Troll Zapping

Don Marti writes about the idea of setting a Troll-bit on forum posts such that every reply would also be flagged.

I’ve been thinking about how to solve such issues for mailing lists. I think that the way to do this is to create a new list for every contentious topic and automatically subscribe everyone who posted to the thread after the messages that were flagged as being too far off-topic. After that time anyone who tries to post to the main list with a matching subject or a header indicating that the message is a reply to an off-topic message would have their message redirected to the new list – and they would be automatically subscribed.

This would keep the off-topic messages away from the main list and also serve as a minor dis-incentive for people to post to threads that start going off-topic as most people won’t want to be subscribed to the new list for off-topic messages.

However such messages would still be archived (in a different section) so if the moderator mis-classified a thread it could still be reviewed by other people.

Also when moderating such threads it would be interesting to experiment with consensus moderation of posts. If N subscribers of the list who post regularly use a web form to indicate that a certain post was too far off-topic and should spawn a new list then that could happen.

I agree with Joey Hess’ rant about forums, so solving a problem for forums is not of interest to me, but hacking on a list server is something that I would do if I had enough spare time.

3 comments to Troll Zapping

  • Maybe the right thing to build is a common message store with both web and mail interfaces, that also lets users easily grab lots of messages to read offline. Something like Usenet?

    A web interface would help searchers and casual commenters who don’t want to read the whole list (subscribers could always block these comments) and the mail interface would let people easily use their mailers and editors of choice instead of web forms. A web interface would also make it easier for a moderator to join threads together when a poster to the list breaks threading. And you could stick moderation links in the message footer, something like, “To mark this message as a troll, please visit:

  • I ranted about this the other day:

    You might find some of the ideas in there (and in response in the thread) if you want to hack on something like this.

  • would adding a ‘x-debian-troll-bit: on’ to the email header do it?