I’m not sure if there is a coined term for Netscape like “slashdotted” or “digged” yet, but my recent post on the troubles I saw with Netscape was promoted to their home page Friday and I saw heavy traffic to my site. In an incredible turn of irony, my post criticizing Netscape’s practices made it to the number two slot on the home page and was there for almost the whole day. The fact that it was not censored and left to run its course actually sheds some positive light on Netscape, but more on that below.
First, let me show what the effect of being on Netscape’s home page actually looked like. And also let me emphasize for the record that I (a) had no idea this post would be this controversial (a bit, but not this much) and (b) I didn’t submit the story to Netscape myself.
The effect of my day on Netscape’s home page was effectively a traffic spike of about 11x normal levels. Not too bad. On Netscape, the post received 63 votes and 77 comments, many of which were quite passionate on both sides of the issue. I particularly enjoyed the commenters who wrote a paragraph on how much they don’t care about any of this and how it’s a waste of time. And yet they just took the time to write an entire paragraph complaining about the rest of us? I had similar levels of commenting on my own blog post which received 24 comments.
I think Netscape was quite open after the fact and allowed the discussion to unfold properly over the course of the day. Some people thought we were making too much of the subject, but it’s important for users of a prominent community contributed service to be aware of everything going on. I appreciated the comments made by the staff, though it still makes no sense that my submission was removed as a duplicate of the story mentioned. The fact that my story was removed from the system and then replaced is being blamed on technical difficulties as opposed to a malicious effort to kill the post. I will accept that explanation though I received emails yesterday from several people complaining Netscape did much worse to them (entire account removal and banning).
The fact that the post made it to the home page, managed to stay there the whole day, and was commented on by Netscape staff shows a commitment to trying to be open about issues.
Will I use Netscape in the future? Maybe. Am I still upset over how everything was handled before I wrote the post and aired my complaints? Yes. But I’m open minded and as I watched the story and comments grow on Netscape I found it to work pretty well, technically speaking. I’m not a big user of Digg or Reddit either, so I can’t comment on how they handle many of the issues that were discussed. I’m optimistic an open discussion like the one that occurred around the post on Netscape will move the service forward and hopefully encourage them to make their practices and polices more transparent. There is obviously enough room for them in the space. People vote with their clicks and Netscape’s traffic is a big indicator that they’re not going away.