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New Power Proposal

by footpad (Abbot)
on Jul 26, 2001 at 21:06 UTC ( [id://100052]=monkdiscuss: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

We periodically talk about cleaning up the unused handles. Also, we (very) ocassionally see handles that are, well, less than professional.

I propose we add a power, accessible to a very select set of users, that allows only the most trusted to cancel new user registrations. Here's how I see it working:

  • A new user registers a handle. We send them their password and put a message on the notification screen indicating that their account is provisional, pending approval of the staff for account naming guidelines.

  • The new user can log in and post as normal.

  • The "approval council" either approves or denies the account name using a mechanism similar to ntc (or janitorial nuking), including a (signed) comment.

  • If the handle gets too many unapproved votes, it's automatically deleted, ala Mr. Skinny. A message is sent to the registered email address; this contains the signed comment.

  • If the new handle gets mixed reviews, one of the Council could send an email (also like a certain node that currently exists) allowing the user to voluntarily cancel their account.

  • A new button is added to User Settings that lets you cancel your account.

    This is processed 24 hours later, giving someone a change to cool down.

  • Any nodes posted by a cancelled account are reassigned to AnonyMonk

Normally, I would not recommend this type of change, but it seems to have become necessary and this proposal helps address other problems we've talked about from time to time.

Again: This would only be available to a very select set of users, generally vroom and a few others that've earned his trust (not necessaily the cleaning staff).

I believe it would help:

  • Weed out the inactives, generally those that registered but have never logged in. (Wait a year, though, before dropping someone.)
  • Cancel certain, shall we say, clearly trollish handles (including those registered over the last several hours).
  • Allow folks a gentle way to retire.

Thoughts? Comments?


Replies are listed 'Best First'.
(Guildenstern) Re: New Power Proposal
by Guildenstern (Deacon) on Jul 26, 2001 at 22:18 UTC
    Personally I think we can just leave well enough alone. It seems like every time something happens that someone objects to here on PM, there's a meditation saying "we need to limit X", or "why does Y keep happening?". We need to remember that this is an online community and not an online utopia. Things will happen here that bother some people and affect the "purity" of the site. Tough. It happens in real life every day, but we deal with it.

    I will agree that being able to remove stale nicks and "retiring" oneself are good ideas, but cancelling someone's account is too much. Why can't there just be some functionality that allows a user to change his/her nick? That's much simpler than cancelling accounts and creating new ones until the powers that be say a person's nick is "allowable". (I won't even get into the heartache I get when I think of having to have someone approve my nick.)

    Negaterd character class uber alles!

      Well, the idea isn't so much as to limit normal people, but rather to give another chance to fend off the trolls.

      For example, this morning someone started creating "anti-known monk" handles. This is the sort of thing that this would address.

      What if we modified the proposal slightly to say that if, after seven days, no votes had been registered, then the handle is automatically approved?

      That reduces the active amount of work on the special teams unit and still allows us to step up with a troll starts playing games again.

      Furthermore, what happens if someone creates a blatantly offensive nick?

      I'm not trying to create another layer of maintenance, but rather trying to come up with a troll prevention device, as well as another broom in the closet.


        Furthermore, what happens if someone creates a blatantly offensive nick?

        Look who's talking! "footpad" would certainly be profane in ancient Chineese.

Re: New Power Proposal -- change your own nick
by grinder (Bishop) on Jul 27, 2001 at 00:42 UTC
    In a previous life I used to hang out on Echo -- East Coast Hang Out. It was a really vibrant BBS (probably still is, but I haven't been a subscriber in years -- basically, when the web took off), and one of the cooler features the system had was that you could reassign your nick, whilst retaining your overall identity.

    For instance, in the present context, I could have changed my handle to "antigrinder" and that would be that. But tomorrow I'd probably be back to grinder again. Of course, if you clicked on the "antigrinder" author link on a node you would of course go to my homenode.

    There wasn't as much abuse as one might expect. Certainly there were a number of users who delighted in making up some completely random nick every day, but most people never bothered, and the few remaining people tended to change their nick based on a certain theme, so you always had a fair idea of who was who.

    And as it turned out, one day it served a very useful purpose. Let me explain.

    It just so happened that one of the technical guys who ran the system was one Mark Abene, who many people will probably more likely recognise by his online pseudonym, PhiberOptik. (and for all you young'uns, you'd better do some googling).

    At the time he was awaiting sentencing, and then one day the verdict fell, he was going to go to prison. People got pretty emotional about it, and on his first day behind bars, people all over the system spontaneously changed their nicks to include part of his nick in theirs. So in our context, that would mean we'd start seeing a whole lot of phiberNomad, phiberMayo and grinderOptik and so forth.

    Word of this got back to Mark, and he was very moved by this expression of sympathy.

    I've just been doing a little researching of my own, and actually came across a web page that started its life as a thread on the Echo bulletin board, that, and another article by Julian Dibbell.

    Why do I feel so old?

    update: yeah, nice rave grinder, but I completely forgot to underline what I was trying to get at: if you could change your nick, there wouldn't be as much demand for creating bogus accounts

    g r i n d e r
(tye)Re: New Power Proposal
by tye (Sage) on Jul 26, 2001 at 22:14 UTC

    Perhaps I just haven't been around when this happened. Perhaps I thought the point of this site was, to a great extent, "having fun". But I haven't seen anything that even comes close to warranting such schemes in my book.

    Sure, there was a short "scare" that loads of /^anti/ names would start cropping up. But the whole thing just quietly died rather quickly. I prefer the way it was handled to the proposed new scheme.

    Update: It appears that vroom still has a sense of humor even if some of the squelchers have lost theirs. antivroom now has a photo but is still under the control of the original "unprofessional" monk who created him.

            - tye (but my friends call me "Tye")
Re: New Power Proposal
by antivroom (Initiate) on Jul 27, 2001 at 23:45 UTC

    the antivroom speaks (and apologizes for his break of character):

    Frankly, I think this is a bad idea. I'm sure that's no surprise, though.

    Under the current system, a definite troll post will be reaped within minutes -- your proposal offers no time advantage there. And should the user have a inflammatory nick, vroom will likely reap it quickly. If he hasn't the time to do it, then all that user's posts will still likely be reaped until the opportunity arises for vroom to do so. I still see no significant benefit to your proposal. And until I do, I won't support it, as I see far too much of an opportunity for abuse (especially in the case of users like myself).

    I have one question for you, though: you believe my nick to be "trollish" -- you've said this nick is one of those that your proposal would take care of -- and yet, I see no problem with it. vroom sees no problem with it (to my knowledge). I have yet to launch any personal attacks against anyone, nor will I. It is my belief that to be a troll, one must do something with harmful intent, and so I ask you: Who have I harmed?

    i am the antivroom

      I'm sorry I wasn't clearer in my earlier remarks. I did not mean to suggest that your specific handle is offense or that your behavior was. I apologize.

      It's a bit suspicious, you must confess, to have several anti-handles registered in a few minutes. In any event, you are correct. We assume you're innocent first.

      However, I feel it's important to point out what I was thinking when I saw a large number of anti-handles registered in a few minutes. I did not think, "Oh, there's a troll!" Instead, I thought, "Oh, geez, what if mr_leisure realizes he can do this."

      Now, you're new (I'll assume), so that name will mean nothing to you. However, it means a great deal to the people he hassled during his various appearances. If memory serves, he has a few other handles he was operating under at the time. His favorite strategy was to privately /msg obscene remarks to people online at the time, including myself and at least three other monks I know of. (and, yes, in that last sentence, "monks" is a genderless noun.)

      If a such a pea-brain can think that he can abuse the CB in such a fashion, logic suggests that he might also realize that he can be even more offensive by picking obscene handles. And, yes, he was offensive.

      I'm sorry if it sounded like I thought you or the other Anti-handles were offensive. Naturally, they're not. (Personally, I thought it was cheap in Crisis; I mean really! Can't you be a bit more creative than Anti-Monitor? Sheesh!)

      (And, by the way, if you just happen to *not* be new, well...I'm sorry I didn't get the joke earlier. Guess it had some unintended consequences. Some jokes are like that. Comedy isn't pretty; just talk to Jack Napier some time.)

      So, nothing personal...I still believe there's a risk. I did my job; I pointed it out and I offered suggestions. If y'all decide you can live with that risk, great; then we've reached consensus. I'll support that; it is, after all, the community's decision and that's all I was trying to bring into the process.

      I've learned a lot of things in the years since high school, but one of the most important is that there really is more going on than you may realize. I've also learned that one doesn't discuss secrets or personal data in public. So, I'm sorry. I should have been more clear. You weren't the target of my suspicion or really the audience for it. I apologize for sullying your introduction to the Monastery.

      In any event, whoever you are, welcome! I apologize for being such a grouch and, oh, have one on me. The bar's down the hall, around the corner, and to the left. And, please...don't turn out the light; you might be eaten by a grue--I mean, troll.


        Oh Man.

        The first thing I would have done upon reading this would have been to register antifootpad - if I hadn't reformed that is.

        You seem not to believe me, -f, but when I stated in the CB that I was hanging up my troll boots I was serious. And I have honored that oath.

        Now back off.

Re: New Power Proposal
by neshura (Chaplain) on Jul 27, 2001 at 02:43 UTC
    I am firmly against this. I only barely see a need to clean up old unused nicks, and that can be a purely technical solution. Manual labor is expensive, first, and we've already got a few too many "select" groups running around in the background with limited or no accountability.

    The ability to troll with a home node is pretty limited. Sure, you can register FsckPerlMonks and use your home node to swipe logins or rant about anarchy, but well-respected monks with non-offensive logins could (*ahem*) do that too.

    The respective subsets of "troll" and "tasteless" obviously overlap, but until tasteless interferes grossly with the usability of the site for the dedicated community members, I say leave it alone.

    update: not to say that anarchy is tasteless or trollish or that ranting about it is point is that you can put WHATEVER you want on there.

    e-mail neshura | Sure but whatsit worth to ya?

(redmist) Re: New Power Proposal
by redmist (Deacon) on Jul 27, 2001 at 00:56 UTC

    I think that it's a great idea to delete old nicks. It sure is annoying to be in op=randomnode mode and keep hitting nodes of users that have never even been to the Monastery.

    However, I think that the idea of deleting user accounts based on what their nick is, is a REALLY bad idea and anathema to one of the central reasons why the Net exists (freedom of expression, even when offensive).

    Some things are offensive. That's it. There is no way around it. If you don't like it, look the other way. What possible *good* reason could we have for deleting accounts with offensive nicks. Because they are offensive is NOT a good reason. If we wanted to filter the site for offensive content, why don't we just have this elite few approve every single node before it is visible by anyone else, and after editing by the poster?

    This is a bad idea. I am staunchly opposed.

    Silicon Cowboy

      Hang on a second. You might be reading more into this than I intended.

      We already have tools to keep an eye on blatantly offensive or other objectionable nodes. Friars and above help moderate content; janitors clean up titles, add <CODE;> tags, and handle other clean-up.

      We routinely edit (reap) nodes that are inflammatory, obscene, and personally directed. There are no hard and fast rules, so we leave it to the community--or appropriate enpowered users--to work together and decide what to do with the material. While we occassonally have problems, the community leans toward tolerance more than conservatism.

      Today's anti-handle activities suggests that the same sort of trollish behavior that leads to routinely reaped and edited nodes could be applied to handles. (To some degree, it already has.)

      Consider, for example: Suppose you personally dislike the word "bozo" and want to go ballistic whenever you see someone called a bozo. Now, suppose someone signs on as "RedmistIsABozo," just to take a swipe at you--for whatever reason.

      You'd be seeing that everytime you hit ran across a node they posted. Think about the situation for a moment. We don't like name calling, we strongly discourage "questionable" content (using whatever yeardstick).

      If I posted a node saying "You're a bozo, Redmist!" then it would most likely get reaped. (BTW, I'm just using you as an example; you're not really a bozo.)

      In reality, the node would probably the voted down and left alone, but what if you replace "bozo" with one of George Carlin's Seven Words? Go on, be creative.

      My idea is a proactive one. Designed to determine whether or not we need tools to keep an eye on handles in the same fashion that we keep an eye on content. Tools similar to the ones we've already agreed to.

      I am not, in any way, shape, or form saying that anyone's right of propriety is better than anyone else's, nor am I asking the Monastery to submit to some right-winged conservatism (compassionate or not). Instead, I'm wondering if we shouldn't have the same level of community-input on handles that we do over content.

      After all, I can think of various handles that I would find offensive but would not publically object to. (Actually, there are a few already.) I can also think of many that I would patently and vocally object to.

      Unlike the CB, there's no global /ignore flag. Every time someone posts using a patently offensive handle, we'd all see it. So, now that you've thought of a really creative handle, imagine what you'd think seeing it on a regular basis.

      If that handle were violent, personally insulting, or otherwise trollish, there is little we could do today, save lobbying vroom until it got taken down. As we saw this morning, a large number of such handles could be registered in short order. Furthermore, as was done today, the registrant could log in and out and play games in with the ChatterBox and with posting.

      I believe there are lines that we've already agreed to, lines that we will not accept anyone crossing over. And we've lobbied for tools for making sure those lines aren't crossed.

      I'm simply asking whether or not it's worth developing similar tools for handle selection. Tools to be used by trusted people working together to draw a consensus about the next action. Is it censorship? Yes, absolutely. But, it's community (or rather, team) driven, not dictatorial. We use the same approach to censor as a community; we just call it moderation.

      The system isn't perfect, but it's getting better. I think these tools would help strengthen it further, provided they were community--and not individually--based.

      As a side benefit, we could use these tools to--again, as a group--discuss whether or not old, unused handled could be recycled and used by other people.


        While I recognize that your idea is a natural extension of measures already implemented on Perl Monks, I can't say I agree with any of them fully. Personally, I have a difficult time drawing the line between features that manage offensive content, and features that censor offensive content. (Some features move, edit for formatting, etc. and others delete, edit for censorship, etc.) I am, and will be, ALWAYS against censor features. (Of course it's not my site, but I suppose I can still have an opinion ;).)

        I spent a couple minutes thinking about how I would feel if someone registered and posted with the nick "redmistIsaBozo", and I can't say I wouldn't be really pissed off. I would. But I wouldn't want to delete the account (unless it was inactive). Same thing if there was a negative post about me. It would make me mad, but I just don't see censorship as an option.

        TBH, there is a point when I think I would censor. For example, if my mom killed herself, and someone posted something mocking her death, the lines would blur between my emotions and my beliefs and I would do whatever I could to censor it. I can't explain this flaw in my belief system...yet.

        As for the idea of moderation as censorship, I would have to disagree. Moderating a post to a negative level does not NECESSARILY mean that it will be deleted or the offensive content edited. With the advent of editors and the NodeReaper, this has changed, but the moderation itself is not censorship. Only when other features are added that use moderation as an input for censorship, could moderation be interpreted (IMHO) as censorship (albeit indirect).

        Purple Monkey Dishwasher
Re: New Power Proposal
by Albannach (Monsignor) on Jul 26, 2001 at 21:37 UTC
    This looks good to me. One suggestion: perhaps the list of previously rejected names could be kept to provide instant filtering to future potential applicants, thereby reducing the burden on the chosen ones. Similary with your retirement option, it seems to me that those account names should be retired also, to prevent future confusion. I hope and expect that retirement will not be so prevalent as to cause any significant inconvenience among new users.

    I'd like to be able to assign to an luser

Re: New Power Proposal
by clemburg (Curate) on Jul 27, 2001 at 14:10 UTC

    Where are all the lessons from USENET gone?

    Ignoring is the only way to deal with people you don't like. Also, I suspect this control scheme is far too much work. And, there are a lot of people opposed to such schemes on principal reasons.

    Maybe the analog of a killfile would be a useful feature for those who long for a better signal/noise ratio (although I really feel this is not so bad currently). Just give every user the option to list other users that he never wants to see. Then he won't see them in the CB, and won't see any nodes they created. Problem solved.

    Besides that, weeding out inactives might be worth some effort, if the system needs it for performance/maintenance reasons. Usually, though, the number of people registered is important in getting advertisement returns, so this might not be so clueful after all.

    Christian Lemburg
    Brainbench MVP for Perl

Re: New Power Proposal
by jlp (Friar) on Jul 27, 2001 at 03:02 UTC
    Slip, slide, slip, slide. Down the content control slope we go.

    As some folks are aware, i am against the editors group in its current incarnation, the current consideration system, and i am against this as well.
    • This appears to have the same lack of accountability as the editors group
    • Where does humor or satire become abuse? How is it decided? Another committee? Oh joy.
    • "select set of users" how are they selected? fiat? open vote?
    • I see no evidence that there is even a problem to begin with; what has antivroom done wrong?
    I am not prepared to support a system remotely like this; you will be punishing people for having a "position" (if you can call a nick a position) that people simply don't like. That is censorship, and i do not approve.
Re: New Power Proposal
by belize (Deacon) on Jul 27, 2001 at 18:20 UTC
    I think trouble makers, trolls, etc. will always have more time to cause trouble than well meaning admins have to clean up after them.

    After moderating BBS and Forums for going on 5 years, and trying almost everything to filter out trouble makers, I've found that the true way to deal with them is to ignore them. It seems that trouble makers hate to be ignored and will eventually move on to more "gratifying" forums.

    This will take considerable restraint by some and education to new members.

    You don't like what someone says, ignore them. If someone is sucked in and begins to reply, send them a personal note to please back off and ignore the trouble maker, troll, etc.

    It has worked for us, and I think it will work here. There is a slippery slope to content control that might diminish an otherwise stellar example of the best the Net can be.

Re: New Power Proposal
by ZydecoSue (Scribe) on Jul 27, 2001 at 20:41 UTC
    Frankly, I think this is a good idea

    I also have a question for those of you waving the anti-censorship flags and those waiting for the problem to occur before taking action. If you are female, have you ever been stalked, raped, or spousally abused? If you're not, do you know someone who has? (I have not, but I know people who have and I have received unwanted attentions.)

    The victims of such crimes feel guilty, depressed, and trapped, especially when there are constant reminders of the "event." In addition, the perpetrators frequently enjoy showing off afterward; they enjoy humiliating their victims.

    I for one would not like to see someone register ZydecoSueIsASlut, IF****dZydecoSue, or worse. I would feel violated and would certainly leave the community as a result, especially if I could not get the community to respond in my defense.

    Neshura, you're right. It's not a problem now. But, it could be. It's a risk, just like not backing up your hard drive or leaving the source of your CGI scripts in a readable directory. Would you run that risk?

    As far as censhorship goes, yes. It is censorship, but only in the same way that editors "censor" writers, the same way that directors "censor" actors, and the same way that managers "censor" employees. It's censorship in the same way that the Supreme Court allows certain materials to be supressed due to local obscenity laws.

    PerlMonks has certain things it allows and those that it doesn't and footpad's idea is simply to extend the existing controls to cover an area not already covered. I know some of you don't like those tools, but do you really want to see PerlMonks turn into Slashdot?

    Some time back, someone posted a link to an article describing an event in a different online community. I've lost the link (and hope the original poster will still have it), but that community was invaded by someone we'd call a troll. This person did many things they couldn't do here, including virtual rape of two of the online characters. The women running these characters exhibited the same physical and psychological responses to the online event that are seen in "real-world" victims of the same crime.

    The community itself called for the vitural death of the troll; this was a distasteful and catastrophic event to that community. There were arguments for and against it. It was a very difficult time for that community and, while it eventually moved on, things had changed. the community was no longer innocent and had lost something. It had been violated.

    I see Footpad's proposal as a preventative measure and applaud him for it.

    Perhaps a more appropriate question for this community is, "Have you ever been hacked?" If so, did you discover vunerabilities that you should have fixed before the event but waited because there wasn't a problem? Did you kick yourself because you didn't take basic preventative measures? Did you wish you'd been more stringent in allowing access to certain ports or protocols?

    You might think I'm overstating the results of such things. I'm not. If you don't believe that, then do some research into the recovery process that victims go through and the things they talk about. Their feelings, their mental state, their fears of having it happen again, and the constant reminders.

    I support this idea. This is a good community; it works well. I'd hate to see that change because some frat boy got a little drunk and decided to have a little virtual fun.

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