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Because Mike has too many answers and not enough questions.

Digg vs. Slashdot – No, It’s About the Audience

Posted by Mike Bijon January 14, 2006

Jason Kottke contrasts the “Slashdot effect” and the “Digg effect” in Digg vs. Slashdot (or, traffic vs. influence) and draws conclusions about the level of influence each site has over the webosphere (both sites are somewhat more mainstream than the blogosphere). I think that the exact traffic levels delivered by each site are relatively unimportant, after all both have very different readers with differrent habits (as a formerly active /. user, through 1999-2000 – I expect that a lot of Slashdot readers are visiting Kottke’s site and numerous pages on it so that they can “better” participate in the commentary in Slashdot’s post comments).

I suspect that both the Digg and Slashdot audiences are unlikely to have Alexa (formerly a spyware company) software or toolbar installed on their PCs, so the Alexa results for both sites are probably an order of magnitude closer to the traffic of “generic” sites like MSN and Yahoo than alexa shows them to be. Regardless, both Digg and Slashdot represent similar types of sites and both also offer a style of news and editorial that would be difficult to accomplish on the same scale in meatspace.

Truth be told – I think the real story is how many active users Digg, Slashdot have and how both sites handle those audiences. Most news sites that started in traditional media would be thrilled to have that many eyeballs just to flash banner ads to – while Digg and Slashdot have that many readers actively involved in their community and the concern is to keep delivering stories of value to their audience. There’s a lesson to be learned there, although very few websites will ever do more than just talk about it because it’s not just about making easy money on the web.

Also worth mentioning, several commenters on Kottke’s story think Slashdot might be able to bump its mainstream readership by changing its tone, article topics, and/or layout. The editors of Slashdot, however, are probably more likely to make fun of mainstream traffic than try to get their attention. Again, exactly why /. can cause the Slashdot effect and CNN.com is an also ran.

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