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Why VHS Was Better Than Betamax

timothy posted more than 11 years ago | from the whole-systems-approach dept.

Technology 298

Vladimir Kornea writes "This article argues that 'when someone buys and uses a product, the technological aspects are a small and often uninteresting part of the decision' and that the when the 'whole product' (a term commonly used among marketing people) is considered, VHS was better than Betamax, and that the Wintel PC is better than the alternatives." Update: 01/29 04:26 GMT by T : Apologies for the dupe.

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cock bitches, slashdot still sux niggers, fuck you (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5179405)

cmdr taco bitchcock penis fuckers

DUPE! (3, Insightful)

dsmey (193342) | more than 11 years ago | (#5179406)

Didn't this story run like yesterday?

Re:DUPE! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5179439)

Two days ago, actually:
Searching For: betamax

Why VHS Was Better Than Betamax
On January 28th, 2003 with 4 comments
Vladimir Kornea writes "This article argues that 'when someone buys and uses a product, the technological aspects are a small and often uninteresting part of...
Section: Main > Technology
Score: 0.7

Why VHS Was Better
On January 26th, 2003 with 400 comments
otis wildflower writes "An article in the UK's Guardian describes why, in the end, VHS is better than Betamax. While this may not be terribly useful...
Section: Main > Technology
Score: 0.3

Re:DUPE! (1)

williwilli (639147) | more than 11 years ago | (#5179565)

I have seen plenty of dupes, and I haven't been one to complain...but doesn't slashdot still sell subscriptions? I mean, come on. It seems like there is at least one dupe a day! :P

Re:DUPE! (0, Redundant)

KernelSanders (166914) | more than 11 years ago | (#5179467) &mode=flat&tid=126

YES THEY DID (-1, Offtopic)

Slashdotess (605550) | more than 11 years ago | (#5179470)

YES THEY DID AND NOW FUCING WHO KNOWS HAS TO GO AND POST ANOHTER EXACT COPY THIS SITE SCUKS LINUS TORVALDOS PENIS IM GONNA GO KILL MYSELF goatse goatse goatse goatse goatse goatse goatse goatse goatse goatse goatse goatse goatse goatse goatse goatse goatse goatse goatse goatse goatse goatse goatse goatse goatse goatse goatse goatse goatse goatse goatse goatse goatse goatse goatse goatse goatse goatse goatse goatse goatse goatse IT WAS TIMOTHY YOU DUMBASS TIMOTHY JUST GIVE UP

Re:YES THEY DID (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5179508)

Did you forget to log out of your karma whore account and/or click anon before hitting submit? Numbnuts. Now everyone knows your true colors, and your true gender. :(

Re:DUPE! (5, Funny)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 11 years ago | (#5179480)

Didn't this story run like yesterday?

Just like a good movie on a VCR tape, this story worth rewinding and playing again and again.

I never get tired of VHS vs. Betamax flamewars. Nothing could be more compelling, relevant or engaging than debating the relative merits of these 20-year old tape formats a few more times.

It didn't run here... (1)

TWX_the_Linux_Zealot (227666) | more than 11 years ago | (#5179521)

... but it did run on Fark... []

fucking janitors (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5179533)

topic says it all...

Re:DUPE! (1)

bsharitt (580506) | more than 11 years ago | (#5179603)

Hey shut up! I missed the article last time. It might be more meaningful if I actually cared about VHS and Betamax, but atleast I now know I don't care.

My anus is enlarged. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5179409)

Thanks to sak, my anus is enlarged, much like the goatse man's anus. :( I am sad. Fuck! :(

first post! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5179410)

and first to realize that this is a dupe? perhaps

i still love you slashdot, no matter how many people critique your poor editorial skills


Pete and Repeat... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5179419)

...I'm too lazy to write the rest

Who me? Nah, I'm not a karma whore! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5179423)

Why VHS was better than Betamax

In the first of his weekly columns for Guardian Unlimited, Jack Schofield debunks an urban myth

Saturday January 25, 2003

Read this, and the next time someone tells you that, of course, Betamax was superior to VHS, you can tell them that they are wrong. It's an urban myth.
This is not news: the information has always been available to anyone who could be bothered to look. However, it seems to me that the survival of this and many similar notions is not just a matter of techno-arrogance: it shows a failure to understand how technology markets work.

Soon after I joined the Guardian in 1985, to launch Computer Guardian, another journalist showed me an article he had written about the IBM PC. I went through the introductory paragraphs step by step and explained that, as a matter of fact, every single point was wrong. "Oh well," he said, "that doesn't matter. That's what everybody thinks".

That and similar experiences as an ordinary reader led me, eventually, to two conclusions. The first is that a lot of comment is based on a sort of received wisdom, a common currency, that appears to be picked up from the atmosphere. It certainly isn't based on reality. The second is that almost no journalists, and no geeks, have ever come across the concept of "the whole product", though it is well known to marketing people. Real people may not be aware of it, but the "whole product" model is an accurate description of the way they buy things.

Let's take a simple example: digital audio tape (Dat). Get someone to compare Dat with a humble C90 compact cassette and they will find Dat to be technologically superior, especially for recording music. However, if you consider "the whole product", Dat is vastly inferior for most people most of the time. This is why people still buy millions of cassettes, while Dat has virtually disappeared from consumer use.

The point is that when someone buys and uses a product, the technological aspects are a small and often uninteresting part of the decision. When you choose compact cassette, you are also buying into a vast infrastructure of capabilities, services and support. These include the availability of cheap cassettes on every high street, cheap personal stereos, and the ability to use the same format for a wide range of applications (personal stereo, portable radio/cassette players, in the car, in your hi-fi stack).

You are buying the ability to stick a cassette in the post to your relatives in Australia with 100% certainty that they will be able to play it - and what's more, you won't care about never getting that tape back.

Similarly, when someone buys a Wintel PC, they are buying the ability to choose from dozens of models from hundreds of hardware suppliers, or have one built to order, or build one themselves. They are buying the ability to access hundreds of peripherals, hundreds of thousands of applications, and millions of websites that work best with their system.

They are buying the choice of hundreds of magazines, thousands of books, and all the supporting services from educational courses to repair shops.

They are also buying the confidence that their system will keep progressing even if individual manufacturers fail.

In marketing terms, "the core product" - such as a car, a computer, or a video recorder - is just the start. You have to add on all the things like reliability, service and support (the expected product), its expansion capabilities (the augmented product), and its potential for future development (the potential product) to get "the whole product".

Since real people make real buying decisions based on "the whole product" (and if they didn't, we'd change the model), simpleminded comparisons of products by technological feature are very likely to get it wrong.

I've been operating with the concept of "the whole product" for about a decade. It's much older than that, of course, but I first discovered it in Geoffrey Moore's book, Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream Customers, published in 1991. That and Moore's follow up - Inside the Tornado: Marketing Strategies from Silicon Valley's Cutting Edge - are the two most important books ever written about hi-tech marketing. In the Valley, in the 90s, they were used as bibles.

It had a strong effect on me. When you get a new tool, you want to apply it, and I applied it. I'd spent half a decade deriding Microsoft Windows - as a user, I'd preferred Digital Research's Gem, and I was a keen supporter of open systems Unix - but it didn't take me long to work out that Windows had won.

"The whole product" model also provided a convincing explanation of why VHS had thrashed Betamax. VHS offered a bigger choice of hardware at lower cost, the tapes were cheaper and more easily available, there were a lot more movies to rent, and so on. All of this matched my own experience.

I remember perambulating Hammersmith (doing the Maplin run) and finding VHS recorders more readily available to rent, while the video shop had three walls of VHS movies and only one for Betamax.

Indeed, the main thing that didn't fit was the idea was that Betamax was "technically superior". Standing in a shop at the time, there was absolutely no visible difference in picture quality, and some reviews had found that VHS's quality was superior.

I "knew" Betamax was superior -- that was the received wisdom, even at the time - and maybe it was, in a lab. But I wasn't buying a lab test rig. In terms of "the whole product", VHS was clearly superior, so that's the way I went. Along with everybody else.

Later I found out that Betamax had owned the market, but lost it because Sony got one simple decision wrong. It chose to make smaller, neater tapes that lasted for an hour, whereas the VHS manufacturers used basically the same technology with a bulkier tape that lasted two hours. Instead of poring over the sound and picture quality, reviewers could simply have taken the systems home. Their spouses/children/grandparents and everybody else would quickly have told them the truth. "We're going out tonight and I want to record a movie. That Betamax tape is useless: it isn't long enough. Get rid of it."

Betamax was the first successful consumer video format, and at one time it had close to 100% of the market. All of the video machines in use and all of the pre-recorded movies were Betamax. It had a de facto monopoly, and an element of lock-in (because of tape incompatibilities). It lost because, at the time, it could not do what consumers wanted: record a whole movie unattended. And although Betamax playing times were extended, they never caught up with VHS.

Other elements of the oft-repeated Betamax story are also wrong. For example, while Sony was certainly slow to bring in other manufacturers, it had tried to license it to rivals such as JVC before VHS was even launched. Betamax was not generally more expensive: Sony had to slash its original high prices but generally it was competitive. Indeed, after it had lost the market, Betamax machines were often cheaper than VHS ones.

And at the beginning, there was no comparative shortage of Betamax movies to rent: actually, they were all Betamax. (Stan Liebowitz, Professor and Associate Dean of the School of Management, University of Texas at Dallas, has done most research on this, but see for a quick guide.)

Even if Betamax had been "technically superior", it wouldn't have mattered. VHS users have long had the chance to upgrade to the compatible SuperVHS format with superior picture quality. But rather than demanding better pictures for today's TV sets, consumers have shown more interest in LP (Long Play) modes that reduce the picture quality to provide longer recording times.

VHS won because "the whole product" did what people wanted at a price they were willing to pay. And when people use the VHS v Beta analogy, they are not indicating a market failure but their own ignorance.

first post! (5, Funny)

yobbo (324595) | more than 11 years ago | (#5179424)

oh wait... dupe

second post!

ObDupe (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5179425)

ObDupe []

wtf (-1, Redundant)

lazelank (454849) | more than 11 years ago | (#5179428)

this exact headline was on like a day ago..
or maybe i've just been sitting here for five minutes and its seemed like a day

Oh, COME ON, this is sad.... (0, Redundant)

tweakt (325224) | more than 11 years ago | (#5179429)


Just posted Sunday: []

Re:Oh, COME ON, this is sad.... (2, Insightful)

tweakt (325224) | more than 11 years ago | (#5179453)

And please note:

This time, it's even pointing to the same exact article, not just the same story covered by someone else

A new all-time slashdot low...

Duplicate (0, Redundant)

AlinuxNCSU (589202) | more than 11 years ago | (#5179430)

So I can understand how some of the more popular topics get posted more than once, but a topic like this isn't really big news.

Do the editors ever even bother to look at the front page? Are there people who resubmit stories time after time just so we can make fun of the editors posting dupes?

Re:Duplicate (2, Funny)

MrLint (519792) | more than 11 years ago | (#5179494)

When people post the same story over and over it means its a better "whole product" then an new original story.

Dumbass Slashdot Admins (-1, Troll)

saden1 (581102) | more than 11 years ago | (#5179432)

You idiots aren't doing your job. You should be fired and someone from Indian should be brought over to run this show.

Re:Dumbass Slashdot Admins (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5179457)

They're too busy taking over the company I "work" for [] .

As previously reported on /. (1, Redundant)

pez (54) | more than 11 years ago | (#5179433) &mode=thread&tid=126

Two days ago.

Why it was better.... (4, Funny)

telstar (236404) | more than 11 years ago | (#5179434)

Cause you could watch stuff over and over again in nice, compact, tape-form and not have to carry around an entire computer to see the same thing [] day after day.....

despite the dupe (0, Offtopic)

SHEENmaster (581283) | more than 11 years ago | (#5179505)

We already new that if you ignored Linux on PPC's obvious superiorities a wintel box will sell better.

We already new that if you ignored Linux on PPC's obvious superiorities a wintel box will sell better.

slashdot's new theme... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5179435)

news for amnesiacs, stuff that mattered

El Dupo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5179436)

'nuff said

Is this a duplicate?? (1)

shamir_k (222154) | more than 11 years ago | (#5179437)

Is this my imagination, or is this a duplicate?? btw, FIRST POST

Beta will always be better for DUPLICATION.... (4, Funny)

malakai (136531) | more than 11 years ago | (#5179438)

know what i mean little timothy?

wink, wink, nudge nudge... say no more.

I'll burn karma... (1)

MissMyNewton (521420) | more than 11 years ago | (#5179440)

what a c0xs0x37 'nuff said most people here in the u.s. drive g.m. autos -- does that make them best? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5179441)

Old article []

old news is the best news... (0, Redundant)

Audent (35893) | more than 11 years ago | (#5179442)

Ah it seems like only yesterday I was reading this very same story.

I guess it just goes to prove that there's nothing new under the sun...

or is it that the technology news cycle is simply accelerating to the point where upgrades, viruses, security patches and new releases, reports and share market fluctuations are passing us by at such a rate that it only seems like we're reading yesterday's news today?

Perhaps this is where all that dark matter really is residing...

I'll stop now.

I love reading things over and over (1)

isolenz (466129) | more than 11 years ago | (#5179443)

there's nothing better than reading something one day, and then getting a refresher again the next day... hey, and there's all new posts now too!!!

cowboyneal rocks!!!!!

The real reason VHS was better than betamax.. (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5179444)

and all /. editors know this:

Better Copies.

timothy - the (not so) way back machine! (1)

psoriac (81188) | more than 11 years ago | (#5179446)

Doing a search on this exact title [] would have shown that this was repeated just 2 days ago. Good old timothy... why bother searching when you can just wait for him to repost it?

Definately... (1)

ice_236 (550364) | more than 11 years ago | (#5179447)

Definately a dupe!

not again!!! (1)

ditto999999999999999 (546129) | more than 11 years ago | (#5179448)

This is unbelievable!! One should figure out the ratio of fresh postings to dupes... &mode=thread&tid=126


mat catastrophe (105256) | more than 11 years ago | (#5179449)

Duplicate posts are designed to drive just enough people mad that slashdot ceases to be stupid.

And by stupid, I don't mean the people *running* it.

Cut And Paste (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5179452)

Blah, blah, blah --

How dare I be forced to see this headline again... after all, I pay good money to Slashdot!

thump thump thump (0, Troll)

djupedal (584558) | more than 11 years ago | (#5179454) an old retread.

I feel for anyone actually giving money to this site....why, oh why would you put up with this? Not only can you get the original stories from Wired, NYT, CNN, etc, this site laughs while it rakes in ad money. What a joke.

The URL timothy never saw (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5179456) []

And a URL I'd like to see:

Model T Ford (4, Insightful)

Nick Driver (238034) | more than 11 years ago | (#5179458)

VHS was better in the same sense that the Model T Ford was better. It was cheaper, mass-produced, and more easily obtainable by the average Joe. Betamax was a technically superior format, with cleaner chrominance and luminance signal encoding/decoding to/from the tape, but Sony was just too expensive and arrogant with the Betamax's market positioning. They could've mass-produced them more cheaply to compete, but failed to do so in the very beginning, when timing and window of opportunity for establishing the dominant format was critical.

Re:Model T Ford (1)

chemosh6969 (632048) | more than 11 years ago | (#5179492)

The thing the article doesn't point out is that beta was popular with news stations. the place i worked at had them still up until i left in 2000. but from the consumer point of view, i think only the bundy's had beta

Why Beta Lost... (2, Insightful)

Orangedog_on_crack (544931) | more than 11 years ago | (#5179570)

I have an old, Sanyo top-loader Beta that I bought with money from my first job in 1985 and it's still running. The picture quality on it is better than the five four-head, gee-whiz VHS turds that have died on me within a couple of years of ownership. VHS won the format battle because of one thing...PORN! You could squeeze 7 hours of porn on a VHS tape, but only 4 on a beta. Microsoft proved it...your stuff can be better and still fail commercially.

Re:Model T Ford (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5179588)

Hey, thanks for the useless post pointing out facts that everybody already knows.

Re:Model T Ford (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5179597)

Insightful?! It sounds like a rehash of yesterday. How is anything but 'dupe' insightful here?

highlights...(from the last time this was posted) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5179459)

survival of the fittest (Score:5, Insightful)
by Interfacer (560564) on Sunday January 26, @07:16AM (#5161151)
a lot of people are confused about this phrase, thinking of 'fit' as being technical superior.

in fact the term fit does have nothing to do with that, but should be interpreted as 'fitted for a certain purpose'

for example one of the reasons that windows version whatever is so popular with computer iliterate persons is that it takes you by the hand to do a lot of things, which can be a pain for power users, but not for newbies. in that sense windows is most 'fitted' for that situation, just as linux is for power users, server systems, or as BSD on powerful stable systems with 1000's of connections at a time.

other examples are software programming where C++ can be the best solution for developing algorithms, and VB for simple DB connected user interfaces.

the 'fittest' solution survives in the place where it is used at its best. C is not 'better' than VB. it is fit for other purposes than VB.

you can only talk about 'better' when two things are designed for the exact same purpose.

The only convincing bit was... (Score:5, Insightful)
by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 26, @07:20AM (#5161164)
When they were released, betamax had only 1 hour tapes.. VHS had two hour tapes...

You could record a film onto VHS... which you couldn't do with beta unless you were sitting in front of it to change the tapes halfway through.
This will continue (Score:5, Interesting)
by (535856) on Sunday January 26, @07:24AM (#5161172)
As long as some companies try to make everyone buy proprietary products, this will happen. VHS was not better than BetaMax. Sony simply did not want to share. Hence, VHS was more widely accepted because everyone could buy a VHS player, and not a very pricy BetaMax player. If you looked at minidisk 12 years ago, when CDs where starting to come out, they offered the same capacity, and so many more features. But in the End, it was cheaper for people to buy CDs, instead of buying proprietary expensive Sony only players and products. Same thing with sony memorystick. Make it an open source product, and just collect license fees, or what have you. Then everyone will use it if it is a good thing. I'm sure there are a lot more companies like this, but I just picked on Sony because it is their original product.
-----A lesson the Linux worlds needs to learn (Score:5, Insightful)
by rufusdufus (450462) on Sunday January 26, @07:25AM (#5161173)
The value of a product is not defined by its creators. It is defined by its market. Meaning its users and customers.

Linux is doomed to be a niche player until this fact is more widely accepted. It doesn't matter what geeks think about the product if the end user is not satisfied, overjoyed even.

As it is today, woe to any newbie who wants to jump on the linux bandwagon; all they get is name calling and static when they have real problems. The overall experience can be very unpleasant.

[ Reply to This ]

Re:A lesson the Linux worlds needs to learn (Score:5, Insightful)
by reallocate (142797) on Sunday January 26, @07:48AM (#5161223)
True, true. I'd add that most geeks also seem to expect computer users to progress from a newbie state (Windows) to a "power user" state" Linux. In other words, they expect the customer to change rather than the product.

What they seem to fail to understand is that many, if not most computer users, aren't that interested in computers, no more than they have an abiding interest in how television works. Its "what" it enables them to do, not how it does it, that counts.

He's right... He's wrong... (Score:5, Interesting)
by Jayson (2343) on Sunday January 26, @07:27AM (#5161179)
( )
He says that geeks don't understand about the total package and that technical ability isn't the only thing. He's right in that is what geeks say. However, geeks do realize this, but they just don't know it.

From an example taken from The Other Site [] in the last day: programming languages. People will willingly use broken languages, not as superior, because they interface to more things, can be applied to more general purpose situations (even when they shouldn't be), or have bigger libraries. You only need to look to Perl and C.

Perl is an attrocious language judging on purely technical merits, however CPAN and all the sugar it has are what give people reason to use it. You will often hear the C or Perl apologist say, "it does what I need good enough" or "I get work done in it." This is almost the same decision calculous that the author is expousing: people chose VHS because it did what they needed (recording a two hour movie unattended) and it did it well enough (they couldn't tell the difference in image quality).

[ Reply to This ]
Its not just the technical (Score:5, Interesting)
by (601843) on Sunday January 26, @07:41AM (#5161208)
( | Last Journal: Monday August 26, @07:35AM)
I think this is an important point when creating technical projects - it is not just the technical specifications that sell a product (well for non-slashdot readers anyway ;-)

I don't know if anyone has come across the writer Bruno Latour but he argues convincingly that we need a more complex understanding of the way technology projects are started, run and completed in order to understand why certain technical decisions are made. Afterall there can be cost constraints, efficiency constraints, material constraints, management constraints, organisational constraints (ie we don't do it like that here) and so on and on.

The phrase heterogeneous engineering is a great term that refers to the way technical people have to engineer not just, say, the software, but also the managers, other people, organisational lethagy and so on just to get the thing out of the drawing room (let alone the door).

I remember working for a very prestigious and large media company who could not see the value of the Internet whatso ever. No matter how much I banged on about it. In the end I left as it was clear the managers and company were still living in the land of VAX/VMS... Shit they were *still* worrying about X25!

But it is interesting how we as engineers have to have the social skills as well as technical skills in order to move a project forward... and that can be much harder than the technical!

Tomorrow on Slashdot (Score:5, Funny)
by SlashdotLemming (640272) on Sunday January 26, @07:50AM (#5161225)
Why Iron was better than Bronze
Random VHS fact! (Score:5, Informative)
by iamdrscience (541136) on Sunday January 26, @08:00AM (#5161239)
Ever wonder what VHS stands for?
It stands for Vertical Helix Scan

Acronyms Change With Time! (Score:5, Interesting)
by CharlieO (572028) on Sunday January 26, @08:09PM (#5164509)
There is a remarkable phenmenom with technical acronyms.

Thier meaning shifts over time. Mainly this is because the technology they describe becomes successful and the meaning of the orginal expansion is no longer valid. However the acronym is firmly rooted almost like a brand name, so usually the expansion is changed.

For instance VHS did originally expand to Vertical Helical Scan - which is a description of the way that the enigineering team solved how keep the tape speed over the head high without having to have the tape itself spooling at hig speed and therefor needing a huge amount of it.

Later as it became popular and mass market the expansion changed to Video Home System as this was more understandable for the consumer.

Video Home System (a less daunting rendering of the original acronym, which stood for Vertical Helical Scan)
Reference : Baird to MPEG A History Of Video []

Look at the GSM [] mobile phone standard. Orignially this stood for Group Spécial Mobile [] - a special interest of the CEPT set up to develop one digital standard, based on the existing ISDN standard,for mobile phones in Europe to replace the mess of competing analogue ones.

Nowadays, given the massive success of the standard the expansion is Global System for Mobile communications [].

DECT [] originally stood for Digital European Cordless Terminal []. For the non Europeans its a standard for short range digital handset to base station communication for cordless phones. Being a standard you can now buy extra handsets from whoever you want, and things like wireless modems. As its success took off and it began to be used outside of Europe then the expansion changed to Digital Enhanced Cordless Terminal []

As mentioned elsewher in this thread DVD originally stood for Digital Video Disc but as it became apparent that a high capacity replacement for CD could have many uses it was renamed to Digital Versatile Disc with the convention that the specific use is tagged afterwards, hence DVD-Video, DVD-RAM, DVD-ROM, DVD-Audio The moral of the story is be careful what you state an acronym stands for - a whole load of them in daily use have stood for a number of things in thier history!!

Oh, and yes I do currently work in the telecoms side of it, how did you guess??
V2000 (Score:5, Interesting)
by grundie (220908) on Sunday January 26, @08:40AM (#5161325)
To hell with Betamax and VHS. Philips V2000 format was better than the both of them. It had double sided tapes, supeior picture quality, embedded timecode and really long tapes. It was years ahead of both Betamax and VHS. I'm surprised the author of the article didn't llok in to V2000 as it was quite popular in Britain for a while, before losing the marketing battle.

As to the comparisons between VHS and Beta, I think the author makes a big blunder about VHS's success. I recall a TV interview with Alan Sugar, the founder of Amstrad which is a UK stack em high, sell em cheap electronics manufacturer. In the interview he said that his decision to make VHS machines in the early 80's was down to the fact that JVC offered him much more attractive licensing terms to use VHS as opposed to Sony who wanted twice as much for the Betamax system. Although market forces may have had an effect, surely VHS's success was more to do with the bigger profit margins it made for the manufacturers? Thus causing VHS to be promoted more at the expense of Betamax.

So using this theory... (Score:5, Insightful)
by Delusion- (153011) on Sunday January 26, @09:13AM (#5161404) ...the marketplace should never be open to formats which are almost direct replacements for previous formats.

In 1973, when the Compact Disc was introduced, the "infrastructure of capabilities, services, and support" for analog audio cassettes - prerecorded and otherwise - was vastly superior to that of the audio cassette. The CD prevailed despite the fact that there was no ability to record - analog cassette recorders are now most often encountered as unused legacy devices on multi-function audio hardware.

This "whole product" theory is an unenlightening justification for the emerging popularity of specific standards - it's the best product because it's the one most people buy? While there's truth to this, this fact is often less interesting than examining WHY this is the case.

If the technical standards of Betamax were superior to VHS - and they were - it's more useful to examine why these did not produce the dominant product than it is just to hand-wave the issue by saying that the best product is that which everyone else ended up buying. Any discussion of VHS versus BetaMax that doesn't discuss the fact that Sony wouldn't license its format to adult video studios misses another important aspect of why formats emerge and gain dominance over existing formats - the 'killer ap'.

The fact that he dismisses DAT audio with his "whole product" argument does not strengthen it in the least. The DAT cassette was a product the market was eager and ready for, and the more passive segment of the consumer base would have eventually caught up with the geeks, audiophiles, and techs. The RIAA crippled the format before it reached the consumer by disabling digital-to-digital copying, which given the dominance of the audio cassette DESPITE noted technical deficiencies (fragility, sound quality on normal-bias cassettes, less convenience for liner notes than vinyl), would have been an easy sell to a consumer base used to direct copying. Score one for the RIAA.

Enter MP3s. I've argued that the MP3 format is the just revenge of the marketplace against the deliberate crippling of DAT audio by the RIAA. The MP3 format became popular for technical reasons and became ubiquitous because the "whole product" was exactly what the marketplace had wanted and needed ever since the pre-recorded music industry moved to a read-only CD format - a high fidelity means of audio dubbing free from the limitations and physical fragility of analog cassettes. Had the RIAA had computer audio formats on its radar before it became a consumer reality, have no doubt that it, too, would have been a great idea that never made it to the broader marketplace.

The argument isn't, and never has been that BetaMax was the "better" format or that it was more suitable for the marketplace - the argument is that, based on wholly technical anaysis, it delivered a better performance than VHS. The VHS standard won out because RCA didn't keep their product a proprietary standard subject to its licensing regieme, because of porn as the 'killer ap' among early VHS adopters, because it was a cheaper product to adopt for end-users as well as studios (related to the license issue), and because as more manufacturers developed for what was effectively an open standard, they developed features to get their products noticed which in many cases became standards - multiple recording speeds, for instance. There's no reason why, if the BetaMax standard were open, a savvy competetor in the market could have developed multiple recording speeds. Sony felt it had a say in this matter, RCA didn't.

While the "whole product" isn't a completely invalid method of analyzing competing formats, it is as narrow a look at a larger issue as solely focusing on the technical specs, and is particularly poorly-suited toward determining why a particular format bucks the trend of the status quo and gains market dominance.

If "whole product" were the whole story, we'd probably have never gotten to VHS or BetaMax, and Laser Disc and DVD would have been

Not at all... (Score:5, Insightful)
by Jayson (2343) on Sunday January 26, @07:20AM (#5161163)
( )
He argues that Betamax was actually more popular when it began, and they had a "defacto monopoly from tape incompatabilities." The author says that the reason Betamax lost the market was that it didn't do what the consumer wanted, to be able to record an entire movie unattended due to their one hour tape versus the VHS two hour tape. He has some other arguments, such as the Betamax was originally higher priced (and was cheaper, but only after losing market too much market share to matter).

His point wasn't that you can look at a single factor (e.g., popularity), but you have to weight products more holistically.

[ Reply to This | Parent ]

Re:Not at all... (Score:5, Insightful)
by orthogonal (588627) on Sunday January 26, @08:04AM (#5161255)
The author says that the reason Betamax lost the market was that it didn't do what the consumer wanted, to be able to record an entire movie unattended due to their one hour tape versus the VHS two hour tape. He has some other arguments, such as the Betamax was originally higher priced....

Hmmm. Makes me think of MP3s versus CDs. I listen to all of my music on MP3, despite having a (Sony, ironically enough!) 50 CD "jukebox".

Why do I sacrifice quality by listening to MP3s rather than CDs?

Convenience: I can easily set up arbitrarily long, arbitrarily ordered MP3 playlists, and without the time it takes for the "jukebox" to physically chnage CDs.

Greater selection at cheaper prices. While I do not and will not download MP3s to which I don't have a license, I can and do subscribe to This gives me an excellent selection of medium quality (128 kbps) MP3s, far more than I could afford as CDs -- and far more than I'd be tempted to "try out", buying CDs I might later find out didn't justify a $10-$20 price tag.

Portability: Carrying around a portable CD player generally resulted in my listening to a single CD, over and over, as carrying additional CDs was inconvenient (see reason #1, above) and resulted in losing numerous Cds. carrying around my Archos MP3 player gives my my entire music collection (currently about 14 GBs in MP3 format) in my pocket.

Quality: I can't easily hear the difference in quality between a CD and an MP3, even when the MP3 is piped through the (now empty) "jukebox"'s speakers. To the extent that I can hear the difference, I prefer to indulge my eclectic musical taste in quantity rather than fewer selections in quality. Your mileage will undoutedly vary.

Quality's important, don't misunderstand me. But let me chicken out by closing with a few choice cliches: Often the best is the enemy of the good, and enough (quality, ironically, not quantity) is as good as a feast, and more than enough is as bad as a surfeit.

Re:Not this crap again. (Score:5, Insightful)
by melonman (608440) on Sunday January 26, @07:29AM (#5161187)
( | Last Journal: Saturday December 14, @07:35AM)
but then simply states that, despite all of its advantages, VHS is still better because it's more popular.

There whas a bit more to his argument than that:

VHS offered a bigger choice of hardware at lower cost, the tapes were cheaper and more easily available, there were a lot more movies to rent, and so on.
Those sound like three quite important arguments to me, unless money is no object, you like buying hardware from a de facto monopoly, hunting for media is your idea of fun and you don't actually want to watch movies, just admire the spec.

A bit further on, he points out another specific flaw in Sony's market research:

Sony got one simple decision wrong. It chose to make smaller, neater tapes that lasted for an hour, whereas the VHS manufacturers used basically the same technology with a bulkier tape that lasted two hours.
Now I don't know a lot about the details, but would it have been that hard for Sony to provide essentially the same technology with a larger box and a longer tape? As the article continues:

Their spouses/children/grandparents and everybody else would quickly have told them the truth. "We're going out tonight and I want to record a movie. That Betamax tape is useless: it isn't long enough. Get rid of it."
And that's the basis problem with the general population who decide which products succeed by their purchasing decisions: they see technology as a means to an end, not as something to admire for its intrinsic cleverness.

[ Reply to This | Parent ]

Re:Not this crap again. (Score:5, Insightful)
by melonman (608440) on Sunday January 26, @08:28AM (#5161295)
( | Last Journal: Saturday December 14, @07:35AM)
But none of those are technological reasons.

I would have thought that the storage capacity was quite an important technological criterion for a storage medium. If the technology is for home recording, and the tape it too short to record what a lot of people what to record, ie full-length films, isn't that a bit of a drawback? I have to say that I'd rather see all of a film at less than perfect quality than all but the last 20 minutes of a film at wonderful quality.

Re:Not this crap again. (Score:5, Insightful)
by nehril (115874) on Sunday January 26, @07:39AM (#5161201)
I think the image quality differences are a big deal only to a very small segment. The difference between VHS's "good" and BetaMax's "great" is lost on most people. good is good enough. people will opt for lossy "compression" for the sake of more content (witness the MP3 format's success.) consider that even with vhs most people will record at whatever level gives them the longest record time, sacrificing quality.

Ask the average tivo owner what quality level they select for their seinfeld reruns. VHS won because it gave people more of less, in a way. Just like McDonalds makes money hand over fist serving "food" that would make a french chef gag. :)

Re:Not this crap again. (Score:5, Insightful)
by roybadami (515249) on Sunday January 26, @08:36AM (#5161314)
And he has a pop at linux, but linux isn't meant to be a whole product

Well, not directly. He does say that Wintel is the best whole product, and for many classes of users it currently is. That doesn't mean we can't change that, though.

It's also interesting to apply the whole product anaysis to infrastructure services. For many services, Linux or UNIX of some flavour is clearly the best whole product. It comes with the infrastructure services you need as standard (mail servers, DNS servers, etc), and there's a huge support network of people out there using these UNIX tools in a native UNIX environment. Yes, you *can* run these tools under Wintel, but Linux/UNIX is the best whole product.

Having never made a mistake myself... (1)

Audent (35893) | more than 11 years ago | (#5179461)

I can take gleeful delight in pointing out Timothy's errors...

oh, wait... dammit all I DID make a mistake once!

dammit all to heck and back.

Re:Having never made a mistake myself... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5179507)

Did you make that mistake repeatedly? Was it a really obvious mistake? For example, if your job was to take forks from a dishwasher and put them in a drawer, and instead of doing that you kept shoving those forks into the nearest electrical outlet?
Did all of your coworkers do this also?
Did they sometimes use knives, spoons, and their tounges- and occasionally miss the socket entirely?
If so, expect /. to hire you Real Soon Now.

Uh Uh oh oh (1)

Ambush (120586) | more than 11 years ago | (#5179463)

I I think think this this might might be be a a duplicate [] duplicate []

dupe (1)

cbnewman (106449) | more than 11 years ago | (#5179464)

Hey timothy, you should read sometime. They cover a lot of the same stuff. []

The funny thing is... (4, Funny)

Repton (60818) | more than 11 years ago | (#5179465)

...that there's all these duplicate comments complaining about how the story is a duplicate story...

The funny thing is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5179499)

...that there's all these duplicate comments complaining about how the story is a duplicate story...

The funny thing is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5179583)

...that there's all these duplicate comments complaining about how the story is a duplicate story...
They say that only an experienced wizard can do the tengu shuffle.

Re:The funny thing is... (3, Funny)

stefanlasiewski (63134) | more than 11 years ago | (#5179587)

Yes, I hear the MPAA is going to fine Timothy for duplicating a story which mentions "VHS".

I mean, if the subject matter involves "Duplicate" and "VHS", you figure a law got broken somewhere.

Ah, but where does that leave. . . (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 11 years ago | (#5179606)

comments commenting on the duplication of comments?

Your post alone has served to convince me that we not only need a +1 troll rating, but might well need a +1 redundant as well.


Timothy = -1 Redundant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5179466)

Ever wonder why slashdot won't fire his ass? I know that he is Chris Burke from Life goes on. But I still expect better.

ObBitch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5179468)

Nothing good to add, just thought I'd post to say that timmay is a FUCKING IDIOT for not noticing this dupe. Moderate this as +1, Underrated.

I think we've seen this somewhere before... (2, Interesting)

The Good Reverend (84440) | more than 11 years ago | (#5179469)

From Fark [] , last week, and from Slashdot [] , day before yesterday.

Re:I think we've seen this somewhere before... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5179581)

Fark is for four year olds and retards.

It depresses the hell out of me that fark readers post here.

metamoderators unite! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5179472)

Hi. I metamoderate every day. And 60% of my metamoderations are "unfair". 20% or so i leave alone (if i don't feel strongly, or don't know enough about the subject matter to determine if it's insightufl, informative, etc), and 20% i metmod fair.

Almost all "troll" or "flaimbait" moderations will be m2ed as unfair.

Now we wait... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5179475)

...for timothy to finish looking at his fresh porn so that he can check back and see that his new story wasn't so new after all.

Please remember to wash your hands timothy.

Duplicate Stories (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5179477)

Lets all band together to post meaningless off-topic ramblings when the editors post duplicate stories... that'll learn 'em (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5179479)

Newsgroups: alt.folklore.urban
From: (Helge Moulding)
Subject: AFU Whitepaper: The Decline and Fall of Betamax (Long)
Date: Wed, 8 May 1996 19:34:04 GMT

AFU White Paper: The Decline and Fall of Betamax

The story of Sony's Betamax (TM) format is not an isolated one, but it is instructive. It is also surrounded by legend and myth, so a closer look at it might be useful.

Getting To the Table

The story begins long before 1974, when the technology to record video data on magnetic tape was maturing. By itself, it doesn't sound like a daunting task, until the sheer volume of data is considered. There is a practical limit to the speed with which magnetic tape can be transported past the read/write heads of a record/playback machine; this limit was overcome almost a decade before Sony's home market debut by designing a head that turned past the tape, and wrote it's information on the tape at an angle.

If you've ever peered inside your VCR and wondered why that silvery cylinder back in there wasn't sitting straight, you know now that the basic technology hasn't changed in thirty years.

By the 1970s there were several Japanese industry giants poised to deliver home video taping equipment. These machines had to be orders of magnitude more reliable than the clumsy existing professional machines, and Sony was the first to consider their efforts market ready. According to James Lardner, author of _Fast Forward_ (New American Library), Sony invited Matsushita and JVC to license the Betamax technology in December 1974. [1]

Sony's Morita was apparently not aware that JVC was almost ready to market their own machine, so may have come as a rude surprise to him when JVC and Matsushita declined the offer. JVC believed it had a better product, and didn't see that the Betamax offered anything new. Moreover, Sony's overbearing attitude in this meeting may have made a definite impression on JVC's engineers.

Upping the Ante

In any case, for a year Sony had the VCR market to itself, selling 30,000 Betamax VCRs in the US. [2] But when JVC came out with the VHS format VCR in 1976, the stage was set for the format wars. JVC had a machine that already doubled Sony's recording time of one hour, and that difference would prove crucial.

By January 1977, JVC was joined by four more Japanese electronics manufacturers to build and market VHS format VCRs. Then, in February, Sony abandoned its long-standing policy against OEM deals and joined forces with Zenith.

Matsushita struck back by attempting to recruit RCA. RCA indicated that the VHS recording limit of two hours should be increased to three or four, and six weeks later, a prototype was ready. In March RCA joined the VHS camp.

Bidding for the Customer

While price later was less of a factor, in 1977 the VHS manufacturers, led by Matsushita, got into the trenches. VCR prices dropped as they became cheaper to make. RCA led by dropping prices $300 below the Sony machine, which caused an avalanche of follow-on price cutting. Eventually even Sony was forced to drop its price by $200. By 1982 the price war was in full swing, and Sony was offering a $50 dollar rebate as a "Home Improvement Grant." [6]

The comments from the sidelines were fairly equinamous. In September 1977, the Saturday Review declared that "Eventually, the public learned to live with two record speeds [33 1/3 and 45 rpm], and doubtless it will also resign itself to two videotape systems."

If nothing else, these comments showed that industry observers themselves hadn't a clue about the technology involved in the VCR.

An Unexpected Joker

Few bits of USAn history are complete without involving lawyers. In 1979, a suit brought against Sony by Universal Studios and Disney was getting into final arguments. At stake was the question if manufacturers of VCRs were infringing on the copyrights of producers of movies and TV programs.

The suit, which named only Sony, eventually left Universal and Disney with no recourse except to consider how to make money from the new technology. Sales of VCRs were apparently unaffected by talk of the legal procedings.

However, even as late as September 1980, the word "Betamax" was used by many as synonymous with "VCR." [3] It is possible that the court case had consequences on Sony's marketing that have never been considered. This is particularly notable when combined with the fact that Sony's share of the VCR market had sunk to 19.1% in 1978, compared to RCA's share of almost twice that at 36%.

Who's Stuck With the Old Maid?

As Sony's market share declined, the manufacturers of prerecorded VCR tapes began to adjust their product lines. Already in January, 1981, Betamax format VCRs accounted for merely 25% of the entire market, and consumers were being warned that the selection for VHS would be "slightly broader." [4]

The Finessed King

Technologically, the two formats were each other's equal. True, except for the recording length, Sony pioneered most of the improvements over the years, but the VHS manufacturers caught up to each improvement, usually in less than a year. So, for instance, within a month of Sony's announcement of Beta Hi-Fi, JVC and Panasonsic announced VHS Hi-Fi formats. Interestingly, the two VHS formats were incompatible with each other. [7]

Comparisons between VCRs with similar features showed no significant differences in performance. In fact, most of the differences could only be seen with sensitive instruments, and likely would never show up on most consumer grade television sets. [5] In particular, the qualitative differences between the two formats were less than the differences between any two samples from the same manufacturer. [8]

Cheap Tricks

Possibly because of Beta's unpopularity, Beta VCRs were much cheaper than similar VHS VCRs by the end of 1985. A Beta HiFi VCR could sell for half the price of a VHS Hi-Fi VCR in 1984 [9], and by the end of 1985 Betas were selling for under $300. [10]

The Fat Lady Sings

In 1987, Rolling Stone announced that "The battle is over." [11] On Jauary 10, 1988 Sony admitted to plans for a VHS line of VCRs. VHS players commanded 95% of the VCR market. [12]

In May 1988, Video magazine came out with an article entitled "Beta Survival Guide." [14] And in September Sony's first VHS recorders came off its assembly lines. [15] A year later, the Betamax share of the consumer VCR market had dropped to less than 1%. [16]

Today the format is still around. In 1994, Video magazine published another survival guide, explaining that the scarcity of blank Beta tapes has consumers buying up prerecorded tapes at fire sale prices, to record over them. [17]

Counting up the Points

Sony did not commit the sins ascribed to them by most of the pundits explaining the demise of Betamax.

  1. Sony did not "refuse to license Betamax."

In its January 25 issue, Time explained that "While at first Sony kept its Beta technology mostly to itself, JVC, the Japanese inventor of VHS, shared its secret with a raft of other firms." [13] This is blatantly untrue. While Sony was decidedly behind in the licensing of its technology, it tried from the very beginning to sign on other manufacturers to the Beta standard.

2) Betamax was not too expensive.

Consumers buying a new VCR saw only minor pricing differences between the two formats. Those looking for the latest technology could apparently find Betamax machines for much less than comparable VHS machines. (Interestingly, one article [8] that makes this statement actually compares two machines where the VHS version is $600 dollars cheaper than the Betamax machine. Possibly the technophile streak that appears to be the curse of many Betamax afficionadoes influences buying decisions much more than price.)

3) There was no shortage of prerecorded Beta tapes

This at least was true initially. Only once the Betamax share had declined well below the VHS share, did prerecorded tape manufacturers try to decrease their inventories.

4) The Universal and Disney's suit against Sony had no determinable effect on Sony's standing in the VCR market. However, this issue is less than clearcut.

Even Sony today agrees that the difference in recording length was the difference that layed Beta low. [17] The other factor appears to have been the one factor for which no company can control: pure luck.


[1] "The Format War," Video Magazine, April 1988, pp50-54+

[2] "Whatever Happened to Betamax?", Consumers' Research, May 1989, p 28

[3] "The Betamax Blues", New York, September 15, 1980, p 43

[4] "Beta/VHS What's the Difference", Video Today, January 1981, p A8

[5] "VHS Meets Beta", Popular Electronics, August 1981, p 43

[6] "Even Sony Can't Avoid the Price War in VCRs", Business Week, September 6, 1982, p 33-34

[7] "VHS Hi-Fi: JVC Answers Back", High Fidelity, September 1983, p 65

[8] Stereo Review, April 1984, p 66

[9] "Tape Format Face-Off", High Fidelity, September 1985, p 45

[10] "To the Beta End", Forbes, Dec 16, 1985, p 178

[11] "Format Wars", Rolling Stone, Ja 15, 1987, p 43

[12] "Sony Isn't Mourning the 'Death' of Betamax", Business Week, Ja 25, 1988, p 37

[13] "Goodbye Beta", Time, Ja 25 1988, p 52

[14] "Beta Survival Guide", Video, May 88, pp 45-48

[15] "Video News", Radio Electronics, Sep 88, p 6

[16] "Whatever Happened to Betamax", Consumers' Research, May 89, p 28

[17] "Desperately Seeking Beta", Video, Feb 1994, p 42-44+

Can we say, search back 2 to 3 days? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5179481)


Head banging on table (1)

falsification (644190) | more than 11 years ago | (#5179482)

This is a duplicate story. Again. Am I supposed to comment on this twice?

This just in!!! (2, Insightful)

CoolVibe (11466) | more than 11 years ago | (#5179485)

Slashdot editors have REALLY short term memories! They are too busy filtering to our crap in the story modqueue to remember _every_ story that gets posted on the front page.

At least, that's what they say in the FAQ. I suggest the people that whine about dupes read it. Heck, if it's a dupe story, don't read it. You've already read it. Go to next story. Big whooping deal.

It's not like all the slashdot stories reside in databases on OUR systems. It's their database. If they want to have redundant data in it (a.k.a. dupe stories), let them.

Re:This just in!!! (1)

SweetAndSourJesus (555410) | more than 11 years ago | (#5179602)

But if we want to complain about it (and we obviously do), let us.

I'd like to be the thousandth person to point out that this is a dupe. Do you guys even read the comments before you post?

Oh, the humanity!? (1)

arcadum (528303) | more than 11 years ago | (#5179486)

Being that I read /. and Fark so often, I find my self experiencing dejavue alomst daily. Maybe I should cough up some skrill and just read total fark.

BETA is supperior to VHS, basing quality as proliferation of the general market is asinine.

slashdot should be renamed... (1)

jonr (1130) | more than 11 years ago | (#5179490)

Is dejá taken?
And why is the html validator on blocked? :)

Re:slashdot should be renamed... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5179608)

Nice...this is first I've noticed that. Maybe Taco & crew only support the open linking nature of the web when it means they can view pages ad-free?

Great! (2, Interesting)

olrik666 (574545) | more than 11 years ago | (#5179491)

Do we really need another debate about VHS vs Beta? Beta is dead, VHS won, and will itself be replaced by DVD-R in a few years. Enough already!

history repeatimg (4, Funny)

chrismacmahon (644645) | more than 11 years ago | (#5179500)

those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it.those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it.those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it.those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it.those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it.those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it.

On topic.. even if duped (1)

Kethinov (636034) | more than 11 years ago | (#5179504)

OK I realize this is a duped post, but I never got a chance to read it before, I only realized it was duped when I read the comments! o_O Anyway, VHS won because "the whole product" did what people wanted at a price they were willing to pay. And when people use the VHS v Beta analogy, they are not indicating a market failure but their own ignorance. People's ignorance is the most common reason new products don't succeed, yeah, obvious, we know. But who's to say this product didn't suck? Isn't this guy being a little arrogant to say people as a whole are just plain ignorant? Ok so we are. I'm ignorant. YOU reading my post, yeah you, you're ignorant too. We all are. But if we, the ignorant masses accepted all the new and radical ideas introduced to us over the last few decades, why would this be any different? I say, because it wasn't a good product. And I'd venture that's what everyone else who didn't like it thought too. Just my 2 cents (and a paper clip)

Lets make it a contest! (1)

Codeala (235477) | more than 11 years ago | (#5179513)

The rule is quite simple. You need to "trick" a /. editor to repost a recent /. story. The shorter the interval between original and the repost, the higher your score. Also you got bonus points if it is the same editor and/or under the same headline.

And if you have posted in the original story you can try to repost your comments to see if you get the same score or even the same modifier!

Let the game begin.

Note from the stableboy... (1)

Natestradamus (527591) | more than 11 years ago | (#5179522)

The horse is dead!

BAH! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5179525)

That's like saying "Bose is better than Halcro because more people buy Bose"!

Perhaps this article can also explain (5, Interesting)

E1ven (50485) | more than 11 years ago | (#5179527)

Why Slashdot is better than Kuro5hin.
Before you mod me down as a troll, look at the idea-

Kuro5hin has many of the features people consistantly ask for (voting for stories)
Kuro5hin isn't owned by a large, closed source software-company.
Kuro5hin has more intellegant discussion, and fewer duplicated stories

But Slashdot has more users. Slashdot is an amazingly popular weblog, /because/ it is an amzingly popular weblog.

Think about that. The main reason Slashdot is popular is because of it's base of users. Because of the comments. And higher-installed base makes it more attractive to many people.

That is exactly the argument made in this article.

Just some thoughts.

Re:Perhaps this article can also explain (1)

josh crawley (537561) | more than 11 years ago | (#5179585)

Perhaps we should have an article to "ASK SLASHDOT" about if we could improve ?

Re:Perhaps this article can also explain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5179591)

IMO, the main benefit of slashdot over kuro5 is that you can set a browsing threshold. I browse at +4, thus weeding out tons of drivel and saving a *lot* of time because I can see all good posts AND all good replies on a single page(nested comments >= +3 do not need to be clicked to view). There's no way to do this on kuro5.

Why Original Posts Are Better Than Duplicates. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5179529)

Now thats an article we could use o n/. .

duplicate post prevention (1)

themadmoney (644302) | more than 11 years ago | (#5179535)

i've been thinking of ways of preventing duplicate stories... and the most effective method that i've thought of would be an algorithm that compared new stories with older stories and searched for identical links. if they were found, it could notify the editor

i can't imagine it would be that difficult to implement, but i'm not actually familiar with slashcode story management.

if searching through all past stories is too intensive, a simple script could be written that would be run every time a story is posted. it would parse out each linked address in the post and add it to a database. searching an indexed database consisting of addresses every time a story is posted would be trivial...

Okay its a dupe but (1)

cranos (592602) | more than 11 years ago | (#5179540)

According to the premise of the article, in a percieved sense, VHS was better than Beta. Yeah so what? It doesn't stop Beta being a better format in a very real sense. Neither does it stop a Lintel platform being better in a real sense than Wintel

Re:Okay its a dupe but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5179564)

I prefer my Laughalon setup rather than Lintel, Wintel or MaSalon


sniperindisguise (577114) | more than 11 years ago | (#5179543)

cut it out with the repeats!!!!

I Disagree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5179544)

This article is crap. betamax had more lines of resolution, so technologically, it was superior. What actually happened was an undercutting market share move. Also, this was coupled with a law suit that allowed for copying of tv programs in the home which was the big fear. VHS was strategically positioned thorugh undercutting for using the logo and for more adoption by lower priced manufacturers. it is correct that people dont care about the nit picky technology if what they want to do just works. of course, this is why you should buy a mac. A superior interface that just works. All of that MHZ stuff doesn't matter. The technology just works.

Re:I Disagree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5179600)

obviously the people who supported VHS did a better job than those who supported betamax. Hence we live in a VHS dominated world. So obviously VHS and its creators worked better. maybe if betamax had been run better it would have been superior.

ADD (0, Redundant)

bstadil (7110) | more than 11 years ago | (#5179553)

Either they do not read their own site or they all suffer from ADD. How hard can it be?

There is 12+- stories each day. Most Dupes are within a few days a week max, so we are talking about inability to recall (not remember unaided just recall) less than a 100 different items.

WHo cares if its a dupe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5179554)

Whether or not it is a duplicate means little other than that the editors have more to do than check continuity. the fact that you people spend such absurd amounts of time here to catch all this crap and comment on it shows you guys need a life. Go support a local band or protest... VHS was better

-1 Informative (0, Redundant)

NeuroManson (214835) | more than 11 years ago | (#5179561)

This was informative last week, when it was &mode=thread&tid=126

Be kind, REWIND! (0, Redundant)

caferace (442) | more than 11 years ago | (#5179567)

Yet another silly duplicate comment.

Until this duplicate thing gets ironed out... (1)

hebble (35128) | more than 11 years ago | (#5179572)

... I'll be aggregating my own RSS feeds. Farewell, Slashdot.

better than the alternatives - help ! OT sorta (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5179575)

Need help as to which Linux distro to put on a 486/66 with 32megs o' ram. Want to use it as a postscript printer server for a mac with os x.

New to linux - want something with a gui if possible, and easy to configure.

I tried the/some alternatives (maclan on a win 98 pc) no go.

help a linux newb!

Suggested Reactions to dupes (4, Funny)

Wolfier (94144) | more than 11 years ago | (#5179576)

Let's just go back to the previous story, copy and paste a random comment from there.

Why not solve the problem? (1)

telstar (236404) | more than 11 years ago | (#5179580)

Couldn't SlashDot come up with some system to check against already-posted articles. Automate a key-word matching system, or check if a URL has already been linked to. Hell, even seeing if the topic is similar to something that's already been posted would help. This is a technical place that talk about all of these innovations in technology, yet they can't come up with a way to prevent duplicate posts?

Further proof that the weakest link is still the human.

hahaha (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5179589)

the RIAA's [] site is hacked again!

Of dupes and such (1)

Stigmata669 (517894) | more than 11 years ago | (#5179592)

While dup stories are common place at slashdot, I fail to see why editors don't simply remove the story when the *!**!*!DUPE*!*!*!* troll lets the world know .023 seconds after the story is published... or at least remove it from the front page.

People might argue that removing the article would be censorship, but odds are, any new good ideas will be obscured by trolls and crap. These stories only waste resources and mod points.

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