Tuesday, January 15, 2008


ROBOT9000 and #xkcd-signal: Attacking Noise in Chat

‘#xkcd has had about 250 chatters these days. Large communities suck. This problem is hard to solve, but we’ve come up with a fun attack on it — enforced originality (in a very narrow sense). We’ve put together an auto-moderation system in an experimental channel, #xkcd-signal, and it seems to work well, so we invite you all to take part. [..]

I was trying to decide what made a channel consistently enjoyable. A common factor in my favorite hangouts seemed to be a focus on original and unpredictable content on each line. It didn’t necessarily need to be useful, just interesting. I started trying to think of ways to encourage this.

And then I had an idea — what if you were only allowed to say sentences that had never been said before, ever? A bot with access to the full channel logs could kick you out when you repeated something that had already been said. There would be no “all your base are belong to us”, no “lol”, no “asl”, no “there are no girls on the internet”. No “I know rite”, no “hi everyone”, no “morning sucks.” Just thoughtful, full sentences.’

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