from the understanding-the-community dept.
I can sum up the difference in four words: We ARE a community.
While many of us decried the other site calling us an audience, I'm not sure I can say I was a part of the Slashdot community. I read articles, and comments, but I hadn't moderated (or even logged in) on the other site for years. This wasn't always true; I'm UID 700139 on the other site (registered sometime in 2003), and I was fairly active until 2009. Then I stopped. I didn't even post on the Audience Responses post. I've talked to others on IRC, and it turns out I'm not alone; a LOT of people who are active here were permanent lurkers on the other site.
I need to understand why to keep us a community, and to prevent us from just becoming a passive audience. If you're going to post on any story, let it be this one, and tell me your story. We need to know.
There is nothing wrong with that; those people are still part of the community even if they don't speak often. We've had two stories yesterday that broke 100 comments: Moderation: Discussing !(post^moderate) and OK Cupid Protests Against Mozilla CEO. Looking back at the history, nearly every single article we've run discussing the site broke the hundred comment mark. This is incredible because as of writing, we only have 4007 user accounts total, and slashcode reports seeing 54,620 unique IPIDs* for yesterday.
By chance, Slashdot ran the same article at roughly the same time as we did: OKCupid Warns Off Mozilla Firefox Users Over Gay Rights. This is what made me sit up and take notice. Slashdot does not post their stats publicly, but when DICE acquired Freenet, they posted some rough numbers in the official press release. From that article:
Slashdot, a user-generated news, analysis, peer question and professional insight community. Tech professionals moderate the site which averages more than 5,300 comments daily and 3.7 million unique visitors each month.
As I said before, we don't have a really good idea on the number of unique IPIDs visiting the site, but we do have solid numbers for our daily comment counts. Here's the graph as generated by slashcode for a biweekly period:
(due to a quirk in slashcode, the graphs don't update until 48 hours later; our comment count for 04/01 was 712 comments total).
Taking in account averages, we're roughly getting a little less than 10% of Slashdot's comment counts, with a considerably smaller user base. As I said, the OkCupid story made me take notice. Here's the comment counts at various scores between the two sites
| SoylentNews | Slashdot.org | --------------------------------------- Score -1 | 130 | 1017 | Score 0 | 130 | 1005 | Score 1 | 109 | 696 | Score 2 | 74 | 586 | Score 3 | 12 | 96 | Score 4 | 4 | 64 | Score 5 | 1 | 46 | ---------------------------------------Furthermore, I took a look at UIDs on the other site, the vast majority of comments came from 6/7 digit UID posters. Looking at CmdrTaco's Retirement Post as well as posts detailing the history of the other site most of the low UIDs are still around, and are simply in perma-lurk mode.
Here's the rub. If Slashdot is really getting 3.7 million unique visitors per month, and there most popular articles only get to 1000-2000 comments (Taco's retirement, and the Audience Responses post both reached 2k), then Slashdot's readership is passive. Like, insanely passive. Let's assume that the average poster posts 5 comments a month (which is an extremely conservative estimate in my opinion). then out of those 3.7M unique visitors, only one person out of a thousand (1060 to be specific) is posting a comment. That's a horrendous ratio, especially for a site that allows anonymous postings.
I don't think this is inherent to the site itself; if we are getting 100-250k unique users (and I don't think its anywhere close to that high), then our numbers are still drastically better than Slashdot's. I suspect for every 100 users, one is posting, and if not, they're at least moderating or using the site. On average, we float 200-300 logged in users at a time, spiking up to 800-1000 in the evenings. On April 1st, we saw 3842 unique users logged in every day (out of 4007!).
I don't want this site to become a passive audience, I want people to be involved, and active in the site. This doesn't mean posting, but moderating, or at the very least, browsing while logged in. I suspect the vast majority of us were in the perma-lurk mode on the other site before coming here, and I want to know why. Tell me your stories so we can be a community, and not just a website with an audience. Let me hear them loud and clear, and tell me if I'm wrong; let me know if you were one of the most active posters on the other site, and if so, what sense of community did you feel over there.
* - due to the way we use varnish for ACs, the number of unqiue IPID per day is likely far higher it is in actuality. Due to our setup, the backend only sees one AC every five minutes + all logged in users.
Ok, I meant to have an open forum about moderation *way* before this point. I did read the various feedback and comments left on my journal and the last moderation, and have made some changes to the moderation system.
First, mod points now expire after eight hours. I'm willing to extend this to 12 or 16 hours after I'm sure comments will still reach +5 fairly regularly. With luck, we'll get to the point we can extend mod-points to last a full 24 hours which I suspect will end most of the complaining on them vanishing too soon.
Second, I'd like to open the floor to making a more fundamental change to the moderation system. Specifically, allowing people to post AND moderate in the same discussion. We've seen plenty of posts get up to +5, which means 3-4 people gave up their right to post to keep our comments high quality. This was brought up during our last plea for stories, and I wanted to solicit more feedback before unleashing this upon the site.
I've floated the idea on IRC, and it seems there's a fair bit of support for removing the post/moderate split, though we'd need to make some changes to prevent rampant abuse. Here's what was suggested to keep things sane:
- Mod points won't roll back after a post
- Moderators can post in the same discussion (either before or after moderating), but can not moderate replies to their posts.
I've heard various ideas such as limiting it only after mods have expended their points (this will require implementing a cooldown to prevent a user from getting points again too soon). I want to hear your feedback, and I'll roll together something for the next major update of the site. Leave your comments
The controversy around Mozilla's new CEO Brendan Eich continues. Eich made a personal $1000 donation to California's Yes on Proposition 8 campaign in 2008. Now, dating site OkCupid has started redirecting Firefox users to a page explaining Eich's views against marriage equality, and asking users to switch to IE, Chrome, or Opera.
If individuals like Mr. Eich had their way, then roughly 8% of the relationships we've worked so hard to bring about would be illegal. Equality for gay relationships is personally important to many of us here at OkCupid. But it's professionally important to the entire company. OkCupid is for creating love. Those who seek to deny love and instead enforce misery, shame, and frustration are our enemies, and we wish them nothing but failure.
Visitors are then provided links to alternative browsers, or they can continue to the site by clicking a hyperlink at the bottom of the page.
- Drastically reduce number of moderators
- Return of meta-moderation
- Allow more moderation with fewer moderators
- Supermoderations to lock posts that need it
So you guys did an amazing job in letting your voices be heard in both the moderate^post and Why Did You Lurk? posts. I've read through every comment, left a couple dozen of my own across both discussions, and have sat here and digested it. The most valuable thing we have is an incredible signal/noise ratio. This is a byproduct of this site being relatively small, and with a highly engaged community. As time goes on, we're going grow; this is a natural part of any website; a web site that is not growing is entering a death spiral.
Any community needs new members to come in as older members either become less active, or leave. Kuro5hin is a great example of what happens if you just completely shut your doors, or create barriers that are too high prevent new members from joining in.
The problem then becomes, given more and more members, can we keep a high signal to noise ratio? I think it's possible.
- You had to be registered by April 12th to have been included in the name vote; if you received a ballot for submission, you should have gotten ranking ballot
- We haven't retroactively added in additional users, though it hasn't been clear that there was a hard cutoff
- The submission phase went until the 19th, and the vote for the name will continue until the 27th
- The current system is email only (but we are looking at getting something integrated into the website implemented for future votes)
I want to hear your feedback below from everyone. Based on what we get back, we'll roll improvements into future votes, or if need be, reset the vote and do it again; I know a lot of you are active here or at least more involved, so the relatively low turnout is a warning canary for me. Leave your comments below, and expect another story in a few days to see how we're using your comments.