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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: 1) by AndyTheAbsurd on Wednesday April 02 2014, @01:08PM

    by AndyTheAbsurd (3958) on Wednesday April 02 2014, @01:08PM (#24732) Journal

    There's a lot of things going on over at that over site that are, individually, not a problem, but put together as a whole make me stay out of the discussion and often not even bother with the site at all. The target audience has changed over the years, from the hardcore nerds to a much broader audience. The news stories don't hit the front page as quickly as I feel that they should - when I first discovered the site in the late 1990s, Slashdot would often post links within minutes of them going live on the web; now, you're lucky if something hits the front page two days later. The discussion have become SO huge that they're often impossible to keep track of.

    That's all I can think of right now, but it's still early in the morning and I haven't had a whole lot of caffeine yet.

    Also: We have IRC? Why didn't I notice this earlier?!

    --
    Please note my username before responding. You may have been trolled.
  • (Score: 2, Informative) by AndyTheAbsurd on Wednesday April 02 2014, @01:31PM

    by AndyTheAbsurd (3958) on Wednesday April 02 2014, @01:31PM (#24753) Journal

    Oh, another thing that just hit me that annoys me about slashdot: Article summaries that are just the first paragraph of the article pasted into the description. Especially bad when it's a two- or three-paragraph article.

    --
    Please note my username before responding. You may have been trolled.
    • (Score: 2) by Blackmoore on Wednesday April 02 2014, @02:10PM

      by Blackmoore (57) on Wednesday April 02 2014, @02:10PM (#24784) Journal

      As a submitter here (something I NEVER did at /.) the quality of the submission is limited to our ability to write.

      and frankly - I'm not a journalist; and it shows. I write stuff up and it looks like some fifth grade level attempt. it's not a language barrier - it's a style i just don't grasp; so it is often better for everyone if i grab some part of the original article and use that to draw people in. Not that i'm happy about it.

      I lurked the old site since the 90's. Occasionally posted snarky comments as an AC. most of time there were too many stories, and so many comments that i felt that my voice really didn't matter to the discussion. every point i would have made was made by other people and usually articulated better than i ever had.

      Here - I'm helping to build a community. if i go back to lurking i'm afraid others will too; and that leads to site death. (I'm looking at you technocrat. Pipedot? you need to work on that)

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by maxwell demon on Wednesday April 02 2014, @08:53PM

      by maxwell demon (1608) on Wednesday April 02 2014, @08:53PM (#25156) Journal

      There's a good reason to that: If you take the time to write a well-written summary, you can bet on being beaten by someone else doing a quick copy/paste job (I've made very few — unsuccessful — story submissions there, but almost every time this happened). So it's only rational to do it yourself (or not submit further stories at all, which I decided to do): You don't want to waste your time doing a lot of work, only to be beaten by someone doing an easy copy/paste job, and if your copy/paste story doesn't get selected, at least you wasted no time. The result is, of course, even more copy/paste stories, and thus an even higher penalty for writing good summaries.

      --
      The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
      • (Score: 2) by mrcoolbp on Wednesday April 02 2014, @11:35PM

        by mrcoolbp (68) <mrcoolbp@soylentnews.org> on Wednesday April 02 2014, @11:35PM (#25246) Homepage

        As an editor here I can tell you: a well-written summary is much more likely to be accepted.

        --
        (Score:1^½, Radical)
        • (Score: 2) by maxwell demon on Wednesday April 02 2014, @11:51PM

          by maxwell demon (1608) on Wednesday April 02 2014, @11:51PM (#25255) Journal

          I guess that's why the stories here are of much higher quality. Note that in this subthread we were discussing a problem of Slashdot.

          --
          The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.