32 votes

Suggestions regarding Clickbait and misinformation

One thing (amongst many) that always bothered me in my 6+ years of using Reddit was their lax rules about posting clickbait articles and straight up misinformation. In my opinion this was something that contributed to the rise of radical communities and echochambers in the website.

In this post I'll talk about Clickbait, Unreliable studies, and Misinformation. I'll give examples for each one and suggest a way to deal with it.

Clickbait-

Let's start with the most benign one. These days most big websites use clickbait and hyperbole to gain more traffic. It's something that they have to do in order to survive in today's media climate and I sort of understand. But I think that as a community in Tildes we should raise our standards and avoid posting any article that uses clickbait, instead directly link to the source that the article cites.

An example would be: An article titled "Life on Mars found: Scientists claim that they have found traces of life on the red planet".

But when you read the original source it only states that "Mars rover Curiosity has identified a variety of organic molecules" and that "These results do not give us any evidence of life,".
(This may be a bad/exaggrated example but I think it gets my point across.)

On Reddit the mods give these kinds of posts a "Misleading" tag. But the damage is already done, most of the users won't read the entire article or even the source, and instead will make comments based on the headline.
I personally think that these kinds of posts should be deleted even if they get a discussion going in the comments.

Unreliable studies-

This is a bit more serious than clickbait. It's something that I see the most in subjects of psychology, social science and futurism.
These are basically articles about studies that conclude a very interesting result, but when you dig a bit you find that the methodologies used to conduct the study were flawed and that the results are inconclusive.

An (real) example would be: "A new study finds that cutting your time on social media to 30 minutes a day reduces your risk of depression and loneliness"
Link: https://www.businessinsider.com/facebook-instagram-snapchat-social-media-well-being-2018-11

At first glance this looks legit, I even agree with the results. But lets see how this study was conducted:

In the study, 143 undergraduate students were tested over the course of two semesters.

After three weeks, the students were asked questions to assess their mental health across seven different areas

Basically, their test group was 143 students, The test was only conducted for 6 months, and the results were self-reported.

Clearly, this is junk. This study doesn't show anything reliable. Yet still, it received a lot of upvotes on Reddit and there was a lot of discussion going. I only spotted 2-3 comments (at the bottom) mentioning that the study is unreliable.

Again, I think that posts with studies like this should be deleted regardless if there is a discussion going in the comments or not.

Misinformation-

This is in my opinion the biggest offender and the most dangerous one. It's something that I see in political subreddits (even the big ones like /r/politics and /r/worldnews). It's when an article straight up spreads misinformation both in the headline and in the content in order to incite outrage or paint a narrative.

Note: I will give an example that bashes a "left-leaning" article that is against Trump. I'm only doing this because I only read left-leaning to neutral articles and don't go near anything that is right-leaning. Because of this I don't have any examples of a right-leaning article spreading misinformation (I'm sure that there are a lot).

An example would be this article: "ADMINISTRATION ADMITS BORDER DEPLOYMENT WAS A $200 MILLION ELECTION STUNT"
Link: https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2018/11/trump-troops-border-caravan-stunt

There are two lies here:

  1. Trump administration did not admit to anything. (The article's use of the word 'Admit' is supposedly justified with 'They indirectly admitted to it'. I personally think this is a bad excuse.)
  2. Most importantly, the 200 million figure is pure speculation. If you go to the older article that this article cites, the 200m figure comes from a speculation that the operation could cost up to 200m if the number of troops sent to the border is 15,000 and they stay there for more than 2 months.
    In reality the number of troops sent was 8,500 and they stayed for only a few days/weeks.

A few days after this article was published it turned out that the operation costed 70 million. Still a big sum, still ridiculous. But it's almost a third of what the article claimed.

The misinformation in this example is fairly benign. But I've seen countless other articles with even more outrageous claims that force a certain narrative. This is done by both sides of the political spectrum.

Not only do I think that we should delete these kinds of posts in Tildes, in my opinion we should black list websites that are frequent offenders of spreading misinformation.
Examples off the top of my head would be: Vanity Fair, Salon.com, of course far right websites like Fox News, Info Wars and Breitbart.
A good rule in my opinion would be: If three posts from a certain website get deleted for spreading misinformation, that website should be blacklisted from Tildes.

In conclusion:
I think we should set some rules against these problems while our community is still in the early stages. Right now I don't see any of these 3 problems on Tildes. But if we don't enforce rules against them, they will start to pop up the more users we gain.

I'll be happy to know your opinions and suggestions on the matter!

37 comments

  1. [12]
    Adys
    Link
    The damage is even more irreversible if you delete the post than if you leave it be with a misleading tag. I personally like the "misleading tag" approach when it comes with an explanation, such...

    I personally think that these kinds of posts should be deleted even if they get a discussion going in the comments.

    The damage is even more irreversible if you delete the post than if you leave it be with a misleading tag. I personally like the "misleading tag" approach when it comes with an explanation, such as for your example:

    Scientists Find Traces of Life on Mars [Misleading: Organic molecules, no evidence of life]

    I also really like the HN approach to highly encourage using the original article's name unless it's unclear or clickbait, in which case the OP or moderators edit in a better title, such as "Organic Molecules Found by Curiosity Rover".

    29 votes
    1. [5]
      mb3077
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I can see adding an explanation to the misleading tag working. But the way I see it is, by deleting all clickbait and low effort posts we will sacrifice some content and user activity, but in...

      I can see adding an explanation to the misleading tag working.

      But the way I see it is, by deleting all clickbait and low effort posts we will sacrifice some content and user activity, but in return we will get a community that doesn't tolerate low effort content when it comes to topics like science and politics. If we establish this kind of attitude and high standards while the userbase is still small, new users coming in will know to follow the rules and won't break them in the first place.

      Maybe this is unrealistic in practice, so the tagging + explanation system might be better.

      11 votes
      1. [4]
        Adys
        Link Parent
        I think rewarding the original source rather than the common clickbaity re-takes is very important. So seeking the original source (or the "best" article on it if there are actually good takes on...

        I think rewarding the original source rather than the common clickbaity re-takes is very important. So seeking the original source (or the "best" article on it if there are actually good takes on it) is critical and being able to change the link to those already will get rid of a lot of clickbait.

        Then there's the time when the original source is clickbait in which case IMO the "damage" comes from people reading the title. So deleting it doesn't do anything to the damage that's been done, whereas rewording it or tagging it misleading at least gives it a chance to be seen again, with the amendments.

        10 votes
        1. [3]
          mb3077
          Link Parent
          So the mods will have the ability to change the link to another better article? This is great in theory, but as the site gets bigger, it will take a lot of effort from the mods to change links to...

          So the mods will have the ability to change the link to another better article?
          This is great in theory, but as the site gets bigger, it will take a lot of effort from the mods to change links to dozens of posts. If the mods are up to it then it would be great.

          5 votes
          1. Algernon_Asimov
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            Tildes moderation will operate differently than on Reddit. Instead of hand-picking a small cadre of people who then do all moderating in the subreddit, Tildes will (eventually) automatically...

            Tildes moderation will operate differently than on Reddit. Instead of hand-picking a small cadre of people who then do all moderating in the subreddit, Tildes will (eventually) automatically "promote" certain users to higher levels of ability, kind of like in a computer game when you level up after completing some achievements. High-quality users will gain low-level moderation powers, then people who use those low-level powers well will gain mid-level powers, and people who use those low-level powers well will gain high-level powers. The people with moderation-type powers (not "moderators", just users with extra powers) will be drawn from the wider pool of all users, and the number of people with extra powers will scale up as the group increases in size.

            In other words, moderation on Tildes will be quite decentralised, rather than centralised like on Reddit. It'll be something that some people do as a side-effect of reading Tildes ("Ooh, that title looks wrong. I think I'll fix it.") rather than a dedicated task.

            I'm not sure I like the idea of moderator-types being able to change the actual link that someone else submitted, though. That seems like a step too far, in that it's basically changing what that person decided to submit, rather than just tweaking it to present it better.

            8 votes
          2. uselessabstraction
            Link Parent
            I agree. I don't think this solution is scalable, but more importantly, it is not transparent. The discussion is supposed to be a critique of the linked article. If you change the article in the...

            I agree. I don't think this solution is scalable, but more importantly, it is not transparent.

            The discussion is supposed to be a critique of the linked article. If you change the article in the middle of the discussion, you'll never know as a reader which comments are talking about which article.

            I think the best solution here is to either lock (but not delete) threads that are based on absurdly low quality sources, or hold topical discussion threads with multiple sources in the post text.

            2 votes
    2. [2]
      jackson
      Link Parent
      Absolutely-- OPs should be allowed to mark in their own title if the one provided by the otherwise quality article is garbage. I'd like to see this misleading tag, too-- maybe colored like the...

      Absolutely-- OPs should be allowed to mark in their own title if the one provided by the otherwise quality article is garbage.

      I'd like to see this misleading tag, too-- maybe colored like the spoiler tag to make it stick out a little bit more and show in the main view on mobile. Red seems like a good one to me since it won't interfere with the orange of the spoiler.

      5 votes
      1. meghan
        Link Parent
        you're giving these OPs a lot of credit. it's their job to not post something garbage in the first place.

        OPs should be allowed to mark in their own title if the one provided by the otherwise quality article is garbage.

        you're giving these OPs a lot of credit. it's their job to not post something garbage in the first place.

        2 votes
    3. [3]
      Archimedes
      Link Parent
      This would only be true for the people who have already read the title. If mods remove junk early, then the damage is limited.

      The damage is even more irreversible if you delete the post than if you leave it be with a misleading tag.

      This would only be true for the people who have already read the title. If mods remove junk early, then the damage is limited.

      2 votes
      1. Adys
        Link Parent
        And for those who haven't, they get to read an accurate title instead of read nothing. My point is comparative, not absolute.

        And for those who haven't, they get to read an accurate title instead of read nothing. My point is comparative, not absolute.

        2 votes
      2. meghan
        Link Parent
        Exactly delete them before anyone sees them. It's spam.

        Exactly delete them before anyone sees them. It's spam.

    4. Algernon_Asimov
      Link Parent
      This is something I support. If I'm posting a good article but I think the headline doesn't represent it well, I'll search the article for a quote that highlights the main point better. And, with...

      I also really like the HN approach to highly encourage using the original article's name unless it's unclear or clickbait, in which case the OP or moderators edit in a better title, such as "Organic Molecules Found by Curiosity Rover".

      This is something I support.

      If I'm posting a good article but I think the headline doesn't represent it well, I'll search the article for a quote that highlights the main point better.

      And, with my super-power of editing titles, I've tweaked a couple of topic titles to remove some misrepresentation from other people's posts.

      2 votes
  2. [18]
    Amarok
    Link
    Glad to see someone else is thinking about this stuff. It's early days now but this will eventually become a problem here. I don't have any kind of proven solution for these problems - as far as I...

    Glad to see someone else is thinking about this stuff. It's early days now but this will eventually become a problem here. I don't have any kind of proven solution for these problems - as far as I know, they are not just unsolved, but no one even tries to solve them. I do have a few ideas how we might salvage the situation, though.

    I want to define a moderation role here that isn't based on 'punishing' bad users, but instead on keeping the place clean - the curator. This is the more rewarding part of moderation, stewardship over the content and tools to assist in that task.

    A curator would be able to fully edit a title here directly, so when articles pop up that have misleading titles, the curators can correct it without the need for 'misleading' tags and other less effective measures. They can also edit the article's tags, and even edit the article's link itself if, for example, the article is clickbait but links to a better one directly. This should help with linkjacking too. In the case of megathreads, curators could submit additional links and merge threads together as well, keeping discussion focused in one thread and building a nexus of relevant information. We could even have users voting on those links inside the megathread in some way, so that the articles are in direct competition with each other to be the best at covering any given story.

    That should help clean up a lot of the mess we see on other sites. I think this is better than outright deleting submissions. All curator activity will be shown in the topic log in the sidebar, so everyone will know when a submission is changed, and by whom. How much work this turns into in any given group, and how many curators are needed to keep that group healthy is something we'll just have to see. I think the curator role might have tiered access. Low level access would be tag editing, higher would be title/link editing and thread merging, higher still would be thread locking and deletion. Once people prove they can use the lower level tools like tagging effectively without powertripping or pushing agendas they can gain access to the more powerful and potentially harmful ones like deletion. This should help keep the bad apples from making a mess.

    Usually, when threads pop up with misinformation or outright lies, someone in the comments does make a post that sets things straight - you said it yourself. The issue is that these comments (at least on reddit and most other sites) end up downvoted and harassed by people who disagree with them, and they languish invisibly at the bottom of the thread. If we develop mechanics that promote these comments up the thread to the top instead, we can help the users solve this problem for themselves. We might need some kind of comment label that represents 'corrections' with special mechanics. We could use the exemplary tag for this (and I'm sure people will for a while) but, frankly, exemplary shouldn't be shoehorned into doing that job. It's meant to be for good stuff, not corrective stuff.

    I'm loathe to use 'stickies' in general, mostly because that feels to users like mods are pushing some kind of agenda or rubbing their comments in people's faces. It'd be much better to let the users sort it themselves with labels, I think we'd sidestep a lot of bickering that way. It's easy to rail against mods, not so easy to rail against a large chunk of the users in a group - and the group will turn on you if you do that, so this makes it much harder for trolls. They can't hide behind the 'mod' boogeyman, they'll have to invent something else.

    Also, consider the bubble up mechanics we're kicking around to drive quality discussion. Over time as the hierarchy develops most submission activity is going to be in the smaller groups further down the hierarchy, and submissions to the root group are going to become more and more gated (focusing on promoting from below rather than submitting at the top). It's the only way to tame the hurricane we see with reddit's defaults, where some groups get hundreds of submissions per hour.

    I'd like to think that these issues with misinformation would be corrected in the smaller origin group first, or at worst in its parent group, long before it makes it to the root of a hierarchy and is seen by large numbers of people. Threads here aren't a flash in the pan like on reddit, they'll have a longer life cycle. That's more opportunity to clean them up before they get massive. We have more time to work the threads than on reddit, where something can rocket to the front of the site in under an hour.

    There's also a natural tendency for certain users to create a fact-buster page to break down any recurring bullshit that keeps popping up. Take for example the idea that race is a factor in intelligence. One can build a page of factual links that flatly destroy that silly lie. When we have a wiki here, we can help facilitate this process by having a $group#wiki-page short link that operates much like ~groups and @users do now - something users can easily remember and type in on mobile without having to copy-paste or look it up.

    This way when popular misconceptions appear, it's easier for the users to link those pages, and the people pushing those misconceptions have to refute the entire body of evidence against them. They can't, of course - so they'll likely resort to tactics that'll get them banned from the site when they get angry. This way each group can build up a sort of idea-immune-system in their own wikis to shut down the most insidious problems they have that keep coming up over and over again.

    That's all I've got for dealing with these problems at the moment. I'd love to hear every other idea anyone has for dealing with these issues. Tildes likely won't have them for a long time, but they are a part of Eternal September and they will become a nuisance, and eventually, a threat. It'd be good to have concrete ideas for dealing with them ready for when they start to appear. Thanks for bringing this up. ;)

    13 votes
    1. [12]
      Algernon_Asimov
      Link Parent
      I'm not in favour of people changing the link itself. I mean... for a link-based topic, the link is the core item that has been submitted. This is not a cosmetic change or a presentation issue,...

      They can also edit the article's tags, and even edit the article's link itself if, for example, the article is clickbait but links to a better one directly.

      I'm not in favour of people changing the link itself. I mean... for a link-based topic, the link is the core item that has been submitted. This is not a cosmetic change or a presentation issue, it's changing the core content. If that core content is unsuitable for Tildes, it should be removed, rather than gutting someone's post and putting something else in its place.

      For example, if I deliberately and knowingly post an opinion piece about a news item because I want to display a particular point of view, it's kind of undermining the whole point of my post if someone else removes the link to the op-ed and replaces it with a link to a neutral news article. That's not what I submitted at all - and it should not have my username attached to it. Which is what we'll have: we'll have people's usernames attached to articles that they didn't submit, may not have wanted to submit, and may possibly even totally disagree with.

      There has to be a limit to the amount of changes that other people can make to a user's post, and I think replacing the link itself is that limit. Editing titles, changing tags, moving groups - they're all just ways of categorising and displaying the post on Tildes. Altering the link itself is gutting the post and replacing it with something else. I think that's a step too far.

      If a post is so inappropriate that people think it should be replaced, then it should just be removed outright, and a new link posted. Don't attach the user's name to something they didn't submit.

      9 votes
      1. [11]
        cfabbro
        Link Parent
        The primary reason I am in favor of being able to edit links: I absolutely loathe when content is freebooted/linkjacked/plagiarized and gets hugely popular on reddit since the only recourse mods...

        The primary reason I am in favor of being able to edit links:

        I absolutely loathe when content is freebooted/linkjacked/plagiarized and gets hugely popular on reddit since the only recourse mods there have is to make a sticky comment with the orginal link and flair "original in comments" or remove the submission entirely. All that ensures is either the content thief continues to get most of the attention and the original creator gets a tiny fraction, or nobody does since the odds of the same submission but from the original creator getting just as popular as the first time it was submitted is virtually nil. But with the ability to simply replace the freebooted/linkjacked/plagiarized link with the original source link that solves the issue.

        5 votes
        1. [2]
          Algernon_Asimov
          Link Parent
          I don't know what any of this means. However, if a link is bad or inappropriate, just remove it. Expunge it. Eradicate it. Wipe it out. It has ceased to be! It's expired and gone to meet its...

          I absolutely loathe when content is freebooted/linkjacked/plagiarized

          I don't know what any of this means. However, if a link is bad or inappropriate, just remove it. Expunge it. Eradicate it. Wipe it out. It has ceased to be! It's expired and gone to meet its maker! It's a stiff! Bereft of life, it rests in peace! It's an ex-post.

          I don't see how this problem (whatever it might be) gives people the right to gut someone's post of its purpose for existing and replace that core content with something else. If you edit or change anything else about a post, that's mainly cosmetic. But replacing the link itself is gutting the post.

          And the user's name will then be attached to a submission that is not theirs. They didn't select the new link. That's not the link they chose to submit. That's someone else's choice - so let it appear under that someone else's name.

          6 votes
          1. spit-evil-olive-tips
            Link Parent
            An example I've seen on both Reddit and HN is: Often this is a not-super-ethical way of garnering ad revenue for the blog. If we catch that early, before it garners a bunch of comments, then I'd...

            An example I've seen on both Reddit and HN is:

            Title: such-and-such just happened
            Link: someone's blog post that doesn't add anything of value, just summarizes what happened with a link to a more in-depth, authoritative article

            Often this is a not-super-ethical way of garnering ad revenue for the blog.

            If we catch that early, before it garners a bunch of comments, then I'd say just delete it and re-submit with the more authoritative source. However, if the topic has meaningful discussion (more than just "this is a crap link, here's a better one") by removing the topic we also kill off those threads of conversation. Better solution is if we can either edit the link, or take those good comments and move them to the topic with the better link.

            3 votes
        2. [8]
          Amarok
          Link Parent
          Bingo. This behavior becomes more and more common as a place increases in popularity. The way this manifested in early listentothis was people submitting links to their shitty music blogs, rife...

          Bingo. This behavior becomes more and more common as a place increases in popularity.

          The way this manifested in early listentothis was people submitting links to their shitty music blogs, rife with advertising, under the guise of 'reviewing' a track. So they'd embed a proper youtube or soundcloud or bandcamp link in their blog, share the link to that blog article on listentothis, and anyone who clicked it would be viewing their ads alongside the embedded track. This really pissed off the users, and we had to switch to a site whitelist to get it to stop - only allowing submissions that link to proper music services. People still try to submit this stuff even now, several years after we put the fix in.

          This happens with just about any topic. There's always some asshat who wants to man-in-the-middle himself between the users and interesting content so he can make a buck on the traffic - usually depriving the original creator/authors of this revenue in the process. When this happens, a link edit is the easiest solution. It preserves the content (which could be quite popular with lots of replies and votes) while correcting the problem. I'd rather edit the link than remove a popular thread on a 'technicality' as that's just going to piss off the regular users.

          People who want to see the original links/titles/etc can check the topic log. If we get rogue editors we'll deal with them.

          4 votes
          1. [7]
            cfabbro
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            Yep, I did something similar on /r/coversongs (auto-approving youtube, soundcloud, bandcamp, etc) but I didn't go so far as to block all other sites. However even with a whitelist people can still...

            This really pissed off the users, and we had to switch to a site whitelist to get it to stop - only allowing submissions that link to proper music services.

            Yep, I did something similar on /r/coversongs (auto-approving youtube, soundcloud, bandcamp, etc) but I didn't go so far as to block all other sites. However even with a whitelist people can still reupload other peoples' videos to their own monetized youtube channel and then submit that instead of the original. And that exact issue occurs pretty frequently on /r/videos.

            One particular example on /r/videos that really pissed me off was a freebooted video by an animal rescue charity org of them rescuing some abandoned dogs. The freebooted video submission got insanely popular and when I called out the freebooting and identified the original video on the rescue orgs YouTube account (which quickly became the top comment) the mods reacted by just removing the post so the rescue org got jack shit in the end. :( Someone tried resubmitting the original source video afterwards but it only got a handful of votes, likely because most people had already seen the freebooted one. Which is precisely why I am 100% for being able to edit links in those particular cases.

            p.s. @Algernon_Asimov, hopefully that also answers your question about what freebooted/linkjacked/plagiarized content is and why "just remove it" isn't a great solution.

            5 votes
            1. Amarok
              Link Parent
              We had that happen in l2t too. @arghdos was kind enough to code us a bot that manages channel blacklists, so when we catch someone doing this, all we need to do is PM the bot a link to the...

              However even with a whitelist people can still reupload other peoples' videos to their own monetized youtube channel and then submit that instead of the original. And that exact issue occurs pretty frequently on /r/videos.

              We had that happen in l2t too. @arghdos was kind enough to code us a bot that manages channel blacklists, so when we catch someone doing this, all we need to do is PM the bot a link to the channel. If that PM comes from a l2t mod, the bot will perma-ban the channel forever. This works because it's not so easy for someone to pack up and move a freebooting channel once they've gotten it started, and most services are making that harder and harder all the time. If their goal is to get more subscribers, they can't move channels.

              That bot can also whitelist promoter channels, because some folks on youtube (like mrsuicidesheep or doom666 as popular examples) actually get permission from the artists before reposting their tracks.

              I fully expect to see these tactics used on Tildes in the future. If we don't bake them in, people will make bots for them anyway just like we did. ;)

              4 votes
            2. [5]
              Algernon_Asimov
              (edited )
              Link Parent
              Nope. Using the word "freebooted" repeatedly without explanation doesn't tell me what it is. Maybe I'll just need to look it up for myself. I'm still not seeing a justification for gutting someone...

              hopefully that also answers your question about what freebooted/linkjacked/plagiarized content is

              Nope. Using the word "freebooted" repeatedly without explanation doesn't tell me what it is. Maybe I'll just need to look it up for myself.

              I'm still not seeing a justification for gutting someone else's submission of the one thing that defines it and replacing it with someone something else. The only downside I'm seeing in your scenario is that the better link which was submitted later "only got a handful of votes" - but karma isn't supposed to be the primary motivator here.

              If someone ever replaced a link I'd submitted with something else, I would simply delete the post. The link I wanted to submit isn't suitable, and the other link that got submitted in its place should not be connected to me as its submitter. I will not "own" or be responsible for that link that was not my choice. I don't want someone looking at my posting history later and seeing a post that was not my choice.

              We're obliterating any sense of responsibility and accountability if we connect people to links they did not choose and did not submit.

              EDIT: Typo, as indicated.

              1 vote
              1. [4]
                Amarok
                Link Parent
                Seems more like we're upholding some basic standards, such as not enabling the theft of revenue from original content creators. If someone tries that and gets pissy about their link being changed...

                Seems more like we're upholding some basic standards, such as not enabling the theft of revenue from original content creators. If someone tries that and gets pissy about their link being changed to shut down their theft, quite frankly, fuck them - that's a bannable offense in my book.

                You do bring up an interesting point though about the user being able to delete their own submission after the editing takes place, and their right not to be associated with a changed link. Luckily, there's a simple solution to that issue in our planned mechanics for the future. When a link is edited like that, it might be best to have it automatically trigger the disassociation feature, so that the original user isn't linked to it anymore, and won't be able to delete it, either.

                4 votes
                1. [3]
                  Algernon_Asimov
                  Link Parent
                  And if the dissociation feature doesn't exist when the link replacement feature is implemented?

                  And if the dissociation feature doesn't exist when the link replacement feature is implemented?

                  2 votes
                  1. [2]
                    Amarok
                    Link Parent
                    Not likely to happen imo - we're not going to have issues with linkjacking until this place is popular enough to get on the radar of people who are hunting for large groups of eyes to steal. When...

                    Not likely to happen imo - we're not going to have issues with linkjacking until this place is popular enough to get on the radar of people who are hunting for large groups of eyes to steal. When Deimos is being interviewed on Real Time because Tildes has taken over for reddit, then we'll have to worry about linkjacking.

                    Meanwhile, I expect the anon posting and disassociation features will be coming rather soon. Those are important for privacy and frequently requested. If it comes to it somehow, we'll avoid implementing the link editing until after that's done, because you are right - a user shouldn't have to have a link associated with their account that they themselves didn't post.

                    5 votes
                    1. Algernon_Asimov
                      Link Parent
                      Thank you.

                      you are right - a user shouldn't have to have a link associated with their account that they themselves didn't post.

                      Thank you.

    2. [5]
      mb3077
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      A lot of great ideas. One question that is really important is - how do we keep the mods or those in power in check? What if a mod starts doing a bad job or starts being malicious? Who will have...

      A lot of great ideas.

      One question that is really important is - how do we keep the mods or those in power in check?
      What if a mod starts doing a bad job or starts being malicious? Who will have the power to remove them?
      Power tripping mods don't happen overnight. It's a gradual process of rising to power and making friends, and even more gradual process of starting to push their agenda in groups that they control.

      Ultimately those who can punish the mods are the admins. Now I'm not saying that I don't trust @Deimos, I'm really thankful that he created this community and I think that he made really good decisions so far.
      But then you could say the same thing about @spez in the fledgling days of Reddit. You see how that turned out. I'm not trying to offend nor saying that the same thing will happen with Tildes. I just think that we should take some precautions in case that the admins or the mods become unreliable in the far future.

      The solution is to set rules that are self-reliant, that don't require feedback from the administrators or moderators. The rules should be as cut and dry as possible, so that anyone who breaks them can be easily prosecuted.
      Like you said, I myself have no idea how to really go about doing this, it's all just speculation on my part. But it's still good to have a conversation about it.

      Regarding the bubble-up mechanics - The idea is really interesting but I see a potential problem with it. A discussion thread has a certain threshold of size before it becomes useless to add a new comment to it, as it would be buried down or hidden in a thread. This is a by-product of both the upvote system and the parent - child comments system and I don't think there is a fix to it. Because of that a rising post in practice could bubble up from a sub group only twice or thrice before the thread just gets too big. But that can also be an advantage, because as you said the top and first comments will be from 'the experts' or the original people from the sub-group that the bubble originated from. This will more or less insure that the most visible comments are high quality ones, while sacrificing newer potentially insightful comments from being seen.
      I personally would love to see it in practice, it might work really well.

      2 votes
      1. [4]
        Amarok
        Link Parent
        I think they key is using a separation of powers model. The guys who do the cleanup aren't the guys who do the banning, or the guys who police the other moderators. That way it's harder for...

        I think they key is using a separation of powers model. The guys who do the cleanup aren't the guys who do the banning, or the guys who police the other moderators. That way it's harder for cliques to form that have total control. Issues go through multiple groups of people with differing mandates rather than one single group.

        We're also hoping for teams of hundreds, even thousands of mods by the time we're reddit sized in all the big groups (like /r/science which has over 1500 mods). It's harder to corrupt a larger group, they should police themselves better and we could give senior mods tools to review actions of junior mods in bulk, plus reporting systems for when users spot bad moderation. Inactive mods will also lose their powers, so that'll cut down on the absentee landlord problems that make a mess so often on reddit. We're also planning on recruiting the people who gain expanded powers from the group's own users, rather than by fiat, using the trust system once it's ready. On balance I think it's going to be very difficult for power trippers to gain a foothold here - they'll likely get reprimanded quickly, and booted if they don't reform. Most of us with moderation experience like the power tripping asshats even less than abused users do - they ruin things for us too, starting with trust in the team and any reputation for fairness. ;)

        We're definitely going to need smarter/better discussion systems someday for large threads to help even out the first-post advantage in longer lived discussions. Somewhere around here there's an older thread where we were spitballing ideas about how to do that but I can't find the link. There weren't any clear winners in it anyway.

        I do like simple, clear rules. There's a tendency on reddit to over-complicate the rules, mostly because reddit doesn't give mods the tools they need to avoid having to do that. For example, a simple mod-configurable form-based submission page would clear up half of reddit's problems with rules regarding submissions. Mods could bake the 'rules' right into the choices on the form. I've asked spez about that and talked to him about it directly, but nothing ever gets done over there because their goals are not the goals of their users - reddit is there to make money, and damn everything else. That's why Tildes is here. ;)

        5 votes
        1. [3]
          mundane_and_naive
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          When a problem is as general and persistent as this one, at least what we can do while looking for a better solution is to implement old approaches that others have done elsewhere. In group...

          We're definitely going to need smarter/better discussion systems someday for large threads to help even out the first-post advantage in longer lived discussions.

          When a problem is as general and persistent as this one, at least what we can do while looking for a better solution is to implement old approaches that others have done elsewhere.

          In group meetings, there's a secretary whose job is to take notes and in the next group meetings, everyone can read the summary to quickly catch up. In academia research, beside original works that each showcase individual authors' original contribution to the field, there are also reviews or surveys, that summarize major works that contribute to the field's overall progress and provide a clearer big picture. In a TV show, at the beginning of each episode or the beginning of a new season, there's always a "Previously on..." section that briefly covers major plot points to jog viewers' memory.

          These are all examples of the same problem and also the one that we're trying to tackle here. When a thread is long lasting and contain lots of information, it becomes impractical for anyone to try and go through it all, so people will more likely to just stick with what they see first (first-post advantage,) and ignore the rest (retreading points that have been made before).

          Maybe we can do something similar with discussion threads. Instead of letting a thread run indefinitely, after some times have it locked, provide a new board and attached to it a summary of all the major points made in the previous ones. This way, new visitors can be quickly brought up to speed and not having to go through the noise. Those who have participated before doesn't have to make their points again if they're covered in the summary. Those whose points weren't covered are welcomed to reiterate as now they're no longer overshadowed and so will reach more audience.

          Of course the question then is how to have these summaries done. They can either be written up manually by mods or generated automatically (via vote scores or something). Doing so manually would be a monumental task so probably not applicable for all threads. [Edit: Maybe a section in the wiki (which will probably come eventually) highlighting interesting threads in the group history.] On Reddit there's an autotldr bot and from what I've seen, results doesn't seem so bad, though relying on human is probably still better overall. I don't know which way would be more effective and maybe there's a better way that's more suited with the nature of online discussion platforms. Regardless, having something done is still better than just piling new comments into an already giant pile comments, which is the least amount of care but is unfortunately where we're at now.

          I do like how Tildes auto collapse old comments when revisit though, maybe this is the best we could hope for in term of a solution that does not require so much manual labor.

          5 votes
          1. [2]
            Amarok
            Link Parent
            We could also do some comment mixing, throwing fresher ones up towards the top in the list, different for each user and each page refresh - that'd give them a chance to start grabbing some votes....

            We could also do some comment mixing, throwing fresher ones up towards the top in the list, different for each user and each page refresh - that'd give them a chance to start grabbing some votes. We could also work on some sort of time-based viewing mechanism, and cluster comments by which group made them / where the submission was in the hierarchy when it was made.

            That'd provide some navigation benefits, if you could see 'yesterday's comments' and 'today's comments' and 'comments from group x' or 'comments from group y' with a click. Then we could just set up a 'best comments' option to show all of the ones that get exemplary labels, or lots of replies, or other quality metrics as we discover them.

            4 votes
            1. smores
              Link Parent
              Speaking of reusing existing solutions from other media, this is actually a really common tactic in information retrieval systems. To avoid biases that come from always showing the "best" content...

              Speaking of reusing existing solutions from other media, this is actually a really common tactic in information retrieval systems. To avoid biases that come from always showing the "best" content first (given that it's usually your system that determines what's "best"), there's a stochastic factor thrown in. Documents (comments) that are more relevant (higher voted) are more likely to appear at the top, but not guaranteed to be first.

              We could even do something like an n-armed bandit approach, where we mix a few algorithms for deciding which comments to display first and weight them depending on which ones result in the most votes of higher comments.

              5 votes
  3. [2]
    Parameter
    Link
    This is something I have struggled with on Tildes. I see news and opinion articles with misleading information and or hard-line perspectives presenting emotionally charging versions of the truth....

    Note: I will give an example that bashes a "left-leaning" article that is against Trump. I'm only doing this because I only read left-leaning to neutral articles and don't go near anything that is right-leaning. Because of this I don't have any examples of a right-leaning article spreading misinformation (I'm sure that there are a lot).

    This is something I have struggled with on Tildes. I see news and opinion articles with misleading information and or hard-line perspectives presenting emotionally charging versions of the truth.

    I hold liberal social values so when I see this type of content, I feel conflicted. That style of content is damaging and low quality but certain aspects contain a positive message so I'm afraid to be perceived as someone whose "real issue" is with the message versus the presentation. It is often necessary for me to signal my virtues so a conversation on a serious social issue can continue civilly.

    As for removing titles versus marking them as misleading; you hit the nail on the head. To articulate the problem: Misleading titles covering serious issues have a high potential for resulting in misinformation and biased conversation. The damage continues as long as the title is up, supplementing a better source after the fact does NOTHING to remedy this problem. The affect is exactly the same, everyone is still emotionally charged upon entering in the discussion.

    6 votes
    1. mb3077
      Link Parent
      Exactly, this is why I made the note as a precaution. It is a rampant problem that I see often where communities (both left and right) don't quality check a certain article or topic as long as its...

      I'm afraid to be perceived as someone whose "real issue" is with the message versus the presentation. It is often necessary for me to signal my virtues so a conversation on a serious social issue can continue civilly.

      Exactly, this is why I made the note as a precaution.

      It is a rampant problem that I see often where communities (both left and right) don't quality check a certain article or topic as long as its content agrees with their personal views and narratives.
      I think that this it is important to enforce against this in order to maintain a community that has differing views.

      2 votes
  4. [5]
    Pilgrim
    Link
    There is already enough policing here. Let's tackle problems when they happen, not before.

    There is already enough policing here. Let's tackle problems when they happen, not before.

    4 votes
    1. [4]
      spit-evil-olive-tips
      Link Parent
      My understanding is that Tildes was founded on the premise of active involvement by the admins and moderators. A non-trivial amount of "policing" as you put it, or "moderation" / "curation" as I...

      There is already enough policing here.

      My understanding is that Tildes was founded on the premise of active involvement by the admins and moderators. A non-trivial amount of "policing" as you put it, or "moderation" / "curation" as I would call it, is baked in to the site.

      Let's tackle problems when they happen, not before.

      The extreme end of this is what reddit has turned into, with "tackle problems only when it becomes bad PR for us".

      Simply given that Tildes is a site on the internet with user-submitted content, it seems certain that the problems of misleading headlines and misleading content will eventually be a problem. It seems reasonable to me to start thinking about the problem proactively, instead of reactively.

      11 votes
      1. [3]
        Amarok
        Link Parent
        I think he meant let's not jump the gun and start building systems we don't need yet. :P The more we talk them out before they get built, the better they'll probably be when we finally need them...

        I think he meant let's not jump the gun and start building systems we don't need yet. :P

        The more we talk them out before they get built, the better they'll probably be when we finally need them and get around to implementation.

        That's kinda why ~tildes is here as a group - so we can hash all this out in once place and people can unsubscribe from ~tildes if our incessant theorycrafting starts to get on their nerves. Anyone who stays subbed to ~tildes.official will still see all of the official announcements, which is why it's there as the site's 'first' subgroup - not that we even have the subgroup mechanics cooked yet. :P

        8 votes
        1. [2]
          jackson
          Link Parent
          And even if we don't need a feature yet, we can always build it then simply not enable it for the time being. We all know that there will come a time (given ~ keeps growing) that this stuff will...

          And even if we don't need a feature yet, we can always build it then simply not enable it for the time being. We all know that there will come a time (given ~ keeps growing) that this stuff will be necessary, so why not have these tools at our disposal today?

          As a mod on reddit, I'd far rather have many tools that I don't need than not have enough tools to effectively serve in my position.

          5 votes
          1. Amarok
            Link Parent
            We've got limited developer resources at the moment, so the only features that get worked on are likely to be those with an immediate benefit of some kind. Since the site is open sourced, as the...

            We've got limited developer resources at the moment, so the only features that get worked on are likely to be those with an immediate benefit of some kind. Since the site is open sourced, as the place gets more popular hopefully we'll get more people helping with development and the pace will pick up.

            3 votes