And the frog said:
All members are members, but some members are more members than others.
For reasons I explain down this page, I am introducing a membership hierarchy. The good news is that you probably won’t have to give two bits about it, unless you’re one of those people (who pretend to be) triggered by inequalities, and even then, at least you’ll have a good helping of diversity to soothe you since there are no less than six member groups.
Not nearly as much as the total of genders needed for a good batch of wokestershire sauce, I know, but better than nothing, right?
The ranking system is about what you can see beyond the bulk of the content (articles and comments, visible to all), the privileges and options you have to contribute, and the tools you can use to interact with other members, either actively (comments and messages) or passively (profile personalization).
Every rank higher-up in this list inherits the privileges of the ones below it.
So from top dogs to litter runts 1 here’s the low-down:
They write the articles and flashposts, have the most commenting privileges and options among all ranks, and can see more than any other groups. There is at the moment only one member of this rank and if you ask “who?” I’ll give you only one guess, smart-ass.
If this site was to gather a bit of interest again, I would not be opposed to further promotions to this ranks, under conditions that remain to be defined.
They are trusted with extended comment posting privileges and options:
- more text formatting options.
- posting links is allowed.
- much higher comments characters limit (1683)
- can see other members’ public profiles and statistics.
- can exchange private messages with members of any groups having that privilege.
- can fully customize their profile, including adding a photo and signature.
They are Guests who made the effort of registering—and I thank them for that.
However, they self-activate their account in a completely autonomous process, which means that they cannot be trusted (yet) with advanced privileges, as they can be anything from brilliant folks to trolls or spammers—until proven otherwise.
- can set their account preferences.
- cannot access extended profile and community tools (no private messages, etc).
- can only set a custom avatar and screen name (no extended profile data, no signature, etc).
- limited text formatting options (bold, italics, quote).
- posting links is forbidden.
- maximum comment length is 732 characters.
- cannot see other members’ public profiles and statistics.
- can ignore other members.
- can subscribe to comment threads (new comments notifications).
Unlike the Guests, their comments go straight to publication. They also have access to the full version of the RSS feeds, like the regular ranks (that’s any group apart from Guests and Banned).
Not a member group, technically, as guest don’t have an account in the system. This is the default state for any visitor browsing the site without signing-in.
- no membership tools of any kind.
- no profile personalization at all (not even a custom avatar, name and location).
- no text formatting, no HTML tags (apart from paragraphs).
- all comments go through moderation, and may be rejected.
- it can take some time before comment publication, as moderation is done “as time permits”.
- cannot subscribe to comment threads (new comments notifications).
- some content may be served in lower quality/definition (think media files).
Guests privileges are extremely limited, but they can submit comments—since keeping open comments on the site (at least as long as I can manage to fend off spammers) was one of my objectives when setting up the whole ranking system.
I don’t like banning outright. Everybody has bad hair days that often bring bouts of the Gall—and I am not on a power trip anyway.
Enters this penultimate rank before the Banhammer strike.
Any member—except for obvious trolls—who seems to lose their marbles on a consistent basis or over a few comments or interactions with others and ignore my warnings, will be demoted to the reprobates rank until they find them again. In other words, if banned are in Hell, the reprobates are in (Roman theology’s debatable concept of) Purgatory.
I am not going to detail the reprobates privileges, for they are few and you won’t want to end up there, will you?
Just know that nearly all community tools will be blocked, and that while your profile data remains untouched (the idea, after all, being that once you stop being a nuisance, you will recover your former rank) none of it is visible or editable anymore (your avatar, for instance, is systematically replaced with a… very distinctive one).
In addition, Reprobates cannot use private messages anymore: we’re not going to let them harass other people privately any more than they already do in public.
When it comes to posting comment, they are back to the Guest level, except that their comments are hidden by default.
Yes, they can still post comments. How else could they atone otherwise?
Note that one can be a Reprobate only once: I do not play ping-pong with Jekyll and Hyde.
Any Reprobate persisting in his wicked ways will ultimately end up in the next group.
Self-explanatory. The visible effect for other people is that the banned member profile is gone, his avatar is replaced with a distinctive one in all his previous comments, and they are hidden by default.
The visible effect for the member himself is that he can’t access anything when signed in this account, and cannot register a new account with the same name.
As stated before, I am not on a power trip, and I dislike banning so much that in all the years this site has been more or less active, I have never banned anyone.
But don’t push me. I have this shiny new member ranking system and I am not afraid to use it.
Where answers be sought and found to mention GoogleBot ranking of Joe Biden and Big Bottoms, Dalek Supreme Zuckerberg, Bezos’ own Automated Turks slave army and Chinese Communist Clown Shows. Prompting, possibly, more questions.
Ranking people now? Bit arrogant innit? Think you’re such a big cheese?Olaf Otherpersson, in €urope.
Well, even though I do bath regularly I am still a French. With us, arrogance and cheese are not mere bad personality traits and smelly dairy products, but the basis of a distinct gene pool.
And yet, this is not about stroking my ego but about solving the comment management conundrum based on these observations and requirements:
- I want to keep comments open without registration.
- I noticed a marked shift, a few years ago, from comments spam to user profiles spam.
- I want to keep spam out WITHOUT:
- spending too much time fighting and cleaning it.
- annoying legitimate users (with these effin’ captchas for one thing).
- using any third-party Big Data harvesting and people tracking engines disguised as comments system (Disqus and all that “social” media login junk).
- using any third-party Big Data harvesting and people tracking engines disguised as antispam service (Akismet and all those “protection in exchange of privacy” gangsters).
Now spam comes from two sources: automated (AKA ‘bots’) and manual (humans—deceptively dressed as automatons. Or vice-versa. Not sure.)
Between comment moderation and other counter-measures I will not unveil here (a combination of off-the-shelf and custom made tools) I can—so far—keep automated comments spam under control.
Manual comments spam is an exercise in futility too2.
I noticed a spammers change of tactics, however, a few years ago—and one so sneaky that it did take some time before I spotted it.
To understand it, it’s important to realize that the goal of spammers is not to peddle their junk to the audience at the place where they dump their sorry load. People often get angry—rightly so—when such comment slips into a thread, as they assume they are the intended targets.
Search engines are—or more precisely, their web crawlers are. Spammers couldn’t care less about who reads their trash, unless they’re called GoogleBot & Friends.
And because search engines—when they’re not manipulating answers to push Leftist ideologies or steer3 elections results—still rank as “influential” anything that is linked from a lot of other things—quantity over quality, not suprising coming from Collectivist hacks in Big Tech—the goal of any spammer is to “place” their links on as many pages and sites as possible.
In other words, Google is the reason we have spam. Yes, among other nuisances.
Some time ago, spammers reckoned that comment spam was not necessarily the most effective way of doing their pitiful but lucrative business: to get anywhere in search engine ranking, it’s not enough to place your links to Top Amazon Big Bottoms Photos (it’s only an example) in batch over pages of comments, they have to stay there until the GoogleBot comes, and they have to still be there when it comes again (and again).
Comments however, are usually under scrutiny either by the site owner, the article author, or the readers—or all of them. They can and will quickly be flagged and removed.
And that’s not good for the consistent and favorable ranking of Big Bottoms by Big Tech.
So they looked for a less conspicuous way to dump their trash on other people’s property and have it stay there. And they came up with the sneaky idea of registering fake people and filling their profiles with the aforementioned trash. Not a bad idea, despite the baseness of the objectives. A bit clever indeed. These people must be moonlighting as 2020 Pennsylvanian elections officials4
Most site owners won’t go obsessively over every members profiles (particularly when there are thousands of them) and the spammers’ slaves (the hipsters in tech call that “crowd-sourcing” or Amazon Mechanical Turks5) have all the time in the world to fill in their public profile with spammy links to Top Joe Biden and Big Bottom’s Photos (it’s only an example).
Since these fake members do not contribute anything on the site (they never post comments or interact with others—in my experience, they never even log-in again after the first couple of visits) they always stay under the radar and this is how you end up with thousands of permanent pages on your site that are nothing else than “product placement”—and those tech geniuses at Google are apparently unable to make the difference.
When redesigning the site, I’ve cleaned up at one point more than two thousand accounts of this nature6—and they kept coming in. That’s when I shut down registration, until I could address the situation.
So my ranking system is about cutting all incentive for profile spamming:
- public profiles are… not. They are semi-public: only people in trusted member groups can see them, which means that they can’t be indexed by search engine crawlers. GoogleBot and Friends are not trusted, and never will be.
- As Seekers are self-activated member—and this is where every new member starts, including Russian-Nigerian spam farms workers and Amazon’s turks—they cannot customize their public profile.
This last point may look like overreaction since their profiles wouldn’t be visible anyway and their goal of having them indexed by search engines is moot, but it prevents wasting server resources on processing their data and filling the database with trash, which in turns would require more time to clean up.
Plus I’m a belt and suspenders kind of guy. Despite a rather slender bottom, even.
So there you have it: arrogance and cheese, yes. Spam: non!
But I hate to not be superior to other people! Also I deserve to be Popular because Followers! How do I get Likes! and move up in ranks?Olaf O, €U.
I could answer that I would not answer so that people will not try and “game the system”.
Yet I won’t. For there is no “system” to “game”.
This is not a popularity contest. I did not devise and implement this from a perspective of TwitrInstaBook @follow-me + @like-me + @look-at-me-I’m-so-super-you-can-be-too-if-you-friend-me gamification cum addiction.
I despise and reject the whole “social” media industry and always have, either as this pseudonymous dissident frogman character and under my real identity. I despise and loathe its undeserved, dangerous and corroding influence on politics and culture, and its effect on people, many of whom should know better than fall for this normalization of narcissism barely dissimulating a resolute and nefarious goal of controlling us and our societies.
A bit long-winded certainly, but I guess you understand how I really feel about it now.
How do I become a Traveller?CaineExactly!Master Po
There will be no rhyme and little reason to who moves “up” and who doesn’t. There’s no device by which one can earn “points” and get a better “position” than anyone else. There’s no “social” credit to earn and maintain, for this is neither Communist China, the neo-feudal €USSR or Biden and Big Bottom’s America after the Great Reset.
This is, again, primarily a way for me to make spam manageable while keeping interactions with and between users of this site as open and easy as possible.
I write under a nom-de-plume, but I am a real person.
You comment under a pseudonym7 yet you are a real person.
Our interactions with each and every other person on this site are real—at least, as much as they can be in such a virtual space—and will be measured as they are in real life.
You and me, we’re still people, not cattle—unless we hand the scumbags an easy win by flocking to their social corrals.
People may be “promoted” who disagree with me. People may be “promoted” whether they contribute a lot or a little. Whether they write good (or not). Whether they have something interesting, clever or funny to say (or not). There is no rule except for this: people will be promoted who are trustworthy. Trust is hard to earn and easy to squander, which means that everybody (should) understand how valuable it is.
Think of how you act in real life interactions, how you earn the trust—or at least the respect—of the people around you, and do the same here.
There is no other rule.
One thing is certain though: he won’t get “promoted” who obsesses about being “promoted”. For your daily fix of Likes, Followers and other social trinketry, exit Left and see Dalek Supreme Zuckerberg. For the Competing Clowns Show, I believe the ChiComs-powered TikTok has got you covered.
Fine. But who decides and promotes?Big Bottoms, everywhere
I mentioned real life interactions. Who decides who is welcome and appreciated in your house? Yes, exactly.
Wait, should I care about this? Even just a little bit?Not Olaf, not in €urope
If you only want to post the occasional (simple) comment now and then, don’t bother registering. Just comment.
If you want to comment with a bit more privileges, receive the (very occasional) email notifications I send, and a few other perks, register and live as a Seeker happily ever after.
And if, now or later, you find the place pleasant enough to invest more of your time interacting with me and others here, welcome to my sociable network, traveller.