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Thread: Silent Guardian Or Topic Of Conversation?

  1. #1
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    Silent Guardian Or Topic Of Conversation?

    Greetings All:

    Looking back over the past year in the suggestions forum, I see soooooooooooo many touching on the AntiPoints System. In the end, most of the suggestions, and the responses to them, seemed to be made without much thought. Seeing as how the system has become perhaps one the most central technologies driving and motivating this community, I felt the need to start an intelligent dialogue on the subject. It is my hope that this can be the catalyst for a new system.

    I really really hope that the moderators will keep this thread heavily moderated. Childish outlashings, off topic rants, or comments that were obviously not well thought out don't belong here. While I know that one of the goals of AntiOnline is to be self moderating (and I know that to be one of the goals, because that's how I originally designed this community way back when), this thread is much needed, and is much needed to be intelligent and well thought out.

    In my last suggestion thread titled "Getting Back To The Going Back", one of my suggestions is that the AntiPoints System, at least how we know it know, needs to go away. The main reason, is that the system itself is obviously not achieving its designed purpose, and changes that have been made to it in the last year and a half take it even further away from that end.

    So, in order to understand what a new system should look like, I think it might be helpful to explain what my intentions of the current system were when I designed it:

    I got the inspiration for the AntiPoints System from a small little vbulletin hack called "Karma". The original idea of Karma, is that users could assign positive Karma or Negative Karma to one another and in return get fancy little icons. That's all it did, cute little icons. How...Cute.

    But, I liked the idea of members of a community evaluating one another. And honestly, at the time, I was a very busy person, and knew that there was NO WAY that I could possible juggle all of my responsibilities, AND make sure that members of the discussion forum weren't acting like total jackasses to one another. To put all of this in perspective, while this was all going on I was working on a project for the Department of Defense to create an automated profiling system that would catalog hackers, their motivations, and their risk assessment based on dozens of "virtual fingerprints". In the end, what I had hoped to do one day, is to take that technology, and integrate it into AntiOnline, with some tweaking, to allow for the autonomous profiling of its members. Not to determine identity, or for law enforcement or any of that mess. Simply to determine if a member was contributing to the community in a positive or negative manner. Needless to say, the system never got anywhere NEAR that far.

    Here were the original thoughts for the intermediary system, which didn't take long at all to come up with, that was to serve as a temporary solution until the automated profiling system was complete:

    Ban Abusive New Users, Stop Flame Wars And Off Topic Posts, Identify Trusted Users, Reward Community Contributors

    #1. Quickly allow for abusive new members to be exterminated. Abusive users would register accounts and spam the heck out of the forums left and right. I certainly couldn't be awake 24 hours a day to watch out for these new users. Often, I would find a ton of new threads had been created overnight by one of these abusive users. This was the one of the original ways I used the karma hack inspiration. If several users that have been a member for a long time, and who were respected by the community, were all saying at once THIS NEW USERS IS BAD NEWS, the system trusts these long time contributors, and bans the abusive user. BAM, abusive users were often banned within 5 minutes of starting their bullcrap. No more troubles.

    #2. Quickly allow for the elimination of flame wars. If people were bitching back and forth, other members would scold them for doing so, and after a thread reached its boiling point it would close. BAM threads were committing suicide left and right. No more flame wars, no more off topic bull.

    #3. Build a trust system, so that new users could weigh the validity of the advice that they were being given. Should I or should I not really download that program, should I or should I not really type that command? Certainly new users should have a way to quickly identify who is trusted and who is not yet trusted in a community. Thus the green dots were born.

    #4. Provide a system of rewards for those users that were contributing for the community. This never got implemented at ALL. The idea was, users would be given access to more things, the more they contributed. People like to feel that their contributions are appreciated, and this was going to be AntiOnline's small way of doing it. Free shell accounts, e-mail accounts, T-shirts, etc. etc.

    At first, the system as I implemented it worked very well. However, I knew that if left active for too long without change, the global pool of points for long time members would grow to a point that the system would collapse and become counter-productive. This, IMHO, is EXACTLY what has happened.

    Now, let's evaluate what the current system is actually doing.

    #1. Ban Abusive Users: I believe, for the most part, the system as it exists DOES allow for the quick extermination of newly registered users whose sole intention is abuse. However, at the same time, it now causes MORE problems by opening up hidden abuses. AntiPoint Alliances, multiple accounts for cross assignment, and the list goes on and on.

    #2. Eliminate Flame Wars: How well do you all feel this is currently working? Hmmmmmmmmmmmm.

    #3. Build A Trust System: No. Definitely not happening. I see many a dumbass on here with more green dots than you could shake a flaming stick at, and believe me I know a thing or two about flaming sticks. They got their dots for telling funny jokes or kissing ass. NOT the intention of the original system, and seeing a ton of greenies next to these people is not at all helpful to anyone.

    #4. Provide Rewards: Unfortunately this isn't happening at all.

    In response to the obvious failings of the system, users have made suggestions, and JupM has implemented many of them, that are just making things WAY worse.

    The BIGGEST of these stupid user suggestions was doing away with the Anonymous AntiPoint Systems. This decision, in and of itself, totally erased the potential of this system being useful to stop flame wars. JohnDoe just Neg'd me, screw JohnDoe! Hostility is the NATURAL reaction for most users. Granted the level of hostility varies from users to user. How? New users that don't have many AntiPoints to begin with get REALLY pissed, while old users that have a billion of them couldn't give a crap less if they just lost 10 or 20. The current system has people bitching left and right with one another about assignments, and retribution is being taken out left and right as well.

    This suggestion was not thought out, and the decision to implement them was not thought out. Newbs were BEGGING me from the beginning to get rid of the Anonymous assignments, and if you look back, time and time and time again, I shot down this request. FOR GOOD REASON! I don't care how many of you say "oh i like it this way" or "oh this is good", you can NOT defeat flame wars without allowing members to squash them without the fear of retribution. That was the purpose, to have an anonymous way for people to say to one another STFU already! Again, long time users with huge AntiPoint piggy banks (many of which were earned by telling jokes) couldn't care less. New users face all the wrath of this decision.

    CHANGE CHANGE CHANGE CHANGE CHANGE CHANGE CHANGE CHANGE CHANGE CHANGE

    Changes will HAVE to be made. The AntiPoints System is causing the site to spiral downward at ever increasing rates, and that will just continue until the whole thing crashes down in on itself. Now, without implementing DOD backed research into this site, and coming up with a major programming project, here the changes that I feel, as the original designer of this system, need to be made to fix it:

    #1. There needs to be an earn-out cap. After a user achieves a certain number of AntiPoints, they can neither gain or lose them. Not being able to lose them isn't a big deal. How the hell would the community be able to ban someone with like, 100,000 AntiPoints anyway? The original intention of being able to auto-ban abusive users is no longer necessary or even possible for users that have achieved a high AntiPoint Status. However, these users accumulating HUGE banks of AntiPoints that they can unleash like nuclear weapons against one another IS problematic.

    So, implement what I had started way back when, The Gold Dot. After a user has been a member for X period of time, and has attained X number of AntiPoints, they become a Gold Dot trusted member.

    #2. Bring back the Anonymous AntiPoints Assignments. Yes, users will bitch, but they have no idea what the consequences of this really is to the system as a whole. Start Neg'ing all the bitchers until they either leave the site, or shut the hell up about it, which ever comes first. Better to lose a couple of lame members that throw a fit over anonymous AntiPoint Assignments, than to lose people in droves because the site is nothing but one big flame war.

    #3. Get rid of the off-topic forums like I mentioned in my last suggestion, so users no longer leap ahead by telling a funny joke or two. Or, if this isn't going to happen, get rid of the AntiPoint Assignments in all forums that are off-topic. This is a security site, and you should gain trust and respect ONLY by participating in security discussions.

    #4. Provide rewards. Tshirts are cheap, but people appreciate the token of being appreciated. Or, if Tshirts aren't cheap enough, add some fun new features for these great contributors to AntiOnline! If you really want to make things work, give them a Tshirt AND fun new features both! W00t!

    These quick easy changes could be made in less than a day, but would go a long way towards helping to keep the system afloat until a more drastic redesign can be accomplished (and believe me, it NEEDS to be accomplished).

    I have many ideas of what a new system should look like. I hope to share them in the future if there proves interest, and I hope that others share their well thought out ideas also. An automated moderation system can NOT be an amalgam of haphazard user suggestions, it must be planned out and designed in advance as an integrated unit with each component serving a purpose and working in unison with the others.

    A huge percentage of the discussions on this site revolve around its moderation system, which would be a silent guardian of conversation, not the primary topic of it.

  2. #2
    AO Ancient: Team Leader
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    JP:

    #1. There needs to be an earn-out cap. After a user achieves a certain number of AntiPoints, they can neither gain or lose them.
    But doesn't a Gold dot also preclude you from giving points too. That would work against the premise of self moderation since the people most likely to be able to kill a thread or ban a (l)user by virtue of their mountain of AP's won't be able to.

    Better to lose a couple of lame members that throw a fit over anonymous AntiPoint Assignments, than to lose people in droves because the site is nothing but one big flame war.
    Absolutely.

    #3. Get rid of the off-topic forums like I mentioned in my last suggestion, so users no longer leap ahead by telling a funny joke or two.
    Perfect. I've been whining about getting a private area for the purpose of quality security related conversations for ages. Mainly because I thought there was no chance of removing the existing forums without a bitchfest. Removing the non-security related forums will also go a long way to determining which users are here for serious content and which are here for green dots.

    Provide rewards.
    Unnecessary.... Furthermore they will lead to the same problems you have with green dots right now. People will come with the intent of getting their shirt rather than learning or teaching.

    This place has gone downhill and JP is right about the AP system being the topic of the site rather than a tool within it being one of the major causes. I would add that those people who come here and whine consistently about AP's are the ones without the knowledge to be of use to the site, (hence their negative assignments), and without the maturity to be participating in what should be intelligent discussion about serious matters in the first place.

    I'm with JP here... I'd love to see the site regain some focus. Focus that has steadily been eroded of late.
    Don\'t SYN us.... We\'ll SYN you.....
    \"A nation that draws too broad a difference between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards, and its fighting done by fools.\" - Thucydides

  3. #3
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    Greetings:

    Originally posted here by Tiger Shark
    JP:

    But doesn't a Gold dot also preclude you from giving points too. That would work against the premise of self moderation since the people most likely to be able to kill a thread or ban a (l)user by virtue of their mountain of AP's won't be able to.
    Absolutely not. The Gold Dot user would be able to make assignments, but the "punch" of that assignment would always be limited to whatever the appropriate cap is deemed to be.

  4. #4
    AO Ancient: Team Leader
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    Perfect..... when can we get this done.....
    Don\'t SYN us.... We\'ll SYN you.....
    \"A nation that draws too broad a difference between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards, and its fighting done by fools.\" - Thucydides

  5. #5
    Macht Nicht Aus moxnix's Avatar
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    Over all I can agree with most all of this.

    The one major point of contention would be the "Anonymous AntiPoint Systems". By showing the posters name, the assignment of negs with the use of some one elses name attached was defeted. This practice by some members, was causing flame wars and alot of bad feelings and relataliations among members.

    Perhaps some comprimise where the assigner is anonymous to the users but visible to the mods and admins could be used to stop this behavior from starting again.
    \"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, Champagne in one hand - strawberries in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming WOO HOO - What a Ride!\"
    Author Unknown

  6. #6
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    Greetings:

    Originally posted here by moxnix
    Over all I can agree with most all of this.

    The one major point of contention would be the "Anonymous AntiPoint Systems". By showing the posters name, the assignment of negs with the use of some one elses name attached was defeted.
    The solution to this, is to remove the comment field all together. It's unnecessary. 99.99999% of the time when someone makes a post that's getting Neg'd a lot, they know damn well why, and that it deserved to be.

  7. #7
    Administrator mnstrgrl's Avatar
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    One reason NOT to go back to anonymous APs: abuse. The point of making that information available is to keep users accountable. AP alliances are much easier to pull off with anonymous assignments.

    - h
    I'm not mean. You're just a sissy.

  8. #8
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    Thanks for the suggestions JP.

    The earn-out cap sounds like a good idea, and I also agree that we should probably get rid of the AntiPoint Assignments in all forums that are off-topic. I'll discuss it with the other mods and admins see what we can do.

    Thanks,
    intmon

  9. #9
    I'd rather be fishing DjM's Avatar
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    I think removing the AP assignment in off topic forums may cause us some problems. We, the community, would no longer be able to deal with the trolls, spammers and general idiots. Maybe as a compromise, we remove the ability to assign 'personal' AP's but still be allowed to assign 'thread' AP's. That way the community could still help manage crappy threads/posts and the Mod's could then manage the person(s) that post the crap.

    Cheers:
    DjM

  10. #10
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    Greetings:

    Originally posted here by DjM
    Maybe as a compromise, we remove the ability to assign 'personal' AP's but still be allowed to assign 'thread' AP's. That way the community could still help manage crappy threads/posts and the Mod's could then manage the person(s) that post the crap.

    Cheers:
    I agree with this idea. I really liked the seperation of thread ratings vs. individual ratings, although I'd like to see the site FAQs updated to help explain things to new users, as it does add a layer of complexity that wasn't there before.

    Being able to still close threads in off-topic forums is certainly necessary, and removing just the individual ratings is a great solution.

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