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Twitter tests Reddit-style upvote and downvote buttons (techcrunch.com)
226 points by arkadiyt 10 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 380 comments





The problem is, is supposedly, upvote = adds to the conversation, downvote = detracts from conversation.

In reality, upvote = I agree, downvote = I disagree.

However I don't think anything can save twitter from being a toxic platform.

What makes it especially toxic, I think, is its lack of separation of communities.

Reddit is toxic sometimes, but at least there is some separation: if you just want to talk about knitting, you can avoid the people talking about politics.

I think it's important to be able to have controversial debates in real life, as body language and audience response seems to keep people from being truly awful.

The Quakers have an interesting history of trying to facilitate such controversial debates. They have been involved in some contemporary ones too.

https://www.quakersintheworld.org/quakers-in-action/210/Inte...

It's concerning to me, how much of real life discussion we have lost due to the pandemic.


Up/downvotes always have multiple conflicting dimensions.

- The post is factually right / wrong - Confirms to the site rules / breaks the rules - I agree / disagree - I want to promote / bury this post - Reward poster with XP / punish

I am usually very pragmatic and upvote a post when I want other people to read it (because I want to see the discussion, or because I want to spread the idea). I also upvote to reward the poster.

I don't tend to downvote factually wrong posts when they are still interesting, because that limits the chance they get good discussion, and because I don't want to punish somebody for Being Wrong On The Internet. I do downvote positions that I find bad in order to reduce their reach.

It would be probably possible to have a site that implements two dimensions as a cross (maybe only for users with a certain XP) although the UX might not be to great. Maybe it is a good idea to have "promote/bury" and "reward" buttons?


Didn't Slashdot have multiple dimensions, a post could be "+5, insightful" or "-3, off topic".

If you squint you could say the same about emoji reactions on Facebook and probably other platforms, this post got 5 :heart and 2 :scary reactions. They don't have a visible one for relevance but presumably the reactions feed into one behind the scenes.

I'm not sure any of these have been shown to be clearly superior to the Reddit/HN approach of a single up/down vote.


I will die on this hill that Slashdot moderation was the best I've used. It made moderation or voting a privilege and not a right so I think people took it seriouisly.

I think Slashdot's system was vastly better, but it had different goals.

Social media needs counters that never stop going up, and buttons that are always available for people to reactivity click and express dis/approval.

Slashdot wanted a moderation system and they got one. The moderation points, categories, meta-moderation, comment filtering, it all shows someone was really thinking about what they system was trying to accomplish.


Slashdot comments could never go below -1 (or above +5). Also, moderation wasn't an "everyone votes" thing, moderators were picked semi-randomly and if you got picked, you could only place 5 votes. If you voted and the posted a comment on the same topic all of your moderations would go away.

There was also Meta Moderation where you'd randomly get shown a handful of comments and votes on those comments and you would be asked to judge whether the votes were fair or not. Supposedly those votes would affect your likelihood to get tapped for moderation again.

It would only show one adjective, but the ordering was kind of funny. If someone moderates your comment as a troll but enough people marked it with positive votes, you'd get the coveted "+5 Troll" badge.


> Didn't Slashdot have multiple dimensions, a post could be "+5, insightful" or "-3, off topic".

Ars Technica does something similar and it's a great addition to the overloaded upvote/downvote


Facebook is beyond useless when it comes to constructive discussions. For all practical purposes it counts even laughing or angry reactions the same way as a simple like and there is no dislike. The very real effect is the current information/trust crisis where even if someone were to patiently explain for the 1000th time that no, COVID is not a hoax or whatever the current ridiculous stupid shit is currently pushed, a newer irrelevant comment will be displayed with the explanation buried deep somewhere.

Slashdot still exists. Why did the internet go elsewhere?

I think that at the time when Slashdot slid from mainstream as a discussion platform, the top complaint was that the site's moderators were deciding the posts that got to the front page. Only after Digg and Reddit captured a lot of their original audience, did Slashdot introduce the "firehose" concept, which showed all submissions, before being vetted by the mod team.

Until then the process was that someone would submit a post, someone from the mod team would review (and, maybe edit it) and only then it got to the front page. This, in my opinion, allowed for better quality, despite some of the biases the mod team showed. The community was adamant that it should be in charge of what makes it to the front-page and in this regard Digg and reddit were doing it better, so Slashdot became less and less relevant.


I think this is a really interesting question as I loved Slashdot's moderation, but I wonder if it results in less engaging (ie less toxic) behavior. Good question ... fartcannon!

Yeah, these were good as you could filter out the "funny memes"

These differences exist conceptually, but my guess is if you did a factor reduction on actual behavior they would all be correlated nearly 100%.

>”if you just want to talk about knitting, you can avoid the people talking about politics.”

I don’t find this to be the case at all. The amount of politics tolerated in each subreddit is almost entirely dependent on the personalities of the mods who run it. And for whatever reason, most Reddit mods tend to be activist friendly or at least look the other way when it comes to obvious soapbox accounts breaking the rules.

In my experience most subreddits choose to flair political posts rather than prohibit them.


I'm not super active on reddit, but I do frequent (mostly as a lurker) some subreddits from time to time, such as r/math, r/learnjapanese, r/history etc. I don't remember running into any sort of heated political argument in any of these subreddits. Of course, for other subreddits it might be different, but this is my experience.


Well you're free to think whatever you want about BLM, but some sort of protest or statement was happening all over the world both in on- and offline communities, so you're not really singling out Reddit here, this is just an instance of a general trend.

Plus, my statement was about "heated political arguments", not a one-time statement from moderators which remains, to my understanding, rather rare. One thread about BLM doesn't deter me from visiting these subreddits.


> I do frequent (mostly as a lurker) some subreddits from time to time, such as r/math, r/learnjapanese, r/history etc. I don't remember running into any sort of heated political argument in any of these subreddits.

I haven't spent any time there, so I'm genuinely curious: how does r/history avoid political arguments? Some people say that everything is inherently political, but history seems especially adjacent to politics


All of the "successful" subs are either small enough to self-govern effectively because they feel like actual communities or they have hardcore, uncompromising moderator teams that enforce the rules swiftly.

askhistorians is the best example I can think of. askscience close behind.


r/history is heavily moderated, and primarily political positions need to be backed up with actual historical facts and discussion (and not out-of-context common talking points) or it'll be called for what it is and deleted.

I am mostly a lurker on Reddit, but I find it more satisfying that Twitter these days.

People I like in the world are unbearable on Twitter. I've unfollowed, muted and don't-show-me-their-retweets a good bunch of them.

If up and downvotes can work as feedback encouraging people to stop it with the "sigh" posts, or the rage-of-the-day posts, it could improve Twitter. If not, I'm not sure what could improve Twitter.


The huge default subreddits like r/pics are the worst offenders.

Ones that actually have a real interest group are more reasonable.


To be fair to the Reddit moderation staff, they’re also paid $0.00, so being strict about keeping the sub on-topic may not be high up on their list of daily priorities.

Other way around. They're not paid, so they want to keep the amount of unrelated contentious bullshit on their subreddit to a minimum. I've been a default sub mod and I know how much of a firehose that is. The simplest solution, and the smallest amount of work in total, is to nip unrelated discussions in the bud, delete entire comment trees, and lock the comment section entirely on a post that is (or is looking to) go south.

Users quickly learn that "we don't do that here", and stop.


Yes, it works and it sort of scales.

Why, then, does the outrage porn rise to the top of the Reddit home page?

Because it measurably increases sales in a huge way right now.

To use a baseball analogy, how do you tell a juiced to the gills superstar that steroids are actually hurting their long-term outlook?

There’s no way to show Barry Bonds a future in which he’s shadow banned from the hall of fame and unmentionable even on his own teams broadcasts.

The change will come either with regulation or when a new, better system comes along and steals their users.


Outrage has always traveled faster than dry factual information. This isn't a new Internet phenomenon. You can see it in action all the way back in Greek and Roman history as well. It's an inmate feature of human psychology, not a new invention by reddit/Twitter.

Yes, and the fact that these platforms haven't taken steps to prevent abuse of the cheat code in our psychology means that they find the benefits of outrage to their bottom line outweigh the "unmeasurable" costs such as damage to society and the hollowing out of their platform.

The front page of Reddit is not always outrage.

Besides, if our brains are designed to zoom in on certain signals, is it rational to expect technology to somehow prevent this?


> Besides, if our brains are designed to zoom in on certain signals, is it rational to expect technology to somehow prevent this?

Technology can mitigate it (by suppressing the signals, offsetting the effect) or exploit and exacerbate it. The former is often socially useful, but the latter is usually the path of least resistance to profits, and capitalism isn't a system whose incentives optimize for social utility.


Understandable, but I also suspect most of the moderators are at least somewhat sympathetic to the soapboxer’s political agendas.

That's true.

But the solution is to find a subreddit that works the way you want it to.

r/offmychest vs r/trueoffmychest

r/gaming vs r/truegaming

r/movies vs r/truefilm

r/unpopularopinion vs r/trueunpopularopinion


"I disagree" and "detracts from the conversation" have a lot of overlap. A (subjectively) very wrong take on a subject distracts from where you think the conversation should be heading.

On Reddit I see many comments, convincingly written, that are (imo) flatly wrong. These comments are potentially very harmful because they're persuading others of a falsehood. Am I supposed to upvote or downvote? (what I actually tend to do is not visit the site)


On HN, if a comment is well-written and appears to be made in good faith but is (in my opinion) wrong, I neither upvote nor downvote, I reply.

Downvoting a good-faith comment because you disagree with it does no one any favors. It creates a sense of persecution among those who disagree with you, while not actually providing any counter-argument for the benefit of the undecided. Leave the vote counts alone, make your own convincing argument.


> On HN, if a comment is well-written and appears to be made in good faith but is (in my opinion) wrong, I neither upvote nor downvote, I reply.

And this is evil being done as good men stay silent.

There might indeed be many that are not so petulant that they would downvote an otherwise non rule-breaking comment they disagree with, but few of them will find themselves upvoting something they disagree with either, and there will still be some that downvote it.

Thus, an unpopular opinion that otherwise contributes will eventually be downvoted for not receiving enough upvotes.


It's not a given that HN always orders comments by (upvotes - downvotes).

> subjectively

> falsehood

Subjectivity and truthiness are opposed.

* If the question is "who is the current world chess champion" the answer is Magnus Carlson.

* If the question is "who is the greatest chess player of all time," there are a number of contradictory opinions.

"Bobby Fischer" is a low-quality answer. "Bobby Fischer because XYZ" is a high-quality answer, even if I don't agree.


How do you know you aren't the one who's wrong?

Provably incorrect comments get upvoted on Reddit all the time. Happens a lot on subs about X where the post involves Y, and somebody says something very authoritatively about Y that is just wrong.

Usually when I find someone posting something I believe is completely false online, I double-check my own belief with reputable sources to make sure I'm not mistaken or out of date. In the 80-90% of cases where I don't find a good argument contrary to my prior understanding, I check the post history of the user in question to see if they're some kind of subject matter expert that might have a deeper knowledge of the topic than the journalists writing articles for a general audience.

Unfortunately that's rarely the case. More often three of their last four comments contain racial slurs and misspellings of two-letter words, which doesn't instill a huge amount of confidence that they know what they're talking about.


Reddit style up/downvote system is a great “homogenizer” of opinions. Applied correctly, it only leaves the most desirable opinions to survive. It also allows discussions to be steered without commenting.

Together it allows majority vote to simply take control of a comment page, and first rule of online voting is it’s always manipulated.

You know where that goes. You will end up with a self driving system that represents the richest guy there, with little control input necessary, into the walls.


> The problem is, is supposedly, upvote = adds to the conversation, downvote = detracts from conversation.

>

> In reality, upvote = I agree, downvote = I disagree.

Maybe Twitter should go all the way back to the Slashdot model, and let people vote up and down on "insightful", "funny", "normal", "offtopic", "redundant", "interesting", or "troll", etc.


It might be too complicated, but maybe a 4 directions vote ?

Up/Down : Agree/Disagree Left/Right : Makes the discussion go backward/forward

This way you could express disagreement while acknowledging that the point is interesting, or like a joke without having it drown a conversation


> I think it's important to be able to have controversial debates in real life, as body language and audience response seems to keep people from being truly awful.

This sort of works, but it also disproportionately empowers psychopaths who are not vulnerable to social moderation and in fact can abuse it against other people.

The people who are good at winning debates in real life mostly constitute the politician class, who are A) usually pretty psychopathic B) seemingly pretty unconstrained by moral censure.

The internet is cool because it kind of makes everyone into a psychopath (because there’s no emotional connection), so actual psychopathic political types don’t have any advantage over normal people.

It would be better if you could create a community where no one was a psychopath but I’m not sure this is possible at scale, or even at all.


The best venues I found are coffeshop/bars where primarily local people gather, with a smattering of interesting people from out of town, with an atmosphere that encourages free speech and inquiry. Enough of a public house to be inclusive but the trolls are well-moderated. There is a level of decorum, granted, a low bar in places I frequent, that people must maintain or you get kicked out.

Unfortunately there seem to be less places like this now.


> What makes it especially toxic, I think, is its lack of separation of communities.

Interesting that you say this because Reddit users will tell you that this is a problem in itself since it creates echo chambers that validate the viewpoints you already hold.


Hobby level “echo-chambers” have never been a problem, eg. kitting will likely have a balanced political view. Problematic groups are the ones that have nothing else but a very specific ideology as a common point, eg. r/conservative or the like (as well as the left-leaning counterparts) — occasionally viewing them is not bad imo, if one spends sufficient time in other places as well. The problem is when somebody wants to spend all of their time there, shutting off any alternative source of information.

> The problem is, is supposedly, upvote = adds to the conversation, downvote = detracts from conversation.

That's the HN theory. The twitter theory is that dislikes, like likes and every other behavior on the site is a signal to feed into an engagement optimization algorithm.

Twitter has zero interest in conversation quality for its own sake, and every interest in optimizing audience size and engagement.


The knitting community has become very political in the past few years. And a lot of people feel left out. My point being that just about every facet of life has been invaded by political stances that nobody wanted to be involved in and some are left to conform or feel pushed out.

I read an article where an online knitting community was invaded by far-right trolls and it caused a massive rift.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/24/style/ravelry-knitting-ba...


> In reality, upvote = I agree, downvote = I disagree.

I feel its actually We agree, We disagree.

The points induce conformity as its now with likes and shares with every social media and in-spite of personal opinions most will stick with what the majority do.

This can be easily resolved by hiding the points and if it serves the purpose of validation then showing it to the owner alone, I've done so in the forum I run and has improved the quality of discussions.

But those point numbers are the bread and better of social media, Who will let go of those sweet dopamine triggers? Twitter cannot chase both conformity and quality of discussions. Reddit went from latter to now a half-baked social media, But still can produce some quality discussions because of the topic silo of subreddits.


>However I don't think anything can save twitter from being a toxic platform. What makes it especially toxic, I think, is its lack of separation of communities.

I don't find Twitter any more or less toxic than any other platform, and it's because I'm free to participate in the communities I choose. If the people you follow are constantly talking politics, and that annoys you, why are you following them?


I used to love twitter back around 2007 to early 2010's but as it became more popular it became more toxic and now Reddit is becoming the same with a lot of people spreading nonsense or politics.

The one benefit of reddit is I can choose the subs I go on, the problem is there are still a lot of subs that are of a topic I would enjoy that end up getting toxic as well.

So i'm trying to find a balance, because reddit for example does give me a lot of my news in topics I love and it's great for finding stuff, like a good movie, book, youtube stuff etc, but then the downside is getting bigger and bigger each year.

I struggle to cut it out completely but I also struggle to find any tool that curates content in a good enough way. Everything is just noise and nonsense online with a small amount of good stuff, but very little that focuses on just giving you that.

Everything just needs clicks and attention, I want something that doesn't need that and just gives me the type of stuff I want, not on a schedule, but when there is actually something worthwhile to say.


>> What makes it especially toxic, I think, is its lack of separation of communities.

Jack said in the infamous interview to Joe Rogan, that they have an explicit goal to mix communities to avoid echo-chambering of ideas and views. Not sure if what you mean is an accident or intended effect (IMO they do a bad job)


This is spot on. The only wrinkle -- Twitter could actually do something to create separate communities if they wanted. Some large investors have asked them to. They've drafted up plans to create a separate space for financial discussion. Just haven't acted on it.

I really just think it comes down to Twitter being poorly run. I know Paul Singer made a run to have Dorsey replaced as CEO, but eventually backed off. They seem to lean into the divisiveness. It may be beneficial for short-term engagement but it essentially creates a negative emotional experience for customers. And that's going to come home to roost eventually.


Twitter has announced they are working on a feature called “Communities”.

it's a good move.

Do you have a lot of unwanted things in your twitter feed? Sure during major events some things creep into mine but it's rare that I get a lot of political talk because I don't follow that many people who tweet political things. You can also use lists to curate this. I'm sure there are great twitter knitting lists that wouldnt have political tweet in them.

The lists are less used than reddits subreddits but they function in a similar way.


What we really need is skin-in-the-game.

Voting is free. flag something as bad that isn't and there are no consequences.

If a vote represented a stake of some kind, then there would be consequences in being wrong.

I'd bury specifics though so that the vote isn't (too) influenced. Maybe even random voting would work (every user must complete a "quota" of questions for comments they have read).


> if you just want to talk about knitting, you can avoid the people talking about politics

Ever since r/the_donald and the other white supremacy reddits, politics has spilled into pretty much every good subreddit, no matter how niche.


They should have dummy agree/disagree buttons that disappear once selected and has no function other than to satisfy the malcontents that the machine has recorded their opinion.

Have you been to a knitting forum lately? Holy shit they were one of the first to get heavily politicizes. You'll be ostracized from r/knitting if you're not left of Stalin.

Aside from the constant stream of projects with different pride flag colors, what politics have you seen on r/knitting? I never even saw the Karen Templar controversy discussed there. Now, Ravelry is a whole other story...

The word I get from a knitting friend (absolutely not left of Stalin, more a centrist Democrat and corporate apologist) is that disingenuous right wing trolls started disrupting the knitting forums by being intentionally confrontational.

Were the trolls also Russians?

> I think it's important to be able to have controversial debates in real life, as body language and audience response seems to keep people from being truly awful.

This isn't really why people are awful. The truth is people want something to say, but most of the time their actual opinions are kind of boring and mainstream. So they end up roleplaying as individuals who have some heinous opinion, and revel in the attention they receive.

Some people are awful in different ways, by supporting someone who is regarded as terrible for instance. Eventually, little cliques form, and toxicity brews.


I've wondered why Twitter seems far more toxic than Reddit (certain now-banned subreddits excluded) and I believe the downvote is a powerful tool used to achieve this, along with Reddit's community-style moderation, even though that can border on toxic itself at times.

I wrote about it here a little while back https://unlikekinds.com/article/trolls-and-consequences-what...


Reddit is not toxic if you agree with the majority views. If not it is probably the most toxic social media. So other views people leave and so reddit remains a bubble of like minded people that don't see their toxicity. You can just look at some popular subreddits like iata i am the asshole or idiotsincar or murdered by words, justiceserved to name a few and many other where people just laugh and are being toxic towars other people. Most popular posts are also angry ones.

For a good mental health is imperative to avoid reddit, or at least just take part in tech/thinvs you love, but even there the neagtive and frustrated people will bring their issue there.


Reddit is diverse. I hear a lot of “Reddit is toxic”. Or that “Reddit is the best place”. Both are correct. It is not only about the majority view. It is mainly about which subreddits you pick. I am not a massive Redditor. Yet, for some time, I opened r/MachineLearning daily.

Some subreddits are/were highly toxic (e.g. the infamous r/incels). Some other are full of vulnerable life stories you won’t find anywhere else. People won’t post them on their public FB feeds; not everyone writes anonymous blogs. Any coverage of such topics by journalists (if the topic gets ever covered) is likely to focus on a handful of cases, be biased and heavily edited.

For an example from Reddit, see “Trans people of Reddit, what was something you weren’t expecting to be told, find out, or experience when going through your transition?” (https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/4g1pgu/serious_t...).

Another subreddit with not so much majority view is CMV: https://www.reddit.com/r/changemyview/. It is heart-warming (and mind-stimulating) to see people open to changing their minds. Compare and contrast with Twitter, where there are no enough characters to express a more nuanced argument. And views are usually pushed down one’s throat (if they ever leave a bubble).


I disagree with your overall point that reddit is diverse (and it is beyond the scope of this comment to mention why) but I'd like to chime in with my love of ChangeMyView.

I just love the idea that you can have a judgement free place to discuss things openly and get reasoned replies without being piled on.

Sometimes we hold views which are controversial, and it's great that we can had a non-adversarial discussion about those things.

The only downside is that the person asking to change their view might end up being right in the end, and that the view should not have been changed, but that's against the spirit of the subreddit.

It also has some minor problems of people asking to change their view but have no honest intention of doing so.

But regardless of that, I love that subreddit and I'm sure it wouldn't be possible without good moderation.


Your comment would have been much better without the first statement. Why include it if you don't want to explain or talk about it? Seems flamebait-y.

The main reason is to acknowledge that I disagree before I speak highly about a certain part of Reddit.

It would have been unclear and implicitly sound like I agree if I didn’t include that.


On the contrary, it's an objectively true statement, and everyone already knows the reasons why. Therefore, explaining it here is what would be flamebaity, since even those that know the reasons still try to disingenuously pretend the reasons aren't valid. What is valid is the point made, since it addresses a point of the previous comment directly.

I find C.M.V. essentially failed due to the vote system.

All the upvoted, visible views are the same trite repetition topics that have been done a thousand times before that are also about hot button political issues: more interesting apolitical C.M.V.'s are often downvoted for not being political enough. I've seen views about optiomality of certain cooking methods be downvoted there.


> I disagree with your overall point that reddit is diverse

To make it clear, I know that the whole Reddit demographic is not representative.

However, each channel subreddit has a different demographic. Too much of a male perspective? Go to r/TwoXChromosomes/. Too libertarian or heteronormative? You can find your channels too.

I once posted my praise (and interactive exploration) of NSFW content (https://observablehq.com/@stared/tree-of-reddit-sex-life, https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19640562). In short - I don't know any other place with that much openness to different body types, styles of grooming, etc.


I disagree with the notion that subreddits can be so considered atomically and not part of a whole. r/Fantasy has had this problem where the regulars and the moderators are generally great, but authors they invite to do AMAs will often risk being harassed by users who aren't even regulars of r/Fantasy. The mods even had to go to other subreddits for new beta features condemning some planned stuff specifically because it would enable even more harassment of authors.

For awhile I was harassed in almost every subreddit I frequented because I’d posted in The Donald. Not even a full throated support of Trump just a post-2016 election “well let’s see how he does” sort of support.

>For a good mental health is imperative to avoid reddit, or at least just take part in tech/thinvs you love, but even there the neagtive and frustrated people will bring their issue there.

I got into a real black hole of posting about politics on Reddit during lockdown, which as someone with fairly anti-authoritarian convictions couldn't have been timed more horrendously. Deleted all my accounts and it did wonders for my sanity.


This is a good point. Reddit is a self-described hive mind and there are certainly things that will get you abused.

I imagine you were fairly safe from death and rape threats, as happens frequently on Twitter, but you're right it's not a welcoming place for everyone, at least outside of certain subs.

Reddit is a particular demographic and mostly a particular philosophical lean.

And there are ways for users to be dicks without the extreme behaviour you get on Twitter. I'm sure it happens on Reddit too but it seems more managed.


Fortunately in my case at least the unpleasantness was limited to the odd loony stalking me across the site to carry on arguments that were several days stale. I did get told to kill myself once, but the person making that suggestion sounded so unhinged their rant had very little weight! To be honest it wasn't abuse from other users that were affecting my mental health at all, it was the never-ending doomscroll of depressing content and the people who seemed almost gleeful at bad news because it validated their worldview (and this ironically seems to apply across the political spectrum). /r/ukpolitics prior to perhaps 2015 or so was something really special because people entertained ideas they disagreed with for the purpose of debate, rather than this ideological total war that is the norm on the internet now where any inch of retreat is cowardly and any notion that the "enemy's" arguments might have a point is treason. Of course it wasn't perfect (/pol/ raided it from time to time which would crapflood the whole sub with obvious bait), but the arguments were mostly good-faith debate rather than simply rhetorical cudgels to hit your opponent with.

That's what made me leave Reddit fundamentally, I wanted a debate rather than a conflict. I want people who'll tell me why I'm wrong, not people who'll call me an irredeemable piece of shit for not clicking my fingers and 100% agreeing with some philosophy neither of us really had an in-depth knowledge of. It's like internet debates (especially on Twitter) have adopted the old Calvinist notion of "total depravity" for the modern age. It's not even about being right, it's about other people being wrong and that'll make you an angry, bitter person if you're jumping headlong into that world for hours a day.


> Reddit is not toxic if you agree with the majority views.

Different subreddits will have different majorities with different views, no?

> toxicity ... toxic towars other people

What does this mean? For example, if you are sitting inside your bubble and laughing at the outsiders, who don't even come to your bubble, is there any toxicity going on?


> Different subreddits will have different majorities with different views, no?

Different subreddits do have different majority views, yes, but the largest subreddits all pretty much have the same ones.


I've been on Reddit for over 10 years now and have to agree. Generally all the larger subreddits are fairly left.

There have been some hard right subs, but most of the larger ones are banned now.

I find a lot of the mods of large subs are quite power hungry too, for example r/soccer. If someone breaks some news, linking good sources, correct post format etc. mods will regularly take the post down and repost it themselves or just leave their own posts up so they get the karma for it.

When I first joined that kind of thing bothered me, and I enjoyed getting internet points and actively tried to get karma. Now if I think something is funny or relevant I'll post it, but generally avoid big subs and stick to smaller niche ones about a certain topic, like a phone, programming language, football club, watch brand, cryptocurrency etc.


> There have been some hard right subs, but most of the larger ones are banned now.

I can't even begin to express the emotion from the thought that someone may decide to erase a part of your life. This is what puts me off social networks in general.


Avoid the large ones, I am not even referring at politics, any big movie,book,game subbreddit will be filled with garbage , better to find or create a subreddit with strict rules.

For politics, I have no advice , probably try real life


That still doesn't help. Unless you 100% tow the party line in whatever sub you're on you will get inundated with hate.

Try telling any car sub that Toyotas can break or that Germany's automotive regulations are even slightly over-bearing and see where that gets you. No matter how narrowly you scope your dissent from the local norms the platform rewards everyone dog-piling onto the dissenter. There is simply no room for conversation on that platform and that drives out anyone who doesn't extremely align with whatever the local opinion on a given sub is so eventually all subs become filter bubbles almost completely dominated by one set of views and you basically can't have any meaningful exchange unless it's ten levels of comments deep where the masses won't see it and crap on it.


Are you always on all topic in a minority? If yes then maybe is your way of communicating.

Still you need to find a subreddit with rules like:

- comments only on topic

- no personal attacks, only critique the content

- always provide sources when providing some information as a fact

- no lazy comments like me too, memes, jokes,

When you find such a subreddit then do a bit of work and report comments and threads that are breaking the rules and of-course respect the rules.

I wish HN would have such rules, you could have lazy comments, bad jokes, aggressive comments, information without a source removed.


>Try telling any car sub that Toyotas can break or that Germany's automotive regulations are even slightly over-bearing

On r/justrolledintotheshop, a fairly large mechanic and car enthusiast subreddit, those kind of discussions are commonplace. The mechanics will say "toyotas are usually reliable" and then also agree that they suffer from rust issues. You are being heavily hyperbolic or refusing to see counterexamples to your belief


(not the OP)

I honestly think some people are just not used to get pushback on their ideas. Whether they are surrounded by like-minded individuals in real life or they just haven't ever shared their believes/thoughts much, I don't know. But I quite often see people shocked by encountering the concept that their ideas aren't perfect.

Couple that with the difficulty of reading intent and intensity in a written media and you get people that believe conversations are heavily skewed against them.


Disagree. Well formed arguments even against the very topic of a subreddit are well received in my view.

It’s probably a controversial opinion, but when it comes to certain subjects like accepting homosexuality or just accepting the existence of trans people, it is no longer politics - not doing so is a moral failing. That’s not left-leaning anymore than believing that war crimes are bad.

While reddit is actually left leaning in a more purely political view as well, I don’t find conservative viewpoints banned/discriminated against that are actually political, only those that are anti-people — which is welcome.


Probably of the general majority.

This is an almost natural consequence. The largest sub-groups start out with having most of the same people of the whole society. Then the minorities get turned off and leave to smaller sub-groups where they feel more welcome.


>” Then the minorities get turned off and leave to smaller sub-groups where they feel more welcome.”

Then communities like r/AgainstHateSubreddits show up and try to get those subreddits banned for even the slightest infraction.


>Different subreddits will have different majorities with different views, no?

No, not really.

Ignoring standard left/right policy bickering points you are still going to catch a lot of hate on Reddit if you don't think people are fundamentally untrustworthy by default and that centralized authorities (be they governments, academia, professional organizations or BigCo) are fundamentally trustworthy and credible by default.

Offend upper middle class consumer sensibilities and you'll catch a whole lot of hate from that direction too.


Unless you go to /r/libertarian?

It's hard for me to accept such a final "No" when there seems to be a sub for literally every viewpoint. However, I am willing to accept that those subs get brigaded and maybe that's what you're referring to?


A half dozen subs out of thousands and hundreds of big ones doesn't really change the overall picture IMO.

>Different subreddits will have different majorities with different views, no?

This was the comment you were remarking on, and I have difficulty reconciling "No." with the reality of all the different subreddits available.


As if there would be more and less popular opinions among the general population? Like, I would be surprised if r/clojure had more subscribers than a gaming sub.

/r/libertarian has a moderator team that is not libertarian

Then try /r/libertarianuncensored or /r/libertarian_party or make your own sub that follows your own leanings. This idea that you straight up can't find a community that has whatever particular leaning you're looking for doesn't seem very accurate.

> if you are sitting inside your bubble and laughing at the outsiders, who don't even come to your bubble, is there any toxicity going on?

Yes.


So what does toxicity mean then?

Would you like it if there were thousands of people shittalking you? Some of them even harassing you?

Expressed bigotry, typically.

[flagged]


Is there some evidence to support this being a purely right-wing phenomena?

What subreddits have been brigaded by the left?

"am I the asshole" and idiotsincars are pretty normal places where people can politely disagree; MurderedByWords and Politics are political echochambers and that territory brings a bit of toxicity like black-and-white thinking, but I would only call "justiceserved" particularly toxic.

>am I the asshole" and idiotsincars are pretty normal places where people can politely disagree

These places are echo chambners too you just don't realize it because you agree with the echo.

Go on I am the asshole and give even the slightest hint of approval for a parent that's parenting in a traditional manner (e.g. approving of a "my house my rules" attitude toward an older teenager) and you'll get all sorts of hate.

Go on idiots in cars and talk about how people can't be expect widespread compliance for asinine road signage (like a 55mph speed limit on an interstate highway designed and marked for a much higher speed) and you'll be inundated with "hurr durr the law is the law" types.


There are visceral reactions (I’m pretty sure you can catch yourself doing the same from time to time as well), but my opinion/experience is that well-meaning and well-explained comments are well-received in most of the not-completely echo-chamber subreddits.

These examples seem overblown, and likely a false equivalence

Or instead of pontificating from your armchair, you could go check and see that it's actually pretty accurate.

"It's a useless echo chamber" is the number one complaint I see about aita.


I can check from my armchair, thanks. You get lots of different opinions, it's just that the hive mind forms an opinion around whatever the current topic du jour is. This opinion changes day to day, it's not a place where people have political agendas that are exacerbated by like minds. It's just people in large groups.

I learned this the hard way in my mid twenties. So many angry people, wasting their valuable time and energy.

In life you're the only judge, as long as you're not doing anything which hurts another person you can do whatever you want. Say you only want to live in a city with fresh chocolate almond croissants. This is not subject to Reddit approval. The opinions of others, particularly random people should have absolutely no bearing on your life. But if you're chasing fake Reddit status, you can quickly lose sight of this.


I find myself agreeing. I utilize a few subreddits from time to time, mostly about entertainment, and all of them have very homogeneous opinions and aggressively downvote subjective dissent and verbally gang up against it, which I've certainly not noticed elsewhere.

The internet king of pluriformity and aggressive dissent still remains 4chan. A lack of identity does seem a good way to facilitate dissent.


Local subreddits can also be incredibly toxic. I thought that moderating one of them would be fun, but I got stalked and harassed. Other mods had it worse. I thought people would appreciate the Internet janitors that occasionally improve the subreddit, but indifference is the best I could wish for.

Thankfully, I didn't have the wrong opinions. Another mod did, and there were threads calling for his resignation, for a change of mods. Of course, no one actually volunteered their own effort.

I don't go there much anymore.


The front page content changed. There's more and more outrage porn and other content that work on your anger. I noticed that the quality of the community changed accordingly, and became more unpleasant to interact with.

I used to post waaaaay too much, but lost all interest in it because there are only downsides nowadays.


Some people say the same about Hacker News, by the way.

Arguably Reddit at least has niche communities which are small enough to avoid the problem of dogpiling and mass downvoting (except via brigading).


Hacker News is smaller, and has much tighter moderation. The conversation tends to stay civilised. I can't remember a negative interaction here. On reddit, they're the norm.

> The conversation tends to stay civilised. I can't remember a negative interaction here.

That's very much in the eye of the beholder. This isn't my first account (I abandoned my previous one a few years ago) and I chose the name for a good reason. The only good thing I can say is that my username does not seem to have had an effect on downvoting behavior.

There are plenty of communities on Reddit that are considerably smaller than HN and either have good moderation or are unknown enough to be able to do well without it. HN isn't special, or at least not any more special than the rest.


If you think reddit is "the most toxic" you haven't been to twitter, even at its worst it doesnt hold a candle

Personally, I think it's just because of subreddits:

- Well-moderated subreddits are bubbles of locally higher quality

- Discussions on one subreddit stay contained within it - each subreddit is also a social bubble

On Twitter, there's no quality standards moderation, and Tweets spread along the social graph, not within bounded communities. You may be discussing a niche topic with a group of like-minded friends, but it takes one asshole in your, or your friends', follower list, for your tweet to suddenly gain attention with a larger group of assholes, who then are free to inject themselves into the conversation.


This is exactly it. You can find subreddits that match your interests and your desired level of civility. Somebody else can find theirs, and you can live in separate spheres.

People also heavily use alts on Reddit, which I think makes them less self-conscious about conforming to standards of behavior, because if they are feeling a bit pissed off and aggro about something they can switch to a different alt and a different subreddit where they can vent and it's acceptable behavior. It's much more like the real world where different physical spaces allow outlets for different kinds of behavior, where you can be polite and deferential at work and then go home to your living room and tell your brother in law that your boss is a rat bastard and cheerfully cuss up a storm watching sports together.

Twitter seems to have a totalizing effect on people's personalities, I think because people realize there's only one context, and therefore only room for one version of themselves. They talk one way all the time. If someone I follow for software news and insight posts a beef Wellington recipe or talks about the whiskey they got for their birthday, they sound exactly like they do when they're talking about software. Real people don't act that way! You know if you only work with somebody then you only know a fraction of who they are, and you crave a glimpse behind the curtain. I think online communities where identities are intended to correspond to real people and there is no compartmentalization of space will always suffer from this totalizing effect, where a percentage of people, small but enough to poison things, choose the worst part of themselves to stand in for the rest of them.


It has nothing to do with bubble or not. It's just twitter only allows shalow takes with no nuances, so people either are lazy and give in to that, or they are frustrated by not being able to say what they want to say and get angry instead. My personal view is bubbles are actually bad for discourse, make people intolerant.

> It's just twitter only allows shalow takes with no nuances

There's nothing in Twitter that disallows nuance and deep take. The structure may somewhat discourage this, but this has long been overcome with "Tweet thread" pattern (also known as "Tweetstorm").

The problem is that there's nothing preventing shallow takes from becoming dominant. There's nothing forcing people to think before they tweet. Thoughtfulness is not the default steady state for humans, so without any external factor to prevent it, people just slide down the ladder of civilization. In on-line communities, that external factor is typically moderation (and secondarily, the social norms that build around the rules enforced by moderators).

> My personal view is bubbles are actually bad for discourse, make people intolerant.

Maybe opaque bubbles. But with subreddits, we're talking about transparent bubbles. Content there isn't hidden out of sight - it just doesn't automatically leak out to everyone on the platform.

As for intolerance, well... there's a reason why the phrase is "Twitter mob" and not "Reddit mob". The most intolerant people perform their acts of intolerance on the former. Outside of any bubbles.


> The structure may somewhat discourage this > Tweetstorm

The nuances of discourse are not in the size of the blobs of text you can throw in other people's faces and be done with it. They are in that it engages people to interactive in long thoughtful responses and build competing naratives.

You can make a tweetstorm but as soon as someone replies and adds another narative, it's impossible to follow. HN and reddit make this very easy.

> transparent bubbles

as opposed to what? Bubble are normally "transparent" anyway. People choose to not read/watch "the others", instead of being gatekeeped from alternative media. The leaking out is good for informing majoriry of the public who want to only stay in their bubbles.

It only becomes toxic when people feel compelled/manipulated to engage. I don't think twitter manipulates people with their recommendation. It's just the kind of message that twitter encourages are sentimental and more triggering, hence people can feel offended and could not simply not care sometimes.

> not "Reddit mob"

You go into one of the more opinionated subreddits and tell me how diverse and tolerant they are. I look up depression discussion on related subreddits all the times, most of the posts I see in those are people reinforcing victim mentality and hopelessness attitute to each other. Don't you dare to suggest them to fix their attitude


I'm wondering about the same thing. To me, Reddit feels more like it emphasizes communities. While Twitter is more about the cult of personality, and not too centered around community. Also, on Twitter it's much easier to get to another social bubble by accident (just see some random tweet in the feed, and here it goes). On Reddit, you are much more likely to stay within your chosen subreddits (unless you look at the most popular, news, etc.)

Yeah I thought the same thing re communities, it's a super important aspect and gives you some of the.. social geography you get in the real world. Tgat and the personal, per-community moderation.

Twitter exposes the profile of the user a lot more and people have their own feeds. Reddit in comparison albeit with profiles seems anonymous all the same.

That's a good point, seems less enticing to a troll to rip into an anonymous username. Reddit's moved a bit in that direction in recent years, with full fledged profiles, user feeds, profile pics, etc.

I just don't understand why people are so terrified of opinions they don't agree with.

I am just so glad I am old enough to have been exposed to a wide variety of different opinions and ideas before this crack down on such.

Being exposed to bullshit ultimately hones your bullshit detector.

If you grow up on twitter it just seems to me you will be easy to fool. Like a person who lives in a bubble afraid of germs so their immune system is nothing.


When you did not reason yourself into your opinions but adopted them in order to get a sense of belonging to a group, the existence of other opinions is an existential threat.

I think it's also that twitter's UI isn't designed for discussion, it's designed for shouting your opinion into the void.

So I think this empowers people to voice their shitty opinion without consequence.


Twitter is an advertising platform. Corporations advertise to users through it, and users advertise to each other. The character limit is there to turn discussions into slogans.

I quit Twitter a few months back, and I've been a happier person since then. I'd joined because I heard it was the way to "do outreach" and "engage in the discussion" of my field on a daily basis. Really, it was just the less skilled people in my field advertising their politics to each other, while the more skilled people were off using their skills to accomplish real things. The skilled and knowledgeable people I wanted to hear and learn from were not spending their time twittering.


I think what makes Twitter toxic is that everybody is in their little bubble. You are mostly shown content similar to what you liked, and you are encouraged to block outsiders. When you do see content from outside of your bubble, the contrast is harsh. Most of the time you don't even see dissenting tweets themselves, you see a lot of reactions in your bubble and have to fish for the original 'scandalous' tweet.

Also, as somebody else said here, the discussion takes place "on" your identity, as opposed to reddit where you have your identity and then go out to places to discuss.

I have separate accounts because my different interest belong to different bubbles, and I'm afraid they would outrage each other. Also, one is mostly for consumption and the other is mostly write-only.

(My ideal social network would have each user in full control of their identity page - a bit like MySpace or the old Facebook. And then you would be able to go and create pseudonymous subaccounts for discussions. The system would only show what you want to share, e.g. "this handle's main account is female, on the site for >3 years, and has ~5000 rep". This way you'd have anonymity but still some measure of trust.)


As someone who once had a reasonably large (>5k) twitter following and has essentially given it up there are a few factors I believe contribute it being far more unhealthy than HN or Reddit:

- It's tied to your real identity (and your real ego).

We all know that pure anonymity creates 4chan, but being associated with your personal identity means that every "engagement" on twitter feels a bit too personal. On both reddit and HN being pseudonymous means you still have some sort of reputation, but up and down votes are always about how a community interacts with your ideas, not you personally. Even worse than facebook, you're primarily being judged by people who don't even know you. This sets up every tweet to being a basis for being personally attacked by strangers.

- Short message length abolishes nuance. On both Reddit and HN the most successful posts are often long, nuanced and typically make several points to draw a conclusion. This is impossible on Twitter. You can't discuss the nuances and values of both R and Python for data science work, you can only make flippant, reactionary remarks.

- Might makes right. The follower system is horrendous for any kind of reasoned discussion. There a plenty of well known, adored people out there that make factually incorrect assertions but it doesn't matter if they have 100k followers, they win the war for engagement. Forget about cases where it's not see easy to establish factual correctness.

All of these combine to make an environment where to feel good about your self you are naturally driven to write flippant content that will attract more followers (so nothing too controversial for your audience, no having complex opinions, you should fit into an easy to market 'identity'). You can resist this, but this is what the platform has been designed to encourage. It's sad how many thoughtful people I've met on Twitter that inevitably get sucked into this trap and start shouting out engaging garbage so that they can continue feeding that cycle.

Despite my complaints about trends in the HN community, several small things help a lot:

- largely keeping pseudonymity

- Hiding up/down vote counts! It's quite possible for one opinion to have an order of magnitude more support than it's opposition but both idea can be near the top and no one knows.

- Giving all comments a temporary boost in the page position to give them eyeballs and a chance to be heard.

Making votes invisible is probably the single most brilliant thing HN has ever done to keep this community sane. You can see "people agree with/like my comment" without comparing yourself to everyone else.


While Twitter loves to have bubbles crash into one another for engagement, reddit is far worse than you might think for minorities, mostly because their subreddits have little collective voting power.

For instance some trans friendly subreddits that's not primarily about trans people has been continuously raided for the past few months, where lots of people - exceeding the organic voting power of the subs population - downvote posts that feature trans topics in any capacity to make the posts effectively invisible. Then they started sending mass-DMs to further disincentive trans people from talking (I myself got a message from "youdontpass1488", not too hard to see the perpetrators political alignments there). Moderators have near-zero available tools to prevent this from happening, aside from going private which is not really the best option for various reasons.

While this practice is banned on reddit, coordination has just moved elsewhere.


The core issues with Twitter are the Retweet feature and the short character limit. That's also what defines the platform, so that's unlikely to change.

The problem with the retweet feature: Person A starts talking about a topic and post a few tweets. Person B sees one specific tweet, retweet it (with or without comment). People who were following person A see the original tweets. People who were following person B see the reactions to the retweeted tweet, without the original context. Every time the discussion is split with two crowds isolated from each others and everything taken out of context.

The problem with the character limit: given that people link to or retweet a single tweet (120-240 characters I believe), that can only contain a very limited, and often dumb down, version of the actual message being communicated.

That's of course worse given their feed algorithm.


Reddit is broken up into sub-communities, and I think this is what is helping a lot here. Many subreddits are quite awful and toxic. Even ones which are not terribly evil are still awful and insipid. But there are also some really amazing and beautiful subreddits out there. This is all because of the existence of subreddits. Any subreddit past a certain size or popularity will begin to become terrible.

Reddit's way of fostering communities likely helps. In twitter you're somewhat forced to talk to the same group of people at all times, especially now that tweets seem to be the main topic of discussion.

Reddit is absolutely toxic.

Parts of it are, but those tend to get banned.

I'd argue reddit is more of an amplified hive mind of the communities that use the internet, of which some become toxic due to ineffective moderation policies or squelching of dissent.

The elephant in the room is that large subreddits tend to avoid deep analysis if it disagrees with the hive mind, and cross-brigading from smaller subreddits happens all the time. Add influence peddling by sovereign states to that.


> Parts of it are, but those tend to get banned.

Only if politically and economically convenient. I've seen people openly condoning torture and rape as long as they happen to unsympathetic victims. The subreddits fostering this behavior won't get banned unless it threatens reddit's advertising. In practice it means only politically incorrect communities get banned.


Do you have examples?

slashdot had this covered years ago. literally decades.

1. upvotes limited to +5.

2. votes categorized: funny, informative, insightful, etc.

3. number of votes limited per time frame and user karma.

4. meta-moderation: your votes (up/down both) were subject to voting (correct/incorrect). good score == more upvotes to spend.

and yet, simple trumps good. i was very happy to see parts of this implemented in steam reviews.


Another alternative, which may be somewhat controversial, was introduced years ago in Menéame [0], a Spanish website which is somewhat of a cross between Slashdot and Reddit. In summary, they made the votes public. For every comment, you can see who gave it an upvote and who gave it a downvote.

In my opinion the change was worth it. The positive effects are that it strongly discourages organised vote brigading, cheap "I disagree" downvotes, and shy upvotes supporting actual nasty comments. Of course, even if this were possible to implement on Reddit's backend, the sheer scale of votes in the thousands would probably make it unfeasible. However, it would be a very good way to tackle cross-subreddit vote brigading, and would for instance make /r/SubredditDrama's "Do not vote in linked threads" rule much easier to enforce, rather than relying on the honour system.

[0] https://www.meneame.net


They should make it a lottery system and show a random 10 people. The threat/possibility may be enough discouragement.

>4. meta-moderation: your votes (up/down both) were subject to voting (correct/incorrect). good score == more upvotes to spend.

Doesn't this lead to a keynesian beauty contest situation where people are incentized to vote what they think other people would vote, rather than by their own honest assessment?


maybe, but you don't know your meta-moderation karma, so you don't get beauty feedback. IIRC the karma was primarily impacted how often you'd get votes for meta-moderation.

from what i recall from slashdot times, it worked really well.


It's also another kind of echo chamber, where the majority can penalize you for going against the group-think both by downvoting your posts and by providing you with fewer votes.

Yes, but in all fairness, slashdot, unlike reddit had a niche it was pursuing: "tech news". Granted there were meme posts during its heyday too (eg, micro$oft bad) but I think opposing opinions were given way more consideration than similar discussion garner on reddit (or even here, on HN) to this day.

I think that was true at one point, but later I don't think it was true. Well, at least compared to HN. I think it was always better than Reddit, but I don't expect intelligent discussion there like I do on tech news sites.

I was thinking of the period before the exodus to digg and reddit happened. I'm not sure about the year... before 2006-2007, I guess.

This style of moderation works to a point. But for larger conversations it falls apart. Unless you camp for new stories to show up, your posts will typically not be seen. They will get drowned out by the early voted on posts. Voting early and seeing things early is in many ways the way that particular voting system works.

Also for 'older' conversations you will tend to see a lot of +5's and a lot of -1s. But rarely anything in-between. That means it is harder to tell what rank a comment has in relation to another. So if you miss a story popping up and have a good point your 0/1 default moderation will have a tough time even being seen by some. I have seen the same topic take on radically different styles just depending on who posts early. Many topics can have this quality but it seems to happen to me more often with systems that have voting to me.

In practice most of these systems are agree/disagree systems. Trying to use that as some sort of barometer/filter of what the conversation is tough. It seems like it should work but in the end it is just 'internet points'.


You also couldn't take place in discussions if you chose to moderate, which I think is a +1 insightful way to handle things.

You could, it would just undo your moderations in that article.

Also:

5. most active users excluded from getting votes at all


It was solved long ere that: no votes.

There are many boards were ranking is simply decided by recent activity of replies. I find that DeviantArt has the ideal forum: a tree-based structure like Reddit, and H.N., and the top comment within a branch of the tree is simply the one which had the most recent reply to a child recursively, and any new replies always end up at the top.

This achieves two important goals:

1) visibility is dictated by activity and nothing more: a good comment is a comment that generates discussion

2) visibility is statistical in nature: less active trees still sometimes end up in the most visible spot, simply less often than more active trees

I dislike votes and the idea of “soft bans”: a comment is either against the rules, in which case it should be removed altogether and appropriate actions should be taken against the user, or it is within the rules and should not be “soft banned” by being faded out or something similar.


no filtering rules only work when you can consume the whole feed in a reasonable time. note that reddit gives you the option to sort e.g. by controversial. since you can't not have a first comment (notable meme on slashdot - FP!), you need to sort somehow; the whole point of activity feeds, walls, scoring is to show the most valuable (to someone... not necessarily you - but sometimes, you) content first.

Content will always find a grey area that your rules don’t cover.

And votes stop that issue?

If the grey area be popular enough with the voters, then it will simply be upvoted. The post you replied to is downvoted. It is not in any grey area of guidelines; it is simply a post that two more people disagreed with than agreed with.


Here's what Twitter (and other social media platforms) should implement instead: They should add a button that a user can click so their interaction with a tweet (retweet, quote tweet, reply) doesn't count towards the engagement metrics of that tweet.

The way a lot of accounts increase their reach is by tweeting intentionally divisive or stupid things. Lots of people feel obligated to correct or speak out against these tweets but by doing so they are helping them reach an even bigger audience. That's one of the major reasons why Twitter has gotten so toxic: Stupid and divisive content creates more engagement and spreads faster. So users who just want to correct someone should have the option to do this without increasing the engagement metrics of that tweet and effectively spreading it even further.


Link that doesn't try to redirect you to ad websites to fingerprint you.

https://archive.is/eU3Gf


I'm interested/curious to see how a system where you can only downvote would behave.

I think users would be much more interested to only downvote, if they could.

The front page would only show items that were not downvoted. Of course if would also be possible to see which posts were the most downvoted.


It might happen that folks downvote things even if they like it, just because its the only interaction possible. From what little I understand of content reception, the drive to interact triumphs the drive to curate/(give your opinion for the collective good, for the lack of a better word).

In a few weeks the website would then introduce a ‘controversial’ or ‘worst’ sorting and ironic downvoting would become mainstream till the devs give in and treat the downvote as an upvote, or introduce both downvote and upvote (wherein imo they’d stand a chance of losing their userbase).


Someone once told me

    an intense sense of wanting to be involved
    and a staggering lack of something to add

I don't think that would work, because it is hard to imagine anything that somebody wouldn't dislike. You see it on Youtube, where even a video getting hundreds/thousands of likes gets a few dozen downvotes.

That’s basically Wikipedia minus the most downvoted view part.

My guess is that will bring to the top the most uninteresting stuff that novody even cares about to downvote. Also this might look like the new section as eventually someone will downvote so the new ones will be at the top in the first phase.

Sounds like r/RoastMe.

The point of voting is for a group to make collective decisions about something. But the 'group of twitter users' isn't a community. I don't want this fake community to 'democratically' determine what I see. I'm on Twitter to see stuff from the accounts I follow. There is no need for community consensus to determine what's shown.

I personally don't like this. Hackernews and slashdot do good jobs of moderation by making you have to be a participant that's contributed with well thought out comments. Reddit fails because the "upvotes/downvote machine" is just an opinion meter. Also the gaming of it is not good either so it's a matter of time before Twitter publicly displays your stats as you tweet. It's another slippery slope for them to show ignorance at the top and not legitimate criticism that often gets downvoted because it doesn't fit the norm. Reddit died in the sense that /r/popular is as unique as 9gag. It's all content from other sites and 1 word top comments.

Every single upvote/downvote mechanism on the internet (including on HN) is an opinion meter, regardless of what rules/etiquette the site tries to push. And I'm pretty sure that's what Twitter wants, because it means that all the safe, popular replies to a Tweet will automatically bubble up on top and they won't have to deal with the controversial ones because the community will take care of them.

Kind of but not really. reddit has a lot of minority communities that just get mass downvoted too since downvoting costs nothing and other people organize to just mass nuke everything for things like women/trans/whatever focused subreddits that they dont like.

HN is kind of different in that downvoting as at least gated behind _something_, you cant just spin up an account and immediately downvote everything.


As far as I'm informed, Reddit shadowbans downvotes from new accounts and accounts with low karma. You can downvote and the GUI will tell you that downvoted but the karma system will just ignore it.

I like the design where you must give reason for downvotes. This seems to discourage mindless downvotes.

I think the slashdot moderation is best. It's borderline random when you get the chance to do it and they become "use it or lose it" mod points. That way the community has to engage, not just lurk.

It was random who got mod points, additionally the 10% most active and 25% least active users were excluded from getting mod points at all.

Which community/platform has tried this?

I fully agree with you that slashdot has/had a better model. Both the awarding of karma points to spend and the max cap on the number of points a comment could accumulate were positive things.

I don't know if r/popular is going to kill reddit but it's at least no longer interesting to me at all. It's similar to twitter in that it's mostly "outrage" with the addition of some random tiktok videos or current events like sporting sprinkled in.


> Hackernews and slashdot do good jobs of moderation by making you have to be a participant that's contributed with well thought out comments.

You should see how much karma some people have when they finally get banned and reconsider your evaluation of that method's effectiveness. It's not difficult to grind 500 karma here, it's not a signal of anything but time spent.


I imagine it still represents an added cost, which works towards suppressing or adding difficulty towards facilitating comment / post manipulation as GP alludes to.

Much of that cost is offset by the design of Hacker News being biased towards flagging and downvoting.

Plenty of threads get flagged into oblivion because a couple of people objected to them, and several people have noticed every comment in their history getting voted down from time to time. Upranking posts by manipulation is difficult, downranking them is almost child's play.

What really offsets that isn't the karma cost for upvotes but the moderators' own manual tweaking of the knobs, sometimes correcting improper flags and changing the rankings, which can't really be gamed around.


“well thought out comments” in this case means “well thought if your comment is aligned with the herd's opinion”.

More often than not the spicy contrarian hot takes of those who don't "follow the herd" are just the bleats of sheep following another herd.

Nice statistics, your source is reliable and the numbers are impressive and trustworthy.

And it doesn't change the fact I’ve posted.


You get what you give.

You are you

Reddit is alive and well. If Reddit is a failure, I want such failures.

It's alive and well as far as numbers and users and time spent. I think it can be considered a failure in other ways. Is it creating healthy online communities, things like that. Are good things coming out of it, or is it effecting the real world in a negative way.

I tried to refrain from making reddit out to be a "failure" but it's undeniable they're not the same as they were 10 years ago. Reddit definitely felt more HackerNews like: decent articles, articulated comments, and the moderation was not nearly as bad. I am fully aware that they're successful and they're keeping it that way. Reddit however has gone the ways of just following the mob. They're not trying to foster a reason for people to stay on aside from addiction and boredom.

The way users might benefit is if Twitter learns what users like and dislike and curate a feed based on these preferences. At the very least one could expect them to use it for the list of who to follow.

One similar strategy would be how Reddit introduced a subreddit filter feature (which was previously only available in a 3rd party extension) to get metrics on which popular but disliked subreddit to quarantine. These majority disliked subreddits then got filtered from everyone's feed.


Our feeds are already heavily curated. I recently subscribed to the WSJ, and got paper delivery of the weekend editionfor free. At first, I clicked the option because I use a charcoal grill and I'm paperless to the point I struggled to find material to start it with.

But it seemed like a waste to not read it. Once I started though, I quickly started to really enjoy the experience of reading a paper news paper. Aside from the tactile feel, and fresh smell there is joy in a completely uncurated experience. I'm reading things that are way out of the bounds of my normal filter bubble. I'm exposed to topics I never knew I found interesting. Life is duller when its completely curated.


> Life is duller when its completely curated.

A newspaper is the very definition of “completely curated”. There are entire, multiple positions devoted to the physical prioritization, and design and layout of content, including the precise wording of headlines that fit the space and gel with the surrounding context.

It’s why imho a newspaper is very much worth reading, because its production is so much less cost efficient than any website or social media


It is true, a newspaper is curated. But it's not curated to me. My entire digital life is curated to me, so being able to dip my foot into literally anything else is a new experience.

The chronological feed is a must-have for me, but here's a wild idea: having Home (personalised), New (chronological), Hot and a big Random thread button would be neat.

Twitter's current "chronological" feed is only chronological in that the posts that appear in it are ordered by creation date, but it doesn't include all posts from the people you follow.

This was one of the reasons why I finally stopped using Twitter.


You can make a clean chronological feed quite easily with the API (the API does not include sponsored content, suggested topics or suggested likes and replies, but I want none of that anyway), this is how I have consumed twitter for years. I have filters on top of it, but those are decided my me and not their algorithms.

Have been thinking about polishing and releasing the service, but I'm not sure it is a convenience people would actually pay for?


> Have been thinking about polishing and releasing the service, but I'm not sure it is a convenience people would actually pay for?

You'd get shut down by Twitter as soon as it gains any traction, probably not a good idea.


I know, but making it paid would mean that I'd never have more than O(1000) users (optimistically!), and I doubt twitter would care. My main question is whether users would.

Something like that for YouTube would be nice also, I miss so many videos from channels I'm subscribed to because they don't show everything in your New feed. I would gladly pay $12/year for a service that does that and maybe a few other obviously useful features (tagging, attaching private comments, subscribing to friends public archives, etc).

Had not considered youtube but that is indeed another great example of where I would not want an algorithm decide over the user what they get to see.

By tagging and private comments you mean being able to take private notes about a particular tweet/video?


Yes...tagging for grouping, notes for annotating, etc. There's also massive opportunity for crowd sourcing of topic based discovery.

The YouTube platform is amazingly horrible (from an end user perspective) considering how valuable its content is, if you could implement something that can't be blocked somehow I think it could be a financially rewarding little business, there are lots of heavy users of YouTube.


I wouldn’t mind YT RSS

YouTube already makes an RSS feed available for each channel (not trivially available, but the method is easy to look up)

Great, thanks for the tip!

Excellent, more bubbling.

I don’t see the post voting mechanism having much effect on bubbling. The problem with a filter bubble is not being aware you’re in it. If you’re aware, then it’s not a filter bubble. I think this comes from architecture, from Twitter’s presentation as one giant global conversation, as opposed to every post being made in the context of a distinct topic-based community. On Reddit you intentionally navigate from place to place, subculture to subculture. You’re less likely to mistake a certain political attitude as the new global norm, because you develop an understanding of which views and attitudes are common to which sub. Even if you only look at the front page, each post is clearly labelled as having come from a particular sub. Twitter in contrast presents itself as one single context for everything in your world, pushing the false idea that what you’re seeing is representative of what other people are seeing. That’s what’s behind the filter bubble effect, I think.

That's my worry too, but I don't know if you can already make it worse on twitter. Reddit has the random button and easy access to two "feeds" (chronological and "personalised"), so I'd like more of that.

That random button is just the top 1000 most popular subreddits by the way. Better than nothing, but still.

> ...and curate a feed based on these preferences.

I personally don't need a curated feed on twitter. Hopefully, they'll never deactivate the chronological one.


I left reddit because of how manipulated it is by hard core activists, contractors acting on behalf of corporations and political parties, and governments. I really hope we dont see this on twitter.

I think up and down voting are great, however what is dumb is that neither has a cost. If you think of karma as an economy, taking an action should have a cost.

Of course this leads to the question: if voting has a cost, then how do people accumulate irrespective of themselves receiving a vote?

You could give everyone say, a fixed number of karma to begin with that could then be allocated. You can then give people more karma for successfully being a user without being flagged or receiving certain amounts of negative karma for a time period.

It's a shame there's not more experimentation here. This could lead to more interesting sort of dynamics. For example, if the #1 person believes something is being said that is really damaging in some way, they could put at stake the entirety of their karma and downvote it, which would pretty much obliterate the comment. Conversely, if someone is speaking a truth no one else is acknowledging someone with a lot of karma could sacrifice a good chunk to bring it right to the top.


> For example, if the #1 person believes something is being said that is really damaging in some way, they could put at stake the entirety of their karma and downvote it, which would pretty much obliterate the comment.

We are building a P2P network with subjective moderation [0], so while we don’t know what works yet (we’re experimenting) I can at least tell you why we’ve found this is suboptimal. The issue is that this creates an even more direct USD/upvote market in which users are incentivised to the max to harvest as much karma as possible (with cat posts) and then sell them to the highest bidder, which would invariably be people who have a lot to gain from a certain piece of information being hidden. In essence, if you make karma spendable by more than one per post, you up it’s monetary value 100x, and given that even at 100x it’s worth so much more to PR teams and to not many else, all you will ever see is going to be propaganda on your platform’s front page.

[0] https://getaether.net


You've probably thought of this, but if you can associate votes to identities then a classic way to mitigate this behaviour is quadratic weighting, where e.g. your nth vote costs n^2, so a censor or propagandist needs to pay 1e4 counteract the single votes of 100 casual observers.

Yeah, quadratic voting is one of the potential solutions to this, but ultimately that removes the ‘fraud load’ by mostly moving it to another place, to number of accounts. That is arguably worse because it incentivises the malicious users to create as many accounts as there are votes so as to not be subject to quadratic voting (1 vote = 1 energy point equivalency only holding at one vote), and it’s substantially harder to deal with user account fraud than vote fraud.

The goal is to minimise the fraud load and make whatever fraud load you have applied against the strongest parts of your system. It’s like designing a castle except with incentives - it has to fail gracefully and still be functionally successful even in failure.


> ultimately that removes the ‘fraud load’ by mostly moving it to another place, to number of accounts. That is arguably worse because it incentivises the malicious users to create as many account

Arguably the common social media policy of not having your account tied to a unique identity needs to change. It permits all sorts of problematic incentives like you describe, and which lead to bot accounts and more.

Of course, your identity doesn't need to be disclosed in your profile for when anonymity is important.


Adding other factors into this system might help.

What about:

    weighting a vote by the "degree of separation" of the voter? (ie., friends count more)

     hyperbolic discounting of karma acquisition 

     limiting the number of voters per item

    new accounts can't vote until achived a network & karam status (eg., shares, by friends, are upvoted). 

    accounts which primarily upvote/downvote outside of their network are ignored

    etc.
I think this adds up to saying, "small networks of voters" are the primary type of community; and big-network effects are largely discounted. Where things are popular, they are because many different active communities appreciate them.

Yes, these are all different kinds of logic that can be executed, and none of them are ‘right’, it just depends on personal preference and situation.

We call that user-selectability ‘subjective moderation’, but it’s basically a client-side compiler for a people-based raw data feed.


> I think up and down voting are great

It is great as a poor man's analytics system, providing knowledge that at least someone read your comment, allowing you to evaluate if it is worth posting more or if your efforts are disappearing into the void. However, having both up and down seems redundant. The both provide the exact same information.

> however what is dumb is that neither has a cost.

If there is a cost then there will be reduced incentive to let you know that your comment was read, which reduces future engagement, which is not ideal for the platform.


> It is great as a poor man's analytics system, providing knowledge that at least someone read your comment, allowing you to evaluate if it is worth posting more or if your efforts are disappearing into the void. However, having both up and down seems redundant. The both provide the exact same information.

I disagree. If a comment has 100 likes and 100 dislikes that clearly is different than a comment that has 200 likes or 200 dislikes. A new metric, controversiality is created when you look at both the total amount of likes and dislikes and the ratio between them given a comment. Depending on your inclination a comment with a high, equal number of likes and dislikes is perhaps more engaging than the same number of solely likes or dislikes.

> If there is a cost then there will be reduced incentive to let you know that your comment was read, which reduces future engagement, which is not ideal for the platform.

Depending on how it's implemented, this may or may not matter. For example you could allow people to like or dislike without limit, but after a certain amount (them exhausting their own karma) its effect changes, but regardless they can continue to do it.


This is basically what people did on their own when they say a tweet gets "ratioed" by having more quote retweets than likes - the downvote button is probably just turning that into a first-party feature.

> you could allow people to like or dislike without limit, but after a certain amount (them exhausting their own karma) its effect changes, but regardless they can continue to do it

Reddit already applied this at the aggregate scale: any individual comment can only cost you up to 100 karma and negative karma scores on user profiles are capped at -100.

That all said, how would these karma economy proposals interact with the fact that some subreddits are orders of magnitude less popular than others? Would it cost less to vote on items in small subreddits?

Would upvoting already highly-upvoted submissions be free (but do nothing on the back end) or would it be expensive as an encouragement that the community has already spoken and to spend your votes elsewhere? Would doing against community opinion be cheap (since more people agreeing the Earth is round doesn’t add much to the discussion) or would it be a pricey 10x vote?


Note sure what you mean by "a new metric".

Sorting by "controversy" has been an option on Reddit for a long time. Most people won't use this option, but it exists.

The formula is here: https://github.com/reddit-archive/reddit/blob/753b17407e9a9d...


> I disagree. If a comment has 100 likes and 100 dislikes that clearly is different than a comment that has 200 likes or 200 dislikes.

There is no information provided by the button click other than that the button was clicked. Which button the user decides to choose may as well be considered arbitrary because onlookers have no way of ever determining the true intent unless the button presser also comments with their intent.

I find it curious that what was up/down has changed to like/dislike in your comment. Being able to see that someone read your comment is the reward provided by these 'karma' systems. Nobody wants to spend a slice of their life writing something that nobody will ever read. Finding readership is the goal and creating content with enough quality that someone wants to go out of their way to tell you that they read it is how you validate that you are accomplishing your goal. Either button can convey that information. With that, isn't 'dislike' logically no button press? If you truly dislike something, why do you want to reward the author?


This comment being down-voted, along with the top most up-voted child being a quip about being rewarded for being down-voted, is art.

It's very clear that absolute vote count is a meaningless number. The vote count depends on which side of the argument that the reader belongs to. The simpler side of the argument will therefore attract more upvotes.

What the writer of the comment ultimately cares about is how many people were against the writer's comment that is now for it. Or at the very least, a piece of the argument has pushed the Overton window for that individual so that if they continue reading that writer's post and those whom allegiance with them, they will flip. That must be a vanishingly small number of the votes. Votes don't give you that.

It's very clear from my perspective that randomdata's post was made in good faith. randomdata's argument is one of clarity from understanding this nuance. He doesn't go into this depth, but it's there. The only way that you make the argument that randomdata is making is after having comes to terms with the mechanics. As he has skipped showing this depth his comment is unable to bring those of which understand the simpler argument but don't understand his argument, and he is therefore down-voted for it.

The fact that it has taken me five paragraphs to explain this nuance and not even go into it myself is why Twitter can be such a nasty place, as you don't have five paragraphs.

I'm now making this post 12 hours later, right when the post is at the bottom of the frontpage is therefore about to fall off a cliff of readability. As I care about getting my message across, I'm in complete agreeance with randomdata's argument. (+200 / -200) is much more important to me than ( +3 / -4). It's very likely the only person who might read this at this point is randomdata, of which I am speaking to the choir and achieving no change of view.


Looks like you are being rewarded quite handsomely.

Not only is "there is no info provided by which button was clicked" a really odd take when we humans explicitly assign semantic to up/down vote, this contradicts your other point, which is that "having your post read is the real reward," since there is no guarantee the post was read before voting.


> when we humans explicitly assign semantic to up/down vote

What kind of semantic would that be? Using a real-world example, some of the comments I have made in this thread have had the up button pressed multiple times. Others the down button multiple times. There is no difference in the comments. The are all about the same subject, all written by me about that subject. There is no discernible explanation for the difference. All I know is that the buttons were pressed. There is no more information provided to me.

> this contradicts your other point, which is that "having your post read is the real reward," since there is no guarantee the post was read before voting.

How so? My "other point" (it is the same point) explicitly calls out that those guarantees are not made, using an accidental press as an example.


I think only a troll commenter would find receiving dislikes to be a rewarding experience.

I imagine receiving dislikes wouldn't be rewarding, however the up/down buttons do not convey that kind of information. All they can fundamentally tell you is that someone (assuming appropriate bot protection is in place) pressed a button in proximity to your comment. There is no other information attached with the action. It could be purely accidental for all you know. Knowing that people have loaded your comment in order for the button to be presented, and thus statistically are likely to have read it, should be rewarding, though. After all, wanting others to read your work is why you're writing in a public forum and not your private journal.

I like your ideas that voting should have a cost. I think though that your last paragraph (staking much of your karma) would inevitably lead to a karma market and marketers abusing the feature.

Then I guess the only thing we can do is create a Karma Exchange Commission to regulate karma transactions. Obviously we must provide karma wages to those working for the Commission, so we’ll also need to collect a karma tax for funding purposes.

Twetch is an experiment in exactly this. Pay to like, comment, "branch" as they call it (retweet). pow.market is another fascinating experiment using proof of work as the currency that could be integrated into these platforms. ctzn.network is another take but no payments going on there. "Karma as a token" is what I think of based on your description and it's really cool. I think in the next couple of years there will be a lot more experimentation in this area too. It's a perfect storm of censorship, bots, and fake news that are encouraging more experiments now. There are others I'm aware of that are not yet public that I'm most excited about though. It's definitely happening.

I really do think innovative in social media spaces in lacking, probably because the established players have no real reason to change things up aside from stealing newcomers's ideas

but it would to cool to see if any research could be done on stuff like seeing how different features (or lack of) lead to different communities and cultures on a site


Matrix and the power of decentralized federated social networks will allow this soon.


Does Matrix support full extensibility of data structures or are you tied to some minimal model?

full extensibility

It's also that they have reason not to change up things. They have created vibrant monetisation mechanisms & fine tuned those mechanisms.

Innovating means new patterns of interactions & ideas. This also means new forms of monetisation that might be required.

As an example all the previous FB & instagram ads became obsolete or useless once they introduced stories. Now, have to create better ad formats and subsequently take few quarters to fine tune the experience and pricing.


How do you define success for these experiments? Social media already is optimizing for engagement, probably the average hn commenter doesn't like those results though.

Agreed. Wondering why social media companies aren’t trying to make the platforms less engaging is like wondering why drug dealers aren’t making a less addictive opiate.

obviously every platform wants engagement, they want you to use their product over others! but I think that's only part of how you define success, which obviously will differ platform to platform

like I think something like "sustained high quality discussion" is good goal other spaces like HackerNews aim for


I think it's important to acknowledge that in social networks attempting to manage their communities through mechanisms like this, there's a tacit assumption that everyone participating is

a: human and discrete

b: in good faith while of differing opinion still

This is not true. As long as social networks have a worldwide reach and a real-world significance, it'll be valuable to accumulate bots/minions to compose an aggregate person, representing some force or entity, and then use that brigade to direct discourse.

If it becomes expensive to do this, it takes the behavior out of the hands of small groups and reserves it for the most powerful and well-resourced actors.

The question to ask here is how expensive karma farming will be, and how easily can it be coordinated by outside forces in the absence of 'good faith, discrete, human actors'.


Quora used to have a cool "credits" system where you got credits for creating popular content and then you could use those credits to boost other content. So if there was an answer you liked you could spend your credits to expose that answer to more people. It was fun if a bit pointless.

> It's a shame there's not more experimentation here.

It is, but partly there's a good reason: it is really hard creating a system that is better, similarly convenient but also not more prone to abuse by bots and similar attempts to gain an advantage.

The more valuable karma gets for voting, the more worthwhile efforts to "farm" karma become. Ideally you want to maximise one thing and minimise the other but they are linked.

It's like with the recent case where a large-scale mining operation was discovered, but instead of cryptocurrency they used game consoles to farm currency for EA's FIFA game which can then be sold for real money because thanks to microtransactions and definitely-not-gambling-boxes it gained real value.


Stack Overflow did it quite well imho

there is no “group thinking” issue on StackOverflow. Quite contrary :)

I use voting to keep track of whether I’ve watched something before or not. There’s not really a good way to tell most sites you don’t want to see the same thing twice.

How about meta-moderation, like what is used on Slashdot?

Logged-in users are occasionally asked to apply a few moderation points to comments, but are also subject to their moderation actions being reviewed in turn.


>You can then give people more karma for successfully being a user without being flagged or receiving certain amounts of negative karma for a time period.

So a few users only have to band together and target one individual to limit their karma spend?


Sure but the entire point was that they’d have to pay for that privilege. Presumably you could make subsequent blocks exponentially expensive.

The source of karma is the attention people pay. That's why it's referred to as the attention economy.

Each user gets 10 votes per day, and can only vote up or down on a topic once?

Each user gets 10 points per day, and can use it in a single vote or spread across hundreds?

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