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Journal SlashChick's Journal: Should We Work For Free To Improve Slashdot? 14

I try to keep up with CmdrTaco's journal on a fairly regular basis, since he often notes interesting things about Slashdot and where it's going. When I read his latest entry, however, something really struck me the wrong way.

CmdrTaco says: "...we just wish someone would give us patches 'cuz we're to [sic] busy just trying to keep up!"

So let me get this straight. CmdrTaco, who founded a website that has since been bought out by another company which pays him a salary to run the site, wants us to work for free to make this site better?

CmdrTaco, if the site isn't making enough money to hire more developers, you guys need to get your heads on straight and figure out a marketing plan. Make it worthwhile to subscribe... I couldn't care less about blocking ads. Make sure that you respond to feedback from the community. Hold a Slashdot community forum on a regular basis: say, monthly. Check your spelling and grammar on article posts. At least make an effort to make your site the most kickass site out there.

I don't think it's reasonable for the Slashdot editors to get paid to work on the site, but then expect readers (who already contribute to the site in the way of submitting articles and posting comments) to do the same work for free.

We keep telling the editors to spell-check, stop posting duplicate articles, and actually listen to the readers (and I don't mean respond to emails; I mean hold a community forum and really get involved in the site). The editors continue to ignore us. They also shaft meta-comments (comments regarding anything but the actual text of the article) with "Offtopic" moderations.

I know that some of you are thinking, "So if you're not going to help out, don't. Why are you writing this?" My best response is that I only wish CmdrTaco would not expect a double standard -- "we get paid, but you don't." Slashdot should do what any other for-profit company would do: either hire more people to get the work finished, or just accept that some things just aren't going to get done. Begging people to do free work isn't the right solution.

What do you think? Post a comment. As usual, I'll read all of them.

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Should We Work For Free To Improve Slashdot?

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  • Slashot constantly disapoints me, It's obvious they dont read the stories they post, or maybe they're just assholes (see all the servers that specificly ask not to be slashdotted).
    If the editors wont do their job, The coders wont do their job, Why should we?

    Also, to answer your question("So if you're not going to help out, don't. Why are you writing this?"), You're providing us with another place to express ideas and oppinions about slashdot, since CmdrTaco obviously dosnt care about it.

    I've submitted many ideas in comments before, and I'm certainly willing to write patches for them if they started caring about the site more. (I'll repost the ideas if someone else here is interested).
  • exactly (Score:3, Insightful)

    by FortKnox ( 169099 ) on Saturday November 23, 2002 @10:28AM (#4738451) Homepage Journal
    First, allow me to say, that if I had a company that bought Slashdot, my first order of business would be to make it a lot cleaner. The code is worse off than high school C code.

    Second, I'd be happy to add in everything I think was needed -if- I got paid. If this was an open source project and NO ONE got paid, well, maybe I'd consider it. But VA pays the major developers, so logic tells me "They get paid to code this program, so they should code the whole thing." Hell, I'll code in some stuff if they'll code in some stuff from -MY- job.
    • Second, I'd be happy to add in everything I think was needed -if- I got paid. If this was an open source project and NO ONE got paid, well, maybe I'd consider it. But VA pays the major developers, so logic tells me "They get paid to code this program, so they should code the whole thing." Hell, I'll code in some stuff if they'll code in some stuff from -MY- job.

      Your reasoning is flawed here. Companies sponsor open-source development all the time. I would have no qualms contributing my time and efforts to an open-source project where a third party was paying some of the developers to write code for it as well. However, where a company is using an open-source product to generate revenue and the guys being paid are asking the community to buy products and pay subscription fees then start complaining about not having time to write code and asking us to write it for them - that's where I draw the line.

      If Taco wants my help to write SlashCode, I'd be happy to negotiate rates with him (and VA). If they want free coders, provide more incentive to pay for a subscription - as SlashChick said, the editors should start trying to do a better job. Less reposting of articles, better spelling/grammer, etc...

      I've looked through the code, and yeah, its not pretty. Unfortunately, a lot of open-source I have seen is in as bad a shape (or even worse). It makes me hesitant to commit to some projects because I know it will take a large portion of my time just trying to disentangle and deobfuscate some of the code. (And don't get me started on the lack of comments or other documentation with some projects!)
  • I'd be interested in seeing the Editors' respective job descriptions, if they exist. Either way, it would tell us much about why things are the way they are.

    If there aren't job descriptions, then there's no way to know who is supposed to do what, reward them for doing everything, or punish them for failure. The fact that there is no one "master editor" (meaning, there is no one authority that verifies that the stories submitted are not dupes and that the other editors are doing their jobs, like spell checking or not being vindictive to a particular user), or if there is, that s/he is failing to do the job, means that until they get roles and responsibilities set up, then /. will be in a state of perpetual laissez-faire. Part of that lends to the charm of this place, but a large part of it is why we all hate /. so much.

    I agree that there is great potential, but it will never be realized until the editors become true editors and less lords and masters.

    I also feel that since this is a so-called money making organization, I am loathe to spend my time and energy "fixing" it, when they have paid staff to do so. As FortKnox alluded, the day they work on one of my projects is the day that I'll volunteer some time to help their organization, other than bellyaching.

  • Cash for mod points? Or failing that, tell me how much I need to put in in comments, story submissions or metamods till I get to mod. Or just pay people to act as moderators, subject to terms and conditions.

    Also, how about doing a LiveJournal and acting as a hosting service for people's weblogs? A directory of existing journals plus a random offering or two to entice people in would be a start. Or would this mean that Slashdot would be Slashdotted? :)

    • *GAH* Cash for mod points?! Are you insane? Trolls would start having fundraisers to fund a mega-troll, who would then mod down everything intelligent, and mod up all "F1r37 p00s7!" posts. <br><br>
      Oh horrors. =] <br><br>
      How about contests for paying members--the person who makes the most highly moderated intelligent posts wins a free computer? Gets hired as a paid editor for Slashdot? Paid members get reimbursed 5 cents for every post they make that's moderated +5? <br><br>
  • Slashcode is open source. It's almost unreadable and somewhat quirky, but it is an open source project that powers dozens of sites. They do not charge for it, it benefits a lot of people, and there are a ton of feature requests. The editors' main responsibility is not keeping up with the requests for features. It is running the site. Given the fact that it is an open source project, it is reasonable to expect that people contribute to it rather than just ask for new installments. This is what CmdrTaco refers to in his journal, and I agree with him.

    Maybe there are a lot of things wrong with the way Slashdot is run, but this is one criticism that's off the mark. The slashcode is out there, and there's obviously a lot of interest in continued development, so some of the people interested should get off their butts and start developing, or at least submitting useful bug reports or helping development in other ways.

  • They should fire Michael and hire a coder.

    Ok, let's talk realistically now. If anyone's run a slashcode-run site before (I have) they'd know it's pitifully easy to do so and requires no time.
    1. Visit queue.
    2. Pick 12 random stories (make sure >=50% are reposts)
    3. Set the times that you want them posted.
    4. Click update.

    That's it. If he's talking about "no time" to work on the code, I think he's making it up.

    I don't want to sound like an asshole, but I think someone's a little too busy watching Sailor Moon reruns and getting paid for it...
  • Ok here goes....
    I use a lot of open source software (Fink [ap-get for os-x], image magick, perl, php etc...). I think it is great.

    When you get this code and it doesn't do what you want or something doesn't work, you can fix it. Those fixes are supposed to be sent back to the owner who can incorporate them if he/she wishes.

    The point is that your not working for free, because you got an open source program of great value for nothing but the promise that if you improve it you'll let them know.

    Also you do so expecting that others will also report bugs/ updates so to all open source packages improving the quality everywhere. Thats why its the open source community.

    When you do this you run the risk that the code you write can be used by commercial entities to make money (red-hat/ Suse / Slashdot etc...) But everything Red hat has you can get free, with some work.

    Somehow this works and great software without having to much around with the code very much thanks to the efforts of some great coders and giving people. See for more details..

    I think the plea was for people who use slashcode to help out. Apparently some companies run on it.. If your business depends on slashcode and there is a really bad security bug that you fix, its in your best interest to submit it. See prisoners dilemma problems for why cooperating helps.

    Sorry, its late and I'm a little tipsy...But it makes slashdot more fun.wheeeee..

  • If you don't like it get involved . If they don't like you go elsewhere or meet their standards, it's their sandbox. Code for free. See Slashdot for what it is... the mother of all self-promotions. There are few places on the net that don't know /. Get your code accepted here, build up a rep here and you if your as good as you seem to think you are you can probably leverage your work here into big bucks. Even in an environment where the ethos and bent of /. isn't appreciated it's still known and your work can been seen. Hell even the big boys at MS and Sun read /. Quit bitch'n roll up your sleeves and make it happen.
  • I can't give a precise plan because I don't know the specifics of running Slashdot, but I can say that there is an established metaplan.

    The key to that metaplan is the common characteristic of the plans used by all the dotcoms: batton down the hatches and prepare to lose 90% of your userbase.

    A lot of necessary routine maintenance will slide while restructuring. You'll lose users.

    Frustrated users will start trolling and behaving (even more) destructively. You'll shed more users.

    You'll be listed on fuckedcompany (um, assuming they aren't fucked themselves, I haven't been to that site in a few years now) and will have to listen to the press speak about how your experiment was a complete failure.

    Prepare for the possibility that you might very well go bankrupt. Or that the resulting company will not be what you envisioned when you started, and that you might feel that you may as well have gone bankrupt.

    On the bright side, Apple has gone through this (several times) and they got a hardened corp of stalwarts who love them. One think /. needs to do if these stalwarts are to figure into their plans is hire an evangelist. Read stuff by Guy Kawasaki. (sp?)

"Can't you just gesture hypnotically and make him disappear?" "It does not work that way. RUN!" -- Hadji on metaphyics and Mandrake in "Johnny Quest"