This is a good idea, but the definition of argument must be incredibly broad. Consciously or not, we don't want to end up censoring users that we don't agree with. Along the lines of the examples mentioned above ("ie "You're stupid!" and other rage-y, name-calling, simple statements), should clearly not be allowed, but that's, I think, about as far as we can go. If there is any doubt whatsoever, it should be allowed.
We decided that for some topics, such as topics related to politics, we will be requiring the opinions to contain at least one argument. Now, this isn't a strict rule. We won't be scanning the opinions to extract arguments from them. The general rule is that an OpiWiki opinion must add at least a bit to the discussion. If there are no arguments, but there's a bit that enriches the discussion (it can be something related to personal experience, some info, etc.), it's ok.
Why this rule? At OpiWiki we have some goals set. One of them is bringing the Internet discussion to a new level. We also want to grant the word "opinion" a better name. We believe that opinions like "he's the worst", "he's the best", or "he's an idiot", 1) lower the quality of our site and work against reaching our goals, and 2) don't add anything valuable to the discussion. Now, people who don't have anything more to say are not restricted from contributing their opinions, as we also have a voting system, and we believe that a vote is more meaningful in such cases.
You can learn more about the guidelines at opi.wiki/help/discussion#b.
If the topics chosen are VERY careful, I think it can work.
The issue is that it will discourage some from commenting at all, because they may not really want to get into a long issue (and are worried that specific statements might encourage responses they don't want to get into).
I think instead of "argument", which implies something more formally Aristotelian, it should be "a point of contribution". That could be a comparison, a metaphor, a poem, anything that wouldn't be a formal argument but (aims to) elucidate.
Right, currently users can flag talks as no arguments or something enriching the discussion. Obviously, if there are no arguments, but there's a tiny bit of contribution, it's ok. Basically, this rule is here only to protect us from posts like "he's a liar, period".
This is assuming that the person in question can still VOTE for the appropriate category, correct?
It seems that there should be a community standards page, like Wikipedia has several of (or TVTropes or...) that describes prominently what people are expected to do as a result of community standards.
A user whose talk was deleted as no arguments is not restricted from any actions on the site. Including voting and posting another opinion on the same topic. The user also gets a notification, explanation, and a link to our guidelines.
Our guidelines are at opi.wiki/help.
I don't see a clear path to the guidelines from these topic sections.
We cannot flood our users with too much info. Even if we did put a clear link there, almost no one would read it anyway. No-contribution opinions happen very rarely, and if they do, the user gains a reason (and a clear link) to read the stuff.
I still disagree... You should let your users decide for themselves whether or not an opinion is good or bad. You created a system that allows users to express their opinions on opinions, with the community accordance votings. By interfering with opinions, you remove the usefulness of the community accordance percentage. Because community accordance isn't just a stat. It's a tool. If people like or don't like an opinion, they will use their own judgement and rate the opinion +1 or -1. If an individual repeatedly gets bad opinion ratings on pratically everything, then, I believe you should monitorize this person, warn him/her if needed, see if the person is a troll and then use your moderation powers... Simply put, I think a moderator should not only moderate but also be moderate. :P
If you are too strict, people will simply go elsewhere even if they are not being moderated themselves. It's good to see a cop once in a while as you walk back home late at night, but it's not the same when there's a cop on every corner, right?
Besides... Let's say one day OpiWiki becomes very popular and you get hundreds of thousands of views everyday ( or maybe more ). You won't be able to keep up anyway. Not with tiny, insignificant comments such as "he's the worst". Even if you had an army of mods, you wouldn't be able to deal with them. You will have to focus on the extremes only.
I think we've all been idiots who couldn't form solid arguments at some point or another during our life! When I was 14, I was an idiot for sure. But, thanks to interaction with other people (including on the internet), I think I evolved and became a better person. I'm pretty sure it's the same for most people who grow up. Interaction is the key. If idiots are not confronted by smarter, wiser people, they will remain idiots... Give the poor folks a chance! ;)
"You should let your users decide for themselves whether or not an opinion is good or bad [...]"
This argument could be used against any kind of moderation. It's obvious that moderation has to be there, the matter we're debating here is where to set the border. I'm sure we agree on that, I'm just pointing out this is not a reliable argument. Same goes for the cop analogy – if you're posting something on the Internet, you're always being "watched".
"If idiots are not confronted by smarter, wiser people, they will remain idiots..."
This is a good argument, but still it could be used against moderation in broader aspect. Let me just point out the obvious: people who post non-argument opinions are not necessarily idiots. So, in case of removing an opinion of a registered user, we always educate the user. We always send him an explanation and link to our guidelines, where the user can learn some basic stuff about the site and discussing. Unfortunately we cannot reach non-registered users, so that would be a downside.
Looking at this issue from my perspective, I'm asking myself: "Seeing opinions such as 'he is the worst' or 'he is a liar', would I be interested to join the discussion? Would I be interested to dig deeper into the site?" The answer is no. I wouldn't see a difference between this and e.g. YouTube comments. Let me now take a look from your perspective; you said (in the other topic) that you would've started a discussion with the user whose opinion was "he is the worst prime minister ever". The only sensible reply to that would be "why do you think so?" You could also start with "I disagree with you" and then just continue with your opinion. Instead, you can simply post your opinion as an opinion, not as a reply. Posting your opinion as a reply would actually decrease the chance of someone discussing with you. "I disagree with you" on its own would also be pointless, as there's the downvote button.
What about discussions like this one:
– he's the best
– no, he's the worst
– I disagree with you both
All we're asking is to add a tiny argument/info. "He is the worst prime minister ever. What he did with taxes was a disaster." At least there's something.
I agree that this issue is debatable – this topic will stay active and we'll see what other users have to say. If OpiWiki becomes very popular, it will be easier to agree on removing this guideline, as we will no longer have to worry that much about building our reputation. Maintaining a reputation is much easier than building one.
First of all, don't worry, I also understand your point!
OpiWiki is your baby, you want it to grow up the way you want to. It's completely understandable.
But children can't be raised alone. They need to interact with the outside world. At some point, you will realize your child has learned things you might not approve. But that's how it is. There's a certain limit as to what you can do without depriving it of its autonomy. I think the same goes for any website. Your users are also part of the growing process of your website because it heavily relies on user interaction. Therefore, you need to find a balance between your vision of OpiWiki and what people will do with it. Like you said, the only point we're currently having an issue with is how much power you will give to yourself and to the users.
My opinion is that the more you give freedom to the people, the more productive they will be. I think it works in real life; in politics, at work, or even at home.
Of course, in a perfect world, I would also prefer to see people writing better, bigger comments. This very conversation is actually a good example of what I'd like to see everywhere around here.
And of course, there has to be moderation at some point, otherwise you'd just get complete chaos.
But people are different from one another. Some people have a different background. Some have less education. Some have a limited vocabulary. Some people also don't speak english fluently, and sometimes they will use (english) words which are easier for them to communicate, but it can come as arrogant or aggressive for people who speak english everyday.
Does it mean that they should be discarded, ignored, muted, moderated? I don't think so. I think their opinion is as valuable as any other, even if it has no apparent value to people who have more knowledge, wisdom or experience than them. I consider myself as an intellectual and honestly I usually dislike most intellectuals I meet because I noticed they often become elitists as well... But I might be going off topic here. And don't take it personal! I know you are doing this to preserve your website's integrity. I'm not calling you an elitist, but this very issue has some sort of surrepticious scent of elitism creeping underneath it. I just want you to notice it.
When you remove the opinion of a user, perhaps will you educate the said user, but you will not educate the other users who will repeat the same mistakes. Because the opinion will be gone. There won't be public examples of what you can or can't do.
You could also start with "I disagree with you" and then just continue with your opinion. Instead, you can simply post your opinion as an opinion, not as a reply. Posting your opinion as a reply would actually decrease the chance of someone discussing with you. - That's what I wanted to do. I wanted to speak to that very person and "force" him to prove his point. I didn't really care about views or if I'd get replies from other people. I wanted to engage this very user, and make him be more elaborate. I'm pretty sure he had something more. Maybe he saw that there weren't many Canadian politicians in the database and felt like a long message would be a waste of time. Maybe he wasn't sure if other people would actually read him. Maybe he was on a phone and couldn't write a lot. I wanted to see if he had more to deliver, but alas I couldn't because his message was deleted.
You mention Youtube as an example. I believe it's not a very good example. Youtube does not allow -1 ratings now, simply because they don't care about comments, only money from ads and user data gathering. Your website does and it allows -1 ratings. On Youtube, many comments would get bad ratings if people could do it, trust me. The biggots would be exposed. And if Youtube cared for its userbase, they'd moderate the users accordingly. Your website allows the -1 button. Biggots will be exposed over time. You'll get the chance to moderate them and your website's reputation will remain a good one. Don't worry about it.
To make things clearer, here's what I suggest:
1- Give the "bad" users some time to gather the bad community accordance points. Let the trolls, biggots, idiots and all the other rotten apples dig their own grave. Let them do all the dirty work. Don't waste your energy trying to moderate them right away. Remember: trolls will always remain a minority. Your user base will expose them to the entire community. Trust your users! Metacritic is a good example. Do you take seriously user reviews with a "2 out of 24 users found this helpful" notice? I don't. It'll be the same with certain opinions around here. Just give your community some time to show them to you.
2- If a "flame war" occurs or if you think it will happen in the future, don't delete anything right away. Just throw in a warning in the discussion. Raise the bar so they can have a chance to adapt and change for the better. Also, other users who read the discussion not only will have an example of what not to do, but will also be aware that the moderators are being active and watch over things around here. If you delete the messages without notice, they'll just think no one posted anything wrong yet. I think that in the very case which created this whole topic, since you might not have enough users to expose the person as fast as you'd like them to, you could have left your own message as a reply, indicating you were hoping for a more elaborate opinion next time.
3- If the user keeps trying to cause trouble, then delete the most offensive messages, leave your own message in the discussion, telling you moderated the user for inappropriate behavior, warn the said user in a private message.
4- If he hasn't learned after this and is unwilling to cooperate, ban for an amount of time ( or forever if you want, depends on the offense ).
Of course, you can keep the guidelines you've just created or want to create in the future. I agree with the fact that the users need to be told how to behave, especially when they join the website. But I kinda have an issue with how to deal with them. How moderation powers should be used and when. Cops will sometimes see little things that are not so legal but will give an individual a few chances ( and warnings ) before they actually get out of their car and give them a ticket or arrest them.
I think we could go into a long debate with this, but at this point I think it would be best to just wait for other users to give their opinion. I'll just say; thanks for bringing this issue up and for your input on it. I see your arguments and I'm definitely willing to change my mind if our users want it.