Reddit's wonderful "Change My View" forum launches its own independent website

Change My View (previously) is a wonderful subreddit founded by a Scottish highschooler named Kal Turnbull as a forum where people can conduct honest inquiry and debate, where the house-rules ensure that there is an open-minded willingness to have your views changed, and where those changes are marked with a Δ (delta) symbol.

Turnbull is now 23 with a degree in civil engineering, and he and his community members have built a standalone Change My View site with help from Google/Alphabet's Jigsaw, which has trained some comment-ranking tools on Change My View's data-set (which is unique in that it has explicit, human-generated markers signalling which posts were effective at changing someone's view).

The new site, Change A View, has a bunch of features that don't readily fit into Reddit's forum framework, and features a paid moderation staff that uses the features and Jigsaw's tools to keep the discussions productive.

As I've written before, Change My/A View is a fascinating use-case, but it's also got heavy selection bias going for it. It doesn't so much prove that reasoned debate can change people's minds, but rather than, if you're the kind of person who goes looking for reasoned debate, your mind may change.

And also, as previously noted: there is more than one reason to engage in online debate. It's not just about changing someone's mind, sometimes, it's about playing to the gallery: "Playing to the gallery this way is a proven way to change minds, and in those cases, it often helps if your opponent is overheated and rude, because their affect can make you seem more reasonable by comparison (but this doesn't always work -- sometimes being the passionate one facing down the robotically cool one makes you seem like your side is the one whose proponents have the most at stake and the most to offer)."

The new Change A View website works a little differently. There are still moderators on the custom platform, but Turnbull says they're paid for the work they do. There's a public mod log, so you everyone can see which moderator took which action. And the platform will make use of Jigsaw's comment-ranking engine, called Perspective API, which scores comments to weed out abuse and harassment while taking some of the load off of moderators.

There are some thoughtful updates for users, too. “We had a conversation early on about private messaging,” says Weeks. “We wanted to make sure we wouldn’t get in a situation where someone posted a thread and someone else could message them directly and be unkind or hostile or threatening. So we said, let’s shelve that.”

Compelling arguments are still rewarded with a Δ symbol, showing exactly when and where someone’s mind was changed. But the process of awarding a delta is a lot easier. On Reddit, you had to either copy-and-paste the Δ symbol or use the corresponding Unicode markup to trigger the bot. On Change a View, there's a delta button built right in.

‘Change My View’ Reddit Community Launches Its Own Website [Arielle Pardes/Wired]