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back to article Study finds online commentards easily duped, manipulated

Internet forums often use reader moderation to determine which comments are the best, but new research suggests that tallying up and down votes for online comments is a poor measure of those comments' actual quality. Oh, you may think you know who's brilliant and who's a troll in our forums, dear Reg reader – but according to a …

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Let's test that theory, Reg style

Apple sucks.

Hypothesis: Upvote:Downvote ratio is approximately equal to fandroid:fanboi ratio.

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Anonymous Coward

Tried that

Instead I got 90 downvotes and 15 up votes.

All I said was:

'Here on El Reg the theory appears to be correct, there always appears to be a disproportionate number of downvotes when anyone on here praises an Apple product.

The comments also tend to be more extreme in their nature. So there could also be a correlation between this and the Political Left here in the UK, as they too tend to shout the loudest, have a nastiness and are less forgiving. The Left wing bias is also prevalent and entrenched in the media (except of course the Daily Mail) including the impartial BBC.

Of course there is other evidence as well. Comments on the news articles tend to dip off after 1pm on Friday which is the end of the working week for the public sector which is generally considered left wing.

In conclusion, he may have a point, or it's just that a disproportionate number of immature trolling di**heads populate this site. In which case my theory falls to pieces.'

I mean how can that be offensive to anyone?

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Re: Tried that

It wasn't clever the first time, either.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Let's test that theory, Reg style @Rukario

Statistically for every Apple praising comment you will get a ration of 1:23 upvotes:downvotes.

The majority of El Reg Commentards appear to own Android phones, while the minority WinPhone and Blackberry owners keep quiet for fear of embarrassment.

Fandroids are generally the same kind of people who wear Burberry and drive cars with 'my other car is a Porsche' sticker on the bumper and read 'Which Mobile' dreaming of the day they can get hold of an iPhone.

They would all love to own an iDevice but their menial jobs and minimum wage hold them back.

Jealousy is a green eyed monster.

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Thumb Down

Re: Tried that

Sure, the old left wing media conspiracy theory. A classic! Have you ever done research into who owns most of the media?

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Re: Tried that

"I mean how can that be offensive to anyone?"

Because the people that actually use the vote button consistently are the ones you targeted :-/ Sort of like putting a mirror in the face of a raving lunatic (ie. Ballmer). I was 1 of your 15 up votes 2 weeks ago, and I still back your comment in full.

The voting system is so skewed and useless, it should of never been introduced. But like anything else, one person finds a new hook, and then everyone is hooked and using it. Technology sites very typically play follow the leader when it comes to viral social schemes, the Register is no different apparently, and "Gangnam Style" posting appears to be encouraged.

Doesn't take a genius to figure out the voting system is biased and worthless, just takes a moment of thought. If you take another moment of thought, then you realize "Voting" + "Anonymous Coward" puts the whole BBS in a position for trending and complete lack of competence. (BTW, I dislike AC posting more than the voting system, but that is another matter).

But hey, if all the cool kids are doing it...

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Re: Tried that

The BBC.

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Experiment

+1 this post if you couldn't give a crap about upvote whores.

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Re: Tried that

who owns most of the media?

well if you are going to bring 'facts' into it. we may as well give up!

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Joke

Ok so who is fiddling the voting?

Everyone has an equal number of upvotes to down votes?

Come on!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Let's test that theory, Reg style @Rukario

..while the minority WinPhone and Blackberry owners keep quiet for fear of embarrassment..

Ahem, as a Blackberry owner of sorts*, I feel I have to say that maybe, just maybe, we 'keep quiet' as we find there are better things to bleat about than our mobile phones, which, after all, are just devices we allow into our lives for the sole purpose of enabling other people to annoy us with inane requests at the most inopportune moments (oh, and ordering Pizzas)

*I say, of sorts, it's currently U/S as the damn'd screen on the thing cracked for no discernable reason. (No, it wasn't dropped, nor subjected to stresses unusual or otherwise, I woke up one morning and the thing had cracked overnight, so, yes maybe in the middle of a dream I punched the feck out of it or something, as deep down in my psyche I really hate it and want to join either the Church of Jobs or Page-Brin.).

Whilst I'm making up my mind as to whether I'll replace the Crack'dberry, I'm quite happily using an old (and rather pleasantly quite dumb) Nokia.

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Re: Let's test that theory, Reg style @Rukario

Apparently AC@23:29 above is the only thread poster objectionable enough to overcome everyone's desire to balance every up/down vote on this thread.

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Re: end of the working week for the public sector

"after 1pm on Friday which is the end of the working week for the public sector "

Don't know which public sector in the UK you are referring to but MY part ( >27 yrs experience) is busiest after 2pm on Friday and frequently works beyond stated "day" to finish the work

Try not to generalise if basing this on your personal prejudices or "I have a mate in the pub whose wife knows someone in the public sector"

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Ok so who is fiddling the voting?

sit on the fence

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Re: Ok so who is fiddling the voting?

There I fixed that for you, the symmetry is maintained...

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Re: Ok so who is fiddling the voting?

What appears at first glance to be a harmless story from the Department of the Bleeding Obvious turns out to be the colossal middle finger which El Reg has been dying to give its commentards all these years. Impressive. Now can you put the PHP back and stop messin' around.

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Re: Let's test that theory, Reg style @Rukario

(...)The majority of El Reg Commentards appear to own Android phones(...) and later: (...) their menial jobs and minimum wage hold them back(...). The ratio of blue-collar workers here might be a bit different that you think.

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Anonymous Coward

Why only three groups?

What happens if a comment is given exactly one up and one down vote? Does the combined positive effect cause people to vote even more than just an up vote?

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Re: Why only three groups?

There's an upvote. Lets find out.

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Re: Why only three groups?

For some reason I just felt compelled to upvote as well. I don't know why...

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Re: Why only three groups?

"For some reason I just felt compelled to upvote as well. I don't know why..."

And for some unfathomable reason, I just had to try to balance it out with a downvote. It really is most strange.

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Re: Why only three groups?

> For some reason I just felt compelled to upvote as well. I don't know why...

Upvoted. Presumably due to use of the word upvote.

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Go

Re: Why only three groups?

Must....upvote.....previous......post........

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Positive opinions? where?

> "They're more willing to go along with positive opinions from other people."

They're claiming that people are nice in Internet forums?

Which Internet are they talking about?

G.

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Re: Positive opinions? where?

Sadly no, just that even though people like to make fun of apple fanatics deep down we all want to be a part of something popular.

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Joke

@Rippy

Which Internet are they talking about?

Well, I'd like to share the place but then I'm afraid it wouldn't be nice anymore ;)

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Re: Positive opinions? where?

They're claiming that people are nice in Internet forums? Which Internet are they talking about?

Clearly not 4Chan…

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Go

Likes for lolly

I have paid a click farm to give me 1000 up-votes for this post, a bargain at 0.005 USD per up-vote. These up-voted will of course promote millions (if not billions) of other up-votes from gullible ElReg easily swayed commentards.

I look forward to my paid for popularity, should be starting any time now....

about now...

anytime now....

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Happy

Not here, I think

It seems that the commentard/readership demographics also help. Over here, a different effect comes into play; good comments usually get upvoted, bad comments get downvoted and it is usually fanboi/shill stuff getting really downvoted.

But an interesting thing is that the later your comment gets in, or the further down the pile it is, the less up/downvotes you get. Or it might even get zero votes. That's mostly because it's rare that commentards will ever read all the comments and will start skimming if it is large enough.

But no, I haven't seen the balancing out stuff going on in here. Those that get balanced votes (like say, 10 up 10 down) are usually like that because their comments actually do have the same number of people for and against the comment, not because of a balancing out thing.

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Happy

Re: Not here, I think

Well, El Reg is full of some rather smart individuals. Even some of the biggest asses on here regularly contribute intelligent, thought provoking and sometimes funny things.

But at places where the great unwashed frequent, like Yahoo! News, the results of this study do seem more accurate. A nice follow up study would be to determine if a narrower range of subject matter had an impact on the results vs a general current events venue.

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Re: Not here, I think

I have to completely disagree, there is no correlation between a posts intelligence and its up votes on this website.

The most up voted comments on the Register contain a combination of snark, anti Microsoft sentiment, anti Apple sentiment, pro Google sentiment or pro Linux sentiment.

The Register attracts a considerable amount of blind faith followers. For example, The Register posted a news article on the morning Microsoft officially cut the price of the RT in the UK stating that Microsoft had cut the price in the US but had no plans to cut it in the UK. The highest rated comments was;

"Are MS aware that the instant they lower the price of something in America the entire world is aware of it thru' something called 'The Internet'. They might want to get onboard, there's load of good info on it like-

Tidal wave of hatred on Windows 8 months before it went on sale, demanding a start menu but just adding the button for the .1 upgrade

Screwing consumers over first sale rights and demanding once a day online verification when releasing a new games machine

Getting into bed with NSA then releasing Cloudy office and always on kinect.

Who, in the UK, Australia etc are going to buy a full priced RT when it's For Sale in USA?"

We have snark, we have anti-Microsoft AND we have factually incorrect.

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Re: Not here, I think

Yeh, but sometimes people put themselves in that position.

For instance, you started off very well with 4 typical sentiments found here, you were stating the obvious truth. However, you wound up sounding to be in a very strong stance that aligns you closely to MS. So, even though you didn't post negatively, you still took a side personally. But, I'll just assume that in general you're a lover not a hater :-).

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Re: Not here, I think

Even supposedly intelligent people can fall victim to the herd mentality. To think otherwise is sheer arrogance.

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Re: Not here, I think

I'm a lover of factually correct posts ;-)

But you've highlighted the main issue with the voting system in that the vast majority of forums, The Reg included, have a very strong "you're either with us or against us" tribalism. Pointing out errors is quite often seen as an attack against their camp.

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Re: Not here, I think

@Daniel B:

" But an interesting thing is that the later your comment gets in, or the further down the pile it is, the less up/downvotes you get. Or it might even get zero votes. That's mostly because it's rare that commentards will ever read all the comments and will start skimming if it is large enough."

I think t's more to do with the fact that once people read an article and its associated comments, they generally don't come back - especially as there is no way to track comments/threads.

The later you post, the less amount of people read it.

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These up/down votes are a bit immature

Hey I've got a silver badge now! Yay I'm popular on the internet. My life has meaning!

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Black Helicopters

Re: These up/down votes are a bit immature

Ahh, now you can do this!

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Anonymous Coward

Hey I've got a silver badge now! Yay I'm popular on the internet. My life has meaning!

If badges were awarded for having lots of down votes, I'm betting you wouldn't have posted :

"Hey I've got a brown badge now! Yay I'm hated on the internet. My life has no meaning!"

Just guessing.

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Trollface

I live in a western democracy

Voting is an illusion. The bastards always win.

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Well, Eadon's gone...

...and people upvoted him to silver status despite all the shite he posted, so I'd tend to agree with the study.

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Re: Well, Eadon's gone...

I was under the impression that silver have an upvote minimum, that's what the original posting said. Did this change?

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Re: Well, Eadon's gone...

As far as I know (unless the rules have quietly changed), Silver is for 2000 upvotes and Gold is discretionary. Only Bronze is dependent on number of posts.

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FAIL

Re: Well, Eadon's gone...

I am not sure if you are being facetious or if you don't know this, but the bronze, silver, and gold badges are not dependent on any number of votes

I don't know if you are being anal or if you don't know this, but you're totally wrong.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/11/27/el_reg_commentard_badges/

The qualifying thresholds for badges are:

Bronze (about 650 commentards qualify)

Operated forum handle for more than one year, and more than 100 posts in the last 12 months.

Silver (about 200 commentards qualify)

Silver badge holders meet bronze requirements and have more than 2,000 upvotes.

Gold (awarded to 10 commentards)

This discretionary badge is awarded by Reg staff, and we are starting off with 10 people who have been very helpful - to us, through news tips and beta testing, for example - and to their fellow readers, through their posts.

The door's over there. Close it on your way out. Have a downvote for your troubles too...

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Paris Hilton

Re: Well, Eadon's gone...

How did I get so many upvotes though?

People tend to downvote me when MOST SERIOUS.

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@ Ross K

Well thanks for the downvote; I deserved it.

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Re: Well, Eadon's gone...

IIRC, Eadon did have a talent for, umm superfluous philippics aimed at Microsoft so even averaging 0.3 upvotes per post he could reach 2000 in a week or two if the stories were about, well anything really.

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Holmes

Re: @ Ross K

Well thanks for the downvote; I deserved it.

You sure did.

And deleting your post to cover your tracks after it backfired on you? Lame...

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Joke

Re: Well, Eadon's gone...

I don't think upvotes on posts as AC count toward the silver badge as I'm way past 2000. Either that or I have a hardcoded bronze badge after a less than civil argument I had with Trevor Pott about the original implementation of the system. Either way, I cba to manually count them to be sure.

There needs to be a tongue-in-cheek icon.

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