How to fix the Internet

The power of a single button

We’ve all seen it. Maybe you’ve even been on the receiving end of it. An otherwise thoughtful comment receives an unhelpful, pithy reply: “oh hey its the retard that keeps stalking me, i ll kick your ass anytime, any day” (actual comment).

It’s not helpful and it doesn’t foster a better Internet. But it can easily be fixed.

Enter The Troll Button

A small button can make a big change. The “Like” button revolutionized how we organize and disseminate content. I believe that a “Troll” button can “clean up” conversations across the Internet. Here’s how it works:

  1. In addition to the typical like/upvote and flag as inappropriate buttons, we introduce a third “troll” button.
  2. Whereas like and “flag” focus on the post, “troll” focuses on the author of the post. Whereas downvotes could simply indicate that people don’t like a comment, the troll button unambiguously targets the author.
  3. Each person has a “troll” score. As the score increases (a bad thing), every comment or story they post receives a lower score, and thus shows lower in the results. Most importantly, the impact of their upvotes, “trolls”, and flags decrease.
  4. Absent bad behavior, this troll score decays down over time.

Why this Works

The troll button empowers communitities to self-regulate. It functions much like Page Rank did for search results. It finally creates negative consequences for the pissed off individuals hiding behind their keyboards. The group collectively quiets the voices of people who are behavior badly. It prevents retaliation, as the troll’s ability to contribute to the discussion declines, and is only restored via the one thing that nobody can control: time.

Most importantly, it empowers the people to shape the discussions that they want to have.