I remember always rolling my eyes at the Linux and Free Software crowd on /. and the anti-Microsoft zeitgeist that you could find at the top of pretty much any thread, even if it was about something completely unrelated. At the the height of it these people were painted as communists by Microsoft (and if they had any real visibility in the media, I'd imagine they'd have gotten the same treatment.)
But here I am today sitting at my desk at Mozilla committed to working only on open source software for the rest of my career and never writing another line of proprietary code, after having seen enough good and pure-intentioned closed source projects morph and turn bad after the pointy haired bosses, the "visionaries", and the investor class got enough control over them.
I guess those days have always been in the back of my mind. It took a lot of life lessons to really understand how important the things the /. community was always debating back then around software licenses, privacy, and IP really were. Images of "billg" as the borg were fun, but behind those gags were serious conversations that ended up shaping our world, and ensuring to one degree or another there would always be a hedge against corporate control of software.
In today's world of mass surveillance, corporate consolidation of internet infrastructure, and the call for censorship of speech on the web, a community like /. is sorely needed. Here we are on the modern day equivalent, a site owned and operated by a startup incubator. It's fortunate that a community like this exists at all in some form, but how truly times have changed.
We got a wealth of free tools that allowed us to create things like Slashdot without crippling license fees and we got a wealth of cheap IoT and poorly programmed devices that can DDOS and bring down GitHub.
In the 1990s the fear was that Microsoft would take over everything. Now the concern is that Linux will show up in places it has no business being, collecting data it doesn't need, and connecting to services that aren't necessary, all in what should be simple, dumb appliances like your refrigerator or washing machine.
The kinds of hacks that were absolutely, hilariously laughable in movies like Virus are now quite plausible. Blender went berserk and set the kitchen on fire? Who would've guessed that's actually practical now, given a sufficiently Internet of Thingsy appliance.
But linux is just a kernel and devices based on it are usually easier to reverse engineer.
> simple, dumb appliances like your refrigerator or washing machine.
Dumb appliances are not going away, you just probably spend too much time on websites that overhype ioT garbage.
Buying a "dumb" TV these days is an exercise in frustration.
Open-source reduces friction. This is good in some areas and bad in others.
The irony is inspite of all the posturing about freedom and liberty seen at places like Slashdot its software folks who are currently neck deep in building surveillance infrastructure and selling out the world, of course qualified with suitable hand waving and apologism.
For the same commentators to reflect in a different context you need a more laid back venue like Slashdot. The problem with sites like Slashdot is to retain authenticity they cannot be profit driven. But there appears to be little room for that kind of thinking in the software ecosystem currently.
"...education sites are competing with very powerful algorithms that are designed to keep users watching video after video. If youtube starts encouraging users to do a few Khan Academy problems before watching the next video, I will consider our project, DnsLearning.org, a total success"
It's an oversimplification to demonize groups in this way. What is more troubling is the (non)reaction of society to the vast encroachment on privacy and rights from all sides, not the least of which are governments, telecommunication companies, and advertisers.
you were lucky to be doing an online gig. the rest of /. audience was probably in desktop software. most of the people there were ruthlessly crushed by Microsoft business tactics.
they mostly had a very good reason to attack Microsoft.
That has to be hyperbole. Even at the height of Microsoft's aggression, there were many professional software devs left uncrushed.
Happened to me three or four times and I picked up a pitchfork too.
It never left, it will never not exist.
Amazon is presently crushing the old-line retail industry in a manner that is little different from what any number of giants in the past did to the competition, whether Walmart or Sears before it.
Last time I went to Sears, I was looking for some good working outside pants. The store had an odor of perfume. Most of the clothes were for women. The size of pants I wanted was sold out with no idea of when it would be in stock.
So I went over to Target. They didn't have any good working pants. They might get some in the next shipment in a week or so. I went over to REI... and the pants were a bit too expensive for what I was after. I ended up at Duluth trading... the outlet a good half hour drive away from where I am now.
If I was living back up in the north woods where it was more than a half hour drive? I probably would have ordered online and probably from Amazon. Sure, Cabela's has same day shipping to a store, but at my previous residence, the nearest store was an hour and a half away... and shipping on one pair is %20 of the cost of the pants.
There was a sears in the town where I lived up north... but Amazon hasn't killed Sears. Sears has been committing a slow suicide for decades with poor availability and service. Other stores with an online presence still have what I would consider exorbitant shipping costs.
Don't blame Amazon for picking up the customers of the once mighty Sears mail-order empire - they didn't get their catalog online fast enough and ignored that silly Seattle company selling books for far too long.
I don't see it as Amazon being aggressive at undercutting competitors or vaporware them in the way that Microsoft was in its day (Competitor A announces a product... Microsoft announces they're going to do it too - everyone waits for Microsoft to come out with it while Competitor A's product withers on the vine). Amazon has a product and a focus, and they're doing a better job of it than other companies are.
If you aren’t insane you sell it.
If you think you can beat the big three you probably deserve to be crushed.
> If you think you can beat the big three I cheer you on.
Its funny, that on HN of all places, your statement is not challenged. The major point of HN over /. was the startup/incubatorish habits of Ycombinator.
By no means my statement implies that software developed under a free software license by a nonprofit organisation will for ever keep being fit for my use case scenarios but I do believe that changes that constitute planned obsolescence wouldn't be the case.
Of course such a model has limitations, you can't go on funding rounds but still it's an interesting model.
I am going to have to call you out.
I had a low-digit ID on /.
We (people like me) have been calling this out for FUCKING DECADES.
I feel that we can talk about generational millenials etc.. but we can also call out DIGITAL millenials; those who thing they know what the fuck is up just because they "work at facebook"
I have been a whistle against NSA router backdoors since 1997...
So nobody wanted to hear it then - and the giants have surpassed me - and I concede...
but to think that this is some freaking revelation is bullshit.
We have been talking about it for literally decades. FFS FB threatened to sue me for that which I revealed even here on HN.
Today's "world" has been here since the 70s.
I make mistakes when I'm writing code all the time. But as a science professional, I test my code against an objective reality, characterize my bugs, then change my approach.
Politics could use a lot more of that.
And I'd also offer that in the mid-90s key escrow wasn't as bizarre an idea. We were just starting to grapple with mass physical communication transitioning to digital.
And while I hate the dragnet currently used, targeted, court-approved interception of communication content is a good to society (via an effective law enforcement branch, hence an effective court system, hence rule of law).
the part that disgusts me recently is that when these conspiracies are turned into fact by post-facto released information from official sources, a good amount of the reaction is "So? Everyone already knew that anyway."
I feel like that reaction is so blasé that it will ultimately be the deathknell of the personal privacy movement.
Whether or not the propagation of that kind of attitude and reaction to such things is state-induced is another question, but the damage that such opinions do to such activism is definetly real. If I were an adversary to a cause, I would definetly consider those kind of tactics against the ideals of my enemy.
This is our world now... the world of the electron and
the switch, the beauty of the baud. We make use of a
service already existing without paying for what could
be dirt-cheap if it wasn't run by profiteering gluttons,
and you call us criminals. We explore... and you call
us criminals. We seek after knowledge... and you call
us criminals. We exist without skin color, without
nationality, without religious bias... and you call us
You build atomic bombs, you wage wars, you murder,
cheat, and lie to us and try to make us believe it's for
our own good, yet we're the criminals.
Yes, I am a criminal. My crime is that of curiosity.
My crime is that of judging people by what they say and
think, not what they look like. My crime is that of
outsmarting you, something that you will never forgive
I am a hacker, and this is my manifesto.
This sounds like it was written by an angsty 14-year-old who has no idea what actually goes into building and maintaining public infrastructure. Not, of course, that telecoms are always good citizens, but still.
Long distance calls were expensive because they were trying to pay off billions of dollars of basic infrastructure - the phone network that we're only now replacing nearly half a century later. Those fancy exchanges that the phreakers were exploiting? Those had to be invented, prototyped, tested, mass produced, installed, maintained... and that's not even considering tens of thousands of kilometers of telephone wires and poles, negotiating land rights, etc.
We only think of long distance communication as being next-to-free today because our information tech is already bootstrapped, computers are a billion times more powerful, and the market across which those costs are amortized are at least a million times bigger.
Can you talk more about this? My curiosity is piqued!
Just a side comment, I feel like Hacker News is going this way with Facebook a little. Posts that tangentially mention Facebook, there's usually a high-rated comment about how Facebook is evil and since the user left Facebook their life has improved. Those "I don't even own a TV"-like posts are a bit grating as the top comment on every thread, but hey maybe like you say, it's really pushing towards a better future in the end.
What a world.
I’m worried that my kid is not getting a ‘big’ view of the world, and is instead seeing it via YouTube, and anti-Trump playground conversations (which I agree with, to be sure, but it’s not a very deep or diverse understanding of the world).
When I think back to my childhood, my view of what the world, and human society (civic society?) ‘is’ came from TV news my parents happened to be watching - and occasional glances at their newspapers.
Even though I try to consume news from wide ranging sources, my kid sees none of that; it’s all an individual pursuit.
I fear there’s also a lack of ‘coherence’ in society today, and suspect that everyone watching the same news programme was something that provided it. When we think of current events, I don’t think that we’re all even aware of things outside our ‘bubbles’ - adults are sort of aware of this. What must growing up like this be like though?
I’m considering starting to watch evening network news. One problem with that is that we don’t have a TV - just iPads, laptops, and a projector for watching movies.
I’ve also subscribed to a delivery of the newspaper on Sunday (though it’s been a month and it’s never actually been successfully delivered to my home yet...)
Who’d’ve thought we’d be lamenting the decline of TV the same way our parents lamented the decline of newspapers?!
Even if you agree with the general sentiment, imagine a child growing up whose main media sources are the informational equivalent of a cross between crack cocaine and junk food.
I am considering Amazon FreeTime Unlimited as well, I would recommend trying that before a TV though I would appreciate any anecdata on it.
Also, a shout out to https://dnslearning.org/ https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14913547 (Aug 2017) <- expanding that whole YouTube discussion might be worth your time.
> utefan001: This is how my 11 year old daughter uses YouTube now... After 30 min, DNS no longer works for entertainment sites.
(Pricing was 1 free, $10/month but I don't see any info now... boo!)
Five years ago that would have been more to avoid them from stumbling across the various types of adult content that for various reasons I would have preferred them not to view, and perhaps the HN zeitgeist would have called me a puritan (although I'm not just thinking sex and violence here, but also things like conspiracy theories and politics they are currently incapable of processing and other things ). Now, unfortunately, it's more about avoiding the brain hackers that you describe that know how to hack their brains into getting low-level addicted to that sort of garbage, and now perhaps the HN zeitgeist will be less offended at my policy that a poor defenseless six-year-old or nine-year-old in my case can't be expected to defend themselves against this level of sophistication.
(Because however stupid those videos may strike you as an adult, they are sophisticated, in their own way. The "cartoons that were just toy commercials" of my youth were nothing compared to what modern kids are being targeted by.)
The good news is that we're actually finding some channels where we have some common ground. For instance, they're really digging Homestar Runner now, and I've got some others that I can pick and choose from that we all like.
I increasingly pity the "digital natives" that didn't get to ease themselves into this world like I did. I'm not saying they're hopelessly lost; today's article about kids rebelling against social media is heartening. I'm just saying, I had a much easier on-ramp than they did. My first few years worth of youthful indiscretions are now utterly obliterated, because the dial-in BBS they were on is now long gone. I wasn't fucking up on Facebook or where the Internet Archive could find me. By the time I got on to the real internet, oh, I'm sure I could find things that would make me cringe now, but I'm pretty confident I wasn't blowing my foot off anymore.
: Oh, and I'm pleased to say that they both seem to be on track to be voracious book readers, which I think is the strongest Step One to being able to deal with the onslaught they will eventually face. My strategy here is not just mere "denial of access", as I am well aware that doesn't work into their adulthood, and my goal is to raise good adults, not good children. I'm still feeling through what my strategy is, on what is shifting sand anyhow, but there's more to it than just "shield them forever."
That one. They currently have no independent access to YouTube. (Well... technically if they knew what buttons to push where they do. I'm not using high-tech to block them. But they don't know and I'm not teaching them yet.)
Even a few years ago I might have considered this a bit much. But since "Elsa-gate" my mind on that has been changed. I know it's not just a weird conspiracy theory or something because I've even seen a couple of them pop up in my "related videos" list myself, and I don't really have a viewing profile that looks like a kids profile. (The reason why Elsa-gate is happening may be conspiracy theory related, but the brute fact that it is a thing is something I've seen first hand in my own feeds.)
The increasingly aggressive targeting behavior across the Internet is I think something not to be taken lightly. Unfortunately we're going to have to raise our children to deal with it, but my considered opinion is that the best solution before the teen age years is to just cut it off entirely. It is not as if we are leaving them adrift, the only ones without tech in an increasingly technical world; my kids play Minecraft, they've seen enough of the current YouTube videos that they can discuss them at school, their school is using technology in a halfway sensible manner so the nine-year old can already type and the six-year-old is on the way. It's only certain segments of the Internet that they are better off just locked away from.
Heck, it's not even terribly hypocritical of me... I lock myself away from those very same segments for the very same reason! I use uBlock origin pretty extensively, and whenever I see one of those bullshit Taboola blocks, I'm actively annoyed that they are so tuned that I find myself wanting to click through myself. (I'll know I've gone senile when I no longer can resist it.) I'm not magically immune to this crap, and I know it, so I avoid it. I rely on my own discipline to do it. But relying on a pre-teen's discipline is probably not a good plan.
Alternatively, there is always kids.youtube.com which is weirdly just an app for Ios/Android. I haven't tried it, and myself have actively disabled/removed all Youtube from being accessible by the younglings. Curated media, decided by me is all they get to watch then.
There might be a better article if you search deeper than I did to come up with a quick link, but here:
As you say, it's also iOS/Android only. No PC option for kids at all.
There are so many safe for any age videos that have a bunch of kids with the worst, most cynical attitudes and no respect for authority and then wholesome shows with "intense emotion" or whatever that get rated tv-14.
So I download everything and put it on a USB hard drive hooked to a media hub.
Edit: Looked into this myself just now. VLC Streamer looks decent, as does Infuse by Firecore.
You could drag an icon to the desktop for an HTML page with thumbnails if it was necessary to get fancy.
The Power of Block is powerful, and denial of it a major Internet dysfunction.
I do believe you can hack at Squid to intercept HTTPS and terminate if for you, as well as run filtering (Squidguard), also possibly Dansguardian. Though I've not fully researched this yet.
If it were possible to mitm HTTPS specifically for YouTube that would still be a lot of work, maybe a good Raspberry Pi project.
It's actually a cultural phenomenon of people making a living by buying toys and making you tube videos about them. You tube then pipes children's eyeballs to these videos.
In slashdot, PR companies working for Microsoft were operating dozens of sock puppet accounts to post copy-paste messages extolling the company for its perfection, and praising each and every single product they were announcing. Slashdotters became aware of the problem, and what appeared to be a deep collusion between those PR companies and slashdot itself to keep pushing that propaganda while persecuting vocal critics who raised attention to the problem, and started to nurture a profound dislike for the whole affair.
Some people may not like Facebook, but HN is far from the path that slashdot was driven into.
the more things change the more they stay the same.
It's not a winnable bet (at least right now), but i'd wager that groups are doing that right this very second, even here.
Techies are an important group to influence, and there are a lot of interests here. The level of discourse and discussion is fairly high here, but don't let that trick you into the naiveté that folks with vested interests here are any more honest than they are anywhere else in the world or on the net.
Perhaps, but I have no doubt that there are a substantial number of sock puppet accounts running loose here. I just wish I had enough free time to try and prove it using text analytics. Then again, I'm not sure it would make any difference anyway.
I'm curious as I don't remember things as being that bad - no expectations of any unwanted research just for my sake though!
I'm not sure Slashdot's users ever really understood how much time and energy Rob expended defending the site from user-hostile changes tossed without concern from the upper echelons of the org chart.
The domain is parked now.
But yeah, the trolls pretty much ruined it, life lesson. Rusty turned up running a Mastodon instance, though I haven't seen him for a few months.
I just visited sporadically and noticed focus drifted from tech related and interesting to political and sometimes into conspiracy theory areas around the time when I stopped visiting.
Both the quality / topic of posts, and of discussion, faded quickly.
I started using Slashdot in ‘97. I remember back then you had a cron to update the front page and we figured out you only run it every 10 minutes, so I built small shell script on my Linux desktop that would pop up a notification reminding me to reload slashdot every 10 minutes.
My second memory was when I was working for Sendmail. Because we were “famous” and appeared on Slashdot for every Sendmail release, one of my first jobs was helping the senior admins set up a new web server for Sendmail.org. I was told by the creators of Sendmail “this server must be able to handle getting Slashdotted.”
So we bought the biggest Dell server we could find, put it in Level 3 in San Francisco (back when they still hosted things — that datacenter is now Dropbox’s HQ), and then I asked the creator of Bind if he could secondary my DNS on a.root-servers.net. When he actually replied and said yes I felt huge pressure to get that entry right and was a bit starstruck.
I was also awestruck as I was doing tail -f on the logs and we hit Slashdot for the first time after setting up the server. I couldn’t believe one site could send that much traffic.
If it weren’t for you none of that would have happened, so thanks Rob!
I did something similar but then at some point I ended up blocking slashdot.org in my hosts file because it was killing my ability to focus or get work done. I need a beowulf cluster of attention at work.
I used to have one of those! Sadly, Natalie Portman filled it with hot grits.
Supports not only friends and foes but also friends of friends and foes of friends. Makes it easy to scan the HN homepage and comment threads and see what’s good. Much like how Slashdot’s friend foe system highlighted the good stuff in threads.
- You cannot both moderate and comment on the same article.
- Limited moderation points (too limited on Slashdot arguably, but better than infinite up/down votes).
- They didn't have up/down, but a system of "Interesting", "Informative", "Off-Topic" and a few others. These are the same as up/down votes in the end, but make you classify postings.
- Set threshold to (say) 3 and quickly see only the +3 interesting comments on an article.
- Meta-moderation didn't work well, but was an interesting idea.
Why would anybody want to?
Slashdot didn't need to limit voting so severely. And it turns out replies to funny comments are usually funny and interesting comments are usually interesting.
They also never scaled it - +5 was the maximum from when an article might top out at 200 comments or 5000 comments.
I might be misremembering things, but I seem to recall that it was also possible to assign boost points to these in your user settings - i.e. so that Interesting posts would be treated as +2 rather than +1, for example.
On Slashdot, you simply add them to a friend or for list. On Fark, you get to flag them in certai colors and then leave yourself a note (other people can't see it but admins probably can) that I use to remind me of why I put them on the list.
I'd like a combination of those two things. A simple friend/foe list with comments that show next to their name. I'd have no use for ignore functionality. Also, I usually use said note to write polite things that help me remember the user.
I think it encourages getting to know the other people and humanizes the pixels on the screen. Both sites have led to my meeting people in real life and making real life friendships. That's easier, for me at least, when I can more easily identify them as individuals and remember them.
I didn't create an account on /. since AC was easy and I mostly lurk anyway but I always enjoyed the insights that everyone brought.
I remember either around the time of the revelation of the NSA phone closets there was a guy who used to do SIGINT and he posted a bunch on how to avoid surveillance. I think he had moved to the Philippines, sometimes what happened to him.
Just wanted to say hi and that you seem like an interesting guy!
NB: the icons beside your name are for "model", "traffic", "acquired" and "phd"
I do understand that not everyone interacts with every site in the same way, and I personally do not approach every online community in the same way. So, I say, to each their own. The use of a friend/foe system seems to impose a bit of centralized structure, however, and I'm not sure how comfortable I am with the idea of enumerating to some website exactly whom I prefer as people, when I'm constantly trying to reevaluate and expand that in myself.
Slashdot is interesting in that it is one of the remaining bastions of (at least superficially) anonymous discussion. There are apparently several strata of users: some don't read anything by anonymous cowards, some don't read posts by their foes, and some only use the site anonymously. It makes me curious about how these different self-selected filter bubbles might give different perceptions of the discussion to different participants. Personally I have great difficulty engaging in public discussion without trying to read and understand as many diverse opinions as possible - I feel as though otherwise I'd be speaking out of ignorance.
EDIT: On occasion (at least speaking for myself) we don't like someone because they remind us of something about ourselves we try not to acknowledge or think about. Blocking their posts en masse can deprive us of an opportunity to explore this and grow.
So if your approach is to "try to avoid interacting with them", it just automates that.
But wouldn't this sort of create your own cozy echo chamber, where all opinion is streamlined?
I think it would be interestring going the other way around, a bit like some sub Reddits don't show comment score for a day or two, to not cause self reinforcement in moderation.
Maybe even take it a bit further by anonymizing the commenter's name for a limitid time, could be interesting as the comment would then rely fully on content, not reputation or score feedback reinforcement.
Well, I didn't really mean that I don't read or listen to what they have to say. I just choose not to engage with it.
Hey - it's a little hard to see the splits like foe of a friend (I'm red/green color blind), what's an easy way to tweak the colors?
EDIT: I unpacked it and tweaked the CSS. Wooo!
It's not compatible currently with Hacker Smacker, but fixing that takes one line of tweaking.
It's not currently compatible with Hacker News Enhancement Suite. Quickest solution I found was to change a line in findCurrentUser(), but just FYI. It would've been a deal-breaker for me.
Looking forward to playing around with this :).
- open the folder for the extension (name of folder can be found in the extensions screen in Chrome)
- edit client.js
- go to line 25 or the function 'findCurrentUser'
- replace with this.me = $('.pagetop .nav-links #my-more-link').text()
I do have my own system on following/starring PoI in HN, using no extension at all, so I can instantly know who's comment is more useful
no banning though, since valuable nuggets on knowledge can come from anyone
whomever you want to take interest to, will pops up in 'Visited Link' color, the rest just normal URL
obviously works best in less-hyperlink sites like HN, wikipedia quite tolerable
Also based on the 2nd degree information, friends of friends and such.
I would use it behind the scenes to look for bad accounts too. Someone with lots of foes would be a candidate for some silent moderation.
Note though that anyone can look up who has them flagged as foe on /..
I still think that the moderation and meta-moderation was one of the most interesting experiments in a self-governing commenting system, even though it was clear that it was mostly a failure in the long run. My conclusion is that a site needs hands-on human moderation to maintain quality.
Slashdot is also a perfect example of the general life-cycle of cool social site. Humble beginnings -> lots of interesting people -> own little subculture -> lots of interesting content with some impenetrable in-jokes -> existing userbase ages out as they get jobs or have kids -> less interesting content, more in-jokes -> owners sell -> dry husk of a site remains.
1. Group #1 joins who care about site
2. Group #1 improves site. Sense of "community" keeps things in check.
3. Site grows in popularity and group #2 joins
4. Site loses sense of community and ability to moderate itself effectively.
5. Group #1 leaves
Others tend to become Generation Ships of the founder culture. I'd put the Well in that category, as the userbase still seems to be strongly focused on the original cohort. Some fresh blood is necessary.
Actually: the idea of a university as an intentional community that tends to survive over time has occurred to me. Not fully assured, but there are an impressive number of centuries-old instances.
And, continuing that thought: YC emulates a critical element of that dynamic, in having regular incoming classes.
People like to complain about heavy-handed moderation but all the experiments to try and build self-moderating communities eventually get overrun with trolls and (worse) self-promoters.
Any automated system will eventually be gamed, something that even huge sites like twitter and youtube are starting to realize now that state-level actors are using them for their own purposes.
And despite occasional (and strong) disagreements with dang and sctb, they do a really good job on HN.
After you make your peace with that, theres an entire world of rules and theories on moderation, all of it useful and important to get the job done.
The cheat code to cut through that mess is -
"I'm coming to agree that theres no substitute for good editorial control"
Trust me on this, the proof is to painful to reproduced regularly.
(You're going to have to try harder for an argument ;-)
Like teachers, now editors are another social good that we need to manage information dissemination optimized for civilization's good.
I've been exploring this topic, as a particular focus over the past year, though it's been an interest for some years.
If you look back to the Catholic inquisition (and its precursors), Gutenberg, Martin Luther (500th anniversary coming up at the end of October), J.S. Mill (I've run across some excellent discussion by Hans Jensen: https://www.reddit.com/r/dredmorbius/comments/6x7u6a/on_the_... and http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00346760110081599 (available via Sci-Hub)).
Before what date do you think people can be group #1? Or are you ascribing the group number to contributions rather than date of joining?
So after a few months of lurking, I registered here, and now it's my daily go-to site.
 Hourly. :)
So there were the people who got here first, then the people who discovered the site in 2008, which was a long time ago, and have fair claim to being 'group 2'.
So I think 'Group 3' is me. A defining characteristic of 'Group 3' is that goes back to pre-Snowden times, before the truth was known. Kids today must be 'Group 4'.
This reminds me of A Brief History of Who Ruined Burning Man:
I still consider my mid 4-digits slashdot id a mark of pride. It's also a great regret that I had spent a significant amount of time on the site before a friend convinced me to finally register an account. I'm pretty sure I could have been in the 3 digit club.
I too remember slashdot fondly, but the webbernets are a very different place today—more fractured, self-selected into groups, more appealing to the masses, less wild west freedom.
cmdrtaco announced his site on irc and i happened to see it in the first few days.
I just checked and was shocked I remembered my password there.
Hats off to Rob! I owe you, dude. We all do :-)
Frankly these days Ars Technica could just as well be relabeled Apple Technica. The site scuttled their coverage of FOSS and similar under prominent sections, while the Apple stuff keep leaking out from their "infinite loop" section.
These days if it is not Apple related, it gets binned under their generic "gadgets" section.
And this from the site that got me interested in Linux in the first place back when it was black and orange, and housed a multipage introduction to Linux internals.
slashdot, ars, anandtech were foundational websites to me growing up - amazing that this was 17+ years ago
 Wow, the moderators couldn't even tell I was complimenting the guy.
And not as much the politics, as the feeling that the site has become more "partisan" in the tech world.
Ars Technica has been a bittersweet story for years in all of the communities / circles that I hang out at. Some of their articles are great journalism. Others make you pine for "the good old days".
I wish they'd bring back Computer Gaming World. That was the gold standard of computer journalism. You can actually find PDF's of every issue ever released online and if you compare them to today, they used to be so methodical and objective. They didn't read like advertisements and there was no forced-in message about the political climate. You didn't read about Battle Chess and get shamed for liking that the Queen looked pretty.
The whole anti-Microsoft movement on /. Thy were the evil empire and Google was saintly. It’s funny how times change.
The weather station we sent you in hopes of doing a promotion for our weather equipment site, weathertools.com.
OOG THE CAVEMAN. He was DevOpsBorat at least a decade before Twitter.
The launch of Mac OS X and the launch of the first titanium PowerBook.
That CPU startup that Linus was a part of. Most disappointing build-up ever. LOL
Yeah, Transmeta. That whole "stealth mode" startup mystery kept the buzz going.
Re Microsoft the evil empire: it was deserved at the time. But it's nice to see they have a better reputation these days.
I well remember after reading Slashdot for a few months
and then finding out that they were in West Michigan and being absolutely floored.
Fun fact one of Rob's friends who helped found the company is now a professor at Michigan State University:
... as well as some of those that would eventually become someone. Like Mark Zuckerberg  who co-built an MP3 player that learns your taste  in 2003:
> "It looks like they're both college freshmen now. But last year, Adam D'Angelo went to Korea for the IOI contest. Apparently, the other one is a smart guy too. A friend at Exeter said Mark Zuckerberg was a bigshot in math there and had some interesting coding projects of his own. Go figure."
if the guy knew...
I did a book review on there, way back when, and I meet Rob and Hemos at the Atlanta Linux Showcase (I guess it was 1997 or 1998) as I took part in the "Loki Hack" (they might have brought food, I don't fully remember.) I don't know how to fully describe it but I was a fresh out of school engineer at IBM, generally introverted and shy, and I somehow felt like I needed "permission" to take part in opensource and the community. Not permission from work, that was actually very very easy, but more like "where do you start" and I didn't want to look like a fool. Someone else was running a project and I had some ideas and had no idea if my ideas meshed with their mission. It's just easy to stand on the sideline and talk about stuff, but you sort of have to take a risk and put yourself out there to take part, and maybe I needed "permission" to do that. The slashhdot guys were particularly down to earth, and laid back and totally welcoming, Hemos even told me that they could probably send me more books to review if I was up to it, just made me feel totally welcome for my fairly trivial contribution. I think it's really easy to turn away newbs with a bad experience and these guys didn't do that. A big website and a business are some neat things to be a part of and to have created, but to be really early members of a new community and to do that well and welcome people and grow it and nurture it is a major accomplishment.
However, I stopped going at some point because I felt I was in an "echo chamber". Actually that's how I started visiting Reddit and later Hacker News. I liked HackerNews because it had some contrasting values compared to slashdot, valuing "for profit" software efforts, and having more technically focused comments.
I miss the enthusiasm of that community.
My only regret is that I missed out on a two-digit user ID when you added registration, because I figured it probably wouldn't catch on (boy, was I wrong!) and I didn't comment much anyway.
Thanks Rob, and best of luck!
Yeah, they had good concentration of people "who were someone". HN had similar thing going on too; I wonder what's the next one is going to be...
20 years ago the web was a much smaller place, and a few billion people currently online weren't even aware that the place existed.
Now, the population has exploded and there will be lots of different sites, all good in different ways, to "nurture the next generation of nerds". In different languages, too.
Growth, evolution -- all good.
I don't agree. People tent to congregate on online forums that achieved critical mass, and tend to flock where everyone already is. Plenty of slashdot alternatives, including slashdot clones, were already launched across the ages, and they never succeeded attracting the same level of content and same sort of community. Well, except HN which, at least to me, represents a far improvement.
I don't know if it is nostalgia, but I recall preferring /.'s articles from 15ish years ago (compared to what /. and HN have today). Maybe that is a reflection of the news at the time, my age, the communities' interests, or a combination of the above.
With HN, I wish I could filter Valley specific news ("Zucktown, USA" would be a recent example). HN aims for news for both Jobs and Woz types, where I think /. was really focused on just "News for Nerds, stuff that matters." That's all I really wanted.
So in terms of articles, I don't know what to believe. But I know that HN's community is more civil than /.'s, and this is one of the few sites on the web where I read the comment section.
For quite a while, that was even referred to as being 'slashdotted'...
These days, a lot of what used to catch some well-deserved flak has been refined and corrected for. The things that deserve criticism lately are a little more obtuse, and it's hard not to sound like a whiny, petulant critic, when everything's not perfect. #firstworldproblems
Throughout the years, I'd turn to /. to keep up to date on latest shakings and goings ons. I first heard about MythTV there back in the heady days before the home media landscape was bought up and "civilized". I got to see a constant reminders of the failings for the RIAA and so....many....patent troll cases. I remember the crap packt publishing reviews too - basically getting someone to pimp their book. Tons of discussions on cell phones and where the technology was going before Apple did put out the 3g phone and created the walled gardens we have today...then reading about the jailbreaking and what not that was created.
I owe a lot to /. for helping shape me into the slightly jaded but functional developer I am today.
One of my fondest memories was the time we did an Oktoberfest party on the 10th anniversary of /. We were the only party in the state I think.
I notice that they have since stopped labeling reruns with a original post date in the upper right corner.
Through it i discovered the EFF, the jargon file, the FSF, and much else (hot grits, anyone?), and I miss that community. I haven't spent any serious time there in about 8 years.
I still have my slashdot account (number 3148), but rarely use it. I can well imagine the "complicated feelings" that Rob has, and wanted to add my voice to the many saying that Slashdot was an important Internet space.
A lesson to reflect upon--monetizing is ok when it doesn't kill your userbase. My ID is under 5000 (cue the older ID replies) and I refuse to give them pageviews now.
The redesign wasn't what killed it. The constant astroturfing and (what I assumed to be) collusion between astroturfers and site maintainers killed it real dead.
> The redesign wasn't what killed it. The constant astroturfing and (what I assumed to be) collusion between astroturfers and site maintainers killed it real dead.
Agreed; I remember the day they started advertising the Apple marketing conventions and thought "who put Apple on my Linux site? This isn't 'news for nerds; stuff that matters'". The influx of microsoft apologists and apple shills soon after is what killed it for me, and I had been there for a long time (not since the beginning, but still user 32752; so close to a power of two!).
Still, I'm eternally grateful to Rob Malda. Great community, great moderation system, and a site that was unique. I'll wager we shall not look upon it's like again soon.
But then the astroturfing problem blew up and in no time killed slashdot. The community tolerated trolls, even the infamous GNAA, but slashdot's industrial-level astroturfing campaigns in what I believe to be collulsion with site maintainers was something that was massively abhorrent.
Puny 5 mod points once every few months is not a way to instill a sense of belonging. Imagine being able to upvote a post or a comment on HN only once a month, and passively watch random stuff of questionable quality float up the rest of the time. That ruined /. for me and I suspect I wasn't alone in that.
To be fair, they pretty much invented user moderation, Slashdot was an early experiment with user curated discussions. That they never saw past the 5 mod points is understandable, it was a foundation the site was based on, and seeing past one's foundations can be hard.
They also had to likely balance against malicious users, who were a less small % of the user base than on other sites.
It was only when I realized that having an account still allowed me to post as an AC that I finally made one.
I wish AC was still a thing for popular websites like reddit, HN, etc. Just start off the comment at -1 or something...
What really amazes me more than anything though, is how willing some of us are to trust Microsoft all of a sudden. They did damage to the software and web communities that will take us decades to recover from, but with another round of "embrace", we are right back in the old loop. Reminding people of their history is now considered rude; our own communities have been co-opted by the MS PR machine.
It's possible that with different moderation, notifications, blocking, and post mechanics this might have been less of a problem. But the site's design and architecture more or less perfectly amplified everything that could possibly go wrong with the concept.
It died in less than a year after going public. I'd anticipated it wouldn't go well, but that it failed that hard and fast surprised me.
I've only been back, by accident, a handful of times when a "short link" actually expanded out to slashdot, and every time, I closed the page as soon as I realized where the shortened url was really headed.
Sadly nothing really recaptured the spirit of the first few years, and it can't. The internet isn't the Wild West any more, you're not using it over dial up from a box room staring down a CRT, times change, and you can never go home.
I still wonder sometimes if it's a shift in the Slashdot audience specifically - seeing how movements like neo-reaction have been springing up in the tech community in the past few years - or it just mirrors the increased polarization in American society (I know Slashdot has international audience - heck, I was a part of it for a long time - but it's definitely US-centric).