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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 Sadly, that version had not been maintained for years, so it had dependencies on out-of-date packages like Apache, and basically fell all over the floor — many long days were spent to get the code into shape.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: 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.

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  • (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.

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      • (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!