Beta

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Joel on Community Forums

michael posted more than 11 years ago | from the better-mousetrap dept.

Programming 76

Evil Grinn writes "In Building Communities with Software, Joel Spolsky starts with a lament about the lack of real-life community among programmers, but rapidly seques into an explanation of why he thinks his own forum system is better than Usenet or Slashdot. I really don't participate in Joel's forums enough to comment, but they are pretty basic. No registration system. No branching (you can only add comments to the end of a conversation, not reply to comments in the middle). No mod points. Quoting in replies is strongly discouraged. All of these are part of the design of the system, not missing features."

cancel ×

76 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

First (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5436707)

??? !!!! yayay i got first post today :D

Re:First (-1, Offtopic)

sweede (563231) | more than 11 years ago | (#5436729)

Yay, thats me :D

Re:First (5, Funny)

bellings (137948) | more than 11 years ago | (#5436758)

I think this should be the only thread.

No branching, please.

Voting with our feet (4, Insightful)

MaxwellStreet (148915) | more than 11 years ago | (#5436765)

Slashdot isn't perfect - but it's gotten wide recognition for being a news outlet for the technically minded.

Tens of thousands of users... active discussions daily.

Joel may not think this format is ideal, but nothing succeeds like success - and Slashdot is successful as a discussion format.

Re:Voting with our feet (1)

mayoff (29924) | more than 11 years ago | (#5436980)

Slashdot is to geeks what Windows is to the general population: popular but with little merit.

Re:Voting with our feet (2, Insightful)

stefanlasiewski (63134) | more than 11 years ago | (#5437073)

If it has so little merit, then why is it popular?

Re:Voting with our feet (3, Interesting)

mayoff (29924) | more than 11 years ago | (#5437143)

The slashdot forums (which have little merit) are popular because they are attached to the slashdot article feed, which is popular. The article feed is popular because it has some merit and was a first mover. Windows is popular for different reasons.

Re:Voting with our feet (2)

leviramsey (248057) | more than 11 years ago | (#5437347)

Sorry, I don't think people read Slashdot for the articles... the discussions are the heart and soul of the site (CmdrTaco's statistics to the contrary).

Re:Voting with our feet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5437693)

Slashdot had the "first mover" affect going, being one of the first popular forums that could support threading and nesting in a sane matter. Later on they added filtering (moderation), but that's a dubious improvement.

It's still massively superior to that UBB/Infopop & clones flat forum shite that you see everywhere else, with the massive overquoting and subthreads that go nowhere after the Next Page link. And the avatars, urrg.

Re:Voting with our feet (1)

blueapples (614410) | more than 11 years ago | (#5474616)

Um...Windows or /.?

First NINNLE LINUX post! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5436775)

What's this about this upstart Hooty Linux that is now challenging Ninnle?

Nice catch, Joel (4, Funny)

L. VeGas (580015) | more than 11 years ago | (#5436796)

All of these are part of the design of the system, not missing features.

ha ha ha - That's what I tell my boss too. No undo button? Yeah, mmmm, that's part of the system. Yeah, that's the ticket!

Stop trolling (1)

devphil (51341) | more than 11 years ago | (#5436971)

ha ha ha - That's what I tell my boss too. No undo button? Yeah, mmmm, that's part of the system. Yeah, that's the ticket!

That's because an undo button is universally recognized as a useful thing.

But the things "missing" from Joel's forums are not universally recognized as good things to have. (Obviously, otherwise he wouldn't have thrown them out, Q.E.D.) Hell, they're not even universally recognized on slashdot as good things to have.

I would go look up the name of the logical fallacy you just committed, but I've decided not to.

Re:Stop trolling (2, Funny)

L. VeGas (580015) | more than 11 years ago | (#5437045)

I know the name of my logical fallacy. It's called "lame joke".

Re:Stop trolling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5437685)

the things "missing" are also harder to implement. Any fucktard can set up a use comment forum that append to the end of a file. Having nested comments with a hierarchial db is easy. With a relational db, it's ugly. It happens to be a nice feature, though, and is reflective of how we think.

Re:Stop trolling (1)

digidave (259925) | more than 11 years ago | (#5437692)

Trolling? That's part of the Slashdot system design.

Re:Stop trolling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5437992)

I would go look up the name of the logical fallacy you just committed, but I've decided not to.

Denying the antecedent?

Re:Stop trolling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5440096)


Obviously, otherwise he wouldn't have thrown them out, Q.E.D.

Using obviously and Q.E.D. in the same sentence should be a sin. If you don't understand why then you shouldn't be using them in the first place.

Re:Stop trolling (1)

aminorex (141494) | more than 11 years ago | (#5440628)

You just committed a logical fallacy. Hint: It came
where you used the word "obviously".

My pet peeve (4, Insightful)

Otter (3800) | more than 11 years ago | (#5436831)

OK, here's the deal-breaker for me with forums:

Forcing the reader to click to read every new comment.

See ZDNet Talkbacks for an example. I'm sorry, if I wanted to invest that much effort I'd be doing work instead of screwing around online. That mentality of maximizing page loads should be left to fan reviews on teenage overclocker sites, where it belongs.

See dot.kde.org for a good example. Like most Squishdot sites, it used to collapse threads on any story with more than some small number of posts (ie, anything interesting). When Navindra made it possible to change that threshold (due, in part, to my whining about it ;-) ) participation skyrocketed.

Re:My pet peeve (1)

cymen (8178) | more than 11 years ago | (#5437450)

I don't think even the overclockers want to read lame forums (see forums.anandtech.com, HardOCP's www.hardforums.com, etc).

Someone said the same thing already (1)

Smack (977) | more than 11 years ago | (#5437659)

Ha

Re:My pet peeve (2, Interesting)

TheLink (130905) | more than 11 years ago | (#5439375)

People have different preferences.

When I wrote a forum/news webapp, my boss said he wanted it like zdnet's comments. So I set up his personal preferences to look like it: flat, unthreaded, oldest first, expand thresholds set so that no comments were expanded till selected. He could have done it himself but well he's the boss :).

A colleague wandered to Slashdot and didn't get it. Didn't understand how to use the site. It's not that obvious for some reason.

Re:My pet peeve (1)

ProfKyne (149971) | more than 11 years ago | (#5448371)

Um, that's one of the points that Joel makes in his article. I'm not sure about the version posted to the web (he says it's a toned-down version so who knows) but I read the emailed version and he does say that no one has time to click to each next post.

Personally, I have found the best web-based forums to be those used by Sun at forums.java.sun.com [sun.com] . Unlike the ZDNet forums you mention, you just read down through the posts linearly (though threads are kept separate). it's a pretty good system.

I disagree with many of his assertions.. (4, Interesting)

steppin_razor_LA (236684) | more than 11 years ago | (#5436839)

But then again, I haven't spent much time at his community.

Slashdot is a very different type of community since there really aren't any persistent "boards" or discussion forums -- the forums are the articles and they last a very short period of time. This is fine -- slashdot is about "news for nerds" after all.

When I spend time at other forums, I want most of the features that were removed. I agree quoting can go too far, but most boards I've been on don't seem to fall prey to to this like email messages easily can.

I like threaded discussions, but not everyone does. I've noticed some systems (i.e. ubb.threads) have some nice technology that allows the user to switch between them.

Overall, this article wasn't too interesting. I'd rather see an article that reviewed a number of the different community systems out there (ahem -- how about looking at my story submission someone???)...

Re:I disagree with many of his assertions.. (1)

aminorex (141494) | more than 11 years ago | (#5440649)

It's very likely that nobody who isn't a cultic
sycophant of the Church of Joel will spend much
time in his blocks world, since his forums really
suck. They are very badly designed and lack
basic features that are universally recognized
as desirable, such as threading. Heck, there
hasn't been a Usenet news reader since 1987 that
could hold it's head up without implementing
nested threads.

Re:I disagree with many of his assertions.. (1)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 11 years ago | (#5466864)

The feature I would remove from a forum system is subject lines. And that because of the incredibly annoying style (to me) of using the subject line as a first line of the post. So then if you just read the body it doesn't make any sense. Most other forms of writing (newspapers, well-written mail messages and Usenet articles) are designed so you can read the message body independently of the subject.

The fact that so many posters don't give a proper subject but instead put the first line of the message in there suggests that the subject line isn't really needed anyway. Better to just have a message body. (And it would be really trivial to let users browse through just the first line of a long list of posts and choose the one they want.)

When starting a new thread I can often not think of a decent subject myself. It's different on Usenet where a single group covers a fairly wide range of topics. On a Slashdot discussion page the article title is usually the 'subject' and posts on that page are all related to the article. So an extra subject line on each post feels artificial.

Question: (4, Insightful)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 11 years ago | (#5436866)

All of these are part of the design of the system, not missing features.

When did these become mutually exclusive? Just beacuse something is intentionally left out doesn't mean it's not missing. Wether the features being missing is a good thing or not is the only thing that can be up for discussion.

Re:Missing Features (2, Interesting)

JeffFurry (209953) | more than 11 years ago | (#5443339)

I think the point is that the features are missing from the design (or the requirements), rather than from the implementation. Which leaves the choice to omit them, and the rationale for their omission, as what's really up for discussion.

In this case, the rationale of these choices is to guide the development of the community, from how people interact with it, to how people participate in it, to which people even both with it at all. In glancing though the article, Slashdot is mentioned several times, generally as a compare/contrast example. There's no question that Slashdot works (and works well, in my opinion), but there are definitely some characteristics that could definitely be improved. I'm sure that the Joel on Software forum works as well, but in a slightly different way.

And I'm equally sure that other forum implementations don't work for sh!t, but they manage to get lots of participation anyway (most of which is a waste of electrons that could be better spent lighting an empty closet). Then again, I don't waste my time with those, which is a fine example of design choices influencing the community. ;)

Is there discussion locking? (2, Interesting)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 11 years ago | (#5436893)

No branching (you can only add comments to the end of a conversation, not reply to comments in the middle).

Is there locking for posting in-depth, correct, messages, or if you spend lots of time presenting a well thought out post do you just get bounced when somebody else has already replied while you were typing? You can't restrict branching in a high traffic forum without some sort of syncronization, and you can't allow syncronization to be open to untrusted users without denial of service. Sounds like a broken decision to me.

Re:Is there discussion locking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5437954)

I belive you're over-thinking the design. Why would you need a complex locking system to prevent messages from being added to the middle of the conversation when you could just display the posts sorted by the time that they were submitted? If you've decided you don't want to support threaded conversations why would you waste time designing a system that facilitates them?

Re:Is there discussion locking? (1)

Kefaa (76147) | more than 11 years ago | (#5438211)

"You can't restrict branching in a high traffic forum without some sort of syncronization"

Certainly you can and Slashdot does it on a regular basis. You see it happen when you post to a popular topic. Go in when the number is in the 30s and if you open a reply and take your time, you may end up in the 80s or higher.

On his board, your comment appears further down the line, is that any different?

Re:Is there discussion locking? (1)

turpie (8040) | more than 11 years ago | (#5438459)

With Slashdots branching your reply will show up somewhere near the original comment.
In a non-branching/flat forum like Joel's your reply will be 50 or so messages below the original.

Re:Is there discussion locking? (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 11 years ago | (#5440763)

In a non-branching/flat forum like Joel's your reply will be 50 or so messages below the original.

So he allows branching, just displays the messages in a non-obvois form. Wonderful.

Re:Is there discussion locking? (1)

bmckeever (224043) | more than 11 years ago | (#5445508)

Is there locking for posting in-depth, correct, messages, or if you spend lots of time presenting a well thought out post do you just get bounced when somebody else has already replied while you were typing?

Neither. You don't reply to a message, you post to the discussion. If you are "replying" to a particular post, that's fine, but is not officially indicated or recorded in any fashion.

Sounds like a broken decision to me

Sounds like attacking a straw man to me.

Re:Is there discussion locking? (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 11 years ago | (#5449964)

Discussions have structure. If they didn't you might as well scramble a dictionary, because you'll never make sense of it. There's a difference between a useful tool for following a discussion (I won't use the word reply if you don't want me to. Just because Joel says they're not replies doesn't change the meaning of the word, though) and a jumble of statements. Words and statements only mean things when arranged correctly. The order of statements in a discussion can convey as much meaning as the words themselves. Taking the structure away is like reading every other page of a book. At best, with his layout, you'll have to waste time figuring out the order in which things were to appear in order to understand the correct meaning. In the worst case, something somebody said will mean the wrong thing or will be meaningless because of the order in which it appears.

Of course I'm just as much of a self proclaimed expert on the subject as he is (you did notice that, like me, he's just a guy with a big mouth and lots of opinions, and not anybody particularly special, right?), so I guess I should shut up.

Re:Is there discussion locking? (1)

/ASCII (86998) | more than 11 years ago | (#5459001)

I agree that Joel is not "anybody particularly special", but I would at least give some more weight to his opinions than the average big mouth (you). He has written a pretty big library of interesting articles on software development, published a collection of them in book form, and gotten linked numerous times from Slashdot. Seems his words should hold at least some weight.

Scalability (2, Insightful)

WasterDave (20047) | more than 11 years ago | (#5436899)

All Joel's comments are geared towards small forums that are attempting to grow. Wouldn't work here - I don't know about anyone else, but I dont want to have to page through 50k of "BSD is dying" before I get to something relevant.

Dave

Re:Scalability (1)

lowmagnet (646428) | more than 11 years ago | (#5442135)

You didn't read very carefully, did you? BSD is dying posts obviously fall under the 'moderated out' category of posts. In high traffic, it would be difficult, however.

Re:Scalability (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5446760)

BSD is dying

Whatever (4, Insightful)

jvmatthe (116058) | more than 11 years ago | (#5437078)

A conversation is made better by minimizing quoting? I disagree; a discussion can be made more precise with quoting. I also feel it can eliminate flamousness, because you give context to comments that might otherwise be misconstrued. This isn't to say that quoting doesn't encourage skilled trolls to take posts out of context to make a warped point.

Branching distracts? Quite the opposite; the very structure of USENET threading and threading on Slashdot allows me to ignore irrelevant branches very easily.

Previewing posts isn't good? Sorry, but previews are good for at least two uses in my experience. I get to see my post and reconsider the structure of what I have to say. Also, it allows me to reconsider if I'm about to flame the hell out of someone, or more often remove language that could be misconstrued because of poor word choice.

I really feel that Joel has an idea of how he can force non-technical users to deal with online forums. And that may be fine for his purposes if he has a lot of non-technical users. But forcing users to jump through these hoops does not encourage them to become more proficient users of what I see as more sophisticated, forums. And, in the sense of organizing information, I find the kind of forum he's pushing to be amazingly inefficient, since the idea of a thread of a discussion can be completely destroyed (without draconian topic splitting by moderators).

Honestly, though, it's as if he took every design decision that's part of current forums and decided to provide a contrary view, for the sake of argument. While I think it's great to discuss those structures that we take for granted that might be improved, this seems intentionally controversial without any suggestions for better organizing information.

Ah well. I disagree with his idea of a productive forum, but then I'm a long time USENET user. (This post previewed several times to elaborate on my original two paragraph post. Oh, and I corrected some ambiguous language. And, believe it or not, I kept the original story in another browser tab so I could refer to it, although I didn't quote from it.)

Re:Whatever (3, Funny)

ObviousGuy (578567) | more than 11 years ago | (#5437105)

quoting doesn't encourage ... trolls

I beg to differ.

Re:Whatever (1)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 11 years ago | (#5466888)

Joel says:
Quoting, with the ">" symbol, is a disease that makes it impossible to read any single thread without boring yourself to death by re-reading the whole history of a chain of argument which you just read in the original, seconds ago, again and again and again.
Quite the opposite - quoting is the convention that makes it possible to read a message and get an immediate idea of what is discussed, _without_ having to go back and wade through old history. It just relies on people to have the discipline to quote what is relevant and not just paste in the whole previous message. Of course if you summarize the 'story so far' in your own words, you don't need to quote anything at all.

Works as designed? (2, Funny)

Revvy (617529) | more than 11 years ago | (#5437159)

...then the design sucks, too. -My other sig is sour.

Sounds like Yahoo! Message Boards (2, Insightful)

JGski (537049) | more than 11 years ago | (#5437275)

And that sure turned out to be a real thriving, online healthy community!

I think his solution is workable for small groups but without social norming things get out of hand pretty quick. Modding is just a form of social norming.

K.I.S.S. (2, Informative)

You're All Wrong (573825) | more than 11 years ago | (#5437283)

Don't use the non-word "seques" if you don't know what word you should be using. You're trying to show off, but showing off your ignorance. If you stick to bread-and-butter words, then everyone's happy.

The correct word is "segues". From the Italian, and ultimately from latin, where the root word did have a 'q' (same root as 'sequence' etc., and if you really want to trace it back, you can go all the way to pIE without too much of a leap of faith.)

YAW.

Re:K.I.S.S. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5440188)

"Segues" is a bread-and-butter word. You can hear it on prime-time television for Christ's sake. Oh, and "seque" is is just a misspelling, "nucular" would be a good example of a non-word.

Re:K.I.S.S. (1)

You're All Wrong (573825) | more than 11 years ago | (#5440462)

I don't believe the author of the mistake _has_ knowningly heard the word - after all the mistake is indicative that a _visual_ fuck-up that's been made. I'd have made a similar comment if he'd have used 'segway', which would imply that the author had heard the word but not seen it.

Either is an attempt to attrificially inflate your active vocabulary, but as such is nothing more than sophistry.

YAW.

Community, not forums (2, Interesting)

lorax (2988) | more than 11 years ago | (#5437329)

Joel's message boards are trying to build community, not just be simple forums. Notice that what many of the posters to slashdot have said is all these features make it easier to jump in, get the good stuff and get moving with life. Community on the other hand is about people sticking around and having a conversation.

What's he on? (2, Interesting)

You're All Wrong (573825) | more than 11 years ago | (#5437334)

From the article:
"On IRC, you can't own your nickname and you can't own a channel -- once the last person leaves a room, anyone can take it over. "

Bullshit. That's not a feature of _IRC_, that's a particular feature of the particular irc net he's using. Many smaller networks have nameservs, so that you can own your nickname, and it's also perfectly possible to have registered channel management on an IRC network too.

His criticisms of Usenet and the '>' disease are equally bogus. It's _idiots_ who don't know how to trim quotes, and idiots can make any system annoying. The higher quality newsgroups tend to slap good posting style into newbs fairly swiftly, and you therefore don't read the same thing repeatedly.

If he believes his system is inherantly superior, then perhaps we shoudl all run over, and act like annoying newbs on his fora, and he'd soon see that his setup is just as flawed as any other, if not more-so.

YAW.

Re:What's he on? (1)

You're All Wrong (573825) | more than 11 years ago | (#5437351)

s/nameservs/nickservs/

late, sorry...

YAW.

Re:What's he on? (1)

cymen (8178) | more than 11 years ago | (#5437466)

I'm on his mailing list so I read the thing last night. I wasn't surprised to see it here on /. since he won't take feedback on it at his site. All of his criticisms were the compelling issues of each area 5 years ago. I found his comment about the quoting characters most laughable as, while the whole thing is way overblown, there are valid reasons for the style. Think Joel got flamed on usenet and never returned?

I can understand the pragmatic approach but with his outdated "world view" the whole email/post comes off as half-baked.

Re:What's he on? (1)

You're All Wrong (573825) | more than 11 years ago | (#5440416)

D'ya think he was a top-poster or something, perhaps?

YAW.

Re:What's he on? (1)

llywrch (9023) | more than 11 years ago | (#5455692)

> I wasn't surprised to see it here on /. since he won't take feedback on it at his site.

From the tone of his article, I'm not surprised. Shoot, after reading his article, I now have little interest in participating in any of his fora.

> I can understand the pragmatic approach but with his outdated "world view" the whole email/post comes off as half-baked.

There's nothing ``pragmatic" about this. He comes over not only as arrogant, but so sure that he has all of the correct answers I lost interest in his article half way thru it. Part of the pleasure of reading any online discussion -- as well as participating -- is to watch the give & take between two different viewpoints as they explain why their viewpoints are valid. Spoelsky strikes me as someone who would rather read a couple of position papers from different sides of a topic, then draw his own conclusions, instead of following the growth of an idea in a discussion; he forgets that a good chunk of the any journey is not the destination but how one gets there. (And that anything worth writing usually is worth RE-writing.)

Yes, sometimes an online conversation drifts into uninterresting territory, or goes on too long . . . but no one is making anyone read more than she/he wants to.

Geoff

Re:What's he on? (1)

REBloomfield (550182) | more than 11 years ago | (#5439624)

which buttmunch modded that as a troll??

Although amusingly, they can't actually post to say so...

I perfectly agree, as do most of the posts here it seems....

No Posting Policies? (4, Insightful)

AllMightyPaul (553038) | more than 11 years ago | (#5437356)

The thing I *really* don't like Joel's system is his policy of not showing the policies. There is an incredibly obvious and rather fatal flaw that is inherent in this.

Say some jerk comes to the message board and starts doing mean things like trolling. So you punish him or her appropriately. However, then one of your established users begins to start trolling, so you go lightly on him or her, because he or she is respected and had a bad day. Well, that's not good. Inconsistency in punishments is something that drives people away. In the business world if you treate one person differently than another, you have lawsuits on your hands!

So who is to know what is allowed and what isn't when the rules don't exist? I think that this is the actual reason for Joel not wanting to post rules. This way he can punish whomever he wants and selectively decide to enforce the rules.

This coupled with his policy of deleting "off-topic" and other things that he "doesn't like" leads to a really bad "community" with something akin to secret police patrolling the message board, silently taking out those who don't conform and whatnot. How bad.

Re:No Posting Policies? (2, Insightful)

samael (12612) | more than 11 years ago | (#5439331)

Say some jerk comes to the message board and starts doing mean things like trolling. So you punish him or her appropriately. However, then one of your established users begins to start trolling, so you go lightly on him or her, because he or she is respected and had a bad day. Well, that's not good.

Say some jerk comes to a club you run and starts doing mean things like snapping at the other members. So you throw them out. And then one of your older members comes in one day and snaps at some people and you go lightly on them, because you respect them and they've had a bad day. Well that's good. Because it's your club and you get to make value judgements about who you like and don't like and who you trust and don't trust.

Because real life isn't so simple you can boil it down to a set of rules and then stop thinking because you just follow them.

Re:No Posting Policies? (1)

AllMightyPaul (553038) | more than 11 years ago | (#5440101)

You're right. In a social atmosphere like a club, you can decide to selectively follow the rules, and I totally agree with your statement.

However, I was attempting to compare Joel's message board to a business environment, which is what it is. Joel states that he uses his message board for the primary purpose of customer support, which puts it into a business-like environment, where rules are important. So while your point is valid and makes sense for a club, there is a different type of atmosphere present in other areas that requires following the rules consisently.

Re:No Posting Policies? (1)

ichimunki (194887) | more than 11 years ago | (#5441120)

But the internet isn't a private club. It's a large-- often anonymous/pseudonymous-- network. Different communities on the net have wildly different norms. Posting rules is a more efficient method for communicating those norms than trial and error. And even Joel doesn't really think written rules are a bad thing-- what do you think his article really is? It looks a lot like an attempt to justify certain decisions he's made for his forums as well as an attempt to clarify some of the rules.

whats wrong with slashdot... (1)

rhyd (614491) | more than 11 years ago | (#5437370)

First of all look at this /. thread [slashdot.org]

at -1 nested look at the scoring in that story: -1: 489 comments
0: 270 comments
1: 216 comments
2: 113 comments
3: 49 comments
4: 22 comments
5: 9 comments

there was robomoderation (script?) of comments starting at +2 down to -1 offtopic several days after the story was posted

where's the freedom at?

Re:whats wrong with slashdot... (1)

infernow (529374) | more than 11 years ago | (#5439127)

That thread was in an article about Oracle, not the moderation system. See it here. [slashdot.org] . The thread isn't about Oracle, so it's offtopic. Yes, there is a large amount of good discussion there, but it's still offtopic, so it all got modded down.

Some call this the /. editors' supression of dissenting opinions, but the posts were interfering with the discussion about the article and had to be "dealt with". I don't necessarily agree with the way it was dealt with, but I can see why it was done. vidarlo made a good point when he (or she) said: This has, as far as I can see, nothing to do with Oracle debate going on. This is something that should be put in Ask Slashdot. [slashdot.org] An Ask Slashdot or a poll about moderation would have been a much better place for that discussion.

Re:whats wrong with slashdot... (1)

rhyd (614491) | more than 11 years ago | (#5439232)

if a substantial section of the community want to take a thread off-topic they should be allowed to do that. Normal moderation would usually obscure that thread anyway.

In the oracle case the vast majority of discussion was going on in the offtopic thread and people realised that the normal moderation system probably would not have been so harsh.

to prove their point people continued to post into the thread for several days using their karma bonuses - its very unusal to get modded in either direction once a story goes cold (especially at the bottom of a large offtopic thread) but within minutes of posting they were modded down to -1

so you have 2 possible explanations:

1. a large group of modderators who clubbed together to patrol the thread for several days (unlikely)

2. A sanctioned script is running somewhere on /. to periodically surpress comments on certain designated threads (likely and horrible)

in this case the offtopic post contained information the community wanted to discuss but the admins wanted to surpress (ie no chance of getting on Ask slashdot)

what i think is mising from /. is a decentralised story submission system along the lines of the current moderation system. You could occasionaly hand out nomination points that would allow users to view & vote for stories in the submission queue. This would be fairer, there would be less duplicate posts ;) ,and the system would be less corrupt (how much do I hate seeing stories about some great new MS patented software underneath a great big beast banner) - Quite often it seems the community will express distain at the story selection process. ...must sleep now

Re:whats wrong with slashdot... (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 11 years ago | (#5439359)

Well the thread sure was off topic.

Explanation 2 is likely. I don't see why it's inherently horrible, it depends on how it's used and why. It's a bit like an ISP using RBL vs spam.

People can still see the crap if they wanted to, they can archive it too if they want.

Re:whats wrong with slashdot... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5447425)

if a substantial section of the community want to take a thread off-topic they should be allowed to do that.

There's a reason Slashdot doesn't have just one big thread (or maybe two--"News for Nerds" and "Stuff that matters"), and it's the same reason there are more newsgroups than misc.misc. Topics are useful for both finding what you do want to read and avoiding what you don't. No matter how big a "section of the community" wants to violate the community's norms, reducing signal/noise is still wrong.

In the oracle case the vast majority of discussion was going on in the offtopic thread and people realised that the normal moderation system probably would not have been so harsh.

Think of it as getting out the body armor and tear gas because the regular cops on the beat can't handle the riot on their own.

Why do you think the admins would reject this topic, just because they minimized vandalism in a completely unrelated topic?

what i think is mising from /. is a decentralised story submission system

If you want K5 [kuro5hin.org] you know where to find it. Slashdot exists because the audience thinks the admins' selections are worth reading.

Re:whats wrong with slashdot... (1)

rhyd (614491) | more than 11 years ago | (#5447633)

yeah.... i believe that other place [kuro5hin.org] does have far better submission system.

(i'm surprised my karma hasn't ignited yet)

Can someone remind me... (2, Interesting)

amarodeeps (541829) | more than 11 years ago | (#5437457)

...why it is always front-page news here when Joel S. opens his mouth? Is someone who runs Slashdot pals with him or something? He seems to be about as astute about software as, well, your general slashdotter...which is just kinda okay really (I mean, his ideas aren't always terrible, sometimes their good, sometimes stupid and bad. I'd rather hear from, say, Bruce Shneier though, to pick another random qualified software-pundit). I don't get it.

Re:Can someone remind me... (1)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 11 years ago | (#5466941)

We all secretly envy Joel Spolsky because he gets to develop in Visual Basic.

Pfft. Can't own a nick/channel? (1)

westyx (95706) | more than 11 years ago | (#5437715)

I don't think joel has been on irc for a long, long time.

I help run a successful forum (2, Interesting)

digidave (259925) | more than 11 years ago | (#5437740)

I developed and help admin a private forum of people who met on the net. When I was developing it I asked what people wanted. They unanimously did not want multiple forums, "hidden" replies (forcing you to click on each one) or limits to replying (it's fully threaded). People don't like anything that they interpret as limiting what they want to do.

Within a really good community you can let the community keep itself in order. When someone steps out of line or a newbie does something... newbieish... then the community straightens it out before a moderator needs to step in.

To create strong community you must create a strong friendship, or at least a strong commonality, among members.

Credibility (1)

BoneMarrow (577933) | more than 11 years ago | (#5438599)

I don't know...
...to me Joel kinda lost his credibility after the whole 'Joel on boys' scandal. But I guess whatever floats your boat.

Re:Credibility (1)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 11 years ago | (#5438781)

What was that all about? I read this post, and he looks like a bit of a moron. Or, at the very least, he sounds like Tannenbaum speaking to Linus 10+ years ago.

Re:Credibility (1)

pyman (610707) | more than 11 years ago | (#5439149)


What scandal? I think Joel is an arrogant twit, please tell me more!

Way off base (2, Insightful)

Twylite (234238) | more than 11 years ago | (#5438919)

I usually appreciate Joel's views, but this article is way off base. He would do well to study group psychology and collaboration before making comments like this.

In one breath he wails about the lack of "community", and in the next distinguished between "newbies" and "old timers" on a usenet group. These categories emerge strictly as a result of the community building process, whereby it is difficult for a newcomer to enter a (social) group on an equal footing to existing members.

The idea that quoting is a "disease" is misguided at best. Because a single e-mail or post represents several parts of a conversation, indicating the context to which you are referring is essential. This is even more true in the case of online systems that will be used in the future as archive and/or reference material, where it will be difficult and time-consuming to follow the entire conversation from the beginning to the point of interest. While quoting of entire posts is indeed a curse, selective quoting to indicate context is necessary for meaningful communication.

When it comes to e-mail notification, Joel is even more far gone. All literature on the relatively new field of active collaboration indicates that people have less time to do more things, and the best way to achieve collaboration is to tell them what they need when they need it. I used to spend plenty of time and bandwidth browsing to Slashdot to find out if someone had replied to my comments; now I know when this happens, and can follow up in a reasonable period of time. Conversations that may have taken days and stagnated can now be more meaningful.

Branching? Let's thing about this for a moment -- there is a lecture theatre with (say) 100 people in the audience; after a short speech (the "initial post") there is a break for discussion. Does each person insist on an opportunity to stand at the podium and give their 5c, or do they go and huddle with other people and discuss their views and interpretation. And which system is better suited to communicating and increasing group knowledge, assuming all conversations are recorded and archived?

While Joel's commented on Slashdot may be warranted, it (Slashdot) is nevertheless the closest thing on the public Internet to Active Collaborative Filtering (ACF). The idea of ACF is that there is too much content for you to process (filter) on your own. Instead you can leverage the processing (filtering) of others (experts in the field and/or people you trust to be like-minded). Slashdot's moderation system is a simple implementation of ACF, assuming you trust all geekdom to be like-minded. The ability to assign additional moderation to particular users progresses the system more towards true ACF. In any event it is a more reliable system than moderation by a number of pre-selected moderators.

Kuro5hin (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5442127)

Kuro5hin seems to foster the tightest knit group of users. Would anybody like to make a guess of why that is?

My own guess would be three factors:

(1) The community written and edited stories with following plebiscite seems draw people in. Users want to participate, and they come to associate the views with the writers. They take more pride in a cite that is truly community built, in part by them.

(2) The comment moderation system allows people to become known. Since any user can rate any comment at any time -- and his name is attached to the rating -- users become known. Also, this fosters user participation because people are not limited to either writing comments or moderating.

(3) The continuously scrolling diary section creates a valve for outbursts or simply a location to write about qoutidian life. It has generated a subculture of its own.

I think he has a point (1)

pfafrich (647460) | more than 11 years ago | (#5444100)

Yet another slashdot ripping to shreds, (it does seem to be a good forum for that). Like attracts like, slashdot attracts anti MS, lame jokes, with the occasional flash of inspiration. The moderation system while good at filtering out the dross can help keep the party line. I just had two years away from slashdot at it seems to have dropped in quality. Two years ago reading at 4/5 would give me the most interesting comments, normally about 10 which is enough to really cover most points in a discussion. Now your typical item is getting 30-40 in the 4/5 level. And I never get to the end of the list as I get board by the repeated discussion. Have a look at the number of comments in Do You Write Backdoors? thread. 37 at 5, 52 at 4, 86 at 3, 220 at 2, 368 at at 1 and 531 at 0. The ratio of these are 37/52 = .7 52/86 = .6 86/220 = .4 220/368 = .7 So 70% of posts with 4 get moderated up to 5. We see a big drops from 2 to 3 and small drops from 4 to 5. I'd like to see a sharper drop, so its only the really good comments which get to be 5. This is possibly achievable by reducing the number of moderation points around. I'm with Joel on quoting. I almost never quote and do not enjoy the pickyness in usenet. This may be my personal preferance, I tend to prefer quick overviews to small details. He's certainly right on how small design changes affect the type of discussion. I've done several small changes my own discussion board at Plants For A Future [leeds.ac.uk] (which is really a means for adding corections to pages rather than a true discussion board). Originally you had to go to a new page to add a comment, I wanted to encourage more posts and also to make it easier for people to add links to other sites with related info. So put the reply box right there on the page and add a box so people can easily add a link without having to know about all that &lta href stuff. Sure enough number of links went up. Just thinking of my dream discussion board software. All these small changes could be easily configurable so that you create the kind of discussion you want. Now I'm going to go away and remove that followup link from my board. The feature never worked well anyway. ttfn Rich

I think he has a point (1)

pfafrich (647460) | more than 11 years ago | (#5444176)

(Whoopse, ignore previous malformated post, hit submit rather than preview. Hay maybe they should swith the order of buttons?)

Yet another slashdot ripping to shreds, (it does seem to be a good forum for that). Like attracts like, slashdot attracts anti MS, lame jokes, with the occasional flash of inspiration. The moderation system while good at filtering out the dross can help keep the party line.

I just had two years away from slashdot at it seems to have dropped in quality. Two years ago reading at 4/5 would give me the most interesting comments, normally about 10 which is enough to really cover most points in a discussion. Now your typical item is getting 30-40 in the 4/5 level. And I never get to the end of the list as I get board by the repeated discussion. Have a look at the number of comments in Do You Write Backdoors? thread. 37 at 5, 52 at 4, 86 at 3, 220 at 2, 368 at at 1 and 531 at 0. The ratio of these are

  • 37/52 = .7 5 vrs 4
  • 52/86 = .6 4 vrs 3
  • 86/220 = .4 3 vrs 2
  • 220/368 = .7 2 vrs 1
So 70% of posts with 4 get moderated up to 5. We see a big drops from 2 to 3 and small drops from 4 to 5.

I'd like to see a sharper drop, so its only the really good comments which get to be 5. This is possibly achievable by reducing the number of moderation points around.

I'm with Joel on quoting. I almost never quote and do not enjoy the pickyness in usenet. This may be my personal preferance, I tend to prefer quick overviews to small details.

He's certainly right on how small design changes affect the type of discussion. I've done several small changes my own discussion board at Plants For A Future [leeds.ac.uk] (which is really a means for adding corections to pages rather than a true discussion board). Originally you had to go to a new page to add a comment, I wanted to encourage more posts and also to make it easier for people to add links to other sites with related info. So put the reply box right there on the page and add a box so people can easily add a link without having to know about all that &lta href stuff. Sure enough number of links went up.

Just thinking of my dream discussion board software. All these small changes could be easily configurable so that you create the kind of discussion you want.

Now I'm going to go away and remove that followup link from my board. The feature never worked well anyway.

ttfn Rich

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?
or Connect with...

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>