The problem: there are a percentage of users who delight in wrecking the game. We can ban them after they have already derailed games, but, even with the current safeguards, they can still wreck 10 or so games before they are banned. After they are banned, they create a new account and get back to it.
The "Skip and Report" button certainly helps. The problem is - how does a player know that a TV with a cowboy hat is a troll panel? It is only revealed as a troll panel once you see it in context.
On the topic of moderators - I can understand Reed's reticence to explicitly having certain individuals given this responsibility. Even if you discount the major amount of politics involved, it would take significant programming effort to develop the "moderation tools".
So I'm suggesting a simpler solution.
Each user has a "trustworthiness" score. This is calculated by some algorithm taking into account a number of factors, including
- how many games they've played,
- the number of points they've gotten
- whether they've ever had panels reported
- Whether they've reported panels and this report action was justified.
The trustworthiness scores are not visible to the user. Scores can be recalculated every time the algorithm is tweeked.
When a "trustworthy" user hits the PLAY button, one of four things can happen:
1) They are given a caption, and asked to draw a picture (as is currently the case)
2) They are given a picture, and asked to assign a caption (as is current the case)
3) Here's where they are given a "civic duty" job: They are given a caption and the subsequent picture. There are two buttons "This picture is OK", and "This is obviously a troll". If the picture bears no relevance to the caption, then you press the Troll button. This whole review process should take five seconds. Now they've done a tiny piece of work for the site, they can bask in the warm glowy feeling of contributing, then get back to playing the game.
4) They are given a picture and a subsequent caption. There are two buttons "This caption is OK" and "TROLL". Like step three, this takes five seconds of the players time.
So now there is a simple gate that new accounts have to get through. The guy who writes "Big Penor" doesn't get to break anything, he justs gets rejected right from the start, and only one person actually sees it.
So that's my idea. Here are the concerns I bet you have:
Is this going to slow the game down?
The review process should literally take under ten seconds per panel, and it would be spread over all of the players. Notice that a game's progress always lingers on an odd panel for a while, but is hardly ever on an even panel? That's because it takes a lot less time to write a description than draw a picture. This review process would take even less time.
Also, this "gating" step would only apply to the newer players who have yet to earn a trustworthiness score. As the number of new players increases, so would the number of trustworthy players, so this will scale up elegantly.
Could the reviewer abuse his/her position?
OK, that's a good point. The reviewer must distinguish an intentional derailment from an unintentional mistake. (For example, http://drawception.com/viewgame/eTgCxN1fEy/flowers-in-the-attic/).
The reviewer must also accept that bad stick figure drawings are OK.
There also needs to be clear rules about what's OK as far as language is concerned.
Perhaps we should make it that if a panel is passed then it is passed straight away. But, if a panel is rejected then it goes on to another reviewer to reject. It has be rejected by a jury of at least (n) people to be properly rejected.
There will inevitably be cases of unfair rejections
I'm afraid you're right there. As an analogy, every civilised country has a legal system which occasionally sends an innocent person to jail. We all agree that's really terrible, but few would advocate dismantling the entire legal system because of it.
I'll invoke the "greater good" argument: one panel being rejected inconveniences one player, while one genuinely bad panel ruins the game for the other 14 players, and for everyone else who observes it.
Again, having it so that a panel of (n) reviewers has to reject it would be an additional safeguard.
(Incidentally, here's a game where one of the panels would probably have been rejected, even though the player was genuinely playing the game This system would have rejected his panel. http://drawception.com/viewgame/M88gHCnkET/see-no-evil-hear-no-evil-speak-no-evil/ )
But I don't want to moderate games
And shirk your civil duty? OK, there's still a "skip" button, just press that and get back to drawing.
This makes the game less fun. It will lose its sense of chaotic randomness
For new players, this whole process is completely invisible. They won't know that somebody else actually looked at their panel. They will be having exactly the same experience as they're currently getting, except there will be less ruined games.
Trolls will figure out a way to get around it
Maybe so, somebody will always try. But trolling the system will take a lot more time and labour. They will actually have to obtain a trustworthiness score, which they can only do by playing the game properly for a while.
We will still need the "Report" buttons on each game, in case a trustworthy player goes rogue.