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Robert Cowham 09-11-2004 03:05 PM

Social engineering/old topics
Given the recent resurfacing of an ancient thread (Aikido is weak -, I would suggest there are good arguments for closing old threads to new comments!

Also, there are some interesting ideas on how to run discussion forums and how small changes can have big effects. I don't agree with all of them, but some look very interesting:


Q. Your list of topics is sorted wrong. It should put the topic with the most recent reply first, rather than listing them based on the time of the original post.

A. It could do that; that's what many web-based forums do. But when you do that certain topics tend to float near the top forever, because people will be willing to argue about H1B visas, or what's wrong with Computer Science in college, until the end of the universe. Every day 100 new people arrive in the forum for the first time, and they start at the top of the list, and they dive into that topic with gusto.

Suppose your user does something they shouldn't have done.

Maybe the thing that they did wrong was to post an advertisement for Viagra on a discussion group.

Now you tell them, "Sorry, Viagra is not a suitable topic. Your post has been rejected."

Guess what they'll do? They'll post an advertisement for V1agra. (Either that, or they'll launch into a long boring rant about censorship and the First Amendment.)

So a good social interface designer might say, let's not display an error message. Let's just pretend that the post about Viagra was accepted. Show it to the original poster, so he feels smug and moves on to the next inappropriate discussion group. But don't show it to anyone else.

Indeed one of the best ways to deflect attacks is to make it look like they're succeeding. It's the software equivalent of playing dead.
Might help improve the signal to noise ratio.....


Robert Cowham 09-11-2004 03:06 PM

Re: Social engineering/old topics
p.s. It even strikes me as rather aiki like forum software behaviour!

akiy 09-11-2004 03:11 PM

Re: Social engineering/old topics
Hi Robert,

Thanks for the suggestions! I'll think about them...

-- Jun

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