This document attempts to explain the moderation system that lies underneath this implementation of Slashcode's vast comment section. It was originally written for Slashcode years ago, so the specifics of this moderation system are outlined here. Keep in mind that as this project grows, some aspects can change to better serve the community and improve the overall experience.
As you might have noticed, a site like this can get a lot of comments. Some are downright terrible; others are truly gems, and hundreds of comments can be hard to sift through.
The moderation system is designed to sort the gems and the crap from the steady stream of information that flows through the pipe. And wherever possible, it tries to make the readers of the site take on the responsibility.
The goal is that each reader will be able to read the the threshold they prefer. Select "-1" and you'll see trolls and possible wrongly-modded comments, try "5" and you'll see only the top-rated comments.
We've set up a few simple rules for determining who is eligible to moderate.
So the end result is a pool of eligible users that represent (hopefully) average, positive SoylentNews contributors.
Each day every eligible moderator is given 5 mod points to play with. Each comment they moderate deducts a point. When they run out of points, they are done moderating until 00:10 UTC when mod points are regenerated.
Moderation takes place by clicking the drop down list that appears next to comments, and selecting one of the adjectives like 'Flamebait' or 'Informative'. In general, bad words will reduce a comment's score by a single point (a 'down mod'), good words increase a comment's score by a single point (an 'up mod'). All comments are scored on an absolute scale from -1 to 5. Logged in users start at 1 (although this can vary from -1 to 2 based on their overall contribution to discussions) and anonymous users start at 0.
Moderators can participate in the same discussion as both a moderator and a poster. You are only prevented from modding your own posts.
Concentrate more on promoting than on demoting. The real goal here is to find the juicy good stuff and let others read it. Do not promote personal agendas. Do not let your opinions factor in. Try to be impartial about this. Simply disagreeing with a comment is not a valid reason to 'down mod' it. Likewise, agreeing with a comment is not a valid reason to 'up mod' it. The goal here is to share ideas. To sift through the haystack and find golden, shiny needles. And to keep the children who like to spam in check.
A 'mod bomb' is simply when a user, 'A', uses all of their moderation points to 'down mod' comments posted by a single user, 'B'. Would you want someone who has a vendetta to use all of their mod points on your comments? It works both ways -- don't use all of your mod points on a single user. When this is detected, the account performing the moderation ('A') is given a 30-day 'time out' on moderating. We would like to make the code automatically prevent a mod bomb from occurring, but this is not yet in place. The focus is on the quality of the comments on the site, not on who posts them.
The spam moderation (spam mod) is to be used only on comments that genuinely qualify as spam. Spam is unsolicited advertisement, undesired and offtopic filth, or possibly illegal in general. Spam can come in many forms, but it differs from a troll comment in that it will have absolutely no substance, is completely undesired, are detrimental to the site, or worse.
The spam mod is special in that is removes 10 Karma points from the user that posted the comment. This mod is meant to combat spam and not to be used to punish commenters (when in doubt, don't use this mod). Our goal is to put a spammer in Karma Hell and for them to not be able to get out of it easily. As we do not want this used against non-spamers, we monitor all spam mods to make sure moderators are not abusing the spam mod. If we find a moderator that unfairly applied the spam mod, we remove the mod giving the poster back the Karma points, and the modder is banned from modding for one month. Further bans to the same modder add increasing amounts of ban time. If you inadvertently applied a spam mod, mail the admin and we will remove the spam mod without banning you. Even though we have updated the interface to physically separate the spam mod from the other mods, unintentional modding may still be an unfortunate occurrence.
If you are unsure of whether a comment is spam or not, don't use the spam mod. Here are some examples of spam:
If you see moderation abuse (mod bombing or spam mod), please mail the admin any comments (the cid link) showing the abuse. Alternatively, mention it on the main IRC channel. We will investigate and make amends if necessary. Note: in the rare case that someone has contacted us regarding "moderation abuse", we not only find this practice practically non-existent here (yay!), but in fact, comments that are incorrectly modded down get modded back up nearly every time.
The fact that you are reading this document proves that you are already on the right track.
Karma is the sum of all moderation activity done to a user. Karma is used to determine eligibility for moderator status and can affect your comments starting score. Every new user starts with a Karma of 0, and as long as your Karma isn't negative you are eligible to become a moderator.
We've decided to allow a moderator to moderate in a discussion, and then comment afterward without undoing their moderation.
10 tips for improving your Karma: