50

While I'm a fan of "Presume good intent" it seems unusual to see folks whose entire interest here is in how the CoC is enforced - one rep users with no accounts elsewhere.

I'm noticing some patterns already

We're going to have to deal with a lot of folks thinking they're really clever. There's also going to be folks not as smart as they think they are.

At least for the duration of the current drama, or at least a week or two, could we set a slightly higher threshold for new questions?

  • 2
    I think at least one of those is a sock puppet, and have flagged that case accordingly. (update: looks like that account was destroyed) – Sonic the Reinstate Monica-hog Oct 16 at 22:46
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    "abuse" flags work pretty well... – Shog9 Oct 16 at 22:47
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    my flags are hanging out for longer and longer... – Kate Gregory Oct 16 at 22:48
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    I concur with Shog. Flag the hell out of these things. – user102937 Oct 16 at 22:48
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    How many abuse flags does it take for the automated deletion of a question? – Cerbrus Oct 16 at 22:48
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    @Cerbrus Six flags. – Sonic the Reinstate Monica-hog Oct 16 at 22:49
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    Just make sure it really is a troll. – user102937 Oct 16 at 22:49
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    ... and not just someone you disagree with. Use your best judgement. – user102937 Oct 16 at 22:51
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    I marked that one as a dupe immediately. – user102937 Oct 16 at 22:52
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    @JJJ Yeah, sorry. I didn't catch on right away. – user102937 Oct 16 at 22:54
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    @JJJ Sometimes it's hard to know for sure right away. Letting them respond to comments comment just makes it clear fast – divibisan Oct 16 at 22:59
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    @rjzii Their account hasn't been deleted, fortunately; it seems that the post has been dissociated from their account, so it can't be traced back to them and they're no longer connected to the post. – HDE 226868 Oct 16 at 23:39
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    What about moderators who have been downvoted to 1 reputation point on Meta? – dan04 Oct 17 at 2:24
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    @CodyGray Moderators don't need reputation to moderate - challenging that statement - they don't need it but on the other hand, are they still trustworthy without it? – Christine H. Richards Oct 17 at 5:51
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    @Luuklag Sufficient rude flags will delete some content with no moderator intervention... custom flags must be attended to by a moderator but they often tell us more so that we can better help understand why the content is problematic. I recommend for blatant stuff, use rude flags, for nuanced stuff, use custom flags with explanations. – Catija Oct 17 at 14:09
66

No please

  1. I'm writing this with a throwaway account (mods can see that the email id is some temp-mail nonsense) because I don't want it associated with my main account. I generally don't write on meta because I associate my account with my academic/professional life, and I feel that meta activity is a bad fit. I use my main account for votes only here. I want to be able to use throwaway accounts which have 1 rep to start and join only one site because maintaining a second meta account is just too much work.[1]
  2. Maybe you think that is a bit too localized. But I remind you that there are people who use throwaway accounts (characterized by membership on just one site: meta SE, and 1 rep) because they think the opinion expressed is unpopular or for whatever reason don't want it associated with their account.
  3. Answers are just as good for trolls. They don't need questions to show their poor intent. So if you block them from posting questions, they just need to look at the front page of the site to see tonnes of juicy opportunities (in the form of questions regarding pronouns) for some homophobic/transphobic/whatever rants and off-color jokes. Now you're blocking both questions and answers from such users. Consider this answer as an example: I believe it's an important opinion and it's written with all due respect (essentially, I'm not trolling you). Would you have just hoped someone who doesn't follow my pattern of throwaways for meta activity to write this answer instead?

1: And please don't tell me I shouldn't sit out of meta if my preference is to avoid showing future employers this content: it's simply that they probably don't understand meta and I feel like this is an extremely important time for me to voice my opinion.

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    +1 Not to mention, people can lose their jobs these days due to having (publicly expressed) "controversial" opinions. – S.D. Oct 17 at 5:06
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    @Blue Indeed, particularly when it's an issue like sexuality. I can imagine people disliking everyone who even has a strong opinion on such a subject. – daleyepiv Oct 17 at 5:12
28

Some sort of automated rep barrier is definitely tempting, but I am concerned that it would catch way too many false positives; I've seen a lot of folks mention in posts or comments that this is their first time using Meta, and they were drawn in by the ongoing debacle that at this point has reached throughout the entire network (even folks on some of my tiny sites are aware of it!).

If I look through the newest questions that have been asked over the last couple of days, then sure enough, there are a decent number of people who've gone and asked their first Meta question, in good faith and coming from all sides - and we've benefited from those discussions.

That's my primary argument against raising the rep requirement to ask a question, though I am secondarily concerned that it simply might not be effective. It's been . . . quite easy to earn rep here on Meta these last two weeks, for new and old users alike. These trolls are willing to put in the effort to write some detailed questions; I'd argue that maybe they'd be willing to put in enough effort to write an innocuous answer and get an upvote or two and thereby hop over any small rep hurdle we could put in their way.

So . . . where does that leave us? Flagging is probably the best option, though we've only got two (semi-active/inactive) mods right now, and the CMs are overloaded, so we'd need posts deleted via a bunch of spam/rude-abusive flags. Of course, you've got to be sure that you are dealing with a troll, and I'd of course recommend caution here, but in some cases, it's gonna be pretty clear-cut. And the community can deal with those pretty quickly.

20

Leave it as it is

While I'm a fan of "Presume good intent" it seems unusual to see folks whose entire interest here is in how the CoC is enforced - one rep users with no accounts elsewhere.

The CoC is virtually the core and basis of how the entire network works. The recent changes are also so extensive in their nature that many people feel personally affected. It is no surprise to me that so many people express their feedback.

I'm noticing some patterns already

What kind of patterns? More feedback than usually?

But isn't this a good sign? In my opinion the amount of feedback is huge, but this is wonderful because it shows how important the CoC is and that people actually do care about the health of their favorite site.

We're going to have to deal with a lot of folks thinking they're really clever. There's also going to be folks not as smart as they think they are.

What do you mean exactly? Could you provide examples?

At least for the duration of the current drama, or at least a week or two, could we set a slightly higher threshold for new questions?

I don't think that excluding 1-rep users from discussions would have any positive effects. On the contrary, many interesing and fresh perspectives could never see the light. I fully support daleyepiv answer where they raised very good arguments against that idea that are much stronger than saying there are patterns and not providing any evidence.


What is that really concerns you? Is it the number of posts or their quality? Personally, I didn't see anything alarming and nothing that I wouldn't have seen before. Addressing people is a topic that is about everyone so you can expect everyone to have something to say.

The more people who show their feelings the better, and even with so many questions and answers they are all pretty unique.

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    @ZachLipton isn't that normal all over the place? Homework questions virtually flood SO when the week starts and the number of spammy questions here wasn't even close to what SO has to deal with. Nobody thinks of limiting it there so why are a couple of off-topic questions bad here? – Christine H. Richards Oct 17 at 6:18
20

Flagging something is probably the way to go in that situation, as that will identify the trolls in a much more targeted way.

Going through accounts who joined the conversation around the time of the CoC changes as a worst case could lead to the deletion of accounts that were made by the LGBTQ+ community in order to not out themselves on their main account, or, if instead barriers are put in place for accounts in this time, it’ll massively affect a part of the community that needs to be listened to at this point so that we can de-escalate.

Either way, it would just make relationships on the site deteriorate further, in my opinion.

20

Unfortunately the situation got picked up on Google News by at least two questionable websites, so it's quite likely that we are going to see some more troll activity than usual for awhile.

It really might be a good idea to require accounts have some sort of history on the network for a little while.

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    TheRegister is a well respected (if slight irreverent) site that covers science and computer tech and has won numerous awards for journalistic excellence in the UK and Australia. – Richard Oct 17 at 6:33
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    I'm assuming the "[at] least two questionable websites" referred to are the ones listed below TheRegister, which look like angry campaign sites – user56reinstatemonica8 Oct 17 at 9:41
  • Someone without a history on the network has no business posting on MSE at all. They don't have a problematic post of theirs to ask about. They don't have a history of interaction to complain about. – Raedwald Oct 17 at 14:09
  • Can you please name the questionable sites? Google News is giving me trouble. – einpoklum - reinstate Monica Oct 17 at 14:33
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    @Raedwald - They might be an existing user wanting to post an unpopular opinion without damaging their main account, a post supporting gay or trans rights if they live in a country where that's problematic or something critical of SE without fear of retribution from the CM team. There's lots of reasons people use throwaways – Richard Oct 17 at 14:37
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    @Richard "Reclaim the Net" and "One Angry Gamer" – Stop Harming Monica Oct 17 at 15:42
9

That's just what the trolls want.

The goal of trolling of this nature is to get the site to suspect everyone, and destroy any sense of community. False positives will be generated, people will get caught up in massive sweeps, and you will turn allies into enemies.

Then the trolls say "mission accomplished", and have a great day.

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    The way SE treated Monica was probably a dream come true for many trolls. – Anne Daunted GoFundMonica Oct 17 at 13:57
  • Not only this. Trolls here at least can be moderated. I'm now more worried about the trolls that aren't on meta. – Trilarion Oct 17 at 14:18
  • @AnneDaunted I used to troll certain groups who name themselves after a party that was in control of Germany during WWII. If something like this had happened on one of those sites, I would have had them in ashes in a week. You are right, this is a dream come true for anyone who wants to see SE burn. – Richard says Reinstate Monica Oct 17 at 15:02
  • @DonThermidor_LobsterMobster "...this is a dream come true for anyone who wants to see SE burn." What would be the antidote? Maybe just refraining from discussing the matter further? The ones who continue may only be the trolls. – Trilarion Oct 17 at 15:08
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    @Trilarion PDFTT has always been the best approach. I'm old enough to have used a 200 baud modem and dialed into BBS systems through Telnet. Just go back to the "be nice" and "assume good intentions" principles, and the problem will die out, after some extinction behavior. The more clandestine you make the rules, the more attempts to circumvent the rules there will be, along with rules lawyering and filibustering. Mischievous hacker sites used to lament the fact that SE was almost impossible to troll. They're not crying now, in fact they're laughing their butts off.... (end Part 1) – Richard says Reinstate Monica Oct 17 at 15:47
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    @Trilarion "Extinction behavior" is what happens when you try to put an end to something. At first, people ramp up the behavior in an attempt to make you think it isn't working. To stop it, you keep course, and don't react. Example: If you've been bullied, and then stand up to a bully, the bully will ramp up the bullying behavior, hoping that you'll eventually back down. Only after he's thrown everything at you, will he stop. So, for the short-term, things get worse, but in the long term, things die down. – Richard says Reinstate Monica Oct 17 at 15:50
-2

Hmm... Troll fencing? What about just making it more difficult for people to join up and post without reading the respective SE site's FAQ at least about what's on topic or not? What about restricting posts from spammers so that we, over at Ask Ubuntu at least, don't face a barrage of spam?

Yesterday, around the same time of this post, there was a wave of spam. Some of the spam posts hung around for an hour:

Spam persisting

I asked for help over at some chat room (Tavern?) where at least one person active at Ask Ubuntu was also active in Chat.

Anyway, I guess the (unstated) objective could be to have as many visits to sites to boost stats (and to make ventures more appealing to capitalists). As someone said, the only worse than being talked about is the reverse.

So, no, I think troll fencing for this current situation (which could very very very easily be resolved by a sincere mea culpa and appropriate action by one side) would be just one more typical corporate misstep.

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    It might just be me, but I'm a little confused as to what you're proposing (or, rather, why you're arguing against some sort of precautionary measures). – HDE 226868 Oct 17 at 1:03
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    Why now? Erecting barriers for just one specific issue? Why not erect barriers to deal with more systemic issues? Why not put up some sort of restriction over rapid-fire spam posts? If there are some, they are easy to get around. Why, even here, there are several technical support questions that don't fit here. – Justice for Monica Oct 17 at 1:08
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    The latter sorta thing is, yeah, a long-running issue. Folks have been working on it for a while (meta.stackexchange.com/q/306329/274942, meta.stackexchange.com/q/305749/274942), but I don't think any big fixes have been implemented yet. And spam - well, there are systems in place for that, and CMs can step in to place large-scale IP blocks for large spam waves (which has saved many a site). But those are both really tangential to the issue here of the sort of trolling we've been seeing this past week or two, which is why this isn't too relevant. – HDE 226868 Oct 17 at 1:12
  • If ad hoc steps can be taken now, even though "fix" is supposedly a day or so away, why not address the long-running issue also? I don't see why the same intellect can't address the more pervasive issue rather than something which will dry up and blow away, one way or another. Plus, one side's trolls are the "other side's" apologists. So "troll" is, I think, a more subjective term than spammer. And attempting to silence even trolls isn't good optics at this point. – Justice for Monica Oct 17 at 1:19
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    Well, if you chase away the core of the community, then you'll see the quality of the sites go down. That's pretty much to be expected. And from the evidence seen, that is exactly what SE,Inc is aiming for. – MSalters - reinstate Monica Oct 17 at 7:17
  • @MSalters Just out of curiosity and because you have lots of rep on SO, do you think they really aim for chasing away the core users or may it also be just a side effect? And I also wonder what is mostly driving you away? – Trilarion Oct 17 at 15:11
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    @Trilarion: I said it in another answer: if this is incompetence by the community team, it's incompetence on a scale that David Fullerton (the responsbile CTO) should have sacked the responsible members. So I can only conclude that the driving away of core users is intentional. – MSalters - reinstate Monica Oct 18 at 7:00

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