Slash Boxes

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 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, 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 '' and '' 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 Sadly, that version had not been maintained for years, so it had dependencies on out-of-date packages like Apache, and basically fell all over the floor — many long days were spent to get the code into shape.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, Interesting) by SomeGuy on Friday October 06 2017, @02:37PM (9 children)

    by SomeGuy (5632) on Friday October 06 2017, @02:37PM (#578018)

    I remember when the Slashdot web site was usable on many different browsers on many different platforms, including much older and obscure ones (Amiga, BeOS, OS/2, and so on). And being a site for nerds, that was cool and even supported. But looking at the site now it seems to require a fairly recent web browser, with the increasingly usual impression that things might break if one is not running the absolute latest browser on only Windows, Mac, and Linux. Soylent stands a better chance of working in such environments now.

    Looking at it now, even with an ad blocker, it is full of advertisements. Anyone else remember Dejanews? The once popular newsgroup search engine that towards the end was 99% advertising? It is a pattern often repeated and I see slashdot slowly heading down this road too.

    Not to mention the entire slashdot community turned fairly toxic. Interesting posts get downmodded and buried, with a high level of groupthink everywhere. Early on, slashdot had some very bright and even well known individuals in the community. Sadly Soylentnews has not really attracted that kind of community, and probably won't with all of the DN spam posts, trolls, and seemingly every other story descending in to mindless religious debates.

    Still, I ask around if there are any other good sources of tech news and I don't really see any other tech sites that aren't pure useless clickbait.

    Starting Score:    1  point
    Moderation   +1  
       Interesting=1, Total=1
    Extra 'Interesting' Modifier   0  
    Karma-Bonus Modifier   +1  

    Total Score:   3  
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 06 2017, @02:52PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 06 2017, @02:52PM (#578032)

    I remember trying to read /.'s mobile version on my Android phone and saw a bunch of porn adverts, not cool for a father of 3 daughters. Also the goatse links that kept showing up moved me away.

    • (Score: 2, Funny) by i286NiNJA on Friday October 06 2017, @04:40PM

      by i286NiNJA (2768) on Friday October 06 2017, @04:40PM (#578105)

      If there were still links to goatse then you left during the best years.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 06 2017, @04:13PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 06 2017, @04:13PM (#578087)

    I am not sure how classic it still is, and it requires logging in, but it might work.

    Uses a similiar non-css layout to early SN.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 06 2017, @04:59PM (5 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 06 2017, @04:59PM (#578124)

    Effectively the web became a new terminal. One that chews JS and spits out pretty pictures.

    HTML, once the bedrock of the web, has been relegated to a bunch of div tags that JS and CSS can latch on to.

    Just watch the likes of Google and Mozilla go back and forth about who has the best performing JS engine.

    • (Score: 1) by DECbot on Friday October 06 2017, @05:51PM (4 children)

      by DECbot (832) on Friday October 06 2017, @05:51PM (#578176) Journal

      I liked the older Emacs vs Vi war or even the KDE vs Gnome war more than the new JS engine war. I might as well be watching sportsball.

      cats~$ sudo chown -R us /home/base
      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Phoenix666 on Friday October 06 2017, @07:19PM (3 children)

        by Phoenix666 (552) Subscriber Badge on Friday October 06 2017, @07:19PM (#578253) Journal

        What about systemd? I really thought that one would have legs.

        Washington DC delenda est.
        • (Score: 2, Informative) by DECbot on Saturday October 07 2017, @04:20AM (2 children)

          by DECbot (832) on Saturday October 07 2017, @04:20AM (#578474) Journal

          I thought so too. I think Debian's snap decision to adopt systemd is what killed the init war. After that, there was a bit of bitching a moaning about the overreach of a technical committee with conflicts of interest and whatnot. The people who cared about init choice initially attempted to articulate grievances about the technical merits of systemd to a bunch of self righteous children. After their whining and gnashing of teeth was successfully thwarted by the systemd blowhards, they forked debian or went to gentoo/slackware/BSD while the rest of the debian/ubuntu/debian-downstream world shoved their collective heads in the sand, held hands, and sang show tunes.

          So, here I am 6 months after support has stopped, still on Xubuntu & Mate 12.04 and trying to figure out if I'm jumping ship and trying FreeBSD or Slack/Gentoo or suck up my pride and dick around with systemd/systemd-shim.

          cats~$ sudo chown -R us /home/base
          • (Score: 2) by The Mighty Buzzard on Saturday October 07 2017, @12:27PM

            Might give Calculate [] a try in a VM before you decide. It's essentially Gentoo with a BINHOST that serves up binary versions of most any package that you don't feel the need to customize the compilation flags on. And a couple handy admin scripts that you can use or not as you like.

            "Buzzy, you're probably the dumbest person I've ever encountered. Well, there is aristarchus, so make it 2nd dumbest."
          • (Score: 2) by bart9h on Monday October 09 2017, @06:22PM

            by bart9h (767) on Monday October 09 2017, @06:22PM (#579349)

            still on Xubuntu & Mate 12.04 and trying to figure out

            Just take the path of least resistance.

            Xubuntu is based on Ubuntu; which is based on Debian; which was forked, like you mentioned, to Devuan.

            So, if you are affected by the inertia, the easiest way is to just install Devuan with the MATE desktop.