This is a follow up to the thread from a few days ago, and specifically my comment in that thread regarding the use of a "Escalation" label. As many users identified in that topic, political...
This is a follow up to the thread from a few days ago, and specifically my comment in that thread regarding the use of a "Escalation" label.
As many users identified in that topic, political discussion on Tildes has the potential to become very heated, very quickly, and often the standards of discussion on these topics is below what we expect elsewhere on Tildes. In that thread, many suggestions were offered in order to remedy the situation, including banning overt political content entirely, more liberal moderation by @Deimos, more liberal usage by the community of labels, addition of new labels, and more. All of these solutions have their advantages and disadvantages, but I want to talk about the one I believe would be the most effective and least disruptive to the site as is: addition of new labels.
Right now, there are two main tags that might be used on a comment that is seen as falling short of Tildes's standards: noise and malice. Users seem to have some variation in how they interpret how each tag should be used, but it seems like there is at least some agreement on the 'noise' tag being used for comments that are clearly low effort. Users seem to have more hesitation to use the 'Malice' tag, however. While it is sometimes clear when a comment is hostile or malicious, this is not always the case. Argumentative is not always hostile, and sometimes topics are naturally contentious. One takeaway from that thread (for me) is that labeling something as malice confers a judgement on intent, and users are not always comfortable doing this as it can be difficult to tell if someone truly meant to be malicious. But in political threads, the intent matters less than the effect a comment has in a discussion. Someone can not be acting maliciously, but still be clearly making the situation worse. This is the point of an 'Escalation' label.
An "Escalation" label should be applied to comments that have made the situation worse.
Furthermore, an "Escalation" label would not only affect the sorting of a comment or thread, but has the potential to halt the discussion if there is too much escalation in a short amount of time. Here is what I envision:
Define the heat of a comment (as in, "ohhh this conversation is getting heated") as follows:
H = k*n ∑ Ni / di
where k is a tuning constant, n is the number of escalation tags given to the comment in question, and the sum ranges over the comment's direct ancestors and descendants in the thread with Ni being the number of "Escalation" labels given to the other comment and di is the distance from the current comment to that other comment. Here is an example thread:
│ └── C1 (N=1)
│ └── C2 (N=0)
│ └── C3 (N=2)
│ └── C4 (N=1)
The heat of comment C3 would then be
H = k*2 (1/2 + 1) = 3k
Finally, define the heat H(T) of a thread T to be the sum of the heats of its comments. My proposal is that if the heat of a given thread surpasses some threshold value Hc, replies are locked in that thread only. This essentially shuts down extremely heated conversations before they get out of control and cause an entire topic to be locked.
The above definition can obviously be modified, but it has a few good properties that I think should be retained.
- It takes into account the relative positions of comments. A thread that is 20 comments long that has a comment with 1 "Escalation" at the beginning, midpoint, and end is probably a better and more controlled situation than a thread with 3 "Escalation" labels in a row.
- One extremely heated comment (n is large) that generates many okay or slightly heated replies (n~1) is oftentimes just as bad as many comments that each escalate a bit (a long chain of comments, each with n~1).
- It considers a the whole thread as opposed to on a comment by comment basis. If there is only one person in a thread posting heated comments, even if the replies are measured and reasonable, there is a good chance that thread is not producing a worthwhile discussion. If that one problem user stays problematic too long, eventually the heat of the thread will surpass the threshold and the chain will be locked.
I am sure there are disadvantages that I am not thinking of right now, but I truly think a system like this could be beneficial if implemented and used by Tildes. Furthermore, if two people are genuinely interested in the discussion and want it to continue, it is in their interest to avoid posting comments that get generate a high heat score so that the thread doesn't become locked. If they are not interested and keep escalating anyway, that conversation probably shouldn't continue.
I am interested in your thoughts on this idea. However, I don't intend for this topic to become a repeat of many of the suggestions and comments in the thread linked at the beginning - I don't mean to reignite that discussion.