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Slashdot alternative in the works (soylentnews.org)
21 points by pferde on Feb 10, 2014 | hide | past | favorite | 26 comments

The interesting news for me were:

- Slashdot was redesigned (it seems I really haven't been there in ages, and I had a 6 digit ID starting in 1 :) )

- Slashdot Media is doing badly:


"revenues decreased 9% year-over-year to $4.3 million for the quarter ended December 31, 2013 from the comparable 2012 period, due primarily to the financial results at Slashdot Media"

"advertising revenue has declined over the past year and there is no improvement expected in the future financial performance of Slashdot Media's underlying advertising business. Therefore, $7.2 million of intangible assets and $6.3 million of goodwill related to Slashdot Media were reduced to zero"

On SoylentNews itself, I don't think a MediaWiki install will take away users from Slashdot, I see they're trying to install SlashCode, good luck with that.

"Slashdot Media is doing badly"

I've always believed that admin moderated link aggregators have a ceiling as far as traffic/popularity goes. And so far, I seem to be correct in that belief. Sites like mefi, /. and fark all hit a peak than plateau or more commonly, drastically decline. I firmly believe a large part of that is due to the moderation itself. When you have the same group of minds selecting the content that gets seen, over the course of years, the users eventually get burnt out seeing the same type of stuff, chosen by the same people over and over again. The content becomes stale even if its fresh (if that makes sense).

There is one exception to this, however. That's reddit. Reddit's genius lies in its subreddits. That, in short, is the ability for users to create their own link aggregators within the site. In this, the content can never 'get stale' because if you get bored visiting /r/Cars, and your interests are now about photography, there are a dozen different subreddits focusing on that niche. There is always something there to keep your attention. Maybe you're a political nut, maybe you're into botany, or even my little pony. There's literally something for everyone. It's a link aggregator with virtually no limits.

I think the biggest thing that separates reddit from all the rest, however, is that the links aren't moderated by the admins or paid employees of the site. Each subreddit/community has its own mods who make the rules. Some communities are modded very laissez faire-ish while others like /r/askscience are modded with an iron fist. The drawback to that is it can give rise to internal drama, but I believe that's easily offset by the limitless potential. I think reddit will eventually be spoken in the same breath as twitter and facebook a few years from now and sites like slashdot, fark and mefi will all but be gone or forgotten.

The corrollary to this is that all community-moderated sites (including this very one we sit in) tend toward Digg, and ultimately toward Cheezburger.

There's a cycle: Clique with narrow shared self-moderated interests, becomes cool, attracts more people with broader interests, self-moderation becomes wider and people vote up things with more general appeal, until ultimately it all becomes a new "cool things on the internet" bucket. I tend to prefer sites with stronger guidelines and stronger moderation.

Stack Overflow has strong guidelines but still gets its share of detractors, because it doesn't allow "cool things on the internet".

Slashdot is still mod-curated, has sections, but stories don't hit the front page unless voted up. It's a different model to HN, but not that different. It still relies on other people's clicks to make me see it, and in that model the community becomes the key factor. Is Slashdot's community dead? That's the question, not just the infrastructure.

> When you have the same group of minds selecting the content that gets seen, over the course of years, the users eventually get burnt out seeing the same type of stuff, chosen by the same people over and over again

The moderators on MetaFilter do not select the content for the site. They can delete posts, and do so several times a day, but it doesn't influence the content to nearly the same extent.

I think mefi is a little bit different too, as I understand it, the main revenue come from ads on the Ask Metafilter pages. It certainly isn't growing very much, but I don't believe it's actually declining.

I've been away from slashdot for quite a while (I have a 4 digits username there), I checked the beta site, and while it looks a bit bland to me, I don't get why it is such a big deal for the active users. Would love to have pointers that describe exactly what happens/why it's happening now.

Reddit is a shit hole of shadow bans and fake accounts. I myself have many fake accounts on reddit that I use to upvote and downvote. I have successfully taken posts off the front page of a sub-reddit all by myself , I have successfully fought shadow bans with multiple accounts , I have successfully downvoted , all by myself , downvoted people I don't like into the hidden section.

And I'm just one guy doing this , there are corporations who manipulate reddit all the time , there is even a sub-reddit dedicated to talking about it.

There are also people who have created businesses on selling accounts and votes on reddit. That's how corrupted that place is.

Is it something to do ? Yes. Do I see it in the same league as facebook and twitter ? NO Way.

And because of the shadow bans you are never really free to say what you want , which is another reason reddit sucks. Plus the very concept of the shadow ban deserves that they should get abused.

Why would they expect Slashdot Media to make money via advertising? Are any of their sites becoming more popular?


Wow, the decline of SourceForge is much harsher than I expected.

Where did all projects go? GitHub?

I clicked add and github and about half the decline of SF happened before github started, and if anything the decline of SF seemed to be leveling off since GH started. So I'd be inclined to think "no".

One interesting thing to think about is I don't use google searches as a portal into /. SF or GH so this might be a better graph of 1st deriv of noob traffic than actual traffic. Its quite possible SF is still much "larger" than GH, just GH is currently growing faster.

It declined before then.

But I notice one project I'm an avid user of (LMMS) just moved from SF to Github ... aaaaand suddenly there's a buttload of extra development work, such that in a few months they went from "nothing going on here" to a 1.0 RC.

Yes, getting a basic slashcode site up and running is top priority, according to the talk in IRC channel. They want to have it running today.

Mediawiki site is just a temporary thing.

Have you ever run slashcode? IT IS HORRIFYING. It is really just ridiculously difficult to get running, really just ridiculously difficult to keep running, stupidly fragile to user-settable settings and the schema was written by Database Barbie. MediaWiki is a dream by comparison.

I'm not sure what I'd recommend as a replacement. However, what I actually did when I last suffered Slashcode was replace it with WordPress and a suitable set of extensions (e.g. a submission extension). Which, for all its problems, didn't make me actually want to stab myself in the face repeatedly whenever I went to touch it in any manner whatsoever, including to post anything.

The LessWrong codebase, which is a derivative of Redditcode, does pretty well for that site. https://github.com/tricycle/lesswrong Might suit a Slashdot replacement. Not many maintainers, could do with more.

There's also Scoop (http://www.scoopdev.org/), which came out of a late '90s exodus of disgruntled Slashdotters to a new site, Kuro5hin (http://www.kuro5hin.org/). They needed their own Slash-alike to run the site, and Scoop was the result. It actually ended up making more of a splash in politics than in tech -- influential early political blog Daily Kos was built on Scoop, and this led many other political discussion sites of that time to adopt it as well. (DKos migrated off Scoop a couple of years ago.)

The quality of Scoop's code and the vibrancy of its development community can both be inferred from the fact that, in 2014, its FAQ warns you that it doesn't run well under Apache 2.

tl;dr a suitable replacement should have been worked on after the word changed from "weblog" to "blog".

Meanwhile, many people have (re)installed a newsgroup client and are actively commenting at comp.misc.

(Or reading it through Google Groups: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/comp.misc )

What other groups do HN users recommend?

There is a usenet thread discussing groups for geeks here: http://squte.com/usenet/comp.misc-list-active-newsgroups

Among those recommended are: comp.editors, comp.os.linux.advocacy, sci.electronics.repair, rec.games.roguelike.nethack, sci.logic, sci.physics.relativity, alt.philosophy & uk.rec.sheds

I do wish soylentnews all the luck with the new news site. If it is any good people will come.

But do not tell your readers what to do. The "don't visit slashdot during this week" advice is a bit weird and isn't helping. Focus on your project, not on another one. It is my decision to visit if I want.

If slashdot serves me a beta page (which they just did) I'm out and they will see less of me that way.

>SoylentNews is people!

>"News fresh as processed corpses"

I can't even describe how bad this is. I guess it's slightly better than if they called it "The Cake is a Lie News".

For those who haven't gone to slashdot for a while, here's the beta site which seems to be the source of controversy: http://beta.slashdot.org/

Personally, I don't think the design is the problem but the person who seems to be selecting the stories...

The actual problem is that approximately nobody reads Slashdot any more.

Ten years ago, a Slashdotting was in the hundreds of thousands of hits. Nowadays, it's a couple of thousand over maybe six hours.

So this is an attempt at a rump community forking a dead product.

>>> Check out the look and feel of the new site

>>> http://imgbin.org/index.php?page=image&id=16688%7C

Really? Are they kidding?

I'm beginning to believe this is an early april fool's joke.

I actually checked the dates to see if this wasn't a project that was started back in 2002, but the article is actually recent.

Yup. Slashdot was driven by open source software before Dice.com took over. Now you have to go back to that point to get source code and yes, it's ugly and mind bending to try to work with it. But it has been done before: http://barrapunto.com/

I assume the screenshot only looks bad because it was taken on a Linux machine with poor fonts installed. On a modern browser/OS it would look the same as Slashdot does.

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