Slashdot's tacit admission of failure

August 8, 2006

Slashdot has recently started running what it calls 'Backslash' stories, which have (as it puts it):

[...] some of the most interesting comments and exchanges on a handful of yesterday's Slashdot posts [...]

To me, the most interesting thing about these stories is that they are a tacit admission that Slashdot's comment management model is broken and that a lot of people don't read the comments on Slashdot stories. If most people did regularly read Slashdot comments, Backslash stories would be redundant and thus unnecessary. That Slashdot has introduced them and made them a regular feature suggests that they are not.

(This matches anecdotal evidence; neither I nor a fair number of the people I chat with online bother to read the comments on Slashdot stories and haven't for some time. It's just not worth it, because even at +5 there's too much noise in that signal.)

Since some of the comments that get promoted to Backslash stories are not among the highest-rated comments, this isn't just that there are too many highest-rated comments. It seems to be what Slashdot considers an outright failure of the system to rate comments as highly as they deserve, and indeed one recently used comment was only rated +2 (where +5 is the highest). (The Backslash stories also don't necessarily run the full comments, so there is editing even beyond mere selection and spelling corrections.)

It'll be interesting to see if other community moderated websites follow Slashdot's lead and make similar changes, or for that matter if Slashdot makes more moves to a more editor-based environment to differentiate itself from sites like reddit and digg (ceding more and more of the 'moderated by the community' ground to them).


Comments on this page:

From 71.141.249.115 at 2006-08-09 04:46:54:

I don't think this invalidates your point, but neither has Slashdot has recently started this (I'm pretty sure I've seen backslashes as much as two years ago, if not more) nor are Backslashes solely comments from previous articles (they're often followup news from offsite).

(I don't think it's an admission of failure, either, really. but this is probably semantics.)

--nothings

By cks at 2006-08-09 08:17:42:

As far as I know, Slashdot does two different sorts of followup articles: Slashbacks and Backslashes. Slashbacks are old, and have in the past been roundups of important updates or followups to previous articles, drawn from external sources. But I don't remember them ever including comments from the articles themselves; I am pretty sure that this is new with the new Backslash type of articles. And I don't think I've seen a Backslash article that has anything except Slashdot comments, and Slashdot even gave Backslash articles their own new section (unlike Slashbacks).

From 71.141.249.115 at 2006-08-09 13:11:35:

Oops, you're right, my mistake!

--nothings

Written on 08 August 2006.
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Last modified: Tue Aug 8 23:12:02 2006
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