Self-policing of the forums: troll counters?

Analog Kid

macrumors 601
Original poster
Mar 4, 2003
4,777
2,797
I've really been getting turned off by the sheer amount of venom in the forums lately, and I've been thinking about how to deal with it. There's always the "ignore" option in the control panel, but that seems a bit unilateral and unforgiving.

So I suggest the following: add a button to the user interface that allows users to mark a poster as a "troll". In our control panels we have an option to ignore posts from people with X troll counters over the past Y days/weeks/months where X and Y are user selectable.

I'd suggest placing the "troll" button similarly to the "Report Post" button, or as part of the drop down from the posters name. These "troll counters" are accumulated and sorted by who pushed the button and when they pushed it. So if I'm pushing the troll button on every post by a particular poster, it only shows as one counter but is timestamped with the most recent push.

We'd be able to see how many troll counters we have, but not who placed them. Showing who placed them is just asking for petty wars. No doubt the more belligerent will comment on their use of the button in the thread anyway...

A method like this gives the community a way to shun someone who behaves badly, but allows for rehabilitation. It also chooses a community standard over individual taste-- someone may be driving me mad, but if they're only bothering me then maybe I should be more open to what they're saying.

And it allows users to select their tolerance level-- some people won't use the troll blocker at all because they want to hear the full cacophony, others will set their filter to a small number of troll counters because they really just want to avoid all the controversies. We'll probably have to keep playing with X and Y to figure out what the right balance is given that some people are going to mark everything they disagree with as "troll" and some people will use it more sparingly.

On some of these threads it will appear that there aren't any posters at all! Maybe there should be a thread level option to disregard our settings so we can plow through the muck if we choose to.
 

-aggie-

macrumors P6
Jun 19, 2009
16,793
50
Where bunnies are welcome.
You really can't do what you say, since "trolls" would just go around selecting everyone as a troll and defeating the usefulness of what you propose.

So, just report trolls. Eventually they'll be banned, if the mods think that is warranted.
 

soup4you2

macrumors regular
Apr 12, 2007
236
0
Biggest problem i would see with a system like this is you would get you're typical flame war

User X: posts insightful information about the weaknesses of the iPad or some other product.

Fanboy: clicks troll because he does not want to see anything negative said about his beloved apple company.

This would end up going both ways. and defeating the entire purpose. It's a system and it would be abused.
 

Analog Kid

macrumors 601
Original poster
Mar 4, 2003
4,777
2,797
Yes, what I'm proposing assumes there are more citizens than trolls-- thus tit-for-tat would wash out as noise.
 

RedTomato

macrumors 601
Mar 4, 2005
4,014
313
.. London ..
Yes, what I'm proposing assumes there are more citizens than trolls ...
Famous last words. Set this up and wait for the troll invasion from 4chan ...
.
.
.
Step 2. Lick wounds and decide that only members over 1 year can report trolls. Watch as MR becomes even less friendly to noobs.
 

rdowns

macrumors Penryn
Jul 11, 2003
27,345
12,409
I'm pretty sure that you'd get a Time-Out if you flat out call someone a troll on MacRumors.

As for these types of systems, they won't work. What happens when someone has an unpopular opinion? Does everyone who doesn't agree click his/her "troll" button?
 

MacDawg

macrumors Core
Mar 20, 2004
19,708
4,274
"Between the Hedges"
Lets just post "slam books" like we used to have in Junior High
We can have a thread for each user and everybody can post their likes and dislikes about them in their thread
 

Analog Kid

macrumors 601
Original poster
Mar 4, 2003
4,777
2,797
I'm trying to brainstorm here, so don't take my responses as defensive or as trying to hard to advocate for the original idea. Just thinking things through...

Famous last words. Set this up and wait for the troll invasion from 4chan ...
Step 2. Lick wounds and decide that only members over 1 year can report trolls. Watch as MR becomes even less friendly to noobs.
Problem right now is that it's not very friendly for the old guard. It used to be possible to have a nuanced conversation, but recently I've been avoiding the forums for long stretches. The tone has gotten grating. I don't think it's healthy for the long term survival of a resource I value. Setting up a neighborhood watch seems like the right approach if we can figure out the details.
I'm pretty sure that you'd get a Time-Out if you flat out call someone a troll on MacRumors.

As for these types of systems, they won't work. What happens when someone has an unpopular opinion? Does everyone who doesn't agree click his/her "troll" button?
Doesn't make sense that you'd get timed out for calling someone a troll, but not for screaming fanboy... Not my policy to set though.

On the second point, that was the idea behind the adjustable thresholds. Some people would certainly keep hitting the troll button to silence dissenters. Over time, we'll figure out how many people tend to do that and set the threshold above that point.

I think you'd also wind up with people who took their troll count as a badge of honor and try to instigate as many clicks as possible. Those are probably the people most of us would like to ignore anyway, though. This has the proper feedback that the more obnoxious you are, the fewer the number of people who hear you.
Lets just post "slam books" like we used to have in Junior High
We can have a thread for each user and everybody can post their likes and dislikes about them in their thread
I think you're kidding-- this would be disastrous... My goal was to find away of anonymously choosing not to listen to the problem children. Some sort of subtle guidance towards civilized behavior.
 

miles01110

macrumors Core
Jul 24, 2006
19,264
30
The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
The tone has gotten grating. I don't think it's healthy for the long term survival of a resource I value. Setting up a neighborhood watch seems like the right approach if we can figure out the details.
The mods do a very good job of taking care of problem posts that are reported. Either report the post or use the "Ignore mark 1" feature of your brain.

On the second point, that was the idea behind the adjustable thresholds. Some people would certainly keep hitting the troll button to silence dissenters. Over time, we'll figure out how many people tend to do that and set the threshold above that point.
I don't think you have any evidence of this. If you do, please present it.

My goal was to find away of anonymously choosing not to listen to the problem children. Some sort of subtle guidance towards civilized behavior.
Ignore or don't click on the thread.
 

niuniu

macrumors 68020
I've posted on several reputation system forums and it's always pretty dirty. You have your rep club and you and your guys rotate reps. You also neg guys, especially newbies to stop them amassing power, or 'train' mid-rollers to bring them down a peg. No-one negs high-rollers because their backlash is too hard,which is bad news because most high rollers have their reps adjusted by mod repping through kissing ass or doing mod favors like helping them with some stuff (like stupid online ad clicking).
 

RedTomato

macrumors 601
Mar 4, 2005
4,014
313
.. London ..
I just remembered a personal solution for you that meets all your requirements:

Whenever you see a post that you don't like, click on the poster's name, and select 'view public profile'. On that page, under the name (and avatar pic) you have 2 options:
Add RedTomato to Your Buddy List Add RedTomato to Your Ignore List
Click on Add to Ignore List. 'Poof!' Troll-be-gone applied. I suggest looking at the front page thread about the paper self-assembly iPad - you can add everyone who didn't get the joke to your ignore list, all in one go :cool:
 

firestarter

macrumors 603
Dec 31, 2002
5,496
108
Green and pleasant land
Click on Add to Ignore List.
^^ This.

OP - the 'ignore list' is your own personal Troll filter. There aren't that many trolls out there - and it's relatively easy to either ignore them or filter them out when you come across them. If you're the sort of person who gets mad when you see someone else acting in a dumb/offensive way - then the filter is the better of the two options for you.

(Suggestion - it would be cool if there could be some sort of filtering of people quoting those on your banned list... maybe use the "spoiler" tags some forum software supports to hide, then add a button allowing comments to be revealed).

Trolls are usually typified by a self-centred personality with poor empathy, attempting to take over a thread - demanding responses from others in order to feed their own argument. Ignoring them will rob them of the ability to continue in this vein!
 

rdowns

macrumors Penryn
Jul 11, 2003
27,345
12,409
Trolls are usually typified by a self-centred personality with poor empathy, attempting to take over a thread - demanding responses from others in order to feed their own argument. Ignoring them will rob them of the ability to continue in this vein!
That would make an excellent signature but it's like a mile too long.
 

kd5jos

macrumors 6502
Oct 28, 2007
414
132
Denver, CO
Reverse it...

Instead of clicking things you don't like, click things you do. Peoples score is based on what people like. If you post 100 things and nobody likes what you have to say, you are 0/100. Your score is moved down. If you are liked by some you are 25/100 (as an example).

Then use the same system, I want to read people with X score over Y time. Trolls are ignored, and N00bs can be well treated, because this is a ratio. Seems to solve all the problems people brought up.
 

miles01110

macrumors Core
Jul 24, 2006
19,264
30
The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
Instead of clicking things you don't like, click things you do. Peoples score is based on what people like. If you post 100 things and nobody likes what you have to say, you are 0/100. Your score is moved down. If you are liked by some you are 25/100 (as an example).

Then use the same system, I want to read people with X score over Y time. Trolls are ignored, and N00bs can be well treated, because this is a ratio. Seems to solve all the problems people brought up.
As I said before, there's nothing really new in this thread. For example your idea above was already mentioned over a week ago (and probably several times before that as well).

How about slashing the negativity from the equation and providing a "props" button, or something of the like.

If somebody posts something useful, other users can give props that are visible to the public. When reading through a thread, you can determine whether or not your want to read what someone has to say based on their "post count to props ratio".
 

Analog Kid

macrumors 601
Original poster
Mar 4, 2003
4,777
2,797
So, I'm hearing a lot of recommendations for the "report post" button, and the ignore option. I'm not terribly enamored with either of those as a solution to this particular problem.

Reporting a post is something that should be reserved for posts that violate the rules of the forum-- racist posts, spam, etc. It's essentially calling the cops. The posts I'm trying to deal with aren't breaking any rules specifically, they're simply setting a tone that I find destructive. Firestarter nailed the type I'm talking about.

Ignore seems too unilateral. I'm looking for a community mechanism, not an individual one. If the community values their input, then I should make the effort to listen as well.

Instead of clicking things you don't like, click things you do. Peoples score is based on what people like. If you post 100 things and nobody likes what you have to say, you are 0/100. Your score is moved down. If you are liked by some you are 25/100 (as an example).

Then use the same system, I want to read people with X score over Y time. Trolls are ignored, and N00bs can be well treated, because this is a ratio. Seems to solve all the problems people brought up.
The problem is that this starts from a position of distrust, rather than trust. You need to get moved up in the rankings, but if everyone is blocking people below 50/100 then nobody hears you and therefore can't bump you up.

I like the idea of responding positively though.
 

miles01110

macrumors Core
Jul 24, 2006
19,264
30
The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
...The posts I'm trying to deal with aren't breaking any rules specifically, they're simply setting a tone that I find destructive. ...

Ignore seems too unilateral. I'm looking for a community mechanism, not an individual one. If the community values their input, then I should make the effort to listen as well.
What you find destructive, other people don't. You seem to be wanting to effect forum-wide change for those particular posts that you find to be out of line, trollish, or whatever you want to call it assuming that everyone else holds the same point of view.
 

maflynn

Moderator
Staff member
May 3, 2009
63,851
30,367
Boston
I can't see how type of mechanism and/or the reputation system would work too well. In the end it turns things into a popularity contest. Some folks would get many negative marks because they may not be liked regardless of the quality of their posting and others who may post more negative stuff will get positive posts because they may be liked more.

Plus you'll get more Me too threads in the hopes that they'll get positive marks.

I think the report icon is the best approach, it may not be perfect but its better then the solutions being offered.
 

MacNut

macrumors Core
Jan 4, 2002
21,542
7,801
CT
What you find destructive, other people don't. You seem to be wanting to effect forum-wide change for those particular posts that you find to be out of line, trollish, or whatever you want to call it assuming that everyone else holds the same point of view.
I think a lot of people want to see the trollish posts go away. It is slowly destroying this forum. The question is how do you go about effectively doing it.
 

miles01110

macrumors Core
Jul 24, 2006
19,264
30
The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
The question is how do you go about effectively doing it.
Exactly. You need an effective method that separates itself as much as possible from individual perception of what kind of post is "trollish" vs. an "alternative viewpoint" vs. "I simply don't like this person based on past history."

Reputation systems on forums don't work effectively due to this ambiguity.