Friday thread: Improving Slugger’s comments

One of Slugger’s virtues is its comments thread. Unlike a lot of blogs, Mick applies a certain standard and trolls, threats, sockpuppetry and flamebaiting are generally discouraged. This isn’t done perfectly or consistently because it’s a big job to do and involves hours of unfunded work. We do the best we can under the circumstances – and at least half the job is done when people find themselves occasionally clipped.

For the most part, commenters are better-behaved on Slugger than they are on most blogs because of this. This is doubly useful because – unlike most political group blogs, Slugger is multi-partisan. And it being based in Northern Ireland (where partisan differences are held less lightly than they are elsewhere) it’s no mean achievement.

But we recognise that we could do this better and do it more consistently. We’ve picked up bits of anecdotal evidence that women are less keen on rambunctious comment threads than men are, and like a lot of the political blogosphere, Slugger is fairly male-dominated. Poorly managed comment threads also make it harder for people to advance ‘apostate’ opinions and I think that it’s fair to say that Slugger would benefit from a wider range of political and social viewpoints.

It all helps. We’ll shortly be introducing a ‘flag this comment’ button to comments so that readers can help us with this be more consistent in managing this. Ban/deletes will still be down to Slugger’s editor’s prerogative, but at least we’ll miss less bad behaviour.

Deleting comments and banning / suspending commenters is only one side of the carrot-stick equation though, and we want to look at how we can positively encourage readers to sharpen the quality of their contribution to the comments thread. So we are planning to introduce this grid – in miniature – beside each comment:

(Note: I’m no designer – this is for demo purposes only).

When you write your comment, instead of hitting the Submit Comment button, you will instead be asked to click on a point on this graph that you think best represents the nature of your comment. Remember, no point on this graph is ‘wrong’ – purely adversarial comments with no evidence to back them up can sometimes add to a debate. But such comments are more likely to be problematic – and if Slugger were dominated by them, it would be a bad thing.

So, here’s what it would look like next to a comment in moment after you submit it:

Now, once you’ve submitted it, others may have the option to also rank your comment. Our suspicion is that – as long as your own assessment is fair – that they won’t. But if your judgement is wildly wrong (often because you have a different standard of ‘evidence’ to others) they may have the option to also click on the graph and rank your comment.

If they do that, the graph next to your comment could look like this:

And finally, all of this information would also appear on your profile page – when people click on the name next to your comment, they will be taken to your profile. This will display an aggregate map of your commenting history and it will look like this:

So – feedback time:

  1. Do you like this idea?
  2. Would it encourage you to comment more or less?
  3. Would it change the way that you approach commenting?
  4. Would you like or resent your profile having a map of your comments?
  5. Do you think that this idea would make the comments thread more hospitable and diverse?


  • joeCanuck

    I don’t have a problem with the idea. It will be interesting to see what other people think of my contributions and, if consistently poor, obviously I’ll be outta here.
    Just a thought, not everyone is likely to read this entry especially if they comment from work and have already gone home for the weekend, so would it be worthwhile sending it out to commenters on e-mail?

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Im all for better behaviour….I am presuming this is all optional as I consider myself beyond reproach.
    But does this apply to those who initiate threads as well as the mere commenters.

  • The two worst thing which have happened with the new site and they do in my view impair quality are

    (1) the loss of the preview button. This is actually a major flaw. It may sound trivial but the facility to view a comment before putting it up would help the quality.

    (2) the loss of the search function. I know people complained at times but once mastered the search function was extremely useful and its loss has also been a severe one.

    I know this is about quality of comments but allowing people to go back and point out the idiotic comments from the past is a major driver against the dafter comments. Also being able to preview one’s work allows people to make it better.

  • joeCanuck

    Yes, and as well as being optional, presumably there will be some security feature to stop anyone voting more than once. We wouldn’t want to be known as the FST of the blogging world.

  • Good idea, hopefully it won’t be abused.

  • Oracle

    You want to be South East or South West…
    If you end up North East your not really serious about anything, and heavens forbid if you End up North West you’re just a fuckwit..

  • Turgon,

    All fixable I hope. Normally, I’m relaxed about installing a few plugins on a WordPress site but this one is immense and I’m reluctant to do anything to make it fall over. But we are going to do a bit of testing with plug-ins in the not-too-distant.

    There’s a nice Ajax-based comment preview that I use on my own blog – here: – have a look. It actually generates the preview while you type.

    I think that a limited html editor to allow easier hyperlinks in the comments *may* also be possible, and there are a few interesting-looking ‘advanced search’ plug ins that I want to investigate.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Im not sure that I understand the Profile business.
    I dont have a Profile.
    But it looks as if you dont have a Profile…one will be provided.
    How long then before it is taken a step further and other details are put on the Profile for us.
    Can we block book a segment on the graph in advance to save time with individual posts?
    Can people who DONT comment on what we say (presumably a form of agreement) also vote..or is preference given to those who comment on what we say (usually disagreeing) and can we have a vote on their comments on what we say?
    Clearly a lot of thought went to into all this.

  • Drumlin Rock

    get the feeling my comments would be all over the place 🙂

  • Paul,
    Thank you I am impressed that such a thing can be done. If it can that is great. Not that I am complaining about the new site overall just that along with all the positives those are two things which I miss. If you cannot get them back so be it: if you can great.

  • Mark McGregor


    The problem I had and retain with this and other ideas previously floated and trialed on rating the comments remains:

    This is open to abuse, many will not use it and those using it are likely to use it to negatively describe opinions they merely disagree with.

    Minority opinion will inevitably be marked down. It will lead to rating up mediocrity/mainstream and rating down the controversial/outsider.

  • Mark McGregor


    As an example – ‘ArdEoin Republican’, he has been around for a good bit, many know who it is, many will disagree with every last word he says, many will think he talks a load of aul shite. However, he is one of a very limited number of people that give a feel for the thinking in a minority political viewpoint.

    He could/would be rated down and off the chart as the vast majority completely disagree with everything he says, what he stands for the whole heap. But, he gives us an insight into a strand of thinking not often articulated here or in the MSM.

    I would hate to see people like that rated down by being a minority voice when they could/do/can bring something to the table we couldn’t buy in.

  • joeCanuck

    I can understand your concern, Mark. You and Turgon for example get a lot of negative comments. But it’s worth trying, I think. If it proves to be misguided I assume there will be a restore button which can return things to what they were.

  • joeCanuck

    Also, Ardeoin (formerly Ardoyne?) isn’t too popular but we need to hear all opinions to maximise the value of Mick’s vision.

  • anne warren

    Tend to agree the rating system would risk sidelining minority opinion. Which would be a pity as there should be space for every voice in an online forum.

    Also think the system could inhibit posters who lack confidence as they might not be able to judge their own post impartially and might be “upset” or “intimidated” by readers’ assessments, particularly if there was no concurrence.

    Which leads me to applaud the confidence and courage of ‘ArdEoin Republican’ who provides “his minority political viewpoint” even though “the vast majority completely disagree with everything he says”

  • DC

    Sometimes I would like an edit button to use myself to go back in and make changes after post was rushed in haste (or other reasons). It could be shown as edited by user with time or something so that changes are marked as made for clarity purposes.

    Other times a delete button would be handy at user level so that the commenter could remove his or her own comment after reflection!

    The trouble with the design above is that I think most of slugger’s readers are socially conservative.

    This may be important to note as I think Northern Ireland is being held up and stagnating as a result of too much social conservatism in the system, despite what I can see locally on the ground and between friends the many who are not reflective of this.

    Funny old world of that of perceiving to be for a political purpose if not actually trying to achieve a social status gain in the process and that of reality on the ground – among personal friendships. (I’m thinking that of flying the flag of morality for political purposes only for that ‘reality’ to be undone at a personal level. Think of recent scandals within the DUP as proof of that contradiction.)

  • Mark McGregor


    The difference between me, Turgon, other bloggers and rating the people in the comments zone is vast.

    We get the ‘big spake’ by being able to set and define topics at will. If we are criticised thats part of having the ability to create blogs and present our ‘agendas’ (whatever they are) at the top end of the site.

    Bringing rating into the comments zone doesn’t work for me as the minority voice could be weighted down there but doesn’t have the big voice at the top Turgon, I etc. get to balance it out.

  • lamhdearg

    I mark Marks comment spot on, Also i have seen people seem at odds with the world on slugger when there has only been three or four other posters on site at that time, And the next day the thread has moved off the list, That in turn would change there profile on the say so of a few. On the other hand i would like to see if anyone even reads my input.

  • Alias

    Guests are generally well-behaved because they respect the host and because that good behaviour is a condition of extending the hospitality, and not because there is a bunch of signs up around the house saying “Don’t use the towels to wipe your arse” or “Don’t have more than two glasses of my slightly acidic home-made sherry or you’re banned” etc. As for grading ‘performance’ in the comments section: this is just schoolboy nonsense – the type of crap that a frienless geek would inflict on those hirelings his parents paid to attend his 40th birthday party wherein he issues scorecards where thay all grade each other’s Wi-Fi antics. You won’t wring fine wine out of a pair of old socks, so the idea that any of this frankly embarrassing prefect antics will do anything to improve quality is nonsense – it will only ensure that earnest commenters will avoid the forum.

  • Drumlin Rock

    How do we rate comedy effect? a comment could be offensive, crude, inaccurate, personal, but ohh soo funny (i’m talking about “the Hangover” type funny, so so wrong but hilarious), there should be a comedy overide factor!

  • Wholly approve.

    I am arrogant enough to know, for sure, that my views are factually based. This opinion is reinforced by a long afternoon in a place of alcoholic refreshment (as today).

    Equally, the feed-back of others would refresh almost as much as Greene King or (over the coming weekend) Hook Norton.

  • Middlemarch

    A delete button would be great! I tend to rant a bit on the computer – being mildly autistic. When there’s no human to say ‘shut up dumbass!’
    mistakes can be easily made and then opinions distorted and things taken out of context. Or possible self inflicted obsessive paranoia.
    At times I can’t help but think the forum is a bit of a shark tank – with a few pearls of wisdom at the bottom of it…

  • Am I being over cautious or does this sound a bit like Orwells 1984?

    Comments will not just be there and thats it, they may be graded. So there may, at some stage, be a ‘best grade category’ and obviously a ‘worst’.

    It looks to me as though it could put off minority opinion, and allow ‘likes and dislikes’ to influence the grading.

    Just a few thoughts,

  • On the ‘block booking’ you wouldn’t need it. Instead of hitting ‘Submit Comment’, you click on the graph at the point that you think characterises your comment. Every now and then, it may spur you to go and tweak your comment to make it closer to the profile that you want for yourself.

    On the profile question, you will see that I have one because I’m an author on this blog and I’ve specified an external blog. In future, this *could* intead take users to a page that shows a list of their comments (direct links into posts where they’ve commented) and the graph that sums up their contributions (the fourth one on this page). If you want, it could also link to your twitter account, facebook page etc – but only if you submit them.

    Yes anyone can rank your comments, and some people will do so mischeiviously – but it will all even out. You don’t need to comment to rank each other’s comments using the graph. There’s no link between that – remember the vast majority of readers almost never comment – you may have see this before:

    ‘Lurkers’ are (I suspect) a good deal more agnostic in their politics than commenters – it’s important to give them a bigger stake in the site and I hope this will do it.

  • DC

    I think there does need to be one marked as ‘comedy’ or something.

    We all do it at times.

    Plus a ‘tired and emotional’ flag.

  • Yes – but there isn’t an ‘up’ and ‘down’ – you rank the qualities rather than the opinions here. There is no point on that graph that is necessarily a bad point. Every community needs people who are opinionated and adversarial as well as the more lawyerly types who are on the opposite end of the spectrum.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Surely Mr Canuck this new thinking (and Im far too old to try and understand it) cant be taken in isolation. About two weeks ago there was a circular so to speak…….asking us if we could write for Slugger.
    It was stated that some voices….business, mainstream republicanism and “women” for example were under-represented in Slugger core posts.
    So the deliberations to arrive at these decisions are actually more interesting than the decisions themselves. Alas Mr Canuck thats none of our business.
    Theres a certain amount of “spin”there I think. While necessarily this is about increasing and widening the Slugger core, I think its a commentary on quality as well.
    I suppose Im entitled to believe that as much as others are entitled not to believe it.

  • Mark McGregor


    You are stepping back from what you said:

    ‘positively encourage readers to sharpen the quality of their contribution’

    If this graph is designed to do that it surely has negative/positive axis, or it is just a pointless plaything?

    I’m pretty sure you think of it as a way to ‘grade’ comments and let cream rise to the top. I don’t think that is possible when you recognise the site is built around and thrives as a result of providing a space for the partisan.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Spot on. Slightly Orwellian. Slightly Stalinist. But ultimately not that important. Just go with the flow.

  • Mark McGregor


    You the man:

    ‘As for grading ‘performance’ in the comments section: this is just schoolboy nonsense – the type of crap that a frienless geek would inflict on those hirelings his parents paid to attend his 40th birthday party wherein he issues scorecards where thay all grade each other’s Wi-Fi antics.’

    Couldn’t agree more.

  • Not swimming against the tide tonight FJH just a bit concerned the internet is being ‘tamed’…

  • Aw, fitzjames horse, by adapting your monniker, you’ve spoiled it! I’d got the Cullodon connection, and was hugging it to my bosom for a later thrust.

    But when did anyone on this ite “go with the flow”?

  • That’s why we’ve not got a set of ‘likes and dislikes’ as an option. People don’t rank the sentiments, but the quality of argument and expression.

  • I was going to reply by saying “I think the main difference is this: In Orwell’s 1984, everyone is under total intimate surveillance, society is riddled with informers, everyone has their whole life directed by an all-seeing state and any dissent is treated first with absolute brutality and then with brainwashing. The state is in a permanent state of war and all perceivable life is a carefully staged fiction.

    Whereas on Slugger, it may come to pass that you will have the option to grade comments that you put on a blog and others may have the option to agree with your grading or grade it themselves.”

    But then I decided not to 😉

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    The monniker has actually got nothing to do with Culloden.
    Culloden was April 1746.

  • As I’ve said already – there isn’t an up/down axis here. If it encourages people who *think* they are providing evidence to wonder if others see it that way, it will help. And the same is true of people who see themselves as being conversational. It’s like adding a pause button, and *ahem* we all need one of those sometimes.

    I can’t see that it will reduce the partisanship of the site in any way.

  • Paul Evans

    Im not trying to be difficult and certainly not taking sides, but likes and dislikes are built up over time, known stand points, even which political party someone supports influences likes and dislikes. To keep out of it a commenter would have to change their ‘name’ every time they commented and since some of us notice style etc, even that might not work.

  • Cynic

    try it and and see

  • Paul Evans

    Im not trying to be difficult but somethings are built up over time, known stand points, even which political party someone supports influences likes and dislikes. To keep out of it a commenter would have to change their ‘name’ every time they commented and since some of us notice style etc, even that might not work.

  • Pete Baker

    I wasn’t going to comment on this, but on hearing more about its proposed operation I do have something to say on it.

    I have no interest in grading my own comments.

    They are what they are. Others can agree with something I’ve said, or disagree.

    On the specific feedback questions.

    1. No.
    2. The only possible impact would be less.
    3. No. Apart from a irritation when hitting submit having to grade my own comment.
    4. I would neither like nor resent it. But I would completely disregard such a generalised, out of context, assessment.
    5. It would have no effect whatsoever.

  • lamhdearg

    Paul a ?
    When you write your comment, instead of hitting the Submit Comment button, you will instead be asked to click on a point on this graph that you think best represents the nature of your comment.

    Where as on Slugger, it may come to pass that you will have the option to grade comments that you put on a blog.

    Will there be an option or not?

  • Granni Trixie

    Paul: you sound so enthusiastic that I would really like to support your proposal but, as I understand it, it horrifies me.
    Answers to questions:
    1. No

  • Paul Evans

    Orwell was about a great deal. it was about no where to be oneself.

    The internet has always been about free expression.

    By the way good of you not give a precis of book and film

  • consul

    Yes the preview button was invaluable.

  • Not sure how people will co-operate, but it’s a good exercise.

  • Reader

    I make adversarial comments in a conversational style. Others – conspiracy theorists and the like – state opinion believing it to be fact. Others state facts without presenting evidence (I can tell you my age but I won’t show my birth certificate…). One person’s evidence is another ones anecdote. One person’s beliefs are someone else’s prejudice. And when I make one of my posts containing only questions – it that evidence or opinion?
    So we can’t rate ourselves, and rating each other on the partisan topics found here is just going to result in one side or the other being frozen out.
    Now, if you wanted to tabulate people’s assessments of other posters anonymously, and count the results according to whether the assessors and posters were orange or green, we might discover that themuns think we are are opinionated and adversarial. Whereas we think we are all solidly grounded and congenial. That might be a bit of fun.

  • Off topic, but who cares? This is fun!

    Now, let’s see how close I can get. Eoghan Ó hAnnracháin did a study for the Galway Archaeological & Historical Society some years back.

    All the Wild Geese were foot soldiers, with the exception of the mounted regiment which became the King’s (the 570ième?) Cavalry, and whose colonel was Dominic Sheldon.

    So, it was alternatively Sheldon’s Cavalry. Around 1705-6 it became the command of John Christopher Nugent, and was subsequently renamed Fitzjames Horse, after its nominal colonel Charles FitzJames, Duke of Berwick. Charles Fitzjames was son of James FitzJames and Anne Bulkeley and grandson of James II by Arabella Churchill. The Colonel remained a FitzJames (after Charles, Marquis Jacques-Charles) until it was stood down at Hagenau at the end of 1762.

    FitzJames Horse formed the Prince’s bodyguard, took havy casualties, and were probably the last Jacobite unit to leave the field of Culloden. Their nominal commander was Sir Jean MacDonnell and their captain was Robert O’Shea.

  • Henry94

    It sounds like a bit of a pain to be honest. (Opinion) Have you looked at other sites where it is in use? (Conversational) had a reputation system but abandoned because of abuse (Evidence). So why go through all the pain just to be proved wrong like the whole policing thing all over again (Adversarial)

  • Clanky

    I have posted this elsewhere on slugger, but the worst thing you can do is to pander to the professionally offended.

    At present if someone posts utter garbage they are publicly lampooned and either don’t come back or think a bit before they post next time, if you add a report this post button people will post utter garbage, be publicly lampooned, report the post and then demand that action be taken.

    One of the reasons why commenters on slugger are so well behaved is because the professionally butt hurt types who go on other forums to spew bile and then stir trouble by demanding action when people deride them afterwards can’t do that here. I would predict that 90% of threads on here will have at least one reported post if you implement this system and that several threads per day will have multiple reported posts followed by crying and whinging because the reported post wasn’t immediately deleted.

  • lamhdearg

    Nice one Henry.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Mr Redfellow indeed Eoghan knows almost as much as I do. LOL
    He has also written extensively in “The Irish Sword” journal of the Irish Military History Society and has loaned many exhibits to the Soldiers and Chiefs Exhibition at arbour Hill Museum.
    The Kings Regt became Sheldons Irish around in 1698 and in 1706. Only about 70 plus were present at Culloden as most had been intercepted at sea as were most of the horses….they took the mounts of the “Jacobite cavalry”
    The Irish Piquets (Infantry) and Scots Guards (total about 650-700) were the last to leave Culloden covering the rout on the northern end of the battle. About 14 men under Capt Robert Shee (or Shea or O’Shea) led Charles Stuart off the field to the South.
    Being nominally French they could retire in good order as they knew theyd be treated as POWs.
    Most were reaptriated in 1747/48 and the Regt was disbanded in 1761.
    Shee would much later write to Charles claiming he was owed a very large gambling debt and was never paid.

  • wee buns

    Can’t say I dig it.
    Appreciate the idea behind it, but there is a multiple choicy boxy awkwardness, which does nada. Make it curvy & at least 7 times more complex….

  • Me me

    Am I the only person who thinks the old slugger – ie pre 2008 with just a page of threads, minimal graphics, and then opened threads with unlimited comments per single page as opposed to the 25 of late – was much much better than the slugger of 2010?

  • joeCanuck

    you made a point somewhere that the majority of visitors to the site don’t comment. Two questions:
    1. Will readers be able to rate or just commenters.
    2. How many regular commenters are there; say people who comment an average of once per week or more. Number or percentage.

  • Rory Carr

    I was only saying to Herself this morning that my style is probably more in the conversational sector of the spectrum.

    “Bedad! “she says, ” You’re right there. As evidence of that you only have to look at the opening sentence of this post.”

    “Mind you,” says I, “I’m well prepared to argue that that’s as good a style as any other .”

    “Now you’re being adversarial,” says she with a withering sideways glance.

    “In your opinion maybe,” I retort as I get me coat and head for the pub.

  • Rory Carr

    Oh bollocks! I missed out a after “evidence” in the second sentence. Bring back the preview function quick, please.

  • RepublicanStones

    Not sure if it’ll work Paul, but I’m curious to see how it’ll pan out. Perhaps also you could have scale just below indicating how many bottles of beer or glasses of a wine we’ve imbibed before submitting the comment, it should only appear at the weekends, wouldn’t want the site to live up to it’s namesake !

  • Manfarang

    I shall say what I want and no devil’s milk!
    Maybe one day they will gve me a peerage.
    * * *
    Night curfew lifted in Bangkok.

  • Sorry this sems to me to miss the point if the aim is to improve the quality of contributions.

    Pinpointing a contribution and over time a contributor does nothing to improve the quality. It merely labels the contribution and the contributor along some arbritrary axes. An axis could just as well be stupid to clever, or happy to sad.

    Better by far to have a recommendation button and let readers read and judge for themselves each time afresh the quality of the contribution and the contributor.

    Note the presumably unintended juxtaposition of crosshairs and labels. Makes me wonder whether the whole thing is a belated april fool’s.

  • The idea is that it’ll only work on comments – not on posts. That second question would need a bit of research – though at the moment, there’s little incentive for people to log-in and register – if there were it may throw up different results.

  • copenhagentheory

    I think this idea, though noble in intention, is far too complex and subjective to make any kind of meaningful contribution to the quality of debate on slugger.

    Surely a far more straightforward way to encourage thoughtful posting would be a some sort of rating system, or a “Recommend” button? This system works successfully on forums such as have your say, conhome etc, allowing an element of “peer review” for the comments and providing an opportunity to capture the distribution of opinions effectively.

    Although I have to say, the quality of debate on Slugger is consistently the best I can find in the blogosphere. Sometimes the old adage rings true: “if it ‘aint broke, don’t fix it.”

  • Bubbler

    I completely agree – I think one of the best things about Slugger is that it gives people who don’t have a voice a place to share their opinions and have a conversation. I’ve seen a few comments on my posts that I completely disagree with, but I certainly don’t think it’s my place to ‘rank’ them – I could see this degenerating into a crap-flinging contest, wherein if someone posts something completely at odds with your own opinion you immediately rate it ‘adversarial.’ That’s just ridiculous. People come here to trade ‘adversarial’ and often diametrically opposed opinions and duke it out – we all need a place for that,and generally, they’re quite good about it. I say if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

  • Bubbler

    People rank the ‘quality of argument and expression’?

    Are we in school?

    I mean, I know I am – but I didn’t think I was on Slugger. I thought when I wrote on Slugger, I could say what I thought without grammatically editing myself and making sure my comments were well-organized and eloquently expressed. Sure it helps if they are – but people grading me on it? Not totally psyched about that idea, personally.

  • Bubbler


  • madraj55

    Before the rent overhaul of slugger, you could find your recent posts by clicking Your account>subscriptions. What happened to this facility?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Definitely the best semi-autobiographical contribution from you so far.

  • Bubbler

    2 things:

    Your characterization of Turgon and Mark’s received comments as ‘negative’ for me highlights the dangers of the proposed system: if someone doesn’t agree with something, they may just rate it as ‘negative.’ IMO that’s not constructive, it’s dismissive and it doesn’t help debate one little bit.

    “Women”? Why the quotes? I am honestly reserving judgment until you reply, but I really wonder why you felt the need for quotes…

  • Me me

    Why isnt anyone approving my comment?

  • Is there a text-only version of the graph to support visually impaired and others who may be using less-capable web browsers? Perhaps the functionality will degrade to a Sumbit button when Javascript isn’t present?

  • Stephen

    That’d be pretty good. It’d force people to consider what they’re saying more.

  • Me me

    I mean the comment I posted yesterday about Sluggers declining quality…

  • joeCanuck

    Never mind the quality, feel the width. 😉

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    If those of us who dont have a profile have (effectively) one made for us composed of our “ratings” and we still dont care to look at our profiles to find out these ratings……..will it be out of bounds for posters and commenters to bring these “ratings” to our attention.

    eg would it be in order for someone to say ” …but FJH your ratings are so low anyway”.
    In other words surely these ratings will influence what people actually say.

    And when “posters” become “commenters” can we rate them
    For example we couldnt “rate” your initial suggestion but can we rate your attempts to defend it.?

  • Comrade Stalin

    The threading feature makes it harder, in my view, to actually follow a discussion properly because the latest contributions aren’t actually at the end anymore. The old Slugger mechanism was somewhat low-tech in that you had to quote someone else to respond to them in context, but at least you could easily see the responses by going to the last page or two later.

    I’d like the ability to edit contributions or at the very least to be able to save them for a short time to come back to them later.

    On the subject of a points system for comments, this works very well when it is implemented well. As usual, the cynics regard it as an attempt to push down contributions deemed to be low quality. But if you go somewhere like Slashdot, you can see that it has the effect of highlighting quality contributions.

  • I can’t see it working,this being such a diverse society most people will view facts that are not in agreement with their own as being opinion based rather than evidential. Having placed many facts surrounding republican operations into the public domain I know how quick they are to deny any operational responsibility, so personally I view this as a senseless decision.

  • Neville Bagnall

    On preview:

    Please bring it back.

    On feedback:

    I like the scatter graph as opposed to positive/negative rating and the ability to compare your own opinion of your comments to the general opinion.
    But any attempt at grading will be subject to negative interpretation and abuse. Despite the best intentions of the proposal that has already happened.

    If the aim is to increase positively diverse opinion in the comments then the simplest way of doing that is to have only one approval mark:
    “Distinctive opinion”. A “Like” that doesn’t imply agreement.

    If the aim is to provide feedback for a commenter then why make it public? Why make it required? Let a commenter submit a comment via the evaluator or unscaled. If they don’t self-evaluate community evaluations get thrown away. If they do, then community evaluations are available to the commenter but to no one else.

    The scatter graph is a nicely efficient way of evaluating with one click, but perhaps adding 50% to 100% on each axis would help reinforce the fact that there is no negative axis.

  • You may do better by using natural language analyse to categorize the comments. People use different verbs when giving opinions or evidence. People use different adjectives and adverbs when being conversational or adversarial.

    However, since that NLA software doesn’t exist yet (apart from in narrow areas like assessing newswire reports), maybe the best thing to do is to give people the option of marking comments and postings on the two scales, but not reveal the numbers. Then after you have collected a few thousand, use a bit of machine learning to find the word frequencies that best predict positions on the graph.

    That will get you a little closer to finding out how much of the discussion is Habermas’s “communicative action”, which is what you are aiming for.

  • Even simpler just turn a post into a word cloud

    Often used by lazy reporters who want to get the gist of say a speech before reading in full, so I’m told.

  • Munsterview

    I have also complained to mick on the lack of a preview. However since continuing the complaint may imply agreement with certain parties I will now put up with it. Cannot be too careful about these things!

  • Munsterview

    So it is back to lone raperee on the Munster Hills or face mass Unionist ranks? And to think I thought guerrilla days were over for me!

  • Munsterview

    Agreed!. It would seem so!

  • Munsterview


    As I see it there is a touch of ‘ The Dead Poets Society ‘ about it, in that scene at the end where the replacement lecturer comes in, draws exactly such a horizontal vertical graph on the blackboard and then begins to rate poems according to the values attributed at each of the four points.

    Of course the spirit of the poems are completely lost in the process. Oh Captain! my Captain!

  • Munsterview

    Any chance you can cite the exact publication please?

  • Alias

    It’s a very close portrait actually – except my parents paid me to run away from home so the idea that they would pay anyone to befriend me (other than serial killers) is pure fiction. The only games my parents played with me as a kid bobbing for apples in the piranha tank and hide-and-seek in busy shopping centres.

  • Mick Fealty

    And of course your reference to ‘policing’ would demand a ‘no evidence’ tag, Henry… 😉

  • Mick Fealty

    It’s not a decision. We are floating one possible idea to see if can spot the holes before we go any further.