Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?
User Journal

Journal Journal: Christmas Slashdot Functionality

The discussion2 system had 2 notable changes in this weeks code refresh that I'd love to hear feedback on (use email if you can't post here). The first is Scott's very excellent new draggable slider control. Everyone mostly figured out the slider tool before, but it was very unresponsive... but no longer! It has some layout niggles under some browsers, but it functions properly in most of them.

Equally exciting is new dynamic updating... the old code actually transferred the full discussion and displayed/hid content as requested by your settings. Thew new code properly requests comments as needed, and when needed. This cuts page sizes dramatically for people reading with filters turned up very high. It also puts us a few stone throws away from a 'refresh' button which can just add newly posted comments in place. There's some work to be done yet, but it's made a lot of progress. I hope you like it.

We've tested everything under most of our most common browsers... if you're curious they are very roughly FF2 38%, FF1.5 19%, IE7 8%, Safari 7%, Opera 3%. Missing from our compatibility list is IE6 with 13% of our traffic. Fixing IE6 is non-trivial and we'd certainly take patches... but since the IE6 population lost a point or two last month anyway, and fixing the code is pretty substantial, we'll probably be focusing our development time on the larger and growing platforms (FF2 and IE7 obviously being the most important).

Anyway, merry-whatever-you-believe to everyone out there. I'm spending my holidays the same as always- driving from family gathering to family gathering. Roads suck but the person I like being with most is in the car too, so it doesn't matter.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Experimental Threading Test

If you have enabled the Discussion2 beta, you will notice a number of confusingly titled links appearing in comments. These control expansion/contraction of threads in several different ways. They are confusingly titled because we want you to try each of them and let us know which ones you like best without concerning yourself explicitly with how they work.

You can email your feedback to me (try d2 at cmdrtaco dot net) or some of you can actually post here.

I think next week will have a patch with a number of D2 changes (including some results from this experiment hopefully) so your help is really appreciated.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Firefox, Tabs, Gmail and Quicksilver

As web applications grow more and more featureful, I slowly find myself replacing desktop apps with web apps. This really makes a lot of navigation on the desktop a real pain in the ass. Example: Gmail. It's probably open in a tab right now. Not sure which one... occasionally we accidentallly close tabs. But if I use quicksilver to open 'gmail' it will open a NEW tab every time. Same if I use the gmail notifier.

Applications each open individually, and they know that they get focused when activated/launched whatever. But effectively firefox may (or may NOT!) actually encapsulate 2-3 different applications... spreadsheets, email, or say, the bookmarks that I use to maintain Slashdot's submissions bin.

I'm not exactly sure how to deal with this. I imagine this problem will only grow if good web applications continue to replace desktop applications.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Why My Job Is Wierd

one of the many emails I get on an almost daily basis is email requests to be included on the slashdot supporters list. I read these emails, and every few weeks filter out the junk links (SEO spam etc) and add a few to the list. I try to include only links that look like they are actual people. I'm not crazy picky, but I don't include really obvious stuff. Some folks get annoyed if I don't choose there link, but here's a recent one that really kind of blew my mind. I won't tell you the domain name for obvious reasons, but this guy emailed me 3-4 times over the course of a few days. Finally today I got this one:

Subj:Please don't fuck people around, thanks

Now he rambles a bit, but regardless, I don't need rudeness in my inbox, so I finally reply to this guy. He'd send me like 4 messages, so I figured I'd tell him to stop it. I simply wrote

I am not going to link you back. that is very rude.

This was like 4 hours ago. And keep in mind that the preceding message was the only one I wrote. These all came from him in rapid succession:

Yes thanks,
how about not naswering on my prevoius e-mails ?

How about FUCK DMOZ.ROG ?
But i don't know any more who is more Crude, or Rude
any way thanks for your answer ...

followed by...

Thanks, your button has been removed.
At least i don't need to play a prostitute in order to get a link on your

And minutes later he links me one of the entries on the supporters page that his site is better than. But then the truth comes out:

If i did not wrote that subject would you answer me than ?
I apologize, i stop smoking now in 5 weeks :-)

Ok, so that explains it. He quit smoking. That sucks. Must be rough. But then he needs to further clarify:

I'm on the web since 1997 ...
I'm sorry ...
I'm 43 years old (married + 4 children)
I have stopped smoking last 5 weeks, this might have reduced my patience ...
Thank You.
This is my last e-mail and i will be not bothering you.

Now I actually kind of feel bad about all of this. I mean, not like baby punching bad, but at least an aww thats unfortunate. Until I get...

OK i understand, you hate muslims ...

WTF?! Muslims? When did that come into it? It's pretty clear that this guy's english is not his first language, but who am I to judge? My english is my first language and I'm barely literate. But somehow this guy has determined that I hate his religion, even tho I didn't even know what it was. But wait, that's not all:

OK i think you are a Spam filter not a human right ?
If I use "Fu*ck" word you react directly ...
OR are you Serbian and hate Albanians ?

and most recently:

Probaly you don't know what APOLOGIZE is.

Poor spam filter.

Mind you all of these messages were sent minutes apart- when I was out picking my car up from the shop! But it doesnt' end. While writing this journal entry I got

OK i see you hate Jews,
I'm half jewish ...
but i can't hep

Now wait a minute, I thought he was muslim. And I was serbian? I'm very confused as to who I hate atm. But I'll end this with his last message

Hmm in no way i can trigger any other answer ?!

I guess this is the closest thing to triggering any answer I can think of.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Col. Tubesnake 1

Over the last few months, the office has become home to a variety of creatures. It started when samzenpus brought in a turtle. He found this poor creature stuck in road tar. He saved the thing from certain death, cleaned the tar off him and dropped him in an aquarium. Soon after Hemos brought in an old tank to put in some salt water fish. Not to be outdone I finally fulfilled a childhood fantasy by getting a pet Ball Python that i have named Col. Tubesnake.

He's doing well. He's been eating his mice like a good little snake. This morning he didn't seem interested in the mouse tho, which i understand. I've been giving him frozen feeder mice from the pet shop which don't seem to do much for his hunter instincts. This time I warmed the thing on my coffee cup heater thingee and got it a lot warmer then before and tossed it in the tank. He struck almost before the mouse hit the ground. Snakes kick ass. The question is who will be the first to get a scorpion or tarantula.

Random popular culture notes: Aaron Sorkin's new Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip premiered earlier this week and has a lot of potential. Good cast, and of course since Sorkin is basically my jesus, I really hope the show comes together. Tonight is the premiere of The Office. Not much else on network TV worth watching this season, which I guess leaves me time to farm for herbs and raid in warcraft and wish the expansion would come out.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Discussion2

More than half of yesterday's discussion revolved around IE support. We PLAN IE support, we're just not knocking ourselves out to get that done while everything else is in flux. IE7 is definitely a priority. Not sure about 6. It really depends on how far we get, and when IE7 comes out, and how busted their javascript really is. patches would rock- this is all client side stuff and I bet someone with IE and a debugger could get some compatibiltiy in for any browser without that much effort, none of us are IE experts tho, so I'd rather we spend time on new functions.

The way D2 was rolled out for testing was that we actually had two discussion systems in place for awhile. One was a University of Michigan Research project written by nate. We used that as a rough framework to build our system. Subscribers got our system. Odd numbered users got our system, even got ours. Nate's system was given to a few hundred users, while ours was given to an ever growing number of readers that we rolled out over the course of a couple months. This is how we roll out many functions that aren't ready for prime time. Giving everythign to everyone all at once has performance issues for us. A slower rollout makes sure that we can work the kinks out before we give it ultimately to anonymous users.

If you use the handheld/low bandwidth options, the floaty control widget can cause problems. We know. It's on the list, but since only a tiny percentage of users are using those modes, it's not a top priority. The fix is relatively simple: the floaty needs a toggle from top to side. The code has a widget for a top floaty, but it's an older version. Basically I want to make the side floaty work properly (drag & drop instead of clickable for example) then redesign it to work up top and add the toggle. But that problem is easy to solve.

A VERY key point that a few users got is that this doesn't solve the problem that the old system has in favoring older threads. There is no good solution to this, short of randomizing top level comments. The REAL solution is to rework the scoring system to re-value threads with more granularity then -1..5. That of course is the plan.

As for one-click moderation, this is a baby step for us. The new moderation system is vastly different then the old one... and in-place moderation was critical to make it work.

A number of readers commented on the highest comments first not existing in this system... thats true, but you can fake it reasonably well. By setting the threshold fairly high, and hiding a good number of comments you can easily filter to score:4 or score:5 comments. Admittedly that doesn't give you 5s then 4s then 3s, but for mature discussions there are already dozens of comments. The new moderation will aim to address this problem in more detail, but I think a high enough threshold is BETTER then simply sorting by score becaause it's possible for you to navigate up or down without a page load when you do find a comment that you think might be worthy of further research.

As for patches, tf23 and a few others noted that we don't provide much in the way of direction. Well thats kinda true- the SF project page has tons of feature requests. If you emailed me and asked for my opinions on any of those features i'd tell you. I simply reject all feature requests that are worthless. Some of them are low priority, or things that I just wouldn't use for Slashdot. I read the mailing list- although I have little to say there. I've learned that if I'm not paying people, I don't usually get what I want for Slashdot, and thats fine. Code what you think works for your stuff. But if you want it on Slashdot, ask me how it should work or if it's crazy. Sometimes I reject ideas becasue our hardware can't handle extra queries. Other times I reject them because they have serious social issues or I decide that cluttering the UI isn't worth it for a tiny percentage of users who want a function. But there's a lot of fairly obvious stuff that could be fixed. I mentioned a number of things in the story I posted yesterday too. And a lot of that stuff is totally in the javascript- no downloading and installing slashcode to test even required.

Anyway the feedback on D2 is mostly favorable. I'm disappointed that the bulk of the discussion yesterday focused on the fact that we've chosen to beta test on the single browser used by most of our readers and worry about compatibility later. It meant I got less real feedback then I might like. But I think that's always the case- if there is one glaring issue, readers can't see past it to talk about the hundred other issues that are honestly more helpful...

What's interesting to me is figuring out how users can navigate this datastructure intelligently. What does it MEAN to expand a thread. To collapse a thread? Do I need siblings? Do I need expand-all? I don't want 35 buttons... where is the line between needless clutter and the necessary UI? Interesting problems to solve. Fun stuff. What's tough is that some readers want everything and the kitchen sink, but most users will find 3-4 buttons sufficient (and others will think 2 is intimidating). We have to balance minimalism, functionality, and hardware limitations. I find it enjoyable.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Back from the Grave

Got nice and sick last week. Very unpleasant. Especially around Day 2 when the tivo had (for the first time in years) that very awesome No Recordings message. Live TV is hell.

Just a few minor notes from the front: We are almost ready to start deploying the beta discussion system to readers besides our subscribers. Tim has been working on an improved control widget which hopefully will make a lot more sense then the terrible UI we kludged together to get things started. We're going to start buy giving access to the system from a random sampling of users. There are bugs in various browsers that will need to be worked out, and the UI will need to be refined, but I think everyone will be happy with how it works. It's definitely becoming very clear where the performance problems in different browsers are. It's a pain.

BackSlash continues to be an interesting experiment meeting with totally unsurprising commentary from readers. Many are angry and missing the points. Others are appreciating it for what it is. But just to raise a few points about it, Backslash currently exists as an experiment to merge automated moderation with traditional "Editing". This serves 2 purposes: one is to create "Original" content for readers unwilling to read public forums. These people are MOST of you. They don't want to read any forum. The end. But there are great things in the forums. So if we can bridge this gap, we can make Slashdot Forums useful to the majority of readers who don't want to wade through them. The second point is that this gives us another data point for training/revising/improving the moderation system. Random data points of good comments from a few trusted sources. We have a lot of Score:5 comments and a lot of Score:1 comments that are quite good too. The new moderation system will give us a lot more flexibility in selecting moderators, and controling the influence that they wield within the system. I'm hoping that the Backslash stories will give us a good data point for seeding that system.

We have one other project that cropped up recently that i'm hoping to deploy this week. It might be fun. It might be stupid. But it's a fun experiment. You'll have a strong opinion either way when you hear it.

Also we'll be hiring another editor before the end of the summer. If you are interested, send me a resume and 10-12 example Slashdot stories that you've written from scratch based on links you've found.

User Journal

Journal Journal: WTB AJAX Engineer (ok, hire really)

Now that the redesign contest is over, we've mostly finished up the implementation. A number of obnoxious issues turned up (they always do!) but they've mostly been dealt with. I think we might be crashing a beta version of opera, and a few less used browsers have some compatibility problems, as well a few menus and lesser seen widgets are skinned yet with older versions of the site design. Mostly that just is showing us places that weren't properly DIVd and CLASSd when we moved to CSS.

But the dust is settling so we can start working on our next project which I'm excited to say actually has the approval to hire an engineer. So if you are an experienced programmer with the fancy web20 ajax mojo on his resume, send it my way. This person will be working on the new discussion system, on dynamic user preferences, and some surprises that we've been working on for awhile now that doesn't really have user interfaces yet. I guess send me the usual stuff- location, salary requirements, experience, resume etc. I've got a few names already. Relocation isn't required, but being in michigan wouldn't hurt for occasional meetings.

Speaking of the new discussion stuff, it's worth noting that subscribers usually see beta functionality first. Right now they can see the new CSS/DOM/Javascript/Dynamic/Fancypants discussion system. It's buggy, slow, and damnit better than the version live on the site if you have a fast computer and a web browser that doesn't choke on it. There are a few minor features left for us to implement, and then we hope to start rolling it out as an optional thing for an ever widening pool of beta testers. I'm really excited.

One of the best things about D2 is that it dramatically cuts the need to load new pages. You can expand/contract threads dynamically. The problem with this is that we have a serious information overload. So we need a new user interface to accomodate this. Currently we have a simple drop down menu of thresholds. The new version has at least 2 seperate thresholds ('Visible' and 'Abbreviated'). So figuring out an intuitive and compatible way to view that information is an interesting challange. As always, I'm open to ideas so feel free to shoot emails my way. The current version simply has More/Less and Better/Worse buttons. This is a nasty kludge that won't cut it in the future.

In less interesting news, my alliance guild dropped nef for the second time last sunday. It's a really fun fight. I finally saw the Wallace & Gromit movie and really loved it. I still haven't seen the season finale of The Sopranos. X-Men was popcorn fluff, but I was at least entertained. And re-heated sweet & sour chicken from the local chinese take-out place does not taste nearly as good as it did last night.

Now go about your day.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Redesign X: 3(?) Horse Race

The contest is not over. The rules say that we will take entries through tonight. But at this moment, there are really only 3 entries in serious consideration. You are all welcome to continue to submit until the contest ends, but understand that I am really flooded with entries, so you are likely to get little more than confirmation of receipt at this point, unless your entry is in serious competion.

I share now for you 3 "finalists". One of these is a definite favorite (I won't say which one) but with tweaking, I think any of these could be the next Slashdot. That is, unless someone rolls in with something perfect. I believe you have seen all of these before, but I include them now just for discussion purposes. Wes has been poking and prodding at the HTML/CSS under the hood so we can judge on that as well. None of these substantially alter the HTML under the hood, so implementation is relatively simple. We'd have to make variants for the sections, and resolve some layout issues in some of the parts of the site, but thats not to tough. It's possible that we could deploy the winning design next week.

Alex's entry has gone through many variations, and here is one of his latest. His new article footer looks great, although I might re-order things a bit. He added a space for messaging, but I don't think I like it in the slashbox column- I would probably move it back to where it is now, but I might use the same design. He uses the a light grey background in the menu, the slashboxes, the article footer, and the section menu intgrated into the header: but he chooses to delineate elements 3 different ways: a grey line, a white line, and nothing at all. I'm not sure which way works best, but I'd probably noodle around with that somewhat. The titles of slashboxes & the left hand menu don't need to be capsed: It's a little loud. We want the eye in the middle, not the navigational elements. I'm not sure about the green line between multiple abbreviated articles. I'd also like to see the horizontal line on the indented block quoted text line up on the left with the titlebar & footer. He also has mocked up a few other pages so you can see how he would translate this design to other parts of the site. I feel that this design is quite clearly Slashdot. It's a cleaner version of what we have today. It solves some problems with the current layout, we could still incorporate some javascript to expand/contract the menus. We'd need to think a bit about the upper right hand corner yet: is all we want is search, or do we want some user preference type stuff up there? But the vast majority of questions are answered.

Michael's entry continues to just feel unfinished to me. The curve and shadow effect that he's scooped out of the menu and title looks simply fantastic. I'm not precisely sure what a horizontal ad would look like, and I feel that the titlebars of the articles would look better if they were green. The slashboxes are a little simple for my tastes. In my browser at least, some of the fonts are unreadably small. I think that as it stands, this design simply feels incomplete to me, which is a bummer since it starts out so strongly. It has possibly the most attractive header/menu bar, but the article/slashboxes need work. In fact, of the 3 finalists I post today, I think this one is the least complete. It lacks a number of elements that are critical- login boxes, the message space etc. The abbreviated articles have no punch, and the slashboxes need delineation. This design gets strong response from almost everyone I show it to... but it lacks a number of puzzle pieces. But damn if it doesn't look good.

Peter Lada's design definitely doesn't suffer from that problem. He has covered every detail that i would need. This last revision has new abbreviated articles that look great. I honestly don't think I'd use his fancy little javascript in the upper right that toggles the search/login space. I don't really think it's necessary. I'd probably make the logo bigger: he's trying to keep it sized above the menu column, but I wish it would have a bit more punch size. I don't know if that size is worth breaking the 'barrier' between his 3 clearly defined left column. But his menu is functional and an elegant solution to the clutter we have over there. His slashboxes look clean and obvious. The ad positions will all work here. His poll button even has a nice sense of 'pop' to it. One issue raised here is that his articles might be a bit generic. Do they look to much like everything else on the internet? Thats hard to say... I mean, maybe the whole internet just looks like Slashdot in 1997 ;)

So there they are, my 3 favorites at 11am. The contest officially closes at the end of the day today. Everyone is welcome to revise their entries, or submit something new, but please understand that my repsonses will be minimal unless your design is something I like as much as the three above. For you folks in the comments, I'd love to see your comments on the actual HTML/CSS above. They each require slightly different amounts of effort for us to actually implement (and as Wes noted, some of them improve upon our HTML anyway, so it would be worth it). Remember this is not a democracy- I'm making the decision here. But I really am reading all the comments and taking everyone's feedback into consideration.

Good luck to everyone who is entering.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Slashdot Redesign IX: Home Stretch 76

So after trying to write thank you e-mails to birthday well wishers, I had gmail shut me down. They thought I was a spammer. This made redesign evaluations a bit of a trick. But I'm hopefully caught up.

Today's entries are largely repeats. Most (all?) of them have been posted in my journal before. Some have been revised. Some have not. I'm not planning on posting any more mockup links to jpgs. These are essentially "Finalists". The contest still is not "Closed"- We plan to take entries at least through tomorrow. Revisions to any design are welcome. If you have been exchanging emails with me, try to reply to your old emails with updates to I can keep threads together. There have been 200+ entries, and I can't keep all ya'll straight.

Michael Johnson's design has gone through a few variations, but I keep coming back to this one. I think this one needs work yet to win. I'd prefer green article titles. I want to see what he will do with that upper right hand corner. I think his left hand menu could use some fanciness. The slashbox fonts are to small for my tastes. His 'Read More' space could stand out. Abbreviated text font size is really small (and doesn't stick out well). But I think that with a few hours of work, we could make this work.

Matt Walker's entry is another sharp one. I think his logo metallic shading affect is to much- it needs to be much more subtle. Also I can't tell if he wants his background to be dark grey or dark green- there's floating green edge on the logo that doesn't work. But his menu choices are solid. His slashboxes stick out and have a lot of pop. His articles look nice.

Nate Ziarek's design features a very attractive left hand menu, and interesting slashboxes. The menu is HUGE here, and he doesn't use the upper right hand corner- but if you move the preferences up there and make the left menu a little narrower, this is an excellent entry.

Chuck Han's entry is the only one to feature a blinking curser ;)

Ian MacLeod's design has a LOT going for it, and one crippling bad thing: the main problem is his choice to use a light green background. It just doesn't work for me. It just feels soft. I'm not sure how I feel about the floating left column topic icons either, but I share this entry because I think his 'Rea More' graphic is great. The fading in on the left, and the curve on the right... it's a simple cool design. The drop down menus look nice for his menus. Most/All of the necessary navigational elements are here and well done. I'd like to see this with a white background in the main space instead. But it's very elegant. A great entry.

Alek Bendiken's submission is another great one. His slashboxes look cool. His header is spacious and efficient. Th gentle gradiant on the titlebars looks great. I don't care for the line between is quoted text and unquoted text- I think the line should go, and he should put a vertical line to the left of the quote and/or more space. I think the article footer is a bit bland. Unlike many entries, he paid attention to his footer. I might switch the curves from left to right... I might not. It's subtle but wonderful. This design doesn't have tags, system messages, or abbreviated articles, but it's a really great entry.

Peter Lada's entry is back once again. The issues I have with this design now are really minor. I think he uses his triangular arrow things inconsistently: I think a triangle really visiaully says 'click to expand' which works on the left hand menu- except he uses down arrows on every menu item. He has right arrow on department lines and abbreviated articles, but there's no expansion in there. I'd want to work out some minor details, but this is a great design that really looks like 'Slashdot'.

As I said before, the contest is not closed, but we are now beginning to judge on compatibility, and implementation details. Eg, how much HTML did each design change. How much 'Work' would it take us to deploy, and how well does each design work on various browsers. I'd appreciate feedback on these points especially from anyone willing to post comments here. We want our winner to look good, be compatible, and accessible, as well as lightweight.

So keep 'em coming. This is the home stretch... I want to pick a winner soon!

User Journal

Journal Journal: Redesign VIII: Abundance 21

My inbox has exploded, so I apologize to many contest entries who didn't get much of a critique. I'm being a little more conservative with my time, trying to focus more on entries that are much closer to winning than those that.. well, aren't.

The contest is supposed to close next week, so please get those entries in and wrapped up ASAP. Everyone is welcome to continue to revise and retry until the end, but starting on monday, myself and Wes Moran (OSTG's CSS/HTML/Design nut) will be going through a short list of best entries, and really shaking them for browser compatibility and implementation concerns. What this means is that if you send us your design on tuesday, it will get less time to be tested, and compatibility is a big deal.

So here is another block of designs.

Liz Hall's design is a mockup, and at this stage in the game, thats beginning to cut it close. But she does different stuff with the header that I think is fun. Navigationally this design is lacking a lot of stuff, and like a number of designs, she places the topic icons into squares, which I suspect will look strange with some of the taller or wider icons in the list.

Rob Goodlatte's design is one of the most successful designs that changes the least. He fixes problems. He cleans up some layout issues. And creates a site that looks simply like a better Slashdot. Well done.

William Swanson's entry has a number of twists that look quite nice. The problem here is that by putting the menu on the right, I'm not sure where I could put an ad there, without shoving the menu down off the right column. I like his layout of the articles, although I think his headers, using that soft green, look a little less like Slashdot than I would prefer...

Andy Peatling's design is a bit softer than I am looking for, but I still love the headers of the menu on the left. There's definitely a bit of a space problem on the right- by moving services and vendors over there AND the login box, if I put an ad over there, it's gonna be shoved way down. But that article header looks great. The curve on the left echod on the right, the gradiant, the icons for the tagging, even the indented quotes do it for me. I think I'm sold on that now- so many entries have done it and made it look good.

Ryan Ramchandar's design definitely tries mixing up the menu on the right, but I see no slashboxes, nad I'm not sure how ads would work in this layout. But his clean, minimal header and nice article layout work really well. Like a few other designs, this one feels a bit soft to me. The headlines could stand out more. But it's well done.

Derek Chin's entry is a mockup with a really nice header. The rest of this design needs some work (I'd prefer white on green headers for articles, the menus look a little dull, the boxes a little generic) but it could work.

Tom Nichols's design is VERY green. Probably a bit much for my tastes, and I'm not sure about the red as a matching color. But I give this mad props for looking really good. I'm not sure if it is what I want on Slashdot, but it's a very cool page.

Shane Churchman's design I think I have shared before, but he's continued to improve. His header is solidly layed out, his menu is efficient and useful. His layouts on articles all look great. This is a strong entry for the simply refreshing slashdot look class of entries.

The last design for today is from Chris Morrell. It's a bit louder than a lot of the others. He opts for a 2 column menu on the left. I think his searchbox and slashbox column work really well. I don't much care for his article headers. All in all this is a really good entr, and definitely looks quite different from what we have today. I think the uniqueness of this design comes down to his choice to split the header, and let the center column climb right to the top of the page. I think this is a great idea, and could totally work- getting readers to content faster is always better, and moving the center column up a hundred pixels can't hurt.

Ok, thats it for today. I'll probably do more this weekend depending on how the incoming entries look. Remember that next week monday & tuesday we're planning on judging the compatibility portion of the contest, so I suspect it might be to late to try to submit a jpg mockup at this point. But you're welcome to keep entering/revising/retrying untl the end.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Redesign VII: Overload 24

After a few days in california, and Hemos's little birthday email bomb, I'm struggling to get my redesign entries back in order. I once again have another 20-30 designs that are probably worth sharing but given how busy I am, I'm probably not going to be able to share them all. But I'll do what I can, so I apologize if some of these entries don't get as much commentary as they might deserve.

Matt Walker's design has been transformed into CSS since we last saw it. His header is nice. His menu and slashboxes are strong. His layout decisions are sensible. I think his article footers could be better integrated into his articles- I can't tell at a glance if the 'read more' is an entity by itself, or attached to the article above it. I think his abbreviated articles could stand out a bit more. But all in all I like his entry a lot.

ukasz Topa's design has a really nice header/logo thing going on. His choice to put the search on the left is nice. I think his article layout is simple and very clean, and the 'read more' link looks great. I'd like to see a bit more emphasis on the titles of the articles. I'm not sure I care for the tabs inside the slashboxes & menu headers. And as I've said on many entries, we could lose the topic icons on the top of hte page and use that space for a login form, or a user menu or something. But this is another excellent design that has a real shot.

Marko Mrdjenovic's design has been updated. It is still a great example of a clean, elegent design. I still don't care for the /. as a bullet point. I also think his article headers using a light green makes them look a bit soft, but all in all, it's a nice design.

John Pennypacker's design is another one that chooses orange as a secondary color. Since we also have a lot of black-as-background here, this whole entry becomes high contrast and a bit harder to read then I Would like. I do think that his article footer looks cool (and the header). That subtle diagonal fading pattern looks great.

Jeremy deserves mad props for the completeness of his design. He's really gone out of his way to show what different things might look like. I like his article layout, as well his economical header. His expanding menu for user preferences in the header is a really great idea. I think his abbreviated articles are hard to read, and I think his choices of greens make the whole thing look a bit candy-like if thats a good way to describe it. Less earthy, more neon. I don't like that so much. But thats minor.

's design is interesting to me primarily because he chose to put all the menu stuff on the left. I think that this design is pretty good given that. I think that most of the time putting everything on one side creates overload. I really do like his header tho. The login box, the search box.... it works quite nicely.

Nuno Filipe's design is mostly fairly typical, but I think that header design is really sharply done. There is a bit of an issue I think with his menu up top- it looks a bit unfinished. I don't think the pop-up tabs add much (they don't hurt either) but on my screen I have a lot of space to the right- I'm cool with white space, but for some reason that looks to me like something didn't get loaded ;) Maybe if he echod the streaks a bit that he uses in the header. I don't know. I really like how he handled the logo...

Isidro Chavez's design is only a mockup image, but I felt the article footer looked really nice. Same with how he floated the topic image on the left. I'm not exactly sure if that trick will work with all the icons that aren't properly anti-aliased. Also, the light grey behind the topic icons on the top might not work with a lot of our icons.

ben heise's entry is another mockup, but a really interesting one. Very curvy. Very cool. It's hard to judge this fairly given how incomplete it is, but it's a cool start. I think the top topic icons aren't necessary, but I think he could make this one work quite well.

Jason Porritt's entry is another clean, simple, elegent design. His abbreviated articles work nicely. His article layouts are clean. His header is smart. His menu is cool. The only thing that doesn't work as well as I think it should is that his right hand slashbox menu headers see a bit brighter to me. than the rest of the design. But this is one of the strongest entries I've seen.

Michael Jonhson's design has been updated. We last saw a mockup, and he's come a long ways. In my eyes, this design is in the absolute top tier of submissions. His left hand menu is elegent. His right hand slashboxes have a slightly small font, but whatever. His header is fantastic. I think his article headers could benefit from a little more green- I'd like to see a visual top & bottom to them. Like a green titlebar with white text, perhaps still using that cutout look still. I'd also love to see what he does with the upper right hand space. But in terms of raw "Look", I love this one. There are only a handful of other entries that I think are this strong.

Lastly I'm sharing Peter Lada's update. His design is one of the most complete and best we've seen. With each revision, his design has got a little stronger.

I have several more entriesin my inbox left to scour through, but since they are mixed in with like 1200 happy birthday emails, it might take me awhile to get them all out. The contest will hopefully be wrapping up by the middle of next week. The game is still wide open- entries will be accepted until the winner is announced, so feel free to keep trying until then.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Redesign VI: The Undiscovered Entry 21

This stack of entries gets me caught up through sunday morning. There are a number of solid entries in this batch. As always- these entries are here to show you guys what I'm looking for in a potential winner. I will be having limited net access until thursday, so I doubt I'll put another entry up here until then. The contest runs until May 17, and you are all welcome to continue to revise/resubmit until then. A comment I made earlier that I'll make again: so far no entry that has abandoned the Coliseo font has worked for me. Likewise, I don't care for the visual abbreviation '/.'. If you choose to use it, do so sparingly. Note that it doesn't appear in the existing design at all. And because several of you are missing this- the topic icons in the upper right hand corner are expendable. Dump them at will. Successful alternatives for that space have included login forms, and the user menu, as well as the search form. Also, the advertisement up top must stand alone. Don't put a logo to the left or right of it.

The contest is still wide open- there are a half a dozen entries that I think stand above the rest, but every day I see another entry that reminds me that this thing could go to anyone. I hope you're enjoying this as much as I am. The creativity and energy that some of these designs are showing is really making this fun for me.

MCM's design is a real mixed bag. One thing that he tries is to bring the sectional color schemes to the main page. I've often toyed with this idea, but never could make it work, and I suspect from his design, you'll see why. It's a lot of colors to work with. He's doing wierd layout things- multiple columns of articles, expanding/contracting articles. I like the economical header, although it doesn't scale horiziontally all that well. All in all, I think this design is most interesting simply as a pure 'What if'. I appreciate that this one is really thinking far outside the box. I'm pretty sure it won't work for slashdot.

Morgan Davis's 'Shiny' Design is another clean, simple entry. He changes very little in terms of layout, except the search box/topic icon stuff that most of the better entries seem to share. Once again, a compact header gets us to the meat of the page faster. I don't care for his slogan space- that grey box kind of sticks out... however we have a number of system messages ('you have mod points' 'or 'have you meta moderated lately') that could be placed in that space. A LOT of designs fail to account for those messages... I think that bears repeating- we have a spot for system messges that a lot of designs don't incorporate. The article headers are cool, but the page doesn't scale very well. if I shrink my browser much, I get the wretched horizontal scrollbars. But this is a deserving entry.

Khoury Brazil's design is a reasonable entry, but I share it here because of the interesting handling of the right side slashboxes. By making the menus 2 columns, this design (i think) successfully integrates slashboxes & navigational elements into a single column. I'm not sure how well it would work for users who have a halfdozen or more slashboxes... I also think that the header is a little dull.

Kira's revised design goes a little gradient nutty but it looks pretty solid. I really like the shadow between articles and slashboxes. Not sure that the reflection on the article titles works. But it's a nice design. The logo really pops in this one.

Hallvar Helleseth has another design that is currently a very rough mockup missing a lot of bits but it's quite stylish so I share it. I love how the logo and slashboxes jut up into the black space atop the pge. I'm not sure where he's going with the overall design, but that one element is just cool. He looks like he's going to try something unusual in the right hand column. I wonder if he can make it work visually and functionally. This article layout is boring, but given hoow nice the header looks, hopefully he'll give it some good lovin' too.

Adam Marsh's entry is back and this time in a CSS form. I think his slashboxes are a bit heavy- I think the diagonal mark on the right works, but on the left doesn't. I don't cre for the neon-teal color he is using a lot in this design either. I mostly like his article layout, but I think putting the topic icons in a 'box' is a mistake given the wide range of aspect ratios these icons fit. Maintaining this look would make a wide or tall icon unreadably small. His footer doesn't appear at the bottom of my page, and I don't see what abbreviated articles or system emssages would look like. I miss my old Slashdot Font. And (this should tell you how anal I can be about certain things) in the upper left hand corner he has a /. integrated into the logo... but that dot is a square. In the right hand slashboxes he has a /. integrated into the right side of the header. That dot is a circle. Consistency is an important design consideration. The top and bottom of his left hand menu get lost- those curves are so subtle I can't even see them. Maybe those coudl be given a different color scheme. If the cap/foot on the menu works, maybe it could be echodon the slashboxes to give a little more balance to the page.

David Steele's design goes a different route. His design is a bit blockier. A bit more spacious. He relies on good color decisions more than fancy graphical foo for his to work. I miss my old font. I think his whole header needs to be tightened up- a dedicated line for search for example is unnecessary. I think that as a user scrolls down they will visually lose the green. Also we have a number of navigational issues since a lot of menu items are missing. But this design really hasa a lot going for it.

Olav's design is clean and simple. I don't think seperating the advertisement out on the right is a good idea tho. I do like how he uses strong colors in different slashboxes to seperate things out. I think his article layouts are clean, but a little generic. His menu suffers from some of the issues I've discussed on other entries already. But for a clean/flat/simple design this is a nice. He proves you don't need gradients to look good ;)

Oliver's continued design plans now come to us in CSS form. I think the header is nice, but simple. The search box doesn't line up quite right in there. His article layout is clean, but that floating topic box doesn't do it for me. His quote text in the footer is huuuge. I'd like to see his article headers more clearly reflect the visual style of his page header (white on green, some shading or curves or something) but beyond that, for a design that essentially mimics Slashdot's layout of today, this is excellent.

melissa's design is another clean one on white. I like her subtle work on the slashbox area. I think her tag layout doesn't fit well with the rest of her article layout As usual, I don't much care for the subtle light grey /. in the upper left corner. But once again, this is a very clean, minimal design. Easy on the eyes. Maybe a bit to easy for me.

Lukasz Lukasiewicz's design starts off on the wrong foot by giving me the design in blue. But the design he gives me is really nice. I really love his article footer. Clean. Minimal. Elegant. Likewise his left hand menu highlights sections really well. The footer also returns the colors used at the top and lays out the footer extremely well. He overuses the /. ascii shortcut, and doesn't really do any substantial layout changes to spek of. I'm not sure about the pinkish purple accent color he's chosen either. I think that with a different color scheme, and some subtle refinements this design could be a strong contender.

An interesting note: the designs continue to fall into 2 major classes: the ones that refresh the existing design, and the ones that break the border and try something new. Almost without fail, the thing that seperates them is the choice to keep the black border and upper left hand curve that surrounds every slashdot page. I don't think either of these elements are essential at this point. I think the Coliseo font is however necessary. I don't think I've seen a design yet without the font that worked for me.

Good luck to everyone who is still reading...

User Journal

Journal Journal: Redesign V: Redesign Forever 14

I'm easily in triple digits for entries at this point. Today I present to you a new block of entries that gets me totally caught up with my inbox. Some of these are dupes or revisions of earlier entries, and as always these entries are here just to share with you guys different ideas that people have had. Also to clarify the contest, my plan is to post a main page slashdot story with 3-5 leading contenders later next week. The contest doesn't officially end until May 17, and I hope to have a winner announced within a day or two of that point. Deploying the winner will depend on how good the entry is. Since I'm traveling a lot next week, my guess is that I'll fall behind on these journal entries. I think I'm going to simply start being more picky about the ones I choose to share.

lets get it started!

Wes Hunt's design is a mixed bag. I think his slashboxes are a bit weak- that carved out/sunken in effect can be used really effectively, but his doesn't work because it's on all 4 directions. I think his header is to dark to work with the body. I think the layout of the articles is quite solid. I don't care for the color choices or the /. iconography at the left. I share this design primarily because the menu is unique. I don't think it works as is, but that slide in side bar thing is almost totally unique to this entry. A few people have tried a top popout, but this is one that actually might work.

Peter Lada's design continues to be one of my favorites. I think his article header needs some work yet, that faded yellow just doesn't work for me either, but his efficient header now more strongly echos Slashdot of today. I think ultimately by changing the colors of the article headers to be white on green instead of grey on green, and perhaps avoid that lighter green and use grey instead and the color scheme works. He has some expanding/contracting mojo in the menu that goes a good distance towards saving space over there. Me like.

Matt Walker's design is a mixed bag. I think the gradiants o nthe articles doesn't really look that right, and that his article headers are a bit uninteresting. But I think his menu choices are excellent. I think a few menus could be collapsed dynamically. I think his header could be tightened up a bit- it's roomy, but the focus of Slashdot is the articles, so the faster we get there, the better. The boxes on the left and right are the same design for the most part. That might work for this design. It might work against. But since this is a static image and not a complete implementation, it's hard to predict.

I linked one of Jason's designs, but I figured I'd show you a few more of his entries. His first entry and second entry try a few different variations. The latter mor strongly echos Slashdot and I think works quite well. The 2 column menu thing is nifty. The gradiants on the articles adn comments look pretty nice.

Jens Wilk's design needs a lot of work to seriously consider, but I think his article layout is interesting, and his highly compact header is worth considering. The B&W icons up top don't really work for me. As I've said before, that space is dead in the current design... no real reason to keep it. his design includes tags, but they aren't very well integrated into the article layouts either.

Dave Snyder's Design's design is a mixed one too. The header looks choppyy- the logo sticks up on the left and the menu on the right with a whole in the middle. Just doesn't flow right to me. I don't care for the '/.' iconography there either. I feel that /. rarely works visually. I think his section menu up top is nice, but that left corner is really crowded visually. Maybe if the section menu was moved over to the right it would be cleaner. I'm not sure. I like his article headers, but dont' care much for the grey- if we're going to echo Slashdot of today this much, why not just use green titlebars again. They work now after all. I don't care for the dotted line around topic icons. I don't care for the light green background on slashboxes, or the squares around elements in the footers of articles. Note that my quibbles on this design are all relatively minor. I think that with tweaking this is a very strong contender. The only mystery to me is the footer which doesn't really seem to render at all.

John Reilly's Design continues to refine an entry that works pretty well. He fixed the problem with the ad up top so it will fit. His slashboxes look nice. His articles are almost totally unchanged from today- I think he could possibly work to improve that. I think the squares on the menu on the left are visually a bit heavy, His positioning of the quote won't work on any page with comments, although it looks nice here. The footer menu is wrapped into 2 rows for no good reason. I think his design is one of the better ones in the 'Stay very close to Current Slashdot' class of entries.

Johnathan Hok's Design is still just a PNG. I think his left hand menu is a bit busy, but the rest of the design works quite well. I wonder if it might be to white as it stands. Withought a strong secondary color it just feels soft to me. He chooses to keep the top icons as-is for better or worse. But I think overall this is an elegent design. It will be funy to see it become more than a mockup.

Ben Heise's Design's design is just like a slightly tackier version of Slashdot today. But his article layout is really good. I don't think the search box makes sense in that space, but everything else in there works really well. Outside that tho, the stipled lines, the constant use of '/.' in menu headers, the loss of the coliseo font... that stuff just won't work for me.

Khoi Le's Design is just another mockup so it's hard to comment on fully, but there are some cool ideas. I think his slashbox column could look really cool with that curve in the header. His articles are simple and very nice. The topic icon issue i've covered many times is unaddressed here, and I'm concerned that the green menu on the left might weigh down the page a bit, but I think it could all work depending on how he chooses to handle the slashboxes. Another great start that I'd love to see thought through more as it becomes CSS.

Ben Kittrell's design deserves mention for simply presenting the most action hero of any design so far submitted.

So that's it for now. I'm caught up now. Depending on how many more entries I get in the next 24 hours or so, I may do another batch of entries on saturday or so, but I'm in california for a few days after that so I doubt I'll be able to post more before next friday... and at that point I'm hoping to post something to the Slashdot mainpage. As always, feel free to update any designs you have entered, or submit fresh ideas.

At this point there are perhaps a half dozen entries that I think could win with very little additional work, but I still think the contest is wide open. It's been really fun going through everyone's entries. Keep it up.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Redesign Entries IV 42

Man this is getting really time consuming! You guys have had a LOT of entries so far. I'm enjoying seeing them, but I really need to apologize for not giving as detailed of a critique to some entries as to others. There are a number of really great designs that I've seen so far. 3-4 that are good enough to win almost unchanged. But the contest is still wide open.

To address some points made so far: the menu structure is one of the trickiest things to do. I'm open to any ideas for moving them. For javascript trickery. As long as it's backwards compatible, I'll consider any idea. Unfortunately some items in the left hand menu MUST remain visible on the page somewhere. The Sections list. The preferences. And the Vendors & Services boxes. Other boxes can be collapsed, submenued, hidden or whatever, but I think it pretty important that designs have space for login/user info (eg, the 'User' menu in the left hand side). As well the sections list, and biz partnership stuff that needs visibility.

One reader yesterday made a great comment that some designs are using to much green, and I think thats the key. Slashdot's green is a dominating color. When used sparingly (read:todays skin) I think it works very well. Many templates go overboard and lose it.

The best designs typically are dropping the top icons from the upper right hand corner. This is fine. That space can be better utilized for user preferences, user login boxes, search boxes etc. I totally agree with that assesement. But if you start doing zany stuff, it becomes more important to show logged in as well as logged out skins. Otherwise one or the other has a big hole to deal with.

Another person made comment about the 'fairness' of my journal entries. As I explained in the original contest, my concern is not fairness, but rather the best looking Slashdot possible. If someone totally nips another design, that won't stand, but I think everyone should be reading every comment I make here and tweaking their designs where appropriate.

Again what follows is a few entries worth sharing. I apologize for being behind, but at this point I've had nearly a hundred designs, and many hundreds of emails to read and reply to. These entries once again are not necessarily the 'best'. They aren't necessarily winners or losers. But they have elements that I think are worth sharing for some reason or another.

first up is Nathan Apple. His design has very clean left and right sides that I think work really well. Also worth noting is that MANY designs have tried to add another shade of light green to Slashdot, but this shade of light green I think works really well. I think ultimately his articles are a bit generic. I've said this many times, but once you scroll down, this could be any web site. It doesn't look uniquely like Slashdot except perhaps for the topic icons. I appreciate that the header is a totally new redesign, but it just doesn't work for me. I'm all for white space, but Slashdot has a LOT of stuff in the left hand menu that could potentially be put in that upper right hand corner.

Helen Nicholson's design needs some work, but has some cool elements. Her logo has energy, and the graphics she's working with look really nice. Unfortunately they don't seem to line up for me- font dependency issues make them look a little low for me. I suspect that this might be a tricky problem to solve. I think the use of grey on the articles sorta makes it look less like Slashdot, and the dept line is unreadably small on my screen. Putting the topic icons in boxes solves the must-be-on-white problem, but it doesn't look very good. No padding makes it crowded. Also the abbreviated articles get lost. Mostly I share this design to show you the slashboxes, which look quite nice- if only the notches lined up with the text properly... but man, CSS sucks for that sort of thing.

Agnar Ødegård's design does a LOT of interesting things with menus. He puts the user menu up top. The stories menu into tabs. The design itself doesn't light me on fire, but creative thinking about the large volume of navigational elements we have here does.

Marko Mrdjenovic gets mad props for completeness. His design includes articles, comments, the index etc. His header is great, but he silly expanding topic icon thing serves no purpose. I don't care for the use of /. as a bullet point. The color coding in the comments thing is something we've actually talked about quite extensively. It's something we very well may do when we revise the moderation system. Again I don't care for the faded light green. It seems really soft to me somehow, but this is a fantastic design. Very well done.

Next up we have Stefan Lesser's design. I share this one because he does interesting things with both the menu and the article. Like many designs, he moves the menus up top (see my notes above for caveats about this decision). All in all, his system works quite nicely. I think the header is a little dull, but it's clean. The really interesting thing is the totally different take on the layout of articles. I mean. I don't know that it's what I want, but it's very cool. Also, he does something that many of our designers do by making italics in articles be seperatedy for readability. I'm unconvinced on if this is a good idea or not, but it is worth considering. His abbreviated articles are cool. His slashboxes are cool. All in all, this is just a great entry.

Shane's entry is clean and stylish. I kinda like the comic bookish choice of font for the slogan. The gradients behind the article title works really well. Personally I think he is over using the curve- it's on titles, slashboxes, menu headers, the corners of the main frame, and also around the topic icons (see other notes on topic icons mentioned repeatedly above). His abbreviated articles look to be totally unaltered from Slashdot today. I assume he's doing some javascript foo on the menu on the left, but it's not apparent to me what that is. All in all tho, in terms of a design that is purely cosmetic and changes very little functionally, this is a good one.

(Still several to go). Next up Michael Milligan's design tries lots of stuff with varying degrees of success. His topic icons in the header just don't work. I don't care for the square around the topic icons in the article. The gradiants mostly look pretty good (although the block of grey between the tops of the menu and slashboxes, and header look a bit out of place to me. I'd use the white gradient all accross. He is trying zany stuff here with expanding/contracting articles and menus. He also has provided space for a user menu atop the page. His footer is realtively dull. It's just today's footer, with a different color and no search b ox. The gradient above the very last menu spans outside the white box. I think it's worth noting that you aren't required to put the black border around Slashdot. I think this design would work good without the black edges in the main space- keeping the black up top and at the bottom works to bookend the page (as well as contain the advertising atop the page) but this design (like a lot of them I've seen) seems to want to keep the black edge so much, that something is sacrificed. All in all this one is a nice entry, but it would take a lot of work to be seriously considered. The parts are there, they just don't all fit together right.

Andy Peatling's design has many nice elements. The diagonal lines in the header and login space. I totally dig the subtle /. embedded into the left hand menu. I almost universally dislike the use of /. as an iconographic abbreviation of slashdot- but in that spot, it is subtle, and honestly totally perfect. His expanding topic icon mojo at the top of the page is just silly and I think that space is being under utilized. He does the thing where he makes italics in articles be blockquote style indentions. I'm just not sure how I feel about that. It might or might not work. For readability it might work. But it might just be a mess. I really can't decide. I'm reading comments in these so feel free to share opinions since a lot of designs try this. His menu on the left ads a lot of white space, making it Waaaay to long. Some expanding/contracting javascript mojo would help that. So would moving some menu bits to the upper right. Normally I don't care for the white on black text bit, but it works in his slashboxes. He also mocked up an article with comments to show how the design would carry through. I think the whole thing works, but I miss slashdot's green. What it really comes down to, is do I want to read slashboxes in white on grey or black on white... same for article headers. I think the color inversion is nice for menus, but harder for huge chunks of text. Choose one and stick with it. But all in all this is a very strong design. Clean. Simple. Well done.

HAZAH! I am through my favorites from tuesday. I still have several entries from wednesday and already a few from today. Comments are once again enabled. Play nicely.

Slashdot Top Deals

"Most of us, when all is said and done, like what we like and make up reasons for it afterwards." -- Soren F. Petersen