I have been hearing feedback recently from some Raise the Hammer users that the quality of discussion in the comments has been declining. In particular, this comment from yesterday suggested that the comments should be "self moderating".
In response, I have been considering adding a comment voting system to the site. Here is how it would work:
Registered users would be able to vote on comments (simple up- or downvote).
A given comment's score would be based on the net votes for and against (upvotes minus downvotes). For example, if a comment had 5 upvotes and 3 downvotes, it would have a score of 2. If a comment had 4 upvotes and 7 downvotes, it would have a score of -3.
Registered users would also be able to set an optional threshold in their profile so they would no longer see comments with a net score below the threshold. Instead, they would see a message saying "(comment below threshold)" with the option to click it and view the comment anyway. Alternately, users could leave the threshold blank and see all comments.
This functionality would only be available to registered users, though such users could vote on any comment, even a comment by an anonymous user. Similarly, anonymous users would be able to see the votes for each comment; but they would not be able to vote.
User registration is easy, and it already allows registered users to: a) include an optional homepage link, signature line and email address (the default is to hide your email address); and b) include clickable hyperlinks in their comments. Also, anonymous comments are screened for common "spam words" whereas comments from registered users have no such restriction.
So, I'm taking a straw poll on what the RTH user community thinks. Please reply in the comments to say whether you agree with this and would like to see it added. If the response is strongly positive, I'll go ahead and build it.
One more thing: I do not want to add functionality to let people set the bozo bit on a given user, i.e. block all comments from a user by default. I would prefer to encourage good behaviour in the comments through feedback, and simply silencing everything from a particular user risks throwing out the good with the bad. Also, there is nothing to stop an anonymous user from picking a different screen name, and I would rather not provoke an escalating war of competing sock puppets.
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