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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: 3, Insightful) by The Mighty Buzzard on Wednesday April 02 2014, @12:57PM

    by The Mighty Buzzard (18) Subscriber Badge <themightybuzzard@proton.me> on Wednesday April 02 2014, @12:57PM (#24727) Homepage Journal

    Fair point. There are enough commenters on the other site that unless you get in early, what you have to say is probably going to be redundant. So you don't bother posting and just read. Then it gets to be a habit. Then it gets to be just how it is.

    Also, there are a limit to the number of comments you can easily follow, even with the userscript to collapse/expand threads. Most of the way-down-the-page comments on the other site are probably never read by anyone but the poster.

    --
    My rights don't end where your fear begins.
    Starting Score:    1  point
    Moderation   +1  
       Insightful=1, Total=1
    Extra 'Insightful' Modifier   0  
    Karma-Bonus Modifier   +1  

    Total Score:   3  
  • (Score: -1, Troll) by Ethanol-fueled on Wednesday April 02 2014, @02:31PM

    by Ethanol-fueled (2792) on Wednesday April 02 2014, @02:31PM (#24819) Homepage

    I lurked the other site after a distinguished tenure because I was banned from posting. They even banned me from posting journals after I posted an entry about being banned by the Jew Timothy. However, I did frequently have excellent karma, one time scoring 5 5-point posts(2 as AC) in a single discussion because I was a subject matter expert.

    Every forum needs a resident asshole, one you agree with from time to time while hating yourself for doing so, one who says what others are afraid to.

    The attitude I had with Slashdot was that if the discussions were really worth a shit, they wouldn't need me to waltz in there with a flashy catchphrase and edgy racial epithets.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by The Mighty Buzzard on Wednesday April 02 2014, @02:46PM

      by The Mighty Buzzard (18) Subscriber Badge <themightybuzzard@proton.me> on Wednesday April 02 2014, @02:46PM (#24843) Homepage Journal

      Every forum needs a resident asshole, one you agree with from time to time while hating yourself for doing so, one who says what others are afraid to.

      Agreed. We really do not need a resident racist though. I don't think anybody does. Racial epithets aren't edgy. They show their users to be ignorant, closed-minded assholes. Ignorance can be cured but not in a closed-minded person, so there's nothing to be gained by talking to them beyond pointing this out. Hence...

      End of conversation.

      --
      My rights don't end where your fear begins.
      • (Score: 1) by Yog-Yogguth on Thursday April 03 2014, @07:58AM

        by Yog-Yogguth (1862) Subscriber Badge on Thursday April 03 2014, @07:58AM (#25389) Journal

        If we could all just agree about things from the start this site would already be dead. Right? :3

        Damn right we need "racists" or whatever. We need lots of clashing opposing views. We need people who waste their energy on hating me or anyone else who says they find genital mutilation like circumcision and similar damned offensive because such topics are not kosher or halal to talk about. Or who jump into "thought police" mode at the mention of anyone finding it extremely offensive that people are beheaded and animals bled to death in the name of some severely impotent "god" with serious self-esteem issues. Or who are diligently ready to suppress "illegal opinions" if I find it extremely offensive that most gays don't really want anyone talking about all the gay people that are being hanged each year or that feminists don't want to talk about women being treated as cattle their whole lives. Don't get me wrong: I sadly don't understand women anyway and I've tried several times.

        The list goes on forever and that's just some samples related to one or two silly religions and "interest groups"/people who think it's a super-good idea to politicize sexual preferences :o

        Because it's crucial to teach people to shut up most if not all the time so they don't risk losing their jobs or being threatened with violence or other harassment if they ever say anything wrong or call someone an eskimo or draw a cute cartoon of a black boy with a bone through his afro or headknot (as if blacks don't find that shit funny too; it's no different than Cheech smoking an actual roach by mistake).

        Too much of "society" is already filled with absurd and often stereotypical hypersensitive junk about things that either really shouldn't matter much or really ought to be discussed loudly. And hopefully not by me because I'm damned tired of it all (most topics actually, not just nasty stuff like some of the above) and thoroughly disgusted and that dovetails nicely with why I eventually became a lurker at Slashdot.

        Luckily for me this place is actually something slightly different no matter if the above stays as it was on /. or not, by picking up where Slashdot and code veered into corporate insignificance this place unlocks amazing potential for everyone making everything feel fresh and new again :)

        tl;dr: we need to maintain diversity, that means we need "bad" as well as "good", often that's simply called freedom. Yes that stank of a weird kind of mutated political correctness :X

        --
        Bite harder Ouroboros, bite! tails.boum.org/ linux USB CD secure desktop IRC *crypt tor (not endorsements (XKeyScore))
        • (Score: 2) by The Mighty Buzzard on Thursday April 03 2014, @11:16AM

          by The Mighty Buzzard (18) Subscriber Badge <themightybuzzard@proton.me> on Thursday April 03 2014, @11:16AM (#25453) Homepage Journal

          I agree about the diversity of opinion. I even agree racists have a right to theirs and to speak it. I simply don't think they're worth listening or speaking to. They've got one stupendously moronic belief that is not subject to rational discussion, so they likely have plenty more. If they're just race trolling, that's not as bad but it's still picking the absolute lowest hanging fruit, so they're worthless even as a troll.

          I've got to stick with my original statement. I've got no use for them and don't believe they enrich the site in any way.

          --
          My rights don't end where your fear begins.
    • (Score: 2, Funny) by meisterister on Wednesday April 02 2014, @03:14PM

      by meisterister (949) on Wednesday April 02 2014, @03:14PM (#24887) Journal

      Every forum needs a resident asshole

      I'll be that guy... you... uhh cheese...face?

      I'll work on it.

      --
      (May or may not have been) Posted from my K6-2, Athlon XP, or Pentium I/II/III.
    • (Score: 2) by naubol on Wednesday April 02 2014, @03:29PM

      by naubol (1918) on Wednesday April 02 2014, @03:29PM (#24906)

      At the first, I think I misunderstood you. I generally agree with what you're saying, but I think the "edgy racial epithets" are giving a false first impression. I'm genuinely curious when I ask if you think they're just all in good fun or if there is some sort of intent behind them?

      Regarding being the "resident asshole" who speaks the truth, I could not agree more. Communities need mediators and antagonizers, they're part of the adaptation process. But, the antagonizers have to be clever about it, as if they take it "too far" they lose all traction with the community and thus lose their power to truly antagonize.

      That said, when I mentally delete the "edgy racial epithets" from all of your posts, I tend to enjoy them.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by VLM on Wednesday April 02 2014, @03:30PM

      by VLM (445) on Wednesday April 02 2014, @03:30PM (#24907)

      "Every forum needs a resident asshole"

      Yeah, in theory people thought that would be a great idea. Their outlook was rapidly corrected in practice moments after meeting Mr Goatse, a very prolific poster and former resident of .cx aka Christmas Island. If a reader (noob) has no idea who he is, the reader is better off not meeting him.

      So you may want to rephrase that one. And "Every cup needs its two girls" or "every tub needs its girl" would not necessarily be an improvement.

      • (Score: 1) by modecx on Wednesday April 02 2014, @05:38PM

        by modecx (1925) on Wednesday April 02 2014, @05:38PM (#25044)

        Try this one on: "Every party needs its lemon?"
        Oh, the nostalgia, it's nearly palpable.
        Nearly. Thank God for that.

        • (Score: 2) by VLM on Wednesday April 02 2014, @07:10PM

          by VLM (445) on Wednesday April 02 2014, @07:10PM (#25088)

          There's also a classic goatse quote about if you gaze into the abyss, it gazes back at you, which if you recall the posture and geometry, is true. Although I couldn't weave it into the narrative.

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by mcgrew on Wednesday April 02 2014, @04:06PM

      by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Wednesday April 02 2014, @04:06PM (#24951) Homepage Journal

      I lurked the other site after a distinguished tenure because I was banned from posting.

      And with good reason, you're an offensive little troll whose comments are designed to disgust and inflame.

      Every forum needs a resident asshole

      Bullshit. Assholes are welcome nowhere and needed nowhere. Assholes are only tolerated, and then only when toleration is necessary.

      one you agree with from time to time while hating yourself for doing so, one who says what others are afraid to.

      That's not being an asshole. Posting goatse and GNAA trolls is being an asshole.

      --
      mcgrewbooks.com mcgrew.info nooze.org
  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Rivenaleem on Wednesday April 02 2014, @04:19PM

    by Rivenaleem (3400) on Wednesday April 02 2014, @04:19PM (#24960)

    I heartily agree with this statement, but I'd like to add that I don't browse the site, I check my RSS from time to time and am often a few days behind and regularly join the topic after a lot of discussion has already taken place.

    The majority of my comments tend to be jokes, as usually all the insightful and informative stuff has already been said. Also, my area of expertise is very narrow, so there are really only a few topics, typically in the world of Pharma, that I would consider myself worthy of chipping in something really meaningful on.

    That is something really worth taking into account. A lot of readers on /. and here are specialists in some area or another and will browse and read a lot, but can't really be relied on to be a source of information outside their own areas