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Journal CmdrTaco's Journal: The Mysterious Future (and other stuff) 6

This morning we announced the latest subscriber plum, where paying users can see stories a few minutes in advance. As with every new thing on Slashdot, responses from the forums were mixed. Of course many many people have subscribed in the 2 hours following the announcement, so I think it's already been a pretty good success.

The single largest thread I was participating in during this discussion was the classic debate about SLashdot's quality (or lack therof). Usually this means dupe checking, typo checking, broken links, etc. This has long been an issue of contention between me and some Slashdot Readers. My general thoughts has always been that Slashdot was designed and built to be an informal dirty gritty news site. Where mistakes happen. Where grammar and typos are normal. My emails contain typos. My webblog contains grammar errors. This is just how I communicate. I wanted Slashdot to be informal. Not spitshined and corporate like CNN or something. I love CNN. I read it every day, but I didn't want Slashdot to be CNN. I wanted it to be what it is.

I just don't understand why there are users who demand that now, after 5+ years of doing it this way, we change. We spitpolish the site. Have spell checkers and checking. WHy don't they just go read CNN?! Slashdot is Slashdot. Why should it change just because more people read it? And more importantly, don't I have a certain level of responsibility to keep Slashdot today consistant with the Slashdot that I created 5 years ago?

Certainly my interests change over time. Should Slashdot? If I had kids, would SLashdot have more stories about kids? Obviously there is no true answer to this. Slashdot is based on my personality and interests... but is that a relatively absolute thing, tied to my personality and interests at age 21 when I created the site, or does it follow me as I age and change.

Obviously there is no answer to this question. Its just something I think about sometimes.

The good news is that we have many new subscribers today. More new subscribers on a single day then since the day we announced subscriptions. Our costs are very high, and the declining value of banner ads hurts. But I think there's a balance somewhere.

We'll hopefully have a few more subscriber plums in the upcoming weeks, but we'll probably let the dust settle on this one first ;)

This discussion was created by CmdrTaco (1) for Friends and Friends of Friends only, but now has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

The Mysterious Future (and other stuff)

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  • What is the value of duplicate posts? A rare dupe spawns an interesting rehash of the discussion with updates but comments on dupes of stories within the last n days (where n seems to be 7-14) are usually a wash.

    Personally I don't have a huge problem with duplicate stories and I could care less about spelling and grammar mistakes but if something can be done to eliminate these points of contention the noise level would go down in the discussions.

    I've wondered for some time why there wasn't any code to check for dupes. Then I read there was some code to do this. Looking for the same URLs or similar URLs and subjects should be easy. Letting subscribers vote on duplicates could push the story off the "going to the masses" queue until someone reapproves it or sends it to /dev/null.

    What is not to like? Of course this all assumes that the noise level in comments could decrease. These days it seems like the noise itself comes from on topic posts that are simply so similar to other posts that they offer nothing new. In some ways I have become very jaded about the discussions attached to stories. Is it worth n minutes of my time to read them? I don't doubt that many other people think the same thing and could care less about what happens to the discussions because they don't read 'em.

    Do subscribers get access to a subscriber rss/rdf feed?
    • Dupes fall into several categories, and they have different values or lack of value. Some dupes are just "Similiar". Other dupes are stories from weeks or months ago, which could be just as easily thought of as "Follow Ups". The only dupes that are really *bad* are the occasional ones where a story posted in the last 24-48 hours is posted again, and provides no new information, or links to the same exact URL as the first. Those are relatively rare. A couple a week I s'pose, but when you're talking about the 150 or so stories we post a week, I guess I just hope that it isn't that big of a deal.

      There is some dupe checking code. It's a harder problem then it sounds. As for "Voting" on the dupes, that starts substantially changing the nature of slashdot, and I tend to get a bit nervous about that. I've always felt that part of Slashdot was the opinions of a small group of people leaking through. It's NOT a democracy. Never was. My thoughts on this are covered in the FAQ.

      As for a subscriber RSS feed, I hadn't even thought about that. Thats probably something we should do.

      • I can sort of see your view on voting on dupes. I meant that only subscribers could vote on dupes and the rest of /. wouldn't even see the story if it got held/removed. I hadn't even considered that voting on dupes could be considered as a political activity. Anyway, as you point out, the really annoying dupes aren't very common so it isn't that big of an issue.

        I know every single minor changes seems to enrage some lunatic so I don't envy your position at all!
  • Amazingly enough, exactly a year ago today I wrote a journal entry [] that was more of a rant than what Taco gives above.

    My thoughts now: I agree with Taco. I read Slashdot to get the Slashdot experience. I also check daily, and expect something completely different from that.

    As far as duplicates go - I would rather see duplicate posts than not see the post in the first place because an editor is unsure if it has been posted before. If nothing else, I just skip over the second article.

    I block most banner ads from Slashdot, but I think I am going to subscribe as a result of the new "plums", and to contribute to everything that I have gotten out of Slashdot out of the last five years.

    Wow, has it been that long that I have been reading this site? Amazing how little of the site has changed in that time other than the number of posts to an article.
    • Thanks for the support. It's worth noting that I get emails like this all the time. Positive praise thanking Me and the rest of the staff for running the site the way we do. We have a quarter million lurkers on Slashdot who never post in the forums. So for many people, the will of those who post in teh forums appears to be the will of the masses... but that simply isn't always true. They are just the loudest portion...

      It's fascinating to see how the medium affects the content. Public forums truly bring out the worst in some people.

      And Slashdot is 5.5 years old. That amazes me too... we just keep going, and I really believe we only continue to improve.

      • I agree.. it's a shame that more of the silent majority in many situations never bothers to make their voices heard, just because they acquiesce (boy I butchered that spelling) and they assume it's a given since they're not complaining. Then anybody looking for an opinion finds only dissent.

        Of course, I'm not sure that's any better than a few thousand yes-men and fanboys. Choose your poison.

No problem is so large it can't be fit in somewhere.