Slashdot has over a quarter million user accounts, and most of these are live. There is a particular culture revolving around Slashdot. Slashdot's keepers have, through their best intentions I'm sure, created an environment that accepts and expects certain types of behavior.. That behavior is what brought a great number of us here, where it is absent.
I'm sure I am preaching to the choir on this to a good degree, so I'll spare you the background. If it needs to be expanded upon, I'm sure that can be done in discussion. On to the proposal.
I suggest that when a new user creates an account, they be *prominently* informed of a Tutorial or Welcome Center section of the site, where they would be able to develop a sense of what the current K5 is like, and what it values.. Rather than having new users learn from experience which will result in a decreased S/N on the whole site, let's give them an opportunity to learn what K5 is at it's best, so that the conscientious newbie would not suffer unnecessarily for their lack of experience. Of course there will still be malevolents in the crowd, but at least this way, they will have no excuse of ignorance to fall back on.
The common-sense rules of nettiquete should be there, since many of the newbies will not just be new to K5 but to online discussion sites in general.
Selected articles should be there also, as examples of what GREAT K5 articles can be like. These should be both Technical and Cultural, chosen from a wide sampling of the sections. They should be made up of good content, they should be well written, and they should be followed by a good discussion. Scour the archives and mention your favorites, so that those that are coming will know what K5 is at it's best.
Several outstanding diaries could also be made prominent in the Welcome Center section, to show not only 'appropriate' usage of the article submission and posting features, but to show new users the breadth of functions that K5 has to offer. On that note, a short tutorial on IRC, and specifically #k5 might also be worthwhile.
There should also be "House Rules" in the Welcome Center section.. This would be a listing of local ettiquete and aesthetics that have evolved over the last few years and set the 'tone' of the site. Many of what I consider to be "House Rules" are already distilled into the K5 FAQ, but an essay or two to explain the rationale behind FAQ items might be helpful.
There are many other things that might be suitable for this Welcome Center, but rather than keep on making suggestions, I hope any discussion to follow this article will serve to capture these ideas democratically.
In the last few weeks I've been rather angry and frustrated over the sudden increase in new readership here. I vented, and ultimatelly had my ears boxed by Rusty himself. This gave me pause. It is after all his site, and if he can see this impending change with compassion, then I should be ashamed of myself, and I am.
I think K5 is a great site. It's one of my favorites. I would like to see it succeed in the face of what would break most other communities. I think it can, but it will take a concerted effort of the current users. New users, not unexpectedly don't know any better. We can help them learn.
I hope that you will all give my idea for a Welcome Center due consideration.