MONDAY, JULY 17, 2017

Slashdot vs Facebook

Vetted vs unvetted

Eric Lee, A-SOCIATED PRESS

TOPICS: VETTED NEWS, FROM THE WIRES, WHAT KNOW-NOTHINGS TYPE

"The strong focus on species extinctions, a critical aspect of the contemporary pulse of biological extinction, leads to a common misimpression that Earth’s biota is not immediately threatened, just slowly entering an episode of major biodiversity loss. This view overlooks the current trends of population declines and extinctions. Using a sample of 27,600 terrestrial vertebrate species, and a more detailed analysis of 177 mammal species, we show the extremely high degree of population decay in vertebrates, even in common “species of low concern.” Dwindling population sizes and range shrinkages amount to a massive anthropogenic erosion of biodiversity and of the ecosystem services essential to civilization. This 'biological annihilation' underlines the seriousness for humanity of Earth’s ongoing sixth mass extinction event.... Much less frequently mentioned are, however, the ultimate drivers of those immediate causes of biotic destruction, namely, human overpopulation and continued population growth, and overconsumption, especially by the rich. These drivers, all of which trace to the fiction that perpetual growth can occur on a finite planet, are themselves increasing rapidly. Thus, we emphasize that the sixth mass extinction is already here and the window for effective action is very short, probably two or three decades at most. All signs point to ever more powerful assaults on biodiversity in the next two decades, painting a dismal picture of the future of life, including human life." —Biological annihilation via the ongoing sixth mass extinction signaled by vertebrate population losses and declines, PNAS 2017

TUCSON (A-P) — Slashdot.org is 'News for nerds, stuff that matters'. Members post news from creditable sources likely to not be misinformation or disinformation (not your typical post-truth sources) with one to several links within a short summary the submitter may write. Offerings are moderated by volunteer moderators who have earned their credibility as judged by other moderators. Site visitors (several million/month, over 100,000/day) can comment (over 5,000/day) and anonymous comments are allowed (but vetted as are all). Moderators vet comments on a scale of -1 to 5 in terms of whether the comment is perceived as "normal", "offtopic", "flamebait", "informative", "funny", "overrated", "underrated", "insightful", "redundant", "interesting", or "troll." 

 

Clicking on a post opens the topic page with comments. Users (readers seeking information/insight) can select the level of comments they want to consider. Below a selected level (e.g. -1, 0, 1) comments may be hidden so even title/first line is not shown. Comments that may be worth reading the title and abbriveated comment (e.g. 2, 3) may be shown, and comments most likely to be of interest (e.g. 4, 5) are shown in full. Initially all comments are rated -1 to 2 with anonymous comments defaulting to 0. Only if a topic is of extreme interest, such that what all others think/type matters to you, would a person looking for information/insight want to consider the low hanging fruit laced with the cyanide of mere opinion.

 

The first post happened to be rated 3, which is marginal. and comments on marginal comments tend to not be of interest. Hidden comments can be clicked on to view, but if there are 300-500 comments on a topic, they may need to be boiled down to seeing only 4 or 5 rated comments in full with 3's as one liners. Of course the question arises, 'who vets the vetters?', and that would be the M2s, the metamoderators who have 92.5+% more experience than other members. Slashdot, like Wikipedia, is elitist and it works, bitches.

If a topic is of special interest, and if what all commenters have to type is relevant to your concerns, read'm all. Pick a topic you happen to know something about to note the limitations of the vetting system and the limits of understanding of the commenters (aka solemn pretenders to learning). Nerds typically have focused interests and tend to favor technology and technoindustrial society more than Ted Kaczynski. The focused views of physics, chemistry, engineering, computer science, math, IT, neoclassical economics..., serve the industrial society whose supporters include Anthropocene enthusiasts and techno-optimists. Those having ecological/biosphere concerns may be ecomodernists. The messy, holistic science of systems may not be of interest. Systems science and systems ecology may have been overlooked as a subject.

Paul Ehrlich was quoted at length by Slashdotters to prove that he had made predictions that didn't happen in the time frame stated. None bothered to look for other quotes such as: "It is quite possible to graduate from Stanford—arguably one of the best universities in the world—without knowing anything of significance about the impacts of population growth, the second law of thermodynamics, ecosystem services, total fertility rates, how the climate works, externalities, exponential growth, the food system, the biology of race, nuclear winter, the limits to growth, Federalism, the history of fascism, or many other topics of critical importance to modern citizens." —Paul & Anne Ehrlich. But Paul made predictions that didn't happens, so he's obviously a know-nothing who just doesn't get it, a loser who failed to stop worrying and learn to love the Anthropocene.

Some nerds go to Stanford. Comments reflect the commenters, so I decided to read all the comments and vet them on my own terms, i.e. score them -1 to 5 in terms of ecolacy. A few hours pass and the results: of 368 comments at the time on the topic of Era of 'Biological Annihilation' Is Underway, Scientists Warn, -1=18, 0=122, 1=44, 2=139, 3=35, 4=6, 5=4. Of course, if I was a moderator I couldn't assign a 3, 4, or 5, but being a typical omnipotent typer, I can. I checked my ranking with the /. moderators who came up with:-1=17, 0=123, 1=39, 2=139, 3=32, 4=6, 5=12. In percentage terms: -1=4.6%, 0=33.4%, 1=10.6%, 2=37.8%, 3=8.7%, 4=1.6%, 5=3.2%. Of course the ones I scored as 5 are mostly different from those the moderators scored as 5s.

So if you set 4 and 5 for full view, 3 for abbreviated view, and hide the rest, you can cut 368 comments down to 18 full and 32 partial comments to scan through the titles or more. Add the time following links and considering one topic can take some measurable amount of time, but some teens (and elders) spend nine hours a day on information-free (of info that matters) social media.

Unknown to most /.ers, /. has a Facebook page. It's an SEO thing, so get over it. Netizens do comment on the posts, but no one (who matters) reads them.

 

  Slashdot: Score 4 for ecolate (leaving 364 inecolate, the 99%, some of whom may have gone to Stanford, but some of whom [1%?] would rather know than believe).
Facebook: Score 0 for information (but Facebook has 525 times more seekers of what they want to confirm within their echo chamber).

Conclusion: That as many as 1% of /.ers are ecolate and would rather know than believe suggests they are exceptionally well educated to have some grasp of systems science as, on average, citizens of technoindustrial societies are maybe 0.001% ecolate (rough guess 99.999% of social media users are inecolate, which is not an extraordinary claim given that social media, like tavern talk, is not a source of vetted information).

Data: Read the comments yourself.

So is /. the penultimate example of information that matters on the WWW? Compared to Facebook and other social media, it may seem stellar, but the level of discourse, narrative, espisteme often falls far below the level of discourse expected among adults knowing enough to have an opinion. Read the comments above. For an example of higher discourse such as scientists and scholars prefer, consider this post to The Oil Drum and read the comments—all of them. Some comments on /. approach quality comments, which sometimes makes /. worth considering. As for Facebook, pick 100 posts at random from any of the most credible 'sources' you can find—I double dog dare you; compare posts and comments with the 'higher discourse' post/comments and weep.

 


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