Monday, March 12, 2007

SXSW: When Audiences Attack

Chris Tolles
google him and

Your first problem is building and scaling an audience
The next problem is audience

Geotagging people at town level helped moderate users. They don't want to bring embarassment to their communities.

Who are we (technologists) to tell people what to say or not? What is our social role? We are a bunch of carpet baggers from Palo Alto.

anonymity enables certain bad behaviors
- jumping onto hot button issues with an "oh yeah"

attacking through accusation of wrongdoing

people with multiple logins

small groups of very abusive people

What can you do?
1) Take down the whole thing
2) Abdicate (not my problem - myspace, facebook does not take this approach)
3) Manage and moderate

Achieving scale with Software

1998 moderators
Profanity filters
per post/user moderation

2007 meta-moderators (a moderator that moderates moderators)
heat language analysis (topix uses this; can give numerical score to a posting)
recent activity queue
voting systems
finding the good stuff

the more your site is seen as pushing an agenda and not silencing one is better.

Ni-Chan Paradox in Practice
* take away registration. encourages trolls
* growth of community grows signficantly. people with good thing to say don't have much time on their hands.
They want to get in, say it and get out. People with bad things to say want to get in there and tear things
apart for a long time.

What should you do?

1) Security is policy. Have one.
2) Make some decisions. What do you care about on your site? There are a lot of things that have an inverse relationship.
3) We've optomized for growth (topix).
4) Get rid of the bottom 5-10% (eliminate threats, calls for viiolence, personal details, 100% harm) 5 lines of wrath, get
rid of it. Otherwise keep it. Legitimate and interesting.
5) topix is 10 years in and they are still figuring it out. "A group is its own worst enemy"
6) Real challenge: identify the good stuff

Deja Vu All Over Again
* This is a well understood problem
* Difference today are scale and impact
* Everybody learns the hard way (you can research it, but you'll do it anyway)

When someone attacks, identify who the trouble makers are.
Add a note that says "hey, we are the staff. we know what the problem is. this is how we are handling the problem."

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