Meta: A 5 karma requirement to post in discussion

post by Jack · 2011-01-20T06:22:13.396Z · score: 46 (53 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 54 comments

Admins have been doing a decent, timely job taking down the spam that comes up in the Discussion section. But it is an eyesore for any period of time and there seems to be more and more of it. And there is an easy solution: a small karma requirement for discussion section posts. I think 5 would about right. A reasonable, literate person can get 5 karma pretty easily. "Hi, I'm new" usually does it. That plus a half-way insightful comment about something almost definitely will. This would screen out the spammers. As for the occasional genuine user that posts in discussion before commenting at all, I don't know how many there have been but my sense is that delaying them from posting until they can get five upvotes is almost certainly a good thing.

Thoughts? Or is changing this actually a difficult task that requires rewriting the site's code and that's why it hasn't been done already?

54 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by Subsumed · 2011-01-20T19:59:27.730Z · score: 18 (18 votes) · LW · GW

Hi, I'm new.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2011-01-20T20:07:03.677Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

(snort) Upvoted for the giggle-factor.

comment by fiddlemath · 2011-01-20T06:37:47.783Z · score: 16 (16 votes) · LW · GW

I'm in favor, fwiw.

Is there any particular reason not to make this limit even lower? I bet that even a 1 or 2 karma lower bound would suffice for the spam we're seeing. If we get visited by spambots that can garner even a couple of upvotes here, then we've found something interesting anyway.

comment by Jack · 2011-01-20T06:57:04.943Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

5 is nicer, cleaner and rounder. That's really my only reason for preferring it to something smaller.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2011-01-20T17:51:13.338Z · score: 12 (14 votes) · LW · GW

I don't know if this is just me, but I feel as though blocking the spam isn't just a matter of preventing inconvenience.

I keep thinking "these folks think they have a chance of getting self-optimizing FAI right the first time, and they can't even keep spam off their site".

comment by David_Gerard · 2011-01-21T22:40:26.643Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

"Help us develop an AI advanced enough and friendly enough to solve the spam problem, solve the good comments problem and make the discussion on YouTube and Yahoo Answers insightful and properly spelt."

comment by TimFreeman · 2011-04-13T04:12:17.784Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Hi, I'm new.

Yes, that's Stross's Spamularity proposal:

http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2010/12/its-made-out-of-meat.html

comment by wmoore · 2011-01-27T03:17:27.683Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

2 karma points are now required to start a new discussion. We'll see how this goes at reducing the spam.

comment by RobinZ · 2011-01-20T14:24:36.590Z · score: 7 (11 votes) · LW · GW

I support 5 - I also think the limit should be raised in the main section from 20 to 100 (preventing newbies from dropping to deep negatives from their first post) if it hasn't already, but that is a separate proposal.

comment by orthonormal · 2011-01-20T16:44:44.927Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

I also think the limit should be raised in the main section from 20 to 100 (preventing newbies from dropping to deep negatives from their first post) if it hasn't already, but that is a separate proposal.

I'd favor this, with one exception: a moderator can allow a good post to be promoted from Discussion to the main site, regardless of the poster's karma.

comment by jwhendy · 2011-01-21T20:48:30.661Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

A discussion of this problem came up HERE as well -- I'm glad a potential suggestion is being brought up.

Is anyone knowledgeable enough to post answers to these

  • What, exactly, are we waiting on for a solution to be implemented?
  • Who has the power/authority/access to make this call?
  • If this is a code-blockage, can someone summarize what, specifically, needs to be done in the site's code?

I think these answers will be much more helpful. Right now, this post and the last seem to circle around and around on things like this:

  • How much of a karma limit is enough?
  • Should it be a karma limit or some other annoyance/preventative?
  • You shouldn't complain about no solution being implemented unless you can code the solution yourself!
  • And simply, "Yes, I totally want this. Ra! Ra!"

But nothing's happening. Either the suggestions aren't possible, the posts aren't reaching the right people, or there's some other unstated blockade concerning an actual solution. If someone can answer the questions above, then I think it warrants a brand new discussion post like so:

Title: "Attn: person-with-power/authority/knowledge and/or programmers"

Content:

Consensus is that a karma requirement is the best way to prevent spam annoyances in the discussion area.[1]

So-and-so with general knowledge of the LW wrong site has provided the following code to make this happen: [code]code-goes-here[/code].

Would you consider implementing it?

Sincerely, LW Discussion-Dwellers.

1) See posts here and here

Or is this a dumb idea? Just trying to work toward getting something done rather than a) endlessly debating, b) not thinking hard enough about how to solve the actual problem or c) simply shouting "Yay -- I like this!" to a black hole.

comment by Vladimir_Golovin · 2011-01-20T11:38:50.593Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Yes please. The spam is getting worse. As for the 5 vs 1 debate, it actually doesn't matter much -- we can start with 1 required point then increase it if necessary. It's just a constant, it can be changed very quickly.

comment by mkehrt · 2011-01-20T07:15:25.171Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I, too, would be more in favor of 1.

comment by LucasSloan · 2011-01-20T06:31:26.740Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

This proposition has my support.

comment by ata · 2011-01-26T04:14:57.710Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

A patch has been committed to require a captcha to post in the Discussion section if you have <1 karma, but it hasn't been merged into the master branch yet.

comment by Dorikka · 2011-01-20T21:21:23.073Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

In favor of 1.

comment by Alexandros · 2011-01-21T15:59:25.187Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I'm in favour of starting with 1 also. We can sit and conjecture about what the spammers may or may not do, but before increasing the trivial inconvenience to newbies, why not start small and ramp up as necessary? It's important to note that any loss of new posters will be completely silent as we will never learn of their non-posting.

comment by mutterc · 2011-01-20T16:57:23.392Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

N00b here. No problem with a karma requirement. OTOH I rarely see spam posts to discussion. (I may not be refreshing obsessively enough).

comment by Petrus · 2011-01-20T08:24:33.588Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Absolutely. Especially when reading the discussion section in an RSS reader the sheer amount of spam is depressing.

A quick and dirty solution would be to block the IP-range of the 'Pandora' user accounts.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-01-20T11:58:15.333Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

An even simpler way would just be to block the words 'Pandora' and 'jewellery' in the title of a post...

comment by Synzael · 2011-05-31T09:01:43.881Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

From a 0 karma perspective, i disagree xD but i havent posted in discussion yet.

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2011-01-25T02:50:24.992Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I'd like to say "Let it be done!" but I don't recall who implemented the Discussion section originally. Possibly Louie?

comment by jimrandomh · 2011-01-26T14:06:13.454Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

Then let me make it as easy as possible:

--- a/r2/r2/models/subreddit.py
+++ b/r2/r2/models/subreddit.py
@@ -173,6 +173,8 @@ class Subreddit(Thing, Printable):
             return True
         elif self.is_banned(user):
             return False
+        elif self == Subreddit._by_name('discussion') and user.safe_karma < 5:
+            return False
         elif self.type == 'public':
             return True
         elif self.is_moderator(user) or self.is_contributor(user):

Note that this is a bit of a hack; the right thing to do is to replace the karma_to_post global variable with a member of Subreddit, and make some UI for adjusting it. One side-effect of doing it this way is that the message users get when they don't have enough karma (from r2/r2/templates/newlink.html:81) always says they need 20, regardless of which section they tried to post to.

comment by topynate · 2011-01-27T23:35:11.822Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It looks like wezm has followed your suggestion, with extra hackishness - he added a new global variable.

comment by Vladimir_Golovin · 2011-01-22T08:35:26.971Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'd donate a moderate sum towards the implementation of the karma threshold, be it 1 or 5. Can someone estimate how much the implementation might cost?

Also, I have a contact of a Python programmer (a pretty rare breed here in provincial Russia), so I can try to outsource the implementation to him. I never worked with this guy, but I'm looking for a server-side programmer, and this mini-project could serve as a test for him.

Could someone familiar with the LW codebase look into the task and estimate how much time would a new developer need to get acquainted with the relevant part of the code?

comment by humpolec · 2011-01-22T17:54:58.211Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I have no familiarity with Reddit/Lesswrong codebase, but isn't this (r2/r2/models/subreddit.py) the only relevant place?

elif self == Subreddit._by_name(g.default_sr) and user.safe_karma >= g.karma_to_post:

So it's a matter of changing that g.karma_to_post (which apparently is a global configuration variable) into a subreddit's option (like the ones defines on top of the file).

(And, of course, applying that change to the database, which I have no idea about, but this also shouldn't be hard...)

ETA: Or, if I understand the code correctly, one could just change elif self.type == 'public': (a few lines above) to elif self.type == 'public' and user.safe_karma >= 1:, but it's a dirty hack.)

comment by David_Gerard · 2011-01-21T22:39:00.162Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Sounds like a not awful idea on the surface. But - what's the current graph of karma-at-time-of-posting look like for discussion posts? I know we've had a few lengthy extended intro posts from newbies which have in fact been quite excellent. Better temporarily suffer some spam than lose those.

comment by Desrtopa · 2011-01-24T02:44:46.199Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Whenever I see a post from someone whose username looks unfamiliar, I check their user profile. I haven't noticed anyone making a discussion post starting at single digit karma. In any case though, I doubt we would actually lose the contributions; if the users actually intend to hang around the site, they'll probably simply post them after receiving 5 karma; it's not as if it takes long to get that much if you have anything worthwhile to contribute.

Edit: actually, on reexamination, jhwendy did have single digit karma when he made his first (very worthwhile) discussion post, but his introduction comment alone was enough to account for 6 karma, so he should still have been able to make the post if the requirement were instituted.

comment by timtyler · 2011-01-21T20:02:56.506Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The associated LW feature request/bug report is here.

comment by Normal_Anomaly · 2011-01-20T13:06:25.114Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Definitely do it. I don't care about 5 vs. 1, so long as it happens. Also, thank you to the moderators who are playing whack-a-mole with the spam.

comment by benelliott · 2011-01-20T08:33:30.451Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

As I opened this there were six spam posts at the top of the page.

Definitely in favour.

comment by Sly · 2011-01-20T07:23:57.076Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Agreed. I see very few downsides.

comment by lukeprog · 2011-01-20T07:16:55.093Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I favor this.

comment by test · 2011-01-27T03:16:56.878Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

2 karma points are now required to start a new discussion. We'll see how this goes at reducing the spam.

comment by Schlega · 2011-01-22T20:43:51.145Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

This is the first time I've ventured out of the MoR and Luminosity threads, and I support 5. If the limit was 1, spambots would eventually learn to post "Hey, I'm new" then wait a few hours before spamming.

Of course, this would also mean that no one should vote up a "Hey, I'm new" comment beyond 4.

comment by wedrifid · 2011-05-31T11:58:32.530Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This is the first time I've ventured out of the MoR and Luminosity threads, and I support 5. If the limit was 1, spambots would eventually learn to post "Hey, I'm new" then wait a few hours before spamming.

Of course, this would also mean that no one should vote up a "Hey, I'm new" comment beyond 4.

Spambots would also create 5 siblings.

comment by Jack · 2011-01-22T10:30:21.229Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

So it sounds like

A) Everyone thinks this is a good idea B) The amazing code people are working on it but they are volunteers working for free so we'll get it when we'll get it.

But in the meantime the spam is still increasing (at present everything in the recent posts sidebar is spam). Does adding admins involve rewriting code? Assuming not- could we get a few more, preferably some that reflect the geographically and sleep-cyclically diverse crowd we have. I know an admin will delete all the spam that is up right now when they login next- but the time between when the spam goes up and when it gets taken down would be a lot smaller if there were more of them.

Of course this won't help the RSS feed people, and there might not be enough of us Night Owls/Early Birds/Eastern Hemisphere people to justify it.

comment by falenas108 · 2011-01-20T11:13:00.563Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm in favor of the lower limit. There's no reason that a spammer would be able to get even 1 vote, so that should take care of the problem by itself. Getting 5 karma in the discussion section is easier than the main page, as there are more posts that a newbie can contribute to. Plus, we don't want to drive away people who are frustrated that they aren't able to comment on discussion posts.

comment by Paul Crowley (ciphergoth) · 2011-01-20T15:26:01.680Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

A spammer could very straightforwardly get as many votes as they wanted by creating sufficient accounts to that end. This would be exactly as effective as a dialog on the submit page that says "Put the letter after Q in the alphabet in the dialog to submit": ie it will stop any bot that is not tuned to this site, but allow through any that is.

comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2011-01-20T18:13:02.795Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Not giving zero-Karma users leave to vote will stop this breach as well. (A more thorough solution would involve a form of conserved Karma currency -- I wonder if this is in use anywhere -- you could even introduce advanced instruments such as Karma loans.)

comment by Paul Crowley (ciphergoth) · 2011-01-21T06:22:59.628Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, requiring karma to vote would stop this and would I think be a good idea, though it's more development effort still. After that, see Raph Levien's paper on "Attack Resistant Trust Metrics".

comment by wedrifid · 2011-01-23T04:30:56.339Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

A more thorough solution would involve a form of conserved Karma currency -- I wonder if this is in use anywhere

Not as such, but the same purpose is frequently served by making votes give karma according to the karma of the voter.

comment by Emile · 2011-01-21T13:33:14.084Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

On StackExchange sites, downvoting costs you karma - so it's not a conserved Karma currency, but it's still a use of Karma to prevent unwanted behaviors.

comment by wedrifid · 2011-01-23T04:32:56.172Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I would get a lot of pleasure out of spending my karma to penalise stupidity. Let me at them. :D

comment by Vaniver · 2011-01-21T20:20:43.528Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This is an interesting idea. The main qualm I have is with spam- am I going to spend my precious karma on hiding jewelry advertisements?- but otherwise it seems the right disincentive for being critical.

comment by Emile · 2011-01-21T20:43:47.129Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Well, ideally if a moderator deleted your comment as spam you'd get your karma back; or maybe downvoting shouldn't be used as a way to deal with spam (there is a "report" button for that).

comment by timtyler · 2011-01-21T20:10:39.859Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Down-voting contributes to site negativity, bad vibes, etc. On the other hand you don't want to discourage users from interacting and providing feedback too much. It would be interesting to learn more about where the sweet spot here lies.

comment by orthonormal · 2011-01-20T16:43:20.012Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Exactly. But for now, that should be good enough.

comment by Jack · 2011-01-20T14:25:22.192Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The proposal is a karma requirement for making new discussion section posts not commenting on them.

comment by mutterc · 2011-01-20T16:56:24.727Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Captcha posts from new accounts for X amount of time, then? (Or X amount of time starting with their first post). Allow mods to short-circuit the time for posters deemed sufficiently human.

Crowdsource idea: Make "verified human" a separate flag in accounts. Designate a trusted circle as verified human. Allow any verified human to verify others as human. Posters of unknown species have posts start at -1 or -5. (I guess this is a degenerate case of /. meta-mod).

comment by Jack · 2011-01-20T17:03:32.737Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Those solutions would require a bunch of new code. Much easier to withhold posting powers from users with under 5 karma.

comment by falenas108 · 2011-01-20T17:46:21.332Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Sorry, misread the post. I should probably stop reading LW at 6 A.M. and wait until I'm more awake.

comment by Miller · 2011-01-20T09:50:01.585Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yes. Do this.

Or is changing this actually a difficult task that requires rewriting the site's code and that's why it hasn't been done already?

Also, I will be looking to see if an answer is given to this.

comment by Barry_Cotter · 2011-01-20T08:50:21.548Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yes to a minimum karma limit. I reported 5 charm posts, read this post, went back to discussion and there was a new one already.