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Re: SquishDot

> > The SlashDot thing seems to be designed for people with shorter
> > attention spans, and larger supply of news.  The reason SlashDot works
> > so well is that it's always got a lot of fresh content - in fact, it
> > takes a full time staff to maintain, even with all the reader input.
> > You can't just set up something like that, and expect it to run itself,
> > nor can you scale it down to our size, and still keep it alive - the
> > SlashDot medium has a higher critical mass than the web page and
> > mailing list mediums.  Our web pages and mailing lists seem to work
> > with the level of maintenance and input that they get, and I'm
> > unconvinced that we have enough input to fuel something with SlashDot's
> > format.
> > 
> > Quite aside from that, SlashDot is very general, and big enough to be a
> > nitch filler.  Why do we want to compete with them for it?
> I am thinking ahead:  education and linux is vast field, almost as big as
> education itself.  Assuming even just 5% of educators become interested in
> what we are doing, we will be dealing with millions of people world-wide.
> this is a specialized niche, and if I understand correctly, each niche will
> need its own "portal".  Our seul-edu niche will be for people with longer
> attention span.  No matter what, there has been and will continue to
> be some maintenance work to keep the discussions/threads organized and 
> somewhat focussed.
> So I am going to go even further and suggest we think about making seul-edu
> a portal (not right now, but we can start building it or designing it)
> It does not matter to me whether we use squishdot or not, what matters is
> that we should be prepared for a possible geometric increase in participation.
> Bruno
Both sides have good points, on this one. I agree that squishdot looks kind
of neat, but I'm also hesitant to jump into the 'portal' fray just because
some ceo said companies would have to consider portals or face death within
the next six years. I am also scared to death of Bruno's phrase up there,
'if I understand correctly, each niche will need its own "portal".'

And I know I'm reacting to your phrasing and not what you meant, so I'll
leave that point alone.

I totally agree that we need to be prepared at some point for more
participation from a wider range of volunteers. But preparing the
infrastructure is one thing -- actually having an idea of what you
want out of them, and how they can provide it, is a much more crucial, and
much more difficult, task.

You're hoping that a bunch of people will show up, find a very easy and
convenient way of posting their idea, and they'll do it. Each of them will
post something, and then they'll read the other posts, and suddenly there
will be a lot of brilliant information at everybody's fingertips.

I don't know how to put this nicely, so I'll try blunt. The problem here
is that just about everybody is wrong. Slashdot is a bunch of folks
yammering at each other, and nearly every one of them is wrong.

I'm not saying that slashdot (or a slashdot-like forum) is totally useless --
I'm just saying that a clean, polished, accurate, and fair document is not
generated simply by making it easier for everybody to post.

In the couple of years that seul has been around, there have been several
times when we had a huge number of posts. Look in the Jan 1998 archives of
the seul-project list, for instance:
556 messages. And we couldn't do much with most of them, and eventually we
ended up killing most of the threads because everybody was talking and
nobody was doing. (So don't brush off the 'maintenance work' required to
keep people focused and on track -- it's extremely difficult under even
the best of circumstances.)

Is it really going to be different, if it's squishdot rather than majordomo?
Is a new flashy web gizmo going to fix this fundamental problem?
If you want a massive non-realtime chat room, sure, but what about
generating documents or applications?
The reason I don't read slashdot anymore is because nobody actually *does*
anything. Nothing gets accomplished.

And maybe I'm missing the point.

What is seul-edu really about?