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Journal: Tagging Slashdot Stories?

Journal by DeadSea
I just noticed a new Slashdot feature: tagging.

Ick.

I like tagging when it is appropriate. But tagging slashdot stories is not going to work well. For tags to work they must have some benefit to the individual and some use to the group. The two places they work the best are del.icio.us and flickr. In both cases you organize your data by your tags. Your data is bookmarks and photos respectively. As a side result, you can get statistics about the most popular things with different tags. People don't tag things for the good of the community, they tag things to organize data in some way that is relevent to them.

Take a tagging system that is a failure: amazon.com product tags. Amazon introduced tagging in hopes of getting some new ways of slicing their product database. It turns out that are using the tags mostly for who on their gift list might want the thing. So you end up with lots of tags like "Bob", "Sue", and "Caroline". These tags have almost no use to the larger community. Amazon makes it worse by displaying the top tags for a product even when there are only one or two folks that have tagged something that way.

So why is it bad for Slashdot? Slashdot's implementation doesn't do anything at all for the end user

. The tagging system seems to be designed only around the group aspects. Features that would be needed to make this work:

  • Ability to see your articles as your have tagged them.
  • See what tags you have specified for a specific article

Without those, people just have no incentive at all to tag anything.

If Slashdot actually changed the page because of how you tag stories the results might be better. For example if somebody tags something "dupe", or "boring" it would be removed from that person's front page. On the other side, if it was tagged "cool" it would remain on the front page for longer.

As it is, I'll probably be tagging stories as to how I feel about them to start with and see if anybody notices. If nothing happens, I'll probably stop tagging altogether.

Slashdot.org

Journal: "Mysterious Future" no so mysterious

Journal by DeadSea

Subsribers see stories before everybody else. These stories are marked in red to indicate that they aren't published yet. However, the Slashdot interface doesn't tell you how long until they will be published. The stories are just marked as "To be published in the Mysterious Future!"

As a subsriber you also get a customized RSS feed. This feed has all the same stories you see on the home page including the stories soon to be published. Interestingly, the actually publish time for the story is included in the RSS feed. You can tell exactly when the story will go live on Slashdot. My RSS reader really unmasks the "Mysterious Future"

User Journal

Journal: Slashdot CSS needs div around signatures

Journal by DeadSea

The ancient "--" before the signature to make it bloody obvious where the signature starts should now be replaced by a div around the signature. The old behavior could be emulated by sticking the "--" before the signature using css.

The new CSS layout rocks. It looks much cleaner, although a little flatter. Now that they Slashdot has it, it can be used to do all sorts of nifty new stuff.

Slashdot.org

Journal: Less Moderation

Journal by DeadSea
It looks like there are less moderation points out there. I looked down the stories on the front page and I saw that many had zero comments that had reached my threshhold of four.

I put my threshhold back to three, where I had had it until about a year ago. I hope this is a permanent change. It would be really nice if there were far fewer comments actually moderated up to a five. Lately it seemed that whenever I got mod points, it was hard to find good stuff to mod up. Similarly, whenever I would post a good comment, there seemed like there was always a few who would waste a mod point bumping it down from a five to a four (then somebody would come along and bump it back up).

I'll see how I do with a threshhold of three for now. I also want to read cmdrtaco's journal and see what he has to say about it.

Slashdot.org

Journal: More Frequent Moderation

Journal by DeadSea
It seems that I have been asked to moderate slashdot discussions a lot more frequently recently. I used to be asked to moderate every two to three weeks. Now I'm being asked to moderate every two to three days.

I'm curious what is causing this. There are a few possibilities that I see:

  1. Slashdot is giving out far more moderator points.
  2. Fewer people are willing to moderate now.
  3. Moderators are chosen differently.

As for more mod points given out, I'm sure thate there are more than ever, but I don't think it would account for the sudden spike. Similarly, I can't imagine that a lot of people are suddenly choosing not to moderate. My guess is that subscribers and people that have good moderation history are being asked to moderate more frequently. Taco said in is journal, that subscribers moderate more fairly. He hasn't said anything about making a code change to use subscribers more frequently, but it wouldn't suprise me.

I really like the new(ish) feedback mechanisms for when somebody moderates your comment or medamoderates your moderation. I'm suprised to find that my moderations are almost never questioned in meta-moderation.

I'm hoping that cmdrtaco will write about this a bit in his journal soon. (hint, hint)

Slashdot.org

Journal: Subscriber Plums

Journal by DeadSea
I've been a slashdot subscriber for quite a while. I wanted to report on my experiences with the new Subscriber Plums.

The subscriber plum that I've used the most has been the ability to see stories up to twenty minutes before they are seen by everybody else. When this happens, the story header's backgound is red rather than the normal slashdot green and the story says that it will be posted in the Mysterious Future.

As CmdrTaco Expains in his journal, when a story is visible only to subscribers, no comments can be posted to it yet. This would allow the editors to still yank the story. This is interesting to me because subscribers could theoretically report problems with stories such as dups, broken links, and typos and they could be corrected or the story could be pulled. CmdrTaco has taken quite a bit of heat in discussions for making people pay to be proofreaders, but I don't see it this way. I'm happy to help out as a subscriber.

Although it seems that I refresh slashdot constantly, I don't actually see most of the stories before they get posted. I have not yet caught a single duplicate story (although at least a couple have been posted). I have tried to report problems with stories on three occasions. This has met with mixed success. On two occasions the the story was actually posted before editors could get around to correcting it.

For reporting errors, CmdrTaco announced a new email address: daddypants . The address goes to somebody on duty who can correct stories. I've used this address on two of the three occasions. It seems to work fairly well, and I have gotten personal responses from the admins about the problems I have found.

The first problem I found was that a link went to a story that had moved to the archives. I found the new link and emailed it off. The story was posted before the link was corrected, but it was simply corrected without an update.

The second problem I found was an unclosed link. The problem was corrected before the story was posted.

The third problem I found was an article linking to bugzilla.mozilla.org. Bugzilla can't handle a slashdotting and they check the referrer for slashdot.org and deny links. Timothy went ahead and posted the story anyway. It turns out that he had been using https://slashdot.org/ which wasn't blocked. Of course once the story was posted, nobody could get to the article and bugzilla soon went down under the load anyway. I found a mirror for the article and sent it to daddypants. It didn't get there in time, but Timothy put an update on the story. As a result I also filed a bug in bugzilla to block slashdot better. I can't link to it from here for obvious reasons but the bug number is 198305. From now on slashdot editors should see the failure when they link to bugzilla.

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