Okay, since I'm apparently in "2006 doom and gloom" mode here's another observation that I can re-brand as a 2006 prediction.

2006 will the year in which the once great Slashdot dies.

Unlike the death of Feedster, Slashdot will likely take years to really die. It has a loyal following and momentum. But this is this year in which the services that ultimately replace Slashdot break out and become unstoppable (for a while).

slashdot vs digg There's little question that Digg is one of the most likely candidates to take the lead from Slashdot. The numbers seem to bear that out. But what's more interesting to me is why Slashdot is on its way out.

Community Participation and Judgment

There's always been a sense of frustration among those who submit news to Slashdot. Sometimes your story is picked and sometimes it isn't. After a while, you start to wonder why Slashdot's small group of dictators (err, I mean "editors") are qualified to decide what's interesting news.

Haven't we figured out that the crowd is generally smarter than any one individual in the crowd?

Sites like Digg and Reddit understand that. Even the popular page on del.icio.us provides a more useful insight into the collective mind of a small but active piece of the web. The only difference is that del.icio.us doesn't facilitate discussion. Both Digg and Reddit allow users to comment on any URL that's been posted.

For whatever reason, some people still think that Slashdot is a blog. I think of it as a message board in which only a small group of the members have the privileges required to create new posts.

It's interesting to note that Kuro5hin opened the editorial queue to their users for voting and comments but it never quite took off in the same way. I drifted away from the site a couple years ago, but suspect that it's a matter of focus. K5 has always placed more of an emphasis on writing, personal stories, and politics rather than what's hot now, spreading links or memes, and Google worship.

The Generation Gap

Let's face it. The Slashdot guys are getting old (just as I am!). But the core audience that fuels Slashdot has always been a fairly young crowd. Reading the comments now and then provides a window into who the regular contributors are:

  • male
  • geeks
  • high school or college students or recent graduates

I know that's quite a generalization, but it's hard to deny that Slashdot would be anything without the core group of young geeks with more time than money. Every year that goes by is another year in the age gap between that group and the Slashdot editors.

Chad and I were discussing generation gaps in the Internet technologies world recently and decided that generations are roughly 7 years. We both agreed that it's going to be increasingly hard for Slashdot to stay relevant in the face of younger, more open services like Digg and Reddit.

Sure, they can find and promote some young new editors to introduce "new blood" into the process. But that's not the same. It's still Slashdot. The site has a voice, the community has a reputation, and the entire code base was written to support them. That stuff is hard to change.

Posted by jzawodn at January 09, 2006 12:09 AM

Reader Comments
# dendrite said:

Slashdot does need some serious top-level changes if it wants to reclaim any kind of "leadership" (that it hasn't had for *years* let alone today!) However, to indulge in their style of conspiracy theorizing I gotta believe they're aware and even indulge their own dysfunction.

Their misleading headlines and incendiary write-ups are so blatant that its only possible they do it purposefully. I mean their leadship can't miss that, right? Whether its for pageviews, amusement, or apathy - who knows?

I'm not sure digg is the answer though. The slashdot comment/moderation system does *kindof* work and is superior to digg's. Browsing at level 4 isn't nearly as horrible as reading digg comments. However, discussions there are rarely provocative.

Also, more and more crappy posts do make it to the digg front page. So I guess they're both fanboy forums - lacking any kind of insight or interesting analysis. I like a small subset of the posts but I'm not sure why they're both given so much deference. My best source of technology news is still my blogroll. It continually evolves to incorporate the sources of news that I find reliable.

on January 9, 2006 01:25 AM
# Joefish said:

Other than the better comments system, I like Slashdot for another reason over Digg. Digg gives me headlines to interesting webpages, and sometimes a nice piece of tech news. Slashdot gives me tech news.

It's only a simple thing, but I go to Slashdot to read the news. Digg is mostly not news, just pages which people thought were cool.

on January 9, 2006 01:46 AM
# Jan Bannister said:

I think that the ‘wisdom of crowds’ argument is a poor one and one that permeates the new thinking on the internet.
Crowds are not 'wise' they simply exhibit the average behavior of people. If average is good enough then crowd assessment is fine but if you want something more valuable you need editors.

The notion of crowd wisdom is a fad, which will pass. Hopefully soon.

on January 9, 2006 01:57 AM
# bubba said:

"some people still think that Slashdot is a blog. I think of it as a message board in which only a small group of the members have the privileges required to create new posts."

More so than a blog is a message board where only one person has the privs to create new posts?

The Dot jumped the shark when Malda sold it.

on January 9, 2006 02:07 AM
# Simon Ask Ulsnes said:

Ad "crowd wisdom":

No, crowds are generally not wise, however the target users of digg and (to a certain degree) Slashdot are indeed an intelligent crowd.

This has become less and less true for Slashdot, since it got invaded by n00bs, and is why digg surpass it in the years to come.

Yes, there are thousands of really unintelligent people who read Slashdot and digg, but those who actually take the time to register will be either spammers or semi-serious geeks (I guess).

- Simon

on January 9, 2006 02:18 AM
# Manu said:

Why is Digg not the answer.

1. Digg comments suck. Mostly it is "cool +digg"

2. Digg comments are not threaded.[If i'm late to the discussion i can't reply to say comment no 2.]

3. It is mostly a bunch of cool links.

4. Digg users are even worse than slashdotters on an avg.[Immature ].Reading slashdot at +3 is pleasant.Comments are either funny or insightful though the
"soviet russia" jokes are lame.

5.Digg moderation is not as good as slashdot's.

6. Alexa traffic rankings prove nothing.Very few geeks have alexa toolbar installed.

Reddit is much better than digg.I have learned stuff from links posted there.I think the reddit community is better than the other two.Hope it stays way

on January 9, 2006 02:53 AM
# Manu said:

Correction: It should be "Why Digg is not the answer".
And on "wisdom of the crowds" read this post


on January 9, 2006 03:07 AM
# Paul Watson said:

My only problem with this course is that the commentary on Digg is juvenile at best. Slashdot at least has useful leads on linked stories and the comments can be interesting. On Digg one is lucky if the poster has used only 5 exclamation marks in the title and description.

If all we want are links then Digg will be fine. If we want more then it is not the solution or Slashdot killer.

on January 9, 2006 03:08 AM
# Ricky Dhatt said:

I endure /. to see comments by people in the know, like John Carmack, Wil Wheaton, Miguel de Icaza, other people with low uids...but oh wait, they don't most much anymore. I visit /. due to habit moreso any other reason. Bah.

on January 9, 2006 03:09 AM
# Jonnosan said:

Slashdot == the rolling stones of geek sites.

They're not attracting new fans as fast as some other upstarts, but they've got a huge rusted on support base and know how to keep dishing up the same old fare to a bunch of fuddy duddies who lap it up cause it makes them feel like they're still young radicals.

on January 9, 2006 03:28 AM
# Steve Mallett said:

I was just writing the same thing the other day. http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/wlg/8945

on January 9, 2006 03:40 AM
# Ran said:

I'll have to agree with the other posters here. While /. has certainly had better days, the volume of junk on digg has gone up tremendously as the population has gone up and it will not be the one replacing Slashdot. There's still some value in having editors.

on January 9, 2006 04:28 AM
# CMF said:

I never post on a blog, but let's roll.

I completely agree with Manu above.

Digg comments are useless, it's merely a best-of of the links of the day. Reddit does a far more interesting job of retrieving links. I really wish that Digg RSS link would go directly to the site.

What is important in Slashdot are the comments. However insightful and interesting, they always give a 'feeling' of the subject. Stories stand up, but comments make the meat of it.

on January 9, 2006 04:40 AM
# Kent said:

I find it interesting looking at that graph that Digg and Slashdot seem to peak and trough and the same times.

Digg is certainly gaining popularity, but is that perhaps because it appeals more to the unwashed masses? I read Slashdot for the comments, whether they be witty or informative. Digg's comments are very rarely worth viewing.

I read so many feeds now that it's pretty rare that something is on Digg before I see it somewhere else. Same goes for Slashdot, although that has been lagging longer. But the difference for me is, if I see something on Digg I've already seen, I wont bother clicking on it. But with Slashdot, I will click on it again to see what the Slashdot crowd say about it...

on January 9, 2006 04:42 AM
# Branedy said:

/. while interesting, no longer gets any comments from me. I have (arrogantly) had important input into topics there, only to see them lost in the spew-age.

As for feedster, I got a 'info' page indicating new changes in January. It could signal new things there.

on January 9, 2006 04:54 AM
# jake said:

Jeremy, I think you're making a zero-sum error here. Slashdot doesn't become less popular as Digg or Reddit get more popular. Digg could become twice as popular as Slashdot, and Slashdot could still grow much larger than it is now. Sure, it's "thought-leadership" position might be eclipsed, but that's not the same thing as withering and dying.

The same error of reasoning is often made with blogs. I remember when some people thought Gizmodo would become obsolete once Engadget was released, or that blogs in general would become obsolete when Podcasts or Vcasts became popular. Neither was true-- readers have an enormously elastic attention span, and adding another source often whets their appetite for more.

My prediction: a bunch of services emerge to complement Slashdot, and Slashdot gets read by three times as many people as before.

on January 9, 2006 05:23 AM
# DiggredditSlashdot said:

The problem with Digg and Reddit is an inherent inability to scale. Slashdot scales well. So does del.icio.us.

on January 9, 2006 05:24 AM
# flash said:

Anyone claiming Digg is proof that "the crowd is generally smarter than any one individual in the crowd" clearly doesn't read it.

on January 9, 2006 05:42 AM
# Paul said:

I have to say I don't buy the implication that reddit.com is "younger" than Slashdot (modulo Aaron Swartz). All those posts about Haskell and Lisp and functional programming? Those aren't being made by high-school boys.

But I buy your prediction. The other thing that's happening with these newer sites is a broadening of subject matter. It makes sense that the pioneering efforts in collective news-gathering were focused on tech, but there's no reason to limit the subject area once the mechanism is proven.

on January 9, 2006 06:02 AM
# john said:

why would Slashdot die? I don't think it'll die, but Digg might eclipse it in traffic... I personally think the two serve different audiences.

I used to consider myself a /.er, or at least a reader (I do have a registered username or two over there) but I haven't actually "tuned in" to /. in years, other than to read a link someone sent me, or that popped up in an RSS feed of someone else.

I read Ars much the same way.

Digg, I'm subscribed to their RSS feed, and regularly read the articles they link to, but their articles aren't all techie... they're more business with a tech influence, or tech with a biz spin than /.'s pure tech focus.

I don't think /. will die, by anymeans...

Maybe not lead the pack so to speak, but not die.

on January 9, 2006 06:53 AM
# Pat said:

"None of us is as dumb as all of us."

Not that I favor one over the other. But I guess I don't see why digg overtaking slashdot is seen as "death" for slashdot. I guess if you define death as some other site getting more users. But until digg takes away users, and thus potential to make profit from those users, it's hardly "death."

on January 9, 2006 07:08 AM
# Andrew Goodman said:

If crowds were unquestionably wise, every matter of policy would be decided by plebiscite. Obviously it's more complicated than that. On the other hand, poor use of feedback can be a symptom that a power structure is ready for a fall.

Slashdot's been a wasteland for a long time. I think that underscores the need for quality writing and a strong voice, more than the need for better use of the "crowd." The whole thing sounds/looks like a crowd yammering to me.

on January 9, 2006 07:28 AM
# jim winstead said:

what i find surprising is that there are people who still pour energy into moderating slashdot comments so that freeloaders like me can occasionally poke their head in to see the highly-rated comments on a story that catches our interest.

god bless those young geeks and their ample energy for that sort of nonsense.

on January 9, 2006 07:34 AM
# Jamie McCarthy said:

You know that Alexa data is untrustworthy, right? That little bump in December is, according to Alexa, Slashdot's traffic doubled one week, fell back to normal the next week, . I get our stats every morning and that just didn't happen.


Digg serves a slightly different audience than we do (though there's overlap of course). We're sticking with 15 stories a day, not 40 or more; we're sticking with news of the day, while letting Digg and del.icio.us/popular do the URL-of-the-hour stuff (they're going to be better at that anyway). And we're going to focus on ways to make threaded, moderated discussion better. Framing it as "two tech news sites enter, one site leaves" seems a little silly to me; I think this internet is big enough for the both of us.

on January 9, 2006 07:44 AM
# Robert Andrews said:

> Haven't we figured out that the crowd is generally smarter than any one individual in the crowd?

Then what's the point of *your* blog? ;)

on January 9, 2006 08:12 AM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

My blog has no point. Wasn't that obvious by now?!

on January 9, 2006 08:45 AM
# MattW said:

I think Jamie is right here. Slashdot isn't going away. You're right that for many, slashdot will be marginalized. I already check Bloglines repeatedly rather than /., but /. is on my bloglines.

If slashdot wants it PAGES to be read, and not just their HEADLINES, however, /. needs to improve its comments. I'd say some dhtml for threaded viewing a la K5's dynamic threaded view would be nice, as would improvements to moderation. Binary moderation is possible, but not without some enhancements.

on January 9, 2006 08:47 AM
# Cliff said:
on January 9, 2006 09:09 AM
# Rob Lambert said:

I'm with you. I have been rolling my eyes at Slashdot for the past year and a half. Most interesting articles that I see at Slashdot I have already seen at http://del.icio.us/popular in days or weeks previous to the Slashdot post.

on January 9, 2006 09:13 AM
# Bern said:

Check out http://diggdot.us
The best of all three

on January 9, 2006 09:19 AM
# alx said:

> All those posts about Haskell and Lisp and functional programming? Those aren't being made by high-school boys.

They are.
But more importantly, old gurus attract young geeks. Slashdot's old and unique style of threading, moderating, musn't be lost, because it's what makes it attractive and reliable.

on January 9, 2006 09:29 AM
# Robert Oschler said:

I can't wait to come back and read the comments ont this post, when the SlashDot crowd comes trick or treating. :)

on January 9, 2006 10:02 AM
# yaMama said:

I have been using Slashdot for a number of years now. The quality of the comments are improving (with the appropriate filters applied of course). I have read a number of useful comments from experts in wireless, software, etc. Also there's book reviews, interviews and AskSlashdot- all very useful.

In terms of a General "What's New on the Net" I find Metafilter extremely useful and usable. Not only does it provide filtered links (by an intelligent community) but also insightful commentary.

Digg doesn't do a good job at either. So I can't see how it is going to be a slashdot replacement.

on January 9, 2006 10:04 AM
# yaMama said:

And as far as the wisdom of crowds is concerned.... it can be well applied to the insightful commentary (1 out of every 100 posts) that follows every Slashdot post.

on January 9, 2006 10:06 AM
# yaMama said:

Sorry I should've said 1 out of every 20 posts.

on January 9, 2006 10:11 AM
# NoName said:

Jeremy is correct about the wisdom of crowds. What the naysayers don't grasp is that this is not a universal quality. Sometimes crowds are indeed much dumber than the average, but when conditions are right they routinely outperform experts and even groups of experts. Consult the following for more information:


on January 9, 2006 11:25 AM
# Seth Finkelstein said:

The Death Of ... has long been predicted.

Slashdot drove away many of the earlier contributors, but it must be noted that it did fine - a l33t d00d can be just a profitable a member as a net.god, perhaps even more so. Or, "Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public".

What did happen is that it went "downmarket" - and digg might further force it downmarket. Or some of the troll population from Slashdot might decamp to digg, giving it more problems, and driving it down too. There's a lot of variation in possible outcomes, nothing is pre-determined.

on January 9, 2006 11:47 AM
# Noel said:

I always thought of myself as a /. leacher. I've been reading it for forever, but always at +3, and always for the comments, and usually a day or two after the story was posted. It's a pleasant and useful experience, for the most part, with an acceptable signal/noise ratio. Every interesting story has at least one merit-worthy expert, and looking back on my blogging, I usually am more impressed with the one or two savvy comments to a story than the story itself. As long as the NASA/academia/valley guys keep commenting on the Dot, I'll keep reading.

on January 9, 2006 11:58 AM
# Billy Bob said:

Digg is more frequently updated. Cooler topics. Who really reads all the comments anyway.

on January 9, 2006 12:00 PM
# einstein said:

This Wisdom of Crowds business is rubbish.

As far as filtering goes.... your crowd will filter out everything except for the MEAN. As much of the mean that fits on one webpage. What happens to that oft-quoted long tail. Fringe ideas anyone?

on January 9, 2006 12:02 PM
# Brian Duffy said:

I disagree... Digg is just one more link of the day site, and at any time someone can come up with a better interface or more interesting site and blow it out of the water.

Slashdot can be lame at times, but its held my interest since 1998 or so, and I am not alone. I'm sure the site will change as time goes on, but checking /. a few times a day is part of my routine (and many others) and won't change.

on January 9, 2006 12:06 PM
# Jeoin said:

Slashdot has always been full of linux bias super fast typing jerks, who have nothing better to do than be rude. It doesn't help people to be berated. I stopped using them as soon as I found digg. Its just the story sans the crap.

on January 9, 2006 12:08 PM
# cameron said:

no one here has mentioned design so far. digg's design is much cleaner and more superior to that of slashdot. slashdot's design is in some serious need of attention. i go to digg mainly for the clean interface!

on January 9, 2006 12:08 PM
# andras said:

Another problem with Digg is the number of people who haven't been around for a while on the net. I constantly find links to things that I've seen many times in the past, usually a year or two in the past.

And as for the "more business with a tech edge" slant to Digg, I've yet to see that one. Usually it's some link that someone came across in the middle of the night and decided to post.

I'm not saying /. is the best either, but as many have pointed out, at least you can learn something sometimes.

on January 9, 2006 12:10 PM
# No Way said:

My big problem with Slashdot is that so many times I have contributed stories about outsourcing/H1b/L1/ and the IT job market in general and they never get posted. That is a shame. The most serious problem facing people with IT knowledge is the lack of jobs and for those who have them, the downward pressure on wages. Instead half of the articles are talking about the latest KDE/GNOME/GIMP/ etc. and why LINUX ROX! I am not interested in keeping up to date with 0.0.1 increments in versions. I am also sick and tired of the stupidity about the TV shows/movies like Star Wars, Serenity, etc. I am not 17 years old...

on January 9, 2006 12:11 PM
# Dennis Forbes said:

Do the people promoting Digg actually visit Digg? The quality of Digg is evidenced by the fact that this article is on the main page right now - Nothing wrong with the article, but some empty speculation, and a repeat of the lame Alexa graphs that keep reoccuring, that's basically a bit of chest thumping by Digg advocates isn't really "news".

I've been a casual visitor of Digg for a couple of months, and the quality of the links on the "front pages" has been, on the whole, terrible. This correlates with the fact that there is zero barrier to entry - this is not an elite group, but instead appears to be (aghast!) on the whole an even more juvenile, and less connected, group than Slashdot - and in many ways it has become a big Group Think link distribution center for all of the lacking-in-confidence kids to go and copy paste to every other group they belong to. A quick analysis of Digg tells you exactly what sort of tripe to write up to get some major Digg love (beginning web development - the stuff you target at teenages - is a pretty big hit).

I'm no /. lover (though I have a digit-UID), but if anything the quality there seems to be getting better as the kids and trolls move to Digg. I would also counter that the Alexa/A9 toolbar sees very little usage among tech insiders, and much greater use among the common population, which further explains Digg's great rankings on Alexa.

on January 9, 2006 12:14 PM
# Dennis Forbes said:

Sorry - 4 digit UID in that last post.

As an aside - the majority of anti-/.'ers become so because of the same old story: They contributed something and it wasn't accepted, or they think it should focus on a particular topic. Most of the tech world is entirely tired of outsourcing stories, so the last comment is a great example.

Inevitably they stomp off to Digg or somewhere else...where they submit their stories and....they sit at 1, and quickly cycle off the screen.

on January 9, 2006 12:17 PM
# RonM said:

The quantity and quality of comments to slashdot stories decreased to the point where they're no longer interesting; and the total number of articles posted is so small I can read it once-a-week and catch everything.

In the past, /. had a large community of Anon Cowards that were often insiders in the company commenting on the article being posted (like F*ckedCompany.com had as well). It seems they recently restricted anon posting enough that these people can no longer carry on an active discussion in the comments. With practicaly no more inside information in the comments, there's really no reason to get press releases from /. as compared to google news. Digg is a bit more interesting since it more often links to articles written by or interviewing anonymous insiders - which the /. editors sem to shy away from.

on January 9, 2006 12:17 PM
# Andy Green said:

It's easy to forget that Slashdot's moderation system was pretty revolutionary when it first came out. The Metamoderation stuff is still a strong medicine for the comment system being taken over.

However if you have something offbeat to say, it's very hard to gauge whether it will be modded into oblivion by people who didn't understand it, or feted. Many times if you browse comments on an article at -1 on Slashdot you can see (along with dire stuff) posts that could have been the start of an interesting new angle on the subject, but were removed from most folks' view before they could resonate and create an exchange because enough people didn't get it or disapproved of it to be able to score it down.

On the youth of the core audience and the aging of the low uid folks, that sounds spot on. This also causes problems for posts that don't deliver a sharp homily or takeaway in that there are enough folks reading who just want to have their say anyway they will pile in and disagree with the post on any pretext.

Slashdot will no doubt go on for a long time despite these observations, anyone feeling an itch because of the article posting monopoly there is getting it well scratched with the boom in "self service" article posting sites (which are a lot faster with the news generally).

on January 9, 2006 12:26 PM
# Rob said:

All this proves is more Digg readers have Alexa spyware installed than Slashdot readers. One could equate this to Slashdot having a smarter userbase than Digg. The comments on Digg would back this theory up :)

on January 9, 2006 12:28 PM
# Terry Youngkin said:

First of all, I think that the notion of a crowd being intelligent is wrong. Mob mentality is a scary thing.

Second of all, I don't think that slashdot users as a whole are any more intelligent than digg users. They just pretend to be. The great thing about digg is there is no psuedo-intelligence there. With slashdot, the false hope of an intelligent discussion (+5, Funny) tricks me into reading it. With digg, I know that none of the comments are worth reading, so I don't waste my time.

on January 9, 2006 12:38 PM
# Joachim said:

Notice also that YouTube.com is outranking Flickr.com on Alexa.


Flickr is going out of style, here comes video.

on January 9, 2006 12:40 PM
# Philip Withnall said:

-4, troll

on January 9, 2006 12:48 PM
# Dirk Diggler said:

I always thought digg was a tech site for kids. How does that have anything to do with Slashdot, where adults that know what they're talking about go to discuss the latest tech news. Isn't digg just a modern version of 3,2,1 Contact?

I know Kevin Rose is pretty, but does he really deserve the world's longest line of people waiting to fellate the same guy?

on January 9, 2006 12:54 PM
# ragesoss said:

Slashdot commentary on the whole isn't great, but there are usually a few people for each post who actually know what they're talking about. Even if article selection is bad and getting worse, the discussion is the reason slashdot sort-of works. Digg commentary is consistently, so bad it's not worth reading. And reddit commentary is practically nonexistent. Reddit is definitely chooses the best set of articles, if you overlook the bazillion LISP articles; the best thing is that you can downgrade lame articles and blog entries (like I did for this one).

on January 9, 2006 12:59 PM
# kp said:

To me...
Digg is a tabloid
Slashdot is New York Times

I go to Slashdot for news and check Digg for some fun and interesting links.

on January 9, 2006 01:04 PM
# Pete Freitag said:

Slashdot doesn't really appear to be loosing traffic to digg however. This is just showing that digg is almost as popular as slashdot.

I think there are two different crowds that use these sites.

on January 9, 2006 01:25 PM
# * * Beatles-Beatles said:

Slashdot is too important of a resource to Ever Not be a important part of tech culture.

It would be impossible to know how many people submit the same story and what standards must be used to judge who should be listed as author.

But the bottom line is this is a free service, there is much hard work that goes into it (including the Volunteer authors)

The Generation Gap may be a result of the time that high school and college age readers have to dedicate to acquiring knowledge about the "latest and greatest".

There is enough room in the Information Technology world for virtually everyone to participate and help fill the global real-time information sharing luxury that the world is experiencing for the first time in history.

on January 9, 2006 01:37 PM
# M Freitas said:

"It's only a simple thing, but I go to Slashdot to read the news."

I disagree. Slashdot hardly post news - sometimes it's a couple of days late in relation to other sites. And it also links to "interesting" pages, as Digg.

The difference is that Slashdot shows articles that one editor deem as "not interesting" and a few days later another editor decides to publish, but from other source.

It really makes you think about their criteria - or lack of - on selecting submissions.

on January 9, 2006 02:08 PM
# Colin said:

As long as you are comparing alexa rankings, you should check out the alexadex. Buy and sell sites based on their alexa reach per million. Ahem. Blatent plug, sorry. But fun! I promise!


on January 9, 2006 04:27 PM
# shadytrees said:

I, for one, welcome our new Digg overlords.

I, for one, really do hope Slashdot doesn't die. I don't think there's anywhere else in the world where you can find two pages worth of insightful discussion on one topic, like water physics[1] or employee social structure[2]. And, really, I can't really empathize with the complaints about lame jokes or flamebait articles or lack of article submission openess because those complaints overinflate the actual problem and the rest of the good stuff outweight it.

Other issues: I don't see the newbie influx; I still see the Slashdot community as intelligent and insightful despite whatever shortcomings. As jim said above, the community is in a way much stronger than digg. The fact that comments are still accurately moderated show a stronger community than digg or reddit where all you do is comment, post links, and vote, all low-cost participation. There's a core community that goes through article comments filtered at 0 or 1 to up whatever gems they find. That's devotion.

[1] http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=04/11/28/1921233
[2] http://developers.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/11/27/0549254

on January 9, 2006 04:38 PM
# Shane Cherniss said:

Jeremy what do you think about the future of less known start-ups such as http://commontimes.org/ or http://www.nulltag.com/ ?

on January 9, 2006 06:44 PM
# chunter said:

Slashdot may 'fade' but its relevance remains simply because neither digg nor reddit are geek sites.

Digg seems to be filled with the yuppy set that think Apple are cool, and reddit is general news, not geek news.

Find a real geek site, and then we can talk about 'the next Slashdot'.

on January 9, 2006 07:58 PM
# Mike said:

Add Threadwatch.org to your list of the dead or dying.

Closed to new (er) posters and its so downbeat. Nick took his potty mouth out as he must have seen this coming!

It did have it's day.

on January 9, 2006 09:49 PM
# Vivek said:

digg and reddit have better interfaces then slashdot.Between the 2 I like reddit's policy of directly taking me to the link from the live bookmarks toobar rather than digg's policy of fisrt taking me to their page and then the link.

on January 9, 2006 10:46 PM
# Jie Kang said:

I use Digg as a handy bookmarking webapp, to find and keep cool links and what's popular. The comments at Digg are mostly short and playful and not as detailed and insightful as Slashdot. I get the feeling that these are two very different groups of users.

on January 10, 2006 12:06 AM
# Bob said:

Cheers Jeremy. I must admit I'd not heard of Digg before, although I've been an ardent worshipper of Slashdot for years.

Yesterday, I submitted my first story to Digg and today it's front page. I've never had a Slashdot story submitted.

on January 10, 2006 12:29 AM
# Jim said:

The Wisdom of Crowds only applies when the crowds cannot meaningfully harm the quality of the information.

Wikipedia works because it takes relatively little effort to revert an article if it has been vandalised.

The threat for Digg is that clueless people Digg stupid things. This happens a lot.

Slashdot has a similar problem with trolls, but the moderation system deals with that (crudely, but enough to mitigate the harm).

Jamie, you do realise that traffic from your server does not correspond to traffic as a whole don't you? Your logs are meaningless. If Slashdot traffic doubled, I'd be extremely surprised if your logs showed that. It would mean that you and Slashdot readers would be getting absolutely no benefit from caching. Remember that the more traffic a resource gets, the longer it stays in the cache, and the more times it's served from the cache.

on January 10, 2006 06:37 AM
# Aden Albert said:

As has been discussed wherever Alexa page rankings pop up, this is not an accurate sampling of real web traffic--Alexa only counts pagehits from those with their spyware toolbar installed, and as the Slashdot userbase is generally technically inclined, they're less likely to leave spyware alive on their system.

As for Digg eclipsing Slashdot, there are two arguments against. The first deals with the "wisdom of crowds." If crowds were automatically smarter than individuals, then surely it would have been selected for by social pressures and efficiency. Every organization of humans into a collective would, because of its superiority, be a democracy. Wikipedia is a good example that's a bit more Internet-related. Though certain topics have decent coverage, the entirety of the webcomics segment of Wikipedia was gutted by users who never bothered to explore the webcomic community. The crowds supported these actions by allowing the AFDs to continue against the advice of critics and the knowledgeable. Downplaying the roles of the experts against the will of the uninitiated groups is ridiculous. We'd never vote on which new field of cosmological theory is the most important. We'd never vote on which branch of mathematics is best to explore in postgraduate levels. We defer to experts for good reason--they've been studying what we haven't bothered to.

The second argument against Digg involves their recent story about a film based on the events of September 11. The majority of the comments, repulsive as they were, argued that the film better show the "true" story of what happened--that the U.S. government shot the planes down, that it was a conspiracy, that commercial flights did not strike the towers. Not once have I ever seen such rumor-mongering on Slashdot at such an endemic level. Conspiracy theorists, the subliterate, angst-ridden teenagers looking to defame, these people form the Digg crowd. For as much talk of trolls on Slashdot, I don't see anyone but trolls on Digg.

on January 10, 2006 11:32 AM
# gene said:

That is the worst graph I've ever seen. How do you interperet that as a decline? The evidence isn't really there.

It makes sense that not as many people are looking at these sites around the holidays (even nerds have holidays and spend time away from the web to spend with family). Regardless, if you look at page views, both sites apprear to have an increasing trend but slashdot appears to be ahead.

Sorry, but charts like this followed by analysis like that make this former statistician weep. Not that I really care. I haven't looked at either site (rss, html or telekinetically) in probably more than a year.

on January 10, 2006 03:54 PM
# Joe Hunkins said:

I'm loving Digg's approach which is powerful web democracy in action. cf the tyranny of the Google algo.

As with anything the online community has a LOT of power to make the decisions here and I hope we wield it with mildly reckless but brilliant enthusiasm.

We made Yahoo, We made Google, and WE just might make somebody else.

on January 10, 2006 09:47 PM
# Robin Haswell said:

Jeremy, I know you're new to this so I hope you're not too offended, but I really don't think Slashdot will ever die, let alone this year. Just because a few upstarts are bringing you tech news with xHTML with RoR doesn't mean Slashdot's HTML 4 + mod_perl is going to lose traffic to them. Slashdot is full of Linux geeks, and Linux geeks are one of the most loyal species around.

on January 11, 2006 01:46 AM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

Robin: what is it that I'm new to?

on January 11, 2006 06:21 PM
# Alexander said:

Slashdot has been around for quite a while and I don't think it will just disappear in one year.
Maybe is just me, but trusting http://alexa.com to indicate traffic is not one of the best ways. I just can not imagine how they come up with their figures.
On the other hand every thing that has a start must have an end. The Roman Empire was once the ruler of the world now it's just a small island.
Slashdot had its good times, maybe it reached its climax but will it really crash and burn in 2006?
I've put up an article and a voting pool on my community site:
I will be glad to share the results once enough data has been collected.

on January 12, 2006 04:07 AM
# Vitaly Friedman said:

Well, yes, Digg is becoming more popular, but one can't compare the stories in SlashDot with the stories on Digg. With all the respect to Digg, Slashdot delivers more useful, serious and quality information. I guess, sometimes, more quality is better than less restrictions. Anyawy, we'll see.

on January 12, 2006 04:28 AM
# Mark Beeson said:

Some explain to me how this:


...is better than Slashdot comments.

on January 12, 2006 12:12 PM
# keswick said:

Slashdot is dying. Zawodny confirms it...

on January 12, 2006 01:29 PM
# Matt said:

What makes Slashdot great is the community and comments. See http://seenonslash.com

on January 20, 2006 10:25 AM
# Peter said:

There is no "wisdom of crowds". I recently went to a seminar where we were supposed to get into groups and figure out how to escape a brush fire (as an example). Since there were no experts among us, it was basically a crowd thrashing around for answers. One expert on brush fires would have changed the whole situation. I find lots of things find their way to the top of the digg pile that have no reason being there.

This "wisdom of crowds" is just another meaningless catchy phrase that gets into the blog echo chamber, bounces around for a while, and then goes away, supplanted by yet another catchy phrase.

I'm sure it has sold a few books, though.

The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki (Paperback - Aug 16, 2005)

on January 22, 2006 07:28 PM
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