Sunday, February 17, 2008

How PR uses Slashdot

After my latest survey on where Washington’s favorite sources for tech news, I began to spend more time on Slashdot. After a few of my submissions made it on to the front page, I acquired sufficient positive Karma to gain access to the firehose. The firehose is Slashdot’s term for the queue of stories readers have submitted for consideration for the front page. Readers with Slashdot journals can automatically submit their entries for the front page if they so choose.

The firehouse has a color bar to indicate how popular a story is. Blue is neutral, which can change to green, yellow, orange, and ultimately red. Stories with a red rating are usually placed on the front page. When the blue changes to purple, that is a indication that Slashdot users are not interested in the story.

Watching the firehose offers great insight into the editorial process. Stories you think will catch on will frequently fall flat. Others which seem so-so will catch fire. It takes a while to get a feel for the community.

Then there are times when a story seems to be catching fire, soon after submission the color change to yellow, than orange, and then it starts to cool off, meaning Slashdot users are rating the story down. Why? The most obvious explanation is that readers of the firehose consider the story to be overrated and not suitable. But in at least some cases it appears that negative stories that are hot are suddenly rated down. Is that because readers spontaneously decided the stories were “not the best,” or were corporate flacks down rating the story as a form of damage control?

Of course, who could afford to continuously monitor the firehose? So far as I know, there is no way to subscribe to it.

Slashdot is a valuable public square, and it is inevitable to flacks will be attracted ot it. Somehow Slashdot’s proprietors will have to find ways to prevent us from taking over.

4 comments:

Joyce Carpenter said...

"Somehow Slashdot’s proprietors will have to find ways to prevent us from taking over."

I think they have. Although Firehose does allow for the community to vote submissions up and down, it is the editors who determine what is accepted. The beauty of Slashdot is that it has editors who make (mostly) good decisions.

Alice said...

I agree that Slashdot has good editors.

I am not sure my theory is correct, monitoring the Slashdot firehose would be very expensive.

Still, it is something to think about.

Anonymous said...

Hardly anyone reports only the FACTS anymore. There is almost always some COMMENTARY injected with the so-called 'news', some special, very subtle slight for or against the subject. Titles are an excellent example; many written to gain attention through insulting remark or pushing an emotional button.

I read the Wall Street Journal because they just report the facts. I just want to know what happened, not what the freeking writer cares about.

I notice the Business section of papers is much less blatent than front page articles.

If these Slashdot editors really want integrity and respect, they need to fight against the patent liberalism (i.e. mix/promote your agenda with your reporting) that has been slowly rotting our society for a number of years now.

Instead of saying 'Bush backs down' for example, state "President Bush said..." Do you see the difference?? Just report the facts and don't mix it with an ever-so-subtle subliminal opinion.

Here's an example of commentary in news. David Espo, writing for the Associated Press, discusses delegate 'superdillemma's (the headline). After quoting one person, he writes, "In her case, perhaps so.", and about delegates picked outside the primaries "political intentions are cause for controversy" Who's controversy, David? Yours? Is something really bad going to happen? Should they have done something else?? What makes for a non-controversy??

C'mon! Let me draw my own conclusions, I don't want your opinion! No, not even if you think you are trying to 'explain' the process of voting, selecting delegates, etc. I DON'T WANT your OPINION.

Alice said...

Slashdot is an online discussion community. It does not cover politics.