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LA Times Pulls Wikitorial, Blames Slashdot 678

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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  • Great attitude (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @12:39PM (#12873215)
    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*.

    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.

  • by FortKnox ( 169099 ) * on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @12:40PM (#12873232) Homepage Journal
    Lets face it, slashdot breeds trolls. I see two reasons for it:
    1.) The using a shotgun to kill mice [] method for banning users. To paraphrase: Banning entire subnets to catch a single troll, and, therefore, banning tons of innocents in the process. They use vinegar to lure bees instead of honey. Lets face it, the moderation system isn't good, and its just forcing more and more malcontent and loss of posting.

    2.) AC's. Really, that's what kills slashdot. If AC posting was removed, there would be a lot less crap. Making an ID is free, easy, and doesn't require you to give out any personal information. Why not tie stuff to an ID so its easier to get rid of the crap? Instead of IP bans, you can setup an IP 'greylist' that means if you create an account from the greylist, they can't post much or have to wait a couple days after registration to post.

    Instead of trying to suspend everyones posting to stop trolls, how about we use a little insight and postive effects to combat trolling and crapflooding?
  • Wiki's have their purpose. Collaborative story writing? Sure. Editorials and news stories? Maybe not - after all, an editorial is suppose to be a group of people's opinion, so in that case you want a "read-only" wiki with "write" ability to a very small subset.

    What the major newspapers should do however is allow comments (a la slashdot style - include user moderation and some basic spam/troll protection). This would let them to two things:

    1. Make more money off of ads (Google or otherwise) as people come back to see who's commented on their comments.

    2. Readers can point out errors or omissions - yes, this can have an echo chamber effect such as when a group of liberals and conservatives fight it out about who's got the bigger penis and/or breasts, but overall it might be useful if a anonymous commentator could point a reporter towards another source or more information, or bring another opinion in.

    Again, wiki's can be a great thing, but perhaps the format they chose was not the best one. And to blame Slashdot readers is a little silly - I'm sure there were many, many other people who wanted to just grief the article to death. Slashdot just helped people know about it.

    Of course, this is just my opinion - I could be wrong.
  • by Junior J. Junior III ( 192702 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @12:42PM (#12873269) Homepage
    It's funny, because /. itself went through much the same thing. But by careful filtering and moderation, it's been kept reasonably useful. You still have all kinds of morons posting here, but you don't ever have to see them if you don't want to. And we don't even have editors, really.
  • by WillAffleckUW ( 858324 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @12:43PM (#12873292) Homepage Journal
    I mean, when middle school kids are hacking Wikipedia sites, it's not like it's secure in the first place.

    That said, the person blaming /.ers for it should realize that's a Troll and Flamepost mod, and shouldn't be surprised by people's reactions ...
  • Way to go guys (Score:2, Insightful)

    by smooth wombat ( 796938 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @12:44PM (#12873297) Journal
    A few of you bad apples ruined it for the rest of us.

    I hope you're happy.

  • wikipeida (Score:2, Insightful)

    by qwp ( 694253 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @12:44PM (#12873307) Homepage Journal
    wikipedia doesn't have these problems
    with /. links to them.
    maybe the LA times needs to take a lesson
    on content management from a open source project. ;P
  • by Altima(BoB) ( 602987 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @12:46PM (#12873333)
    The *why* is quite simple, their techs and point-haired's have probably gone nuts trying to get accurated site-visitation numbers, and every time a story goes up on slashdot, we simply obliterate the accuracy of their logging. So I don't expect them to be happy with slashdot.

    While I perfectly understand why that would piss off people at the NYT, and how Slashdot is known for obliterating webservers in minutes, calling Slashdot malicious because of the famed Slashdot Effect is like calling an elephant malicious because it steps on a hamster.
  • by mogrify ( 828588 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @12:47PM (#12873338) Homepage
    I'm all for pushing the boundaries, collaborating, finding new paradigms, whatever you want to call it. But most people I've met shouldn't be let anywhere near an editor's desk.

    That said, it's good to give them a shot. An online community of sufficient size is clearly capable of producing quality content and dealing with constant vandalism. Slashdot and Wikipedia are examples of this. There are just too many people watching to let bad content stay around for long. It's too bad they got hit so early; if there had been a chance for more people to get involved, it probably would be self-regulating.
  • We kemo sahbee? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by geekoid ( 135745 ) <<moc.oohay> <ta> <dnaltropnidad>> on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @12:48PM (#12873355) Homepage Journal
    Slashdot is not group think. Some people who visit slashdot may have done that, but don't lump me in with the assholes that do this kind of crap.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @12:48PM (#12873359)
    AC is important. It lets people say things they might not otherwise say. Sure, there is lots of GNAA insanity, but in this awful modern world where almost everything is tracked, people rightfully try to cover their tracks when they say something that might upset the powers that be. Someday some AC posts might keep us from slipping into being another China... or worse.
  • Re:Great attitude (Score:5, Insightful)

    by forkazoo ( 138186 ) <> on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @12:50PM (#12873378) Homepage
    Sure, it may have been a useful service if it was well implimented. It wasn't well implimented. You make a place for the public to post anything they want on tEh Intarweb, and you will get crap. Period. Email/Usenet has SPAM, Slashdot has trolls. Email servers can see when the same message is sent to many users. Slashdot has moderators.

    The only protection they had in place for dealing with the masses of the Internet was, "gee, I hope we don't get popular." Slashdot has a readership of about a half million. What if they were featured prominently in the NY Times, and on CNN, and a few million people realised that they could say "Bob wuz here." Slashdot wasn't the problem. You don't have to be tech savvy to edit a wiki.

    They could have made a system of moderation like slashdot has. They could have allowed a trusted community of editors. They could have done something more than expect that a few official editors could keep track of a public space in the Internet, and keep it clean. Bad web developers, no twinkie. Imagine if Commander taco had to remove every troll post from slashdot by himself!
  • by cvd6262 ( 180823 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @12:51PM (#12873393)
    From the BBC article ( 4312.stm [] ):
    The online version of the paper started its "wikitorial" experiment last week. It was meant to give readers a "voice".

    It was suspended after it was bombarded with inappropriate material.

    The grad student who taught a tech for pre-service teachers class the semester before I took over was researching the use of wikis for his thesis. He kept preaching about how wikis give everyone a voice.

    It was finally one of my history teaching majors who pointed out, "Wikis only give a voice to the last person who spoke."

    Yes, you can look in the document history and all that, but who does? If the last person to speak was a liar, or wanted to put up some p0rn, or even wanted to spam the page with viagra adverts, that's what you get.
  • FK, you should check out Taco's recent JE on AC comments.

    What is interesting to me is that /. has some defenses against crapflooding and trolling. These defenses have been built up over years and years to react to new threats. Then the /. user population was unleashed on the LA Times page, with no defenses. Of course it was a disaster. /. bred trolls against a brand new site. Good luck.

    I hope that this experience doesn't end the experiment for the LA Times. Maybe they need to build some anti-crap measures into their system first and be ready to react.

  • by smittyoneeach ( 243267 ) * on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @12:54PM (#12873436) Homepage Journal
    Furthermore, Wikipedia does well in spite of vandalism.
  • Re:LOL (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cshark ( 673578 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @12:57PM (#12873477)
    At least they called us savvy. But then again, that's what they get for posting a WIKI on one of the world's most populace web sites. And even though the timing of the vandalism was suspicious. The evidence is still only circumstantial. In the future, they might want to try to use a technology that's easier to control. A blog section would be a good example. I might even use it. But to say that Slashdotters are evil... well, yeah, we are kind of. ;P
  • Exactly Scapegoat (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Luthair ( 847766 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @12:58PM (#12873485)
    Every wiki has these problems, linked to by slashdot or otherwise.
  • Stupid LA Times (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spiritraveller ( 641174 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @12:59PM (#12873496)
    Not foreseeing that this would happen proves that the LA Times knows nothing about the internet. The opportunity to post pornography on the website of one of the biggest newspapers in the country would certainly never be overlooked by the Beavis and Buttheads of the world.

    Blaming Slashdotters for it is even stupider.

    Talk about a failure to accept responsibility!
  • by dr_dank ( 472072 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @12:59PM (#12873497) Homepage Journal
    When I get mod points, I often find that quite a few ACs are capable of being insightful and mod them accordingly. Discounting ideas simply because of anonymity is intellectually lazy.
  • by zoomba ( 227393 ) <> on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @01:05PM (#12873554) Homepage
    I would argue the opposite for Slashdot in particular. This site has gotten increasingly biased, increasingly inflamatory. The comments under stories, even after moderation aren't a fair reflection of truth or reality. In fact, due to the overwhelming bias found here on many topics, what could be otherwise insightful commentary is moderated -1 Flamebait if it disagrees with the bias, whereas stuff that reenforces it gets tossed up to +5 Insightful.

    Slashdot is NOT the site you should point to when you want to discuss the proper use of moderation in filtering out morons ;)
  • by razmaspaz ( 568034 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @01:05PM (#12873556)
    AC's. Really, that's what kills slashdot.

    What in the world do AC posts have to do with a wiki at the LA times? AC posting does not have anything ot do with the people who click on links to stories on Slashdot. Removing AC posting would not prevent the malicous users from seeing the wiki.

    Unfortunately the LA times reporter fails to realize that the bulk of the Internet is lude(by any sane standard). I don't have any sources, but I would guess that something like 60% of the domains on the public Internet are porn. you post a high traffic page that anyone can edit and it is going to be full of advertisements for porn and generally full of smut. If the NYT had linked to the wiki or a story had been run in the WSJ, it would have been ravaged just as quickly. The Internet is a dirty, dirty place. That is why Internet Security is a multi billion dollar a year industry. And things left unsecured on the Internet wil lbe corrupted if enough people are made aware of them through any communication channel.
  • Re:LOL (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MrAnnoyanceToYou ( 654053 ) <(dylan) (at) (> on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @01:06PM (#12873573) Homepage Journal
    The most important 'bug' being that they depended upon a small, hired set of people to monitor and upkeep a single page which was going to be high-level traffic and dissent no matter what. If you look at the page from wikipedia [] about the same thing, you will notice that it has been through 500+ edits. Wikipedia has NOWHERE NEAR the readership the Times does, AND they have a 'user login' based system where reputation means something.

    This was a disaster from the get-go, and someone should be fired for blaming it on the software instead of their own bad decision making. They WANTED a blog, not a wiki. A wiki is for information management, and information management takes time.... It's not a commentary system like they wanted.
  • That would only be viable if we didn't have so many mods with their own agendas. There have been many times where posts have been made (and a few by me) that had no malice or intent to start any kind of war. They were merely opinions that just so happened to go against the /. grain, but not presented in an adversarial way. It didn't take any time at all for them to be modded as troll, flamebait, or overrated simply because they were not going with the flow of the /. majority.

    As long as these kinds of intolerant mods exist whose sole purpose (so it would seem) is to censor down those posts that they merely disagree with, which of course goes against that person's karma, culpability is not necessarily a positive thing. I know that the metamod functionality is meant to keep this sort of thing in check, but considering how quickly non-inflammatory yet dissenting posts get censo^H^H^H^H^Hmodded down, there should be a better way. Apparently, many mods have decided to ignore Slashdot's recommendation to save mod points for elevating those posts that should be elevated.

    I agree that trolls need to be kept in check. In that case, those with excessive, provable trolling (above and beyond just moderator opinion) should have their accounts locked completely; however, I also think that mods who use negative moderation frequently (or even exclusively as many mods claim to do) should not be given mod privileges as often. Being cuplable for what you post is one thing; being targeted because your post doesn't necessarily agree with the Slashdot grain is another. It's difficult to have the former when you're subject to the latter.

    Just wait and this post will likely become proof of that. I said something negative about certain mods in this post, so it will most likely be shot down in rating.
  • by Stalyn ( 662 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @01:09PM (#12873598) Homepage Journal
    The Anonymous Coward is an important part of Slashdot. It's been around longer then the current ID system. Yes there are abuses but thats why we have the moderation system. It's there for an important reason, if a person wants to remain anonymous they can. Also it allows people to say what they actually feel. Even though we might label a majority of this obscene or crap, it's out there. Yes trolls exist and will continue to exist. But hell trolls are part of life too. At least here we can moderate them down.
  • by MaxPowerDJ ( 888947 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @01:12PM (#12873638) Journal
    Sad but true. The things is, as with everything you read on the internet, wikis should always be taken with a grain of salt. Not everyone is posting on wikis for the greater good. There will always be someone willing to mess it up for the rest for many reasons (being attention whores, the lack of a scrotum or just being immature). This has always been true on the online world.
  • by TooMuchEspressoGuy ( 763203 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @01:15PM (#12873660)
    Fact: Wikitorial was shut down after people began posting obscene content.

    Fact: The trouble started after a /. posting about Wikitorial.

    So what? All this proves is that the Slashdot posting and the malicious kiddies happened to coincide. Unless the LA Times editorial staff has proof that the people who posted the obscenities WERE, in fact, /. readers, they don't have much of a case.

    Nothing to see here, folks; move along.

  • Not quite.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ackthpt ( 218170 ) * on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @01:15PM (#12873668) Homepage Journal
    Those mean old Slashdot readers, pointing out the obvious all teh time!

    It would have happened sooner or later, they should thank us for finding the bugs right away.

    Well a big fat thanks to the hordes of slashdot, eh? Mischeivious, us? No, not really, we're as much victims of the same sort or maliciousness. Ever seen the trolls here before they get modded down? You think these people actually get something out of slashdot other than some place to post their rubbish and feel 1337?

    To allege these crimes are from the actual readership or slashdot is tarring us with a brush and I don't much care for it.

  • by osgeek ( 239988 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @01:17PM (#12873678) Homepage Journal
    Is that the fault you find in this? That some people are idealistic and would like to live in a world without assholes?

    Yeah, how dare they.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @01:17PM (#12873683)
    Lets face it, slashdot breeds trolls.

    If you experienced the BBS days of old, you know that Slashdot has zero to do with creating trolls.

    AC's. Really, that's what kills slashdot.

    Speaking as someone with Excelent Karma and who moderates /. about 1x/week, I have to say nope.

    Annonymous Coward posts (like this one) start at zero. If you browse at 1 or 2, you will not see this post unless it gets modded up. At that point, maybe it's worth reading?

  • I doubt it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheAwfulTruth ( 325623 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @01:19PM (#12873692) Homepage
    Even if they used slash code, the same exact problem would have manefestied itself.

    The /. mod system only works as well as it does because /. is, as you say, a community and the "sane" outnumber the "jerks" by probably 100:1

    Just throwing up a wiki does not immediately create a community. It could takes weeks, months or years befoire the sane community outnumbered the jerks.

    The stated problem was that vandalism was ocurring at a rate that was faster than the sane people could prevent it. Until there was a sufficient number of people that cared enough about the site to actually perform the required level of moderation, the vandal problem would be the same.
  • by Austerity Empowers ( 669817 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @01:23PM (#12873751)
    A rule I've learned is don't argue politics here (or anywhere?). Stay away from YRO in general. There's no point in arguing politics, the one truth is that there is no truth, so what's the point? There are lies, damn lies, politics and statistics.

    On most other subjects moderation seems to be pretty reasonable. The more tech related the subject matter is, the better the moderation is. Of course, it's also easier to detect trolls, dimwits and other degenerates, which helps.

    There's no perfect system, on /. or anywhere. Even in a newspaper we let reporters, people with $$$, hollywood stars (WTF?!?) and politicians shape our news. Not exactly a guarantee for intelligent or even semi-comprehensible insight. Good ideas start small, and people just adopt them. Sometimes no one gets credit.
  • by Basje ( 26968 ) <> on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @01:23PM (#12873755) Homepage
    To make this work you need to have a majority of readers that are sympathetic to your site and a certain critical mass of readers.

    Needless to say, a politician has neither.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @01:25PM (#12873782)
    Yeah, but the thing about Wikis is that there's no way of gauging the trustworthiness of any one article. For example. Something you read on the website? Probably pretty reliable. Something from Less trustworthy, but at least you can expect a certain perspective/bias.

    A Wiki article, on the other hand, comes with no background and no indication of where the author was coming from. You don't know what sort of bias to expect, and therefore you can't know how to read it. So its usefulness is somewhat limited.
  • Re:LOL (Score:3, Insightful)

    by budgenator ( 254554 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @01:25PM (#12873783) Journal
    The problem is they used a freakin WIKI, how do you moderate a WIKI? should have used slashcode; set up their own karma system, establish a group of super-mods, beta by invitation until they get to critical-mass and don't let it go super-critical.
  • by stuffduff ( 681819 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @01:28PM (#12873823) Journal
    I recommend Slashdot to my friends and I'd be the first one to say that I enjoy Slashdot. And I'll admit that occasionally it's more than an entertainment. There are articles and comments that really do deserve moderations like Insightful, Informative and Funny. And there is 'other content' which is patiently moderated Offtopic or Flamebait. I think that it is the principle responsibility of Slashdot to insure that the entire spectrum of freedom of speech be maintained, without giving in to any outside pressures from the greater journalistic public, which is most certainly, by in large, run at the editorial whim of a very few people. People who's self appointed task it is to 'select what is important' (from their own personal point of view) and, in so doing, to deprive us of the experience of the world at large.

    If there is one thing that I can say of a Slashdot reader, it is that that reader has the freedom to chose what they want to read and how they want to interpret it, rather than the 'pre-digested' and outright biased reporting that is available from the media at large. This openness is the key to developing the independent, 'out of the box' thinking; the generalists of the evolving age of Information and Knowledge.

    So kudos to Slashdot and their outspoken and many faceted readers.

  • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @01:29PM (#12873833)
    There really are a lot of assholes online. People say and do things they never would in person. Some delight in trying to be as big a jerk as they can and causing as much trouble as they can. If you aren't used to that environment, it can really shock you. The RvB PSA on teh topic is particularly appropriate, but I can't find a link to it right now.

    At any rate, while they shouldn't be scapegoating Slashdot, I don't blame them for being supprised and angry. It is amazing the amount of crap some people online will spew and how far they'll go to wreck things for everyone else.
  • by reflective recursion ( 462464 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @01:29PM (#12873841)
    How about getting lectured on reading comprehension?

    (and since the moderators obviously missed that one... it was the NY Times quoting the LA Times)
  • by blue trane ( 110704 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @01:39PM (#12873946) Homepage Journal
    People say and do things they never would in person.

    I don't see this as a bad thing. Why are people afraid to say things in person that they can say online? Because they fear reprisals, of a physical or social nature? Threatening physical violence is illegal and a gross overreaction to mere words. And social reprisals (ostracism, humiliation, exclusion) often are not based on logic or reason but pure emotion.

    Words are just words. They don't hurt like a stick or a stone. People should feel that they can say anything they want to, at any time.
  • Re:Great attitude (Score:3, Insightful)

    by InfiniteWisdom ( 530090 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @01:41PM (#12873964) Homepage
    The difference is that with Usenet and E-mail and stuff, good users don't cancel out the bad users. On Wikipedia, bad edits usually get reverted quickly. Apart from a relatively small number of pathological cases, vandals usually get bored and leave if their "work" is quickly removed.
  • by Stalyn ( 662 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @01:49PM (#12874041) Homepage Journal
    It was finally one of my history teaching majors who pointed out, "Wikis only give a voice to the last person who spoke."

    And how is history any different?

    Wikis suffer from the same thing all human endeavors suffer from... too much noise in our communication channel. And by noise I mean information loss (yes noise itself is information but if the objective truth is our goal we want a type of modal information) . You try to describe an event to someone and you have to use words. Plus these words are filtered out by personal perception and biases.

    The thing that make these faults so glaring on Wikis is the nature of the internet. The internet tends to speed things up. So the faults of history dont become obvious until maybe a lifetime has passed. However with wikis you see these faults in a day or so.

  • It's NOT broken (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Progman3K ( 515744 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @01:49PM (#12874042)
    I started out caring about karma, eventually realized it made NO difference, stopped moderating and meta-moderating, and now I'm much happier.

    I can still find the interesting and insightful content on Slashdot and I'm convinced NO moderation system on a public site like Slashdot could ever make any difference.

    There is still good content, and still lots of trolling, but I just ignore the trolling.

    And I'm happy. Happier than I would be if I gave a crap and started trying to "fix things".

    That way lies madness.
  • Re:Not quite.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RayDude ( 798709 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @01:49PM (#12874046)
    I see the internet as chaos flying on electrons.

    It has to be this way because its free. Or at least as free as anything can be. Its almost as free as in air, even if its just free as in beer.

    The innocence and idealism which created the internet to be open and available to anyone with access to a modem or university network in that late sixties and early seventies has been pushed aside by a harsh reality. People behave in evil ways when there are no constraints. They do so until they choose to stop.

    That is the cost and the benefit of freedom.

    In the long run its worth it, but right now, because there are so many who strike out looking for attention and who love creating disturbances, the internet is a bit like the old west: untamed and just a bit out of control.

    What happened with the LA Times is they simply didn't think it through. If they had asked any guy on the street what would happen if they let anyone edit an article on the internet, his quick and non-surprising answer would be, "Oh someone will put up porn!"

    Well Duh! Everytime someone invents a new medium, what's the first content?

    Porn. Its always porn.

    If someone invents a holodeck kind of thing, you can bet the first thing he makes with it will be a walk through porn movie.

    LA Times should have thought it through. I think the idea can still work, they just need to put in more safeguards...

  • by James_Aguilar ( 890772 ) <(aguilar.james) (at) (> on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @01:51PM (#12874067) Journal

    Words are just words. They don't hurt like a stick or a stone. People should feel that they can say anything they want to, at any time.

    This is wrong. First of all, words do hurt (as clearly shown in the example of the NY times, which was "hurt" or damaged by the words of internet users to the extent that they had to take down a product that they had spent a lot of time developing and now will likely have to scrap).

    Second, it seems like everyone assumes that social constraints are generally bad things. That is wrong thinking. Social constraints exist so that we can live with each other as humans in a fashion where the amount of pain that people have to go through is lessened. Almost all situations in which these constraints are removed tend toward decay.

    You need to think further through your ideas about society. People are afraid to say things in person because they know those are wrong things to say and they know they could be held accountable in person, but not online.
  • by Scrameustache ( 459504 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @01:51PM (#12874069) Homepage Journal
    AC's. Really, that's what kills slashdot. If AC posting was removed, there would be a lot less crap. Making an ID is free, easy, and doesn't require you to give out any personal information.
    There are plenty of non-AC trolls.

    ... because making an ID is free, easy, doesn't require you to give out any personal information AND makes your posts more visible, gives you tools to manage your trolling (friend and foe lists to better stalk users, etc).

    Not to mention that AC posting isn't limited to trolls. New readers just wanting to chime in, people who don't want to say something that will be linked to them (you see a lot of non-troll AC posts in threads dealing with personnal, hard issues... depression/suicide, sexual preferences, etc).

  • by learn fast ( 824724 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @01:58PM (#12874134)
    Amazing what a well-publicized 2/40000 failure rate will do to your reputation...
  • by winkydink ( 650484 ) * <> on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @01:59PM (#12874145) Homepage Journal
    I believe that trolls that age have more free time on their hands now that school is out.
  • Re:Great attitude (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Qzukk ( 229616 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @02:07PM (#12874252) Journal
    Where did we start to go wrong?

    We started to go wrong when treating the symptoms became easier (or at least, more profitable) than treating the disease. Too dangerous to go outside? Let people pee in the bus. Much cheaper than actually dealing with the crime. Even cheaper if you don't install a toilet.

    Crime isn't the only situation, the pattern plays out over and over in both business and government, even when the costs of the symptoms end up adding up to more than the original cost of fixing the disease. How many companies don't properly spec software designs or manage the development and then have the project blow up in their face?

    Also, consider Florida's satellite monitoring of pedos. Does it fix anything? If a pedo comes within one hundred feet of a school, how many seconds will it take for a cop to arrive? How many seconds will it take for the pedo to grab a kid from the playground and run? Obviously in this case a pound of prevention (like hiring more officers to actually watch these people and make sure they're where they're supposed to be) just wasn't worth the re-election soundbite that a multimillion dollar GPS system was.
  • by EccentricAnomaly ( 451326 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @02:12PM (#12874301) Homepage
    And why start out with a controversial topic like the Iraq War?? It was Father's Day, they should have started out with a 'Thank You to Dads' or some other softball to see if the wiki-concept could handle that.

    Personally, I can't see a wiki working for an editorial. A wiki could work for movie reviews or restaurant reviews maybe... but what's the value of using it for an editorial?? What they should do is model evil old slashdot and its moderation system... heck maybe even use the slashcode itself... or better yet hire Taco as a consultant. They could post their staff editorials with slashdot style discussion. Maybe even experiment by modifying the moderation to mark a comment red or blue.
  • by blue trane ( 110704 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @02:15PM (#12874340) Homepage Journal
    First of all, words do hurt (as clearly shown in the example of the NY times, which was "hurt" or damaged by the words of internet users to the extent that they had to take down a product that they had spent a lot of time developing and now will likely have to scrap)

    They weren't physically hurt. This is the kind of hurt that can be compared to the type I experience when someone makes fun of me or otherwise makes me feel bad. If it's a bad thing, you should be complaining equally about all situations where people are dicks to each other in real life.

    Second, it seems like everyone assumes that social constraints are generally bad things. That is wrong thinking. Social constraints exist so that we can live with each other as humans in a fashion where the amount of pain that people have to go through is lessened. Almost all situations in which these constraints are removed tend toward decay.

    Social constraints have been a bad thing in my life. I am often afraid to say things in real life because I don't have a confident tone, because I'm afraid that people will ignore me or laugh at me or use emotional instead of logical arguments against me. So I build up a lot of resentment and anger inside, and I can't find an outlet to express it. It's natural that if I can do it online without having all that pernicious non-verbal feedback, I may go wild.

    The problem lies with the social constraints. They are oppressing enough people, preventing us from being able to express ourselves, that when those constraints disappear (online), it causes a backlash.
  • by ninjagin ( 631183 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @02:21PM (#12874418)
    I get your point, but I know that there have been times when I wanted to share some small bit of information about a former employer (my NDA had expired in these cases), or my experience with something that I'd rather not associate my name anymore. In those cases, I've found that posting as AC was a way to contribute to the discussion without having to attach my monicker to those experiences.

    I've never trolled as an AC, mostly because it's a cheap shot way of arguing with someone. I've been tempted to bash other trolls as an AC, but in the end my better judgement wins out and I either find a constructive way to post as myself or just not post at all.

    So I do think there's value in having an AC. It ends up that you have to tolerate a bunch of yayhoos, but I think that what you get out of anonymous posts has some positive value, too.

  • just what they are doing. Those who have build successful online communitiy discussion sites (and yes I consider Slash to be very successful) have invested a lot of time and energy getting it right.

    One would think a high profile exercise like this would be worth a few bucks getting some real talent in on the ground floor to insure success.

    They saw some buzzwords and jumped in and got wet.

  • Designed to fail ! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by redelm ( 54142 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @02:28PM (#12874492) Homepage
    Do not assume that people want everything they try to succeed. Many times failure is more desired. In this case, the LAT managers can say: Community input? We tried it, and it doesn't work.

    Nevermind that it was badly done, the message is it can't work. People often blind themselves.

  • by Bozdune ( 68800 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @02:28PM (#12874495)
    Dammit, mod Mr. Harrison up. He's right, it's a perfect "Guns, Germs, and Steel" analogy. /. has bred a virulent strain of trolls and assholes who are controlled reasonably well by the moderating system here and by other /. posters who point out their stupidity.

    By and large, this system works. Yes, there are germs all over the body. But the body lives.

    Putting a naked wiki out there like the LA Times did is the classic example of 20,000 Indians being slaughtered by 200 shit-scared Conquistadores. The Indians had never seen steel. They had never seen a horse. They had never seen armor. They never had a chance.
  • by James_Aguilar ( 890772 ) <(aguilar.james) (at) (> on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @02:29PM (#12874511) Journal

    Don't think I don't sympathize with you; I do, because I also have at times been unconfident in the way I speak, have been afraid of being hurt. I was an unpopular guy in elementary, middle, and high school, and at a lot of times, it was not a good experience.

    On the other hand, I learned that the person to blame for my problems was not the nebulous society that was oppressing me, but me myself. I am still in the process of learning this, but I feel like I have come a long way already. Looking to things outside myself to find a target for blame would not have helped me.

    What I'm trying to say is that it's not good to go online and look for ways to vent, but rather to eliminate that which makes you want to vent. Getting rid of social constraints, though, is not the solution (Nor will it ever happen anyhow, even if it is the solution, so it's kind of pointless to talk about it.).

    PS: Physical hurt is not the only kind of hurt that exists, nor is the assertion that NY Times was not physically damaged sufficient argument to back up the idea that it is fine for them to be damaged in the way they were. They tried to do something that, in my opinion, would have added value to the world, and it was destroyed by a bunch of idots who wanted to "express themslves." That kind of expression is worthless. As to the real life question: are you saying it's OK, then, for people to be dicks to each other in real life? Of course not: it's wrong in real life, and it's wrong online.
  • Hear Hear!! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PotatoHead ( 12771 ) * <doug&opengeek,org> on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @02:32PM (#12874538) Homepage Journal
    This is totally true. And if you newcomers to the site dig through the archives you can find many valuable in insightful discussions on this and other topics.

    AC posts are good for:

    - leaking info that might have consequenses to the person doing the leaking

    - challenging the groupthink

    - theraputic posts (face it, we need 'em sometimes)

    - capturing casual insights that we might otherwise miss if registration were a requirement.

    It's all been hashed out here before. The mod system and later the filtering system were designed to allow each user the choice necessary to get the experience they need from Slashdot.

    The primary idea was to keep the discussion totally open to all who want to participate. Closing things down with registration, etc... hurts in that we miss out on potentially great things. So it's all here, ASCII art and all. I've personally benefitted from a few AC gems in the time I've been reading. (And that's nearly the entire time the site was up and running --just put off getting an account.)

    This site embodies the concept of free speech and set the bar long ago for how it should be done. Rather than dumb down a great community, dig in and learn from it and be better for it.

  • by AviLazar ( 741826 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @02:41PM (#12874630) Journal
    Words are just words. They don't hurt like a stick or a stone. People should feel that they can say anything they want to, at any time.

    You have apparantly never been slandered. Words can cause much harm such as: Ruin a perons career "that doctor molests children", "i have evidence that politician sells cocaine", etc. Or some things like "Yes Mrs. Robinson, I slept with Mr. Robinson when you were away last week."

    Or how about this situation...your girlfriend (just humor me here) who you are totally in love with - comes to you and starts saying mean and hurtful things (use your imagination)... Imagine a parent verbally abusing a child.

    Words can easily be more painful then a beating from a bat. Words can drive people to kill (themselves or others). Words can drive people to war.
  • by Just Some Guy ( 3352 ) <> on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @02:56PM (#12874797) Homepage Journal
    I don't blame them for being supprised and angry.

    I do. If they put up an unprotected database, or IRC server, or open mail relay, or unsecured HTTP proxy, then people would use it to do bad stuff. When you design an Internet-facing application of any kind, you have to assume people will try to break it. Always. There are no exceptions.

    Slashdot goes through great pains to keep idjits from gumming up the works. Wikipedia has people who monitor it 24/7 to fix mischief as quickly as possible. I have to watch my own little TWiki site like a hawk to keep link farmers off of it. What hopelessly naive sysadmin at the Times thought "it couldn't happen here"?

    I'm not saying that it's right or OK for people to try to ruin the digital commons, but I have little sympathy for people who run such a public resource and expect it to take care of itself. That's not the real world, and I don't know why the Times thought it would be different for them.

  • by el-spectre ( 668104 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @03:12PM (#12874938) Journal
    No, words actually cannot hurt you. You may not LIKE them, but that reaction is caused by you, not them.

    For example, I know a guy who thinks I'm a real jerk. He's an asshole, so I don't worry about it. Now, if my best friend says I'm a jerk, I might feel hurt.

    The reactions are MINE, not imposed upon me.

    That said, people are too damned rude on the internet, but I can ignore them, so it's a wash.
  • In other news.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by handmedowns ( 628517 ) <andrew DOT replogle AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @03:14PM (#12874954) Homepage
    Research shows that most serial killers, terrorists and used car salesmen read the New York Times.
  • by praxis ( 19962 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @03:25PM (#12875067)
    Just because an individual is a member of a group does not mean that all memebers of that group resemble that individual.
  • by pegasustonans ( 589396 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @03:32PM (#12875141)
    Any popular media site with user-input needs some sort of moderation in order to maintain a high level of relevancy. The more popular a site is, the more moderation. Whether this comes primarily from the users or from paid staff depends on the particular model being used. In any event, being unprepared for the event of popularity requiring close moderation in some form seems to me to be rather disingenous. Any large site can be complex to run, especially when it's just getting started. It only makes sense to be prepared for this.
  • Yes, they can (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @03:54PM (#12875366)
    Mental pain is as real as physical pain. People lose their jobs, drink, do drugs, even kill themselves over mental anguish.

    Now you are correct in that what effect words have on someone is in part dependent on that person. There are people who just let insults wash over them, there are those that find a way to take even the nicest compliment as a rebuke. However it's not all internal. Words have meaning, and the speaker has a communicative intent behind them. intent behind them. If you are trying to make your words caustic and hurtful, they are very likely to be so.

    This line of reasoning that "words don't hurt" is just used by bullies and social misfits as an excuse to be assholes when someone calls them to account for it. Words can and do hurt, and while people need to work on developing skills to ingore and cope with it, that does not give you the right to be an asshole all the time, nor absolve you of responsibility if your words cause pain.
  • Re:Hear Hear!! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by FortKnox ( 169099 ) * on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @03:57PM (#12875406) Homepage Journal
    This site embodies the concept of free speech and set the bar long ago for how it should be done.

    Then why is it that when some dufus crapfloods/trolls/posts badly at my clients proxy (keep in mind this is a 25 floor skyscraper, so hunting him down is not possible), I get banned for 2 weeks when I haven't posted a single thing that has been modded down?

    Free speech? Yeah.
  • by kelnos ( 564113 ) <> on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @04:02PM (#12875446) Homepage
    Sorry, I'm not seeing the relation here. Having a lack of confidence and being insecure in real life gives people the right to deface something that's intended to be a public resource? If you truly believe that, you really need to grow up.

    I'm sorry you have social problems, I really am. Growing up, I've had to fight with shyness, insecurity, not being "cool", and being ostrasized. The solution isn't to find an outlet that's hurtful to other people: you're essentially becoming what you hate in the people that shun you.

    We have this thing called the "social norm". This isn't always a good thing, but in its purest form, the social norm guides behavior away from things that other people find offensive or hurtful. Does everything always work out as it's supposed to? Of course not. Does it sometimes err too far on the side of being too PC? Sure it does. But, as a whole, it helps keep things sane and civil in the majority of situations.

    If you need to vent about the injustices of real life, don't do it in a place where it will cause harm to others. Start a blog or something. Don't embarass yourself by acting like an immature idiot in a well-traveled public place.

    To address your final complaint: social constraints aren't opressing you. Your own insecurity is opressing you. Learn to stand up for yourself, and you'll be amazed at how many doors that opens. Sure, that's easier said than done, but there's a very correct saying about how nothing worth doing is ever easy. It's a fact of life; get used to it.

    And please. Posting graffiti and trash is not expressing yourself. It's acting like an immature idiot.
  • by MacDork ( 560499 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @04:15PM (#12875547) Journal
    Is that the fault you find in this? That some people are idealistic and would like to live in a world without assholes?

    In a world without assholes, everybody would be full of shit.

    In nature, animals without assholes simply regurgitate waste orally. Hence a world without assholes would be full of people talking shit. Therefore, I can conclude that there are no assholes on Slashdot and the LA Times is incorrect in implying otherwise :-)

  • by siliconbunny ( 632740 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @07:50PM (#12877201)
    Look, I'll bite:

    Editorials are inherently unsuited to the wiki-type format. Wiki collaboration is good for setting out objective data. Where there isn't much heated disagreement as to its content, experience shows that the content will tend to be refined upon and not 'defaced'.

    On the other hand, posting opinions -- especially on heated topics -- is likely to cause the exact effect the LATimes observed. It's the same effect you see on wiki pages on other controversial, opinion-heavy topics like abortion and Israel. You are often not going to have a happy middle, but two or more polarised camps each hating the other and 'defacing' the content they don't agree with. It's just human nature.

    This is all the more so when the original slashdot story contained the line about the anti-war editorial being ''defaced by reactionaries'', basically tempting anyone who is pro-war and who does not consider themselves ''reactionary'' to go and edit the content.

    If the Times had stuck to a wiki about the LA area, or some similar thing, I predict it would have worked. Choosing to make an editorial a wiki is IMHO simply stupid.

  • by revmoo ( 652952 ) <slashdot@m[ ].ws ['eep' in gap]> on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @08:26PM (#12877415) Homepage Journal
    Yeah, but they create jobs for the technicians that have to fix them.......this is a 'good thing' for the general slashdot demographic.

    So don't count on much sympathy

"I don't believe in sweeping social change being manifested by one person, unless he has an atomic weapon." -- Howard Chaykin