Skinner (55,189 posts) Profile Journal Send DU Mail Ignore

I would like to propose a possible solution to the serial alerter problem.

I understand there has been a lot of discussion in the Meta forum the last few days about people who send an excessive number of alerts, some of which are considered by some to be frivolous. A number of innovative solutions have been proposed to remedy this problem. Now I would like to propose another possible solution.

It is a little complicated, but I am confident that it would effectively handle the problem, while helping to promote our goal of getting the entire community involved in helping set the standards of behavior.


Whenever an alert is sent, I propose that we program our software to randomly select a group of six DU members to serve as a sort of ad hoc "jury," whose job it is to evaluate the alert and decide if it has merit.

These six "jurors" are then empowered to use their own best judgment to evaluate the alert. If any juror believes that in their opinion the alert has merit and the post is unacceptable, then that juror would vote to hide the alerted post. However, if the juror believes that the alert is frivolous, they would vote to leave the post alone.

If an alert is judged by at least 50% of the jurors (ie: 3 out of 6) to be frivolous, then the post would remain on the board. The alerter would receive feedback on the merit (or lack of merit) of their alert in the form of a failed jury vote.

If a juror found an alert to be particularly offensive in its lack of merit, they would have the option to take advantage of a built-in comment box wherein the juror may educate (or scold) the alerter on their use (or abuse) of the alert system. So, if a juror believed an alert to be frivolous, that juror could include a message explaining why. For example, "This frivolous alert was a waste of time."


If any juror believed an alert to be so offensively frivolous that it threatened the very fabric of our community, they would have additional options. For example, we could create a new forum specifically for the purposes of discussing perceived misfires by the proposed alert-feedback system. Armed with a link to the post, the comments of the alerter, and all the comments by other jurors, the concerned juror could start a discussion in this new forum -- let's call it "Meta-discussion" -- where dozens of other concerned citizens would draw attention to the offensively frivolous alert, by sharing their own opinions about how offensive the alert was -- or by sharing their own personal stories of frivolous alerts (or personal stories about something else entirely).


Alerters who repeatedly sent frivolous alerts would find themselves repeatedly frustrated -- not only by the unwillingness of the jurors to do their bidding, but also by the stream of negative feedback they would receive in the form of comments from the jurors themselves. In time, the futility of sending repeated frivolous alerts would likely convince all but the most determined serial alerter to find better ways to amuse themselves.

Meanwhile, all DU members could follow one extremely easy-to-use method to protect themselves, which would cause even greater consternation to serial alerters: simply write your posts in a clear and non-offensive manner. Then, as the serial alerters metaphorically banged their heads against a brick wall, sending repeated frivolous alerts which got shot down in a flurry of 6-0 and 5-1 votes to LEAVE IT ALONE, you could laugh to yourself about how you have stymied another disruptor and caused them to waste their time -- while you just go on posting!