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On the Subject of Slashdot Article Formatting

CmdrTaco posted more than 8 years ago | from the break-out-your-red-pens dept.

Editorial 944

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.

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944 comments

don't short shrift grammar (5, Insightful)

yagu (721525) | more than 8 years ago | (#14500278)

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!

Re:don't short shrift grammar (5, Funny)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 8 years ago | (#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

Re:don't short shrift grammar (5, Insightful)

metlin (258108) | more than 8 years ago | (#14500455)

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?

Re:don't short shrift grammar (-1, Flamebait)

slughead (592713) | more than 8 years ago | (#14500501)

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.

yeah, I could see someone reading it that way.. if they were a COMMUNIST.

I didn't RTFA.. anyone who's been here a month knows how this place works and that it aint gonna change no matter how much people complain. Deal with it or go somewhere else. Personally I choose to click on the article link and/or read the comments. (not in this case, however)

Also, it'd be nice if comments weren't able to be modded down after 2 or more people mod them up, this will help prevent political and ignorance bias. I've had a couple comments go from +5 to -1.

Re:don't short shrift grammar (1)

mookie da wookie (919403) | more than 8 years ago | (#14500503)

Good work Taco! As an omnipotent galactic entity and a fellow mustard enthusiast, I can say that your site is one of the best in the galaxy. How do you like having to defend your own blog, for goodness sake? I'd tell 'em all to STFU.

It's especially amazing that you are able to accomplish so much with the likes of our sniveling friend yagu (721525) residing in your anus. How do you do it? How do you even sit down?!?

I don't see how you get anything done when everytime you post something, people are all "Why, that's such a lovely tie you have on, Mr. Taco!" or "Have I told you how well your socks look today?" or "The way you just sat down was excellent, sir!". Sheesh.

--
leaving in a dump truck motorcade

His own example is a train wreck (1, Flamebait)

ianscot (591483) | more than 8 years ago | (#14500529)

It's not just the "to long" business. Several of Taco's sentences show lapses in basic editorial skill that stick out like that proverbial sore thumb. A quotation at the end of a sentence almost never strands the period outside the quotes, and so on. These are basic matters of editorial style, or really of editorial consciousness. Anyone who's written a college-level paper shouldn't make those mistakes.

No single minor gaffe makes a story worthless, but the cumulative effect vitiates the site's attempt to show any sort of professional face to the world.

If you're already paring back links and language, how hard would it be to pay a tiny bit of attention to language? You've only got five or six sentences to deal with, having pared things back as you describe, but the stuff on the home page is routinely riddled with phrasing and spelling worthy of middle school. That looks amateurish and degrades the site.

Posts are a different matter, people can be more casual there. The stories ought to be clean.

Bloggers -- use this advice for your site! (5, Interesting)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14500280)

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?

Re:Bloggers -- use this advice for your site! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14500394)

I'd love to know what others think about some of my submissions.

just resubmit it, someone might post it as a dupe... nah, couldn't happen!

Re:Bloggers -- use this advice for your site! (1)

gatzke (2977) | more than 8 years ago | (#14500425)

I tried digg too. Their comments / community are a bunch of idiots, even compared to that here at /. Sometimes voting for articles helps, sometimes not. They seem to have fewer dupes than /.

Re:Bloggers -- use this advice for your site! (1)

BokLM (550487) | more than 8 years ago | (#14500508)

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).

There's still someone doing some work on Digg. The difference is that it's everybody doing the work, not one person.

Slashdot and Digg are different, why do everybody want one to be better than the other ?

Sorry, I couldn't help it... (5, Funny)

FalconZero (607567) | more than 8 years ago | (#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. :)

Re:Sorry, I couldn't help it... (1, Funny)

Cr0w T. Trollbot (848674) | more than 8 years ago | (#14500332)

Don't worry, the two "to"s will be corrected to "too"s in twelve hours when this article is duped...

Crow T. Trollbot

I clicked too quickly... (5, Funny)

lbrandy (923907) | more than 8 years ago | (#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.

Low-hanging fruit (1)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#14500288)

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.

I have a complaint, why is it that we are always fed the low hanging fruit? Is the high-hanging fruit reserved only for those who can reach it?

Re:Low-hanging fruit (1)

ZachPruckowski (918562) | more than 8 years ago | (#14500395)

I have a complaint, why is it that we are always fed the low hanging fruit? Is the high-hanging fruit reserved only for those who can reach it?

Here's the truth: CmdrTaco is actually Spiderman. He wants his secret to be safe, so no picky buttheads are going to get on his case about all that sticky web-goo on all the skyscrapers. Letting them bitch about spelling and stuff keeps them from discovering his secret identity. :)

Re:Low-hanging fruit (1)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 8 years ago | (#14500429)

I have a complaint, why is it that we are always fed the low hanging fruit? Is the high-hanging fruit reserved only for those who can reach it?

I agree. No, /. is not the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times, but it is a disseminator of public information and has some responsibility to its readers to make sure content is accurate.

Most people want to pick nits about grammar, and more often than not, typographical errors on Slashodt are the result of the brain thinking faster than the fingers are typing. That's understandable and a certain amount of this should be expected. When it comes to grammatical errors (such as the infamous "its/it's"), that's a different kettle of fish. Grammar is a foundation of communication and it is important that grammar be held as tightly as possible. Will everything get caught? No. <shamelessplug>I have been editing and publishing a science fiction publication (Hadrosaur Tales [hadrosaur.com]) for a decade now</shamelessplug> and despite my best efforts and those of my partners, a number of typos and grammatical errors have still slipped through. Nobody's perfect.

Still, in this age of the "dumbing down" of information and spread of jargon and lingo, grammar is slowly losing out to the quick-and-dirty. I'd hate to think Slashdot is going to hurry the process along and I will not stop reading over grammar issues I may have. I think in the end though, despite the desire of Slashdotters to grouse about anything, it would mean a lot to some of this publication tried to maintain the highest standards possible, within reason.

Re:Low-hanging fruit (1)

pdbogen (596723) | more than 8 years ago | (#14500464)

Is the high-hanging fruit reserved only for those who can reach it?

Certainly not. If you can reach the high-hanging fruit, feel free.

That's too bad (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14500297)

Grammatical errors? Fuck you Robert Malda!

Hmmm (-1, Troll)

blinder (153117) | more than 8 years ago | (#14500302)

Many submissions are to long or to short

perhaps another read through may be useful.

I know editing is tough. I've been there, and done that... and I still get lots of things wrong... but stuff like this, well if the topic is going to be editing, then maybe this kind of thing should be caught.

Yes?

Re:Hmmm (1, Informative)

jamie (78724) | more than 8 years ago | (#14500345)

perhaps another read through may be useful.

You failed to capitalize "Perhaps," and the noun "read-through" is hyphenated.

#1 issue I have. (2, Insightful)

Quasar1999 (520073) | more than 8 years ago | (#14500306)

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.

Re:#1 issue I have. (1)

jkauzlar (596349) | more than 8 years ago | (#14500444)

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.
There are two reasons that having links anchored to appropriate text is helpful for me. First, because the a-tag serves to 'highlight' the important text when I'm scanning a page. Secondly, it assists the URL parser when you open a story and it lists the links within the story. I can't remember ever having a problem with links pointing to the wrong information.
It's supposed to be a summary, not a webpage.
It is what it is!

Re:#1 issue I have. (0)

Fallingcow (213461) | more than 8 years ago | (#14500534)

I agree.

On the rare occasions when I RTFA (ha!), I often have to mouseover each link and watch the status bar to see where they go so I can figure out which one is the main article. Sometimes, none of the links jump out as being it, so I just have to click the two or three most likely ones and kill any tabs that aren't it.

The *main* article to which a Slashdot blurb refers should be linked either somewhere outside the text, or more obviously within it. This is one of those rare cases where something like "THIS ARTICLE says blah blah blah" (with the bold being a link) is far more intuitive and sensible than having 4 or 5 links, all with "relevant" link text. If there's a definition of a word, fine, link it that way, but then if there's a second article, "ANOTHER ARTICLE says blah blah blah" or "on the other hand, A SECOND ARTICLE says blah blah blah" is also OK, and often would be better than what ends up being done.

I'm not saying that there should never be links of the sort that Taco is talking about, just that there should either be links in the mold of my suggestions in the previous paragraph when there's any ambiguity, or, better yet, that the article link should appear as an icon or something outside the body of the Slashdot blurb.

After dupes and random-ish formatting errors (yes, even after the CSS redesign, in Firefox, and with nearly as much frequency as the errors before the design change), this ranks as my third biggest problem with Slashdot, and is probably the easiest of the three to fix.

What I saw when clicking 'Read more' (-1, Offtopic)

I_am_Rambi (536614) | more than 8 years ago | (#14500307)

Internal Server Error
The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.

Please contact the server administrator, pater and inform them of the time the error occurred, and anything you might have done that may have caused the error.

More information about this error may be available in the server error log.

Apache/1.3.33 Server at slashdot.org Port 80

Spealing n Grammer (5, Insightful)

ergo98 (9391) | more than 8 years ago | (#14500313)

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?

Re:Spealing n Grammer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14500401)

The rudimentary rules *are* obeyed. It's the simple typos and nit picking mistakes that don't matter.

Oh, and a professional editor would probably be able to pick up on a couples of mistakes in your post there. Go back and read it.

Re:Spealing n Grammer (1)

ergo98 (9391) | more than 8 years ago | (#14500461)

Oh, and a professional editor would probably be able to pick up on a couples of mistakes in your post there. Go back and read it.

Ah, the classic, and thoroughly pathetic, retort. Thanks for pulling out that tired chestnut.

Here's the thing, though - I'm not paid to post on Slashdot. This isn't my job. In fact it's distracting me from my real job, which is why quality usually suffers. If, however, I was professionally employed as a full-time Slashdot troll, I assure you that I'd actually bother to carefully scan through every posting, ensuring that there are no grammar, spelling, typos, or "nitpick" mistakes.

Re:Spealing n Grammer (1)

spectrumCoder (944322) | more than 8 years ago | (#14500472)

This is a forum, right? Not a newspaper, or broadcasting service?

I would worry if every word here was spelt correctly. It would indicate that the editors were more keen on making it clean and pretty, like your usual commercial news site, rather than ensuring good content and moderation.

Re:Spealing n Grammer (2, Insightful)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | more than 8 years ago | (#14500480)

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.

ok here's my position (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14500317)

if you are taking it in the ass you gotta expect cum in there. its the nature of the territory. if you don't want a cumfart then you shouldn't have agreed to it in the beginning. that's just my position though. feel free to discuss.

small typos (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14500328)

'Speeling and Grammer are 2ndary issues.'

Fixed those for you.

The /. effect on Taco? (4, Interesting)

jacobcaz (91509) | more than 8 years ago | (#14500330)

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.

Re:The /. effect on Taco? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14500413)

Perhaps their paid subscription renewals are dropping off, because people are tired of Slashdot's trend toward amateurish presentation.

Re:The /. effect on Taco? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14500430)

/. is feeling the heat from digg.com. End of story.

Re:The /. effect on Taco? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14500493)

I can confirm this.

Here is a suggestion: try reading your own site. Having editors submit the same story multiple times shows a complete lack of interest.

Re:The /. effect on Taco? (1)

Fishstick (150821) | more than 8 years ago | (#14500537)

seems like it was the *Beatles-Beatles / ScuttleMonkey controversy that precipitated this series of posts from Taco.

I think it is really useful how he is doing it this time. He has had meta-slashdot discussions before, and they were good, but they didn't have the focus that these last couple have had (Taco explaining a single aspect at length and then taking the time to read all the comments and post useful replies where appropriate).

Having said that, slashdot still sucks and has really gone downhill and the trolls have taken over and the editors aren't doing their jobs and I have been unfairly banned from moderating and the moderators are all on crack and slashdot should have a spellcheker and Kuro5hin/Digg is better because of (x) and don't the editors ever read what they post and... (did I forget anything?) ;-)

slashdot's stories are well done (4, Interesting)

iocat (572367) | more than 8 years ago | (#14500334)

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.)

Wank wank wank (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14500338)

Wank wank wank. Oooh!

Dups impact everyone (2, Funny)

AppHack (622902) | more than 8 years ago | (#14500342)

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.

Even Taco is running into problems with the dups. :-)

To Too Two (-1, Redundant)

gasmonso (929871) | more than 8 years ago | (#14500343)

"...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!

Like in the 5th paragraph of this article :) "Many submissions are to long or to short."

Rock on Slashdot!!

Hey CmdrTaco (5, Insightful)

tekiegreg (674773) | more than 8 years ago | (#14500352)

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 (4, Insightful)

CmdrTaco (1) | more than 8 years ago | (#14500373)

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 (4, Informative)

tekiegreg (674773) | more than 8 years ago | (#14500515)

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 (-1, Troll)

briancarnell (94247) | more than 8 years ago | (#14500387)

He *should* let it get to him. The quality on Slashdot is crap -- half the time the summaries bear no resemblance to the article being linked to.

Do Slashdot editors ever RTFA?

Is this really a problem? (3, Insightful)

Kethinov (636034) | more than 8 years ago | (#14500356)

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?

Re:Is this really a problem? (4, Informative)

CmdrTaco (1) | more than 8 years ago | (#14500426)

Have patience! I have a half dozen of these editorials in various states of completition. This one was finished first, so I posted it. It's going to take me several months to get to every major problem on Slashdot. After that, we'll be perfect and I can take a break ;)

Re:Is this really a problem? (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 8 years ago | (#14500538)

A dialogue between CmdrTaco (or other editors) and the Slashdot public is a two-way street. It's great that it seems we'll be getting at least a semi-regular forum for discussion.

FWIW, it looks to me like this article is partly about what affects CmdrTaco's formatting/editing of accepted submissions. It's also about what issues he believes are important for us to be discussing in the comments (e.g., NOT gramar/spelling).

The article is also a guide for people who are submitting articles... what to do and what not to do.

Finally, I think it's unreasonable for Rob or anyone else to have to deal with the "heavy" issues all the time. As was pointed out last week, such a discussion takes a huge amount of time for him, therby limiting what time is spent on daily operations.

So, I say, be happy with what you get, and trust that other issues will be addressed when there is time.

clearly... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14500361)

Spelling and Grammar are secondary issues.

Memo to Taco:
to != too

to be not to long
Please to be not splitting infinitives.

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'.

I guess it's better not to bother, then, since the site owner could clearly give a fuck.

Seriously, grammar matters. It reaks of amateurism when a story submission is rife with misspellings or grammar idiocy. If /. wants to be a news site then yeah, somebody should at least give the submission text a once-over, or god forbid, run it through a freaking spell-check just once. If /. would like to be "just another blog", then it might as well just start hyperlinking MySpace and LiveJournal.

Let's add an air of professionalism here, eh guys? It couldn't hurt.

Re:clearly... (5, Funny)

jamie (78724) | more than 8 years ago | (#14500385)

It reaks of amateurism when a story submission is rife with misspellings

You misspelled "reeks."

Re:clearly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14500502)

lol.

why is it every time some idiot bitches about spelling or grammar, he makes a spelling mistake. good job d00d!

Sticky (2, Funny)

ebooher (187230) | more than 8 years ago | (#14500362)

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

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

Re:Sticky (4, Funny)

CmdrTaco (1) | more than 8 years ago | (#14500403)

Unfortunately the closest thing we have to 'Sticky' is an update to the FAQ... and very few readers bother to actually read FAQs. In my experience, the only real use for a FAQ is approximately so I can say "STFUN00b" in a *slightly* more polite way (Your question is addressed in the FAQ! Please read it! Oh, and STFUn00b) ;)

Format this TACO (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14500374)

Rob "CmdrTaco" Malda stepped off the bus and was led into the yard of the Main State Correctional Institute. He had been given ten years for participating in a stock fraud. Five with good behavior. Years spent basking in the glow of a CRT had been hard on him. His body was frail, his skin pallid. He knew he could never make it through ten years in the general population with his virginity intact. He had to get into solitary. As soon as the burly guard unshackled him he made his move. Exhaling a feminine "hmmph" he weakly slapped the guard. He was quickly taken to the ground, receiving a swift kick to the ribs before being restrained. As he was dragged to the solitary confinement cell he felt nothing but relief. "At least in solitary," he thought "I'll be safe." Unfortunately for Rob he had picked the wrong guard to mess with. The next few days were uneventful. The time in his cell he spent evenly between sleeping, reading a "Perl for Dummies" book he had gotten from the book cart, and masturbating furiously. His self-flagellation was interrupted on the fourth day. The burly guard he had attacked earlier stepped into his cell. The gleam in the guards eye and the mean grin on his face made Rob's pecker quickly shrivel in his hand. "You fucked with the wrong man when you fucked with Michael Simms," said the guard. "The inmates here call me The Asshole for a reason. Now come with me, punk." The guard led him down the hall to one of several empty shower stalls. He roughly threw Rob in the stall and locked the door. Rob was petrified. His mind raced as he imagined the myriad of different tortures that could be in store for him. His worst fears were confirmed when the guard returned. In his hands were a short black dress, black stilleto heels, and a curly blonde wig. "Strip down and put this on, bitch." Rob did as instructed and was pleased to notice that the dress fit well and the heels gave him a nice slimming effect. The burly guard admired the drag queen. "The GNAA is gonna love you!" The guard left the shower stall, only to return minutes later. He opened the door and led 20 large black men into the stall. "Rob, meet the Gay Nigger Association of America. GNAA, meet Rob. I'm sure you all will get along fine." With that the guard slammed the shower door closed and walked away laughing. The men approached Rob, backing him into a corner. The apparent leader stepped forward. "No matter what I'm gonna fuck that purdy lil' ass of yours. Now I can fuck it dry or you can lube it up for me." Rob knew he had no choice. He kneeled in front of the leader, who began to slap his face with his 10 black inches. Puss from syphilictic sores quickly covered Rob's cheeks. When the leader was sufficiently aroused he placed his throbbing cock up to Rob's lips. As soon as Rob opened his mouth the leader violently shoved his manhood to the back of Rob's throat and exclaimed "Swallow my shit you cracker bitch!" Rob gagged as he was violently face fucked. Just when he was about to pass out the leader pulled out, turned him around and shoved his cock into Rob's ass. Rob began to scream in agony but his cries were quickly muffled by one of the other gang member's cocks. They rode him like that for the better part of an hour. When one man finished another quickly took his place. Just as Rob was getting used to the throbbing pain in his anus the men stopped. One man lay down on the floor and Rob was told to get on top of him and take his dick inside him. Exhausted and humiliated, Rob had no will left to fight. As soon as he inserted the penis another man came up behind him and began to force his cock into Rob's already filled anus. Again his screams of agony were muffled, this time by a smelly black anus. For another hour he was violated in this way. When the men were finished with him he couldn't walk and his mouth was filled with dingleberries and ass hairs. Before they all left the leader had some parting words for Rob: "Thanks for that sweet piece of ass, punk. We'll see you again tomorrow. Oh by the way, we all have AIDS." It was going to be a long ten years for Rob.

Oh, come on (5, Insightful)

ColonelPanic (138077) | more than 8 years ago | (#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.

Trolling in the story (4, Insightful)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 8 years ago | (#14500381)

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.

Most people reading slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14500388)

Don't care to see posts about how they post news. Can we move this to a 'admin.slashdot.org' section or something? Seriously I don't really give a crap about administrative duties at slashdot, just what the daily news is.

Thanks (1)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 8 years ago | (#14500390)

I don't have time right now to make some meaningful commentary, but since that never stopped anyone here I'll just say that I appreciate that you, Taco, decided to run this series of articles. Hopefully they would give some useful feedback you might use to improve /. or at least give the users some space where discussing these issues isn't offtopic.

Editing submissions (4, Interesting)

RonnyJ (651856) | more than 8 years ago | (#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?

The job of Slashdot Editor (4, Insightful)

Shimmer (3036) | more than 8 years ago | (#14500400)

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.

Re:The job of Slashdot Editor...semi-literacy (1)

EllynGeek (824747) | more than 8 years ago | (#14500514)

Hee, lotsa luck- he made it clear that spelling and grammar are unimportant. Sheesh, the occasional typo wouldn't matter, but Slashdot is on a mission to continually lower the bar. Hey, who needs literacy anyway? Does it get you dates with supermodels? No? Then why bother? :P

Re:The job of Slashdot Editor (1, Insightful)

Overly Critical Guy (663429) | more than 8 years ago | (#14500525)

Agreed, I just posted a comment elsewhere commenting about this. Skimming a short three or four sentence paragraph of submission text doesn't really warrant a long ten-paragraph essay describing the thought process behind it.

This would have been a much more relevant and interesting essay if Malda explained exactly why so many dupes keep appearing on the front page. No editor wants to answer the question of if they read the site or not. God, even just browsing the RSS feed would show you what's been posted. My RSS reader is where I always notice the dupes. I'm sure they have to go through a ton of stories in the article queue which might make things confusing, but it's not rocket science to follow the front page of your own news site so you recognize stories that are dupes before you post them. It's things like this that make Slashdot's closed editor system feel obsolete and stagnate.

"A communal meeting ground"? (1)

jb.hl.com (782137) | more than 8 years ago | (#14500409)

If this is a communal meeting ground, why is it owned by OSDN (a for profit corporation last I checked) showing ads and completely opaque to most of its readers (who get quite frustrated when the admin's answers don't add up or when they're not present at all)?

Face it, Taco: This is a FOR PROFIT site. Once you've transformed something into a business you can't take it back or plead that it's "communal" in some way. Is it too much to expect that you make no more than one typo a week-one more than BBC News seems to make?

Too many o's for you Cmdr? (-1, Redundant)

cavemanf16 (303184) | more than 8 years ago | (#14500417)

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.

Apparently adding those two extra o's to the "to long or to short" portion of the text above would have resulted in a complete slashdotting of this article due to article length!

Rob clearly didn't think before he hit save... (1)

easter1916 (452058) | more than 8 years ago | (#14500433)


What I think matters before I click 'save', and what I don't.

This sentence does not make sense. Did you think before you hit save?

Ugh (-1, Flamebait)

Overly Critical Guy (663429) | more than 8 years ago | (#14500445)

Does anyone else get the impression that Taco...I don't know...makes his job seem more busy and important than it really is? This is a long essay full of paragraphs describing the very simple 30 second process of correcting a few typos and hyperlinks in a short paragraph of submission text. It's not that big a job, certainly not worthy of a ten paragraph essay. All of it is made moot by Digg's system anyway. If there's a dupe at Digg, the users blame themselves and undigg the article to take it away. Same if there's a bad link or typo.

Just my opinion. At least it's not a seven paragraph essay describing the tragic loss of a nick in World of Warcraft, because he's Rob Malda of Slashdot, dammit, and he's had his "CmdrTadco" nick for years. How dare Blizzard hold him to the rules of no titles in nicks.

What do you mean "Most of the editors are human" ? (4, Funny)

gozu (541069) | more than 8 years ago | (#14500447)

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!

Don't fall for it!!!! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14500454)

IT'S A DUPE!!!!!!

This is nice... (0)

Builder (103701) | more than 8 years ago | (#14500458)

It's nice to see CmdrTaco participating in the site so actively again. The humans behind /. are why I started reading it (and from time to time, avoided it entirely :)) and it's nice to see active participation beyond just editing.

Link as a link (1)

crabpeople (720852) | more than 8 years ago | (#14500467)

"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."

I have submitted quite a few stories that read as follows: ' Joe guy went to the store and webcammed about it! you can access his webcam here ' with here being a link.

I do not see whats wrong with that. If you are reading the whole sentance you can easily see exactly what I mean. That submissions are rejected because of a personal preference seems very shallow. I hate it when multiple words are links actually as it pulls you out of the paragraph you are reading and makes you think about going somewhere else, instead of finishing what you are currently reading.

I find it very disapointing that because of a personal style preference by the editors, submissions are being rejected. Please argue why it is wrong to link just the word 'link'. If the reader is paying attention i see no reason for them to be fouled up by this.

My 2 Cents (4, Interesting)

Se7enLC (714730) | more than 8 years ago | (#14500474)

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]

How about a link to see the original submission? (2, Interesting)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 8 years ago | (#14500481)

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.

A few guys' blog or true journalism? (4, Insightful)

idiot900 (166952) | more than 8 years ago | (#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?

Please read the article before posting it! (2, Insightful)

Universal Nerd (579391) | more than 8 years ago | (#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.

But... It's not HARD, so why not? (4, Insightful)

larsoncc (461660) | more than 8 years ago | (#14500498)

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.

editing (1)

tony_gardner (533494) | more than 8 years ago | (#14500500)

I think its not the mode of editing that gets readers up in arms. It's that in mainstream media, the job which is done by a slashdot "editor" is split between two people:

1. Journalist. This person looks at thousands of potential stories and fights between all of the ways in which one story can be written. They're most interested in delivering interesting product as quickly as possible and making their own name.

2. Editor. This person looks at one version of each story, and makes decisions about only a few versions of the final format. They care about ethics, reputation of the firm, and story selection for balance over an extended time.

As far as I can see, a lot of slashdot's problems come from having no editor.

Every time I see an "editor" complain that there's no way to avoid dupes because they look at a hundred versions of the same story, I think that slashdot needs an editor.

Every time I see an "editor" complain that spelling and grammar checking should come second to getting stories out there, I think slashdot needs an editor.

Every time I see an "editor" explain that posting an ethically dubiously connected or astroturfing story was ok so that the story gets out there, I think slashdot needs an editor.

Slashdot needs to grow up. Even though it started as Rob's blog, it's been years since the majority of users would accept that quality. "Daddy pants" is not a QA method for adults, and there is easily a hundred years of experience in the media industry about how not to make the kind of errors which slashdot regularly makes.

Dupes (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 8 years ago | (#14500504)

Make sure it's not a dupe. It's very annoying to read the same story twice, with minor variations.

Re:Dupes (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 8 years ago | (#14500550)

Make sure the story is not a dupe of another story with minor variations.

Quite often you have the same story twice with minor variations, and it's kind of annoying.

The value of dupes (2, Interesting)

G4from128k (686170) | more than 8 years ago | (#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.

Grammar and spelling not important? (1)

ElboRuum (946542) | more than 8 years ago | (#14500507)

While I see your point that this is an informal forum and, as such, probably doesn't deserve highly focused editorial intervention with regard to grammar and spelling, there is a limit.

I, for one, find poorly written articles (at least with regard to copious misspellings and grammatical errors) actually pretty tiring to read. You want to understand what the author is trying to convey, not spend your time tripping over the grammatical and lexicographic speed bumps he/she is unintentionally putting in your way. Of course, I don't expect you or anyone else at Slashdot to be responsible for correcting it.

On the moderation system and comments. (2, Interesting)

xtracto (837672) | more than 8 years ago | (#14500512)

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]

Excellent article... (0, Redundant)

Mindwarp (15738) | more than 8 years ago | (#14500520)

...I look forward to reading it again in a couple of days when it's duped!

Hey, I kid, I kid! :-)

Slashdot Thread Display (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14500526)

This is somewhat off-topic: it relates to the way Slashdot format/present/display discussion threads, rather than the way authors format their messages.

I find the logic behind the quasi-tree-like presentation incomprehensible. I have on several occasions posted replies to specific messages. What I found was that my postings were sometimes not attached to the messages to which they replied. Often times, when I returned to check for further replies, I could not find my own postings -- not from the top-level display, nor at the place I expected them to be. I am convinced that my postings were not seen by many Slashdot readers because of the way they were hidden.

The behavior of the links labeled "X replies beneath your current threshold" similarly unintuitive.

I think these are two problems of the Slashdot UI that need to be fixed.

How about this. (1)

ashpool7 (18172) | more than 8 years ago | (#14500530)

When the subscribers email you about corrections, like spelling, before the story hits the main site, could you fix it? Or does this already happen.

Anchor Texting (4, Interesting)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 8 years ago | (#14500535)

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?

watch it, taco (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14500552)

zomg, you overaggroed AGAIN.

-cze
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