Disemvoweling vs. Flagging

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Creating a special ‘boingboing’ account was a speed bump that only impaired discussion. Yes, it might have stopped one or two trolls from commenting, but how many GOOD people did it stop too?

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It took me more than a year to successfully register an account; the system was pretty broken (I’ve been here since the first BBS which as Cory says “turned septic” and was shut down). I burned my first three favorite 'nyms trying - I’ve reverted to my primary one now in Discourse - and ended up Japanese.

When I was unable to register successfully, I commented as anonymous and signed my posts. Then I made bookmarks and manually polled for replies. This barrier to useability meant that conversations were an effort and I only spoke when I had something I felt was really worth saying. Not that anyone else shared my opinion on that! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

I don’t mean to attribute anything to Discourse as a platform, but to the change in comments sections -and- moderation. I agree that it’s the owners site to run how ever they like, absolutely.

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I am very interested in the history here, can you provide a link to this bit of context?

I’ll admit it was kind of perversely satisfying. Kinda

No, those are your words on the topic

Well, honestly you should ask Mark, Cory or Teresa Nielsen Hayden. This might help, it’s the start of what somebody once called “Teresa’s Benevolent Reign of Terror”. The earliest link I could find in the wayback machine has the “boingboing salon” at www.egroups.com, but I seem to recall there was something in between there and wordpress - vBulletin maybe? Something with an orange header, that hated my linux machine’s browser?

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I covered the history that I was able to find here:

I know that @noahdjango was finding working QuickTopic links on some older posts, but nothing earlier than that which would be 2001.

Man, that was so long ago. I think I was still hand-coding the sync values in Xwindows to keep from incinerating my monitor, and using lynx as my main browser whenever possible.


An obvious problem with disemvowelment that hasn’t been mentioned yet is that every single time the disemvowelled party would ask “what happened to my post??” and then someone would have to respond and then there would be a debate on disemvowelling again.

I mean, right now, every thread has a comment going “what happened to my post, why did it get deleted”, but at least people usually ignore those.

I think you’re exaggerating a bit, but it’s definitely a real issue. P’raps a standard link would be automatically added at the bottom of each disemvoweled post by the disemvowelment widget saying “click here to find out about post obfuscation” or something like that. Then the link would in turn have bold text saying “offtopic whinging and grizzling about your disemvowelment clogging up the post thread will be deleted”? I don’t think it’s insurmountable.


I’m not sure the people who typically get disemvowelled are the type to click a link to learn why. But maybe you’re right, maybe it’s not insurmountable. It still seems like a lot of effort to preserve something that’s, let’s be honest, comes across as passive-aggressive.

When I first saw a disemvowelment I thought it was hilarious. But like most gags on the internet, it became stale after seeing it over and over and over, and frequently derailed the discussion. People would preemptively disemvowel themselves…

Either someone has something constructive to add to the conversation or they don’t. Disemvowelling creates this ugly middle-ground where people endlessly game the moderation to see how repulsive they can be without being outright deleted.

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<comment deleted by moderator>


Touché :slight_smile: But again, that’s just unambiguously breaking moderation rules, doesn’t fool anyone, and wastes a lot less time creating a puzzle that people will inevitably unscramble and respond to.

Well, only because I didn’t go to the trouble of making an exact mockup of a sanctioned post. Which I could easily have done, eh? I get your point, though. And clearly some people find disemvoweled posts a lot more distracting than others.

I don’t think that’s possible since we change the opacity of the post, and that’s not an option in the composer or text formatting ruleset. I’ll have to doublecheck on our sandbox.

Yes indeed it is dimmed. That’s how it will show up to others. It shows up a little differently to the post owner (and to mods), since it is an invitation to edit.

Which goes back to my complexity argument. Complex things that have to be explained (and invite debate, even worse) are not sustainable over even the medium term. Everyone understands simple removal of content, just like they understand the goal of superfund cleanups of toxic waste: to get rid of it!

Well, if you really consider this a meaningful issue, make sure you filter any user-entered HTML against a carefully selected whitelist, or somebody will probably find a way to throw a transparent div over the text and effectively dim it.

The history of BB and comments.

Comment system 1: Quicktopic, in ~2002 or so.

Forum-like, comments on their URL, pseudoanonmity. FLAT. Strong USENET vibe, became filled with flame wars and various toxic patterns (impersonation, unmoderable, troll-friendly) and was eventually shuttered. Quicktopic is still alive, BTW, and you can find old BB threads there.

Comment system 2: Native Movable Type. 2007-2012

Inline-comments on the same URL as the post. FLAT. Moderated by TNH, then Antinous.

Comment system 3: Disqus. 2012-2013

Inline-comments on the same URL as the post. THREADED. Sucky.

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Haha, you know more about it than I do, Jeff! That’s a great post, gonna link

Rob, I really remember Disqus being added in 2011. Was there some big change in 2012 that you keep remembering that date instead?

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I know there was a switch from flat to threaded in Disqus settings but I don’t know the date that happened.

The actual Disqus change was July 24 2011.