Given how hard the article is to read (very!), I think I should have directed the attention of the readers to the intersting parts a bit more.
Imho, when a writer is incapable of clear and focused writing, it's often because he doesn't know what he's talking about, but I agree there are a few interesting thoughts here. The editors at firstmonday.org should have used the scissors as ruthlessly as you did now ...
Baoill: This role, while a practical necessity, distorts the shape of the space in which Slashdot operates. While it could be argued that it is in the interest of Slashdot and its staff to carry stories which will interest its readers, it does remove a level of control from the participants in the discussion.
Here he should have compared with Usenet. If he had, Baoill wouldn't have been so concerned about gatekeeper censorship. This isn't primarily about *control*, but about shaping the discussions into a form the editors and intended readers like. Slashdot has a particular flavor, (geek idealism, low treshold, huge community), which some people like, and that flavor would simply not exist without the editorial control of Malda & Co.
Editorial control is not a distortion, but the core of everything Slashdot (and K5) is.
Baoill: The use of ambiguous 'handles' [nicknames] and the capacity for both anonymous communication and arbitrary reinvention of one's identity means that, essentially, each comment must be taken on its own merits.
The overfocus on identity reinvention is typical of people with little net experience. There is no fundamental difference between a RL identity and an online identity, except that they capture different parts of ones personality. While some people intentionally hide their real personality online, I doubt it's very common, and no more common than in RL.
Forgery can happen, but it's not common enough to be significant here. When I see a K5 post signed Dacta, I assume it's written by the author of all the other K5 posts signed Dacta. A nick in a password-protected forum is no less real than an official name, and even on anarchic Usenet, names are assumed to be correct until proven otherwise.
Baoill: Further, by virtue of their positions as employees within the Internet industry, editorial staff are likely to have at least an unconscious bias toward celebratory stories of the Internet as fountain of wealth and income.
While it's healthy to doubt the motives of editors in any media, doubt should be backed up by hard facts, not vague accusations of unconscious bias. In my view, the problem with Slashdot is that they're wrong on several issues, not that they're unconsciously biased due to economic and personal interests, or whatever. They may *also* be biased, but a debate on those premises will quickly degrade into either relativism or flaming.
Media ownership is an interesting problem, but since it's usually impossible to run a media without getting involved in finances, we must judge each media based on their actual output, not on vague suspicions.
Another reason I didn't like the article was that he never actually answered his own question, is Slashdot a public sphere? I thought, at least he should be able to form a one-paragraph conclusion, but even that seems to be beyond his capabilities. How fitting that the last word of his article is a footnote.
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