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SoylentNews is people

posted by martyb on Friday October 06 2017, @11:21AM   Printer-friendly
from the upon-the-shoulders-of-others dept.

There is a story up on medium.com by Rob Malda (aka CmdrTaco) reflecting on Slashdot's start twenty years ago, on October 5th, 1997. For those who may be new here, the code driving this site you are reading is based on an old version of slashcode. If it weren't for Rob's efforts starting way back then, there would be no SoylentNews today.

Within a few days of DNS registration, Slashdot.org was live. I quickly added polls to answer urgent questions like "How many shots should Kurt drink". While he suffered the results of these polls, I would tail -f on the access_log and the residents of the so-called Geek House would boggle as names like 'mit.edu' and 'microsoft.com' streamed forward faster than we could read.

Rapid change followed: traffic soon created real expenses requiring hardware, colocation, and advertising. The code was in constant flux: adding user accounts, moderation, the submissions bin. And of course performance improvements to deal with the unyielding traffic growth. All the while I posted story after story, and our readers matched us with more comments than we thought possible.

My friends began contributing more and more. From code, to old hardware, to posting stories and coordinating advertising, we formed Blockstackers with a purpose. Slashdot went from from something with a stupid name that I was building into something we were building... with the help of thousands of nerds around the world that we would never meet in person.

I first visited Slashdot in its very early days. I saw the creation of UIDs and nicknames... and the database crash which lost all of the accounts so people had to sign up again. (Those with very low UIDs were very much not pleased!)

The code that drive the site you are reading is based on a version of Slashdot's code which they released as open source. Sadly, that version had not been maintained for years, so it had dependencies on out-of-date packages like Apache, and basically fell all over the floor — many long days were spent to get the code into shape. Our updated version of the code, rehash, is available on github.

I suspect I'm not the only one who came to SoylentNews who has many years' experience on Slashdot. Feel free to use this as an opportunity to share your remembrances of the early days there — and of SoylentNews, as well — which will be 44 months old on October 14th.

[Update: As mentioned in the story, these sites do not run or fund themselves. At the time of this writing, we have received approximately $537 towards our goal of $3000.00 for the half-year period ending 2017-12-31. We accept credit card payments and even Bitcoin. If you would like to contribute something to SoylentNews, please take a moment to go to our Subscribe page. The dollar amount is the minimum amount for the stated duration, but you are free to set it to whatever larger value you like. If you don't want the subscription for yourself, some folks make a gift subscription to NCommander who has UID 2. Oh, and in case you were not aware, none of the staff collect any kind of income for their work — we are all volunteers and give freely of our time and energy. --martyb]


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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by HyperQuantum on Friday October 06 2017, @12:19PM (34 children)

    by HyperQuantum (2673) on Friday October 06 2017, @12:19PM (#577963)

    ...and the site still doesn't support Unicode. They could learn a few things from SoylentNews.

    Meanwhile, I visit both Slashdot and SoylentNews regularly, but still prefer Slashdot (sorry guys). The reason? Slashdot has lots of comments in most stories. Most of the time when I see an interesting story on the SoylentNews front page, I am disappointed by the low comment count. The comments are more interesting to me than the stories themselves. I wonder what happened to all those people leaving Slashdot because of the beta thing. Where did they go?

    Starting Score:    1  point
    Moderation   +4  
       Insightful=3, Interesting=1, Total=4
    Extra 'Insightful' Modifier   0  

    Total Score:   5  
  • (Score: 4, Touché) by BsAtHome on Friday October 06 2017, @12:26PM (1 child)

    by BsAtHome (889) on Friday October 06 2017, @12:26PM (#577971)

    Well, yes, comment count. A start would be that you comment more too? That will add to the count. The site is made by its users, so get commenting ;-)

    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 07 2017, @12:59AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 07 2017, @12:59AM (#578418)

      comment more [often here]

      +1

      .
      The last time I commented at the other site (never signed up there either) was before they made a JavaScript'd glop of the place.
      I still read their front page at the end of the day (sometimes days later).
      The other week, I was surprised when I found 4 stories that interested me enough to look at the comments.
      That's a high count for me these days.

      I have seen Slashdotters, who are also Soylentils, mentioning this place over there when we do something better than they do.
      If you
      1) are already there
      2) have an account
      3) do JavaScript
      then I say take the opportunities as they arise.
      Maybe some there will give us a try.

      ...and maybe they will not even whine when we dup a story or don't put up the story first.

      -- OriginalOwner_ [soylentnews.org]

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by The Mighty Buzzard on Friday October 06 2017, @12:31PM (12 children)

    I don't blame you there. They have a much larger pool of people visiting the site to draw different kinds of comments from, so they're much more likely to have a good discussion on a very technical physics story, for example.

    I console myself with the fact that we have a much more engaged community. On stories that we find of interest as a community and have something worth saying, we're definitely closing the gap on raw comment count, despite having less than a tenth of the traffic they get. I think our comments are of a much higher quality overall as well but that could just be my own bias showing.

    --
    My favorite Trump protest sign: All in all you're just another prick with no wall
    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Kell on Friday October 06 2017, @01:19PM (6 children)

      by Kell (292) on Friday October 06 2017, @01:19PM (#577989)

      Part of the saving grace of The Great Exodus is that we attracted a lot of the passionate and engaged people who resented what /. had become. Many of us were core posters. I, for one, continue to boycott Slashdot, even after Beta was quietly shelved (notice how none of their stories ever mentioned the Beta revolt).

      --
      Scientists ask questions. Engineers solve problems.
      • (Score: 2) by requerdanos on Friday October 06 2017, @05:17PM (2 children)

        by requerdanos (5997) Subscriber Badge on Friday October 06 2017, @05:17PM (#578140) Journal

        notice how none of their stories ever mentioned the Beta revolt

        Mostly true, but when (whoever it was) bought sourceforge and slashdot from DHI, I remember several stories acknowledging some huge cockups including beta. Ever so slightly better late than never I guess.

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Osamabobama on Friday October 06 2017, @07:48PM (2 children)

        by Osamabobama (5842) on Friday October 06 2017, @07:48PM (#578284)

        Fuck Beta.

        --
        Appended to the end of comments you post. Max: 120 chars.
        • (Score: 1) by Ethanol-fueled on Saturday October 07 2017, @12:50AM (1 child)

          by Ethanol-fueled (2792) Subscriber Badge on Saturday October 07 2017, @12:50AM (#578416) Homepage

          I'm glad they perma-banned me before beta. I was actually upset, being the young and petulant shit I was, but they actually did me a favor.

          It was like when George put a bullet through Lenny's head to spare him from the angry mob.

    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 06 2017, @03:23PM (4 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 06 2017, @03:23PM (#578055)

      Most of them migrated to Reddit or twitter or other sites.

      If you look at slashdot comment counts, there used to be a period where you'd get thousands of comments on really popular articles, but they've been hovering around 300 for the majority for a number of years now. I think the Slashdot peak was post-Taco based on comments, but at the same time the 'star power' we'd been used to showing up had mostly left by that point (Bruce is still there, but you never see Romero or Carmack, that annoying adult who used to play Wesley Crusher, etc.) Most of that star power now shows up in Reddit AMAs, but reddit is so broad and vast that the rest of the stuff you might be interested in gets lost among the thousands of crap stories posted each day, and the hundreds or thousands of subreddits, many of which may require an invitation to join.

      Really it is a combination of giving people too many choices and also offering walled gardens that is limiting the appeal of Slashdot/Soylent. When you can 'make your own media' in the fashion of webcasts or subreddits, you tend to get sucked into a smaller world that will take up more of your time, but offer less quality material.

      Slashdot/Soylent are good news aggregation sites with discussions, but really most people today prefer their 'safe spaces' whether politically right, or left, or just subculture elitist pricks who don't want to deal with people outside it.

      • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 06 2017, @03:51PM (3 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 06 2017, @03:51PM (#578074)

        Slashdot/Soylent are good news aggregation sites with discussions, but really most people today prefer their 'safe spaces' whether politically right, or left, or just subculture elitist pricks who don't want to deal with people outside it.

        Today? No. Always. Your village, your neighborhood, etc. It's just that today you have the option of looking outside of the bubble.

        But true, SN is definitely not a safe space :)

        / Hat tip to Mighty Buzzsaw, jmorris, khallow, and other dickheads :P
        / Signed, a European socialist.

        • (Score: 2) by FakeBeldin on Friday October 06 2017, @07:34PM (2 children)

          by FakeBeldin (3360) on Friday October 06 2017, @07:34PM (#578267) Journal

          But true, SN is definitely not a safe space :)

          If you mean in terms of comments using insulting language in lieu of well-reasoned arguments, you're right.
          If you mean in terms of encountering original thought that's outside your filter bubble; haha, you're funny!

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 06 2017, @12:34PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 06 2017, @12:34PM (#577975)

    I think it's just the times, back in '97 things where exciting you could still do things without millions of dollars run from a server under you desk, hardware was cooler and more interesting and things felt like they were going forward not backwards, most IT where not jocko engineering types and where still geeks, soylent has a relatively small user base for the same reason slashdot comments look more like /b than slashdot these days facebork.

  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by fyngyrz on Friday October 06 2017, @01:19PM (10 children)

    by fyngyrz (6567) Subscriber Badge on Friday October 06 2017, @01:19PM (#577988) Homepage Journal

    I wonder what happened to all those people leaving Slashdot because of the beta thing. Where did they go?

    I still haven't "left" slashdot. Using the one doesn't preclude using the other.

    However, the primary reason that I found soylent worth my time - and a subscription - is because this place works considerably better and the powers-that-lurk tend to listen to, and consider suggestions, whereas slashdot is... I guess the best word is "petrified."

    I can still see many things I really wish were done differently, but that's inevitable. At least I know the people here still are in control of the code to some degree, instead of the other way around.

    Other things that make soylent enjoyable include the lack of invasive advertising, and consistently better story summaries.

    What was that car slogan about "#2 tries harder" or something like that? That's soylent, at least, so far.

    --
    The eyes are the windows to the soul.
    Sunglasses are the window shades.
    • (Score: 2, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 06 2017, @03:08PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 06 2017, @03:08PM (#578043)

      I guess the best word is "petrified."

      No, no, no... we see what you did there! [urbandictionary.com]

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 06 2017, @03:17PM (5 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 06 2017, @03:17PM (#578049)

      Speaking for myself as an AC, I still view both. However, I only really post to SN now. It seems like my comments to /. just strangely vanish all the time (maybe because of modding?), whereas occasionally I'll have comments here drift to +3 to +5. I've even had some submitted articles posted.

      If I had to pick exactly one, though, I'd probably pick SN. It seems like there are fewer click-bait and/or political flame-bait articles here (although there are still some), and the site is littered with tons of advertisements taking 1/2 of the screen space.

      • (Score: 3, Flamebait) by The Mighty Buzzard on Friday October 06 2017, @03:26PM (4 children)

        Politics is pretty much always going to be Flamebait nowadays since everyone seems to be utterly against rational discourse and compromise. At least the bits particularly relevant to us as a community still need to be covered though.

        --
        My favorite Trump protest sign: All in all you're just another prick with no wall
        • (Score: 5, Funny) by bob_super on Friday October 06 2017, @04:14PM

          by bob_super (1357) on Friday October 06 2017, @04:14PM (#578089)

          > everyone seems to be utterly against rational discourse and compromise

          You're so fucking wrong about this that I won't even start explaining how retarded you are!

        • (Score: 2, Informative) by Azuma Hazuki on Friday October 06 2017, @05:28PM

          by Azuma Hazuki (5086) Subscriber Badge on Friday October 06 2017, @05:28PM (#578152) Journal

          > everyone seems to be utterly against rational discourse and compromise

          Well, hey, at least you're getting a little self-awareness. Even if it was an accident, keep it up!

          --
          I am "that girl" your mother warned you about...
        • (Score: 1, Offtopic) by FakeBeldin on Friday October 06 2017, @07:53PM (1 child)

          by FakeBeldin (3360) on Friday October 06 2017, @07:53PM (#578285) Journal

          I wanted to reply something about this being applicable to the US.

          Then I remembered Brexit. And Cataluni-exit. And the French Presidential elections. And the German elections. And what's happening politically in Poland, and Hungary. And how there have been a steady stream of politicians since about 2000 that spew them vs us rhetoric in hopes of gaining votes - and succeeding.
          Then I figured to say something about this being applicable to the USA and the EU.

          Then I remembered what's happening with the presidential elections in Kenya, and realised that while I know next to nothing about the political situation in the various African nations, the small part I know a little of is rather strongly polarised and fits the bill (both Subsaharan and above the Sahara).

          Then I remembered the current referendum in Australia, and just hearing how some individuals figured to campaign with respect to that. Hard to say it's common over there, but strong polarisation is definitely occurring there as well.
          I was hoping for Asia to help me out here, until I remembered what's happening in Myanmar. Maybe you shouldn't evaluate the most populous continent by what's happening in one nation, but maybe you can judge an entire continent for the lack of actions of a Nobel peace prize winner. Of course, if you say I shouldn't, I can always go with Russia, where rational discourse between opposition and ruling party seems forbidden by the constitution.

          The Arabian peninsula, you say? Let's just say "some parts resemble Russia" and leave it at that.

          South America?
          Again, I know little. I have a vague clue about Venezuela, which is enough to sour anyone's grapes. I've heard about what constitutes "rational discourse" in the Rio favela's - which seems to be judged by the caliber used.

          The worst part is that while writing this post, I keep thinking of more and more examples to add.

          Well, we'll always have Antartica, I guess.

          :(

          • (Score: 2) by bart9h on Monday October 09 2017, @05:58PM

            by bart9h (767) on Monday October 09 2017, @05:58PM (#579340)

            South America?
            Again, I know little.

            So you can add Brazil to your shitlist.
            I'm 44yo, and haven't seen the socio-political scenario being so bad around here.
            It's certainly the worst times since the 60-70s dictatorship.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by DECbot on Friday October 06 2017, @03:44PM (1 child)

      by DECbot (832) on Friday October 06 2017, @03:44PM (#578072) Journal

      "Petrified" may be a good word for it. After the Beta revolt, how much did the owners think they could change the code? They don't understand that geeks aren't looking for the shiny, new video support and stupid, lots-of-blank-space JS/CSS3 trends. We value functionality improvements like Unicode support, bitcoin payment, APIs, and IRC integration, and other such improvements that we already have in Rehash as well as operation transparency because why and how the servers run is fascinating to us. I would not be surprised if I heard that the new owners fired the /. developers and froze the code because the "community doesn't want change"--a complete lack of understanding of their community.

      --
      cats~$ sudo chown -R us /home/base
      • (Score: 2) by acid andy on Friday October 06 2017, @07:12PM

        by acid andy (1683) on Friday October 06 2017, @07:12PM (#578247) Journal

        They don't understand that geeks aren't looking for the shiny, new video support and stupid, lots-of-blank-space JS/CSS3 trends.

        The funny thing is, I pointed out that they'd already bumped up their whitespace quite a bit some time (I think around 2010 - 2011) before Beta and I remember another, lesser backlash to that at the time which unfortunately just seemed to fizzle out. And that whitespace is still there to this day.

        Less whitespace in 2010 [archive.org]

        More whitespace in 2011 (and swanky new icons) [archive.org]

        Actually, when I look at those side by side, the difference doesn't look as huge as I remember. I think the comments section was worse. There it may be to do with a blank space being left at the bottom of comments when the "Parent" link auto-hides.

        I still go there very, very occasionally but almost never post. Fuck Beta!

        --
        Make hay whilst the intervening mass is insufficient to inhibit the perceived intensity of incoming solar radiation.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 07 2017, @01:19AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 07 2017, @01:19AM (#578432)

      I would have said ossified. [google.com]
      (If you're thinking "boneheaded", we're on the same wavelength.)

      -- OriginalOwner_ [soylentnews.org]

  • (Score: 2, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 06 2017, @01:45PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 06 2017, @01:45PM (#577999)

    Actually, while I came to SN due to Beta, I appreciate that the amount of comments here is still manageable, while on Slashdot there are simply too many for my taste. Especially given the average quality of comment there; if removing all low-quality comments from both sites, I'd not be surprised if the number of remaining comments would be much more comparable. Well, OK, maybe the comments on the green site have improved (I've not been there for quite some time), but somehow I doubt it.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by mechanicjay on Friday October 06 2017, @05:30PM

      Actually, while I came to SN due to Beta, I appreciate that the amount of comments here is still manageable

      Yes, this. I tried giving ./ another go a while back and found that 300 comments on an article where 90% of them are nonsense, wasn't an effective use of my time. I much prefer the higher quality comments (usually) here on SN.

      --
      My VMS box beat up your Windows box.
  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by JeanCroix on Friday October 06 2017, @02:41PM (1 child)

    by JeanCroix (573) on Friday October 06 2017, @02:41PM (#578023)
    I'd been a longtime Slashdot user; I think I started following the site in early '98 and waited a good while before finally registering for a UID (over there, I was in the high 5-digit range). Beta was my main impetus for coming here - it just looked like complete crap on whatever browser I tried. In my first few months here, I'd occasionally take a peek back there to see if they'd fixed it yet, but that gradually tapered off, and it's probably been two years at least since I took a look at all.

    I'm perfectly fine with the lower comment counts here. Slashdot was becoming unmanageable; I just don't have that much time to devote to reading that many. Even here, if the comment count on an article hits much more than 150, I generally don't read them all. And I think that probably, aside from a few one-liners, some of the articles (especially the scientific discovery types) don't really merit a whole lot of comments. I generally read the article, think to myself, "huh, that was neat," and move on to the next with no real commentary required.
    • (Score: 2) by FakeBeldin on Friday October 06 2017, @07:57PM

      by FakeBeldin (3360) on Friday October 06 2017, @07:57PM (#578291) Journal

      And I think that probably, aside from a few one-liners, some of the articles (especially the scientific discovery types) don't really merit a whole lot of comments. I generally read the article, think to myself, "huh, that was neat," and move on to the next with no real commentary required.

      Similar here. I love the articles on scientific discoveries. I usually have extremely little to add to them, so I don't comment, but I value them very highly, so please keep submitting them!

  • (Score: 2) by rleigh on Friday October 06 2017, @06:12PM (2 children)

    by rleigh (4887) on Friday October 06 2017, @06:12PM (#578194) Homepage

    I prefer quality over quantity. More is better, but only up to the point where they provide additional value, before all the "me too", trolling and flaming swamps the useful discourse.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 06 2017, @06:16PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 06 2017, @06:16PM (#578201)

      Quantity breeds quality if you have a moderation system in place to sort out the garbage.

      • (Score: 2) by FakeBeldin on Friday October 06 2017, @07:59PM

        by FakeBeldin (3360) on Friday October 06 2017, @07:59PM (#578294) Journal

        And a sufficient amount of moderators with a sufficient amount of dedication to wade through all the trash to discover the gems.

        With 20 comments in a thread, that's easy.
        With 300 comments in a thread, you'd need a lot of seriously dedicated folks to even read the last 200 comments (before they are moderated).