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The SlashDot moderation system was originally introduced to combat spam posts, but because it also rated legitimate posters by giving them a score (called karma), it became a game to accumulate points. While normal trolling is an art to provoke responses, the KarmaWhore provokes also to accumulate karma.

Karma whoring typically involves

And probably more than that.

RobMalda (Cmdr Taco), Editor in Chief of Slashdot, has generally been known to disparage the karma whores in public (well, swear and rant at them), which has only made the game more entertaining. Maybe he should have ignored it - c.f. DissuadeReputation. Consequently, he installed the infamous KarmaCap of 50 karma to keep the whores in check (who really needs more than 50?). Further, it has backfired. Because the game is to accumulate karma, the only way to accumulate more after you've reached your cap is to "burn karma" off. Spam, flames, hot grits, and odes to NataliePortman? quickly burn karma so the game begins again. Of course, burning karma is fun too. So much so that no self-respecting troll will keep their karma that high for too long.

Also, Malda instituted the equally infamous "bitch-slap" which reduces a particular individual's karma below absolute zero. This caused quite the famous [flame war] ([archived version from 2013]), leading to the departure of Signal 11. Apparently this hasn't been used very often, though.

By the way, Signal 11 is the most famous KarmaWhore ever, despite having only whored consciously for a couple of weeks just to see what it was like. Unfortunately, the reputation has stuck to him since. (He's more well received on KuroShin, though.)

See also MetaModeration, MojoAnalysis.

I'm actually going to defend the first two practices listed here -- posting a digest of linked material (though I'd argue against the whole banana), or posting unencumbered links, not to mention mirrors to slashdotted content, is helpful. The web as a medium is fairly low-friction, but it's not friction free. In particular, checking out multiple links from a page or article can be time consuming or confusing (multiple pages open on a browser). The magic key is linking to external content for additional information, but not for essential understanding of the current page or content.

ScoopEngine moderation handles this situation more cleanly than Slash. To be highly-placed, a comment need only be moderated to a high value once, or a small number of times. This accomplishes the goal of high placement on the page. It's only repeated moderation which starts having a sustained impact on a user's mojo. And, if a large number of users feel that the link is whorish behavior, it can be moderated down to an appropriate level.

I do agree with the general message that Slash moderation is pathologically broken. -- KarstenSelf

KarmaWhores are the perfect phenomenon to show how scored moderation creates people who would like to screw with the system. See LimitTemptation.

Related essay by Derek Powazek in Design for Community: ["Gaming the system: How moderation tools can backfire"]

CategoryRatingSystem CategoryWebLog CategorySlashdot


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