Friday, September 10, 2010

The Final Solution?

DPReview has been a part of my life for 5 years. It helped a great deal to rekindle my interest in photography and I have spent a lot of time over the years posting technical info there … as best I could.

The place has become a battle ground though in recent years. A few not-so-thinking people like to lay the blame on me and a few others who like to ensure accurate data is posted to the forum. This inevitably brings out a few intolerant people who attack swiftly with great prejudice. Ad hominem arguments are their forte and they like long, drawn out circular discussions that tend to get the baby button pressed many times.
This is the source of the great purge of this week.

Now … someone on the forum (user kenseguro) has suggested a solution that is apparently used by other sites … although I cannot say I’ve ever heard of it.
what many web 2.0 companies do in situations like this is to silo all the offending users into a "offenders" group. So over time, offenders end up in a dense community of highly irritable people. The experience becomes so bad that they eventually leave.. in the meanwhile normal people enjoy an offender-less community. Works like a charm.

Or in other services, offenders become invisible to other users. They can still post, reply etc.. but none of their actions will be seen by other users. (insulation)

All these actions are rationalized by the fact that 1 offending user can take down multiple users and has an extremely negative impact on retention and engagement. So, it makes much more sense to insulate other users from the offenders, or to ban / perm ban the offenders than to solve it through dialog, etc.. After all, it's a website, not a consensus based governance framework.

I know many services who even kill paid accounts with no refunds, no questions asked. (the very successful maple story comes to mind) It's not an uncommon resolution method in the industry. It works, and the hammer (known as the ban hammer) should be used liberally, to maintain a psychologically safe and healthy environment for the users. The disclaimer is there for a good reason.
That’s censorship, pure and simple. The term psychologically safe and healthy environment makes sense in a group therapy session … but in a photography forum? Really?

The fact is, if you don’t want people to argue, then make a rule that any discussion longer than 5 replies on a side will be immediately deleted and the persons both banned permanently. Sounds draconian, but at least you are being dead clear up front. The reasoning would be that discussion leads to arguments and arguments are evil. Of course, the problem is that one person’s discussion is another person’s attack. That’s just how it is, and throwing up arbitrary rules just makes the system seem imbalanced … as the recent spate of bans shows so clearly. Some of the worst offenders managed to “slide” by an appropriate ban.

So the above solution would feel as arbitrary as any other one. DPReview has always had wild fights now and again … and the forum always came back to a decent norm. Until the arrival of the current attack pack and especially the sycophants who like to protect the leader … this was followed quickly by the advent of the baby button (complaint system) … that’s really changed how things work in there and imbalanced the whole environment.

Now the moderators complain that there are too many complaints for them to handle … so what next?
Now here is my suggestion for the final solution: analytics. It is used to track faces in casinos … to guess that fraud has taken place … and for many other purposes. In this case, the algorithms would be almost trivial. Such as:
  • Track the number of discussions between two people that hit more than 5 replies on a side. That is a probable argument.
  • Track the number of complaints between every pair of people: X complains against Y
  • Track groups of arguers … i.e. these three people always band together in the same sub-thread against person X
  • Track complaints by groups of people against the same person
  • Track the result of complaint audits for people who complain more than twice in a month. Flag complaints as unfounded.
At this point, it is probably becoming clear where I am taking this. With analytics, we can now know who is doing what to whom and how often. All that is needed then is a simple time out system that kicks in automatically for *everyone involved* with no exceptions. All based on rules like:
  • The third time an argument between people ensues within a two-week perdiod, they are both banned 3 days.
  • The third unfounded complaint results in a 3 day ban for the complainer.
  • 10 complaints for the same post results in a 3 day ban (but it is lifted if the ban was unjust.) This covers sexual harassment etc. If the ban is lifted, *all* complainers receive the 3 day ban instead.
  • The same subset of people having an unjust ban lifted a second time are all banned 14 days for abuse.
  • The same person being legitimately banned three times receives a 28 day ban.
  • The same person receiving a second 28 day ban receives a 60 day ban.
  • And so on …
This is pretty easy to implement and fairly hard to defeat. And most of all … it is *fair* …


The Naturalist said...

You may just be the most blind and arrogant person I've ever encountered. Blind to what a pompous, hypocritical jerk you are.

All the bad things you say about others are actually true about you. YOU are the problem. YOU are the asshole who stirs up trouble on whatever forum you post on.

Your pomposity and arrogance are gargantuan and couldn't be measured with any kind of statistical analysis. I'm surprised that your fat head fits within the known universe.

You're nothing but a fat, ugly, obnoxious, big-mouthed internet bully who is overcompensating for your minuscule dick.

Go away and stay away from DPR and every other forum on the internet. The handful of people who support you are just as fucked up as you are. Everyone else hates your guts.

Kim Letkeman said...

Hmmm ... Paul? You following me here now? Or could this be Jada? A little too nasty, but not out of the realm of possibility.

Anonymous said...

Yes, even though it has some LO touches it sounds more like the low UK hack, which makes me wonder if this sad chauffeur is familiar with Traffic's 1971 album "The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys"

Unknown said...

Doesn't sound like Paul.

Use of the word "pompous" and heel-stomping terms like "YOU" sound like they're written by a female ant.

Kim Letkeman said...

Dotbalm, I agree that it is very likely Jada. But I must say that if this is true, then the attack on my family (to match Maul's email attack) is very disappointing, as is the vulgarity.

Unknown said...

DEFINITLEY NOT PAUL. If you look at some words and phrases used like "gargantuan", "statistical analysis", "overcompensating for your minuscule".....well it's just not really Paul's style to use those sort of intellect words. And it's not really a British style of writing either. You get to know the styles of some nationalities on the forum.

Sounds like a Yank to me. And the use of the phrase "Internet Bully"....that's more of a girlie type phrase to me. So you could be right about your female suspect. Hmmm...was I still too strong in saying that person was seriously screwed up in the head or on heavy medication?

The Naturalist said...

You guys crack me up. The only correct comment is that I'm a Yank.

Go ahead, keep wondering who I am. You'll never get it right though because I'm not any of the people you think I could be and I have never posted on the FTF until I registered just to tell Kim what I think of him.

Kim Letkeman said...

Naturalist ... we'll cut you a break then and simply feel sorry for you as you are unable to express yourself like an adult and too cowardly to give us your name.

Anonymous said...

Fuji-user wrote:

> Go ahead, keep wondering who I am. You'll never get it right though because I'm not any of the people you think I could be and I have never posted on the FTF until I registered just to tell Kim what I think of him.

Right, and you're not even who you think you are. The main difference between you and Sybil is that "The Blonde" was her last personality, the only one that had no name.

And speaking of Sybil and your new, instantly abused DPR identity :

> A Sybil attack is one in which an attacker subverts the reputation system of a peer-to-peer network by creating a large number of pseudonymous entities, using them to gain a disproportionately large influence. A reputation system's vulnerability to a Sybil attack depends on how cheaply identities can be generated, the degree to which the reputation system accepts inputs from entities that do not have a chain of trust linking them to a trusted entity, and whether the reputation system treats all entities identically.

Unknown said...

I was spot on with the Yank, wasn't I? I think I was spot on with the gender too....ya cissy!! :)

So you never posted on the FTF. Kim spends 98% of his time on FTF, so obviously you never crossed paths. Only a Psycho could habour such hatred for person whom you never had contact with.

Kim Letkeman said...

I've received a few more taunts from the naturalist, but they continue to be anonymous so I rejected them. I.e. no more Sybil attack. If he or she ever chooses to reveal his or her identity in a verifiable way, I will consider letting him or her post more comments. For now, we've seen the best he or she has and was never worth reading. I gave a bit of play for fairness, but that was obviously a waste of time.

The Naturalist said...

Verifiable way?? That's hilarious!

Do you want to see my driver's license, birth certificate, and social security card?

You're just a hypocritical censor.

Kim Letkeman said...

Naturalist: My blog, my rules.

The Naturalist said...

DPR, their site, their rules.

Anonymous said...

The Naturalist said...

> DPR, their site, their rules.

Precisely, which is why we, you have been here, lo, all these days. This blog is even better than DPR in that you won't have to suffer my photos. :)

You may now return to your bridge.

Unknown said...

Rules? What rules?

What about rules of engagement? The Golden Rule? Rules of civility? Rules of common courtesy? Rules to live by?

At least Kim has been generous enough to give you a voice. I believe you deserve silence. Route your emails to null or at least the junkmail folder.

What we have here is good ol' plausible deniability: on the one had, a dedicated ID for spleen venting; on the other hand, the "oh it's so nice to be friends again on FTF ID..." (that's a prediction)

"Moi?, that' wasn't me. Prove it. How dare you speak of me like this. But I'm a cheerleader. Hey, I have an idea, I'll post with both my ID's, my spleen venting ID and my known ID. I have many IDs, as you know. I change them like hair styles and shoes. All part of my many faces."

"Hang on, I need to send a back-channel communique to the camp distro: 'When the Eagle rises...the Owl shall sleep.'" : )

You nailed it Bill with those Sybil and Stepford examples.


Kim Letkeman said...

Well, the Naturalist just tried to post a childish, vile, disgusting rant ... which of course I deleted.

Still too cowardly to say who he or she is ...