A Guerilla Slashdot User's Guide

Sat 22 December 2007

Slashdot, rightly or wrongly, has a bad reputation.  They post duplicates (guilty) and the comments are all idiots.  I find slashdot comments, treated properly, give an extra dimension to the article in question.  Allow me to give you some tips on finding Slashdot more productive, useful, or at least entertaining.

Use AdBlock Plus. This works for lots of sites, and Slashdot is no exception.  It cuts loading times, and animated annoyances.

Second, create an account.  If you're worried about spam, you can try services like Mailinator but it seems like they're onto this stuff and don't like it. They block Mailinator addresses as "invalid".  And claimed I some how cut and double pasted one email address to where they don't match. So maybe that's a downside.  It does suggest they intend to sell your email address, or else they wouldn't care how easy it is to set up throwaway email addys.

Once you've established an account, you can now set personal preferences for the site.  Moderation is the system that makes large boards feasible. Slashdot has crowdsourced moderation, long before that word even existed. Crowd moderation is better than no moderation, but it isn't all roses.  You'll need some jujitsu to make this thing work.

  • First ensure you're using threaded mode, with the old comment style. There's always some beta comment system, as equally confusing as omnipresent. Preferences -> Comments -> Discussion Style: Classic mode.  Below that is Display mode, and you want Threaded.

  • Then sort by Highest Ratings (but not the ignore threads option).  Then set the Threshold to 1 or 2.  Conversations are hard to read when half the thread is sliced out by moderation. Below that, set the Highlight Threshold to 2. This way anything moderated will be readable or gone.

  • Thirdly, muck with the Reason Modifier.  This one deserves a bit more explanation.

One of the thorns in the rosebush of Slashdot moderation is the tyranny of the majority opinion.  Pointing out flaws in Linux, or otherwise deviating from the world view of Slashdottery can result in instant flamebait moderation. Flamebait is an interesting moderation -- it's essentially saying the post is contraversial, but not offensive or spam. In my book, that's interesting; in slashdot's book the moderation is treated as a negative.  The comment is bumped down one point.   My best trick is this: To best read Slashdot comment threads, change flamebait from 0 to +4.  Suddenly, the other halves of debates become visible.  Or at least far more hilarious.

Of course, this requires that moderators not change their views significantly.  If flamebait begins to be interpreted as Ron Paul spam, or some other concept, the whole thing breaks down. So if you moderate slashdot, ignore this whole post.

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