This recent thread was too vitriolic — even for EphBlog!

Aidan asks:

In all seriousness, how difficult would a user moderated comment system be to implement? I’d love to see the regular poster zoo codified in this fashion (obviously on a scale of 1 -> Frank, where Frank would be ultimate karma).

1) A first issue is whether to allow anonymous comments at all. We could (like WSO or Ephtown) only permit comments under an individuals own name. I would vote against such a policy since we have many regular commentators (like ephmom and current eph) who are important members of the EphBlog community and who have reasons for being anonymous. A second option would be to allow anonymous comments, but only by regular (perhaps even registered in some way) pseudonymed individuals. ephmom can leave comments, but not someone just posting one time. I would vote against this as well (for now) since we get so much valuable information from such drive-by-comments. Consider this example is from our discussion about Coach White.

Your statement about senior coaches not being on Ralph’s side is incredibly misleading. A MAJORITY of the senior coaches voted to extend Ralph a 1 or 3 year contract affording him time for his masters degree. You are NOT talking to right coaches, or maybe you talked to an administrator. The vote was conducted using a secret ballot so they do not get to see how the votes came out, nor do they get to see Lisa Melendy’s final report submitted to the CAP. She does that independently, with her own pen.

Without anonymous comments, we don’t learn these things.

2) But we could allow all comments but be much more active in moderating them. I have given Evan Miller a lengthy rant on this topic, hoping that he will turn Ephtown into a discussion forum to beat all discussion forums. Time will tell what comes of that.

In the meantime, the key issue is volunteer energy. It would be great if there were one or two of five EphBlog readers who would be willing to “moderate” the comments. It would be easy to give them the power to edit/delete any comment that they found objectionable. I do that a bit myself, but my judgment may not be that good. Any volunteers? Also, readers should comment on what sorts of comments they think should be edited/deleted. Specific examples welcome!

3) Besides a simple moderation, I have day-dreams of a more Digg-like system which would allow reader judgments to highlight especially interesting/useful contributions to the debate. (Un)Fortunately, not all our fellow Ephs have time to read every comment. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a way for us to highlight on the side bar the “best” (i.e., most recommended) comments of the last week? We could even have a volunteer or two (like the Daily Kos Rescue Rangers) who highlight particularly interesting comments or posts. Anyone with WordPress experience on these topics should chime in.

Comments welcome, on this post especially.

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