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Slashdot and SourceForge sold to Dice Holdings (yahoo.com)
170 points by thenextcorner on Sept 18, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 152 comments

I remember that wonderful day in 2007 when I noticed that there was a little news aggregator bodged onto the back end of Paul Graham's essay blog and I thought to myself "wow, this is like /. only it doesn't suck so much".

Yeah, but /. was the shiz for a long time. I joined in 1998 and it dominated my online social life for about 5 years.

The day of 9/11, the release of Linux kernel 2.4, and when my story submission got published were all memorable events for me there.

Probably a big reason I'm divorced now.

There should be a rule of clue flight somewhere. But it's a highly established pattern: great minds seek out a high s/n forum, it becomes established. Over time the s/n ratio falls. How long that is varies greatly (this is a problem that greatly pre-dates the Internet), and can be affected by various exclusion mechanisms (moderation, subscription, rate-limiting, etc.).

Eventually, though, most forums fall prey to low-value contributors. There may still be gems (and often there are more and bigger/brighter gems even in the age of noise than in the heralded golden age, there's just a heck of a lot more noise), but the perception is of spoiled ground.

LOL, I had roughly the same experience. I'd already moved onto Digg (before it was went downhill) and then to Reddit. But if I'm looking for more serious (if sometimes negative) technology conversation, this right here is the epicenter.

This was exactly my experience.

/. then Digg and then Reddit.

I got tired of reddit being too political and too liberal (although I am a liberal myself) so I was hoping/looking for something else.

Then in a StackOverflow podcast Jeff and Joe was talking about a new place where all the cool kids hung out. They didn't want to say the name in fear of it being overrun and ruined.

With a little research I found HN and haven't left since.

"I got tired of reddit being too political and too liberal (although I am a liberal myself) so I was hoping/looking for something else."

Unsubscribe from /r/politics

Well back then I was just reading the main feed.

This is the same path I took too. It must be a really obvious cycle we're all participating in. When a community gets to some set size, the number of cock-gobbling assholes who post mean things that contribute nothing becomes larger than the smart and thoughtful people.

I swear, this almost always occurs right around the same time that these news sites start complaining about not making enough money...

The question is, is there some other group that has already superseded HN? I haven't heard of any thus far. HN is still pretty good though so I have not bothered to look.

my thoughts exactly. The only group I could think of is LessWrong but that's a different main topic and can hardly be called superseding HN.


The thinking there is: Only links about development of software, no entrepreneurial stuff.

seems as if there also isn't any comments stuff

it's the old community chicken & egg problem, people go for the comments, but unless there are enough 'seed' users the comments aren't there to attract the others. Then along come the trolls and disruptors and before you know it, the community forks and the whole process starts over.

Lobste.rs has an interesting way of handling the influx of trolls and such by making the site invite-only. If someone ends up being banned, so does whomever invited them.

Trolls are a Madserati problem for lobsters.

Are you trying to push HN into the trash heap too? You comment is wholly inappropriate.

HN's been in the trash heap for the better part of six months now. Been looking for a replacement.

Please hurry.


go there now.

>>Then in a StackOverflow podcast Jeff and Joe was talking about a new place where all the cool kids hung out. They didn't want to say the name in fear of it being overrun and ruined.<<

That is the same way I found out about this place. Or was it the other way around? Anyway, one led to the other.

I agree - Digg is a good example of how creators can kill a community, and Reddit is a good example of how overall community quality is inversely related to size.

In late 2008, I attended an "open-source CEO" dinner, at which I was coincidentally seated between the CEOs of SourceForge and CollabNet (principal developer and supporter of the Subversion VCS). I asked the CollabNet CEO what he thought about Git, and he was dismissive, indicating that Subversion had already won as the definitive open-source VCS. I then asked the SourceForge CEO if he knew about GitHub; he was vaguely familiar with them, but appeared utterly unconcerned that they might be a threat. I thought to myself, All the battles have been fought and lost, and these guys don't even know there's a war.

I've been posting on Slashdot since the early 2000s and have stayed on the site primarily for its community; the higher-modded comments tend to come from some pretty intelligent people. Unfortunately it seems like the current staff don't really understand why the community that is there remains and have been trying out a shotgun blast of different strategies recently: Slashdot TV, SlashBI, SlashCloud, SlashDataCenter... I just want to discuss IT with intelligent people. If they only got that the community is their power, they might be able to make the site more relevant again. It seems like when Rob Malda knew something was going on behind the scenes when he quit last year. (For more, read his AMA: http://www.topiama.com/r/137/iam-rob-cmdrtaco-malda-founder-... )

At least there's HN if this latest sale makes /. go south completely.

With slashdot being sold for that little, I am still holding out hopes for Rob somehow getting his hands on the site again, gutting it, and bringing it back to its old (albeit not really profitable) glory.

Rob would have to start something new. Actually, I think some new young punks would need to build something up. Slashdot, SourceForge, the whole VALinux experience was a sort of magical time when it happened. Not sure it will again. Really it was all anchored around Linux and this idea that we as a community could do it all without MS or IBM or whoever. Hard to really explain it all, if you were around in the late 1980s, the industry was very much top down, MS or IBM handed users stuff to use and then there was some freeware. As GNU and Linux got larger and became real, there was a dramatic cultural shift and the world just isn't the same anymore. (Hell, compilers and dev tools use to cost thousands of dollars and that's just how it was, when I was a kid, I actually couldn't get a compiler unless I pirated it)

What I'd like to see is a mix of slashdot, reddit and hn where you have to pay something, $5 a la metafilter just to weed out the bastards.

Not saying it won't happen again but it'll be different next time, Google, Apple and company give the community enough that the completely free community isn't nearly as addictive as it was back then.

$5 to weed out all except the bastard operators from hell, but yeah.

That would have had to been one hell of a kickstarter ;)

No reason it can't be one now. Make membership in the site exclusive with a donation, a minimum of $10 gets you first years membership and donations above $10 are used to assign visible user ids by sorting from highest to lowest donator.

You just have to first convince Dice that they spent to much on it! ;)

I have very little perspective here, but this seems like a low price for /. and SourceForge ($20M). The article states that last year alone the two sites brought in that much revenue, but I'd assume they weren't bought if the purchaser didn't think there was growth potential.

They are basically internet retirement communities. They have a stable population until the population starts to die off. Except with a normal retirement home, there are always new old people joining. No sane person under 45 really wants to be around the /. "we hate everything" crowd or whatevertheheck sf.net turned into.

The number of users on Slashdot is quite transparent, given that you can see the growth in user ID numbers over time. It doesn't seem to support your position.

I'm also rather disappointed to see the stereotype "we hate everything" characterisation of Slashdot from a couple of posters here. That's like saying HN is just full of college kids who think making a social web app with geolocation and a REST API is going to turn them into gazillionaires when they pivot to something useful (after all, the idea doesn't matter, it's the people who count) and then get acquired by Facebook for the GDP of a small country.

Obviously there really are quite a few young, delusional people on HN, but I don't think most of us spend time here because of those people. Obviously there really are quite a few very negative/selfish people on Slashdot, but I don't think most of us who spend time there do it because of those people, either.

Incidentally, as I write this, Slashdot's home page is full of topics that might have been (and in several cases have been) popular on HN as well: several articles on new technologies, several popular science articles, commentary on issues like piracy and privacy, and so on. There are some decent comments in the related discussions, too.

That all said, I don't go to Slashdot as much as I used to. Partly that's because they keep messing around with (and often breaking) the basic design and functionality of the site. Partly it's because a lot of the stories are old news by the time they get past the editors, and they've already hit the front pages of HN, relevant subreddits, etc. Partly it's because the discussions are too big for a simple chronological ordering to really work and the system for filtering by moderation score doesn't seem to help much. All of these things make the site more frustrating than it used to be, and I suspect if Slashdot is indeed on the way out there will be plenty of places to point fingers.

But please can we not descend to the level of "Oh, those people on {other site} are just {arbitrary negative stereotype}". Such generalisations can be levelled at any popular forum site on the Web, and they're about as useful in each case.

I beg to differ: the characterization is well-deserved. I'm a habitual Slashdot reader, since 1998.

The topics on Slashdot are about the same quality as they were last 5-7 years--not great, but still nice and "relevant to my interests." The wording of the article summaries is still pro-Linux anti-Microsoft (and now) anti-Apple inflammatory, and still hilariously poorly edited or vetted. However, that was always a charm of the site, in a way.

The difference is that some 5 years ago, in the face of an anti-Microsoft post, for example, people would chime and say "You know, actually I have developed a great project with ASP.NET and here's why it's good and worked well for me." Or people would post detailed responses, like we see on Hackernews.

Now, I've come to a point where I see so little of those good comments and so much of the inflammatory or ignorant or terribly-humored comments, that it's just not worth my time anymore. I can get the headlines from anywhere else and in the tech world, it's the discussion behind the headlines that's the valuable thing.

I've said this here before, as a long time /. reader.

The value of /. is that occasionally the clueless masses will piss off someone with actual knowledge, enough to set people straight with a long, detailed post.

Yeah, way back before HN/reddit/digg existed, one of the coolest things about /. was that every so often somebody like John Carmack would pop up and comment on a story they had direct knowledge about.

Back around 2000 that was pretty novel.

There's actually a technique to this, going back to Usenet. You can draw out the answer you want this way, by saying something technically incorrect as if it were correct.

There should be an Internet rule or law named for this

Hereby coined "James's Law"

"Given a large enough crowd, someone is bound to know what in the hell they're talking about."

"...and enough cretins who will anger her/him into telling everyone how it really is."

I am deeply honored :)

The key to /. is the same as it has always been. Set your threshold to 3 or so and it becomes a delightful site.

I set that up in 2002 or so and still visit weekly for fun.

Well, I had this one specifically in mind when I declared them haters: http://apple.slashdot.org/story/12/09/12/1723204/apple-annou... -- it's all sarcasm, actual basement dwelling hate, 3rd grade humour, and very little sanity.

Your point about the system being subtly broken is spot-on. Sane people have moved on because of the subtle breakages. The site ends up full of older people who either a.) haven't realized the world is bigger and better things exist or b.) started using /. when it was new and somehow developed a perverse loyalty to "the first tech discussion site" and they refuse to move on. People stuck in their ways don't make the best conversational partners.

Obviously not everybody there is bad, but the baddies shift the tone of the discussion towards lunacy.

I think there needs to be a new rule of the internet, something along the lines of "the worst, troll-y content of any news aggregation site will always be found in a story about Apple".

There are few companies out there more polarising in internet discussion these days.

>There are few companies out there more polarising in internet discussion these days.

I don't think they're trolls per se, but it's divided between worshipers,haters and those who don't see the point of worshiping or hating a multinational company motivated by profit.


No wonder the discussion degenerates into people who see the light vs. the people who don't.

For example, from Gruber's take on the iPhone 5 event:

>And what shows they were. When Schiller unveiled the iPhone 5, it rose from the stage floor on a smoothly-rising and rotating pedestal, pinpoint spotlights hitting the phone and only the phone. The rotation of the iPhone atop the pedestal was in perfect sync with the rotation of the iPhone projected on the big screen at the back of the stage. There’s no store where you buy such pedestals; Apple designed and engineered it specifically for this event. It was on stage for about a minute.

>Likewise, when Cook introduced the show-closing Foo Fighters, the screen rose and from behind the screen slid the band, on a raised dais that smoothly rolled to the front of the stage. Such stagecraft is one of the rewards Apple can reap from its $100 billion (and growing) war chest

For people on the opposite sides on the Apple fan spectrum, those two paragraphs elicit very different emotional responses. One HN comment said reading it make him/her feel physically sick while an Apple fan might get goosebumps.

Also curious is the fact that the Apple blogger network Gruber/Siegler etc. seem to be very bent on hating on and being snarky on all things not-Apple and rivals i.e Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Twitter, Facebook etc.

When I open a /. discussion, I expect that most of the highly-rated comments are marked Funny because they're dripping with snark or are marked Insightful when they're decidedly wrong.

That doesn't make for good conversation.

Honestly, at this point the lag is kind of the draw with Slashdot. Once a story has shown up elsewhere, you can go there 6 hours later or the next day and everyone has had time to mull over the story.

Scroll down to the middle of the page past the typical trash comments and you can find some useful info, often from old hands who have had a some first hand knowledge of the subject.

Of course that is also the downside. Every troll, malcontent, joker and astroturfer has had a good 6 hours to harden their position.

The Classic Discussion System is still available and works fine. I wouldn't go to /. if it wasn't for that, though.

> That's like saying HN is just full of college kids who think making a social web app with geolocation and a REST API is going to turn them into gazillionaires when they pivot to something useful (after all, the idea doesn't matter, it's the people who count) and then get acquired by Facebook for the GDP of a small country.

A lot of us get that impression, here. Some of us were underneath founders exactly like that and have good reason to be suspect.

Not sure about sourceforge. It lost its lustre to github, but there are still a lot of good project there.

freshmeat/freecode is really great. Lots of great software there (I liked the old name better)

Browsing the freecode frontpage is far more satisfying than the HN page because it's all about real code that does something and very little hype and BS.

Reading Sourceforge is not unlike reading magazines at the dentist's office while awaiting a root canal. All the magazines are old, dog-eared, and full of things you don't care about and the environment is extremely disconcerting.

This latest redesign takes Sourceforge from Slashdot-flavored ugly into domain-squatter horrendous.

True for the html layout, but not the content (the projects/code). For a code site layout in the end is very secondary.

Besides github is doing its best to compete on the "largest number of useless buttons/toolbars on the webpage" front with sf. I also found that finding something based on keywords works better on sf than on guthub.

For code, layout is everything.

Consider how excruciating it is to try and view source code on SourceForge compared with GitHub. On the latter you are literally shown a listing of files with the README already open for any given repository.

Sourceforge has this absolutely useless "Download" link where you have to grab an archive, extract it, dump it into your text editor, and only then will you find out it's not what you want.

It is not an understatement to suggest that Sourceforge is by people with no idea about open source.

It is not an understatement to suggest that Sourceforge is by people with no idea about open source.

This comment is quite simply out of line. SourceForge played a crucial role in the promotion and distribution of Open Source software well over a decade ago. It was the first successful repository that freed projects from the uncertainty of university or personal web hosting, it provided collaborative development tools and multi-developer project management years ahead of Github's very existence, and continues to distribute some of the biggest names in Open Source.

Learn your history! (Man, I feel old saying that)

SourceForge wasn't SourceForge back then, it was other things that were later aggregated into it. I've been on the internet before there were browsers, so I know my history.

Freshmeat was never a spectacular platform, but it was the de-facto open-source distribution center at the time. It played an important role in that environment, but was more of a distribution channel than a collaboration tool.

Today SourceForge is the GeoCities of source hosting. It has almost no redeeming features.

SourceForge may have started as something else, but it was already SourceForge by 2000. Check out my account, created January of 2000: http://sourceforge.net/users/nitrogen

It's not my intention to try to one up others with my four-digit UID. All I'm saying is, I was there, I was heavily involved in Open Source at the time, and SourceForge was critical.

Edit to add: Geocities was pretty important to the development of the web, too. Part of me prefers the days when everyone made their own eye-gouging web site instead of relying on Facebook. There was a much more eclectic selection of content available back then.

> There was a much more eclectic selection of content available back then.

Really? On Geocities and the web in the 90s?

Just because you stopped looking for new content and 'web rings' fell out of style, doesn't mean it all went away and the only thing on the Internet is now Facebook. There are nearly 200M active websites on the Internet, with 55M of those alone being Wordpress sites (which I'd suggest is in competition with Tumblr, et. al to inherit the 'geocities' throne). In 2000, there weren't even 50M individual websites.

I think you might be viewing history through some rose-colored glasses, open source or otherwise.

I do agree that SF.net (and /.) played a central role in Open Source, and was fantastic at the time. It's a well worn turd now, compared to it's younger, more nimble competition.

It does have the benefit that it only (afaik) hosts OSS though - as was mentioned the other day, there are thousands of projects where the code is available on github, but there's no license allowing any form of derivative or other use.

I remember the early 90s web being full of electronic DIY pages with very interesting projects and tutorials.

Nowadays, it is kind of hard to find good sites specialized in that which are free.

Oh, and back then there we did not need to install adblock plus to make navigating the web a bearable experience.

Github would never have existed without SF. That isn't to defend what SF has become, but to put it in context; to pretend that all its progeny (and they are exactly that) somehow don't owe something to that (not reverence, but just an acknowledgement...because that actually does matter as a learning exercise) is a bit daft.

Download contains the easy to use end-packages for users. I guess this is because it's more aimed at end-users which usually look for exactly that package first. Developers can certainly also browse code online - you just have to go into the "develop" or "code" sections of a project (you can find the code from both).

It's possible that I'm misunderstanding Sourceforge's goals, but for a site that is ostensibly about hosting software development, having the developer-oriented part of the experience be less convenient than that of an end-user seems backwards. I'm ashamed to say that I've never had anything on either Github or Sourceforge, but Github seems to be very much about sharing the sources, whereas Sourceforge seems to be much more about conveniently distributing the project's binaries.

This is probably largely related to the behavior of their users, though: Github's interface is not a lot more informative than Sourceforge's if no one writes a useful readme, and there have frequently been well-written projects hosted on Sourceforge that have lots of good information on how it works, or how to use it. However, I rarely seem to hear about new projects at Sourceforge, and frequently do see stuff at Github that has well-written introductory documentation accompanying the sources.

I frequently want to read about projects that solve interesting problems, but might not have the interest in installing or using it. Moreover, many people seem to now be using Github as a "Host my interesting document easily" host, which reinforces the "I go to Github to read code / read about code" perception. I'm sure a large part of it is confirmation bias, since most of the interesting code-related things I read about here are hosted at Github. ;)

Yes, it is very user orientated. Offering users free software with access to sources for those which are interested. And well, for a lot of software that just makes sense. Maybe not for the kernel or for web-development, but a lot for typical desktop software. SF isn't just about source-hosting, it's about hosting complete projects including distribution of binary packages, allowing that projects use custom homepages (instead of scary source-browsing...) and even support for user (and developer) forums.

I don't think it's that hard to see that this is still preferable for many projects.

You know what scary source browsing is? SourceForge.


Seriously? That's the best they can do?

It's definitely worse for reading through complete project code. For reading a single-file it's one click more than github which I can live with. It's very nice for getting a quick view on file-based changes, why and when someone did them and I use that interface a lot for that. I find it way easier figuring out file changes there than in github. SF is generally a lot slower (sometimes so horrible slow that browsing is near impossible). GitHub on the other hand sometimes freezes my browser when it has a lot of syntax highlighting to do (not sure if it still does, been a few months since I last run into that).

They have different ways to present code with different design targets and different problems. I prefer GitHub for reading code online without having to check-out, I prefer SF when already working with a project where I have the code locally and using the online interface to hunt for changes.

It may have lost its luster, but SourceForge is a far more popular site than Github. Granted SourceForge is more for apps and Github is more for code, so SF gets more visitors stopping in to download apps like Pidgin, OpenOffice, GIMP, PortableApps.com, etc.

Many profitable businesses tail off very slowly over years, throwing off excellent revenue in the process. Last year, for example, AOL made $175 million off 3 million customers who still subscribe to its dial-up business.[1] Those businesses can become even more profitable in the near term if your strategy is to cut marketing/operating costs to the bone and "ride them down". It sounds very mercenary, but that can be the right approach when there is no growth potential.

[1] http://www.splatf.com/2012/07/aol-3million-chart/

My dad is one of those 3 million dial-up subscribers - but not by choice. He doesn't use dial-up, hasn't had a PC with a modem in it for several years, but every time he calls AOL to cancel they give him six months to a year of free service.

Without a modem, why even take AOL up on the free six months to a year of service? It just means you'll have to call again in 6 months, and so on.

Subscriber numbers themselves can be useful, even if only to count as possible future revenue or marketing.

Presumeably because calling every six months or so is easier than telling people your new email address.... I honestly don't understand it myself.

The email service is free.

Why everyone is so obsessed by "growth"? Who in their right mind would ride a horse down because it can't be grown into an elephant?

You're at Hacker News, just about every startup is obsessed by growth because that's all they have on their side.

To your analogy, it's more like selling a horse to the petting zoo for kiddie rides because it no longer has enough stamina for long hard rides in the mountains. It's a good deal for the seller, the buyer, and the horse.

Eventually the horse will die of old age. And if it hasn't procreated by then, you're left without horses.

Not all businesses will have a way of replacing a user base that is dropping off that isn't lower ROI than putting the money elsewhere.

If that's the case, then you extract the revenue that's left, but you don't reinvest much of that revenue - you might keep the horse while it's still doing useful work, but you're not building a new stable or hiring new stable boy in expectation of growth.

You sort of answered your own question. Those obsessed with growth see not growing as failing. There is no other success then growth. Under that mindset having a stable, profitable business is 'riding it down.'

If you aren't growing, you're dying. This is especially true in business where there is generally attrition to contend for.

Acquiring a business is generally only done when the expectation of future revenues is greater than the purchase price, but if the business is dying, the key is to maximize the revenue out of it so as to prolong the inevitable, and squeeze as much money out of it as they can.

And the existence of growth is the main reason for a steady loss of quality.

And conversely, they wouldn't have been sold at 1x annual revenue if the seller didn't think that the future prospects were bleak.

And/or if the parent wasn't desperate for cash and found few takers.

That said, upside doesn't look all that great.

$20M in revenue, but how much in profit? Slashdot and sourceforge can't be cheap to host.

You nailed it. GKNT shareholder here. They have struggled for years to monetize the media business, with little success (profit-wise). Cost of revenue is always very high. Add in a lot of turnover in editorial/content/business leadership (basically everything on the media side) and it has been a whole lot of operating losses. ThinkGeek, meanwhile, has had great year-over-year sales increases, and costs are being brought under control. With the sale of media business, 2012 could be GKNT's first profitable year in many a year (or ever--haven't checked back more than 5 years). Or it could be they finally unloaded the media business (they hired a company to shop it around, BTW) and will now try to sell the e-commerce side (say, to Amazon) and close the doors.

Perhaps, but how much revenue did Instagram have?

The had millions of users using it for photos when Facebook, who had lots of money, was worried.

Speculation drove up Instagram's "value". As did a likely bidding war with Google.

And it's an established business. No zero-point extrapolation here.

I heard $5M.

Well it's different to sell a profitable company than a speculative company. Valuation of a start up is based on speculation while an operating and profitable company would go for around 110% of gross annual revenue in cash.

Since it used old school valuation we can assume a few things: * GeekNet content traffic is growing very much * There was no other bidder and no 'bidding war' * GeekNet was highly motivated

They must be trying to set a record for how many corporate overlords they can have. Andover.Net, VA Research, VA Linux, VA Software, SourceForge, Inc, Geek.Net, Dice, ...

To be fair those were a lot of names for what pretty much was the same company, as VA Research went on a decade-long journey from being a Wall Street IPO hit selling Linux workstations to selling T-shirts to people who use Linux workstations.

Does anybody here still use SourceForge to host their projects? Back in its days it was the place for open source software, but these days I shudder when software I want to use is hosted there. I think it failed to evolve and become what is now github. Or maybe they target an other market?

SF is not "social", quite slow and is more difficult to use for developers. However, I feel that it is more end-user friendly. Maybe not inherently, but because of the differences in culture. There are tons of software there that I can just download and install without any tinkering. I don't recall a single application that I've ever installed from GitHub.

I think for most software on Github, the "end users" are themselves developers. Libraries, vimscripts, languages, programmer oriented utilities, etc.

I almost never got that sort of software from SourceForge. Most things that I have gotten from SourceForge are more "user application"-y. I can't think of any examples off the top of my head since it's been so long.. maybe things like Wesnoth.

Basically what I think I am saying is it depends on who the end user is.

I host my survey and cross tab compilers on sourceforge. It's a nice place you can keep things in public, and no one will ever notice - hiding in plain sight. I didnt want to move to github because I felt loyalty to sourceforge.

There is still a lot of good legacy code hosted on SourceForge, I end up there all the time and figure that whoever the owner was never got around to moving it to github or google code.

Ouch. I'd venture this is a fair indication of the directionality of the value of these aging 'name brands'. It seems not unlike a former arena-filling headliner reduced to doing van tours of Holiday Inn lounges.

I was on the SF.net "Ignition" team (and am still close friends with 2 of the original 4 project team) and what Sourceforge aspired to be versus what inevitably was done to it...to what it has been sold to...God, what a depressing fin de sicle.

I still wear my "cold storage" T-shirt sometimes.

As do I. I think there were only a few dozen made, so they are actually a "rare" item.

Bye bye /. .. you will be missed.

It's been awful ever since the narrative on there was almost entirely changed to "freedom and rights from the point of view of socially awkward software engineers". You cannot curate a community based on negativity, bile and cynicism and expect it flourish.

It got a lot better since that crowd migrated over to Reddit.

But enough about 1999.

Honestly, wasn't that always what /. was about?

"negativity, bile and cynicism"

Sounds like a niche to me. Niches are good.

I can give you many counterexamples, at least in computer gaming circles. You need to have something in addition to cynicism, though.

Freedom and rights with absolutely no responsibilities.

Works for Fox.

This is surprising. I just spilled hot grits onto my lap. This (and Netcraft) confirms the rumors that Slashdot is dying.

Unique monthly users:

  * Slashdot: 3.7 million
  * SourceForge: 40 million
  * Freecode: 0.5 million

Hmm. Let's assume 2 page views per visit for simplicity.

44.2M visitors /mo = 88.4M page views /mo

If they're bringing in $20m revenue per year, that means $1.66m per month, or $19 CPM, more or less.

Either they've got a lot of page views per user or they're monetising at pretty high rates. Do /. or Sourceforge have non-ad monetisation methods, or are they just getting very good ad deals?

Sourceforge has very aggressive ads, think video, with decent targeting of a high value market.

Slashdot also has the high value market, less aggressive ads, but tons of pageviews per visit.

Altogether the numbers to do not appear absurd.

Importantly, for long-time contributing members of the site, Slashdot gives you a checkbox to turn off ads entirely. (You have to re-check it every so often.)

Or 2 pages per visit is an absurdly low number.

Back when I used to visit Slashdot, it'd be more like a pageview every 5 minutes. The core audience used to be extremely dedicated. I wouldn't be surprised if their pages per visit number is still abnormally high.

Yes, but I think we all use adblock, so I'm not really sure where their views and clicks would come from.

Not since the grand redesign(s). It's been pretty much maddening to use for at least a few years, so my readership has gone down from 10+ PV/day to <1/wk. My uid is 115xxx.

Couple this with their editorial mechanism posting the same 30 word blurb for the same news item everybody else is posting, only two days later after every body has said their piece, what's the upside? The commentary there is no better than other places.

Slashdot allows users to pay some amount of money to "subscribe" for some minimal benifits. I doubt they make much on that though.

FWIW, I know first hand that their rate card CPM's would start around $30 and go over $100 for their 'Immersion' unit.

Yowza. That's ... quite expensive.

Does this include Ohloh as well? That's a pretty nice code analysis site, which was acquired by SF back in 2009:


Black Duck Software acquired Ohloh from Geeknet. http://www.blackducksoftware.com/news/releases/2010-10-05

Interesting. Working on a competitor to code.ohloh I always wondered how they got such good hooks into sourceforge, but this explains it. With Black Duck owning them and Koders their strategy makes more sense now.

Would have been interesting to see github acquire SorceForge, for nothing more than the projects. I guess a migration wouldn't be worth it, the projects with life and activity would have left SF sometime ago?

Not really. At least when it comes to desktop software a lot of free software projects I use regularly are hosted on sourceforge. Don't confuse the popularity of github on Hacker News with general popularity.

Conversely, a lot of free software I use on both the desktop and on servers is hosted on GitHub. (I'm not sure how this argument is a rebuttal against GitHub acquiring SourceForge)

Though, GitHub is in the collaboration business. They take the standard git model and remove 99% of the complexity of me trying to share my repo with my co-workers while I'm at a coffee shop and can't passthrough a NAT router, for example. Hosting software is kind of a by-product. SourceForge has always been about software, not collaboration between people. Buying SourceForge wouldn't solve anything since dead software will still be dead software without someone to take the reigns and become a manager of incoming patches and contributing him or herself, which all can be done without spending 20 million.

Wasn't a rebuttal against GitHub acquiring SourceForge but against "the projects with life and activity would have left SF sometime ago".

That's much more about momentum than someone starting from scratch, looking at SF and GitHub (and Bitbucket, etc) and choosing SourceForge.

> Don't confuse the popularity of github on Hacker News with general popularity.

GitHub is huge everywhere, especially with open source. It's absolutely not a HN thing.

Yes GitHub is huge - I just say this doesn't automatically mean SF is now getting small. Nothing against GitHub, it is the nicer solution for many projects. But for example for any project with lots of media data I still prefer using SF + svn. Or for any application that is mainly targeted at normal users and not foremost at developers using SF is also great. And it's very complete - you don't have just the usual things like code-browsing and bugtrackers, but you can for example also host a php-forum on SF.

Just out of curiosity, what Sub-Reddits have interesting tech discussion? I love reddit for interesting/ridiculous/obscure internet finds, but I don't see a lot of leading edge tech/business talk.

I'm still exploring that myself. There's /r/linuxadmin, but traffic's fairly low. You can toss search terms at the front page (sitewide) or through Google/DDG and see where you end up.

I'm having better luck at focused technical discussion on Stack Exchange rather than Reddit. I've found a few non-technical subreddits of interest though. For that, it's been a pretty phenomenal community builder. Better than any other forum I'm currently aware of, HN included (though HN's focus on tech and the startup world is pretty good).

Farmsteading Reddit seems to work reasonably well, though it takes time to generate traction. Seed, fertilize, and weed.

This would be like Monster.com purchasing Fark.com. Not really news because none of those things have mattered for years.

So basically geeknet = thinkgeek. Is this some kind of really delayed stealth IPO?

No but it could be prime for an Amazon acquisition.

GKNT is already public http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=GKNT

Sorry I should have been more clear. Yeah, geeknet is already publicly traded, but with these divestitures, their only remaining property is thinkgeek.

I agree it looks like they're setting up for a sale of some sort, especially in light of some recentish departures from Thinkgeek management clearing the way for an acquisition.



also this makes sense in light of their Q2 financials, with their media properties losing money (no wonder the acquisition by Dice was at 1x revenue)


ThinkGeek e-commerce revenue increased 24 percent to $17.8 million for the second quarter of 2012, compared to $14.3 million for the second quarter of 2011.

Orders received increased by 21 percent in the second quarter of 2012 as compared with the same period last year.

Media revenue decreased 8 percent to $5.3 million for the second quarter of 2012, compared to $5.8 million for the second quarter of 2011.

Total cash and investments at the end of second quarter 2012 was $34.6 million.

TG has long been the revenue backbone for geeknet. Getting rid of the other properties effectively makes TG the same as geeknet meaning TG is now effectively a publicly traded company.

edit 2

also it looks like they were grouping geeknet media into a bundle prepping for a possible sale for a while, that division even had it's own web site that doesn't seem to have much purpose beyond trying to promote the properties as sales targets


I, for one, welcome our new Dice Holdings overlords.

I used to love slashdot, coffee and a discussion about boot loaders for breakfast. It all went to rat shit of course, but that's just the natural order of the universe.

Wow. I remember when my older brother introduced me to /. when I was a teenage nerd just starting to run Linux in 1998. There weren't even user accounts.

Now I feel like reading a Jon Katz article for nostalgia.

That would be an excellent way of curing yourself of the risk of ever feeling nostalgia again.

Ha ha... I found this (http://tech.slashdot.org/story/01/11/17/204207/message-from-...):

(About "Junis", a hacker from Kabul two months after 9/11)

There are many computers in Afghanistan, Junis said, many in clusters in cities like Kabul and Kandahar (news reports have frequently mentioned that Bin-Laden's organization used both e-mail and encrypted files to communicate). Computer geeks are already hooking up with one another all over the country; Junis isn't the only Afghan e-mailing these days. He says other coders and gamers hid their PC's as well. Meanwhile, he's especially eager to get his hands on the Apple iPod, and has been drooling over the Apple website site since he got back online. And some things, of course, never change. "I thought they were going to get Microsoft," he wrote. "I guess not."

i recently read katz's "geeks" [http://www.amazon.com/Geeks-Lost-Boys-Internet-Idaho/dp/0375...], partly out of a sense of slashdot nostalgia, and found it surprisingly engaging.

I was so pleased when I acquired the username `bogomips` on sf. Never did use it for much though.

Sad how obvious it is how it slipped away long before github filled the vacuum.

Seems like GeekNet is going to focus on ThinkGeek.com. Good move I'd say. Well unless their next step is to sell it to Amazon (a la woot.com).

If they are generating $20m/yr in revenue doesn't a $20m purchase seem a bit low? How did they agree on $20m?

According to TechCrunch, they are on track to do $5 MM in EBITDA, so they have about $15 MM in annual operating costs (before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization). This means that Dice paid about 4x operating profits.

Here's the link: http://techcrunch.com/2012/09/18/dice-holdings-buys-slashdot...

$20m is the price you would expect. Rule of thumb is 3 years earnings + a little extra for goodwill/brand name/human capital.

Presumably, that $20m/yr in revenue comes with a decent chunk of costs too.

Well you can jump the shark and sometimes the shark eats you. Too bad.

Will it mean any changes for my project hosted on SourceForge?

maybe more dice ads

That's like, half of the internet!

Oh man, look at the awful sites currently maintained by Dice Holdings...

> http://www.dice.com/ (recruiting and career development)

> http://www.efinancialcareers.com/ (finance recruiting and career development, UK)

> http://www.clearancejobs.com/ (U.S. government security clearance career development)

> http://www.rigzone.com/ (oil and gas industry content/advertising)

> http://www.allhealthcarejobs.com/ (healthcare career development)

> http://www.targetedjobfairs.com/ (IT and security related career fairs and open houses)

I think it's fairly likely that their new acquisitions will be used to drive traffic to their job hunting sites. The more active members of SF and FC are pretty much ripe targets for recruiting messages driving them to job hunts.

Given the sad state of the economy, the more active of them will make for a good pool of hiring candidates.

*there was a complete thought in there, but it derailed on the word economy.

...it gets worse:


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