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+ - Slashdot Beta Woes 16

Submitted by s.petry
s.petry (762400) writes "What is a Slashdot and why the Beta might destroy it?

Slashdot has been around, well, a very long time. Longer than any of it's competators, but not as long as IIRC. Slashdot was a very much one of the first true social media web sites.

On Slashdot, you could create a handle or ID. Something personal, but not too personal, unless you wanted it to be. But it was not required either. We know each other by our handles, we have watched each other grow as people. We may have even taken pot shots at each other in threads. Unless of course you are anonymous, but often we can guess who that really is.

One of Slashdot's first motto's was "News for Nerds" that Matters. I have no idea when that was removed. I have not always scoured the boards here daily, life can get too busy for that. That excuses my ignorance in a way. I guess someone thought it politically incorrect, but most of us "Nerds" enjoyed it. We are proud of who we are, and what we know. Often we use that pride and knowledge to make someone else look bad. That is how we get our digs in, and we enjoy that part of us too. We don't punch people, we belittle them. It's who we are!

What made Slashdot unique were a few things. What you will note here is "who" has been responsible for the success of Slashdot. Hint, it has never been a just the company taking care of the servers and software.

— First, the user base submitted stories that "they" thought mattered. It was not a corporate feed. Sure, stories were submitted about companies. The latest break through from AMD and Intel, various stories regarding the graphic card wars, my compiler is better than your compiler, and yes your scripting language stinks! Microsoft IIS has brought us all a few laughs and lots of flame wars to boot. Still, we not only read about the products but get to my second point.

— User comments. This is the primary why we have been coming here for as long as we have, many of us for decades. We provide alternative opinions or back what was given in the article. This aspect not only makes the "News" interesting, but often leads to other news and information sharing. It's not always positive, but this is the nature of allowing commentary. It also brings out the third point.

— Moderation. Moderation has been done by the community for a very long time. It took lots of trial and error to get a working system. As with any public system it's imperfect, but it's been successful. People can choose to view poorly modded comments, but don't have to. As with posting anonymous versus with our own handle it's an option that allows us to personalize the way we see and read what's on the site. And as a reward for submitting something worth reading, you might get a mod point of your own to use as a reward for someone else.

Why we dislike Beta and what is being pushed, and why this will result in the end of an era if it becomes forced on the community.

1. Bulky graphics. We get that Dice and Slashdot need revenue. I have Karma good enough to disable advertisements, but have never kept this setting on. I realize that Slashdot/Dice make money with this. That said, the ads sit away from my news and out of the way. I can get there if I want it (but nobody has ever gotten a penny from me clicking an ad... nobody!), but it's not forced into my face or news feed.

2. Low text area. I like having enough on my screen to keep me busy without constant scrolling. Slashdot currently has the correct ratio of text to screen. This ratio has never been complained about, yet Beta reduces the usable text area by at least 1/2 and no option for changing the behavior. I hate reading Slashdot on mobile devices because I can't stand scrolling constantly.

3. JavaScript. We all know the risks of JS, and many of us disable it. We also have an option of reading in Lync or non-standard browsers that many of us toy with for both personal and professional reasons. This flexibility is gone in Beta, and we are forced to allow JS to run. If you don't know the risks of allowing JS to run, you probably don't read much on Slashdot. Those that allow JS do so accepting the risk (which is admittedly low on a well known site).

4. Ordering/Sorting/Referencing. Each entry currently gets tagged with a unique thread ID. This allows linking to the exact post in a thread, not just the top of the thread. In Beta this is gone. It could be that the site decided to simply hide the post ID or it was removed. Either way, going to specific posts is something that is used very commonly by the community.

5. Eye candy. Most of us are not here for "eye candy" and many have allergic reactions to eye candy. Slashdot has a good mix currently. It's not as simple as the site starting with a r-e-d-i-t, which is good. That site has a reputation that keeps many of us away, and their format matches my attitude of them (s-i-m-p-l-e-t-o-n). At the same time, it's not like watching some other "news" sites with so much scrolling crap I can't read an article without getting a headache. The wasted space in beta for big bulky borders, sure smells like eye candy. Nothing buzzes or scrolls yet, but we can sense what's coming in a patch later.

The thing is, the community cares about Slashdot. We come here because we care. We submit stories because of that, we vote because of that, we moderate because of that, and we comment because of that. At the same time we realize that without the community Slashdot loses most of its value. We respect that we don't host the servers, backup the databases, or patch the servers. Slashdot/Dice provide the services needed for Slashdot.

It's a give give relationship, and we each get something in return. Slashdot gets tons of Search hits and lots of web traffic. We get a place to learn, teach, and occasionally vent.

Look, if you want to change default color scheme or make pre-made palettes for us to choose from, we would probably be okay with that. If you want to take away our ability to block ads by Karma, or move the ads to the left side of my browser window, I would be okay with those things too.

If you want to make drastic changes to how the site works, this is a different story all together. The reason so many are against Beta is that it breaks some of the fundamental parts of what makes Slashdot work.

User input until recently has not been acknowledged. The acknowledgment we have received is not from the people that are making the decision to push Beta live. We told people Beta was broken, what it lacked, and we were rather surprised to get a warning that Beta would be live despite what we told people. People are already making plans to leave, which means that Slashdot could fade away very soon.

Whether this was the goal for Dice or not remains to be seen. If it is, it's been nice knowing you but I won't be back. A partnership only works when there is mutual respect between the parties. A word of caution, us Nerds have good memories and lots of knowledge. The loss of Slashdot impacts all of Dice holdings, not just Slashdot. I boycott everything a company holds, not just the product group that did me wrong.

If that was not the goal of Dice, you should quickly begin communicating with the user base. What are the plans are to fix what Beta has broken? Why is Beta being pushed live with things broken? A "Sorry we have not been communicating!", and perhaps even a "Thank you" to the user base for helping make Slashdot a success for so many years."

Comment: Re:Economics (Score 1) 178

by 246o1 (#45402049) Attached to: Desert Farming Experiment Yields Good Initial Results

I guess the excessive per-capita economic output in rich countries can be correspondingly reduced?

We don't create more natural resources, oil, pH-balanced seawater, or clean air in rich countries. We are just (generally) more effective at turning the resources we have into desirable things. Which makes it easier for us to consume more resources. Your implication is completely wrongheaded.

Comment: Re:The revolving door continues to spin (Score 1) 304

by 246o1 (#43595197) Attached to: President Obama To Nominate Cable and Wireless Lobbyist To Head FCC

adding that she has "no doubt that Tom will have an open door and an open mind, and that ultimately his decisions will be based on what he genuinely believes is best for the public interest, not any particular industry."

Seriously?

Yes, seriously. Of course, he can't help it if his opinions have been formed by working as a professional wheel-greaser for one specific industry. That is, of course, the most insidious danger to a good government - people of good faith who are overwhelmingly biased in favor of economic elite interests (which is why a randomly selected Senate, like juries, might be interesting). Since having jobs like his look like a positive mark for government jobs, and corporations tend to hire people who like corporations or are willing to become sympathetic, it's a tough, systemic problem.

Comment: Re:Turns out (Score 5, Interesting) 473

by 246o1 (#43143731) Attached to: Facebook Knows If You're Gay, Use Drugs, Or Are a Republican

I'd like to see a page about me that says, "Here's the information you've provided, and here's the information we're inferring from what we know about you." I suppose they'd never do that because it might very well creep people out too much, but then, it might get people whose inferences are wrong to directly supply the information to them.

BlueKai does something similar (except it's for a wide range of display advertising, not just facebook) - they infer things about you based on your browsing history and use that to target ads at you. They are all over the web, so they have a good amount of information, but the surprising thing to me is that they let you look at your profile on their website - http://www.bluekai.com/registry/ is the place to find it.

I don't work for BlueKai, or even for a company that uses them.

Comment: Re:It's employers rights (Score 1) 851

by 246o1 (#42520805) Attached to: Indiana Nurses Fired After Refusing Flu Shots On Religious Grounds

The point is that nurses are purportedly a greater risk to patients if they have not received immunisation.

Except that there is no evidence that this is the case. The evidence suggests that maintaining proper hygiene is as effective at reducing the transmission of the flu virus as having the entire staff get the flu vaccine. There is one important difference, having the entire staff get the flu vaccine reduces the transmission rate of the flu virus while maintaining proper hygiene reduces the transmission rate of every communicable disease.

Another important difference is that getting the flu vaccine (along with other vaccines) is enforceable and only has to be done right once per employee per year, not thousands of times without error.

Comment: Re:Good (Score 1, Insightful) 851

by 246o1 (#42520207) Attached to: Indiana Nurses Fired After Refusing Flu Shots On Religious Grounds

They are largley a way to shift personal responsibility to the Big Sky Man.

Spoken in true ignorance.

Aside from the plethora of religions with NO deity, Christianity (one of the biggest religions) see the problem as being oneself-- that is, the responsibility is being shifted nowhere but inward.

That's an optimistic view - often this translates means they see the problem as being oneself - that is, the responsibility of the person that particular Christian is judging to be inferior.

Comment: Re:Capitalism and You (Score 1) 573

by 246o1 (#42120471) Attached to: Ask Richard Stallman Anything

People who are not participating in the negotiations do not always come out ahead, and the net social benefit might be negative. Here are some two-party deals that are bad for society (some more extreme than others, but I think they illustrate the need for laws and social rules outside of property protection):

1. You pay me $1200/oz for gold, and I open a gold mine. The gold mine leaks poison into a nearby river, killing tens of thousands of fish, reducing life expectancy in surrounding communities by 5 years, and not being my problem.

2. I am a congressman and you are a pharmaceutical company CEO. You pay me $10 million, directly and in jobs to my underqualified relatives (and me as soon as I retire from Congress), to sponsor a bill which makes competing drugs illegal by extending your intellectual property rights another 5 years. I win, you win, and consumers get screwed with higher prices for a longer time, competing firms go out of business, and the generic version of your drug appearing 5 years later results in 50,000 avoidable deaths among the under-insured.

3. I am a hitman. You pay me to kill your wife, only $20,000, and receive $10 million of her assets that you would have lost in the coming divorce. I win, you win, she loses.

4. I go to a futures market and make bets/investments relying on a 4-degree temperature rise in the next 4 decades, open shipping lanes at the north pole, a dwindling supply of ocean-based food, etc. These are highly leveraged and worth approximately $50 Billion dollars. I then pay you to put CO2 and methane in the atmosphere as quickly as possible, investing $2 Billion in this scheme and improving the likelihood of my payoff by over 10%, making the investment an easy decision. You make tons of money, and so do I. A win for unrestricted capitalism!

These examples are crude, but meant to illustrate certain anti-social impulses inherent in unrestricted deal-making in a capitalist framework. Property rights are not as important as other human rights.

Comment: Re:metric? (Score 1) 237

by 246o1 (#39885571) Attached to: Open Compute Developing Wider Rack Standard

It doesn't matter what we call them, but it does matter how many sets of competing standards we have. You are skipping steps in your argument, and your claim that 'a human is going to fuck it up anyways' is just negative bullshit. There are clearly ways to reduce the chance of that - one is to move away from having two competing systems.

Comment: Re:metric? (Score 1) 237

by 246o1 (#39880529) Attached to: Open Compute Developing Wider Rack Standard

And your argument in turn implies that there's no point in ever trying to be systematically consistent to reduce errors, because .... What? The frequency and severity of human error is going to be constant regardless of the systems people are forced to work within?

People will continue to make mistakes. In some cases, the existence of confusing doubles standards increases the chances of that happening, as well as introducing pointless costs. Measurement is a wonderful example of a natural monopoly, and we should prefer (open) standards.

Logically false. You are saying that the existence of a different measuring system is the cause of the human failure to differentiate. It was a human failure, what you are asking for is to dumb it down so humans cant fail in that way anymore. I assure you, humans will find some other way to foul it up, no matter how many rubber bumpers you put on things.

Comment: Re:Whoever is responsible for this article (Score 3, Insightful) 1258

by 246o1 (#39823423) Attached to: Analytic Thinking Can Decrease Religious Belief

And killing a bunch of children is certainly more reasonable than just using your God-like powers to spirit the slaves away to the land of milk and honey . . . .

This sort of thing is why the Old Testament is fun to read and makes for good movies, but is an unreliable source of moral guidance.

Comment: Re:I do not know and do not care! (Score 1) 119

by 246o1 (#39488637) Attached to: What Does Google Get Out of Voice?

I'm betting those who use Google Voice never see one of those "You need to add your mobile phone number to your Google account" intersitials (with a tiny line under it that basically says "I do not want to add my number"). Sure, ostensibly it's to "protect your account", but it's a real number.

I use Google Voice and still get that interstitial.

"A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices." -- William James

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