META: Voluntary policing

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Tue, 02 Mar 1999 22:45:13 -0600

Perhaps our mistake has been in assuming we require some type of forceful deletion of "bad" posts, or even some automated though-not-global filtering method. It may be that simple audience feedback would suffice to show which topics and posts are being well-received; I think everyone here is benevolent enough to voluntarily respond to that. In fact, I would love any kind of audience feedback on general principles; right now I have no real idea whether, say, the initial-vs.-Interim was perceived as a cosmically important issue or a huge waste of time, whether it had avid readers or was being trashed by virtually everybody.

Design requirements: (1a indicates non-priority requirement)

  1. Provide a means for any person to register a rating on any message, including those persons not having HTML email readers. Do NOT rate authors. 1a. Prevent multiple ratings. Honor system may work okay.
  2. The ratings should be complex enough to express at least the following messages: "Great post", "worth reading", "waste of time". 2a. Desirable additional ratings: "Not worth reading", "changed my mind". Optional one-line comments.
  3. Distinguish between anonymous, attributed (visible to poster only), and public (visible to everyone) ratings. 3a. Make public ratings visible on the CritMail archive. 3b. Use a password system to access detailed attributed worthit on CritMail.
  4. Communicate the {sum of anonymous}, {sum of worthit} and the {list of attributed and public cheers and boos} in a digest mailed to each poster each day.


  1. Non-HTML clients: If you reply to a message and the message body begins with '$', the message is interpreted as a one-line rating command, and the rest of the message is discarded. Samples:

$public cheer // Everyone can find out I think this is great.
$attrib worthit // Increments worthit; poster can find it's from me
$anon waste =Who cares? // Sends an anonymous boo and comment
$get // returns public ratings on the message; if your
return address equals the poster's, you get a detailed breakdown of attributed "worthits".

1a. Read this even if the responder sends HTML.

2. HTML clients: Attach a FORM containing an input line for a comment and radio buttons set by default to 'attrib' and 'worthit'. 2a. Do this only for list members that register as having an HTML client.

--         Eliezer S. Yudkowsky

Disclaimer:  Unless otherwise specified, I'm not telling you
everything I think I know.