A little bit on consternation this morning over the future of weblogs. The question, will they go the way of UseNet, e-mail discussion lists and Web forums; and, has SlashDot fallen prey to the same decay?
First, about SlashDot. I still find it a useful service, but then I’v never spent a lot of time on the comments anyway. I use it as a news filtering service, more than anything. Generally, it’s a place where smart people bring interesting stories to the attention of others. But if the comments are as bad these days as some say, then I would like to offer an alternative explanation for why. First this comment from RC3
Now, if you want to read visionary stuff, Slashdot isn’t the place to look. You’re better off hitting technical blogs.
Aw, the technical blogs. Could it be that one reason the noise-to-signal ratio has gotten so out of hand at SlashDot is that some of the previous contributors are now putting their primary efforts into blogs? If you take the smart people away from SlashDot, then won’t the dumb people seem louder?
I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect a lot of former SlashDot contributors are now dedicated bloggers. I know that I scarcely visit the online forums I used to participate in prior to starting a blog.
And will blogs descend into a UseNet/SlashDot flamer fest? I don’t think so, and for reasons given by Jeff Jarvis:
… weblogs are different because they are not, purely, a community. They are media, produced by people who publish and care for — and control — each element. Together, they act like a community in some ways because they all talk to each other (like this).
Here’s how I would put it: When you publish a Web log, you own it. Pride in ownership. When it’s your name on it, even a pseudonymous alter-ego, you want to present a positive image of yourself (however you might define positive). You want people to make return visits. You don’t want to make enemies. The basic human instinct to want to be liked takes over. People without those impulses aren’t likely to start weblogs. And if they do, they are likely to be ignored.
UPDATE: Eric Coe has some comments on SlashDot, as well.