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First off, this diary isn't going to make much sense unless you follow this abomination.  Suffice it to say that I wanted to wipe the slate clean, but felt that deleting the old diary was wrong.  So, if you're not interested in meta-issues and you're off-put by my general rambling, pondersome style, then you should likely be on your way.  However, if you want to hear my responses to how a simple meta-topic triggered an explosion even larger than many genuinely controversial issues have around here, then read on.

The short of my previous diary is this: I believe that, in threads genuinely meant to foster dialogue, having scores of "woohoo" comments (nt or one-liner and content-less) is a bad thing.  As I said, only say something when you have something to say, or else you make it harder for everyone else to digest what's going on (e.g. pierce through the signal-noise ratio to find actual insight).  I also mentioned server costs, which unfortunately some people focused on and ridiculed as my primary point when it was really just a minor passing issue.  That said, they can add up, and I remember when Scoop-Kos was just beginning and load-handling was a real problem, and to this day the site goes down somewhat more often than a website ideally should.

Now, the discussion my diary triggered was unfortunately infested by a troll, who both abused ratings, threw around a number of slurs, and got in a tit-for-tat fight with pretty much anyone he could.  I'm just going to leave it at that, as there's nothing in particular he said worth responding to. I will say though, that some pointed out that "multi-comment pissing contests" also detract from the site, and I agree entirely. It was obviously not my intent for the thread to go up in flames, and I don't think my entry was written in an inflammatory style. And another thing being a problem doesn't cure or trivialize this problem.

Now there were some responses from legit folks that I do wish to address.  Firstly, to those who called me a "dick", both for this issue and the sexism diary I also mentioned: if you really believe that, so be it, but I encourage you to read both my diaries again.  You'll find that, while I have my opinion, I'm considerate to all points of view and am not making dogmatic or unilateral assertions.  All in all, not very dick-like behavior.

To those who focused on the price issue, as I said, the main issue is signal-to-noise.  To those who pointed out the potential humor or community-building affects of short comments, I explicitly recognized both of those things and said that they were both exceptions to what I was saying (I also noted specifically that C&J and similar celebratory/congratulatory threads are also essentially exempt from this, as you go into those expecting a lot of noise and not much signal, and they're good for that, that's their point).  But I do still feel that certain threads should focus on signal, not noise, and that these threads are more and more becoming full of the same "woohoo" noise that really does detract from conversation.

To those who decried me for censorship or being "thread police", I would say that I am anything but.  I've actually been policed myself on a few occasions, and do not support censorship of any sort.  But, I do still believe in quality control, and will make suggestions and state my opinion.  If people still want to do nothing but "woohoo" comments then I won't stop them, I'm not trying to make any hard rules here, I'm just saying I think they're counterproductive.  Just because I believe in free speech doesn't mean I have to like all speech.

I am not trying to be the "ultimate arbiter", either, and judging from some of the responses I received in my first diary I am not alone here.  I am simply saying that one should have something to say if they are going to say something.  I don't think it's too judgmental to say that comments that literally just go "Woohoo!" don't really contribute in many situations.  Yes, the response it triggered is ironic, and the mere fact that it is a "meta" issue does make it perhaps silly as well (I fully accept that meta is not many folks cup of tea, but for whatever reason it fascinates me).

And further, to the multiple folks who said I'd "scare off new users", well, the only actual new user who responded in the thread seemed to agree with me that the "woohoo" comments are annoying.  They said that they came here looking for dialogue, and I thank them for that.  I don't think what I'm proposing would "shut down new voices for the choir" or anything, if anything it will make Daily Kos a more approachable community and help the new voices pick up the melody and sing in tune.  As it is, if you're not "in the know" it's quite hard to understand DK.  Making threads a bit more digestible would help.

To those who say "one man's signal is another's noise", or that there's many levels of communication going on here and such, that is a very good point, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't have any attempts at quality control.  That, and I very much doubt anyone gets much signal from many of the comments I'm referring to: again, I'm not unilaterally condemning all short comments, I'm specifically referring to the sort of "dittohead" comments (and thanks to the folks who noticed that parallel).  As noted by some users, right-wing sites are often full of blind and bland "woohooing", but I'd like to have something more cerebral here.  It doesn't have to be cerebral in every thread, every comment, 24/7, but it would be nice if the "woohooing" wasn't so omnipresent either.  That's all I'm saying.

To those who say it's just like a rating, well, then use the rating.  If it's really a celebratory thread or a C&J exchange or something, then "right ons!" are more appropriate, but if it's a detailed policy discussion with lots of technical info, getting scores of "right ons" really does detract.  And yes, I know you can pagedown through it, and yes, maybe I am just being picky, but you know what?  I'm entitled to be picky.  I'm not saying people must conform to this, but I am saying I think it'd be a good idea and I'm providing my reasons why.  Instead of condemning me ("ad hominem"), try responding to my reasons.

And to those who were worried about mojo issues or suggested I delete the thread, well, I don't think like that.  I like to focus on the substance of the discussion, not the little numbers and points that get attached.  I intend to let it stand, and mojo will work itself out.  That's really what it's supposed to do anyway.

So, to summarize, I'm not policing, censoring, judging, suppressing, being intolerant, or unilaterally condemning.  I'm just saying that the noise-to-signal ratio is a bit out of control at times, and it'd be nice if, in substantial threads, people commented when they had something to say.  Having a voice is a great priviledge and I'm glad we can all communicate so freely, but when everybody's talking nobody can really listen.  I understand the drive to participate and be part of the community, but it doesn't excuse having nothing to say.  There are threads meant for that sort of "woohooing" (C&J, congratulatory threads).

Think about it this way: you know that little disclaimer on top of the write-a-diary page?  It'd be handy if we had a similar disclaimer about comments, because really, it's the same thing.  Granted it's a different level of the site, but it's the exact same issue.  Comments get swept by just like diaries do, and digging for insightful comments, just like digging for insightful diaries, is becoming more and more of a problem.

Thanks for reading, and please, respond to my actual assertions.  I'm not condemning all short comments or talking about all comments in all threads, and I'm not saying it's just server costs.  I'm not calling for censorship, and if people wish to keep making "woohoo" comments then I won't stop them (not that I could anyway), but I do think they are counterproductive and I'm providing my reasons why.  I'm saying that legitimately substantial threads get bogged down and often have a signal-noise problem.  Thanks.

Oh, and if you feel like trolling, please don't. Thanks.

Addendum: That includes focusing on issues I explicitly said were not the focus. That's not irony, it's snark. I gave full disclaimer that my style is rambling and pondersome and that this is an arguably useless meta-diary, so if that's not your cup of tea you should probably just move on.

Second addendum: Bob Johnson, and people in general, you shouldn't take ratings so personally. And Mr. Johnson, you'll notice that I actually did not get involved in the flame war in the previous thread, and don't intend to start now, despite the continued snark on your part. Johnny, as for your comment, it has nothing to do with "spine": I rated you a 2 because you blatantly misrepresented my views and assertions. I explicitly exempted threads meant for rallying purposes, yet you accused me of wishing to censor them (not that I'm trying to really censor anything anyway). I'm not downrating people for criticism, if you look through these threads you'll find many cases where I give "4s" to comments that are critical of me. I downrate those who misrepresent my views and who, well, post with snark and troll. So if you want me to stop downrating you, then stop doing those things. And in any case, as I said, you should really just stop taking ratings so personally anyway. If you want an application of "spine" that may be a more appropriate one - post your opinion and don't be affected by the little numbers and scores, which really are pretty meaningless in the end.

As for the folks who wrote semi-legit responses, the short of it is this: I'm talking less about the diaries that only get a few responses and more about the massive threads that get bogged down. And I'm all for showing support and unity, just not hurting signal-noise excessively. I think in most situations, if you want to thank someone you can with moderation (tip jar and elsewhere) and recommending their diary. Anyway, I think I addressed and any all of your concerns already in my writeups, so reread as necessary. Thanks.

Originally posted to Aaron on Fri Mar 04, 2005 at 09:28 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Talk about 'server costs' (3.75)
    Heh-heh...
  •  I agree. (4.00)
    I'm not the netizen that many of you are and I don't really know anything about the merits of the program Kos uses but I have found websites with this program

    http://www.vbulletin.com/

    to be very easy to use and they store posts for  in a file system that is easy to manage and look for information in because they are organized in folders based on topic just like say, the filing cabinet in your office, or the files on your computer.  That way the diaries that deserve more than woohoo!s would be there for people to look at after they have flown down the right hand side of the page.  Posts that get new comments are reshuffled to the top of the pile in that subfolder.  Posts that get no replies gradually shuffle to the bottom and then disappear forever.  You could still have a front page, and a new diary list, but all of the hundreds of new diaries/day would be placed in appropriate folders and subfolders so that people interested in that topic could find them.  Also it would be easier to see that 6 other people have already written that great   Jeff Gannon was on CNN last night diary your working on right now.

  •  If someone writes a great diary (none)
    I think it's worthwhile to compliment them and thank them for taking the time to share share it with us.

    I think it's good for people to participate. Due to this site I now feel like I have a voice in the political process for the first time in my life.

    Try to be patient with those of us who may not be as articulate you and are not quite as capable of the the insightful commentary that some of our more educated members can add. With your help and the freedom to participate we too can aspire to that level of commentary.

    "Anything worth fighting for is worth fighting dirty for."

    by DriftawayNH on Fri Mar 04, 2005 at 10:31:31 AM PST

  •  As someone who (3.50)
    gets happy at more than two responses to a post, I for one don't mind the 'I agree!' or 'Right on!' responses.  It says someone read what I wrote, they agree, move on.  Maybe in some people's eyes a thinning of the heard would be good, but it is discouraging to keep posting and not getting a response, even if it is a 'right on!'.  I do believe in self-censorship, and I've fought my urge to post 'uh-huh' posts and instead rated the comment, but I don't think there is a problem with a visible seconding with someone's username next to it.  I'm sure anyone here wouldn't complain about a 'you betcha!' coming from Howard Dean or Barbara Boxer.  If server space and bandwidth is the issue, I think (and no I don't mean this as a backhand) longwinded diaries and comments are the biggest culprits.

    And yes, I do see the irony.

  •  Aaron (none)
    you gave me a 2 for my comment on your previous diary (and note that I did not call you a "dick" or anyting like that). Until you can develop the spine to deal with criticism without downrating people, then I personally don't give a shit what whining screed you feel like posting today.

    "I told them on Inauguration Day. I said look into my eyes: no new enhancements." - President Johnny Gentle (Famous Crooner)

    by Johnny Gentle Famous Crooner on Fri Mar 04, 2005 at 04:53:25 PM PST

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