I’ve been trying to keep this site, and my blog, mostly free of personal opinions. However, I really want to comment on a recent change that I have made.
Disclaimer: I am in no way associated with either Slashdot.org or Digg.com
I have been reading Slashdot for long enough now that I cannot remember when I started. My user number is 5620, which should say something to the regular readers of Slashdot who keep tack of those things (for those of you not keep track there are well over 800,000 users currently).
I’m not as involved in Slashdot as many users, I have only posted a handfull of comments and meta moderated a few times. I prefer to browse at +5 and only get the top few comments, my user profile has a +1 moderator on funny comments. Generally, I read comments when I want a good laugh. There really are some hilarious comments. :)
Recently, however, I have gotten very tired of the editorializing. Maybe it’s just me, but I think Slashdot used to be more about the article. Now it seems it is nearly impossible to find an article synopsis that isn’t filled with politics or personal opinion. Over the past several months I have grown very tired of these. Particularly, I am annoyed with the subtle attacks on traditional values and religious beliefs.
The most recent article to come to mind to exhibt this was an article saying that the first mention of the name “Goliath” outside of the Bible was found. The editorializing in this case was a comment by the submitter or poster (I’m honestly not sure which) saying “While the obvious leaps of faith have been made…” Now, I ask “Why?” Why was it necessary to add that comment? Archaeology has always been a friend to Biblical history. To my knowledge there is not a single historical fact in the Bible that has been proven wrong. What you think of the religious and supernatural aspects of the Bible is irrelevant to the fact that it has proven to be an accurate historical document.
This is just my pet peave, but I know I’m not alone. I have read countless comments from people who agree with me, that in general, the synopsis should be just that, comments are for the comments. How many comments have you read that said that the article should be rated -1 Troll?
Which brings me to my new addiction, digg. Digg is a different philosophy for accomplishing the same thing. Digg is more about fostering community. The individual users decide which articles make it to the front page, not the editors. The amount of commentary given for each posted article tends to be very small, 1 to 3 sentences at most.
Visitors to digg are welcome to post comments, but the comment system does not seem to be used very much yet. An interesting feature is the ability for users to post a link to a blog posting about the article. See this article for a good example. The ability to link to blog postings about an article is just one more example of why digg is more about community than Slashdot.
In many ways I am reminded of the big upset of XFree86 and switch to xorg by many (most? all?) linux distributions. Long before the switch to xorg actually happened there were grumblings in the linux community. There were complaints about how the management of the XFree86 project had become too entrenched and how it was too difficult to get involved in the project. I think a switch in who is the major provider of geek news is getting ready to take place.
Now, I want to make myself perfectly clear. I don’t think Slashdot is going to disappear, at least not anytime soon. I know I will still read Slashdot when I want to get some comments on the latest Star Trek / Wars news. Besides, some of the best moments I have had in the past 5 years (of work) have been while laughing at Slashdot comments. Giving up an almost 8 year habit of expecting Slashdot to entertain me when I am bored will not be easy.