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Slashdot Updates 1057

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the it's-been-awhile dept.
It's been a long time since I posted an update about Slashdot but a few recent changes warrant me doing it. You should see the OSDN Navbar atop the page now. I don't like it any more then many of you, so if you log in, there is an option to disable it. (Click the 'X', or look in Preferences:Misc) A few more notes follow including the lowdown on subscriptions, formkey bugs, and AC filters.

The formkey bug that was wreaking havoc all weekend was fixed. It was a mistake in seeding rand that was causing a small percentage of users to have problems posting. It wasn't a conspiracy designed to thwart anyone, just you. Man it was a pain in the ass. But it was squashed on Sunday (thank god).

Anonymous Coward filtering is now in place. It's not exactly finished, but it'll do for now. Essentially there is now a user preference that sets all AC posts to -1. This has been a very common user request for some time, so turn it on if you like. It's currently off by default. It's only a baby step: eventually there will be more fine-tuned controls for anonymous posts, as well as comment types. For Example: I'd personally like to assign a -2 penalty on any comment rated 'funny' because most of them frankly just aren't funny at all. But humor is far too subjective to say that the moderation is unfair. Anyway, now everyone can decide for themselves. That should happen in the next few weeks.

Last up, I'm gonna talk a little about advertisements and subscriptions. Slashdot continues to grow: our traffic has increased by like 10% in the last few months, and simply selling the banner ads you see on top of each page isn't going to be enough to keep us afloat if we keep growing. And selling banner ads in 2001 is an awful lot harder then it was in 1999.

The change will be a different ad size on the article page. Currently we have the standard banner size on top of all pages, but soon the article pages will instead have those huge square things that you see on CNet or ZD. I know this will be unpopular with many people, myself included, but when we make the switch, we will also have some sort of subscription system where you can pay a fee to disable them honestly. (No I don't know how much yet!)

Just to shut down the conspiracy theorists, nobody is forcing us to make these changes: The navbar. The new ad formats. The subscription system. I could just say 'No' to changes like these. But Slashdot is now four years old ... and I want it to still be here four years from now. I hope you can understand the expensive reality associated with making this site happen every day for a quarter of a million readers.

Now flame me if you feel it necessary. Get it out of your system.

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Slashdot Updates

Comments Filter:
  • How much? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by RollingThunder (88952)
    Any ideas on how much de-advertising will cost?
    • Re:How much? (Score:3, Redundant)

      by david614 (10051)
      Yeah. I presume that you have looked at ars technica's approach to subscriptions so that you can make this work.

      You owe your readers early information on subscriptions. Otherwise, add busting software will make nonsense of your switch to ads plus subscriptions.

      Last thing.

      Those big mid-page ads on CNET are why I don't go there anymore.

      You better have a good explanation for why you think that slashdot folks are willing to tolerate them.

      D
      • by hexx (108181) on Monday October 22, 2001 @08:04PM (#2463143)

        Last thing.

        Those big mid-page ads on CNET are why I don't go there anymore.

        You better have a good explanation for why you think that slashdot folks are willing to tolerate them.


        You don't have to tolerate them! Taco just said you can buy a subscription and disable them!

        And as unpopular as it is to pay for the things, people work on slashdot so we can all have fun reading it. And they have to make money too (god knows their stock ain't worth shit anymore).

      • You owe your readers early information on subscriptions. Otherwise, add busting software will make nonsense of your switch to ads plus subscriptions.

        Let me second this. Please, Tac, please, Hemos, give us some information on the subscription service. I personally wouldn't mind paying a subscription fee for Slashdot, if it means Slashdot will survive into the future, but do let people opt in for a month or two before the nasty-ads show up.

        Worst case scenario, the nasty-ads will drive readership, and therefore costs, down. :)

      • Re:How much? (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Those big mid-page ads on CNET are why I don't go there anymore.

        I'm curious if you avoid reading the newspaper or magazines. Those tend have big mid-page ads too.

        Oh, well, you've probably crammed this AC post below your threshold .. saves the editors from marking it -1 Offtopic, I guess.
      • by krogoth (134320)
        At least they're well targeted. You won't see a full-page ad on CNet talking about "vaginal yeast infections" :)
  • by Robber Baron (112304) on Monday October 22, 2001 @07:53PM (#2463095) Homepage
    Otherwise we'll really have to hate you.
    • Actually I would prefer X10 ads - as another /. reader pointed out, X10 ads can be turned off [x10.com] for 30 days at a time.

      • actually, with a bit of hand editing of the url, they can be turned off for any ammount of time. The argument controls how many days in the future the cookie expires. I personally went with one that expires in 3000 days.
    • ad space (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Alien54 (180860)
      There is plenty of space for ads along the left edge and right edge, and when you have long threads that becomes very usable. That is likely where you would want them, since the longer threads are the more interesting read.

      You could also do what the register does, and have stories "sponsored" by certain companies with their color scheme and logo incorporated, etc. Or have companies sponsor sections in this way for a day or two, or a week or two.

      You could also have half height ads on the main page, in the spaces between the stories.

      So there are lots of options before doing the big ass boxes in the stories

  • I don't like it any more then many of you, so if you log in, there is an option to disable it.

    I didn't even notice it until i read that it was there.... but thanks for the option to disable.

  • by dlittled (187714) on Monday October 22, 2001 @08:00PM (#2463110) Homepage
    ...is 500,000 slashdotters clicking the "off" radio button for the OSDN bar -d
    • Seriously. If 99.9% of readers turned it the hell off, there was really no point in having it.

    • by mclearn (86140)

      It would be interesting to see some stats about how many /.er's have the toolbar on after 'x' days -- in fact it would be interesting to have a compilation of stats in general:

      • Who toggles off Jon Katz
      • Average browse level
      • Average karma
      • Who has the Jenni-cam set up
      • etc.
    • Toolbar (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sulli (195030)
      Am I the only one on /. who actually likes it? It puts Search in an easily accessible place, which can't be bad.

      Now what I would like is a customizable toolbar, a la the slashboxes. That way the trolls could have a link straight to goatse.cx at the top, and I could add some other OSDN and/or news sites I like to read - could be useful.

  • by MongooseCN (139203) on Monday October 22, 2001 @08:00PM (#2463112) Homepage
    Most slashdotters are advocates about retaining their privacy and personal information. Yet when it comes to other peoples privacy, ie Anonymous Cowards, it's just unacceptable. Those same people want the Anonymous Cowards modded down. Maybe someone posting as an Anonymous Coward has no choice. If they need to post something negative about the company they work at or an opinion they don't want people to know is theirs, then they have to post anonymously.

    Things need to work both ways here. Now go ahead and mod me down for "trolling".
    • by Telek (410366) on Monday October 22, 2001 @08:06PM (#2463157) Homepage
      Yes, however when the MAJORITY of people posting as Mr Anon Coward do so in order to post stupid or defamitory comments, FP/SP/TP/Xth Post comments or pictures of stupid ASCII art about goatsex, then things change considerably. Try reading at -1 and see all of the crap that is posted by these Anon Cowards and you'll get my point.

      I see absolutely no reason why someone can't post as a logged in user. If, on the rare occasion, they need to have their anonimity protected, then post as an AC or make a new account. If the post is legitimate then it will be modded up to where people can read it.

      Mind you, I personally see no problem with the system the way that it is.
      • Yes, however when the MAJORITY of people posting as Mr Anon Coward do so in order to post stupid or defamitory comments, FP/SP/TP/Xth Post comments or pictures of stupid ASCII art about goatsex, then things change considerably. Try reading at -1 and see all of the crap that is posted by these Anon Cowards and you'll get my point.
        to be perfectly honest and blunt with you, if slashdot had an option to only read posts at scored at -1 I would use it.

        slashdot used to be a place where important and interesting topics were discussed and genuinely important and interesting people such as Alan Cox, John Carmack and Bruce Perens would post and discuss.

        Today, slashdot is full of karma whoring bitches who post blindingly obvious comments to articles. The only people posting interesting comments to the articles are trolls such as egg troll [slashdot.org], Trollman 5000 [slashdot.org], the sporks, cyborg_monkey et al. Their posts may be crude and unwelcome by most of you, but as a slashdot veteran being surrounded with linux wannabes posting blindingly obvious yet 'insightful' comments it is a breath of fresh air.

        You only need to look at moderation in the slashdot article Ask Slashdot: Opposing Open Source? [slashdot.org] to see what i mean: the article was all about opposing points to open source software, yet we had blindingly obvious karma whoring posts [slashdot.org] about microsoft's well known postition on the subject and the not-very-insightful karma whoring posts by a bunch of linux wannabes [slashdot.org] giving their un-valuable opinions [slashdot.org], and yet whenever something new [slashdot.org] was presented, even in jest, it was moderated troll or flamebait.

        I want an option that allows me to browse only the -1 posts. These posts are the only insightful and interesting material being posted on this site.

        • by TGK (262438) <Killfile AT Nephandus DOT Com> on Monday October 22, 2001 @10:06PM (#2463871) Homepage Journal
          As one of those Linux wanabes and a fairly recent addition to the slashdot community (1 year or so) I'd like to concur and respectfully disagree. I concur insofar as the statement that there is a groupthink mentality growing on slashdot which is dangerous to the vitality of the readerbase and is slowly changing the character of the site for the worse.

          I disagree in the assumption that all new users and linux wanabes are responsible for this. I for example try to keep my posts restricted to my personal areas of expertese (spelling not being one of those areas) and pure speculation. I don't post on the future trends in the open source movement because I simply don't know shit about them. I'm intersted to see what others have to say though... and I think I've learned alot from Slashdot in my year or so here.

          Now into that speculation. I've noted that Slashdot tends to be straying from what many consider its origional purpose to be. Most of the reader base sees this site as dedicated first and foremost to news about Linux, high tecnology, and science. Nonetheless, we've branched out. Articles on personal liberties (many of which really don't belong to "your rights online") and poltical developments grace these pages.

          Perhaps, other niche groups need their own slashdot? I've seen a few uses of the slashcode in various poorly frequented news sights, but nothing of the scope that Slashdot has.

          As a history buff myself, I'd be curious to see the reaction a site like, oh, say Pastdot would get :-)

          Point being, I think a lot of the AC posts and trolls we see here are a result of two things. 10 year olds with to much time on their hands, and people looking to discuss issues who really aren't part of this "community" or clique if you prefer. Perhaps /. has simply gotten to ideocentric to accecpt deviants anymore. Perhaps I'm just rambeling.
    • This looks like a good argument, and in theory I agree, but if you take the time to look at every AC comment, I'd guess 90% are crap/ flames/ pointless. I realize there are some legitimate posts, but they are vastly outweighed by the static. Anyway, if you're privacy is such a concern that you'll post as AC, why not create an account just for this purpose? I don't remeber the exact procedure, but becoming a member here only took a couple of minutes max. Not to big a time investment.
    • by Surak (18578) <surak@ma i l b l ocks.com> on Monday October 22, 2001 @08:14PM (#2463224) Homepage Journal
      Most slashdotters are advocates about retaining their privacy and personal information. Yet when it comes to other peoples privacy, ie Anonymous Cowards, it's just unacceptable.

      How is this about privacy? The *only* piece of personal information you are *required* to give slashdot is a real e-mail address, which is required for validation purposes and for subscribing to the headline poster. (A few other things like messages were added with Banjo!)

      The address you give them doesn't even have to be your main address anyway. You could (any many people do) give them a hotmail address or whatever.

      Your posts can always get linked back to your IP address, AC or no AC, there's no way around that short of an anonymizer and there aren't too many of those around either. Besides anonymizers can't be trusted anyway.

      So if you're so worried about privacy, disconnect your computer from the Internet, get your phone shut off, and move into microbus and go traveling around the country, even then you wouldn't have complete privacy.

    • I'd just like to point out that you claim that the people who say that, to paraphrase, "advocate retaining their privacy and personal information", are the *SAME* people who "want the Anonymous Cowards modded down". While I'll admit that both views are common enough on Slashdot, do you have any evidence that it really is the same subset of people who are demanding both things? How much overlap between the group of privacy advocates and the group of anti-ACs is there?

      I often see posts of this nature on Slashdot -- in an article about intellectual property in the Linux world, you'll see comments like, "You people are the same ones who said that IP is evil, and now you want Linux's IP protected!!" without ever proving that fact.

      I really wish people would stop claiming stuff like this. You're not trolling, you're just making an assumption without any data to back it up. (Not that I'm saying no such data exists; merely that you didn't collect it. For all we know, you're right -- it IS the same people, but no one's bothered to collate the data. You might suggest that *I* should do it, but then again, YOU'RE the one who made the positive assertion that the two groups coincide...)
    • by NMerriam (15122) <NMerriam@artboy.org> on Monday October 22, 2001 @08:17PM (#2463264) Homepage
      There's no contradiction whatsoever -- you have every right to post an an AC, and taco has repeatedly stated that people will always be able to post as AC.

      That said, anyone reading will immediately consider anonymous information to be less valid than that which is attributed. In some cases, the inherent value of the information itself will overcome that initial doubtfulness.

      But to suggest that /. is somehow making ACs "unacceptable" is simply incorrect. they're letting the individual readers decide whether or not they (as an individual) want to read the Ac or not. He also made pretty clear that he's taking it beyond AC into the realm of other attributes, like modding as "funny". This seems like just another way to let the readers decide what they come to /. for.

      there are days when i browse at -1 to laugh at the asinine AC stuff, there are days when i browse at +2 because I don't have much time to spend. There are days where I'm annoyed that the three top rated posts are all "funny" rather than informative or directly on-topic. there are days when I'm not bothered by it at all.

      I personally think that Taco is doing as well as could be expected at trying to make everyone happy, which of course he can't. But he can give us more and more options so we can make OURSELVES happy.

      That said, the suggested large ads are a PITA, and after being on /. since nearly the beginning I think those will do more to drive off the readership than AC postings ever did.

      I suggest that they'd probably do better selling karma than ad space!
  • by MidKnight (19766) on Monday October 22, 2001 @08:01PM (#2463120)
    I had some fleeting thoughts about posting a flame-inducing rant here about the unsustainable nature of "free" stuff (news outlets, software, ketchup, take your pick), the inherent greed of human nature, and other related topics. I'm a capitalist... so shoot me.

    But instead I'd like to just point out that Slashdot is an amazing accomplishment, and everyone who keeps it running deserves to get paid for it. The only people that will bitch about the (potential) subscription cost are the same ones whose posts I never read anyway.

    --Mid

  • by lkaos (187507) <anthony.codemonkey@ws> on Monday October 22, 2001 @08:02PM (#2463126) Homepage Journal
    I am an avid slashdot reader. I get more quality reading material out of slashdot than alot of the magazines I subscribe to (ok, it doesn't beat playboy, but what does...).

    I personally have no problem paying a subscription fee.

    And to start the flames off, that navbar really really sucks. What a dirty little trick to try to boost revenue at thinkgeek...
    • by mmontour (2208) <mail@mmontour.net> on Monday October 22, 2001 @08:24PM (#2463317)
      I think that users should be able to "pay" for their subscription fees with Karma points instead of cash (or some combination thereof). E.g. each Karma point could be worth 1/10 of the monthly fee.

      Most of the value of slashdot is in the user comments, and I think it is only fair to give a "free ride" to those who contribute the most highly rated content.

      Also, people who were bored with sitting at the +50 cap would have a way to reduce their Karma other than resorting to a week-long trolling spree. :-)
      • Oh, yeah, excellent idea. The higher your karma, the fewer/smaller your ads are.

        It makes sense, too. In theory, better content means more readers will visit the site, thereby increasing the "effectiveness" of the ads on the site. (I abstain from the argument of whether ads are effective at all.)
  • ...it's just the implementation of some of them that everyone hates. I personally don't mind ads at all as long as they are embedded into the page and not pop-ups or pop-behinds. You really want to make them effective? Figure out a way to target them a little better. Perhaps a preferences page or something. I have no interest in the latest rack mount system, so if you could figure out a way to hide that when I log in and show a tasty ThinkGeek caffeine ad instead, then your sponsor's ad dollars will be much better spent.
    • I agree. The big square boxes in ZDnet or CNet pages are really not that bad. I prefer them infinitely over the dread x-10 camera pop behind ad. And the all the flag companies that are attempting to profit from the disaster... *sigh*

      The in-page ads are even better at catching my attention, especially if they are well designed, or offer something interactive, like the HP graphing calculator add, or the Sun breakout ad from a little while back.

      The problem with the graphic calculator ad (which worked a lot like the 3d calculator from macOS for those who didn't see it) was that I spent all my time playing the controls, but never actually visited HP's site.

      How bout a mini-Tux Racer applet ad? I'd click if it meant I got to race Tux again.
  • Get an ad-blocking program. I have one that came included with my firewall (Norton Internet Security, think that's the name) and usually it blocks the all the ads. Sometimes it blocks legitimate pictures, but they're easy to call up. Instead of annoying ads I get nice white-space (BTW, ad designers, I'm more likely to glance at an ad if it's not overly cluttered, take a hint).

    Also, some specifics about the pay feature would be nice, especially cost...
    • Get an ad-blocking program.

      Yeah, that's great until the sites that you want to read go the way of the dodo because they depend on the click-throughs that their ads generate and that you're eliminating because you're more intent on preventing something from showing up than you are on actually getting the content you need.

      Not you personally, but the royal "you".

      Take a look at the world around you. On television, you see advertising, unless you're watching a premium service that you pay for, like HBO or pay-per-view. On radio, you see advertising unless you're listening to a station like NPR which is funded through user donations (and during fund drives, fundraising pleas work just like advertisements). Even movies have taken on advertising to supplement the rising costs of making movies people want to see. I'm not sure what made the Internet think it was going to be any different, but that attitude has caught up with its proponents and sites are failing.

      I really wish that rather than Slashdot taking on additional, large-scale advertising or premium payment, they move to an NPR-like member format, where Slashdot is "sponsored" by various individuals and companies. I have more respect for NPR than I do for HBO, and I hope Slashdot doesn't turn into "every other site", but rather becomes a model of a way to be successful and still maintain respect.
  • The formkey error bit you...
    (thanks for the fix /. crew)

    You "X"ed that OSDN bar on top...
  • And I never set it one way or the other. Did some /.ers get a lucky draw of the hat or was this a db column add that defaulted to 'null' instead of 'true'.
  • "de-advertising" blah. Give us who cough up real money endless moderator points... something. "Karma" made it all a game; EQ has shown how profitable that can be. If its not too expensive I'll pony up.
  • I'll pay more to get rid of the banners at the top. Serious. In fact, I'd pay $10/month for no images at all and some good, clean XHTML/css or XML/XSL. Give me more information, faster, cut all the ads, the lousy HTML formatting, and I'll gladly pay for it.

    Give the customer whatever s/he wants, and you'll stay afloat.
    • The problem with this is if you say I would pay site X $10/month to get rid of the adds. And you have more than 1 site that you read regularly, and I have about a dozen. Then you could end up with $100+ a month to not see adds. That is more than I want to pay.
  • This feature could be a problem. If there was a +4 Informative post, I could mod it to +5 Funny and it disappears for everyone who has the -2 Funny feature enabled.

    A better solution: find the average of the ratings: If there are 4 Informative's and 1 Funny, Informative is how the post is rated.

    Chris
  • Calm down (Score:4, Insightful)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland @ y a hoo.com> on Monday October 22, 2001 @08:09PM (#2463189) Homepage Journal
    OK, reality has finally hit the last corner of the internet, /.

    I like slashdot, there I said it. It is like any other news source, and it need to make money. After years of readership, I actually trust the people who run /. far more then the edotor of any print newspaper.
    /. need to get money, and quit frankly I have no problems with putting an ad in a story. hhhm who else does that, let me think, oh yeah every newspaper oin the last 100 years. how many of you flame the newspaper because they dare sell advertising space?
    /. has problems, and run stuff I don't like from time to time, but most of the time its interesting.
    Pop-up ads I have a problem with. many employers will track that has more surfing.

    /. has finally done something I've wanted for years, and I can finally get rid of those darn AC comments.

    Now if /. would only get rid of Jon Katz, I'd be really happy. That was not intended as humor. Fortunatly i can just ignore his stories, so I tend to not complain too loudly. I wouldn't complain at all, but I'm sure he's sucking valuable resources from /.
    Bottom line: Good Job, keep up the good work, can't wait to see how the next four years go!"
    • Re:Calm down (Score:3, Insightful)

      by supabeast! (84658)
      You aren't the only one. Maybe now that /. needs money from something OTHER than advertising, they will stop posting Katz's crap because all the "fuck Katz" posts were generating a ton of clickthroughs.

      I for one will pay $50 if /. will immediately stop running stories by Katz.
  • by Omerna (241397) <clbrewer@gmail.com> on Monday October 22, 2001 @08:10PM (#2463195) Homepage
    Every time I click on the X I get logged out... I think they're saying it's the bar or no Slashdot for me. I can take a hint, I'll leave the bar : )
  • by CyberKnet (184349) <slashdot@cy b e r k net.net> on Monday October 22, 2001 @08:10PM (#2463196) Homepage Journal
    Give me some nice, tasty preferences in that misc section to tell you what type of ads I'd like to see.

    Much like slashboxes, in that none selected will show you the default selection, and some selected will show only those type. Also show the default selection if none of the selected types are showing at that given moment.

    I would be very receptive to setting those preferences. I think most other folk around here would too.
  • Well, I guess it had to happen evetually. With all the problems the economy has been having. I'd be willing to shell out a few $ to keep the adds out of my face.

    I'm also in agreement about a word filter. Somtimes the AC's actually have something good to say. But if I could restrict certain messages based on content that would be nice.
  • I've a question (Score:2, Interesting)

    by atrowe (209484)
    Rob, I was wondering why there was no mention of the new ipid IP logging "feature" in Slashcode. I understand that this code was added to Slashcode to help stop lamers and crapflooders, but I, for one, am concerned about possible privacy issues that come into play when you start associating UIDs with IP addresses. Since Slashdot has historically been a major advocate of privacy and on-line rights, don't you think your readers deserve some sort of justification as to why you are tracking them by their IP address and banning IPs of users whom you have deemed to be "trolls". More info can be found here [slashdot.org]..
  • Money (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Phroggy (441) <slashdot3 AT phroggy DOT com> on Monday October 22, 2001 @08:15PM (#2463245) Homepage
    A few random questions:

    How much does it cost per month to operate Slashdot? How much for the hosting, and how much in salaries? Just Slashdot, not the rest of OSDN.

    How much revenue is generated from the current banner ads? What are the rates charged, and what does that total up to per month?

    How much revenue is expected to be generated by the new obnoxious banners? What rates will be charged, and what's the projection for monthly revenues?

    How many ads does the average Slashdot reader see, and what does that translate to dollar-wise? What would be a fair amount to pay, to compensate for the loss of banner revenue?
    • Re:Money (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Sloppy (14984)

      I just have to add a big "me too" to that.

      Slashdot should disclose the figures. My PBS station tells me how much the digital doodad that they are required to buy will cost, how much money they need to raise, etc. And they get taken care of, and I do my part.

      But if people don't see the numbers, they'll either think, "Well, my x won't be enough to help," or "Damn, with my x bucks, I'm practically shouldering the thing all by myself."

      Show us the numbers, Slashdot.

      • Re:Money (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Phroggy (441)
        OPB [opb.org] mentioned last week during their pledge drive that they pay about $800,000 a year to NPR [npr.org]; NPR charges them based on how many listeners they have (according to surveys and such). Of course, OPB also buys radio programming from PRI [pri.org] and other organizations, and television programming from PBS [pbs.org] and others.

        Around 10% of OPB's radio listeners are contributing members. OPB gets 51% of their revenues from member contributions. Last week, 7,000 listeners pledged a little over $500,000.

        These are the kinds of numbers we should be hearing from Slashdot.
  • by tmoertel (38456) on Monday October 22, 2001 @08:16PM (#2463248) Homepage Journal
    Slashdot continues to grow: our traffic has increased by like 10% in the last few months, ...
    The Slashdot bandwidth situation seems a lot like America's oil situation: Just about everybody seems content to use more and more of both.

    But, rather than feeding this trend and turning to more-obnoxious ads to cover the increased bandwidth, why not turn to conservation-based approaches? In short, reduce the bandwidth consumed for each page.

    For example, a quick glance at the typical story's HTML reveals a lot of bloat, most of which could be removed by taking look-and-feel instructions out of the HTML and placing them into stylesheets. More than 10 percent savings seems realistic. And, unlike banner ads that have harmful side effects (such as annoyed readers), reducing HTML bloat has positive side effects like reduced download times and increased accessibility.

    So before turning to increasingly evil ads, why not try conservation?

    • Bitching about bandwidth costs? Then please look into stylesheets; you could easily save 35% in bandwidth costs. As the above poster noted, stylesheets are the way to go.

      I love Slashdot, and I'm willing to pay for it because I know it costs money to run a website and ads aren't cutting it these days. However, they're basically throwing away the bandwidth they would like us to pay for. The HTML produced by Slash is crap, frankly.

      I used HTML Tidy to automatically convert the page to stylesheets as opposed to old-fasioned obsolete HTML formatting tags. The old version of the page was ~230K. The new version of the page, using stylesheets, was ~160K. That's a ~43% bandwith savings, right there, with little effort. If you include images, there's still a 35% reduction in bandwidth.

      Also, have the Slash crew explored Apache's on-the-fly zip compression abilities (it's a separate module, I don't know the name)? It eats CPU power, obviously, but HTML can be compressed by 90% or more when zipped. The cost of more web boxen would be more than paid for by the bandwidth savings, I'd wager... especially if Slashdot is getting free hosting from it's parent company.

      Bottom line: I'll pay for Slashdot's content, but not for lazy Slashdot coding. If you want us to pay for bandwidth, show us you're using it as efficiently as possible. Because you're not right now. You're like a guy begging for food with a sandwich sticking out of his pocket... I just DON'T wanna hear it. And yes, I know there's other costs associated with running the website besides bandwidth, and the ad market is shit right now.
  • by SMN (33356) on Monday October 22, 2001 @08:16PM (#2463249)
    I know that subscriptions seem to be the potential solution for many sites' money problems, but they are NOT appropriate for Slashdot.

    Now, take a site like Salon, which should have subscriptions. Salon creates its own content - and that's often unique and interesting content, and it requires the investment of a great deal of time and effort from Salon writers, many of whom actually go to work in a building and work all day.

    So how much time and effort - or other resources - does Slashdot invest in the daily operations of the site? Very little.

    Slashdot's content is entirely community-driven; it's all submitted by the users, for free. What do the editors have to do? Why, the horrible, grueling task of reading through user submissions, choosing a few to post, and relaxing as the site does its thing.

    In fact, it seems that the real cost of Slashdot is relatively small: the cost of servers/bandwidth, and a modest salary for the editors and administrators who do this as a full-time job.

    IIRC, Slashdot lasted years as Taco and Hemo's only job. This sudden need for money seems to go back to the Andover takeover; it's entirely a business decision. But unlike Salon, this isn't a business venture that requires huge amounts of effort, because the content is provided by users.

    So, let me get to my main beef: We already "pay" for the site by submitting content! Should Slashdot be profitting off our article submissions, and our comments? That's why I read the site, not because of the editors. If we keep the Salon analogy, essentially suggesting charging the "writers" rather than paying them. Maybe I should be paid by advertisers for submitting this comment, rather than the site?

    Now, if the editors would at least do their jobs well, I might reconsider - but I don't see fact-checking, I don't see anything done to stop all these duplicate stories -- heck, I don't even see spell-checking!

    If Slashdot even wants to consider this system, they should have completely open records. Show us all your costs, from servers to salaries, and your profit. Let us know that we're being charged this because of need, and not because of the avarice of a few businessmen over at VA.

    • by pbryan (83482) <email@pbryan.net> on Monday October 22, 2001 @08:45PM (#2463471) Homepage
      I agree that to an extent, we are actually contributing to Slashdot by posting informative, interesting, humorous content. In fact, I posted a suggestion [slashdot.org] for rewarding good posters.

      However, Slashdot is providing a service, namely providing an organized space for this type of communication -- in a form that is informative, interesting and humorous. In many ways, this is more valuable to me than the opinion of one individual, filtered by the opinions of a couple of editors.

      The folks at Slashdot deserve to profit from their service. Banner ads are no longer viable. I'll wager ads don't defray the cost of bandwidth -- which probably runs tens of thousands of dollars per month.

    • Should Slashdot be profitting off our article submissions, and our comments? That's why I read the site, not because of the editors.

      Well then don't pay them and then the site will eventually go away and you'll be happy then, right? Can you possibly imagine the cost (in both time and effort) in running a site of this size? I am sure the ISP bill is in the 5 digit range every month. So you don't want to pay them because you only like the comments. Isn't that like cutting off your nose to spite your face?

      If you don't like them then just send your check directly to Exodus. Really, your comment shows an immense lack of understanding for the Slashdot editors. While I will be among the first to concede that Slashdot has numerous problems, the manner in which you belittle the efforts of the staff sickens me. I can only hope at some point in the future someone calmly and rationally explains to you how something you've worked very hard on is absolutely worthless and tells you that you don't deserve any compensation for it, in fact, you should be paying them for subjecting you to it.

      Let us know that we're being charged this because of need, and not because of the avarice of a few businessmen over at VA.

      First of all, public corporations are legally obligated to do what is in the best interest of the corporation. So this is a ridiculous claim. Secondly, what do you want them to do? Take pictures of themselves starving? Measure their waistlines day by day so you can see just how much weight they're losing? Or for a less dramatic example, do you want the site to only be up 12 hours a day since they can only afford to pay 50% of their ISP bills?

      Tell me honestly: was your post intended to be a troll, or are you just stupid?
    • >We already "pay" for the site by submitting content!

      Huh? Since when is content an acceptable form of payment?

      You also seem to be missing the difference between Slashdot and Salon - paying a subscription to Slashdot will, based on everything I have ever heard CmdrTaco say about it, never change the *content* you are able to read, but rather things around the content.

      The last I checked, running an ad off of Doubleclick was never considered "content." If you pay the subscription, you lose the ad - YOU DO NOT LOSE CONTENT.

      So you are not paying for (user-provided) content.

      You also mention the difference between in pre- and post-Andover takeover. You seem to trace differences back to this purchase without considering other possibilities. Is is not possible that Slashdot grew enormously during this time and, as a result, hosting costs went up as well?

      >Let us know that we're being charged this because of need, and not because
      >of the avarice of a few businessmen over at VA.

      Let us not forget the other thing - based on everything I have read, there will never be a *need* to pay the subscription fee. It is a choice.

  • by fm6 (162816) on Monday October 22, 2001 @08:18PM (#2463267) Homepage Journal
    I'd personally like to assign a -2 penalty on any comment rated 'funny' because most of them frankly just aren't funny at all. But humor is far too subjective to say that the moderation is unfair.
    In that case, why is "funny" even a moderation option?

    This is a bad option, even if we all agree as to what you can laugh at. "Funny" is the one excuse you have for modding up a post that's really offtopic or trollbait.

  • But please don't... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by The Bungi (221687) <thebungi@gmail.com> on Monday October 22, 2001 @08:21PM (#2463296) Homepage

    One thing that absolutely pisses me off about the CNet and ZDNet ads is that they make the browser unusable and choppy untill you scroll them away. Don't put those there. Use simple images or light-weight animated GIFs.

    Use PayPal. You have a solid, reliable reader base of what, half a million users? Create a yearly "pledge" drive similar to NPR stations. Get 1/10th of people to give you $5-50 bucks and you're all set. If you can't even get that, then the "community" doesn't deserve web sites like this.

    Ads will kill readership, period. It's sad, but true. And because of the fact that you've given away the code, there are tons of options out there that will fill the void (for a while at least).
  • by at-b (31918) on Monday October 22, 2001 @08:29PM (#2463354) Homepage
    Funny how things change. About a year or two ago, people would have been up in arms about any changes to Slashdot that would commercialize it to such an extent. The OSDN 'brand building' bar, the upcoming large ads, the mere thought of a paid subscription model, etc.

    Sure, information wants to be free. But it's NOT free as in beer.

    As an aside, anyone notice how hard VA is trying to move people towards Newsforge? The banners exclaiming that Newsforge has twice as many news stories per day as Slashdot and LinuxToday combined? Now the brand building banner, etc? To me, this smacks of at least partial desperation; trying to create something that people will recognize and flock back to, even if the parent company should go bankrupt.

    Sure, Slashdot is popular. Lots of people read it. But it is also becoming more and more stigmatized as the battlefield of business-ignorant fanatics. People who are worthless to any business, thus advertising to them is less productive than, say, advertising on a big, serious-looking site, with a more professional-looking design. With less hysterical stories about losing our rights to privacy and pirating music, and more stories about, for instance, "Caldera target[ting] developers with latest workstation", which is an actual Newsforge headline.

    One of these two sites is somewhat appealing to business, and thus to advertisers. One of them is easier to sell as serious newsmedia. One of them has a heavy editorial hand, columns, and no negative image of being filles with Linux fanboys and other unwashed freaks.

    The other one is Slashdot.

    Somehow, I feel that OSDN is trying to direct as much traffic towards its more 'serious' site as possible, leaving Slashdot as a more 'hobbyist' site than anything else. Obviously they can't do anything directly about it, or those aforementioned fanboys (yeah, I'm one of them) would screaming bloody murder. But it can 'integrate' Slashdot into its OSDN thingee, adding bars, and big adverts, and subscription programs, and watering it down from its original incarnation.

    Sure, it's necessary to survive economically, to some extent. But ultimately, Slashdot doesn't pay. It takes quite a lot of hardware, and SIGNIFICANT bandwidth. How much do you think VA makes on those Thinkgeek banners? To make up for the black hole of cash that is /. they either have to get the rabid fanboys to subscribe (big fat chance), or accept the new banners. As the fanboys will still read Slashdot (blah blah webwasher blah modified hosts blah), the more business-focused clients will possibly refocus on Newsforge over which OSDN has a lot more control.

    But then maybe it's just a mad conspiracy theory.

    And let me repeat: information may want to be free, but that's NOT free as in beer.

    • by Roblimo (357) on Monday October 22, 2001 @09:08PM (#2463606) Homepage Journal
      "But then maybe it's just a mad conspiracy theory."

      In a way it is a conspiracy. NewsForge [newsforge.com] exists in large part because of advertiser demand for a "serious" Linux and Open Source news site that would appeal to people who have the power to sign purchase orders, combined with endless reader email asking us to turn Slashdot into more of a news site.

      But everyone at OSDN *likes* Slashdot in all its anarchic glory. I've liked it longer than 99% of all current Slashdot users (note my UID), and I don't ever want to see its content change because of corporate pressure.

      Hence NewsForge. Think of NewsForge as a trick to get our bosses to leave Slashdot alone instead of trying to turn it into something it was never meant to be.

      - Robin "Roblimo" Miller
      Editor in Chief, OSDN

  • Donations? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by theNeophile (238938) on Monday October 22, 2001 @08:29PM (#2463355)
    Has anyone thought about setting up some donation system? I'm sure a lot of people would choose to give more money to eliminate large annoying banners for everyone then they would just for themselfs. Or if there already is a donation system in place draw more attention to it (I don't know of one, and if people don't know of it they can't donate). Without of course being annoying about it, IMO sites begging for donations on every page is as annoying as ads. Then again, maybe I'm just overestimating peoples generosity.
    • Re:Donations? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by zerocool^ (112121) on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @01:07AM (#2464372) Homepage Journal
      I also thought of another reason a donation system would be a good idea...

      If you have a donation drive like twice a year, like a telethon, only the crippled kids are the servers, and the old guys tapdancing are rob and jeff, i think it would go over great. Why? Because with a donation system, you're not REQUIRED to pay. You can slack and not pay. But since its voluntary, i think you'll get more generous response. Only people who want to pay for it will pay for it, but they'll pay for themselves and others on principle. AND they'll kind of have this inner satisfaction that they are helping save slashdot. If its not the monthy bill, instead a donation, it makes it seem so much more noble, and even the geeks here can appreciate that.

      In general though, if it has to be a subscription, i won't pay it if its month to month. I want to pay once a year, like $50 or whatever. Get it all out of the way at once, so i only bitch about it once, and then forget it for the other 11 1/2 months.

      Also, if i'm required to pay for it, i want to make sure i can be logged in at all times. It's been happening lately that i can't log in, i try and it just redirects me to the home page, and then i have no ability to change the threashold on the comments.

      But, see? I've just proved my point. People who pay a fee that are required to pay it are in a position to make demands, they want higher quality service and more privilages. People that donate, they just feel content that they've helped keep it alive.

      For instance: If we were required to pay for the Jerry Lewis telethon, if it was required for citizenship, then we'd all start to wonder where the hell the cure was for these kids was, even if we only paid $2 a year. Since its a donation basis, we just go and pay our $10, and say "i'm helping out, and that feels good. Poor kids."

      subscription is the fastest way to get a demanding and critical audience that actually has the power they threaten they have.

      ~z
  • Funny Posts (Score:5, Funny)

    by CokeBear (16811) on Monday October 22, 2001 @08:30PM (#2463360) Journal
    Speaking of Funny Posts, I'd like to be able to filter out everything but.
    Sometimes, I just want to read the posts modded "funny"... Slashdot can be the best source of humor anywhere.
    I wish I could filter out all that "Interesting" and "Informative" crap, and make it my own personal humor site.
    Something to brighten my day between issues of TheOnion.
  • by mikosullivan (320993) <miko AT idocs DOT com> on Monday October 22, 2001 @08:36PM (#2463405)
    There are several threads here pointing out that ads aren't necessarily all bad, and that if they're on topic they might be even less bad.

    So here's an idea: mod the ads. Users may voluntarily mod the ads based on how much they think the ads provide any value-add to life.

    • by Sludge (1234) <slashdot@toss[ ]org ['ed.' in gap]> on Monday October 22, 2001 @11:00PM (#2463934) Homepage

      I think this is a smart idea. In the more corporate world, when I sign up for things, they give me the option to "value-add" my name to mailing lists, and to receieve "product notifications".

      In this pessimistic anti-marketing community, perhaps it could be done well to reverse this, and instead of saying what you like, say what you hate. Mod DOWN the bad stories.

      As an aside, I would pay for Slashdot if they hired a lawyer to give legal commentary on relevant stories. I'm not pretending to have a business model where this would work. However, it would be far more educational and enlightening if a comment about SomeBadCompany's lawyers taking candy from a baby could have a few quotes from relevant law.

      And no, I'm not even American. But, I still think it would be interesting.

    • Don't banner ads already have a moderation system? Its called "click throughs."

      Now, if you throw in some personalization, then you might have something.

  • by rnd() (118781) on Monday October 22, 2001 @08:39PM (#2463428) Homepage
    Why not use collaborative filtering in tandem with traditional moderation?

    With collaborative filtering, each slashdotter would view posts that were moderated up by other slashdotters who had similar preferences in the past.

    There was a great site called moviecritic.com (which unfortunately has since been shut down due to budget limitations) that used collaborative filtering to recommend movies. I found it incredibly useful, and discovered some great movies that I never would have watched otherwise.

    With collaborative filtering, stories could also be 'recommended' without forcing the user to rule out entire categories of stories. The beauty of collaborative filtering is that it does not assume anything a priori other than the fact that if two individuals have shared common preferences in the past, they are likely to agree again in the future.

    Traditional moderation could be accomplished simply by tallying the votes that each post received.

    mmm

    p.s. I'd be glad to help build this functionality into slashcode if there is sufficient interest.
  • by Girf (101378) on Monday October 22, 2001 @08:44PM (#2463463) Homepage
    Apparently CmdrTaco had a lapse in thinking..

    Slashdot doesn't need banner ads or subscriptions. If Taco wants cash all he has to do is start selling karma.. Just think: Karma-whoring with a credit card.

    Who here wouldn't pay a few extra bucks for a little more karma?

    After that, he could introduce credit-card moderating.. $10 and you can take that pro MSFT comment from +5 all the way down to -2!

  • by OoSync (444928) <wellsed.gmail@com> on Monday October 22, 2001 @08:47PM (#2463486)
    There are a few web comics experimenting with voluntary micro donations: i.e. paying whatever you feel appropriate when you feel the site deserves it. The site I'm most familiar with is Penny Arcade http://www.penny-arcade.com (mind the hyphen, its important). They have a status bar at the bottom of the page and give a free hi-res wallpaper to those who donate. You could email Tycho and Gabe to find out how their system is working. With .5 million viewers, many of whom will honorably donate, keeping the site more free from the larger ads.


    I also like the idea of a subscription system for OSDN, so that I can avoid ads in all OSDN sites. Of course, the economics and technology consideration may outweigh this possibility.


    As has been iterated before (but never enough), I really like /. and I hope you guys have much continuing success. I'm hooked and I'll pay if necessary. Keep up the good work.

    --Outta' Sync

  • Ummm... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BillyGoatThree (324006) on Monday October 22, 2001 @08:49PM (#2463499)
    First, thanks for the notification of new features.

    Second, thanks for the tips on how to disable them. 8^)

    Third, "Slashdot continues to grow: our traffic has increased by like 10% in the last few months, and simply selling the banner ads you see on top of each page isn't going to be enough to keep us afloat if we keep growing."

    Doesn't the fact that increased traffic causes you to lose money faster tell you something?

    Maybe your objective shouldn't be to keep growing. Maybe it should be to have a quality website. Remember back when you were in college and you wanted a cool site? You had one. Now you've got a semi-clueful corporate site--that's still rare, but nearly as fun as before.

    And don't give me a bunch of guff about "who's going to pay for it". If you have no money, you run a smaller site. The quality is still the same.
  • by arbours (302317) on Monday October 22, 2001 @08:49PM (#2463503)
    Slash had/has a great opportunity to take advantage of all the geeks consistently coming here.

    With a captive audience, why didn't you guys write an auction service, like ebay, or a classifed ad section, for a fee. You have a community of people, you are well known, take advantage of it. You have scalability experience. Over the last 3 years you could have really built something. And ebay has proven this to be the best way to make $$ over the internet.

    I doubt ads anymore will help you - good luck. you remind me of netscape. they had millions of people going to their home page daily, and only belatedly realized they could create a portal service like Yahoo. They blew it, and finally died. They would still be huge today if they had woken up.

    alex
  • by Carnage4Life (106069) on Monday October 22, 2001 @08:55PM (#2463536) Homepage Journal
    Some people will hate me for what I'm about to say but liek CmdrTaco said, I'd like Slashdot to be here in four years. So here goes:

    Subscriptions that eliminate banner ads do not add much value for the purchaser especially in a technically savvy crowd like Slashdot where users that know how to install and configure JunkBuster [junkbuster.com] to get rid of ads abound. For subscriptions to be valuable source of revenue then the people who subscribe must get a considerable amount more than the people who don't to make it worth it. Suggestions I can think of right of the bat
    1. Subscribers can get an @slashdot.org email address or web page with no dynamic content.
    2. Subscribers get better comment filtering functionality (e.g. I want to only see posts that have been moderated up even if it's from 0 to +1).
    3. Subscribers automatically get the +1 posting bonus without having to get up to 25 karma.
    4. Subscribers can get alerts if people respond to their posts.
    5. Subscribers can see what the new comments have been made to a story since the last time they read it (kuro5hin has this functionality)
    6. Only subscribers can customize their front page.
    7. Only subscribers can post comments.
    8. Only subscribers can submit stories.

    A lot of the ideas are probably unworkable but they are put there to give an idea as to the kind of things that people are more likely to pay for than not.
    All of these may seem distasteful but considering that VA Linux probably doesn't have much longer to go I think the Slashdot folks need to take a long hard look at how they're going to keep financing the site if they still want it to exist in four or five years.

    Flame Away.
    • by interiot (50685) on Monday October 22, 2001 @09:15PM (#2463637) Homepage
      Agreed. If you've ever listened to an NPR pledge drive, you know that they usually give away a token gift in return for your pledge. Even though people understand that it's really the right thing to do, they feel a lot better about getting something extra (even if it's small) for their money.

      That said, I'd like to throw in another value added suggestion: a usenet feed of slashdot, so you can sort it, slice and dice it with whatever client or script you choose. The main objection to that has been lack of ad revenue, but now the person is paying, so why not? It might even cut down on bandwidth costs.

    • Subscriptions that eliminate banner ads do not add much value for the purchaser especially in a technically savvy crowd like Slashdot where users that know how to install and configure JunkBuster [junkbuster.com] to get rid of ads abound.
      Slashdot continues to exist. That enough value? Jesus Christ, do you have any idea how much the server hardware, bandwidth, and expertise to run this site cost in a month?
  • by PhiRatE (39645) on Monday October 22, 2001 @09:14PM (#2463634)
    Ironic that here in the middile of tech obsession nobody has thought about trying to get software to solve these financial issues.

    The reason the Slashdot guys don't know what they'd charge for a subscription is because they don't know. They can't know. Any value that they choose is going to be based on several factors over which they have no control:

    1. The number of people who will actually subscribe
    2. The number of people who will leave
    3. The number of people who will continue reading slashdot with ads
    4. The number of people who will continue reading slashdot with ad blockers
    5. Price of bandwidth and hosting
    6. Banner ad cpm value

    In addition to that, there are factors over which they have limited control:

    6. Amount of bandwidth used

    Put that all together and in the human world you have what is called a hunch, or a guess, or any other term which indicates that you really have no idea and everything could go to shit inside of 5 minutes.

    The natural human solution to this is to look at near-worst-case scenarios and attempt to budget for that happening. The best people at this are in the insurance industry. These are called Damn Good Guesses, but they're still guesses.

    The major problem with the future is that the further into the future you look, the less accurate your guess is likely to be. Guessing banner ad prices 20 seconds from now, armed with current prices, isn't a big risk, and you're not likely to be off by much even if you get it wrong. Guessing 2 years from now is near impossible.

    So what we need is a way of taking all the unknown variables and guessing rapidly, in short increments, using good solid math principles, in order to determine the value of those variables we do control (cost of subscription, bandwidth to release).

    In essence, a floating, self-insuring market run by a well written software agent that would take account of the various costs, the insurance probabilities involved in failed predictions, and how well it can limit the release of bandwidth, and set subscription prices based on that.

    Effective tools placed in the hands of users would then let them take advantage of this by limiting the value range within which they are willing to subscribe, and see transparently the decisions being made by the software and the basis for these.

    Essentially creating a resubscription process in which users automatically resubscribe every day or maybe even hour or less, and in which the code is open and its behaviour displayed for those who wish to look, it can act in the best interests of both the site, the owners and the users, keeping prices at their lowest practical point while still making a set amount of money for the owners, covering the bandwidth costs and insuring the site against price shocks in the future.

    There is the technical expertise around to achieve something like this, and I think Slashdot is a perfect testing ground for this kind of software. The combination of a couple of hot-shot financial guys and a bunch of good programmers could provide software that could keep any number of valuable internet sites afloat in a world so volatile that any number of valuable sites are falling down due to bad guesses on the part of their management.

  • Learn from Google (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mal0rd (323126) on Monday October 22, 2001 @09:40PM (#2463769) Homepage
    Instead of making slashdot less attractive by putting tons of bandwidth hogging, annoying, internet congesting, unwitty, untargeted, etc banner ads, use text ads. Google serves many more people a day then /., and I'm sure that they have more costs, but they don't need banner ads. In fact I have seen reports that Google is the most succesful search engine in terms of money making.

    I love text ads. I click on ads on Google more than any other website because they are targeted and easy on my eyes. Banners with cycling images make you wait to see what the ad is for.

    I'm not sure what the costs of slashdot are that are increasing, but I'm sure that there are effective ways to reduce them. Is it the server load? If you use technologies that are more efficent or pass the processing onto the client ( like XML, XSLT, and CSS ) then it would be less cost to you. Also using text ads would decrease load.

    On another note: I think that a better, more streamlined, ad free slashdot would be worth a few cents a day. I suggest if you move to a pay system (which I would love) then use a micropay system. Something like $0.03 per page load. It is the fairest way to go, and would encourage people to start reading slashdot because there wouldn't be a commitment.

  • Syndicate content (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Kris_J (10111) on Monday October 22, 2001 @10:17PM (#2463909) Journal
    I believe that's the term used to describe selling your news and so forth to other sites/services. /. needs to find a way to sell its stories and high rating comments to other sites. (They the other sites have to worry about revenue, not /.)

    Perhaps "features" could be created by taking the base story and any posts that add significant information and those features could be sold. Sort of a "Premium Slashback".

  • by A_Non_Moose (413034) on Monday October 22, 2001 @11:22PM (#2464036) Homepage Journal
    And here I was being paranoid, or thinking I was getting there at least, but this explains it:

    From CmdrTaco:
    I'd personally like to assign a -2 penalty on any comment rated 'funny' because most of them frankly just aren't funny at all. But humor is far too subjective to say that the moderation is unfair. Anyway, now everyone can decide for themselves. That should happen in the next few weeks.
    Well, you got your wish CT, any funny comment that I've seen and made, reguardless of content has been modded down (probably including this one, too).

    Don't believe me...browse at -1 on occasion.
    Too many "Why was this modded down" posts are cropping up... or rants on the subject.

    You are correct that "humor is entirely to subjective", so, we'll be objective about it and hunt down people by name and mod them down no matter what. Seems to be the case.

    Ever since my (only) accepted submission of "MS extensions" being another piece of the monopoly they have...things have gone to hell and a handbasked.
    Ironically, what I had written on the subject was being an "interesting notion and plausable" and my words were ignored but the slashdot spin put on it was all that was needed to bring about being modded down reguardless

    Aw, gawd, I hate it when I answer my own question, but it took this subject to make it clear.
    I post a story.
    Story Accepted.
    Story posted + /. spin villifying Microsoft.
    Moose gets villified.
    Moose gets modded down at every turn reguardless of content/intent.

    Let me be the first to say, that I have never, ever trolled.
    Yes, I have strayed offtopic during a post (who hasn't on occasion), I've had rants that are/were/could be flamebait (when you are pissed, you really don't care).
    I've apologized (and gotten modded down in the process...my, how nice).

    Personally I find the quote from CmdrTaco disturbing, almost as bad as trying to "legislate morality"...we all know how well that works.

    Think about it: a -2 for being/trying to be funny?
    Dang, but why not just say "try to crack a joke and we will censor you".

    The ultimate irony here is in "trying to avoid becoming the things/people we "hate/dislike" only to look and see we have turned into just that. (i.e. if /. moderators can silence a few people that are not trolling, is that any better than Apple/ms/disney lawyers silencing "the little guy")

    I think my sig says the above in the fewest words possible and more to the point.
    (even more ironic is it was one of the funniest lines in the monty python film it came from)

    Moose.

  • The AC Solution (Score:4, Interesting)

    by nebby (11637) on Monday October 22, 2001 @11:50PM (#2464130) Homepage
    In response to all the bitching about ACs, how about setting up two things:

    1) Make it so you can post anonymously, but must be logged in. Ie, (like on half-empty) your karma is still affected and there is still an internal link to your post with your account, but nobody knows who you are.

    2) Make it so there's an interface in slashcode to contact anonymous individuals (perhaps anonymously as well? :)) .. slashdot would be a third party. Since they wouldn't have an email address displayed when posting anonymous, this would allow a user to send them a private message.

    This way ACs who are posting crap will eventually bottom out in karma and post at -1 and have the potential to be flamed on the /. private message system (which is better than nothing, I'd guess.)
    • Re:The AC Solution (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sulli (195030)
      1) Make it so you can post anonymously, but must be logged in. Ie, (like on half-empty) your karma is still affected and there is still an internal link to your post with your account, but nobody knows who you are.

      Bad, bad, bad idea. Lots of people post stuf AC because they KNOW their identity won't be revealed - about their employers, or Scientology, or other such. Without AC this won't happen. I'll gladly take 100 goatsex posts for the few good posts that come from ACs.

      And yes, I routinely post AC. It's because I don't want it on my users.pl page. Sometimes it's a flame, sometimes it's a joke, sometimes it's on a hidden sid I don't want to show off, but whatever: I think the ability to do this is one of the things that makes /. great, and they should definitely not kill it.

      And when I get bored, I read at -1. It's funnier than you think sometimes.

  • Contridiction? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by pgpckt (312866) on Monday October 22, 2001 @11:58PM (#2464159) Homepage Journal
    First, it is said:

    "I don't like it any more then many of you, so if you log in, there is an option to disable it."

    Then:

    "nobody is forcing us to make these changes: The navbar. The new ad formats. The subscription system. I could just say 'No' to changes like these"

    If you COULD have said no, and you HATED the changes, why did you say YES?

  • by GrEp (89884) <(crb002) (at) (gmail.com)> on Monday October 22, 2001 @11:59PM (#2464165) Homepage Journal
    If slashdot wants to stay alfoat in the dotbomb world it should understand why it is popular:
    1. The only annoying advertising is a thin banner ad, no popups, and if you scroll down it doesn't stay there. i.e. CLEAN INTERFACE

    2. Katz can be filtered through the user preferences.

    3. CmdrTaco and friends do a decent job of highlighting a wide variety of tech/geek news sources, not just what the parent company shoves down their throat.

    Hey, advertising revenues are down. Deal with it. You have a company that turns a profit. Don't get greedy and it will stay that way. If you need to shell out for more hardware and bandwidth for ISP support do so, but don't let that lead to bloat. Slashcode could be always be tweaked to save computing resources, but it is mature and doesn't need more bells and whistles.
  • by kawika (87069) on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @12:23AM (#2464242)
    Pull a napkin out of the holder and write down some numbers. Let's say the servers and bandwidth are $10K a month. Add four employees at $72K/year including benefits and overhead for another $24K. That's $34K of expenses each month. Revenue? Banners are going for about $2 CPM net--if you're lucky--after commissions and fees. Assuming you can sell 16 MILLION page views you can break even for the month.

    The OSDN media kit [osdn.com] says Slashdot gets 30MM views, so no there's no problem right? Just sell all your ad inventory and you can CLEAR $30K each month after expenses. Bzzt, wrong. The Internet is swimming in ad inventory, you'll have a hard time selling that many banners at a good price. It's a buyer's market, so you either overdeliver to whatever advertisers you can find to please them or "remainder" your ads to a low-cost ad network. Ad networks like Tribal Fusion [tribalfusion.com] are offering sites sub-$1 CPMs, and sites are taking it because there's no better offer.

    Advertisers are demanding the big obnoxious billboard ads or popups and they're getting it because sites are desperate for money. You can get a net $10 to $20 CPM on some of them! These new ad formats are all that seem to be selling lately. You either get with the program or do without ad revenue.

    Some people are talking about how things will get better once the Internet ad market recovers. What makes them think the current prices are too low? Internet page views continue to increase even if the rate is slowing, so we're faced with more ad inventory instead of less. And how can an advertiser justify the price? If I'm selling a gizmo for $20 and buy banner ads on this site, I can expect best case maybe 0.1% click-throughs or one click for every 1000 impressions. If I pay a $4 gross CPM for the ads then it costs me $4 per click-through. Even if one of every 10 people who click through buy something--unusually high in my experience--it costs $40 to get one person to buy a $20 product. I need something more like a $1 CPM for this deal to make any financial sense.

    If you don't like my numbers make up your own, but the bottom line is that nothing short of a bug in Microsoft Excel is going make Slashdot look wildly profitable.

    I speak from experience here. The site I work on has been through all the money making schemes in the last 18 months--affiliate programs, Paypal/Amazon donation boxes, banner ads, big Cnet-style ads--and none of them work. We're not even covering our very meager expenses.
    Next stop, subscriptions?
    • a few comments... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Lazy Jones (8403)
      ... from someone operating a web site with ~ 8 mil. PIs/month:
      • AFAIK it's true that most sites with significant traffic have a hard time selling even 10% of their ad space
      • it makes no sense to drown your users in banners that aren't even paid - just show an empty banner code so that they don't need to use WebWasher etc. on your site if they don't mind 5% or 10% of the pages having banners
      • click-through rates can be 5% with Google's system - it's important to learn from this: low cost, cost-effective, very targeted - that's the future. Try to offer a system for your customers that can be effective with a very low initial cost (e.g. a simple system to buy ad space only on pages in the Apache section). Offer text-based ads the greedy, short-sighted users who want everything for free and no ads too can't remove easily.
      • before you do it secretly, offer it as a service: "advertorials", paid news items for selected customers. Don't accept just anything, but new hardware etc. released by some companies can just as well be announced in a manner that earns slashdot a few dollars. It's not as if users didn't suspect the slashdot staff getting paid for some of the articles anyway.
      • subscriptions are what everyone who operates a large web site wants , but don't do it alone. Get a few other interesting sites for the same audience together and offer a "premium" package with some extra content first (web mail, notification service, no ads, whatever).
      • don't laugh: advertisers still have an obscure obsession with paper, so if you can provide content that can be printed without looking too silly, do it. Slashdot could have a monthly issue printed with the submitted articles and a few links and sell it together with a CD containing all the comments for that month and a few goodies (the latest Mozilla, updated Debian packages, security announcements, whatever). It's not a big investment (keep it that way!).
      And, do it at your own risk. :-)
  • by Kraft (253059) on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @02:59AM (#2464605) Homepage
    Seeing everything from modding ads to new payments schemes has been discussed today, I will add my tiny suggestion for improving slashdot.

    When I am a moderator, I find the pull-down mod system terrible. I like modding, but I don't want to spend all day on it. What sux is this: I view a story, see a good post and change the pull-down to "interesting". However, I don't want to go aaaaall the way down to click "moderate", because it takes 2-3 seconds of my life for the page to reload - and then I can't find where I got in the text. So I keep reading, just in case I spot another mod worthy post. If I see a sub-thread which isn't expanded, I can't go in there, cuz then the uncached page would forget the post I wanted to mod when I go back. Too often I end up going on a mod rampage, and just mod down trolls, but I would really prefer just to immidiatly vote for a post I saw, without getting disrupted.

    Any solutions? You bet! If you check out half-empty [half-empty.org], the solution chosen there is simply a small button or link for every vote option. Click on any of them and a little window opens in the background, which handles the modding. It's beautifully simple and solves all the problems mentioned here. It even stimulates modding.
  • Avantslash - a plug (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Mr_Silver (213637) on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @04:51AM (#2464779)
    Well since this seems to be the best place to plug it, I'm going to do so with AvantSlash.

    AvantSlash allows you to read Slashdot [slashdot.org] on your Palm or WinCE device through AvantGo [avantgo.com].

    You could point Avantgo directly at the slashdot website, but you'll find that due to the sheer mass of links, your limit will be reached pretty quickly. You could point Avantgo at the palm version of Slashdot at http://www.slashdot.org/palm [slashdot.org] but it has a number of problems. Here is what Scott Tringali [tringali.org] had to say about it on kuro5hin [kuro5hin.org]:

    First of all, this [slashdot.org] is a great example of how not to write a Palm version of the site, and here's why. Offline readers depend on "link-depth" to traverse a site. However, their Palm version breaks each story into a random number of small chunks. So, you can't just page-down to read a long story or a bunch of comments- you have to click on lots and lots of links. A real pain. Lots of small links makes sense on a slow online connection, but it's awful when you have more bandwidth available, as your desktop PC or an offline browser.

    Additionally, it's restricted to 10 comments, not a threshold. That's boring. I'm sitting here in Jiffy Lube picking my nose, I wanna read some funny trolls and flamewars!

    Finally, using /. in "light" mode doesn't work either. There are too many useless links on the front page. I don't care about the advertising or the FAQ or all the other stuff: I want the stories and the comments. Basically, the readers I use so far have no way to "prune" sections of the tree you don't care about. This causes the site to be gigantic and not fit into the paltry 8MB of your typical handheld, or, it fits, but it so big as to detract from its usefulness.

    Finally, someone did the right thing: AvantSlash [custard.org] takes the page, filters out all the crap you don't care about, and doesn't break it up into a thousand chunks so it's readable.

    If you're interesting in downloading avantslash or can provide a public URL for others to use, please check out http://www.custard.org/~richard/avantslash [custard.org]

    Thanks for listening.

    • by jamie (78724)
      AvantSlash apparently crawls the site in a very unfriendly manner and its server (or the public one that we know about anyway got itself IP-banned for that. We tolerate robots as long as they're nice, gentle robots.

      We're always interested in making our site more readable on different platforms. There's some good criticisms in the above comment. We need the suggestions to be more specific if we're going to address the issue.

      Better yet, send us patches -- this code is open-source [slashcode.com] you know. Normally, we'd take a look at how popular those pages are, decide where it goes on our priority list, and when we get to it we'll get to it. But if someone sends us well-commented patches and explains why they're an improvement so even our mostly-non-Palm-using little brains can understand, this'll get bumped a lot higher on our priority list.

  • A sad day (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jmce (10597) <jmce@artenumerica.com> on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @05:12AM (#2464802) Homepage

    These are very sad news to read in the morning. With very few exceptions, I have been a daily Slashdot user for a very long time, perhaps from almost the beginning. I have recommended it to lots of others. I have regarded Slashdot with a level of respect difficult to describe. I have participated as editor in one of the many slashdot-inspired fora.

    Today I wake up and become afraid that soon the cluetrain may not stop here any more.

    Yes, I am aware that getting advertisers is not as easy as it once was. Yes, I am aware that bandwidth is far from free. Could other sources of expense here be replaced by voluntary work? Are we talking about supporting Slashdot survival expenses or about OSDN profit levels? Perhaps OSDN is unable to consider those questions separately. Perhaps Slashdot participants and readers can.

    In spite of all the differences between participants here, there seems to be something very strong which we can call a "Slashdot community". It seems to me something too precious to scatter, and I suggest a lot of reflexion before Slashdot becomes simply another site adopting obnoxious ephemeral fashionable advertising tactics like huge ad images.

    Maybe I am wrong, but my view is that those ads can only be good from the greedy point of view of those interested in short term profit but with no respect for the future of the places where those ads are shown. For those simply buying and selling with no regard for content and communities, huge WWW ads may be the winning strategy of the day. For those with a genuine interest in ensuring the future of a site and its community, I believe the same ad strategy can be suicidal.

    Having started to use Mozilla, I now have the habit of disabling banner ad viewing. But I never considered doing that for Slashdot. In fact, contrary to my practice on other sites (where I automatically ignored the ads even before blocking them), I have even followed your banner ads a lot of times; they worked as specialized ads on a specialized magazine. But do not expect this atitude to remain the same if Slashdot starts using the kind of intrusive ad specimens we have seen at online trade rags. I will certainly try to block them.

    Considering that we are talking about Slashdot, maybe the above (viewing ads now, blocking them later if they become huge) is a common attitude among many of your readers. Yes, perhaps many others do not know how to block ads with proxies or don't have a browser which makes that easier. But can Slashdot afford to alienate those with the minimal "level of technical expertise" needed to block ads?

    Of course I prefer to pay directly for something I consider important than seeing it flooded with ads and (with a false impression of low or zero price) paying through advertisers.But would annoying ads really be the motivating factor for doing this? Maybe yes, maybe no. There is always the risk that what is perceived as the annoying entity is Slashdot itself, not the ads by themselves. And then Slashdot expenses with bandwidth may become lower for a sad reason: less participants. "Participants", not only "readers"; contrary to what a TV ad a few years ago menaced, here in slashdot with some kinds of advertising there will be "a lot less news". And people to read them.

    There is something I once thought of for Slashdot-like fora which could be much more interesting than huge banners, but I do not have a clue about its commercial feasibility: there could be special articles inserted among the normal ones, but clearly marked as beeing payed by advertisers. In these articles a company would say whetever it wanted about its products; they could just contain mindless marketroid speech or (much more appealing to Slashdot participants) interesting technical info about the stuff they are trying to sell. Ideally, one would also be able to comment on these articles as for any others.

    At its best, it would not be advertising-as-usual. It would involve more than an art department and some content-free sentences. But is advertising-as-usual the best way to reach this audience?

    I also hope Slashdot will be here another four years, and many more. I just hope that the expensive reality associated with making this site happen will not become less expensive because of less readers. And, even more important, because of less participants.

  • by doggo (34827) on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @07:31AM (#2465002) Homepage
    Slashdot is one of the few web sites I'd actually pay to read. Even if it still had (unobtrusive) ads after pay. Though I'd prefer that there were none if I pay. (Before you have a stroke and capitalize all your letters flaming: you'll note that you pay for Rolling Stone, and you still get ads. You pay for cable TV and you STILL get ads.)

    Just like NPR, these people gotta make a living. Putting on the Slashdot show costs money. It's gotta come from somewhere. So we pay for a subscription. Big deal.

    A lot of people here spend a lot of energy bitching about what they get for free. They bitch about Linux, They bitch about BSD. They bitch about Slashdot. Frankly, I'm sick of hearing it. I'm grateful for Linux, and being able to get an operating system for free. And I'm grateful for getting as much content (and don't forget slashcode!) and opinion as we get from Slashdot for free.

    So basically, when it comes time to pay, I'll pony it up and hope Taco/Hemos/Cowboy Neal/etc. can take a nice vacation.

    And if the $20.00 a year is so distasteful to you, you can always read this [goatse.cx] ad-free page.
  • by suss (158993) on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @08:18AM (#2465110)
    Slashdot continues to grow: our traffic has increased by like 10% in the last few months

    Did you take the whole WTC disaster (11/9, remember?) into account? I'm betting every news-site has seen this increase (or more!).
  • by Etyenne (4915) on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @08:41AM (#2465174)
    The change will be a different ad size on the article page. Currently we have the standard banner size on top of all pages, but soon the article pages will instead have those huge square things that you see on CNet or ZD.

    One word : unacceptable. These make me sick. I can understand the need to make enough money to keep the site going, and that's fine, but nothing is gonna make me endure that. Sorry.

    Maybe I will buy a subscription to disable the ads, but I wonder. The quality has gone down the toilet since Andover had been taken over by VA. Considering these "reorganisation", we can wonder how low /. is gonna go. Who would pay for another ZDNet ? Not me ...

    Now about the replacement :

    • Ars Technica [arstechnica.com] : Good technical stuff, very diversified. Especially, the discussion section [infopopup.net], "Ask Slashdot" on steroids.
    • Rootprompt [rootprompt.org] : Unix-only, high volume.
    • Kuro5hin [kuro5hin.org] : Less technical but more socially oriented discussion. Very high discussion level (but a bit too US-centric, IMHO).

    Unfortunately, none of these can give me EVERYTHING I want to read at the same place (like /. used to do). I will miss that.

  • by Martin Spamer (244245) on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @10:11AM (#2465566) Homepage Journal
    One impovement I'd like to see a reason for the rejection of submitted stories.

    I've submitted about a dozen stories/links over the last year, most have been [IMHO] good quality, and some have been 'Bang On Target', yet I've only had one accepted. e.g.

    2000-10-24 09:13:06 UK Employers gain e-snoop powers today (articles,news) (accepted)
    2001-01-24 11:09:08 Interactive Digital Television casestudy. (articles,tv) (rejected)
    2001-02-28 15:22:44 nCube doubles size of worlds largest VOD System. (articles,news) (rejected)
    2001-03-08 22:15:04 Amazon Security hole (articles,news) (rejected)
    2001-04-09 13:17:24 PS2 & STB Convergence (articles,news) (rejected)
    2001-04-09 13:22:41 Update: PS2/STB Convergence (articles,news) (rejected)
    2001-05-04 13:02:10 'Tractor beam' technology advances (articles,news) (rejected)
    2001-08-24 16:59:15 J2EE vs' .NET (developers,news) (rejected)
    2001-10-11 12:38:02 Microsoft astro-turf EU investigation. (articles,news) (rejected)

    In too many cases (all above) I've also seen a similar story posted within days. So it's not the stories themselves, so why are they being rejected? I think if we've gone to the effort of contributing we deserve at least a basic explaination.

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