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"News for Nerds. Stuff that matters." http://slashdot.org/

A news site about Linux, free software, technology, science fiction, and other issues near and dear to computer geeks around the world. Started in September, 1997 by RobMalda aka CmdrTaco, this was the first WebLog to introduce user comments.

Slashdot is not a democracy. While anyone can post responses to stories, the actual stories on the front page are chosen only by the slashdot editors. They are generally selected by the staff from user suggestions.

Slashdot runs on SlashCode.

See also

Compare KuroShin.

CategoryOnlineCommunity CategoryWebLog CategorySlashdot

Slashdot's contributions to CollaborativeHypermedia:

SlashDot has become incredibly popular, and has dealt with its increasing volume of posts (and decreasing SignalToNoiseRatio) by introducing a moderation system. Regular readers are randomly selected to become temporary moderators, and gain the power to increment or decrement the scores of other readers' posts. Readers of SlashDot can choose to read only posts whose score have been moderated to above some threshold.

Another feature of SlashDot is the "karma" system, a very basic sort of TrustMetric. Users whose posts are consistently moderated up gain bonus points for their future posts, while those who have poor karma lose the ability to moderate.

There's even meta-moderation, an attempt to keep the moderators honest by giving users the chance to lower the karma of poor moderators.

Posts to Slashdot by anonymous or unregistered users are made under the shared AnonymousIdentity byline "Anonymous Coward."

Some fun links discovered while mining the wake of Signal11's departure:

You know, I actually feel stupider after reading Slashdot. -- SunirShah

Anyone can create their own sid and post comments to it -- just type in the URL and you're ready to go. Back in the day, 10gramspoppylatex and k3220inchfan were the cool troll hangouts, but their comments have expired. Alas, steelcage has finally bit the dust as well! Vladinator still has a little bit of activity.

I don't think you can create your own sid anymore. http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=moderation doesn't work anymore, probably because of that.

Cached Sig11 vs Taco IRC log

[10 December 2001] I've temporarily (I hope) pulled it out of the Google cache while KuroShin is down. I don't think it's appropriate to hold onto the IRC log forever--ForgiveAndForget, after all. At some point in the short term, someone (probably me) will have to dig through the text to summarize the case history at which point I will delete it. After all, it is an interesting example of how conflict occurs from online community architecture, as well as trolling, GodKings, and probably a million other subtle points. Meanwhile, I think I'll ask Rusty to burn it when kuro5hin comes back. -- SunirShah

If you aren't enjoying SlashDot, you may have your threshold set too low. Try reading at a threshold of 3 or 4 for a few days. (Even a level of 3 will get rid of quite a few people abusing the +1 karma bonus.) The key to using the threshold is realizing that you will miss many (possibly most) of the good posts. The SlashDot moderation process generally gives a good sample of high-quality posts after a few hours.

I often wish SlashDot's moderation worked better, but I'm still impressed at how well it works. I even learned the difference between "flotsam" and "jetsam" from SlashDot today [1]. --CliffordAdams

The Slashdot moderation system is a complete mess. Hence Signal11's departure. Besides that, at a threshold of 3 (my normal level), you usually only get the most passionate and well written "Linux rulez1!#@$!" posts, not necessarily the most intelligent. The most informative posts are usually buried at threshold 1 or 2, sometimes 0. I guess that moderators are merely confused as to what is important or not (as they don't have informed opinions). It's really useless. You should only give PeerPrivilege to those who qualify, not just RandomPeerPrivilege. It's like forcing people to vote, which has historically lead people to vote primarily on demagogics. Wiki:BarberIsm. -- SunirShah

Has anyone else noticed an improvement in quality at Slashdot since KuroShin's rise in popularity?

Yes. Many of the people who complained (on SlashDot) about the lack of quality on SlashDot have moved their complaining-noise to K5 (with snide comments about "The Other Site"). This has helped SlashDot. I've also lowered my expectations of SlashDot so they are easier to meet. As long as I keep the threshold at 3, SlashDot works quite well for those days when KuroShin doesn't have enough comments. --CliffordAdams

The biggest problem for SlashDot these days (April '01) isn't moderation, but the story approval process. In the last few months, there have been a number of problems with stories, including stories that duplicate a story posted two days before, and stories that are 100% speculation with no content, news, or insight. There was even a story where the posting editor hadn't apparently checked the link -- which did not go to the tech-related news it said it did, but linked instead to a Hooters in the Netherlands.

I don't say this to beat up on the SlashDot editors: I'm sure the volume of story submissions is probably unmanageably high these days, and given the process they've got, I'd probably make many of the same mistakes. Or has the process improved recently? These kinds of problems seem to have dipped recently, though maybe that's just because I read SlashDot less now. -- FrancisHwang

I've been following SlashDot for a long time (I'm member number 3149) and I learned long ago that the comments were mostly worthless and I hardly ever bother with them. The story quality is sometimes bad, but with RichSiteSummary, you can look before you leap, and you can also pick a number of news sites to get a more balanced view. As cool as they might sometimes be, if you get all your news from one source, be it SlashDot, KuroShin or the CBS Evening News, you've got problems. --DaveJacoby

But SlashDot isn't the CBS Evening News. As a weblog, its primary value is to cherry-pick the most relevant, interesting news for its audience. I'd argue that most people use it first to prevent having to wade through all that stuff themselves, and secondarily to read original content, or read other people's comments. So the problems with story approvals go to the core of the site's value.

I'm not particularly interested in bashing SlashDot here. I just bring up the issue because it highlights an interesting question: How can you make the editing process scale? -- FrancisHwang

I'm reading this as saying "SlashDot isn't the Evening News. It's more important". While that makes me laugh, I cannot assume that this was meant. Do I want them to do better? Sure. Yes. Absolutely. But as their default sidebar shows, there's more news sources available for their primary audience, the young Linuxphile geek. While I am strongly in that demographic, they are not my only source for that news, nor are they a particularly good source for HandHelds?. I wrote my own portal.

Then I wasn't explaining myself very well. What I meant was this: SlashDot isn't necessarily better or worse than the Evening News -- it's simply a different kind of provider of content, with different aims. And again, I'm not writing to complain. (If SlashDot became 100% worthless to me, it wouldn't affect my life that much.) I'm writing because I find this an interesting question of process.

The first step is having the editors do their jobs, of course. The examples you gave are just plain sloppy. --DaveJacoby

But is sloppiness a personal failing, or the manifestation of a poorly designed process? I imagine that the kind of editing work required of SlashDot editors, reading through hundreds of submissions a day, is exhausting and tedious. Far more tedious than the work of being an editor of a traditional news organ that creates its own content. Is there a way to both increase quality while making the work less tedious? -- FrancisHwang

Well, I'm not as sure as some, having gone though journalism training and graduating with a BS in Journalism in a past life, that SlashDot is as far from the standard as some contend. A large chunk of what is in the newspaper is merely press releases inputted verbatim, and another large chunk is only there to fill space to sit next to previously-bought advertising. I see little that I'd judge as a blatant ad in news-space on SlashDot. Not nothing, but little.

And certainly their workflow could use some work, but having been kluged together after a hobby went big, they're doing better than some.

Have you seen KuroShin?

Yes, I have seen KuroShin. I read KuroShin. [Here are some of my comments] on KuroShin. The technology aspects are sometimes cool, but the "culture" aspects are from the ivory tower, not the trenches. If that's what the users want, that's fine, but I hardly participate anymore. SlashDot's better, IMHO. --DaveJacoby

Too many ModAndGrammarNazi?'s [2] on KuroShin. Many of its TrustedUsers? have gained 'power' without responsibility due to the anonymity of the WorldWideWeb. Because of this if they don't like a comment, or you're not using their version of Wiki:ProperEnglish, or they don't like, or agree with, what you have written about, they tend to either vote your articles straight out of the SubmissionQueue? or ModZero? your comments. -- IAWiki:PaulMillar

What does editing the news mean, anyway? What's the difference between high and low quality news? If you answer that, maybe we can figure out how to make it scale.

Sure. More signal, less noise. That's not an easily measurable metric, but it is significant. In fact, it's at the core of what a weblog like SlashDot is supposed to do.

But what's signal? What does an editor do in practical terms, not in quasi ideal terms?

Are we talking web editors, newspaper editors or magazine editors here? They are not analogous positions. --DJ

In TV, the position you're talking about it the producer. The editor in TV news is about the same as the editor in a film. You have video footage and you put it together. That is video editing. In a medium/organization, there's the person who has the say. The GodKing. For newspapers, it used to be that the publisher owned it and held it in a more-or-less hands-off position, with the editor-in-chief being the GodKing. (With newspaper chains, the publisher tends to take a more hands-on position, and thus publisher conferences now are less analogous to Shriner conventions and more professional events.) In SlashDot, ultimately it is Cmdr Taco and Hemos. In Kuro5hin, it is Rusty.

In all this, those who hold the GodKing power don't invoke it all the time. If a producer had to handhold every segment producer and line editor, that producer would never get any sleep, the segment producers and line editors would never get good enough to become producers, and the final show would suck. I used to be in a student paper, and there were the co-editors, a layout editor, a copy editor (me), and section editors. The editors were GodKings. They decided who got hired and all that. The job titles were fuzzy, though. The layout editor, after designing the book over the summer and adjusting here and there, didn't have strong job requirements over the rest of the year, so he was also the Mac sysadmin. I was copy editor, section editor of the National and World section (all AP news, except what I wrote, which was little), and I also critiqued layout, as I copy-edited scratch pages, not individual articles. So, while there were GodKings, they knew that the job was bigger than them, so power flowed down. In SlashDot (weren't we talking about SlashDot?), they hired more story editors to go through the submission slush pile. In Kuro5hin, the users go through the slush pile. Segment producers come up with news story ideas, many of which never reach the air.

The GodKing of a media thing has important power. He creates and keeps the focus. It is my opinion that the lack of GodKingliness of Rusty and the lack of a K5Cabal that has made Kuro5hin increasingly worthless for browsing. SlashDot has grown from a hobby project to a media empire (I was shocked when I saw their first print ads). They have gone from a hobby site run by friends to a big site with employees and print ads, and done well. Not perfect, but well. --DaveJacoby

Interesting that you think I should be more of a GodKing, rather than less. I assume you mean that KuroShin has lost focus, in the absence of me "steering" it one way or another. I would argue, on the contrary, that KuroShin never had focus, and any that it seemed to have was the result of a temporary confluence of like-minded users, which has since changed. I think it is, now, more like I always wanted it to be than it ever has been in the past. And that is, paradoxically, the result of my not deciding what it is supposed to be about.

But mainly what I like about the site is its unguided nature. Or maybe I mean its self-guided nature. It certainly wouldn't be the site it is if I "took charge" and decided where it ought to go, but I don't think it would be a better site for that. I like that it takes me places I never thought to look.

But it strikes me that you might be one of the first people I've ever heard suggest that I ought to be more in control of K5. As I said, if you'd like to expand, I'd be interested to hear why. --RustyFoster

I very much like the concept of "self-defined" communities that have the freedom to decide what they will become, not being bound by impositions that are external to the community or a narrowly defined focus (kinda reminds me of existentialist philosophy...). My guess is that they will tend to attract more open minds and outlive other communities because of a better ability to adapt to changing circumstances. Other communities run the risk of becoming irrelevant and burn out. Something different can be expected to rise from their ashes, though. --SebPaquet

Take a look at my idea for a FuzzyCommunity and let me know what you think -- IAwiki:PaulMillar

Some Slashdotters don't realy "get" wiki:

What I'm starting to think Wiki needs is a phrase or one-liner that helps people visualize what it is/does/and what benefits it has, so that they just get it.

It needs that like a hole in the head.
Wiki works because people have to think before they write, and read what has gone before. An influx of morons who can only grasp a concept by reading a 10-words-or-less tagline would kill wiki.
I think a Wiki could work with most static populations, even "morons": the rules would just adapt. However I kind of agree with you about "influx". Changing composition rapidly is pretty toxic for most communities probably anywhere anytime in history...-- AndrewCates


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