What Happened to DZone?
The nature of the site has changed a lot in the most recent few weeks. Perhaps for the better for some, for me, it's a turn for the worse. I'm trying to make up for it by using tags instead of the whole list.
Discovering the Zone
I discovered DZone on a fluke. I was trolling the referrer logs for my site when I noticed a large number of visitors coming from DZone. I'd never heard of it and paid a visit. Turns out someone had posted one of my pages there.
At the time there weren't a whole lot of users and most of the posts were Java related. Lot's of news, not too heavy with blogs. The blog posts that did show up were often insightful and started stimulating discussions. I started to follow the site and even posted up a few of my pages that seemed to be relevant to the crowd. Most were well received.
Checking 'The Zone' started to become a morning ritual.
Then, I noticed a change in the posts. There was less and less Java stuff and more Rails/.net/Grails/PHP stuff coming up. At first, it wasn't a big deal, I like keeping up on other technologies. It is good to see how others solve problems, I'll take any useful information I can find.
Then the HTML/CSS stuff started to increase. I didn't mind because most of my development is with J2EE and it's good to keep up with dev on the presentation side of things.
Then the quality of the posts started to drop while the number of posts started to explode. I found that I was visiting the zone less and less often. So many of the blog posts were only one or two paragraphs. More and more of the posts were to blogs about newbie challenges (StringBuffer instead of concatenation, etc). Where were the meaty articles that made me love DZone?
Then it hit. The SEO articles started showing up. It's the sign that posts are being made for SEO instead of real content :-(
What to do?
At first, I thought I should start voting more, and voting on the 'New Links'. I started voting down a lot of the junk in the new links section and voting up the good stuff. I noticed others were doing the same. Many were falling off before they could gain traction. It appeared to be getting better. But, it was more work... it was less fun...
I can't explain why but, I have an aversion to voting things down. I often ignore a post instead of voting it down. Of course, the effect of this is, I am less effective in improving a community site that I like.
In doing this, I noticed that some users make an extraordinary number of posts while, very few ever get promoted. Some users generate so many posts that others have gone to extremes to keep the zone usable for themselves.
The top users shows, posted/promoited/votes/etc but, I think maybe what it really needs is a promoted ratio. Show the percentage of posts that get promoted. This should help promote greater quality. But, even the users with huge post numbers and bad ratios do find some gems.
How about a posts/votes-received ratio? The idea here would be that getting lots of votes can count for more than getting posts promoted by 'friends'. Somehow, I think being able to show other views of the data may help create a more interesting site. Then again, with all of the feeds available on DZone, maybe a meta-site could be created instead, it could leverage different formulas to decide what to display. Heck, why not even allow user submitted formulas and allow voting on them?
I know a part of this is simply the evolution of a site that occurs when it becomes popular. The audience becomes more diverse and the topics broader. Unfortunately, for those looking for a niche site, the appeal starts to fade. For now, I'll try using tags to change the signal to noise ratio.
Tomorrow, who knows
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