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+ - Slashdot's new interface could kill what keeps Slashdot relevant->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Technology Lab / Information Technology
Slashdot’s new interface could kill what keeps Slashdot relevant
Flashy revamp seeks to draw new faces to the community—at the cost of the old.

by Lee Hutchinson — Feb 12 2014, 6:55pm E

        Web Culture

131

In the modern responsive Web Three Point Oh Internet, Slashdot stands like a thing frozen in time—it's a coelacanth stuck incongruously in an aquarium full of more colorful fish. The technology news aggregator site has been around since 1997, making it positively ancient as websites are reckoned. More importantly, Slashdot's long focus on open source technology news and topics has caused it to accrete a user base that tends to be extremely technical, extremely skilled, and extremely opinionated.

That user base is itself the main reason why Slashdot continues to thrive, even as its throwback interface makes it look to untrained eyes like a dated relic. Though the site is frequently a source of deep and rich commentary on topics, the barrier for new users to engage in the site's discussions is relatively high—certainly higher than, say, reddit (or even Ars). This doesn't cause much concern to the average Slashdot user, but tech job listing site Dice.com (which bought Slashdot in September 2012, along with Sourceforge and a number of other digital properties) appears to have decided it's time to drag Slashdot's interface into the 21st century in order to make things comfortable for everyone—old and new users alike."

Link to Original Source

Comment: "We're listening" Really? (Score 1) 2219

by EL_mal0 (#46187151) Attached to: Slashdot Tries Something New; Audience Responds!
I'm posting the email I sent on October 4, soon after the beta went live. Let's see what got fixed and whether or not they're listening.

Hi, I have a few comments on the new site design. I agree with most of the feedback from that thread. It looks pretty grim. But here are a few specific things I noticed that I didn't see mentioned too much in that thread. 1. There are a lot of comments that mentioned that comments are harder to follow. That's true, but one thing I didn't see mentioned was the "Parent" link on each comment. I use this quite a bit. I'll often see an abbreviated comment that's part of a conversation. Hitting that link gives me context with one click. If you're not going to put back any other visual cues to help follow the conversations, this feature is critical.

Okay, it looks like they have clumsily addressed the ease with which you can follow a thread (indent both sides!), but the lack of a parent link is puzzling. I know this has come up a bunch in the comments.

2. The "Topics" list only has popular topics. I don't see anywhere to see "All topics". And Linux didn't make that list? Boy, how /. has changed!

Still the same. The original content still featured and no "All topics".

3. I have selected the "classic" view. A cookie or something remembers that setting, which is great. But when the site loads, I get a flash of the "standard" mode. This is really annoying.

This looks like it was fixed. Great job, guys!

3a. In fact, the whole "standard" mode is frustrating. Not so much because of its generic appearance, but because of the stock photos used for each picture. I know this was mentioned a LOT in the comments. But I'm going to bring it up again here. The great thing about the /. icons is that a quick glance tells me what broad category the story falls into. On the beta site right now, I see:

an old timey time clock for a story about Lockheed layoffs (not really helpful)

A screenshot of the overloaded healthcare site (helpful)

Steve Jobs holding an iPhone on a story about iPhones (sort of helpful - a story about Jobs, Apple, or iPhones??)

A quad-copter with a camera on a story about drone regulation (looks more like a story about modding drones than shutting them down)

The Steam logo for a story about Steam (helpful)

A water drop on a leaf for a story about hydrophobic materials in powerplants (not helpful)

The problem as I see it is that I expect a photo to convey more specific information than an icon. When a picture tries to do the job of an icon, like in standard mode, my brain gets confused; my brain expects the picture to belong to the story. In my opinion, the pictures make the site look cheap and make me want to look elsewhere. Please, please, default to classic mode to save bandwidth and to avoid the "photo as icon" thing I just tried to describe.

Yeah, they really like their pictures in the new design.

4. I'm also a little confused about the "All stories" vs. "Editor's picks". One thing I like about /. is that the editors, though they often don't do any editorializing or editing, do sort of curate the site. They act as a pair of eyeballs (hopefully) attached to a brain that makes the decision as to whether something gets on the front page. If the site defaults to "All stories" and that category is front page plus firehose, then I'll surely be looking elsewhere for my News for Nerds.

I haven't dug into whether "all news" is the same as front plus firehose, but it appears to be and is still the default.

I have little hope that any substantive changes will be made. The nature of UI redesign these days is to change things, ask for comments and ignore comments. We'll get used to it, right? Please don't do this to Slashdot. Although it's not quite the site it was ten years ago when I started visiting almost daily, it's still the best place for discussion of tech news and other major world events. Please keep it that way.

Yep. Not much has changed. It looks like the folks making the decisions are counting on the userbase sticking around and shutting up at some point. that's too bad.

P.S. Here are a couple other things that bug me but were already mentioned many times in the comments:

UID, comment ID/link, and moderation history must be attached to each comment.

This has not changed. Discussion still broken. Oh, and did you know that if you click a link to an archived comment, you can't actually read the comment in the beta? That's great, guys! Here's the link I tried it on this morning: Link

There's a ton of wasted space to the right of the comments, squeezing the comments, which will likely make for shorter comments and may change the way people hold a conversation on the site

Still there. Still a major complaint made by a ton of people.

The original BI, Cloud, etc. content being front and center in the "topics" list. I go there once a month, or so, just to see whether there's any action, any commentary going on there. There usually isn't. Sure, there's original content, but those sites lack the thing that makes /. great: the conversation. Don't make it hard for people to get at what they want, even if it's not what you want them to want.

Yep. That's still there. They're really trying to push those original content sites, it seems. But I they're trying to get the eyeballs of a different kind of people than the majority of users on /. (from what I can tell, anyway).

So that's what I wrote back then. I've seen from the comments and my time on the beta site this morning that many of the problems that have been voiced by a large portion of the userbase here in the comments, that most of the problems/issues are not being fixed. Soulskill admitted in a comment that the discussion system isn't finished yet. Owing to the fact that the discussion is the main reason people visit /. this is troubling. Why roll the beta out when the meat of the site isn't ready for prime time. I don't have a lot of hope for the future of Slashdot, but I'd be happy to be proven wrong.

Comment: Re:Why? (Score 4, Insightful) 2219

by EL_mal0 (#46180277) Attached to: Slashdot Tries Something New; Audience Responds!

My biggest concern for the beta is it seems to destroy the tools needed for a robust commenting and conversation, including notification of new posts, easy ways to quote prior posts, easy way to link directly to comments, etc. If this is going to be reintegrated for sure (and maybe expanded?) then I'm probably cool with it.

This shortcoming was recognized and pointed out again and again back in October when they revealed the beta. Now here we sit five months on with the same problems. That's why I have little hope that anything substantive will be done to keep the current community.

Comment: Re:And that's exactly what I asked for. (Score 5, Insightful) 2219

by EL_mal0 (#46180231) Attached to: Slashdot Tries Something New; Audience Responds!

I agree that if /. is changed, it should change for the better. My big question is why should we believe you're listening now? At the beta rollout in October you solicited comments about what to improve on the beta. The users responded with >1100 comments and lots of emails. However, many of the same problems (most notably a broken comment system) are still there. Five months and functionality that is foundational to the way people use this site is still not there.

The folks at /. might be listening, but are they going to do anything with what they hear?

+ - 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:"...as we migrate our audience..." (Score 1) 232

by EL_mal0 (#46178805) Attached to: Target's Data Breach Started With an HVAC Account

The thing that is most frustrating to me is that is seems that many of the complaints brought up when the Beta first went public persist. Looking back at the feedback in that comment section, there are a lot of specific criticisms of the site. It wasn't general complaining, but pointing out stuff that should be fixed. Lots of that went ignored.

I wrote an email back in October with some feedback, and I wrote another today. The company has had five months to fix some pretty basic things and listen to feedback. It didn't.

It might be time to move on.

+ - Ask Slashdot: What's there to like about the BETA?-> 7

Submitted by Narnie
Narnie (1349029) writes "I come to /. not for the nearly interesting pseudo-tech articles, but for the lively, self-moderated discussion. Today I'm bit surprised to see every discussion summarized to fuckbeta. Popping up all over the place there's discussions about beta and even alternatives being revived and created. As I tend not to RTFA, I haven't sampled the beta myself. So, I ask you guys, what's there to like about the BETA and what's there to loath?"
Link to Original Source

+ - Slashdot users give new beta design a huge Bronx cheer 2

Submitted by Presto Vivace
Presto Vivace (882157) writes "Alice Marshall reports that:

Slashdot users are extremely unhappy with the new Slashdot Beta design. The comment section of every single post is devoted to dissatisfaction with the new design. ... ... The thing to keep in mind about community sites devoted to user generated content is that the users generate the content.

"

+ - Dice runs scared. 6

Submitted by cfulton
cfulton (543949) writes "Slashdot management was found hiding under their desks today after a full scale nuclear meltdown on their site. Unable to post a reasonable reply to the thousands of negative comments on their BETA format, they simply modded down all the relevant comments. Then after running around the office for a while they all hid under their desks hoping it would all just go away."

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