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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) by Hairyfeet on Wednesday April 02 2014, @03:37PM

    by Hairyfeet (75) <reversethis-{moc ... {8691tsaebssab}> on Wednesday April 02 2014, @03:37PM (#25108)

    I think you are missing the point friend, which is that its easy to spot patterns when a person has an account but if they can post as AC? they can shill to their heart's content, no way to know if the AC that just posted that loveletter to corp A is the same AC who just posted that second loveletter to corp A or not.

    Believe me I wish it weren't so but we have more than enough evidence to be reasonably certain that all the major corps are paying for "spin control posting" on pretty much any site that crosses their radar. just look at the crapflood of "I heart Windows 8!" AC bombs that hit Slashdot right before the Win 8 release, they even used classic marketing terms like "vertical integration" and "product synergy" that no non marketing drone uses IRL so it was pretty damned obvious yet because they could just crapflood the AC channel there was no way to say who was shilling and who wasn't.

    And I think the other poster nailed it, we need a "no AC" button so that those that believe in the AC system can have it and the rest won't ever have to see it...more choice is of the good, yes?

    Starting Score:    1  point
    Karma-Bonus Modifier   +1  

    Total Score:   2  
  • (Score: 2) by moondrake on Wednesday April 02 2014, @03:59PM

    by moondrake (2658) on Wednesday April 02 2014, @03:59PM (#25122)

    I guess it would be possible to hash the IP and add it as a AC "id". Not sure how I feel about such an identifier.

    As for the button, yes, I would not object to it, though I would just feel sorry for the people that use it!

    • (Score: 2) by Hairyfeet on Wednesday April 02 2014, @05:45PM

      by Hairyfeet (75) <reversethis-{moc ... {8691tsaebssab}> on Wednesday April 02 2014, @05:45PM (#25185)

      Why is that? Look at what ACs have become on the other site, you get such "useful" posts as "You must be a nigger" or like my stalker "die you fat fucker die".

      With ACs you are completely killing the point of places like this which is dialogs and conversations. if all you want to do is just throw something on the screen and never see it again? That is what yahoo news is for, but with a site like Soylent the appeal, at least for me, is that you can have an actual discussion of the topic at hand. Since the AC will never see a response its a "throw shit and run" post by design.

      Now if that is what appeals to you? I have no problem with that but it would be nice for those of us who care about conversations not to see ACs.

      • (Score: 2) by moondrake on Thursday April 03 2014, @04:36AM

        by moondrake (2658) on Thursday April 03 2014, @04:36AM (#25405)

        I just accept some crap together with very interesting posts. With ACs, we would never have known the details about Operating Thetan Level Three, for example.

        And as Ethanol-Fuelled has pointed out quite literally elsewhere, you get the crap with logged in users as well.

        But I am just rehashing my argument. I fully understand your argument, I just like to point out that not everybody has such an opinion.

        Furthermore, I would be against such a "hide AC" button for anyone with modpoints.

        • (Score: 2) by Hairyfeet on Thursday April 03 2014, @07:54AM

          by Hairyfeet (75) <reversethis-{moc ... {8691tsaebssab}> on Thursday April 03 2014, @07:54AM (#25468)

          Why is that? I can already state I would never waste modpoints on an AC post as there would b ZERO point in doing so. karma exists so that the posters that post thoughtful and considerate posts float to the top while Ethanol and his "you must be a jew" crap sink to the bottom. Again by the very nature of the AC post it does neither, the AC poster gets no karma and can crapflood all the racist or shilling they want and get no penalty for doing so. in fact if you think about it the AC post is almost by design a troll's wet dream, hell go to the other site and pick ANY article and see the signal to noise ratio when it comes to ACs, you are looking at best a 3-4 to 1 crap versus useful.

          But at the end of the day choice is always of the good and I see no reason those that like AC posting can't have it and those that hate AC posting can't have it blocked, after all we aren't owned by Dice and aren't trying to force shit on the users, are we?