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posted by NCommander on Wednesday April 02 2014, @08:35AM   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: 2, Insightful) by gishzida on Wednesday April 02 2014, @10:02AM

    by gishzida (2870) on Wednesday April 02 2014, @10:02AM (#24774) Journal

    We're small... Many of us are older [I have found myself truly surprised at the number of folks that are nearly my age]. Many of us are experts at what we do [tho' some of us (such as myself) can fake it pretty good too]. The Feta Duck fiasco of the other place seems to have given many of us renewed purpose.

    On the other site I had the number 591028... I rarely saw a three digit or two digit ID post. I listened to the rabble... and read some of the articles... commented occasionally... had "excellent karma"... though I am unaware how that occurred unless they were giving points for just showing up... I think in the 12 or so years I was there I tried to submit one article about Amazon scraping data from Kindle users email... which was rejected... here I've submitted something like 8 articles and 6 were accepted [more users means larger story queue]. I wrote in my journal maybe three times or four over there... here I used it regularly... My comments over there were maybe one or two times a month... yes I was a logged-in user, and yes I doubly did not see any ad nor did I see Beta [except once or twice by my own choice and thought it ugly]. I had no friends there at all. It was as anonymous and as tasteful as a concrete prison.

    I had no reason to leave there except... the whole Beta thing just plain pissed me off... I have gotten tired of "Corporate double-speak" and the "monetization of everything". I'm not Mr. Social. I have very few RL friends. But it seems that imposing their commercialization scheme DICE had become the epitome of all Evil H.R. Drones... My last post there was in response to their Beta post which I will quote here so you don't have to go there:

    "We want to take our current content and all the stuff that matters to this community and deliver it on a site that still speaks to the interests and habits of our current audience, but that is, at the same time, more accessible and shareable by a wider audience."

    You think we are that dumb? "Wider Audience???? Really?

    So why not just come out and say you want to turn Slashdot into something other than Slashdot because you need to monetize the investment.

    Does telling the truth to your users hurt your sales and marketing training that much? Go ahead... tell us we're fu... ^H^H^H.... going to have to find another web site to replace you. Just be truthful.

    How many times have you been screwed and been told "we're doing this for your own good?' Never? You must be a newbie.

    It is obvious that you are going to give us an unusable site with a "pretty" Metro-style UI because... well because... you've already been given your marching orders.

    Alas. Slashdot."

    Yesterday you posted some comments about the moderation system... I made a comment and you responded... that kind of "active engagement" by staff is good... but it also seems to be true of others here who are also "actively engaged" as an example one might read wjwlsn's post on moderation [] and the 25 comments that journal post attracted ... that kind of engagement comes [IMHO] from wanting something better and everyone responding to that because they want the same thing.

    One might think of this as an example of why those who open frontiers were, are, and will be committed to the path and opening and building a new frontier.

    We are still small enough to talk to one another... and listen to the replies... and actually attempt to communicate rather than pigeon hole or talk passed the other. Yes there is a bit of chest bumping and "I disagree -1" down-mods... even so we still want the same thing a good site with good stories and insightful comments

    As for the future... we might need to consider how to become something more that what the other place was [an aggragation / peanut gallery site] by bringing that commitment into our information stream. This might include ways to generate our own stories [using journal posts, book / film / media /hardware reviews, "true stories", "mad" science explanations [some of you out there are well able to actually give the guys at Ars Technica and SciAm a run for their money].

    Community is build by people giving of themselves for something they believe. We need to expand our footprint on the basis of that strength. No I don't want us to be living in the squalor of kiro5hin or the sprawling decadence of Tumblr...

    Starting Score:    1  point
    Moderation   +1  
       Insightful=1, Total=1
    Extra 'Insightful' Modifier   0  

    Total Score:   2  
  • (Score: 2) by NCommander on Wednesday April 02 2014, @11:01AM

    by NCommander (2) <> on Wednesday April 02 2014, @11:01AM (#24868) Homepage Journal

    I hadn't seen the journal entry before now, so thanks on the link, and I do have a way for SN to step on its own so to speak. As I said, I still owe the community one manifesto.

    Still always moving ...