Comments Rating System Is Now Turned On

Colleagues and Copublishers,

Now that 80 of our 118 original copublishers are in the door, a critical mass has begun commenting, and there are starting to be more comments, we've turned on the "comments rating system" which allows you, the copublishers, to "vote" on which comments get linked on both page one of Narco News, and the front page of this Narcosphere.

That means that YOU, the copublishers, collectively decide which comments get page one placement. This is the main way that we assure that comments, corrections, enhancements, and additional information - especially regarding those news stories reported on Narco News - that the copublishers feel are important get prominent billing for the wider and massive universe of readers. In this, as publisher, I'm surrendering a significant amount of control to you.

Here, below, is how the ratings system works... On each comment you can "vote" for the following options:

  1. Bad Faith
  2. Off Topic
  3. Good Info
  4. Front Page It
Right now, all comments with an average rating of more than "2" are linked, in chronological order from page one.

Comments which have received no votes await your decisions (keep abreast of all the various Reporters Notebook entries to see ALL the comments made).

Ratings #1 ("Bad Faith") and #4 ("Front Page It"), obviously, count most heavily in setting the average to either "2 and below" (those comments remain in the notebook threads but do not appear on page one), and those with an average of higher than "2" (which are, as we say, "front paged"), than options #2 ("Off Topic") and #3 ("Good Info"), although all obviously count. Each copublisher's ratings are public record: You can see how each other have voted. That encourages responsible use. You can also change a rating you've already given based on reconsidering or rethinking the merits.

The only comments you can't "vote" on are your own. But you can vote on mine, and on the rest of the staff's comments, too, to help keep us on track.

Later, when The Narcosphere is at full speed, copublishers who get consistently high ratings from other copublishers will gain "Senior Copublisher" status, known as "Mayordomos," with an additional ability to vote "0" - to hide troll comments or those of severe bad faith. Comments with an average below "1" will be hidden from all but Mayordomos (who will also be able to vote them back into public view if they feel they were hidden unfairly or out of a mere difference of opinion.) In the end, its the copublishers who choose the Mayordomos from among your ranks and there is no limit on the number of them.

Right now, for example, that bar is set high: to gain Senior Copublisher status a copublisher needs to have posted at least ten comments with an average of rating of 3.0 (that bar may well be lowered over time, but we'll start with that) - or needs to gain "blogger" status with a Reporters' Notebook (those are the journalists and workers who work the hardest around here, chosen by me) - to be able to vote "0". The reasoning for that is that we don't want "0" ratings abused to censor differing opinions. It's a rating that should be used very sparingly and by folks who obviously understand and have a strong commitment to freedom of speech.

You may ask: "Why have a ratings system at all?"

First, there's not room on Page One for all the good comments here. Either the staff and I choose them or the much larger group of copublishers choose them. We're handing that power over to the mass.

Second, we've seen this system work well on other sites, in terms of fostering an atmosphere of responsible, information-driven, coherent opinions and comments.

The idea is to make the system "self-regulating" in a more democratic manner than just having the publisher, alone, make these decisions. The Internet has long failed to offer this and, thus, most online forums are overflowing with flame wars, defamation, and "off topic" ramblings, not to mention incoherence (which commits the greatest sin of all: boring the wider readership).

The Narcosphere is already off to a great start. Each of the copublishers have invested your time, labor, or resources into the project: It's your project, too, and you care about it.

It's going to be an educational process to wean each other off of the bad habits of the anonymous, unaccountable, flame-encouraging, Internet that we all "grew up" with, and graduate, all of us together, to a real forum, that encourages both free speech and responsibility, with real impact on the Media and the world, one that informs and entertains all at once, and loses the low quality and boredom that is rampant in most online forums on the Internet.

Judging from the high quality of the comments you've all made so far, we're off to a great start. The "ratings system" will probably evolve over time and be improved based on lived experience.

This ratings system may seem a little bit complicated at first (it's certainly new to most online forums), but it's really quite simple, and should take everybody no time at all to "get into the groove" of understanding how it works.

So there it is: You, the copublishers, now have the power to put information on the Front Page of one of the most widely-read online newspapers in the world. Welcome. And keep those comments coming in.

User login


About Al Giordano


Publisher, Narco News.

Reporting on the United States at The Field.