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posted on Nov, 5 2008 @ 06:35 PM
It seems a large proportion of the most flagged threads are, though popular, insufficient for the purposes of ATS, and hardly congruent with the guidelines of proper debate and discussion. Most of the time these threads aren't of any reflection as to the intellectual voracity of its contributors. The proposed system would provide a check against excessive, and unwarranted, popularity.

I can see where this is short-sighted. The first limitation is that a member may only place an anti-flag on a thread if there are already more than a certain amount of flags on the thread itself. You can't go into negatives, the anti-flag count will always be lower than the flag count.

The number of anti-flags the members of this forum could possibly attribute to any particular thread would be of a proportion of the thread's popularity, which can be assigned an arbitrary number value. A combination of views and replies would constitute this number. The higher this number, the greater amount of times any particular thread can be anti-flagged. This system isn't as apparently exploitable as it may seem because if a thread is in fact popular, the number of flags should rise in proportion to the number of anti-flags. It works as a sort of balance mechanism. But if the number of flags maintain the exact same ratio, or very close, for the duration of the thread, then we can ascertain that the thread as whole is not really indicative of the value apparently perceived by its popularity.

The point of this system is that it would keep very popular, though very unintelligible or unattractive threads from remaining at the top of the board home page. Extending moderation to the community, albeit to a relatively minor extent, would provide a positive outlet for involvement for all members. I admit we are already fairly well self moderated, especially with the ATS culture that many of the site's top contributors and voracious readers propagate by their mere presence... It's just that some threads, such as the ever popular "Communism = Socialism" do not fail to cease; the arguments seem inexhaustible. Although sometimes open-ended discussion should be encouraged, it seems that the majority of these thread's contents are insufficient for proper debate, all too often exceed the original question, and typically derail very quickly. This is all adds up, considering the current thread, to about 30 pages of extremely unrelated posts, following no clear theme or drawing very few common conclusions, on any range of issues (Of course the issue Communism = Socialism is a very hard one to conclude, but there are several subsets of that argument, which shouldn't be impossible to come to consensus on-which it seems we are repeatedly incapable of approaching without the thread title's overarching claim superseding any deviating notion).

I know this up to moderators to manage these things, but then again it would relieve a lot of stress (considering the consternation surrounding the election and of the recent Blossom Goodchild event this staff isn't called the best on the Internet without good reason). Self moderation, however, is ideally the ultimate goal of every individual on this forum. Though not pragmatic, this aspiration should lead us in a positive direction. Adding a feature such as anti-flagging might be the first "pragmatic" step toward that direction itself.

[edit on 5-11-2008 by cognoscente]

posted on Nov, 5 2008 @ 06:37 PM
I agree there should be anti-flagging.

There should also be "negative stars," or maybe even a Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down type of system implemented.

posted on Nov, 5 2008 @ 06:42 PM
The following is my opinion as a member participating in this discussion.

Such a system would be subjective to the same abuse that is quoted as a means of promoting it. This issue has come up since the day flagging was implemented into the board.

Speaking as a member, I concern myself with the flags that I offer and nobody else. If someone flags a thread that I don't particularly feel is deserving, I really do not concern myself with it. To each their own.

But on the ability to "anti-flag" or "flag down" threads, it only fuels the fire of potential drama. If you want to "flag down" a thread, just don't flag it. And one better, do not take the time to respond by expressing your disdain for the thread. These posts are only furthering the thread down the road that you do not wish to see it travel.

Remember, every thread that you flag yourself.. I guarantee you there are plenty of members that disagree with the flags that you yourself are offering.

As an ATS Staff Member, I will not moderate in threads such as this where I have participated as a member.

[edit on 11-5-2008 by chissler]

posted on Nov, 5 2008 @ 06:42 PM
reply to post by Diplomat

I doubt you read that all in two minutes, let alone posted your reply in that same duration. But thanks for acknowledging the idea.

Any anti-flagging system would be a very delicate issue. So if it follows that which I proposed in detail above, and further below, then it should be both very systematic in its approach and very effective in its results.

reply to post by chissler

Well the above outlined system is substantially different. And again to the above, I'd appreciate if you commented on the actual mechanism of the system, it's implications, but not the general sentiment. I know of previous attempts at this concept. But this is a considerably different stance, so it should warrant the respect of closer scrutiny.

This worry can easily be refuted. The type of threads that I mentioned above are incredibly prone to excessive flagging by members that simply wish to fuel their own debate, or are of a random nature, and not a true reflection of the intellectual voracity of the thread, or significance to the average ATS member. Popularity alone doesn't mean that for some reason or another, the thread should warrant placement on the front page. Sure everyone has a different reason for flagging a thread, but we can assume that everyone does so for rational reasons, whether it be for its insight, its ease of discussion, its debatability, or the conclusions that it has as a community drawn. You said this yourself. But after a certain number of threads, that notion becomes a mathematical improbability. The reliability of the flag count deceases at a significant rate after this hypothetical "critical number". Typically, as the number of flags increases, and surpasses that "critical number" we can determine that the flag count isn't in relation to the rational conclusions of the first half of the members, which happened to flagged the thread initially. Now I'm not saying people's opinions are wrong, that can't logically be so. But there is definitely a more efficient system for determining whether or not threads should warrant the attention that one undoubtedly gets when its flag count reaches a certain number.

The major difference in my system, as opposed to simply flagging and anti-flagging on a 1:1 ratio... is that by examining the change in the ratio of flag to anti-flag over time (anti-flags being limited by a proportion of the flags present, which is based on popularity, considering both views and reply count) we can determine the overall significance of the thread to the average ATS member. Popularity alone shouldn't be the major determinant in that thread's being displayed on the board's front page. Doesn't this seem counter-intuitive? These particular threads I mentioned are cases, which when elevated to a position on the web site where even more views would be encouraged, only fuel the incessant nature of the thread itself. As of now, the thread Welcome to the USSA has about 60 flags. The very context that these threads are placed in is debatable (when linking to the TOP threads page on the horizontal navigation bar at the top of page, the headline IMPORTANT TOPICS RIGHT NOW is the first thing you see). The majority of those topics shouldn't be there.

Again, at a certain threshold, popularity no longer becomes a measure of the quality of that post. There are probably many more topics that deserve better attention. Using my system you could find a natural medium for the actual "most important threads". Isn't ATS as a business not interested in the creation of a self moderated quality dynamic? If my proposed system is actually sold as part of the media package, it could prove a significant factor in a customer's decision to purchase, though not that there are any other options anyway, the Above Top Network is kind of a competitive monopoly... Oh and I'm not here to make money, so feel free to use me. Great thing about ideas is that they're free. Great thing about dedicated members is that they appreciate being used.

Sure, there are moderators to handle such large threads, and their discretion is all that is truly necessary.

But then again the proposal outlines an interactive, intuitive system that would better reflect the quality of any particular thread, especially the very large ones; it would put moderation into the hands of all the members, and although that may seem unwise, we know that people in the end make rational decisions.

The system is hardly exploitable. Now whether the implementation of such a system is even necessary is the question that I'll leave to the site staff. It might be fairly complex to implement, and would require the formulation of a few equations, some calculus, and creative programming.

[edit on 5-11-2008 by cognoscente]

posted on Nov, 5 2008 @ 08:05 PM
Anti Flagging would simply give the Trolls a new tool to disrupt the system...

Since Trolls appear in strong numbers and have nothing better to do than go from thread to thread spreading discontent, a 'team' of Trolls could undo ever flag made... by shear numbers alone...

Also if a flag puts a thread in the headline, what does an anti flag do? Send it to Skunkworks?

posted on Nov, 5 2008 @ 11:34 PM
It reduces the chance a thread will be viewed in the headline. But the way I'm proposing it is not that simple. You can't flag and anti-flag a thread on a 1:1 ratio. That would be too exploitable.

Instead, the amount of anti-flags would be of a calculated proportion to the amount of flags, based on the number of views and replies the thread has (the higher this arbitrary "popularity" value the higher the number of anti-flags that any one individual can attribute to the thread, however the number of anti-flags must always be considerably lower than the total number of flags, and must be greater than 0). This method keeps a topic that is getting too large from getting even larger if it really doesn't deserve it. This way all the headline topics would be the most deserving of that privilege.

The argument is that at a critical number of flags, the value of each marginal flag decreases in relation to the intellectual voracity of the thread as whole. The reasons people once initially flagged the thread are becoming increasingly redundant, and increasingly unimportant. I'm not discounting people's opinions, it's just once a thread becomes large enough, and it gains the privilege of headline status, sometimes its continuation becomes largely incessant, having been filled with information so off-course of what was originally intended, and for that reason the flags that were originally granted to that thread have lost all their credibility; those flags have been made insignificant in respect to the amount of flags that were added after that critical point where the thread generally derailed.

If the number of anti-flags increases in proportion to the number of flags, then we can assume that the topic is deserving of headline status once it reaches a high enough number of flags for the day. This is true since if they both grow at the same rate then there is no greater negative or positive opinion of it. If the rate of flags to anti-flags improves over the day, then we ascertain as to the quality of the thread. There is a limit to the number of anti-flags so anti-flagging for trolling purposes would be redundant, and eventually would be corrected naturally by members, on the basis on the rationality principle, which assumes people will continue giving flags to a good thread (in this model the rationality principle is perfected, as there is no critical number at which the thread's marginal increase in terms of the value of a flag decreases).

Threads now become a subject of quality rather than popularity. My hypothesis being that flags attributed to a good thread are initially warranted, but as time increases and flag counts increase as well, each additional flag is simply a result of a decision made not in accordance to the quality of the post, but due to the popular nature of the discussion.

[edit on 5-11-2008 by cognoscente]

posted on Nov, 6 2008 @ 12:05 AM
Sounds complicated...

I figure don't fix it if it ain't broke

Now lemme go flag this post

posted on Nov, 6 2008 @ 10:34 AM
Yeah, it's fairly complicated. I don't really think the change is necessary but maybe sometime in the future if such a system is seriously considered, this post could be used as a reference point. Oh, and thanks for the flag!

[edit on 6-11-2008 by cognoscente]

posted on Nov, 6 2008 @ 11:51 AM
I believe the measure of the 'subjective' value of a thread is best limited to positive feedback.

Lack of flags on a thread show the general disinterest of the post. Why make a tool that can be used by an organized group of posters to skew the value?

If you don't like it - avoid it.

If you are outraged by it, ignore it, or say so. But if your view is as subjective as the posters what will you have proved? That there is disagreement?

I suspect the owners and staff of this forum have given a great deal of consideration to the matter. Perhaps you should refer to some of the earlier threads regarding this subject, as you may see direct responses to the observations you put forth.

posted on Nov, 6 2008 @ 11:06 PM
How about having a "brain count" with little brains to represent thought provoking threads as opposed to much of the mindless dribble that gets the popular vote flags. Sometime I think the threads are being infiltrated by 12 & 13-year-olds.

posted on Nov, 7 2008 @ 12:44 AM
1) A brain count! Nice idea Chilled1.

The number of brains on a thread would be of a proportion related to the total amount of Applauds that a moderator gave in that thread.

2) A brain count in conjunction with the anti-flagging system!

Using the above outlined system, you could automatically determine, as I have repeated, the "intellectual voracity" of the thread. The top half of these rated threads get a picture of a brain next to them. But then again that might cause people to attack it. If for some reason they don't agree with the thread and it has a brain picture, then they might feel personally insulted. A picture of brain, an obvious denotation for intelligence, where one just can't seem to agree with the topic would lead one to believe that those perpetuating the general sentiment regarding that thread believe they are superior to the one, which disagrees. Mathematically speaking they would be biased and unfounded in their retaliation, but I guess human nature and emotion tend to supersede logic in most cases.

Wow, this is getting complicated... Better forget about the latter course for now. But I like the first idea.

[edit on 7-11-2008 by cognoscente]

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