Fame and Infamy

Any publicity is good publicity, I keep telling myself, after getting unceremoniously Slashdotted for an editorial I wrote about Slashdot itself — my article went online this morning over at Publish.com. I thought it was a thoughtful opinion piece on Slashdot’s pending redesign and the seductive tendency of CSS to focus purely on aesthetics to the exclusion of architecture, but CmdrTaco disagreed, apparently. The comments thread quickly turned to excoriating the work I proudly did on redesigning The Onion, which is unfortunate and unfair, I think, but if the worst problem I have in life is raising the ire of Slashdot readers, then I’m doing pretty good. Anyway, I still think the editorial is worth a read; please let me know what you think.

In a more positive bit of notoriety, Dave Kellam of Seal Club asked me to participate in his 5Q project, in which he asks “designers, artists and other Web-monkeys five questions on earth-shattering topics usually unrelated to their field.” This was the easiest and funnest interview I’ve ever done, and it will take you less than five seconds to read if you’re interested: it appears here. Dave also did a nice job of throwing together a design expressly for my questions and answers — how can I not dig the Rauschenberg-esque use of Mister President as a design element?

  1. jeepers.

    your article on publish.com is correct. too bad they couldn’t separate that from their opinions of your design work. a lot of designer-angst over there…

  2. Michael, I couldn’t agree more. The Slashdot crowd is a perfect example of why I absolutely can’t participate on forums any longer.

    This brings to mind Jason (Fried), and how he somehow manages to respond to every single post/comment on the ‘net related to his company’s products (I honestly don’t know how he does it, or where he finds the time), and gets ripped to shreds every single day by the same people who imitate the 37 Signals look, feel and philosophy.

    But I digress. Khoi, The Onion redesign is excellent, from both a design and usability standpoint – you’re way too talented to warrant a public flogging by disparaging hordes of “l33t-speakers.”

    Rock on, brother.

  3. Hey, thanks for the kind comments, folks. The reassurance is definitely appreciated after going through those comments. (To be honest, I only skimmed them over; I don’t think I could have taken each and every one.)

    Slashdot is not really my bag, but I certainly don’t begrudge its community members the opportunity to let loose — even if it means ripping me to shreds. I guess what got lost in my editorial (I should have been more explicit about this) is that I’m looking forward to seeing how the site’s new design improves the user experience overall. Anyway, I wish them luck.

  4. Not that I need to add to what others have said above, but again: Whenever I read slashdot, I’m wondering who these silly uneducated people are and then I remember – they’re techies! What kind of irony is that?

  5. Gee, there’s more than enough missing the point going on in that comments thread… clearly Slashdot fanciers shouldn’t be allowed near reasoned argument with a ten-foot barge-pole.

  6. Michael: “The Slashdot crowd is generally a great example of ‘an individual is intelligent, a crowd is dumb as shit’. That pretty much says it all.” – spot on.

    I think your article is correct, but the point was missed by the slashdot folk, and then their comments dribbled off-topic into an assasination of The Onion. Not a very useful critique of any kind really.

  7. Quoth CmdrTaco: “This article has many good points about architecture and design, even if his whole premise is based on a contest that we haven’t spent more than about 5 minutes thinking about.”

  8. Khoi, since we have all heard about getting “slashdoted” I’m curious to know how many hits your site actually got after the posting?

    And one could say: “At least they are talking about you at all!”

  9. I hope it goes without saying, but I wouldn’t give it much sway. The Onion redesign was an amazing piece of work that I seriously doubt many could have held a candle to. That’s just my 2 cents.

    Beyond that, I think the mob mentality or lack of objective opinions from such a group is disappointing at best. Honestly, I find it amusing that a group of people would tear down any redesign with very little, if any, understanding of what went into it.

    I have some personal dislikes about the redesign, but the good far outweighs the bad, and all in all, it kicks ass. Keep it up.

  10. to disagree with the comments here so far, i think alot of the /. comments were worth listening to. they didn’t just base – quite a few of them could explain why they disliked the new onion design (multicolumn approach / interspersing of ads).

    and to garrett’s point – who cares what went into the design? they’re users of the site (or used to be) – and their opinions are valid even if they don’t understand the process behind the design.

  11. At first I thought they were whining, but then I actually went to the Onion website again, and turned off my adblocking proxy. Between the ads and sifr, my browser locked up for a good 30 seconds. Also, sifr isn’t accessible – it doesn’t scale when you change the font size.

  12. I totally disagree Ryan. Comments from users are only useful and valid if gathered in a way which is constructive (and many researchers would argue the only way to go is a scientifically gathered sample). What you have here is the online equivalent to a bad Focus Group where ‘mob rule’ mentality is steering the feedback. If you listen to, and act on, every user’s comment you are in trouble.

    I’m not that shocked by the comments to be honest Khoi, it shows that Slashdot user’s have little understanding of design and impact that good design could have on their site.

    As users go, the Slashdot crowd seem pretty reticent to change on the web at all, let alone something which is so accessible as design (everyone has a favourite colour right?).

  13. Khoi, I think you did a wonderful job of responding to the “/.” crowd here. Instead of lashing out at them and saying things like “what do they know about good design, anyways”, you took the high road. Well done.

  14. What do you expect from a website that predominately uses the color teal?

    Sorry, I use every waking breath to bash the color teal.

    To be fair, I thought Taco’s comments were sensible too. I just think Slashdot addicts are like Apple addicts. It’s always a war on there.

    What interested me is that Taco said he couldn’t afford you. If this really is the case then Slashdot is doing something terribly and horribly wrong. With a user group that large and of first adopters, that site should be reeling in the ad bucks.

  15. Has anybody noticed how design message boards and comment threads are usually a little more polite than techie boards? Granted, this thread is on a designer’s site instead of a community board like /.. And, granted, trolls did pretty much force Joshua Davis to take down dreamless.org back in 2001. But still. Techies seem to be extremely rude.

    Anywho, I’m the editor of Publish.com — we pubbed Khoi’s editorial on the slashdot redesign. Irregardless of the slashdotting, everybody here thought Khoi’s article was very thoughtful. I was jazzed that he filed an editorial that didn’t just extoll the greatness of CSS or mention neat CSS tricks the slashdotters could use, which would have been very easy to do.

    So, thanks again for your excellent work, Khoi. I hope you’ll continue to write for us in the future.


  16. It’s too bad that reactions from the slashdot crowd quickly dominate the points which you made in your article, which (to me) is that design (or redesign) is always inextricably linked to structure and content. While the CSS Zengarden features great explorations of the possibilities of separating contant/structure and presentation, a good design requires careful consideration of all elements. Thanks for making that point, and having the courage to use Slashdot as example.

  17. I haven’t seen any mention as to the official contest rules and announcement. When can we expect to hear more about the redesign contest? I for one am interested in trying my hand at a /. redesign.

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