Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Privacy The Media Your Rights Online

Washingtonpost.com Wants Identities of Posters 336

Posted by kdawson
from the solved-problem dept.
mytrip recommends a News.com account of a panel discussion in which the Washington Post's online executive editor Jim Brady argued against anonymity on his site. He's welcome to try to carve out a space for civilized discourse, but it seems that he can't help alienating the Net-savvy whenever he opens his mouth to speak of it. "... he would like to see a technology that could identify people who violate site standards — and if need be — automatically kick them off for good. ... Brady also lamented that closing user accounts doesn't keep bad eggs off a site. They just come back and create new ones ... Brady believes that in the next five years people will be required to identify themselves in some way at many sites. 'I don't know whether we do it with a credit card number, a driver's license or passport ...'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Washingtonpost.com Wants Identities of Posters

Comments Filter:
  • Yeah, great (Score:5, Funny)

    by 77Punker (673758) <<spencr04> <at> <highpoint.edu>> on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @09:57PM (#23320062)
    We all know that the best Slashdot comments come from anonymous cowards, right? This guy is nuts to require registration!
    • Re:Yeah, great (Score:5, Informative)

      by simcop2387 (703011) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @10:02PM (#23320124) Homepage Journal
      he's not wanting just registration, he's after complete identification of the person, so that you can't just keep registering new names, something that shouldn't happen, since the only way to do it would basically require people to have a license to use the internet (or at least post on it). [note that this doesn't really require a license, but registration with a central authority where you'd give some kind of personally identifying information, which as we know could NEVER be abused].
      • Re:Yeah, great (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mlts (1038732) * on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @10:19PM (#23320244)
        What my concern is with sites which demand so many registration details... what happens with that info, and where is it stored?

        If this guy wants paid registration, he should just say so and have that, where people cough up $10 a year or something for access to the site's contents.

        Instead, perhaps he should do what a lot of websites do -- require either a "non-free" E-mail address, or manual approving for a user account if its a Yahoo/Hotmail/Gmail account. This is not a 100% measure, as there are lots of people who pay for their Yahoo or Hotmail accounts, but its a measure good enough to do what this guy wants. Should a non-free provider start having abuse problems, add that domain on the "manual approve" list, and call it done.
        • Re:Yeah, great (Score:5, Informative)

          by el americano (799629) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @10:47PM (#23320388) Homepage
          Does he think he has no competition? If they require "real id" and other sites don't, then that's where the traffic will go. I'm already skipping news sites that require registration. I'm sure he remembers what that transition was like. Maybe he thinks he can wear us down with incremental changes. That is truly clueless, because he'll never get to where he wants to go. You were right about charging a fee,. That would identify most people, and it would probably be more successful than just asking for my CC number and not charging it, which seems damn suspicious. Just say, "we need $5 a year", and see how many people bite without thinking of privacy.... oh, and good luck with that ;-)

          BTW, those bastards are letting the googlebot freely roam their pages, but when a user follows the resulting link, he's slapped with the registration page. It's dishonest if you ask me. I don't even click on a New York Times link anymore. Mind you, I know I can just select the googlebot in my User Agent Switcher and get right in, but I don't need them to get the news, and I want them to know that.
          • requiring real id wont affect the quality of the news, that's what news sites compete upon! If it was a blog, youd have a point, but its primarily a news site.

            Wow some admin is fed up of trolls, big deal, Its been suggested that you have to login to post on slashdot too (youd still have anon tho), how is this that different?
          • Re:Yeah, great (Score:5, Informative)

            by DerekLyons (302214) <(fairwater) (at) (gmail.com)> on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @12:54AM (#23320986) Homepage

            BTW, those bastards are letting the googlebot freely roam their pages, but when a user follows the resulting link, he's slapped with the registration page. It's dishonest if you ask me. I don't even click on a New York Times link anymore.

            A) The newspaper under discussion here is the Washington Post, not the New York Times.
             
            B) The Times dropped their registration required policy some time ago.
          • Re:Yeah, great (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @12:57AM (#23321002)

            Does he think he has no competition? If they require "real id" and other sites don't, then that's where the traffic will go. I'm already skipping news sites that require registration. I'm sure he remembers what that transition was like. Maybe he thinks he can wear us down with incremental changes

            I worked at washingtonpost.com a decade ago, and knew Brady before he left the company and later returned. Back then we scoffed at The New York Times and their registration, flatly declaring that The Post would never require registration to
            view articles. Of course, they implemented required registration after I left, and I've stopped reading the site on principle for that reason.

            It was also said that we didn't want unmoderated user comments on the site because of (a) the liability, (b) the lack of credibility and (c) the troll factor. But users wanted it, so The Post is simply trying to balance the desires of its readers with its distaste for unmoderated comments. The things that keep the traffic up are the things The Post will swallow, no matter how distasteful. There was a time when The Post tried to prevent Matt Drudge from linking to its articles, but it couldn't get around the fact that he sent a huge amount of traffic to the site in those days, so it gave in.

            Will authenticated posts happen in the next few years? Who can say? They'll probably try it, and if it's ineffective at addressing their concerns or traffic drops, they'll switch back. I don't really see it becoming an industry-wide norm unless someone loses a high-profile/high-dollar court case because of unauthenticated posts.

            In any case, I can assure you that Brady is no fool, he knows he has competition (heck, he's from NY originally, and left The Post to work for one of its major competitors) and his intentions here are not "evil."
             
            Signed, Anonymous
            (Pun Intended)
      • Re:Yeah, great (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Z34107 (925136) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @12:02AM (#23320774)

        What I'd like to see is a more "public" internet. Register your name, address, drivers license, arc of your piss, etc. at some place like Verisign. Let them hold on to all of the information, and on the web just go by a first name and a user ID. (I'm assuming that security happens by magic, and that these details are kept private.)

        On the internet, everyone is an anonymous coward, and people behave differently when they have perfect anonymity. (It breeds asshats - check my posting history, I assure you that I have more kneejerk rants on this site than anyplace in the oxygenated world.)

        If through some system, people were the same individuals everywhere they ent on the net - you only have a single account, everywhere - I bet they would behave differently. Even if there was no way to trace each netizen back to their flesh-and-blood doppelganger, it would be an improvement. It would let you ban people, not user accounts, or e-mail or IP addresses.

        In some ways, this seems to be the original "spirit" of the internet, if there is such a thing. Someone more knowledgeable (read: older) can chime in, but relics like finger and .plan files seem to hint at this.

        • Re:Yeah, great (Score:4, Interesting)

          by dave1791 (315728) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @02:17AM (#23321248)
          On the internet, everyone is an anonymous coward, and people behave differently when they have perfect anonymity. (It breeds asshats - check my posting history, I assure you that I have more kneejerk rants on this site than anyplace in the oxygenated world.)

          Just because you are a moron who can't tie his own shoes, does not mean I have a problem!

          Seriously, you are spot on and more or less said what I wanted to say. Anonymity begets asshattery (http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2004/03/19/) and I have my own history of Slashdot flamewars. People have a general tendency to behave badly when dealing with people outside their monkey sphere (http://www.cracked.com/article_14990_what-monkeysphere.html) When combined with anonymity - and the lack of accountability that comes with it - people become seriously nasty. Debates that in meatspace would go like "I disagree because..." turn into "listen you fucktard...".

          I'm not for eradicating anonymity as it can be needed in some cases, but throwing anonymity into generic, mundane interaction is simply bad for the state of human interaction.
          • Re:Yeah, great (Score:5, Interesting)

            by suckmysav (763172) <suckmysav@nospam.gmail.com> on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @06:49AM (#23322370) Journal
            Wrong!

            Anonymity begets freedom. What you and the other guy are championing is the internet equivalent of an ID tattoo from birth.

            You guys need to think about the consequences of what you are suggesting.

            Weigh up the benefits of an internet "with less asshats" vs an internet with "complete government and corporate control"

            Which one do you choose?
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Dan541 (1032000)

          On the internet, everyone is an anonymous coward, and people behave differently when they have perfect anonymity. (It breeds asshats - check my posting history, I assure you that I have more kneejerk rants on this site than anyplace in the oxygenated world.)

          And that's a good thing!
          I recently received this comment
          "haven't got the guts to show your face i see!! thats cos if i found you id KICK YOUR FUCKING ASS!!!"
          for exercising my free speech. (Burning a US flag)

          People just aren't responsible enough to be trusted with not having anonymity. Sure you get asshats and they piss me off as well but overall we are better off than if we didn't have the option of anonymity.

        • Re:Yeah, great (Score:4, Insightful)

          by suckmysav (763172) <suckmysav@nospam.gmail.com> on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @06:41AM (#23322336) Journal
          "What I'd like to see is a more "public" internet. Register your name, address, drivers license, arc of your piss, etc. at some place like Verisign"

          Are you nuts? What happens when you decide to inform someone on the internet of your opinion regarding GWB and his ridiculous "Warr on Terrah" and that person just happens to have links to GWB and decides to give his "old college buddy' at Versign a call and have them yank your "internet priveleges"

          From then on you become persona non-gratis and you can't even get on the internet and raise a good old fashioned grassroots stink campaign.

          Good lord, what you are suggesting is a fascist dictators wet dream

          Good grief, it is true. You are either an utter moron or a clueless teenager.

          The original "spirit of the internet" (post arpanet) was to promote the free and unrestricted exchange of information.

          Just because a bunch of money craving fascists have come along in the past few years and decided that the internet is something that they need to control and monetize doesn't make this sort of crap right.

          If you want guaranteed safety then stick to TV.

          If you want to explore the world (the good and the bad of it) without viewing it through the filtered portal that is provided by big media then we have the internet.

          The day the internet gets controlled for the purpose of sanitizing it is the day the undernet is born (and I'm not referring to the irc network by that name)

           
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by aurispector (530273)
          I'd take that a step farther: everyone is required to wear a USB powered wrist strap that has a sensor to verify it is being worn (in the future it could incorporate on-the-fly DNA verification). The strap would be designed to administer an electric shock and would be controlled by other users. Users would earn "shock points" similar to mod points or diggs by posting things that are highly rated by other users. Shock points could be used in two ways: to shock other users for posting things you don't like
    • I would have modded you funny if you were an AC ;-)
    • Hes clearly forgoten the 1st rule of dealing with trolls, do not talk about the trolls. Seriously dont feed them, dont talk to them & dont talk about them and silently implement some measures to get rid of them.
      Dont IP-ban, just IP-"oops all your posts go missing"
      Delay all non-logged in posts, even trolls arnt going sit around for 3 hours to get a response.
      Hell I dont get why slashdot allows AC to view at anything less than 2/3 tbh, its just not as fun trolling if you cant see any reaction.

      Sure i hate t
      • by DeVilla (4563)

        Hes clearly forgoten the 1st rule of dealing with trolls, do not talk about the trolls. Seriously dont feed them, dont talk to them & dont talk about them and silently implement some measures to get rid of them. Dont IP-ban, just IP-"oops all your posts go missing" Delay all non-logged in posts, even trolls arnt going sit around for 3 hours to get a response.
        *snip*

        So, these are the trolls you are talking about, right?

      • Re:Yeah, great (Score:5, Insightful)

        by SL Baur (19540) <steve@xemacs.org> on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @05:00AM (#23321888) Homepage Journal

        Sure i hate the GNAA & the rest of the trolls as much as anybody else,
        Nope, sorry. I don't hate them. I just don't care and skip over them.

        Freedom of speech is freedom of speech even when you don't care for what you are hearing.

        If you think GNAA, goatse, etc. are the worst of slashdot, you haven't brought a brain to the table.

        if it there were no consequences id require that you have to give you name & address to post just so I could go round and shut those stupid little twats up, but what hes talking about would stop 90% of posts and its just not worth it.
        The point is that there *are* consequences to full identification. Lines being drawn now on what constitutes "hate" speech are frightening.

        To name a silly but sad example, I was participating in a discussion on a games board regarding `Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness' and this particular discussion related to the pronunciation of `Disgaea'. I tried to post something which contained the phonetic spelling `Dis-gay-uh', and got a warning message that my text contained something probably offensive and probably violating the TOS and would probably get me banned and would definitely be forwarded to someone for review. (The same idiotic software bans the word `wakarimashita' - Japanese for `understand', presumably for the bolded section). I chose the only reasonable alternative and self-censored my would-be comment.

        Fuck censorship. I read slashdot at -1. If that means I have to occasionally skip past the really offensive trolls, whatever. I've been reading netnews, etc. for over two decades. The ratio of noise is roughly constant (once advertising SPAM is removed), so it's not like it's a growing problem. I don't consider it a "problem" at all.

        Free speech is still free speech even^H^H^H^Hespecially when you don't agree with it. Asshats are entitled to their opinion even when they do not choose to sign their name. The unique feature of the internet is that with anonymity, we can rise beyond distinctions of race, gender, physical appearance, etc. That's much too important to throw away.

        On the Internet noone knows you're a dog. Woof Woof. http://www.xemacs.org/People/steve.baur/ [xemacs.org]
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Free speech is still free speech even^H^H^H^Hespecially when you don't agree with it. Asshats are entitled to their opinion even when they do not choose to sign their name. The unique feature of the internet is that with anonymity, we can rise beyond distinctions of race, gender, physical appearance, etc. That's much too important to throw away.
          Im all for freespeach, but trolls arnt expressing their opinion, they are just being a pain.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by bfields (66644)

          I'm confused. What bizarre notion of "free speech" are you working from that would *force* anyone hosting any forum to allow you to post whatever you want? Am I an evil censor because my home page lacks a "post a comment!" button? What if I accepted comments by email and posted my favorites on my home page? And how would it be different if I turned on some blog software and started weeding out the crap after the fact?

          People who host conversations are free to set the rules. If you don't like the rules

  • Just require people to come down to the Washington Post's office and deliver messages in person.
  • by Vinegar Joe (998110) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @09:57PM (#23320072)
    So I guess the Wapo won't be quoting anonymous sources anymore.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by jeiler (1106393)
      Nah--they'll just go back to the "Making shit up" school of journalism."
    • by amccaf1 (813772) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @10:13PM (#23320214)

      So I guess the Wapo won't be quoting anonymous sources anymore.


      Sure they will! But from now on everything will be attributed to "DeepThroat69".
  • Now, that's not a GREAT solution, by any stretch, but it beats the crap out of his scary and stupid ideas.

    RS

    • People actually pay to read the WaPo?
    • by JustinOpinion (1246824) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @10:11PM (#23320204)
      But that's just it... For the same reason that paid registrations are not common, all of his proposed authentication schemes won't become common. Registration is onerous and invasive. At a minimum, it's a hassle to have to provide information. Worse, you have to pay a price, whether it's with dollars or personal details (which, as we all know, have great value to companies). Even people who are not privacy nuts dislike having to give out their name and email address just to view some online content or post a comment.

      So what will happen? Sites are welcome to create more complex authentication and registration schemes... but as long as other sites don't have such schemes, online participants will naturally gravitate to the sites that have the lowest barriers to entry. So the successful sites will be those that make it very easy to participate.

      Of course, we already see this online. Wikipedia and Slashdot are two examples of sites that don't try to prevent anonymous contributions... instead they rely on community self-policing to filter the useful contributions from the trolls. Ultimately, that's the solution: it keeps the barrier to participation low (so you can build up a thriving community), and the mechanism of burying crappy contributions inherently highlights better contributions.

      The reason that many sites don't like this answer is that it is hard to generate a useful community (for one thing, you can't treat your users as merely cattle to squeeze money out of--you have to actually build value to keep them visiting your site).
  • by CrazyJim1 (809850) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @09:59PM (#23320098) Journal
    One user = one login. It is the stuff of internet legend.

  • by timmarhy (659436) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @10:00PM (#23320102)
    this is the death blow for any forum, NO ONE is going to give you their CC or drivers license (atleast their real one)
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by JoelKatz (46478)
      Nope, they won't. This is a fairly fundamental problem and one that I've struggled with for about ten years now. You want to enable people who have valuable information to contribute it while protecting their identity, but you also need to keep out people who have malicious intent from disrupting open communication.

      There does not seem to be anything remotely approaching a complete solution. There are easy ways to increase the cost of disruption that don't increase the cost of cooperation too much. A CAPTCHA
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by 77Punker (673758)
      How about Something Awful? I've got an account over there which I actually paid tenbux for and it's easily the best forum account I've ever had. I can post on almost any topic, and the moderators are very quick to delete bad threads and ban bad users. They've got 100k registered users, so there's something to be said for paying to post in a really good forum.
  • by Otter (3800)
    He's welcome to try to carve out a space for civilized discourse, but it seems that he can't help alienating the Net-savvy whenever he opens his mouth to speak of it.

    Maybe I'm not as 1337 as "the Net-savvy" but what on earth is wrong with requiring registration, logging IPs and banning abusers?

    I appreciate the submitter's generosity in allowing him to try, though.

    • Re:Ummm.... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by timmarhy (659436) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @10:03PM (#23320136)
      "requiring registration, logging IPs and banning abusers?"

      none of the above does anything to stop abusers.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Otter (3800)
        You're engaging in Nerd Logic -- the fact that a sufficiently motivated abuser could get around any of those things isn't the same as "none of the above does anything to stop abusers".
        • by satoshi1 (794000)
          stop verb (used with object) 1. to cease from, leave off, or discontinue: to stop running. 2. to cause to cease; put an end to: to stop noise in the street. If there is even one abuser that can get around those simple methods, abuse has not stopped and it is therefore possible to say that "none of the above does anything to stop abusers" as the abuse has not yet ceased.
        • by timmarhy (659436)
          i'd rather engage in "nerd logic" than no logic at all.

          it only takes one asshole to ruin a forum, if you have a problem you need to be able to stop them ALL.

  • No Problem (Score:5, Funny)

    by John Hasler (414242) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @10:02PM (#23320120) Homepage
    He can simply require anyone who wants an account on his site to present themselves at his office with three pieces of photo ID and a completed application form. He can then interview them, check their references, and decide whether or not they are acceptable.
  • What a crybaby... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @10:02PM (#23320128)
    He wants to take economic advantage of the Web, but doesn't like the way people use it??? "WAAAAAAAH!!!" "MOMMY!!!"

    We know how people will use the web, and how they won't. If he can't adapt to the technology, he should stop bitching and get the HELL off the web, and go back to what he knows: newspapers. If he can't make it there these days either, then... "WAAAAAH!!!" yet another company fails to adapt, and everybody will go on to the next. He will be a bit less rich next year. Am I supposed to feel guilty? Strange, but for some reason I don't feel anything like that at all.
    • by OakDragon (885217)

      He wants to take economic advantage of the Web, but doesn't like the way people use it??? "WAAAAAAAH!!!" "MOMMY!!!"

      Exactly.

      Just get rid of your user comments. Solves everything.

  • by rampant mac (561036) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @10:04PM (#23320154)
    "Brady also lamented that closing user accounts doesn't keep bad eggs off a site. They just come back and create new ones..."

    Hey, that's life. I wish I could figure out a way to keep every kook and asshole from coming near me but it's impossible. Why is it any different on the internet?
    • I wish I could figure out a way to keep every kook and asshole from coming near me but it's impossible. Why is it any different on the internet?

      Please. You mean to tell me you've encountered as many kooks and assholes in your entire life as you have in one day of reading c|net comments, Digg, and Slashdot?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by dangitman (862676)

        Please. You mean to tell me you've encountered as many kooks and assholes in your entire life as you have in one day of reading c|net comments, Digg, and Slashdot?

        Oh, that's nothing. You've clearly never read the YouTube comments. And strangely enough, those of some major newspapers and media outlets. I can't remember exactly where it was, but I think it was ABC News (America) that was just full of insane people on every thread about the Democratic primaries. The "nerd oriented" sites have nothing on those which appeal to the general population. Which is odd, because I thought nerds were experts at being trolls and anti-social loons, but you learn something new eve

    • It doesn't bother me if they are near me. But why do they have to drive in front of me?
  • Seems to me that they should be free to require any identification that they like in order to gain a posting account. If you do not like the policy, then don't post.
    • by glwtta (532858)
      Seems to me that they should be free to require any identification that they like in order to gain a posting account. If you do not like the policy, then don't post.

      Who says they aren't free to do such a thing? We are discussing whether or not we like this policy.

      Don't worry, no one's freedom is being impinged.
  • by Dutch Gun (899105) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @10:07PM (#23320178)
    Oddly, this guy has a point. Most reasonably popular unmoderated forums quickly degrade into meaningless flames, trolls, and drivel. All it takes is a few bad apples to turn the rest of the barrel rotten, as the saying goes. Funny enough, I think Slashdot has the most effective and elegant user-moderation system I've seen. Sure, it's not 100% perfect, but more times than not, the random trolls and other crap are already modded out of my viewing range by the time I get to an article.

    Most people associate bad Internet behavior with anonymity. That's true to some extent - obviously people are much less civil when dealing remotely and dispassionately with other people. Put a random Internet troll in a biker bar, and I guarantee you he'll be *much* more polite to his fellow patrons. But Slashdot has proven that you don't need to lose anonymity to create an effective flame and troll filter. Let your most trusted users do it.

    I'm always surprised that more sites don't copy this system. Or maybe someone has, and I just haven't heard of it?
    • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @10:13PM (#23320216)
      I disagree that the Slashdot system works very well. Sure, it has kept the site going, but is it working well? I would argue no, because the problem with the Slashdot system is that too many people get modded up or down for "political" reasons: "I disagree with you, therefore I will mod you". Or because the modder did not understand the post: I have seen many satirical posts modded down as "troll" and "flamebait", simply because the modder did not get the joke.

      We should distinguish between something that works, and something that works well. Slashdot works.
      • I disagree that the Slashdot system works very well. Sure, it has kept the site going, but is it working well? I would argue no, because the problem with the Slashdot system is that too many people get modded up or down for "political" reasons: "I disagree with you, therefore I will mod you".

        You haven't read digg recently, have you? Slashdot is in Valhalla compared to digg's moderation system, and that's because moderation merits in Slashdot are hierarchical - the first moderators were wisemen chosen by the Mighty Taco Himself. Besides, anyone can metamoderate. If they don't it's their problem.

        In contrast, digg is open to hordes of uncontrollable moderation, and this is specially true when a scientology article gets modded down by the Hubbard hordes.
      • by Reziac (43301) * on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @11:18PM (#23320544) Homepage Journal
        Having been unfairly modded down a few times myself by people who merely disagree with me (and conversely, occasionally modded up for no reason I can figure) I agree, it's not perfect. But it's good enough for everyday use, and that's good enough for the average blog-comment. We're not writing Great Literature here; we're yakking in the local coffeehouse or bar. And that means we'll have the odd spilled cuppa-joe or obstreperous drunk. It keeps the bouncers off the streets. ;)

      • I dunno if I think that's accurate. On fan boiz topics, yeah, you see a lot of +5 insightful to anything that trashes Steve Balmer. For material that plays away from Linux vs The Evilest Empire Of Them All, I think the moderation works better than any other site I read. Generally this is the smartest high volume site I read regularly.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Danny Rathjens (8471)
        I often see people make this claim that posts are moderated based on agreement, but I have rarely ever seen evidence of it when I meta-moderate. Where do you get your statistically meaningful sample from to make these sweeping generalizations?

        And subtly ironic and satirical jokes modded down are usually ok because it will get balanced by a funny mod from someone that did get the joke. True flamebaits and trolls rarely ever get that counter-balancing positive mod. And if a comment is too subtly sarcasti
        • by Dutch Gun (899105) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @01:52AM (#23321176)
          It's relatively rare, but just this evening while meta-moderating I saw a "-1 Troll" moderation of a post that made some pro-Microsoft points, even though it was a well thought-out and informative post. It couldn't possibly be considered a troll by most reasonable people. Normally I don't meta-moderate counter to the original moderation unless it's pretty blatant, and this certainly was.

          I meta-moderate whenever Slashdot indicates I can. In general, I'd guess I see one of these every 20-30 moderations (that's a rough estimate - I haven't kept track exactly), so I think it tends to balance out the vast majority of the time. That still doesn't mean it doesn't happen. In general, it's much more likely to occur with a post espousing a minority opinion here on Slashdot. i.e. pro-Microsoft, anti-OSS, political conservative / republican, religious, don't-believe-in-global-warming, think-Linux-sucks, etc, etc...
      • Slashdot's moderation does occasionally mod down the wrong things, as you say things for political reasons. But that happens much less often than on other sites, and happens infrequently enough here that I can usually see modded up comments from both sides of a contentious issue.

        Until we find something better Slashdot has proven to work better than all the alternatives, and they do spend time tuning as well...
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        There is a more insidious effect of Slashdot moderation, in that if you are a frequent poster here, moderation will slowly train you to say (and to some extent think) what you know won't get moderated into oblivion. It's not creating order, it's creating groupthink.

        There is a next level to participation in Slashdot, and I hesitate to mention it: formal groups. Trolls have already done it in the past, I'm surprised no one else has. Forming an explicit group of users who agree to use their mod points to furth
    • And I have even seen modding down for typos that lead to "all bold"... :0)
    • I'm always surprised that more sites don't copy this system. Or maybe someone has, and I just haven't heard of it?
      It doesn't scale cleanly enough. Slashdot has a large base of long term users who can be trusted to moderate. New forums don't have that user base and the system will not work.
      • by Dutch Gun (899105)
        Smaller forums (at least in my experience) typically don't need heavy moderation. And for newer, larger forums, it seems like a good moderation system will quickly determine who are the long-term positive contributors and who just likes to stir things up. It's all speculation on my part, of course, but I don't see how things wouldn't shake themselves out pretty quickly. Obviously, the first moderators would simply be chosen at random. But it seems like the system would eventually reach a reasonable equi
    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by Brett Buck (811747)
      >Funny enough, I think Slashdot has the
      >most effective and elegant
      >user-moderation system I've seen. Sure,
      >it's not 100% perfect, but more times
      >than not, the random trolls and other
      >crap are already modded out of my
      >viewing range by the time I get to an
      >article.

      You have a bit of a point in terms of trolling, etc. BUT, Slashdot has developed a *hyper*-liberal monoculture, where people moderate to death anything that doesn't meet the party line - valid or
  • Cell phone number (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Animats (122034) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @10:14PM (#23320222) Homepage

    The easiest way is to authenticate by cell phone number. When you register for a site, your password is sent to your cell phone as an SMS message. One registration per cell phone number. Yes, it's possible to buy multiple SIM cards to get more phone numbers, but they're not free.

    This costs the site about $0.05 for each message sent. For sites that derive some value from having members, it's worth it.

    Slashdot would have paid about $50,000 or so in SMS fees by now.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by John Hasler (414242)
      And it eliminates everyone who does not have a cellphone.
      • by corsec67 (627446)
        And people who use a computer where they can't use a cell phone.
    • Re:Cell phone number (Score:4, Interesting)

      by sdnoob (917382) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @11:43PM (#23320682)
      you wanna voluntarily give your phone number to a company in an industry known for rather aggressive telemarketing practices? (you know that they'd have some fine print somewhere that says you OK them calling.. even to your cell phone)
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Bieeanda (961632)
        They wouldn't need fine print. Signing up for the forum would almost certainly constitute a pre-existing relationship, which is a loophole already utilized by numerous outfits to contact people despite DNC lists.
  • by MadAhab (40080) <slasher&ahab,com> on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @10:20PM (#23320252) Homepage Journal
    Sadly, sites that adopt this will still be cesspools of hateful comments. Because, ultimately, they don't have the courage to edit fairly and won't adopt ./-style moderation.

    So... newspaper cite will still be cesspool of hate. Fair-minded users who value privacy will still ditch. Phhht.

    The real lesson is that old-media sites still haven't learned what makes internet comment boards successful, and they revert to old-school control tactics that won't help and will harm.
  • Shut down the forum, which is what they might as well do if they start asking for real verification. Would YOU give the Washington Post your credit card number? Or your driver's license? Also, they would have to actually check the validity of the info, which, in the case of credit cards means they need accurate billing info. If they don't do this I can use a credit card generator to make a number that will pass any passive verification they could use. Trolls on forums are a fact of life. Deal with them.
  • by rastoboy29 (807168) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @10:24PM (#23320274) Homepage
    You really must have some form of user moderation. Slashdot is one example, but I know it confuses less savvy folks. The Houston Chronicle has finally gotten what I think is a reasonable and yet simple recommendation system ( http://www.chron.com/ [chron.com] ). It's amazing how I've come to expect user comments after stories. Sometimes they're even quite informative, insightful, or whatever. Sometimes in local news the people involved or witnesses may even post about inaccuracies in the article.
  • by 10101001 10101001 (732688) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @10:24PM (#23320278) Journal

    "I think part of the problem is that people aren't held accountable on the Web," Brady said. "People say things online they would never say when disagreeing with someone at the dinner table. I think heated debate is fine, but when there are (flame wars), many people won't take part for fear they will be attacked and bashed over the head with the (Internet-equivalent) of a steel pipe."

    My experience goes, the reason people don't some things at the dinner table is fear they well be attacked and bashed over the head with the (real-life-equivalent) of a steel pipe. In real life, people can't readily speak their mind at times. Now, perhaps this can be viewed as a good because it keeps descenting views quiet. Me? I'd rather hear the KKK and neo-Nazi members speak. Sure, there's the risk that they'll be able to recruit more members. But, history has shown that desegregation and other *real-world* things are what have life-changing effects on people's opinions on things.

    Now, maybe the internet is really so revolutionarily different that there is no history to extrapolate from. But, if that's the case, it still seems the case that the good would intrinsically outweight the bad. Will people's feelings be hurt? Will there be trolls and flamers who are more interested in creating dischord than having actual discussions? Sure. That's the reason for things like moderation, editors, etc. The only thing attaching real-world identification to a username will do is either (a) keep the threat of steel pipes to the head from other users running so high that we're back to the self-censorship that leads nowhere (and open up places the Washington Post to wrongful death suits) or (b) keep the threat of editors and their reign of power so high that some people will stop posting entirely.

    In short, being an online editor against a seemingly endless flow of trolls, spam, etc seems impossible. But, instead of trying to revert back to the comfortable and easy, perhaps more consideration should be done on tackling the problem by engaging it the hard way? Ie, hire more editors and stop treating online posting as some quirky, cheap add-on that you can control with a few lowly staff or some magical technological fix.

  • by aengblom (123492) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @10:25PM (#23320282) Homepage
    Ever read washingtonpost.com's comments?

    Guess what they're anonymous and they're basically worthless, consider the lack of any meaningful moderation system ala Slashdot. Comments in articles quickly become long, barely threaded and filled with idotic or worse comments.

    It's the rule of internet forums, without some party moderating the debate, the troll wins and the comments suck.

    Slashdot's answer is to allow the mob (users) to moderate, but Brady, since he's from the more traditional media, is wary of the mob. The mob has all sorts of biases and tends to reinforce its beliefs. It may be interesting discourse, but it can be difficult to get a balanced discourse -- and this is something the Post is committed to, for better or/and worse.

    End result: The Post has moved slowly on user moderation and tried to keep moderation in the hands of a limited number of editors, which becomes overwhelming with so many posts and so many trolls.

    His answer, is to require require people's ID to post on his company's web site. Throw in a little potential shame of trolling and see worthless comments decrease -- certainly people will think about them more.

    Honestly, I think Brady's wrong on this point, I think the right answer is closer to Slashdot than what he envisions, but it's silly to try to slur the man as an enemy of free speech. Remember he's talking about the policies of the Washington Post on the Washington Post web site, not for the internet as a whole.

    The biggest enemy to free speech can sometimes simply be too much noise.

    Oh, and on a related note, you may be interested in reading an article Brady wrote on the event that CNET describes as a "notable history." It's available here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/02/11/AR2006021100840.html [washingtonpost.com]

    • by Repton (60818)

      It may be interesting discourse, but it can be difficult to get a balanced discourse -- and this is something the Post is committed to

      Yeah? They're more noble than our newspapers. Both major news sits in New Zealand have recently allowed user comments and the end of some articles. The comments are mostly on-topic at the moment, but whenever the site reports on reader feedback, they are only interested in those comments that promote their own sensationalist angle. Try to inject reason or fact into a deb

    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      The biggest enemy to free speech can sometimes simply be too much noise.
      What you call "noise" I call "other people's free speech".

      Just because it's offtopic and distasteful doesn't mean it is a lower form of speech.
    • bzzzt !!! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      "Remember he's talking about the policies of the Washington Post on the Washington Post web site, not for the internet as a whole."

      Actually, in checking TFA, the man said:

      "I think part of the problem is that people aren't held accountable on the Web," Brady said. "People say things online they would never say when disagreeing with someone at the dinner table. I think heated debate is fine, but when there are (flame wars), many people won't take part for fear they will be attacked and bashed over the head wi
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dkf (304284)

      Slashdot's answer is to allow the mob (users) to moderate, but Brady, since he's from the more traditional media, is wary of the mob. The mob has all sorts of biases and tends to reinforce its beliefs. It may be interesting discourse, but it can be difficult to get a balanced discourse -- and this is something the Post is committed to, for better or/and worse.

      I respect the editor wanting to get balance, though he needs to be careful to not mistake it for fairness; if everyone and his dog are dumping on a message, it might just be because it's a pile of stupid rubbish. But still, fairness and balance are things that it is important to respect.

      I suppose the easiest way to deal with this is for there to be a slashdot-like mechanism - it does work well most of the time - and for there to be some users (probably a small number of Post staffers) who can act as superm

  • I find it amazing how naive some people really are. How can you be in a role like his and not grasp thje fundamentals of the internet and how things work.

    Some of the comments he says are just gems:
    We don't want our site to be sanitized, but we have the right to create a different kind of community
    Right, so you want people to not swear and not have to ask them not to swear?

    I don't know whether we do it with a credit card number, a driver's license or passport, but I think making people responsible w
  • The best solution is to embrace political cliques. Do I hate MS with my dying breath? No. So when I post something that could be anything but an extreme dislike for MS, I'm modded troll.

    A better solution, especially for Washington Post, where emotional politics are the norm, is to embrace different views.

    You're new to the site? Ok, you see everyone's comments -- stupid, insightful & hateful. Add a button where you can choose them as a friend, or never see their comments again. Once you've
  • Maybe someone should clue him in on the rules of the internet?

    #8 There are no real rules about posting
  • OpenID, so that people actually care about their identity, no matter who they choose to be -- while still allowing somewhat anonymous cowards.

    Then, block IP addresses and OpenID providers.

    Honestly, if the entire Department of Energy is behind one gigantic NAT, that's a retarded design. It doesn't have to be permanent, and I suspect the number of readers you'd lose by requiring driver's licenses is far greater than the number of readers you'd lose by blocking a rather large NAT.

    One more thing: This guy shoul
  • my cold dead hands.... er, something like that. If I wanted to be identified on the damn site, I'd have applied for a job as a journalist!

    Guess where I won't be commenting from now on? I'm willing to bet a couple pints that I'm not the only one. Apparently, he does NOT get IT... meh, there will be plenty of sites to replace that one.

    Yeah, don't tell me that it's special because of it's history. There are plenty of things that had a great history but went down with a bang.. or worse.

    IMO, either you get it or
  • My name is Benjamin M. Duckworth [fakenamegenerator.com]. I live at 1594 Sweetwood Drive, Greenwood Village, CO 80111. My credit card number is 5312 0830 9546 2162, expiry 10/2010, SSN 522-68-2397. HTH!

  • by Assembler (151753) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @12:37AM (#23320916)
    Why don't they just have two forums: one anonymous, and one that requires a dna sample. Let people use whichever they prefer.

"No job too big; no fee too big!" -- Dr. Peter Venkman, "Ghost-busters"

Working...