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Slashdot: A final look
September 29 2012
In today's blog, I wrap my series on Slashdot which I have written about in two previous blog entries
The decline of Slashdot
Once upon a time, famous people posted to Slashdot.
name just two, were regular posters there.
No longer. Carmack hasn't posted anything to Slashdot for over four years;
Wheaton has only posted a single journal to Slashdot in the last three
I have already mentioned that one
reason for Slashdot's decline is that it started catering to the
immature pro-piracy crowd. There are a number of other reasons why
Slashdot became less appealing:
These factors, among others, have contributed to Slashdot's slow decline.
Some geeks have decided that Slashdot's problems could be resolved by going
to a different geek-friendly web site. The progression usually has been
- Slashdot was one of the first web-based geek friendly online communities.
- Some people went from Slashdot to Kuro5hin. Kuro5hin's problem is
that it ended up requiring people to pay to be able to post there,
which is a big no-no among the "freetard" geeks who think everything
on the Internet should be free. It ended up getting taken over
by the kind of demented "trolls" who used to plague Slashdot with
Goatse pics and who say stuff they don't really believe just to
get negative attention. It's a stagnant community; the last article
to make front page is from nearly half a year ago.
- People then moved from Slashdot (or possibly Kuro5hin) to Digg. Digg suffered from the "disagree,
down-vote" problem for a long time before the site revamped their
- People then moved from Digg to Reddit.
I have never been an active member of this community, so I can not
comment on how good this site is, but it appears to appeal to a
more immature user base than Slashdot or Digg ever did.
- People then supposedly moved from Reddit to Hacker News. Again, I have
not had a chance to fully evaluate this community, but I suspect it
has many of the problems Slashdot has, and, unlike Slashdot, discourages
For me, jumping from community to community like this isn't the solution
to the underlying problems these kinds of communities have. One
fundamental issue with geek-friendly sites is that a lot of people
with the kind of mind needed to be a good computer programmer do not have
very good social skills and often times lack empathy or compassion for
other people's feelings. Also, sites that predominantly use anonymous
identities -- something all of five site I listed do -- tend to bring
out the worse in people.
In contrast to these "geek-friendly" communities, Facebook is successful
- It discourages anonymity.
- It allows people to fine-tune how public or private their posts
- It has killfiles, something lacking with
most web-based communities.
The death of Slashdot
Now that Slashdot
has been bought out
, its days are numbered. There just is no money
to be made pandering to a community of grouchy cynical users who think
everything on the Internet should be free.
It's interesting that Slashdot, Sourceforge, and a couple of other
non-notable sites, combined, were worth only 20 million dollars.
Alexa's stats for
Slashdot are very telling and probably explain why they were eager to
sell the site for so little: Ever since mid-2011, Slashdot's Alexa rank
has been in a steady decline. It had an Alexa rank of 1,100 or so in
the first quarter of 2011 -- in other words, it was roughly the 1100th
most popular site on the Internet. Right now its Alexa rank is higher
than 2000; nearly 1,000 sites have become more popular than Slashdot in
the last 18 months or so.
Slashdot is in the same death spiral that Usenet has been in since the
late 1990s: It is losing users, its user base is becoming older, and it
is not getting enough new users to replace the users it's losing, much
My final thoughts on Slashdot
While I am no longer an active part of Slashdot's community, I will
continue lurking there. Slashdot is best when it talks about technology
and working in the technology industry; the comments from experienced
middle-aged IT workers and managers are still very enjoyable to read.
Slashdot is a place with a lot of nostalgia. It reminds me of a job I
had in Mountain View, back when SGI and Sun were still around and when it
was Netscape (not Google) who rented the most office space in that town,
getting paid too much to do too little work for a tiny consulting company.
I would sit at our Linux server and use it to read Slashdot when our
company didn't have enough contracts to keep us busy. That company, like
many others, did not survive the dot-com washout.
The world has moved on it's time for me to look beyond
Slashdot and other time-wasting sites on the Internet.
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