Tiny Pony: highlight mods' user names August 27, 2010 8:53 PM   Subscribe

It might be helpful to subtly color a mod's user name differently from other user names, especially in MetaTalk. I occasionally click into a long thread and wonder if a mod has weighed in, and find it hard to scan for that information. I imagine it would also be very helpful for new users to know who the moderators are. Potential downside: ordinary commentary & thread contributions may appear more weighty and official than you actual want them to. Your thoughts?
posted by judith to Feature Requests at 8:53 PM (105 comments total)

I think it's rather bad idea for the very reason that you point out.
posted by Justinian at 8:55 PM on August 27, 2010


The MeFi Navigator Greasemonkey script will do this for you.
posted by gman at 8:59 PM on August 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


This is a good idea that perhaps isn't a good idea for everyone. If you find yourself wanting such a thing, it is easy to accomplish via various paths. If you use a browser that supports add-ons, greasemonkey (or it's alternate-browser equivalent) is a great way to expand and pinpoint personal site adaptations. There's a catch-all greasemonkey script called MeFi Navigator that has admin comment highlighting built into it (as well as many other functions). There's also a super-simple solution to the scenario you describe that works in any browser: Hold the CTRL key and press 'f', then type the string of characters you'd like to find on the page. CTRL+F "cortex" or CTRL+F "jessamyn" works a charm.
posted by carsonb at 9:00 PM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I would like to see pictures of kittens next to their names. You would single them out, defuse tensions and imbue them with the very essence of adorable impartiality.
posted by stavrogin at 9:00 PM on August 27, 2010 [18 favorites]


If I'm scanning for mod input in a thread and can't easily find it, I'll do a ctrl+F for "posted by cortex(or whoever) at" to expedite things. Since there are only a handful of mods it's not difficult to run through all of them.

A lot of time in MeTa, admin input isn't intended to carry extra weight, and I certainly wouldn't want their contributions on the front page to be considered more important that the rest of us. I'd be wary of any sort of special badge or color for them.

I would support, however, making it clear to new users (and perhaps unobservant older ones) who the mods are. Maybe a nice list on the FAQ, and another on the contact form, would suffice?
posted by Mizu at 9:00 PM on August 27, 2010


in a regular discussion I wouldn't want this at all. If they are saying something modly, I also prefer this isn't the case. the truth is that it's better for our mods to approach us the way they do, as fellow users who care and happen to have a bitchin' app for seeing cool background site shit. An admin signifier implies an added weight to what they say that, though it actually exists, would hamper interacting with them if it felt like a constant reminder. I disabled the mod identifier in greasemonkey for this reason.
posted by shmegegge at 9:21 PM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I know everyone that works on Vimeo does it there (you sometimes see a little STAFF icon next to usernames) but I think though it'd be very helpful in MetaTalk, it'd shift the balance between our normal moderation duties and our normal comments in questions or posts on the site where we'd rather be treated as equals.

There are greasemonkey type hacks to enable this, and I suppose someday we could either enable it just for MetaTalk or maybe just selectively when we are speaking as moderators of the site, but I don't think we'll be doing it everywhere or soon.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:26 PM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


If I'm scanning for mod input in a thread and can't easily find it, I'll do a ctrl+F for "posted by cortex(or whoever) at" to expedite things

That's something new users to the site might not even be aware of as something they should do. I see the utility of it, though I think I prefer that we get to participate as equal members throughout the site (MetaTalk is a bit of a different beast and I could see maybe sometimes putting a marker next to our names here and here only).
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:27 PM on August 27, 2010


(MetaTalk is a bit of a different beast and I could see maybe sometimes putting a marker next to our names here and here only).

So this is how liberty dies, to thunderous applause.

benevolently dictatorial hamburger
posted by joe lisboa at 9:33 PM on August 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yeah I could see it being useful in Meta. Basically everywhere else we're adding comments in small tags most of the time so it's a little clearer what's going on. But yeah I wouldn't at all feel bad to have some small note here in MeTa only though I think it would be super weird to have it be enabled on a "by comment" basis and try to figure out what was a mod comment and what was just a jessamyn comment.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:36 PM on August 27, 2010


Stan Chin's star is currently unemployed.
posted by crunchland at 9:41 PM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think the way Reddit does it is pretty good. When the admins are speaking as admins, their usernames are red and have an [A] after it. When they're speaking as site users they look like everyone else. Maybe thread cleanup comments on the blue & green and MeTa comments that are "heres the mod perspective on this" could get tagged similarly - and everywhere else the mods look like us peons?
posted by ish__ at 9:42 PM on August 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


On the halo.bungie.org forums, site owner Louis Wu posts as a regular user most of the time, but when posting a major update or warning he toggles an option that adds a big red "(ADMIN)" tag to the post (example). It has an attention-getting, "pulling rank" vibe, and is usually used when handing down official policy or while firmly telling troublemakers to Knock It Off.

If adapted to be a little less harsh-looking, I think an optional visual tag like this could help in MetaTalk, and maybe even site-wide. Both as a way to brandish the Mod Stick, and as a way to highlight important policy clarifications like the ones in this Mefi wiki article.
posted by Rhaomi at 10:01 PM on August 27, 2010


There should be a little graphic of a jackboot by the mods' names, for the benefit of the people who whine about their FREE SPEECH RIGHTS BEING VIOLATED.
posted by amyms at 10:04 PM on August 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


judith: Your thoughts?

Search within the page, it isn't hard at all.
posted by paisley henosis at 10:09 PM on August 27, 2010


Is there greasemonkey for chrome on a mac? My google fu is fulish on this matter.

And yeah, I use mefi navigator also when using firefox, and it seems it would be easy to alter it to only do the little "admin" annotation for metatalk.metafilter.com and not the other subsites.
posted by Rumple at 10:10 PM on August 27, 2010


I have to say: I actually frankly like it without the marker next to mod names even here in metatalk (although of course if everybody else likes it I certainly wouldn't mind or anything); one of the things I like about metatalk is the fact that there's a relatively free rein to the conversation, and the mods really welcome every perspective on the community and how best it can run itself. One of the more difficult situations that happens every so often – the few newcomers who sometimes end up here simply because they're mad about something that happened elsewhere on the site – is in part diffused by this, I think, because they end up here and find, to their chagrin, that they don't have an obvious big-brother figurehead of authority they can take aim at. I like the way mods have to sort of introduce themselves as such in those situations – 'hi, I'm one of the moderators of the site' – because I think it's still a little jarring to them to notice that, even here, moderators don't throw their weight around or make strong displays of ownership or power. (This seems a bit different from a lot of forums I've been on where the moderators take the admin or site-maintenance boards as their personal playground, and are much more likely to delete stuff at random there than elsewhere.) I notice that there's often a shock of realization from people – particularly here in metatalk – then they notice this: 'wow, that guy who I totally said was full of shit is actually a moderator here? And he hasn't even deleted any of my comments yet? hmm...' I think that's a worthwhile buffer, and I don't think it really causes any problems – just an inconvenience that can be solved a couple ways, like greasemonkey.

Just my opinion, anyway.
posted by koeselitz at 10:16 PM on August 27, 2010 [6 favorites]


I use Mefi Navigator and I edited the script so that admin labels are highlighted.
mfn_adminNode.style.background = "yellow";
This is how this thread appears to me.
posted by special-k at 10:23 PM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is there greasemonkey for chrome on a mac? My google fu is fulish on this matter.

Greasemonkey scripts install directly into Chrome without need of the Greasemonkey extension.
posted by setanor at 11:08 PM on August 27, 2010


Mods should have two names or handles, to distinguish "official" comments from their personal-capacity comments. I.e., cortex comments about music, cortex-mod talks about bad posts.

This serves them (by allowing their personal comments not to be dicta) and it serves the rest of us (by allowing us to read their personal opinion as personal opinion).

In other words, they should sudo root when they need to be root.
posted by orthogonality at 11:35 PM on August 27, 2010


silver cudgel
posted by clavdivs at 11:39 PM on August 27, 2010


I like it the way it is because every now and then some outraged new member gets fighty in MeTa and doesn't know cortex and jessamyn are mods and that is funny that leads to funny for me and schadenfreude and makes you laugh, makes you think GLAVIN
posted by Joseph Gurl at 12:08 AM on August 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


they should sudo root when they need to be root.

I don't know. I like the feeling that the mods address us, the users, as equals, even (or especially) here in MeTa. I've seen a few threads in which a user needed to be educated on who was a mod, and in those cases something was said like "Hi. My name is Jessamyn and I am a mod here," and that seemed to help insofar as help was needed.

It's true that there isn't a bright line between when a mod is speaking ex cathedra vs. voicing an individual opinion, but I like to think that that's one of the things that makes this a special place--more social club than parliament, if you will.

(I'm aware that I should be treading very lightly here, having less history by two orders of magnitude than some of the participants in this thread. I do not speak for anyone else.)
posted by AkzidenzGrotesk at 12:15 AM on August 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was going to suggest CTRL+F but then I CTRL+F'd "CTRL+F" and I got like 3 responses.

It is pretty useful.
posted by hellojed at 12:26 AM on August 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


CTRL+F? Pfft. Amateurs.

wget http://www.metafilter.com/12345/foo && cat foo | grep <username>
posted by koeselitz at 1:47 AM on August 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Mefi Navigator is good and all. But I find it a little clunky.

I have written another Greasemonkey script that just changes the colour of the mod's names to a nice fashionable cyan.

I am still ironing out a couple of bugs but it is 95% there. For some reason it turns off the 'Live Preview' when making a comment.

Mefi mail me if anyone would like to give it a whirl.
posted by TheOtherGuy at 1:59 AM on August 28, 2010


I think it's pretty easy to figure out who the mods are. Also, one of the things that I really love about MeFi is the fact that the mods speak as equals (who happen to have some superpowers, sure) most of the time, EVEN when they are pulling rank. Making special mod labels or colouring their userids would destroy that for me. So no thanks, please don't do this.
posted by bardophile at 2:49 AM on August 28, 2010


Protip: Firefox allows you to search by just pressing "/". The power of vi compels you.
posted by coriolisdave at 3:21 AM on August 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


...we'd rather be treated as equals...

...we get to participate as equal members...

...the mods address us, the users, as equals...

The MeFi moderators: first among equals!
posted by TedW at 3:32 AM on August 28, 2010


Stan Chin's star is currently unemployed.

Incorrect. I am the sole owner of the so-called "Stan Chin's" star. I am biding my time and waiting for a more auspicious time to deploy it inline with my username.
posted by Meatbomb at 3:35 AM on August 28, 2010


I think this is a good idea.
posted by chillmost at 4:07 AM on August 28, 2010


So you want colored mods, huh?
posted by nomadicink at 4:37 AM on August 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Mods should have two names or handles....

I hate the idea of two handles. I could write an essay as to why, but no one wants that.
posted by cjorgensen at 5:19 AM on August 28, 2010


I like this idea, and gave a few examples of when it would've been helpful back in October.
posted by Houstonian at 5:38 AM on August 28, 2010


I want an animation that shows deleted comments being struck by lightning and smited from on high.

No, wait, how about something where one of the nearby comments morphs into an admin comment all Agent-Smith-like and then deletes the offending one?
posted by XMLicious at 5:39 AM on August 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


We also need something for admin favorites. It needs to be like glowing holy unction.
posted by XMLicious at 5:43 AM on August 28, 2010


> Protip: Firefox allows you to search by just pressing "/".

Wow, my eyes are opened. Thanks!
posted by languagehat at 6:22 AM on August 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'd prefer any of these to the suggestion.

1) No change.
2) Mod Hat. An "official business" indicator/badge only when needed
3) Mod Uniform. Mods use a different individualized account entirely for mod comments vs. personal comments, e.g. "cortex-mod".
4) Mod Presence. a single separate "moderator" account that all the mods share when making mod posts, and the individual person signs at the bottom e.g. [--cortex] at the bottom.

When I ran a multi-line BBS 25 years ago, I went with the Mod Presence form: I had my own account for hanging out on, and I used Sysop for official stuff.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:45 AM on August 28, 2010


Fuck no.

The commissars can have the power, but they can't have the special hats. It would replace reason with status. If the commissars try to give themselves any kind of badge, we workers must yank them away and stop them into the ground.

--
Comrade fleacircus
posted by fleacircus at 6:48 AM on August 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Looks like the user name "official moderator" is still available.
posted by fuq at 6:54 AM on August 28, 2010


I've changed my mind on this. I think that everyone should have "capacity" flags next to their names. This way you could select things like "under the influence" or "one of my buttons" or "needs coffee." This way, inexcusable behavior can somewhat be ameliorated by a simple flag.

The "moderator" flag should be reserved for moderators and anyone with more than 30,000 comments. The "sarcasm" flag should be enabled only on those proven to know how to use it. And everyone should get a "cortex" flag.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:21 AM on August 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


I see the utility of it, though I think I prefer that we get to participate as equal members throughout the site

Perhaps then in the moderator view you all can check a box when you are putting your moderator hat on and it will add a hammer icon next to the moderator's username. A sort of "oi, I'm serious now see?" sort of thing.
posted by terrapin at 7:36 AM on August 28, 2010


Two words. Blink tag. Wait, two more words: All Caps.

CORTEX

CORTEX

CORTEX

CORTEX

The FAQ lists all the mods (and links to their profiles), you can always look through their recent posting history if you want to see if they weighed in on a particular topic if search is too tedious (one problem with searching for mods responding in a Metatalk thread is their names tend to get brought up in the conversation a lot so it can take a while).
posted by nanojath at 7:49 AM on August 28, 2010


Oh you didn't know that the mods do their normal conversational posting under pseudonyms? Fun game, try to guess what their alter ego nicknames are. :)
posted by Space Coyote at 7:54 AM on August 28, 2010


I wonder if any mods answered this thread
posted by CitoyenK at 8:15 AM on August 28, 2010


Late to the party as usual, but mdevore's Mondo Meta Greasemonkey script (also available as a Firefox extension) will also give you the moderator-(or other-poster-)highlighting functionality you're looking for.
posted by hangashore at 8:31 AM on August 28, 2010


Protip: Firefox allows you to search by just pressing "/".

*head explodes*
posted by Think_Long at 8:37 AM on August 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think it would be great to have the mods able to, on a post-by-post basis, put a big star or something by their username- or maybe before and after the post- so that we know that they're speaking in their capacity of mod. Like, normally jessamyn speaks as a user like anyone else (albeit a very influential user), but if she's saying something modly, she can put the mod tags on it so that we know she's speaking ex cathedra.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:16 AM on August 28, 2010


POPE HAT
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:23 AM on August 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


is this honestly a problem?
posted by micawber at 9:26 AM on August 28, 2010


and control+shift+t re-opens accidentally closed tabs.
posted by dirty lies at 9:50 AM on August 28, 2010


I think it'd be handy all over.

I've been using the Navigator script for ages, and frankly I'm kind of amazed that y'all are able to moderate the site without that [Admin] box drawing attention to the fact that you are indeed the moderators and your decrees bear weight.

There are plenty of self-appointed moderators on the Blue and the Green, and maybe a more obviously NO SERIOUSLY I AM FOR REAL signal would maybe curb that behaviour somewhat while also curbing the other behaviour that prompted that the quasi-moderation in the first place.

I think though it'd be very helpful in MetaTalk, it'd shift the balance between our normal moderation duties and our normal comments in questions or posts on the site where we'd rather be treated as equals.

Maybe you could switch it on when you're in Mod mode, and switch it off when you're Joe Schmoe? (Though the Greasemonkey script doesn't have such capabilities and that's never been a problem as far as I can tell.)
posted by Sys Rq at 9:50 AM on August 28, 2010


Another problem I see with a visible mod badge is that the comments where it it used would be way, way over-scrutinized, leading to in an increase in pernicious second-guessing, where people mistakenly assume some kind of formal site policy that they hope they can manipulate to silence another user, or get some thread deleted/undeleted, or pull some kind of TEH MODZ ARE HIPOCRITZ junior high martyr flameout.
posted by fleacircus at 10:00 AM on August 28, 2010


Yeah like in some European governments where cabinet members have to wear tons of different hats. "When you spoke out in favour of using ground tyres in school lunches, were you speaking as Deputy Prime Minister, as the Minister of Transportation, or as party leader?".

(The best answer to this of course would be "I was speaking in my capacity as private citizen.")

So a check box could be added to the mod interface where you could add the marker to a singular comment to signify "I am now speaking as a moderator and I want this to be clear to everyone".

Use sparingly, and expect a couple of months of rampant parodies.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:25 AM on August 28, 2010


They do this over on MegaFiller.
posted by spaltavian at 10:39 AM on August 28, 2010


Protip: Firefox allows you to search by just pressing "/". The power of vi compels you.

!!!!

I know that I have invoked this accidentally in the past, but I never figured out which key or keys I'd hit to make it so!

The more you know.
posted by rtha at 10:50 AM on August 28, 2010


Yes, having mods with a yellow color scheme doesn't look "professional".

Perhaps a a white background, or possibly a grey/black background, like "real" websites.
posted by Argyle at 10:55 AM on August 28, 2010


I have always liked how on Craigslist the admins have a small degree-symbol or whatever it is by their names. I think they call it a halo, but it's tough to search for halo on the google.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:04 AM on August 28, 2010


the husband and i were dreaming of this pony just last week. the response is pretty much what i expected, but i do think it'd be helpful in metatalk and for clean up comments.
posted by nadawi at 11:56 AM on August 28, 2010


Actually koeselitz, it might be a bit more readable if you do:
 links -dump http://metatalk.metafilter.com/19739/Get-Yer-Ticket | grep -B 10 "posted by \(cortex\|jessamyn\)"
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 12:05 PM on August 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


And this is the best I've found:
links -dump http://metatalk.metafilter.com/19739/Get-Yer-Ticket | awk -v RS="   posted by [^\n]+\n" '{if (RT ~ /jessamyn/) print $0 RT}' foo
At least using just the command line + awk.

posted by Monday, stony Monday at 12:58 PM on August 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Some of us are color blind you insensitive dolt! Also, this is unneccessary. I don't have any pictures of cats, but there are probably some linked upthread anyway. Imagine picture of cat here.
posted by Elmore at 3:26 PM on August 28, 2010


junior high martyr flameout.

We call those 'MetaTalk Posts' around here.
posted by mannequito at 5:03 PM on August 28, 2010


Personally I still prefer how it is right now over any proposed change. I can see the utility side of some sort of highlighting, but

- I really don't want to constantly be OH HEY IT'S CORTEX THE MOD in every single comment to every single user, so the always-highlighted thing is definitely out, and
- it does seem like any attempt to create an explicit modal distinction between Mod Comment and User Comment via a per-comment tool is just a recipe for unintended consequences and headaches, not least of which is what it implies about the borderland comments where we might fail to mark a comment that has policy content or where we do mark something that has a personal or just-jawin' angle to it.

As it is, I feel like we do a pretty good job of keeping that stuff sort of segregated when it's necessary to, but it's not every discussion where there's a clear need to emphasize THIS IS WHAT THE MODS SAY nor is every discussion something that lends itself to that totally clean distinction.

So under the current scheme we modulate that stuff by choosing our words and presentation and saying a little more about the nature of the comment we're making when it feels needed. And I think that's ultimately far more flexible than any attempt at explicit marking. In absolute worst-case scenarios, we, too, have access to the blink tag and caps lock, and in more casual contexts we can easily [make things conspicuous on an ad hoc basis] that's recognizable distinct to anyone who spends a little bit of time here.

The new-user education problem is I think the most compelling reason to consider any other scheme, since they by definition are most likely not to know who we are or what tools are available (searching, greasemonkey scripts, etc) for making it easy to see what we're saying, but as folks have said it's not hard for us to do a little bit of "heya, I'm one of the mods, this is what's going on here" in the cases where new user + policy discussion = awkwardness.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:39 PM on August 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


OH HEY IT'S CORTEX THE MOD --- You don't think this happens now?
posted by crunchland at 6:01 PM on August 28, 2010


OH HEY IT'S CORTEX THE MOD --- You don't think this happens now?

It's a given that people who know we're mods and say us seeing modly things will mark that in their minds as like "MODDING IS OCCURRING!" and that's fine, it's pretty much the system working assuming nothing else is going on. But if I pop into a thread to say that I think a flash game is neat, or to mention that I wondered if someone had misread someone else's comment, or to toss out a random brainstorm on some random topic, that doesn't need an extra helping of "now pay attention!" to it generally speaking.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:39 PM on August 28, 2010


I think comments by mods should be converted into Old English and have "thou" and "thine" randomly inserted.
posted by brundlefly at 9:50 PM on August 28, 2010


I was curious, and I calculated the number of first comments for all sites and for Metatalk for 2010 (presumably, people commenting for the first time are more likely to not know that jessamyn and cortex are mods); included are also the total number of commenters for all sites and Metatalk:
       1st comments  Commenters
       All  Meta     All    Meta 
Jan    329   138     7488   1745 
Feb    301    89     7286   1426 
Mar    258    89     7359   1519 
Apr    239    74     7364   1411 
May    375   136     7669   1675 
Jun    357   106     7514   1553 
Jul    332    78     7665   1403 
Aug    295    63     7280   1355 

(value of all sites = MeTa, Mefi, Askme)
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 10:10 PM on August 28, 2010


I think you'll find Old English contains less thous and thines than þús and þins.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:16 PM on August 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


I just did something I wanted to do for a while:

This graph gives the number of comments, per month, for the users who signed up in 2000 (or before), 2001, 2002, etc.

Notice how few comments the 2003 users have made (there are only 34 of them), and the huge spike in 2004. (here's a high resolution version for people with large screens).
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 1:50 AM on August 29, 2010


Fascinating graph. The 2004 people really wanted to be here, they've stayed, and they have dominated.
posted by Meatbomb at 2:35 AM on August 29, 2010


I should add: this ignores the people who have elected to have their data "scrambled" in the infodump, since their comments can't be associated with a sign up date.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 3:06 AM on August 29, 2010


Potential downside: ordinary commentary & thread contributions may appear more weighty and official than you actual want them to. Your thoughts?

To avoid this downside, I think mods should have a checkbox they can tick when they're posting ex cathedra that displays cherubs playing bugles in the margins on either side of their post.
posted by Mike1024 at 3:27 AM on August 29, 2010


Highlight those community-guiding comments with which the mods agree. Then they don't have to say anything. And we get a broader sense of community norms. Downside: people snarking at misbehavior in an attempt to get highlighted.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:21 AM on August 29, 2010


We do have some "mod comments with which mods agree" going on over at the wiki. I realize this is not at all the same thing, but might be helpful for some people in any case.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:28 AM on August 29, 2010


[MyVocabulary addPhrase:@"ex cathedra"];

If there is a per-comment mod flag, it should be three-state. Ex cathedra comments colored in some way, normal comments normal, and intentional fucking around in Comic Sans. Ahem.
posted by ctmf at 8:53 AM on August 29, 2010


I should add: this ignores the people who have elected to have their data "scrambled" in the infodump, since their comments can't be associated with a sign up date.

The number of folks so munged is small enough that you probably don't need to worry about disclaiming it in contexts where the analysis is primarily aggregate in nature.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:20 AM on August 29, 2010


What user number range is associated with 2004? 18k?
posted by Mid at 12:20 PM on August 29, 2010


The 2004 people really wanted to be here, they've stayed, and they have dominated.

The MeFi Greatest Generation. *Pours a libation upon the ground*
posted by XMLicious at 12:42 PM on August 29, 2010


Usernumbers from 2004 range from 17357 to 21122.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 12:48 PM on August 29, 2010


2004 represent. for my dead homies.
posted by Justinian at 2:14 PM on August 29, 2010


Here's a larger version with arrivals by quarter and tally by week. The people from q4 2004 basically write twice as many comments as the people from the next most prolific quarter (q2 2002).
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 3:58 PM on August 29, 2010


Is there any way to get a sense of whether there are a handful of outlier users in that set driving the result? Or is it more broad based?
posted by Mid at 6:13 PM on August 29, 2010


I think maybe the core qualifying question there is probably "what's the average rate of commenting per nominally active user for that (and other) segments", though that requires settling on a workable definition of "nominally active". We could define it as "has ever made a comment" or maybe "has made at least ten comments" to get away from the drivebys.

That way we see what the output of the average user who signed up and stuck around for more than a brief flirtation looks like. My goal here being to establish if it's that the 2004 q4 people are really as individuals each all that much more talkative on average, or whether it's just that more of the folks who signed up in that bucket stuck around in an active sense at all. I'd guess that the latter is a big influencing factor.

Recall that, yes, these are people who really wanted in. More so than anyone who had signed up in other segments, because it was at that point that the floodgates were most dramatically (and without interruption or serious impediment) thrown open: a lot of folks who had for a while wanted a mefi account but could not get one could all now suddenly get one without fucking with a lottery or such. Signups during any other unrestricted period of signups were more casual, and so we saw I'm betting less casual abandonment or disuse of accounts from that segment.

17kers may also just be chatty folks in general as well, though.

I feel like someone (by which I mean "probably FishBike") may have actually tackled some of this a while back, but maybe we just brainstormed at the time. I'll see if I can find it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:33 PM on August 29, 2010


Recall that, yes, these are people who really wanted in.

I'm down with that idea, but I do sometimes wonder how much of it is just site lore. Now I'm just making things up, but, I wonder: if you assume that there is a "natural" rate of sign-ups per month when sign-ups are open, then you close the door and let demand build up (assuming that demand does not decay), when you spring open the door you should get a flood of sign-ups.

Monday, if I am understanding your charts correctly, you are tracking aggregate comments for the entire group that signed up in a particular quarter -- you are not doing a comments-per-capita calculation. If I am right, then doesn't your chart just show a big wave of pent-up users hitting the site all at once and commenting a lot in aggregate, but not necessarily commenting more on a per user basis? Apologies if I have misconstrued.

MeTa: a big wave of pent-up users.
posted by Mid at 7:04 PM on August 29, 2010


Well, that there was a build-up of demand prior to the Great $5 Reopening that was answered by a far-higher-than-baseline rate of signups over the short term is a matter of observable fact—there's a huge spike on day one and it settles down from there. Any other aspect of it is arguably in lore-land and I'm not making any claims along those lines.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:13 PM on August 29, 2010


Well, if you look at the comments for the first quarter of this year, and compare (arbitrarily) q4-2004 users to q4-2006 users, you get:
                  2004      2006
Active users      1004       372
Total comments  40,500    11,136
Max.              1439       966
1st Quartile         3         2
Median               8.5       6.5 
3rd Quartile        32        22.25
Mean                40.34     29.94
Both seem about as lopsided: the top 10% account for 64.5% of all comments for the early-$5ers, and 62.9% for the 2006ers.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 7:20 PM on August 29, 2010


Mid: It does seem like the november user don't have a profile very different from those that joined later, but that there are simply more of them.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 7:28 PM on August 29, 2010


And for everyone, from January to March of this year, we have:
 1st Qu. :       2  
 Median  :       6  
 Mean    :      27.13  
 3rd Qu. :      20  
 Max.    :    2319
 Active  :  10,403
 Comments: 282,118
But it seems that the whole has a very different profile from the parts: the first decile is only responsible for 11% of all comments, and I have to take the first half of all users to reach 57% of all comments.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 7:42 PM on August 29, 2010


Forget what I said about the non concordance: The first decile of all commenters accounted for 65% of all comments in Q1 2010; I had forgotten to sort the array beforehand.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 7:52 PM on August 29, 2010


One last thing: the "vingtiles" (so the first value is the maximum, the second the value at 1/20 * length, the third the value at 2/20 * length, etc.)...
All:  2319, 115, 63, 40, 28, 20, 15, 12,  9, 7,  6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 2, 2, 1, 1, 1
2006: 966,  126, 68, 52, 36, 22, 18, 12, 10, 9,  6, 5, 4, 3, 3, 2, 2, 1, 1, 1
2004: 1439, 174, 95, 63, 44, 32, 24, 18, 14, 12, 8, 7, 5, 4, 3, 3, 2, 1, 1, 1


This points out to 2004ers that are more active, on average, than other Mefites.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 7:59 PM on August 29, 2010


What if these users got together and began to breed? They might create a super-race of genetically superior users who could one day become supremely dominant on MeFi!

OMG the plan may already be in motion! (OK, Stynxno was a bit premature but TPS is a 17ker.)
posted by XMLicious at 9:15 PM on August 29, 2010


And before it's tomorrow for real: in this bar graph, each bar represent the total number of comments made by a centile of commenters, in Q1 2000 (with blue = all, green = 2004ers, red = 2006ers). It really shows how skewed the comment distribution is.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 11:21 PM on August 29, 2010


(I of course do mean Q1 2010; that's all I've talking about for, what, 10 comments?)
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 11:35 PM on August 29, 2010


No, you're right about the skew. There might even be some kurtosis goin' on there.
posted by XMLicious at 11:57 PM on August 29, 2010


I feel like someone (by which I mean "probably FishBike") may have actually tackled some of this a while back, but maybe we just brainstormed at the time. I'll see if I can find it.

I don't remember doing a comment rate per active user sort of analysis, and I couldn't find such a thing in my comment history or on my charts and graphs page. The closest thing, and it isn't very close, is probably this comment which links to a graph of number of active users, by month.

When signups were re-opened in 2004, there was a big jump in the number of active users, and that's almost all from new users who stuck around at least until the next month (the green "arrived and stayed" category on the chart).

The dramatic increase in people "leaving" the site towards the right of that chart is really just from people who don't comment very often. If someone hasn't made a comment for 3 months, they show up as "leaving" the site in the month they made their last comment. But if they comment again now (and I re-do the chart) they'll show up as "staying" in that month and "leaving" in the most recent month.

I don't know if the shape of the curve of red columns on that chart suggests a method of defining a "nominally active user", but it sort of looks like defining this as "has made at least two comments in two different months, one of which was less than 1 year ago" might work.
posted by FishBike at 6:34 AM on August 30, 2010


That way we see what the output of the average user who signed up and stuck around for more than a brief flirtation looks like. My goal here being to establish if it's that the 2004 q4 people are really as individuals each all that much more talkative on average, or whether it's just that more of the folks who signed up in that bucket stuck around in an active sense at all. I'd guess that the latter is a big influencing factor.

So, here's a bit of analysis of contribution rates, where a contribution is a post or a comment. This looks at users who have been active for more than 90 days, meaning the interval between their first contribution and their last is at least that much. These users may not be active any more, but they were at some point, and there are 21,541 of them.

For each of these users, I calculated their number of contributions per day, which is just total contributions divided by number of days between signup date and date of last contribution.1 It's then pretty easy to divide users into various groups for comparison.

The overall contribution rate for all users who met this definition of "active" is 0.211/day.

Separating out into three groups based on signup date:
  • Before Q4 2004: 0.203/day
  • During Q4 2004: 0.269/day
  • After Q4 2004: 0.206/day
Seems to be a significant difference in the Q4 2004 group. Neat!

1: This also allowed me to run some stats on who the most high-frequency contributors have been. I probably won't post a top-N list of that one unless people think it's really OK, but I'm pretty sure no one will be surprised when I say "The Whelk... dear god!"
posted by FishBike at 5:04 PM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Calculating something similar to what Fishbike has done, but for just Q1 2010 gives 0.301/day for all users, 0.448/day for Q4 2004 users, and 0.333/day for Q4 2006 users (my definition of active = commented in Q4 2010).
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 5:21 PM on August 30, 2010


(my definition of active = commented in Q4 2010)

No fair, how'd you get an Infodump from the future?
posted by FishBike at 5:27 PM on August 30, 2010


Oh boy, I gotta get that typomania checked. I meant, of course, Q1 2010 (since the data has been living in some python arrays for the last 3 days).
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 5:29 PM on August 30, 2010


I'm curious what the number is using your method for users with pre-Q4 2004 signup dates. The reason is that by looking at users who were active in a relatively recent quarter, that would seem to select for only users who have been active for longer the farther back you go with the signup date range. In other words it tends to bias the results by including only those users who've been active a really long time, and more so the older the candidate group is. I'm guessing those tend to be the more prolific as well, as a group.
posted by FishBike at 5:34 PM on August 30, 2010


Okay, here we are, with some off-by-one errors:
=====================================
Who           Users  Comments   C./d
-------------------------------------
pre-Q4 2004:   1659    51,666   0.346
 (Q3 2002):     460    15,674   0.378
Q4 2004:       1004    40,500   0.448
post-Q4 2004:  7738   188,377   0.270
 (Q4 2006):     372    11,136   0.332
-------------------------------------
Total:       10,403   282,118   0.301
=====================================

posted by Monday, stony Monday at 8:30 PM on August 30, 2010


Q4 2004 users aren't generally any more likely to comment a lot, it's just that I post ten gazillion times per day and skew the numbers.
posted by Justinian at 10:11 PM on August 30, 2010


Back to the original pony question: I'm for maintaining the status quo. I don't think the mods need any special hats apart from the ones they already wear to bed.
posted by arcticseal at 1:41 AM on August 31, 2010


There's a catch-all greasemonkey script called MeFi Navigator that has admin comment highlighting built into it (as well as many other functions).

I've been using a hacked up version of this for a year or so, that only has the user highlighting part and not the navigation. I figure some others might find it useful, so I put it up on userscripts: MeFi Highlight Users.
posted by smackfu at 6:31 AM on September 8, 2010


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