How to make Slashdot useful
Slashdot is full of random crap, cliches and trolls- but buried deep within this pile of refuse is some useful and interesting info waiting to get out. The following is my checklist to find the relevant posts:
1) only read stories that actually look interesting. It seems like a simple thing, but it’s completely overlooked. As heart-warming as it is to read about them recovering Scotty’s ashes, it’ll be a waste of half an hour reading the same old rehashed star trek jokes.
2) Log in. Slashdot has quite a bit of filtering capability, but you have to log in to use it.
3) Funny is a distraction- in my preferences, I assign funny a -6 modifier because I don’t want to be entertained. if I wanted to be entertained, I’d go to fark.
4) interesting, informative and insightful are what we’re looking for- I give them a +2 to put them above the rest of the cruft.
5) Flamebait, Troll and redundant get a -3. The less things are repeated, the more useful info you’ll get. If something is incorrectly marked as flamebait or troll because it’s a dissenting viewpoint, usually a reply to it will be highly rated; see rule #7.
6) Threshold 2- This keeps the boring and uninteresting posts out of the thread entirely unless you click “read parent”
6) Highlight threshold 3- This keeps the boring and uninteresting posts hidden, while the more interesting posts are visible.
7) read follow-ups and parents of interesting posts. Sometimes the response is more interesting than the post you found, or if nothing else, balances out false statements.
This isn’t a surefire list- yes, I’ll miss some good content, and no it doesn’t filter out all the crap, but it has improved my reading experience quite a bit. And yes, there still is some good info on slashdot- take for example, this article about what Linus thinks of Subversion and Git. On the outside it looks like an opinion piece, but once properly filtered, there’s quite a bit of good information about what is wrong with cvs, the difference between git and svn, and how to use git in general.