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Why is there so much unrest in Georgia?

 
 
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Thu 13 Aug, 2009 11:23 am
@Cycloptichorn,
Cycloptichorn wrote:
Aw; there's no need to be so mean.


You are right, and I'm sorry. It is out of frustration. I really don't like doing this at all. I'd much prefer not to be the nagging ass always trying to shape site usage and it is much easier to just be authoritarian and censor. Censure is much more difficult and costs much more personal goodwill than censorship. But I don't want an authoritarian site, I want a site that is more democratic in nature and that takes vastly differing wishes into better account. A more typical forum setup is to just delete anything remotely annoying (even just offtopic posts, or topics that have already been posted before) and then even just delete or lock all criticism of the censorship.

We are trying not to censor as much as possible. That means the members need to police themselves more. That is what I'm trying to do, shape usage through speaking out. I'd much rather someone else do it, as I'm a fairly easy going guy and don't mind spam nearly as much as the folk I clean it up for. Plus, when it comes from me many folk take it as authoritarian anyway, when I'm just trying to have my say like anyone else (almost nobody notices that there has really not been a single instance of site authority being used to back up my personal preferences and disputes).

So when you tell me it's my fault for making the site more democratic and that I should just delete things it is frustrating to me. I know that you'd be criticizing me just as much if I were to take such an authoritarian approach so it's a lose-lose for me either way.

I can run an authoritarian site and stifle expression, or I can run anarchy and lose valuable members who don't appreciate the rough and tumble, or I can try to appeal for better use patterns and come across as an annoying nag.

There's really no way not to lose for me other than to just quit caring about it and let a2k sink or swim, which I'm not willing to do given how much time and money this costs.

Quote:
You could simply ask folks not to respond to stuff like this. When you start off describing behaviors as 'annoying' - behaviors which, previous to this, neither I (nor most I would suspect) knew caused you extra work - it sort of sets the frame for the discussion. I'm sure I don't have to tell you that people are more likely to engage in the behaviors you like if you approach them in the right way.


I agree, but I hadn't intended to make this a battle over the propaganda either. I just wanted to have my one comment about how "Vladimir" gets old and it grew into it.

Had it had been a planned thing I can certainly think of better ways to do it. Thing is, I do think that it sometimes takes more than asking. I've asked for tags not to be abused in the past, I've explained that tags and thread responses are signals of topic quality. I've considered the technical changes that it would take to make things easier and some aren't viable (killing the "new posts" view is the only way not to make replies serve as amplification, because it's not just the voting that does it) and some are but I don't have time to work on them right now due to financial reasons.

I've asked many times, I've basically been told to stuff it, so I am deliberately introducing a more aggressive censure in addition to the nicer asking. Folk like osso are going to respond to the asking, others times I do think sharper censure is needed.

I'd really rather not have anything to do with it, and changing my username was initially motivated by trying to get away from it but the bottom line is that nobody else is willing to take on this kind of work. When the site launched there was nobody else willing to do the tech hand holding so I couldn't keep switching accounts and keep things separate. Nobody else wants to put their neck out there and call the rudeness rude (because it exposes them to the same "thread police" type of criticism I get), so I'm left as one of the only nags.

I absolutely detest it, but I really don't see any better alternatives. So I'll keep trying to appeal for more reasonable use patterns in my own flawed ways. I'm not a customer service type at all, I have the wrong personality to be doing this job. But as I said to others in the past (I think it was even you) this site can't afford to hire such a person, and there are no volunteers around to take it up.

So I get to be the nag, and I'm not very good at it, and am easily frustrated in this position. Sorry for lashing out.
Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Aug, 2009 11:41 am
@Robert Gentel,
It's no problem; I am a contentious bastard, after all.

Quote:
I've asked for tags not to be abused in the past, I've explained that tags and thread responses are signals of topic quality


I don't think people understand this very well; or, to be more specific, I don't understand this very well, because it doesn't mirror my usage of the site. I sort by 'latest post' and by 'new posting,' never by popularity and rarely by tags. So the tags have a very different use to me than what you probably intended.

Cycloptichorn
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Thu 13 Aug, 2009 11:43 am
@High Seas,
High Seas wrote:
This multinomial poster is a unique case, because he changes name with each new thread. I agree with you on the gross abuse of tags (search terms on semantic web) that's been going on since the new format was introduced, but for this thread Osso actually has a point.


I understand the point, but I don't think the other side is always understood (which is largely due to missing features that would help make it clear).

Tags can easily help organize spam, trolling etc. But they serve a purpose that members often don't see. Each time they tag something that way they are promoting what ends up being a forum for that kind of thing. Tags are intended to describe the subject of the topic, not the quality.

That isn't clear enough to users yet, which is our (developers) fault for not having finished certain features that will make it readily apparent. So I'm trying to evangelize the ideal use so that when they come users won't be blindsided.

Tags will be used to recommend topics to others, others who like you are going to get recommended the things you tag. Your topic list sidebars right now use global tags, but they will soon just use your tags, so if you only use the tags to make sarcastic anonymous comments you aren't going to have a very useful sidebar. The tags are also not going to be anonymous for long, so people using them that way need to understand that their name will be by their tags in the future (including past tags).

Quote:
Now 2 questions, one technical, the other literary:
- the dos attacks that shut down Twitter, Facebook, and related sites have been traced to some cyberwarfare activity involving that same country this poster is obsessed with. Have you any way of tracing, via whois or other sources?


Whois is a command that returns the owner of a domain name. The DDOS attacks employ compromised computers. The attacks are coming from regular folk with malware on their computers that let someone else control their computers.

The way to find out who it is is to trace the commands to the botnet to the source. But they are going to daisy chain this, meaning that if you find a compromised computer, and trace it one level up it might just be another innocent compromised computer. To get to the source is tedious and might just lead to a internet café somewhere once you do all the work.

Quote:
- the poster's English has improved so much since his first appearance that I hope some literary expert here can figure out if his original incoherent stuff was a put-on.


The idea that this is one poster is one I've never agreed with. These operations are often distributed. I'm not familiar with how this one works but Israel has been employing such tactics in a more open way that can be used as a comparison:

First example is the "Megaphone" desktop software. Pro-Israel users are told to download this and coordinate their online activities with it. They search for places where the issues (in particular the Gaza war) are mentioned and add their voice. Here is a screenshot of the software telling a user to go vote in a CNN poll as an example:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/4/4f/Megaphone_screenshot.jpg

That is a private example of use of organization to amplify their opinions. They get to influence many more online polls and discussions that way through the use of organized grassroots activity. It borders on astroturfing but each user legitimately agrees with what they are saying and are just being overrepresented through the organization of their efforts through technology.

However there is some evidence that the Israeli government is paying for this kind of activity, which would make it more dubious in terms of authenticity.

I singled Israel out because it was a recent and high-profile example I am familiar with the inner workings of from the Gaza war (I even used the megaphone software to learn more about it, and tracked my own submissions to the team sending out the alerts) but many countries do internet propaganda. The US is no exception.

The difference is that we are better at it. The folk we call propaganda are folk who are bad at it and make it so obvious. This kind of post is just poorly done and yes they are getting better at it. Israel's military used twitter and youtube (see here for the account yourself) directly during the Gaza war but they are just much better at doing it.

If these guys get even better at social media marketing their propaganda won't be as obvious as this drek, and improving their language skills is a first step towards doing so.
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Thu 13 Aug, 2009 11:47 am
@Cycloptichorn,
Cycloptichorn wrote:
I don't think people understand this very well; or, to be more specific, I don't understand this very well, because it doesn't mirror my usage of the site. I sort by 'latest post' and by 'new posting,' never by popularity and rarely by tags. So the tags have a very different use to me than what you probably intended.


Yup. I'm not sure if I made it any clearer here but let me try again:

If you tag something "idiot" enough, we'll have a category for "idiot" on our home page. That kind of thing already happened, so I had to tweak the algorithm to count unique users tagging and not just any use (because it happened based on one user's activity).

Also, we will use tags to learn what you are interested in, if you keep tagging things with stuff like that the result won't be very useful to you.

The most tagged topics show up in the featured topics (in specific tag pages) and in the related topics at the bottom of the threads.

Those are just a few examples, but the bottom line is that tagging a thread makes it appear more often on the site, and will do so even more when the real features they are intended to drive are built.
Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Aug, 2009 11:50 am
@Robert Gentel,
Quote:

Those are just a few examples, but the bottom line is that tagging a thread makes it appear more often on the site, and will do so even more when the real features they are intended to drive are built.


Yeah - I never knew that, for sure. Tags that I have seen and used on other sites have primarily been for organization of searches and description of content within posts or sections. You're taking an innovative approach here - and I guess the growing pains of doing that are what we are seeing now.

I like the fact that tags are not going to be anonymous anymore...

Cycloptichorn
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Aug, 2009 11:59 am
@Robert Gentel,
Robert Gentel wrote:

spaces removed while quoting -
The tagging, like the bumping is also annoying to me. Let me explain some of the moving parts that might not be readily apparent:

1) This is a form of spam. When it contains links it gets pulled, which is work for me and the couple of other people on this site who help pull spam.
2) When you bump it up and tag it, you make it more prevalent. This has resulted in things like it going out on our RSS feed, which means they got their propaganda on a bunch of other sites (like our twitter feed). This way they get to kill many birds with one stone.
3) When you help make their propaganda and spam more prevalent, they (if they notice, which is a decent chance as they are searching social sites like twitter for relevant mentions) will appreciate it and it makes our site even more attractive for spam, which results in more spam.
4) That just means more work for me and the others who help keep the site spam free. Which is a big reason the tireless spam bumpers are annoying to me. Instead of responding, voting it down would help make sure it doesn't get a wider audience from sites syndicating our content.


None of that had occurred to me and it's useful to know, especially the RSS feed part. Thanks.
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Thu 13 Aug, 2009 12:28 pm
@Cycloptichorn,
Cycloptichorn wrote:
Yeah - I never knew that, for sure. Tags that I have seen and used on other sites have primarily been for organization of searches and description of content within posts or sections.


Many other sites use the tags the same way we planned to. For example, Yahoo's delicious.com will put the url most tagged "computers" as the most popular site for "computers" etc.

The main difference is they usually have enough use to sort themselves out, or don't try to accommodate the folk who want to read every single thing on the site without any popularity filtering.

If we took that kind of approach we'd need to minimize the emphasis on topic listings driven by last post. It's a tough conflict, the hard core users want to just read everything and see whatever is the latest post but most users would want to only see the most interesting stuff.

We don't yet do well at striking a balance between them, and are right now catering to the hard core users making the popularity (which is an interesting signal) angle less apparent and useful.
High Seas
 
  2  
Reply Thu 13 Aug, 2009 02:14 pm
@Robert Gentel,
I think you're selling yourself short - you're doing a great job. And many people here (it's my impression, at least) genuinely didn't understand any more about tags than Cyclo, and few can have heard of the semantic web. Anyway, back to the cyberbattles of Central Asia: after lots of Western sites crashed again today, the Marine Corps finally disconnected Twitter, Facebook, etc, from its networks:

Quote:
A Marine Corps order has made the Corps' feelings known with characteristic subtlety: "These Internet sites in general are a proven haven for malicious actors and content and are particularly high risk due to information exposure, user-generated content, and targeting by adversaries."

http://news.cnet.com/8301-1001_3-10305326-92.html?tag=mncol;mlt_related



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