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New Project To End Stupidity Online 336

mrneutron2003 writes to tell us that StupidFilter, a new Open Source project started by Gabriel Ortiz and Paul Starr, plans to provide an intellectual prophylactic for memetically transmitted diseases. "Too long have we suffered in silence under the tyranny of idiocy. In the beginning, the internet was a place where one could communicate intelligently with similarly erudite people. Then, Eternal September hit and we were lost in the noise. The advent of user-driven web content has compounded the matter yet further, straining our tolerance to the breaking point. It's time to fight back."
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New Project To End Stupidity Online

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  • oh shit ... (Score:5, Funny)

    by thrillseeker ( 518224 ) on Monday November 12, 2007 @05:14PM (#21328115)
    ... no wonder it's so quiet here.
    • Hmmm. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) * on Monday November 12, 2007 @05:30PM (#21328377) Homepage Journal

      Perhaps slashdot should implement a requirement for writing a cogent, unique paragraph before it allows a user to have mod points. Then, if they also change the moderation to be accountable (no longer anonymous, and no longer scarce -- see for moderation technology that actually works), it might have a chance at being useful in the sense that one could actually use it to filter messages, instead of being relegated to endlessly observe people use mod points in place of actually expressing a counter opinion.

      Then again, slashdot could continue on with completely broken moderation. I could see that as a possibility, given the existing sample set.

      • Re:Hmmm. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Watson Ladd ( 955755 ) on Monday November 12, 2007 @08:40PM (#21330455)
        I personally think that the slashdot moderations system works quite well. It avoids mod wars, and in my experience has generally promoted comments that deserve to be promoted and buried those that deserve to be burried, no matter what opinions they express. The fact that slashdot conversations are more lively then kuro5hin is worth the slightly less effective moderation system in my opinion.
      • I don't buy it. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Valdrax ( 32670 ) on Monday November 12, 2007 @09:08PM (#21330639)

        see for moderation technology that actually works
        Or one that promotes cliques. Accountability in moderation produces the same abuses it does in voting -- ganging up on people who see things differently from you. Unless something at Kuro5hin has radically changed in the past 2-3 years, count me as not impressed.

        Anonymous moderation is subject to its own sets of abuses, but "accountable" moderation is no panacea.
      • by kwerle ( 39371 ) <> on Monday November 12, 2007 @10:03PM (#21331181) Homepage Journal
        I bailed on a couple of years ago. Basically, it had become popular enough and let people vote on enough things (what got published to what pages, etc), that it seemed that the teaming masses of idiots were running the place. And basically they were.

        As much as some of the editors here are idiots. As much as they fail to edit. As much as they abuse their editorship (quips in the article, changing article text), they are also answerable to someone. And I think that's probably a good and important thing.

        And as much as the mod system here at /. may suck, mostly the crap sinks to the bottom, and good responses float to the top. Especially if you change your modifiers so that responses marked mostly "Funny" are given -2 in your personal filter.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by gwait ( 179005 )
          I just wish Slashdot would increase the dynamic range of the moderation level. The signal to noise level is still very low, with only 11 levels,
          this is a db level of only 20 db. I think it would be interesting if they pushed it up to 65534 mod levels (96 db), (then give out more mod points) so that the distance between really dumbass comments and brilliant ones would be quite high..

          Also, they could track individual categories separately, so you could decide to read the funniest of the flamebait responses (f
    • The funniest part about this? If you look at the comments that this article has spawned, the overall quality is about as low as I've seen on Slashdot for quite some time now.

      Perhaps there is no way to talk about stupidity without causing stupidity to be created anew?
    • Re:oh shit ... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by alexhs ( 877055 ) on Monday November 12, 2007 @05:36PM (#21328451) Homepage Journal
      If we were to exclude the fools, at the end of the day, one would end up all alone, like a fool!

      S'il fallait excepter les imbéciles, à la fin du compte, on se retrouverait tout seul, comme un imbécile !

      -- Raymond Devos

    • Ah yes, the new and improved lameness filter.
    • by syousef ( 465911 ) on Monday November 12, 2007 @07:37PM (#21329961) Journal
      1. This project is online
      2. It's aim is to end stupidity online
      3. But ending stupidity online would require the removal of this project.
      4. Repeat, Recurse And Profit!!!

      My brain hurts.
  • by Kelson ( 129150 ) * on Monday November 12, 2007 @05:14PM (#21328127) Homepage Journal

    From the project FAQ:

    Isn't filtering stupidity elitist?
    Yes. Yes, it is. That's sort of the whole point.

    It brings up an interesting question, though. On my blog, I have two layers of filtering against spam, and I'll delete any spam that gets through. I'll also delete the insults and obvious trolls. But sometimes I'll leave the dumb comments intact. I don't know if it's pity, or the kind of amusement one gets out of, say, lolcats, or what.

    • by ArcherB ( 796902 ) *

      It brings up an interesting question, though. On my blog, I have two layers of filtering against spam, and I'll delete any spam that gets through. I'll also delete the insults and obvious trolls. But sometimes I'll leave the dumb comments intact. I don't know if it's pity, or the kind of amusement one gets out of, say, lolcats, or what.

      Excellent point. I believe that stupidity is protected under the first amendment. I should also note that stupidity is fought in the fifth.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        When it comes to dealing with stupidity, I prefer using the second amendment.

        And when stupid people exercise the Second Amendment... well, that problem tends to take care of itself.

    • Re:My favorite bit (Score:5, Insightful)

      by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Monday November 12, 2007 @05:42PM (#21328527) Homepage Journal
      Bigger problem is who decides what is stupid?
      All too often on Slashdot people actually believe that "Smart==Thinks like me" and "Stupid==Doesn't think like me"
      • What is stupid? (Score:4, Informative)

        by Kelson ( 129150 ) * on Monday November 12, 2007 @05:58PM (#21328721) Homepage Journal

        Bigger problem is who decides what is stupid?

        In the case of this particular project, it's more about the manner of expression rather than the ideas expressed. A short comment consisting of OMGs, LOL's and emoticions, with "ur k3wl i lik ur site" would trip the filter, but (to quote the page again) it "will cheerfully approve an eloquent, properly-capitalized defense of mandatory, state-subsidized rocket-launcher ownership for all schoolchildren."

        In theory, if the filter is trained properly, it should also be able to distinguish between non-native speakers who have only a smattering of English (or another target language) and those who write in 1337-5p3@k and SMS-style abbreviations. But that requires the people training it to make that distinction.

      • by raehl ( 609729 )
        Bigger problem is who decides what is stupid?

        The people with the ability to do so.

        If there is a contest between various people trying to silence those that they deem 'stupid', the stupid people will be the ones who get silenced. If they were not actually stupid, they'd be smart enough to be silencing the people silencing them instead of the other way around.

        Slashdot editors are the exception that proves the rule.
      • I disagree. You are stupid.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ktappe ( 747125 )

        All too often on Slashdot people actually believe that "Smart==Thinks like me" and "Stupid==Doesn't think like me"

        That's definitely not confined to /. Consider the number of Republicans who continue to call Bill Clinton "stupid" when he's demonstrably not, having been awarded the Rhodes Scholarship. (And before you mod me "flamebait", yes, there are examples going the other way too.) It's simply the tendency of the human brain to think all our beliefs are obvious so anyone disagreeing with us is missi

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by LWATCDR ( 28044 )
          Here is a good example of what I consider stupid. Thinking that ones political opinion is fact. I am sick of both parties and all the "independents" as well. I have heard that people claim that Clinton was immoral, but I have never heard anyone say he was stupid. The real truth is it is very unlikely that you can be "stupid" and be elected president. Those that call Bush stupid are just as wrong. Stupid people can not fly a jet fighter which he did or graduate from Yale which he did. You may not like Bush
          • There is a myth around that Bush is stupid. It's untrue and allows him to get away with pretending to be a regular joe.

            To verify this:

            First, the rumours passed around from urban legends [].

            Now his SAT scores from CNN [] were 566 verbal and 640 math.

            And from here we have a setup of pre-1974 SAT scores against IQ [].

            His score of 1206 combined sets him up with an IQ of about 130.

            Now, from the IQ we can look at a distrubution of IQ versus percentage of people with such an IQ [] to see where a 130 IQ puts you, a

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Pecisk ( 688001 )
              When people will get this that Bush isn't that stupid. However, his and his "elite" reasoning seems very wrong to us. Why? Because they simply think and therefore act different. They are shortsighted, and this is a catch - lot of clever people have been. Cleverness and high IQ have nothing to do with skill of insight, skill of understanding balance of the world, skill of knowing how to vet out our opinion and not to be so righteous about it. Skill of understanding of giving something good and getting it bac
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Smauler ( 915644 )

            One of the reasons people call Bush stupid is his complete and total lack of eloquence. Like it or not, people often associate intelligence with ability to form coherent sentences most of the time. I'm not sure how intelligent Bush really is, partially because he never proves his intelligence with decent argument or debate. Others do.

      • See, you are smart.
      • All too often on Slashdot people actually believe that "Smart==Thinks like me" and "Stupid==Doesn't think like me"

        But isn't that true of pretty much everybody? I mean, are there people out there who believe that "Smart==Doesn't think like me" and "Stupid==Thinks like me"? And if so, wouldn't they be so stupid that they wouldn't realise their own stupidity, and so think they're smart after all, and so... [out of stack space]

      • No, you're thinking of digg.

        Actually, if this was on digg it would be 'your thinking of digg'
      • > All too often on Slashdot people actually believe that "Smart==Thinks like me" and "Stupid==Doesn't think like me"

        That only happens in YRO. The rest of Slashdot is surprisingly sane by comparison with practically anywhere, and I have pretty much default filter settings. Anonymous moderation works, in its own subtle way.
      • by 7Ghent ( 115876 )
        I decide what's stupid. In this case, I'm looking for poor use of the language, that is to say formal stupidity rather than contextual stupidity.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        What!!! Smart==Thinks like you; Stupid==doesn't think like you???

        Nonononono. You got it totally wrong! I'll explain: Smart==Thinks like *me*; Stupid==doesn't think like *me*

        Got it?

        Now... who's on first?
    • I liked the next one better:

      Q: Do you really expect to be able to detect and filter anything that's conceivably stupid?

      A: No, of course not. You'd need real AI for that, and beyond a certain point it's simply subjective; after all, a sufficiently advanced AI would probably filter out the whole of human discourse, which isn't the idea.
  • by xPsi ( 851544 ) * on Monday November 12, 2007 @05:14PM (#21328131)
    From TFA: The net has vastly broadened the level of discourse in the world, noone can deny this.

    What I want to know is who this evil Dr. Noone is and why she is allowed to deny things we mere mortals cannot.

  • by Brian Gordon ( 987471 ) on Monday November 12, 2007 @05:15PM (#21328133)
    You AOL whores []
  • Poof (Score:3, Funny)

    by greg1104 ( 461138 ) <> on Monday November 12, 2007 @05:16PM (#21328155) Homepage
    StupidFilter promises to leverage techniques such as Beyesian filtering

    And with that mistake, I'm now filtering out FastSilicon.
  • by RyanFenton ( 230700 ) on Monday November 12, 2007 @05:16PM (#21328159)
    Never as now, has the phrase, "Nothing to see here. Move along" been more appropriate.

    Ryan Fenton
  • Finally something that will prove the stupidity of that man-made global warming theory and remove it from the liberal religion! </troll>
  • This was funny (Score:5, Informative)

    by nunyadambinness ( 1181813 ) on Monday November 12, 2007 @05:17PM (#21328171)
    "the internet was a place where one could communicate intelligently with similarly erudite people"


    Second, it's not 1978 anymore.
  • Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build bigger and better idiot-proof programs, and the Universe trying to produce bigger and better idiots. So far, the Universe is winning.
    -Rich Cook
  • by explosivejared ( 1186049 ) <hagan.jared @ g m a i> on Monday November 12, 2007 @05:22PM (#21328243)
    This just in: Natalie Portman, on behalf of the Hot Grits Council of America and in conjunction with the Reversalmasters of Soviet Russia, has released a statement crying out to end this First Postian genocide. "They are comments just like all the rest. Just because they were born in the mind of a less intelligent person does take away their inalienable rights of commentality."
  • by Lord Ender ( 156273 ) on Monday November 12, 2007 @05:22PM (#21328251) Homepage
    So, basically, this is going to compare every post against 4chan, and if it finds a match, delete it.

    Great idea.

    tits or GTFO.
  • by bonkeydcow ( 1186443 ) on Monday November 12, 2007 @05:30PM (#21328373)
    I for one welcome ..[FILTERED]..
  • by 3seas ( 184403 ) on Monday November 12, 2007 @05:31PM (#21328383) Homepage Journal
    They are going to unplug the internet.
  • by smellsofbikes ( 890263 ) on Monday November 12, 2007 @05:32PM (#21328391) Journal
    Imagine an outbound firewall that poses a series of questions to anyone who tries to use it.
    If you can't solve a grammar problem that requires you to know the difference between "their", "there", and "they're" you don't get to use email.
    If you can't choose the correct definitions from multiple choices for "intellectual property", "piracy", "flame", and "rtfm" you don't get to use the web.
    If you can't solve a quadratic equation, your computer is set to inbound traffic only.

    Problem solved.
    • To one side of the 'getting online safely test' are a bunch of random Google ads. One is for a "See Natalie Portman Naked! Click here! (requires installation of viewer software)" link.
      We'll be nice and give them the benefit of the doubt -- they have to click on both that *and* the subsequent screen, that says, "install natalie.exe? Y/N" and only then does the shaped charge in the keyboard go off and blow off both their hands.
      • That's not such a bad idea. Have the downloaded file pretend to wipe their hard disk and then tell them they're stupid. Repeat periodically to remind them.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by teh moges ( 875080 )
        ... and then the naked pictures of Natalie Portman appear?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Idarubicin ( 579475 )

      It should involve gradiated access

      Would now be a good time to point out that 'gradiated' isn't a word? (Perhaps you meant 'graduated'....)

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Actually, I meant "sorted according to a gradient []".
        Graduated would work, but would imply that once passed, the test would not have to be taken again, which would allow for cheaters and nogoodniks. I think they -- well, we -- should have to take the test every time.
    • by Qubit ( 100461 )

      If you can't solve a quadratic equation, your computer is set to inbound traffic only.
      I can see it now:

      "Oh MAN, I can't get online anymore. I need to get some roots. Anyone got some roots for me? Please? OMG, PLEASE someone give me some roots for this thing. I need my fix!"

      We'll start seeing 1-900 numbers advertising "Quadratic Equations Solved: Only $4.99/min!"
  • by hurfy ( 735314 ) on Monday November 12, 2007 @05:33PM (#21328401)
    The server at is taking too long to respond.

    Apparently not as fast as someone thought it was :(
    Ok who is the wiseguy that is actually reading the article.
  • Nice, but... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Godman ( 767682 ) on Monday November 12, 2007 @05:33PM (#21328405) Homepage Journal
    ... too bad it'll never be able to detect irony. As a sarcastic person, I rely on savage mockery to let my hatred of idiocy show.

  • by Lord Ender ( 156273 ) on Monday November 12, 2007 @05:34PM (#21328419) Homepage
    First they came for the cliches, but I didn't speak up because I wasn't a cliche. Then they came for the memes...
  • Maybe have some sort of ratings system, like the lame ass parental warnings, but for adults. Have something like ST-8, for so stupid that anyone with a cognitive age or eight or above should not watch. For people who blunder onto Faux Noise, they should be warned with a VS-LDSV, meaning Very Stupid - Lies, Distortions, Stupidity and Vitriol.
  • by tulmad ( 25666 ) on Monday November 12, 2007 @05:38PM (#21328479)
    I hope they are very successful in their efforts. That's certainly a project I'll gladly contribute to.
  • Slashdotted (Score:4, Insightful)

    by exley ( 221867 ) on Monday November 12, 2007 @05:38PM (#21328483) Homepage
    Looks like they managed to filter themselves...
  • by UnknowingFool ( 672806 ) on Monday November 12, 2007 @05:42PM (#21328523)
    Dvorak seen in New York City just outside Wall Street shoeless and holding a sign: "Will make wild, unsupported predictions for food."
  • by Dachannien ( 617929 ) on Monday November 12, 2007 @05:45PM (#21328555)
    Not only does the stupidity filter help you rise to a higher echelon of intelligence, but it'll save you money, too! Your ISP will be happy to install the stupidity filter on your connection, and it's easy to sign up. Simply stop paying your Internet service bill, and your ISP will add the stupidity filter to your connection in no time! (Allow four to six weeks for delivery.)

  • If this works out like the War on Terror, War on Drugs, War on Poverty, and War on War,... well, I for one welcome the New Idiots to the internet this initiative will create.

    The ONLY solution, I could think of, is a "WhiteList" lookup. It would work with a "sand box" a "baby pool", the "shallow end" and "we are so hip deep we R Ultra Kewl Geeks" -- of course, that is the "Deep End" of the Gene pool. You just create a slashdot/wikipedia training wheels program (OK, I do marketing on the side -- sue me for to
  • Does anybody else hear the song:

    "Wake Me up...When september ends!"

    and laugh uncontrollably? Maybe think that Green Day is a bunch of usenet users.

    yeah, me neither ;-)
  • The existence of an Online Stupid Filter (as opposed to a stupid online filter, which would be an entirely different thing, perhaps) bears an amazingly (coincidence, I think NOT) strong resemblance to the "Proof That God Doesn't Exist" from Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy.

    "I refuse to prove that I exist," says God, "for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing."

    "But," says Man, "the Babel fish is a dead giveaway isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves that you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don't. Q.E.D."

    "Oh dear," says God, "I hadn't thought of that," and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.
    (Oh dear, I wonder if any proponents of Intelligent Design have ever read Hitchhikers?)

    If there were such a thing as an Online Stupid Filter, it would have filtered itself out of existence.

    Due to many/most of its pages being references to suchlike aforementioned stupidity. A blue-light filter works by absorbing blue-light, a coffee-filter works by absorbing coffee (well, the grounds, at least) - any guess what a Stupid Filter absorbs?

    Due to the vast majority of The Internet being not much more than stupidity, and in much the same way as a Black Hole will absorb all light and therefore be essentially invisible (we have never *found* a black hole, just a whole bunch of conditions which theory predicts would be "caused by black holes").

    Seriously folks, The Stupidity Filter obviously doesn't work - the proof is in most comments on this page (present company excepted, naturally).
  • It gets a +5 funny all by itself.
  • by 7Ghent ( 115876 ) on Monday November 12, 2007 @06:12PM (#21328919) Homepage
    And you didn't link the actual website in the post. It's []
    Go ahead, slashdot me. I dare ya.
  • Joo Janta 200 Super-Chromatic Peril Sensitive Sunglasses have been specially designed to help people develop a relaxed attitude to XXXdangerXXX Stupidity. At the first hint of trouble, they turn totally black and thus prevent you from seeing anything that might alarm you. Ya know...Like comments from
  • The Facepunch Studios forums [] already have these guys beat with their forums' Smartness filter. It's awesome. Wish all forums used it. And /.'s discussions while we're at it.
  • by MrKaos ( 858439 ) on Monday November 12, 2007 @06:31PM (#21329145) Journal
    Stupid people are so ingenious.
  • Too long have we suffered in silence under the tyranny of idiocy.

    Including from people who incorrectly, implicitly, claim to be non-idiotic.

    In the beginning, the internet was a place where one could communicate intelligently with similarly erudite people.

    I don't usually do language trolls, but that's really rich coming from someone who can't spell "Internet" properly, and who directly implies the clearly false notion that today online, one cannot "communicate intelligently with similarly erudite people."


  • ...the backbones comprising internet itself had to be brought down by their administrators today. It seems an inescapable loop was created the moment this filter happened across itself.
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Monday November 12, 2007 @06:52PM (#21329437) Homepage

    Skip the ad-laden overloaded blogodreck site and go directly to StupidFilter. [] The concept is straightforward - they're training a naive Bayesian classifier, like a spam filter, on a set of text excerpts rated by humans. You can look at random samples from the training set [] for amusement.

    Wikipedia already has some 'bots that do somewhat similar things, looking for totally bogus edits and reverting them. Yahoo's "commercial intent" filter also does something like that, to separate commercial and non-commercial sites. We considered something like that for SiteTruth [], where we need to distinguish non-commercial sites so we don't rate them by business criteria.

    This approach to filtering will probably need domain-dependent filters. A political site, a social site, a sports site, and a game site all need different training sets. I'd go for a two-stage classifier, one that divided sites into about ten to twenty major categories, and then a stupidity filter trained for each of those categories.

    Applying such a filter at blog posting time should be interesting.

    And the characters in these books, and plays, and so on, and in real life, I might add, spend hours bemoaning the fact that they can't communicate. I feel that if a person can't communicate the very least he can do is to shut up. - Tom Lehrer.

  • by azgard ( 461476 )
    We don't need to filter stupidity. That's easy. Both Slashdot and Wikipedia systems (albeit very different ones) do it very well. We need to filter misinformation, omissions, lies and logical fallacies instead. That's the hard part; because these often appear quite logical.
  • Personally I advocate a slightly different approach: the stupid tag. Before getting an internet connection, everyone would be required to take a basic computer competency test, perhaps with some general social questions on etiquette as well. Pass the test, and you get a regular connection. Fail it, and everything being sent out by you gets tagged with the stupid tag, which people can then filter by. Would require some infrastructure work, but I believe it would be worth it.
  • That sounds like a stupid idea. Will the filter filter itself?
  • I, for one, do NOT welcome our sesquipedalian overlords. Sometimes "More and longer words" =/= "better than"

I THINK MAN INVENTED THE CAR by instinct. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.