It all started about two years ago around this time of the year. Almost exactly. I had been using one of my regular accounts to interact with sush inflexible thinkers as Neocon, Twirlip of the Mists and their friends. There was alot of heated political discussion that was essentially ruining my Slashdot reading. As I've said before, I FUCKING HATE politics and the people who love them. I got pissed off at reading all the bullshit that was circulating in the comments that was passed off as "informed political views" from the neocon losers. Since my wife was off to Washington to protest the saber rattling of our simian Unpresident and I was stuck at home tending to a work related problem I figured, I should be the voice of dissent here on Slashdot. Not "liberal" dissent, mind you. But the voice of anti-corporate dissent. You CAN be a liberal and a capitalist at the same time no matter what the neocons are spinning this week.
So I took my first stab and boy did I hit the jackpot with a nicely crafted troll that got tons of up and down mods and a nice amount of responses. It was carefully written and included links that discredited a lot of what Bush and his peanut gallery were saying at the time. The thing is that I didn't "research" it at all. I just linked a few relevant Google results and made sure that it went on and on for quite a few paragraphs. Enough that it had to force people to click on the "Read the rest of this comment" link. When they DID do that, then I had a nice multiple line "meta-troll". I take credit for being the inventor of the meta-troll as NO ONE did it before I did. It paid homage to the best trolls of days gone by and made light of the dumber trolls plus it threw in a few new ones of it's own. It was exquisite even if I do say so myself. Getting people to read my comment so earnestly only to find it punctuated with nothing but crap at the end was pretty satisfying. This was the perfect way to illustrate to the politically minded people of Slashdot that I DON'T GIVE A FUCK WHAT YOU THINK.
After a while... my style settled down a bit and I found that people started friending and foeing me. This was new and interesting. It was also interesting to see the interactions with other people. I was quite happy to see that many of my "fans" came from OUTSIDE of the US. I've always felt like a stranger here anyway. Maybe it's because I was raised by a hispanic mother who conluded that Americans can get REALLY silly sometimes. Who knows?
From the beginning, when I chose my Slashdot ID I was trying to think of something that really symbolized what I thought of the neocons. Then I hit upon Trolling4Dollars. It's a semi-regional bit of humor. Where I live there used to be television program in the 60s and 70s called "Bowling for Dollars". This program was undoubtedly duplicated in many other markets in the US. When I read the pap that guys like Neocon and Twirlip of the Mists spat out on a daily basis, I realized that whether they see it or not, they are trolling on behalf of the dollar. They live for money and profit and the corrupt form of capitalism that rules the land today. Their "trolls" are driven by their greed. So my Slashdot ID was me thumbing my nose at them.
What I found endlessly entertaining was that they assumed I was "just a troll" and would probably eventually go away because of their "shining intellect". However, the grandest days for the T4D account were when Twirlip of the Mists and Neocon foed me. Especially Twirlip because he paid lipservice to not caring much about making foes because he's so "open minded". He made a big deal about how humble and gratified that he was that he had so many fans. Just "little old him". But he was an arrogant prick if you weren't on his side. One day he foed me. It seemed to be counter to what he claimed and boy did I enjoy that. When Pudge foed me it wasn't nearly as satisfying. Now, I will be the first to admit that Twirlip is not an idiot. He's a smart person, but he's not on the side of the person who makes less than $50,000 a year let me tell you. To me, that is the most dispicable kind of person. It doesn't matter how smart they are, but if they can't see the value in trying to help others, then I have no respect for them. Oddly, there are things that Twirlip and I did agree about, but he'd pretty much dismissed me even when I pointed them out. Twirlip... it's all in the implementation dude. Your implementation sucks.
Getting back to Slashdot as a whole. It's pretty much ruined. What I used to love about it was that it was like a much nicer version of Usenet news groups. I used to be able to discuss real important stuff like Bash shell tips, getting IP Masquerade and NAT to work under Linux or getting a Quake server up and running. I learned some and I think I also taught people a little too. That's what this place was supposed to be about. The news stories were supposed to be the fodder for the discussion. But once Slashdot got invaded by mouth breathing AOHell users and people started talking about their politics, and then CmdrTaco encouraged all of this, it just went south. (If anyone of my friends has a relationship with Taco, pass this JE along to him I think he needs to read at least this part) Slashdot was a great opportunity to link a bunch of like-minded computer geeks together, throw some interesting tech news at them and then get the discussions going for better or worse. People would trade tips about hardware or software. They would relate horror stories about one OS or another. But in general it was all kept pretty friendly. That's all gone now. To actually survive on Slashdot you need to be a bully otherwise no one notices you. It's truly sad. Truly sad indeed.
My only political statement I'm going to make here is this. If you're an American, I don't care who you plan to vote for in November. I plan to vote for Kerry and my neighbor (who I think is a pretty nice guy) plans top vote for Bush as the sign on his lawn professes. Will I go over and pants him until he changes his mind? No. It's not my place to change his mind as he believes in his candidate for his own reasons as firmly as I do mine. Sure, I'll be vocal about my support of Kerry. I'll be interested in persuading those open to persuasion. But I'm not going to really expect to walk up to a Bush supporter and get him to change his mind. And in the end, regardless of who wins, we're going to have to live with the consequences and the "I told you sos" from either side. In the long run, it's just going to be more of the same. More moved in one direction, then back the other as the population has mass amnesia and forgets how "bad" things were the "other" way. The only thing I want is to make sure that every vote really does count. No dirty tricks. That's the best I can hope for.
I've noticed that some of my fans have dropped away. I imagine that one or another comments I've made regarding religion, OS choice or political views may have been the cause. It could also be something as simple as them wanting to add a different person they like better and I was on the short list. That's fine. There are still people I like regardless of what their reasons for dropping me. (bethanie ;P) I've also noticed some people just dropping out altogether because I think they, like me, are just sick of what Slashdot has become. It's kind of sad because some of them kept EXCELLENT journals. (the_mad_poster ;) ) Then there are the groups of really genuinely nice people who still seem to somehow rise above all the sludge and slime and keep their little group a nice place to be. Thanks for being a fan of T4D (DaytonCIM, Ethelred Unraed, tuxette, Zontar the Mindless, cyranoVR, JeremiahCornelius, SamTheButcher, SolemnDragon, danill, tomhudson, Zeriel, insanecarbonbasedlif, GigsVT). Then the folks who just write damn interesting things regardless of whether they are fans or freaks or friends or foes or neutral or even whether or not I agree with them. (Chacham, BlackHat, PerfessorMultigeek, js7a) There are a ton of other folks that have made my stay as T4D fun and enlightening but I'm running out of time to go through the list... take it as read that I am really glad to have known you all.
I might pop back in and out from time to time with T4D, but my other accounts will likely become more active. I want to pull out of the political discussions and the OS religion wars and see if there is some bit of Slashdot that still does what it used to. Vain hope I know.
Goodbye for now and [insert deity] bless.
P.S. - Please pass this on to anyone who you may be friends with who I mentioned but who may not be friends with me. Thanks. Over and out.