Just woken up from my weekly lie-in and as I dozed, I had an idea. I want to know if this is stupid, or if this is doable, or if I'm missing something.
The UK was again shocked this week after a 14-year old girl committed suicide after taunting and bullying at Ask.fm; this was not the first such incident where cyberbullying has led to suicide. It occurred to me that there is no way to tell the bad buys from the good guys. We all know in the movies that good guys wear white stetsons, so how about an online equivalent?
What about a 'good guys' website where individuals can volunteer to register themselves as good guys -- they enter their details (name, address, email) and then individually register each social site they use (with site and username).
The good guy website then provides them with an HTML fragment to add to their user details/signature for each site which inserts a clickable bitmap with their site and username, the forum name and the good guy badge (so you can't 'steal' someone elses badge or use the same badge on a different forum). This aspect needs to be website agnostic, so we may need to offer multiple alternatives.
The bitmap is a link back to the good guys website where people can 'judge' the good guy with a thumbs up for having helped (particularly for stepping in to stop cyberbullying), a thumbs down for having ignored bullying when they were in the same thread, or with a pair of handcuffs to accuse the good guy of being a bad guy.
We don't share the good guy's full details on the badge link, just their forum user name. Then people judge the good guy, they can optionally enter all the details of why and when they're judging them, so that someone can investigate if needed.
What does everyone think? How could they 'game' the system. Would it be useful at all?
If I understand correctly, the forum sites would have to require their users use the good-guy site either literally, or through social norms. (i.e. "you aren't on GGS, so you are effectively a 'stranger' and we don't like strangers in these parts.)
If you tied it to identity management, it could be relatively easy for all parties. C9 allows (requires?) us to log in using our windows live account, and there's nothing to stop them from implementing the functionality you describe and tying it to your account. There are a couple of similar such logins for facebook, google+, and an open source one who's name escapes me right now.
It sounds workable, but it does have some holes that may need more draconian measures to address:
nothing stops a bully from creating another account (a.la. Beer)
currently you can't force a forum to use this and kids will congregate where they can feel less watched.
To broaden the scope, I kind of wish identity management would become more prevalent so that I don't have to constantly enter in my information when doing things online. I'd feel much more secure if my identi-bits were stored in one location that could be hardened rather than every silly unsecure website out there.
The scoring of the online personality will have to be controlled by the site. Similar to a credit reporting agency. Otherwise the bad guys will just make up fake profiles to build up confidence in another profile.
@ScanIAm: I was thinking that this should be driven by the users -- effectively saying "You can trust me. I'm not a jerk, and this 3rd party website has all my details so you can report me as a jerk if I act like a jerk". It's kind of like a badge of honour idea where you can effectively be stripped of your badge if you don't retain the honour. People would have to want to wear the badge with pride.
Also, in order to get it to spread is has to be site agnostic to be used anywhere, so tying in with MS or Google is not enough.
The user would have to actively participate and it's not on by default. Only people who cared would bother to get one initially, but hopefully the idea of displaying your trustworthiness would spread.
There also needs to be some sort of positive reinforcement that helps personalities, who assign so much worth to an online existence, to get more centered. Maybe as their positive rating increases they earn real life rewards from real life companies who offer discounts to experience a real life activity. upon reading the above it sounded negative but the intent is to engage the participant in other areas of life.
@DaveWill2: Yes, you would have to have an register an unique name, address and email for each 'person' with some level of validation and checking, then that person can create multiple site entries for themselves.. Scoring of the personality is more like a crowd-sourced idea and I guess some form of check will be required for each report (not sure now, though, anyone got any ideas?) to ensure that people don't try to build themselves up or push others down.
@DaveWill2: That sounds like a good idea -- some company donates a prize (they get advertising, the good guys site get a prize to give away), and there is a randomised draw based on 'points' to choose a winner (more points - higher chance of winning).
Or an API so people could enter their ID for websites to retrieve profile and potentially give discounts (or even the forums themselves interfacing to incorporate badges into their own site profiles.
Bully tends to have much better support from their groupies in the network. The most of all, he doesn't consider himself as bully, nor his groupies. He would think he is correcting the victim with very little sympathy to the victims predicaments. For example, the bully would try to rough up on the smelly kid by actively saying the kid is smelly, in hope to educate and motivate the change. However he would have not care to know why the kid smells nor showing any sympathy for the kid. Bully is not something you can block when he already has bunch of friends supporting his action. It is not the same as trolls because trolls tends to be alone with much smaller support group. And in reality, we are all bullies when we are just full of ourselves and telling others to #dealwithit. No, not all bully do it for fun, they do it for educating other because they are always the correct one.
@ZippyV: Thanks! Very interesting. I like the idea of some sort of aggregator that gives someone an overall score for various traits like honesty and ability.
@magicalclick: The kind of bullying we're talking about here is threats of rape and death and repeatedly telling someone young and vulnerable to take their own life; that's NOT the same as "He would think he is correcting the victim with very little sympathy to the victims predicaments". These bullies are simply enjoying being nasty and aggressive. We can't cure it, but we can encourage an increase in verifiable trust.
Nope. Reputation systems encourage circlejerking and groupthink. I don't think they promote "good behavior" at all.
I'm going to Godwin this thread right now and mention that Hitler would have an unbelievably good reputation if this was implemented in WWII Germany.
@Bass: So a reputation service that simply says "I'm not a jerk" leads to groupthink? I have to disagree on that, 'good guy' is too broad to create groupthink and it's based entirely on the existing socially acceptable behaviour of the time.
As to circlejerks -- yes, there must be a way to filter that out ... not sure how just yet. Maybe a rule that you can't 'return' an upvote or downvote within a time period? That should cut it down -- I certainly wouldn't remember to return a favour in 3 months time. Also, I was thinking that we shouldn't show a reputation score for the good guy site -- just that they are a good guy, and you'll get a warning when your reputation drops by a given threshold, but you won't be told the figures, just percentage changes. It should be about having the badge or not having the badge, not about different scales of goodness. Think of it as like an SSL certificate -- it's either there or it's not.
@Bass: So a reputation service that simply says "I'm not a jerk" leads to groupthink?
Yes. For instance, if such a system was implemented on Channel 9, it would be obvious that me and many others would be voted "jerks", because our opinions are constantly different from the majority.
I've seen this time and time again with a reputation system. If I'm in a forum with a reputation system (for instance, Linux related), I'll often get voted up and up. I don't even have to try, or not be insulting or bullying. I just have to speak in the manner they expect.
But if I'm arguing on a forum with where the majority disagrees with me, I get voted down, even if I'm trying to respectful.
What happens online and offline is people segregate themselves into tribes and the required speech of one tribe might be considered trolling in some other tribe. In a more abstract sense, once a tribe becomes too powerful they literally start committing genocide and war - I think it's a genetic instinct of humans to expand territory and thus their chance of survival. The Holocaust/WWII wasn't a fluke of human behavior, it IS human behavior. We naturally act very evil in coordinated groups, similar to locusts. That's why I feel that racial and cultural diversity is so important, the resulting cultural/racial tensions prevent the dominant group from turning into human locusts.
Personally although following the herd is the best way to get karma points or "non-jerk" points or whatever you want, I find the circlejerking each other ad infinitum kind of boring though after awhile. Sometimes I do join the circlejerk, but not as often as I feel most people do. This perplexes me a bit. I believe it is because I grew up inherently not belonging to the majority, so it feels more natural to me to seek situations where I am a minority.
@Bass: So with a good guy badge you would be giving more thought to how you present yourself everywhere and trying harder not to offend people. And that a bad thing?
Also, if you don't fit into a tribe, what are you doing there? It can't be any fun for you compared to hanging out somewhere where you do fit in?
A good guy website would probably need some form of arbitration system to cut down on disagreements rather than bullying/insults. I guess downvoting someone would require you to leave an email address or something, so that arbitration can be done if needed.
EDIT : And if you don't care about fitting in (or "following the herd") and actually like being in the minority, why would you volunteer to sign up to a good guy system in the first place?
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