The state of the TDWTF main page comments



  • It seems to me that lately the quality of the posters on the main
    page's articles, along with the quality of their posts, has degenerated
    quite spectacularly. Due to this, for the last months I have posted
    almost nothing there, instead keeping to the forum (also, after the
    name changethere's even less purpose in posting there; where many
    posters previously compounded the WTF, now they seem to illustrate that
    TDWTF may turn, or perhaps have already turend,  into somewhitn
    worse than a failure). However, I'm a bit worried that the torrent of
    angry, intentionally misunderstanding, flaming, berating, small-minded,
    etc, people will find their way here and for all intents and purposes
    wreck this place.

    I might be paranoid, but I really do fear for
    this place. On the internet everything has its cycle of life with
    blooming, thriving, rotting, dying, and it isn't unnatural that it
    would happen here, too, Still, it has been a nice place and I
    would/will be sad to see it sink.

    Anyone else seeing it happen or sharing this worry? 



  • Exactly the same here. I used to read and enjoy the comments as much as, or sometimes more than, the article itself. Nowadays I rarely even view the comments.

    The cynic in me almost wonders if this is why Alex switched to seperate article & comments views!



  • I stopped reading the main comments, but not because they were getting silly. There were just too many of them. I couldn't read it all.



  • What do you think of slashdot's moderation system ?

    Ok, still, as any sane person I don't read all the articles, and I rarely make it to the comments, and even then, I only read one or two pages and that's it. But the issue is not the quality, it's the quantity, there's just too many of them. As for the quality, in fact a majority of visible comments make real sense, so I'd say it's successful. The only problem is it's really elitist and most of the time newcomers comments are hidden in default view ( but still accessible ).

    I don't think we should expect any technical change to comments on WTF's frontpage anytime soon, but I think a technical solution could at least help rewarding quality comments.



  • @aikii said:

    What do you think of slashdot's moderation system ?

    Ok, still, as any sane person I don't read all the articles, and I rarely make it to the comments, and even then, I only read one or two pages and that's it. But the issue is not the quality, it's the quantity, there's just too many of them. As for the quality, in fact a majority of visible comments make real sense, so I'd say it's successful. The only problem is it's really elitist and most of the time newcomers comments are hidden in default view ( but still accessible ).

    I don't think we should expect any technical change to comments on WTF's frontpage anytime soon, but I think a technical solution could at least help rewarding quality comments.

     indeed, what about slashdot's moderation system?

    when i read slashdot i can still ignore >70% of the comments, despite the moderation system.
     



  • I think all of the inane chatter on the article comments are unavoidable. I too don't read them -- they consist of "the real WTF is...", "frist", "I miss bean bag girl", or attempts to "fix" the issue. Since I can't really contribute anything that's not along those lines, I just read the articles (which I still enjoy quite a bit) and come to the forums for a good flamewar with CPound.

    Well... I actually avoid those too. :D

    Bottom line: as long as we keep getting good articles, I'll keep readin' 'em, and occasionally clicking on an ad just to give Alex a hit. I even buy from the store every once in a while, 'cause this sight still rawks.  

     

    I agree, however, that something similar to Slashdot's moderation system would be nice. Something that gets rid of all those "frist" posts and other off-topic inanity. I might even start reading the comments again if that were in place.



  • Check out the latest article's comments, with BigInt(2) and my reply, and notice how those people are apparently much easier to amuse than y'all here in the internal forums.

    :D 



  • The problem with the main page comments is that they are, well, comments. Many of them are unrelated to each other. The threads in the forums are more like a discussion.



  • @Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? Over. said:

    I agree, however, that something similar to Slashdot's moderation system would be nice. Something that gets rid of all those "frist" posts and other off-topic inanity. I might even start reading the comments again if that were in place.

    Will not happen, unfortunately, since /.'s system is open-source, and Alex is an avid opponent of anything not Windows, commercial and licensed. :(



  • @aikii said:

    What do you think of slashdot's moderation system ?

    For blogs, I personally like LifeHacker's system the best.  You "sign up" by submitting a comment with whatever user name you want.  If your comment is insightful, it gets posted and you get an email with account info for the user name you selected.  Also, you are warned that your account may be taken away if you start posting dumb comments.

    This greatly reduces the volume of comments and keeps the quality high.



  • @Mikademus said:

    Anyone else seeing it happen or sharing this worry? 

    I agree that the quality of comments has sunk. This is the primary reason that the Article and Comments page were split -- a lot of readers simply had no interest in sifting through the comments.

    Why did the quality sink? Quite simply, quantity. The bigger the site, the worse the comments are. Go look at your favorite small blog, and I'll bet the 5 or so comments posted on each article add a lot of insight and discusion. Just like they used to here. Now go to the other extreme -- break.com -- and see how worthless comments are. A Superadvanced Moderation System (like Slashdot) helps this quantity problem some, but (at least, from my read of Slashdot comments) it's no where near those "5 quality comments or so".

    I do have an idea though to help encourage and reward quality comments. Now, I haven't actually seen this done before, so I'm worried that it might not work, but the idea is to feature good comments on the article page. At most 10 or so. Thoughts?



  • Your feelings aren't alone. In fact, they're quite late ;-P

     http://forums.worsethanfailure.com/forums/thread/113014.aspx 



  • @Alex Papadimoulis said:

    I do have an idea though to help encourage and reward quality comments. Now, I haven't actually seen this done before, so I'm worried that it might not work, but the idea is to feature good comments on the article page. At most 10 or so. Thoughts?

    Highlighting a fixed (or semi-fixed) number of posts is not really the solution, rather a karma/community scoring system is probably the only way of dealing with it well and fairly.



  • The only really large site that came anything close to solving this is LittleGreenFootballs.com.   The solution was to not allow comments by unregistered users, and to almost never allow registration.  In effect, this is a non-solution for a site with a forum like this one.



  • @Alex Papadimoulis said:

    I agree that the quality of comments has sunk. This is the primary reason that the Article and Comments page were split -- a lot of readers simply had no interest in sifting through the comments.


        . . .  snip . . .

    I do have an idea though to help encourage and reward quality comments. Now, I haven't actually seen this done before, so I'm worried that it might not work, but the idea is to feature good comments on the article page. At most 10 or so. Thoughts?

    I agree that the quality of comments on the main articles is bad (so much so that I've pretty much stopped reading them all together).  I'm not sure that you can fix it.  How do you get quality comments from the following?

    if (error)
    if (fprintf(stderr,"An error occured while writing to the file")<0){
    if (fprintf(stderr,"An error occured while writing to stderr")<0){
    if (fprintf(stderr,"An error occured while writing to stderr")<0){
    if (fprintf(stderr,"An error occured while writing to stderr")<0){
    if (fprintf(stderr,"An error occured while writing to stderr")<0){
    return fprintf(stderr, "An error occured while writing to stderr");
    /* lets stop here, its enough */
    }
    }
    }
    }
    }


    Personally, I think it is a damn near impossibility.  There is no insightful or "funny" comment that hasn't already been used to death.  Truly good comments come maybe once every ten articles or so.

    Now having some sort of ranking system on the forums, that I would like to discuss further.




  • One of the main problems with pulling say 10 of the best posts out into the article page is one of context - a lot of replies aren't directly to the article but are in reference or reply to another post.

    That aside, probably the best first move to improve comment quality is mandatory registration. If someone wants to post a stupid comment, they're far less likely to do it if they have to register. You also lose all of the "CAPTCH: feeble HAHAHA omg that's so true" posts  which is a plus.

    I've always liked the idea of letting people set their own filters up. E.g. have little "I like this" and "i hate this" buttons on each comment that people can tick, which would mark that poster up or down for yourself, and let peole browse the comments with something like "show people with a score from me above -2" or similar. Unfortunately, that sounds like it would be a bit too heavy on the database (1 score per person per person - users^users records).

    A system like slasdot's I doubt would work as well (not that it works great at /.) with orders of magnitude fewer readers.

    As you said though, beyond a certain size the magic just goes. Everything beyond that is just different breeds of damage control. 



  • I think that 10 would be on the high end of things -- most articles would probably see only a few, if any. I took a look back through the last several articles and found this to be the case ...

    • On the CodeSOD, the best comment's I've noticed are ones that give a good explanation of the problem and how to fix it.
    • On Error'd, "featurable" comments are rare, but there are some one's that I LOL'd at. And every once in a while, you'll see the original developer responsible for the error fess up and explain why.
    • On the stories, the one's I'd feature are reader anecdotes (there were some very interesting ones on //TODO: Uncomment Later)  and deeper insights into the problem/story discussed.

    I that readers who only want to read the articles (i.e. most readers) would enjoy reading comments like that. I think they're far enough removed from the context of other comments to be relavent.

    As for Karma/Points/Mod systems, I haven't seen evidence yet that they actually work. I don't visit a lot of sites, but on the ones I've seen, the +1'd comments seem to be ones that the moderators like, not the overall readership. A blurry distinction perhaps, but I look towards slashdot's comments -- I highly doubt the readership of slashdot truly finds "so what if Bill Gates gives billions to charity, he's a convicted monopolist" to be insightful. That's what I don't want happening here.

     



  • mmm why not combine this.
    registered use can set a option to only view posts from other registered users (and the posts that where refered to by those posters)

    I personally don't really mind the bad replies, heck sometimes there even miny wtf's ;) 

     



  • @Alex Papadimoulis said:

    As for Karma/Points/Mod systems, I haven't seen evidence yet that they actually work.

    Well, au contraire, I think it does work very well given the circumstances. Many (most) /. comments are pretty worthless but those modded high (not by moderators, every registered user can vote on every comment) tend to be readworthy, either because they're insightful, good examples of the "other perspective" or simply entertaining. And with /.'s system comments can be labelled as funny, insightful, etc. If you overcome your dislike for /. as a place then you might see that the /. system could be the solution for The Daily What The Fuck.



  • I fail to see the problem. The comments on the main page are not interessting? Then don't read them. The important part on the main page are the articles. People come for the articles, I guess.

    I don't think a moderation system would work... who should do the grunt work of digging through the mess and searching for the few comments worth reading?



  • @ammoQ said:

    I fail to see the problem. The comments on the main page are not interessting? Then don't read them. The important part on the main page are the articles. People come for the articles, I guess.

    I don't think a moderation system would work... who should do the grunt work of digging through the mess and searching for the few comments worth reading?

     That's why we talk about rewarding rather than censorship.

     
    Comments are part of a website's editorial policy, that's a part of how the site looks. As more and more senseless comments stack up, they'll win eventually, as any sane commenter won't mind spending ten minutes for something that nobody will ever read because it's lost in tons of crap. And site owner will feel like in a pillaged home, when he only wanted a nice party where his friends feel at home and meet people they'd probably want to meet. But the house eventually look like a garbage dump full of wasted people.

    He, funny, I just realized that at some point, commenting is a write-only scheme, comparable to /dev/null or more like /dev/zero.

    As for the grunt work, he, yep it's a real issue. Will it ever be worth the price, another issue. That's why most website use a community-driven moderation scheme ; while it'll never be ideal, at least it's appreciably better.



  • I think the beauty of this site is that article comments are rarely made by registered users, especially the most insightful comments.

    I personally rarely ever log in when I comment, since I'm a big fan of Anonymous or Semi-Anonymous communication. A lot of points in http://wakaba.c3.cx/shii/shiichan apply to TheDailyWTF Worse than Failure as well, since it seems to promote the quick-comment-while-at-work kind of scenario.

     



  • I'm reminded of this episode of xkcd...

     http://xkcd.com/c202.html
     



  • @shadowman said:

    I'm reminded of this episode of xkcd...

    [img]http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/youtube.png[/img]

    (image inserted)

     

    It reminds me of this episode of Penny Arcade:

    [img]http://www.penny-arcade.com/images/2004/20040319h.jpg[/img] 



  • I'd definately have to agree that there needs to be some grading system for the front page articles. I'm also one less inclined to read the front page comments anymore. But the question is def how create a fair system, where the crap is buried and we're left with the decent comments. And slashdot's system doesnt work, it's usually full of crap(well from what i've seen) and certain people cough cough CPound cough could easily have their comments buried just because flaming against them "is the done thing", and thats a lot of comment i quite enjoy.

    I don't think it's a system that could be organised in a few weeks and then just implemented, but is purely tweaked(starting from mandatory registration for all comments, as was stated above).



  • Just to make things a little clearer, I do realise this system would only affect front page articles, and not the main forum(as there is little to no issues with with poor comments there)



  • Took a new look at the main page comments today (those in reply to the shared standardish library article) and it wasn't a pretty read. Having stayed away from them for some time either they've degenerated even further or they were always as vapid but blunted from exposure one didn't really notice before...

    So what solutions are there? It seems obvious to require registration to post. That might help a little bit. Secondly some sort of promotion scheme would be in order. Since manual promotion (by moderators or similar) would be too arduous (as well as arbitrary) it should be an automated system, which really means only a thumbs up/down system, or a full-fledged /.-analogue. Since many here, including Alex, seem to be against threaded structures (though I personally find threaded fora where all posts are always displayed are highly comfortable) the result will probably be a flat-listed thumbs up/down system.

    Nonetheless, still in shock from reading the comments, I'll risk sounding a bit elitist and close this forum to self-registration, only allowing registered front-page posters to apply for post access to the main forum here - there should be some buffering mechanism to not let in the obvious misfits in the first place.



  • At the current state, the sidebars tend to be the better area of the site (unfortunately), as well as the funniest part.

     
     



  • I have to disagree with that.  The sidebar is filled with people desperate to find a WTF.

     

    you have things like:
     

    int ratio = .5; // by default we will sue half the chickens.

     ZOMG!!! they hardcoded default value and misspelled "use".  WHAT AN IDIOT, I should quit my job this is so stupid.

     

    as well as

    >

    I found this at work today. "if (this.isWorking() == false)".  not only is the "this." completely worthless, they could have used "if (!isWorking())"!   People that do things differently than me should kill themselves.

     

    and to top it off:

    A guy came in to interview with us this week.  He didn't wear a suit.  Then he was bothered by me asking him who his favorite person in history is.  WTF?
     



  • @tster said:

    as well as

    >

    I found this at work today. "if (this.isWorking() == false)".  not only is the "this." completely worthless, they could have used "if (!isWorking())"!   People that do things differently than me should kill themselves.

    +1 on this.  (The fact that it's annoying, not the bit about people killing themselves.)



  • @iwpg said:

    @tster said:

    as well as

    >

    I found this at work today. "if (this.isWorking() == false)".  not only is the "this." completely worthless, they could have used "if (!isWorking())"!   People that do things differently than me should kill themselves.

    +1 on this.  (The fact that it's annoying, not the bit about people killing themselves.)

     My punctuation was pretty poor there.  That was me doing an impression of other people.  I'm fine with == true and == false and this.blah and this.Blah().
     



  • @tster said:

     My punctuation was pretty poor there.  That was me doing an impression of other people.  I'm fine with == true and == false and this.blah and this.Blah().

    Right, that's what I thought meant.  Just wanted to express my agreement.  The parenthesised bit was mostly me being slightly silly and/or trying to fend off people suggesting that I was agreeing with the people you were talking about.



  • One might say the quality of main comments is not very high, but I like it when I find things like this in them:

    Perl guys don't actually code, they just throw fistfuls of scrabble
    tiles on the floor and type in whatever characters show face up.
     

     



  • I agree that comments, particularly those on the front page articles, should require registration.

    "John Gabriel's Total Fuckwad Theory" hits the nail right on the head.  With tens of thousands of people viewing these articles, there will undoubtedly be many hundred who feel the need to say something stupid.  These are the same people who draw pictures in the bathroom stall, because who is going to stop them?

    However, by requiring registration, you are a) asking for their name (which is usually enough to make them think that they are accountable for what they write, though you could always use a fake name), and b) raising the initial energy required to post.  Now, somebody who comes here all the time and wants to comment on something, they probably won't mind registering; after all, they'll likely use it in the future.  This is especially true if registering gives you added incentives, like email notifications or filters and such.  On the other hand, your typical vandal (and really, that's all that worthless comments amount to) won't want to waste the time to register, any more than he would go back to his dorm room and grab a marker to write in the bathroom stall.

    Certainly there will be people with meaningful comments who don't want to register, but I'm confident that the number of people turned away who would write good comments is far smaller than the number of people turned away who would write bad ones.
     



  • @RevEng said:

    Certainly there will be people with meaningful comments who don't want to register, but I'm confident that the number of people turned away who would write good comments is far smaller than the number of people turned away who would write bad ones.

    Either way, people will turn away, and it's up to Alex to decide if that's desirable.



  • Everybody!

    I have found the solution!



  • @dhromed said:

    Everybody!

    I have found the solution!

     Although this will stop a lot of stupid people from posting, it will be troublesome for people who don't have english as first language or aren't very proficient with it.

     

    Perhaps the captcha should be three bits of code and you have too choose the non WTF version. :) just joking 



  • @dhromed said:

    Everybody!

    I have found the solution!

    Hahahahaha

    Your great, were did you find that? Sounds like a good idea to loose some of the internets bad typer's, it will only effect people who dont know they're grammer. Than again -  for all intensive purpose's though I could care less - its a mute point.

    Seriously though, bad English hurts my brain. I support adding that not only to every software product, but to every product of any kind. Yes, even to the common "potatoe". I don't care if production costs skyrocket, we need to punish these people!
     



  • Hey guys don't miss this!

     

    Check out how many commenters thought the writer was bashing Unix for massive damage!!



  • @dhromed said:

    Everybody!

    I have found the solution!

    That's just (dare I spell it correctly?) brilliant. 

    I also like the idea of filtering out useless comments like 'first' from all but those posters' views.  (Not sure if that's possible with anonymous comments though -- another good reason to require registration.) 



  • @RevEng said:

    I agree that comments, particularly those on the front page articles, should require registration.

    "John Gabriel's Total Fuckwad Theory" hits the nail right on the head.  With tens of thousands of people viewing these articles, there will undoubtedly be many hundred who feel the need to say something stupid.  These are the same people who draw pictures in the bathroom stall, because who is going to stop them?

    However, by requiring registration, you are a) asking for their name (which is usually enough to make them think that they are accountable for what they write, though you could always use a fake name), and b) raising the initial energy required to post.  Now, somebody who comes here all the time and wants to comment on something, they probably won't mind registering; after all, they'll likely use it in the future.  This is especially true if registering gives you added incentives, like email notifications or filters and such.  On the other hand, your typical vandal (and really, that's all that worthless comments amount to) won't want to waste the time to register, any more than he would go back to his dorm room and grab a marker to write in the bathroom stall.

    Certainly there will be people with meaningful comments who don't want to register, but I'm confident that the number of people turned away who would write good comments is far smaller than the number of people turned away who would write bad ones.
     

    I agree with that...while i dont post often, i come here every day if possible and used to read the comments to the frontpage articles, lately though, the only thing i read is the sidebar and occasionally general discussion. I find the comments in the back pages or even the sidebar on topic more often than the ones on the front page articles. Now if you don't mind, i'm going to go back to reading general discussion and pretend the front page doesn't even exist.


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