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Interview: CmdrTaco and Hemos Tell All 463

You asked the questions Tuesday. Today, in response, Hemos and CmdrTaco spill their guts. Click below to learn what's going on at the world-famous Geek Compound in scenic Holland, Michigan.

1) Development issues
by dr_labrat

What important changes do you plan on making to the whole discussion thing?

Isn't it about time the moderation abuses and "first posters" are addressed?

Will we ever be able to moderate or score the articles themselves?

CmdrTaco:

I'm toying with removing anonymous moderation, but I'm concerned about the moderation becoming the topic instead of the topic. Maybe that's good.

I'm also looking into the idea of spinning off discussions repeatedly marked as 'offtopic' into a "Related Threads" sorta thing. Mainly I'm trying to encourage people to stay on topic, but also to allow people who want to move offtopic to be able to do so... but without cluttering up Slashdot for those who want things more ordered.

I also would like an internal messaging system so that the system can send users notes. This would be really useful so that the system could alert users that a comment they wrote had been replied to. Or maybe that they have just been meta moderated. And it would be fun for message passing too.

A lot of the other changes are backend: Optimizations to make it easier for us to post stories more efficiently. Right now we have 4 to 6 people working in the middle of the day, and we need better communication to make that work better.

- Isn't it about time the moderation abuses and "first posters" are addressed?

I think they are being addressed. Try reading at Score:2 and see how many first posts you see. Even at Score:0, the vast majority of First Post comments are caught minutes after they are posted. Moderation abuses happen, but they usually are caught.

- Will we ever be able to moderate or score the articles themselves?

I've been trying to figure out a clean way to generate a composite rating for articles, but it's tricky. I mean, what do I weigh into such a metric? It has to include traffic, comments posted, and average rating of posts, as well as some sort of rating of the Slashdot story itself. And then in the end, what do we have? "This story was a 6, but that story was a 9?" I don't think that it would really help.

Whenever I think about adding a feature I try to think about the problem it is trying to solve. I don't think this solves a problem. What would you use this new metric for? Setting your user preferences to say "I only want to read stories with a metric of 5?" That seems pretty pathetic since these numbers would have great fluctuation.

In the end, such a metric would be neat only to settle curiosity. I don't know if it would be useful so I don't know if its worth the work.

Wordy way of saying that I'll probably do something like that at some point, but since its only for curiosity, I don't see it ending up on the front burner for awhile.

Hemos:

We've been talking about a variety of issues - one of the things that's been tossed around is creating a system to let people know that their comments have been replied to. This would be an interesting addition, as I think it would promote longer discussions.

One of other areas that's been suggested is giving a way to look at how much comments have been moderated without having to look at the comments, like a scoring index or something. That'd be an interesting touch, if nothing else, to see how controversial particular comments are.

- Isn't it about time the moderation abuses and "first posters" are addressed?

I think that the revoking of auto-long comment bonus has done substantial work on that. My general feeling is that logging in and reading the comments at Threshold 1 goes a long way towards helping to sift out the abuse comments.

- Will we ever be able to moderate or score the articles themselves?

That's an interesting concept, but one that's difficult to implement. What do you take into account? Comments? Click-thrus to read the comments? Rating the story itself? And should the author be rated as well? Morever, what point does this accomplish? The same as reading comments, in that you don't read some below a certain level? But I don't agree that comments and stories are the same thing - I think that sometimes stories that wouldn't get much as much traffic, and thus a lower metric, should still get attention from readers.

So, long way of saying, yes, something could/will be done, but it's difficult to decide what exactly "it" is.

----------

2) Editorial Independence
by JordanH

Other media take steps to separate the Editorial from the business functions so as to maintain Editorial Independence.

What will Andover be doing to make sure we can continue to trust that Slashdot Editorial policy is not in thrall to advertisers' concerns?

Hemos:

Well, early on we had a couple struggles with that particular issue, but since they were settled things have been wonderful. They understand that we've got the vision for the site, and that if we compromise our vision Slashdot will suffer. They don't want Slashdot to suffer because it would hurt the amount of banner ads that can be sold on the site, plus the fact that they're simply being moral human beings.

Morever, we had a really good lawyer who worked with us on the deal. We've created a contractual situation to run things as we always have. Frankly, I don't like dealing with advertisers - even though I sold the banner ads for a while. It's not because I don't like selling the banner ads, but the notion of compromising is one that makes me squeamish inside.

I also get a huge amount of flame mail if anyone thinks we're compromising. Considering asbestos is hard to get your hands on these days, for my own self-protection I'll avoid it at all costs.

Closing: Basically, you need to trust us. You also need to tell us if you think it's happening. I don't think it will because of both Rob's and my non-desire for it, as well as, honestly, Andover's really good and sharp people, who actually have an understanding of Slashdot.

CmdrTaco:

Take our word for it? Part of the Slashdot contract with Andover guaranteed that Hemos & I would be given editorial control over Slashdot. Our editorial independance is very important... I had to explain this one a few times in the early days at Andover when sales folks would try to get me to post stories for advertisers. Once I explained the concept of integrity they backed off.

----------

3) Slash 0.4
by kuro5hin

For a long time now, those who want to use and improve the slashdot code have been wondering, and waiting, and hoping for the much promised 0.4 tarball. Many of them have in fact become quite irate about the lag between code releases, the lack of a CVS server, and the overall appearance that the slashdot gang doesn't practice what it preaches ("release early, release often"). How would you respond to these criticisms, and do you intend to change the development practices in any way in the future?

CmdrTaco:

I get a nice flamey email about once a week from some ass who calls me a hypocrite and slams me for not getting out a new release. My usual response is to tell them that I delay the release by 24 hours each time someone asks me when a new Slash tarball will be out.

Seriously, there are only 3 people who really know how much work a source release for this is: CowboyNeal, Patrick and Me. And the three of us have been working on a lot of stuff. As I write this, we are bugfixing and documenting and preparing for a source release. There is a private CVS server that one day soon will be publicly read only.

This isn't like other projects: it has been custom fit to our hardware and to our needs. It doesn't have install scripts or help or even comments in the code. We're just too busy to play tech support helping dozens of people compile mod_perl and tune Apache. We've decided to squash the bugs and make a clean release rather than rush it.

It's really easy for someone to complain that I didn't release a new version of the source code every week. Its also easy to forget that in the last 6 months we've doubled in traffic and we've had to optimize our code and hardware to handle that. A new source release is secondary: Our job is running Slashdot. We want to release new versions of Slash, but it is a definite second priority to keeping Slashdot moving.

Finally, it's coming soon. It'll be out when its finished. And if you ask me again I'll postpone it again.

----------

4) Meta-Moderation
by Royster

How well is Meta-Moderation working? What pergentage of Meta-Mods are unfair? Do you think that it has improved Moderation on /.?

Hemos:

I still meta-moderate on occasion, although the percentage of time that I do it has been dropping off. Why? Because in the beginning I was rating at least a few unfairs in every screenful, but at this point the percentage of unfairs I rate has really dropped off. I think that's a credit to the readers, really. We had huge numbers of people going through and rating the moderators, and we eliminated quite a number of moderators. The number of fairs is well north of the 90% range.

CmdrTaco:

Informally I've gone in and meta moderated myself several times over the last few months and found the percentage of bad moderations dropping. When I started, every page of 10 M2 moderations I loaded had a couple of unfairs on it. These days I can occasionally load a page and get only fair moderations. I definitely think M2 has improved Slashdot.

---------

5) Critical Person Insurance
by jsm2

How crucial are the two of you to Andover's vision of /.? Do you have a clause like Charles Schultz' that says that nobody else can edit slashdot? What happens if the whole thing stops being fun for you (as it very well might)? Do Andover suck in the loss, or do we get introduced to "Scrappy-Doo and SuperGeek, the ALL NEW slashdot crew"? Has Andover.net taken out critical person insurance on you in case something dreeadful happens? Could they, in principle, fire your asses, or force you to resign on matter of principle?

CmdrTaco:

Our contract says we're staying at Andover for quite awhile, and I'm cool with that. I spent 2 years tailoring a job to be exactly what I wanted to do, and now Andover pays me every other week to continue doing it. As long as I'm involved with Slashdot, I have creative control. And they can't fire us without 'just cause'. And we have a good lawyer! So I'm not really concerned about that.

Hemos:

Well, as I said before, we've got a really nice contract. Rob and I are both on contract with Andover for quite some time yet - it's over 2 years that we are going to be there. Frankly, both of us really like it here and wouldn't want to go anywhere else. Our jobs involve doing what we love to do. As for the insurance question - yes. That's under control.

Like I was saying above, Andover recognizes how critical we and our vision of Slashdot are to Slashdot itself, and that makes for a good working situation. That, and we can only be fired for just cause, which as far as I can figure means that I need to be convicted of a felony, shoot Rob, or reshape Slashdot into an interpretative dance site.

----------

6) One for all those grrls out there...
by kimflournoy

After going back and reading the archives from After Y2K, I have only one question, which I'm sure many of the women around here would like the answer to as well:

When will we finally see the "Men of /." pinup calendar at Think Geek?

Hemos:

I think the black-market calender has already surfaced on eBay. If I remember correctly, that's the shaved-and-baby-oil calender. The other, the one with the motorcycle picture, has been sighted as far as Beta Teugue and as close as 7-11.

CmdrTaco:

Just as soon as someone decides to start randomly gimping my face onto pictures of the hunks from Baywatch or something. Quite frankly, my real body ain't quite pinup-worthy, but with a little doctoring I could be super hunky.

----------

7) Personal life?
by Mark A. Storer

I guess this is a question for both of you:

How's life in meatspace?

Lets just lay all technical issues aside for a moment. I want to know Who You Are, as people, not webmasters.

We have a pretty good idea of the comings and goings of your professional lives, but what about your friends, family, and groupies?

Mmmm... groupies.

CmdrTaco:

Thats a big question for a little interview, isn't it?

I think anyone who reads Slashdot (or who has read Slashdot since Chips and Dips) has a really good idea of what I'm into: Linux, Hacking, Movies. CmdrTaco.Net shows a lot of my art. I'm into ceramics. I spend my free time with my girlfriend, who also is a homebody. I watch South Park and the Simpsons and the X-Files. I obsessively play my guitar whenever I possibly can (and drive hemos nuts: I keep my Les Paul in the office and play it far too loud whenever possible). I don't leave the house very often (I've put 2,200 miles on my car in the last 6 months) except to go to the airport for conferences. Most of my friends live here at the geek compound too.

Hemos:

Frankly, I've had the best year of my life. Slashdot's been doing really well, which makes me happy. I'm going to be getting married in June (24th, for all you wedding present purchasers. :)) and have moved comfortably into psuedo-parenthood of my fiancee's daughter.

At some point in the next six months I'll probably be moving. There's a couple of places in mind right now, one East, in the Boston area, while Ann Arbor, MI is also a contender.

Besides my recent housefire, I've had a really good year. I work with some of my closest friends, and have had more time recently go out hiking and spend time in the room-with-blue-ceiling. I think I'll be taking a vacation sometime in the next few months and may not even bring a computer.

Plus, Moby released "Play" which is one of the best albums ever.

----------

8) What About the Slashdot Story Submission Queue?
by nullspace

I think it would be interesting to be able to view the story submission queue. That is, what type of stories are being submitted, which stories are being rejected and why, and other interesting trivia. Would you allow users to be able to view this queue, and if not, why?

Hemos:

One comment: Having us write rejections is probably impossible. I've tried to do the math, but considering the sheer amount of submissions we get, the people-power to write the rejection reasons won't work. Perhaps as a drop-down box, but still - we're dealing with hundreds per day.

CmdrTaco:

This is in the FAQ dammit! I don't wanna answer it again! Thats what the FAQ is FOR! AAAAGGHHH!

Seriously, there are a lot of reasons that it would make sense to do this. Unfortunately there are a lot of reasons not to do this too. The reason is abuse. If you saw some of the crap that gets submitted, you'd understand. Besides that, I don't want the submissions bin to be littered with noise like "First Post" and "Meept". We're already really busy sifting through 300 odd submissions each day, and we don't need it to be a game.

----------

9)What happened to browser and os stats?
by John Ratke

There used to be a slashdot page where we could see the daily hit count by browser and OS. While sometimes depressing (2/3's browsing from Windows!), it was very interesting. Is there any chance we will see this again? Is this now information that you feel you need to keep private for some reason? What about the number of registered slashdot users? Could we find that out?

CmdrTaco:

I stopped logging it. I could stick it back in someday, but since I wasn't logging browser info, I couldn't generate those numbers. Maybe we'll do that again someday. Its fun trivia if nothing less.

----------

10)DeCSS
by Col. Klink (retired)

The DVDCA named /. as a John Doe in the DeCSS case. Will you guys be personally fighting this battle, or letting others? Will you be donating $ to EFF to help fight this battle?

Hemos:

We aren't personally fighting this. Because the case is based in Santa Clara, and Rob starts gibbering whenever he's taken outside, we won't be doing shuttle commuting to the hearings. Chris DiBona has been keeping an eye on it, and Andover's lawyers are obviously interested in what's going on. I think because of our corporate involvement in it, we won't be contributing money to the EFF, but will be using our own resources to help in the fight.

I think after the upcoming Jan. 14 hearing we'll take stock of where things are then, and if the situation is such that we need to get personally involved, than by all means.

CmdrTaco:

I don't really know what we're gonna do quite yet. As it stands, I really don't think they have much of a case: the First Amendment gives us freedom of speech. It means we can talk about things. It means we can share information. And it means that simply talking about a piece of code is no more illegal then talking about how you feel about Chechnya or how your Senator voted on something.

----------

11) One Definitive Day
by Effugas

It seems like whenever we embark on some crazy job, there ends up being one day we always remember, one set of circumstances that we could never have experienced without beginning that journey but never have predicted in advance.

Since the creation and subsequent explosion of Slashdot, what one day stands out in your mind as the most randomly odd of them all?

CmdrTaco:

I can't pick just one. Here are the most critical:

1. The day Mozilla's Open Source announcement hit. Many people were crediting Slashdot along with ESR for the big news. It was definitely a defining moment, and a major publicity thing. We doubled our traffic in the following weeks. That was when the mainstream media started skimming Slashdot for story ideas.

2. The day I quit my "Real" job and started work on Slashdot full time. I was freaked out for a week.

3. The night I changed the moderation system from 20-odd people to 500 people with a single database query. I knew that it was a major step towards creating a scalable system to encourage group discussion.

Hemos:

I think there's a few times that really stand out:

-One of them is the Hellmouth series. The post-Columbine writing really brought an outpouring of writing and people to Slashdot, as well as a lot of attention from the outside world.

-The Mozilla Story was one of our first stories that really got a lot of the outside world interested in Slashdot and what we were doing. This was probably our first stepping stone to building what we've currently got.

-Comments. The day that comments really started is when this whole sense of community really developed. Without comments, this interview wouldn't exist, and this site would not be what it is today.

----------

12) More "News for Nerds" Please...
by djohnsto

While others have commented on the degrading S/N ratio of the user comments, I would like to bring attention to the degrading S/N ratio of the stories.

I believe Slashdot got much of its "mature" geek following back when most of the headlines were apolotical in nature. A couple years ago, the biggest threads were generated while discussing new microarchitectures, physical limits of the lithography process, the size of the universe, and other *real* high-tech news.

Since the stories were less subject to political debate, the S/N ratio was good. Now, the only "tech" stories are about nanotech (thanks hemos!) or the Aibo.

With Andover.net now owning Slashdot, am I just SOL? I know that most of the stories are going to be Linux/GPL/Open Source related, and that's fine. But please, Please, *PLEASE*, don't forget that many of your readers are well educated, and would like to spend time thinking about something new and exciting in the tech world rather than reading 500 posts ending with M$ $ucks...

Hemos:

Thanks for the nanotech props. I love my nanites, as everyone well knows. It's a hard question to answer, though. I guess I think that there's stories that go up that I wouldn't really want to be on there. That's been an on-going struggle to define what we want to appear and what we don't want to appear. Remember, as well, that we are limited by what people submit to us, so we're choosing from that bin. We've been trying to do less on the main page, and more in the sections - like YRO, Apache, BSD, and now a Science section.

I'm open to suggestions as to how to keep that up - and please, submit all the stuff that you think is good signal - but remember that it might be someone else's noise.

CmdrTaco:

I don't think what we've posted has significantly changed in the last few years... I think that what happens is that each person only remembers the stories that mattered most to them. The brain has a fuzzy compression algorithm... so the thing that you remembered as being the best on Slashdot was microarchitecture and lithography... but I get email from other people complaining that we should post less of that sort of stuff and more about Linux "Like it used to be" when Slashdot never was just about Linux... they apparently are just remembering the Linux stories with more clarity.

The facts are that we post what people submit. If nothing cool happens in an area, then nothing gets posted. If nobody submits when something cool happens, well, then it won't get posted.

But when the sun sets, we've posted 10 to 15 stories that we think are interesting and we hope you do too. We've done this 8000 times (I've posted over four thousand stories alone!) in the last 2.5 years. Sometimes they're all good. Sometimes there are a few that aren't so hot. Other times so much cool stuff happened that we just couldn't squeeze it all in. But in a year, you're only going to remember the stories that hit you the hardest.

-------------------

Tomorrow: Steve Wozniak answers.

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Interview: CmdrTaco and Hemos Tell All

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward

    So, basically, the score is this: there's a lot of Slashdot readers who think Taco/Hemos are hypocritical assholes for whatever reason (not enough "News For Nerds", no source code release, whatever.) Taco/Hemos seem to be tiring of all the criticism and are starting to adopt what these people see as an "it's our site, screw you guys" attitude.

    Folks, if you're so pissed off at Slashdot, why do you keep reading it?

    No, really. There was a time when Slashdot was the only game in town, but that was long ago. There are other places you can get just about everything that Slashdot provides, except for Taco/Hemos/etc.'s particular slant on things, which is exactly what you seem to be railing against.

    If you really don't like Slashdot and you're tired of complaining and not seeing any results, why not take your business elsewhere? Take those valuable ad impressions and inflate someone else's ad banner stats.

    Face it, kids: Slashdot doesn't owe you anything (unless you own ANDN stock, and I wouldn't count on a dividend, ever.) It's their site, they can do with it as they please. They can continue their moderation system, no matter how abusive you think it is. They can keep their site source to themselves if they want to. If you don't like this, don't patronize them. Go somewhere else with an attitude that better suits your needs.

    [Yes, I fully expect this to be moderated down to -1 (Flamebait, Troll, Irrelevant, Off-Topic, MEEPT!, Gnulix, Natalie Portman, Grits, SEX WITH JAR JAR, Whatever). So be it.]

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I just want one of you linux Zealots to admit it's a holy war.
    Hail Richard

    Hail Richard, bereft of social grace.
    The fnord is with thee.
    Blessed art thou amongst antibusinessmen,
    And blessed is the fruit of thy doom, the GPV.

    Holy Richard, lover of poverty,
    Pray for us coders now,
    And at the hour of our disemployment.

    Anonymous

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 06, 2000 @07:26AM (#1397519)
    PLEASE*, don't forget that many of your readers are well educated, and would like to spend time thinking about something new and exciting in the tech world rather than reading 500 posts ending with M$ $ucks...


    Amen to that. Of course, it's more like 95% of the posts on here are anti-MS from every single angle. It's getting real old, especially how it creeps into almost EVERY single story, and for some reason they get moderated up, and constructive criticism about Linux gets moderated down to "troll"
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 06, 2000 @08:05AM (#1397520)

    since i'm not a moderator and have never seen how it works, thought i might throw this out to the crowd...

    do moderators get to use their moderation points when they have their threshold set > 0?

    the reason i ask is that it seems that there are fewer and fewer comments from AC's getting moderated up. is this a result of less interesting AC comments, or because moderators aren't seeing them because of all the hot grits? i think it would be a shame if ACs were (effectively) eliminated in this way (or any way for that matter. i like being able to post as AC. but if no one will ever see it, than what's the point?)

  • OK. I can see why you'd want, but that has no bearing on what's submitted, or what news is being made.
  • Great - numbers one-four we've done before, five is old news, we've not done 6-8, and the rest we've posted before.
  • by Hemos ( 2 ) on Thursday January 06, 2000 @09:40AM (#1397523) Homepage Journal
    That's the point I was trying to make about the sections - there's stuff in there that doesn't appear on the main page.
  • by drwiii ( 434 )
    A private messaging system would be neat. That's one of the features I implemented at osonline.org [osonline.org], and it's been a nice tool for interacting with others on the site.
  • squishdot.org [squishdot.org] is where you can find squishdot.

    Haven't used it, but heard good things.

    ...j
  • The comment you quote reads to me exactly the way it reads to you. I agree that it's better to release software when it's ready, but, well, none of the (small) bits of open source software on my Web pages are ready; I realised in the end that I'd never get around to making them so. If someone else wants to, they're welcome. If the Slash source were to be released, a project aimed at making it more generally useble would certainly spring up around it.

    But why am I writing this? Just by trying to reason about the issue further, I've delayed the release by another day.

    I don't despise you, Taco and Hemos, but I certainly despise that kind of sentiment. You must really think that we're all children - worse, that we're all *your* children. But Slashdot is much more a creation of its community than of its editors, and the community deserves better. I can't say how much this saddens me.
    --
  • Not all issues revolve around money. Issues of ideals, of hypocrisy, and of betrayal of trust can arise entirely outside the context of money. If you have to see all of life in pounds sterling and pence, though, remember that Rob is selling our eyeballs to make a living now.
    --
  • by Eccles ( 932 ) on Thursday January 06, 2000 @07:37AM (#1397533) Journal
    also would like an internal messaging system so that the system can send users notes. This would be really useful so that the system could alert users that a comment they wrote had been replied to.

    Note that Slashdot currently has a feature that makes this reasonably easy, although it's a "pull" rather than a "push" system. Although the page deprecates itself, the list of one's comments available if you go to 'User Info' -- most immediately by clicking on your user name in tiny type on the front page -- also counts the responses. I check it periodically for responses to my postings.
  • You forget the fact that Malda and crew are the only people smart enough to understand the code.
    I have to agree. Based on what slashdot.org users see, it seems very safe to say that Rob & the rest are not the best programmers using the site. Even if the clueless types have problems (isn't that a law of nature?) it'd at least quiet people up if he'd do a "Take-it-or-leave-it" release...
  • by Wyatt Earp ( 1029 ) on Thursday January 06, 2000 @08:31AM (#1397535)
    "Ever been repeatedly asked the same questions over, and over, and over again? If you were tech supporting some luser who called you three times a day asking which mouse button to use, and you taped a BIG sign to his monitor that said "USE THE LEFT MOUSE BUTTON", and he still called you, how would you behave? :) "

    Yea...you grin, bear it and tell them again. It's called being a professional.

    You have drinks later and then bitch about the id10t.
  • Exactly. I don't understand what sort of weird open source dimension Rob lives in. I've never seen a new release with that worked on anyone but the creator's system. There are many projects that I've watched that when they started didn't even have makefiles. Rob really doesn't seem to understand the benefits of opensource. I'm sure there's many of us out there that can figure out his code no matter what he claims. He's just being extremely arrogant
  • by jd ( 1658 ) <imipak@@@yahoo...com> on Thursday January 06, 2000 @08:00AM (#1397539) Homepage Journal
    Ok, I'm going to start on the controversial one, just for the hell of it. :)

    I would, personally, like to see newer Slash code appear in the code directory. To this end, I would like to openly offer my time and computer resources for any and all development and/or testing and/or technical support that the Slashdot crew are having trouble doing, due to other commitments.

    This is not, repeat -NOT- a request or demand for a fresh Slash release, now or at any other time. It -IS-, however, a sincere offer, in the hope that the folks at Slashdot can concentrate on the work that they -want- to be doing, rather than spending time on maintenance work, installer candy and other side issues.

    I hope this offer will be considered, whether or not it's accepted, at least for the sake of the sanity of CmdrTaco and Hemos. You're good people, and don't deserve to be pestered/flamed for having lives, doing real work, and not cheerily diving into mindless trivia every time someone starts World War III over the perceived slowness of something or other.

    Now for the other issues. The moderation of subjects. Hmmm. I can see the point that the stories would be too much in flux to be useful to the readers, but I also agree that it might give a good indication of what people want to those submitting stories and to those selecting stories to post.

    My view would be, instead of simply extending the current moderation idea, it might be useful to have some kind of binary switch - enjoy or not enjoy, which never got displayed to the general user, but which updated a page only visible to the editors. The editors could then see the current tallies for each story and each subject area, and get a feel for which direction Slashdot readers are generally in.

    Lastly, as for some kind of feedback on when people reply to posts, most of that information exists already on the User page. All you'd really need, to get basic feedback, is simply record what the values were the last time you visited the page, and display the difference.

  • The problem is, the FAQ doesn't answer the question. People are suggesting a community moderation system for the incoming queue. The FAQ just talks about being able to view the submissions. It's a totally different issue. So responding with "That's a FAQ" isn't helpful.

    --

  • I get the sense that Rob, in hs AAGHH, lumps this together with the moderation-system-for-incoming-stories, even though that's a much different concept. That was certainly brought up in the interview-questions story, but not answered here at all.

    --

  • by mattdm ( 1931 ) on Thursday January 06, 2000 @07:26AM (#1397542) Homepage
    Not to be a jerk about it, but perhaps if the process were more open, there'd be someone who would write the install scripts and whatnot for you. Making huge projects managable is part of what open source is all about, isn't it?

    --

  • by moonboy ( 2512 ) on Thursday January 06, 2000 @07:35AM (#1397543) Homepage
    How about an "Article Overflow" page where stories that just didn't quite make the main page get sent to. These stories could be graded/moderated by the readership and possibly moved to the main page if enough interest is generated. I think there are many articles that we geeks would be interested in that are not being posted to the main page. Obviously, you can't post every story to the main page, but it seems that there are many stories that are submitted and not being posted. I might or might not be interested in reading about them, but please let me decide. :-)



    Otherwise, great job on all fronts. Keep up the fantastic work and thanks for allowing us the opportunity to post our ideas and critques.

    ----------------

    "Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds." - Albert Einstein
  • Anybody that develops any kind of software that does anything useful _and_ does not comment it so that should the original developer drop dead

    • gee there would be a lot of dead coders out there...most of the
    • best coders follow the maxim,
      '...I dont write the code to be read...', but seriously, I suggest you read the following slashdot article on 'extreme programming' [slashdot.org].

    Software in the Open Source movement must be BETTER than the commercial stuff in the "coding style and comments"

    • very true... but sometimes to code you have to break the rules. traditional software engineering doctrine (and sanity) demands this, but the slashcode is a case of
    • extreme programming [slashdot.org] . for his first attempts at software john carmack [planetquake.com] once noted (in some quote I read out of his .plan) ... " create something really cool first, then clean it up if it's any good". Slashdot is an example of this.

      extreme programming can be seen as a response to tight deadlines and also evolving software. I guess the question I would ask , is this a result of developing for the web?.


    links:
    http://slashdot.org/books/99/12/21/097256.shtml
    http://finger.planetquake.com/plan.asp?userid=john c&id=13744
  • No, there is not a user consensus for a Slashdot where articles are posted based on moderation in a queue.

    Some of us read Slashdot to a large extent because of the editorial bias.

    It might be interesting to see a separate site (maybe a ``queue.slashdot.org [slashdot.org]'' or so?) which displays articles based on how well moderated they are out of a queue. It's a cool concept. It would be great to see it done as an offshoot of Shashdot, to take advantage of the quantity of submissions. Just please don't hasten the demise of the existing Slashdot by replacing it with an all-moderated version!

  • by Gosub ( 3011 ) on Thursday January 06, 2000 @07:49AM (#1397548) Homepage
    You forget the fact that Malda and crew are the only people smart enough to understand the code. That's what I see when I read:

    We're just too busy to play tech support helping dozens of people compile mod_perl and tune Apache. We've decided to squash the bugs and make a clean release rather than rush it.

    This is the attitude that makes people write you flames about not turning your code loose. You aren't the only people who can compile mod_perl and support Apache. And, believe it or not, there are people out here who are intelligent enough to understand your code without you having to explain it.

    Release the code as extreme alpha, refuse to support Apache and mod_perl, and put your money where your mouth is about being a member of the OpenSource community.

    Calling people who question you an ass really illustrates that you have no logical leg to stand on in your arguments.
  • Hmm.. I am not so sure that it is *Rob* who doesn't understand Open Source.

    Releasing you software under an Open Source licence does not put you under any obligations to release it before it is finished! You can do whatever you like with it so long as you keep the source open.

    Rob & Co are coding the Slash source in their own time & you are giving them nothing but grief for it. When it is ready it will be released (providing Rob wants to release it).

    You have no claim on the source until it is released & unless you are prepared to offer up something in return then why should any programmer feel that they have to release their code just to keep you happy?

    Sure, there are benefits to the 'release early, release often' maxim, but I people choose to do it their own way then that is their business, not yours.


    Please grow up.


  • by Otter ( 3800 ) on Thursday January 06, 2000 @08:18AM (#1397550) Journal
    I just thought I'd mention that it is already possible to track replies to your comments by going to the preferences->user.info page.

    That's what I use but it requires an extra page load. What I'd like is a Slashbox with that information. I wrote to CowboyNeal about it but never heard back. Do other people think this would be useful?
  • by drewpt ( 3975 ) on Thursday January 06, 2000 @07:35AM (#1397554)
    We've decided to squash the bugs and make a clean release rather than rush it.

    Isn't this one of the MAIN reasons Open Source is supposed to be so good?

    Let the community fix the bugs. Obviously if it's good enough to serve the number of pages you do a day, it's good enough for Joe Schmoe to run it on his server.

    -Hypocricy
  • Nobody's talking about having a "right" to the Slashdot code. Nobody's talking about legally enforcing that fictitious right, or about being ethically wronged by Rob.

    Rob has a right to keep his code closed source, to pick his nose in public, or to post a "Racist Rant of the Week" on the front page. Just because he has a right to do it doesn't mean it's a good idea.

    We're not asking for bug-free code, commented code, or even ready to release code. And it's not even like OSS coders are depending on a Slash release; there are other slash-like codebases out there, just a year or more less advanced. All we're asking is "tar czf slash.tar.gz ..."

    And the "hypocrisy" claim, albeit extreme, is important here. Nobody is begging Yahoo, DejaNews, or ZDNet to release their CGI code. But the fact that Slashdot, the most popular open source friendly site on the net, isn't releasing source code? It's just a bit annoying.

    Imagine if, after the initial release of buggy, lobotomized Communicator code, Netscape had announced that they changed their minds, and were going to release all future Navigator work under a closed source only. Well, that would be their right, and it would be much more reasonable for Netscape than for Slashdot to stop releasing source... but do you not think that everyone here, including the editors, would be outraged and disappointed? Imagine if after AOL (read: Andover) made its purchases, Netscape under new management never released another line of code?

    Granted, we all trust Rob's good intentions, but if those intentions are to wait until they have well-commented, perfectly designed, autoconfigured portable code to release... then anyone still expecting that release is just deluding themselves.
  • No one is claiming they have a right to anything. All we're saying is it is completely hypocritical to sit around post 8000 stories over the years, probably a quarter of which were about either how so-and-so must be lauded for releasing the code to blank (think Netscape, Oracle, Sun), or condemning someone else for condoning "security through obscurity," etc. Rob can call people asses and drag his feet all he wants, but the reality is that a code release would take approximately ten minutes to tarball up all the required files and throw them into an ftp directory. Yet he has taken more than a year, IIRC. Surely he can't have run this site for more than two years and be such an ignoramus as to not realize that the whole point of releasing the code is to get help in writing the docs and cleaning it up, which, ostensibly, are the reasons why he hasn't so far. I think the bigger problem is that there are probably gaping holes which could be easily exploited and he wants to clean them up. Fine, but it would go a lot quicker if the entire world could help.

    --
  • by Uruk ( 4907 ) on Thursday January 06, 2000 @08:31AM (#1397560)
    "Since this is a written medium, it's often hard to detect someone's 'tone' by what they're typing. Ever piss someone off because they misinterptreted something you emailed them? Without all of the vocal intonations, it's easy to have the meaning lost in this medium."

    This is totally true. My post is just my reactions to the article, but you're right about the fact that you can't tell with the written word. Usually, people use the :) emoticon to tell you that they're not really serious if they say something harsh, and he didn't. I'm not attacking him further, just saying that those were my impressions

    "Ever been repeatedly asked the same questions over, and over, and over again? If you were tech
    supporting some luser who called you three times a day asking which mouse button to use, and you taped a BIG sign to his monitor that said "USE THE LEFT MOUSE BUTTON", and he still called you, how
    would you behave? :) "

    Sure, I can relate to that feeling, I just don't think it applies in this situation for several reasons:

    1.) It was posted later on that indeed that is NOT a FAQ. :)
    2.) It obviously must be worth answering, because since it was asked of him, it means that it was probably moderated to 5 and enough people thought it was interesting enough to warrant asking Rob about it.
    3.) When Rob in this case acts pissy at being asked the same thing several times, he's not being rude to some random luser that asked a FAQ, he's being rude to everyone simulateously on slashdot. Usually there's a higher threshold for people before they'll act that way towards however many THOUSAND people are on slashdot
    4.) Hemos seems to have restrained himself like a regular human all through the interview so it's hard for me to think that it's not possible for someone else.

    Again, I claim no factual content at all to that, just my impressions.

  • by Uruk ( 4907 ) on Thursday January 06, 2000 @07:56AM (#1397561)
    Is it just me or is CmdrTaco sometimes act like a real ass?

    I know this is definately going to be an unpopular opinion, but I really think that sometimes he just acts like an ass for its own sake. I can understand getting frustrated with script kiddies and first posters and the natalie portman statuette mafia etc. etc. etc. but his tone just seems so short and contentious when he writes things sometimes.

    Maybe I'm picking nits. But when I see Hemos answer the questions, even when he's probably answered the same thing 10,000 times, he at least answers it graciously. From malda, you get things like "If you ask me again, I'll delay it 24 more hours" (which for me translates to, "If you ask me this question, I'll purposely do something to spite you that isn't productive for either of us") and also the moaning about the fact that somebody asked a FAQ. People ask FAQs all the time, but only elitist flamers from USENET seem to jump all over people who ask FAQs.

    I can understand being strung out or busy or even flat out annoyed at the readers of slashdot, but there's no reason to not be at least a little bit gracious or patient with an interview that he decided to submit to himself. I've never met EITHER hemos or cmdrtaco in person, but I just get the feeling that hemos is probably more laid back and personable.

    These are only my opinions, hate them as much as you want. (Which I'm sure plenty of you will take me up on)

  • by jlv ( 5619 ) on Thursday January 06, 2000 @10:05AM (#1397562)
    It appears that the obvious conclusion of this thread is that "slash" is following the Cathedral method of development -- it isn't being a successful "open source" project. That being so, it's time to stop asking them for further source releases and just move on.

    The good news is that the released source has already forked, and several viable alternatives have already been developed that are feature compatible with "slash". So, rather than asking for a new "slash" release, simply pick one of those actively and openly developed systems to use and contribute back to. This _is_ the whole point of open source. Vote with your use.

    The "slash"-similar systems mentioned in this thread were:
    Looks like they all have either open CVS servers or frequent snapshots.
  • Shouldn't that be Wozniak? Just checking.
  • What I'd like is for every comment to have three radio buttons:

    ( ) Good
    ( ) Okay
    ( ) Bad

    and to start with, none of them would be selected (ie the choice is 'undefined'). Then you can click on them as you are reading Slashdot normally.

    The choices you make wouldn't be used for moderation in the usual way, but rather to help Slashdot decide which comments you want to see in future. For example, you may like comments by a particular author, or dislike comments containing the words 'Beowulf'. Obviously some heuristics are needed here to try and work out general patterns - but see below.

    Then the default scoring of comments would be based on the average preferences of Slashdot as a whole. Scores for an individual user would be determined from that user's own preferences, but also from what other users have selected as 'good' or 'bad'. If Slashdot finds that my opinion is consistently disagreeing with the opinion of some other reader, then it could stop taking that reader's views into account when scoring articles for me. Likewise, there could be other readers whose idea of a good comment I usually share. So there is no need for meta-moderation - each user has their own idea of who is a good moderator.

    This could get hairy on the inside - trying to evolve a good system for working out what people like - but it couldn't be any worse than just taking the average opinion of Slashdot as a whole, as the current system does. And I think the interface to the reader is ideal - or at least much better than three separate pages for reading, moderation and meta-moderation.
  • I think you should ask for your money back.
  • I wonder how many sites are using Slash or a Slash-type system?

    It would be cool to have a meta-Slashdot, which gathers together all the stories from lots of different sites on a single page. Clicking the 'read more' link would take you to the individual sites.

    Maybe it would be worthwhile (in theory) to define a common interface for Slash, Squishdot etc so that headline tickers, the above meta-Slashdot, notifiers like Rob mentioned and so on could work for all the different forum-based sites.
  • I don't think you can accuse Rob of hypocrisy - he's never said that all software should be publicly released the moment it is written. Still less so when it isn't finished yet. There are plenty of free software projects (XFree86 for one, and of course all the FSF stuff) that make individual releases some time apart.

    As for betrayal of trust, did Rob promise that he would release 0.4 by a certain date?
  • by pen ( 7191 ) on Thursday January 06, 2000 @07:58AM (#1397573)
    According to Whatis.com, "Slashdot, the Web site, is named, according to Slashdot originator Jeff "Hemos" Bates, as "a play on how terrible it is to say domain names out loud.""

    URL: http://www.whatis.com/slashdot_effect.htm [whatis.com]

    So, all along, Rob has been bullying Hemos into letting him take the credit! Of course, Whatis.com could be confused, but... let's face it... what are the chances of that happening?

    --

  • by Listerine ( 7695 ) on Thursday January 06, 2000 @12:42PM (#1397574) Homepage
    It doesn't work as well as CmdrTaco and Hemos believe... it worked well in the beginning because wed get Karma points for m2ing... but after that was killed off it lost its glamour. I used to do it if I feelt like being a moderator, but then that stopped too. Theres just no reward for meta-moderating.

    • Problems:
    • no accountability
    • no reward
    • no visible effect
    • easy to abuse
    • time/benifits ratio too low...
    Well those are just my opinions on it. For all I know I could be abnormal...
  • by kuro5hin ( 8501 ) on Thursday January 06, 2000 @08:02AM (#1397576) Homepage
    If I were a moderator right now, I'd do it myself. I asked that question, knowing that this is the answer I'd get. We've all seen this before, but I thought that perhaps other people reading the site who wouldn't know what to do with the slash code if they had it might not have.

    Now, I'm all for people's right to do what they want. And if they don't want to release, well, there's nothing we can do abut that. But in this case, the attitude is one of such deep and abiding rectal-cranial inversion that it still never fails to piss me off, as it's pissed off and alienated the rest of the potential development comunity as well.

    I get a nice flamey email about once a week from some ass who calls me a hypocrite and slams me for not getting out a new release.

    Does that maybe tell you something? Maybe some of those "asses" have a point. I know you also regularly get reminders which are not in the least "flamey" and which merely seek to point out that you are, in fact, giving a big fuck you to the very community and ideals that support you.

    You know what the first thing I would do if I had the code is? Write an install script. We're not as dumb as you think, Rob. There are many people out here who can understand even YOUR terrible code.

    Basically, the above poster said it. Grow up. Get your head out of your ass and look around. You're not important because people read your website. Start acting like you believe what you preach. And fuck you, too.

    "Moderation is good, in theory."
    -Larry Wall

  • Bull. Nothing in the interview says anything remotely to the effect that nobody can understand the source but them. That's why the phrase was "dozens." They expect more than "dozens" of people to get the source, but the reality is that when you give away software, regardless of any diclaimers of responsibility, people expect you to support it and will start bombarding you with questions. A few of the people who d/l the source will certainly start asking about compiling mod_perl and tuning Apache and so fourth. While I can't speak to this personally, I am sure that the guys already have enough crap filling up their mailboxes. It's easy for us to say "refuse to support them" from the outside, but the reality is that this stuff does take time to deal with, if only to read enough of the mail to see that it's headed for the round file.

    Furthermore, it's easy to get offended at the implication that we might not understand their code, but have you ever tried reading uncommented Perl written by someone other than yourself? Perl's a wonderful language to write in, but its flexibility makes in nearly incomprehensible unless the writer has the same Perl style as you. Now add the fact that it's written for a specific website, on specific hardware, with specific cooperating software, and you have code that I bet even they can't read half the time. And the reality is that there are tons of people out there who would just jump at the chance to roast Malda et al for putting out lousy code. Many of them are the same people currently barbecuing them for not releasing the code right now.

    They're not saying everyone's too dumb to read their code. They're saying dumb people exist, who will make things very unpleasant if the code isn't clean and useable when it's released. They've got people flaming them now for not releasing, they'll get people flaming them for releasing lousy code if they do release, so where's the advantage for them in releasing now?

    The Slashdot crew is working its collective ass off for one of the world's most demanding and unforgiving audiences. I'm glad they're having fun, but I wouldn't trade places with them no matter what they paid me. I think they deserve to be cut a little slack.

  • Sorry, missed whatever thread you're referring to. I'm not really interested in beating this into the ground again, but the shock (honor?) of recieving a response from someone who has written several of the books on my reference shelf compels me to defend my comments. Feel free to ignore this if you've had this argument too many times already.

    I absolutely agree that spaghetti code sucks in any language, and certainly can be written in any language. The fact that the Slash code is uncommented is poor form, language aside. However, the fact that it's in Perl adds some additional complications. Perl's primary virtue, to my mind, is its flexibility- no language I have encountered has come close to Perl in its ability to empower the programmer to do whatever the hell she wants to do, no questions asked. You can write poetry that compiles, for crying out loud! This flexiblity comes at a price, however. If the programmer is coding intelligently and obeying principles of good coding style and form, Perl is as legible as any other language- it is flexible enough to be totally readable. However, it is also flexible enough to be totally illegible. A quick and dirty get-the-job-done hack is by definition messy, and I get the impression Slash falls under that category. The problem is that Perl gives the programmer a lot of lattitude to be messy if she isn't careful. If I am trying to make sense of a piece of C or Java, there are certain basic elements I can count on- a main() enclosed in brackets, explicit variable declarations, functions which explicitly declare the arguments they take, etc. In Perl, none of these are required, and are often left out when one is in a hurry. This flexibility can make the code that much harder to understand. This is why languages which are explicitly designed for multi-programmer projects (e.g. Java) generally enforce much stricter rules of structure and syntax.

    None of this is intended as a slam against Perl. Far from it, in fact; Perl is my favorite language, precisely because the aforementioned flexibility makes it so much fun, and I most emphatically agree that that flexibility is a feature, not a bug. I think most Slashdot readers would agree that freedom is worth the occasional hassles which it imposes, in language design as well as in real life. However, it is important to be aware of those hassles, so as to avoid them as much as possible. In the case of Perl, having been bittten a couple times by being unable to read my own code, I am now doubly careful to comment and otherwise behave myself when I am coding in Perl.

    I was, perhaps, guilty of exaggeration in my previous comments- Perl is by no means write-only by definition- but my point was not about Perl, so I did not worry too much about the accuracy of my comments as far as Perl is concerned.

  • by dave_aiello ( 9791 ) on Thursday January 06, 2000 @11:00AM (#1397584) Homepage
    Rob Malda wrote:

    It's really easy for someone to complain that I didn't release a new version of the source code every week. Its also easy to forget that in the last 6 months we've doubled in traffic and we've had to optimize our code and hardware to handle that. A new source release is secondary: Our
    job is running Slashdot. We want to release new versions of Slash, but it is a definite second priority to keeping Slashdot moving.

    I'm really glad Rob said this.

    For those of you who don't know, Temple Hoff is running a mailing list called Slash-help [asu.edu]: the Slash Code Support Group. This is for anyone who is trying to take the 0.3 release of the code and make it work on their own server.

    The list has been a little slow for the past couple of months now. But, it's gotten more lively in the past week or so, because many of the people who have made postings critical of Rob and Jeff here today have been refining their arguments.

    It's sort of funny that people are complaining about the delays associated with a 0.4 release because these same people would be complaining loudly if 0.4 were out now and the main Slashdot site was suffering repeated outages.

    Another thing that seems to be getting lost is that releasing a new version of the code in an OpenSource project is a two edged sword. Sure, you can put out a partially functional application -- some would say that's a good description of 0.3. But, if they put 0.4 out in an incomplete state, and people responded with fixes for problems, many would complain about the speed at which changes were incorporated into the CVS tree.

    I've invested a lot of time modifying 0.3 to work in a different environment. It's been one of the best learning experience I've had in years. I recommend it highly to anyone who is really interested in how a content management system works. A lot of the techniques they use in 0.3 are available elsewhere, in systems like Vignette and Interwoven. The only thing is that they cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to implement.

    When 0.4 is released, we will evaluate it and probably incorporate some of its features into what we are doing. Most people who have some real investment in the Slashdot architecture will have to do that also.

    If you are sitting out there observing this, trying to figure out who's right, ask yourself this question: Do the people who are shouting the loudest for releasing the latest source have anything invested in understanding, operating, and enhancing the Slash environment? If not, have they seriously evaluated what is available, or do they come from the "Boycott {insert evil capitalist enterprise name here}!" School of Idealism?

    You are entitled to any opinion about this process that you want to assert. But, I guarantee that 0.4 will have as many support issues as 0.3, if not more. It's going to be more complicated. Regardless of how many people are involved in the enhancement process, it will be some time before you can install and operate this in anything close to a turn-key fashion.

    At the end of the day, I come from the school that believes in an author's right to determine the circumstances underwhich he releases his code. If Rob and Jeff want to go slowly, that is their right and we ought to respect that. And, the fact that there has been a long gap between the 0.3 and 0.4 releases does not suddenly make the Slash engine a Closed Source product.

    --

    Dave Aiello

  • by HomerJ ( 11142 ) on Thursday January 06, 2000 @07:54AM (#1397592)
    By the time I saw the atriclte to post questions, it was already off the main page.

    Have you every thought about a monthly Slashdot magazine? Have editorials, some of the funnier UF comics, and stories that don't quite fit in the space for an article. Could also have a "geek jobs" section for people looking for linux/open source programmers and other interesting jobs. Not to mention a good source of ad revenue. Think of the $$ from a cross-promotional webiste/print campaign =)

    Think a /. Monthly is something we will se in the coming future? If so, I want to be the first to sign up.
  • Good point, but my instincts are that you're wrong. Let me attempt to explain why.

    For a commercial organisation to risk spending money on developing the software requires two things: a revenue model and a market.

    With regard to revenue, IMO the banner advertising thing is just about played out by now. How many companies built on that model are actually making a profit? There are no millions to be made unless you count fraudulent IPOs, and SURELY that bubble must burst soon.

    With regard to the market, Slashdot has a solid, loyal following that has been built up over some time. Most of us are diehard geeks with at least some traces of an anti-authority, anti-corporate streak. We also have a good nose for BS artists looking to fleece the world in a meaningless IPO.
    A commercial organisation who was clearly just in it for the money would simply not be guaranteed the same kind of support from the community that Slashdot has enjoyed.

    Because of both of these factors, any company seeking to muscle in faces substantial risks to be weighed against the costs of developing and maintaining the software and otherwise launching and running the business. Remember, the reason Rob and Jeff sought a backer in the first place, was that running the site was costing them lot of time and money.

    I'm pretty sure that the only way to emulate Slashdot's success is to employ a similar formula. It must be a 'hobby' site with no ostensible signs of cashing in at someone else's expense, the people doing it must possess a measure of 'coolness' and the owners must be credible supporters of the open source community.

    To take business away from Slashdot it must also bring something new to the table, such as the new functionality I discussed.

    IMHO, a profit-oriented business can't easily fulfil these requirements without facing a lot of risk. Only an enthusiast, doing it just for the crack, is likely to accept those risks and still look credible. But if the current version of Slash is released, the sofware barrier to entry is removed and almost anyone can enter the market with little outlay and thus little risk.

    Consciousness is not what it thinks it is
    Thought exists only as an abstraction
  • by ralphclark ( 11346 ) on Thursday January 06, 2000 @03:25PM (#1397596) Journal
    I think of Slashdot as being the twenty-first century equivalent of the newspaper. I have no doubt that Slashdot has a relatively large influence on the active agenda of the internet geek community by helping to shape opinion, mobilise popular support etc. Maybe the reason Rob and Jeff don't want to open up the submissions queue is because they'd lose editorial control. After all, it's a very big thing to own your own newspaper and have that amount of influence.

    So why am I mentioning this here? Bear with me a moment.

    It just occurred to me that a similar sort of thinking could be behind their reluctance to release the current version of the Slash source code. The currently available version is missing all the whizzy moderation features etc that make Slashdot different from other sites.

    Now if the dynamic duo did release the current version as Open Source, I'll bet you space credits to navy beans that within a couple of weeks there would be at least one Slashdot-alike up on the net with the very features that so many readers seem to want but Rob and Jeff don't want to implement.

    And the Slashdot crew would then be forced to follow suit or else risk seeing their readership melt away as they abandon Slashdot for a more open, democratic news site.

    To put it more succinctly, if the above scenario is likely then opening up the current source would inevitably (i) lead to (i) stiffer competition (ii) force Slashdot to evolve according to public demand and (iii) cause a major loss of editorial control.

    Even if Rob and Jeff were prepared to take the risk, Andover might not be.

    Of course this line of reasoning assumes that readers would want moderation-style influence over the selection of headline stories. But there's plenty of evidence that this is in fact the case, just read the rest of the comments to see for yourself.

    And just think what evolution in that direction would mean. The Slash system with added open submissions moderation system would provide a truly open forum along the lines of Usenet, but with active moderation. It would be what Usenet was meant to be, what it could have been if not for the terrible signal-to-noise ratio and the horrible time lag between post and response. It would be the Usenet that we always wanted.

    However, Rob and Jeff and Andover at large have their own interests to protect.

    For that reason, I don't believe we will see the current version released under the GPL until someone else releases an open sourced and functionally equivalent system thus making the issue moot.

    Who can blame them, really.

    Consciousness is not what it thinks it is
    Thought exists only as an abstraction
  • From what I've seen, it's not so much that Microsoft's products are inferior. Most of the time they work fine, or at least par for the industry.

    The problem that a lot of people have with Microsoft is their monopolistic business practices. Even leaving aside the ethical and legal questions some of these practices raise, these practices hurt competion and create a climate were even competitors with superior technology have severe difficulties making inroads into the market. The end result is that we are forced (or at least heavily influenced) to use, and pay for, software that may not be the best or even wanted in the first place.

    The other problem people (esp. geeks) have with Microsoft is that their software is not designed primarily for power users, so that programmers, hackers, and all other kinds of computer-knowledgeable people run into artificial constraints on what they can do with Microsoft's software, and that is frustrating :)
  • by sbuckhopper ( 12316 ) on Thursday January 06, 2000 @09:06AM (#1397599) Homepage Journal
    I'm sorry, but I do not think that this answer is BS. This is not your web site, so if you want to have a special news site of your own that has user moderation of the submitted articles then go ahead and start one and see if it gets more popular than Slashdot. If for some reason it does, then come back here and say "Told ya so."

    But for now, Slashdot is still controlled by CmdTaco and Hemos and I don't think they're going to leave any time soon which means that there won't be moderation of story submissions.

    I personally agree with CmdTaco and Hemos because I don't know about you, but I am not the Slashdot Man, I actually spend most of my day working and take a break here and there to check Slashdot to see if any interesting stories have popped up. If the users were allowed to moderate the stories being posted that would cause a large abundance of stories going through the main page causing the amount of time I can spend reading each story to decrease, also causing the amount of interesting conversation on the stories to decrease.

    I think that moderation of the stories would decrease my reading pleasure of Slashdot and force me to go find some other new site to get my daily fix from.

    I think you need to figure out the difference of something being "bigger than Rob Malda now" and something that you would have if you ran your own cute little Slashdot copycat. This is the original and they are waaaaaaay ahead of any other "open journalism"

    My hat goes off to the Slashdot crew!
  • Although the page deprecates itself, the list of one's comments available if you go to 'User Info' -- most immediately by clicking on your user name in tiny type on the front page -- also counts the responses. I check it periodically for responses to my postings.

    So do I. Actually, the older comments usually are going to get any more replies so you aren't missing anything when they disappear. I am not sure getting an e-mail everytime someone replies to a post is a good idea, unless you don't post often. Otherwise, you may get a lot of e-mails. :)

    -Brent
  • Hmmm... try doing Start Menu -> Run -> FTP. Hmmm... works just like it does on SunOS, Linux and FreeBSD as far as I could see...

    Really? Then why do I get this when I use the Windows 98 ftp client to connect to my linux box?

    ftp> chmod 644 test.php3
    Invalid command.

    I was pretty certain that the ftp client that I was using on Linux didn't work that way.

    -Brent
  • That's funny... there doesn't appear to be any kind of RFC out there which requires CHMOD to be implemented to give you a fully-fledged FTP client.

    Might I remind you, you didn't say anything about RFC's in your original post. You said: Hmmm... works just like it does on SunOS, Linux and FreeBSD as far as I could see... Well, in one easy rebuttal I proved you wrong. The Windows FTP client does not work exactly like it does on Linux. So, why not just admit you were wrong.

    -Brent
  • I think there was one or two back when Microsoft was trying to create an open standard for Instant messageing, and keep AOL from owning it all.

    AHEM!! I was trying to block that painful period from my memory, in an effort to believe that /. was the same as it always was. No you've made all the hurt come back...

    -Brent
  • by bmetzler ( 12546 ) <.moc.evil. .ta. .relztemb.> on Thursday January 06, 2000 @09:11AM (#1397605) Homepage Journal
    The software has to run in a specific environment and meet specific needs. If they make the software truly open source, they will be inundated with dozens of patches to either generalize it or make it work in some other specific environment.

    Say it with me:

    • Code Fork!!

    • Code Fork!!
      Code Fork!!
      Code Fork!!
      Code Fork!!
      Code Fork!!
    Rob doesn't have to add everyone's patches to his version. In fact, he doesn't have to add anyone's. People like what the code does, and as a community, benefit from it. That's the point of Open Source, right? Sure, the code would change to do what other people want, but there's nothing forcing the code that /. is based on to change. This would be more a hinderance than a help to Slashdot, increasing their maintenance. Sure they would have lots of help, but if you think co-ordinating that help is trivial, you're really out to lunch.

    That's the point. No one is asking for Rob to be Linux Torvalds. They are just asking for the source. As soon as the source is released, then someone else can step up and take charge of coordinating it. And supporting it. And getting the /. changes integrated.

    Rob just has to do a tar cvf slash and post it online. Someone else will step on and start coordinating development on sourceforge.net or something. Rob's involvement is now over, except to drop out new tarballs once in a while. Rob can there on, ignore the work, or he can keep an eye on it and see if there's anything worthwhile to add to slash. No one cares either way, I'm sure.

    -Brent
  • by bmetzler ( 12546 ) <.moc.evil. .ta. .relztemb.> on Thursday January 06, 2000 @09:32AM (#1397606) Homepage Journal
    I must have just forgotten all those pro-MS stories, that's all...and only remembered the Linux stories.

    OH Man!! You mean there used to be pro MS stories on /.? The Insanity. How could that be? Oh, wait a minute, what was the last pro-MS story posted on /.?

    -Brent
  • by bmetzler ( 12546 ) <.moc.evil. .ta. .relztemb.> on Thursday January 06, 2000 @09:50AM (#1397607) Homepage Journal
    You say in your interview you are soon going to have a "read-only" cvs server to post slash on. Doesn't it seem odd that a site that stands for open source to many people, won't let users contribute code? I think that the messaging system for replies to Comments is a great idea, and I would really love to help implement it, but...

    No. Because the CVS repository on /. needs to be the one that Rob uses in the backend of /.. /. Simply isn't a resource for code development. That's what Rob is saying. Sourceforge.net or something like that would be the place to have the real development repository. All we need from Slash is the current code. Rob can then check out the patches and add to Slahs what interests him.

    Come on, think of other Open Source projects. Bugzilla is open source, but they don't let everyone modify their "live" code. Why should Slash be any different?

    -Brent
  • Opening up the source code is an offtopic issue.

    Really? Funny, I could have sworn that was one of the questions asked of Rob and Jeff in the interview which this discussion is in response to. Funny that, huh?

    Since you appearently don't have the time to read the interview, I assume you don't have time to read the comment I first responded to.

    The origional poster used phrases like "give slashdot to the people" and suggested that Rob and Co. give the site up to be completly run by the people. I have nothing against story moderation (as you take offense to), I'm simply saying that the creators of the site should retain control over it. I'd be pretty pissed if people went to my webpage and demanded they have control over what I put on it.

    Let me give you am example of what I am worried about. Let's assume that some MS Windows user group (there are MANY more Windows user than any other os) decided to take over slashdot. They come in and all submit and moderate Windows stories up and "poof" no more slashdot as we know it. Now it's ZDNet with less graphics. Sure it's far fetched, but why should the entire site be handed over everyone, what has everyone done to deserve the right to run the show around here.

    If we want to have articals that are posted ranked by moderaters, that is fine. However I don't want to see the entire article process given away. I like the way it works now. Most others do to. It's just a vocal, greedy few who feel THEY should be running slashdot.

    Finkployd
  • by finkployd ( 12902 ) on Thursday January 06, 2000 @09:15AM (#1397611) Homepage
    Dude, I don't get you...
    Rob and co. built this site up from nothing, put in all the work, all the money (at first), and are only lately recieivng the rewards of their work. So why on earth do you think it's it's time for them to "give it up"? How could that make sense?

    If you give /. to the masses, it will ruin it. Are you aware how stupid the masses are? These are the people that make Jerry Springer a hit. If /. is given to everyone to run, it will quickly sink to the lowest common denominator, as people who have never had anything to do with it, will take over.

    I have been reading /. for a very long time now, and I enjoy the way it is (as do most of us here, or we would not be here). I don't want joe blow to come in and say what he thinks should be posted, then it WILL change. If you think the public needs a discussion forum, then make one, but leave /. alone. I an many others like it. If you don't like it and the stories posted here, perhaps you shouldn't be here.

    Finkployd

  • by gorgon ( 12965 ) on Thursday January 06, 2000 @10:01AM (#1397612) Homepage Journal

    Do you really want to sort through poorly documented
    Perl code?

    Let them clean it up first.

    If its as hacked together as they make it
    sound, then everyone will be better off that way.

    Ugly code is no fun to play with. And I
    I understand why CT has things he would rather do than clean
    his code.

  • but I think soon, once I get enough accounts set up, I'm going to make it a point to send at least one email a day to Rob requesting the source code to his open source advocacy site.... I encourage you all to do the same... Only two things can happen - we get the source soon, or we hopelessly delay it until mid-2068, due to his stupid "delay by another 24 hour rule"...

    posted via anonymizer [anonymizer.com] for fear of karmatic reprisals by the powers that be. :)
  • Whoops! :)

    Guess it wasn't through anonymizer afterall! so many damn windows confused me, i guess.... :)

    Anyways, you get my drift. :)

    And yes, i can say "IDIOT", thanks
  • And according to ESR, wouldn't it be that opening the source would result in a much better slashdot? Rob'd have to spend less time nitpicking and more time coding... He could see what other people were doing, incorportate what he liked, and vice versa... if all Robs time is spent coding, there's really no excuse for not being able to enter a couple commands...
  • and besides... Apaches server side, isn't it? Linux is basically "server side" as well, when you condsider what percentage of websites run on linux...

    Yeah they can do whatever the hell pleases them, but if they're going to whine about company a not doing this and company b not doing that, why can't we complain about company c not doing what they want a and b to do?

    Slashdots refusal to do this will come back to huant them... I mean, why would anyone who hasn't even consider opening their code if the most central site to the open source thang won't open theres... obviously, opening the codes really not that important, right?
  • Yeah... i realized anyways it's absurd... But i do like my nick, so i'd rather not jeopardize it if i don't need to. Not even saying that they would, but there is like the power to delete and revoke accounts that's in their hands.... plus, more importantly, though i was talking about a coordinated mailbombing effort, i'd much prefer that my own mailbox not get bombed by all the people saying "leave rob alone... he's a cool guy... i idolize him because he's worth more than me.... and he likes linux.... hot grits!"...

    anyways.

    Really, in the end, who cares... i hate my domain name anyways.... time for a new one... that maybe i'll do something with... so if anyone wants it, let me know.
  • Go here [slashdot.org].

    Read it and fucking weep... Slash is GPL'ed... except for you have to use his logo or else pay him money which in and of itself seems like a license violation... Plus he adamantly refuses to release code. Ahem?

    Maybe if he hadn't sprinkled the word GPL around so lightly he wouldn't have gotten himself into this mess... but the fact is, once you've GPL'ed something, it will always be... you can't revoke access to the source.... and blah blah blah...

    Someone, or me, should probably go re-read the REAL gpl (not rob's take on it) and see whatelse he's overlooking... probably lots... YAY....

    Oh... and has anyone noticed that ANDN is hobbling downwards? Below it's price on it's opening day, i do believe.
  • there was a mention of moderating articles.. cdmrtaco said he was having trouble trying to figure out the basis on which the numbers should be based.

    i would like to suggest something slightly different: attatch a "karma" rating to articles on the main page, consisting of one point for each act of moderation (negative -or- positive) that occurs in that discussion. That would just give us some idea what it means that something as been marked 'interesting' within that article; i mean, some articles will obviously get marked much more than others, and stories that are more or less flamebait will probably get enough moderation committed within them that you shouldn't pay as much attention to a score:5 there as to a score:5 in an article almost nobody read. This would probably only work if available as an option you had to turn on, butit would be rather interesting to some of us, i think.

    also it would probably be cool if you'd make a "karma is visible to other users" option in the Prefs, instead of just hiding it outright.. but i can't think of any particularly good reasons why this should happen so i won't go into it.

    sorry i didn't post this at the questions session; i had forgotten about it at the time.
  • I'm going to say this sooner or later, so this is as good a place as any. This doesn't have all that much to do with the comment here as with a good portion of the responses to the interview taken as a whole.

    Geez, you people are a bunch of whiners. All this talk about hypocrisy and backsliding by Rob and the other /. crew, because they won't behave the way you demand that they do. And tell me, how many dollars and how many hours of your time have you actually contributed to making /., Slash code or other aspects of this function according to your desires?

    . . .

    (still waiting)

    . . .

    I thought so.

    You know, here's a free clue: If you don't like it here, start your own. CmdrTaco has kindly provided at least a pile of code (though it may not be compeletely current) so you don't even have to start from scratch.

    Go ahead, we're waiting.

    --------
  • by Jonathan White ( 15086 ) on Thursday January 06, 2000 @09:12AM (#1397632)
    Some excellent points but one other reason for not releasing I've always considered likely is the security angle.

    I would not be surprised if right now there is all sorts of security through obscurity hidden in the code. I think that is their major concern because the arrogance and lack of understanding of open source principles does not fit well with what I have seen of them.

    The rather angry response from Rob to these sorts of questions is uncalled for. Due to their (well deserved) success and the commercial nature of Andover, their lack of true participation in the open source community will become more and more controversial.
  • by bnf ( 16861 ) on Thursday January 06, 2000 @09:55AM (#1397637) Homepage
    Taco, Hemos,

    I feel that you have skirted an important point that was included [slashdot.org] in the original threads that addressed the release of Slashdot source code. Specifically, which license will you be using to release your code and what is your reasoning for choosing that license?

    bnf
    ---

  • I can see both sides of this coin, and I think I may have an idea that would work, and possibly appease both sides.

    Rob doesn't want to post the ugly stupid submissions that he gets, but the people still want to see them. Now, I'm not sure how the /. backend works (although if .4 was released....), but I'm sure it would not be difficult to put the submissions in a backend text file, or something similar. This way, anybody who wanted to, could start "quedot.org" or whatever, and post the stories they want to see posted. Even if they don't post the stories, they can still access the stories.

    Of course, seeing as Rob has a seat on the board of andover, he has a legal obligation to do what is in the best interest of the shareholders, so this may not be possible (because someone else would get the pageviews)....any comments?
  • I'm with konstant on this one.

    Every time the issue of making the submission queue visible comes up, Rob says that we don't want to see it because there's an awful lot of crap. This is a really good argument for story moderation (not comments on the stories - just moderating them). Then the crap settles to the bottom. Rob and company don't have to filter the queue based on scores; if they just SORT by score it should make their lives easier.

    Maybe the queue should only be visible to users with moderation points? I don't really understand the comment

    I don't want the submissions bin to be littered with noise like "First Post" and "Meept".

    Why would it be? If visibility of the queue induces people to seek attention by submitting garbage stories, then decreasing the visibility should take care of it. Who would post a "Hot Grits" story if they and most of their friends couldn't see it? Especially if there was no possiblility for comments on it?

    Rob can do whatever the hell he wants - I'm just arguing that his reasons given don't make sense. I don't see how story moderation could possibly make his job any harder.
  • *sniff* Taco with a girlfriend and Hemos getting married? *sob* My little geeks are all grown up!
  • The impression I had after reading the whole interview is that the editors get the ideas for stories from us as opposed to going out looking for stories on their own. In that sense, they will get a feel for what more people want to see posted because they'll get more stories about that given area.

    I disagree: the people who submit stories are not necessarily the same as those who moderate comments (and could also moderate stories). In order to be allowed to moderate, you have to "earn" your moderator status. There is no such thing for submitting stories.

    The moderators are selected among the people who have posted interesting comments (OK, the karma thing has some flaws, but the general idea is good). The moderators are supposed to have a good judgement, or at least to have some sensible opinions. But there is no "filter" for submitting stories, so I don't think that the number of submissions is a good metric to judge if a story will be appreciated by the /. readers.

    Let's take an example: a link to a story about Micro$oft is submitted by 50 AC's (or registered users with low karma). Another story, more technical and less controversial, is submitted by two or three users. If I had the opportunity to moderate the stories and if the second one is really interesting, then I would probably give it a +1 and ignore the first story. On the other hand, if you only judge a story based on the number of people who submitted it (or later, on the number of replies), then you would always select the first one and maybe the second one would never be posted.

    That's why I think that allowing the moderators to rate the stories as well as the comments would be an interesting addition to /.

    Another interesting addition would be to rate comments and stories on different criteria and to allow readers to filter the comments based on the criteria that are important to them, and not only on the total score. I would start with three critaria:

    • technical content. Is the comment "interesting" or "insightful" from a technical point of view? Does it give link to other sources of information or does it contain good explanations for the topic being discussed?
    • good advocacy. Does the comment do a good job at promoting Linux, nanotech or any other thing that nerds might be interested in? The comment might not contain many technical facts but contain enough good ideas or state things in a clear way so that you would rate it as "interesting" in the current system.
    • humour. Is it funny? Are you ROTFL after reading the comment?
    The current system covers these criteria, but as a reader your are only able to filter the comments based on their total score. I have seen several old-timers on /. complain about the fact that some comments got a +5 because they were funny, despite the fact that they were off-topic and did not contain much information. If it was possible to separate the moderation criteria, then an elitist techie could select "tech content" only and ignore any points given in the "advocacy" and "humour" categories. And someone who wants to have a good time reading /. would set her filter to use the points in the "humour" category. Maybe this could be a multiplier, so that one could filter the comments based on "(tech + 2 * advocacy + 3 * humour)". Now, that's a good system for Nerds...

    Now that I think about it, a fourth criterion could be "on-topicness". An article can be off-topic but still contain interesting ideas. Some people like to read such articles, some others don't. By giving the appropriate weight to this criterion in the comment filter, then every reader would be able to select what he wants to see.

  • We're just too busy to play tech support helping dozens of people compile mod_perl and tune Apache. We've decided to squash the bugs and make a clean release rather than rush it.

    This is the attitude that makes people write you flames about not turning your code loose. You aren't the only people who can compile mod_perl and support Apache. And, believe it or not, there are people out here who are intelligent enough to understand your code without you having to explain it.

    He didn't say noone could. But for anyone who can, and takes the time to figure it out, there will be hundreds of requests for help.

    Release the code as extreme alpha, refuse to support Apache and mod_perl, and put your money where your mouth is about being a member of the OpenSource community.

    Eh, who says that OpenSource means "release something that isn't finished"? Is there someone like RMS, ESR or Bruce Perens claiming that you have to release unfinished products? I don't think so.

    Your attitude belongs more to the gimme, gimme, gimme warez-kiddies than it belongs to the Open Source movement.

    -- Abigail

  • Am I missing something? Can't they just ignore the patches and the changes?

    A lot of people are screaming because they get a whopping 5 spam messages a week. How much requests for help do you think CmdrTaco and Hemos would get, even if they don't respond to them?

    But there's more. Look for instance at the infamous Matt Wright. He made a whole bunch of free CGI programs. They aren't supported. So, even if patches are made, they aren't merged back in. There are problems with the programs. The Usenet group comp.lang.perl.misc, a group that doesn't deal with CGI, and where Matt Wright doesn't post, gets several messages *daily* regarding his programs. Even now, for programs that were written years ago. His programs might have helped a few, but they caused headaches for many people - including people that not even use the programs. And it didn't do much good for Matt's name either.

    I think people who don't want release their code before it's finished shouldn't. And I don't think the Open Source community needs people with a gimme, gimme, gimme attitude.

    -- Abigail

  • A private messaging system would be neat.

    Ah, back in the good old days, people knew what an email address was for. And in good old Unix tradition, they used one tool for one job. For email, they'd use /bin/mail or one of its friends.

    But Redmond style "lets bloat everything so everything has everything buildin" has taken over websites as well. After reinventing usenet (in a poor way), slashdot is now going to reinvent email as well!

    If I want to send a private message to you, I'd email douglas@min.net. But I guess that would be lost to you, as you seem to think web sites are the ideal tool to do private messages.

    It's progress I guess. It must be cool for spammers though... targetted audience! Oh, wait. I suddenly realize the big advantage. A private message system on slashdot means more banner ads to sell! You won't get banner ads with email!

    -- Abigail

  • by vitaflo ( 20507 ) on Thursday January 06, 2000 @07:51AM (#1397657) Homepage
    How about an "Article Overflow" page where stories that just didn't quite make the main page get sent to.

    I think this is a great idea, at the very least, we could have a little section (slashbox?) devoted to links submitted that day that didn't make the main page. You could visit them, but you couldn't comment on them.

    However, I see some problems with this. One is abuse. You can't just plop all rejected links into one area, as I'm sure some of the crap that gets submitted is along the lines of "check out my cool home page!". Thus sorting through things that make the front page, those that "almost" make the front page, and those that are utter crap and aren't shown, just give Taco and Hemos more to do, and decide upon. The other is all the crap mail that those two would probably get from people thinking that a "rejected" story should have been a headliner. Let's face it, right now, we don't know what's rejected, so we can't really bitch a whole lot, but if someone loves Beanie Babies, a story about that gets moved to the rejection bin, Taco and Hemos will still get crap mail from some idiot. All in all, I think it may make things worse for our brave admins.
  • by AeiwiMaster ( 20560 ) on Thursday January 06, 2000 @08:04AM (#1397658)
    12) More "News for Nerds" Please...

    If you like more tech news
    Check out http://sunsite.auc.dk/FreakTech/
    The last headlines is

    * Powerline Area Network
    * Personal aircraft
    * 140 gigabytes CDROM
    * Molecular-based logic gates
    * 10 Gbps optical though air.
    * Magnetic spacecraft propulsion
    * Ferroelectric Optical Storage
    * Microflown
    * IEC fusion
    * Magnetic RAM
    * Rotary rocket
    * Phaser device
    * Quantum-Dot Cellular Automata(QCA)
    * Impulse Radio
    * Motor Shatters Torque Ceilings
  • by FascDot Killed My Pr ( 24021 ) on Thursday January 06, 2000 @07:29AM (#1397671)
    "What would you use [story moderation] for?"

    So the editors know how much the users like this topic. Sort of a "more articles like this" rating.
    ---
  • by dieMSdie ( 24109 ) on Thursday January 06, 2000 @09:03AM (#1397672)
    You might consider the fact that a large portion of Slashdot's community are using *BSD/Linux. Slashdot became a rallying point for the open source community, whether that was intended by Rob Malda or not.
    Also, most of the /. community are technically oriented (to say the least). They loathe MS products. I for one put up with a lot of additional work/suffering at my last job due to shoddy MS products. I consider the MS-bashing on /. to be a welcome balance from all the pro-MS hype you see everywhere else. So-called "news" sites simply echo MS PR verbatim. This is something I hope we will never see here.
    Additionally, after Judge Jackson's FOF, I noticed that /. was overrun with pro-MS posts and trolls, spreading FUD and starting flame wars. Slashdot's moderation system served us well there.

    Instead of whining at Rob about poor Microsoft getting picked on, go start your own pro-Microsoft site, please!
  • by Merk ( 25521 ) on Thursday January 06, 2000 @07:41AM (#1397675) Homepage

    This sounds like the perfect opportunity to thank you guys for what you've done.

    Slashdot stands out in my eyes, and I'm sure in the eyes of many others, as a site that shows what the 'net can do when used properly.

    Lots of free web-page hosts like to call themselves communities, but that's a farce. Slashdot is a community. Like all communities it has its problems: unruly neighbors shouting "First Post" at the crack of dawn, pompous fools who talk because they like the sounds of their own voices, and of course the neighbors who seem nice, but whose opinions are simply wrong! (*grin*). But it's also got the best parts of a community, some celebrities living just around the corner who will come over for a bbq, skilled neighbors who will come help you fix your lawnmower, and buddies who love to get together and cheer on the home team.

    As a place to spend/waste time, it's nearly impossible to top Slashdot. If you're really busy, you can skip it one day (theoretically speaking of course) and still catch the news in "older stuff". If you're really bored, you can lower your threshold, follow all the links, and contribute. While you can do a lot of the same things with other sites, It's hard to top Slashdot in how easy it is to get what you want out of the site.

    So thanks to you guys and to everyone else who has made Slashdot what it is. And let's hope things only get better from here. Thanks, and congratulations.

  • The impression I had after reading the whole interview is that the editors get the ideas for stories from us as opposed to going out looking for stories on their own. In that sense, they will get a feel for what more people want to see posted because they'll get more stories about that given area.

    They said Linux wasn't always such a popular topic but other things were. Maybe down the road Linux won't be so popular anymore either. The point of the site is cool geek/nerd stuff. As a group geeks are pretty diverse.

    As for story moderation, I think there is already too much moderation on this site as it is. Some of us long for the old free-wheeling days of the net you know. I also agree with CT and H's concerns. I don't think they want to get into "Well, this story was great but since it was posted by Katz I'm going to rate it down because I don't like him", moderation to the nth degree.
  • by Foogle ( 35117 ) on Thursday January 06, 2000 @10:58AM (#1397711) Homepage
    Well, assuming Rob isn't just being an asshole, maybe Slashdot is under directive from Andover not to release the code. After all, he said he had editorial control, but since Slashdot is owned by Andover, so is it's code. Maybe *they're* the one's that don't want it released. Rob might just be helping to cover it up.


    -----------

    "You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

  • by costas ( 38724 ) on Thursday January 06, 2000 @09:05AM (#1397715) Homepage
    But isn't that what Open Source is about? Some additions to the Slash code may fix /. bugs --some maybe additions that don't interest the /. folk, but there are plenty of sites that can use/need a /.-like format and would love to add them --like mine [aegeantimes.net], based on PHPSlash [netuse.de] --a PHP port of Slash.

    I haven't changed PHPSlash significantly yet, but when I do, I will surely roll back my changes to the CVS --that's what open source is about: a few hobbyists joining forces to produce something better than what they can by going at it alone. This is what this forum has been preaching all along, yet its own engine is closed source.

    If the /. overlords are so short-sighted as to be afraid of releasing Slash, why are they preaching Open Source to begin with? Let me tell you: I've been running a /.-like site (on a totally different subject BTW) for 2 months now, and I can tell you that the back end has nothing to do with how popular a site is. Content, word-of-mouth, links, willingness of people to come out and post comments (where I am failing right now BTW) are vastly more important.

    Technology is not the end-all-be-all. Technology (i.e. code) is a tool, a means to an end. The end is service, entertainment, ideas, what have you. Not some KBs of Perl code.


    engineers never lie; we just approximate the truth.
  • by costas ( 38724 ) on Thursday January 06, 2000 @08:00AM (#1397716) Homepage
    I gave up on waiting for a Slash release. I was looking for a similar /.-like engine for my site [aegeantimes.net], and after some research I settled on PHPSlash [netuse.de]. It's at least a generation behind /. --no user accts, no dynamic homepages, no moderation-- but: a) it's Open Source, with a decent enough following, b) it's based on PHP [php.net], which I wanted to learn.

    FYI, there's also Squishdot (sorry no link in my RAM ;-) based on Zope and a coupla interesting projects on the Java Apache [apache.org] pages.

    I agree with the other comments though. The /. overlords should be releasing Slash, even as a rough draft, just so to put their code where their mouths are.

    engineers never lie; we just approximate the truth.
  • by Mr. Slippery ( 47854 ) <tms@nospam.infamous.net> on Thursday January 06, 2000 @10:48AM (#1397726) Homepage
    The huge software industry we enjoy today is due in no small part to the HATED microsoft.
    No. The parts of the software industry that we don't enjoy are largely due to Microsoft.

    Let me tell you a story:

    I'm a second-generation programmer. My father has been working with computers since the late 1960s. I used to tag along with him when he went to work on weekends, carrying his boxes of punch cards. I have since gone on to earn an M.S. in Computer Science and am a well-payed software developer.

    I've been using the Internet since 1989. I wrote my first HTML page back in 1993, have a reasonably involved personal website, and have helped a few friends set up sites of their own. Point being, I know my ass from /dev/null.

    My father doesn't have the net experience I do, so while I was visting home on Christmas he asked me to help him set up a webpage with a scanned image of a basecall card he was auctioning on eBay [ebay.com]. No problem, I figure, I can whip this out before dinner.

    I didn't count on the joys of Windows 98 on our end and Windows NT on the ISP's end. The rebooting of his PC when it crashed for reasons unknown and unknowable, the weird FTP behavior, the braindead binding of IE to view JPEG files, the lack of a good standard tool for simple image manipulation...ah, such fun.

    After an hours' effort, two men with with over four decades of combined programming experience and a decade of net experience could not publish a simple web page - a task I could have perfomed in five minutes on my Linux box and Unix-running ISP.

  • by Tom Christiansen ( 54829 ) <tchrist@perl.com> on Thursday January 06, 2000 @09:30AM (#1397739) Homepage
    I would do anything for a spell check button as an optional part of the Preview process. You could hit Submit, Preview, or Preview with Spell Checking It's very easy to implement. Essentially just run the submission through striphtml | ispell -l | sort -u, and then put those words in a separate little list in the preview output. Heck, maybe even put blink tags around them in the shown output, or red coloration or something.

    This is very easy to do. If we had more up-to-date source, I would happily do it myself and give it to them. Actually, as soon as we have it, I shall.

  • by Tom Christiansen ( 54829 ) <tchrist@perl.com> on Thursday January 06, 2000 @12:13PM (#1397740) Homepage
    Have you ever noticed how when you read in `light' mode, the darnedest things happen? :-)

    --tom

    The computer *is* the game

    [ Reply to This [slashdot.org] | Parent [slashdot.org] ]

    Re: More "News for Nerds" Please... (Score:7, Brilliant)
    by Hemos [mailto] (hemos@slashdot.org) on Thursday January 06, @05:08PM EDT
    (User Info [slashdot.org]) http://hemos.net [hemos.net]

    Recently disturbed by News for Nerds thread, but inspired by Tolkien, I wrote this:

    I sit beside the screen and think
    Of all that I have seen
    Of flaming trolls and clueless nerds
    And topics that have been.

    I sit beside the screen and think
    Of how Slashdot shall be
    When programs come without a source
    That I shall ever see.

    Simply Brilliant, eh? I can't wait to see my score. I think it gets a 7!

    [ Reply to This [slashdot.org] | Parent [slashdot.org] ]

    Re: More "News for Nerds" Please... (Score:3, Funny)
    by Tom Christiansen [mailto] (tchrist@perl.com) on on Thursday January 06, @05:15PM EDT
    (User Info [slashdot.org]) http://language.perl.com/ [perl.com]

    Sure, Hemos, rig it so you get a 7. Sheesh! That's what happens when *you* have the source code. :-)

  • by mochaone ( 59034 ) on Thursday January 06, 2000 @08:24AM (#1397747)
    From the tone of previous comments, it seems that CmdrTaco has managed to piss of a lot of people with his hypocritical stance on releasing the code for slashdot. I wonder if this interview will come back to haunt them. The slashdot gang used to garner nothing but love from you guys. Is the tide turning now? Are Rob and Hemos taking their patrons for granted? Time will tell.

  • by konstant ( 63560 ) on Thursday January 06, 2000 @07:46AM (#1397754)
    Rob on the issue of a "Story Submission Queue":

    This is in the FAQ dammit! I don't wanna answer it again! Thats what the FAQ is FOR! AAAAGGHHH!

    Seriously, there are a lot of reasons that it would make sense to do this. Unfortunately there are a lot of reasons not to do this too. The reason is abuse. If you saw some of the crap that gets submitted, you'd understand. Besides that, I don't want the submissions bin to be littered with noise like "First Post" and "Meept". We're already really busy sifting through 300 odd submissions each day, and we don't need it to be a game.


    Sorry Rob, but that is a weak excuse at best, and I think the incessant clamoring for this feature from slashdotters suggests there is a consensus on the user side that you should at least respect, even if Robert Malda doesn't agree.

    A story queue would be a form of Moderation extended to the posted topics. Now, moderation has its critics. There are people who evidently are lashed into a fury by the notion that Linux Rulez! is prominent at +5 and their comment about FreeBSD or whatever is buried at -3. But all in all, I can't think of another method that allows me to browse both the Insightful cream of the crop when I want something somber AND Naked and Petrified when I want something funny, but also allows each user to hide those posts if they find them uninteresting.

    Story moderation would have a major effect upon the slashdot model, one I think that you and probably Andover fear in your secret heart of hearts. It would remove you from editorial control of your baby. C'mon Rob, admit that this prospect makes you uneasy.

    But hell, you say yourself that you are drowned in submissions. And we all know that your team of five (or two or six or whatever) can never produce news that is as timely as the dozens of staffers at CNN. So why not distribute the process of filtering? Why not live up to the inspiration you had when designing post moderation?

    You argue, essentially, that we "don't really know what we want". That, if we were to see the garbage posts that make it into your box, we woudl be horrified and/or disgusted with slashdot. So fine, delete the ones that are obvious SPAM or clearly misdirected. But let us have the helm. Post the rest of them to the submission queue.

    If I don't want to see Hot Grits, I browse at 2. If I didn't want to see SPAM that makes it into the submission queue, I would do the same thing. But the fact is, while you retain control of this site editorially, you are stifling its full potential. We will always have the uneasy fear that you or Andover is pulling strings and filtering out stories that don't fit your personal biases. In fact, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that I'm sure you're doing this.

    Yes, story moderation might mean that Slashdot drifts away from its obvious pandering to Linux "revolutionaries" that I'm sure brings in a great deal of advertising revunue. Yes, you might not be able to recognize it in a few years. But this is bigger than Rob Malda now. If that is the path of /.'s evolution, then it will only be because its users want it so.

    It's time to let go, Rob...

    -konstant
    Yes! We are all individuals! I'm not!
  • by LinuxParanoid ( 64467 ) on Thursday January 06, 2000 @08:10AM (#1397763) Homepage Journal
    I like this idea of putting related threads somewhere else too. So how would this best work from a user perspective?

    I think it'd be cool to see something like this:

    a checkbox for a user to self-acknowledge an off-topic post; the post stays in the original article forum but is also copied to a separate "area" where all followups to that post are added. This provides a "voluntary" offtopic redirector. While truly offtopic posts should go elsewhere (and will continue to be moderated down), this is useful if the poster wants to recognize that followups are better suited outside the main discussion tree without requiring the system to moderate him down.

    add a moderation feature such that if one (or two?) moderators moderate the post as "offtopic", all follups are redirected to a separate area as above. (The post shows up in both places, but the followups only in the second area.) This is a "moderation-based" offtopic redirector. Useful for insuring that offtopic threads don't pollute the forum. Metamoderation prevents abuses.

    Interesting?

    --LP

  • by cdlu ( 65838 ) on Thursday January 06, 2000 @07:54AM (#1397765) Homepage
    Two ways I see this as being practical (as cmdrtaco and hemos both, imho, are taking the wrong approach):

    1) Moderators may use their mod-points to moderate the stories (and possibly the stories could be listed in order of score, much like comments, configurable et al.)

    OR

    2) Have segfault-style story ratings, which work quite effectively. You read the story and have a How do you rate this story? [Funny, Stupid, Brilliant] and the average and total are shown after you rate it.

    Either takes a fair bit of code though - unless the slashdot-poll engine is used.
  • by reptilian ( 75755 ) on Thursday January 06, 2000 @10:38AM (#1397781)
    Disclaimer: I just woke up so apologies if this sounds garbled.

    Regarding story submissions. I know I've heard Rob and co. complain about how many submissions there are, and the large amount of just crap stories among other things, so that's where my idea comes from. Perhaps they could pick a group of about 20 trusted people to 'rank' incoming submissions, based on quality and relevance and whatever else, so the people who really post the stories have less noise to browse through to find the real stories.

    This isn't like having the story queue public. Only those 20 people have access. I don't think this would affect us much, but it would make the crew's job a lot easier in finding which stories to actually accept.

    so, thats my idea.

    Man's unique agony as a species consists in his perpetual conflict between the desire to stand out and the need to blend in.

  • by Woodrow Stool ( 82017 ) on Thursday January 06, 2000 @11:42AM (#1397788)
    You guys said:

    "It doesn't have install scripts or help or even comments in the code."

    Anybody that develops any kind of software that does anything useful _and_ does not comment it so that should the original developer drop dead someone else might be able to understand it is either a young dumbass with no mature development skills or and old dumbass that should know better. The excuses "We're in a big hurry!" or "I'll comment the code later after it works right" are not acceptable.

    Software in the Open Source movement must be BETTER than the commercial stuff in the "coding style and comments" category, because the source will ultimately be inspected by both friends and foes of the Open Source movement alike. If the source looks like spaghetti code shit, it makes the reality of Open Source software start to look like spaghetti code shit.

    I shit you not.
  • Ok here's a little bit of trivia for you. What database does slashdot use for its' engine? Well I guess I kind of let the cat out of the bag in the subject: mysql. Last time I checked it was a little less than full GPL. Dosn this put a little damper on being able to do many of the really interesting things in an free an open manner anyway?

    How exactly does one actually cheaply create a slashdot site. I have looked at various hosting places and they don't exactly do anything of this nature cheaply. And as far as a I can tell doing it yourself would be hard as well. Can anyone tell me what would be the cheapest option to creating a site with the existing slash code in a reasonable way.
  • by PrimeEnd ( 87747 ) on Thursday January 06, 2000 @07:48AM (#1397799)
    One comment on moderation. I have the sense that when a story generates 200 comments the first fifty get much more moderation than the last 150 (both positive and negative). It would be good if moderators could be given a random list of say 20 comments with the suggestion that they read this list first.

    Alternatively if moderators make a point of always reading with "Newest first" set, that would help.

  • by TheCarp ( 96830 ) <sjc&carpanet,net> on Thursday January 06, 2000 @10:31AM (#1397816) Homepage
    > Linus releases whole kernels faster than rob can
    > get a source release out... And he handles 15
    > megs of source rather than 0.3's 65k....

    > No... Slashdot and Andover are just about on the
    > same plane as LinuxOne, so far as business
    > legitamacy goes. And as far as holding up the
    > opensource ideals? forget it...

    Oh get off it already.

    You need to realize something, its his code. His
    main concern is this site and keeping it running,
    if that wasn't the case, the code wouldn't even
    exist in the first place.

    When you run a high profile site like slashdot,
    running the site takes alot of time. That means
    making bug fixes "on the fly", reading emails
    (which musrt take alot of time), sifting through
    stories, etc...maybe you don't always have time
    for working on the code tarball

    Slashdot is in the buisness of posting news and
    fostering discussion, NOT releasing software.
    That part is extra...its the gravey.

    You have no RIGHT to his softare code. Now, if he
    was in the buisness of writting software, and
    released software to be run, THEN I would argue
    that you do have a right to see the code (not
    a legally recognized one but...in my eyes a right
    none the less), however this is not the case.

  • by TheCarp ( 96830 ) <sjc&carpanet,net> on Thursday January 06, 2000 @09:19AM (#1397817) Homepage
    1) Rateing Articles:

    How about for a simple idea... just put a meter
    on each article...bunch of radio buttons to
    "Rate How muh you liked this article".

    The idea not being as much of use in moderation
    of articles but just for yourselves to gauge
    what the community likes to see. More of a
    simple feedback mechanism than anything else.

    2) Source Code:
    Most websites don't release their code...hell I
    love that your even trying to do it. Its a
    great idea. If some people don't like that you
    take too long doing it, that is their problem
    uite litterally. I think people need to realize
    that they have no "right" to see your code.
    (if you were in the buisness of writting and
    distributing software, I could see an argument for
    a right of the users to see the code, I would
    even argue in favor of it, but your not)

    3) I would like to see the ability for a person,
    within reasonable amount of time, to moderate
    down their own posts without penalty. That way
    if a person realizes after they post that
    something is offtopic, they can go and moderate
    themselves down.

    Perhaps once something is marked offtopic..have
    all replies to it autmatically marked offtopic
    unless moderated up (without penalty to the
    repliers). that way they can still discuss
    without bothering others too much.

    3) I like the idea of forums where people can
    take offtopic discussion and discuss it outside
    of the article. Perhaps have a way for an author
    of a message to "replace" his own posts into
    one of these forums to get it out of the way
    of others.

    4) Private messages

    great idea and could foster longer discussions.
    Personally, I check users.pl daily to see if any
    replies to my messages were posted, so that I
    can continue discussion. However after the
    article is a day or two old, it is highly
    rare to see a new reply. (happend recently
    though)

    Could be coupled with idea of mine #3. If a
    poster "re-places" his post, it could be initally
    "copied" (or "linked") into the forum...then
    all repliers sent a message that would lalow them
    to do the same to their replies...if all (or most)
    say ok...then have the whole thread moved over
    and removed from the original articles posts
    (maybe a simple pointer added)

    thats it...comments?

    -Steve
  • by cruise ( 111380 ) on Thursday January 06, 2000 @11:52AM (#1397831) Homepage
    this is NOT a Linux advocacy site. It is NOT an open-source rally site. It is a "News for Nerds" site.

    Perhaps Andover lied on their SEC filing then?

    From the filing
    Our Business: Andover.Net is the leading Linux/Open Source destination on the Internet.

    More from the filing Our network includes:
    LINUX/OPEN SOURCE
    - Slashdot


    This is probably more about Andover now than CmdrTaco. Despite what Andover's EMPLOYEES might be saying or have said in the past.. Their stock holders have a right to expect Andover to adhere to what they claim to believe in.

    And on a side note... Andover's stock is down nearly six and a half percent today... Part of a steady decline. If I were Andover, I would be seriously worried about my employees making statements which reflect as badly on the company as Taco's statements today do. Calling their users (hello stockholders) "asses" when they request that the company live up to their SEC filing.

    Taco is obviously now just a paid code monkey in the grand scheme of things. Complaining to him does about as much good as complaining to the tech support guy at RoadRunner.

    In closing and in relation to my above statement I must apologize for my original post. I see now that I'm complaining to the wrong person. I must complain to his boss(es), the stockholders, if I expect any progress on the situation. Which I suggest anyone with an interest in this company do.


    They are a threat to free speech and must be silenced! - Andrea Chen
  • by cruise ( 111380 ) on Thursday January 06, 2000 @07:37AM (#1397832) Homepage
    re: the Slashdot source: Finally, it's coming soon. It'll be out when its finished. And if you ask me again I'll postpone it again.

    Translates to Fuck you and your open source ideals

    Taco, I for one think you are giving us the big fuck you with this one. I/we do not care about comments.. I/we do not care about slop. I/we only care about learning from your successes (and failures) and further improving the global programmer community as a whole.

    We are a technical group. Do you honestly think that the lack of comments and the addition of platform specific code is going to hamper our ability to understand it as a whole and use it to benefit both the programmer community and slashdot? I'm offended.

    From the comments/questions posted it is quite obvious that people are demanding you release the source. People are seeing that Slashdot is NOT about OpenSource!

    Being too busy, lazy, whatever is a piss poor excuse. Your sucess is a direct result of you getting hte Slashdotters hyped up over a site which preaches OpenSource, Linux and "news for nerds" but you choose to shit on our ideals.

    It's good enough for us to want to come here. Not good enough for you now that you have us here? I for one say "FUCK YOU TOO!"


    They are a threat to free speech and must be silenced! - Andrea Chen
  • by cobyrne ( 118270 ) on Thursday January 06, 2000 @07:26AM (#1397836) Homepage

    ... The night I changed the moderation system from 20-odd people

    20 very odd people :-)

    (Sorry, I couldn't resist)

  • by bons ( 119581 ) on Thursday January 06, 2000 @08:27AM (#1397840) Homepage Journal
    (it's funny, laugh)

    Bill, a lot of people want to know when we can expect Windows 2000.
    Seriously, there are only 3 people who really know how much work a source release for this is: Linus, Woz, and Me. And the three of us have been working on a lot of stuff. As I write this, Microsoft employees are bugfixing and documenting and preparing for a release.

    Why the delay, Bill?
    This isn't like other projects: it has been custom fit to our hardware and to our needs. It doesn't have install scripts or help or even comments in the code. We're just too busy to play tech support helping dozens of people. We've decided to squash the bugs and make a clean release rather than rush it.

    Why does it take so long to patch bugs in Windows?
    It's really easy for someone to complain that I didn't release a new version of Windows every week. Its also easy to forget that in the last 6 months we've doubled in traffic and we've had to optimize our code and hardware to handle that. A new release is secondary: Our job is making money. We want to release new versions of Windows, but it is a definite second priority to making money.

    So when can we expect Windows 2000 on the store shelves?
    It's coming soon. It'll be out when its finished. And if you ask me again I'll postpone it again.

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