back to article Moderatrix to gain even more sinister powers

A new system to improve the behaviour of visitors to internet sites, by granting more draconian exclusion powers to moderators, is launching this week in the UK. The ReputationShare technology was launched in the US in April of this year by LOOKBOTHWAYS Inc, a US-based company that has already developed a number of systems …


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  2. Richard 81


    Sounds remarkably well thought out.

  3. Warren G


    I can start my own website (or own blog, if technically challenged) with no score at all. But adding a sentence to someone else's is a matter for a points system? The method that is always so fair when attempting to obtain credit, apply for a job, etc.?

    Look here's the problem. If the initial score is high enough for your comment to be published, get a new email address each time you get banned. If it isn't, no-one can ever post and gain points.

    And here's the other problem. The Moderatrix is kind and fair, but other sites could give me a low rating or give high ratings to their friends/trolls/spammers, affecting every other site, with no recourse for the other sites or the individuals.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Be the first to comment!

    don't think I dare

  5. TeeCee Gold badge

    There's a flaw in this plan....

    " is likely that the downweighting applied to new addresses will become even more negative."

    So, by trolling and flaming like right bastards from as many one shot email addy's as possible we can get this thing to a level where n00bs are automagically banned?

    That'll be fun. Is there a list of places using this that we can get started on?

  6. Adam 52 Silver badge


    I wonder how ReputationShare are going to prove everything they pass on is truthful?

  7. Anonymous Coward

    And when the moderators act up?

    Sounds like a great way to vent on the fans of the team who just beat your team.

  8. Grease Monkey Silver badge


    Do they really believe dedicated trolls will use the same email address at each site?

  9. CD001

    odds are...

    The ReputationShare software then applies a "one-way crypted hash algorithm", which converts the email address to anonymised format, and then stores it on the LOOKBOTHWAYS server.


    So that would be SHA1 then?

  10. Jon 52

    Will not work and don't really want

    So all I need is multiple free emails and I can keep spamming all I want.

    Or I can create my own forum and like myself as much as I want

    on the other hand I will cut down on the amount of forums I visit so to avoid the powertripping mods you get on some sites leaving me with negative karma

    What about the right to free speech. Online was the last place you could speak your mind freely, now we have to avoid hurting others feelings.

    Also sometimes it is just a bit of fun to flame especially on a site devoted to say a fictional whiny wizard, why should having fun there mean I am unworthy of commenting on the news on another forum when being serious.

  11. The Original Ash
    Thumb Down

    Yes please!

    SPOON FEED me my moral guidelines!

    While you're there, could you please wipe my arse, too? I seem to have some lingering ReputationShare on my taint.

  12. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Well, there's the problem!

    > Whilst the system currency is the unique e-mail address

    OK Hands up those people who have one 1 email address. Hmmm.

    Hands up those who have less than 20 (including disposables).

    How about less than 100? .... really - that many, surprising

    Finally, who's got more than 1000 personal emails and can create new one's with absolutely no effort?

    Hopefully that clinches it.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    If this wasn't such a lame idea...

    ...I'd have suggested that we find a way to plug this into 4chan to get some real housecleaning done. But as it's based on email - pffft. Fail, fail, faility, fail.

    Oh, and systadmins never go rogue and try to blame users for their own shortcomings. Uhuh, no way...

  14. Sir Sham Cad

    So now moderators...

    ...not only have to decide whether or not to allow a post through, they have to actually score the posts?

    I'm can't speak for Sarah, but that'd be too much work for my tastes!

    Well, maybe not so bad on a small traffic site or if you have a large team of moderators, but still. I mean, I can see what this is trying to achieve, and it seems, technically, at least, it'd work (up to the point kindaian makes above, regarding multiple email addresses that are not associated in this system) but that's not giving mods extra sinister powers, that's surely upping their intake of alcohol and painkillers!

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The solution to the multiple email problem

    Your id card details and biometrics will be required before you can post on any forum, and before you can get a mail id on any website.

    You will also have to key in your 128 digit PIN and stick a biometric probe up your backside before clicking on any link.

    It's all for your protection, you ungrateful, eternally moaning lot.

  16. Anonymous Coward



    (is that a -1 to my email address then?)

  17. Iggle Piggle
    Thumb Up

    Verified email!

    Fair enough it seems that if you have a low score to start with then, as a newbie, you cannot really do anything and if you have a high score then the trolls will simply get a new address with each new site or after each ban. So how about going down the route that some sites already use and have verified email addresses.

    This would be something like having the admin sending you an SMS to your mobile or billing and refunding your credit card. For this you would start with a higher score and be less likely to become a trouble maker given that now they have your mobile number or credit card. Of course you can steal both of these items but then are there really that many cyber bullies into phone and credit card theft?

    You could even associate the IP address with the mail address and give automatic negative weighting to anyone from Nigeria and Ghana. I'd love to know if all those attractive women that seem to want to contact me on Skype from there are real. I have my doubts.

  18. Ihre Papiere Bitte!!

    I agree with Warren G

    "The Moderatrix is kind and fair"

    Yes indeed. In fact, I would go further and say that she is a shining example in all respects, and her opinions should, in fact, guide - nay, dictate! - international policy in every regard. Her intelligence is beyond compare, and her beauty makes Hollywood actresses weep in envy.

    Can I has sum plus points nao pleez?

  19. Peyton

    A flaw?

    Just thinking about all the comments our illustrious Ms. Bee has to read and give a modicum of thought to makes my eyes want to crawl out of my head and hide under the desk... this seems like yet another thing to have to consider and manage?

    Still, I think feedback for we commentards is a good thing (something more than followup comments titled @peyton - these often leave me wanting to weep for humanity, rather than reflect on my post) . Sometimes you honestly don't realize if you've been obnoxious. If every site one frequents keeps giving out negative points, it may finally trickle through that a change of style is required... tho the register is the only site I bother posting on...

    Beer, for the one of many the Moderatrix might need ;)

  20. lee harvey osmond

    But who moderates the moderators?

    As a user of web forums, and seeing myself as responsible citizen, I naturally applaud something that will lead to the rapid exclusion of nuisance users.

    However, some of the finest bullying, flaming and generally reprehensible behaviour I have ever seen on a web forum was down to one of its moderators. ['Fish' at : this means you.] Could we at least have this two ways, so that if a forum moderator makes a nuisance of themselves they get excluded elsewhere just as if they'd been a user? No? Well so much for that plan then.

    Incidentally ... since running a service like ReputationShare costs some money, not necessarily a lot, but some ... does LOOKBOTHWAYS Inc have a business model for this wheeze, or has she sorted out how to do everything with ReputationShare except pay for it?

  21. Anonymous Coward


    This is my last post here, my so called "account" will be deleted. As far as I can remember, I have never posted anything even slightly polemic here, but I can't agree with this stupid idea; our privacy, or illusion thereof, has been eroded too much, a line must be drawn somewhere, and if some "enterpreneurs" want to profit from a vague moral panic, that's it. There isn't much an individual can do, except refusing to play along when he/she can.

    P.S. The title was misleadingly funny, you may laugh as much as you want, by yourselves.

  22. Toastan Buttar


    The Slashdot moderation system is pretty good. Yeah, there are holes in it and definite biases, but more often than not the good stuff bubbles to the top and the flamebait gets stomped on.

    Tux, cos only a fool would think to slag off Linux on /.

  23. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: A flaw?


    I don't know, it might be unworkable and possibly even unethical (snort, good one) and might be more work, but anything that might slightly diminish the amount of absolute evil wrought upon the world by horrible comments is A-OK by me.

    No offence, boys. Most of you are barely evil at all.

  24. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: Goodbye

    Um, say what? Nothing's changed here. I'm still doing everything by hand and by eye. More's the pity.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    What free speech?

    Freedom of speech has nothing to do with it - that only protects you from the gubmint. You can *not* come into my home and start dissing my threads, I can regulate your behaviour any way I want up to and including kicking your ass out. Same goes for the Intartubes - if I pay for a website I'm the one having the right to freedom of speech, not you. Pay for your own website if you want to spew filth. And then watch what happens if there's some kind of conflict with the TOS behind your site...

  26. iworm

    I love cyber-stalkers, personally.


    Dating sites might bias partner selection against cyber-stalkers.


    Right, let's "bias" against them, shall we? Not rule them out altogether, or anything too nasty. After all, cyber-stalkers have rights too.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    @ grumpy

    Ironically, all of 4chan is currently down due to a combined DDoS and spam attack. Prior to it going under, various posters were suggesting captcha-based solutions for the spam problem.

    Amusing as it is to watch disenfranchised channers wandering the web in search of their brethren and/or whoever's responsible so they can exact revenge, I am rather miffed that I actually have to do some work now.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    So did I get that right?

    Plus is hard to spot so there's little chance on increasing your score.

    Minus is easier so depending on how draconian the settings are you could easily drop down.

    And you are started with a low score.

    Hope they have a large negative range.

    ♫ The only way is down, baby, for you and me now. ♪

  29. DZ-Jay

    It's stupid

    It won't work, and it will further alienate new users, especially in support and help fora. This is by nature, for if it didn't, the trolls can just log in with brand-spanking-new e-mail addresses.

    I know that Ms. Bee's job is tedious and *mostly thankless, but effective. If an automated system is ever needed due to the large amount of traffic, then something like Slashdot's karma/moderation system could be used.

    * Er, thanks Ms. Bee!


  30. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: It's stupid

    You're welcome.

  31. Bernie 2
    Big Brother

    Internet monitoring by the back door.

    Any site attempting to implement this frankly ridiculous idea is automatically losing me as a user/customer.

    I use different login credentials for every major site I use to make it impossible for all of my accounts to be compromised at once when one account goes tits up. I don't need something like this neatly combining all my online identities into one easily pwned package.

    And what problem do these lunatics think their spyware is solving this time? Antisocial behavior on the internet doesn't bother me, or anyone else who takes the 2 seconds necessary to realise you can just ignore it.

    If kids (or their parents) are bothered by stuff they see on the internet, kick them off. These are expensive and powerful resources they're playing with. Not lego. I'm tired of hearing how we've got to put up with censorship to protect children when no one ever said the internet was for children in the first place.

    /Anyway I'm getting off topic.

  32. Havin_it

    @Jon 52

    "Also sometimes it is just a bit of fun to flame especially on a site devoted to say a fictional whiny wizard, why should having fun there mean I am unworthy of commenting on the news on another forum when being serious."

    Well, I suppose your worthiness would be determined by the mods/other users of the said "serious" forum, if you told them all about your exploits on the "wizard" forum. But I suspect you don't tell them about that, do you?


  33. Lionel Baden


    phorm would of been usefull for this !


  34. teacake


    "No offence, boys. Most of you are barely evil at all."

    How's that for damning with faint praise? Here we are, trying our level best to outdo each other with our eviltude, and there you are telling us we're barely registering. Sheesh, might as well go and bait some Scientlogists or something.

  35. MnM

    ID V2.0

    Stephen Fry's recent appearance on Top Gear revealed Grinder to the wider world. (Grinder: Are you a cottaging homosexual and want to locate other cottaging homosexuals near you? There's an app for that.) Well, driving back from Cornwall on Saturday, we thought it might be fun to download it (didn't have it already, ok?) and check out any activity along the verges of the A303. The app, according to my mate in the passenger seat, is ruined. All he said was 'there's a lot of unpleasant people out there'.

    So there's a problem with undesirables, but I don't believe cottaging homosexuals would necessarily want to exist on a list which would help Grinder discriminate between genuine and malicious visitors. And there's nothing stopping anyone gaming their profile. The idea's a bit weak.

    More to the point, as if the Moderatrix would even blink at the opinion of lesser mods on her flock. As frickin' if.

  36. Anonymous Coward

    @ Pete 2

    "Finally, who's got more than 1000 personal emails and can create new one's with absolutely no effort?"

    Er, plenty of people:

    "Hopefully that clinches it."

    I'm not so sure.

  37. EnricoSuarve

    But who will Moderatrix the Moderatrix?

    Oooh I just gave me funny chills! (don't tell the wife)

    But seriously, finally someone who can pwotect me fwom all the nasty peoples. Don't be mean or we'll brand you "Stinky-head poo-pants". You gotta all be's nice or I'll tell the moderator

    I can just imagine what the people who came up with this were like at school...

    And anyway who says that the moderators of another site match your values? How seriously do you take a black mark from say the Mary Whitehouse appreciation society blog? I've banged heads with plenty of people over the years who take any form of dissent as trolling

    This is one of the only sites I ever post on where virtually all my comments have been approved (except, I think one, but that was probably deserved)

    Beer for Ms. Bee - rather you than me checking my drivel or the performance art that is amanfrommars ;0)

  38. Mark 91

    You can do that?

    "that individuals... can challenge moderator decisions."

    I... didn't even realize that was an option!

  39. Anonymous Coward

    @Mistress Bee

    "I'm still doing everything by hand"

    Queues up to be moderated by hand.

  40. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: But who will Moderatrix the Moderatrix?

    You've had no comments rejected unless it was under another alias.

    There may be an issue with values across the board, yes (and this place is particularly er, liberal) but some people are so objectively appalling that the only people who think they are justified in spouting what they spout are fellow trolls. And yes, when it's your own house, as someone said above, it's nothing to do with free speech - and there is indeed such a thing as hate speech. Not that I'm gonna get into that one.

    I do occasionally get misty-eyed about the notion of people being less evil on the internet but I don't know that it's achievable. I'm such a hopeless idealist. Just been reading some comments on a story in a London paper about a young bloke who killed himself and seriously, I despair of the human race about 7% more than I did yesterday on the basis of those alone. There is quite literally No Need.

  41. Eduard Coli


    I think it sounds like Wikipedia, you know, where a group of insiders decide who's cool and who's not and get to push their own agendas.

    These things always act to squelch free speech, people have the right to be wrong.

  42. Anonymous Coward


    As someone with multiple email addresses, this will have no effect at all. I have a few semi disposable ones for trolling, etc, a few proper emails used for various sites, plus a couple of disposable ones for the 'please enter your email address here so we can send huge amounts of spam' fields some sites have.

  43. BlueGreen


    Aside from the possibility of it being extended for government use, which I'll ignore.

    ReputationShare is about making money. That in itself makes me uneasy.

    Reputation is much wider than 'cyberbullying' and lack of 'courteous behaviour' on a site like this where technical content and insightful comments matter. There are some witless posts without profanity, but sans useful content too. How does this fit in with their concept of reputation?

    Pretty language is intrinsically unlinked to useful content (although I note that those who post best also tend to be least offensive so there is actually a strong correlation, which is helpful).

    I don't think that anyone's mentioned the implication - a reputation could be valuable for improving job prospects so a market is likely to develop for, shall we say, carefully cultivated pret-a-porter reps. This is likely to happen at the high-end if I guess right cos these would take time + money to develop (except if partly automated which effectively means spamming forums with gloopy niceness. I'm not sure they've thought this through).

    Also valuable -> disputes -> courts -> money. They'd better have lawyers, which means their fees may soon have to cover much more than technical costs.

    I appreciate it's a bloody drag for our mod to do what she does but I like this system, and she's blocked a couple of unwisely worded posts of mine. Much rather that than have them out in the wild (so, thanks Ms. Bee).

  44. Wolf 1

    Two words...

    ...hash collision. In other words, two different email addresses that produce the same hash total. And yes, it's very very very common.

    Hashes do collide. And when a hash is used as an ID--oh my. It's "kitty bar the door!". I can just see the lawsuits flying now.


    Moderation has been a problem since the Compuserve days. Then it was rather draconian, you bothered people too much, racked up too many complaints and *boom* you were banned.

    Given you had to pay for access/membership and they knew who you were it worked well enough.

    But the web is another animal. Anonymity is too easy, everything from changing your email address as often as you brush your teeth, to using proxies to obscure your IP.

    Sounds like one of those "good ideas" that turn out to be "stupid idiotic ideas". Sigh.

  45. anarchic-teapot

    Re: Problems

    Bluegreen> I appreciate it's a bloody drag for our mod to do what she does but I like this system, and she's blocked a couple of unwisely worded posts of mine. Much rather that than have them out in the wild (so, thanks Ms. Bee).

    Wot he said. Some of my posts are a bit painkiller-inspired (not, not the same as House's, but evil stuff nonethless) and were rightly consigned to oblivion.

  46. Salem the Rat


    I for one welcome our new Apian overlady

  47. Pete 2 Silver badge

    @Mahatma Coat

    yes, indeedy - doody

    I was thinking more along the lines of, were anything you prefix your registered email account with gets mapped N :: 1 (where N tends to infinity). Same difference, by the look of it.

  48. Mike Powers

    Failure in the basic assumption.

    ReputationShare assumes that people WANT to have good quality discussion on their site but that trolls make it impossible.

    This is not the case--or, rather, you don't need a special program to do it. As we see here, it's entirely possible to have quality discussion; just moderate everything.

    However, lots of websites these days get their traffic from wannabe-bloggers who have flamewars in the comment sections. It's all a Who Can Be The Biggest Arsehole competition. "Reputation" is irrelevant to something like that, because a bad reputation is the whole idea!

    The problem comes in when you get site proprietors who want to have it both ways--get lots of commentors (and lots of traffic), but they don't want to do the heavy lifting of moderation. But, again, this is not something that you're going to solve with a magic program; you just need to not be a slacker (or be one and accept the consequences.)

  49. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Come in Webster Pheaky,

    Your time is well and truly up.

    For the time being.

  50. Anonymous Coward

    The irony... that Ms. Bee rejected my tongue-in-cheek troll-post satire!

  51. Anonymous Coward

    Moderatrix + more sinister powers

    Somehow sweetly, but painfully, delicious.

    A toast to the Moderatrix!

  52. Andus McCoatover

    Moderatrix's "Nice cup of tea.." from yet another McKinnon article...

    ...Reminds me of a famous quote:

    Lady Astor: 'If you were my husband, I'd poison your coffee!'

    Churchill: 'My dear, if you were my wife I'd drink it.'

  53. Andus McCoatover

    @Mahatma Coat

    HEY!!!... That was my nick awhile earlier.

    Cease and Desist order imminent, get sommat original, like "Angus McCoatup(TM)". Else I'll set the Recording Ass. Of America on you.

    In case you didn't realise, it seems that if only the bloody DNS server is located there, or one of your ISP's cable connectors happens to be manufactured there (small fuc*king chance) you committed a crime in the USA and you're going to be unilaterally extradited, and vie for Bubba's place with McKinnon....(or is it the other way round - [God, unfortunate 'turn' of phrase]) for life plus 100 years.*

    (Joke alert, natch)

    Nah. Don't worry about the connectors. They're probably made in North Korea. In which case, Mahatma, they'll be nuked before the case comes up.

    * I always wondered about sentences like that. Does that mean the judiciary, when passing that sentence oblige the "correction facility" - laugh in itself - obligate them to kep the inmate in a cell for the entire sentence? Say, 150 years occupying a cell? 40 years alive and the other 110 as a stiff? That'll keep the US building industry busy.

  54. Geoff Mackenzie


    I'll have a a couple of one-way crypted hashes please. And chips.

  55. Steve Roper

    @ Andus McCoatover

    The reason judges sometimes hand down sentences of hundreds of years is to prevent any possibility of early release through the parole / good-behaviour system. If a judge wants a crim to die in chokey, he hands down a sentence of say 400 years, which with parole and remissions for good behaviour might get the prisoner out in, oh, 120 years. This way, the judge can ensure that even if the crim behaves like a perfect little angel and sucks up to the wardens for the rest of his life he's still not getting out!

    But once the prisoner is dead, they simply transfer him to another cell, commonly known as a "coffin" or "casket", thus freeing the cell for another prisoner... and after 400 years in the coffin very few if any prisoners would actually be in much of a condition to demand release!

  56. Trixr

    To all the naysayers

    Obviously you haven't moderated more than one discussion board, if you don't realise that the majority of trolls are morons in the technical sense as well as the other senses.

    Most of them *do* seem to use the same email address in multiple locations, and "real"-appearing ones, not throwaway mailinator ones.

    As for the argument that trolls don't disrupt discussion that much, you obviously haven't been on a site that addresses controversial topics, like *gasp*, feminism. While manual intervention is the primary way to address these idiots, most blog/discussion sites of that nature don't have 24/7 mods, as shocking as that may be to some. Blog engines like WordPress help by having a setting that sends first-time comments to the moderator queue, and Akisimet is a useful thing. But something that works without your having to intervene so much would be useful.

    Even if it helps cut down the volume of f#ckwittedtude by 30%, I think it's worthwhile.

  57. passionate indifference

    it's scary

    that your ability to give your very considered opinion on everything you are passionate about could well be taken away by the people who go onto and automatically click on "you deserved that one"

    wups, third post on el reg today, should really get some work done

  58. Andus McCoatover

    @ Steve Roper

    Good point. Hard to feed a prisoner in his 'new' cell. Of course, he wouldn't serve 400 years - he'd get remission for good behaviour. Then given parole to work on a landfill site. Unless the 'crim' had visited a 'crem', then he'd be on some descendents mantlepiece. Like Moira Hindley. Maybe.

  59. EnricoSuarve

    Re: Re: But who will Moderatrix the Moderatrix?

    Oh - I stand corrected, it was just a feeling I had that way, way back it had happened - apparently my paranoia is really taking over, bummer

    I get that some people really ARE trolls and have no problems with a site saying "nope you don't get to say that here",it's the online equivalent of "management reserves the right to refuse entry". If people genuinely are getting bounced all the time from a site for minor faux pas' (however you pluralise that), then they are just going to quit with the site, and rightly so; there are several sites I very rarely even bother visiting anymore as I know from experience the comments are so heavily moderated that what you end up reading is no longer a representative cross section of opinions, newspapers seem especially bad at this.

    That's bad enough, but the idea that loads of sites are going to club together to moderate will just put people off (certainly puts me off). Before ever posting anything you'll be sat wondering "Is this site likely to mark me as a Troll for this based on their own agenda?", "Is this going to cause problems for me on other sites?", "ooh I better not...", and before you know it you are no longer contributing to a discussion for fear of wider repurcussions

    Reduce people's ability or desire to be involved and you lose a major reason to visit some site

    s, leading to a potential downward trend in visitors. I'd say implementing this system would be a risk rather than a benefit to most sites, if you are going to implement you are probably already moderating anyway - why would you want to effectivly outsource your moderation to other people who potentially have their own agendas?

    Right enough of this - I'm off to another site to call someone a c**t

  60. Peter Kay

    Mike Powers makes a good point

    Forums aren't like CIX, The Well or Compuserve where there was a large number of paid users with a definite identity. Their income typically comes from adverts and charging for classified ads. There's one particular site that invited various fuckwits to comment on one very popular thread just so they had ad viewing..

    There are too many ways round automatic moderation : it will usually require a decent moderator. That may involve playing by the moderator's rules, and I don't have a problem with that. Don't like it? Set up your own group and see if people prefer your style.

    A few forums are like a decent debating society. Most, however, are like a pub after a few beers... Being 100% correct may result in your being branded an arsehole if the people aren't ready, or don't want to face reality. Are you going to ban/mark down the 90% of the user community who refuse to confront their own prejudices, instead of the 1-2 people who are quoting real research, fact and informed opinion - because that's (theoretically) what should be done. Who is going to do this marking down, when it's most of the community that is actually in the wrong? Is it fair to be unfairly affected on other sites, when you were responding to ill informed or blatantly stupid points on a particular site? That then leads down the hideously slippery slope of defining morals.

    Slashdot is not a good example of decent moderation. I never liked it much, and a cursory examination shows it is the same case of more trendy viewpoints being marked up, and unusual but better thought out opinions being barely marked. It's also difficult to navigate.

    I'm not sure of the solution. I want a modern CIX. Lots of varied users. The ability to ban people. Verified identities that people ideally have to pay for (reduces some of the idiots). CIX still exists, but it no longer has the critical mass to make it viable, and the ability to follow certain people like in livejournal (good for blogging, crap for proper discussion).

    Perhaps the seriousness level of the discussion could be found by grepping the original message/response ratio of 'TL;DR' and 'LOL'....

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