Slashcode is a perl
-based web automation
package which represents a novel approach to organizing public discourse
using electronic democracy
. Similar to everything
, and written and maintained, in fact, by some of the same people.
Slashcode sites are organized around stories, which can be commented on by users. These comments can then be rated by other users (although no user can rate comments in a discussion in which they participated, among other restrictions), and the sum of ratings (positive and negative) done on a given user's comments is retained by the system, and referred to as that user's karma.
Users are chosen to rate comments (called "moderating") at random from the pool of currently active users who are not especially new to the system, have non-negative karma, are regular but not fanatic visitors, and have not opted out of the moderation system. They can only moderate a small number (generally five, though configurable) of comments at a time - and this option expires after a short period of time (3 days, configurable). Subjectively, the likelihood of being able to moderate is extremely low on a given day, week, or month. This mitigates agenda voting and drive-by voting.
In addition, there is a second layer, called "metamoderation", in which any user may rate the moderations done to ten randomly selected, previously moderated comments. This hopefully mitigates what abuses of moderation still occur.
The net effect is that users of Slashcode-based sites may read the comments attached to stories with the highest-rated comments sorted to the top. This generally has a profound effect, perhaps recreating the first exhilirating days of non-electronic democracy, before the disciplines for subverting it matured into competency, as remarkably intelligent responses, often more interesting than the story itself, are prominently displayed, while the spam, trolls, and other garbage which have characterized unmoderated public forums since the opening of the internet are sorted down to the depths of the page, never to be seen again, except by the curious.
Not everyone agrees that such systems work, however, the consensus is that they work better than anything else ever has. There are interesting parallels between public electronic forums and other, less modern entities, such as government. The rise and relative success (even under significant scale demands) of electronic democracies of the Slashcode/Everything family may have significant and far-reaching implications for other more traditional "real world" democracies, as these practices are refined, and more people begin to ask why these rather common-sense advances aren't being applied where they could do some real good.