Limit on number of comments per minute? May 24, 2011 3:28 PM   Subscribe

Would it be useful to limit the number of comments a user can post in a thread per time interval?

I think that this thread about Bin Laden is fascinating, but it is being commented on so quickly that is hard for me to to follow in real-time and participate in a reasoned discussion. I wondered if a limit on the number of comments a user could make would result in a more thoughtful discussion. For example, say a user could post a comment once every three minutes. I'm not suggesting this comment/time interval is optimal, I'm just using it to illustrate my point.

I use stackoverflow and stackexchange sites fairly frequently, and one of the interesting features they have is a limit on the number of times you can do something per minute, such as voting. I think this works well, as you can't impulsively run through the site upvoting or downvoting questions hither and thither.
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth to Feature Requests at 3:28 PM (54 comments total)

Cracked has something like a 30 second limit.

We're not Cracked.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 3:32 PM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


No. Next.
posted by Splunge at 3:32 PM on May 24, 2011


No.
posted by phunniemee at 3:32 PM on May 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


I really don't understand why people suggest changes to this site which are never in 100 years gonna happen.
posted by gman at 3:33 PM on May 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


ab
posted by special-k at 3:33 PM on May 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


so
posted by special-k at 3:33 PM on May 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


lutel
posted by special-k at 3:34 PM on May 24, 2011 [15 favorites]


y
posted by special-k at 3:34 PM on May 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


n
posted by special-k at 3:34 PM on May 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


ot.
posted by special-k at 3:34 PM on May 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


I feel your pain. "Hey this thread looks interes- 469 comments? Fuck that shit. Well, okay, I'll just read the ones with a lot of favorites. Hey, I have this great point/link to make/share. Eh, someone probably already made it (and it g-naws at me when somebody, or somebodies, post the same link multiple times in a thread. If you can't be askedd to read the entire thread to see if someone already posted your link, then....eh, I'm off on a tangent)"

Anyway, I think this is just kind of the way it has to be. In the huge threads I would think there are actually not many people commenting more than every three minutes so I don't think your suggestion would cure what ails us.
posted by mreleganza at 3:37 PM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I haven't seen a discussion about this before - have I missed it?

Also, no reasons from the naysayers? I'm un - defensively curious why you all think this is a bad idea.
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 3:39 PM on May 24, 2011


Because it puts arbitrary limitations on discourse. And it would be annoying. And why? WE DON'T WANT TO HEAR FROM THE SLOW WITTED ONES.
posted by Lutoslawski at 3:43 PM on May 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


First!
posted by Artw at 3:45 PM on May 24, 2011 [14 favorites]


I really don't understand why people suggest changes to this site which are never in 100 years gonna happen.

Because it'll be 101 years at some point and then WE SHALL HAVE OUR VICTORY.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:46 PM on May 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Also, no reasons from the naysayers? I'm un - defensively curious why you all think this is a bad idea.

I'm mostly just against it because if it were adopted it would apply to everyone (A group to which I belong!), rather than cruelly and arbitrarily imposed on the people that annoy me.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 3:51 PM on May 24, 2011 [25 favorites]


mreleganza: "Hey this thread looks interes- 469 comments? Fuck that shit."

I get that feeling on Reddit a lot, but that's largely a consequence of the threaded environment that splits up lengthy discussions into innumerable nested subthreads.

The good thing about MeFi's flat style (and tools like Recent Activity and live updates) is that people generally keep up with a discussion as it evolves, even when the comments reach into the thousands, and pretty much every contribution is heard. You can see this in action using youcelf's awesome GraphFi script -- the tail-ends of long threads are still cluttered with webs of replies, and even late-entry comments garner lots of favorites if they're substantial or link to useful information.
posted by Rhaomi at 3:51 PM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Try to keep up.
posted by unSane at 3:54 PM on May 24, 2011


fast moving thread reflects fast moving world. confusion is next. think of it as a very active party, a room full of hubbub. you'll never track everything that's going down but you can sorta start in one corner and wander out into the center of the room, eventually finding yourself not so much comprehending everything that's going on as riding on its energy -- surfing it as it were, catching the overall ebb and flow.

Then if you want to influence the flow, quote somebody out of context and start your responding comment with ... "seriously?"

Works every time.
posted by philip-random at 3:58 PM on May 24, 2011


being lazy or slow does NOT get you that pony you want! You have to be fast, and have a rope, and catch that little bugger.
posted by tomswift at 4:01 PM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


geez, no. Just, like, no.

StackOverflow (et al.) is a very focussed community around specific issues -- their mission doesn't translate well to Metafilter's (if you can think we have a mission, I guess) and so the rules they have wouldn't translate over. Similarly, SO has various rights and rewards around member participation -- metafilter has no such gamification layer (come back, leo).
posted by boo_radley at 4:04 PM on May 24, 2011


I think we've had this conversation before. I'm glad the answer is still "HAHAHAHAHAHA, yeah no."
posted by stoneweaver at 4:09 PM on May 24, 2011


Similarly, SO has various rights and rewards around member participation

Actually, once I hit 30k favorites I get to tag all your posts.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:10 PM on May 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


If you're late to the conversation, then you're late to the conversation. There's no good way in real life to walk up to a discussion which has been going on for a few hours and begin to add to it without finding footing and context, and MetaFilter is the same way. It sucks, but that's how it works, in meatspace and in cyberspace.

Sometimes the fast moving threads are the ones you least want to get caught up in, anyway. Unless they're the Eurovision thread, in which case you definitely want to be there.
posted by hippybear at 4:11 PM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hippybear, I was so sorry I was not there, but I enjoyed it later, much later. You guys brought the funny. Still laughing over "I thought Jedward meant going towards Jed."
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:16 PM on May 24, 2011


I do not like this idea, because it would unfairly penalize those of us who are very quick on our feet with comments that require little effort and even less thought. Oh.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:21 PM on May 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm gonna pull a me and suggest looking at this in terms of available data: spend some time (or trick someone else into spending some time) with the Infodump data and figure out what kind of rates of commenting by an individual user actually show up in busy threads.

I don't have time to do it right now, but I have a couple of guesses about what you'd find that contribute to why the idea as proposed would have nearly zero impact and why modifying it to the point where it would have one is a bad idea:

1. Almost no one comments at a rate of once a minute or once every three minutes for any sustained amount of time. The occasional twofer, sure, when someone drops a quick addendum after a comment to clarify a typo or finish an aborted thought, but not BAM BAM BAM minute after minute.

2. Busy threads are busy because a medium to large group of people are all commenting at a moderate pace. You don't have one user commenting twice a minute for a half hour; you have five or six users commenting every 5-10 minutes talking to each other and others, plus a bunch more users commenting less often. The net result is a thread that grows pretty rapidly, but it's an aggregate effect.

So throttling the commenting function for an individual

- would not have a significant effect for small values m = timeout length on even those folks most likely to fit the motor-mouth characterization

- would, with a large enough m to catch a significant number of people, end up creating a really unexpected and disruptive barrier to normal conversational practice

- would prohibit totally acceptable quick "oh, what I meant was" clarifications, and

- would still not have a significant effect on the overall rate of commenting in busy threads

There are potential partial fixes to the above if we really want to go down the rabbit hole—create a growing timeout, say, so that a user's first followup comment can happen more quickly than their next and their next—but none of that would per the last bullet point above lead to a significant net reduction in overall commenting volume in a thread unless we started talking about either really huge values of m (effectively a one-comment-per-thread limit) or a throttle on aggregate commenting throughput (which is a Goliath kind of terrible to the current suggestion's merely unworkable David).

If a specific user is having seriously over-commenting problems, that's more of the sort of thing we can address, mostly by just talking with them directly and saying "hey, try to ease off the hyperresponsive stuff please". But it's not something that lends itself to a general technical solution, is my belief.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:22 PM on May 24, 2011 [6 favorites]


I'm gonna pull a cortex, too.

*tugs on cortex*
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:23 PM on May 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


That sounds fuckin' excruciating, dude.
posted by gman at 4:28 PM on May 24, 2011


Blazecock Pileon: "Actually, once I hit 30k favorites I get to tag all your posts."

APPLE APPLE APPLE APPLE APPLE APPLE APPLE APPLE APPLE

I kid because I love
posted by boo_radley at 4:31 PM on May 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


If you're late to the conversation, then you're late to the conversation.
I wasn't late to the thread I referred to, as I followed the first 200 hundred or so comments, I just felt that the conversation devolved into something that was impulsive and reactionary with the majority of the commenters not physically being able to read what was going on*. I found this a bit frustrating as there were lots of very interesting and insightful comments intermixed but I felt these did not get adequately incorporated into the discussion.

Thanks for the explanations cortex


*I have a fast computer, fast internet and read quickly, and I could not keep up reading, so I assume if you are writing comments in such a rapid thread, it means that you cannot be reading what is being written.

posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 4:32 PM on May 24, 2011


I keep it in recent activity because there are a few people commenting (like bardophile) who actually bring interesting information/insight to the discussion.That thread is annoying for a lot of reasons, mostly poorly formatted comments and tons of mystery meat links and bickering about stupid shit. I'm not sure if the rapid commenting is even a drop in the ocean of annoying that is that thread.
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:32 PM on May 24, 2011


*tugs on cortex*

STOP IT
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:35 PM on May 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


The solution does not match the problem. Limiting comments per individual will not slow threads getting comments from many users.
posted by Ardiril at 4:40 PM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I just felt that the conversation devolved into something that was impulsive and reactionary with the majority of the commenters not physically being able to read what was going on*.

It's ok to go to another website or go do something else. Really.

I found this a bit frustrating as there were lots of very interesting and insightful comments intermixed but I felt these did not get adequately incorporated into the discussion.

So your solution is to make everyone else go slower? Not every conversation can go perfectly, sometimes things get bumpy. Either you hang or go have a pinch of yum.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:41 PM on May 24, 2011


Also, this site does not support reasonable discussion.
posted by Ardiril at 4:42 PM on May 24, 2011


Only if there's also an edit widnow.
posted by Eideteker at 4:55 PM on May 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


d'oh!
posted by Eideteker at 4:55 PM on May 24, 2011


That thread made me stop relying on the insta-loader for new comments, as a couple of times (and in the white-people-think-blacks-are-mean thread) it didn't list any comments when I hit post, and suddenly had them by the time my comment went through.
posted by klangklangston at 5:12 PM on May 24, 2011


this would probably help break some of my bad habits
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:28 PM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


lutel
posted by special-k at 3:34 PM on May 24 [3 favorites +] [!]


WHY was that favorited by 3 people? Odd!
posted by hal_c_on at 5:41 PM on May 24, 2011


1. Almost no one comments at a rate of once a minute or once every three minutes for any sustained amount of time. The occasional twofer, sure, when someone drops a quick addendum after a comment to clarify a typo or finish an aborted thought, but not BAM BAM BAM minute after minute.

ahem :)
posted by Falconetti at 5:47 PM on May 24, 2011


hal_c_on: lutel
posted by special-k at 3:34 PM on May 24 [3 favorites +] [!]


WHY was that favorited by 3 people? Odd!


Some people bookmark instrumental comments.
posted by gman at 5:57 PM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Some people bookmark instrumental comments.
Or Czech Republic historic replica weapons. "Disagreements led to defamation and slander from their side. I will not comment it."
posted by unliteral at 7:13 PM on May 24, 2011


Because it puts arbitrary limitations on discourse. And it would be annoying. And why? WE DON'T WANT TO HEAR FROM THE SLOW WITTED ONES.
posted by Lutoslawski at 3:43 PM on May 24 [1 favorite +] [!]


Oh, yeah? Well...I'm still working on my comeback to that. I'll have to get back to you.
posted by mimo at 7:54 PM on May 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Which user could possibly be causing all these requests to limit posting frequency? It's a real mystery!
posted by interrobang at 8:55 PM on May 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


There were way too many comments here for me to read through. Having said that, I'm making a lemon curd tomorrow that will make your head explode with the flavor of lemon goodness. And I can't give you the recipe here 'cause it's against the rules.

Suffer!
posted by Splunge at 9:24 PM on May 24, 2011


The Whelk will not be throtled!
posted by a humble nudibranch at 10:01 PM on May 24, 2011


nor quartered or drawn
unless he is naked
posted by clavdivs at 11:34 PM on May 24, 2011


On the contrary, that thread is a fantastic example of lively discussion, with opposing views flying, occasional snark and even wit, and a surprising lack of disrespect. This is what the Internet can be. Imperfect but alive. To participate, jump in. The nature of such threads is that a well-written comment can take the thread in a new direction. It helps if you can type fast.

The only time to discourage that level of commenting is when somebody's behaving badly, and the mods respond well in those instances.
posted by theora55 at 4:40 AM on May 25, 2011


Is there a particular person in that thread who was commenting too frequently?
posted by OmieWise at 6:34 AM on May 25, 2011


Let's call it the "furiousxgeorge in Brooklyn" rule.
posted by Rumple at 9:50 AM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


He's the one man army f-george, he's never been tooken out. He keeps mefites lookin out.
posted by cashman at 4:35 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


this would probably help break some of my bad habits

My bad habits are what make me so lovable.
posted by arcticseal at 4:55 AM on May 26, 2011


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