Cooloff period for new signups?

In a controversial post a few weeks back, I noticed that good criticism of the post came mostly from established users, whereas bad criticism of the post (hostile, sweary, obviously hadn’t read the post, etc) came mostly from people who had just signed up to comment.

What are the Hive Mind’s thoughts on making it so new posters can’t comment immediately after signing up?

The aim would be to encourage responses rather than reactions, but there are a lot of ways to go about setting thresholds and triggers that allow for interesting new voices while preventing threads being shat up.

One option (per Discourse) might be the setting “newuser max replies per topic” to 0. That feature does what it says on the can. But it gives them no way to get automatically approved-to-comment.

Would a day’s cooldown time be sufficient? An hour’s? This allows new posters to post–just not immediately.

Alternatives could involve getting posting privileges after reading a certain number of threads. This would also stop copypasta (ie specific-issue drive-by truthers) and probably marketing, too.

Maybe there needs to be a “moderation queue” to allow newbie comments to be entered, but not immediately posted. Posts that can only be seen by mods until approved/unflagged. This would mean that high-quality postings from new users aren’t simply denied.



Ooh, I like “read five threads and now you can post.” At least they see what the lay of the land is typically like. It would definitely limit marketeers.

I don’t see cooldown time as helpful at all, they’ll just have everyone mock their earlier post and come out swinging harder after an hour in the penalty box instead of putting up five quick posts that should call down Luckdragons.


The cooldown would be from signup to first-post, not from first-post to next-post.


I don’t much like the idea of tiers of commenters.

Didn’t we have this discussion before? If there is to be a gap between registering and commenting I wouldn’t want it to be long. An hour?

Making them read other threads sounds interesting.

Edit: Last time this came up:


I like the idea of, “you must have read X number of threads” as opposed to a blanket cool down. There are many lurkers here that I’m sure feel invested. But if the trash comments are 80% new accounts it may just make more practical sense to have an hour cool down.

Whichever you go with, can you publish a study of the results?


Yeah, I still see that penalty box as just letting them stew watching everyone “get it wrong” and “if only they knew the truth!”

I think most first users register to comment and get off the fence because of an issue that’s important to them that they can contribute to, Sending them to wait an hour before swimming does more harm than good when they’d probably rather spend five minutes just reading a few other posts instead.

I also don’t have the real numbers on “article reads” translating to “new BBS users though,” there might not be a huge correlation.


I like the idea of a cool down period before first post. 15 minutes should be enough for the honest ranter to re-think how to properly address other people and hopefully unobtrusive enough so the new user doesn’t get turned off from posting, but you’ll need at least an hour to stop drive by trolls.

1 Like

Could you lock some hot button topics to brand new commenters, or put those on a cooldown, without doing it globally?


How about a game? Play three rounds of pacman (Or some FOSS variant thereof) before posting.
Should help defuse/distract some of the more angry posters while possibly amusing trolls, even if mildly, and should predispose them for a more constructive conversation.

1 Like

I’m not sure the “threads read” function works well enough to make it a requirement for posting - in my experience it undercounts, but either way it can be circumvented by just scrolling to the bottom, can’t it?

A cool down period makes sense to me. At least an hour. Also maybe we should institute a BAT as part of the commenting requirement - ideally it should be between .03 and .06, I think.


Ooh ooh ooh

This is totally a set of features no comment board has, but has been gaining immense traction in the online financial community.

Velocity controls and Sentiment Analysis.

(@codinghorror is gonna say, “cool idea. Japhroaig, you code it :D”)

Basically set a sliding window of how rapidly comments are coming in to a topic. When they hit a ceiling, say in the tio 30% of velocities seen over the last 24 hours, new users are blocked from adding comments for a time. Or the comment is queued for moderation. Or color: white;

Second, apply sentiment analysis with dictionaries of charged words aggressively to new users for a day. And I don’t me censorship. " disagree", and “alternative” and many others should add to the positive side of the equation.

Oh,one last thing. Proxy detection and ASN classification.


Isn’t this already coded for the most part though? I’ve gotten a note that I’m dominating the conversation before, so maybe there’s just a variable based on signup time added to this.

1 Like
  • Must have read 30 topics (it doesn’t take that much time to skim a topic from start to finish and some topics have, like, 3 comments). Oh, ok, 15 topics.

  • 12 hour cool down period. I would push for far, far more, like, 48 hours, but that seems unpopular.

  • ‘Like’. Must have liked some comments. And not from banned or flagged accounts.

  • FUCK YOU NEWBEE! :wink:

People, and by that I mean human-type entities what with reasoning and empathy at their disposal, tend to ease in to the conversational zeitgeist gently. I’ve seen some examples where a person of central concern to the topic drops by and adds something delicious to the conversation but I can’t remember, off the top of my head, when I’ve seen anything other than bullshit frothing from brand new commenters. And couldn’t such central concerns contact a mod to verify themselves and get some lvl 2 privileges or something? Or an automatic process that doesn’t create more work for the mods, ideally? Impossible, you say? Probably.


The heuristic there seems to be applied to a specific topic, at a ratio and doesn’t set ‘hot topics’ (tee hee) based on overall activity. So it doesn’t really solve the New User Reactionary comment problem as it currently stands.

I vote yes.


It would be an interesting experiment … though get it wrong and you will just drive away new users.

Do you have data on the number of new people signing up each week, what is the join-to-first-post time interval? How many people already join up and read five threads before commenting? If you implemented the rule you proposed last month, can you tell how many ‘troll/astroturfers’ would you catch, versus how many regular users?

How about a ‘newbie’ flag that invisibly (to us) invites a moderator to check the tenor of a new user for their first five or so posts? It could be called ‘Presumed Innocent’

How many comments a day get flagged on BoingBoing? What level of new comment inspection would be reasonable?

Bring on BoingBoing Analytics!!


I would think so. There’s an incredible amount of data in the system that’s just right there!


I would vote for a full day wait between sign-up and commenting. If contributing to discussions on BoingBoing is something you’re interested in, waiting a day would be no big deal. If you absofuckinglutely have create an account to jump on this thread rightthisfuckinminute that’s proof positive you don’t really need to comment and that you’re not really that interested in being part of the community.

I can only speak for myself here, but if my one best post on BoingBoing comment threads ever was prevented from happening, it would not be an even vaguely noticeable loss, even to me. I miss chances to post clever (or, very, very rarely, informative) posts routinely because I don’t have time or am just picking up on an post long after it was published, and it’s fine. More will come along.


I guess. I’m sure I read a million BoingBoing threads without signing up, then probably posted within a minute of signing up for the first time. So 1) I’d show up in your metrics as not reading any threads before commenting and 2) I’d contribute to a metric for sign-up to first post that really wasn’t all that important to me.


I was just having a discussion in a private forum that relates to this.

Our process there is that there are only certain sections that can be read in the beginning. Then, once someone has posted in one of those general topics, they graduate to being able to read and post in more topics. And then there are sections of the forum that remain off-limits until one had posted at least 25 “substantive” posts and then asked to be promoted.

Privacy is an issue there, which adds to the layers, but I think it’s a useful example.