Slash Boxes

SoylentNews is people

posted by martyb on Friday October 06, @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 Sadly, that version had not been maintained for years, so it had dependencies on out-of-date packages like Apache, and basically fell all over the floor — many long days were spent to get the code into shape.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: 1) by terrab0t on Friday October 06, @03:57PM (2 children)

    by terrab0t (4674) on Friday October 06, @03:57PM (#578076)

    By now the Slashdot effect is an old legend passed down to servers from generations past. Most of them have never seen it themselves. Only intentional DDOS attacks can do that now.

  • (Score: 4, Funny) by DECbot on Friday October 06, @05:43PM

    by DECbot (832) on Friday October 06, @05:43PM (#578168) Journal

    I can see the conversation now between grampa server and little junior.

    Jr: Is it true, grandpa, that back in your day a few thousand meatbags could DDOS a site by just visiting a website?

    Gramps: Not only was it true, we dreaded the day when the meatbags would link to our website to news aggregators like that accursided slashdot. From there, all the pimply-faced meatbags from their command centers in their mother's basements would initiate their attack, with unprecedented coordination their for their race.

    Jr: Golly grampa, you guys must have been slow.

    Gramps: You kids have it easy with your load balancers, cdns, and gigabit networks. Slashdot now is only a shadow of its previous self. It was far more threatening in the old days when it commanded all the world's geeks. Now it serves only a fraction of them as many have migrated to other, newer aggregators.

    (sorry for the typos and such, posting on the mobile device)

    cats~$ sudo chown -R us /home/base
  • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 06, @07:10PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 06, @07:10PM (#578243)

    "By now the Slashdot effect is an old legend passed down to servers from generations past. Most of them have never seen it themselves. Only intentional DDOS attacks can do that now."

    It still happens occasionally, at least with other sites. E.g., when a personal website with no CDN gets to HN frontpage. We also had a few examples apparently brought down by SN, aka Soyled.