[ALT: And what about all the people who won't be able to join the community because they're terrible at making helpful and constructive co-- ... oh.]
I have a special kind of hate reserved for nerds who try to do this sort of shit. You know what I'm talking about--when they think that they can reduce language (especially language online) to a series of numbers, and solve all of its problems and intricacies by running it through a script. I've known far too many nerds like this. I've worked with them. Their simplistic view of the world was nothing short of infuriating.
Enter Randy! Here he has proposed a system whereby people basically vote on whether or not something is a helpful, constructive comment. If they agree, then it shows up! If not, then it vanishes into the void. While many could argue that this is already the default behavior on places like Reddit, Youtube, and anywhere else with comment voting systems, I'm pretty sure Randy is assuming that these votes will be used like a spam filter in the future--that the user voting process will eventually train the system to automatically identify helpful comments and only accept those, while the unhelpful comments go to the spam bin, never to be seen again. (Maybe he just forgot that he masturbates to the Reddit logo every morning though, I mean, this is Randy we're talking about. It's very possible that he just came up with Reddit several years too late, and thinks it's the most brilliant thing ever.)
This system wouldn't work, of course, and there's countless reasons why not. First, it assumes that the aggregate of people are able to identify something helpful and constructive. (I'd like to remind everyone that XKCD frequently makes the front page of Reddit. Enough said.) What this would end up being is nothing short of a popularity contest. Certain people will be downvoted because they don't subscribe to the prevailing opinion, turning every forum out there into a circle-jerk. They're already bad enough as it is--making a filter that automatically gets rid of people who disagree with you is not a good idea.
The system would also not be able to identify context. "I fucking love spaceships" might be a helpful comment on a picture of a spaceship, but it would be significantly less helpful on a picture of an old woman waiting for the bus. How does it decide which one of these is helpful? Do we allow a false positive and spam both comments? A false negative and keep both comments?
Or how about a common thing that bots do these days, which is copy, verbatim, old posts by other, legitimate forum members and paste them into a different thread? Randy's feature won't pick that one up! And if you vote down the bot version, then the original gets spammed also.
Words mean different things in different contexts, but Randy and nerds like him want to reduce everything to nothing more than words. To them, every instance of "no thanks" is identical. If you use a certain combination of words, you're saying something that falls into one of their arbitrarily defined categories.
The reason they think this works is because it works pretty okay for spam filters in emails--you can train them which emails are spam and which ones are not, and it will file them into the appropriate bucket. But these are being used for categories like "spam" and "not spam." Nobody is using spam filters for quality assessments--"emails that made me happy" or "this email sucks" or "helpful, constructive emails" or "emails that don't contribute to the conversation." These aren't categories you can actually quantify, but nerds don't know that. Nerds think that "helpful, constructive emails" is an entirely objective and quantifiable category, and that you can crowdsource labor to generate the perfect filter.
Finally, I am going to steal from your "Gamer 2k4" or whatever, who said a thing in the comments:
. . . the plan outlined in #810 simply wouldn't work. The "constructive" nature of a particular comment is far too subjective, even for a person, to judge another poster by their appraisal of it. If you're only letting comments get posted that have received that sort of approval, then you're essentially letting the hoards of bots be your moderating team, an awful idea if there ever was one. (And as a one-time forum owner, I can promise you that bots are FAR more numerous than legitimate posters).
So, we have three possible outcomes:
1) Bots rate all comments as constructive. Posts continue through as though unmoderated, and significantly more spam makes it through than a captcha would allow.
2) Bots rate all comments as not constructive. The board grinds to a halt as all comments, regardless of their quality, are discarded before making it to the message board.
3) Bots rate roughly half of the comments as constructive, and half as not constructive. The rating system fails, as all comments receive roughly the same rating (the hundreds of bots outweigh the few real users and render their ratings essentially meaningless). Comments are either posted or blocked as a fluke, and enough spam gets through to make it worthwhile. Again, a captcha would be more effective.
Randall, you suck again. See why you need an editor? If you'd have bounced this idea off of ONE PERSON you'd have seen how worthless it was!