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On the Matter of Slashdot Story Selection 1259

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the there-goes-my-week dept.
Conspiracy theories again run rampant as users accuse Slashdot Editors of being in cahoots with scam artists. Sounds like just a normal day at the office for me. Except that I've decided to say a few words on Slashdot article selection process and users who try to abuse it. Read on for my rant.

Let's talk about Beatles Beatles. For the uninitiated he's just some dude who submits a lot of stories. He actually happens to get a lot of them accepted. We have a number of users like this. Looking at the hall of fame shows you a number of the most successful ones. Now the motivation for getting a Slashdot story accepted (besides fame, glory and sexy women who start IMing you naked pictures of themselves mere seconds after a story goes live)is a return link to the website of your choosing. Your creds. Your 'Reward' for sharing a cool URL with a half a million Slashdot readers.

It's not hard to figure out what sorts of stories Slashdot likes. We have a format, and a subject matter. A persistent user can simply start spamming the bin with a submission about everything he finds that comes even close. If he does it enough, he'll get a few through. Especially if he manages to get something reasonable in at 11pm when there's little else to choose from.

Now there is no conspiracy. There is some Roland guy who's last name i can't spell who submits stuff all the time and people thought for awhile he was Timothy. Lately there is a Beatles Beatles user who conspiracy theorists now think is Scuttlemonkey. We don't know these people. They are not aliases for us. They aren't paying us. 3 months from now it will be somebody else.

Now these submitters each have their problems. In Roland's case, he likes to link to his personal blog where he writes mediocre summaries of stories that add nothing to the original. In BBs case, he just cuts and pastes paragraphs from linked pages. Both use their return link to link a web page which is, in my opinion, pretty worthless.

Now technically speaking, we could add a nofollow to their URLs. Or strip them entirely. But that puts me into the position of editing not just the submission, but the submittor, and i really don't think that this is "Right".

Part of the Slashdot Editor's job is to make a submission "Presentable". Usually this means moving a few URLs around. I'd guess a good half of story submissions use the word 'here' or 'article' or something equally stupid as their anchor text. I prefer relevant words to be linked. There are other minor things tho, like taking off extra intros like "Hi guys I read Slashdot every day and thought you would like this". We want the Slashdot story to be mostly distilled down to the essentials. Just the key 3-4 sentences.

Should part of this process be checking the URL of the submitter to make sure that it is legitimate? Does that really matter? Should we add a nofollow tag to those URLs?

My opinion is no. Those URLs are what you get for submitting a story to Slashdot. We selected it. The submission braved the Gauntlet. A hundred submissions died, and this one made the cut. I don't think it's fair that we strip creds from someone just because they choose to squander that URL on something stupid. Who am I to judge that after all?

Now the real problem with this is what it does to the discussion. Last night a nice story was posted. It came from one of our "Problem" users. And dozens of comments were posted about this user. The conspiracy theories. The hostility. Now a lot of this is normal Slashdot Forum Faire. Thats fine. But the problem is that often when this occurs, it swamps out the real discussion. The messenger becomes the story.

I think this sucks.

The story is not about Roland or Beatles Beatles or whatever other random user is submitting a lot of stuff this week. I encourage moderators to use their points to mod these discussions down when they see them. As a moderator, your job ought to be to steer the discussion on-topic. The submitter is almost never the topic!

The catch-22 kills me. I might have a URL in the bin worth sharing. Something a half a million of you might enjoy. But because a user with a "Reputation" submitted it, I know that posting it will spawn a giant forum cesspool. I could strip attribution and take away incentive for a user to submit. Or just throw away the article and forget it. Or I could post the story and watch as half of the discussion is simply about the submitter and not the URL that i wanted to share in the first place.

Damned if I do, damned if I don't, right? I'm seriously looking for feedback here. What should I do with a good submission from a reader with a reputation?

And moderators, use those offtopic mods to steer the discussion towards the subject of the article, not the flavor of the month conspiracy theory about story selection.

As a side note, I'm really going to try to write more articles addressing Slashdot matters on to Slashdot. But please understand that doing so is tremendously time consuming- this article will generate hundreds of pieces of mail and forum posts that I want to read and reply to. But there are only so many hours in the day. I would like to request that the forum try to stay on-topic here. Let's talk specifically about the issues i addressed above. We can talk about digg or moderation or whatever issues are of most interest next week.

Update a dozen or so users have made the same point: Simply wait for the same story to come from another user. If that was possible, I would do so. I'm really talking here about stories that are submitted just by one person. Part of why these users are successful is that they submit enough stories that they get a handful that only THEY submitted. I can't simply wait for someone else. That will never come!

update Allright it's been about 300 hours. I've read every comment posted so far, and replied to many. Even managed to whore myself a couple dozen upmods ;) I think we will add a nofollow to the submittor link. Several users raised good points and they ultimately convinced me that since the focus of the story is the submission, not the submittor, any link that detracts from the focus is less relevant. This will probably reduce some kinds of abuse in the future, but of course not all.

There's a lot of really good discussion in there. Some really good feedback. I haven't touched my inbox yet, but I see a lot of messages in there as well that I'll try to get to. I'll try to post again in another week or 2 on some other subject matter. If you have ideas on what that should be, you're welcome to email and suggest topics. We'll try to make it, if not regular, a frequent thing on Slashdot.

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On the Matter of Slashdot Story Selection

Comments Filter:
  • A simple suggestion: (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TripMaster Monkey (862126) * on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @11:33AM (#14435826)

    Institute a cap on the total number of stories a given submitter can get accepted (per day, week, month...whatever). A cap doesn't hurt legitimate submitters, while limiting the payoff for linkwhores.
    • by CmdrTaco (1) <(malda) (at) (slashdot.org)> on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @11:35AM (#14435844) Homepage Journal
      But if the link is good, why NOT share it with the audience? I believe my first priority is to the readers here. If they would enjoy a link, why should the fact that it came from a user with a negative repution make me not choose the link?
      • by RevDobbs (313888) * on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @11:42AM (#14435928) Homepage

        So a better solution might be to cap the number of submissions, not "accepted" submissions.

        If you only have a change to submit three stories a day, you know damn well that you're going to submit only the best. And if someone can come up with three great, published submissions a day, then let them whore their blog all they want: then they truly deserive it.

      • by TripMaster Monkey (862126) * on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @11:47AM (#14436011)

        Very well...then you can simply change my suggestion to: institute a cap on the total number of stories a given submitter can get attribution for (per day, week, month...whatever). If a linkwhore wants to spam the queue with stories, fine, but they may not try so hard if they find that their attribution gets stripped out after x amount of stories accepted in Y amount of time.

        And yes, you may argue that this will stop the linkwhore from sharing all these interesting stories with us, but the fact here is that the linkwhore isn't making anything here...he's just pointing out something that already exists, and that other readers, readers without agendas, can just as easily find and submit. Sure, the linkwhore might not try so hard to submit interesting stories, but the upside is that everyone else will try harder, because the odds of them geting something accepted just went up. I'm pretty confident that the balance of Slashdot's readership can take up the slack if the linkwhores are put out of business.
        • by Golias (176380) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @12:39PM (#14436730)
          Well said. The fact is that link whores add almost no value whatsoever to slashdot. We don't need them.

          A lot of regulars here don't bother to submit stories very often, because the odds of the submission actually being used are not very high.

          Why bother to submit a story about some new geek-friendly story when you know that the version of the same story written up by a link whore who is currently popular with one of the editors is going to be the one that gets used?
      • by D-Cypell (446534) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @11:52AM (#14436062)
        Taco, why not implement the ability for users to configure whether they see stories submitted by 'foes' on the front page (and perhaps move stories submitted by 'friends' TO the front page)?

        Clearly, some people will say, "Yeah get rid of user X stories" and other will say "No, I want to read them". The answer is configuration, and you already have the infrastructure in the foes/friends system.

      • by Alan Hicks (660661) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @12:23PM (#14436479) Homepage
        But if the link is good, why NOT share it with the audience?

        I'm going to get a new hole in my ass ripped open for this, but here goes.

        Most of the articles (and discussion for that matter) really aren't up to snuff. To illustrate this, a friend and I did a little experiment. We both submitted the same stories and in each case mine was more well written, lacked grammar and spelling mistakes, and in general was much better presented. They were submitted within a few minutes of each other. In each case when one of the articles was published on /., it was the more poorly written article. This held true even when I was the maintainer of the content being linked to.

        I don't know how others feel, but /. has really gone way downhill over the last three or four years. It feels like the editors aren't even trying anymore. Articles that are well-written are not preferred over something that was just slapped together. The subject matter isn't as good anymore. Where before there would be a story about a change in the virtual memory layer of the linux kernel, now we get "Linus Says GNOME Sucks" or "How to Get Free Stuff at Trade Shows".

        So naturally when readers see the same people getting their submissions posted over and over again, and the articles truly suck, people think something's up. My advice, start looking for real geek news. MontaVista is looking for a new CEO. Linux may soon have all its semaphores replaced with mutexs. There's plenty of real hard core geek news out there; I can't believe that it's not being submitted to /., unless most of the real geeks have moved onto other venues.

        • by CmdrTaco (1) <(malda) (at) (slashdot.org)> on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @12:28PM (#14436559) Homepage Journal
          I always favor the submission that comes in first. If I have 5 stories that are the same subject matter, I open all 5 in tabs, and start at the first tab. If it's really bad i'll check #2 or #3. But if it's even close to workable, i'll choose it.

          I prefer to reward speed over quality. But that is a flexible rule too.

          As for the rest of your comments, I disagree with Slashdot going downhill. I disagree with editors trying or not. But I will say that what we post is largely reflected by what is submitted by our readers. IF you don't like the stories we select, post more technical ones. As it stands, I can't post what isn't in my bin.

          • by molo (94384) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @01:03PM (#14437038) Journal
            I prefer to reward speed over quality. But that is a flexible rule too.

            Have you considered changing your personal policy to reward quality over speed? It would remove a lot of the criticisms about story submission choice, possibly including this whole many-submissions issue.

            -molo
          • by Raphael (18701) <quinet@gamLIONers.org minus cat> on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @01:17PM (#14437208) Homepage Journal
            I prefer to reward speed over quality. But that is a flexible rule too.

            I do not understand how this argument applies to the story selection. As an editor, you are the one who decides when you look at the stories and when you publish them. By the time you look at 5 stories that are on the same subject matter, these stories are already there (in the queue) so the time at which they were originally submitted is mostly irrelevant and will not have any influence on the time at which the story is posted.

            There is currently no feedback to the submitter saying "your story has been accepted because you were the first one to submit it" or "your story has been accepted because it was well-written" or "because it had more relevant links". Similarly, there is no feedback to the ones who get rejected saying "your story has been rejected because another submission on the same topic was received earlier" or "your story has been rejected because of its lousy quality". In most cases, those who submit stories have no way to know if they were first or not. Therefore, I would argue that there is no clear incentive for submitting stories as fast as possible.

            On the other hand, if we look at the feedback posted in the comments, I have seen more complaints about the quality of the stories than about the fact that other sites got the news first. This seems to indicate that it would be better to reward quality rather than speed in order to minimize the complaints and other off-topic discussions on some stories.

            If I may suggest something, it would be that you try to look at all 5 stories on the same subject matter and pick the one that has the best summary or the best links rather than the one that was submitted first.

  • by Concern (819622) * on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @11:34AM (#14435831) Journal
    Just pust what's good. Don't let this issue influence your judgement about what to show.

    As far as I can see, the conspiracy theories about various /. personalities - be they you, Katz, Michael, or the plethora of submitters - run in a smooth continuum through moderation system whiners and /.-herd posters all the way down to ordinary FP and OT trolls.

    Some people are just brats. They said something and it got modded down, or they submitted a story and it got ignored and (gasp) some other submission got in that looked similar, and then they decide to hate /. personally, rather than simply move on. It can manifest in all kinds of ways, overt or quite subtle, and this is one of them.

    That said, I'm certain that it's possible to trick, scam or abuse slashdot's editors with story submissions. I've certainly seen some questionable writeups go by over the years. It doesn't take anything away from the site, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

    For the most part, the system works. Stories come and go, the comments are generally good, and moderation doesn't always do what we wish, but nothing else really compares to the results. If occasionally something looks questionable people will question it, just as always.

    It can be alarming how sophisticated some haters can be, but frankly I haven't seen anything here that even deserves your response. It's good to clear the air, but anyway, I wouldn't worry about it.

    If you want a project, think about an interesting way to reorganize, prefilter and/or score story submissions...
  • by th1ckasabr1ck (752151) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @11:35AM (#14435839)
    ... but it seems to me that people complain far more often about advertisements thinly disguised as stories than they do about lots of submissions coming from the same user(s).
    • by Bonker (243350) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @11:45AM (#14435973)
      Slashdot could do with a fair bit of editorial rearrangement for new products or services.

      Make a 'new products' category to stick all those 'This is cool, but it sounds like Logitech paid for the ad' stories. Similar for new services. If a company is cool or scary enough to rate its own story section on slashdot, then you can post under those categories... Like for google. Otherwise, let users filter them out.
  • Mix It Up!!! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ferrellcat (691126) * on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @11:35AM (#14435841)
    Are you seriously trying to say that Beatles_Beatles was the only guy so submitted all of those stories? I would be VERY surprised if this were the case. If you get one story from 50 submitters, what's the point of going to the same submitter time and time again? Give the rest of us a chance.
    • Re:Mix It Up!!! (Score:5, Informative)

      by CmdrTaco (1) <(malda) (at) (slashdot.org)> on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @11:38AM (#14435873) Homepage Journal
      You'd be seriously surprised. I think you guys are underestimating the number of quality submissions we get. We might get 50 submissions to a breaking news piece, but something even SLIGHTLY more obscure may arrive only once.

      So you may be seriously surprised... but it's true. When someone submits 15 different URLs in 3 days, they are going to be the only submittor for 2 or 3 of them.

      • Re:Mix It Up!!! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Col. Klink (retired) (11632) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @12:14PM (#14436348)
        Some of this is clearly self-fulfulling. Why should I both submitting a single article when you appear far more likely to accept a link from someone who floods your site.

        Why not modify your incoming queue to sort by frequency of posting. You wouldn't have to drop all Beatles_Beatles submissions, but you'd see submissions from non-flooders first. If Beatles_Beatles was the only one with that scoop, then you'd be able to post it. But if someone else had the same link, you'd give priority to someone who isn't flooding the queue.

        And then, ff people thought they had a better chance of getting an article submitted, they'd be more likely to do so.

        But I also think editors should really be editing. I know you hate to hear this, but that includes (1) spell checking; (2) dupe-checking; and (3) fact-checking.

        1) Spell-checking. If you think discussion quality is decreased by a Roland submission, why can't you accept that the discussion is also decreased by spelling corrections. Not to mention that I just don't see how you can't take enough pride in this site to try and make it look professional.

        2) I understand that you don't want to drop a good discussion even if it takes place under a dupe. I would have thought the subscriber-preview option would have allowed you to catch dupes before general distribution. You could also close discussion of the article for the first 5 minutes while it's subscriber-only and add a "this is a dupe" button to allow the subscribers to alert you right away. For another software solution, why not write a script that would move discussion from one article to another. You could then delete the dupe and move the discussion to the original article. Of course, the real answer here is that editors should be editing, and that should include searching for dupes. It often feels like editors really don't read the site. Again, I don't see why this isn't a matter of pride for you.

        3) Fact-checking. You seem to admit that you basically accept anything with "key words". The site often looks like the Enquirer with such oversensationalist headlines. I usually wait 10 minutes before reading such articles and then read the top-rates comments to discover how badly you misrepresented the article. RTFA should apply as much to the editors as to the readers (perhaps even more so). I'm not asking you to spend a day researching everything, but if an article is exceptionally sensationalistic, you should at least spend a few minutes looking into it. Retractions should really shame you, but it never seems to bother you.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @11:36AM (#14435853)
    Background. I'm a registered user posting (quasi) anonymously. I have been
    around Slashdot since "Chips and Dips". I used to be a valinux or some
    other variant of the name volunteer developer, which has become OSDN.

    Should part of this process be checking the URL of the submitter to make
    sure that it is legitimate?

    Why not?

    Does that really matter?

    I'm a sticker for details, and "illegitamate" URLs or 404s bother me.

    Should we add a nofollow tag to those URLs?

    I don't see why not since you added the nofollow on signatures. I
    thought Slashdot did the same with user's posts, but I just checked and
    they don't. I guess the next time I want to do a googlebomb without the
    constraint of 120 character signatures, I know what to append at the end
    of my posts.

    I don't know what the queue for stories looks like, but I doubt it would
    be too dificult to avoid a * *Beatles Beatles goon with other stories.
    Especially when we gripe about it (see below).

    Suggestions for Slashdot:

    - option to randomize the top of a threads. Now there is by newest and
    oldest first, but I believe that if the randomize option were there and
    used, it would allow for more deep threads than the 90% of the ones that
    jump on early posts to get closer to the top of the charts and the 10%
    that get tacked onto those that view by newest first. I also hate when
    I write a long, researched, post and it gets too few eyeballs because I
    did not opt for the quick fix at the top of the list.

    - stop the dupes. I seriously do not believe that copying and pasting
    the subject or keywords into google with site:Slashdot.org takes more
    than 10 seconds, or at least for me. Over 90% of the time I do it, the
    first link is the dupe.

    - listen to us more. I hate to say it, but Slashdot is more our site
    than "yours". We submit the stories, we have almost every piece of
    content on the site. Yes, Slashdot does provide great software to view
    the stories and a known hotspot for us geeks. Being that slashcode is
    open, in theory a new and better Slashdot could happen at any time with
    little difference in the look and feel of the site. The reason this has
    not happened yet, because we are reasonably happy with each other here
    and the progress of the slashcode to date.

    Kudos to Slashdot for:

    - friends/foes/fans/freaks. Although I'm slightly dislexic between
    friends and fans and foes and freaks, the ability to use these to filter
    out at least the free iPod people is invaluable. My signal to noise
    ratio is pretty high now. Sometimes I feel like foeing a friend or a
    friend of a friend just because they post too much, even though I like
    a good amount of what they say, they then to pop out of threads too
    much for my tastes, but it would be very complex to fix such a minor
    annoyance.

    - staying cheap for subscribers, and being one of the top sites on the
    internet

  • digg yourself (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 0110011001110101 (881374) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @11:37AM (#14435863) Journal
    create a /. staging area, where us, the real users, can rate stories, and let us decide what makes it to the front page... The the RPs and BBs of the world will only show up when their linkback page is actually relevent and useful...
    • Re:digg yourself (Score:4, Interesting)

      by maino82 (851720) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @11:50AM (#14436038)
      This is a good idea, but maybe you could also take it one step further. Make all user posts anonymous until they get selected for the front page, and only THEN reveal who submitted it. That way it's not about who submitted it at all, but rather whether the story is good enough to make the final cut. Then we have noone to blame but ourselves if the same people happen to submit front page stories again and again.
    • Re:digg yourself (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Autonomous Crowhard (205058) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @12:34PM (#14436654)
      Exactly!

      We've got meta moderation, why not story moderation? Why not have the concept of Poster Karma?

      If you post too much crap then you lose linking privs until you staighten out. post even more crap and you don't even get your name on the post.

  • by dannytaggart (835766) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @11:37AM (#14435865) Homepage
    Why not simply link to the original article, instead of these cut-and-paste pages?
  • simple (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lubricated (49106) <michalp AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @11:38AM (#14435875)
    be more transparent. There are alot of things you could to help your cause. Showing rejected story list may be nice. I trully doubt only one user posted that story. If it's true that he was the only one to catch it then if people knew it they might be more ok with it.
    That's one way to be more transparent, you may have to be creative to think of others.

    One more thing.
    Denying that what happened was suspicious is calling your community stupid.
    Also try having the editors perticipate in a conversation about them and directly answer some of the comments(not sure if this hasn't happened, but it didn't when I was looking at it.).
  • by redelm (54142) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @11:39AM (#14435884) Homepage
    I put some of what I consider quality in my Submissions. They get posted on K5 everytime. But at /. , it appears the editors aren't very careful readers, and quantity matters.

    Since I'm not willing to grind out quantity, I just stop submitting.

  • Ask us again (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 192939495969798999 (58312) <info@noSPaM.devinmoore.com> on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @11:39AM (#14435889) Homepage Journal
    The most critical thing I can see is that these type of questions aren't asked that often. I would like to see a once per week, or at a minimum once per month, question from the editors like, "how are we doing, what changes, etc." It doesn't mean you have to implement them, but we'd like to know that you at least halfway care what the readers think. When you take out a story from someone with a rep, that can be considered censorship, so print that pig and watch the fur + mod points fly. That's what the internet is for. However, you can go out of your way to make sure that people starting to earn a bad rep get steered clear of that, by telling them early and often when things are going south. If they continue to be jerks, or post ad after ad, that's when it's time to step in. The New York Times doesn't run ads masquerading as articles. I'm not saying this is the NYT, but you can understand our frustration as readers to click a link and get an online store.
  • Simple solution (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wampus (1932) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @11:39AM (#14435893)
    Make the link point to the user's slashdot profile page.
  • by sparkhead (589134) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @11:41AM (#14435913)
    "I could strip attribution and take away incentive for a user to submit. "

    If their incentive to submit is attribution, they shouldn't be submitting.

    Take Fark.com for example. The submitters get no recognition (on the main part of the site) when an article is greenlit. They may chime in the thread with comments, but other than that, nothing. And they get a counter in their profile on how many articles they've gotten greenlit.

    Their incentive for submitting is an interesting story that's funny and may spark discussion.

    While the humor angle isn't applicable for the most part here, the discussion part is. Submit something because you think it's interesting, you think your fellow nerds will think it's interesting, and it will generate an interesting discussion.

    Submitting just to gain attribution is the wrong reason to do it.
  • by pnuema (523776) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @11:42AM (#14435921)
    ...is not getting to place a link to the site of your chosing. The reward for having a story accepted is to have a story accepted. If you are submitting stories for any other reason, then your motivation is wrong. Add the no follow tag, and end the debate for good.
  • Roland (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lord Byron II (671689) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @11:42AM (#14435923)
    The reason I can't stand Roland is because his postings suck. They "feel" like they're trying to get me to click the link to his blog and I don't like that feeling. His posts are closer to ads for his blog than summaries of the relevant stories. Which brings me to my second complaint:

    Slashads, which seem to be getting through at a more regular rate. Again, I don't want to be advertised to by the story submission (especially when that person is not paying /. for the privilege).

    A couple of suggestions: first, every article about a product needs to have at least two links. One to the product and a second to an un-biased review of the product. A link to the product alone is a Slashad for the product and a link to the review alone is a Slashad for the review site. Only once an article has a few links does it get away from the Slashad realm and into the useful realm.

    Second, to put it bluntly, the editors need to do their jobs. I would much rather see a few high quality stories than many useless ones. Taco said it himself, if the submission bin is empty, a story has a greater chance of being accepted. No! Good stories should be accepted and bad stories rejected. Period. End of line. It is the editor's job to find the good stories, fix the links, and check the grammar (!).

  • by meringuoid (568297) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @11:43AM (#14435938)
    ... and what they do with it.

    I thought the hue and cry after Roland Piquepaille was unnecessary. So he was trying to drive traffic to his blog and maybe become known as some kind of net pundit. That, it seemed to me, was fair enough. Isn't that essentially what we're all doing, sounding off here on the topic of the day?

    But this Beatles guy isn't doing that. He's using his links back from /. to drive up the PageRank of his link farm, with the apparent overall aim of trying to push spam sites up Google, for money. This, as far as I and, it seems, a large number of /.'ers are concerned, is not fair play. It simply isn't cricket, and we don't like to see our community effectively supporting spam.

    That's what gets me upset about **Beatles-Beatles, that didn't worry me about Roland. This kind of link farming and search engine spamming spoils the net for all of us, and a major geek centre like this one should be firmly against that.

    • by robbo (4388) <(ten.armis) (ta) (todhsals)> on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @12:24PM (#14436487)
      Simple solution: the submitter URL in the story should point to their slashdot user page (for *all* slashdot stories, btw). They can post their home page url in their user page, if they like, but it will be minimum two clicks away from the front page. They get the reward of recognition, but its diluted. This might reduce the incentive for people like BB to submit a lot of stories, and will hopefully reduce the jealous ranting in the discussions.
  • Nofollow Karma (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Milo Fungus (232863) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @11:45AM (#14435978)

    Why not make the "nofollow" a matter of karma? Those with por karma have a nofollow added to their link, just as their comments are started at score 0 or -1.

    You could even get tricky and make a separate karma just for story submission, with some sort of moderation system. This moderation could be done by the editors themselves, or it could be opened up to the readership. I've read dozens of comments over the years where the submitter wished they could moderate the story. Perhaps it's time to add that functionality to slashcode.

    • Re:Nofollow Karma (Score:5, Insightful)

      by b1t r0t (216468) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @12:21PM (#14436442)
      Why not make the "nofollow" a matter of karma? Those with por karma have a nofollow added to their link, just as their comments are started at score 0 or -1.

      Although you haven't been able to see the effects for a long time since they hid karma behind a vague description, you do realize that getting a submission posted is worth 3 karma points, right?

      I don't see why links for the submitter's name shouldn't always be nofollow links. The submitter's home web site is not the subject of the article, so there's no reason Google should be able to associate it with the article. Hey, if he's got a worthwhile page on george-harrison.info that's worth linking to as the point of the article, I've got no problem with that. It's just the automatic link to the same site attached to his name that is the problem here.

      Also, web site links in the headers of posted replies should be nofollow links as well. The whole point of this BeatlesBeatles controversy is a link to his web site which is not part of the topic. The same should apply not just to "george-harrison.info", but also to "(http://www.ourmedia.org/user/38299 [ourmedia.org])" (<--hey, check it out, a nofollow link, CmdrTaco is censoring me! Help help, I'm bein' opressed!) and other such links in the comment headers and signatures. Okay, so he's got his link on the front page, but the idea is the same. Links to a submitter's / comment poster's websites are off-topic, and should be rel=nofollow. If nofollow is good enough for comment text, it should be good enough for home page links, too.

      The same should probably apply to links in signature lines as well.

      So for some strange reason, we can't post links in comments without getting a nofollow slapped on it, but we can set our homepage and it won't get a nofollow, and every time we post a message, we're doing the same thing as BeatlesBeatles! Oh man, I feel so dirty. Oh wait, I don't have a home page set up. But look at the HTML source to any message you've posted and you'll see what I mean.

  • by SharpFang (651121) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @11:46AM (#14435984) Homepage Journal
    Just replace the article text. Leave the attribution and attribution link (under the nickname, rarely followed by users) but rewrite the summary and skip the middleman, linking directly to the article. So Roland posts in his blog a piece of some other site and links to it. Write "[Roland] wrote about [this cool site], which is about..." instead of "[Roland] wrote: I've put a short blurb [in my blog] about that cool site..." He gets the nickname attribution link. Not all the slashdot effect hits.
  • Ignore the noise (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @11:51AM (#14436046) Homepage Journal
    I agree that it sucks when "[t]he messenger becomes the story." But you know, Slashdot is like Usenet used to be (before Slashdot and various other Web forums largely took over Usenet's role, leaving most newsgroups as purely the domain of spammers and trolls, I mean) in that, while there is a hell of a lot of noise, there is also a lot of signal -- and the noise really isn't that hard to skip over. Most users, it seems to me, can train themselves to scan posts quickly, decide if they're germane to the story or just a bunch of conspiracy-theory nonsense, and page down to the comments with some meat.

    The moderation system should make this easier. Now, I'm not a big fan of the "Offtopic" mod -- I don't remember the last time I used it -- but what I do when I have mod points is try to mod up only on-topic comments (as well as comments that are good in other ways, of course: interesting, insightful, etc.) so that, hopefully, those comments and the threads they spawn will rise to the top of the page and leave the trolls and conspiracy theorists and **Beatles-Beatles dissas 'n' Piquepaille-hatas, yo, down at the bottom where they belong.

    BTW, the reason I don't like "Offtopic" is because I think it's often abused; many mods will mark a post that way when it's a perfectly legitimate reply to another post which is kinda sorta ontopic. For example, in many science stories (regardless of the type of science in question) you'll see people ranting about how dumb and ignorant scientists are, often including links to creationist/ID propaganda or some bullshit look-how-clever-I-am Michael Crichton speech; and they may (or may not) get modded as "Troll" or "Flamebait," but people who respond to them and try to explain to them how science really works get modded "Offtopic" because the explanation isn't directly relevant to the original story. This is a problem, because these ideas need to be addressed whenever they crop up, IMNSGDHO. See also: rational discussion of the advantages of Mac OS X in response to "L0L M4XZ 5UX0RZ PCZ R0X0RZ" posts, usually in any given Apple story. "Offtopic" isn't a bad mod category in itself, but I think it should be much more carefully used.
  • by Slartibartfast (3395) * <`gro.stoj' `ta' `nek'> on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @11:58AM (#14436136) Homepage Journal
    Sheesh. Here you dare to submit your own story, which asks legitimate questions, and even asks for feedback. The hubris!

    You're lucky that the feedback has (as far as I read) thus far only accused you of

    - Cronyism
    - Faking user identities
    - Taking kickbacks for posting stories
    - General stupidity.

    OKAY, FOLKS. TIME TO WAKE UP.

    Let's take 'em, here:
    Cronyism/faking poster names. IF ROB WANTED TO POST FAKE USERNAMES, DON'T YOU THINK HE MIGHT TRY TO COVER HIS TRACKS A LITTLE BETTER? Occam's razor kinda dictates that this Beatles Beatles guy is legit, 'cause Rob could cough up as many accounts as he wanted if here were attempting to run a propaganda site.

    Kickbacks for stories. Ummmm... duh. Let's face it: we read Slashdot (or, at least, *I* read Slashdot -- and have for years; check my user number) because we enjoy the stories, and the commentary. If we EVER found ANY conclusive evidence that Rob was taking kickbacks from advertisers, I think it would be safe to say the site would be abandoned wholesale. Instead, just like UFO abduction stories, people love to discuss potential cabals and conspiracies, but offer no proof whatsoever. PUT UP OR SHUT UP.

    General stupidity. Okay, maybe this one's valid, maybe it isn't. But, akin to Howard Stern's take on similar situations, IF YOU DON'T LIKE IT, STOP READING. I can think of no better vote. No, you DON'T own the site. Rob does. (Or the media conglomarate. Not sure. Doesn't matter.) But we, the users, in a very real sense do dictate the site's future. If we stopped reading, it would go away. So, if you're so pissed, STOP READING. If you think the stories that are posted are stupid, STOP READING. There are plenty of other sites that are spawned in Slashdot's image, that offer different editorial direction and/or mechanisms. Feel free to avail yourselves of them. And, while we're at it, if it's not to the point where you want to wholesale abandon the site, you can -- gasp -- get mod points to change the feel of a story's discussion. Use 'em.

    In the meantime, I think Rob and the crew -- with the odd exception (see: magnetic longevity rings) -- try hard, and succeed most of the time. Certainly enough that Slasdhot's one of the sites I refresh the most. I, personally, will continue reading, as long as CmdrTaco and Hemos are associated with the site. They ain't perfect, but they do a damn good job, and have done it long enough and well enough to show it ain't a fluke.

    Party on Way^H^H^H^H Rob.
    Party on Hemos.
  • by vertinox (846076) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @11:59AM (#14436144)
    Damned if I do, damned if I don't, right? I'm seriously looking for feedback here. What should I do with a good submission from a reader with a reputation?

    Instead of linking to an user inputed URL on the story, why not just give the option to link to their Slashdot profile.

    That way they can't abuse Google page rank, but if anyone is still interested in the submitter they can go to their /. profile page and hit up their bio and URL from there.
  • by socratic method (15936) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @12:03PM (#14436191)
    This is clearly a shameless slashvertisement for /.

    Next!
  • nofollow (Score:5, Informative)

    by Mr_Silver (213637) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @12:07PM (#14436250)
    My opinion is no. Those URLs are what you get for submitting a story to Slashdot. We selected it. The submission braved the Gauntlet. A hundred submissions died, and this one made the cut. I don't think it's fair that we strip creds from someone just because they choose to squander that URL on something stupid. Who am I to judge that after all?

    Let them keep the link but use nofollow. They'll still get the "cred" of it being there, it'll still drive people to visit their site out of interest but the search engines will ignore it and so those who try to post articles to boost their pagerank will be left out.

    Everyone is a winner. Except the pagerank scammers, but we don't care about them.

    I like this idea of Taco posting stuff about Slashdot every month. Next time I'd like to know how they handle dupes and what they intend on doing/implementing to reduce the number.

  • by Von Rex (114907) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @12:10PM (#14436282)
    Most people here don't give a damn about the URL behind the submitter's name. People who make big deals about that usually get marked off-topic anyway. But what I find very concerning is the general lack of quality of the stories submitted lately.

    This is one of my favorite sites and has been for years. I'm here every day. But lately my interest in this site is waning. Here are the recent trends in story selection I find most annoying.

    1. Informercials disguised as stories. Particularly those for products which are not innovations in the first place. Most particularly for products which do not yet even exist. It makes me want to scream at your editors to RTFA before they publish it to half a million people. Often the first page of the comments for such stories are filled with +5 comments saying "This should not have been a story because there's nothing interesting or innovative here". You should take that as an indication that your editors screwed up, rather than trying to defend their story choices.

    2. Minor gaming stories that should not be on the front page. There's a gaming section of this site. Minor stories, like interviews with game company staffers no one has heard of, should go there rather than the main page. If you noticed, most of the gaming stories lately have about 20 comments on them, and most of them trolls. This should be an indication to you that your recent practice of promoting gaming press releases over substantial tech stories is not an interest shared by most of your readers.

    3. There seem to be certain subjects which automatically get promoted to front page stories by the editors. For example, anything remotely to do with Star Wars or Blizzard. This has always happened to some degree, partly as a geek culture, tongue-in-cheek type of thing, but lately there's been too much of it. It's noise, not signal.


    Look at what's on the top of each page. "News that matters". Lately you've been sliding away from that slogan. And that's the real threat to this site.
  • by tm2b (42473) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @12:17PM (#14436384) Journal
    It seems to me that the responses inside the story discussion only happen because there's no other place for the disatisfied to direct their concerns.

    Slashdot really needs to have a place where the admins can have an ongoing conversation with the users. This is basic Cluetrain stuff, it's somewhat appalling that Slashdot hasn't "gotten" it.

    Hell, even if you guys don't even read it, it would at least provide a place for complaints to go instead of swamping story discussions.

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