automatic temporary ban of a troll user with minus X votes



  • Since there is not always a moderator/admin on the forum... I was thinking a way to deactivate experienced troll users with "social justice" in the forum...

    I think this kind of feature would help a lot of forums and ease the work of admins...

    Let's say a troll user posted a post, if that post takes -15 votes during the first 12 or 24 hours, troll user is temporarily banned from the forum... Of course ban time or value of downvotes can change depend on the forum size and atmosphere...


  • Community Rep

    This is a feature in Discourse, and when i first saw it years ago I thought, COOL!

    Many years later, when actually interacting with the feature in Discourse. I realised it was generally a bad system because it was really a bad idea.

    What problem was it actually solving?

    Users not being able to moderator other users comments????

    That is Chaos!

    Why invite Chaos?

    The problem you see it as is lack of staff to police the conversation. This is a problem for all busy forums. Overall auto features are too crude to deal with rising noise IMHO.

    One very obvious downside of "social justice" which these days is IMHO another term or mask for mob rule, users quickly learn the weakness of the system, and actively suppress other users in a targeted fashion, so what might seem to solve the moderation burden, could end up being weaponised against ordinary users and cause serious community problems, the kind you may not recover from, as recriminations and all kinds of things could explode form a few bad turns.

    The most important thing for a user first off, is to be able to report or flag a post easily, that see as problematic for whatever reason and then for that to appear quickly and very visibly to mods and admins alike.

    At least a Troll is very easy to see, users who are abusing a system like this, how visible are they? You need to back up the user accounting side too. This is starting to seem like a headache.

    Traditional moderation with a good team is the solution, that is sustained and enabled by a great admin/backend that make moderation of problem users fast and efficient. The better this system is the less moderation users you might need to assist in day to day moderation.

    Get that right and you are winning.

    Naturally moderation teams have there problem and this is often due to progress of time in my experience, so to add a crude feature like
    mob down voting that kills post, does nothing to address team work and good admin policy, vision and direction.

    A good report/flag system with SPAM and some other options where a user report may temporarily hide a post, is a good start - SPAM might be hidden automatically, (yes that could be abused) but since it is granular more likely it will be used in good faith most of the time (but I have seen people go absolutely nuts with report features too which is just silly), options for off-topic or disruptive might good (it might be goo to allow an admin set extra report flags and also control the action after the report, doe sit hide the post or not. Things like that, which aids the internal operation more than handing over executive powers to the mob!

    Setting a downvote threshold to remove a post is basically giving your users based an achievable target to counter disruptive use or exact revenge! Trolls might also use this feature to counter also and then you have all out war.

    Leave all the power in the hands of Admins, Mods and give them good control to track, control and censure problematic posts and users, that is hight visible quickly, fast and able to batch operate in comfort and then users will understand that the odd troll might get through or a bit of spam may appear but since you do such a great job of keeping the house clean, they really appreciate your efforts.

    No point in making yourself obsolete now is there? πŸ˜‰



  • @omega thanks for your comments πŸ™‚

    just to make sure we are on the same page... I am suggesting that when a post of a troll user has -15 rating in the first X hour, user should be temporarily banned (or muted if that function comes) , but post is still there and visible, nothing is happening to the post, just troll user is blocked for certain time (depending on admin schedule)...

    in our case, most of the active users are protecting the forum atmosphere and they are already down voting and flagging for moderation... however these are not solving the problem until a moderator/admin checks the issue. You sometimes see more than 100 posts are posted about this incident when you enter the forum πŸ™‚

    I believe -15 would function as expected for our forum now (it is just an example, of course it will depend on forum atmosphere, for example in this nodebb forum up and down votes are not used as much as our forum) but in the future the more people using the forum, it should be further adjusted bu admins of course...

    But as for other features (like upvoting and downvoting), we forbid abusing these functions explicitly. Constant downvoting (or let's say revenge downvotes πŸ™‚ ) is also a weakness nodebb has, however we solved the issue by a clear announcement about permanent ban. A person can only abuse these functions one time, since afterwards he/she will be banned permanently. (additionally, you have to have at least 3 reputation point to be able to downvote posts in our forum, so a "sudden registration" would not be an issue)

    Moreover, temporary ban can be lifted by admins anyways, this is just to automatize the process and encourage people to protect the atmosphere more... Of course I am not suggesting everyone should use this πŸ™‚ only if you think, it is a fit to your forum...

    I will check how it works in discourse, thanks.


  • Community Rep

    I was thinking and writing in terms of discourse from experience. This is kind of what happens in discourse too.

    I like to keep things simple.

    Do you want the system to provide technical backup to users to perform moderation duties through their mass Actions?

    Personally. I do not like this from an admins moderation point of view.

    However I totally see the reasoning and need for support. It is a compelling case. It comes down to trust. There is a trust system in discourse too with user levels. I do not particularly like it but it could be done in a fashion that it does help to reduce moderation burden and overhead on a busy growing forum.

    Maybe think of it more like village militia.

    I preferred earned posting access through tiers.

    Tiered moderator powers would also be good too or users after for eg 100 contributions get such an ability. Not full mod but partial mid abilities like this.

    It’s about bringing people into the group so they can be part of the maintenance. There is a lot of this thinking in Discourse but I don’t fully like it in real use. It’s about implementation and the root behind the feature.

    What is to stop a bot squad Or user working in hit squads on a forum from disable targets?

    Lack of market for such a product. Now maybe but later on? Who knows.

    All features depend on the personality and culture of a forum and tbh this can also change over time.


  • Community Rep

    To abide by my own call to keep things simple.

    I would suggest to base such a feature on report/flag action. rather than the downvote.

    Downvotes are visble to users.

    Reports/flags are not as a rule - this should be the trigger.

    This goes some way to addressing the weakness of user mob behaviour to game the vote system to knock people out.



  • @omega said in automatic temporary ban of a troll user with minus X votes:

    To abide by my own call to keep things simple.

    I would suggest to base such a feature on report/flag action. rather than the downvote.

    Downvotes are visble to users.

    Reports/flags are not as a rule - this should be the trigger.

    This goes some way to addressing the weakness of user mob behaviour to game the vote system to knock people out.

    That would also be okay I believe... it is also solving the same problem...

    If you put a threshold for downvoting ability (in our case it is 3), it will solve the problem you are mentioning... since a person needs to create 15 different accounts for this, approve email addresses, get 3 points reputation first, I believe it will mean at least waste of half an hour/1 hour for this simple act πŸ™‚ (which can be reversed by an admin easily by lifting the ban)

    additionally, if it is not clear, I am suggesting it should only count the flags in the first X hours (for example 12 hours) after posting (depend on admin schedule)


  • Community Rep

    Ok if your moderation people are along a few hours later or no longer that 12 hours. Then using the report/flag function is perfect.

    Not everyone who votes might be a good reporter and vice versa, as the two things are cognitively different actions IMHO.

    I think someone who uses a report/flag feature, is able (*or we hope, but not always) to separate their personal interaction with posts versus helping keep the neighbour hood clean - maybe the way to see it is like this:

    (voting) personal action vs (reporting) operational action.

    Reporting/flag is a very clear functional action, because it implies that the report will be seen directly, and mod actions are expected to follow soon after or more swiftly.

    Adding in extra purpose or breaking out to the voting system, into a secondary or sub role that it was not designed for, is I think, as outlined previously fraught with other issues.

    Using reporting/flagging system, the Admin might benefit from be easier reports generated from reports/flags, and can plot over time... using the voting system to extra a report like this I would imagine is more complex or at least needing a lot filtering and re-stating to be useable.

    User with most flags
    Flags by day, month week... etc. etc.

    In the admin there is already "Most Flagged" in the user, so let's go with what is already baked in and expand it out for best performance and visibility, and possibly allow combination of flags + user states to filtering user lists.

    Then also if Admin can tailor flags auto-actions based on criteria, that would be sweet:

    Flag action (post): HIDES POST - when user x 3> (w/100> posts) flag post - post is hidden, pending further approval/attention + user is frozen from all activity other than reading, until unfrozen, banned or whatever by mod/admin.

    It would be useful say for a mod who has to freeze multiple user to be able to drill down a list of FROZEN users, to then investigate further for whatever reason or group unfreeze or unfreeze some and not the others.


    User accounts could do with extra User States might be an idea with default but customisable privileges for admins to tailor, for example as above "Frozen".


  • Community Rep

    I think someone who uses a report/flag feature, is able (*or we hope, but not always) to separate their personal interaction with posts versus helping keep the neighbour hood clean - maybe the way to see it is like this:

    Since I wrote the above let me be the first to say I am being a bit dumb or naive here.

    The report function can absolutely be used in an angry and abusive way, but only admin/mods will see it - sometimes it is a users whose head has gotten too hot in the heat of battle or is disgruntled contributor feeling a lack of attention to previous flags or other complaints is not being taken seriously, can go on a reporting button rampage - they might hunt down multiple posts from their target user (or posts in a target thread they do not like) and go ballistic reporting tens and tens of posts until they lose interest or cool down.

    Some kind of limit/gate for flags need to kick in at that point, but again because it is a flag feature, it is easier to gate the flagging than abusive downvoting and as stated, only backroom ops will see it, also the flags are attached to the the user doing the flagging marking them out - so you can detect the nutburgers who abuse any report or flag system and have auto feature kick in and gate abuse here also. This is where some circuit breaker rules might help.

    Perhaps a simple daily limit per flag per user might be enough to handle it, leave it to the admin to decide what is best for their acitivyt levels.

    Also allowing only users with a higher contribution metrics to the forum by way of post + time also helps reduce abuse of flag system to minimum.

    A new user should not be able to flag off the bat, or use a flag that will have a follow on action like hiding post + freeze user.

    That is too much power for a newly registered account.

    The thing I like most here is using reporting overall gives a far great ability to create and extend a more accurate and insightful audit trail of user flag/reporting activities.

    As I type I also think there might be a good case for a moderation panels or moderation dashboard to aid efficient moderation in busy forums.



  • @omega yeap, in this case we have to adjust these settings accordingly...

    Screen Shot 2020-06-21 at 3.10.18 PM.png

    Currently, we do not have limits for those, but in your example I believe we will adjust it to 3...

    I think for a post, to ban its user, it should be flagged by 15 different people, so it requires a really well organized mob to abuse this πŸ™‚ First posts require "admin approval", and this is our stats:

    Screen Shot 2020-06-21 at 3.12.09 PM.png

    If we have 15 trolls among 9000 users, I guess they can only abuse the system one time πŸ™‚ and next, they will be banned from the forum... (which is maybe not necessarily bad thing to get rid of 15 useless trolls πŸ™‚ ) Just to remind you that 15 is just an educated guess in our case, of course it needs to be adjusted according to forum size and atmosphere...


  • Community Rep

    Ha, I was not entirely sure if reputation was calculated as net total of votes, it appears it is, I found this video from 2016:

    Should reputation be broken out to include more metrics, that can be used for greater granularity of other admin controls. Probably.

    This would allow user contribute up into such

    I guess we can think about moderation in two ways.

    Passive Mod Role:

    Facility to allow users, access to features based on a criteria matrix to support active moderation actions.

    Active Mods Role:

    Traditional power users who have been granted greater privileges by admins for direct control over user activity and forum content.

    In summary, what you need is to enhance the right mix of passive controls, functions and features that will support the active moderation.

    More work and thought on this would benefit every nodeBB install out there.


  • Community Rep

    First off: Lot of good discourse in this thread. Lame pun intended. 😜

    @omega said in automatic temporary ban of a troll user with minus X votes:

    Should reputation be broken out to include more metrics, that can be used for greater granularity of other admin controls. Probably.

    This would allow user contribute up into such

    I guess we can think about moderation in two ways.

    Passive Mod Role:

    Facility to allow users, access to features based on a criteria matrix to support active moderation actions.

    Active Mods Role:

    Traditional power users who have been granted greater privileges by admins for direct control over user activity and forum content.

    In summary, what you need is to enhance the right mix of passive controls, functions and features that will support the active moderation.

    More work and thought on this would benefit every nodeBB install out there.

    Disagree w/above though. Too much added complexity. KISS.

    @crazycells said in automatic temporary ban of a troll user with minus X votes:

    Since there is not always a moderator/admin on the forum... I was thinking a way to deactivate experienced troll users with "social justice" in the forum...

    I think this kind of feature would help a lot of forums and ease the work of admins...

    Let's say a troll user posted a post, if that post takes -15 votes during the first 12 or 24 hours, troll user is temporarily banned from the forum... Of course ban time or value of downvotes can change depend on the forum size and atmosphere...

    All of which is a recipe for gamification by AI sock puppet bot armies, if, for no other reason, bot master sport bait. Add in some real life spice, e.g. politics, and you've got a grand master tournament.... Heh.

    @omega said in automatic temporary ban of a troll user with minus X votes:

    This is a feature in Discourse, and when i first saw it years ago I thought, COOL!

    Many years later, when actually interacting with the feature in Discourse. I realised it was generally a bad system because it was really a bad idea.

    What problem was it actually solving?

    Developer boredom and feature list wars?

    Users not being able to moderator other users comments????

    That is Chaos!

    Why invite Chaos?

    See "Bored" above...

    The problem you see it as is lack of staff to police the conversation. This is a problem for all busy forums. Overall auto features are too crude to deal with rising noise IMHO.

    One very obvious downside of "social justice" which these days is IMHO another term or mask for mob rule, users quickly learn the weakness of the system, and actively suppress other users in a targeted fashion, so what might seem to solve the moderation burden, could end up being weaponised against ordinary users and cause serious community problems, the kind you may not recover from, as recriminations and all kinds of things could explode form a few bad turns.

    +1

    The most important thing for a user first off, is to be able to report or flag a post easily, that see as problematic for whatever reason and then for that to appear quickly and very visibly to mods and admins alike.

    +1

    At least a Troll is very easy to see, users who are abusing a system like this, how visible are they? You need to back up the user accounting side too. This is starting to seem like a headache.

    Traditional moderation with a good team is the solution, that is sustained and enabled by a great admin/backend that make moderation of problem users fast and efficient. The better this system is the less moderation users you might need to assist in day to day moderation.

    Get that right and you are winning.

    +1

    Naturally moderation teams have there problem and this is often due to progress of time in my experience, so to add a crude feature like
    mob down voting that kills post, does nothing to address team work and good admin policy, vision and direction.

    A good report/flag system with SPAM and some other options where a user report may temporarily hide a post, is a good start - SPAM might be hidden automatically, (yes that could be abused) but since it is granular more likely it will be used in good faith most of the time (but I have seen people go absolutely nuts with report features too which is just silly), options for off-topic or disruptive might good (it might be goo to allow an admin set extra report flags and also control the action after the report, doe sit hide the post or not. Things like that, which aids the internal operation more than handing over executive powers to the mob!

    +1

    Setting a downvote threshold to remove a post is basically giving your users based an achievable target to counter disruptive use or exact revenge! Trolls might also use this feature to counter also and then you have all out war.

    +1

    Leave all the power in the hands of Admins, Mods and give them good control to track, control and censure problematic posts and users, that is hight visible quickly, fast and able to batch operate in comfort and then users will understand that the odd troll might get through or a bit of spam may appear but since you do such a great job of keeping the house clean, they really appreciate your efforts.

    +1

    This post pretty much says it all..... ;-D

    So.... what's an over worked admin to do? Cultivate good moderator community. Harder than may initially appear but worth the effort at times like above.


  • Community Rep

    @gotwf said in automatic temporary ban of a troll user with minus X votes:

    First off: Lot of good discourse in this thread. Lame pun intended. 😜

    @omega said in automatic temporary ban of a troll user with minus X votes:

    Should reputation be broken out to include more metrics, that can be used for greater granularity of other admin controls. Probably.

    This would allow user contribute up into such

    I guess we can think about moderation in two ways.

    Passive Mod Role:

    Facility to allow users, access to features based on a criteria matrix to support active moderation actions.

    Active Mods Role:

    Traditional power users who have been granted greater privileges by admins for direct control over user activity and forum content.

    In summary, what you need is to enhance the right mix of passive controls, functions and features that will support the active moderation.

    More work and thought on this would benefit every nodeBB install out there.

    Disagree w/above though. Too much added complexity. KISS.

    Tough crowd, always with the tomatoes... try this one:

    Let the Mods be Mods, let the Users be Users and Admins be King & Queen, forum developers could be Heros!

    Granted it's more BOWIE than KISS but you get the point right? πŸ˜‰

    Oh and can we have a better grammar-typo bots for my posts... 😞


  • Community Rep

    @omega said in automatic temporary ban of a troll user with minus X votes:

    @gotwf said in automatic temporary ban of a troll user with minus X votes:

    First off: Lot of good discourse in this thread. Lame pun intended. 😜

    @omega said in automatic temporary ban of a troll user with minus X votes:

    ....

    Disagree w/above though. Too much added complexity. KISS.

    Tough crowd, always with the tomatoes... try this one:

    Let the Mods be Mods, let the Users be Users and Admins be King & Queen, forum developers could be Heros!

    Granted it's more BOWIE than KISS but you get the point right? πŸ˜‰

    Oooh, la, la!!! Good one. Yeah, I'll take Bowie. Had the good fortune to see Bowie live way back in the day. Spectacular showman. Indeed. Followed Stevie Nicks. But I digress....

    Maybe you missed that I got your point. At least w.r.t. the root causes of the issue. My point is that AI is not the solution for all things because AI, by its very nature, lends itself to becoming gamified and one consequently finds themselves in a never ending bot arms race.

    A community needs to behave like an actual community and help the good guys do their jobs policing the bad guys. We need the human factor because we need the human touch and human oversight. And hopefully some human hard won wisdom as well.

    The larger the community the more mods, etc. required. We all get that many lurk, fewer post, fewer yet are active contributors..... But hopefully.... on a prayer and one wing... good mods and helpers emerge. And it seems they will, in my experience, but it takes time - needs to develop organically and no real short cuts.

    In the meanwhile... are we able to make a knob that actually works for that? With us rather than against us? Tough cookie, for sure. πŸ€”

    Oh and can we have a better grammar-typo bots for my posts... 😞

    No. πŸ‘‘


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