This issue is a pretty standard conflict. It can be seen with any big franchise which has dedicated fans.
It's more than just that. The Slashdot founders used to be fans themselves. No, not just fans, but instigators of the revolution. Famous and influential people like Alan Cox and Bruce Perens used to frequent the comments and make it a cool, interesting place. Tom Christiansen's comment on the death of W. Richard Stevens article was one of the most heartfelt, moving things I've seen on the Internet, and went a long way towards salvaging that debacle.
The problem is that Rob & company's system didn't scale, and they didn't bother trying to make it scale. They stopped posting. They didn't try to grow professionally and do things like recruit authors or learn to use a spellchecker. They started recycling the same lame OSS/anti-M$/geek-angst crap over and over and over and over again. They didn't manage Jon Katz as editors, but let him post the same incoherent drivel over and over.
Instead of building a proper web-of-trust system to improve comment quality, they tacked on a poorly-conceived karma system that punishes people for discussing unusual things or putting in a little strategic topic drift, and rewards them for recycling the OSS-is-good-Microsoft-made-the-baby-Jesus-cry party line. Naturally everyone left. When's the last time Cox or Wall or Christiansen or Perens posted something? A long time ago. That's the real proof of my position: if there was no reason to be there, then the busy skilled experts wouldn't have been there in the first place so they could leave later.
And now they say the discussions are a ghetto. Well no shit, they *made* them a ghetto and drove away everything that was cool and exciting about participating in the site. Now it's just a money machine: post the same old stories, turn the crank, in flows advertising dollars.
Now, there's nothing wrong with advertising, and nothing wrong with news tidbits, but Rob & co. are saying that the discussions are inconsequential which is ludicrous. The discussions are what built the site and made it work. VA Research bought them precisely because they were the premier coffee house/pub of the open source community. Slashdot was to be the political arm of the OSDN empire.
And this isn't just sour grapes from an old-time fan. What I used to value in Slashdot could still exist, if they wanted it to. Communities should get more vibrant and interesting as they get larger.
I don't blame them for being burned out and just wanting to make a living running a news site. It's just that insulting the discussions is a big slap in the face to all the people who helped make them what they are today.
I don't want the world, I just want your half.
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