If Digg is a young teenager, Slashdot is its parent.  Slashdot is now developing “Firehose” to keep up with Digg’s success.

The story of how Slashdot inspired Digg is well known.  Now, digg has surpassed slashdot, and slashdot traffic is actually slipping.

Now, the old fogey slashdot has announced a new (dare I say, Web 2.0) youthful, digg-like voting system–Firehose.  If you are a paid subscriber to Slashdot, go login and check it out. 

( Leave a comment to this post and you will be eligible for a slashdot subscription too. )

Firehose in action…

Here is slashdot’s description of what Firehose is…

The Slashdot Firehose is a collaborative system designed to allow users to assist our editors in the story selection process. Try tagging and voting on the entries below, and by using the ‘feedback’ menu by each entry. The hose can contain submissions, RSS Feeds, bookmarks, journal entries and Slashdot stories. Please send your feedback to hose@cmdrtaco.net but be forgiving of beta code!

Here is a break down of the various components:


Sliding this filter toward the red isolates the more popular, more voted articles.  In contrast, sliding the filter toward the darker colors increases the noise.  This compares to Slashdot’s current ability for users to view comments at a certain moderation level or higher.

Control Bar:

  • a — Play or Pause the Updates
  • b — Sort by Popularity or Time
  • c — Sort by Ascending or Descending
  • d — Toggle Abbreviated or Full


The thumb up and thumb down allows users to vote on an article.  Once a user has voted, the icons dynamically change to show a user’s vote.  I believe the color highlight on the left side is a measure of an article’s popularity.  These colors likely correspond to the colors in the slidefilter.

Once an article is accepted for front page submission the title bar turns from gray to the traditional slashdot #004F50 green.

Different Views:

I showed an example of the expanded view in the examples above.  Here is an example of the compressed view. 

This view will likely increase the ”catchy title” popularity effect that already weakens Digg’s effectiveness.


What was probably the most surprising to me is that the new slashdot layout uses yahoo’s ajax developer toolset.  The yahoo references can be found throughout the source code:

<div id=”firehose” class=”aduserbox”><script type=”text/javascript”>
  YAHOO.slashdot.App = function()


Display Bugs:

True to the beta tag (and to slashdot tradition), the new layout is not yet IE7 friendly. 

More User Generated Content / Socialization:

Slashdot users are famous for generating content.  Their superior comment system has been the cornerstone of their success.  Early adoption of a blog-ish journal system has helped as well.  Slashdot also developed a primitive friend/foe system long before social networks became popular.

Slashdot seems to be continuing to build on this process.  Now journal entries can be automatically added to the firehose.  This will encourage people to post in their journal and thus generate more content for the slash lords.

Discussion2 is slashdot’s introduction of ”JavaScript/CSS” into its well known threaded/moderated comment system.


I think everybody saw this coming.  I have mixed feelings about it.  Do you remember the first time you parents did something to appear “cool” to your friends?  I can remember when slashdot users slamming javascript as a security weakness were the norm; now slashdot is sliding into AJAX.

The strength of slashdot IMHO has always been the comments of its expert users.  The stories were just an excuse to read the opinions of the real, non-journalistic experts. 

Will these changes promote more interesting stories and increase the interest?  Will the quicker pace scare off the hardcore experts that are powering the place?

As a slashdot fan and subscriber, I hope these changes make the system stronger and more successful.

If you have a slashdot account but do not have a subscription, maybe we can help.  If you leave an insightful or funny comment (and your slashdot ID), we’ll pick a couple of give away 1000 page view subscriptions.  Then you’ll be able to play with Firehose too!