Troll Patrol

Another superhero film starring a lady, another round of mass-downvoting from a small, grumpy corner of the internet. Happy International Women’s Day, everyone!

But seriously. We’ve just participated in a story for The Verge about how film review platforms are dealing (or not) with occasional blursts of review-bombing. These campaigns usually target large studio films that prominently feature main characters played by women or people of color. You know the sort.

Rotten Tomatoes recently brought the mallet down, banning “user reviews and comments prior to a movie’s theatrical release”. We have a number of moderation tools that we’ve been using for a few years now, but we know we can do more, and we know you’ll have some questions. So here’s an update on where we’re at, and why we care.

Ratings embargos

  • We’re running a pilot scheme where, for selected films, we can hide the ratings graph until the day of its first public screening. We define a “public” screening as a film festival premiere or similar, where there is no press embargo.
  • You can still rate any film prior to its public premiere. We are not removing your ability to add a rating but your early ratings won’t count towards the weighted average for a film with a hidden graph. (We can also retroactively change the date after which ratings are counted, in case we’re made aware of a surprise early screening.)
  • You can still see other members’ ratings prior to a film’s release. On the film’s page, click the ‘eye’ icon below the poster to see who’s seen the film, along with any ratings cast early.
  • Our pilot scheme is focused on larger studio films where there is a global day-and-date release. Some might argue that the studios don’t need our help, and that’s a fair call, but the damage that can result from review- and ratings-bombing is insidious in ways that we can’t even comprehend. Plus, it’s just not useful to see an overall rating for a film based on the opinions of people who haven’t seen it (and often don’t intend to).

Amplifying the awesome

  • We love a great meme. Love a great meme. Buuuuut we also really love that the public parts of Letterboxd—the pages that most people land on—favor deep-takes over hot-takes. So, we lightly curate our “front pages” to ensure a strong mix of writing and opinions. That’s why you might find that your one-sentence preview with a whole bunch of likes has disappeared from the film’s page (for members who don’t follow you). It’s nothing against your meme skills, it’s just that we like to also amplify members who are taking the effort to go deeper and longer about why a film took their fancy, or didn’t.

Community reporting

  • If you see something, you can say something. If a review (or preview) is offensive, objectionable, full of hate speech or contravenes our Community Policy in another way, use the flag icon and report it. We’ll take it from there.

So that’s where our moderation tools are at, for now. You know us. We like our community vibe. We introduced a selection of gender-diverse pronouns after listening to our members. More recently we improved the tools you can use to report and block members you don’t enjoy having in your feed.

These tools are mostly about how you, our members, use Letterboxd on an individual basis. But we can’t ignore that the world is changing and trolls are a thing, so we as a service have the ability, and responsibility, to quietly swoop in and hose down a s(h)ituation.

As our co-founder Matthew told The Verge, “We’re under no illusion that there are no internet trolls. Our aim is really to de-amplify them, and to just make it annoying or dissatisfying to try to be a troll on Letterboxd.”

Stills from Trolls (top) and Trollhunter (above).
Stills from Trolls (top) and Trollhunter (above).


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