Troll button pony March 5, 2002 6:21 PM   Subscribe

A feature idea: Add a button to the bottom of every MeFi page that says "this is a troll" (below the button, add a link that says "What's a troll?" that links to an explanation). Then it's just a matter of math: If over, say, fifty percent of the visitors to that thread mark it as a troll, delete it (or, at least, flag it for admin review). A system like this might discourage people from posting threads just to piss everyone off.
posted by fraying to Feature Requests at 6:21 PM (52 comments total)

Of course, by linking to a specific thread instead of simply making a general request, especially given that the request is sort of way out there, it could be argued that you're just trying to troll Postroad...

Somewhere, Meffi the Metafilter Pancake Bunny is crying.

posted by aaron at 7:09 PM on March 5, 2002

Well, it was the post that made me wish for the troll button. But it's just intended as an example. Let's not get caught up in debating that particular post....
posted by fraying at 7:16 PM on March 5, 2002

It's cool. I just wanted to see Meffi.

I really, really dislike the concept though. Such a tool is guaranteed to be used by some less-than-fair types to gang up on people and/or opinions they don't like.
posted by aaron at 7:24 PM on March 5, 2002

Rating systems have been discussed at length in the past, and the general consensus has been that there's no good way to stop differences of opinion from skewing the quality rating.

Since Matt does a good job of determining what is appropriate, I don't see what could be gained, anyway.
posted by dogmatic at 7:26 PM on March 5, 2002

Matt's free time, perhaps?

This is not a rating system - it's a specific binary tool to solve one particular problem. But, of course, it depends on how much you trust the community.
posted by fraying at 7:30 PM on March 5, 2002

I trust the community to take care of this kind of thing without the "snitch" button.
posted by ColdChef at 7:38 PM on March 5, 2002

Can there be a troll button for MetaTalk posts which are a rehash of a MeFi discussion about a previous MeFi discussion about the controversial topic of [insert controversial topic]?
posted by insomnyuk at 7:42 PM on March 5, 2002

fraying: Matt's free time, perhaps?

I suggested a similar scheme recently, but matt hasn't put it into practice. I think he has his own ideas about how he wants this community to work.
posted by rebeccablood at 8:16 PM on March 5, 2002

Uh, that means you trust Matt to take care of it for us, ColdChef, which is different than trusting the community. I'm kind of amazed at how little trust for the community there is here.

I can't help but wonder: Why is everyone here so resistant to a little community empowerment? Don't you *want* the ability to make MetaFilter a little better?

Anyway, it was just an idea.
posted by fraying at 8:17 PM on March 5, 2002

oop. my idea.
posted by rebeccablood at 8:18 PM on March 5, 2002

Whatever the merits of the feature (I'm opposed), if you researched the post, you would have discovered that it was from a site which translates the Arab media for English speakers. The poster is not a troll. The post was instructive to show what the West, and, in particular, Israel is up against as it searches for needles of sanity in the haystack which is the Arab world. It's questionable what could be discussed about the article since it's so stupid, but that was not a troll post.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:19 PM on March 5, 2002

I can't find it, but I believe I read somewhere that Matt said he is thinking about adding a [This is good] kind of rating. If enough people voted [This is bad] then the thread could be flagged as such. Won't that work like a Troll button?
posted by riffola at 8:40 PM on March 5, 2002

I can't help but wonder: Why is everyone here so resistant to a little community empowerment? Don't you *want* the ability to make MetaFilter a little better?

I think the community enjoys thinking that it's a democracy but knowing that it's a benevolent dictatorship. We have a neighborhood watch program that can only slap your wrist, but our Oz is good enough for us (or I assume this anyway).

Besides, knowing how the MeFi Mafia works around here, a little empowerment might massively corrupt the system. Suddenly we play favorites with posters and ideas, eventually ruining what harmony Matt, and the community, have created.
posted by BlueTrain at 9:01 PM on March 5, 2002

How about a Troll or Not box at the bottom of each thread? That way we can see what each person gives on a scale of 1-10 and if it gets above say an 8 it's killed.
posted by redleaf at 9:03 PM on March 5, 2002

Redleaf: ouch.
posted by insomnyuk at 9:15 PM on March 5, 2002

I can't help but think that people are a bit fixated on the "troll" concept these days. There are all kinds of ways to be a problem (jerk, whiner, nag, clown, bigot, bore, poser, pedant, sleaze, shill, flamer...someone whip out a link to Flame Warriors) without being a troll--how did that get to be the all-purpose boogeyman word?
posted by rodii at 9:41 PM on March 5, 2002

How about, you get to choose which user's ratings are factored into the final rating you actually see? That is, you add certain other users to a sort of "buddy list," and you see the way that list as a whole rates each post or thread.

Anyway, that's just a far-out hypothetical that of course would demand too much time and too many resources. I think things are okay the way they are, more or less. Almost none of the comments on the thread in question were in any way supportive of it even existing to begin with, which speaks in itself.
posted by bingo at 9:42 PM on March 5, 2002

I think as we've seen from this thread, that declaring something a troll should be infrequent. Also, making it easier to declare something a troll would work to alienate those individuals who were unclear on the definition, as I was. As I see it, there are problems with the definition, and each person is going to have different standards for what a troll is. Why do we need to further perpetuate the misunderstandings and effectively berate and/or censor people by labelling posts and comments as trolls or as "good" or "bad" threads?
posted by jacobw at 9:49 PM on March 5, 2002

I'm looking for a troll button for this thread right now.
posted by Neale at 9:57 PM on March 5, 2002

One of the great joys of MetaFilter for me is the fact that it feels like it's run by grown-ups. Start labeling things good, bad or troll, and the community as whole is basically saying "Well, we have to spell it out for you, because we like things to fit into slots, we're easily put out by things we don't agree with, complex opinions aren't particularly welcome, and we fear you're a moron."
Do you really want to play to the cheap seats so visibly?

I realize I'm a broken record with the whole "ignore what don't like" point of view, but seriously, does anyone even try it?
posted by dong_resin at 10:10 PM on March 5, 2002

I do, and I'm a happy, happy lad.
posted by Optamystic at 10:13 PM on March 5, 2002

...jerk, whiner, nag, clown, bigot, bore, poser, pedant, sleaze, shill, flamer...

Santa's Metafilter Reindeer!

"On Bigot, On Whiner, On Pedant, On Shill!"
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:16 PM on March 5, 2002

posted by rodii at 10:24 PM on March 5, 2002 I'm trying to figure out if I should be mad at you or not.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:38 PM on March 5, 2002

Here's your flame warrior link!
posted by Lynsey at 11:00 PM on March 5, 2002

Lynsey: love. Stav: no.
posted by rodii at 11:09 PM on March 5, 2002

Perhaps it's the late hour or perhaps I'm just on the brink of insanity but that link made me laugh so hard tears welled up in my eyes and my cigarrete fell out of my mouth into my lap and burned a hole in my shorts. I think I've encountered every single species on that list here on MeFi.
Thanks, Lynsey.
posted by jonmc at 11:17 PM on March 5, 2002

Just a ranking. 1 to 5. Rank this thread for trollitude.

The bottom of the page could have a little graphic saying the ranking.

It's kind of silly but it's not a huge deal to implement or use. Although, come to think of it, it's probably not all that useful either. But it could be an interesting little gauge.
posted by Succa at 11:19 PM on March 5, 2002

Strike back, brave Stavros, in a language rodii will understand!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 11:23 PM on March 5, 2002

Holy crap, Lynsey.

I just wet my pants. And my floor.
posted by dong_resin at 12:58 AM on March 6, 2002

There was a "which flame warrior are you" thread here a long time ago, but for the life of me I can't find it...

I suck at the searching.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:41 AM on March 6, 2002

I'm all of them.
I'm even the ones whose behavior contradicts some of the other ones.
posted by dong_resin at 2:23 AM on March 6, 2002

I'd love the opportunity to vote idiotic links out of existence. It scales better than the present system, where we're relying on one guy's herculean amount of work and a lot of kvetching in MetaTalk to keep the site from going to hell. If the votes were always public, and the threshold for deletion was high enough, it could be the basis of a nice truly self-policing site.
posted by rcade at 5:38 AM on March 6, 2002

Stop flirting with me Dash, you yeasty, rump-fed, bat-fowling bum-bailey.
I don't swing that way.
posted by dong_resin at 6:27 AM on March 6, 2002

I think the ability to "vote idiotic links out of existence" is a bad idea. Otherwise, the topics that remain are those of interest to the majority, and dissenting views can just be disposed of. Metafilter should operate more like a free market of ideas, not a democracy. It's in the crucible of debate that ideas and positions are tested.

The post that started this post (I know that's confusing) is a good example. I don't think postroad was necessarily agreeing with the views expressed -- the point was to raise awareness of the various points-of-view that exist, no matter how crazy. I'd much rather know about those things (that I wouldn't otherwise know) than have them deleted because a majority thought the link was "idiotic".

Just my 2 ยข
posted by pardonyou? at 6:56 AM on March 6, 2002

Why does it have to be "rate the threads AND delete the low ranked ones"? If we were able to rank threads for information, but not automatically delete them, it might give us an indication of worth which we could then feel free to ignore if we chose. Another idea is not to allow negative votes, just positive ones. This might make the process less political, because it would encourage good threads without causing directly negative feelings about less high quality ones. Not saying I definitely want to see such an idea implemented, just suggesting refinements.
posted by walrus at 7:12 AM on March 6, 2002

It does appear to me that postroad consistently posts outrageous links that are intended more to provoke yelling than to encourage reasoned discussion. I don't know what sort of mythological creature that makes him, but I generally think that the discussions that come from his links are crap. But, you know, the best way to handle that is just not to click on a post that has his name on it.
posted by anapestic at 7:35 AM on March 6, 2002

Otherwise, the topics that remain are those of interest to the majority, and dissenting views can just be disposed of.

I don't see any reason to assume that would happen. People here react strongly to idiotic links from partisans of all stripes.
posted by rcade at 8:33 AM on March 6, 2002

Hear hear. Look at how many of Postroad's threads are just news stories, dropped like stink bombs into Metafilter, with hardly any attempt to create a constructive discussion--just "Hey! Fight over this!"
posted by rodii at 8:36 AM on March 6, 2002

Whoops, Rogers, you sneaky boy, getting in between me and anapestic like that.
posted by rodii at 8:37 AM on March 6, 2002

Hey, since we're talking about trolls and the gang's all here, I have a question. Is this a troll:

P.S. - I'm sure I'll regret saying this later, but will you bleeding-heart dweebs get a life? There's a couple of billion of us on the planet - it's not like human life is sacred.
posted by BlueTrain at 9:09 AM on March 6, 2002

Yep. Although a rather wan and unremarkable one in the thread it's lifted from. A lot of trollbait being tossed willy-nilly there. If you're planning on posting there, you might want to wear a pancho.
posted by UncleFes at 9:31 AM on March 6, 2002

For the third time, I agree with you, BlueTrain. I just hope that song "You're Getting To Be A Habit With Me" doesn't apply. But, yes, it is a true troll, IMO. It has everything: deeply misleading information(there are more than six billion on the planet, not "a couple"), gratuitous insults, both political("bleeding heart") and personal("dweebs"), and an outrageous opinion to provoke religious and non-religious people alike("it's not like human life is sacred"). To complete the rather crude cocktail there's the standard, phony flame-inviting disclaimer("I'm sure I'll regret this later").
posted by MiguelCardoso at 9:53 AM on March 6, 2002

Idea: instead of a "troll" button, how about we put in a link to the appropriate warrior from the flame warrior site? That is, if we ever feel the need to chastise someone publicly here... (*giggles*)
posted by Lynsey at 10:36 AM on March 6, 2002

How about using your head and ignoring topics which are so blatantly aimed at pissing you off?
posted by gsh at 10:39 AM on March 6, 2002

Hey! There's a thought!
posted by dong_resin at 12:17 PM on March 6, 2002

Note: I only used "troll" in this idea because it's specifically mentioned in MetaFilter's guidelines as something you're not supposed to do. Since it's against the rules of the site to troll, I think it'd be great if there was a way for the community to help remove/prevent it.
posted by fraying at 12:25 PM on March 6, 2002

calm, rational discussion angers me.

i will wear out the button pretty damned fast.

starting with dong-resin. intelligent humour pisses me off as well.
posted by jcterminal at 2:49 PM on March 6, 2002

Why is everyone here so resistant to a little community empowerment?

I don't think it's that folks are resistant, it's that MeFi is not an open-source community where we can all program it to do what we want. The idea has been raised before, there are plusses and minuses to it, and it hasn't been implemented. This would be a useful feature for other no-no's like self-linking alarms [rare] or double-post buzzers [more frequent] and I wouldn't be surprised if the MeFi of the future had some of those bells and whistles.

However, there's a big difference between self-created self-sustaining communities where everyone controls the sytems used to keep the community alive and thriving, and the way MeFi runs. I'm not knocking it, and I think lobbying for change is a good thing, but implying that people are disempowered because they're not hassling Matt to make changes he doesn't see a need for seems a bit off the mark.
posted by jessamyn at 8:32 PM on March 6, 2002

I am curious how many people could objectively rate threads? Some threads, such as religious and politcal ones, often raise people's ire. If their ire is raised, chances are they will not like the thread, hence a bad rating. Bad rating=people see it and don't go, or by the proposed delete method, the post gets deleted. I hate to be bastardly, but I am always very hisitant to trust people i don't know in real life.
posted by jmd82 at 9:41 PM on March 6, 2002

Just to be contrarian, deliberately, I don't completely disagree with the sentiment "it's not like human life is sacred."

Not trying to fan any flames here, and I agree that the way in which the point was (badly) made was aggressive and strident and stuff like that, but I wonder how much of the objection people have to the comment to which BlueTrain linked is based on the content rather than the intent, if you get my meanin'.

Not that I'm particularly bothered either way, to be honest - just saying.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:41 AM on March 7, 2002

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