The Meta-Diary: My Diary About Diaries

Submitted by DubbaEwwTeeEff on September 24th, 2009 at 1:48 PM
Lately, there's been some debate about the purpose of the Diaries section, and the quality of content that should be allowed.  In particular, some new members have been posting topics there because they didn't have the points to do so on the forum.  I have a pretty low point total, but I have lurked around here for a few years now, and I felt like I should put my two cents in about what should be done. 

Personally, I've always envisioned the Diaries as mini-blogs - places for insightful users to provide in-depth, long-format supporting content.  A place for original articles and commentary - the best user contributions highlighted and emphasized, one step above the forum and one step below the actual blog posts.  To really enforce that distinction, some kind of moderation is needed.

There are four basic options when it comes to moderation:
  1. Post count.  It doesn't require active moderation, and it effectively blocks invading trolls and stupid newbies.  On the other hand, quantity doesn't imply quality.
  2. Moderator post approval.  As long as the right mods are chosen, only quality content gets through - but on a large site, it's dificult to keep up with the traffic.
  3. Manually assigning privileges.  This requires a lot less work from the moderators, but is highly arbitrary on its own, and depends on the users actually being noticed by the mods - which, again, becomes a traffic issue.
  4. Mob rule, i.e. basic majority vote.  This definitely has a certain populist appeal.  Unfortunately, it can get out of hand quickly (negbangs, anyone?) and requires a lot of participation to actually be effective.  It's also very vulnerable to hacking.
Obviously all the moderation options have drawbacks, but there's another option: a combination of them, which I'm going to call the "Audition System."

To qualify for an audition, a user will be required to have a certain number of MGoPoints - maybe 20, maybe 50, who knows.  MGoPoints are a combination of post count and voting, so they're a good first filter - anyone auditioning will have had at least some time on the forum, with some positive responses to his posts.  This keeps mods from having to reject stupid newbie auditions all day.

Once a user hits that minimum point total, their link for posting diaries becomes active.  But instead of anything they post being directly published, it instead goes to moderators for approval.  This is the "audition" part of the process - where the moderators look for proof that the user is good enough to be published.  If the submitted diary is worth posting, the moderator approves it, and it shows up on the main page.  The audition setup keeps good writers from being missed or ignored, because they're actively submitting articles for approval, and are doing so out of a much smaller set of users.  It also helps create a stronger distinction between quality and quantity, and it ensures that the user is capable of writing something more meaningful than fat jokes about Charlie Weis.

After a certain number of approved diaries - say, five or so - the user is said to have "passed" the audition.  The system automatically marks his account as privileged, and his diaries are automatically approved and published.  Moderators can still move the posts to the forum or revoke the privilege if it's abused, but they don't have to read through every single post anymore.  This again takes burden off the moderators, and rewards good users with more leeway.

Obviously this system is a little more complex than your average moderation setup, but I think it'd work much better than what most sites use.  The forum users and the moderators both have a say in who gets elevated, the burden on the moderators is significantly reduced, and only people that have proven themselves worthy get to post in diary format.

And yes, I am aware of the irony of a relative newbie posting this as a diary, but it seemed like the most appropriate place.

So what do my fellow MGoBlog readers think?  Would this be a good system?  Are there flaws I'm not considering?  Improvements that could be made?



September 24th, 2009 at 2:22 PM ^

Any diary that is predictive or based on assumptions that will be tested before an upcoming game must be read and approved before that game is played. This could create problems, for instance, with Friday night diary entries that are related to Saturday's games. Moderators may not get to the diary until the games have already started and then a potentially interesting diary will instead be useless.


September 24th, 2009 at 2:34 PM ^

I didn't think about time sensitive diaries, but there are ways to mitigate that as well.

Firstly, it won't be an issue for anyone who's passed an audition. This limits the problem, but obviously doesn't remove it entirely.

There are a few options for how to handle the rest. A special "time-sensitive" tag could be added, for example, that would put them on a moderation fast track. Abuse of the tag would lead to a diary ban, either temporary or permanent.

You could also have certain time periods where diaries are automatically accepted from users with enough points, but added to a special list for the mods to go through in the morning. It's not a great idea and it can be abused, but in the worst case it's basically what we have now with an added points requirement, so it's still at least an improvement.

I'm sure there's a better way of dealing with this but I don't know what it is yet, maybe other readers will have ideas.


September 24th, 2009 at 2:27 PM ^

1. Come on, we could have a very long a very high quality post of nothing but fat jokes about Weis.

2. But seriously, not a bad idea. Though not without it's difficulties.

I know Brian is still experimenting with his point system, and I'm wondering if he's got something like this in mind.

Or is he possibly looking for user input on what types of things could be implemented?


September 24th, 2009 at 2:29 PM ^


But seriously what is the difference between auditioning? And just submitting to mods and then getting approval once they say "hey this person isn't an idiot".

I personally like that Brian just picks people who he thinks have written quality diaries and everyone else can get approved but hey that's just me.


September 24th, 2009 at 2:40 PM ^

Well, that's basically what it is - just combined with other safeguards like a minimum points total and a straight standard for who gets automatic privileges.

There are a lot of possible variations on the idea, and Brian hand-picking the ones with auto-approval is a good one to look into if he's willing to do it - automatic privileges saves him some work though, so it's basically a question of how much he wants to micromanage it.


September 24th, 2009 at 2:47 PM ^

But if you want to write something here you can write it in the board. But diaries should be well thought out pieces of work that can stand on their own merits.

Which is why I have no problem having diaries be for certain people only because they should be the cream of the crop and should not be pointless drivel.

(this wasn't not directed at you I liked your diary)


September 24th, 2009 at 2:56 PM ^

One of the best things about this site is the overall quality of the comments and that tends to self regulate due to the dilligence of other subscribers. Maybe the "moderating" only needs to be done by us subscribers, thus saving valuable time for Moderators (I can't even imagine how much time is involved in creating the UFR!). Seems like the points are a great way to create a threshold...but with a slight twist:

I would track points separately so that just posting on the board (which is easy) is different than getting postive feedback on your board post (which is by nature harder and more indicitive of the quality of your post). Perhaps there could even be a simple formula to create a MGo "Ranking" (i.e., instead of just the gross number of points). I dunno, maybe a ratio of points earned to comments recieved (or some such). Then have an automatic "ranking" threshold...or a "quality points" threshold. Once your ranking is high enough you can post a diary. If we don't like your diaries your ranking suffers and you may fall back below the threshold(i.e., incentive to write a good diary).

In this way, the vast universe of MGoBloggers - which have proven to be fairly astute - can actually self determine who is worthy (why are Mike Myer and Dana Carvey running through my head?!).


September 24th, 2009 at 7:59 PM ^

But to a dedicated troll, its all the same. If you make a bunch of fake rah rah rah posts, you will get great rankings from most, especially koolaid drinkers. Then the troll is unleashed.

Conversely, you could make a great post, with a great argument, backed up with references, and get neg banged to hell because it didnt agree with some people, especially koolaid drinkers.


September 24th, 2009 at 4:26 PM ^

The point limit is nice, because its assumed that once a user has achieved a certain amount of points, they're no longer a complete idiot. The word count for diaries could be raised as well, seeing as most quality writing and analysis takes considerably more than 200 words to effectively present.

No matter what happens, you're always going to have people posting stupid stuff up where its completely not necessary. The current system of just kicking them down to the board works well enough for me.


September 24th, 2009 at 7:34 PM ^

While I hate to see garbage diaries or posts (which yours of course isn't, nice diary btw), all the other options would have the possible effect of stifling free speech. If free speech means an idiot gets by from time to time, so be it.

I would be more worried about excluding dissent. A point system means you would have to be a super dedicated troll, and after time they would fade individually. New trolls would of course pop up to be sure, but all would realize over time, spending hours to make a troll post, then banned, then more hours on a new account, etc etc.

There are posts and diaries that are worthwhile, and worthy reads, that may contain subject matter that disagrees with most people. You run into a bad situation if moderators actively forbid your posts just because they disagree. Ultimately, options 2 and 3 lead to option 4.

Personally, I love what Rich is doing, but if others do not, let them speak. Conversely, I hated Lloyd as a coach (and only as a coach of coarse). Back in the day, I would have made posts slamming him for decision making. If the mods felt he was uber, I would have been forbidden to make such statements.

The point system is the only system in my opinion.

Magnum P.I.

September 25th, 2009 at 12:19 AM ^

I like the system that you've proposed. I've been thinking a lot about how to clean up the diary section on this site, as a lot of readers--myself included--just keep up with the front page and the diaries (the wall is great, too, in its rapidfire belligerent sort of way). The system you're proposing would be great, but it would be a lot of work for the editors to review everything. It would almost work like an academic journal where the editor reviews everything and only a few make the cut. And like journals, once your reputation is established, you more or less can publish when you like (even in blind review systems). Most journals use peers to help with the evaluation, too, to take the load off the editor and get more perspectives on the pieces. It might help if trusted, esteemed posters could kind of be designated as peer reviewers to some degree. I actually think it would be really cool, given the hard work and research that some people put into their diaries, to have diary posts carry some sort of special honor and recognition that would come with "being published."

The King of Belch

September 25th, 2009 at 2:00 AM ^

At what point do you just have message board where people can post and others can reply, and all the self-righteous bullshit about who is a good writer or who is "worthy" of posting here just goes out the window and all this "point business' just goes away?

Once upon a time, this MgoBlog didn't have "points" and nege banging by newbs from Scout and others who just pound UM kool aid and disagree with anything anyone says unless it's accompanied by a blowjob for the brats at the WLA or Rich Rodriguez.

The posting was FUN (imagine that) and there was "conversation" and no status and no posting with worrying about being neg banged into oblivion by fucktards who just didn't like you or like what you said.

No one should be allowed to give points or take them away. All this "moderation" being talked about makes this board even more like Scout or some other drool-cup sporting "Support da team or else"--Wal Mart Wolverines rule the day here. And people keep talking about points on and on and on and on.

What suffers? Freedom. Freedom to post what you think, why you think it, and how you think it and FUN. This board has become a fucking collection of bitches who try to impress the brats at the WLA, each other, and who worry about saying the right thing so they don't lose points. It is now FAR worse than Scout with fucking hackjob faggots like Son of Jorel monitoring every post and banning every poster who doesn't suck the collective cock of Michigan football.

But, you know what? That's what happens when you sell out and then give posters the ability to regulate the board. Anyone at any time can neuter the thing, and that happened long ago.


September 25th, 2009 at 11:09 AM ^

No one should be allowed to give points or take them away. All this "moderation" being talked about makes this board even more like Scout or some other drool-cup sporting "Support da team or else"--Wal Mart Wolverines rule the day here.

We have a fairly prominent member whose account is entirely based around the fact that he is a Notre Dame fan, who has only been here 15 weeks, and who has over 1,000 points.


03 Blue 07

September 25th, 2009 at 11:41 AM ^

Come on. We all know that Irish is a HUGE outlier in the "data set" of MGoBlog posters. I almost always give him +1 just because I like the idea of a fan from another team being here and not being a complete moron.

Regardless, although I disagree with the syntax and language used by King of Belch in his post, he is right. If you don't see that this place has changed, and perhaps become a snotty and condescending place since the posters have been allowed to moderate, I think you are lying to yourself. Hell, I've even joined in and mocked people with awful grammar/spelling. Not saying it's right/wrong, but, in the words of Todd Bertuzzi, "it is what it is."


September 25th, 2009 at 6:39 AM ^

There just needs to be some stated rules outlining for us "stupid newbies" who don't no better. It would be nice so as to not get the condescending tone from those who are so much better and more deserving to be on this sight based on their tenure.


September 25th, 2009 at 6:44 AM ^

There just needs to be some stated rules outlining for us "stupid newbies" who don't no better. It would be nice so as to not get the condescending tone from those who are so much better and more deserving to be on this sight based on their tenure.


September 25th, 2009 at 7:51 AM ^

Man, you don't just call out the board elites, you tantalize them with double-posts and spelling errors. Oy.

That said, I agree with your sentiment in the first sentence. The description on the diaries needs to be a lot clearer, with examples. Plus 1 to ye, guy.

By the way, you can spell "condescending," but not "know" or "site?" That is awesome!


September 25th, 2009 at 10:52 AM ^

From the Diary posting page, emphasis mine:

* If you're trying to think up filler to get to the word minimum, it should be on the message board.
* If it's off topic, it should be on the message board.
* If it's a link to someone else's content without some added value (analysis, aggregation, critique) it should go on the message board.

In general, anything that's just another post you should put on the board. Something that requires effort you would like to keep around for posterity's sake should be a diary.

There are guidelines already, but people don't follow them, so we end up with crap diaries that should have been on the message board when really it's meant for things more in-depth, things that require more effort. (If you mean guidelines for the message board... well, those exist too.)

And I never said that every newbie is stupid, I was calling out a class of people that happen to be both. Call it discrimination or condescension if you want, but it's incredibly rare for someone that makes nothing but shitty posts to stick around for very long. I don't see anything wrong with asking someone to prove he's not an idiot or a troll before giving him the keys to the top of the sidebar.


September 25th, 2009 at 4:23 PM ^

My comments this morning, although sent at 6a by my kneejerk-reactioning alter ego, were sent more from a recurring theme I have seen on the site since I started a month ago. Some of your words just kind of brought it to the forefront in my mind.

I completely understand the perspective of long-timers on this site. It must be frustrating to have new people join the site and bring topics or conversation that you feel have no merit or relevance. It must further be compounded when said irrelevance is misspelled and posted in the wrong section. I totally get it. New people dont know the protocol or the hierarchy (as evidenced by my post this morning and my first two diary topics).

But I will say from a Newbies perspective; some of the people on here aren't exactly the welcoming types. Some make it seem more like MgoSnob than MgoBlog. I see cracks about newbies, trolls, morons, scout/rivals transplants on here a lot. I don't get it. I understand the frustration, but how about with the initial acceptance email, rules are sent and maybe some "nice to know" facts about site protocol (you could title it "10 things not to do as a new blogger unless you want to piss off a large faction of people who have been on this site for several years and can't stand having to constantly police every new person and teach the same lessons they have taught to the last 500, making them increasingly more bitter, edgy, and intolerant each and everytime it happens").

Alot of the posts seem to presume and paint all new people with a broad stroke (evens Brian's blog yesterday mentioned that people were posting in the diaries section just to get points). This may be the case for some, but when I was new I did this because I didn't know any better. After two very JV posts were shipped off to the forum in about 5 minutes I figured out the drill. I think alot of the rips on new people on here presume that the person is either a rivals/scout transplant looking to stir things up or some idiot with nothing relevant to say (I would imagine I have found myself grouped into both of those categories now).

All in all, I just came to this site to talk Michigan football with other fans and it seems the forum is a good place to do that for someone like myself. As new people I do not think we are entitled to be in the club, but I also don't think we should be 2nd class citizens because some of us break rules we don't know exist and have to learn the hard way. Just my thoughts.



September 25th, 2009 at 5:53 PM ^

I wish to post a diary about a certain someone's schematic advantage.

This is not exactly a supplement to MGo. Nor is it insightful. However, I hope it will be entertaining.

Will doing this be okay?


September 26th, 2009 at 11:17 AM ^

what a bunch of elitists we have on this blog.

the quality here is far and away better than almost anything else i read. i can appreciate the intent and any efforts to keep it that way. but some of you guys are really full of yourselves...

"stupid newbies"
"reject stupid newbie auditions"

is this one of those stupid newbie posts?