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The Internet Education

On Collaborative Weblogs 175

Posted by Hemos
from the a-good-bout-of-navel-gazing dept.
fernand0 writes "The 5th International Symposium on Online Journalism has dealt with some blogging issues (see the Symposium Research Papers). One that can be of interest for Slashdot readers is When the Audience is the Producer: The Art of the Collaborative Weblog (pdf). There, four collective weblogs are examined: MetaFilter, Plastic, Kuro5hin, and Slashdot, and some discussion is done about the different ways of collaboration that emerge from these sites."
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On Collaborative Weblogs

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  • Slashdot as a blog (Score:5, Interesting)

    by moberry (756963) on Monday May 31, 2004 @11:40AM (#9296901)
    When i hear the word WebBlog, I think journal. Public journal that is. Slashdot is more of a news site where users can post commets. I would like to know the author's reason on why slashdot is a blog. If slashdot is a blog, then it must have the record for being the world's BIGGEST blog.
    • by BlueCodeWarrior (638065) <steevk@gmail.com> on Monday May 31, 2004 @11:49AM (#9296965) Homepage
      Probably because of the Journals [slashdot.org] ???
      • When I think of "collaborative weblog" I think of something where the individual weblogs are easier to find, and where the discussion is a little more energetic.

        Slashdot's journals are a little difficult to find. There is no way for me to see the journals of all Slashdotters. The only "Journal" link on the front page is a link to my own Journal. To find other people's journals I either need to click on "Journal" and then click on "Friend's Journals". This inconvenience means less people will read the Journ
        • The hidden slashdot (Score:3, Interesting)

          by GQuon (643387)
          True,

          but if you make people your "friends" you can get messages whenever they update their blogs.

          The slashcode could use some more features to bring prominent discussions and journals to the front page. (Like a slashbox with newest journal entries, etc.)

          If there's too few topics on the front page, there's the Sections in the left menu, which sometimes carry more stories than reach the front page.

          Then there's the
          Other discussions [slashdot.org], some of whom are not related to a story and can function as sub-group blo
        • by daniil (775990)
          There is no way for me to see the journals of all Slashdotters.

          Yes there is. Click "older stuff" [slashdot.org]; in the search thingie, click the "Journals" radio button and then "Search," without typing anything in the text box. This brings up all the journal entries, starting from the latest. Not as convenient as a slashbox would be, but at least it's there.

    • What happens on individual weblogs? A lot of those are for news too. And like any weblog, Entries are posted on slashdot, to which the community can post comments.
    • The author seems to have a fairly clear idea of what he wants to talk about (collaborative news sites). Calling some of these sites "blogs" doesn't seem all that appropriate, though. Maybe he's just using it because it's "in" right now.
    • "I would like to know the author's reason on why slashdot is a blog."

      As would I. I mean, your typical blogs don't have GNAA [slashdot.org] or goatsex [wikipedia.org] posts, nor goatsex [wikipedia.org] ASCII art.

    • by Concerned Onlooker (473481) on Monday May 31, 2004 @12:36PM (#9297218) Homepage Journal
      Slashdot is more of a news site where users can post commets.

      I think of Slashdot more as a comment site where users can post news. Sure, the news blurbs are the starter, but the meat of the action is in the insightful, interesting, flamebait, troll posting that occurs after. The news stories that have little potential for political/social commentary get far fewer comments than anything to do with YRO, black-box voting, etc.

      In this respect, I don't think of Slashdot as a blog, but more of an indicator(s) of what the Slashdot-reading crowd, which is a tech-heavy bunch, is thinking. This is closer to a BBS than a Blog.

    • When i hear the word WebBlog, I think journal. Public journal that is. Slashdot is more of a news site where users can post commets. I would like to know the author's reason on why slashdot is a blog.

      The term "weblog" used to refer to any site with a continuous stream of postings added from the top. (Chips&Dips/Slashdot was a prototypical weblog when the term came into common use.)

      It's more recently that the word came to be associated with personal sites with political rants, pictures of cats and links

    • by Jerf (17166) on Monday May 31, 2004 @01:44PM (#9297554) Journal
      Slashdot has been considered a "weblog" for as long as the word has been around.

      It certainly started out as one, and remains firmly in the weblog format: Snippets of news or something, posted frequently and in inverse chronological order.

      It also has public comments, like thousands of other weblogs. It's just that the comments section happens to be bigger then average, but there are other weblogs that often reach into the hundreds of comments.

      Weblogs aren't just "journals", by any stretch of the imagination. The link I give as my homepage is my "weblog" and the last time I had a "journal-style" entry was on my birthday two years ago.

      If Slashdot isn't a weblog, then nothing is.

      Alternatively, at what point since it started did it cease to be a weblog? The only major difference between Slashdot's second week of operation and now is the comment load; the format is the same, the news is the same, the stupid comments by the editors are the same.
  • by IchBinDasWalross (720916) on Monday May 31, 2004 @11:41AM (#9296905)
    I mean, seriously folks, that's just stupid.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 31, 2004 @11:42AM (#9296911)
    Sure this makes for generally interesting articles/reading. The real value I see with these Blogs/sites is it's a cheap peer-review process. I have an idea. I submit my idea. I get immediate, high-volume feedback. Saves me publishing to a journal. At least the value can be had on the surface.

    • I have an idea. I submit my idea. I get immediate, high-volume feedback.

      So, if Slashdot had enough money, perhaps they could actually have more of a traditional editor.

      Someone who culled through the story and the postings and provided a concise synopsis of the most valuable reader comments.

      Perhaps, like editors of peer-reviewed technical journals, the editor could delegate "summary authority" to various karmawhore posters to reduce direct workload...

  • by Hawkxor (693408) on Monday May 31, 2004 @11:42AM (#9296912)
    ..ends with crowds of middle schoolers posting pointless inside jokes.

    I have been very impressed with ./'s moderation system, though. Plus Slashdot allows anyone to post what they want - so it can be read for humor and for knowledge. Entertaining and informative.

    • People can't post anything they want: case in point [slashdot.org]
    • From the article:

      Yet for all its success, Slashdot remains very much unknown because it targets the niche of technology-savvy, highly-educated computer users. The vocabulary in most discussions is so technical that it constitutes another language. But a review of the occasional posts which discuss current events grounded in familiar issues and terms reveals a highly functional system that achieves high levels of feedback, interaction, and freedom, but still maintains a high level of insight and information

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Obviously, you have never thought anything outside of the official Slashdot groupthink. If you do you will be modded down accordingly, even if it is insightful and informative.

      The first rule of Slashdot groupthink is: DO NOT TALK ABOUT SLASHDOT GROUPTHINK!

      Ironicly, Slashdot groupthink has an effect not unlike that of the Upper Party's control on society in 1984, a system that Slashdotters claim to be fighting against!
    • I would consider the moderation system to be the most broken part of Slashdot.

      Overrated and Underrated mods don't get metamodded, so people always use it to follow your posts when they don't like you and mod them all down. This is a little known fact, for some reason. At least Taco made it so Funny mods don't affect karma, because 90% of the upmodded Funny posts aren't funny in the slightest bit.

      If a ton of people mod you up to +5, it only takes one person to knock you down to +4, and their moderation t
      • mod parent up.
        the first few paragraphs are insightful, the rest - /. bashing - may be worth a discussion, but keep it factual. There's no need to attack editors.
        Topics:
        - meta- & moderation system
        - design/style of /. (what about an alternative style for logged-in users to please people that don't like green? :))
        - reposts, typos, ...
    • Slashdot's collaboration... ends with crowds of middle schoolers posting pointless inside jokes.

      Yeah, I was a little mystified by a couple of lines in the article:

      "... Slashdot ... targets the niche of technology-savvy, highly-educated computer users. The vocabulary in most discussions is so technical that it constitutes another language."

      Uh, what site is he reading?

      Set up us the bomb! w00t! What you say? HA HA HA HA !! In Soviet Russia set up the bomb YOU! [slashdot.org]

      He must be new here. (I'll admit, it does

  • Don't forget HuSi [hulver.com]!
  • by Pope Raymond Lama (57277) <(gwidion) (at) (mpc.com.br)> on Monday May 31, 2004 @11:43AM (#9296926) Homepage
    I just gave a lecture on colaborative construction of knowledge on the WEB last week.

    I just mentioned wikipedia [wikipedia.org] and everything2 [everythin2.net] on my work.

    One interesting thing I found out: the content in wikipedia is much more "professional", and enciclopedic than E2's. But the software for E2 has much more possibilities, and is far more entertaining to create content for than wikipedia's. E2's larger weakness seem to be the lacking of support for image uploads or linking.
    • I use the Google Deskbar [google.com] and have custom shortcuts set-up to everything2.com and wikipedia.com (amoung others). I just type in a term into the textbox on my taskbar and hit Ctrl+E, for example. Since it's so convenient, I use both on an almost daily basis.

      My two cents: I find myself going to E2 if I'm looking for a more informal, pop culture-ish term (street slang, latest meme, etc.). Wikipedia is where I head when I'm looking for content more consistent with a traditional encyclopedia. I know that Wikipe
    • You maybe interested in memigo [memigo.com] (shameless plug). Memigo attempts to complete automate the slashdot process: anyone can submit an article, but a) the site code does the QA of the article itself automatically, and b) the users rate each and every article, in effect moderating the front page. As an added bonus, memigo is context-sensitive (so you can monitor topics you're interested in) and of course Amazon-like collaborative filtering. Check it out...
    • Everythin2 (Score:3, Insightful)

      The problem with E2 is that users 'own' whatever they post. You have a ton of nodes that, while good, haven't been updated in years and nobody really visits them. E2 is really just a stupid contest to see who can get the most points. People try to be real witty so they can game the system and gain more powers. The editors also tend to be insular and elitist, in contrast to Wikipedia's almost fanatical permissiveness and acceptance of new contributors.
      • That "contest for points" is what I found out is what compeles one to go writing in there.

        The main difference to wikipedia seens to be on the very nature of the userbase, which, as shornand noted above is more "pop/informal".

        The problems you mention are real, but the best of both worlds is probably a tweekedt E2 to allow for compensating for it's problems.

        The problems you mentioned could be addressed, for example, making an "outdated" voting option on articles taht would made the initial poster to loose
      • Yes, E2 does have those tendencies. But it's still an excellent site. And I don't think you can really compare the two. Maybe E2 originaly had the same goal as Wikipedia, but it morphed into something else a long time ago. If you're using them both as an info source, then Wikipedia is a more authoritive/deffinitive source, where as E2 is more oppinionated and culturalised.
    • The biggest E2 feature I miss having in Wikipedia is probably softlinks. I wonder if there are any plans to implement softlinks in wiki...
  • wiki (Score:5, Insightful)

    by galtenberg (646020) on Monday May 31, 2004 @11:45AM (#9296938)
    Would Wiki not be considered a type of collaborative weblog?

    It happens a lot (too often) that Wiki is forgotten... in so many discussions on internet technology... when it's probably as r/evolutionary as email and chat. Maybe not, tho, maybe blogs are better, and maybe wikis are flawed in a way that they deserve to be ignored... not sure...
    • Re:wiki (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gmuslera (3436) on Monday May 31, 2004 @12:07PM (#9297069) Homepage Journal
      I see blogs as something that happens thru time. i.e. today happened this, tomorrow or the next hour other things, and so on. The "default" order is always related to time, latest things on top, and earlier things, maybe more important or relevant, go to the storic archives. Slashdot, newspapers, personal blogs, etc are good examples.

      In the other hand, wiki more about "static" knowledge, like a conclusion you reach after discussing something, and the order is more like a tree of knowledge. Think in wikipedia. Is an encyclopedia, the "natural" order are the words/events/people/etc you are defining (and yes, defining is a good term for that), not the time you posted it.

      Both are examples of collaborative work, of course, but of different kind.

      There are another kind of collaborative work, that is the process of discussing something. Is not announcing, nor defining, but a lot of people talking around something interchanging points of view, giving new data, etc. Usenet, forums, comments attached to wiki pages or blog entries, even this very discussion, are examples of this third kind of online collaboration. In the discussion you maybe not reach a "conclusion", is not part of the forum itself (but someone could extract what he interprets as a conclusion on some topic and post it in i.e. a wiki page), is the discussion what is the final objective.

      You can see slashdot (well, and probably most of the linked sites on this article) in two ways, if you see the front page is a collaborative weblog, but looking to single article is more like a collaborative forum.

  • by Cloudmark (309003) on Monday May 31, 2004 @11:46AM (#9296939) Homepage
    Does /. really count as a weblog anymore? For that matter, do any of the sites mentioned? It's a hard call - BoingBoing [boingboing.net] and similar sites seem to fit the bill for collaborative weblogs far better than discussion forums like /. I think the sites listed have really moved beyond weblog status. They really seem to be closer to forums and aggregators. This isn't a bad thing - it's just different and may require independant analysis. They've grown beyond (and in many cases existed before) what is commonly considered a weblog these days.

    Interestingly, this month's Wired [wired.com] had an article on weblogs / nanopublishing and highlighted a variety of collaborative weblogs, likely as a tie-in to the conference.

  • Oh dear (Score:5, Funny)

    by panurge (573432) on Monday May 31, 2004 @11:48AM (#9296958)
    If too many people read this paper and the nice things it says about Slashdot, we will be overwhelmed by aspirational would-be techies...fortunately it's been posted on Slashdot, virtually guaranteeing that hardly anyone will actually read it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 31, 2004 @11:50AM (#9296970)

    where topics are discussed and debated

    a [web]log is the modern equivalent of a diary except publicly accessable, since when has public discussion ever been part of a diary ?

  • Absent (Score:5, Interesting)

    by KoriaDesevis (781774) <koriadesevis@@@yahoo...com> on Monday May 31, 2004 @11:51AM (#9296974) Journal

    The article talks a bit about the moderation system, and karma, and all the fun stuff we have come to love here at SlashDot. What it carefully avoids is the discussion of trolls and AC posts. It is summarized by stating that -1 in the moderation system is sufficient to render a troll invisible.

    Over time there have been a lot of discussions here about trolls and ACs. They have their place here, and they each contribute as well as take away. It would have been interesting to have read a little more about what the study found about trolls and AC posts, positive and negative...

    • What it carefully avoids is the discussion of trolls and AC posts.

      A lot of what makes Slashdot Slashdot is how Slashdot has handled the problems of trolls and AC posts in real time on a live system. I'm not sure that there even is a "solution", but so far at least, Slashdot has seemed to be able to cope with it. Not bad for a bunch of amateurs.
      • Re:Absent (Score:2, Interesting)

        by KoriaDesevis (781774)

        A lot of what makes Slashdot Slashdot is how Slashdot has handled the problems of trolls and AC posts in real time on a live system.

        Not all trolls and ACs are problems. Sometimes, a good troll adds a bit of interesting humor to an otherwise dry thread. That said, that's not often the case... ACs are a completely different animal. It is all too often that you see someone who posts anonymously just so they can snipe at someone while hiding behind anonymity. Other times, there is a fascinating and well-tho

    • troll.
  • Ironic (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 31, 2004 @11:57AM (#9297019)

    that the report is in PDF but they are talking about the web

    try HTML if you want people to read your article on the Internet
    instead of that disgusting Adobe PDF format, you might as well post a swf flash file if we are going down the route of plugins and third party formats to read goddam TEXT on the internet

    i guess some people never realised what PDF is supposed to be for

  • by Stigmata669 (517894) on Monday May 31, 2004 @12:04PM (#9297057)
    is a bit misleading. The author is simply talking about online communities. From pages 7-8:

    In theory, the organization of a group weblog is similar to the structure Hamilton was searching for. This form of weblog also falls into the general category of an online community, alongside more traditional community forms like bulletin boards and chatrooms.

    In his study of decentralized mob behavior, Rheingold pursued this line of inquiry further (2002). He also highlighted Slashdot and its 300,000 members as an example ofself-organized behavior by "smart mobs" and "swarm systems," which grow to exhibit collective intelligence that is greater than the sum of their parts (Rhengold p179).Rheingold notes that the many-to-many media model found in a group weblog empowers the audience by allowing them to "create, publish, broadcast, and debate their own pointof view" in ways previously unheard of in the print and broadcast mediums. Like others before him, Rheingold was not sure if this newfound ability would provide a legitimatecounterforce to society's dominant forces, or just be a simulation of a counterforce that feels empowering but, in reality, is toothless. Nevertheless, he concluded that beforeanyone could reach such a verdict, or determine a way to alter that outcome, there is a need for more knowledge of how such technologies, and the people that use them,function today.

    The author then continues to refer to Slashdot (and the others) as collaborative group weblogs without ever trying to make the distinction between a weblog and the aforementioned "online community". So as best as I can tell, the author simply likes the buzzword "weblog" and is actually studying online communities and group/thought dynamics(how's that for a buzzword?) on the web.

  • You fool, you have slashdotted Slashdot [slashdot.org]!
  • hmmm... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by abes (82351)
    Apparently all these years that I've been using the words 'procrastinate' and 'waste of time', I really could have used 'colloborative weblogs'. It makes it sound like you're doing something useful.
  • All 4 are kind of the same thing. It's the /., you have karma and ratings and all that.

    But in NO way do I think of any of these as weblogs. They're discussion boards. Actually I think of them as slash-sites, but whatever.

    If they wanted to review something that is influential AND innovative, they should take a peek at DailyKOS [dailykos.com]. A more traditional weblog, but mixed with more promiment community collaboration features and slash-style ratings.

    It works really well for serious discussion of topical matters.
    • by irix (22687)

      something that is influential AND innovative

      More political navel-gazing by wanna-be political scientists with an axe to grind, powered by Scoop. Where I have I seen this before?

      Influential an innovative ... give me a break.

  • /. First (Score:2, Funny)

    by Ebon Praetor (459548)
    This may quite possibly be the first time that all the readers have read at least one of the linked articles in the story. Maybe the editors should link back to /. more often.
  • by Twirlip of the Mists (615030) <twirlipofthemists@yahoo.com> on Monday May 31, 2004 @12:25PM (#9297157)
    The problem with sites like those mentioned is what they call the purple monkey syndrome. Take a monkey from a social group and dye his fur purple. When you put him back, the other monkeys will throw him out of the tree. Because he's different.

    This behavior can most distinctly be seen on Metafilter, a site I don't even bother to participate in. If you are not (1) radically liberal and (2) distastefully sarcastic, you are not welcome there. As soon as your opinions become known, your remarks, no matter what the topic, will be met with derision and hostility.

    This is both not as bad and much worse on Slashdot. It's not as bad because there's more diversity of opinion here, but it's much worse because Slashdot's "moderation" system makes it possible for unpopular opinions to be literally silenced, pushing them down below the threshold of visibility.

    Collaborative content sites quickly become exclusive oligarchies.

    Down with democracy. :-)
    • Actually it used to be MUCH worse around here. It used to be that if you wern't a strict libertarian, you'd be modded into oblivion. Things are a lot different now, but that's how it used to be.

      Back when /. was a painfully ugly site to look at as well.
      • Back when /. was a painfully ugly site to look at as well.

        My, how things have... changed?
        • They changed for me when I configured my logged-in account to view slashdot in 'light' mode, and configured mozilla to block images from images.slashdot.org.

          It's also nice that Slashdot uses a limited number of banner-advertising services so those can easily be blocked as well.

          Slashdot has never been about the graphics or pretty pictures. I do miss a few of the icons. Always have liked that roach image for 'bugs' and the 'Christmas Cheer' icon sort of cheers me up.
    • his is both not as bad and much worse on Slashdot. It's not as bad because there's more diversity of opinion here, but it's much worse because Slashdot's "moderation" system makes it possible for unpopular opinions to be literally silenced, pushing them down below the threshold of visibility.

      my comments are always modded -1, Troll. I thought that they contained no relevant discussion value, but it turns out that I'm a genius and it's just some mean people on /. modding down my opinion becuase i'm in the

    • Becuase of the fact that you've already stated.

      This is both not as bad and much worse on Slashdot. It's not as bad because there's more diversity of opinion here, but it's much worse because Slashdot's "moderation" system makes it possible for unpopular opinions to be literally silenced, pushing them down below the threshold of visibility.

      You are right that there is a lot of diverse opinions here, which can also cause those unpopular views to be brought to forefront due to the "moderation" system. T

    • by solios (53048) on Monday May 31, 2004 @01:38PM (#9297529) Homepage
      Yeah, there's the occasional really interesting /. comment that gets nuked off of the face of the earth- but all too frequently, there's an assload of repetetive and redundant comments that get modded up.... and damned near all of the "Funny" posts are just NOT funny. At all.

      I love the fact I can twiddle my user prefs to smack a -5 on "Funny" mods and a +3 on "redundant". It's not perfect, but it kicks a hell of a lot more ass than the k5 mod system, imo.
    • Yeah, unfortunately the moderation system ends up promoting a certain status quo of opinion in a particular community. The simple answer to this is for the "repressed" groups to start their own blog / community. The code is out there. No one is forcing all of us to behave as one.

      An interesting exercise for the future would be how to get these disparate communities to interact with each other.
      • The simple answer to this is for the "repressed" groups to start their own blog / community.

        No. Wrong. That's no more the answer than the answer is to send all the black people back to Africa or to send all the Democrats to France.

        Pluralism is a virtue. The simple answer is for people with moderation points to realize that it's not up to them to decide which posts they agree or disagree with. The simple answer is for people with power and influence to realize it's not up to them to decide who gets to be
    • In the last 3 years, liberals have had a very disturbing habit of being right on just about any topic. A lot of conservative dogma is being (has been) proved to be flat out wrong or hypocrisy.

      Put liberals back in charge for a couple of terms and being conservative will go back to being respectable. Possibly even correct, who knows.
  • Yet there are times when Slashdot s members and readers function as one cohesive whole, and it hints at the potential power of such collaborative projects. Occasionally Slashdot will link to a website that is unprepared for the massive flow of traffic from millions of Slashdot users clicking onto the same link. The site s server crashes, leaving the site technically overwhelmed, or Slashdotted. (page 18)

    In his study of decentralized mob behavior, Rheingold pursued this line of inquiry further (2002)
    • I generally agree with the "collective intelligence" aspect, but question the "greater than the sum of their parts" assertion. The old formula for collective intelligence is something like [floor(IQ)]/N, and that usually seems pretty accurate for Slashdot. :)
  • by rwa2 (4391) * on Monday May 31, 2004 @12:38PM (#9297236) Homepage Journal
    How long until these technologies can be used for running a government / community? With just a few minor enhancements, such as e.g.:
    • better security through heavier use of digital signatures
    • polling / voting, complete with:
      • discussion forum logs
      • the ability to change your vote as time goes on
      • the ability to delegate your vote out to people you trust to uphold your interests
      • all of that other auditability, transparency, and anonymity stuff you need
    • issue ranking / prioritization / tracking
    • taxation / donation / fund allocation / redistribution
    it seems like it would be fairly straightforward to allow everyone to perform collaborative decision making mediated through a good blog-based "community operating system".

    This goes a little bit beyond simply "e-voting", but not too much given all of the other technologies available. It would also be funny to have a public record of all the flamewars that erupt in the process of sausage-making :P . But particularly because all that frank discussion would be there and wouldn't have to be revisited later down the line.

    Anything like this out and about?

    • I think it would be interesting to have an official government message board with moderation implemented in a democratic way. For example everyone should have an equal number of moderation point for each story or debate along with all the delegation and features the parent post mentionned. It shouldn't have any real executive power(not for now anyways), but government officials could consult it and see what ideas are popular before making decisions. Of corse that is assuming that the government is intereste
    • seems like if you set up a VPN, then you could have it implemented for a Congress, or at a more basic level, a company Board of Directors, thus allowing business to proceed online on a small scale. Of course then the system would prove itself before being released to the general public.

      Interesting. I like your lateral thinking.
  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Monday May 31, 2004 @12:40PM (#9297245) Homepage

    The analysis of rusty's March 26th announcement is shoddy. There never was anonymous posting on K5, and no "trials" for news users were announced. The announcement was that each new user would have to be sponsored by an existing user, and that if the new user was banned, the sponsor would be too.

    Whatever the practicality of that, what actually happened is that since March 26th, new user registration on Kuro5hin has been closed. The sponsorship system has not been turned on (or implemented, although rusty claimed it was effectively done when he announced it). It's just closed. As of the time of writing, you cannot create a new account on Kuro5hin, and so you cannot post.

    The catalyst for all this was some users posting links to a badly photoshopped fake image of rusty's wife's head on a porn body. rusty's reaction was instant and extreme. The accounts were banned and several other long term trolls were purged in the aftermath. To this day, the criteria for banning is still unclear.

    It should be noted that rusty has previously removing rating abilities, banned and anonymised (i.e. wiped commands of) accounts, and IP blocked posters at his sole whim and discretion. The freedom of Kuro5hin is the freedom to things rusty's way or not at all. The trouble with having a benign dictator is that he's still a dictator. Without oversight, there's no security.

    Of course, rusty can do whatever he wants with his site. Except that, in his own words, after taking $70K (or $35K or $45K or $80K or whichever of his various figures and calculationg that you want to believe) it's not his site. "I think the clearest way I can put it is: you just purchased Kuro5hin.org". [kuro5hin.org] Well, that's a funny kind of ownership.

    K5 might recover. Stranger things have happened, and a (sketchy) article on prime numbers just made it to the front page, so there are still non-trolls there. They just don't contribute much content any more.

    In the long term though, it can't recover its past popularity without new users, that's for damn sure. The salient lesson: dictators are never a good idea, no matter how benign. In fact, the more benign they appear, the harder they can finally snap.

    • So what is a good "ragchew" site these days? I mean a place where you can establish a two-way conversation and permanent relationships. Slashdot is great, but it doesn't perform those functions.

      I hung out on half-empty for a while, but eventually stopped going there, I guess partly because almost everybody there was a college student, and I didn't feel like I had much in common with them. (I'm 38, and have a family.) The new half-empty.org seems cool (just created an account today), but it seems to have a

      • Plastic. (Score:4, Informative)

        by MsGeek (162936) on Monday May 31, 2004 @02:17PM (#9297726) Homepage Journal
        Intelligent conversations, mostly about political issues. Not much "geek news" but I suppose that's what Slashdot is for.

        I feel for Rusty from Kuro5hin...basically he closed his news site for the same reason I closed mine... crapflooder problems.
      • by Inoshiro (71693)
        Kuro5hin was dead 2 years ago. The body was still just twitching.

        Once it stopped being fun, Kuro5hin became something you participated in because you paid for it or were being paid to work on it. Once you weren't paid for it, you stopped caring. If you happened to be a person who paid for it, maybe you paid in a little more because you weren't sure. It took the remaining 2 years for all this to sort itself out.

        Once it became about political speech that never really went anywhere (I'm not talking about
        • Next big thing? How would you have time. You still "help run [K5] with Rusty" [kuro5hin.org]!

          With (much) respect, I'd put the death at closer to 18 months, pretty much after rusty's huge burst of rented enthusiasm after the fund drive ran out. It didn't have to be that way. It could so easily have gone the way he promised.

          It's quite obvious (in retrospect) from rusty's diary history [kuro5hin.org]. A big burst in July-September 2002, then a swift tailing off that dissolves into rambling about yachting and rubbing his wood. And

          • I check in from time to time, but Rusty transfered DNS and email management (as well as unix adimining stuff) away from me one-piece at a time over the course of 3 years. In the beginning, I was doing everything that wasn't Scoop. Around fall 2003, it was down to DNS and email service. I switched from one provider to another, but has having troubles with it as my day job kept interfering with getting the network going (I was working 10 hour days and always burnt out), so Rusty moved that away too.

            At tha
            • There really needs to be some sort of democratic, multi-admin way to run a server and site.

              I'm sure it's possable to write a website that has admins (that are assignable to different areas) voted in, and to make it so that all major events have a democratic process etc. But the problem is acctually writting the code for it, and the testing time/effort required to adjust and re-write parts that aren't working.

      • I read and comment on Plastic [plastic.com] way more than I ever did on Slashdot. Of course I did most of my slashdot commenting in the days before accounts were necessary. Not that I think things have changed too much - it's that the threads are all too large now it seems. I don't have any sense of communicating or community here. I think this is my third account because I keep forgetting the damn usernames and passwords - that's how seldom I think it worth it to log in. I still read here of course, but commenting seem
      • I'd suggest visiting forums where you find people with shared interests. The key is to find someplace big enough that it won't die out, but not so huge that you can't get to know people.

        The Geek Culture [geekculture.com] forums are pretty good, if skewed toward Mac and Linux fans, and there's a Slashbox option. CNet's Builder Buzz community was great back in the day and is still pretty good in its user-created reincarnation, Hiveminds [hiveminds.info]. If you've got a favorite TV show (or one you love to hate), check out the smaller show fo [television...utpity.com]
    • K5 isn't a lesson on dictators. It was circling the bowl long before Rusty pulled the plug on user registrations.

      K5 is just another experiment that proves the tragedy of the commons [aol.com].

      I remember when K5 got popular, many people held it up as some sort of standard that slashdot should emulate. That made me laugh.

      Say what you want about slashdot's closed story queue or moderation system, but they have stood the test of time. They have survived populatiry and the trolls and crapflooders that have come with

    • There never was anonymous posting on K5

      Sure there was. Perhaps you just weren't around yet way back when the option to post as an Anonymous Hero [everything2.com] was removed. I think the option is still in the Scoop code (see warchalking.org as an example of another site powered by Scoop), but I think Rusty turned it off at k5 ages ago - a harbringer of things to come, I guess.

      • Whoops. Good point. However, the anonymity and the protection extended only to the users. rusty can and does (well, did) IP ban, which (depending on your type of connection) is somewhat more extreme than having a throwaway account wiped.
    • OK, you've got the link to the fundraiser. But that post isn't really informative without a link to the pictures that you mention.

      Seriously though. I'm not a Kuro5hin user (didn't like the content), but this sort of situation might be explained as something else than, or in addition to, dictatorship.
      Fatigue.
      One of my favourite magazines stopped comming because the editor just snapped one day. He had been a real locomotive, but the steam had just run out and the boiler was broken. Last I heard from him, abo
  • Reading this, I came to the quick conclusion that the author only performed a cursary summary of the four sites, without actualy participating in them, or interviewing the people behind them. It is unfortunate, I would be up for a good news argregator and discussion site disertation.
  • As other posters have pointed out, sites like Slashdot aren't really blogs. In point of fact, not only are they not blogs, they're only partially collaborative (each to a varying degree), so it seems kind of nonsensical to write them up.

    Let me slip in a plug, then, and say that for a REAL collaborative blog you can check out the site in my sig, and the interesting aspect of its collaborative nature is that you're invited to contribute.
  • Eh BOO (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cookiepus (154655) on Monday May 31, 2004 @01:51PM (#9297586) Homepage
    Ok to be honest I didn't have the patience to read this whole thing but I did post it as a Quick Link on Plastic, one of the sites referenced (and of which I am a frequent user)

    Now I am sitting in Plastic Chat, watching people comment on the paper. It seems as if the author has barely spent any time on Plastic, and he seems to have missed the forrest for the trees (as in, he looked at details, decided he didn't like them. Meanwhile all these features added up together make for a pretty nice, relatively diverse community/discussion)

    Not that I am encouraging you people to give Plastic a try. More like, I am commenting on the lack of thoroughness in the paper. Which, admitedly, I did not read.

  • by GeorgeH (5469) on Monday May 31, 2004 @02:19PM (#9297736) Homepage Journal
    To answer the question that seems to be hanging aroudn, Slashdot is a weblog. It is a log of interesting links on the web, and it's in reverse chronological order. It has permalinks to discreet posts, and the posts are ephemeral.

    So why doesn't it seem like a weblog? Slashdot doesn't have as much of the personal voice as other weblogs, but that doesn't mean it doesn't count.

    Not all weblogs are online journals, and just because you don't understand that is no reason to bash weblogs.

    As to bashing online journals because you think that they're boring, that's a different rant. Short story is that just because they're boring and inane to you doesn't mean that they are to people who know and care about the subject.
  • by maddog2o_2o (577019) on Monday May 31, 2004 @03:22PM (#9298063)
    Heh, I started replying to another post - got distracted - returned and rewrote the thing as a reply to the article. Then I posted it as a reply to that fellows comment. *sigh*

    I read and comment on Plastic [plastic.com] way more than I ever did on Slashdot. Of course I did most of my slashdot commenting in the days before accounts were necessary. Not that I think things have changed too much - it's that the threads are all too large now it seems. I don't have any sense of communicating or community here. I think this is my third account because I keep forgetting the damn usernames and passwords - that's how seldom I think it worth it to log in. I still read here of course, but commenting seems to not add much value.

    Simply too much 'stuff' to wade through on /. the way the interface works. Yet I have no problem navigating large discussions on Plastic. The difference in the two? Took me awhile but I think the thing that eases it for me is that they set the 'title' attribute on their links to stories and comments.

    Wha? No, really. When I mouse over the links I get a cute little 'tool tip' giving me a preview of the linked comment. When those links have their 'title' set to be the first n characters of text in the comment it makes it a lot easier to skim along and determine what's deserving of 'drilling down'. I mentioned this on slashdot before I'm sure.

    It's a small thing but it makes navigating a thread much easier when you can quickly gauge the tone/value of replies without having to click on them all to open them in another window. It works wonders with reading short replies, deciding which comments to investigate first and helps with often meaningless subject lines like "Re:The thing this thread started as but it no longers bears any relation to'. It's surprising how used you get to depending on that little bit of introductory info. I constantly mouse over the links in huge Slashdot threads and am surprised everytime when nothing happens.

    It's changed the way I read on Plastic, I now read many more of the comments to a story because I seldom get frustrated by chasing replies that are of no interest to me. It also lends itself to interesting idioms.
    Take this example of a post. Subject line is bold and the first line of the comment body (which'll show up in the popup and completes the 'thought') is in italics

    My wife calls this...

    ..."A gathering of strays" instead of "lost sheep."

    Now, I'm curious. Anyone else here discover a convenient UI feature that you wish more people used? There's probably lots of neat things going on out there that I've just been to lazy to notice.

    Kevin
  • Jebus, this guy just doenst get it does he. The damn thing is published in PDF, thats like one degree of seperation from ink and dead trees. Then all his refernces are to ink and dead trees, why not write it in HTML, and then use LINKS to the refernces. I mean damn I might want to read the refences and make sure that his interpratation is correct. This shut up and trust me so call journalism must die. We need to have new standards that force people to publish in HTML, and use links when refering to anythi
  • meta meta meta (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bentonsmith (81425) on Monday May 31, 2004 @04:47PM (#9298703)
    It seems to me that the people who are the biggest bloggers spend more time talking about the metamechanics of blogging, or about how wonderful blogging is than actually blogging.

    It is tedious. The format is not the content, and the medium is not the message.

God doesn't play dice. -- Albert Einstein

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