For Gamers Behaving Badly, An Online Jury
In the multiplayer game League of Legends, players who use abusive language can see their words used against them in a court of their peers. The technology behind this jury can be applied to other online communities.
Kecia Lynn has worked as a technical writer, editor, software developer, arts administrator, summer camp director, and television host. A graduate of Case Western Reserve University and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, she is currently living in Iowa City and working on her first novel.
What's the Latest Development?
Swearing and name-calling are common in online multiplayer games, but the creators behind one of those games, League of Legends, recently demonstrated a new system designed to stop bad behavior as well as its spread. The aptly-named Tribunal collects all instances of negative behavior wherever it exists -- including in chat logs -- and presents the worst cases to the game's forums, where players vote on their acceptability. Offenders convicted of especially bad actions could be banned from the game.
What's the Big Idea?
Jeff Lin, lead designer of social systems at Riot Games, says that League of Legends "can create behavioural profiles for every player" and measure how often they use abusive language. They have also used simple warnings at the start of battles to nudge players towards better gameplay. A system similar to Tribunal could work for other online communities, imposing social norms in a realm where anonymity often gives people permission to behave inappropriately. According to University of Michigan professor Cliff Lampe, "This really helps to shape sites...these social structures lead to more sustainable sites."
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Here's the science of black holes, from supermassive monsters to ones the size of ping-pong balls.
- There's more than one way to make a black hole, says NASA's Michelle Thaller. They're not always formed from dead stars. For example, there are teeny tiny black holes all around us, the result of high-energy cosmic rays slamming into our atmosphere with enough force to cram matter together so densely that no light can escape.
- CERN is trying to create artificial black holes right now, but don't worry, it's not dangerous. Scientists there are attempting to smash two particles together with such intensity that it creates a black hole that would live for just a millionth of a second.
- Thaller uses a brilliant analogy involving a rubber sheet, a marble, and an elephant to explain why different black holes have varying densities. Watch and learn!
- Bonus fact: If the Earth became a black hole, it would be crushed to the size of a ping-pong ball.
From time-traveling billiard balls to information-destroying black holes, the world's got plenty of puzzles that are hard to wrap your head around.
- While it's one of the best on Earth, the human brain has a lot of trouble accounting for certain problems.
- We've evolved to think of reality in a very specific way, but there are plenty of paradoxes out there to suggest that reality doesn't work quite the way we think it does.
- Considering these paradoxes is a great way to come to grips with how incomplete our understanding of the universe really is.
In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.
- The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
- Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
- Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
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