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Suggestion: People should be able to delete comments from their own diary entry, and turn off commenting #1989

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rory opened this Issue Sep 10, 2018 · 10 comments

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rory commented Sep 10, 2018

Hi all, here's something I suggest, and I wonder what other people think about it before I go off and make a patch:

"People should be able to delete comments from their own diary entry, and turn off commenting"

Should I work on that patch? Should this be implemented at all? Currently nearly all the comments on diary entries are fine, but I worry about continuing the "anyone can comment on anything" current system. We're leaving the OSM diary system open to spam, to harassment, to abuse. Let's close that loophole. "Don't read the comments" is a common quote for a reason. In my opinion, the diary belongs to that user account, it's their space, their blog post. They should be allowed to control what happens on that page. They should have full control to get rid of any comment they don't want. Anyone who can comment can also write their own diary entry, and refer to the original post. So there is always a way to "reply" to something in the OSM diary system.

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tomhughes Sep 10, 2018

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I might accept allowing comments to be turned off but allowing people to delete comments seems to be asking for trouble - it means somebody can post a proposal, delete any comments that disagree, and then it looks to all the world like it has consensus support.

If a comment is problematic then it should be reported.

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tomhughes commented Sep 10, 2018

I might accept allowing comments to be turned off but allowing people to delete comments seems to be asking for trouble - it means somebody can post a proposal, delete any comments that disagree, and then it looks to all the world like it has consensus support.

If a comment is problematic then it should be reported.

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dieterdreist Sep 10, 2018

dieterdreist commented Sep 10, 2018

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rory Sep 10, 2018

If a comment is problematic then it should be reported.

That's one solution for problematic comments, but a centralized moderation system then begs do the moderators know how to spot sexism, racism, homophobic dog whistles etc etc? My suggestion alleviates the burden (and responsibility) from those moderators, and spreads power around to individual users.


If comments could be deleted, but there was a message on the page saying "X comments have been removed", would that be acceptable? (I'm not sure I like this idea) Then it's clear that what's shown isn't the whole story?

Are diary entries used for proposals? IME that's mostly mailing list posts, or wiki pages. If comments can be deleted, then people won't trust a diary entry even more.

rory commented Sep 10, 2018

If a comment is problematic then it should be reported.

That's one solution for problematic comments, but a centralized moderation system then begs do the moderators know how to spot sexism, racism, homophobic dog whistles etc etc? My suggestion alleviates the burden (and responsibility) from those moderators, and spreads power around to individual users.


If comments could be deleted, but there was a message on the page saying "X comments have been removed", would that be acceptable? (I'm not sure I like this idea) Then it's clear that what's shown isn't the whole story?

Are diary entries used for proposals? IME that's mostly mailing list posts, or wiki pages. If comments can be deleted, then people won't trust a diary entry even more.

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simonpoole Sep 10, 2018

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IMHO we already have a solution for this: post on you own blog.

I see it more or less as a condition of use of our infrastructure and profiting from the exposure associated with it, not really that different from editing OSM, that you are willing to enter in to discourse.

Naturally we all know that the elephant in the room and the associated problem, really has nothing to do with allowing or not allowing comments.

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simonpoole commented Sep 10, 2018

IMHO we already have a solution for this: post on you own blog.

I see it more or less as a condition of use of our infrastructure and profiting from the exposure associated with it, not really that different from editing OSM, that you are willing to enter in to discourse.

Naturally we all know that the elephant in the room and the associated problem, really has nothing to do with allowing or not allowing comments.

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I like the idea of distributing the moderation chores, but I see many ways of abusing this. Like $COMPANY posting about their great machine learning data imports, then someone posts a thoroughly researched rebuttal publicly outlining all the flaws, and $COMPANY decides to remove the comment because "it is not in line with our communications strategy" or some such rubbish. If $COMPANY boasts on their corporate blog then everyone knows they're reading a PR statement but if they post on the OSM blog then it's a community medium and the community should not be subjected to $COMPANY's corporate communications strategy. The same could happen with individuals floating grand ideas and tacitly removing any comments that deflate the plan (always on the grounds of perceived impoliteness - "this comment pointing out that my calculations were off by an order of magnitude was derogatory" etc.).

At the very least, if blog authors were allowed to hide comments, I would expect there to be one line where the deleted comment was: "rory has hidden one comment from woodpeck" or so. That would at least allow third parties who stumble on the blog entry to see that there's some degree of controversy, and they could seek out the blog of whoever was silenced. Or maybe the comment would still be visible on user/X/diary/comments?

But on the whole I'd lean towards not doing this at all, and rather communicate that this is a community forum like others too, and just as you can't hide a changeset comment when someone finds issues with your mapping, you also have to accept that people might want to talk back when you write a blog entry.

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woodpeck commented Sep 10, 2018

I like the idea of distributing the moderation chores, but I see many ways of abusing this. Like $COMPANY posting about their great machine learning data imports, then someone posts a thoroughly researched rebuttal publicly outlining all the flaws, and $COMPANY decides to remove the comment because "it is not in line with our communications strategy" or some such rubbish. If $COMPANY boasts on their corporate blog then everyone knows they're reading a PR statement but if they post on the OSM blog then it's a community medium and the community should not be subjected to $COMPANY's corporate communications strategy. The same could happen with individuals floating grand ideas and tacitly removing any comments that deflate the plan (always on the grounds of perceived impoliteness - "this comment pointing out that my calculations were off by an order of magnitude was derogatory" etc.).

At the very least, if blog authors were allowed to hide comments, I would expect there to be one line where the deleted comment was: "rory has hidden one comment from woodpeck" or so. That would at least allow third parties who stumble on the blog entry to see that there's some degree of controversy, and they could seek out the blog of whoever was silenced. Or maybe the comment would still be visible on user/X/diary/comments?

But on the whole I'd lean towards not doing this at all, and rather communicate that this is a community forum like others too, and just as you can't hide a changeset comment when someone finds issues with your mapping, you also have to accept that people might want to talk back when you write a blog entry.

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kamicut Sep 11, 2018

@woodpeck your suggestion is similar to how Github allows for hiding and unhiding individual comments. This would allow some degree of transparency without resorting to deleting comments outright.

kamicut commented Sep 11, 2018

@woodpeck your suggestion is similar to how Github allows for hiding and unhiding individual comments. This would allow some degree of transparency without resorting to deleting comments outright.

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The github case is different though because it's the repository owner that can hide them, not the person that opens a ticket.

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tomhughes commented Sep 11, 2018

The github case is different though because it's the repository owner that can hide them, not the person that opens a ticket.

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Rory, it seems you are implying that a blog entry author is always good and reasonable. What about more impulsive people, who write a controversial entry and then attack in comments anybody with a different opinion. You see such an entry, you spend half an hour to explain your opposing point of view — and then find your comment deleted. Would that feel good for you?

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Zverik commented Sep 11, 2018

Rory, it seems you are implying that a blog entry author is always good and reasonable. What about more impulsive people, who write a controversial entry and then attack in comments anybody with a different opinion. You see such an entry, you spend half an hour to explain your opposing point of view — and then find your comment deleted. Would that feel good for you?

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Nakaner Sep 17, 2018

I think that we should wait until 6 to 12 months have passed since the introduction of the moderation feature in the Rails Port. After that time we could have a look

  • how many comments have been reported,
  • how many have been deleted and
  • how many have been both reported and deleted

Nakaner commented Sep 17, 2018

I think that we should wait until 6 to 12 months have passed since the introduction of the moderation feature in the Rails Port. After that time we could have a look

  • how many comments have been reported,
  • how many have been deleted and
  • how many have been both reported and deleted
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That's one solution for problematic comments, but a centralized moderation system then begs do the moderators know how to spot sexism, racism, homophobic dog whistles etc etc?

Typical centralized moderation system relies on people reporting cases that need an intervention. Moderators usually spend more time on processing reports than on looking for content violating community rules.

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matkoniecz commented Sep 22, 2018

That's one solution for problematic comments, but a centralized moderation system then begs do the moderators know how to spot sexism, racism, homophobic dog whistles etc etc?

Typical centralized moderation system relies on people reporting cases that need an intervention. Moderators usually spend more time on processing reports than on looking for content violating community rules.

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