The Fifteen Percent Rule

As a general rule, 15% of any online community is comprised of ninnies, fools, and jerks. On some sites, this percentage is much higher, and for others, it’s slightly lower. But every community has them and too often, they are impossibly loud and attention seeking.

On the whole, I find OSNews to be way above average. The noise ratio is generally low, so it’s really only the trolling – both intentional and unintentional – that gets people riled up. But the rule still applies.

Recently, I had a user incredibly angry at me because I “forced” him to use the mobile site on his mobile device. I reminded him that it’s been that way since the first day Eugenia rolled out the code, but he was having none of that. I told him that most devices won’t support the site and he said his did. Finally, he uploaded a video of his usage and saw him using… an iPhone! The best part? The iPhone is not served the mobile version. So he was going to and them complaining that we served him the mobile version!

Then yesterday, in an admittedly heated discussion about KDE4, I was discussing how I am disappointed with the release as a 4.0 release and some got incredibly angry. They pounded upon me that the only proper thing to do is release the code and let users find the bugs. But I didn’t relent when I probably should have just ignored it, I was a bit too salty at worst, I should have just moved on and stayed above it, but alas, I didn’t, and it ended with a bang.

A lot of people think that by being a part of the OSNews staff, we’re not allowed to have any opinions. They forget that we’re software users too, and that we participate in our own community.

So, anyway, in this KDE4 “ready or not” discussion, I insisted that it was naive to suggest that the average user would follow the development or news closely enough to know that the KDE team suggested that 4.0 is not ready for users, I was called “stupid” by one user and “an ejit” by another. It’s a fatal flaw for IT people to assume everyone is like them, that everyone is subscribed to 400+ RSS feeds and knows the news before it’s even cooled off. But the battle waged on. In retrospect, I really don’t think anything I said was wrong or off base, so I’m not really regretting this interchange.

While digging through the responses, I found a user misusing his mod points – a clear violation of OSNews rules – by modding down every comment that disagreed with his (not just mine) and modding up every comment that agreed. A cursory review showed that every up-mod he’s handed out in the last few days was to pro-KDE posts, while every down-mod in the last several days dared to question them. This is a cleare violation: this doesn’t help us prevent forum misuse, it just filters out differing opinions, which leads to groupthink. I was tempted to reverse all of his recent moderations straightaway, but I witheld and swallowed his downmods of even my own comments. You stay classy, K——– (name redacted).

Yes, even the best communities have a few bad apples, a few sour pusses who want only to be stroked and reinforced in their own opinions, and when there is any challenge, they lash out. They’re present in every community, real life included.