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On the Subject of Slashdot Article Formatting 944

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the break-out-your-red-pens dept.
Every day we post dozens of stories on Slashdot. Every day we read hundreds of submissions. And as most of the people who work behind the scenes are in fact human, we occasionally make mistakes, posting typos, or grammatical errors. Today I address matters of article formatting. What I think matters before I click 'save', and what I don't.

I'm not talking here about "Should a story be posted" or "I have 9 submissions about the same thing, which is best." Today I'm talking entirely about what I try to do when I decide that some story is good for Slashdot. What changes I think matter before posting it. Picking which stories to post is a big part of our job, matters of style and formatting matter too. Today I try to address what things I think are important before I click 'Save'.

The most important thing is what I'll call my most-important-link rule. Often submitters submit stories with like 8 links. I try to remove any link that doesn't substantially add to the article. For example linking ZDNet.com directly, and then a second URL to an article on ZDNet is redundant. Or if your link is to Joe's Blog, where he essentially says nothing except "I found this article". I'm not opposed to having several URLs in a story, but I want to make sure that they each serve a real purpose.

Next is proper anchor texting. I fix the hyper text on the vast majority of submissions. People link the word 'Here' or 'Article' or 'CNN' and I find that very frustrating. I want the hypertext to be the most appropriate 2-3 words that tell you exactly what you're clicking on. I think that is absolutely essential. Every URL should matter, and every bit of hypertext should tell you exactly what it is you're going to get when you click that mouse button.

Another key component in Slashdot article formatting is to strip off the extra text in a submission. I have a mental image of how long a Slashdot story is. Many submissions are to long or to short. So I get out the scissors and start looking for sentences to cut.

Often a submission starts with a clause that says something to the effect of "Hey guys, I found this URL that says...". I'd much prefer to cut that out and get right to the meat. Likewise many submissions end with a call to action... "We should get those guys" or "Lets show them what Slashdot can do about it!". I yank those sorts of things. As a general rule, I want the story to be short, sweet, and direct. Anything that distracts from that, I want to chop out.

Likewise some submissions are simply a URL and a single sentence. Since I want my articles to be around the same size, this is my chance to put in my own words. I'll try to add a joke or opinion. Or just a fact that I thought was worth sharing from the article itself. It's often these phrases that comment posters get most up in arms about: irate readers commenting that I should not be allowed to post my views.

I consider this opinion to be simply ludicrous. Slashdot was spawned from what today would be called a blog. To be more precise, it came from MY blog. Where I posted almost nothing but my own opinions. But more blatantly, I could simply rewrite the entire thing, say exactly what I want to say, and post it as an anonymous reader. Or as a made up nickname. I don't do any of those things. I simply add my 2 bits at the end to the occasional story. Not only do I think this is desirable on Slashdot, I think it's essential.

Now let us talk about one of my secondary concerns: spelling and grammar. Let me be clear. As you are probably well aware, I don't think these are as important as the things I mentioned above. I want a Slashdot story to be focused, directing your attention to the URL in question. It needs to be not to long, not to short. Links should be clear. Spelling and Grammar are secondary issues.

Slashdot is not the Wall Street Journal. It is not The New York Times. Slashdot is an informal meeting ground. A town hall. A pub. A bulletin board in the quad on campus. Here people might not properly capitalize a proper noun. They might transpose letters in 'thier'. They might use jargon that isn't in oxford. And all of that is OK with me.

Now sometimes a sentence doesn't parse to me. I'm not opposed to correcting the grammar in a sentence if it just doesn't work. But I simply don't think that a typo or grammar error is a make or break problem for a Slashdot story.

Many users routinely email me to complain about such errors. I'm usually fairly flexible on these matters. If the error is blazingly bad, I will often correct it. Of course some users like to email me to tell me how much Slashdot sucks, how fat and lazy I am, and how the most terrible thing in the history of Slashdot is the fact that the 4th story down contains the word 'to' when it ought to contain the word 'too'. That missing 'o' is the greatest travesty on-line today! It's hard to take that seriously. Especially when people are rude.

As an aside, for awhile we actually had an editor reading Slashdot articles and correcting grammatical mistakes. Turns out it doesn't really matter much. People found other things to complain about. It's almost as if some percentage of the population wants to complain. And they will find something to complain about no matter what. Perhaps by leaving a few typos on the site, I am making their day a little easier! Leave them some low hanging fruit I guess.

A a further side note to anyone who ever wants me to look at anything on Slashdot. If you e-mail me, include the URL. A comment mismoderated? A user who is misbehaving? A story with a typo? Include the URL. Don't say "The article about Novell" because there might be 3 in the last 2 days. Don't say "The last comment I posted" because it might be 2 hours and you might have posted since then. It takes you 3 seconds to cut and paste a URL. It might take me 3 minutes to find the content in question if you don't. That doesn't sound like much, but if it happens a couple dozen times, it adds up really fast. Do you want to stay an hour late at work today?

But back to the topic at hand, You are welcome to disagree with me on matters of grammar and spelling. And many of you do, very vocally in the forums. I would hope moderators would see such commentary as offtopic. A story about a new motherboard chipset has nothing to do with the proper use of "Its" and "It's".

The moderation system serves many purposes, but perhaps the most important is to provide a user, 24 hours later viewing at Score 2 or 3 an accurate pulse on the topic at hand. If the comment is not about the new motherboard chipset, that comment at least should not be modded 'insightful', and in many cases, ought to be modded offtopic of flamebait.

As with last week, I'm going to try to participate as best I can in the discussion. If major points arise I will update here. I think the real topic of this article is the formatting of Slashdot Stories: not moderation, the story selection process, and or story selection criteria. Please help by staying on topic so I can try to address these matters efficiently. And please don't email me directly- lets keep the discussion here in front of everyone so i don't have to answer dozens of you individually. Moderators, feel free to moderate good questions up to help me find them, and likewise if my answers are good, give those the thumbs up too so that readers can find them and save me from having to re-read questions i've answered already. Once again, I plan to do this as regularly as I can. If you have ideas for future discussions here, e-mail me... but I beg of you, wait until tomorrow!

Update Here is a further clarificatio on typo and grammar errors on Slashdot. I believe that Slashdot is a somewhat schizo place. A dozen voices stand side by side on the main page. Some of them will have proper grammar. Others won't. Just like a mailing list. Just like crappily written comments in some ancient piece of source code. Just like that email jotted out in seconds. Just like some bit of IRC chat you just read a few minutes ago.

Simply hiring a copy editor to purge these changes fundamentally alters the personality of the site, and my opinion is that alteration is for the worse. It might improve clarity to some percentage of readers who truthfully can't parse bad grammar or spelling. Likewise it might cut down on some offtopic meta threads in the forums. But the I think that it changes the flavor. The feeling. The tone of Slashdot.

Some people disagree with me. You are welcome to do so.

Another note about URL formatting. An interesting thread spawned in there about what text makes a proper hyper link. Given the example string:

CNN has an article about a sticky widget

What text should be linked?

There are 2 potential URLs in here, a CNN article, and the text 'CNN'. Some users think the words CNN should link to an article. Other users might link CNN directly to CNN, and the word 'article' to the article in question.

My stylistic preference is to only link 'a sticky widget' to the article. Not to link CNN directly to CNN.com (that link is redundant- I want only the most important links. And not 'article' because that tells you nothing about what you are clicking on.

Meta discussion on Slashdot is a substantial issue we intend to address in the moderation system redesign. Things like typos and grammar have a place on Slashdot, but today that place can only be described as 'Offtopic'. (And I think all moderators and meta moderators should keep that in mind). Our plans for dealing with 'Meta' discussion are best left for another editorial. In fact, I have one half written. Maybe next week.

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

On the Subject of Slashdot Article Formatting

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  • by yagu (721525) * <yayagu.gmail@com> on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @12:32PM (#14500278) Journal

    Bravo Taco! Good points well made.

    I would like to take slight issue about the importance of spelling and grammar, especially in the slashdot article itself. To your main point, the article is about something, not spelling and grammar. That is true. But correct spelling and grammar lend accuracy to the article and are not ancillary niceties. Too much carelessness around grammar and spelling leads to muddier thinking and sometimes requires extra interpretation from the readers.

    Case in point from this very article, ninth paragraph, describing how long a slashdot article must be:

    It needs to be not to long, not to short.

    While it's mostly clear what you mean, the sentence could take on different meaning. For example, the "It needs to be not to long" could (easily in fact) be interpreted to mean the length of the article should be appropriate as not to leave the reader "longing" for more. And, the "not to short." could mean the article should have appropriate length to assure you have not "shorted" the reader. Nuances, yes, but appropriate (not perfect) grammar is important.

    Again, thanks for the illumination of publishing policy. It really is useful!

    • by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @12:45PM (#14500419)
      Case in point from this very article, ninth paragraph, describing how long a slashdot article must be:

      Good God, man! Didn't you read the article? Include the URL! : p
    • by metlin (258108) * on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @12:47PM (#14500455) Journal
      You're right. It's hard for some of us not to look at grammatical or spelling errors and wince. Quite honestly, just how hard is it to read through something and check for the odd mistake? An occasional mistake or two is not a big deal, but the fact that Slashdot editors seem apathetical to this practice is what annoys me.

      As a subscriber, there have been several times when I've pointed out mistakes, but they're seldom corrected.

      The reason some of us hate errors is not because they are occasional, but because it's become a habit for Slashdot editors not to care about those errors.

      Delay posting that article by five minutes - paste the content in a spelling and grammar checking tool, and you can eliminate a good chunk of the mistakes. How hard is that, really?
      • by SIGFPE (97527) on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @01:24PM (#14500953) Homepage
        It's not just about wincing. The process of reading is pipelined. Humans can scan through text very quickly because while the eye is scanning one word you're parsing the sentence from a few words before and thinking about the meaning of what came before that. When you hit a grammatical or spelling error you cause a pipeline stall. If an incorrect word is used you can often continue for several more words before you discover that the sentence is impossible to parse forcing you to backtrack. Good writers intuitively know how to construct a sentence to lead you towards the correct parsing and make the process of reading as effortless as possible. The Slashdot editors often make reading a chore with readers being forced to scan sentences over and over again in an attempt to find a sensible reading.


        People have been endeavouring to write well for centuries. It's funny how the Slashdot editors can suddenly decide that this entire tradition is worthless. Have they not noticed that writers have been trying to convey a message other than "I can spell" for aeons and yet still make the effort to spell correctly as a courtesy to their readers?


        When you write text on a forum like Slashdot every minute you spend writing translates into thousands of minutes of reading. People would do well to remember that.

        • by TiggsPanther (611974) <.ku.oc.diov-m. .ta. .sggit.> on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @03:14PM (#14502391) Journal
          When you hit a grammatical or spelling error you cause a pipeline stall. If an incorrect word is used you can often continue for several more words before you discover that the sentence is impossible to parse forcing you to backtrack.

          This is a very valid point. I know that checking through someone else's sentences can be really time-consuming, but that's exactly why I know how much of a wall bad spelling or grammar can be.
          I've been checking through a friend's writing for about a year now and, yes, at times the editing feels like a chore. However it's because of this that I know why I prefer writing to be checked. Quite often the changes I suggest are where a word or a piece of grammar suggest something other than what the sentence actually means. It can take me two or more additional readings to work out what the sentence actually means and even then sometimes I have to ask.

          There is also the issue about the word "editor" implying, well, someone who edits submissions if necessary. Yes, Slashdot is basically a glorified Blog and not a high-brow newspaper. But it also reaches a lot of people. And it is nice if an article has better spelling and typing.
          Plus although many people can easily parse bad English, not everybody can. Some people are dyslexic. Some are grammar nazis. Some of us are neither, but still have problems parsing bad English. Also anyone who has to check writing for legibility, whether as a job or othewise, will have a "Bad English Alarm" more or less hardwired.

          I also speak as someone who has a rather high typo-rate. I know that there's usually at least one error that I miss, which is why I always get someone else to check through important documents and stuff before I send or print them. But that does mean that if I were to submit an article to /. then however hard I checked there'd still be something likely to slip through. Especially as I know what I meant to write, so my brain will parse it correctly.

      • by Golias (176380) on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @01:31PM (#14501044)
        Taco's comment here is quite telling:

        As an aside, for awhile we actually had an editor reading Slashdot articles and correcting grammatical mistakes. Turns out it doesn't really matter much. People found other things to complain about.

        So, what he's saying is, in his view, the complaints are the problem.

        Headlines on his site which look completely moronic are only a problem because they generate complaints, not because they are a mess to read. Were it only not for these troublesome "Squeeky Wheel" users who dare to be critical of our piss-poor use and abuse of the English language, Slashdot would be perfect.

        What a shitty attitude!

        (But his attitude is only a problem in the sense that it provoked me to complain, of course. Clearly, I'm the real problem here, and if Taco ran this site like a professional, I'd find something else to bitch about.)
      • by whyde (123448) on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @02:16PM (#14501650)
        It's hard for some of us not to look at grammatical or spelling errors and wince.

        I can wince just fine without first looking at a spelling or grammar error.

        However, it's hard for me to look at grammar or spelling errors and not wince, since my brain must first refactor the offending text before I can enjoy it.
    • by geeber (520231) on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @01:05PM (#14500708)
      One of the things that drives me crazy is when the Slashdot article reads something like "Soandso writes 'blah blah blah etc etc blah blah blah'..." However, on closer inspection one sees that Soandso did not actually write the original text "blah blah blah" but rather pulled it directly from the linked article without paraphrasing.

      This may seem a small thing, but I work in a field where one lives and dies by one's word and original ideas. It is anthama to take someone elses words and I would hope that the editors here try and correct the attributions whenever it is at all possible.
    • by thewiltog (906494) on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @01:09PM (#14500759) Journal
      And don't forget those readers for whom English is not their first language. What may be an obvious mis-spelling or grammatical error to a native english speaker may render the article (or reply) incomprehensible to someone who's having to look words up in a dictionary.
      • by cyclop (780354) on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @01:33PM (#14501072) Homepage Journal

        As a non-native English speaker that has some grasp of English grammar and orthography, I can say grammar sloppines on /. (or everywhere else) is not only confusing but really annoying. Orthography errors just sound more than sloppy. They sound stupid.

        I don't know how can you cope with this. It seems to me here in Italy we pay much more attention to grammar and words (That's perhaps we had low alphabetization levels until 50 years ago, so correct language skills are still highly respected). Typos occur, but bad orthography and grammar are often touted as symptoms of absolute ignorance.

  • by dada21 (163177) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @12:33PM (#14500280) Homepage Journal
    Taco's "review" on article formatting is one that many of us should use and learn from -- especially anyone with a blog or an opinion site themselves.

    The most important thing is what I'll call my most-important-link rule
    I've actually been watching how articles are "formatted" for the past 2 months and tried to mimic it on one of my blogs. The result? More people clicking within that blog, staying on for up to 1/2 hour per visit. This is a good thing, it means that people like the content for whatever reason. If you're linking to other sites, make sure you find the link that really has all the information in total. Do some google searches before settling on the link you think is good. Don't link to 10 different sites all offering the same general information.

    Next is proper anchor texting. I fix the hyper text on the vast majority of submissions.
    I find that another of my blogs has better content than the previous, but it isn't read very deeply (if even past 1 page). I seriously believe this is because I would link to "here" or "article" instead of linking to "the housing bubble is about to burst."

    Another key component in Slashdot article formatting is to strip off the extra text in a submission.
    Of the 12 articles I've submitted to slashdot, the 3 that were accepted were posted almost verbatim -- I actually think it was because I left the editor with a good direction and a good article at link's end. The ones they rejected often were short articles, or opinion pieces with links to other sites with deeper information. I'm actually glad the editor at the time went to the link and read it (or probably did). Looking back, those submissions should have been rejected. I'd love to see an option on slashdot -- a checkbox saying "If rejected, show complete submission on user page as journal entry" so others can moderate our submissions on our journals. They won't moderate if this article is worthy, just comment on the submission. I'd love to know what others think about some of my submissions.

    Anything that distracts from that, I want to chop out.
    If you're a blogger, definitely listen to the part of Taco's "review" that talks about making generic comments like "I found this" or "Let's get these guys!" I hate blogs that write these little side comments. If I go to a site because of an opinion, I like to stick with sites that offer non-fluff text written by the opinion writer. I've seen newspaper columns that are all fluff content like that, and it drives me crazy.

    It's almost as if some percentage of the population wants to complain.
    I believe that to be true. The more sites (/blogs) that I work on, mine or those of others, the more complaints I see from the same people, even between two totally different sites. I have one grammar nazi (I actually appreciate his e-mails even if I don't adapt) who has probably spent hours criticizing my grammar on different sites (and on slashdot). What is the old cliche about one's importance if others are criticizing you? By the way, Google Toolbar's spell checker is pretty amazing, I'm trying to make it a habit to use it on every textbox.

    Side topic:
    I tried Digg, but I didn't like the feel of it. Democracy, to me, is not a good solution for posting articles. I like having someone doing some work, and I completely understand the dupes we see (I've submitted a few in my life, thankfully none were accepted). Sometimes I'll post something insightful and end up with 100 e-mails in my Inbox from slashdot users, so I can completely understand how the average editor here is a bit overwhelmed.

    My final remark is one question I haven't seen an answer to -- are slashdot editors paid, and is it reasonable compared to the amount of work they perform? If they're not paid (or if they're employees of the bigger picture), why do they put up with us?
  • by FalconZero (607567) * <FalconZeroNO@SPAMGmail.com> on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @12:33PM (#14500282)
    Paragraph 5 : Many submissions are to long or to short.
    Paragraph 11 : ..the fact that the 4th story down contains the word 'to' when it ought to contain the word 'too'. That missing 'o' is the greatest travesty on-line today!

    I don't care too much for exact spelling either. (I spawned an entire thread about my misspelling of segue [slashdot.org].), but I couldn't resist pointing this out. :)
  • by lbrandy (923907) on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @12:33PM (#14500286)
    I must have come to the site instantly as this was posted, beacuse the first time I clicked on "On the Subject of Slashdot Article Formatting", I got "Nothing to see here, please move along". I gave it a +5 funny.
  • #1 issue I have. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Quasar1999 (520073) on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @12:35PM (#14500306) Journal
    Next is proper anchor texting. I fix the hyper text on the vast majority of submissions. People link the word 'Here' or 'Article' or 'CNN' and I find that very frustrating. I want the hypertext to be the most appropriate 2-3 words that tell you exactly what you're clicking on. I think that is absolutely essential. Every URL should matter, and every bit of hypertext should tell you exactly what it is you're going to get when you click that mouse button.

    This is the single most frustrating thing I hate about the modification of stories submitted to slashdot. Half the time a link of 'Here', or the website name would be much better than you trying to make it part of the context of the sentence. I've clicked on links that lead to nothing at all pretaining to the word you anchored it against. Heck, I'd even be happier if the links were just a list at the end of the story, not embedded within it. It's supposed to be a summary, not a webpage.
    • by cloudmaster (10662) on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @01:14PM (#14500823) Homepage Journal
      You're wrong, and will remain that way until you provide a couple of actual examples (actually, examples comprising 50% of the links posted, since you did say "half the time"). It is *never* correct to link something like "click here" - unless you're linking to the Click Here(R) Inc. home page. If the article is on CNN about flying monkeys, "flying monkeys" should be linked because that's what the link is about - it's not about CNN.
  • Spealing n Grammer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ergo98 (9391) on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @12:36PM (#14500313) Homepage Journal
    Now let us talk about one of my secondary concerns: spelling and grammar. Let me be clear. As you are probably well aware, I don't think these are as important as the things I mentioned above. I want a Slashdot story to be focused, directing your attention to the URL in question. It needs to be not to long, not to short. Links should be clear. Spelling and Grammar are secondary issues.

    Slashdot posts, what, maybe two dozen "stories" a day? To support this Slashdot has a crew of paid, therefore professional, "editors". Is it really that much to ask that rudimentary spelling [yafla.com] and grammar rules are obeyed?
    • Is it really that much to ask that rudimentary spelling and grammar rules are obeyed?

      Indeed. When it comes to spelling and grammar we are always quick to excuse ourselves, but what would you think of your favorite newspaper if you started seeing headlines and articles that confused your with you're? I'm pretty sure you might start wondering what else it was the editors were missing.

      If your busines is in words then proper spelling and grammar are part of being professional.

    • by Cutriss (262920) on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @12:57PM (#14500605) Homepage
      Who gives a shit about whether this is a professional business or not?

      The point is that your audience is filled with people who are generally regarded as "above-average" in terms of intelligence. If you want them to take you seriously, you need to play the same ball that they do.

      When you refuse to acknowledge our intelligence by ignoring spelling and grammar, you basically disrespect us as geeks. We went to spelling bees as kids, we got beat up for knowing big words in high school. If this is "News For Nerds", then treat us like we really are the Nerds you are supposed to be a member of.
  • by jacobcaz (91509) on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @12:38PM (#14500330) Homepage
    In the years I've been reading /. I don't think I've seen this much direct communication from Taco or any of the other /. staff posted as I have in the last few weeks.

    What's up guys? Why have you suddenly started "talking" to us? And for the record, I like it. I think there should be more direct communicaiton to your readers like this.

  • by iocat (572367) on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @12:38PM (#14500334) Homepage Journal
    Before the inevitable crush of people pointing out the difference between too and to, let me just say that slashdot story lenths are perfect. Enough so you get the jist, but don't need to click if you aren't more interested. It's probably one of the best features of the site, and why I come back. (other than the flame wars.)
  • Hey CmdrTaco (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tekiegreg (674773) * <tekieg1-slashdot@yahoo.com> on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @12:39PM (#14500352) Homepage Journal
    Not meant to be critical, but I'm wondering if you're letting the flames and hate mail about posted articles get to your head. A good book to read is the 7 Habits of Highly effective people (ISBN: 0743269519 at your favorite bookstore). However in short from that book, I'm wondering whether or not you're letting outside factors you can't really control get to you. Unfortunately there will always be people who will simply not choose to read or ignore what you have to say and will always send you hate mail and flames regarding this. Don't let it get to your head, ever, or they've won.

    Post the articles you enjoy, and others will follow; It's that simple really...
    • Re:Hey CmdrTaco (Score:5, Insightful)

      by CmdrTaco (1) <`malda' `at' `slashdot.org'> on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @12:41PM (#14500373) Homepage Journal
      But I am a human being, and being told repeatedly that I suck tends to wear a human being down, especially when, on the whole, I think the work we do here is very good.

      That said, my intent here is to address specific concerns of the Slashdot user base. To be more directly accountable. To share more of the guts that help make the site work from day to day. I think it's important to tell readers what I think matters when i'm formatting an article. They are welcome to disagree, but at least I've been clear on the matter.

      • Re:Hey CmdrTaco (Score:5, Informative)

        by tekiegreg (674773) * <tekieg1-slashdot@yahoo.com> on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @12:51PM (#14500515) Homepage Journal
        But I am a human being, and being told repeatedly that I suck tends to wear a human being down, especially when, on the whole, I think the work we do here is very good.

        Indeed you are human, and as such you like everyone else are subject to forces which you can't control. Namely what other humans give you as feedback. Being that you have such a large audience; you can expect a lot of feedback, both positive and negative. There is just no way around it. The outside mail will be a force that you can only alter slightly at best. However as you are human, you are capable of interperting the outside world and visualizing differently. The trick is just set up your keyword filtering to dodge the flames as best you can, and maybe do something positive every-time a flame slips past into your inbox (take that moment to chuck your Thinkgeek microbe across to the next cube perhaps?). You'll find life more enjoyable once you don't really care :-)
      • Re:Hey CmdrTaco (Score:5, Insightful)

        by smallpaul (65919) <paulNO@SPAMprescod.net> on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @12:57PM (#14500606)

        I think that what bothers us complainers is the claim that professionalism just doesn't seem to matter on SlashDot. It would be one thing for you to say: "I try hard on grammar and spelling but sometimes I slip up. I keep working on it and I'm getting better every day." It's another thing for you to say: "I just don't think that being a professional-quality editor is my job."

        I make computer programs. People don't buy those programs for the spelling in dialog boxes. But I try hard to make the spelling correct. That's just professionalism, and professionalism shows respect for my customers. If a customer reports a grammar or spelling mistake in my software then I apologize and correct it. I don't try to say tht professionalism isn't my job. If you're providing a service for people then you should strive to do it right rather than claiming that it is good enough to get some aspects right and ignore others.

        As an aside, for awhile we actually had an editor reading Slashdot articles and correcting grammatical mistakes. Turns out it doesn't really matter much. People found other things to complain about. It's almost as if some percentage of the population wants to complain. And they will find something to complain about no matter what. Perhaps by leaving a few typos on the site, I am making their day a little easier! Leave them some low hanging fruit I guess.

        Nobody is asking you to be perfect and therefore shut up the complainers. They are asking you to acknowledge that professionalism is important and that perfection is something that is worth striving for. The frustrating thing is that your opening position is that getting things right (especially spelling, grammar and dupes) is not even a goal. Nowhere in your essay did you say that it is even something you are working on or concerned about.

        If you started putting effort into these areas, then over time it would become just second nature. That's what happens with "real-world" editors. Being able to instantly notice spelling and grammar mistakes is a skill to be proud of, not to denigrate. (and no, I don't have that skill, editing is not part of my job)

  • by Kethinov (636034) on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @12:40PM (#14500356) Homepage Journal
    I mean, who's complaining about your article formatting? The only thing I see people complaining about in this dept are mistakes in grammar, spelling, and whatnot. And as you said yourself, you're human and make mistakes. I'm just not seeing a relevant discussion here... Your FAQ already states your good reasons why you reformat people's submissions.

    I'm glad you're making posts "on the subject of Slashdot matters" but this one is a total non issue IMHO. Why don't we talk about more pressing issues like giving people reasons for their story's rejection so as to better improve that person's submissions in the future, or the problems with moderation, or other ACTUAL hot topic Slashdot issues?
  • Sticky (Score:3, Funny)

    by ebooher (187230) on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @12:40PM (#14500362) Homepage Journal

    Dude! So make this a Stickie! Some1 make it a sticky!

    Wait, damn. This is a blog, not a forum.

  • Oh, come on (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ColonelPanic (138077) <pmk@ g o ogle.com> on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @12:42PM (#14500380)
    How would I react to a television broadcaster saying that lighting and focus weren't all that important? Or a radio station claiming that static was okay? Proper spelling, grammar, and usage are easy compared to the syntax of a programming language or shell. Get them right and I'll take you more seriously.
    • by ianscot (591483) on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @01:02PM (#14500664)
      Get them right and I'll take you more seriously.

      Exactly. Dead fricking on.

      Essentially Taco's argument here is that the site started as his blog, and that he wants to continue to regard it as the equivalent (to use your analogy) to a cable access talk show, rather than a polished source of news.

      There's a middle ground, but the effort to clean up language would be so very, very beneath him. Apparently he wouldn't care how the picture quality was on his cable access station, and it's so very cool and informal of him not to give a rip, because he's really a content man.

      I'm not a paying subscriber. Paying for a service entails certain expectations that Slashdot isn't meeting at the moment. The glaringly apparent laziness of the editors is the biggest mark against the site.

  • by FortKnox (169099) * on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @12:42PM (#14500381) Homepage Journal
    My biggest complaint is when the submitter blatantly trolls in the headlines. Not just an opinion, but an opinion that draws the ire of others. I'm not saying the opinion had by the editor, but the original submitter. I really wish you guys could consider rewriting or simply removing that stuff.

    Oh, and bravo on all this communication stuff, Taco. You really kill conspiracy theorists when you are open with us. That way we get to see the people behind the curtain, instead of just the black box.
  • Editing submissions (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RonnyJ (651856) on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @12:43PM (#14500399)
    On occasion, I've seen the submitter of a story complain in the comments about how what they submitted had been drastically changed in content, although still attributed to the submitter. I'm afraid I haven't got any links handy (anyone?), but should this really be allowed?
    • by MythMoth (73648)
      Actually this is the one and only thing that bugs me. Everything else comes under the "your site, your rules" heading.

      But to change an attributed quote (as in "MythMoth says: blah blah blah") is wrong to the point of being actionable. There's an accepted way of making such changes, which is why in the normal press you'll often see "Johannes Smythe says: blah blah [blah] blah" The square brackets are there so we all know who said what - that third blah was added by the editor for clarity.

      Slashdot is no longe
  • by Shimmer (3036) <brianberns@gmail.com> on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @12:43PM (#14500400) Homepage Journal
    I have for a long time thought that being a Slashdot editor is one of the world's easiest jobs, but held back due to the possibility that there was more to it than I thought. This long description of a task that anyone with a high school degree should be able to perform confirms my original impression.

    Rob, with all due respect, I am not impressed. Slashdot would be so much better if you all would either a) act like real editors (e.g. fact check, give feedback to submitters, spelling/grammar check), or b) admit that you are basically superfluous and get out of the way (e.g. like Digg).

    At the very least, please improve your writing skills. Even in a "pub" like Slashdot, communicating well is important.
  • by gozu (541069) on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @12:47PM (#14500447) Journal
    most of the people who work behind the scenes are in fact human

    What do you mean by MOST??!! Not ALL of your editors are human? What creatures are being employed here?

    Hellspawned demons? Blood-thirsty Aliens? Evil robots? Republicans?

    WE HAVE A RIGHT TO KNOW!
  • by Tim Browse (9263) on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @12:48PM (#14500459)
    Good post, Taco. Digg!
  • My 2 Cents (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Se7enLC (714730) on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @12:49PM (#14500474) Homepage Journal
    While I agree with some of the points you make, some others not so much.

    1). You make the point that you prefer to use relevent keywords in the story to be the link to the article, thinking that it "gives the user an idea of what they are clicking". I think it does the opposite. They already know the topic from reading the short paragraph on slashdot, what they want to know is what SOURCE they are clicking. Is it a blog? Is it an article? is it just a link to the MAIN PAGE of a news site? I typically just click all the links on an interesting story, and I'm irritated when half of them are duplicates of eachother or link to www.cnn.com with no story ID, just because CNN was an interesting word.

    2). Spelling and Grammar aren't important? Quite often an article will be posted where the grammar is so off that I have to reread it a few times to guess what they meant to say. Sure the non-english speakers just think every word that sounds the same is, but the rest of us actually read the words and have a tough time following it. You say something to the effect of "Spelling and Grammar aren't as important as the article", but in that case, why not correct the errors that clearly detract from the article? If I see an article with the headline that uses the wrong "your", it makes me embarassed to even be reading the page, forget what the article says. If I get a resume with bad grammar, it goes in the garbage. It takes just as much time to write an article correctly as incorrectly, and if you have to read/edit them anyway, why not fix the glaring mistakes?

    If you don't want it to be such a pain, why not just have a spell-check? Every other site on the internet has a spell check. It might still miss some of the less-obvious problems, but it will catch typos and similar issues.

    While we're at it, why not an "intelligent html" edit mode? I like being able to add links, but I also like being able to hit enter to make a linebreak (I can't tell you how many times I've written a comment, decided to add a link, and then had to go through and add
      to every line so that it didn't look like garbage)

    Also, see my comment on the spelling/grammar from the last CmdrTaco rant:

    http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=173521&cid=144 38339 [slashdot.org]

  • For reference only, and to aid the future submitters?

    It doesn't need to include hyperlinks, just underline the "link" and after it we see [the_original_domain.org], as if it were a normal /. post.
  • by idiot900 (166952) * on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @12:49PM (#14500485)
    It looks to me like the fundamental disconnect here is that the editors of Slashdot still perceive the site to be their blog. Many of the users believe it to have graduated from that to a legitimate news source, and complain when it doesn't live up to the mechanistic standards of, say, CNN. Google News thinks it's a news source and treats it in the same manner as it does CNN - but those who run Slashdot apparently don't hold it to that high a standard.

    There's nothing wrong with this, but it might shut people up if they were reminded of the purpose of the site as intended by its makers. So, CmdrTaco, what exactly is Slashdot?
  • by Universal Nerd (579391) on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @12:50PM (#14500490)
    This may be obvious but sometimes it's painfully obvious that the editor just doesn't bother actually reading the article and will submit an article that isn't a short blurb but plainly false and/or flame bait.

    It may be hard work but a quick glance and a short two paragraph read isn't gonna kill anyone.
  • by larsoncc (461660) on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @12:51PM (#14500498) Homepage
    You're choosing mediocrity.

    Since there are a million grammar / spelling checkers out there, and they can be programatically applied (aspell perl library is one example), why NOT use them?

    It's far more difficult to come up with reasons NOT to do the right thing. The paragraphs of effort that you just expended to discuss spelling errors, the countless comments you've read about spelling errors...

    They're bits of your life that you've whittled away.

    Now, compound that by adding in MODERATOR TIME. Now compound that by adding READER TIME.

    Yes, people may have started to complain about something else. YES, that might always be true.

    I don't care that there are complainers about topic X. I care that it's the same complaint, for years, and that it's a relatively easy problem to solve.

    I have to wonder why you don't.
  • The value of dupes (Score:3, Interesting)

    by G4from128k (686170) on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @12:51PM (#14500506)
    As much as everyone maligns dupes, I think they do serve two valuable purposes.
    1. Slashdot Size Effects: The large size of the slashdot community means that only the first hour of postings receives any sort of attention. Thoughtful posts that come late to the thread are lost. The dupe gives a second set of respondents a chance to be among the first 100 posts and contribute their comments.
    2. Rumination: The first version of a thread often brings critical insights and additional facts to the topic. The dupe thread lets posters present further reflections in light of the first thread's discussion.

    The biggest problem with dupes is all the inane "this is a dupe" posts. After the first "this is a dupe" post, all subsequent posts should receive an automatic -5 Redundant score.
  • by xtracto (837672) on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @12:51PM (#14500512) Journal
    The moderation system serves many purposes, but perhaps the most important is to provide a user, 24 hours later viewing at Score 2 or 3 an accurate pulse on the topic at hand. If the comment is not about the new motherboard chipset, that comment at least should not be modded 'insightful', and in many cases, ought to be modded offtopic of flamebait.

    The way slashdot works do not help for this, after 24 hours a story is not on the frontpage. Front page sotries are tend to live like 4 hours. People with mod points (the majority) will mod up and down only the front page stories.

    In the last months I have seen stories in the front page that should not be there. Front page stories should be *really interesing* stuff, or stuff that may matter most people. I find that the Games section is more or less well managed by Zonk, I mean, I go quite often to games.slashdot and see some good stories about games.

    About the comments, there are comments that are indeed off topic but nonetheless they are interesting. I have found really interesting sites/software digging on slashdot comments. And sometimes people do some offtopic plug to ask about something slightly releated to the topic but, nevertheless the information is interesting (For example a thread on IBS that I plugged on a stomach ulcer story. [slashdot.org]

  • Anchor Texting (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) <obsessivemathsfreak AT eircom DOT net> on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @12:53PM (#14500535) Homepage Journal
    Next is proper anchor texting. I fix the hyper text on the vast majority of submissions. People link the word 'Here' or 'Article' or 'CNN' and I find that very frustrating....Every URL should matter, and every bit of hypertext should tell you exactly what it is you're going to get when you click that mouse button.

    I'm not quite sure exactly what you really want here. To be honest, I'm never quite sure how to anchor hypertext. It's always been up in the air for me. For example, take the following:

    The Geekery Times reports a decline in proper anchor texting.


    How should this be marked up? What's your preferred style?

    1. The Geekery Times reports a decline in proper anchor texting.
    2. The Geekery Times reports a decline in proper anchor texting.
    3. The Geekery Times reports a decline in proper anchor texting.
    4. The Geekery Times reports a decline in proper anchor texting.
    5. The Geekery Times reports a decline in proper anchor texting.
    6. The Geekery Times reports a decline in proper anchor texting.


    Do you have trouble with any of them? How would you like it done? Should the article even be linked to in this sentence?
    • Re:Anchor Texting (Score:5, Informative)

      by CmdrTaco (1) <`malda' `at' `slashdot.org'> on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @01:13PM (#14500816) Homepage Journal
      I would probably link with #5. Decline in proper anchor texting.

      Geekery Times is not the story.

      "Reporting" is not the story. "Reporting" is sorta implied by the fact that we are linking. It means the same as "Saying" or "has an article" or "Writes". These are all words that tell you that on the other side of the link, there will be words. And thats pretty much implied on the glorious web by the fact that we're mostly a text based media.

      The focus, the meaning, the point is 'a decline in proper anchor texting' which is probably what I'd link.

      • Re:Anchor Texting (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Se7enLC (714730) on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @02:04PM (#14501501) Homepage Journal
        But when you think about it, I'm not clicking on a "Decline in proper anchor texting", that's not really even a tangible thing. I'm clicking on a geekery times article.

        Slashdot is very unique in how it links to other sites, which isn't necessarily good or bad, just....different. Most other sites are more formal in their linking, by using either the actual name of the source or article in the link text, or including a list of sources at the bottom of the article, rather than having links in the middle of sentences.

        What happens if you have three articles on the same topic? It makes sense to list all the sources, but I think it's a little silly to do what has been done, which is:

        "Several news organizations are reporting a _decline_ in _proper anchor_ _texting_"

        Where each of those underlined sections is a link to a different article. The first article is not about "decline" any more than the last one is about "texting". Really the only difference between the articles is the source, so in my opinion:

        "Several articles have been posted about the decline in proper anchor texting on _Geekery Times_, _OMFGImAGeek.com_, and _GeeksRUs_"
  • by Andy_R (114137) on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @12:55PM (#14500559) Homepage Journal
    I fix the hyper text on the vast majority of submissions. People link the word 'Here' or 'Article' or 'CNN' and I find that very frustrating.

    Has it ever occured to you that the reason the 'vast majority of submissions' do this is beacuse it's right and you are wrong?

    The correct way to link to CNN is (unsurprisingly) to link the word CNN, not pick some random adjective in the story, and the correct way to link to the relevant article is to link the word 'article'.

    I'm thoroughly fed up with playing 'guess where clicking on this phrase will take me' with Slashdot. Slashdot's policy of strewing links about in a pseudo random way is the reason I have Firefox's status bar on by default.
  • Some ideas (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dkleinsc (563838) on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @12:55PM (#14500566) Homepage
    So far, these sound like good guidelines on what makes a Slashdot story. I've got a couple of ideas on this one that might help the editors out:

    1. The guidelines listed above should get listed in the story submission page, so that everyone knows what they are. A lot of them are there already, but a few aren't.

    2. Clarify what "not too long, not too short" means. Maybe even implement something like the lameness filter to enforce the rules.

    3. We should consider making use of spell-checker during the preview stage. This is obviously a fairly major undertaking if the tools don't already exist out there.

    4. Finally, I'd recommend a place for the editors to provide feedback on rejected stories. The idea is that instead of the user seeing just "Rejected" next to a rejected story, they get "Rejected - bad grammer", "Rejected - broken link", "Rejected - dupe", etc. That encourages people to submit better stories and reduce complaints about rejected stories.
  • by AtariDatacenter (31657) on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @12:58PM (#14500623)
    I think the greatest disconnect here perhaps is that I see Slashdot as something bigger and greater than you see it as. I see Slashdot as an important site that really matters to the tech community. Actually somewhat prestigious. I would want the editor to try to care about too vs to. (I mean, as an editor, you gotta go at least for the low hanging fruit.) Now I understand that spelling/grammar isn't a top priority, but the feel I got from your post was that it was of low value. I really wish it was of more value to you, because your site is of value to me.

    As far as the rest of the stuff, like the cleanup on articles, it all sounds like good common sense stuff. You really should put that on the Submit Story page [slashdot.org] if it is not already there.

    In fact, if you wanted to save yourself time, you could add checkboxes (default: unchecked) with the things you are looking for users to do, and have them check them off before submitting (to at least confirm they've read it). The small individual items you mentioned, like lead in, length, anchoring, etc. That part is my opinion, and I can understand it being controversial.

    So I guess what I wanted to say is, thanks for the insight on the story massaging process. +5, Informative. I just wish our expectations matches as far as some of the importance of grammar/spelling. (Given, you're right about complainers.)

    BTW... do you like adding in your own words, or would you rather we submit larger text with our stories and let you trim?
    • by CmdrTaco (1) <`malda' `at' `slashdot.org'> on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @01:11PM (#14500782) Homepage Journal
      I appreciate that you regard Slashdot as larger than I do. I absolutely have some level of disconnect since I'm inside of it. I realize that a half a million people might read my little link. It's really hard to wrap the mind around that many people. But that said, I believe they come here because we do something we like. I assure you that this site is hugely valuable to me. Far more than it is to you. But what aspects of the site we choose to think matter most will vary from person to person. I think grammar is secondary.

      As for adding my own words, it varies from article to article. If i have a really strong opinion, I'd like to share it with people. I don't necessarily think I'm more qualified, but that doesn't stop me. My ego says that having done this for 8 years now, I'm entitled to get to say my bit whenever I choose. The truth is that I don't feel that need very often.

  • by rockwood (141675) on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @01:08PM (#14500746) Homepage Journal
    You asked for matters to be pointed out if they need attention.

    Is there possibily somethign wrong with the "Submit Article" function.

    I submitted an article and here is the status

    04:50 PM -- Wednesday July 06 2005 Pending

    That's 7 months ago. Is something stuck in my profile? Or is the article submission that far behind in being approved/denied?

    Thanks for attempting to be more active so that simply questions and matters such as this can be addressed.

    Henry
  • by dmccarty (152630) on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @01:12PM (#14500800)
    Perhaps by leaving a few typos on the site, I am making their day a little easier!

    As seen in a Park District publication I got in the mail the other day:
    "If you find a mistake in this publication, please consider that they are there for a purpose. We publish something for everyone and some people are always looking for mistakes."

  • by Quadraginta (902985) on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @01:13PM (#14500807)
    Maybe when you add stuff to a submission, just put the original submission (or the cleaned-up trimmed original submission) first, after the "so-and-so writes...." and then put "...; CmdrTaco adds...." second. That way what you said is clearly separated from what the original guy said, and, of course, clearly separated from TFA itself. I suspect if any reasoning homonids are criticizing you for inserting your opinion, it's only because your opinion isn't clearly marked off as such, and adding those two words ("CmdrTaco adds...") will shut them up. It won't shut up unreasonable critics, of course, but nothing will.

    Good luck, man. I wouldn't have your job at any pay.
  • by markmcb (855750) on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @01:16PM (#14500843) Homepage
    One minor thing that irritated me when I had my first Slashdot story accepted was the fact that it was edited. It may have very well been posted somewhere that my submission would be edited, but it was not clear to me. Now, the edits were good ones, but I had no idea they were going to be made. It seems like if the front page is going to say "markmcb writes," then I should have written it or at least consented to any edits.

    I tried to implement a solution to this when I coded OmniNerd [omninerd.com]. When a user submits a story [omninerd.com] on OmniNerd there is a box they can check to allow the moderators to edit freely. If they uncheck the box, we do not have the freedom to edit their text ... at all. Though this may increase the chance of their submission getting rejected should they submit a poorly written post, it does give them some freedom and ownership rights. I think this is an important part of our news submission page and one that Slashdot should consider.
  • Summary Accuracy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HalB (127906) on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @01:23PM (#14500937)
    Please take this as constructive criticism. Slashdot is great - but all things have room for improvement.

    The only problem I have with Slashdot is that sometimes the article summary (both the one-liner and the submitter's summary) don't accurately summarize the article. It's often something subtle. The summary would be something like "Security hole in X causes billions of dollars of damage" when the article actually said that an analyst estimated up to a billion dollars of damage could be caused by a well-written exploit (i.e. no actual damage had occurred, but the potential is there).

    This is a major problem because readers often don't follow the links (myself included), and thus get bad information. Then the information gets passed around the water cooler, etc.

    I haven't ever emailed you to alert you of them, so it's my fault as part of the community. However, by the time I read something, it often has already scrolled off the front page and the damage is done.

    Also, just for some perspective, I think the most basic spelling and grammatical errors are as annoying to many readers as linking "here" and "article" are to you (and me). Maybe someone so annoyed could submit a patch for spelling and grammar checking.
  • by Petersko (564140) on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @01:26PM (#14500990)
    (An old rant of mine. it was originally written to address the habits of forum posters, but most of it applies. Yes, I know the grammar isn't perfect.)

    "I got a reely importent point to make with regurds to the pollitikal sityewation."

    Guess how much stock people will put in my opinion if I start my diatribe with such a statement?

    That's right. None.

    Thanks to the internet we can be bombarded with thousands of opinions daily. Weblogs, message boards, and Usenet give the average person a podium from which they can reach the masses.

    You have the attention of many people when you post in an active forum. So you tap the microphone, prepare your thoughts, and weigh in.

    "I dont think ur rite, lol!"

    Well done, Potsie.

    Look, I realize that North American schools have left a great many of you with substandard language skills. I know that the spelling of many multisyllabic words is beyond the grasp of at least a quarter of the population. In some cases it's not even your own fault, although for many it comes down to a lack of study and poor parenting.

    I just can't help but think that when you are online, your words are your avatar. They help to determine what people think of you. If you can't spell, use numbers for words, make acronyms out of everything in sight, and think that this means you are "plugged in" rather than uneducated, then be prepared to be ignored by anybody who doesn't come in at, or below, your literacy level.

    Want respect? Learn to spell. I don't care if you're out of school. Education doesn't end when classes are over.

    I've heard people say, "Well, spelling and grammar shouldn't matter. It's the idea that's important." To them, I say, "f you can't grasp the basics of language, why should I pay attention?"

    Take care when you communicate in writing. Use punctuation, capitalization, and real words. Acronyms should be reserved for organizations and industry terms.

    We're a society of substandard communicators. Do your part to help raise the bar.

    Cranky
  • by 1369IC (935113) on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @02:50PM (#14502072)

    Let me start by saying I like the site, think you're doing a good job and don't care if you change it based on what I, or anybody, says. That said, I have been an editor of one sort or another for 25 years or so, and I must take exception to how you're defining your job if you're calling yourself an editor. You are, in fact, the first editor I've ever heard of who thinks spelling and grammar aren't of primary importance. I don't want to sound snippy, but if you're going to say spelling and grammar are of secondary or tertiary importance, you need to come up with a new title. It's as simple as that. Perhaps article aggregator.

    In editing (and maybe in everything) you have functional obsessions and dysfunctional obsessions. Spelling and grammar are functional obsessions because they speak to clarity, which is central to good communication. They also help define how much credibility you have, which your readers use to decide everything about your site. As someone else already noted, if you can't catch to vs too, humans who know the difference will inevitably start to wonder what else you didn't understand or chose to overlook. There's no way around it. It's human nature. It's like asking someone to not question a meal served up by a short order cook with cigarette ashes on his shirt or snot dripping from his nose. You just have to wonder what else is going on.

    Your obsession with link wording, on the other hand, sounds like a dysfunctional obsession to me. Unless you think your readers are reading the link text without reading any of the surrounding text, it doesn't matter much what the link text says (as long as it remains coherent and relevant, of course).

    Think about how readers approach a story. They read the headline, which should tell them at least half of what they need to know. It certainly puts things in context. Then they read the lead sentence. I doubt anybody's clicking links before at least getting through those two things (OK, unless they're easily outraged and the headline is "MS disses Linux again!"). By the time they've read the headline and lead, they have enough context to know what to expect when they see the word "here," or "at CNN," or whatever as a link. It doesn't matter a whit nor a tittle if relevant words are used as link text or the phrase "the article" is. None. Not to the reader. It matters to you, so you spend time fixing that problem when you could be spending that time fixing the most egregious spelling and grammar mistakes. So it's dysfunctional. It robs you of time you could be using to do things that matter more to the quality and health of your publication.

    Sure, it's a matter of opinion, and hey: it's your site. But if you want to be an editor and a professional, and you want your site to be as respected as possible, you'll value the fundamentals of communication over a pet peeve that most of your readers won't notice either way.

    Now, all that said, I certainly agree there's almost always a better way to construct the sentence than to have it end "the article," or "here," or whatever, just so you can have something to link against. But to spend time rewording sentences because of the link text while ignoring glaring spelling and grammar mistakes is a poor use of your time.

    Again, nice site. I'll be refreshing a dozen times a day either way.

  • Moderation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DerekLyons (302214) <fairwater AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @03:09PM (#14502324) Homepage
    The moderation system serves many purposes, but perhaps the most important is to provide a user, 24 hours later viewing at Score 2 or 3 an accurate pulse on the topic at hand. If the comment is not about the new motherboard chipset, that comment at least should not be modded 'insightful', and in many cases, ought to be modded offtopic of flamebait.
    Taco; you brought up moderation last week, and again this week - in both instances complaining moderation is not being used the way you think it should be.

    Moderation is the tool that a portion of the community uses to tell the remainder of the community which comments it feels are the most useful. The fact that R.P. comments get modded up, and so do grammatical comments should tell you something. Instead, both this week and last, we (the community) are told were are wrong because we don't share your vision.

    Really you have two options; 1) limit the moderator pool to people who share your vision, or 2) live with the fact that the community and you disagree on fundementals.

    The second one really is a key one - you want Slashdot to be a pub, etc... etc... The community wants a source of quality news.

  • by Eil (82413) on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @04:39PM (#14503447) Homepage Journal
    Dear CmdrTaco,

    It's great that after almost 10 years you're finally giving us some real info on how the inner, mysterious workings of our beloved Slashdot operate. Unfortunately, you do so with an entirely defensive point of view and tone, as if you're tired of explaining all of these things to everyone a million gazillion times. Except that, from what most of us can tell, you haven't.

    So I'd like to offer some counter-points to a few of the issues you raise, but from the other side of the fence: a daily Slashdot reader and sometimes poster.

    Picking which stories to post is a big part of our job, matters of style and formatting matter too.

    From our perspective, picking which stories to post is the ONLY thing you do. Slashdot does not post all that many articles per day (say, like one an hour?). I'm sure there are tons of submissions each day, and that just choosing which ones to post take up the vast majority of the editors' time. However, this shouldn't mean that basic grammar, minimal fact-checking, and dupe-checking are to be overlooked. Perhaps at any given time you should have one editor browsing through the submission queue who hands off potential submission to another editor that does the actual editing. Might not be feasible for some reason or another, but it's just an idea.

    Since I want my articles to be around the same size, this is my chance to put in my own words. I'll try to add a joke or opinion.

    CmdrTaco, we HATE this. There's nothing wrong at all wrong with wanting to comment on the story, but for crying out loud, put you comments where the comments go. Since you have the power to post comments, you also have power to post your own comments very early in the thread. Believe me when I say that we, your readership would prefer this. This way, you can be seen as an active part of the Slashdot community instead of just some editor on the other side of the glass. People can use their friends/foes score modifiers to either view your comments or not. And I don't think you have to worry about not getting a +5 on almost every single one. Believe it or not, many of us do want to hear your opinion and wit, just not necessarily as part of the article.

    Slashdot was spawned from what today would be called a blog. To be more precise, it came from MY blog. Where I posted almost nothing but my own opinions.

    We may not say it all the time, but CmdrTaco, we love Slashdot. Really, we do. Or we wouldn't be here otherwise. It may have been your personal blog at one point, but you have to acknowledge that it is not your personal blog anymore. It's a news aggregation site frequented by what, millions? We're not going to tell you that you can't add your opinion (see above), but we're mainly irate that Slashdot never seems to have any emphasis on professionalism or improvement, so we feel that it must be our job to TELL you that we want to see those things. You may percieve it as mindless complaining (and much of it may in fact be mindless complaining), but honestly all we really want to do is help.

    Of course some users like to email me to tell me how much Slashdot sucks, how fat and lazy I am, and how the most terrible thing in the history of Slashdot is the fact that the 4th story down contains the word 'to' when it ought to contain the word 'too'. That missing 'o' is the greatest travesty on-line today! It's hard to take that seriously. Especially when people are rude.

    We have to put up with grammar and spelling nazis too, just probably not as often as you.

    People found other things to complain about. It's almost as if some percentage of the population wants to complain. And they will find something to complain about no matter what.

    This is going to happen. A good percentage of the articles that are posted contain comments that ARE mostly a whole bunch of complaining. Then again, what exactly do you expect when you post articles that have a "Post your comment here!" button right below them? We're a culture of

"Neighbors!! We got neighbors! We ain't supposed to have any neighbors, and I just had to shoot one." -- Post Bros. Comics

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