Over the years of running XMission, I witnessed several instances of what became known as “Slashdotting”. A popular tech news site, Slashdot has such a large audience that they can bring powerful computer servers to their knees with an onrush of visitors. Thus the verb, “Slashdotting“.
At the beginning of the campaign it was not only a priority with me to get an article on Slashdot, but it was repeatedly suggested and attempted by interested people. These attempts were made to publish stories about local press coverage here, but they were all rejected by Slashdot editors. Yesterday, in response to a Linux Insider article published on Tuesday, Slashdot greenlit an article.
What is a Slashdot article worth politically? By the raw numbers, 3074 visitors came to the campaign website via the article. In comparison, a notable mention on Daily Kos garnered 2232 visitors in December. Now someone with a marketing background might be thinking, 3000+ visitors at $10 each, that’s $30,000! If only it were that easy. The raw contributed dollar effect of Slashdot has been $290 broken up over four donations.
The residual effect of Slashdot was remarkable. At first a flood of vandals hit the wiki and left their messes about. Almost instantly, a larger group of new volunteers came in and cleaned it up. Within 24 hours, these same volunteers went about reorganizing and contributing to wiki in ways that were utterly amazing to watch. The wiki is now stronger and better than ever.
This experience emphasizes what was clearly stated by Liza Sabater on Monday, “The #1 mistake advertisers, marketers, political strategists and fundraisers make when hitting the blogosphere is to think of bloggers and readers as just consumers.” So many candidates have and continue to look to Howard Dean raising a million in a day off the Internet as potential for their own campaign. Yet Dean donors weren’t driven by the Internet, they were driven to the Internet by other sources. The fact he was a presidential candidate was one, the other was the traditional media attention he received. The Internet is not a cash machine that can be turned on by simply activating a website. It can be a cash saver because of its open nature. The feedback I have received via the wiki and my first photo poll would have cost tens of thousands of dollars in “focus groups,” and I believe it is of a significantly higher quality.
Make no mistake, this campaign still relies on traditional techniques for reaching the electorate. As a result, it still has traditional needs best met by cash contributions. However, I am invigorated by seeing the ideas of open campaigning and the basis of “Democracy 2.0” flourish.
As my friend in Japan states, “Yesterday slashdot it was done, but it is being crowded calmly and that appearance, without either the circumstances which receive vandalism for the present, ã‚‹ pattern.”