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LA Times Pulls Wikitorial, Blames Slashdot 678

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the now-thats-a-little-below-the-belt dept.
ubermiester writes "The LA Times pulled down it's "beta" wikitorial after people began inserting obscene content faster than the editors could remove it. Though there is nothing on the LA Times editorial page or in the general coverage, the NY Times notes (free reg req) the fact that the bulk of the vandalism occurred after a posting about the wikitorial appeared on Slashdot and goes on to quote a member of the LA Times editorial staff as saying, "Slashdot has a tech-savvy audience that, to be kind, is mischievous and to be not so kind, is malicious". " Apparently Michael Newman thinks that all half a million daily Slashdot readers are malicious, although I personally would guess more like a 60:40 split myself *grin*.
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LA Times Pulls Wikitorial, Blames Slashdot

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  • Slashdot wiki (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Jump (135604) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @12:37PM (#12873194)
    Let's proof that /.-ers are better people.
    Create a slashwiki and see if it lasts longer.
  • by winkydink (650484) * <sv.dude@gmail.com> on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @12:38PM (#12873211) Homepage Journal
    After the novelty wears off, the juveniles move on to the next place. Here in CA, school just got out for the summer. Coincidence?
  • by Lemmy Caution (8378) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @12:47PM (#12873336) Homepage
    There are limits to using technological solutions for social-cultural problems. A lot of Slashdot readers are poorly socialized jerks. There's no workaround for that. There are plenty of non-AC trolls.

    Ultimately, the best you can do is to try to encourage people to not be jerks. User-specific blacklists might help, too.
  • Re:What did they do? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by GMC-jimmy (243376) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @12:48PM (#12873349) Homepage
    There's two worlds here. Real life with real people, and then a fantasy where everything is as it should be.

    I wonder which world they're living in ?

    Now the only left after that is to find someone to blame when things aren't as thay should be.
  • by CFTM (513264) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @12:49PM (#12873362)
    I agree with removing the AC. There are few very situations that I can think of where I understand why a person would post something that is non-inflamatory through as an AC. You can read shit without registration but if you want to post you should be culpable...just my two cents worth.
  • by Cylix (55374) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @12:51PM (#12873401) Homepage Journal
    Our trolls should be proud as they are getting even more attention or at least proving a point about how things work.

    Honestly, it's already been proven, you need a ratio of moderators to posters and a measly small in house staff won't cut it.

    It's either that or posts must be approved.

    I wonder how wikipedia handles it...
  • by Iriel (810009) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @12:52PM (#12873408) Homepage
    I know that every group has its' trolls but, I'm not sure I could classify us (if they can make a generalization to slam on us, I can make one to redeem us as well.) as malicious. Let's think about this for a second:

    True: We have coined the term slashdotted for killing a site's bandwidth cap through many users clicking through.
    True: Above mentioned slashdotting has given 'free press' to sites that may not have become as known as they did without the link.
    True: Reader evaluation and commentary can (keyword: can) provide insightful information about a given topic before downloading/buying/reading...

    True: Slashdotted content can also speed up the process of bug reporting or weak features of a product.

    Okay, so we've murdered some bandwidth in the past. If someone's wiki got spammed with porn, they should have set up a better moderation system. Either they find out within two days that their system wasn't effective or it would happen eventually after it was established as a normal page (thus making users cry out WTF when the page goes down).

    I wouldn't call us malicious...more like hyper enthusiastic.
  • by Nos. (179609) <andrew@@@thekerrs...ca> on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @12:54PM (#12873432) Homepage

    Let's face it, there is a definite kind of web/mob (wob?) mentality here. Generally, we like wikipedia and google. We don't like Microsoft, NY Times (reg req'd) etc. I'm not really sure how we feel abuot the LA Times. There are obvious exceptions to the above, but I think generally, this is a true statement for slashdot.

    So, given that mentality, its natural to assume that given a proper target, the wob would attack. Remember the spammer who got bombarded by snail mail after headlining a slashdot article? (I'm sure someone can provide a link.

    Now, I don't know if the resulting spamming of the LA Times was a direct result of slashdot or not, but lets face it, there are a good number of trolls and such here that would take advantage of a wiki.

  • by DanThe1Man (46872) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @01:00PM (#12873505)
    As someone pointed out in the original article, could this have just been a ploy to discredit on line journalism and drive up paper subscriptions?
  • Re:What did they do? (Score:0, Interesting)

    by theJerk242 (778433) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @01:00PM (#12873513) Homepage Journal
    LA Times Pulls Wikitorial, Blames Slashdot

    Personally, I blame the trolls. I knew either this would happen or a class action lawsuit against slashdot (because of all the trolls) would happen.

  • Re:Great attitude (Score:3, Interesting)

    by discord5 (798235) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @01:01PM (#12873517)
    And you're proud of that? I'm not sure it's as funny for everyone who might have benefitted from the service that's been taken down.

    Yes, a service got taken down that might have been usefull, but if that service is on the Internet, you should've been prepared to have trolls and script kiddies ruin it for you.

    Why do people do this sort of thing? Imagine handing a bunch of kids a carton of eggs. Will they cook the eggs or toss 'm at the first best target? Now imagine the effect of handing every kid a free virtual carton of eggs when they double click on their browser icon. Welcome to the Internet.

  • by snorklewacker (836663) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @01:04PM (#12873543)
    Have to disagree with you about the AC bit. I have most AC's filtered out. Since creating an account is so easy, I'd have to have all new users filtered out as well. At least trolls get it out of their system by posting AC.

    Slashdot is still fairly readable at +3 and up -- for the articles I can actually muster any care about these days. For the most part, it's largely just idle chatter, but even that remains more or less civil at +3.

    I'd like universal moderation with trust metrics myself, but advogato showed that that doesn't necessarily scale either. I don't think there are any general solutions to the tragedy of the commons. Part of the tragedy, I guess.
  • Re:wikipeida (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DerekLyons (302214) <fairwater@gmai l . c om> on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @01:11PM (#12873616) Homepage
    wikipedia doesn't have these problems
    Wikipedia *routinely* has these problems - but the 'pedia is so big that the average user is unlikely to encounter them.
  • Re:LOL (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mnemonic_ (164550) <jamec@@@umich...edu> on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @01:26PM (#12873796) Homepage Journal
    Wikipedia has NOWHERE NEAR the readership the Times does

    Are you sure about that? Alexa's ranking [alexa.com] puts Wikipedia at number 41, while latimes.com isn't even in the top 100. Netcraft somewhat confirms it [netcraft.com], giving en.wikipedia.org a site rank of 122 and 894 to www.latimes.com. Wikipedia's probably more popular than you think.
  • by reflective recursion (462464) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @01:37PM (#12873928)
    Nonsense. There were far fewer trolls before Slashdot even had user registration. Then /. turned hostile towards the users... calling them anonymous "cowards" and removing entire threads (sometimes trolls, many times not). And let's get serious here... FortKnox? That's not exactly a person. You're still anonymous as just about everyone else is.

    And for what it's worth... Slashdot is not geared towards discussion. You will not find discussion much further past the front page (the archive navigation to this very day is garbage). Slashdot is designed for quick, ADD-riddled posts that have little depth.. so don't be surprised if you get what is designed for.
  • Re:Great attitude (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ifdef (450739) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @01:42PM (#12873978)
    Not that it helps any, but sometimes I really miss the days when most people who had access to the Internet (or even Usenet) were at least somewhat intelligent and responsible. The days when most people gained access either through work or through school, and would be afraid of losing their account if they were caught vandalizing or posting spam. The days when it was possible to respond to the occasional spam that came through by an email to the sender (before that was faked as a standard practice), and you would often get an apology in response.

    What makes people vandalize web sites and buildings? Why do people smash store windows during a power failure? Why is this EXPECTED behaviour, or, at least, what kind of a society is this where it is necessary to expect that kind of behaviour?

    I remember working on a project, where one of the specifications was that the rear stairwells of transit buses (in a large U.S. city) had to be urine-proof, because the drivers REGULARLY used the rear stairwell to relieve themselves. It's not entirely the drivers' fault -- they were afraid to leave their vehicles. But doesn't this just seem WRONG? And if it doesn't, if this just seems normal, doesn't that indicate something even worse about this society?

    Where did we start to go wrong?
  • by Scrameustache (459504) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @01:49PM (#12874037) Homepage Journal
    You still have all kinds of morons posting here, but you don't ever have to see them if you don't want to.

    Oh, I still do. I filter most of the crap, sure, but there's still lost of jerks giving each other moderation reach-arounds, not to mention people moderating when it's clear they have no idea what they're doing / are pushing a petty agenda.

    Metamoderation was a step to limit this, but it,s too flawed (occurs after the fact, without adequate context, doesn't undo crazy mods, is itself subject to abuse, etc).
    Not to mention the weird fiddling they do to moderations (like removing the karma bonus of funny but they still karma-burn when you get "overrated").

    The moderation/karma system was a good idea... it's just poorly implemented, and doesn't evolve fast enough to adapt to the work-arounds the trolls use.
  • by FatherOfONe (515801) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @02:07PM (#12874238)
    While I agree with your post, it needs to be said that this newspaper and editors have been championing a liberal cause for quite some time. I can only imagine their shock when people started to post thoughts and ideas that were radicaly different than their beliefs. I wonder then, if they then decided to "blame" the people on slashdot.

    At the end of the day though, their media and influance is shrinking and I know that this kills them. Seeing that THEY had the final say with their editors, then it is obvious that they wanted to control what content was going to be on the site.

    The funny part of this is that if this was some conservative trade rag, and the same thing happened I wonder what the headline of the article would have been....
  • by FortKnox (169099) * on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @02:26PM (#12874474) Homepage Journal
    If anything, ACs should be allowed to top-post but forbidden from replying. This would make it harder to engage in the never-ending "u r teh stupidd and i hateing u" bullshit flamebait replies, the "first post" threads and such phenomena, but would still allow ACs to speak their mind.

    Excellent idea! If I had to compromise, I think this would be a great place to start.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @02:26PM (#12874478)
    Generally, people complaining about being modded down for 'groupthink' come across as whiny and immature, and are in fact being modded down because their post is of poor quality. It has gotten to the point where almost any post at all that has something along the lines of "I know I'll be modded down for this..." equals instant fail. Posts can stand on their own merit, and good ones get moderated up regardless of slant.
  • by ediron2 (246908) * on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @02:53PM (#12874758) Journal
    Not to quibble, but wikis offer several remedies to your concern:

    • Most wikis come with version tracking and user administration. You diss this with 'yes you can look at history, but who does?' I'd counter that people can forge citations, fake quotes, etc. Eventually, the evidence accumulates, and once it does, wikis provide capability to re-examine and undo everything a Troll submitted.
    • More advanced wikis (wikipedia) work to improve this with several frameworks: editors, reviewers, buttons to ask for audit/review, etc. This speeds up the detection of lying or BS'ing or inappropriate content or trolling or opinionated entries. Mechanisms to lockdown a contentious entry help, too.

    Even in something as huge/auspicious as a major newspaper attempting to wikify an editorial page, it'd be trivial to pick a board of moderators or do some similar existing control technique to prevent abuse.
  • by Goaway (82658) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @03:29PM (#12875114) Homepage
    Because I can't be bothered to write it over and over again, let's just quote http://shii.org/shiichan [shii.org]:

    * Registration keeps out good posters. Imagine someone with an involving job related to your forum comes across it. This person is an expert in her field, and therefore would be a great source of knowledge for your forum; but if a registration, complete with e-mail and password, is necessary before posting, she might just give up on posting and do something more important. People with lives will tend to ignore forums with a registration process.

    * Registration lets in bad posters. On the other hand, people with no lives will thrive on your forum. Children and Internet addicts tend to have free time to go register an account and check their e-mail for the confirmation message. They will generally make your forum a waste of bandwidth.

    * Registration attracts trolls. If someone is interested in destroying a forum, a registration process only adds to the excitement of a challenge. One might argue that a lack of registration will just let "anyone" post, but in reality anyone can post on old-type forum software; registration is merely a useless hassle. Quoting a 4channeler:
    Trolls are not out to protect their own reputation. They seek to destroy other peoples' "reputation" ... Fora with only registered accounts are like a garden full of flowers of vanity a troll would just love to pick.

    * Anonymity counters vanity. On a forum where registration is required, or even where people give themselves names, a clique is developed of the elite users, and posts deal as much with who you are as what you are posting. On an anonymous forum, if you can't tell who posts what, logic will overrule vanity. As Hiroyuki, the administrator of the largest forum in Japan, writes:
    If there is a user ID attached to a user, a discussion tends to become a criticizing game. On the other hand, under the anonymous system, even though your opinion/information is criticized, you don't know with whom to be upset. Also with a user ID, those who participate in the site for a long time tend to have authority, and it becomes difficult for a user to disagree with them. Under a perfectly anonymous system, you can say, "it's boring," if it is actually boring. All information is treated equally; only an accurate argument will work.
  • by infinite9 (319274) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @03:50PM (#12875333)
    And the plunger is his sceptre?
    I wrote this once, many years ago:

    Ode to a plunger*:

    Plunge away, plunge away, plunge away, plunger.

    Wont you send my sewage asunder?

    Unstick my porcelain throne with your wonder!

    With you as my sceptre, my throne keeps its thunder!

    Plunge away, plunge away, plunge away, plunger.

    Wont you send my sewage asunder?

    * I'm not sure if this is really an ode or not.
  • Oh I know (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @04:06PM (#12875482)
    I frequently make comments that aren't popular on /. I've defended Windows on a number of occasions, or said Linux was as great as people claimed. I know I have a winner when it's got a ton of moderations up and down and a massive thread of flames in response.

    That was my point, that the Times probably didn't realise it was this bad online. You get a lot of teenagers, who tend to be abrasive when given the chance anyhow, many of whom are social outcasts, remove accountability, and you get some nasty results. However that sort of thing isn't such a problem in person.

    I had some knock-down, drag-out flame wars with a guy online that I met later in real life. While he was a real ass to me online, calling me all sorts of shit, he was quite nice in person. Maybe it's because I had 6 inches and 50 pounds on him, but more likely it was simply because in person we have a feeling of accountability, and so are likely to be more civil.
  • How about . . . (Score:3, Interesting)

    by peachpuff (638856) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @05:11PM (#12876037)
    . . . a way to filter out +4 and +5 posts that bitch about the moderators? They irritate me as much as trolls do.
  • "Wob" in Wikipedia (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Valiss (463641) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @06:13PM (#12876484) Homepage
    Well I was going to create an article for that, but alas, here it is:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wob [wikipedia.org]

    Enjoy!
  • by fusion9290991 (721295) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @03:50AM (#12879143)
    There's an interesting article on Clay Shirky's site, that deals with this very topic:
    http://www.shirky.com/writings/group_enemy.html [shirky.com] or via Google
    http://www.google.com/search?q=%22A+Group+is+its+O wn+Worst+Enemy%22 [google.com]
    How there's some difficulty in separating the wheat from the chaff :)

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