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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 weeds on Wednesday April 02 2014, @01:17PM

    by weeds (611) on Wednesday April 02 2014, @01:17PM (#24741) Journal

    "Same" On the other site I am 1086039. I lurked there for quite a while before I saw a story I thought I could comment on and then signed up and commented. After that I mostly lurked. In most cases either I didn't have anything to add or what I had to say was already said. Based on the comments I did make, I had the "feeling" that if your ID wasn't low enough, you didn't get modded up. It felt like a closed community. There is some sport here over lower id's but it seems to be done with appropriate humor. Submitting stories was nearly impossible as the likelihood that I would get hold of a story soon enough to get it posted was just about nil.
    There is a general feeling that bigger is better, but I would need some convincing on that. A single home page can only carry a finite number of stories per day or per hour. Comments on those stories have a practical limit before one has to move on. So ultimately I think there is a limit to the size of the community that can be active. I suspect you could estimate the "active community" maximum size based on the max number of practical stories you can run per day and the maximum number of unique id's that can comment on the stories (with max practical comments per story). That's a lot of assumptions, but I should think you could get an order of magnitude out of it.
    As you have said, even if everything there is to say on a story has been said and one has nothing to add, log in and moderate. Be part of the community.
    Lastly, I am a huge fan of IRC. When you talk about a healthy community, there has to be dialog. Dialog in the newspaper via letters to the editor, does not suffice. (Now I know that the comments are more than that as there is back and forth) But IRC is more like a town meeting. Here you can have a closer discussion with other posters or site management (members, editors, and even developers) for me this has been a great addition to the community.

    Starting Score:    1  point
    Moderation   +3  
       Interesting=3, Total=3
    Extra 'Interesting' Modifier   0  
    Karma-Bonus Modifier   +1  

    Total Score:   5  
  • (Score: 2) by elf on Wednesday April 02 2014, @01:45PM

    by elf (64) on Wednesday April 02 2014, @01:45PM (#24764)

    If I had Mod points I'd mod the parent post up. I'd agree 1000 comments isn't something you can easily read and get something out of it and a lot of comments here are actually quite good. It will be interesting to se how things change as the site grows.

    I think IRC throws up some good conversations. I think it would be interesting to have an area which highlights some of the funny / interesting conversations that go on (like bash.org)

    • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Hairyfeet on Wednesday April 02 2014, @03:53PM

      by Hairyfeet (75) <bassbeast1968NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday April 02 2014, @03:53PM (#24933) Journal

      I disagree. I was at Slash from the old days (like the other poster i lurked for quite awhile) but we would often get 300+ post threads on subjects like CPUs or even file systems, but that was because the mods stayed out of it and let the discussion actually flow naturally. this was before the groupthink and modbombing got bad over there so that mods were only mod-dropping trolls like Goatse and "You must be a stupid nigger" type crap while letting those with differing viewpoints actually defend their positions...it was fricking awesome and even when you didn't agree you LEARNED and left with some serious thoughts on the subject!

      Oh and as for Ethanol Fueled? he got banned because he WAS the guy posting "you must be a stupid nigger" crap so no shit he got banned, he added ZERO to the conversation and only derailed the flow. There is a difference between being a "resident asshole" that has an honest viewpoint that differs from the group and posting shit like "I bet you're a filthy Jew" which the last few months EF was posting at Slash was the extent of his "conversation". While I am against banning ANY form of speech I DO hope that if all EF does is scream racial remarks like a kid learning to swear that he WILL be downmodded to the basement where he belongs.

      --
      ACs are never seen so don't bother. Always ready to show SJWs for the racists they are.