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Upcoming Changes To 'Ask Slashdot' 230

Posted by Soulskill
from the step-the-first dept.
We're pleased to announce that changes are coming to the Ask Slashdot section. Ask Slashdot is a place to get your technical questions answered, show off your big brain by helping others, debate products and practices, and occasionally talk directly to companies about their offerings. Over the years, we've posted more than 7700 questions, on everything from workplace relations to home networking to evading censorship from unfriendly regimes. Starting tomorrow, you'll see that some Ask Slashdot questions have their own sponsors; the sponsors don't pick the questions, but experts from each sponsor will stick around for the discussion. Next up: we're making it easier for you to submit questions. Our goal is to make Ask Slashdot your "go-to" place for answers to your pressing nerd questions. So please post your questions, put on your answering hats, and come along for the ride.
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Upcoming Changes To 'Ask Slashdot'

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  • by Anrego (830717) * on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @09:16AM (#38289788)

    I feel silly for getting concerned when that pulse stuff started showing up in the sidebar. Clearly things are heading in a good direction :)

    For the first question I’d like to know how my organization can best leverage Oracle’s EJB technology to obtain the rapid and simplified development of distributed, transactional, secure and portable applications that we are looking for in our growing business.

    • by NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @09:21AM (#38289834)
      Jesus; I got Bingo just reading the question.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @09:27AM (#38289874)

      You'd best start synergizing as soon as possible or your cloud initiative will fail to leverage your business intelligence paradigm and we all know what happens then,

      But, whatever you do, don't panic. Oracle professional services, in conjunction with the talent acquired in the Sun buyout, is standing by and ready to address your every business need.

      • Hi, and thanks for your input!

        Blue-skying this kind of methodographical paradigmitricism is really how this agilified industry really stays one step ahead of the curve. I really think we should interoperlesce our independemutual idearification thought-shower processes to better extramanipulify our squazzoreadibility enfungusifierated lolipopsiclewafer technology.

        Let me know what you think!
        • by Moryath (553296)

          I think that brainless MBA down the hallway from me just jizzed his pants because he read your post and thought those were actual buzzwords.

          • I think that brainless MBA down the hallway from me just jizzed his pants because he read your post and thought those were actual buzzwords.

            Is there a "Poe's Law" for business jargon?

        • Let me know what you think!

          Congratulations. You have just won the internet.

  • by buanzo (542591) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @09:18AM (#38289806) Homepage
    .... Will it blend?
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Sponsored by Kitchenaid.

  • by bigsexyjoe (581721) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @09:20AM (#38289822)
    Slashdot, are you saying that you are trying to emulate the functions of StackOverflow?
    What's the deal with the sponsors? Are you saying Oracle (for example) is going to have some expert answer common Java questions in a slashvertisement/tech support type thing?
    • by Xest (935314)

      Yes

    • by claytongulick (725397) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @09:42AM (#38289964) Homepage

      No, this appears (on the surface) to be another gasp at squeezing revenue from "the slashdot".

      While I don't blame them for wanting to be profitable, I can just site here and think of the high level exec meetings that had subjects like "We need to find creative ways to monetize our user base" and someone said "I know! lets take 'ask slashdot' and make it a revenue opportunity...".

      I suspect there was internal resistance to it, but most of that probably faded with CdrTaco leaving.

      Slashdot polls have been replaced with Splunk marketing surveys, Ask Slashdot is now a vendor sponsored forum...

      I give it two years before slashdot is indistinguishable from the Yahoo! main page.

      Typical corporate acquisition stuff. I suspect, based on some other clues, that Geeknet is suffering from decreased revenue pressures. I suspect that ThinkGeek sales have tanked, and no one knows why (and apparently no one realized that pushing cheap, low quality crap with clever marketing at twice the sane price is not a good long term sales strategy). Sourceforge has got to be operating at a loss, and has been hemorrhaging projects as mass defections over to github and others occur.

      So I think there's probably a lot of corporate pressure to make slashdot start earning more to make up for shortfalls.

      We'll see more of this, it was predictable. The user base will continue to fall off, and soon we'll be getting emails ala Facebook - "We haven't seen you in a while! Do you know what you've been missing!?! Come back and be an awesome geek! Derf derf..."

      Sorry if I'm coming across as too cynical here, I'm not against companies earning money. What frustrates my is the overall cluelessness of executives that think the proper path to profitability it to turn this (once great) site into McSlashdot.

      • by claytongulick (725397) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @09:49AM (#38290008) Homepage

        Sorry to reply to myself, but I'm a big believer in not bitching about a problem without offering a solution.

        Slashdot corporate overlords, if you're browsing these posts for reactions to the change, here's a suggestion: consider the metafilter business model.

        Put a slashdot poll up and ask the users if they'd be willing to pay $5 per year to get rid of all the ads, and eliminate 90% of the trolls (most trolls aren't willing to pay to troll).

        Make karma mean something - those with excellent or above karma get a discounted (or free) rate. Same way we can turn off Ads now.

        I know that I, for one, would jump at the chance to help fund slashdot, and to help make it great again.

        • by Vairon (17314)

          They already give certain members an option to disable ads. For people who have the choice there is a small box in the upper right-hand section of Slashdot that says:

          Ads Disabled [*]
          Thanks again for helping make Slashdot great!

          I don't know if it's based on excellent karma, an achievement (days read in a row), low uid or something else.

        • Ads are not a terrible thing. Sometimes they are even of value. I always look at the ads in Circuit Cellar magazine, CycleWorld, Motorcyclist, Rider, and other magazines that I read.
          The key to have ads that people do not want to block.
          No animation or sound and keep them relatively small and I will read them.
          If they blink or move then ad blocker goes into full force.

          Slashdot actually has a really good community but a tough one to force ads on. The problem would be getting people to white list Slashdot.

        • by Kjella (173770)

          Put a slashdot poll up and ask the users if they'd be willing to pay $5 per year to get rid of all the ads, and eliminate 90% of the trolls (most trolls aren't willing to pay to troll).

          Pay to get adfree or pay to post? Slashdot already has subscriptions for the former, so I assume you mean the latter. The main effect would be that you get a lot less comments of any type. Even though the S/N ratio might improve the useful comments/article ratio would likely go way down. And even more groupthink of the only people interested enough to pay. And without the comments, all the readers go away too because it's not exactly stunning as a news aggregator, it's a very mixed and incomplete mix.

      • by Bogtha (906264)

        I've been in similar situations and I think you're almost spot on, except for this:

        I give it two years before slashdot is indistinguishable from the Yahoo! main page.

        There's clearly no significant ongoing investment in Slashdot, they wouldn't have the budget for a redesign. It looks more like they are slashing the budget, not increasing it. That may be the reason why CmdrTaco left, by choice or otherwise. I would expect Slashdot to stay almost identical to how it is now from a technology perspecti

    • by Sleepy (4551)

      Are you saying Oracle (for example) is going to have some expert answer common Java questions in a slashvertisement/tech support type thing?

      This -does- have the feel of something which came out of a 'monetize' brainstorming session. The description reads just as badly... it sounds like Soulskill is reading off of marketing's talking-points.

      So HOW exactly does this benefit Slashdot users? Or is there one at all?
      HOW are sponsor representatives represented in discussion? Are their comments automatic +5, and totally immune to moderation?
      This doesn't need explanation, apparently. :-/

      I've been on Slashdot.org for about 14 years, and seen it s

  • Interesting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lazarus (2879) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @09:23AM (#38289848) Journal

    I've been here for a long time. It used to be that I would very rarely if ever read comments submitted by other Slashdotters as I was far more interested in TFA. But as time has gone on I find I am more interested in what others here have to say. Everybody has the same news stories now and it is the insights and comments from the people in this community that are the real value.

    Not certain how you're planning to define "sponsors", but if you're planning to accept money from people who would like to mine this community for information I would caution you to tread carefully. You may be trying this on the wrong group of people...

    Hope it boots!

    • Re:Interesting (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pecosdave (536896) * on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @10:10AM (#38290182) Homepage Journal

      My experience tells me /. IS the community.

      The consensus on /. is what the tech industry is going to do, like it or not. We are the ones who are driving out DRM, slowly. We are the ones who made sure SCO failed. We predicted Microsoft 's decline in dominance unless they stop acting like assholes.

      We predict and drive the tech sector, /. is the helm and our excellent but not completely flawless mod system keeps the GNAA from driving.

      Just like everything else in the tech sector /. will be subject to the judgment of /. It will either work well or the consensus will stop it. I hope it works well, I want the folks who run the joint to make a few bucks, but if it doesn't there will be no choice but to stop or fail.

      Yes, I think /. has a lot in common with Anonymous only less coordinated, a mass of individuals working separately toward the same goals motivated by the rational consensus reached here.

    • And I am wondering whether this change to Ask Slashdot goes far enough. If the comments here are that good, perhaps a wiki format with restrictions on who can make edits would be better?

      Many of the sorts of things I ask search engines often return hits from Slashdot. On a few occasions I've found my own comments in which I asked the same thing I searched! For instance, I'd still like a mechless car radio that can play Ogg Vorbis files from an SD card or USB stick. And which has Radio Data System, and

    • by denis-The-menace (471988) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @10:34AM (#38290488)

      What I worry about is how much manipulation these sponsors will demand.
      About a year ago, Digg.com did the same and re worked the site.
      The sponsors started to control content and people noticed.
      Within 4 months, most users left for another site.

      Now, Digg is a shadow of its former self and is spammed regularly.
      Comments are few and hollow a-la "I agree" or "me too".
      Content is still controlled to this day.

      IOW: Digg is now a Web 2.0 billboard.

      I don't want a repeat.

      • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @01:06PM (#38292402)

        This is what I'm worried about as well. Slashdot is indeed the community. If the community decides as a whole that there's more marketing than it cares for, the people who make up the community will leave. Who is left? The marketers. And there's no recovering from that.

        Now, here are two ways that I can see it work: clearly identify the "experts (and make no mistake, those experts will be PR-monkeys), and let us set our preferences whether we want to see the responses from the "experts". I strongly suspect that part of the deal with the sponsors is that we can't specifically downrate those experts, and they might not even be marked as a special account. Be warned that this might be the downfall of Slashdot - Digg is indeed a very good warning that people don't take kindly to have marketers try to spam genuine conversations.

  • by Lando (9348)

    Sponsors? What the heck? I come to slashdot to get answers not marketing BS. Now you are going to give some company "authority?" I guess I can say goodbye to getting answers on slashdot. This is not a fricken help site, why are you trying to change that? I come here to be informed about Stuff that matters not whatever marketing wants to shove down my throat. We already have a lot of non-nerdy types here, so what you want to do is water that down and become more common denominator? I guess I'll be

    • by Kozz (7764)

      Sponsors? What the heck? I come to slashdot to get answers not marketing BS. Now you are going to give some company "authority?" I guess I can say goodbye to getting answers on slashdot.

      I was thinking much the same thing... The only way to do this "right", I think, would be to allow the "expert" to be introduced (who/what/where) and then allow them to answer questions (where relevant) with the best responses possible -- something as helpful as you might find from an excellent daily /. discussion contributor. However, the moment that the person starts plugging their company or product where it's not completely appropriate, expect shit to blow up, and people will be pissed. And then they w

    • I think the biggest thing /. is missing is that people knowledgeable in the sectors relevant to the discussion are already here, posting under personal accounts.

      The "sponsors" we see won't be engineers or experts. Those guys are already here, posting because it's their passion.
    • by PerlJedi (2406408) Works for Slashdot

      I come to slashdot to get answers not marketing BS. Now you are going to give some company "authority?"

      I think an importantent distinguishing difference here will be that the "experts" the sponsor is providing have no special powers over the conversation. The sponsor will not be able to censor what the average slashdot user has to say. I believe that the average slashdot reader will not be fooled by a companies marketing BS, which will in the end force the sponsor to actaully engage in a serious manner with our readers lest they themselves be made a fool of.

      Think of it this way: When a company sponsor's a q

      • by TaoPhoenix (980487) <TaoPhoenix@yahoo.com> on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @11:30AM (#38291100) Journal

        Okay, time to cash in some of my karma.

        1. Who are you "PerlJedi (2406408) who works for Slashdot" and what is your expertise since you are a brand new hire?

        2. I am noticing the quotes on "Expert". Either the people really will be experts, or else they'll be Astroturfing "Experts" in quotes. That is, unless your grammar just sux and you put gratuitous quotes which then accidentally totally flipped your meaning.

        3. I bet no one cross-referenced which of these ... "Experts" are currently also Slashdot users - I bet new ones in that ominous 2400000 range. As users they get Mod points? Who will be watching what they do with those?

        4. Companies don't care about "being made a fool of" with the top 25% if the Astroturfing raises sales with the newer 75% userbase. Sure, some companies will provide a legit expert, but we're watching like a hawk. Slashdot has seen our comments on editorial quality. We've made fools of you for years. Not like it really helped. (Probably some, far from enough.)

        Bonus: Since y'all want to make changes, get a grip and allow editing of posts. Do like other forums do and tag it "this post was modified ...". Then we won't get 7 bad entries harping on spelling that totally derails the conversation. Put a time limit on it like 72 hours.

        • by PerlJedi (2406408) Works for Slashdot

          1. Who are you "PerlJedi (2406408) who works for Slashdot" and what is your expertise since you are a brand new hire?

          You are right, I haven't worked here very long. I am just a software engineer fortunate enough to have landed what I think of as my dream job. I have been a slashdot reader for much, much longer than I have worked here though. I created this account after I started here to use as my "official" slashdot account.

          I love slashdot. I love being a geek. I am fortunate enough to work for a website that I enjoy, and I am hoping to use my position here to keep slashdot as a great website for geeks and geek culture.

          • by Hadlock (143607)

            The problem I have with the "experts" is that they are generally contract based marketing spokespersons, whose main purpose is to deliver a crafted message to their targeted audience - a one way street. The problem with the "Experts" is that they don't have managerial status, don't sit in on the important meetings, and are just a part of the marketing arm.

            I think what he is trying to get at here is that if Slashdot is going to allow sponsored Ask Slashdot articles, Slashdot needs to take this serio

      • Re:What? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @01:11PM (#38292458)

        The point is not the censoring, the point is the signal-to-noise ratio. And the ratio WILL drop once marketers and PR people join the conversation.

        I find the evolution of the latest PR-flak kinda interesting: first he completely side-stepped the fact that he was being paid for his posts. He was the definition of an astroturfer. Now he's coming out officially, and contributing to discussions outside his PR mandate. I'm curious to see how he will continue to evolve. I have a strong suspicion that he might be a good indicator of the future of discussions:
        * PR always posts first, because they're paid to do so
        * PR is always on message, and posts more than any other single user (again, because they get paid for it)
        * PR will drive the discussion because of the two previous points.

        Whether that's good or bad is still to be seen. But I definitely think that the experts need to be uniquely identified, and we need to have the ability to ignore them.

    • by mwvdlee (775178)

      It could be interresting; have sponsors from competing companies discuss with a healthy dose or /. "error correction" and see how it turns out.
      About as much fun as an Apple fanboy arguing with a Microsoft fanboy.

  • Serious Questions (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Troke (1612099) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @09:29AM (#38289882)
    Right now any company can make an account and answer questions, how will the new change be different besides the financial support to slashdot. Will they be allowed moderation points? Say in which comments float to the top? Actually get to pose the questions (how awesome is adobe reader on a scale from 9-10) I would love to have specifics on this agreement as Slashdot has become a wonderful place for me to come and see unbiased information from the technical community and I would hate to see bias creep into the discussion because of this.
    • Re:Serious Questions (Score:5, Informative)

      by PerlJedi (2406408) Works for Slashdot on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @10:33AM (#38290464) Homepage Journal

      The sponsor will not be given any special treatment with regards to comment score and moderation. The "expert" the sponsor will be providing to take part in the conversation will have an account which is "badged", meaning that it will be visually apparent when the a comment was posted by the sponsor. Beyond the visual treatment that will make clear which comments are made by a representative of the sponsor, they will have no special power. They will not be able to hide comments they don't like, or highlight those they do.

      We want to offer a sponsor the chance to have a serious conversation with our audience, but we are not going to be giving them a soap box to stand on. If they want to engage with our audience, they will need to understand that means taking the good with the bad.

      • by gallondr00nk (868673) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @11:37AM (#38291218)

        The sponsor will not be given any special treatment with regards to comment score and moderation. The "expert" the sponsor will be providing to take part in the conversation will have an account which is "badged", meaning that it will be visually apparent when the a comment was posted by the sponsor.

        So essentially the sponsor's representative can be modded up or down in the same way as anyone else? I can't see that going down well in companies without a sense of humour.

        We want to offer a sponsor the chance to have a serious conversation with our audience, but we are not going to be giving them a soap box to stand on. If they want to engage with our audience, they will need to understand that means taking the good with the bad.

        Any takers so far? I imagine with the myriad of publicity options available today many companies are not going to want to get involved in a direct, uncensored discussion with a fairly informed audience like /.. I'd be inclined to admire any that do, especially if they can actually talk some sense, but I can't see many relishing a challenge like that.

        • The sponsor will not be given any special treatment with regards to comment score and moderation. The "expert" the sponsor will be providing to take part in the conversation will have an account which is "badged", meaning that it will be visually apparent when the a comment was posted by the sponsor.

          So essentially the sponsor's representative can be modded up or down in the same way as anyone else? I can't see that going down well in companies without a sense of humour.

          That is not a bad thing.

          • That is not a bad thing.

            Oh, I agree. I'm suggesting that not many sponsors will be willing to submit themselves on even terms to the vox populii.

      • Thanks for confirming the badge issue. Now - can we set sponsored users to sit at -6, just like we can control how many points our friends, foes, freaks, fans get?

      • Can we have a contest for what the 'badge' looks like?

        Please?

  • I was ready to hide all Ask Slashdot posts anyway because they provide very little value (mostly because the questions are not that interesting to me). Now I'm more motivated to do that...

    Go to Options -> Exclusions and you can hide all Ask Slashdot posts.

  • by adosch (1397357) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @09:41AM (#38289948)

    I mostly visit slashdot as an avenue for tech/science/nerd news, and an occasional giggle at flame wars. The growing trend of 'Ask Slashdot' posts I've never had a problem with; what is a problem is the growing rate of redundancy/frequency in question posts versus actual news, no one moderating the train wreck of flame wars and the shear lack of aptitude from the question poser in terms of topic worth.

    'Ask Slashdot' used to be an infrequent-but-jolt-of-freshness into daily reading, now it's just being used WAY to often with poor content abandonment IMHO. I see more posts saying "Didn't we just discuss this last week?" followed by a link to a slashdot URL showing the evidence.

    All cynicism aside, I'm not for it and I'm sure as hell hoping the next administrative post to slashdot isn't "We're changing our slogan to 'Slashdot: Regurgitated Tech Commentary and Questions. No News. Stuff that doesn't matter".

  • I really miss Taco.... Who thought this was a good idea?

  • R.I.P. CmdrTaco (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hadlock (143607) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @09:45AM (#38289978) Homepage Journal

    He saw the writing on the wall and got out while the getting was good

    • by bwintx (813768)
      +1 -- exactly what I thought when I read TFS.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      By the way, did you know that you can post and read these discussions from Taco Bell? Head down to your local Taco Bell restaurant for wild December deals and more.

  • by pecosdave (536896) * on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @09:51AM (#38290024) Homepage Journal

    They weren't hard to identify anyways, but an official label on those accounts would help.

  • I'm looking for a good ad-blocker, one that specifically filters technology advertising on message board sites. Difficulty: Must work with Chrome, IE 9 and Opera.

    Any suggestions?

    Clarification: Any suggestions that do not involve switching my OS.

  • Will this important function, having geek words in articles appear on Google News and then submitting them over to Slashdot, be kept intact?
  • by Kamiza Ikioi (893310) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @10:39AM (#38290568) Homepage

    "you'll see that some Ask Slashdot questions have their own sponsors; the sponsors don't pick the questions, but experts from each sponsor will stick around for the discussion"

    So, this could become a free version of Experts Exchange? I don't know if this is a good thing or not. If the quality of answers is high, specifically if the sponsors are tech companies, then this is good for users. However, Experts Exchange is pay for a reason, and that's to ensure very high quality. So if the quality is low, this will just become the geek version of Yahoo Answers.

    I think Slashdot should possibly test an alternate Karma system just for answers. Just because someone is +5 Funny doesn't make them an expert.

    • by MLease (652529)

      In case you weren't aware of this, "Funny" moderation points do not actually increase one's karma. If a post has a mix of Insightful/Informative/Funny, only the non-Funny points actually count towards building karma. That's why, when I have points, I only give "Funny" points to ACs, and don't bother giving them anything else unless I think their post really deserves special attention. I'm much more willing to give a mildly insightful post an upmod if they have an account and therefore benefit from the ka

  • Is this new functionality going to be available as a part of slashcode [slashcode.com]?
  • Uh-oh (Score:4, Interesting)

    by T Murphy (1054674) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @10:57AM (#38290784) Journal
    Meta posts worry me. I'm always afraid we might manage to slashdot slashdot.
  • by assertation (1255714) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @11:20AM (#38291012)

    I've been reading slashdot for over a decade. I haven't once gotten a post published. I've posted good and relevant stories only to see them reject without an explanation ( hint to admins: this really pisses people off and makes it harder to get volunteers ).

    I'm skeptical of how useful "ask slashdot" is for that reason. I never bothered to try it out. Why should I take the time to type out a worthy technical question if I don't even know if it will be published?

    The interface takes some getting used to, but I have found the current best place for technical questions is stackoverlow.com.

    It is like Usenet, but without the cranky people with no lives looking to slam people.

    I've learned a lot there.

    • by assertation (1255714) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @11:32AM (#38291134)

      BTW http://meta.superuser.com/ [superuser.com] has a similar interface to stackoverflow and is very helpful too.

    • by Kharny (239931)

      It's always fun to see your stories rejected, only to have one of the editors post it under their name 2 days later.

      Or waiting more than a week with your question pending, by which time, the answers will be rather moot usually.

      • Exactly !!

        or seeing something completely off topic and frivolous get posted when something completely on topic and interesting of yours gets rejected.

        It wouldn't be so bad if you got a one line explanation. I wouldn't get so mad if I knew why.

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