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posted by NCommander on Wednesday April 02 2014, @12:35PM   Printer-friendly
from the understanding-the-community dept.
We've gotten some incredible feedback regards to the moderation system and the karma system, and trust me, its not going into /dev/null; I'll have a writeup done by the weekend. However, I've noticed something today that made me sit back, and think for awhile. Our community is healthy and vibrant, and we're far more cohesive as a group than we ever were on the other site. Furthermore, our users are significantly more active here than the other site. Almost all of us are from the other site, but there's a huge difference between us and them.

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.For this request to make sense, I need to make a distinction between not commenting, and lurking. Lurking is people who have user accounts, but don't sign in, never moderate and never post, even on topics that interest them. They are someone who is completely passive on the other site. Its fine that people comment on every single article; even at my most active on the other site, I posted at best one a month. A lot of people just like to read the comments, and perhaps moderate.

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:

Biweekly Comment Count Graph

(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.

 
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  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by fliptop on Wednesday April 02 2014, @12:55PM

    by fliptop (1666) on Wednesday April 02 2014, @12:55PM (#24724) Journal

    I always logged in on /. when reading, but rarely commented unless the discussion was new or I had specific knowledge of a topic and felt my thoughts would be helpful. The problem I see at /. is there's so many users that a discussion gets tons of comments very quickly, and even if you don't count all the GNAA and frosty piss ones, it's difficult to see how adding a comment at the end of a list of 200 or more other ones will ever get read. So what's the point of posting?

    I think SN has attracted an active and involved userbase from /. and these users want this site to succeed so they're apt to participate more. I'd rather read a comment thread w/ 20-30 posts that are of high quality than one that has 200 of which half are "frosty piss" or "mod parent up" types.

    --
    Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.
    Starting Score:    1  point
    Moderation   +3  
       Insightful=1, Interesting=2, Total=3
    Extra 'Interesting' Modifier   0  
    Karma-Bonus Modifier   +1  

    Total Score:   5  
  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by khakipuce on Wednesday April 02 2014, @01:33PM

    by khakipuce (233) on Wednesday April 02 2014, @01:33PM (#24754)

    Me too, unless I felt I could contribute something I didn't bother, here with few comments there is more opportunity to comment.

    One of the worst things that the other site did (and is happening all over the web) is posting videos. Life is too short to sit through a video, I can skim read text to get a quick view on whether it worth me spending time on. That and some of the blatant advertising posts just caused me to avoid those posts, or skim them for a synopsis but then by the time someone had posted a synopsis there were too many other posts to make commenting worthwhile.

    BTW (and may be I shouldn't say this on here) do you still visit the other site? I do but pretty much entirely for alternative headlines. Since SN launched I have contributed very little to /.

    • (Score: 2) by fliptop on Wednesday April 02 2014, @01:40PM

      by fliptop (1666) on Wednesday April 02 2014, @01:40PM (#24761) Journal

      do you still visit the other site?

      I do, but not every day like here (and like I used to do there). In fact, I posted a comment last week and that's something I had not done in many months.

      I browse /. now mostly to "fill in the gaps" although lately there haven't been that many.

      --
      Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.
      • (Score: 2) by Hairyfeet on Wednesday April 02 2014, @04:02PM

        by Hairyfeet (75) <bassbeast1968NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday April 02 2014, @04:02PM (#24942) Journal

        I have all but quit slash myself because its quite obvious that...well "its dying" for lack of a better word. I came to slash because I liked CONVERSATIONS, where posts became actual DIALOGS with people of differing views from all walks of life. Thanks to this I had string theory explained to me by somebody from CERN, talked about low power PC designs from somebody that actually worked at the factory, it was interesting and engaging.

        Now a good 90%+ of posts are never responded to, there aren't any conversations going (unless you call whoring for karma a "conversation") and if you remove the obvious shills, the trolls, and the "frosty piss, mod up" kind of BS? The discussions are all but gone. Its just not an enjoyable place to be which is why I recently removed slash from my bookmarks bar and replaced it with Soylent, at least here actual dialogs and discussion does exist.

        --
        ACs are never seen so don't bother. Always ready to show SJWs for the racists they are.
        • (Score: 2) by Common Joe on Wednesday April 02 2014, @07:59PM

          by Common Joe (33) <common.joe.0101NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday April 02 2014, @07:59PM (#25124) Journal

          I get both Soylent News and Slashdot via RSS feed. I start with Soylent News. (Duh. Much higher quality.) I scan the titles and then maybe the summaries if it looks interesting. I'll look at comments if I feel there could be something there. Only higher quality comments pop out in my RSS reader. If I feel like moderating, I'll log in for an interesting story and skim at a lower level looking for things to moderate. If I'm reading a story and something looks like it's worth commenting to, I'll do it. It's much harder to do this kind of thing at Slashdot because I'm drowned out by all the other voices unless I post early. Often, I don't have anything that interesting to say.

          For this story, it looked really important, so I logged in and started commenting.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 02 2014, @10:51PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 02 2014, @10:51PM (#25227)

          slash[...]"its dying"

          Weekends tend to be the lightest days there but it usually spills over to a 2nd page.
          I had grabbed the Google Cache[1] from the previous Sunday;
          the front page over there fit on a single page.
          Yup, it's headed for insignificance and getting there fast.

          [1] No pagehits for /. that way.

          -- gewg_

    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Woods on Wednesday April 02 2014, @02:15PM

      by Woods (2726) <woods12@gmail.com> on Wednesday April 02 2014, @02:15PM (#24791) Journal

      I have /. on my feed reader, and I am consistently about 100 stories behind, which means I am stuck about a week in the past. While it is good to get fully developed conversations in the comments, it means I cannot comment on anything.

      I feel like the down side of SN is that the stories are posted too quickly to allow decent conversation to happen in the comments. I keep seeing stories with less than 10 comments on it, and I keep asking nobody in particular what the point is of the site. Is it to post news stories, or have conversations about news stories.

      Maybe I am just looking at it all incorrectly, and the purpose is to just get the news out there, with the comments being a bonus.

      I guess I am really saying that I use /. solely for the comments and conversations on my favorite subjects, because SN does not have that (Yet). My favorite thread was when a guy who studied octopi all his life just started answering all the random questions everyone was asking, even though I do not really care about the subject, it was still immensely more interesting that the actual story.

      • (Score: 2) by Nerdfest on Wednesday April 02 2014, @04:19PM

        by Nerdfest (80) on Wednesday April 02 2014, @04:19PM (#24961)

        This sounds bang-on with what I'm doing. I'm quite upset about the way they treated the users and I tend to be a little more bitter when I feel wronged. I'm still boybotting Sony for example, and generally avoid Microsoft after the ISO fiasco.

        The do have good stories though, and some of the regulars did not leave and make good comments. That said, I don't comment. The really annoying part if that I finally started getting mod points after the last 4 or 5 years, but I'm really not interested in using them.

        • (Score: 1) by Woods on Wednesday April 02 2014, @05:40PM

          by Woods (2726) <woods12@gmail.com> on Wednesday April 02 2014, @05:40PM (#25046) Journal

          Since I have become eligible for mod points, I have been getting them seemingly every other day on Slashdot. Sometimes as often as twice a day. I never really see the use of them anyway, I always browse at -1 so I can see everything, it is easy enough to just scroll through a trash thread.

          On SN, there are so few comments that every time I get mod points, I have no idea what to do with them. I end up being torn between posting more comments so I have more things to mod, and actually modding things by avoiding posting comments. SN, y u so paradox?

          • (Score: 2) by NCommander on Saturday April 05 2014, @11:41AM

            by NCommander (2) Subscriber Badge <michael@casadevall.pro> on Saturday April 05 2014, @11:41AM (#26629) Homepage Journal

            From the feedback on the other discussion I got from moderation^post will be revised. I didn't love the paradox myself, and with so many people posting on this one, the moderation system isn't working (too many posters, not enough moderators).

            --
            Still always moving
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 03 2014, @09:09AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 03 2014, @09:09AM (#25417)

        You reference squidflakes
        He rocks
          http://slashdot.org/~squidflakes [slashdot.org]

          http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2525242&cid=38 066216 [slashdot.org]

  • (Score: 2) by tangomargarine on Wednesday April 02 2014, @05:05PM

    by tangomargarine (667) on Wednesday April 02 2014, @05:05PM (#25019)

    Does anybody know how to find one's oldest comments on Slashdot? After digging around, the best I could do in their current interface is get to page 65 which cuts off in 2013 and claims "no further comments" after that. And heck, I got an article submission accepted in 2010.

    My google-fu doesn't seem to be strong enough either, as searching on a date yields that date in the article, and Google fights me if I try -2014 -2013 -2012...

    --
    "Is that really true?" "I just spent the last hour telling you to think for yourself! Didn't you hear anything I said?"
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 02 2014, @11:20PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 02 2014, @11:20PM (#25238)

      My google-fu doesn't seem to be strong enough

      Try this boilerplate, grasshopper. [google.com]
      I assume that you know about the training-wheels version. [google.com]

      -- gewg_

      • (Score: 2) by tangomargarine on Friday April 04 2014, @01:47PM

        by tangomargarine (667) on Friday April 04 2014, @01:47PM (#26184)

        Ummmm...sure, I suppose that would be fine if I wanted to find this specific post. But I want all/any posts older than a certain date, not one specific date.

        --
        "Is that really true?" "I just spent the last hour telling you to think for yourself! Didn't you hear anything I said?"
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 04 2014, @09:34PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 04 2014, @09:34PM (#26409)

          Well, I *did* say boilerplate. Apparently, you need to be spoon-fed.
          This takes things even further:
          /search?q=site:slashdot.org/story/13/04/21+by.tang omargarine&tbs=li:1&num=100&start=0 [google.com]
          Trim off the day portion to get months; trim off days and months to get years.
          Bump up the starting point by 100 to get the next page.
          This assumes, of course, that your karma was high at the time of posting and that you weren't down-modded.

          To get a specific post or group of posts, you can add any relevant word(s) that you remember.
          The &tbs=li:1 part is their Verbatim search.
          Google won't make any of its usual stupid guesses;
          that means that you have to spell things right
          and if you want interested, you *can't* ask for interest.

          The thing that I like about Verbatim searches is that
          you can make phrases with dots in.this.manner (no quotation marks are needed).
          If there is a word that might or might not be hyphenated, using a hyphen will get *both*
          (a dot between the fractions only gets the words that are *not* a single word).

          Now, if you do want the guesses, just remove that parameter and go back to using quote marks.

          I previously included the &intitle: and inurl: parameters.
          Those can be useful. You have to get the word(s) just right;
          Google won't make guesses on those, even without the tbs thing.

          ...and, even after all of this, it's unlikely you will find *all* of your posts.

          -- gewg_

  • (Score: 1) by GeriatricGentleman on Thursday April 03 2014, @02:25AM

    by GeriatricGentleman (1192) on Thursday April 03 2014, @02:25AM (#25296)

    I lurked for years. And years. I like reading viewpoints of experts and idiots - and often the dissension (and sometimes the condescension) taught me much.

    I loved how often the ignorance would often be answered with insight and humour. Knowing how stupidity was propogated cheered me considerably (and kept me calm and amused) when dealing with relatives who think Fox news is the real pulpit of truth.

    The commentary on tech, physics, the review of legal cases, chemistry, climate change - all sorts of things...I am smarter because of the insight coming from the community.

    I never registered. Never commented. Even when I felt I had something to contribute.

    But beta was completely unusable. I couldn't lurk and digest the commentary any more. So here I am. I haven't been back to see if beta was abandoned or fixed.

    I registered cos I want to help this place succeed. I don't really want to comment, I just want the richness that comes from many people sharing their knowledge.

    Sigh, ok ok - I guess I can make a comment a week and will try and do a submission a month (that would actually be helping) but in truth, I would rather just pay a subscription and not bother...