted down because they are unpopular. They get voted down because they use rude and insulting language, are needlessly inflammatory, seek to provoke an emotional reaction from others, are attempts to disrupt and derail the discussion, and abuse evidence and reasoning to defend an unjustifiable conclusion.

Fact: Registered users can press the down vote button for ANY reason, regardless of your guidelines.

Fact: Registered users already have the ability to block comments that the majority deems unworthy.

Ryan >> Registered RTH users already have the option of setting a comment threshold in their user profiles so that comments with a score below the threshold are hidden by default; but most site visitors read articles anonymously, so this feature does not help them.

Ryan, in what way does allowing the majority to erase comments help anonymous users?

Do you believe that the majority is more correct than the minority simply because they are in the majority?

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By zookeeper (registered) | Posted October 01, 2009 at 16:35:30

The troll is really getting desperate now. Resist the urge to feed it!

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted October 01, 2009 at 16:47:11

Ryan, why do you believe the majority has the wisdom to know what anonymous users should be able to read?

Can you answer this, or will you let your posse fight your battles for you?

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted October 01, 2009 at 17:23:48

Jason >> Toronto's street level in the new condo developments is pure garbage. No planning whatsoever...

I've said it a million times and I'll keep saying it (probably until my generation is running the show at city hall in a few decades), our main streets SUCK in this city.

(Permalink)
Comment Score: 6 (6 votes)
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Ryan, is this the type of comment that deserves high votes? Jason calls Toronto "garbage" and says that Hamilton's streets "SUCK" and yet nobody thinks this is rude? Why is this?

Oh that's right, as long as you criticize what the "majority" agrees with, the guidelines for comments don't matter. Only people in the minority need to follow the rules and be polite.



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