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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 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 Sadly, that version had not been maintained for years, so it had dependencies on out-of-date packages like Apache, and basically fell all over the floor — many long days were spent to get the code into shape.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: 5, Interesting) by Phoenix666 on Friday October 06 2017, @03:37PM (6 children)

    by Phoenix666 (552) Subscriber Badge on Friday October 06 2017, @03:37PM (#578068) Journal

    I found Slashdot very early as well. I think it had been around less than a year at that time. I had a 4-digit UID.

    That site played an important role in my life then. It was a community of fellow geeks who were a grab-bag of crazy weird but really smart. The college I attended had a lot of really smart people, too, but for the most part they weren't the off-the-wall thinkers I feel fellowship with. The technical discussions with choice references to Tolkien or Dr. Who or other geeky pop culture resonated with me, because they were speaking my language.

    The moderation system it developed remains, I believe, its lasting contribution to online culture. It's not perfect, but it produces a better signal-to-noise ratio than almost anything else online. The polls were fun, too, but have been less central.

    Those structural features produced a better conversation that attracted knowledgeable people from many walks of life, including known players like Bruce Perens. It was refreshing to have the experience of reading a story on, say, new rocket engine designs and read posts from people at JPL in the comments.

    The site was a sanctuary also through some awful moments in world history. Columbine was a memorable one. Millions of geeks knew exactly where the shooters were coming from because they had also suffered the same abuse in school. 9/11 was another. That day here in New York was tense, not knowing if my girlfriend (now wife) was still alive because she had gotten on the A train 20 minutes before the first tower collapsed, which timing would have placed her at the station under the WTC then. Slashdot got me through it. When Rob Malda proposed to his girlfriend was another memorable moment, and it felt like it was happening to my brother.

    And yet with all that history, Dice ruined it all with Beta. I had not thought it was possible to destroy my affection for that place. When they forced CmdrTaco out, the light went out.

    Soylent is a reprise of early Slashdot, the best Slashdot. The comment counts are lower. That's fine. There's good discussion happening, and that's the important thing. I hope that we can all pitch in to make it even better. The door is really open to help out with editing, story submissions, and coding. If you can spare some cycles for any of that, it would be welcome. If you've subscribed already but money is the only way you can support the community, consider buying some swag or perhaps buying a gift subscription for somebody else. I did that last year for somebody whose politics I loathe but who makes too many good points to ignore; it was really hard to do but I wanted to help Soylent and thought it might build community.

    Anyway, congratulations to Slashdot for 20 years. I hope they find their way back to sunnier, better places. But I don't go back there and am happy to keep homesteading here.

    Washington DC delenda est.
    Starting Score:    1  point
    Moderation   +3  
       Interesting=3, Total=3
    Extra 'Interesting' Modifier   0  
    Karma-Bonus Modifier   +1  

    Total Score:   5  
  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 06 2017, @04:18PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 06 2017, @04:18PM (#578090)

    I don't remember if he was there in the early days or more the mid '00s, but he provided lots of insight into cases that Perens didn't really get into.

    Don't remember all the other nicks, but there were a number of people in the tech or gaming industry, a few even higher up, who would occasionally post on specific articles that they had further information on, sometimes from the corporate side of things.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Phoenix666 on Friday October 06 2017, @05:20PM

      by Phoenix666 (552) Subscriber Badge on Friday October 06 2017, @05:20PM (#578142) Journal

      Yeah he was an excellent member of that community. It was the Napster days, or shortly thereafter, and he gave a lot of legal perspective on that, the DMCA, and the other early moments when legal bullshit started bumming our ride in tech.

      Washington DC delenda est.
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 06 2017, @04:29PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 06 2017, @04:29PM (#578096)

    I had kind of remember him having written it off before that point. Dice was the 3rd owner in however many years at that point. I remember not a whole lot of communication from him at that point. I think RobLimo or somebody was the main contact at that point, plus all the shitty staff that kept posting dupes and otherwise making things feel bad.

    Honestly Slashdot has kept going because every company that tried to replace its niche, digg, facebook(some things), reddit, twitter(for some things), all did a worse job, and were all bigger corporate assholes.

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by requerdanos on Friday October 06 2017, @05:27PM

      by requerdanos (5997) Subscriber Badge on Friday October 06 2017, @05:27PM (#578150) Journal

      Honestly Slashdot has kept going because every company that tried to replace its niche... all did a worse job, and were all bigger corporate assholes.

      You could argue that Soylentnews is trying to replace Slashdot's niche, but Soylentnews...

      • Doesn't do a worse job in any area except perhaps comment count/userbase size
      • Isn't corporate
      • Scores significantly lower on the asshole scale than almost any other site management I've every known
  • (Score: 2) by SacredSalt on Friday October 06 2017, @11:33PM

    by SacredSalt (2772) on Friday October 06 2017, @11:33PM (#578393)

    I don't know, the moderation system used to work a lot better before it became a social justice war with it. I can barely stand to use Slashdot these days because of it, and unfortunately its a larger societal issue so it isn't really going away. I don't how such a system of moderation could really be fixed other than a smaller user base with more head sense and restraint.

    I have one of those 5 digit user names there. I miss when just listing a site on there in a story could take it down, and before we had much in the way of laws for the internet about a lot of things. While beta was awful, I think a lot of other things forced users to want to be elsewhere too.

  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 07 2017, @03:11AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 07 2017, @03:11AM (#578463)

    I was a bit late to the game.
    I don't even remember what I was searching for, but an article from mid-March came up that said

    a hack to modify the $99 Iopener internet appliance to be able to run Linux

    Flat Panel Linux Box for $99? []

    Hmmm. Interesting article.
    Let's see what else this site has.
    The hook was set.

    For weeks, the other site had had a dearth of tags on articles--many had no tags at all.
    The last few days, there hasn't been a single article that did -not- have 3 tags.
    Editors sprucing things up for the anniversary?
    More active Slashdotters?
    Who knows?

    I like tags. They can be useful.
    Sometimes they're just plain fun.

    Dice ruined it

    Concentrated wealth used for acquisitions for something other than expanding the core business often tends to have that effect.
    They had lots of spare cash but had no idea what to do with it after they bought it.
    To put it another way: Capitalism sucks--especially when it's poorly regulated.

    -- OriginalOwner_ []