TED Conversations

Aja B.
  • Aja B.
  • New York, NY
  • United States

Online Community Manager, TED


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We're making a small change to TED Conversations

Hello all! I wanted to let you know that we're in the process of making a small change to the TED Conversations platform.

It's been a great year and a half since the debut of TED Conversations, and you've had some excellent discussions in that time. We're constantly impressed by the breadth, depth, and diversity of topics and participants here.

Unfortunately, we've also seen a growing number of inappropriate, spam, and abusive topics, which our small team has worked around the clock to remove. Over time, this has become a bit overwhelming. In response, and in order to continue to provide a space for meaningful conversation and debate, we're rolling out a simple approval process for new Conversation topics.

What will this mean? Well, submitting a new idea, question, or debate will work as it always has. You'll use the same form to enter a title, description, related TEDTalks, and a timeframe for the discussion. Once you click Submit, your Conversation will enter an approval queue, where the TED team will read and publish it within 24 hours (though usually much faster). If we can't publish it, we'll send you an email with feedback and instructions on how to re-submit. Once approved, the new Conversation will work as always, with TEDizens around the world joining in your discussion to talk, brainstorm, and collaborate.

Our hope is that this small change will provide a stronger and more consistent experience for you and for the rest of the online TED community. As always, we'd love to hear from you! Please get in touch with us below, or at conversations@ted.com with any thoughts or feedback you'd like to share.

Thank you, and we look forward to seeing your future TED Conversations!


Aja Bogdanoff
TED Conversations Team


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    Oct 13 2012: The moderation you mean? Then I suggest we all talk about it, because I found TED to be a place for pertinent, high quality conversations (generally speaking) and censoring measurements like this one are damaging to the image and the cause itself.

    Censoring someone is at central level is profoundly anti-democratic. Should we allow authorities to censor what information reaches us over the Internet? Was it cool that Egyptian authorities were able to shut down the Internet and virtually all communication to oppress those that faught for personal liberties which were in disagreement with the policy of the government? I think TED is about that freedom and not about the censorship.

    There are ways to mediate discussions, to filter out spam or indecent behaviour, but it must done by the people not at by the centre. Here is just one possibility:

    People can register on TED with 0 credibility, as in neutral. No negative, no positive. Every thumb up would push a person (increase credibility) every thumb down (needs to be introduced but it can't be that complicated as the thumb up is already there, will decrease a persons credibility. It can even be made so that successive thumb up/down work by increasing/decreasing credibility exponentially.

    After the credibility system is in place a simple "sort by credibility" option would allow people to find conversations that are relevant and pertinent. But on the other hand it would allow other people as well to work their way up the ladder as a true democracy should.

    The sole existence of such a system (as simple as it is) will compel people to behave and conform to the standards imposed so far on this forum. After all, if one speaks, one wants to be heard so it is in the best interest of everybody to conform, and to participate in discussions by grading other people.

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      Oct 13 2012: 1. TED is a private organization, not a democracy. Nobody has an inalienable "right" to post here saying anything they want to in any way they want to. Freedom of Speech is not applicable in a private organization. TED gets to set their own rules. That is the only way to ensure TED meets the standards of a community that can have constructive conversations pertaining to the exchange of ideas worth spreading, and not the type of "ideas" (conversation content) prohibited in the "Terms of Use".

      2. No...do not implement a "Thumbs Down" rating capability. The concept of TED is to allow the exchange of ideas in a civilized manner where an objective person will not be offended just because someone disagrees with them. I do not want any system where my "credibility" can be reduced just because someone else is not objective and thinks a dissenting opinion or idea is "wrong" solely because THEY don't agree with it...then have the ability to "discredit" me as retaliation with a mouse-click on a Thumbs Down icon. If someone wants to try to "discredit" an opposing view, make a reply post explaining why they don't agree so the entire community can see who is doing the "discrediting".
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        Oct 13 2012: I somewhat new to TED, so out of respect to the organization and all the people that have been here before me I really do not wish to escalate this. I am just hoping to participate here in something constructive.

        1. When an organization reaches such a magnitude like TED, it can longer hide behind the rules of small scale private sector where democracy is applied somewhat differently. It has the potential and intention to impact so many lives that it becomes subject to a new set or rules of morality, which are not perceived at small scale level. A private organization of the kind you are saying would have a tag like "Ideas worth telling me and I do what I want with them", which is not the case.

        2. If a simple thumbs down functionality is not working (and I will trust you and Aja on this one), more complicated algorithms may be implemented. Something that monitors peoples behaviour (willingness to comment the post after reading it, willingness to give thumbs up, willingness to follow the subject by returning to the page again and again multiplexed with it's credibility of the member who performs these actions, and perhaps a hidden thumb down which is exclusive to trusted members and staff.
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      Oct 13 2012: Just to let you know, we did actually have a thumbs-down button, along with the thumbs-up button, for over a year. I don't know if anyone here remembers that time, but it was completely and totally abused. A member who disagreed with another member could suddenly find themselves dropping 1,500 "points" over the course of a few days, and members with offensive and argumentative positions would suspiciously have the highest scores.

      Which isn't to say that such a system can't work, obviously sites like Reddit use up/down voting to great success... but we did try a version it, and had a pretty bad experience. Perhaps we'll give it another go someday.

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