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|| News Item: Posted 2004-09-24

Changes to the Message Board
This is the latest in a series of changes designed to enhance the quality and professionalism of

By Grover Sanschagrin,

Some new changes have been made to the Message Board - but don't kill yourself looking for it. The chances are that you'll never see it anyway - but we think it will make the message board a better place.

Actually, I lied. There's one very subtle change that you may have already noticed -- we increased the size of the box that you use to enter your message. (Less scrolling! More writing! Woo hoo!)

The stuff you can't see has to do with the new system running underneath the message board. This cool new collection of code is designed to reward people who post "informative" messages, and do something about those who are consistently "inappropriate."

This new system has been implemented as part of our plan to improve the quality, usefulness, and professionalism of

Based on an analysis of past member behavior in the message board (paying close attention to certain, uh, 'historical' events in our message board's history), we've been able to develop a special algorithm that will automatically detect when a member is being more "inappropriate" than they are "informative."

When a member has been identified by this system, they will be sent an email that alerts them that they've been put on a 14-day "cooling off" period, during which they will be unable to post messages.

When this term expires, they can resume posting messages again.

However, if this member is identified by the system for a second time, they will again enter a "cooling off" period, but this time it will be for 30 days.

But, as in baseball, three strikes and you're out. If a member ends up being flagged by the system for a third time, their ability to post to the message board is removed for good.

The system we've developed, and the algorithm that figures it all out is more than fair, and has been programmed to give people the benefit of the doubt.

There is an incentive for members to post messages that get marked "informative" by other members. The more "informative" marks that a member gets, the less likely they are to find themselves in the message board dog-house because "informative" marks will counterbalance "inappropriate" marks.

We've also taken measures to prevent a single person, or even a group of people, from ganging-up on someone in an attempt to get them banned.

Obviously, the exact details of the algorithm must remain a secret. It is important that we not reveal too much information about it so that those who try to exploit it (if this is even possible) will have a much harder time doing so.

And finally, Jason and I would like to thank those of you who have taken the time to send us ideas and suggestions. We like hearing from you, and we're honored that you feel so passionate about this community of ours. Thanks to you, we're constantly working to make it better.

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