Site Notes

Ask RTH: Time to Require Registration Before Commenting?

By Ryan McGreal
Published January 17, 2011

After a weekend of surprisingly heavy trolling in the RTH comments, I read a comment posted early this afternoon with interest:

Another comment thread completely sidelined and ruined by effective trolling. I really feel like this is happening with greater frequency these days. Can RTH please eliminate anonymous postings so the banhammer can be wielded when necessary?

Lately, I've been thinking the same thing on and off. So here's my question for RTH readers: Should RTH disallow anonymous commenting and require all commenters to register before posting comments?

Background

When RTH first launched six years ago, we immediately established guidelines for posting comments that emphasized honesty, politeness, tolerance and respect. Yet the biggest challenge we faced in the comments area was not abuse but obscurity.

We tried to encourage constructive participation among readers and contributors. One way we did this was to allow anonymous commenting by unregistered readers. By lowering the barrier to participation, we encouraged people who were even slightly interested in the issues to weigh in.

I want to make it clear that many anonymous users over the years have provided consistently thoughtful, respectful commentary that has driven up the overall quality of debate. (Several of those commenters have gone on to register accounts.)

At the same time, trolling has long been a challenge. Trolls disrupt constructive discussion by diverting people's attention to refuting the trolls' spurious arguments. Persistent trolls can ruin a discussion and deter more legitimate contributions.

Over the years we have implemented a number of initiatives to try and limit the disruption of trolling, including community moderation via comment voting, comment thresholds for registered users to determine whether a given comment is displayed by default, and comment fading to visibly reflect popular disapproval.

By downvoting a comment, you communicate a message to other RTH readers that you believe a comment to be inappropriate. If several people downvote a comment, it starts to fade visibly (though it never fades completely), sending a clear message to each reader that the community at large disapproves of the comment.

This mitigates the desire to set the record straight by refuting the troll's spurious arguments, with the effect that trolls no longer attract outraged responses. Eventually, the troll gets tired of being ignored and leaves for greener pastures.

These methods have had some success at reducing the incentive to troll by reducing the perceived necessity of honest commenters to refute the trolls. However trolling remains an issue and seems to have been getting worse recently.

Trolls, like the Borg, will adapt to changing circumstances by making their comments look more like legitimate comments (just as spam adapts to spam filters by looking more like real email) and by playing to the sympathies of legitimate commenters with strong inclinations toward free speech.

The Situation Today

A lot has changed here at RTH since the early years, when the comment form was filled with the sound of crickets chirping. More recently, on a given day RTH attracts thousands of readers and generates hundreds of comments.

A lot of those comments are insulting and disingenuous and offer no real contribution to the discussion. Community moderation eventually establishes shared awareness that these comments are inappropriate, but when the comments come quickly enough, they can still crowd out more legitimate discussion and even deter people from bothering to comment.

The evidence also indicates that trolls are much more likely to post anonymously than via a registered account. (This is not to suggest that most anonymous commenters are trolls.)

If we look at the 1,000 most recent comments (as at this writing), the average score of comments by registered users is 4.6, whereas the average score of comments by anonymous users is only 0.8.

Looked at differently, 368 comments were by anonymous users, and the other 632 comments were by registered users. Despite that, 160 comments or 43% the anonymous comments had scores below zero, but only 87 comments or 14% of the registered comments had scores below zero.

If we narrow our focus to comments with scores below zero, the average score for anonymous comments was -5.3, compared to -4.1 for registered comments.

A Case for Stronger Measures

Nothwithstanding periodic accusations (by identified trolls, of course) that I'm just a hair shy of Chairman Mao on the liberty spectrum, I've steadfastly maintained a strong commitment to free speech and against censorship - even, arguably, to a fault.

In the past I have asked the RTH community for feedback on whether to delete offensive comments and abided by the community decision.

At the same time, this grim essay by Eleizer Yudkowsky weighs heavily on me:

Somewhere in the vastness of the Internet, it is happening even now. It was once a well-kept garden of intelligent discussion, where knowledgeable and interested folk came, attracted by the high quality of speech they saw ongoing. But into this garden comes a fool, and the level of discussion drops a little - or more than a little, if the fool is very prolific in their posting. (It is worse if the fool is just articulate enough that the former inhabitants of the garden feel obliged to respond, and correct misapprehensions - for then the fool dominates conversations.)

So the garden is tainted now, and it is less fun to play in; the old inhabitants, already invested there, will stay, but they are that much less likely to attract new blood. Or if there are new members, their quality also has gone down.

Then another fool joins, and the two fools begin talking to each other, and at that point some of the old members, those with the highest standards and the best opportunities elsewhere, leave.

My naive liberal heart is not quite ready to start swinging the "banhammer" with joyful abandon, but I don't think it's unreasonable to expect people to register an account before posting comments.

It provides a way to associate a person with their words - even if we only know the person as a pseudonym - and by raising a slight barrier to commenting it deters casual vandalism.

I'm prepared to give this idea serious consideration. Please let me know in the comments what you think.

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. Ryan writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal. Recently, he took the plunge and finally joined Facebook.

99 Comments

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By jasonaallen (registered) - website | Posted January 17, 2011 at 15:00:47

Ryan - you mentioned that Trolls were like the borg, and would simply adapt to new circumstances. While I appreciate your effort to combat the trolling issue - there was a very funny exchange on my last article between A. Smith and B. Smith which I think just nailed it, much to the troll's detriment - wouldn't trolls just start creating new anonymous profiles every time they were banned for trolling?

If there's one characteristic all trolls seem to share, it's a toddler-like persistence in yelling until they feel due attention has been paid. Would there be some way of ensuring this didn't happen, or at least making it more difficult? (F.Y.I. it has been some time since I signed up for a profile on RTH, so those features may already be in place). J

Comment edited by jasonaallen on 2011-01-17 15:01:42

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By say what (anonymous) | Posted January 17, 2011 at 15:06:17

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 Meredith (registered) - website | Posted January 17, 2011 at 15:08:26

Registering doesn't preclude any type of free speech and there's good reasons it's so common on other sites.

I think downvoting hasn't served its intended purpose and registration would -- allowing individuals to hide other commenters posts if they're regularly offensive or personal attacks, but all new viewers of the site would be free to read everything on here.

Comment edited by Meredith on 2011-01-17 15:55:45

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By MattM (registered) | Posted January 17, 2011 at 15:21:42

I personally am of the opinion that the down/up vote system should be abandoned in favour of a simple abuse/trolling button instead, which would alert a moderator to excessive trolling or other violations.

I say this because as it exists now, the up and down votes are burying comments that are not really trolling or abusive, but rather different than the general point of view, with otherwise intelligent points made.

Of course this doesn't really work well on the spec site at all, where multiple people are going around disagreeing/marking offensive on everything, but it might be better than the current system where some good content is getting buried.

It's a complicated issue but I think it's time to toy around with some alternatives. The trolls are definitely thick these days, especially when it comes to the hot topics of light rail and pan-am stadium.

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By matthewsweet (registered) | Posted January 17, 2011 at 15:30:41

Since my comment apparently spawned this blog post, I'll throw in my (rather obvious) two cents. Despite my frequent use of the phrase "don't feed the troll", I usually can't help myself!

Registration is a far cry from censorship, since unless I'm greatly mistaken Ryan won't be charging a fee or asking for letters of reference before allowing people to register. The worst phenomenon of late here seems to be certain dedicated anonymous posters using several pseudonyms to try (poorly) to create a sense of greater support for their arguments. Also posting messages in large quantities. Now its still possible that the dedication shown to go to this extreme to try and win the day will carry over into several registered accounts, but at least in those cases poorly disguised twin accounts can be subjected to banhammering, and I for one would take full advantage of hiding particular users on most days, until my morbid curiousity got the better of me. I don't know that registration will solve the problem unless there's some way to associate an account with an IP number, but I'm no techy.

Ultimately, I've started to get worn out reading comment threads on RTH and that never used to happen. I don't want the trolls to win!

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted January 17, 2011 at 15:58:12

It's a complicated issue but I think it's time to toy around with some alternatives.

Actually, it's not that complicated. It's quite simple...just perhaps not 'easy' to effect a solution. Because this whole 'What should we do?' refers back to a mindset that actually does itself no favours at all.

I agree with the second part, except... Except just what is the goal, here? What is it that 'we're' trying to accomplish, or what is the end result you want to see?

This is site that deals with making things better. It deals with addressing some really complex issues. Do you really expect that things are going to be sunshine and light? I read some really good Comments sections on various sites and stridency is prevalent there, too. As are asshats.

Often decorum results when an environment is created where it's fostered. Do you seriously believe that Downvoting fosters a sense of fair-play?

Ultimately, I've started to get worn out reading comment threads on RTH and that never used to happen.

Yes. But 'that never used to happen' implies that this is 'back then'. It's not. It's now. RTH has more readers now. It has more commenters. It has more brilliant contributions, it has more asshats. Can you increase the ratio of the former to the latter? Yes. But really, you have to be honest with yourself when analyzing what you've got. Otherwise, you're going to disappear up your primary orifice.

As for the whole 'troll' thing: not since the word 'misogynist' has there been a more co-opted, misapprehended, mismanaged word...and no amount of self-indulgent proselytizing will change that. We've reached the point here on RTH where in the worst cases of intractability of standpoint, disagreement = trolling.

Riiiight.

Comment edited by mystoneycreek on 2011-01-17 16:00:50

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By jason (registered) | Posted January 17, 2011 at 16:23:24

A. Smith and B. Smith? LOL I must have missed that. I gotta admit, for all their annoyance, sometimes the trolls give me a good laugh.

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By race_to_the_bottom (anonymous) | Posted January 17, 2011 at 16:33:53

Yes, do it! Just because you're fighting the Borg, doesn't mean you give up when they adapt, time to adapt and fight back. I've been an 'anonymous coward' (lol) for a long time but I don't mind registering if it means making it harder for random trolls to spout off with impunity, I'm getting really tired of all the trolling lately. Not surprised RTH Troll Numero Uno Allan Taylor aka turbo aka told you so aka say what is unhappy, he's RTH's own Keenur.

If you don't clean up the trolls, they'll drive everyone else out. It's that simple.

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By matthewsweet (registered) | Posted January 17, 2011 at 16:34:01

As for the whole 'troll' thing: not since the word 'misogynist' has there been a more co-opted, misapprehended, mismanaged word...and no amount of self-indulgent proselytizing will change that. We've reached the point here on RTH where in the worst cases of intractability of standpoint, disagreement = trolling

I just like saying TROLL, its a funny word. As for disagreement equaling trolling; I honestly sincerely feel like its the lack of intelligent discourse and resorting to distraction, diversion and sheer excessive posting that I find the most irritating. The other one is calling out RTH for its supposed community bias which is used by some to trump all logical debate, as though I personally am culpable if my ideas happen to align with the mysterious community-speak on this here website.

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By mikeyj (registered) | Posted January 17, 2011 at 16:38:33

I was apprehensive when the comment scoring went in to begin with and I don't believe it has served it's purpose.

The rules for voting either direction are seldom adhered to and the repercussions for "trolling" (down votes) seem to antagonize "trolls" to comment more on a given post.

So my vote again is to remove this.

I think a better option to improve the site, which has been mentioned before, is to implement Nested Comments.

Part of your problem can be addressed in doing so; in that if user A. Smith blocks user B. Smith's comments they would now also block any direct responses to user B. Smith's comment at the same time and give User A. Smith far less retaliatory comments to sort through.

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted January 17, 2011 at 16:45:42

Ryan - Your comparison of the up/down voting is way out in left field. The up/down voting is mostly used to show support for or against the content of the post weather it is trolling or noxious or abusive seems to be almost secondary. The vast majority of my posts are downvoted not because they are abusive, though I admit the odd one is a little snarky, but because my point of view is not shared by many on this site. It is your site and I am sure at the end of the day you will do what makes you most comfortable.

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By Boomer (registered) | Posted January 17, 2011 at 16:56:41

Issues become overshadowed by "trolls". Civilized discussion becomes distracted and hijacked by name-calling. There are certainly a number of "trolls" who state off-topic how much they dislike RTH and are rude and abusive about it (unless it is one troll using various user names), but let them debate their case (staying on topic) in an adult manner. There's nothing wrong with disagreement, but it can be done in a civil way. Treat each other the way you would like to be treated. A thought out argument adds to learning and understanding; insults do not.

Please require all commenters to register. Make people responsible and stand behind their comments. Also, if you're uneasy, Ryan, you can always provide commenters a warning if their behavour warrants, and if that doesn't work, put the "ban" up to a vote of registered members. That is democracy. Just an idea to consider.

Is there any way you can limit one registration to one IP address (if that's not already being done)?

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted January 17, 2011 at 17:12:44

test

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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted January 17, 2011 at 17:12:47

Ryan,

I am downvoted frequently. I think it may take away from the effectiveness of the site because it's just become a consensus meter, not the tool it was intended to be. If I'm downvoted in the middle of a spat with another poster, that's OK as maybe it's the wrong arena. I wish I could send a message via RTH to the poster and them send one to me instead of firing back and forth publicly, which either bores or amuses the RTH crowd... you can choose which. I am also downvoted because I'll discuss and challenge things that are a little off center of the RTH status quo. This doesn't bother me anymore, I expect it now. To anyone new to RTH I suggest you adapt the old saying, "Dance like no one is watching" to "Write like no one is voting".

Registration should be a must, I can't really see any argument otherwise. I guess it comes down to you Ryan, is this a discussion board or is it a community. That ultimately is your decision alone.

Comment edited by mrjanitor on 2011-01-17 17:19:26

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted January 17, 2011 at 17:18:30

I'm not fond of registration-only, but I'm not adminning the site. Better to have passer-byes be encouraged to join the conversation, even if most of those passer-byes are straight from the jerk store.

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By GrapeApe (registered) | Posted January 17, 2011 at 17:21:32

I'm glad this topic came up - the trolls were multiplying. Please require registration and some authentication based on facts - that should eliminate 90% of them.

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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted January 17, 2011 at 17:23:03

Let's downvote Pxtl!! Booooo!

(joking)

Comment edited by mrjanitor on 2011-01-17 17:23:20

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By Rober TD (anonymous) | Posted January 17, 2011 at 17:41:19

I comment fairly regularly, and annonymously, however I would be willing to register it's necessary.

However, I have two concerns:
1. It won't stop the trolls. There will always be those who are dedicated enough to register, and re-register, etc.

2. It will discourage people who aren't invested enough to register, but have something meaningful to say, from participating in the discussion at all.

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By Steve (registered) | Posted January 17, 2011 at 18:14:56

Wasn't there a past issue with someone registering 3 plus sock puppet accounts in order to give legitimacy to their comments, and be able to game the voting system? Registering didn't stop them and most likely won't stop trolls unless you are going to inactivate accounts suspected of trolling.

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By Yikes (anonymous) | Posted January 17, 2011 at 18:26:03

I agree that registration is a must, but so is authentic identification. For example you have a poster "Undustrial". He makes certain claims about himself/herself. You can't be anonymous in one way but allow it in another. Either you accept both or do away with any pen names. I advocate for total disclosure. So what if some may not post. If people can't stand by their opinions, then the opinions should not count.

Yes. Do it.

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By jason (registered) | Posted January 17, 2011 at 20:01:56

straight from the jerk store.

Another great Seinfeld moment.

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By Mogadon Megalodon (anonymous) | Posted January 17, 2011 at 20:15:36

mrjanitor: "it's just become a consensus meter, not the tool it was intended to be."

Related to the scoring, I would be curious to see how posts expressing reasoned disagreement tend to rate as compared to those loosing sanctioned zingers or riffing wittily on the received wisdom or praising/building on the thesis of the article itself. On top of that, it seems uncontroversial to point out that many of those who've taken time to register accounts with RTH, thereby winning voting power, are contributors whose sympathies may be more closely aligned than in gen-pop. No way of determining that with any rigour, but it sometimes strikes me that way -- and during a period marked by a population growth of anonymous insurgents, perhaps also a bit like only talking to the people you know at a party (or the fact that most people will give compliments more readily to friends and acquaintances than utter strangers). That said, I'm not saying it's inherently good or bad, or that I would have any genius ideas on how to optimize comment protocol on a site such as this. Although comment nesting would obviously be awesome.

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By asperger (anonymous) | Posted January 17, 2011 at 20:24:25

I don't think registration will do anything. You have to register at the Spec and the comments are garbage. I also don't think you're going to come up with a good solution here, because commenting on most media sites that I go to are pretty worthless. It's better where the issues are less politicized. But considering that anonymity mostly just allows us to foster our less delicate natures, and registration will do little for anonymity, I don't see the point. All registering will do is (continue to) enable the echo chamber here, where a small circle, likely 20 people, constantly upvote comments that fit their ideological dispositions or come from their 'friends'. Call it a social club. I think it's interesting that you chose as evidence of the trollishness of anonymous commenters that they got lower scores. Maybe you don't see the circularity there. But honestly, from someone who is pretty 50-50 about the usefulness of RTH, and comes here irregularly, I fit the profile of the anonymous commentor, and possibly my voice shouldn't be included. But if you think that's because I'm a troll then you're totally wrong.

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By geoff's two cents (registered) | Posted January 17, 2011 at 20:31:43

@ Pxtl - "I'm not fond of registration-only, but I'm not adminning the site. Better to have passer-byes be encouraged to join the conversation, even if most of those passer-byes are straight from the jerk store."

I agree with the importance of attracting new readers, who in turn would likely register at a later date on their own accord. My proposal: How about retaining the up/down-voting system but adding a profile management option whereby you can restrict what's visible to registered-only comments?

The up/down-voting system, ironically enough, already functions somewhat like a defacto registration system, as some commentators - perhaps those formerly seen as trolls who then try to genuinely engage a conversation topic but find themselves automatically downvoted - can undoubtedly attest to. The voting system is a popularity contest at worst but also at best an incentive to write quality, engaging posts on a consistent basis. I think it should be retained.

Another reason it should be retained: I think of the voting system as a helpful indicator of where Hamiltonian popular opinion stands on key issues (city development, transportation, arts) for the 18-35 year-old age bracket (there are of course exceptions to this age bracket). As for the sites which limit commentary to registrants only (and there are lots of these), it's easy to see them as an insiders-only club, less relevant to the average layman, hardly indicative of larger community trends, and with extremely limited relevance to any truly inclusive notion of community-building, which is I think the most important quality that sets RTH apart from the crowd, and which has also made it such a crucial rallying-point for important community issues - stadium, the art crawl, LRT, etc.

The voting system allows for a sense of what people actually think on key issues without restricting this opportunity to shape the contours of a debate to those who have the time to write (thoughtfully or trollingly) at length, as with mainstream newspaper sites - for which it's almost impossible to tell the extent to which an inflammatory article is actually written to enrage people in the hopes of selling papers or whether it faithfully reflects the mind-set of its readership. The voting system, in contrast, enables the average, too-busy-to-write person to give their two cents in a way that encourages them to do so regularly.

In my proposed two-tier schema of allowing registrants to up/down-vote, leaving commentary open to everyone, but enabling registered RTHers the option of blocking out unregistered commentary, the average Joe or Jill could, after bringing up RTH using a random web search, still come away with a snapshot of where public opinion is at on a particular issue - while registered users have the opportunity to limit the circle of those they engage with if they choose to do so.

Comment edited by geoff's two cents on 2011-01-17 20:35:57

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By UrbanRenaissance (registered) | Posted January 17, 2011 at 20:59:03

Just to toss in my own 0.02,

Nested commenting will go a long way to both minimize the impact of the trolls, and also improve the readability of the comments in general.

I really don't see forcing everyone to register as a solution to trolling, as asperger pointed out the Spec does this, and the quality of its posts are often not much better than 4chan. A determined troll will always find a way to bait the unsuspecting.

I do agree though, that the voting system is more a popularity indicator than anything else. Perhaps allowing users to see a list of who up voted or down voted a post would add some accountability and minimize this. Otherwise the options should be agree/disagree and the metric used to decide the fading should be changed to something else, (or eliminated all together).

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By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted January 17, 2011 at 21:01:08

Yes, I think you should have mandatory registration and I think the way the Spec does things is the right idea. Have an up vote, a down vote and an offensive vote. If the offensive vote hits a certain threshold it censors the comment flags it and the account for review, as well as all of the other accounts who flagged the comment as offensive. (sadly some people can't tell the difference between a difference of opinion or an offensive comment). From there a mod makes the decision for a potential banning/IP ban after so many warnings or whatever they feel is needed.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted January 17, 2011 at 21:14:05

Maybe a simple change to the voting nomenclature would help with the way it was used. A button labeled "offensive", a button labeled "thumbs up". I feel like people would be less inclined to click an "offensive" button if it was purely about disagreement with an opinion. And mediocre posts would sit at zero, with higher quality posts getting more replies.

Not sure about mandatory registration. I think threading and a personal "ignore user" function would work better towards the goal

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted January 17, 2011 at 21:29:03

Thanks for all the feedback so far.

I just want to take a moment to address the point that was raised about the usefulness of the comment voting system. It doesn't work perfectly, and at its worst it does probably reflect a certain amount of groupthink. However, it's a vast improvement on the state of affairs before it was implemented, and it mostly works as intended.

For example, if you look at the lowest voted comments, it's clear that this space is exclusively reserved for obnoxious, repugnant dispatches with no redeeming qualities. They're insults, personal attacks, inane twaddle, shameless apologetics - all trolls by any reasonable definition.

This is true overall and it's also true for recently posted comments. Here, in ascending order of score, are the ten lowest-voted among the most recent 400 comments:

Actually, there are too many councillers that have been influenced by a couple of special interest groups like the RTH.

Score: -16

WH IS DEAD LOSERS!!! STOP TALKING ABOUT THIS AND GET A LIFE!!!!

Score: -14

WH has been dead for months!! The author of this article must be seriously underworked! GIVE IT UP!

Score: -13

With all due respect Mr. Shaker. Were did this all come from I ask? Any chance the Katz groups private lunch date with 4 of our city councillers last wk?? [snip]

Score: -13

...some of you should be ashamed for libelling someone for just being an immigrant. [snip]

Score: -12

Shaker worked for Eisenberger!? That explains it! All credibility lost.

Score: -11

I agree WH is DEAD Move on to LRT the next issue RTH will lose

Score: -9

And to think this Shaker guy worked for Fred Eisenberger. Now we know why that guy is out of a job and Shaker has left the city to return to daydreaming.

Score: -9

Always the same at the RTH, twisted view of reality.

Score: -9

There is a reason that downtown Hamilton is full of parking lots. It's because of people like the ones commenting here who try to tell developers how to spend their money. [snip]

Score: -9

They're rude, insulting and uninformative, they attack strawmen, they make meanspirited and uncharitable insinuations, and most of them are only a sentence or two in length, sometimes written in ALL CAPS. In short, they do nothing to promote constructive, respectful debate. They're correctly-identified trolls.

Controversial comments might get mixed scores, reflecting some upvotes for a well-written statement combined with a few downvotes based on disagreement; but for the most part, only truly obnoxious, inappropriate comments end up attracting large negative scores.

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By goin'downtown (registered) | Posted January 17, 2011 at 22:16:57

I think the most simple change to make for now would be to add the "offensive" voting option. Many times I upvote a comment, not because I'm in agreement, but just because it was thought-provoking; worth my time to read; a decent contribution. It's the neanderthal, knee-jerk, offensive comments that are a waste of time.

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted January 17, 2011 at 22:36:28

Yes, I think it would be better if everyone had to register.

I also think that the voting system needs to be changed. Lots of people have given similar feedback. I think the site would be better if the +/- system was abandoned as many have mentioned before, it's being abused. I agree with an earlier poster that a simple "offensive" button should be put in it's place. If some is found to frequently abuse the offensive button, then they get banned, as would anyone found to be frequently abusive.

It would be important to distinguish between annoying or persistently argumentative from abusive. Although some posters here 'bug' me, I think that a lot of what gets called "trolling" here is being mislabeled.

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted January 17, 2011 at 22:49:31

Ryan, I don't think you've done a very good job of trying to justify the voting system here. Some of the examples you've given of fairly downvoted comments aren't worthy of being partially censored. I'll use the example of -9 for someone expressing their opinion that RTH is "Always the same at the RTH, twisted view of reality." Sure, it's not a nice thing to say, but it is their opinion. Someone made a similiar comment about CHML and it had a score of +5 at the time of reading. Do you see the problem?

Before I even read this blog entry, I had a thought while reading an earlier thread. I was trying to read a comment that was downvoted to something like -10. After the first paragraph I gave up because it was too hard to read with it's faded out text.

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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted January 17, 2011 at 22:58:37

Ryan,

I think you have glossed over the voting issue. This from Hamilton Fan:

-11

Regardless Graham, council will pass this and Toronto 2015 will approve. That's my prediction and life goes on.

Why is this -11? It's very direct, so what?

-11

I disgree Ryan. The only responsibile course for Council to take is to act as they genuinely feel what is best. And it may be best to approve the IWS plan pronto equally as much as even considering a scalable stadium or any other solution.

And yet HF's use of the word 'feelings' gets attacked.

+12

You're suggesting our council should be guided by their feelings? You can't be serious.

+10

When you don't have the facts on your side go for broke on emotion. Fear's usually good for a few votes.

A contrarian opinion but certainly put forth reasonably:

-7

The problem with that line of reasoning is that a 6000 seat stadium is also an act of emotional desperation to salvage something from nothing. Thats why council needs to put emotion aside and vote on the merits of the 2 plans. If they do I feel they will see that a 6000 seater is unworkable and is opposed by the majority of the population as illustrated by the Spec Poll numbers before the IWS proposal was put forward. It may have been a small somewhat biased group but with only 22% agreeing to spend on a 6000 seater it sure shows where the public likely stand on the question.

Ryan, I can cherry pick examples to illustrate issues with the voting system and you can cherry pick example supporting it, to what avail? I stand by my assertion that the voting system is merely a consensus meter.

Comment edited by mrjanitor on 2011-01-17 22:59:22

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By Anon and proud (anonymous) | Posted January 17, 2011 at 23:54:26

Hear hear, mrjanitor!

Comment voting is broken and at worst is censorship by committee.

Require registration if you have to, and keep it as a thumbs up/down if that's your thing, but the moment you let this dictate whether the comment has the right to live or die you are effectively killing the spirit of "constructive participation among readers and contributors."

When it comes to offensive or slanderous comments, that is where you, the fine staff of RTH have to play a role. Give us a button to report an offensive comment then it's up to you to decide. This is just like the Spec, G&M, Star, or any other publication that takes these things seriously.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted January 18, 2011 at 00:05:47

Let's be clear, Ryan created this site to push his personal agenda. When people like myself point out things FACTS like, LRT will cost taxpayers $130 million and yet only cut 1 minute off a 32 minute trip, his whole agenda is threatened. He is left with three options. Either debate that the facts are real, claim they don't matter, or get rid of them.

Because he is not stupid, he knows that those facts are real and easily verified. Instead, he can choose to argue that saving 1 minute on a 32 minute trip across the city is such a strong incentive, that home buyers will flock to Hamilton and this in turn will create 1-2 billion in new investment. However, if LRT is being sold as TRANSFORMATIONAL, then the FACT that it will only reduce commute times by 3.13% is very damaging to that sales job.

What other choices is Ryan left with. He has to find a way to get rid of these facts that threaten to derail his LRT sales job. That's why the "War on Trolls" has been created. It's his and others way of demonizing opposition to the tax and spend agenda.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted January 18, 2011 at 00:39:43

For example you have a poster "Undustrial". He makes certain claims about himself/herself. You can't be anonymous in one way but allow it in another.

My real name is not relevant - my identity as a poster here is. And about that, I've been entirely honest. Publishing personal details on the internet is not wise, especially when discussing your political views in forums which will be on permanent record. I've used the same name on RTH now since long before I registered. I've even used it for articles. This isn't Facebook. Anyone who wants to judge any and all of my comments based on any other comment I've made here or elsewhere is more than welcome to do so. But don't expect pictures of my family.

I've seen, without a doubt, some of the best, most articulate concern trolling I've ever witnessed. These people are clearly showing up with the intention to disrupt discussion, and it's worked on many levels. Many others, who simply disagree, or aren't nice about it, get labelled as "trolls", even when many have stuck around until today. This is part of the damage that trolling does when it takes the guise of "legitimate but persecuted opinions". Something does need to be done, but not at the cost of sealing ourselves off from the outside...that would be letting them win.

As for what, I'm not sure. I think the idea of an "ignore user" option is probably the best I've heard. I'm definitely not opposed to making people register as long as it's still relatively easy and anonymous if they wish (anything else will turn off a lot of people). A "Read this first FAQ" with a list of a few background articles might be helpful, though. Both with a bunch of background on major issues (two way streets, LRT etc) and a section on trolling. A limited degree of nesting, too, could work, but I do worry about the otherwise good comment flow). And if nothing else, sadly, I think a few times a year the sad prospect of raising the banhammer may have to come up.

As for voting - how about a "please don't use comment space to talk about votes" policy? I don't think I've read this type of discussion ("why the downvotes?") contribute to a discussion in a positive way. In fact, it's pretty clear that most of us rarely vote, and the whole system is an endless source of petty criticism from trolls.

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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted January 18, 2011 at 06:22:48

I don't think mandatory registration will stop the trolls, it didn't stop "hammy" and "mb" from registering and shitting all over this site lately. Seconded for threaded comments and changing the downvote to an "offensive" button.

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By hammy (anonymous) | Posted January 18, 2011 at 07:07:36

You want to sensor others opinions yet some of your members are the biggest trolls around. They disrupt the common theme of the day on other sites. Capt. Kirk is the biggest troll of them all. He has zero creditability preaching the RTH/WH gospel everywhere he goes, frankly we don't want to here it anymore than the RTH members do on this site. Yet no one is sensoring them on the other sites. No other site has a fading post system like yours. So you have already crossed the line by sensoring what you don't want to hear.
How about you put a leash on your trolls and leave the comments for everyone else to see, far is far.
Sensorship, please tell me what country am I living in??
Have a nice day, Hammy.

Comment edited by hammy on 2011-01-18 07:09:36

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted January 18, 2011 at 07:16:29

SpaceMonkey wrote:

Sure, it's not a nice thing to say, but it is their opinion.

That's not enough to make it an appropriate comment. It doesn't contribute meaningfully to the discussion, add any new information, offer a fresh perspective on the issue or propose a solution to the conflict. Meanwhile, it uses rude, insulting language, is needlessly inflammatory and seeks to provoke an emotional reaction from others.

Someone made a similiar comment about CHML and it had a score of +5 at the time of reading. Do you see the problem?

Of course I see the problem. The system isn't perfect, as I've already acknowledged. Some appropriate contrarian comments are wrongly downvoted as inappropriate; whereas some inappropriate comments are upvoted because they express a popular sentiment.

The question is: would the quality of discussion be better or worse if we didn't have comment voting?

As someone who struggled daily with rampant trolling that threatened to render the site unusable and scare away everyone else, I can say with total confidence that the quality of discussion has gotten better. Not perfect, but better.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-01-18 07:17:33

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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted January 18, 2011 at 07:21:32

Case in point:

"You want to sensor others opinions yet some of your members are the biggest trolls around."

hammy says RTH has comment fading and the other sites don't, but from where I'm sitting RTH has some of the politest discussion quality going (no thanks to hammy, mb, allan taylor, a smith etc...) so the comment fading must be doing something right. The spec comments are a total trolls wonderland, if that's what you get when you don't fade comments then please COUNT ME OUT.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted January 18, 2011 at 08:49:21

I stand by my assertion that the voting system is merely a consensus meter.

Here's the problem with the "consensus meter" theory. Everyone on the internet has free right to open an account here and vote in whatever way they want. If consensus is that a comment is a derailment of the discussion, filled with non-facts, or is offensive, then so be it.

The fact that it IS a consensus meter means it's working as designed. Unfortunately for those who lie or post abusive comments, their lying, abusive colleagues generally don't care enough to register and vote said comments up.

Of course, some comments get voted down incorrectly, and others voted up incorrectly but there is absolutely no way to achieve perfection. Even if you had a human checking every single comment, it would be even worse since anyone who got downvoted would say that the moderator was biased.

I think the voting should stay with a simple renaming of the two buttons: |Offensive/Offtopic| and |Great Post!| Then you are encouraging good posts and moving peoples' minds away from the up and down being used as "Agree/Disagree" buttons.

Further refinement could be to have a few buttons. Offensive|Offtopic|Thoughtful|Funny - then each user could set thresholds for each.

Another option would be to give weight to users votes in some sort of proportion to their voting history. So new users can't just join and vote. ANd people who historically vote based on opinion have less weight. How you'd do that though is an algorithm beyond my morning mind.

I am a firm believer in allowing anonymous comments - it is a way to draw people into the discussion who otherwise may not have bothered. Look at how many people recently started as anonymous commentors and eventually registered. More participants is always a good thing, whether I agree with their opinions or not.

In the end I think that threading is the best solution. It should probably replace fading. Once the threshold is met, the root of that thread gets collapsed to just a title, and can be opened and read and replied to, but these digressions won't take over the discussion. It is also less "in your face" to silently collapse a thread than to announce "THIS COMMENT SUCKS SO IT's HIDDEN ;-)

This is how it works at slashdot and other hugely successful discussion areas and the discussion never devolves into complaints about the voting system there.

BTW while we are begging for features, I'd like a preview post feature so that I can check up on my markdown before committing. I would also like to be returned to the page I was looking at when I log in rather than my profile. I would also like a one click log out button rather than going to my profile, clicking log out then having to click again

Thanks :-)

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted January 18, 2011 at 10:34:09

Great news: after playing around with some code last night, I have a working proof-of-concept to implement threaded comments. I'm going to test it on my development server tonight. I still need to implement a way to specify that a given comment is a reply to a previous comment, but if all goes well I should be able to push this to production in the next couple of days.

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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted January 18, 2011 at 12:19:16

-RTH dream feature: Messaging other registered users, like a little RTH office e-mail system.

-How about some kind of colour change instead of a fade for downvoted comments?

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By hammy (anonymous) | Posted January 18, 2011 at 12:38:51

How about just leaving the posts alone unless they are offensive in some way.
Not everyone is going to buy the RTH rethoric, and unless one is able to express this openly how can this be considered anything but a biased site.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted January 18, 2011 at 12:47:19

Ryan >> As someone who struggled daily with rampant trolling that threatened to render the site unusable and scare away everyone else, I can say with total confidence that the quality of discussion has gotten better.

Ryan, I remember there used to be a feature that calculated the number of page views per day/(week?). During your first introduction of comment voting, in which I may have played a part, I'm almost certain that page views were spiking UP, not down. This indicates the site was benefiting from the lively debate (left vs right), not being hurt by it.

One question, why not put a third party feature that allows people to reliably track page views on RTH? That way, we can see just how much the public likes the quality of discussion, rather than a few squeaky wheels who feel frustrated when people disagree with their progressive ideology. Seems fair to me.

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By PseudonymousCoward (registered) | Posted January 18, 2011 at 13:51:47

Why am I not surprised to see the most egregious offenders affecting mock outrage at reasonable efforts to limit their destructiveness?

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted January 18, 2011 at 14:15:17

Here's something (tangentially) connected: how does a comment such as http://raisethehammer.org/comment/56675 manage to only get ONE vote after more than 24 hours?

Any chance that there's something wrong with the machine? (Not talking about the 'operators' of the machine, which this article addresses, or its 'owner', which none ever will. (And even if it were, the resulting objectively constructive comments would be downvoted. LOL)

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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted January 18, 2011 at 14:19:49

how does a comment such as http://raisethehammer.org/comment/56675 manage to only get ONE vote after more than 24 hours?

Tl;dr.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted January 18, 2011 at 14:23:42

Ryan, can you provide some FACTS that confirm your argument that so called "troll" opinions have been chasing people from the site? If not, then why should people believe you that this effect is real?


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By matthewsweet (registered) | Posted January 18, 2011 at 15:03:10

One question, why not put a third party feature that allows people to reliably track page views on RTH? That way, we can see just how much the public likes the quality of discussion, rather than a few squeaky wheels who feel frustrated when people disagree with their progressive ideology.

Plenty of people will slow down and stare at a car crash, that doesn't mean that its a good thing or something that's desirable to see. The number of eyeballs does not indicate the quality of debate. Anyway I would further suggest there is a big difference between intelligent discourse and picking, prodding, jibbering. For me that's the primary issue to be addressed.

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By hammy (anonymous) | Posted January 18, 2011 at 15:34:36

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 A Smith (anonymous) | Posted January 18, 2011 at 16:27:45

transitstudent >> The number of eyeballs does not indicate the quality of debate.

Debate implies that there is at least two sides to an issue. Judging by the percentage of non faded comments that are progressive/urban centric, it would appear that RTH is failing miserably in that goal.

Or is RTH supposed to be a debate forum where only one side gets to make comments?

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By matthewsweet (registered) | Posted January 18, 2011 at 16:55:24

I can't argue the point that the upvote/downvote gets abused in some cases, and I'm not sure anyone has argued that point. I personally use the voting system very infrequently, and I suppose you'll have to take my word on that.

Both sides get to make comments, however as of late the so-called "non progressive/urban centric side" seem to resort to attacking RTH as though it personifies the "other side", and crying foul that their opinions are not being heard, instead of making those arguments. Either get over the fact that the majority who visit this site will disagree with your opinion or move on, don't retreat into petty attacks and jabs.

This all suggests that at the very least the reforms of the voting system that some are calling for is a good idea. Downvotes seem only to encourage people to feel persecuted and may in fact cause a good deal of the bad behaviour being observed.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted January 18, 2011 at 17:11:53

how about this - put a number beside everyone's user name that shows how many up and down votes they have issued. then any negative ninnys become obvious, and excessive downvoting is avoided :-)

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted January 18, 2011 at 17:14:18

as of late the so-called "non progressive/urban centric side" seem to resort to attacking RTH as though it personifies the "other side", and crying foul that their opinions are not being heard, instead of making those arguments. Either get over the fact that the majority who visit this site will disagree with your opinion or move on, don't retreat into petty attacks and jabs.

This sums it up so well. RTH has never stifled any opinion that is argued coherently and backed up by facts.

Downvoting posts that essentially say "no way, you jerks" is not the same as censoring opinions other than your own.

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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted January 18, 2011 at 17:40:30

This sums it up so well. RTH has never stifled any opinion that is argued coherently and backed up by facts.

I'm sorry seancb but I have to disagree with this statement. I've seen many good arguments voted down just because they were off consensus or because of 'who' made them. I thought I illustrated that fairly well using a very recent thread but you and I obviously are simply going to have very different opinions on this.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted January 18, 2011 at 18:10:52

I said RTH has never stifled any opinion.

Despite what some clearly think, the people voting up and down are the general internet using public, not some RTH-backed conglomerate

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted January 18, 2011 at 18:17:10

transitstudent >> Either get over the fact that the majority who visit this site will disagree with your opinion or move on, don't retreat into petty attacks and jabs.

I like disagreement, that's why I am against comment fading. Why do you think I'm posting on a left wing site, it's not because I expect hugs and kisses, it's to stir the pot of ideas.

seancb >> I said RTH has never stifled any opinion. Despite what some clearly think, the people voting up and down are the general internet using public, not some RTH-backed conglomerate

Okay, RTH has never stifled opinion, they just provided the technical expertise so that the majority opinion could. Is that right?

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted January 18, 2011 at 18:31:19

Downvotes seem only to encourage people to feel persecuted and may in fact cause a good deal of the bad behaviour being observed.

The bad behaviour long predates comment voting and / or fading and indeed was the impetus to implement it - though the trolls went apoplectic when they realized we were taking measures to limit their destructiveness.

Trolls hate these measures not because they lead to some imaginary persecution or censorship, but because they give the community tools to route around the thugs and boors so civil discussion becomes possible again.

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By hammy (anonymous) | Posted January 18, 2011 at 19:12:43

Show us who is causing bad behaviour, the ones trying to raise a concern, or the ones trying to block other points of views? It really doesn't matter how you colour it my friend. Its sensorship at its worst.

Comment edited by hammy on 2011-01-18 19:15:01

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By Trolly troll a tron (anonymous) | Posted January 18, 2011 at 20:04:07

I guess the question is whether you want an exchange of ideas or a site where everyone thinks the same way. More and more it looks like the majority want the latter.

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By Trolly troll a tron (anonymous) | Posted January 18, 2011 at 20:10:04

>>My real name is not relevant - my identity as a poster here is

The Unabomber is right. He doesn't matter.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted January 18, 2011 at 20:15:12

I don't know how to make my point any clearer. Everyone in the city is welcome to use comment voting. No comments are ever removed unless they are robotic spam. Cries of censorship are misplaced.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted January 18, 2011 at 20:25:21

I guess the question is whether you want an exchange of ideas or a site where everyone thinks the same way.

No, the question is whether we want an exchange of ideas or a site where people think it's okay to write "YOU LOOSERS SUCK" with impunity. Too much of the latter makes the former impossible.

Cries of censorship are misplaced.

The nonsensical cry of censorship, like the trolling it seeks to defend, is not offered in good faith but in a meanspirited, spiteful, vandalistic attempt to undermine and disrupt a civil discussion. These cowards would never say to someone's face over a dinner table what they feel entitled to spew anonymously in their comments.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-01-18 20:26:26

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By cut2chase (anonymous) | Posted January 18, 2011 at 20:30:29

I think there should be a total of 24 buttons below ever post, which clearly defines the limits of discourse and free speech at RTH - the award winning blog that has single handedly put Hamilton on the international map of cutting edge innovation in community building.

These 24 buttons labeled as below will drive the discussions on the future of Hamilton from here on. If you don't like what you read on this blog, you no longer have to get emotional. Simply press one of these well researched and sustainable position buttons, and save yourself the agony of ever writing a response.


fck it
fck me
fck him
fck them
fck dissent
fck everyone
fck your views
fck your opinion
fck counterpoints
fck the developers
fck the council
fck tolerance
fck business
fck evidence
fck suburbia
fck diversity
fck truth
fck logic
fck transperancy
fck commonsense
fck off, this is ryan's blog
fck off, this is jason's blog
fck the fcker who questions ryan
fck the fcker who questions jason

Registered users could be allowed to press from one to three buttons per post, based on their behavior or caliber; while the inner-circle card holders could get to press up to ten buttons per post to enable them to eradicate irresponsible behaviour and errant thoughts from all articles and blogs.

The editor should reserve the right for himself to add more buttons of his choice unilaterally at will, based on the nature of the article/blog posts, since it is he who has complete authority and control over the content and direction of this blog.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted January 18, 2011 at 20:36:00

@ cut2chase

My firstborn has just been renamed in your honour. (Guess I should let her know, huh?)

Oh...is her brother Downvote ever going to be jealous...

Comment edited by mystoneycreek on 2011-01-18 20:43:05

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By goin'downtown (registered) | Posted January 18, 2011 at 21:05:41

  • attach fading comments to "offensive" button only (set threshold to whatever # - I don’t know, 5?

  • I find the up/down voting interesting and have no issue with this aspect being kept; I even like the fact that it’s vague as to why posts are up/down voted (good post or in agreement?), and I’m all for simplicity (up, down, offensive) but seancb’s additional buttons are certainly workable

  • I feel that the posts are far more important to me than other people deciding to upvote/downvote; I’m certainly not very consistent when it comes to using the voting system, either (e.g. sometimes I just read)

  • the principles to why this site was created are available on the home page; I suspect not many people have read them

  • perhaps the commenting guidelines link should be prominently placed on the home page so they're readily visible and accessible? I read them again myself when this topic came up and, because I read them quickly when I first registered, it was all quite “fresh”

  • for the people who are tirelessly complaining about being down-voted, accuse RTH of being a club, and other insinuations - you are not required to participate in this specific web site

  • I absolutely love the RTH concept and content - what an amazing source of thought-provoking information and data

  • I suspect that the West Harbour/East Mountain, Ticat, Ivor Wynne issue has touched more raw nerves than most other topics, and may explain the increase in offensive, waste-of-time posts

  • I’d also love a one-click log-out button on the front page; do you know how many times I’ve inadvertently been logged in for days?

  • I like the fact that so many new people are participating, whether they register or not, and/or whether they stick around for more than one round/topic or not; I think it is testament to the increase in citizen engagement and the popularity of the RTH model (if not RTH itself)

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By hammy (anonymous) | Posted January 18, 2011 at 21:14:19

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 mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted January 18, 2011 at 21:41:39

for the people who are tirelessly complaining about being down-voted, accuse RTH of being a club, and other insinuations - you are not required to participate in this specific web site

Probably the most egregious approach to dealing with someone who doesn't agree with you that I've seen in a while. Seriously; what is this, a clubhouse? (Making me wonder just how many 'boys' there are here, versus 'girls'.)

And for the record, I actually couldn't give a rodent's gluteals whether I get 'upvoted' or 'downvoted'. That is the realm of the adolescent.

And now I feel a SNL skit coming on where everyone has been retrofitted with Validity Scores over their heads...)

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By woody10 (registered) | Posted January 18, 2011 at 22:02:38

My 2 cents. MAke a person register, no big deal. Also stops multi posts by the same individual. Another forum I am a member of voted to have registered comments only and the trolls are instantly deleted and e-mails banned. Still multi opinionated discussions abound but with little or no abusive comments. That forum is growing in leaps and bounds because people like structure and boundaries.

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By matthewsweet (registered) | Posted January 18, 2011 at 22:04:28

I will again concede that the current upvote/downvote system is flawed insofar as many people who visit RTH do use it as a consensus meter. It is not, however, censorship since the comments are not removed. As seancb noted earlier, there is no secret listserv out there somewhere of likeminded RTHers who are immediately alerted of contrary viewpoints in comment threads and launch a salvo of downvotes.

Mr Smith, I also happen to like contrary viewpoints and the challenge of a good debate. To me the distinction between legitimate point-for-point debate and petty squabbling is very clear. Its unfortunate that the current system does often function as a consensus meter rather than a true reflection of the quality of some posts. I'm not sure what has created that problem, the system itself or the blatant trolls who have garnered so many downvotes and manage to overshadow legitimate counter-arguments.

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By goin'downtown (registered) | Posted January 18, 2011 at 22:13:15

@mystoneycreek, I meant nothing more than it's tedious reading comments consisting of bitch-fests and personal attacks against others and the RTH site itself; it's so unnecessary and unproductive amid really good discussion. I truly don't understand why anyone would put time and energy into a site that they don't respect or appreciate; they have the option of participating elsewhere or creating their own.

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By dknox (anonymous) | Posted January 18, 2011 at 22:17:34

I am adding my comments late, but that's partly because I've drifted away, and don't even read RTH as often now. I still think it's fabulous. The level of discussion and civility is uncommon, but the articles drift off topic quickly, so there's not much point in posting if you don't catch the beginning.

I am not adding anything that hasn't been said. Take control. You don't owe anyone anything, and certainly not people who delight in agitation. RTH is special. While the Spec has improved astonishingly since it started enforcing its policies, it never has the thoughtful, useful, interesting level of discussion that RTH has.

I like the idea of different buttons. Sometimes I want to respond directly to a post, and end up voting up or down instead of posting because the moment has passed. I'd like a thumbs up button, on the article too if that's possible, and an offensive button so I can differentiate between disagreeing with someone and thinking "bad form".

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted January 18, 2011 at 23:02:35

Update: I've successfully integrated threaded comments into the RTH development server, including the ability to collapse and expand threads. I still need to add functionality to allow users to reply to a specific comment - I hope to get that done tomorrow night.

In the meantime, I pushed a couple of tweaks to the live site:

  • Updated the Comment Voting Guide to add a couple of etiquette points:

    • Please DO NOT: Post comments complaining about being downvoted. It's off-topic and disrupts the conversation.
    • Please DO NOT: Vote on comments based on who posted them. Try to judge each comment on its own merit.
  • Changed the mouseover text on the up and down voting arrows to "Good Comment" and "Flag as Offensive", respectively.

Here's a screenshot:

RTH Threaded Comments Screenshot

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-01-18 23:09:01

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By hammy (anonymous) | Posted January 18, 2011 at 23:44:45

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.

Comment edited by hammy on 2011-01-18 23:47:12

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted January 19, 2011 at 14:01:31

Please explain the the coward thing to us while your hiding behind a keyboard.

Well hammy, Ryan posts under his full name and is one of the few people on here to do so. Is your legal name hammy? If so, I apologize and agree that you and ryan are equal in terms of internet cowardice.

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By hammy (anonymous) | Posted January 19, 2011 at 14:26:42

Good one Sean, I suppose your last name is CB.

Comment edited by hammy on 2011-01-19 14:27:07

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted January 19, 2011 at 14:36:32

First, you accused Ryan of hiding, not me. Second, if you take a close look at the authors page of this very site, you will see my full name. I'm not trying at all to hide.

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By hammy (anonymous) | Posted January 19, 2011 at 17:15:57

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.

Comment edited by hammy on 2011-01-19 17:18:31

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted January 19, 2011 at 18:13:28

I already quoted you above where you explicitly accused Ryan of hiding behind a keyboard. How that makes me wrong must only make sense in the world of a troll.

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By hammy (anonymous) | Posted January 19, 2011 at 18:41:56

True sean, however if you can follow simple reasoning you would see Ryan called me a coward the first time, and having a difference of opinion on a site does not make one a troll.
So sean, your are an author of this site. This must make you one of the big wheels.
Now if we could only try and get along we might have a meaningful conversation from two different points of view.
Guess not, I forgot your RTH following will just faid my thoughts out.
Sounds like a real great site, don't you think??

Comment edited by hammy on 2011-01-19 18:53:11

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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted January 19, 2011 at 18:50:45

hammy,

Ryan quote:

The nonsensical cry of censorship, like the trolling it seeks to defend, is not offered in good faith but in a meanspirited, spiteful, vandalistic attempt to undermine and disrupt a civil discussion. These cowards would never say to someone's face over a dinner table what they feel entitled to spew anonymously in their comments.

He never mentioned ANYONE'S name at all, you decided to wear the coward tag by your choice alone. Kind of interesting how quickly you decided to put that name tag on as well.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted January 19, 2011 at 18:59:11

Please quote the post where Ryan - or anyone - specifically called you a coward. Because you took offense (on your own accord) of a general statement about trolls speaks volumes.

Take a good look at the list of authors. How many are there? Dozens? RTH is very inclusive and many, many people publish articles - this does not make any of them a "big wheel" (not sure how one can be a "big wheel" of anything that generates no profit and exists solely as a community service).

I'm all for meaningful conversation and considering different points of view. Your continual false accusations of censorship and bias, coupled with personal attacks and word twisting constitute neither.

When you post an actual point of view, I'll consider it.

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By hammy (anonymous) | Posted January 19, 2011 at 20:58:21

With all due respect, my point of view is IWS is the best solution on the table today.
It is the most affordable situation on the table.
With an IW vote by council next wk. we are not only securing a home for the CFL football team, we are securing the Pan Am games, and possibly pro soccer in the near future.
We are securing 100's of much needed jobs for a community in desperate need of a new start.
Council voting for a 6000 seat stadium gurantees the city nothing, besides who needs two stadiums in Hamilton, one 6000 seater and IW.
Plan B will then be just that plan B. Mississaga will likely get the plan B nod. It is a better location, plus they don't have the baggage associated with Hamilton.
Some are under the impression that Ian Troop suggested we still get first crack with plan B, I am afraid this is not true and probably a miss understanding with all that has been said over the past yr.
Our plan B will have to compete against 3 other communities plan B's. That at best gives us a one in four shot at winning the Pan Am games. Not good odds in my opinion.
Plan B is the reason we may not know anything until the middle of Feb.
Why? Because of the other 3 proposals that would have to being considered.
From the very beginning we know Hostco's prefered choice is a large stadium which can handle not only soccer but have a legacy tenant and possibly support other Pan Am programs. Again a 6000 seat stadium at WH does not provide this, I/W does.

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By misterque (registered) - website | Posted January 19, 2011 at 21:41:43

Omigod. It is Ryan's site. Trolls, retards, geniuses, lefties and righties should all just be thanking his ass that the site exists.

Everyone can TURN OFF the fading of down voted comments under "profile management." RTFM. GYFR (get yourself freaking registered).

Registration should be required, and getting banned is a fact of life. I don't even care if morons get banned just for being stupid. Close the site. Use it as a location for exchanging rational ideas, and not a pulpit for the regurgitation of BS from anonymous CHML ear clones. If you don't like RTH start your own site. You can learn for yourself how much work something like this takes, and see how easily it can be destroyed.

Personally, I turn off the comment score fading because I find it very important to read what the retards from CHML are saying. I need to know what these people are spouting so that I can effectively argue against them at McDonalds, on the bus, at work, in church, on my street, etc. The work does not stop at RTH. I find that the trolls on RTH are a much less painful way to learn what Bill Kelly and Scott Thompson are being paid to say without having to listen to CHML.

Please down vote me to like -32 so the anonymous trolls go straight to it.

Thanks for all your hard work Ryan.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted January 19, 2011 at 21:54:49

hammy: thank you for providing an actual point of view. It is actually not an unreasonable one! Note, however, that you posted a point of view about IWS which is not what this thread is about. This is what's known as off topic. You will likely be downvoted for this - the question is, will you still cry censorship even if this downvoting is within the accepted guidelines?

misterque: great post. I especially loved the following:

If you don't like RTH start your own site. You can learn for yourself how much work something like this takes, and see how easily it can be destroyed.

Some people know from experience that maintaining a site like this, solely through out-of-pocket expenses and away-from-your-family hours can be very taxing. It's so easy to come on here, type a tirade and click "post" without thinking about what exactly makes all of this possible.

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By hammy (anonymous) | Posted January 19, 2011 at 23:43:42

Last two posts. First I don't watch CHCH news, for all I know they support many of the views expressed by others on this site.
Second I really don't care if I am down voted on any point.
In fact that is the point. These are my opinions and mine only. For the record I have never down voted any post even if I disagree, why would I?
Calling for fairness to be heard and viewed by all is a very important subject.
Talking about censorship reminds me of the war yrs. and how many people were brain washed by not knowing the whole story. Just look at what happened to 6 million Jews.
Its amazes me as a people we continue to make the same mistakes as the past.
Some how I think your site has the right idea.
However, some here become angry because in their mind, they are being told everything they want to here. Wouldn't it be better if they were told everything they need to here?
When I first registered to join this site that is exactly what I thought I was joining.
When I realized that posts were being faded I was shocked and frankly, I reacted.
I hope the site in the future can find a way to include both sides of the story.
It would go along way in healing a divided city.

Comment edited by hammy on 2011-01-20 00:16:05

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By matthewsweet (registered) | Posted January 19, 2011 at 23:48:28

Calling for fairness to be heard and viewed by all is a very important subject. Talking about censorship reminds me of the war yrs. and how many people were brain washed by not knowing the whole story. Just look at what happened to 6 million Jews. Its amazes me as a people we continue to make the same mistakes as the past.

Did hammy just play the Nazi card in some convoluted way or am I crazy?

Comment edited by transitstudent on 2011-01-19 23:49:00

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By say what (anonymous) | Posted January 19, 2011 at 23:59:19

Yea he's getting really out there

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By hammy (anonymous) | Posted January 20, 2011 at 00:02:38

Just pointing out some ugly history that a few don't seem to care about.

Comment edited by hammy on 2011-01-20 00:05:47

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By say what (anonymous) | Posted January 20, 2011 at 00:06:45

I care but it has no bearing on anything. The Nazi thing just painted you as a lunatic

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By hammy (anonymous) | Posted January 20, 2011 at 00:11:48

Say what, its sad that you can't see past your own keyboard. I say one thing you don't like and you jump all over a perfectly good post. You need to grown up my friend.

Comment edited by hammy on 2011-01-20 00:14:33

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By say what (anonymous) | Posted January 20, 2011 at 00:14:56

funniest thing said in a very long time

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted January 20, 2011 at 00:54:21

I don't know what frightens me more, the parallels between RTH's downvoting policies and the holocaust, or the fact it's apparently been edited.

There's no telling how many millions of lives could have been lost across history if people only set their accounts to not fade down-voted comments.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted January 20, 2011 at 01:08:46

I really don't care if I am down voted on any point. In fact that is the point.

Bingo! Comment troll persecution complex confirmed.

Just look at what happened to 6 million Jews. Its amazes me as a people we continue to make the same mistakes as the past.

Godwin'd.

By the way I voted your comment up, most awesome Nazi analogy EVAR.

Say what, its sad that you can't see past your own keyboard.

Now this is a truly beautiful moment, the RTH trolls are actually trolling each other.

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By hammy (anonymous) | Posted January 20, 2011 at 08:35:23

Z Jones, same old RTH bla bla bla.
my way or the highway brain washing attitude.

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By pol (anonymous) | Posted January 20, 2011 at 09:27:38

"Z Jones, same old RTH bla bla bla. my way or the highway brain washing attitude."

That's gold coming from you drmopar, the most abusive,pushy poster on the Ti-Cats forum. The first one to tow Bob's party line and bully and berate everyone else.

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By identity (anonymous) | Posted January 20, 2011 at 13:20:36

Amazing how even just a tiny shred of potential identity exposure shuts the trolls right up!

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By hammy (anonymous) | Posted January 20, 2011 at 18:34:37

Who the hay is drmopar? Excuse me if I was out with my family this afternoon.
Just another classic example of the RTH radicals as zepher would say, jumping to conclusions.
Just keep posting your trash talk, your only hurting the good members of the RTH.

Comment edited by hammy on 2011-01-20 18:39:58

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By Trolly troll a tron (anonymous) | Posted January 20, 2011 at 18:50:06

>> There's no telling how many millions of lives could have been lost across history if people only set their accounts to not fade down-voted comments.

Can't somebody get the Unabomber to stop? It's very unnerving.

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