Monday, February 13, 2017

Ask Slashdot: Why have you stopped reading Slashdot?

14 February 2017

Ask Slashdot: Why have you stopped reading Slashdot?

Oh. Wait! If you stopped reading Slashdot, then you won't read any questions on Slashdot.

Still, I really wish it were possible to ask the wits of yore "Why have you forsaken Slashdot?" Is my memory playing games again? I seem to remember lots of humor on Slashdot, but can't find many traces of late.

Perhaps a poll on the reverse question? "Why are you still reading Slashdot?"

Having a little problem drafting suitable options for that poll... Perhaps:

(1) I love reading the ads!
(2) I hate funny comments and I'm so glad all the wits have left!
(3) Wasting time is my life!
(4) I'm not reading it because I'm just a robotic sock puppet used to harvest mod points!
(5) Just waiting for Cowboy Neal's obituary so I can add a few rude comments!

Obviously my personal problem is that I've developed a rather negative opinion of Slashdot over the years. I want to blame my dashed hopes. Too bad hopes aren't "actors" worthy of blame. I keep hoping that one of the new "owners" of whatever "assets" Slashdot possesses will figure out new ways to enhance and improve those assets. Does that mean I should blame whipslash and his friends? Even though I think he's sincerely a nice person? Too bad sincerity and a ten-dollar bill are only worth a cup of fancy coffee these years.

In my first draft of these so-called thoughts, I approached it from a more historical perspective:

Ask Slashdot: Should the archives of Slashdot be preserved as a significant part of the early history of the Web, or should the latest owners just erase everything and pretend it never happened?

I still believe that the underlying problem is bad financial models, but I don't have the financial data to know for sure. Maybe there is no problem, though I think that assessment depends on the usage data, which is more complicated than it might appear... Do you believe that the quality of the usage also counts, not just the quantity? The quantity of traffic appears to be declining, but what does the data show? Maybe it's just my subjective opinion that the quality (as "measured" by mod points) has fallen off the cliff? Too bad I don't have access to the actual data. It would probably be fun and interesting to analyze it... Need to find my old sociologist hat?

Maybe we should look for a counterexample of a more successful financial model? Everyone agrees the google is successful, right? Oh wait. Making the world's knowledge accessible and useful has been re-prioritized by the economic model. Now the highest priority is making the "knowledge" in the ads available and the utility metric is the sales figures of the paying customers, who are not you or me. Google's massive profits are coming from the inhuman, even subhuman and anti-human, corporations.

Seem to have painted myself into an awkward corner again? Back to square one?

Ask Slashdot: Why am I still reading Slashdot?

As noted, I think it used to be for the combination of (1) Real-world wit, often discovered in posts that had been moderated as funny, (2) Well selected news stories, and (3) Juicy technical rumors that often turned out to be well founded. So let's break that down in more detail, eh?

What would a graph of "Funny mods versus time" look like? Does anyone even collect such trends? Or would it matter, considering how much abuse and gaming the moderation system suffers from? GIGO rulz? For now, all I have is my suspect memories that Slashdot used to be a much funnier place.

So on to the news. Well, that's a place where Slashdot has just failed to keep up with the technology. Hard to blame Slashdot for that one, however. It's like my manual blogging before blogs were defined to exist. Now we have various kinds of news amalgamation websites, and most of them have newer and better features than Slashdot. Is Google News the king of the hill now? If so, that's a really bad sign for Slashdot. Now that I think of it, I'm pretty sure that Google news used to include links to Slashdot stories, but maybe my memory is wrong since I can't remember the last time I saw such a link...

Well-founded rumors? That one has also fallen off the cliff. Oversupply problem? Or just that the production costs of fake news are overwhelmingly cheap? Always hard to compete with free, and I never heard or even imagined that Slashdot was considering hiring any real journalists for such purposes. Now that I think of it, that might be the sort of project I would support if Slashdot had ever offered a financial model that allowed me to do so... Too bad I'm now persuaded that will never happen.

So do I have any grounds to complain?

Maybe not. My appearance might be funny, but I'm not funny and can't recall getting many funny mods for my writings. I do remember getting a lot of insightful mods, but maybe I'm just selectively remembering them