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Whatever happened to the slashdot discussions?

Is it just me or has the Signal To Noise dropped tremendously.  It just seems like a bunch of narrow minded blow hards who fanatically chant Free Software, Linux and We Hate Microsoft.  It used to be you would get some quality opinions, but now it seems people aren't experts at anything besides posting to Slashdot.  Also the editors are way to opinionated with their story submissions in a childish "I'm eleet" sort of way.

Or has it always been this way and its time for me to move on?

jon Kenoyer
Friday, November 01, 2002

If you look closely, postings that don't regurgitate preach the party line are moderated down.

I saw this same phenomenon in college. The political and religious groups would begin to censor themselves and slowly become more and more fanatical. The more moderate folks would eventually get fed up and quit, or were asked to leave, until eventually there was only a very small and dense core of fanatics left. I never imagined that it could happen on a large scale, with a lot of people, like it has with /.

Cool.

Are there any other nerd news sites?

anoynmous marcher in many protests and participant in late night discussions
Friday, November 01, 2002

>>> Are there any other nerd news sites? <<<

I've been reading OSNews, http://www.osnews.com lately.  I don't often read the comments on /. anyway.

Anybody read the Well?  Having to pay can clean things up.

mackinac
Friday, November 01, 2002

Zdnet discussions have deteriorated in much the same way as  Slashdot's.  <sigh>

Brian
Friday, November 01, 2002

It may have been that you got more sophisticated.  A good model of these places is that you come in new, learn about what they're talking about, then move on.  Same with mastering things.

anon
Friday, November 01, 2002

Haven't read it for a while, and it's not exactly news for nerds, but www.kuro5hin.org was an interesting place.

cheeto
Friday, November 01, 2002

The unrealistic, zero-business-sense zealots are mostly unemployed now.  They have no real work to discuss anymore. 

Bella
Friday, November 01, 2002


For daily Linux news and discussions, I like LWN (Linux "Weekly" News). They've had excellent, original tech articles (mostly Linux obviously) for years and only recently added Slashdot-style message boards. The S/N is pretty high.

http://www.lwn.net

Zwarm Monkey
Friday, November 01, 2002

>>>>>>>>>>
It just seems like a bunch of narrow minded blow hards who fanatically chant Free Software, Linux and We Hate Microsoft.
>>>>>>>>>>

Hmm.  And over here people chant that that slashdot sucks.  And everyone is buying into it.  In other words, everyone is falling right in line with joel and his thoughts.

same thing is happening here - stop your yapping! :)
Friday, November 01, 2002

"other words, everyone is falling right in line with joel and his thoughts."

Not necessarily.  Many of the "geek" sites have deteriorated into constant anti-Microsoft zealotry; so much so that little else is getting out on those sites.  Even when the stories are about something else most of the comments still fall into one of several ruts that they can’t seem to get out of.

It's rather sad, and for someone like me who loves to read about new technology it's ruined the experience.  The obsessive monitoring of each and every thing Microsoft does and spinning several stories a day of anti-Microsoft rants (even when they’re not remotely newsworthy) is absolutely ridiculous.  I'd much rather read about some cool new technology -- whether it's developed by Microsoft or somebody else -- than the uninformed political bullshit that /., ZDNet and similar sites are now constantly spewing.

I'm sick of it, so that's all I have to say.

Tired of the Slander
Saturday, November 02, 2002

Slashdot itself is great.  But if you've listened to CmdrTaco/Hemos' Geeks in Space radio show, even they consider 99% of the discussion awful. 

If you're willing to go through the comments, on some articles you'll find some informed posts.  Never good threads, but good individual posts.

Slashdot was not designed for discussion.  The forums were a low-energy afterthought.  It's fine as it is; if there's a story really interesting to you, it's worthwhile to skim through all the comments.

Did anyone ever like Jon Katz' articles?  A friend kept on pointing him out to me back at Wired, but I could never see the appeal.

anon
Saturday, November 02, 2002

Recall Sturgeon's Law.

When author Theodore Sturgeon was asked about the poor quality of most science fiction, he allegedly replied, "Sure, 90% of science fiction is crud.  That's because 90% of everything is crud."

J. D. Trollinger
Saturday, November 02, 2002

It have to admit, that this kind of anti-ms bashing has become a true problem for some of these boards.

In fact, I can recall a post of mine on a board where I was quite surprised at the responses. It was clear that I was a user of MS tools, and majority of the people were not.

In fact, I actually received a personal email from the moderator/editor of the board. He actually in a round about way apologized to me.  He stated that I should not let the harsh responses directed to me discourage me to participate. I think the moderator was genuinely concerned that new people like me are being discouraged from joining the discussions.

I also think the moderator may have thought I am kind of newbe to the net, and might not be aware of how nasty the net can be. (I used BBS systems long before the net was around!!).

It was obviously clear to the moderator that a good portion of people who write software, and have something to contribute to the industry do use MS tools. To simply exclude this group of people from technology discussions is a bad idea.

I have no beef or flag towards any tool or software platform. In fact, I have software of mine running on Linux platforms in several countries right now.  I also use a good many MS products. The difference is that I actually really like some of MS products, and most of the Linux/Unix people I know will not touch the stuff.

Does anyone remember the stir when Linus Torvalds's
used PowerPoint at a lecture he was giving? He simply stated that PowerPoint is a good tool, and he saw no reason not to use it. Apparently, many of his followers don’t obviously share his ideals. They could learn a lot from Mr. Torvalds.

At the end of the day, I want to use great tools, and write great software.

One huge failure of MS is its lack of community building. Steve Balmer has commented on this recently. They now realize how important user communities are.

Fact is, community building is hugely important (heck..just look at this discussion board!!!).

Microsoft has finally started to work on building user communities out there. This is a tremendous and good change on MS’s part. MS for example had not really been serious about newsgroups. They let the un-moderated ones just kind appeared. Some of those newsgroups of course now turned on MS, and they have no control over them.

I used the FoxPro user group on CompuServe many years ago (before the net came along). It was just fantastic. Most good companies have and use discussion boards for support. Why in the world MS did not do this is a surprise.

MS now has a very good newsgroup hierarchy (micosoft.public.. “whatever”). They also make sure that staff run these things, and they are now becoming a incredible tool for support and learning MS products. The change, and quality of staff participation in these groups is dramatic.

This now means that MS has reacted, and is building users communities. This is a sign of a very smart company, and till very recently was a huge mistake on MS’s part.

It also means that MS is now much more in touch with the people who use their products. I have often thought that the distance between some developers and the folks in Redmond was too great. Now, MS employees are thrown into the front lines of discussions boards, and they learn real quick what customers are doing, and saying about their products. I don’t know, but suspect that many new employees are required to spend time on these boards now. The other neat deal is people can now get a lot of free support from ms, and not have to pay!!

At the end of the day, good companies must now build user communities and use the power of the net to building communities.

This also ties in with the lack of effectiveness that marketing and advertising. MS has a huge advertising budget, but it has done nothing to help, or improve the company image in the eyes of consumers. The use of communities is much more effective (Joel just had a link recently on how advertising does not work well).

The Auto industry will soon pick up on what MS is doing, and I see them as the next industry that will adopt and use the power of user communities.

Albert D. Kallal
Edmonton, Alberta Canada
Kallal@msn.com

Albert D. Kallal
Saturday, November 02, 2002

Good post, Albert.  I too use Unix/Linux and Microsoft products.  I believe in picking a tool based on it's merits, nothing else.

It seems a lot of the Unix/Linux people choose there tools more out of a certain philosophical viewpoint as much as anything else.  The more I interact with these types of individuals the more I feel they discredit themselves.

I also agree with the poster that said something to the effect that the user that noticed how /.'s discussions had changed probably changed himself.  Kind of like going into a grade school classroom.  "Man, who fits on these chairs."  At least I notice this in my opinion of slash.

Ryan Ware
Sunday, November 03, 2002

"It seems a lot of the Unix/Linux people choose there tools more out of a certain philosophical viewpoint as much as anything else."

You're being uncharitable in claiming this is bad.  A recent discussion here was about why it's good to have subscription fees on software, as if people should pay a software tax.  Some people don't want to live in that world.

Remember, you're living in a nice, responsible society because people already laid down the philosophical groundwork.

But clearly it's a difficult situation, and I wish there was a very informed outside observer.  I'm very biased too.

anon
Sunday, November 03, 2002

Great post, Albert.  Excellent points about using the "best tools for the job".

I don't really understand the blind hatred of Microsoft.  Their "quality bar" may be slightly lower than some people would like, but has this really been a "bad thing"?  If Microsoft had never existed, would we be living in a utopia of Java and XML where software interoperated and never crashed?  Maybe.  If that were the case, though, would we also have $499 PCs that are functionally accessable to the non-technical masses?  Continuity has played a big part in this.  For all its warts, MS really has done a good job with backward compatibility over the years.

How do you "have it all" with a product?  i.e. appeal to everyone, have a great UI, be infinitely configurable, embrace power users and novices, be robust and secure, support legacy technology, run on old hardware, and have speedy time to market?  The answer: you don't.  You make tradeoffs.  Microsoft has made tradeoffs, often in favor of the non-technical user over the power-user.  This is the root of their success.  Companies that make other tradeoffs compete in other markets.  I wouldn't want Windows XP running my mom's pacemaker, but it works fine for the "E-Mail and internet" PC that sits on her desk at home.

Did I really just type all this?  Sorry, Joel, not trying to turn your forum into /.; just that these things get the blood boiling...

Bill Carlson
Sunday, November 03, 2002

Try Ars Technica.

http://www.arstechnica.com

They have a decent selection of forums (Hardware, Windows, Linux, Mac, Programming, etc).

All the "Microsoft Sux Linux RuLeZ" is limited to the Battlefront forum.  The moderators do a really good job keeping those threads in their place.

The forum is frequented by people who actually know something, as opposed to people who like to get on a soapbox.  It's one of the last places left with a good SN ratio.

Myron Semack
Sunday, November 03, 2002

Slashdot discussions?  Hmmm.

The overwhelming majority of written opinion on /. was to legalize child pornography.  At least you know where to find them.  Its like a voluntary state police registry.

Nat Ersoz
Sunday, November 03, 2002

>>"It seems a lot of the Unix/Linux people choose there tools more out of a certain philosophical viewpoint as much as anything else."

Aron wrote:
You're being uncharitable in claiming this is bad. A recent discussion here was about why it's good to have subscription fees on software, as if people should pay a software tax. Some people don't want to live in that world.

I agree with Aron. I have zero problems with people choosing a car, a company, or even the kind of software they use on personal lifestyle ideals. In fact, you can choose the type software based on your religion if you wish. There is not wrong with this. Where the problem becomes is when as a result of those choices the person cannot longer have an intelligent conversation.

In my comments about paying to use software, I am not saying that people must do this, I am simply saying that this type of business model is not sustainable.

If I tell you that if you don’t eat, and you will get hungry. You cannot then come back to me, and tell me not to preach to people to go on diets!!! That is crazy.

I not preaching, or telling people how they should eat. I am not preaching that these people should go on a diet. I am simply saying that if don't don’t eat, you will go hungry. (and by the way, there is no big “moral” wrong in someone telling people to go on a diet anyway!!). People are entilted to think, and even yes, tell pepole to eat lots of food and get fat!

Hence, on my comments about paying to using software, I am simply telling the consequences of this. I did not say that people must pay to use software. I most certainly did say that it is a no brainer that if the company has no money coming in to support a product..they cannot suport it! (people unfortunately do have to eat!!!). There is no software company in the world that can be sustained without some pay for use, or that product cannot be supported (or it will have a limited life span, and for some people that limited use is ok too!).

If you want to use software, and not pay a “use” cost, then you are free to make that choice.  Just don’t cry when in 5 years no one is around to support that software.  Be aware of the results of the choices that one makes.

In many cases, the consequences of that company not supporting the software is very small, and no big deal. Hence, if you don’t want to pay to use, and are willing to live with that risk…then that is fine.  But no one can tell me that the risk does not exist (it exits in both business models by the way..).

Read my last post in that thread paying to use software. Again, my problem with the /. People is that I can freely make choices, and use MS products, or Linux products. They are not willing to use, or cannot use a MS product. In fact, up to that point, I actually have no beef with the /. crowd. Thus, I can even understand their position.  Fine!,…no problem at this point!!

However, when you can’t have a reasoned conversation as a result of these choices…then I have great fault.

That is the big difference we are talking about here.


Albert D. Kallal
Edmonton, Alberta Canada
Kallal@msn.com

Albert D. Kallal
Sunday, November 03, 2002

If you want to read slashdot usefully, try Alterslash:

http://www.alterslash.org/

Anita Rowland
Monday, November 04, 2002

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