By now nearly everyone who reads this blog is aware of the Atheism Plus Block bot. It is said to be a tool for the sensitive A-plussers to keep their timelines free from “the Slyme” (a reference to the Slymepit).
The users of this tool allow a few people with administrative authority to add twitter accounts to the lists of people automatically blocked. The wisdom of allowing others to think for you notwithstanding; it could be a useful tool for “delicate flowers” to protect themselves from the evils of the unwashed internet.
The problem seems to be in it’s secondary effects (disputed). There have been claims that within a small window of time from being added to the block list, newer accounts were then suspended. The suspensions may have been triggered by Twitter’s internal suspension algorithms, by users of the bot taking the additional step of reporting newly added accounts, or it may be unrelated to the bot.
What has been proposed is a test. (I know, sounds kinda like Mythbusters, eh?) A structured test which would isolated the individual variables to determine the cause(s) of suspensions.
I propose the test be carried out in the following manner:
(Prerequisite) -The test accounts cannot be known by users of TBB in advance. This is to prevent affecting the results since the users are being tested as well as the automation.
1. A “neutral party” or one trusted and agreed to by both the administrator(s) of TBB and the people claiming that it causes suspensions be granted temporary administrator status to TBB (the ability to add accounts to the list.)
2. At least 2 test accounts are created and a few anti-Aplus comments tweeted by each of them.
3. The temporary admin then adds one of the test accounts to TBB with NO accompanying tweet from TBB’s twitter account (if that isn’t an automated tweet). This tests Twitter’s algorithms.
4. The temporary admin adds the 2nd test account to TBB and the tweet from TBB’s twitter account is sent with “reason” for addition. This tests the user’s response to new additions.
After the test accounts are added, the temporary admin would be demoted from admin status.
If the test accounts both stay active- TBB and it’s users are blameless in the suspensions.
If the one that gets its addition tweeted is suspended (alone) then the case is made stronger that the users of TBB are reporting these newer accounts causing the suspensions.
If both test accounts are suspended the case is made stronger that the issue lies in Twitter’s internal suspension algorithms.
That’s it. That’s the test. The hard part seems to be choosing a suitable temporary admin. Who would you trust to conduct this test?
I’d accept Jeremy Stangroom or YouTube’s Essence of Thought (among others).