As a long time reader of Slashdot.org, I always wondered what being featured on it would be like. Through the years (I registered around 2001, I think) I’ve seen sites crippled by the “Slashdot effect”, when the site was featured on the front page but wasn’t up to the task of so much traffic. What’s it like to be on the other side of the Slashdot front page, to so speak? What does it to do website stats? Do you get flame broiled in the comments? Does Cowboy Neal call you to personally congratulate you?
In February of 2013 I wrote an article called “Home Server vs. VPS – a quick Cost and Performance analysis“and decided, never thinking that it would be featured, to submit it to Slashdot. The next morning, I was floored to find out that the article landed on the front page! I looked at the statistics for my fairly humble little blog, and the its were rolling in by the hundreds and thousands. In the short course of 2 days, my article received over 30,000 visits!
Now more forward to August 2013 and I had an idea for an article that I thought the Slashdot crowd might be interested in. Besides, if nothing else I just love to write! So I wrote “Experiences and Realities of a Homesourced IT worker.” I spent hours on the article refining the math comparisons and editing it. My wife even lent a hand and helped me make some adjustments that really made the article better. She’s a great editor.
After about a week of writing and editing, I posted it to my blog. And, I submitted it to Slashdot. Nothing. Crickets at best. A few people looked at the article (according to my stats) and it got marked as spam! Oh no! Not to give up quickly, I submitted it again. Not flagged as spam this time, but not much response either. Not being one given to accepting failure, I submitted the story once more and wrote an introduction that wasn’t just the first paragraph of the story. Well, someone liked it because the next morning, it was on the front page!
My statistics took a familiar spike. Suddenly I had over 25,000 page views on this post alone. It leveled off in the evening but the next day, it picked up again. In both cases, the increased traffic lasted for several days. The first time the blog got featured, the traffic was higher permanently and is still higher because of that.
Social Aspects and the Wrath of the Internet
Then there’s the social aspect. Slashdot isn’t Facebook (thank the robot overlords) but it has a thriving community that will flame broil any article that isn’t up to snuff. Misquotations and miscalculations will be laboriously lambasted and no grammar error will go left unpunished.
It was pretty awesome. Apparently, I had my act together enough that I received mostly positive comments not just at Slashdot.org but also on This Blog. Some of them were downright complimentary! Sure, people like to give Slashdot a hard time for not being like it used to be, but people have been saying that about Slashdot for as long as I can remember. Its a great community and I still really enjoy it there.
The other aspect was the confirmation of my writing. Friends and family have enjoyed my writing in the past but peer review was something that made me quite nervous. Much to my delight both articles were well received as mentioned, and have energized me to keep writing! And to have my writing be featured on a Big Site like Slashdot was pretty amazing. I hope that I can make more of my writing as time goes by, but for now it shall be confined to This Blog, and its successor which is still in the planning stages.
Overall each time I learned something from comments either pointing out a flaw or an alternate argument. Its been a positive experience, one the I hope to repeat again. But more than that its brought me a sense of satisfaction knowing that I was able to connect with my readers and that as a writer was more valuable than anything else.
Oh, and no calls from Cowboy Neal.
Cowboy Neal was put out to pasture when Dice acquired Slashdot.
That said, I’ve found the same things about getting articles submitted to slashdot. The main thing you need to do is post something different than the first paragraph, with a few extra links to third sources to back up the statements in the summary… and ask a question in the title.
Remember that most people don’t actually read the linked article, so you’re going to need the nub of your argument in the summary, but without enough information to actually complete the discussion (they’ll need to RTFA for that).
This is the recipe for a good slashdot article, and for a popular blog post as well.
Yes, sad but true. At least he’s still a poll option now and then. Good points about the summary and ones I’ll keep in mind for sure.
I had the same experience with our site. My article was featured twice two. And I’ve been trying my best to be featured again.
thanks em for sharing that.