linkbacks and the "rush and slash effect"

Joseph Reagle
Wed, 15 Jan 2003 18:03:53 -0500

Have I made any stupid mistakes? <smile/>
   The best that can be said for the Slashdot system is that it selects
   the most popular comments within the period most readers are likely to
   spend their moderator credits, which is probably within a few hours.
   For example, if I examine the Slashdot thread I mentioned yesterday
   about Apple using the Konqueror rendered instead of Mozilla, there a
   total of 603 comments. An analysis [zipfile of the data and python
   script] of this thread shows:
    Score with Mean, Minimum, and Maximum Elapsed Time in Hours
    score    mean                   minimum maximum
    +5       0.81                   0.08    5.59
    +4       1.62                   0.08    8.13
    +3       2.30                   0.08    8.59
    +2       7.04                   0.13    33.80
    +1       5.86                   0.10    34.31
    +0       7.68                   0.07    34.25
    -1       1.03                   0.05    7.62

   Given that I read Slashdot with a threshold of "4 or higher" this
   means that the average elapsed time of comments I read is just over an
   hour, and I can not see a comment that is more than 8 hours old! (To
   say nothing of whether I would go back and read old threads for
   stories I already noted.) One redeeming result is that the most inane
   comments are also quickly posted but are successfully identified with
   a score of '-1'.

   I've seen this "rush and slash" effect numerous times on topics which
   I care about and expect that some idle readers constantly refresh
   Slashdot in their browsers and post a comment on a new topic as
   quickly as possible, just for exposure. And this effect won't be
   limited to Slashdot. For instance, I already noted that Mark Pilgrim
   provides link-backs to anyone that has linked to an entry. My
   curiosity for his system led me to try to stupidly cheat it, which
   failed, but he does now explain how his automatic link-back works. I
   fully expect that people will, if they aren't already, trying to
   respond to his latest entry as quickly as possible so the maximum
   number of Pilgrim's readers likely to investigate their own site. This
   applies to the disenchanted and decafbad link-back systems as well. As
   the flow of dis-intermediated content and their reputation systems
   increases, so will the rush and slash effect.