I (and WSO) Need Your Help

Dear WSO Members,

I was contacted earlier this week by a reporter from Buzzfeed to get my perspective on several (very) disturbing posts that were in the forums and interpreted as being "allowed or permitted" by WSO (which is not the case).  

The truth is much simpler.  There are over 1,000 posts,...every day...8-10k/week, 30k+ per month.  My full-time team is small and we allocate a high percentage of our operating budget to moderating already, so it's not as easy for us to simply hire more moderators... especially with the volume of arguments and flag violations hitting the moderation table every day. 

Making it more difficult is identifying the often nuanced and subtle violations while also trying to allow for free speech and differing opinions to coexist.

We block thousands of users and remove tens of thousands of posts each year BUT there are still disturbing comments and threads slipping through the cracks.    

So how do we get better?

What about extending moderation roles to members with a rationale approach, respect for differing opinions and balanced views?  Maybe if we had an additional 2-3 dedicated moderators that are frequent WSO users to review the potential violations table at set times, we could get violations removed faster and less violations would slip through.  We've had volunteer moderators in the past and it didn't go well, but I am open to trying again and keeping it to a smaller but more dedicated group.

If you're open to helping us, please reply here in this thread or email me and I'll reach out to you to set up a call.

How can all members help?  If you are a registered member, you can flag any post using the red icon at the bottom of any comment/post.

My hope is that WSO can improve and keeps pushing against the global trends to be a place where we foster an environment of respect...and that WSO continues to be where students and professionals from around the world, regardless of their background, can develop superior career skills and access the same opportunities as those with the most privilege.  

Thank you,

Patrick

Below is the email from Tom at Buzzfeed, which outlines the framework of the article that is going to be published...   

Hi Patrick,

Thanks so much for reaching out with these and taking the time to chat yesterday. 

I wanted to make sure that I sent over some more details about the posts that we would be covering so that you would have a chance to comment on them. 

One is the South African riots post that I mentioned. The post won a forum sticker for being the most controversial within the thread, and was left online, despite being complained about. One of the respondents to the thread CC'd Wall Street Oasis' chief operating officer, Andy Louis and said: "The fact that you let shit like this exist on literally every thread with no disciplinary action is gross. Hire some more fucking moderators and ban the racist shitposters. You guys have been looking the other way for far too long while claiming to be working on improving the environment here."

Louis did not respond to the comments. The thread itself was left online and the user who made the racist comments, who claims to work in commercial real estate, continues to use the forum.

Additionally we will report on a post which contained both anti-semetic and racist material discussing tech billionaires, and a further post where a user named "shitonminoritieschad" posted about what he would wear when "undercover amongst "troublesome" communities, scouting potential raiding targets for my local Klan chapter". 

We will include comments from people who have complained about WSO and their belief that the amount of prejudicial material on the forum has grown. This includes one saying that the site had gone "full Stormfront," referring to the notoritous white supremacist forum. The next day another user launched a post complaining about the Alt-Right views on the site. "I've been browsing this site for the last four years, but recently (3-6 months) there have been posts on this website that make me do a double take." Questioning whether the owners of the site allow it, the user said that "even when you report these posts, half the time they are not taken down"

Weeks later another thread started complaining about "not Republican, but borderline White Supremacist views". Another user agreed. "I'm a self-described far-right conservative who utterly detests political correctness and woke ideology (which I believe is an evil secular religion) and even I was troubled by the racism of the South Africa thread."

We will also report an interview with a former user of the site describing their experiences seeing prejudicial material on the forum. 

Additionally, I wanted to check some of the forum rules, as posted online. The rules says that the site forbids political discussion unless it relates to finance. I wanted to check that was still the case and ask how it is enforced? 

Additionally the site has a page with rules for moderators, that they must work a minimum two hours, two days a week. Are there any voluntary moderators, in addition to the two full time staff that you mentioned? 

Hope well and all best, 

Tom

--

Tom Warren

Investigative Reporter

BuzzFeed UK 

Comments (181)

Most Helpful
2mo
JSmithRE2010, what's your opinion? Comment below:

There are seriously only like 2-3 guys posting that mega racist stuff, and it's so obvious when they start up a new account.

Just give me admin privileges to shut down those super obvious racist / troll accounts as soon as I see them, and have your full time staff review my decision after the fact.

If you have 5-10 certified users with the privilege I described above, you can stamp these guys out.

As a side-note, Tom from buzzfeed sounds incredibly sad / broke. Based on UK IB salaries, Tom is most definitely poor as hell. Sucks to be Tom from buzzfeed.

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2mo
poignant, what's your opinion? Comment below:

To add. If you had some more verification like LinkedIn but with the twist that it all stays private, it would help a lot. A way of verifying your professional identity with WSO but your public profile has a verified but private view to regular participants of the site.

Really the problem seems alts accounts from trolls

2mo
Synergy_or_Syzygy, what's your opinion? Comment below:

This should come as no surprise as the moderation on this site is extremely lackluster. I have read many things on this forum from verified users that honestly make me ashamed to be a contributor to the site. I've seen posts stay up that clearly break site rules and have had to email the site admins and moderators directly before to get them rectified. 

Patrick, you basically have to decide whether this website is intended to be a professional career resource or a free speech zone. 

Be excellent to each other, and party on, dudes.
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2mo
Dr. Rahma Dikhinmahas, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Disappointing you think a professional career resource can't co-exist with free speech.  To me the problem isn't free speech, its people who don't believe in it.  From where I sit, the site seems to work well as both a career resource and a place for people to blow off steam about something besides breaking into the industry.  You seem to be saying choose one or the other, because Tom from Buzzfeed sent an email.

2mo
monkey0114, what's your opinion? Comment below:
[Comment removed by mod team]
2mo
FinancelsWacc, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Agree this is the way to go - giving folks actual moderator powers / ability to ban is different than something like a "heightened trust score".

1. Select few certified users per the OP comment, folks that can apply temporary bans / purges to comments, all of which are prioritized for review by your team.

2. Perhaps another 10-15 frequenters (happy to be one) that are given "second priority" in the que from #1 above. These people wouldn't be able to action any mutes / purges but they'd see their own "flag" button that would allow you to review these quickly

3. By default, comments and posts that get multiple flags from users should be prioritized (and likely already is), but a system that heavily weights flags from certified users / users with more bananas (or perhaps most earned bananas in last X months) might help wade through the tens of thousands of comments / reports.

I'm a fan of verification / longer vintages on this site earnings you into privilege's like the above, however I must voice my opposition to banning anon posts / comments. Honestly, the internet is a scary / crazy place and I'm sure a person with enough malintent and time could find out who I was from my post and comment history. That concern is only heightened as there are most touchpoints. I bet there are plenty of folks trying to breach WSO's security if there is any way to discern the identities of users on here. Suppressing voices and forcing verification will contribute to a shit customer experience, high barrier to entry, and increase risk of blackmail. I honestly think it would kill WSO.

I'm glad everyone agrees this guy sounds like a complete fucking turd that didn't do more than 10 minutes of "investigation". This site has done wonders for me and I hate that it is under attack because of a very loud minority.

1mo
throwingawaytime, what's your opinion? Comment below:
JSmithRE2010

There are seriously only like 2-3 guys posting that mega racist stuff, and it's so obvious when they start up a new account.

Just give me admin privileges to shut down those super obvious racist / troll accounts as soon as I see them, and have your full time staff review my decision after the fact.

If you have 5-10 certified users with the privilege I described above, you can stamp these guys out.

As a side-note, Tom from buzzfeed sounds incredibly sad / broke. Based on UK IB salaries, Tom is most definitely poor as hell. Sucks to be Tom from buzzfeed.

2mo
Arroz con Pollo, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Patrick, I've read your forum for several years now and have actively posted over the past year. The only true racism I see comes from that Vaennen guy who actually seems like he's not a troll. That "shitminoritieschad" is 100% without a doubt a troll who makes several new accounts and says the same nonsense about "waspy broads" and "Anglo saxon" stuff.

Anyone who frequently visits these forums will know those trolls stating racist nonsense are not indicative of the actual users of the site. Sometimes when I search by new, I'll see tens of posts like that from trolls. It's a handful of trolls who do this shit and try to paint WSO on a bad image.

I'm a minority from a family of immigrants and have found WSO to give invaluable advice. I landed a 6 figure job in finance in part due to the advice I read on this forum. I make more than pretty much anyone else I know in the same age group, and that's partially bevauce if you. Anyone who tries to get this place shut down or paint WSO in a bad light about "misogynistic racists" lives a sad life.

Sounds like this reporter is trying to do a hit piece. If he took the time to go through the posts, he'd see the majority are college kids asking stupid ranking questions. Then he'd see the smaller in quantity but amazing quality posts from professionals about actual life in a finance role, whether it be banking, corporate finance, or even accounting.

There are liberals such as USCDThrowaway and Ozymandia who I fundamentally disagree with on almost everything, and they seem to call everything they don't like racist, but they have a right to post. Same with more conservative users like myself and PrivateTechuityGME. WSO is a great place, and yes, it's become more politicized over the years, but what hasn't?

The fact a Buzzfeed reporter who works for a company that hasn't published a legitimate journalistic piece since it's inception is trying to tear down a bastion of free speech in the finance community is a sign of those with no skill coming after something successful.

Not to put words in your mouth Patrick, but I think you would agree with some of what I've written. Some you might say you don't feel the same way about, and that's ok. We don't have to agree with everything other people say. Disagreeing and continuing on with our day is called maturity, something many people lack nowadays.

I remember googling Wall Street as a little kid and this site popped up. No idea what anything was, but I remember thinking it was cool because I liked Egyptians and pyramids, and "oasis" is commonly associated with the desert. Forgot this place existed until high school and rediscovered it while reading about "finance" because I watched Wolf of Wall Street.

Anyways, I want to say thank you for creating this place. I'm able to provide for my family in a way I didn't think would be possible until I was much older in part due to info I read on this site. Also, to the buzzfeed reporter, do true due diligence before coming at a website and using a clearly troll user as an example of racism.

2mo
UCSDThrowaway, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Arroz con Pollo

Patrick, I've read your forum for several years now and have actively posted over the past year. The only true racism I see comes from that Vaennen guy who actually seems like he's not a troll. That "shitminoritieschad" is 100% without a doubt a troll who makes several new accounts and says the same nonsense about "waspy broads" and "Anglo saxon" stuff.

Anyone who frequently visits these forums will know those trolls stating racist nonsense are not indicative of the actual users of the site. Sometimes when I search by new, I'll see tens of posts like that from trolls. It's a handful of trolls who do this shit and try to paint WSO on a bad image.

I'm a minority from a family of immigrants and have found WSO to give invaluable advice. I landed a 6 figure job in finance in part due to the advice I read on this forum. I make more than pretty much anyone else I know in the same age group, and that's partially bevauce if you. Anyone who tries to get this place shut down or paint WSO in a bad light about "misogynistic racists" lives a sad life.

Sounds like this reporter is trying to do a hit piece. If he took the time to go through the posts, he'd see the majority are college kids asking stupid ranking questions. Then he'd see the smaller in quantity but amazing quality posts from professionals about actual life in a finance role, whether it be banking, corporate finance, or even accounting.

There are liberals such as USCDThrowaway and Ozymandia who I fundamentally disagree with on almost everything, and they seem to call everything they don't like racist, but they have a right to post. Same with more conservative users like myself and PrivateTechuityGME. WSO is a great place, and yes, it's become more politicized over the years, but what hasn't?

The fact a Buzzfeed reporter who works for a company that hasn't published a legitimate journalistic piece since it's inception is trying to tear down a bastion of free speech in the finance community is a sign of those with no skill coming after something successful.

Not to put words in your mouth Patrick, but I think you would agree with some of what I've written. Some you might say you don't feel the same way about, and that's ok. We don't have to agree with everything other people say. Disagreeing and continuing on with our day is called maturity, something many people lack nowadays.

I remember googling Wall Street as a little kid and this site popped up. No idea what anything was, but I remember thinking it was cool because I liked Egyptians and pyramids, and "oasis" is commonly associated with the desert. Forgot this place existed until high school and rediscovered it while reading about "finance" because I watched Wolf of Wall Street.

Anyways, I want to say thank you for creating this place. I'm able to provide for my family in a way I didn't think would be possible until I was much older in part due to info I read on this site. Also, to the buzzfeed reporter, do true due diligence before coming at a website and using a clearly troll user as an example of racism.

Bruh.. I'm a registered Republican and literally voted mitt Romney for president while you were probably in grade school. Stop with the nonsense 

2mo
IncomingIBDreject, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Even I am somehow considered left-leaning on this site lol (when people write about me on this site that's what they say). 

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1mo
Ozymandia, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Arroz con Poll

There are liberals such as USCDThrowaway and Ozymandia who I fundamentally disagree with on almost everything, and they seem to call everything they don't like racist, but they have a right to post. Same with more conservative users like myself an

I don't use the term racist, so you must be confusing me for someone else.

And there are a lot of fucking bigots on this site.  I happen to agree that most of them seem to be the same few people making multiple burner accounts, but that doesn't mean half the topics in the Off Topic Forum aren't something along the lines of "would you let your daughter date a minority?".

2mo
Deal Team Six, what's your opinion? Comment below:

First and foremost, happy to help out in any way if you need additional bodies to help monitor for objectively racist / sexist content. I am obviously biased, but I believe I have a fairly impartial perspective given that I typically try to avoid the most controversial topics (e.g., political posts). I am fairly active on this site as it is my go to for down time during the work day so I usually log on 1+ times per day. 

With respect to the article from Buzzfeed, I hope Tom is viewing this thread and reads my comment firsthand. I broke my response out in sections below: 

Analyzing the Data

Tom's point is that WSO either condones or ignores objectively racist and sexist content, but what it insinuates is far worse. It implies that racist and sexist finance professionals flock to WSO to attack and ridicule others. What a ridiculous comment to make, talk about an inability to analyze data correctly.

At this point WSO is essentially a mini-Reddit, in the sense that WSO observes a massive wave of new content being generated every day. Like Reddit, no company has the staff to monitor and regulate all posts AND OF COURSE COMMENTS, so the notion that WSO condones content they haven't viewed is ridiculous. Also, this site has 850k+ users throughout his history, and I am willing to wager that all racist / sexist comments have been made by less than 0.1% of the user base. Lastly, look at pure number of comments (3+ million). In the event that less than 0.01% of comments are racist, are we supposed to conclude that this platform is a breeding ground for racist groups? Tom, have you ever heard of 4chan? I would recommend you explore some of the more controversial parts of the internet and look at what sort of conversations take place there.  

The Intent of Buzzfeed's Piece

When you think about writing a piece like this, you have to acknowledge up front you are aiming to attack a FREE RESOURCE, with a purpose and mission statement of helping individuals gain access to information that allows them to break into highly competitive industries. Further, the platform focuses on informing others, and the majority of the posts are educational in nature. Where else can you directly ask questions and have them answered by professionals with 10+ YOE without paying for it or knowing them personally?

So, just to be clear about the intent of YOUR article, you seek to sabotage a resource, free of charge to all users, with a mission statement of helping people break into a competitive industry in order to generate click bait-esque content on your D-grade "news" outlet? You are doing so in the name of uncovering racism and sexism, but you aren't providing any "solves". Good thing you're not a consultant, because anyone can stand there and point out flaws for a platform as large as WSO. Stating that they should simply "hire more moderators" isn't simple when you have a FREE website that operates on lean margins.

It speaks to the character of BuzzFeed that they would try and go after an entire platform due to a few bad apples. This seems like another low-hanging fruit approach to vilifying the finance industry.

Buzzfeed's Understanding of WSO as a Resource and Platform

Tom, if you were aware of WSO activity at all, you would notice the community has called this exact predicament (a minority number of racists / misogynistic users) multiple times and the community and the staff are actively working toward solves. When you have a platform with as much new content per day as WSO, there will always be an inability for staff to read and regulate all the new content as it comes out. If your interpretation is that WSO is a racist platform, you clearly haven't made the effort to read through the top posts, look at the thousands of examples of people working together to support one another, or seen the impact of the top 100 users, which has been solely to educate and inform. Did you even bother to take a devils advocate approach, and try to connect with some of the user base that sees WSO in a positive light, and ask them what they got out of it? Probably not, because what news source ever thinks about things objectively anymore? That would deconstruct your thesis, which is a predetermined mentality that WSO is for evil, racist, sexist finance professionals. What a ludicrous perspective. 

2mo
GeorgeSorosFinanceMaster, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Can we ban the poster that goes by Vaennen?  The dude has been on the site for a year posting nothing but anti-Semitism.  I have reported several of his worst posts and nothing has happened.

antisemitism on wso

Here's an example.  Either he's making bots to give himself silver bananas or he has some friends who agree with him.  The fact that he's been saying stuff like this for months and months suggests WSO needs to moderate more.

2mo
pappymason, what's your opinion? Comment below:
[Comment removed by mod team]
2mo
financeabc, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I do not know what your tech capabilities are but you should probably restrict new accounts from posting in the off topic forum.  You can either set an account age minimum restriction or a minimum/banana/post minimum to be able to post in the off topic forum.  A racist, or anti-semitic troll is not going to want to work very hard to get his point across.  

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2mo
Stonks1990, what's your opinion? Comment below:

WSO is a fantastic informational hub, with a variety of seasoned and talented players. I can't tell you how many great posts I've read on here. I've learned a lot about other sectors within my own industry that I can't even find in my own office - being able to see things from a different perspective is ideal. There are a lot of really good people on here, demonstrated by those who are passionate about the industry they fall in and are more than happy to share that with the world. 

Then, there's the shit. Everyone knows what I'm referencing - the racism, sexism, everything done behind the facade of a screen. I get it - it's the internet, and speech is free. But there's a fine line between free speech and being comparative, argumentative, and downright insulting just for the fun of it. On one hand, I don't think about those people at all - I am sure they're fairly miserable IRL, and get some small sense of joy out of starting shit on an internet forum because God knows they would never dare open their mouths in real life. But, I've given them my thirty seconds, and won't continue to shit on anonymous internetgoers. 

This is a prime example of how a few bad apples can ruin the reputation of an otherwise fantastic website. As Arroz mentioned, Buzzfeed is a tabloid dressed in a cheap suit and will do anything for clicks. It still doesn't reflect an accurate statement of how the good outweighs the bad on here, and I appreciate you bringing it to our concern. With that being said, I'd be happy to step in for a moderation position - similar to DT6, I'm always on this website at work when I'm killing time. At this current moment, I'm in my office waiting for interns to do intern shit. It's a nice place to waste time, with it being ever-so-slightly more productive than watching YouTube. 

I'm online probably 1-2hrs per day and feel as if I'm pretty fair. I've never really gotten involved in a political argument, and have tried to ensure that I'm without bias and fair when engaging in debates. I'd also like to highlight some individuals who I think would be excellent at a content regulation job - some of those that come to mind immediately are [Deal Team Six], [Pierogi Equities], and [Malta] as I have seen nothing but logical content and sound reasoning from them in every capacity. 

Best of luck to you in your attempt to continue to improve the website. Glad I randomly clicked on this website a couple of years ago - has been a nice little online community!

2mo
Pug, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Appreciate the love. This community is really cool overall and there's lots of great people here who have influenced my life in positive ways. Some great information on here and the only online community I like being a part of. Hoping that the trolling stuff can get squashed, even using a phone number to register or something that is harder to spoof (I know, not impossible. But more of a PITA to spoof)

“The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.” - Nassim Taleb
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2mo
Pierogi Equities, what's your opinion? Comment below:

This is an exceptionally generous compliment, Stonks1990. I, like many here, owe a lot to the site, not only for professional development advice, but general life advice as well. I especially love seeing new accounts with great comments, growing the userbase which leads to more positive discussion in the future, and is better for WSO overall. I know the Off-Topic forum is generally meant for things not directly related to finance, but it pains me seeing some of the posts/comments, and I can imagine that it can be very embarrassing for the WSO organization seeing some of the content that clearly crosses the line. That being said, and I have no data to base this on, but I think the majority of people on the Off-Topic forum are here to discuss things normally without issue, and that instead it seems like it's a select few individuals who generally are immature and violate people's respect online. I'm personally no expert in online speech, but I'd be more than happy to help WSO in whatever capacity.

I'm also no expert in building websites, but I know a lot of people here (myself included) sometimes view that places like Reddit are going a bit overboard with the mod involvement. It's hard to make sure views aren't taken down for political/drama purposes, which is I completely agree with [BigKahunaBanker🏄🍹🍔]'s point about the SB/MS system that I think works well in this marketplace of ideas. People like Tom from UK Buzzfeed may not understand that.

Many bring up a point about not verifying users. To be honest, I agree with that because it serves most of us very well when we are just looking to talk about things anonymously. It's the same reason many people don't say anything in a company town hall meeting. I'm not saying everyone is subversive, but it's important to respect people's privacy.

Quant (ˈkwänt) n: An expert, someone who knows more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing.

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2mo
rabbit, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Pat, is there anything those of us with very limited free time can do to help other than being mods? Happy to help in any way I can but wife will leave me if I take more of her time away.

We really do need to rethink limiting anon posting. I see the value, I am more comfortable posting gossip/rumours/intel anon and I'm sure a lot of people are but the feature is heavily abused to spew all the stupid shit Buzzfeed points out. I don't have an answer or a solution. This is an Internet wide problem, not specific to this community anyway.

Tom Warren, if you're reading this, it just sounds like you are writing an article based on hearsay, and interviews with users. Why don't you spend some time in the community and do the actual investigative part of your title. Work for a living like the rest of us.

2mo
Isaiah_53_5 💎🙌💎🙌💎, what's your opinion? Comment below:

rabbit

Pat, is there anything those of us with very limited free time can do to help other than being mods? Happy to help in any way I can but wife will leave me if I take more of her time away.

I think the answer is having a system set up where you flag a post as being against the Terms and Conditions of the site and maybe 5 flags auto removes the post.

If the writer of the original post thinks that they are not in violation of the T&C, they should be able to appeal to have the original post restored.

One important thing that this should do is take posts down that violate the T&C so that they don't show up on Google searches and the quality of the site is not compromised.

Also, there could be IP bans for repeat offenders.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

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2mo
Dr. Rahma Dikhinmahas, what's your opinion? Comment below:

The IP bans sound interesting.  Could kill a few bad apples pretty quickly.

Also like your user-flagging idea provided that it's used only as you said: to flag something for WSO review and then WSO applies the T&C.  As opposed to a system where flagging replaces the T&C as the criteria for removing.  That would become more of a shitshow.

2mo
WolfofWSO, what's your opinion? Comment below:
iercurenc

Glad we are all on the same page about bashing Tom. 99% of the racists posts are just trolls trying to ruffle feathers. Anyone with an ounce of common sense can see that. 

My money is on Tom being the anonymous troll.

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2mo
IncomingIBDreject, what's your opinion? Comment below:

 99% of the racists posts are just trolls trying to ruffle feathers. Anyone with an ounce of common sense can see that. 

And? Why should trolls who just spout off racist content belong here? Every site has an image it is trying to create. When I first joined WSO was a community of bright professionals and propsective college students who in the off-topic space would comment and engage in political/macro discussions in ways that I simply had not seen (and still haven't seen) on other forums. Quite frankly when you have some users engaging in good discussion and then one guy comes along and posts "Haha Jews suck bro!" or "The Buffalo shooter was a hero!" it is inappropriate, distracting, and seriously detracts from the ongoing discussion and quality of that thread. 

The trolls have no interest in finance, and simply want to abuse the free speech priveleges of this website without adding any thoughts or value to discussions and if anything stirring up nonsense that shouldn't even exist. 

I see no justification for such people remaining. 

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2mo
Abusement Park, what's your opinion? Comment below:

It's pretty clear what the intentions of this piece are.

Given the amount of uproar surrounding junior banker salaries (WSJ and BuzzFeed both wrote articles), as well as various other articles, finance is back in the spotlight. And what better way to capitalize on that then to write a slam-piece highlighting "racism" on the world's premier finance forum.

In reality, there are a few users who are trying their best to ruin the WSO experience for everyone. This site has provided me, and many others with a wealth of knowledge and valuable resources.

2mo
Dr. Rahma Dikhinmahas, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Couldn't disagree more with the comments suggesting users be verified.  Unless of course the goal is to kill WSO.  

Reacting in any major way to Tom from Buzzfeed would be a huge mistake.  Current moderation policies are fine, and it's fine to step it up a bit as suggested in Patrick's post.  But that would be more than enough.  Tom is trying to make a mountain out of a mole hill, and the right answer is to let Tom embarrass himself.  Answer his silly questions and let him write his story, which will be a flop. 

Edit: LOL at the MS.  People are dumb.  Requiring verification will destroy the site.  But go ahead, have a knee-jerk reaction.  That always goes well.

2mo
TheBusinessAdministrationMajor, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Totally agree. While I throw a lot of MS and report articles. I'm intrigued about what my colleagues think about topics that can't be addressed in the workplace. While I know this doesn't represent everyone it's a good reminder that these are the people in the cubicle across the hall or that corner office. This is not WSO specific though.

Also, even without verification I still think people hold back on posting industry related advice, news, or relevant information.

1mo
Fjsjrjdns, what's your opinion? Comment below:

100%. Even accepting this pathetic loser's frame is a losing battle. The only acceptable response to his email was "how embarrassing it must be to work at buzzfeed. Do your worst asshole." I'm completely in favor of free speech, one thing that I've generally loved about WSO, and any type of Reddit-tier purple haired moderation is going to kill this site.
 

DO NOT give to the woke culture war bottom feeders that are simply out to do a hit piece for clickbait.

2mo
BigKahunaBanker🏄🍹🍔, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Hi Patrick, I highly value this website strongly, both as a place of expression and one of relaxation. Be honest, the "___ is paradise" posts are funny as fuck. Also, speaking of fuck, there's no curse filter here - just like in real life. In many ways, the discourse here has prepped me, an introvert by nature, for the often brusque locker-room-type talk I now enjoy every day.

This is precisely why I am strongly against any form of ID enforcement on here. Do you think the various HR teams at BBs/EBs do not browse this forum, trying to sniff out their wayward employees? If the right to speak about our employers openly and anonymously is threatened, this website will lose its main purpose of existence, and with this, it's arrividerci for WSO

Even more, this website is a locus of control, a managed forum of expression that stands in great contrast to the R$ddits of the world, where you are tip-toeing around eagle-eyed jannies enforcing strict on-topic discussions and the NO FUN rule. Like it or not, we are in this job because we carry at least some A type traits in us, and this has to be expressed somewhere - in a healthy manner of course. And here the free market of MS and SB assist the "fair pricing" of opinions, while light moderation (that could be sharper on bots, I admit) gently hedges the discussions. Lord knows I posted some bullshit one here more than once, and I was promptly sentenced by the crowd to many red pop-ups in my browser. But every time I engage with the many great people here I am feeling relieved of my opinion, and that is good, since people need to load off stuff somewhere. And unfortunately these days there are things you cannot load off on your colleagues, no much guy talk you have between you. There are firms where voicing a controversial opinion (such as your dislike of abortion) will get you a visit from HR, so it is completely right to give these fellow financiers the chance to "let it all out". In that sense, the word "Oasis" fits greatly, since, say, exchanging opinions on faith with [Isaiah_53_5 💎🙌💎🙌💎] can often feel greatly relieving, like drinking water after a long journey through the desert. That is why I have come to this website, and why I use it every day.

And that, Patrick, is why I ask you to not let yourself be browbeat by some 105IQ soy boy hacking together a hit piece to get his shrimp weenie off. This website is too good for us all to get ruined by those folks.

...and the Truth shall set you free
  • 16
2mo
Deal Team Six, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I think its actually worse. It is like calling yourself a car salesman when your primary strategy is exploiting old women whose husbands just passed and offering them 50% what their vehicle is worth (assume they had high end vehicles).

Chefs at McDonalds at least provide a basic service and meet expectations. There is a demand for McDonalds. McDonalds manages to feed millions of lower / middle class citizens around the globe, every day. Nothing wrong with being one of their "chefs". 

However, there should not be any demand for Buzzfeed, as they provide no service of value. They are an abomination of a news source and do not inform the public of anything meaningful. They create utter trash such as "Which Disney Princess are you Most Like Based on your Zodiac Sign?"

1mo
PeterMBA2018, what's your opinion? Comment below:

The NYT won a Pulitzer for its widely criticized and outright false essay titled the "1619 project". 
 

The award is completely meaningless. 

Array
  • 1
2mo
lilgrizz, what's your opinion? Comment below:

The racist trolls definitely need to be banned and have their posts removed. However, I'm worried that with the addition of mods from the user base, it's going to turn into reddit where you get banned for everything and anything to the point where the mods control what type of content and narrative is posted. Exchanging different ideas via open discussion will not make everyone satisfied and happy. That's sort of the point. If people will start getting banned for having an opinion that's "too controversial" (not psychotic racist shit) or outside of the groupthink, or posting a joke that would be considered too offensive (paradise posts, posts mocking other posts, etc) then it will be the death of WSO

2mo
Dr. Rahma Dikhinmahas, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Post of the year.

EDIT: this "post of the year" remark refers to a post that was since deleted by WSO.  As a result of the deletion, my "post of the year" comment is now linked to a completely different post.  At a bare minimum, WSO should clarify that a post was deleted instead of creating a false thread.  Bad enough that the deletion happens in the first place.

  • 1
1mo
PrivateTechquity 🚀GME+BBBY🚀, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Lol they took down my comment calling out Buzzfeed for the culture trash peddling rag that they are and acknowledging the uniqueness of this site's community in that it actually allows people with shitty views to voice them and get subsequently called out. I guess wokeness wins and the admins have no spine, won't hold my breath for this place then if that's the response we're getting. Was good while it lasted. 

Again, all this place needs is a MUTE FEATURE and this entire issue is resolved. People whining about seeing stupid opinions they don't agree with is pathetic. Just make it so people don't have to interact with certain users and the problem is literally solved overnight. Constantly ceding ground to bottom feeders like Buzzfeed UK is going to show them that all they need to do is write some trash tier gossip publication about how the site is for meanies and then they can make demands whenever they want.  

Array

  • 1
2mo
w99, what's your opinion? Comment below:

When we're joking should we start putting "/s" (sarcasm/satire) at the end of our comments now so we don't offend Buzzfeed reporters that hate engaging in dialectic?

Also why does Tom think that he can tell us that we can only talk about finance on the website? There's literally an "Off-Topic" forum, and it's my favorite. If I wanted to hate everything I read I'd go back on Twitter or Reddit.

2mo
DevBro, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Buzz feed is in the toilet with declining relevance they're trying everything they can to stay relevant. Painting finance professionals to be racist/apathetic to racism can generate clicks

2mo
Mr Incredible, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Maybe it's just Buzzfeed right now, but people don't seem to be considering that other sources may pick it up after seeing theirs

2mo
Dr. Rahma Dikhinmahas, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Possible.  But I'd bet hard against it.  Does it sound like a compelling story to you?  "WSO moderates its site . . but not enough!"  "Look at this one anonymous user . . he remains on the site!"  Weakest shit ever.  

2mo
Mr Incredible, what's your opinion? Comment below:

No but "Wall Street bankers exchange racist/sexist/insert here comments on unmoderated forum" might.
 

I think Tom is being really poor in focusing only on that as if this is 4Chan or something, but realistically this is what many journalists do, and I wouldn't discount the possibility of others picking it up. 
 

And shitting on the source isn't the smartest way to handle a PR problem. Imagine if a BB got accused of this and they responded by saying "well Buzzfeed fucking sucks so no big deal." They'd be crucified.

2mo
WallStreetOasis.com, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thank you for all of your support and ideas.  We will be implementing some of these by as early as next week, we just have to be careful (for obvious reasons).

Some proposals we are exploring now with the dev team:

  • If a certain post (OP) or comment gets a certain amount of monkey shit or flag violations within the first 24hrs of being live, it gets automatically unpublished and sent to the flag table for review.  Mod determines which violation is appropriate or if it was sent in error can be republished 
  • New violation PM message called "Violation Magnet".  This is for posts around controversial topics that may not be in direct violation of the T&C but end up inevitably going to the gutter (usually pretty fast).  Politics / elections coming up so I suspect we'll have to be removing a ton of content around that (for example)...  
  • New Volunteer Moderator Roles.  Try to bring on someone like DealTeamSix or [Malta] (your SB:MS ratio proves that you are indeed not looking to fight :-)  ....to help us review this flag/potential table at set times throughout the day so that they can ban troll accounts faster and remove the worst content faster (and that content doesn't slip through cracks).

Stay tuned,

Patrick

2mo
2and20mnb, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Your idea won't work... at all. Look at how many likes the OP here has, in a thread you left up for reasons unknown:

https://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forum/off-topic/have-you-ever-met-a-tranny-that-wasnt-a-mentally-ill-weirdo

2mo
m_1, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Solution...

I had a few FB groups that had around 300k+ users total. Young male crowd primarily so we ended up with a ton of trolls/dumb things.

We set up a separate group for our mods, gave them a few cool perks, and with that we were able to keep our forum very tightly moderated with no real issues. I was pretty hands off! Almost $0 cost on our end.

Perks we did:

-Discounts at our attached retailer/partners/products.

-Badge for a fun trade show that required you are in industry. This was really cool for our specific niche.

-Whenever we received offers from advertisers we would flow some of the benefits back to our mod team. For example, we were given a free cruise ticket to have our "media team" cover the cruise. We did that and sent one of our most active mods. He was thrilled.

-We would do cool swag once in a while that was ONLY available to our moderators. It was a fun "in" thing when they went to the aforementioned trade show. This is kind of what you did with the deal toy thing a few months ago (awesome btw).

Ideas here:

-Free access to database 

-Free courses

That would probably be enough to attract some students as mods? It's a pretty easy thing to do - just deleting obviously no-go topics.

We also banned politics/religion because that was 2% of the discussion but 90% of the butthurt/problems. Some of our regulars didn't love this, but when I explained that it was creating a huge workload for our team without any real core value for the community, they were ok with it. I told them if they really want we could do it, but they could front the funds for an offshore hire to mod that specific subgroup; nobody fronted the funds :)

1mo
Andrey Turik, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Any proof about swastikas on tanks?

2mo
cousinviti, what's your opinion? Comment below:
[Comment removed by mod team]
2mo
APAE, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I want to offer a counter-perspective.

My tenure on here has been longer than most (over a decade at this point; I'm old). I remember reading Eddie Braverman, Illini Programmer, Bondarb, Info Dominatrix, and of course CompBanker back when the site felt a lot like the old Internet.

Some of the younger users won't know this the same way, but way back when IRC and chatrooms were common, micro communities developed where you felt legitimately connected to people after seeing them post so much. You knew them by the tone of their writing. Interaction was fun because it was more intimate. Fewer people were online period, so wherever you chose to spend time, each place felt like being part of an 'in crowd'. Kind of like a virtual Dunbar's principle.

Synergy_or_Syzygy said it very well. "No man can serve two masters." This site is very different than it used to be. Professionals in finance -- and to a smaller extent, students -- used to come to talk at a virtual water cooler. it was very industry-driven. Today, it's a halfchan type of place for people in or tangentially related to finance to talk about anything.

I'm entirely unsurprised by the inbound from the reporter. The simple reality is that you do permit content like this to exist on the site, whether intentionally or not. It's just up to you to decide whether or not to change that. It's nice to see you exploring that transparently here now.

This is a fraught topic. I'll speak personally. I'm Black, I've earned profound amounts through this industry, and the journey has granted me many experiences that have been meaningful as I reflect on our country and society.

People (online and offline) talk past each other way more than before. I identify two causes.

One is well discussed. It is the increased fracturing and politicization of our general discourse, which is thanks to the zeitgeist of the four most recent presidential terms, the economic fallout of the Great Recession, and the rapid adoption of unprecedented technological innovations (both social media [distribution of content] and digital tracking [knowing who your prime audience is]), among other obvious factors.

The second is less discussed. It is a definitional difference. Take racism, for example.

Webster's defines it as "the systemic oppression of a racial group to the social, economic, and political advantage of another." By that definition, nothing ever written on this site is racist unless one can somehow stretch to the stance that such language socially disadvantages people like me. Such a stretch would be spurious. 

The next result down from Webster's when I Googled 'racism' (the Australian Human Rights Coalition) writes that "Racism includes all the laws, policies, ideologies and barriers that prevent people from experiencing justice, dignity, and equity because of their racial identity." By this definition or others like it, a tremendous amount of what's written on this site is racist, because there is zero dignity offered when people denigrate entire demographic groups. And for any avoidance of doubt, there's an unceasing stream of this type of content on this site.

I have seen how fundamentally different the realities that people live within in are. These definitional differences are part of that reality divergence. I can't tell you which definition is right. I just know people often fight over what is or isn't without pausing to examine the measuring stick.

My own journey has led me to reflect on these topics a lot. In reflection, many of my experiences cross or span certain realities that are often very neatly prepackaged. I have property, own things, and value that law enforcement exists as a protective layer for society's benefit. I also know what it's like to have police stop me or even draw guns because I'm a muscular Black dude driving an expensive car and oh my God, what if it's stolen.

Separate from people talking past each other, there's another matter altogether. It's that people conflate abhorrent ideology (racism, bigotry, and so forth) with abysmal decency. Said differently, there's a distinction between racist speech and speech that's simply hateful.

You absolutely can advocate valid ideas (on policing, crime, housing density, any other hot button topic) that are not racist and are based in objective truth (data is remarkably neutral) ... but in a hateful way.

I find that many people on the receiving end of this kind of language struggle to tease out the difference between the two. And think about it. You might believe that gay people marrying is corrosive to the idea of a nuclear family unit, and you know what, you're free to think that. But when you write or say it, are you doing it in a manner respectful of the human who's reading or hearing that who is gay and wants a family?

The past few years have been bad on here. The protests, riots, and election were all Rorschach tests. Some of the most vitriolic stuff was openly and widely spread. Again, we do not live in an absolute world, there are valid ideas across the political spectrum. And it's entirely possible to conduct conversations around those ideas with a modicum of civility. There are a few repeat violators who are clear trolls or agitators who promulgate truly racist rhetoric. There's a massive number of anonymous users who say things that are at minimum hateful or uncivil. (In my experience, many of those statements are hard to grow out of anything other than racial animus, but that's subjective). Your current moderation lets both exist. 

I always shake my head when people on here are surprised to learn I'm Black. Most memorable was "Wait... APAE is a black!?"

What do you think any Black person reading that is likely to think? That that user thinks it's shocking for a Black person to be in finance, or be successful, or smart, articulate, respected, whatever. And if dehumanizing language like that goes unchecked, then the people in charge of the place either agree with that stance or condone it implicitly by not caring enough to correct it.

This is very similar to some of the salient points raised in that thread about female junior bankers experiencing sexism at work. There's a sliver of overtly toxic stuff that happens (unwanted touching, vile comments). Not many people will dispute that stuff shouldn't happen. Then there's a whole slew of stuff that is invisible to a majority of people that hurts only a minority of people, and when those in that minority raise it, a majority of that majority go "That didn't happen" (denial) or "Yeah, but that's not what was meant" (redirection) or "Yeah, but it wasn't that bad" (minimization). So the people affected learn to either bear it quietly or just leave. 

I support freedom of speech, expression, and association. Personally, I have always wrestled intellectually with where the line exists in light of civility. I am too idealistic in a Golden Rule type of way. I firmly recognize that you have to have thick skin to exist on the internet. So instead of complaining about it, I just minimize my activity. Like rabbit said in that thread, some of the posts from certified users on anonymous make my skin crawl.

Putting this plainly, if you need to hear it, one of your top users who has driven a tremendous amount of traffic and engagement on your site (I am at the top of all three categories in your leaderboards) chose to just walk away. 

Is Buzzfeed sensationalist, lowest common denominator clickbait that generally fails to meet journalistic standards? Yes, most certainly. 

Can you be surprised that the vitriol on here finally got attention elsewhere? No, I don't think that's credible. 

To recap:

  • Buzzfeed is a very weak publication.
  • This site has provided a tremendous amount of value for career-oriented people for many years. I owe it a lot, many people owe it a lot, and it's nice to see some people choose to give back constructively.
  • Changes you have made in recent years to boost the forum's activity metrics (anonymous posting in particular) have amplified the negative aspects natural and inherent to online communities.
  • Your moderation seems inconsistent or unresponsive. For awhile I reported the worst offenders every time I saw them and never once saw a specific comment removed or their account banned. I'm sure you did do some banning because a couple people in particular clearly made slightly renamed incarnations of prior usernames, but the inability to get legitimate filth of a single comment removed is not inspiring.
  • You have to decide whether you're optimizing for maximum engagement or quality engagement. A lot of people use this as a place to let off steam, which is fair and fine. Again, freedom. The way you treat it now though, there are essentially no guardrails. Because of that, people can factually point to a certain caliber of discourse that does honestly have a home here.
  • If you do want things to change, you have to employ both manual and programmatic methods. IP bans are toothless because VPNs and IP spoofing are so easy today. The SB/MS feature you proposed doesn't sound great; that can get easily abused by someone using alternate accounts to brigade a post. You probably want to make the flag thing more programmatic: a certain number of reports (maybe expand the categories beyond the current three) gets the comment grayed out and put in a mod queue, where the mod votes on deleting it or releasing it.
  • The concept of user-volunteer mods is risky. It can easily turn into what many sites (numerous subreddits are examples) are where mod tyranny exists: anything not in line with their worldview gets cut.

Thanks for all the effort you do spend on the site. It's a big community and you've helped innumerable people in their career.

Edit: I took the time to share this because I hope it makes some people think. I have always avoided or clicked out of race-related topics just to save myself the headache, but I am open to a productive discourse here if anyone wants to engage.

I am permanently behind on PMs, it's not personal.

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  • 1
2mo
rabbit, what's your opinion? Comment below:

You and those other names take me back to being a clueless kid stumbling into this community, fuck feels like forever ago. The water cooler vibe is what I miss the most, coming in for random pearls of wisdom from people like you and Eddie and our resident clown Brady4MVP.
 

Still an amazing forum but saddens me to see that sense of community gone. I forget who it was but recall there was someone who travelled cross country couch surfing with people from on here. It's awesome to see us grow, Pat and co continue to build an incredible resource. I guess that comes at the cost of being impersonal and and more Redditesque. 
 

Hope you're keeping well OG. Glad to see you come out of the woodwork. 

1mo
APAE, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks man. Your story is mine, same for me. 

Woodwork may be an overstatement haha, I come on every week or two and stop in on threads in the private equity forum.

I appreciated the self-reflection evident in the anecdotes you shared in that thread on sexism. You come across clearly as an invested manager of people, I hope you're able to foster that as you continue progressing in your career.
 

I am permanently behind on PMs, it's not personal.

  • 1
2mo
Al's, what's your opinion? Comment below:

When it comes to moderation, it seems rather obvious that some comments cut clear across the line of acceptability, and if mods can deal with the smaller number of repetitive accounts responsible for these comments then I think a lot of the vitriol would be cleaned up. I personally disagree on the anonymous side, as I think the pros outweigh the cons and the worst offenders can still be appropriately moderated by an active WSO team. I agree that dealing with individual comments, perhaps through the more automated system you mention, could be a great way to reduce the visibility of these attitudes, and maybe that's the best way to deal with the topic anyways (sort of how Reddit collapses controversial comments). 

I would push back a bit and say that the second group you mentioned, the larger mass of commenters reponsible for the "invisible" toxicity you mention, shouldn't be the focus of this moderation, and instead the current banana system should be left to deal with those disagreements.

1mo
APAE, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I hear you. 

I actually think the best path is to streamline the flagging categories (which are currently "spam", "rude or abusive", and "low quality") to just the first two, use a better enforcement mechanism for whatever things are reported in those two categories, and let the market feedback of the banana system handle the idea of quality.

While "better" is subjective, the primary dimension I focus on (and one I've seen unanimous alignment on from everyone in this thread) is consistency. 

I am permanently behind on PMs, it's not personal.

  • 2
2mo
WallStreetOasis.com, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I always love reading your thoughts, so thank you for taking the time to write all of those out in such eloquent detail.

you said

 You have to decide whether you're optimizing for maximum engagement or quality engagement. A lot of people use this as a place to let off steam, which is fair and fine. Again, freedom. The way you treat it now though, there are essentially no guardrails. Because of that, people can factually point to a certain caliber of discourse that does honestly have a home here.

I think we can better optimize for quality engagement by potentially being more aggressive on threads that are made just to argue or debate a controversial topic with only a minor dent in engagement...but we will need to invest in a variety of methods to make it happen consistently every day. 

Identifying those threads and shutting them down early and often should help drop violations dramatically.  Looking at the percentage of threads that are violation magnets, it's maybe ~5%ish?...I think the issue is oftentimes they trend because it gets people riled up so more people comment, more SBs and MSs are thrown and so they are seen more often.  I think we have been leaning too heavily on our no bump feature to try and allow for more discourse while deemphasizing the threads...I agree IP bans are not the solution.

We'll need a set of volunteer mods that are more frequently browsing the content so they can identify those and get them off fast...or when comments in otherwise non-problematic topics are violations...but yes, we have to be careful that mod tyranny doesn't take over and leverage/develop more tools to help get the worst shit off fast.

I'll keep you and the rest of the community up to date on this thread as each new tool is rolled out.  

Thanks again,

Patrick

1mo
APAE, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks for the attention you're paying to this issue. I know it is uncomfortable. 

One thing I'd encourage is not pursuing complete censorship. Your 'violation magnet' concept seems like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. It penalizes the original creator of a discussion for how other people choose to participate in that discussion at a lower caliber. 

Instead of outlawing topics altogether, you could just create a robust and consistent moderation system and be transparent about it. I'll paste from my reply a minute ago on another sub-comment above:

I actually think the best path is to streamline the flagging categories (which are currently "spam", "rude or abusive", and "low quality") to just the first two, use a better enforcement mechanism for whatever things are reported in those two categories, and let the market feedback of the banana system handle the idea of quality.

While "better" is subjective, the primary dimension I focus on (and one I've seen unanimous alignment on from everyone in this thread) is consistency.

Consistency is a big thing I'd raise. I completely agree with some of the points [Dr. Rahma Dikhinmahas] is making (repeatedly across this thread ...).

One, stuff gets completely disappeared with no explanation. This is not confidence inspiring, it feels Star Chamber-esque. I will repeat the idea that graying or blurring a post may be helpful. It allows people to understand that something was there, especially if other users left replies which would otherwise get orphaned or appended to the wrong parent comment (this happens).

Two, it's really hit or miss what does get removed. This means people don't know what rules to follow (or what rules will be enforced). A potential rule-breaker who doesn't want to be a bad guy but admits he's here to blow off steam and mouth off (see all the people commenting here to say that's what they do) doesn't know what will or won't be kosher. And people who aren't volatile posters but have zero desire to see very volatile content just skip coming on altogether. It's like if you don't want to get flashed genitalia, you just stop going on Omegle.

Another issue is transparency. 

You just mentioned the 'no bump' feature. I had no idea that was even an official feature, only guessed it after seeing some hot-button threads where the post count kept skyrocketing but never the 'new' marker in the forum. Did you announce it anywhere?

Later in this thread you announced a couple changes that already live, some that are in development, and others that are in consideration. That's buried as the 40th comment in a single thread. I encourage you to find a more public way to announce changes. 

Can you talk at all about the current moderation staff? I've seen comments over the years about you having a remote engineering and support team, and from what I've gleaned, you have a labor arbitrage with Ukraine and potentially South America. 

Are those people also moderators? This would explain some of the inconsistency, because non-native English speakers who also lack any cultural commonality with the predominantly American userbase would understandably not do it perfectly.

Steps like these will help avoid speculation and mistrust. A couple users here are tinfoiling over whether this thing was manufactured because of a pending investment deal. 

Again, I really appreciate the level of interaction and engagement you have in this thread.

I am permanently behind on PMs, it's not personal.

  • 6
1mo
Deal Team Six, what's your opinion? Comment below:

APAE Just wanted to say, from one avid WSO user to another, you are one of my favorite folks on WSO. I always cherish (sounds overly dramatic, but it is astute) your posts. In my mind, your word is gospel, and probably the easiest way to determine fact from fiction on any number of topics. To see you leave WSO permanently would be devastating, as you add more value than probably 10-30% of the user base combined.

You answer the hard, complex questions, that oftentimes can only be answered by IB / PE industry veterans. You answer the questions that I simply cant even try to respond to due to my inability to relate or understand the situation being described. 

You clearly enjoy educating and informing others, and giving back to WSO. It saddens me to hear your perspective on the blatant racism / misogyny that you have experienced on this site, but I know you are objectively correct. As always, you have the ability to remove emotion and personal bias from the equation better than most, which is one of the reason your perspective is truly invaluable. Sadly, the people diminishing the quality of WSO have no regard for you or your impact, which is what is so frustrating. They will never take a second to examine how their comments are driving key users away from the site, and I know thebrofessor has taken a break for the same reasons you outlined above.   

I too have been on here for as long as many of the guys you listed (e.g., IlliniProgramming, Eddie, etc.). Many have come and gone but few have had the net impact that you continue to leave on WSO. Maintaining people like you, m_1, CompBanker, and a few other key contributors is paramount to WSO's continued success. To anyone who doesn't know APAE, let me just highlight a few of the comments / threads he has been involved in, where his perspective has been the most impactful: 

1. Long-term Guidance on Burnout and Life Choices 

2. Separating Good from Great in PE 

3. Critical differences between FoFs and Secondaries

These were some of his highest rated responses, but if you read virtually any one of his comments, you will notice the quality is on par with the above. I have been on this site for so many years Ive lost count and APAE is the one user where I try to read every one of his posts.  There are countless strong contributors on this site, but none with the writing capability, the level of effort per post, the knowledge base to speak to, and most importantly, the objective and impartial mindset that APAE has. 

There are dozens of M&A A1s constantly providing salary and ranking data, we would be just fine if 100+ of those contributors left the sight. There really only is one APAE. 

1mo
APAE, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks for such effusive and kind words, man. I am grateful you've found such value in the things I share. 

It's been interesting to see a couple other people with a longer tenure here open up about their perspective, both those that sound similar to mine and the ones that run counter.

I do know thebrofessor chose to leave, that's a huge loss. 

I am permanently behind on PMs, it's not personal.

  • 2
1mo
Dr. Rahma Dikhinmahas, what's your opinion? Comment below:

You said this regarding comments alleged to be racist that others say are not racist: "when those in that minority raise it, a majority of that majority go "That didn't happen" (denial) or "Yeah, but that's not what was meant" (redirection) or "Yeah, but it wasn't that bad" (minimization). So the people affected learn to either bear it quietly or just leave. [using bold only to avoid confusion since we have quotes within quotes]

To me, this seems to brush aside the frequent scenario where the alleged language was not at all racist.  A typical example will be where someone speaks out against diversity initiatives or affirmative action or some other race-related matter that reasonable people can disagree on.  A common response will be to say that person is a racist, or the more passive-aggressive "you as a non-minority could never understand".  

To me that response is simply unreasonable and maybe the community would be better off without folks who do that sort of thing.

I understand why you feel there are no guardrails, because WSO censors posts without announcing it.  In this very thread, an excellent post was taken down (my response "Post of the year" remains, and is now linked to the wrong post because of WSO's deletion).  

The reality is that it's the worst of both worlds, with WSO at times over-censoring and at other times doing nothing.  I like your idea of graying out highly flagged posts.

1mo
APAE, what's your opinion? Comment below:

To me, this seems to brush aside the frequent scenario where the alleged language was not at all racist.  A typical example will be where someone speaks out against diversity initiatives or affirmative action or some other race-related matter that reasonable people can disagree on.  A common response will be to say that person is a racist, or the more passive-aggressive "you as a non-minority could never understand".

This is exactly what I tried to highlight. There absolutely is a difference between racist language and language that isn't civil. 

No one can credibly deny that the overwhelming bulk of people on here that "speaks out about diversity initiatives or affirmative action or some other race-related matter" do it in a hostile, abrasive manner. 

A lot of people aren't precise with their language. That's laziness. You raise a great example: people often call something racist when the accurate thing is to say "you're talking about a race-related topic in an insensitive way".

This is why I used the example of sexism. There's criminal assault; it's easy to identify. Then there's a bunch of behavior that's equally painful for the recipient that is less easy for the perpetrator to identify and understand. 

Race-related harassment is like this. There's overt stuff: slurs, violence, the type of stuff that goes viral on camera. There's also a bunch of less overt behavior that's also painful for the recipient.

I agree with you about the consistency of moderation. Scroll up to see my reply to Patrick.

I am permanently behind on PMs, it's not personal.

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1mo
APAE, what's your opinion? Comment below:

To me, this seems to brush aside the frequent scenario where the alleged language was not at all racist.  A typical example will be where someone speaks out against diversity initiatives or affirmative action or some other race-related matter that reasonable people can disagree on.  A common response will be to say that person is a racist, or the more passive-aggressive "you as a non-minority could never understand".

This is exactly what I tried to highlight. There absolutely is a difference between racist language and language that isn't civil. 

No one can credibly deny that the overwhelming bulk of people on here that "speaks out about diversity initiatives or affirmative action or some other race-related matter" do it in a hostile, abrasive manner. 

A lot of people aren't precise with their language. That's laziness. You raise a great example: people often call something racist when the accurate thing is to say "you're talking about a race-related topic in an insensitive way".

This is why I used the example of sexual harassment. There's criminal assault; it's easy to identify. Then there's a bunch of behavior that's equally painful for the recipient that is no way as easy to identify for the perpetrator. 

Race-related harassment is like this. There's overt stuff: slurs, violence, the type of stuff that goes viral on camera. There's also a bunch of less overt behavior that's also painful for the recipient.

I agree with you about the consistency of moderation. Scroll up to see my reply to Patrick.

I am permanently behind on PMs, it's not personal.

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1mo
Frieds, what's your opinion? Comment below:

What? No love for me? I'm older than all of them... except for maybe CompBanker. My User ID is still below 10K. You mentioned a ton of old folks (I remember Eddie and have spoken with him a few times, had drinks with IP, etc. etc.), but I feel left out! While I don't post as much as I used to, I think anonymous posting has become the bane of WSO

My suggestion with that is anon posting requires moderator approval before it gets posted. It will help clear up some of the bullshit as well. At the same time, when it comes to any sort of moderation, you need a clearly defined set of guidelines for what constitutes approvable or deniable. If it's denied as an anonymous post, the user can go ahead and put it up on their username and put their name to it. 

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1mo
APAE, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Man, as I hit the button I knew there were going to be people I love who I forgot to include. This is part of getting old, I can't remember everything. I'm glad to see you're on here man. I've always appreciated how reasoned and well-framed your posts are. Hope you're doing well both at work and beyond.

I am permanently behind on PMs, it's not personal.

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2mo
yiggyyaller, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Started on here as a middle schooler almost 15 years ago lurking and have been through high school, college, banking, PE and my current situation while being an ardent fan. Huge believer in the value this place brings for someone who had 0 exposure to finance growing up.

That said, something has happened in the last 6 months that has made this place worse, and it's obviously white supremacist trolls. I don't know if these are edgy kids, a WSO competitor poisoning the well, or the Buzzfeed reporter himself manufacturing a story. Doesn't matter.

The fact is things have gotten worse and I'm glad you're working to address it. This is a far bigger issue than you can imagine. Basically all woman I know that were avid lurkers have been turned off to the site. I can no longer point young people to this place as a resource in good conscience. So would spend a lot of time (maybe not money) thinking through / iterating on moderation tactics. If you've got an auto-moderation bot, this is the time to beef it up.

2mo
WallStreetOasis.com, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks...that's actually really depressing about your friends but I appreciate the honesty.

Yes, thanks to this thread we have a lot of ideas that will soon be implemented to go through a major cleanup...it wont be perfect and some members will be pissed, but so be it.  Clearly what we are doing now is not working so we need to figure it out.

Thanks and please stay tuned.

Patrick

1mo
Dr. Rahma Dikhinmahas, what's your opinion? Comment below:

This feels very over the top to say that you can no longer recommend the site.  It's a very small number of bad apples.  This isn't just my opinion, it's also the opinion of the post marked Most Helpful which at the time I'm writing this has 84 SB's and zero MS.

Maybe the rank and file of this website is less PC than some of the more melodramatic commenters, and also less PC than the management of the site which takes down 'inflammatory' comments that have positive SB and zero MS.   

And maybe this is completely consistent with Wall St culture generally, which is full of good people who don't tiptoe around walking on eggshells when they talk.  Maybe the folks who get up-in-arms about a few bad apples should let the vast majority of us engage in peace without censorship and calls to change how the site operates.

2mo
Arealanalyst34, what's your opinion? Comment below:

One that might be a very bad idea, but could also work: have a large amount of posters with very high bananas and banana ratios be able to basically be mods and remove posts that then are reviewed to go back into circulation by a core team. Just send a mass message to the top x posters with ratios above x and ask them to help moderate by filling this "mentor" role or something. You can then auto-turn on that feature when people get to a certain threshold. From my experience, no one is getting to 10,000 bananas with less than 800 shits unless they have posted frequently across a year+ without conflict, so they likely aren't a troll. If they abuse that privilege remove the ability to do that-1 strike policy. I don't check this site often enough and can't be a mod, but this account and others under me have anonymously posted many of the top posts and comments of all time over the years. If someone has posted for years and gotten enough bananas with a good ratio they aren't picking fights. I've flagged stuff when I can, but I think you need 1) automation and 2) mass mods who are time tested to not be power abusers. The issue with mods is they become dictators-it almost needs to be people who don't want the job since they are the people least likely to be power abusers.

1mo
Frieds, what's your opinion? Comment below:

The problem with that is that you can have people with high SB/MS ratios who are still shitposting jackanapes and are okay with the trolling. Likewise, you can have people who have an ideological bent (Ex. Ozymandias - and sorry for picking on you, but off the top of my head I know you lean left and you were the first person I could think of because I know we've had good arguments and no, I'm not saying you would use the position to prevent good discourse. I know there are others but it's been a long fucking week and I really don't want to think too hard about this) who meet the Top X posters with a ratio of Y and use their position to stifle thoughts they disagree with. I do agree though that any mod basically has to not want the job and despise being one. 

  • 3
1mo
Ozymandia, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Frieds

The problem with that is that you can have people with high SB/MS ratios who are still shitposting jackanapes and are okay with the trolling. Likewise, you can have people who have an ideological bent (Ex. Ozymandias - and sorry for picking on you, but off the top of my head I know you lean left and you were the first person I could think of because I know we've had good arguments and no, I'm not saying you would use the position to prevent good discourse. I know there are others but it's been a long fucking week and I really don't want to think too hard about this) who meet the Top X posters with a ratio of Y and use their position to stifle thoughts they disagree with. I do agree though that any mod basically has to not want the job and despise being one. 

I disagree, often quite vehemently, with a lot of people on this site.  Some of them on a very repeated basis.  But there are people with whom I disagree but understand they have an actual point of view, however much I think they're wrong about it, and then there are people who are straight up bigoted trolls.  I think it's pretty easy to suss out who is who.  I'm sure there are many people who lean right who think I'm a fucking moron, but I'd hope most of them also understand that I'm willing to source facts and engage in debate/discussion.  There are also lots of people who think I'm a moron, but for whom the quality of their posts boils down to "Jews did it" or "women don't deserve jobs in finance."  Those are the kinds of contributions I think the site would benefit from banning/removing.

I'd be a terrible moderator and wouldn't ever want the job for that reason, though, so you are 100% right to point at me!

1mo
The EBITA addback, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Honestly. Good. It's about time. I've been complaining for years. The gross and inappropriate things need to stop. Period. If a public crash and burn is what it takes. So be it. 

Like the unadjusted- only with a little bit extra.
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1mo
CompBanker, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I tend to agree with the line of thinking that increased moderation will be a net positive for WSO. Some thoughts:

  • There Is definitely a fine line between free speech and speech designed solely to incite a reaction. However, a lot of the comments I've seen posted are very clearly well across that line. These posts need to be removed without question. I do believe increased moderators (with a clear directive) will help here assuming the moderators are chosen well.
  • I haven't created an account here in a long time but I would like to see more authentication required. You cannot stop people from creating throwaway accounts but I do think you should make it harder. Serious posters need to go through this process once, banned trolls need to do it multiple times.
  • I'm not a fan of the anonymous feature and feel it is a net negative. If you really have a question or answer that you don't want tied to your username, create a single second account for those posts. The anonymous feature is massively overused for even general comments and what's worse, it makes it really hard to follow who said what in threads where 50% of the posters are "Intern in IB" or "Analyst 1 in IB". I don't know when it is the OP following up on their initial post or someone new. Maybe it is just the threads I read, but i feel this feature is the default for most people rather than a 1-off.
  • I don't know the current parameters, but I think at a minimum the anonymous option should only be available to certified users.
  • I get incredibly turned off by the troll posts. I recognize that I've always been one of the more serious members of WSO (even 15+ years ago) and that not everyone feels this way. Personally, I get disheartened when a serious question / thread is littered with troll comments, even if the troll comments are not extremist.
  • I view my time as valuable and I don't want to spend it typing up a very long and thoughtful response to someone who is a troll pretending to have a real problem (such as the threads about people wanting to date co-workers or getting fired because they did XYZ). The result is that I usually move on and don't respond at all.
  • I don't mind the clearly joke posts as I do feel that a lot of others come here for those. I mean the "XYZ is paradise" types. It's obvious humor and clear from the title of the thread - plus bonus points for them being finance related.
  • I don't believe in the theory of "if you don't like them and they don't affect you, just ignore them" as it relates to racist or offensive material (also recognizing that people need to get thicker skin in general). If there was a protest outside your office every day screaming "eat the rich" or "finance people are destroying America", you'd want them removed from the premises. It really drains morale / energy and the objective of this website is to encourage people to share, not to make the experience painful. This is the hardest thing to police and people will always feel that you've drawn the line in the wrong spot, but I feel that the current state of WSO is too lenient.

Sorry for the long post but I can confidently say that my engagement on WSO went down over the past 5+ years in large part due to the proliferation of content that I don't personally find appealing. I'm just one user and probably an outlier in terms of the negative reaction to the above situation, but I also think I'm an outlier in terms of the magnitude of my contributions.

CompBanker’s Career Guidance Services: https://www.rossettiadvisors.com/

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1mo
WallStreetOasis.com, what's your opinion? Comment below:

yup, you're spot on.  Pretty telling that you as well as some of the most reasonable, smartest and successful people in the ENTIRE 16 YEAR HISTORY of WSO agree that we should be doing more.  So for those of you that are already sending me angry PMs asking why certain posts were removed (even in this thread alone), just let that sink in a bit and ask yourself if you're actually helping or hurting the community.

If we are gradually losing our top members like APAE, CompBanker  thebrofessor who ALL agree we aren't doing enough (along with several other reasonable members in this thread), then we have to try something.  These members are more valuable (literally) than member 5,000 THROUGH 100,000 combined...   that is not an exaggeration. 

If we are going to be fulfilling our 3 core missions, we have to make sure that we don't turn off or lose our most valuable members like them that have graciously helped millions of readers and thousands of individual members over the years.  They are the only reason WSO is where it is today.  

Changing things doesn't mean we are going to "squash free speech" or that "the libs or the alt-right won" or any other way you want to frame it.  It means it won't be a free-for-all, we will focus on our core missions (and only allow topics that further that) and members will actually have to be respectful to one another. 

WSO won't be a platform for political discussions or any other hot button issue anymore.  We tried to allow it (but deemphasize it with our no bump feature), but clearly it's doing way too much harm (attracting unsavory comments and losing the top members) and it's nearly impossible to moderate/control.

That doesn't mean we have to remove funny threads like "X is Paradise' (as many pointed out as clearly humor)...  but it does mean that discussions about politics, diversity, religion, etc will need to end full stop...  it's unfortunate but when we have such a large (and mostly anonymous) userbase, it's the only way to maintain any semblance of decency and respect for one another. 

It won't be perfect and I'm sure I will get angry posts from a vocal (and very active) group of members, but I believe that the long term that is the right move for WSO.  For those of you that mentioned Brady4MVP...  he was tough to moderate and he was 1 person...today feels like we have 30 Brady's

Live events are already back and I think we can build a stronger community by getting offline, making meaningful connections at happy hours and generally supporting one another in our careers.   Why not shoot for a return to the glory days of WSO? I know I could be more active and I plan to be.

....lots of work to do.  My initial plan is outlined below.

-Patrick

1mo
iercurenc, what's your opinion? Comment below:

WSO won't be a platform for political discussions or any other hot button issue anymore.  We tried to allow it (but deemphasize it with our no bump feature), but clearly it's doing way too much harm (attracting unsavory comments and losing the top members) and it's nearly impossible to moderate/control.

I think this is a step too far. There has to be a better way to limit the number of "unsavory comments" without taking away all discussion on hot button issues. I and I think a lot of other members enjoys these posts and I'm sure the top members can ignore them if they don't like them. You basically are squashing free speech if you carry through with this.

1mo
CompBanker, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I actually don't mind the political and religious discourse personally, although you're absolutely right that it tends to attract the more extreme comments and cause rage which probably spills over to other parts of the forums. The most frustrating element for me is the troll posts embedded in the otherwise proper dialogue.

Nice to see the immediately action plan. I'm here to stay either way, it is just a matter of the degree of engagement!

CompBanker’s Career Guidance Services: https://www.rossettiadvisors.com/

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1mo
Dr. Rahma Dikhinmahas, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Sorry to introduce some wrinkles in your thesis Patrick but I'd ask you to consider:

1.  Those are 3 guys.

2. There are several posts in this thread that oppose taking major action.  All of those posts behave very favorable SB to MS.  I would really encourage you to consider the support level of those posts.

3. If we're going to say 3 guys have outsized importance because of their point totals, then I humbly ask that my opinion also get due attention as someone who's racked up 19k points in 4 years with 2 of those yrs being MIA.

1mo
Fjsjrjdns, what's your opinion? Comment below:

You say you're not caving to the woke mob, and then you outline how you'll be caving to the woke mob because discussions about politics or diversity make grown men and women too upset. Sad, I've been around this site for a long time, and this will certainly lead me to engage less frequently; I continued to come here for the nearly free for all content, even when there are posts and several posters I vehemently disagree with.

1mo
InterestedParty99, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Replying to this thread as you referenced your 3 core missions. Given the evolution of the site should you revisit these?

As an example on the first one. I can't argue about it being a useful finance community but should most entertaining be included? From the other recent posts about the site moderation I would speculate your goal is to not entertain but rather inform. I'm a big believer is mission statements as the actions you take around moderation really should be driven from your mission.

If the point is to entertain then the off topic is a free for all because that is how everyone (edit: not everyone, some people) entertains themselves on sites like Reddit, by posting random and controversial topics and see who responds and can get rise and debate out of.

Evolving a mission statement as the site evolves may be worthwhile to consider.

The 3 Missions.

1. To become the most entertaining and useful finance community in the world.

2. To bring transparency to notoriously opaque industries.

3. To help every student and professional around the world, regardless of their background, develop superior career skills and access the same opportunities as those with the most privilege.

1mo
IncomingIBDreject, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I was going to ask this as well [WallStreetOasis.com].

I think the one of the biggest issues here which I have personally noticed,  and which some other users have mentioned is that even when several people flag a post for going clearly against the ToS, that post/user remains for days on end or never gets taken down at all. If those posts were simply reviewed after say 5 or so flags, any decent human with a pulse would have seen those posts should have been taken down immediately and the user suspended (or even banned). 

How exactly do you all see flagging on your end and how are the mods dealing with it? It should be that after a certain number of flags, a mod should just look at the comment and see whether it should be removed or not. Obviously this system could be abused if trolls are just flagging posts for no good reason, so it makes sense to restrict to a certain subset of the user base who you seem fit based on certain criteria. 

Array

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1mo
Angus Macgyver, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I'll bite, too.

Like some of the other posters in this thread, I have been here for in excess of 15 years. I'm nowhere near as prolific as these estimable posters, and am more of an occasional poster / semi lurker, but have certainly spent enough time lurking that I have always had a good sense of the topics being discussed here every day.

When I first started out, WSO was a great place to learn about the finance community. It was mostly serious posts about what banking was about, how to break in, and how to solve for many of the issues that people in or who want to be in banking face. I have been to more than a couple of WSO meetups or events, and have had the pleasure of meeting a number of WSO users in person, including a few of those members of the old guard who have contributed to making WSO a resource for students and young professionals. There was the occasional politically-charged post, and a bunch of joke ones (RIP Brady4MVP, wherever you are - hope you made it to HBS). But by and large, it was a community of people who wanted to learn, to network, and to commisserate with others who were stuck in the office at 4AM turning pages and trying to decipher some MD's chicken scratchings.

Over time, the "average" set of topics being discussed, as well as the tone of the conversation, have both changed. Instead of threads about how to prep for interviews, or which groups are great, we are now inundated with threads about jokes, politics, food and fashion. They aren't all in the off-topic section, either. And what used to be mostly respectful conversation has turned into people being overtly racist, sexist, and just plain rude. Many of them not even trolling.

Now, I don't know how much of the above has been caused by changes made by WSO, versus changes outside of its control. WSO starting to allow anonymous posts certainly didn't help, but I am sure that there being a broader influx of people didn't either. The wider a community gets, the less targeted and less useful the conversation becomes. This happens in FB groups, it happens in subreddits, and it has almost certainly happened here. I also suspect that something has shifted in the general nature of social media and its users; kids these days are just more irreverent, tend to take more extreme views, and the type of discourse you see on most social media now is usually some combination of deliberately inflammatory and completely banal. Perhaps I am just old and out of touch, but I remember when people could still act normal even when talking to each other online.

1mo
CompBanker, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I was reluctant to say it directly to not sound like an old man, but the internet has definitely evolved over the last 20 years, most noticeably over the last five years. It isn't just these forums, it is absolutely everywhere. What is labeled as "toxic" behavior was previously extremely rare. In dating, ghosting never used to be a thing, much less commonplace and acceptable. For those who do online gaming, the "git good" mentality was very rare. And the massive barrage of insults you see everyday on forums / social media used to be just a small portion of the content.

As a result, I've come to accept that the forums will never go back to the way they were. It just isn't possible in the internet world in 2022. It would be nice if we could take a step in that direction though.

An interesting thought came to my mind while writing this:

The world of high finance is generally viewed as very toxic and unforgiving, with cruel bosses who don't care about their employees and churn analysts like they are nothing. It is generally viewed as a pretty crap way to treat people. Yet the same environment exists here on this website with the current up-and-coming generation. While the means of 'abuse' has changed, perhaps there are a lot more similarities amongst the generations than I initially thought.

CompBanker’s Career Guidance Services: https://www.rossettiadvisors.com/

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1mo
Dr. Rahma Dikhinmahas, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Why was my post below, in response to APAE, deleted?  Had 1 SB and zero MS at the time of deletion.  Pasted below without edits (and yes, it was commenting on the fact that another post by someone else was deleted too).  

---

You said this regarding comments alleged to be racist that others say are not racist: "when those in that minority raise it, a majority of that majority go "That didn't happen" (denial) or "Yeah, but that's not what was meant" (redirection) or "Yeah, but it wasn't that bad" (minimization). So the people affected learn to either bear it quietly or just leave. [using bold only to avoid confusion since we have quotes within quotes]

To me, this seems to brush aside the frequent scenario where the alleged language was not at all racist.  A typical example will be where someone speaks out against diversity initiatives or affirmative action or some other race-related matter that reasonable people can disagree on.  A common response will be to say that person is a racist, or the more passive-aggressive "you as a non-minority could never understand".  

To me that response is simply unreasonable and maybe the community would be better off without folks who do that sort of thing.

I understand why you feel there are no guardrails, because WSO censors posts without announcing it.  In this very thread, an excellent post was taken down (my response "Post of the year" remains, and is now linked to the wrong post because of WSO's deletion).  

The reality is that it's the worst of both worlds, with WSO at times over-censoring and at other times doing nothing.  I like your idea of graying out highly flagged posts.

1mo
WallStreetOasis.com, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Here are some details on what is coming and a rough timeline.   So as to discourage trolls, I will be intentionally vague on where certain thresholds are + the exact rules.  All of these are subject to change/removal as we see how it impacts everyone and how some of them get abused (which we know will eventually happen).

UPDATES THAT WILL BE LIVE MONDAY:

  • Posting to the Off Topic forum now requires a certain type of profile...so any members outside this "allowed range" will lose the ability to post to the off topic forum (this is a tiny Band-Aid, not a perfect measure... but it's a start to limit the members that tend to debate politics and/or are the most extreme).  No, it won't catch most of the users that like to debate, but it is likely to limit the obvious trolls.
  • New members will also NOT be able to post to the Off topic forum for an unspecified amount of time + until they earn a certain number of bananas  (again, this one is minor, mostly as a way to discourage troll users from creating new accounts to start shit-posting right away again after they have just been blocked).  

UPDATES COMING LATER NEXT WEEK:

  • New automated unpublishing rules based on a certain criteria (+time based) to be reviewed by mods.  This one should help more meaningfully since it is automated but we will need to keep an eye on and see what the flow looks like... I suspect that it will help get the worst comments and threads off the site faster until it can be reviewed later.  This requires us to build in some new features to our current moderation table + make sure our permissions are dialed in on mod role but we think we can have it live by mid week
  • New violation notice will go live and be used to help remove controversial topics faster.  Like @m1 mentioned, religion and politics are good examples :-)  : ""Violation Magnet:  Hi username, while your post itself may not be directly against our official terms and conditions, it has been removed because it will lead to a high number of violations (or already has).  As such, to save WSO from going bankrupt and having a team of thousands of moderators, we had to remove your post.  We appreciate your contributions and hope you understand this decision.  Best Regards, WSO Mod Team"
  • Autoblock members that hit certain criteria.  This has been all manual in the past, so it would be good to automate this so that the worst actors eventually lose their account if they are not adding enough value

UPDATES COMING IN 2+ WEEKS:

  • Today, I spoke with the CEO of Hive Moderation which is used by Snap + Spotify + other large content businesses.  By using their API, we can potentially use their AI mod tools as a first line of defense to either flag more or just autoblock content that scores too high on various metrics: https://docs.thehive.ai/docs/classification-text  This will require more dev work to integrate with our system, but I'm hoping we can go live with something before end of October
  • Team of 5 volunteer mods that can flag and remove content and recommend bans based on user history - hoping to have a few ready to go by end of next week so the automated flagging/unpublishing doesn't drown us

ON THE TABLE BUT MAY TAKE LONGER:

  • Allowing users to "mute" specific other users that they don't like or are offensive according to them
  • Potentially requiring certification status to post anonymously.  I'm open to this but I want to see how everything trends with the above changes into November before we make this one.

That's all for now,

Patrick

ps - have one call scheduled on Monday w a potential mod but would like more.  If you have a long history on WSO of avoiding all political/controversial topics and focusing on helping members, I'd love to speak with you.  [email protected]

1mo
Frieds, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Patrick, 

If you're still looking, shoot me a message, and, depending on the time commitment, I can throw my hat in the ring on that one. 

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1mo
iercurenc, what's your opinion? Comment below:
[Comment removed by mod team]
1mo
iercurenc, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Guys this is really too far. Really? Blocking slurs? Is this middle school? reddit has more liberal speech policies at this point. Fine, keep this forum focused on your "core values," but this is no longer the bastion of free expression that it once was, which I believe kept a lot of users on this site.

Huge overreach for a pretty small problem (a handful of troll posts).

1mo
NonCurrentIncome, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Believe it or not given my current account age, but I've been here for >10 years under various names (on and off through various year or multi-year hiatuses etc.). I frequently make new accounts as I have zero interest in anyone reading my posts and starting to track or doxx me - however remote the likelihood. I think I made an account for the first time in what was probably 2010/11?  I was here back in the days of TNA, DickFuld and then IlliniProgrammer etc. as top posters. I'm nowhere near as valuable as many of the prolific long-time posters by any stretch (and don't pretend to be) but I have been able to see the place evolve.

I've generally enjoyed the forum and my interest and activity ebbed and flowed based on my career aspirations and interest in finance as a developing teenager back in the day, to the professional I am now. Even if I had no interest in finance at times as I was exploring other curiosities, somehow WSO always pulled me back in at a certain point - mostly driven by quality posts from superusers such as APAE

Although I have zero respect for Buzzfeed, frankly I'm happy this point is finally being addressed. I have shunned certain subforums because of their content (such as off-topic) and I really only hang out in the PE forum (after a more recent consideration where I considered not coming back at all). The forum has devolved rapidly (and at an accelerated pace throughout COVID) into a place that tolerates all sorts of extreme opinions. I've been watching fairly shocked that nothing has been done. No offense, but if the mod team was actually interested in the forum and read some of the materials something should've done a long time ago. If someone like me, who logs-in every few days at best usually, can see these post and watch the forum derail (and pinpoint it on specific users) it's a real problem. The current levels of moderation are subpar and need to be addressed rapidly - whatever the reason may be (understaffed etc.).

Many excellent points have already been made, but mostly by superusers. I'm probably much closer to your average crowd than the much more accomplished and serious guys and gals here. I'm all for additional rules, but I would like to offer a word of caution / contrarian view versus some of the other posters:

  • One of the attractions 10-15 years ago was that it was pretty laid-back and easy/effortless to post something and to make an account. You didn't need to spend lots of time and effort to create a post and it was more akin to a chatroom at times. I'd like to keep room for that type of posters as frankly I'm here to blow off some steam or read some content while I'm on the toilet at work - I frankly don't have the energy to write elaborate, balanced, thoughful posts like some others (although they are much appreciated and I love reading them). I think you run at the risk of becoming too stiff and exclusionary otherwise
  • I love the anonymous posting function and will likely no longer post if it doesn't exist, or I will make new accounts even more frequently. I might be paranoid but I refuse to run the risk of being ID'ed on an online forum (I even use 10minutemail to sign-up every time...). My job is simply too important for me to have it being risked by posting on an online forum. Part of the attraction of the anonymous posting is that we can share grey-zone material (upcoming lay-offs, compensation, unadulterated views on the culture at certain firms, etc.) without personal liability. And part of the attraction of the forum is to actually get the inside track. I'm wholly uninterested in reading about technicals and much of the career / university advice being dished out here is not applicable to me anymore / I have my own mentors. However, getting a scoop / understanding what the underbelly of finance is  thinking is very valuable. I have posted on Fishbowl as well, but I refuse to use these apps as even they have info leaks or try to monetize the content itself - it's just too risky (I know I sound like a hardo, but I like to post things in this mentioned grey-zone)
  • I'm also completely uninterested in being a verified user and I think you'll turn lots of people off if you make this mandatory, for all the reasons mentioned above. Besides the anonymity points, back in the day it was great for a highschooler like me to be able to follow without too much effort/hoops (or the need for a LinkedIn account which I certainly didn't have), and eventually grow into a user with actual industry experience many years later. If you make the place too elitist or too difficult to join you'll turn-off lots of new, insecure freshmen or even high schoolers who are slowly but surely developing an interest in finance through on-and-off interactions

Just my $0.02 and I don't expect anyone to put much weight on it, but I hope to be able to reasonate / raise some concerns for a (potentially large) near-silent and casual user base

1mo
m_1, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Some of you are not putting yourselves in Patrick's shoes. Here's what's going to happen...

Buzzfeed posts a BS article painting Patrick, WSO and us users as a bunch of racists.

The article will likely rank #1 for people Googling Patrick or WSO because BuzzFeed has so much SEO juice.

Now it causes major issues for the business and obviously Patrick. This goes already down to when people like his kid's friends parents Google him.

Not fun, and requires fast action to hopefully get ahead of things. 

So, before getting upset that YoUR FrEe SpEeCh Is BeInG VioLated, please take a second to think through the above.

1mo
m_1, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Dr. Rahma Dikhinmahas

Some big leaps there. Especially the idea that Buzzfeed will be able to smear WSO & users as broadly racist based on these anecdotes.  

No. Used to run a rep management firm. This was a huge problem for a lot of our clients. Sometimes they just had the same name as someone else in the same city, and ended up missing a lot of $$$ business or having odd social interactions etc. 

1mo
iercurenc, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I understand this but banning all politics, religion and slurs is taking this too far. I got a comment removed that only said, "Fuck you."

Isaiah made a good point too about how politics/hot button issues are often closely related to finance. Posts about the economy and financial markets are inevitable going to include some commentary on the current administration, posts about recruiting are inevitable going to include topics like diversity hiring, etc. If you want to distinguish between when these topics are relevant to finance and when they are inflammatory, well now we are in that "gray area" territory we were trying to avoid in the first place.

It just doesn't make sense to have such a sweeping ban. WSO should just use a bot that auto-bans ethnic slurs and put up a disclaimer to show they disavow such content.

1mo
WallStreetOasis.com, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Soon we will have comments that are violations just be greyed out so it will be more clear that a comment was removed ...like just saying "Fuck you" is not constructive at all and against the T&C, it would still be good to have that up so others could see that something was posted and removed...

That grey zone is where most of the violations, subtle racism / sexism, etc happen and while we'd love to be perfect there, my guess is it will be impossible to make everyone happy especially in those threads since different members will have differing opinions if their comment "crossed the line".    I think there are 2 main stages here:

1.  Stage 1: Cleaning up the more obvious severe violations faster and more consistently w the help of some automated tools

2.  Stage 2:  Seeing what we can handle/not handle with the help of the tools from Stage 1 and maybe some others to be able to allow as much opinion as we can in that grey area.  I know this is going to be very challenging given some of the members on here and their approach to debates but we are going to try out best to allow respectful discourse before pulling the plug on an entire thread (nobody wants that)

Thanks for your comments,

Patrick

1mo
NayC, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I actually created my first burner account to post and since anon capability went into effect, have been using that to avoid leaving a trail, doxing (which has happened here multiple times recently) and the straight up targeting / bullying that goes on (whoever those liberal guys were). 

Like some of the more latter posters, been here since 2006 I think? Posted enough. Still read a lot. Probably survived the industry much longer than I expected and the website has been helpful, both to get to where I'm, but also to this date keep a pulse on what goes around (e.g. how do the juniors think of us or what we can do better or even recruiting).This whole whatever goes on in name of free speech is getting out of hand last 2-3 years. The ganging up on diversity recruiting, females, minorities, etc. are just very unfortunate and shouldn't be tolerated. I've done this long enough to see how difficult it is for someone who doesn't fit the stereotype to survive or move ahead, not just in banking, but on many other industries. This place became an echo chamber that continues to make it worse. There is a strong parallel to the unhappy "Trump supporters" or "disengaged young white male" or whatever you call it. But that's why some people bring up the 4chan examples. 

Its not few select users spamming. Its a group of people who grew up in divisive times through high school / college and have certain views and prefer to use online forums to echo their views. As the forum got bigger, you also have a whole bunch of (lets be honest here) non IB/PE type kids who are just not the original crowd. There were always some but now majority of loud mouth aren't even in the snobby finance we know. This became more Main Street than the IB Oasis I signed up for or WS Oasis as it named. Nothing wrong with it, if that's the target, but its like going to Myrtle Beach for vacation for a MD. 

EOD there is no easy solution like take out curse words. There is a need for cultural shift. But overall the touchy topics need to be managed properly (and tbh if you want to talk politics, go post on FoxNews comments). And lot of the younger people here (especially in undergrad and early 20s) - need to develop some empathy around people not their kind. Don't blame minorities or girls for taking your spots. Its always been tough to get the top jobs. But the lack of empathy around even the female intern post last week (now deleted) was disappointing. 

Also lets not trash BuzzFeed too much. They are growing up, including winning a Pulitzer over Uighurs. They also have the eyeballs where these kind of piece can and will skyrocket. For old users like me, do I really want one of my posts (as vanilla as it might be) somehow making press? No. We have done compliance training. 

1mo
Friedmaneconomics, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Don't feed the beast. WSO doesn't "condone" anything; it provides a service that people use for discourse.

I'd be careful how I respond to such allegations from buzzfeed, if at all.

It's probably in WSO's best interest just to ignore the email from Buzzfeed all together.

As for improving moderation - what about writing a program to detect certain language or activity (bot like activity) and have it brought to the attention to the staff at WSO? Sort of like an internal flagging system. That would probably help a bunch as volume of posts or comments increase.

1mo
Dr. Rahma Dikhinmahas, what's your opinion? Comment below:

This is the best advice.  The gentleman from Buzzfeed (I'm talking nice since management + elite users said be nice to him) doesn't have a track record of high engagement in his previous reporting.  His Twitter makes that clear. Whatever he writes will disappear into the ether hours later.  Biggest mistake would be to give it life by over-responding.

1mo
marcellus_wallace, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Truly its about time. Patrick even this thread should be taken down over time. The fact people are trashing buzzfeed or a reporter for doing their job (like it or not) is not a good look for this community. The legends, HOFers have gone, even some older users like Compbanker or brofessor does not post actively daily.

The more recent active users some who commented already in this thread push the line on many topics when there is zero reason to. Like we fully all know the political leanings of some members now but yet they make it a reason to remind us all the time. 

Maybe this is the evolution of the internet as some people mentioned or what these people consider uncensored free speech. But end of the day; the owners, employees and their families of WSO have to eat. 

1mo
NoEquityResearch, what's your opinion? Comment below:

marcellus_wallace

Truly its about time. Patrick even this thread should be taken down over time. The fact people are trashing buzzfeed or a reporter for doing their job (like it or not) is not a good look for this community.

Completely disagree here. I think running stories like this is unethical from a journalistic point of view and not what a journalist should be doing. Basically, he's taking 1% of the most racists posts (such as the South Africa riots post) and smearing all of WSO with a broad brush.

Here's a better angle. Why not write an article about the racist views of many young bankers on diversity hiring and note some of the discussions on WSO? It's actually a far more interesting story and actually something which is too often discussed in the forums. Also, you make the story about young bankers rather than WSO because the views of young bankers is what is interesting.....not the fact that a website exists which doesn't moderate comments as strongly as Facebook. Would actually enjoy reading an article like that.

1mo
Mr Incredible, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I like how all the users who have been here 10-15+ years are like "let's use this as a chance to improve WSO" and all the users who have been here <4 years are like "death to buzz feed!!!" "This is against free speech!!" And "just ignore it!"

1mo
NoEquityResearch, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Will there be a second Buzzfeed article based on posts where a lot of us discuss problems in the industry and how they can be improved, spiritual growth, giving back to the community, etc.? These too are also random off topic discussions.

1mo
Sequoia, what's your opinion? Comment below:

What about political topics that relate to finance? I get that abortion conversation for instance may no longer be allowed but I don't think it's fair to not allow conversations on taxation / student debt / welfare / foreign affairs like Ukraine-Russia war (impacts commodities / supply chains / etc). That would literally be just choking off discussion entirely 

1mo
WallStreetOasis.com, what's your opinion? Comment below:

The goal here is to go in stages...  stage 1 is just getting more consistent and getting the worst violations off immediately.  I don't think a discussion on taxation or student debt by itself is a problem...the issue is the direction those threads take.  It is rarely balanced, they are filled with straw men, they are usually filled with attacks and name calling, etc etc etc... 

So with the new mod tools we already have live MAY allow us to handle these, I suspect in many cases it will just overwhelm the mod team even with the automated help.  Let's see how things trend over the coming weeks and how the system and growing mod team handles these before doing more.  A lot of these changes that are already live are a big potential improvement, but we have to see what happens to really know.  Thanks  

1mo
WallStreetOasis.com, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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1mo
Alt-Ctr-Left, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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Ut maxime quia consequatur aliquid rerum explicabo. Occaecati doloremque consectetur velit sunt nam ut.

"I don't know how to explain to you that you should care about other people."

1mo
Ozymandia, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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Sunt dicta quia vero deserunt mollitia sapiente autem. Ea provident molestiae provident nemo consequuntur qui est. Exercitationem sunt quis rerum ut neque. Voluptas vero aut veniam ut earum tenetur asperiores ad.

Est amet cupiditate aut harum libero. Quidem dolorem accusantium tempora laudantium voluptatem alias molestias. Veniam eum et quo.

1mo
Fjsjrjdns, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Vitae dignissimos quae qui velit omnis recusandae. Nostrum voluptas veritatis nihil nesciunt adipisci repellendus hic. Rem exercitationem quam eligendi pariatur deleniti. Corrupti similique adipisci est exercitationem neque. Id dolorem quaerat magnam ducimus rerum sit sed. Aut optio quaerat explicabo recusandae facilis porro dolorem minima. Dolorem voluptas cumque et qui tenetur aut sit maxime.

Possimus iste labore tempora nam ducimus sunt. Quia odit minus quisquam sapiente. Nisi quas nostrum aut consequuntur unde ipsa sint. Impedit explicabo suscipit quae et ut id aut. Cupiditate qui rem ut rem iste.

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Iste vel assumenda tenetur ipsa. Est tenetur eos nobis inventore sed. Iure ullam enim consequatur ex qui excepturi vero.

1mo
NoEquityResearch, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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Facere sit sapiente qui aut quod earum autem. Et saepe vero ullam quo molestiae fuga laudantium. Sed quasi hic ut repudiandae fugiat explicabo. Et dignissimos vel est atque ut. Fuga nemo in non temporibus cupiditate.

Suscipit temporibus ratione itaque eos. Sed at qui autem vero voluptate. Temporibus id illo velit tenetur nihil.

1mo
Yankee Doodle, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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Id voluptatem quod esse itaque omnis cupiditate. Beatae ut rerum aut tempore nobis minus eum numquam. Doloribus quo aut ut. Ipsam ducimus vel quisquam voluptates et assumenda culpa.

"Work ethic, work ethic" - Vince Vaughn

27d
Dr. Rahma Dikhinmahas, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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