Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Slashdot vs Digg: The Epic Struggle

Yesterday I finished listening to FLOSS Weekly Episode 10 which had Jeff Bates (better known as Hemos) as a guest. He was one of the original founders of Slashdot. Among the great banter of the show, one of the things that was brought up was Digg and it's impact on Slashdot. Long story short (at least as how I take it) - Digg may have rocked the boat a bit, but they are two different services at their core and therefore room for both.

The biggest difference between Slashdot and Digg is how the sites ultimately function. Slashdot takes the editorial stance where people submit links, a human reviews them, and then if they think there is merit to the story then it is pushed onto the website. What happens is almost all of the stories that reach the front of Slashdot are legitimate stories with a bit of meat to them.

Digg, on the other hand, is completely user driven. The users vote stories to the front page, and all kinds of stories will end up at the front for people to see. Some of the more off-the-beaten-path stories can surface, and with DiggV3, a person can aggregate their news from many different sources than just tech stories.

Both, of course, share the same problems. Duplicate stories are a waste of bandwidth (but sometimes a new, interesting comment will crop up in the dupes), and it seems that as a site gets bigger this happens more and more. Digg, for example, seems to have almost 1-2 dupes a day with the new V3, which beforehand I never noticed many dupes. Slashdot has always had dupes, and always will.

As far as comments go, Slashdot tends to have the better comments. I took the advice of Leo Laporte during the FLOSS episode above, and signed up for a Slashdot account. I set my comment threshold to +3 karma or higher, and you get rid of a lot of the crap that was in the comments (though, it's still a good idea to see what humorous things were posted). Digg doesn't seem to have reached that level of commenting where such things are needed, but the comments are not Digg's main focus.

Jeff Bates said during the interview that Digg's explosion in popularity may or may not have hurt Slashdot (it's hard to tell since summer is slower stastically anyway, and RSS feeds (which are a big way many people read slashdot) are a hard way to gauge actual user numbers), but he said that there are some things that Slashdot will evolve because of, but that is the beauty of Slashdot - the way it is designed it can adapt with time. Digg seems to have been able to hold up as well, but sometimes not as gracefully.

All in all, it boils down to what fits best with you. For me, I check Slashdot every day in the morning during my normal rounds of web-comics and tech sites, and Digg throughout the day. I have them both on my Google homepage so if anything interesting pops up, I read them both. One is sometimes quicker than the other, but both are a great source for the world that is geek and tech.

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