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Moderation, Comments, Trolling etc

This page is to collect some thoughts from the discussions about the way the indymedia website is used. It is a work in progress. Need to go through some of the recent emails and draw out more points of view ...

Background Reading

You could start by checking out

How regional newswire and features relate to the UK front page

Presently there is a UK tick box which is always set by default, but it can be unticked. If not ticked, there will be no link from the UK front page. But it may still be linked from a region and/or topic page.

The UK front page newswire does move pretty fast, and the good stuff can get lost amongst other stuff. But at the same time we want to provide a platform for as many people as possible within our guidelines. How do we balance this? Should the UK front page show everything (that is not hidden)? Should it have a nice selection?

One possible way forward is to have multiple UK front page selections. We are unlikely to be able to please everyone with one option, so we can have multiple options and let people choose. (Have a read of the radical long term options at the end).

Different possible views of the site

Regions and Topics

There has been a suggestion of would show a combination of all regional features and newswire. This could be pretty useful. Maybe also /en/topics/ the same way.


Another view could be everything that is not hidden - basically the UK newswire plus all regional posts (Same for features). Maybe it could also draw in RSS feeds from Bristol and Scotland Indymedia.

We have the view all posts page already, this lists everything that is not hidden... I don't understand why something else is needed... -- ChrisC - 21 Oct 2005

Promoted newswire articles

There has been a discussion on imc-uk-features about using a promoted topic for newswire article and only having promoted posts showing by default on the uk front page and topic pages with a link to switch the right hand wire column to display all non-hidden posts (eg ?w=all).

UK Front page redesign

Topic newswires could be integrated into the view - see for an example (scroll down). NYC does run on Mir. This helps promote the topic pages. For another fairly radical design see

We like the idea of promoting the topics a lot more. With this in place, we like the idea of the main newswire not having all non-hidden articles on it, but some only existing in topics/regions. But before playing with that, we'll have a good go at a

Cambridge front page redesign

Update: First go at

The Cambridge site is not exactly busy. But it could be a really good gateway to the rest of the network. After all, we spend some of our indymedia time working on the UK site (and sometimes beyond) so it would be great to put more than just a link on our page to the content that is out there. Especially for the global site. Most of us hardly ever look at it, so having some of the content on our site directly would be a good way to give the global site more audience.

After discussion, we're going to mock up a view a bit like So in the middle column we would have 3 or 4 cambridge features. Beneath that we might have two columns with the top few UK features and newswire. Beneath that we might have two columns with the top few features and newswire. Or something. Mock ups will be done smile We could even have a column with news from the East Anglia Social Forum (provided it was being maintained - it is possible we decide it is not stable enough to be an integral part of the front page ...)

After further discussion, we're thinking about 3 major sections - Cambridge, UK, World. Make the whole page a lot shorter and less intimidating. So the title bar is at the top as at present. Then the sections below cover all 3 columns.

Cambridge Section

The left column would have the "Links" section to Cambridge related stuff. The centre column would have the top 3 (?) Cambridge features. The right column would have the top 15-20 Cambridge newswire items.

UK Section

The left column would have the "Kollectives" section amd the server seizure appeal (or other image). The centre column would have the top 3 (?) features. The right column would have the top 15-20 newswire items.

Global Section

The left column would have the links to all the global IMCs. The centre column would have the top 3 (?) features. The right column would have the top 15-20 newswire items.

Publish page

It has previously been discussed (at network level) trying to have different regional publish pages. We fully support this, but want to go much further. The publish page should have a radical redesign. How about a prepublish page like . For some radical ideas, see UkPublishPage#Possible_Radical_Redesign

We understand there may be some coding to be done to implement this, but that shouldn't stop us.

Corporate Reposts

Always a juicy discussion. From a recent email by mish

I don't think euan is the only user of indymedia who finds some corporate reposts interesting.

*Reposts : Articles that are simply pasted from corporate news sites. Please write something original, by all means link to articles elsewhere and quote from them but don't just copy them.

In addition, r7 (in irc) said that there is also the threat of being sued for copyright infringement.

On the other hand there has been fair agreement about the idea that someone saying "this article is good and I thought X Y and Z and heres the link" is fine.

So how could we encourage people to do that instead of just copy and paste?

Well I found one idea on washington dc indy - If you scroll down you see in the newswire column "In the Other Press". At the top there is a link to which is a specific resource. As the intro there says

"The Other Press was designed to alleviate the reposting of articles already published elsewhere to the newswire while still allowing the availability of that information to be publicized. We may be developing an independent media, but that does not mean that no one else is doing a good job reporting..."

This seems like a good way of dealing with it. It is separate (and below) the main newswire, so is less prominent, but it is still there. We do not reproduce other people's work, but link to it (so that should stop the threat of being sued).

How to avoid/minimise trolling

Some regional IMCs, particularly Birmingham and Notts, have found that there is far less trolling (in the comments section) if they don't tick UK. This is part of the motivation for not having the UK ticked, though it does muddle the issues. But there have been some ideas for how to reduce trolling.

A lot of these boil down to how much we should be purely a news site, or whether we should have discussion of "currect affairs" as an integral part of indymedia. A big political discussion.

After discussion (10/10/2005) we think that "stating an opinion" and giving feedback are valid uses of the comments function. See our response to ben's proposal.

See also the proposal from Yossarian that came out of Ben's proposal and the discussion about having promoted comments and a way to display hidden comments from Chris.

Turn off comments

This would immediately kill off trolling comments. Bristol were forced to do it for some technical reason at some point, and quite liked the effect.

But it does change the character of the site a lot. (TODO: add links to email discussion)

Allow only "factual" comments

Comments should only be allowed if adding new facts. There could be a link to discussion forums where people can rant and rave separate to the article. This means few comments would stay on the article page, giving trolls much less of an impact.

But it could massively increase the moderation workload.

Collapse comments

So that only the titles of comments are visible by default - you would have to click to see the full text of a comment. Again this gives trolls much less of an impact.

But it would impede discussion about articles.

This has been implemented on the dev server and proposed.

View hidden comments

This was always intended to be implemented, but never has been. (Presently hidden comments are only visible in the admin interface). It would mean the comments are treated more like articles. The same transparent treatment.

If seen with the article, it could allow trolls to have their bullshit discussions on our site, but most people would never see them.

There has been some discussion on the implementation of this.

Threaded comments

This is a long standing Mir feature request... sometime in the future we may be able to enable threaded comments if we want to... see MirNeedsAndRequests#Feature_Requests

Things to do which are pretty likely to get consensus

Consensus, from my (DaMish?) reading of people's viewpoints. I may be very wrong. But here goes anyway ...

  • The /en/regions/ view
  • Regional publish pages using regional style sheets.
  • Write the privacy policy (talk about no IP logging, anonymity, ...).

Radical Long Term Options

Here are some ideas that have been tossed around. They are a long way off, if ever. But it's always good to stimulate some debate and think outside the box. The technology would have to change a lot aswell to implement these ideas.

Everyone can have their own view

Allow anyone who wants one to set up a view of indymedia. It could be

  • "my selection of the cream of the newswire"
  • "Cambridge & Repression & Technology & anything else interesting I spot"
  • "Anything decent about iraq and palestine"
  • "Interesting newswire including corporate reposts" (controversial, but I'm trying to be)

Indymedia people can run them, others can run them. So lots of people do their own admin, and people can view their favourite view, choosing high volume or low. It could be implemented as some sort of indymedia specific RSS aggregator.

User Accounts

You would be able to post to the newswire with or without an account. Removing anonymous posting is not part of this idea.

The accounts are basically a username and password, with optional email address. Register for free, and then have exclusive use of the name for posting under. This allows posters to get a reputation, and denies trolls the ability to post under that name. But we think that the name should not appear on the front page. Could be good for articles/comments from "IMCista" etc.

Anonymous posting would work as at present, except you can't use a registered name. You would not have to create even a temporary account to post your news.

A possible consequence is that some readers of the site would then only read the posts from registered posters. But some of the anonymous posts would be likely to contain really important stuff, which we don't want to be ignored. Not sure about this.

Other IMCs running Mir also want this feature and the plan is to develop it after Mir 1.1 stable finally comes out... so it'll probably happen and be able to be added to the UK site if we want it in 6 or 12 months or so... See also MirNeedsAndRequests#Feature_Requests

Draw in RSS feeds

  • From other IMCs (Scotland and Bristol, maybe more).
  • From blogs
  • From other relvant feeds

Interesting political process for how we could ever agree on this, so would prob only work in combination with "Everyone having their own view"

Cities list

This is overly long. Maybe we can come up with some way to collapse the default view to the regions, and have the cities pop up from there. In fact, and have already done this, though they both use javascript. Or they can all be squashed at the bottom, as at IMC Ireland. Another option is this suggestion from Andy

And it would be cool to have some sort of "indymedia earth" / map of where all the indymedias are.

Article popularity

It might be cool to have some way of recording the number of hits an article gets, and recording that on the page somehow. Given our distributed mirror structure, there are some technicalities to sort ouot, but it would be nice.

And more


-- DaMish - 06 Oct 2005

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Topic revision: r5 - 21 Oct 2005 - 23:48:26 - ChrisC?
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