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A Norwegian Website Is Making Readers Pass a Quiz Before Commenting ( 185

Joseph Lichterman, writing for Nieman Lab: Two weeks ago, NRKbeta, the tech vertical of the Norwegian public broadcaster NRK, published an explainer about a proposed new digital surveillance law in the country. Digital security is a controversial topic, and the conversation around security issues can become heated. But the conversation in the comments of the article was respectful and productive: Commenters shared links to books and other research, asked clarifying questions, and offered constructive feedback. The team at NRKbeta attributes the civil tenor of its comments to a feature it introduced last month. On some stories, potential commenters are now required to answer three basic multiple-choice questions about the article before they're allowed to post a comment. The goal is to ensure that the commenters have actually read the story before they discuss it.
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A Norwegian Website Is Making Readers Pass a Quiz Before Commenting

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  • I like it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TFlan91 ( 2615727 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @10:42AM (#53961649)

    "The goal is to ensure that the commenters have actually read the story before they discuss it"

    A+ idea.

    +1 insightful

    Too many RTFA's...

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 02, 2017 @10:49AM (#53961687)

      I don't know why I must pass a test before being able to read a website. Also, do I have to pay for the test? How long is it? I think this is a stupid solution for a non-existent problem.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The user doesn't need to pass the test to READ the article, they need to pass the test to COMMENT on the article. Didn't you re-- ... aha. I see what you did there!

      • by Maritz ( 1829006 )
        You won't be appreciated but definitely better than the average troll. Well done you.
      • I don't know why I must pass a test before being able to read a website. Also, do I have to pay for the test? How long is it? I think this is a stupid solution for a non-existent problem.

        Just wait until these guys get hired by the TSA to quiz [] people coming into the US.

      • by waveclaw ( 43274 )
        The free to play web-browser based game Kingdom of Loathing [] had a web-based IRC chat system long before Slack, Matrix, Gitter, Mattermost, et cetera.

        Access to KoL chat requires passing a basic English exam. Several questions are aimed at common grammatical errors (to vs too, their and there and they're).

        There is less low quality trolling and a lot less bot spam.

        But even with a basic language test you will still have worthless discourse. The spelling might be a bit better, though.

    • by Kludge ( 13653 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @10:56AM (#53961733)

      Did you read the article before posting that?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 02, 2017 @11:07AM (#53961821)

      If it were to be tried at Slashdot, I think the editors would have had to have read the articles in order to make up the quiz questions. It couldn't possibly work.

    • It's not a terrible idea in theory. But if it catches on, then almost immediately news sites will start using it to filter out thoughtcrime (i.e. wrong opinions instead of wrong facts).

      Every article on immigration will require you to agree on the unqualified benefits of mass immigration (and a gauntlet of other talking points), or an article will require you to say you believe in the wage gap, for example.
      • by alvinrod ( 889928 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @11:34AM (#53962003)
        Why would you want to post on such a site to begin with though? Conceivably some antisemitic website would require you to indicate that you believe Jews are the source of all evil or something like that. You can't have a reasonable debate in such a place to begin with and I expect that only people who would want to post there are already true believers.

        As with any tool, it can be used responsibly and have good outcomes or be used for terrible purposes by immoral people. You also forget that for the website to ask a question and assign it a correct answer is a tactic endorsement that they believe it is the truth. A news site could run a story about political candidate X talking about the wage gap, but that's just reporting on something that happened, having a question where the correct answer is "the wage gap is real" on the other hand goes beyond just reporting. Any news site that used questions so irresponsibly would just hang itself.
        • Yeah, and in right-wing sites (in the USA) users would have to verify their belief that Jews are God's (capital G please) Chosen People, that Jews are the world's best scientists and produce more science than all other people, and there is only one true God and his name is Yahwe.

        • I believe you meant tacit (understood or implied without being stated) where you used tactic (an action or strategy carefully planned to achieve a specific end.) Unless that was your tactic, of course. Or was it all just strategery?
      • But if it catches on, then almost immediately news sites will start using it to filter out thoughtcrime (i.e. wrong opinions instead of wrong facts).

        Many have already closed their comment sections.

        When I see that, I immediately add the domain to my hosts file. Any form of echo chamber is a bad thing.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Be honest, did you RTFA before commenting? :-)

      I... skimmed TFA. Read is too strong a word.

  • Isn't this like (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    ..requiring a literacy test to vote?

    • Re:Isn't this like (Score:5, Insightful)

      by courteaudotbiz ( 1191083 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @10:51AM (#53961703) Homepage
      Absolutely not. There are 1000s of reason to vote for a candidate or another. Answering questions about something you've read is just like a form of captcha that requires a minimal intellectual effort that can discourage the most lazy trolls.

      OTOH, political literacy can be VERY subjective and emotional. Literacy for one can look like propaganda for the other.
    • Re:Isn't this like (Score:4, Insightful)

      by damn_registrars ( 1103043 ) <> on Thursday March 02, 2017 @10:56AM (#53961727) Homepage Journal

      ..requiring a literacy test to vote?

      I'll give you the benefit of the doubt here and assume you are not trolling with that one, and share just a couple ways how these are not similar.

      • Commenting on a website is not even somewhat similar to voting in terms of impact
      • A website - even one run by a government - has the right to restrict what others post on it by any metric they wish. In our country you have no right to go post whatever you want on or any other government website.
      • I'm not sure about the effectiveness of voting vs commenting on a web forum. In some venues a well written post could change at least a single persons vote. And if it accomplishes that then it has had more impact than your single vote.

        That said I agree that a literacy test for voting is a far cry from a reading comprehension test for commenting. When you go to vote you aren't presented with the entire text of proposed law changes or dossiers of politicians history and platform. Instead when you go to vote y

    • by Maritz ( 1829006 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @11:06AM (#53961813)
      If this was about voting, and if the quiz was a literacy test, then yes.
      • by Optic7 ( 688717 )

        I figure you were probably joking, but this concept gets way more credit than it deserves and needs more push back. Why should illiterate or otherwise uneducated people not be allowed to vote? They were already left behind by society, and then we want to punish them on top of that? I get that people like that may be more easily manipulated, but the solution it to try much harder to not let anyone go without a good education, instead of restricting the rights of those who fell through the cracks of society.

    • Next thing you know they're going to require a literacy test to read !!!
    • by quenda ( 644621 )

      ..requiring a literacy test to vote?

      In some countries, that would be denounced by one party as racist. Just as soon as they've checked their voter demographics and literacy statistics.

    • by Megol ( 3135005 )

      No, it would be like requiring people to have some basic idea what the person they vote for stands for. Why vote for a person if the goals of him/her is unknown? Likewise why post comments on an article one haven't even read?

      • by tepples ( 727027 )

        Likewise why post comments on an article one haven't even read?

        That depends on the answer to the following question: Where else should one post a comment that one cannot read the article?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 02, 2017 @10:47AM (#53961675)

    And here's the list of questions:

    1) Where do hot grits go?

    2) Give us a good "In Soviet Russia" joke.

    3) Who is Old Ike?

    4) What does the acronym GNAA stand for?

    5) What movie is it a requirement to watch to join GNAA?

  • by courteaudotbiz ( 1191083 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @10:48AM (#53961681) Homepage
    When do we get this on Slashdot? No more trolls, no more frost piss, no more "Didnt RTFA".

    Or at least, they'll have a harder time getting through the keyhole.
  • Citation (Score:4, Funny)

    by Major Blud ( 789630 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @10:48AM (#53961683) Homepage

    "But the conversation in the comments of the article was respectful and productive"


  • Awesome! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gravis Zero ( 934156 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @10:49AM (#53961691)

    This sounds like a surefire way to get only the best trolls! ;)

  • Why isn't this quiz being presented in multiple languages?

    • by Maritz ( 1829006 )
      Apparently in Norway it's considered reasonable that your audience will speak Norweigan. I know, nutters.
  • >> Commenters shared links to books

    Serious question: how did they share "links to books"? Was it near-useless stuff like "hey dumb***, read this" or were they actually able to point to specific passages, freely available to all, that were applicable to the discussion?
  • These Swedes aren't going to make me take a test before I can go to the bathroom, I can tell you that.
  • by Nyder ( 754090 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @11:05AM (#53961803) Journal

    The editors would just take the questions from the summary.

    • I would just suggest that the test be to find out ones true thoughts on hosts files and do some filtering based off of that.
    • by fyngyrz ( 762201 )

      The editors would just take the questions from the summary.

      Wait, what? On slashdot, the "editors" clearly never read the summaries.

  • by parallel_prankster ( 1455313 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @11:05AM (#53961809)

    I have seen facebook posts by a tonne of accounts that seem to be posting every 2 minutes.I was pretty sure those were bots. Maybe their scripts will need to be more intelligent now?
    On the flip side I hope the questions are not biased towards a point of view which would then result in filtering out a complete side of conversation from comments!

    • by chubs ( 2470996 )
      If it makes more intelligent bots, I'm on board! [] (warning, there's offensive language).
    • The questions appear to be pretty straight-forward fact retrieval, at least on this example [] (translated via Google):

      Breulykken in 1986 occurred at

      Briksdalbreen, Nigardsbreen, Folgefonna

      OQLT means

      Origo Query Language Toolkit, Oscar Question Language Tool, Origo Question Lookup Tool

      National Library Assessment Report states

      Stored and archived, Norwegian Historical recordings, In living memory

      That said, exhausting all possible responses is pretty easy (and it appears that these are the only questions after F5'ing a few times), so this should be easy to brute force, but hopefully it'll weed out those who haven't R'd TFA.

  • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @11:10AM (#53961845) Journal

    Starting April 1, Slashdot will require users to pass a drug test before commenting. Here in the /. offices, we refer to it as the "If You're Not High, GTFO Rule".

    Submission of a >0.080 breathalyzer score will also be accepted for full credit.

  • Norwegian new digital surveillance law mandating quiz taking is an outrage!
  • good start (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 02, 2017 @11:11AM (#53961853)

    now if we could make the "journalists" pass a quiz before writing an article on something they know nothing about.... even better.

  • by swell ( 195815 ) <jabberwock.poetic@com> on Thursday March 02, 2017 @11:16AM (#53961885)

    It's nice that people have to qualify for some things. Doctors, for instance, and police. Drivers tests help, but maybe should be more strict. More controversial is that parents should be tested before having children (are some parents unprepared physically, emotionally, financially?).

    Qualifying before comments sounds interesting. Unfortunately many sites require commenters to register with an outside data gatherers before you can comment.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      if only there was a quiz on the constitution before you could take an oath of office for public service in the united states.

      • by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @01:30PM (#53963119) Homepage Journal

        if only there was a quiz on the constitution before you could take an oath of office for public service in the united states.

        Oh, there is. It goes like this:

        [ ] Check if you think "interstate" is a synonym for "intrastate"
        [ ] Check if you think "unreasonable" means "ignore the rest of this amendment"
        [ ] Check if you think "ex post facto" means "pile on punishment at will post-sentencing"
        [ ] Check if you think article five says "SCOTUS shall make any amendments it likes"
        [ ] Check if you think article three says "article five was just there for humor's sake"
        [ ] Check if you think "shall not infringe" means "infringe"
        [ ] Check if you think "rights reserved to the people" means "things congress can tell them they can't do"
        [ ] Check if you think "speedy and public trial" means "rot in Guantanamo indefinitely"
        [ ] Check if you think "inflicting cruel and unusual punishment" means "withholding waterboarding"
        [ ] Check if you can keep a straight face while intoning "support and defend the Constitution"

        Bonus questions:

        [ ] Check if you will take bribes from lobbyists
        [ ] Check if you will do what the party "leadership" tells you to

        Did you check all the boxes? Congratulations! You have qualified to pass the initial screening process of our two political parties!

    • ...are some parents unprepared...?).

      Yes. []

    • Though perhaps the requirements for police officers could be more stringent. Their pay could be higher, too, which would attract more qualified people. The same holds for public school teachers and a wide variety of public service employees. It blows my mind that the richest country on Earth can't seem to do that, and people are okay with this.
      • On the contrary various law enforcement agencies actively avoid hiring people who are deemed too smart. The authorities who wield law enforcement agencies don't really want the front line troops thinking about the laws they are tasked to enforce, they just want it done. The last time I looked into working in Law Enforcement, the pay was actually pretty good considering the low hiring requirements. I actually applied for a job, but took a different job offer that came along first, they took more than six mon

      • We also spend quite a bit on weapons, a lot of that money could be redirected towards education, infrastructure, basic research, free medical care for all. I would definitely not want the police getting more money, shit they'd want to upgrade their battering ram vehicles to F-16s (for safety).

  • The problem for charging for anything on Internet is difficulty of assessing value. I do not know if an article will tell me anything new until I read it. Comments are a good case where I am obviously interested enough to chime in, and posting one gives me potentially huge audience. So it's a good opportunity to raise quality bar and help reward the author at the same time.

    And those too cheap to pay can still go chime in on umm... content aggregator websites.

  • by WoodstockJeff ( 568111 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @11:39AM (#53962043) Homepage

    ... would start with, "What day was the original version of this duplicate post posted?"

  • Huffington Post, Fox News, Democratic Underground, Alex Jones, Facebook...
    • by tepples ( 727027 )

      I thought The Huffington Post already killed its comment section back in late 2013, when it added a requirement to link each comment account to a "verified" Facebook account. This in effect requires all commenters to subscribe to SMS-capable mobile phone service and share both the mobile phone number and Huffington Post identity with Facebook Inc.

  • TL;DR (Score:5, Funny)

    by grumpyman ( 849537 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @11:53AM (#53962159)
    This summary was too long, but whatever the concept it proposes is just ludicrous.
  • I want the voters to prove their eligibility — in addition to being citizens — by the following:

    • Solving a computer-generated quadratic equation;
    • Reciting — by typing into computer — a Bill of Rights' Amendment of their choice. (Other countries may substitute Bill of Rights with similarly venerated documents of their own.)
    • No need for it to be so complicated. Asking "who is the current vice president?" will eliminate the half of US adults who have no interest whatsoever in paying attention to national policy issues. It could certainly be argued that the half who do know his name are better prepared to decide whether or not he should keep his job.

      • by mi ( 197448 )

        Asking "who is the current vice president?"

        That may be an acceptable replacement for (or an addition to) the second item, but it may get dangerously close to being partisan in itself. For example, some Americans today find it hard to accept Trump/Pence as the Administration — forcing them to spell out the name(s) to a computer could make them unnecessarily uncomfortable.

      • I'd really like to see this apply to levels of government responsibility as well. If you think the federal government is responsible for your parking tickets, or the state governor can declare war, you're not really prepared to make an informed decision.

        • Every ten years, state legislatures and governors have the indirect power to declare war. Here are the steps:

          1. Wait for a substantial increase or decrease in the state's population.
          2. Redraw House districts in favor of the major political party more likely to declare war.
          3. Wait for the new House to take office and pressure the Senate to join the House in declaring war.

          The U.S. Republican Party did this in 2010, calling it the Redistricting Majority Project [].

    • by hackel ( 10452 )

      That is a little unreasonable. I do think people should have to pass the exact same naturalization exams as any immigrant before they are made citizens and allowed to vote.

      • by mi ( 197448 )

        people should have to pass the exact same naturalization exams as any immigrant

        Having gone through naturalization myself, I must reject the idea — too much in the exam is subject to the officer's interpretation. You'll need humans to verify the answers, which makes it both dangerous and impractical for voting.

        The things I listed are apolitical and objective — and the test can be performed by a computer at not even today's, but yesterday's level of technology and sophistication.

  • ... to make people watch an advertisement before writing a comment. Though the sneaky way to do it would be to let people write the comment and then require them to watch the advertisement before they could commit it. But I expect by then. many would have forgotten what the article they were commenting on was about.
  • Just your elementary grammar, math and, perhaps, social studies test (non-biased, stick to the facts and dates only), administered once in a while, would keep all public social media discourse much more civil.

    It's not the "fake news" - it's just that loud morons with too much free time and nothing else to do are, well, just that.

  • I think this is an amazing idea. That being said, I only read the Slashdot summary, not the article, so I guess that makes me a hypocrite.
  • by MobyDisk ( 75490 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @12:33PM (#53962487) Homepage

    I want to make a bot that can answer the quiz. My theory is that, once I have done so successfully, it can make more intelligent comments on the article than the average commenter. At that point, I think I have won my own personal turing test.

    Next up: A bot that tells you if the news is fake. Has someone already done that? I imagine something like Microsoft's "clippy" popping up in the corner saying "I see that you are reading complete bu11sh*t. Would you like some help posting vitriolic comments?"

  • I guess it is like here on slashdot.
    Nobody RTFA.

  • 1) "the tech vertical of the Norwegian public broadcaster NRK" - sorry, I guess I'm meme-impaired. WTF is a 'tech vertical'?

    2) It might not be politically correct, but I'm just going to say it anyway: the primary reason their discussion was cogent and reasonable probably had everything to do with them all being Norwegian. Not to say that Scandinavians can't be as big of assholes as other people on occasion, but their culture is pretty unique in their level of open-mindedness, consensus, and reasonability

  • But what do we do when the Captcha-breaking bots start making meaningful and insightful comments?

  • I can't believe they're doing this! What bullshit!

    Oh wait, was there an article I was supposed to read? I don't have time for that! I'm just foaming at the mouth about the headline. Carry on.

"The eleventh commandment was `Thou Shalt Compute' or `Thou Shalt Not Compute' -- I forget which." -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982