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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 | |
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 kevinl on Wednesday April 02 2014, @05:28PM

    by kevinl (3951) on Wednesday April 02 2014, @05:28PM (#25039)

    I was an active commenter for a while on /. but mostly stopped for similar reasons that I no longer attempt edits on Wikipedia or respond to articles critical of US hegemony on Reddit: a large mass of permanent users with more energy and time to get in the last word. Others have mentioned the pedantic-ism and general turdishness. But I want to talk about the other kind of longevity: getting Too Old For This Shit.

    First, I can't delete my Slashdot account. And I know that it has likely been (unconstitutionally: fuck you NSA) collated against my old deleted Reddit accounts, my deleted Facebook and G+ accounts, probably even my deleted LiveJournal and MySpace accounts, and maybe even my old Usenet posts (oh god!). The Slashdot account is one long common thread between all those dead handles. I stopped posting to Slashdot as non-AC because I want that identity to eventually fade. I really would like it if SoylentNews could delete accounts and start over under a new pseudonym.

    Second, the discussions themselves. I would love a community that doesn't care about BSD vs GPL, or Apple vs Samsung, or Mac vs PC, or even (omg) Windows vs Linux. When these kinds of topics come up, I just want the community to generally ignore it or point to a FAQ entry so that all those early-career coders who haven't actually released anything can go to town. I'd also like a community less-focused on software/computer engineering as the One True Nerdkind. There's no one right way to engage in the universe and share what you learn; I'd really love it if folks from the liberal arts programs felt comfortable here without being insulted for having a BA or MFA rather than a BS.

    Finally, the Internet memes. I'm sick of them. Meme pictures, meme phrases, blah blah. It's standard subculture stuff that's been recycled every 7-ish years. The only meme I want to get popular is a response like 'fetch' in Mean Girls: "Stop trying to make { in Soviet Russia, I can haz, I for one welcome our overlord } happen, it's never going to happen!"

  • (Score: 2) by maxwell demon on Wednesday April 02 2014, @09:37PM

    by maxwell demon (1608) on Wednesday April 02 2014, @09:37PM (#25176) Journal

    All that people could get from Slashdot other than my Slashdot identity is my SoylentNews identity (because I've used the same pseudonym here; I never used the same pseudonym anywhere else). Unless, of course, they hack into Slashdot or SoylentNews and get my email address (set to not shown since the beginning). That one of course would open up a whole lot of other information about me.

    The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 05 2014, @02:22AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 05 2014, @02:22AM (#26501)

      Most likely already has/is.

      One liner I know, but it would bet that it's the case.