Updates on our project to fix up the Slate message boards.

Help rebuild Slate's aging message boards.
May 31 2007 3:22 PM

Fix-the-Fray Blog

Updates on our project to repair the Slate message boards.

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This is a big step, and we're not sure exactly how it will turn out. We encourage you to use the ratings if they help you to find good posts. And we hope you'll ignore them if they don't. (You will also have the option to turn off the ratings altogether.)

One more thing: If you'd prefer a more objective measure of public opinion, we'll also have readership counters for each post. You'll be able to sort through the boards to find the threads that received the most views from other users.

Finally, a note on your Fray accounts: Starting this week, we should have a script up and running to help you migrate from the old system to the new one. You'll be prompted to reserve your user name and password for the relaunch in June. The Fray editors will be available to help resolve any difficulties caused by the new script. If you have trouble logging in next week, shoot them a message at frayeditor@slate.com.

—Daniel Engber

Time to address the issue of "star posters." In theory, the star-shaped icons in the Fray are supposed to flag the work of our best and most thoughtful reader-commentators. They reward the top users and help the rest of us sift through to the work of the certified pros.

The poll results on this were a tossup, with a slight majority in favor of keeping the current system.

Fray Star poster poll results

Those who'd have us keep the star icons appreciate them for raising the level of discourse on the boards. Not only do the stars make it easier to find good posts, but they also inspire better writing and more thoughtful ideas from other users (hoping to earn their own stars).

But not all of these un-starred Fraysters are dying to join the in-crowd. Many find the star-poster system elitist or unfair. They wonder how the Fray editors decide who gets a star and who doesn't. A few starred users even lament the responsibility of toting around the icon on every post.

Both sides make excellent points, but ultimately, we've decidedto abolish the star system.