Apparently, I’m still in …

Apparently, I’m still in a funk (bad mood). Updates will resume when this situation changes. Later.

First there was Slashdot. It was great. Then the idiots came in and ruined with too many stupid posts. Then there was MetaFilter. It too was great. Then the idiots came in and ruined the discussions with too many stupid posts. Now there is Plastic. Please let the pattern stop. I wonder if this is related to the fact 33% of all time spent online last month was by AOL users.

Please allow me to clarify. I am increasingly frustrated with the low level of quality found in online discussion forums. More and more people are treating online discussion forums (like MetaFilter and Slashdot) the same way they treat email and chat rooms. More than once, I’ve downloaded email in the morning only to end up skipping past hundreds of messages that lack thought-out depth and commentary. This same thing is happening with discussion forums. In its early days Slashdot was an amazing source of information that equalled Usenet in its usefulness. Over time, as more and more users discovered it, the kinds of posts decreased in quality and usefulness. The smart people who normally contributed such useful information left for greener pastures where better conversation/info could be had. I’m seeing this happen with MetaFilter as well. I don’t want it to happen. I don’t want to leave. But if the same thing happens to MetaFilter that happened to Slashdot, then I will have no choice. Like others in this industry I don’t have the time to sift the good (quality info) from the bad (mindless conversation). What does this mean? How do we stop it? Perhaps we’ll see more and more online discussion forums that are privatized for specific industries. Perhaps we’ll see public forums that require heavy moderation. Something needs to be done, maybe an education campaign to teach users how to better use discussion forums.

Addendum: I would much rather contribute my knowledge, opinions, and ideas to a forum where smart commentary and knowledge are a regular feature. The fact that this kind of post gets drowned out by the mass of posts (often by the same people again and again) tends to work against it. When growing up we are taught to “think before you speak.” Perhaps we need to extend this philosophy to online forums as well: “think before you post.”

Please read: The Natural Life Cycle of Mailing Lists

Argus ACIA: Full Calendar of Events [IA/UI]

Integrating System Metadata and Documentation is a paper about the Meta Project.

Things I’ve seen in New York City recently:

  1. Riding the M23 bus from Chelsea Piers to 6th Ave., I saw a police car pull over a taxi cab for reckless driving
  2. Walking home down 23rd Street at 2:00 AM, I saw a porcelain toilet sitting in the middle of the sidewalk for no apparent reason
  3. Uptown near Carnegie Hall, I saw a stretch limo PT Cruiser with flames painted on the side

Using some posts to the FoRK list I put together a quick chart of Open technologies vs. Closed technologies.


Posted by Cameron Barrett at February 27, 2001 02:21 PM

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