28 episodes

15 minutes of concentrated analysis and advice about social media in platform and product design.

The Social Media Clarity Podcast Randy Farmer

    • Technology
    • 5.0 • 3 Ratings

15 minutes of concentrated analysis and advice about social media in platform and product design.

    Ban the Banhammer

    Ban the Banhammer

    Ban the Banhammer - Episode 28 Scott and Randy discuss the (mis)use of the various forms of the "ban" tool, and provide alternative techniques.
    Show Links It's Almost Impossible to Rehabilitate an Online Troll, Steve Brock Director of Moderation Services at Mzinga Building Web Reputation Systems SMC Epsiode 14: LinkedIn's Scarlet Letter #CMAD presents: Modern Moderation: Moving Beyond Trolls and Ban Hammers (stream)Streamed live on Jan 26, 2016 - Join us to talk tech with Justin Isaf, to ramble about reputations with F. Randall Farmer, to ponder proactive tasks with Sarah Hawk, to advocate for automation with Darren Gough, and to learn the legal aspects with Aurelia Butler-Ball. Transcript Randy: Ban the ban hammer.
    Scott: What?
    Randy: Ban the ban hammer.
    Scott: Wait a minute. We gotta talk about this.
    Randy: Welcome to the Social Media Clarity Podcast. 15 minutes of concentrated analysis and advice about social media and platform and product design.
    Scott: So in this episode we're going to focus on what seems to be the moderator's tool of choice, the ban.
    Randy: And how it is, most often in our experience, the wrong tool.
    Scott: Yeah, it could be the right tool in the right circumstance, but it's mostly misapplied.
    Randy: Yeah, if you're reaching for it first, it's probably the wrong tool, but we'll talk about that in detail. We could set this up by talking a little bit about our experiences encountering other people talking about the ban hammer. Scott, you find a wonderful reference post. Do you want to tell us a little bit about it?
    Scott: Sure. So, this is just an example. Steve Brock who's the director of moderation services at Mzinga that talked about the difficulties of rehabilitating online trolls. But in it he's talking a lot about bans. How to identify trolls, how to ban, what different bans are, and how to apply them, and whether or not they are effective. So this is a good example of how a lot people tend to think about dealing with misbehavior in online communities.
    Randy: Although, we're going to be picking a little bit on Mr. Brock, by no means is he unique in most of these positions. In fact, were going to talk a little bit about how each point has its own challenges and each point carries forward the error of the previous one, and it leads you to a place this is both undesirable and expensive.
    Scott: So what are the steps, Randy
    Randy: The steps are first you identify the troll, figure out who it is you're wanting to take action on. Someone who is doing harm to your site. You perma-ban them. We'll explain the different bans in a few minutes. The idea is to kick them off the site and make their identity no longer accessible. He also suggests removing all content, doesn't mean they're all bad. And if they return with a new account, immediately ban that as soon as you detect that. You could try hell-banning. This is number five, he says, "But they'll find out." He's actually right about that, and then he says, "Well, the abuse will get worse once they figure out you're pulling tricks on them." It turns out, number six, you have to assume that they can't be reformed, so you've got to stay vigilant. You have to stay on it all the time. And for his final step he says, "Therefore, you need 24 7 coverage and so you need to hire enough moderators to cover your site." It's our contention that this entire list that leads to outsourced 24 7 coverage of your site and a constant battle with removing people follows from errors starting at the very beginning of the list.
    Scott: But before we get into that, let's actually define a few of the terms that have come up already. Perma-ban, it's a ban that is based on the identity, banning the account. There's no fixed time out. That's it. You ban them, they're gone. You can ban based on their account. You can hit their IP address. You could try to ban them based on credit card so they can't start a new account if you're a paid account. Also, there's kind of

    • 23 min
    Episode 27 - Responsibility.com

    Episode 27 - Responsibility.com

    Responsibility.com - Episode 27

    Social Responsibility and Social Platform Providers Description Marc, Scott, and Randy talk about recent changes at social platform companies as they wrestle with the ethics of their customers causing conflict, such as racism/sexism in AirBNB and Nextdoor.
    Links Airbnb, a Silicon Valley Titan, Breaks Ranks in Admitting Its Power, New Your Times, By Anad Giridharadas, 9/12/16 Nextdoor Breaks a Sacred Design Rule to End Racial Profiling, Wired Magazine, Margaret Rhodes, 8/31/16 What YouTube Stars Are Going to Do Now That They Can’t Swear and Get Paid, Motherboard, by Kaleigh Rogers, 9/2/16 Transcript Scott: This week, we’re going to talk about a trend that we’re seeing and is being reported in the media about large scale internet companies stepping up and taking some responsibility for the power that they are creating with their networks.
    Randy: Specifically the social power.
    Welcome to the Social Media Clarity podcast. 15 minutes of concentrated analysis and advice about social media in platform and product design.
    Marc: A lot of platforms have tried to be a common carrier. They don’t want to interfere with what goes on, on their platforms but in some ways those days are over in part because what went on, on some of those platforms turned out to be so bad that it could no longer be tolerated.
    Randy: On Airbnb, people were refusing guests because of their race.
    Scott: For a long time, Airbnb was essentially turning a blind eye to it saying we’re just providing the platform, but at some point there was enough response from the community, from people who were reporting on discrimination that was occurring within the given platform that Airbnb made a decision that we don’t really want this discrimination to be a feature of our platform so now we have to design something to eliminate or reduce the kinds of discrimination that are going on.
    Randy: When designing systems, I had to do this a few times at Yahoo that when a channel behavior and specifically say some behavior that some people participate in, is not acceptable when people interact with each other on our network, you will lose some customers. If you say, you cannot use race or gender in most cases, to limit who you rent your Airbnb room to, you’re going to lose some customers.
    You’re making a conscious decision of the type you didn’t make up until now generally which is you wanted all customers. In the early days of the internet, all that mattered was the number of … First there was eyes and then when they start to have communities like a number of transactions that occurred. That’s all you cared about.
    Now, we’re saying actually there’s a quality of transaction that is important to us and since it’s between individuals who do not work for the company, we’re now in this middle man position. We actually have some responsibility we walked away from before to actually say, “No, there are some kinds of transactions that are allowed here and not others.
    Marc: Platforms have been a wild west, anything goes and the values were more about not interfering with the operation of the platform rather than the way in which users engage with one another and that is shifting. We’re seeing a maturation of the market. Very large players are recognizing that they have to or need to or want to step in and they are now going to say, “We’re going to ban racism from the platform. We’re going to ban sexism from the platform. We’re going to ban certain kinds of abusive practices from the platform.”
    Many would say this is long overdue but it is interesting to see that companies are now stepping up and changing the design of their platforms as well as the terms of service that govern their platforms.
    Scott: This is being reported in the media and there’s a couple of articles that we’re going to be riffing off. One of them is the New York Times article talking about where Airbnb as breaking rank

    • 12 min
    Why Comments Suck

    Why Comments Suck

    Why Comments Suck - Episode 26 Scott and Randy tear into the history and problems of comments on "news" sites, and identify the most overlooked problem. They then talk about current and future solutions (well, other than just giving up an shutting down.)
    Show Notes Links Popular Science -"Why We're Shutting Off Our Comments" -Sept 23, 2013

    Shadow of the future: "The shadow of the future promotes cooperation in a repeated prisoner's dilemma for children"

    Original paper: Bargaining, Enforcement, and International Cooperation by James D. Fearon
    How others are addressing comment quality Shutting down onsite comments: a comprehensive list of all news organisations

    How the Huffington Post handles 70+ million comments a year

    We discussed the history of HuffPo comments with Justin Isaf in Jan 2015

    Tablet Magazine:
    A Jewish magazine is testing an unusual solution for toxic internet comments After deciding to charge for comments, Tablet's conversation moves to Facebook Improvements along the roads! Civil Comments: Reforming the Trollosphere: Creating Conversation in the Comments Section

    The Coral Project:
    "We need to change how people are submitting their content and we need to make sure that we're giving them good reasons to behave well." The Coral Project unveils its first product to make comments better New York Times: Quora: How does the NYT determine which articles have comments?
    Model & Enforce the context New York Times: A Community Manager Walks Into A Bar:My AMA with Bassey Etim, Community Desk Editor at The New York Times The Engaging News Project:
    Journalist Involvement in Comment Sections Comments Are Terrible (But They Don't Have To Be) - SXSW PanelPicker submission for The Coral Project and the Engaging News Project. Additional links Hey reporters: An alternative to #DontReadtheComments: Jump in

    Case Study: Yahoo! Answers Community Content Moderation from Building Web Repuation Systems

    The Washington Post is using Slack to create a reader community focused on the gender pay gap
    Transcript Scott: Hi listeners, in this episode we ask why do comments on sites suck so much, and what can we do about it?
    Randy: They're sucking because they lack context, and we'll tell you what that means.
    Scott: Now, this isn't a new problem, and many are trying to address it. We'll share their approaches ...
    Randy: ... And give our recommendations based on our personal experiences.
    Welcome to the Social Media Clarity podcast, 15 minutes of concentrated analysis and advice about social media and platform and product design.
    Scott: I'm Scott Moore.
    Randy: I'm Randy Farmer.
    Scott: We're discussing the problem with comment sections. You may have heard that a number of news sites have been shutting down comment sections in the last couple of years, or generally complaining about the poor quality of comments they receive on their articles, and we think that there's a real simple problem here, and it's the model in that people are presented with just a blank text box with no context about what to say or how to behave.
    Randy: Part of that is because we don't know who the audience is. It's not clear from a plain text box who you have in mind when you're writing a comment, and what you're actually writing about. Are you writing to the publisher of the article? The reader? The commenter? The author? It's not at all clear, and I don't think the publishers were even sure. I think they assumed that the post, the content it self, would be a sufficient context for commenting, if they thought about context at all. One way I like to put it is, there's no "to:", expressed or implied, when a visitor creates their own context. Is it to the author? The publisher? The topic? Or a reply to another commenter? There is one context that I like to refer to all the time, which is when you post a public content, it's actually to God, Google and everyone.
    Scott: This creates an attractive nuisance. The vicious

    • 21 min
    Amplifying Influencers

    Amplifying Influencers

    Amplifying Influencers - Episode 25

    Who is the mayor of your topic?
    Part 4 of our Social Network Analysis Series. In this episiode, Marc details how seeking out specific influential people, or mayors, in your topic areas can lead to better engagement with new networks of people. We discuss how to find, connect, and engage with these mayors to have conversations that they amplify to their connections.


    Show Notes
    Previous shows in the Social Network Analysis Series

    Ep 1 - Social Networks 101 - Introduction to the imporance of thinking about social media in terms of networks.

    Ep 4 - Influence is a Graph - Marc defines influence and how our influence is different depending on the context we are in. Three kinds of centrality are described and what they mean in our networks.

    Ep 17 - What does your hashtag look like? Lee Rainie from Pew Internet Research - We discusse a report from Pew Internet Research describing 6 types of social network shapes and how each behaves. Learning these 6 will help you better understand how people are interacting and passing information when you see a social network map

    Additional Introduction to Social Network Analysis

    Next in Nonprofits 23 – NodeXL with Marc Smith - The first 15 minutes of this interview will also be helpful if you are new to social network analysis thinking and terminology.

    Tools for finding influencers based on centrality

    Gephi - The Open Graph Viz Platform

    NodeXL with Smart Tweets

    Request a graph for your hashtag or topic

    Start finding the mayors you should connect with by requesting a custom network map. You can search Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Instagram, various Wikis and more using a keyword, hashtag, URL, username, fan page, or group name. Be sure to let us know you are part of the Social Media Clarity audience!

    Request a sample network map

    Episode icon photo CC BY-SA 2.0 taylar @ Flickr


    Randy: Welcome to the Social Media Clarity podcast, 15 minutes of concentrated analysis and advice about social media, in platform and product design.

    Scott: Thanks for listening everyone. This episode is about finding new influencers, connecting with these influencers and getting your message amplified by them. It will be the fourth episode in our new Social Network Analysis Series. What are the other episodes, Marc?

    Marc: Right, we have three episodes already out. Episode 1, the Social Networks 101 podcast. Episode 4, Influence is a Graph, and episode 17, What does your hashtag look like? with our guest Lee Rainie from Pew Internet Research. You might want to listen to any of those if this theme of using network analysis of social media is of interest to you.

    Scott:Additionally, Marc was interviewed in episode 23 of the Next in Nonprofits podcast. The first 15 minutes of that interview may also be helpful if you're new to social network analysis thinking and terminology.

    Today we're talking about influencers and what kind of influencers are we looking for, Marc?

    Marc: Well, many people are interested in finding the people in a conversation stream who seem to have a lot more power to get their messages heard than others. Indeed, it's often the case that there are only a few of the mayors, if you will, of a topic or a hashtag. In many cases, we are interested in finding not the most prominent of these people, what you might think of as the A listers. In many cases we're finding that it's more useful to engage with the B-list. The B-list are the not quite as prominent but still quite influential people who might be a little less jaded, might be a little less busy, might be a little bit more interested in the fact that you notice them. They still play an out-sized role in most of the conversations in which they participate.

    If you calculate a few network metrics about how all of the connections among a group of people in a discussion come together, some of these people really jump out. They're very visible as being ver

    • 19 min
    Two Recipies for Stone Soup

    Two Recipies for Stone Soup

    Two Recipes for Stone Soup [A Fable of Pre-Funding Startups] - Episode 24
    I'm Randy Farmer, and this is another episode from the vault...

    This time: Two Recipes for Stone Soup [A Fable of Pre-Funding Startups]

    This is group reading of a post from Habitat Chronicles originally published in 2008, it was then lost in a drive crash and recovered in 2014.

    Two Recipes for Stone Soup [A Fable of Pre-Funding Startups]
    There once was a young Zen master, who had earned a decent name for himself throughout the land. He was not famous, but many of his peers knew of his reputation for being wise and fair. During his career, he was renowned for his loyalty to whatever dojo he was attached to, usually for many years at a time. One year his patronage decided to merge with another, larger dojo, and the young master found himself unexpectedly looking for a new livelihood. But he was not desperate, as he’d heeded the words of his mentor and had kept close contact with many other Zen masters over the years and considered many options.

    As word spread about the young master’s availability, he began to receive more interest than he could possibly ever fulfill. It took all of his Zen training and long nights just to keep up with the correspondence and meetings. He was getting queries from well-established cooperatives, various governments, charitable groups, many recently formed houses, and even more people who had a grand idea around which to form a whole-new kind of dojo. This latter category was intriguing, but the most fraught with peril. There were too many people with too many ideas for the young master to sort between. So he decided to consult with his mentor. At least one more time, he would be the apprentice and ventured forth to the dojo of his youth, a half-day’s journey away.

    “Master, the road ahead is filled with many choices, some are well traveled roads and others are merely slight indentations in the grass that may some day become paths. How can I choose?” asked the apprentice.

    The mentor replied, “Have you considered the wide roads and the state-maintained roads?”

    “Yes, I know them well and have many reasons to continue on one of them, but these untrodden paths still call to me. It is as if there is a man with his hands at his mouth standing at each one shouting to follow his new path to riches and glory. How do I sort out the truth of their words?” The young master was genuinely perplexed.

    “You are wise, my son, to seek council on this matter — as sweet smelling words are enticing indeed and could lead you down a path of ruin or great fortune. Recount to me now two of the recruiting stories that you have heard and I will advise you.” The mentor’s face relaxed and his eyes closed as he dropped into thought, which was exactly what the young master needed to calm himself sufficiently to relate the stories.

    After the mentor had heard the stories, he continued meditating for several minutes before speaking again: “Former apprentice, do you recall the story and lesson of Stone Soup?”

    “Yes, master. We learned it as young adepts. It is the story of a man who pretended that he had a magic stone for making the world’s best soup, which he then used to convince others to contribute ingredients to the broth until a delicious brew was made. This story was about how leadership and an idea can ease people into cooperating to create great things for the good of them all.” recounted the student. “I can see the similarity between the callers standing on the new paths and the man with the magic stone. Also it is clear that that the ingredients are symbolic of the skills of the potential recruits. But, I don’t see how that helps me.” The apprentice had many years of experience with the mentor, and knew that this challenge would get the answer he was looking for.

    “The stories you told me are two different recipes for Stone Soup,” the master started.

    “The first caller was a man with a certain

    • 10 min
    Quantifying Empathy

    Quantifying Empathy

    Quantifying Empathy - Episode 23
    Twitter Hearts and Facebook Reactions
    TL;DR - You KNOW Marc, Randy, and Scott couldn't let Twitter messing with Favorites and Facebook Reactions go without some spirited discussion.

    Facebook is testing emoji reactions - this is the ‘dislike button’ by Owen Williams @ TNW
    Hearts on Twitter on the Twitter Blog.
    RECLAIMING CONVERSATION : The Power of Talk in a Digital Age is Sherry Terkle's new book which influenced some of Randy's thinking.
    Kaliya Hamlin (@identitywoman) was mentioned during the episode.

    Intro: Welcome to the Social Media Clarity Podcast. Fifteen minutes of concentrated analysis and advice about social media in platform and product design.

    Randy: I'm Randy Farmer

    Scott: I'm Scott Moore.

    Marc: I'm Marc Smith.

    Randy: Really, Twitter, hearts?

    Scott: Really, Facebook? Reactions.

    Randy: Oh, my gosh, guys. We have a lot to talk about since the last time we've had a session. The big social guys have gone nuts for emoticons as a way to express yourself with a single click.

    Scott: We already had ways of expressing ourselves, they were just very generic. Now we're trying to be specific about it.

    Randy: Twitter changes from stars to hearts ...

    Scott: ... and Favorites to Likes.

    Randy: Yeah, and Favorites to Likes. [as if] they're exactly the same. If you think they're the same, people out there, just think what if they changed it back to a pile of crap. Is that the same as a heart, or a star? When I think of Twitter's problems, I don't think this is one of the ones that was very high on the list.

    Scott: No, but it's one of the ones that helps them get attention. It helps generate notifications. They practically said, 'we're not getting enough people using the Favorite, so now we're going to change it to something that more people will use.' That generates notifications, and that brings people back to the app.

    Randy: So, something that was meaningful, now means less.

    Marc: Is it the case that you are more likely to love something than like it?

    Randy: Well, that's not the test on the table in this case. It's Like versus Favorite.

    Marc: Yeah, but the like generates this heart, which suggests love, and it used to be a star. So, we're moving from star to heart. Admittedly, we're going from Favorite to Like, but is there really that much more like than favorite in the world?

    Scott: I think that the context was really different. From what I gauged from the reactions, other than people just hating change, was that Favorite de-noted a bookmark, and then expanded from there. A lot of people were using it as, "I'm saving this link for later", or, "I'm saving this Tweet for later". Some people were using it as, as you would for any signaling system, some people were using it as, "I like what you said". Now, they've actually tightened up the context while at the same time, loosen it, by saying, it's a like, which can mean anything. Anything that's positive. It's a positive mark on it.

    Randy: Right, and they retroactively marked every Favorite a Like.

    How many gillions of those they have, I don't know. At least one person I was talking to yesterday when I first saw this in practice, and was shocked by it, was Kaliya [Hamlin], otherwise known as Identity Woman, and she says, "Oh my God, now I've got to go fix all my Favorites on Twitter, because I don't love most of those things."

    Scott: Yeah. Some people were tweeting out "Liking your tweet is not consent."

    Randy: That's awesome. When we first thought of doing this episode, that hadn't even happened yet. That's just the freshest thing, that happened yesterday. Before that, Facebook was going to start testing the emoticon variants, or they call Reactions, as a response to the demand for dislikes.

    Marc: Right. So, we don't get Dislike, but we get Reactions.

    Randy: Well, and if you look at the reactions, the icons are ambiguous. I don't know if that's a feature or a bug. They do, in fact, include a dislike one, ca

    • 19 min

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