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Negative Webmonkey Editorial on Andover/VA Merger 261

BigTed writes "Webmonkey has got an interesting article up about the VA Linux takeover of Andover and its effect on *gasp* Slashdot and the Open Source Community." Personal note: I almost quit when I heard about the merger, because I had exactly the same worries Jay Greenspan expresses in this editorial. Since then I have been personally reassured by Larry Augustin that VA Linux has no desire to mess with the content on any Andover site, including Slashdot. I'm posting this story, even though we've been over this ground before, primarily so that we don't get accused of bias by not posting it. And yes, we will continue to post news of Red Hat, Penguin Computing, and others in the Linux corporate community, same as before. Everyone who works on Slashdot, and everyone in management, has sworn to defend Slashdot's editorial independence. Period. - Robin 'roblimo' Miller, Editor-in-Chief, Update: 02/09 05:16 by CT : here is a Salon Story by Andrew Leondard expressing the same concerns as the webmonkey bit.
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Negative Webmonkey Editorial on Andover/VA Merger

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  • I guess stories like these are necessary to make sure the journalistic independancy is still functional now that /. is part of this "mega-corporation" :) It's good to see that they're "allowed" to post even negative views about their owners. Good going.
  • Personally I'm a little perplexed at the broohaha surrounding this. VA Linux is commited to open source, they know the community, they know that it would be company suicide to annoy the very user base that develops Linux, and slashdot is a powerful voice in that community.

    This isn't MS, News International, GE or anyother big brother organisation, this is VA. If slashdot isn't seen as being independent it will cease to become popular, if its not popular its pointless to its owners. Worries about bias towards VA and against other like Suse and Red Hat are the sorts of things we all will be looking out for, its going to be tough to get pro-VA sentiment without accusations of bias. In the same was a we guarentee the quality of Open Source code it is our voices that ensure the independence of slashdot.

    Although it would have been quite fun to witness the /. effect if LinuxOne had made the take over >;-)
  • There is this trend to over-hype any news of IT mergers/buyouts etc especially when the word Linux comes up. Okay, this is probably going to get more readers with the current upswing in public favour for Open Source, but dramatising does nobody any favours.
    I'm quite happy to believe CmdrTaco et al when they say they have a cast iron contract which ensures Slashdot's individuality. Yes, even companies after money can act ethically. Anyway, why alienate the very population they want as a market??

  • by Ashran ( 107876 ) on Wednesday February 09, 2000 @02:34AM (#1292676) Homepage
    First Slashdot -> then -> VA Linux. With the current shopping runs of big companies, how long will Slashdot be free ? They said they have a contract to save their rights, but how long can they keep it up?
  • If the worst comes to the worst and editorial control is lost (not that I'm saying it will) the Slash code is always available. Someone can set up SlashNot, and the community can leave VA high and dry. No problem. Or am I missing something?
  • This merger is so sad. Rob can say all he wants that they will be independent but it just ainted going to happen. Because they are going to start to BELIEVE that VA makes better products blah blah blah. Imagine if Microsoft owned its own newspaper that published stories on software issues. I can't imagine anybody trusting a thing they said. And for good reason. I wonder if Rob and Co will now diclose their stock holdings in the companies they report on (like most respectable journalists). Why do i doubt it.
  • If some Big Nasty Corp. acquires /. and starts dinking with the content, how many hours do you suppose it would take before an alternative site took the ballistic ride to success?

    Actually, it's probably just a matter of time anyway, due to the ever-growing population of astroturfers and ex-segfaulters. But a corporation that shells out big bucks for another whose most marketable asset appears to be /. will be reluctant to tip the scale by meddling, unless either truely clueless or else hostile to what's going on here.

  • But what prevents your SlashNot from not getting bought by some other company?
    Everyone is after cash :p
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Hey, remember that Roblimo + bunch have some money now. Plus the Slashdot source is available and GPL. If VA/Andover screws them up, all the Slashdot folks need to do is to just resign and take Slashdot somewhere else. So in my opinion the Slashdot staff has an advantage.

    However I don't know about what kind of contracts they've made with anyone, but I doubt that they would have signed anything potentially damaging to themselves.

    It remains to be seen whether Slashdot borgifies into a corporate announcement site. One thing is for certain: if I see signs of that, I'm outta here for good. And I'm not coming back.

    You see, trust is a fragile thing.
  • The only scary thing kicking about is bucket loads of virtual money being assigned to stock values. I can't see any conflict of interests worth noting in the merger, plenty of content providors in other media are owned by big companies. Slashdot will retain its editorial independance for 2 main reasons: 1) VA won't influence it. 2) bugger all of the editorial content is written by the editors. I skim the articles and read the comments, VA does not own me, nobody owns me!(although Lotus may have a part share) Alan.
  • Now let me get this straight here. The same webmonkey that was bought by Wired, then by Lycos is now preaching journalistic independance? Apparently Mr. Greenspan there wrote this article out of the good of his heart, rather than accepting a paycheck for his efforts.
  • The point of the article is more, that VA will have to act more like MS & Co. to stay alive in the marketplace. Thus, there will come increasing pressure on /. Not so much overt pressure along the lines of "don't cover RedHat"; more a creeping tendency to slant stories, favour story x over story y, etc, in a way that is of benefit to VA. I'm not saying that this is the case; but this is the main thrust of the article I think.
  • Well, that was a well thought out article.

    Yes certain companies do use their content providers to promote their products and their company beliefs over the beliefs of the founders. This can be seen a lot in the UK with the bias shown by the national press following their owners coporate whims (for a good example look as Rupert Murdock owned press and China.)

    However the article forbodes of disaster and the community dying. Many companys allow their content arm independence from propaganda and spin and /. has a better than good chance of maintaining this with the current team's ideological stance. Sure the content is biased towards the founders choice of contributions, but not to the owners, and as long as the editorial team do not leave I for one feel it would stay this way.

    ALso I feel that the /. comminity would smell out any bias towards VA over other distributers and developers and that would be when it loses it's high standing in the open source community.

  • by Dicky ( 1327 ) <> on Wednesday February 09, 2000 @02:51AM (#1292691) Homepage
    So, this is a negative post about VA & Andover. And it's posted with a very obvious piece of editorialising which tells a very obvious story. VA get to add positive comment to their stories before they get posted. Do Redhat get the right to reply to stories in the headline? Do Penguin get that right? I doubt it.

    Alternatively, this is a slightly more subtle attempt to avoid discussion on this subject. By making the headline a mini-feature in itself, a large portion of the discussion will be about Roblimo's comments, rather than about the original story. They're trying to manipulate us!.

    My actual opinion on this? I think the quality of Slashdot has declined somewhat since I first started reading it, which was quite a long time before anyone had heard of Andover. I miss things like the war against using instead of aka TDwww(TMS). On the other hand, I have also changed a lot in the time since I started reading here, so it is just as possible that the 'problem' is with me, not Slashdot.
    I'm glad to see the guys who put this thing together get their just rewards. I think that the code is finally open, VA are a well-known and well-respected company in the community, and there is certainly no more need to worry now than there was about Andover, and they don't seem to have (directly at least) caused any problems.

    This is my normal sig - it just happens to fit this posting well:

  • Well I for one am worried about the merger.
    I mean, at the moment it might not sound that scary, VA Linux has explicitly told Slashdot that they don't want to do any censoring or content editing,
    but what will happen in a few years?

    Linux is becoming bigger every day, what will happen when VA Linux sees they can make loads of money with commercialising Slashdot,
    promoting VA Linux and neglecting others? Maybe some Slashdot editors will quit Slashdot,
    but that's the beginning of the end. Slashdot will keep on living, but not the way I, and I hope everyone here, would want it.


    -------------------------------------------------- -------------------------
    "One World, one Web, one Program" - Microsoft promotional ad
    "Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Fuhrer" - Adolf Hitler [] - All the people all the pictures
  • by discore ( 80674 )
    Am I the only one that isn't worried? I have faith in the /. crew.

    Sure mergers can be a bit scary but I think the dedication that the maintainers of Slashdot give will prevent anything horrible from happening.

  • Perhaps it's long overdue for Slashdot to remove the anonymous posting. If a person has something of value to add, they should attach their name to it anyway.
  • I don't think this new corporate ownership is necessarily a Bad Thing. Granted, corporations exist to make money, but I don't think that makes them by nature unethical; a problem, however, that this article points out, is the new public nature of these companies. An IPO doesn't produce free money, it means a change in ownership, and no matter what the management says now, their responsibility now lies to a large extent with their shareholders. It would be unethical of THEM to not take this into account, even if it means dictating /. policy. Of course, freedom of the press issues enter into it as well, but as long as I'm allowed to say what I want, I can accept a slight VA bias in the stories presented. As for the market valuation, of course VA is overvalued, but not as much as Red Hat I think, since they at least have a hardware component, rather than just packaging freely available software...
  • Imagine if Microsoft owned its own newspaper that published stories on software issues. I can't imagine anybody trusting a thing they said.

    Can anyone say MSNBC? Slate?

    To compare VA to Microsoft is inherently wrong. They are both very different companies. Sure the end goal is the same, i.e. make money. But VA has sprung from the Linux community (as mentioned before), a community that monitors and watches movements within companies very very closely. The community is very self critical, you only have to look at the discussions about the way Slashdot works to realise that. Any change in Slashdot would be noticed immediately, and I for one would move to another site if such a thing happened.

    Microsoft on the other hand has a long history of using subversion and underhand tactics. Also the average MSNBC reader knows very little about the setup there, about the internal politics and people behind the news. It's closed source (oh my god what a concept: Open Source journalism, try fitting the GPL onto that one!), whereas at Slashdot there is constat debate and argument, could you ever imagine a discussion such as this happening on MSNBC or Slate? Think not.

    As long as we keep talking, watching and listening we can keep Slashdot safe.

  • by Oliver Lineham ( 12808 ) on Wednesday February 09, 2000 @02:56AM (#1292700) Homepage
    From webmonkey: For content sites (like the one you're reading right now), credibility is everything. Webmonkey is owned by Lycos, and our overlords have desires. They wish for you, our readers, to search the Web using HotBot, set up your Web site using Tripod, and buy trinkets using LycoShop. Thankfully, these services do not conflict with our core mission: providing information for Web developers.

    What a lie. Just as Wired is out of touch these days, so is Hotwired/Lycos. Webmonkey has only headed downhill in recent years, producing progressively simplistic, shallow, "beginners" articles suited to who? None other than the beginners using Tripod and Lycos.

    To claim Webmonkey (or Hotwired) have been unaffected by their own ownership dramas is outrageous

    Remember, Webmonkey are the same people who claimed ownership and copyright of everything posted to their email discussion list - prompting users to leave and form []

    In contrast, Slashdot has continued to operate as it always has - the material posted hasn't changed, and I do believe that roblimo et al would leave if the site's editorial independence truly were in jeopardy. That will be our signal, as site visitors, to stop using Slashdot.

    Bad form, Webmonkey!

  • WebMonkey == Robotic Monkeys!

    I can see it, why can't you guys? It's obvious that Slashdot has been singled out as a focal point of harrassment by the legions of Robotic Monkeys! We must destroy WebMonkey! We must stop the Robotic Monkeys at any cost! Who will fight with me?

    Bad Mojo
  • Why does this webmonkey fellow refer to VA Linux as a software company, and then says Red Hat is in "direct competition" with VA? When can we order our next kick-ass server from Redhat? And can Iget a copy of the VA Linux distribution for my computer at home?

    Either this guy is trolling for hits from Slashdot, or he is truly ignorant.

  • But what if VA starts doing some really, really bad?

    Say VA gets in an like scandal. Do they let Slashdot cause them serious harm by posting highly critical stories, and letting Katz do his things, all mobilizing thousands of readers to turn against VA?

    I doubt it. We won't really know what Slashdot's editorial freedom is until VA hits some hard times.
  • by Hobbex ( 41473 ) on Wednesday February 09, 2000 @03:02AM (#1292705)
    I'm posting this story, even though we've been over this ground before, primarily so that we don't get accused of bias by not posting it.

    You can't force yourself to be impartial, and in the end, if the /. article writers are always worrying about not seeming biased, it will be just as bad as if you blatently were. You can't post every article that is negative about VA, but whenever you don't, I can promise people will jump on you for it.

    Having a communal site like Slashdot owned by strong corporate interests is simply a bad idea, and I just don't think it can work out in the long run. There is an element of trust in the fact that community is willing to let a couple of people decide over what topics will be discussed here, and that trust is human, not corporate. I think the reason there is so much antagonism against Jon Katz here is that many of us feel he is abusing that trust, using Slashdot as a pulpit for his own preachings rather than choosing stories for us.

    Having Slashdot owned by Andover was one thing, because Andover was a web company based on the idea of selling banner ads, and therefore had the very clear of objective of getting as many readers to return here as often as possible. With VA it is a lot more fuzzy. VA obviously do not have banner adds as their main source of income, so they have other agendas for wanting to own (even if you keep claiming they have no control over) the backbones of the community.

    The relationship between the Slashdot community and VA Linux is somewhere between mutualistic and parasitic, and I share many peoples concern that it is leaning toward the latter. I guess it should come as a bucket of cold water to those who keep claiming that the influences of corporations and money will not harm the open source community, that they started by grabbing our favorite node for discussion right from our grasp...

    We cannot reason ourselves out of our basic irrationality. All we can do is learn the art of being irrational in a reasonable way.
  • <i>
    The Linux product itself is clearly superior to anyone who has used other "real" operating systems, (no, using just windoze 95 does not count) now it is mainly a matter of getting the word out.

    Excuse me? Give me some proof. Linux is less scalable than almost every other Unix (and even other OSs like NT - Linus admitted the networking flaws). And it's only succeeded out of luck and good timing (straight from Linus' mouth).

    Please don't delude yourself. Lets see Linux take over the job of enterprise Solaris servers.
  • by larien ( 5608 )
    I get the distinct impression that the main people behind /. would bail out if they started getting pressure from Andover/VA. Since the slash code is GPL, there's nothing stopping them starting a competing site with 95% of the same content/style as /. However, it would probably require a new name and slightly different image to stop corporate lawyers rampaging over it.
  • If anybody really thinks that slashdot will change because of some monitary backing, they need to realize that slashdot has had backing for a long long time via banner adds. I see the VA ownership being about as strong.
    Will they be more leniant on VA, maybe... but since when have we had to worry about them?
    Will they miss an article on RedHat... maybe, but remember... we have open comments that are community moderated.
    Will they show us how to run a well trusted and designed web forum? Heck yes... they have not changed a bit.

    From what I can tell, overtime it has been the AC's have changed slashdot. Not money, not greed, but morons. These are what we should worry about.

    Long live this open forum that many call home.
    Long death for the morons that ruin it.
  • I agree that we don't need to worry about VA Linux. I think the folks there are smart enough to realize that they exist as a company only because they have been good community citizens so far. Any company that doesn't please the geeks will face our mighty wrath! That's just a bit of boasting, but I don't think it's too far off. LinuxOne has certainly earned our ire, and that scared off their investors. The market that buys VA Linux computers is the same one that reads Slashdot. VA Linux was smart to buy up Andover, and they will be smart to stay out of the editorial process.
  • Then we'll just set up and make more ca$h. In one fell swoop we can solve the global poverty crisis and wipe out the national debt!

    "Rich I tell you, we're all going to be RICH!"

  • What I have trouble fathoming is why VA-Linux would want to be associated with a site that currently appears to be crumbling at the seams due to the activity of its users.

    As a long time /. reader I am dismayed at the current troll activity. What's worse is that I just cannnot see it going away.

    If the troll activity continues, I cannot see VA allowing Slashdot to continue - let's face it, would you want your company associated with a site that consists about 30% of references to grits and Natalie Portman? I wouldn't.

    Just my 2 öre!

  • Okay, I don't think this will happen, but...

    What if VA Linux is taken over by another company though. One that wants the software part, but doesn't believe that the users are important. (Yes, I know that this would be sheer stupidity on the part of a Linux distributor, but corporate stupidity is a common ailment)

  • If some Big Nasty Corp. acquires /. and starts dinking with the content, how many hours do you suppose it would take before an alternative site took the ballistic ride to success?

    What you've got to remember is how long it took /. to build up the user base it has today. Even if someone starts up another site covering the same issues (I liked the suggestion for the name - SlashNot - that I read somewhere) it'll take ages for people to move over to the new site. To start with there'll be only a few people posting in the threads and /. thrives on replies and rebuttals to other posts. The more things that are posted, the greater and better the discussion that results. With only a few posts per topic the discussion will lack the depth that /. can acheive and so people won't bother reading the stories - they'll stick with /. despite its faults.

    But a corporation that shells out big bucks for another whose most marketable asset appears to be /. will be reluctant to tip the scale by meddling, unless either truely clueless or else hostile to what's going on here.

    I agree. If VA Linux are even thought to be meddling with the content here then the screams of outrage will be deafening. There would be a deluge of bad press, most likely affecting the price of their stock - after all it has to come down at some point and I'd guess it wouldn't take too much of a reason. I doubt they'll try to rock the boat here, but unfortunately, companies have made stupid decisions before.

    I think most people here, including me, will take a wait and see attitude to this. Hopefully there won't be anything to see.

  • There has been quite the mess lately, both here and on other sites, regarding Slashdot's alleged or future loss of integrity due to the recent acquisition of I'd like to suggest that everybody stop playing prophet and take a look at where Slashdot is in 6 months. If the staff at Slashdot keep the faith with their ideals -- and their contract agreement allows this -- then we will have no issue. This entire quandary can be resolved in one of two manners:

    1) Trust.
    2) Maxim: "Innocent until proven guilty"

    I think that the worst mistake that Slashdot could make just now is to devour a lot of energy to showing people just how unbiased they are. The article this story linked to offered no insight beyond the rounds of discussion we've already engaged in. Yes, there is a perceived conflict of interest between a Linux vendor and a Linux-related information vendor. Yes, this could cause problems. But let's not forget -- the entire Slashdot staff is aware of our feelings on this matter, there is no need to rehash them ad nauseum. If all of you at SlashDot will remain independent despite standing beneath VA's banner, then you have my respect and gratitude. If not, then you have lost my traffic. There is no need to show me how unbiased you are. When and if I feel the ratio of stories representing VA interests has no bearing on the reality of the situation (I.E. We hear about VA's minor advances ahead of Red Hat's major ones), then I will make my decision as regards Slashdot and, perhaps, start tinkering with Slash code.

    Since SlashDot has thus far displayed no obvious bias (save towards self-defense) they maintain my readership, and I suggest that anybody who has doubts or worries simply follow the same formula that I am: Wait and see.

  • Andover was a web company based on the idea of selling banner ads, and therefore had the very clear of objective of getting as many readers to return here as often as possible.

    How frustrating it must be for them to try and get ads (consciousness spam) in front of a crowd technically savvy enough to filter them out. I only see ads on /. when logging in from someone else's machine. Give me a secure, reliable micropayment system, and we can eliminate these discussions of questionable motives altogether.

  • What you have to remember is that with the take-over of Andover by VA, VA has also taken over all rights and obligations that Andover had. Only if it is explicitly stated in the contracts that the terms might change in event of a merger, acquisition etc. can one change the conditions. Now Hemos and CmdrTaco had a good lawyer, so you bet this is covered. Therefore the answer will be, even after Microsoft Network takes over: NOTHING CHANGES AS LONG AS HEMOS AND CMDRTACO WORK AT SLASHDOT. Start worrying when they leave

  • Hail and well met Anonymous Coward.

    Well, Linux is about anarchy, but most of the Linux companies dont do all the work for peace and love.
    They do it to make bucks, like everyone on this earth.
    And what would be better than a major news service making good comments about your company?

    Ps.: Anonymous Coward, one day you have to tell me how you get so many first posts.
  • Yes, but do you think Snowball would really want to buy VA Linux?
  • I would have to agree, the quality of Slashdot has declined over time, as the average user of Slashdot has changed. ...and we're probably just "old fogies" too. (in my day, we didn't have stories about "JonKatz" and "World Domination" and "Social Issues"... :)

    And wasn't it TCWWW? (The Cursed WWW...)

    Oh well. I still miss Meept. Some of the trolls today are funny, but there's nothing that's both as silly, insightful, funny and controversial anymore.

    (petrified pancake ninjas with hot grits down Natalie Portman's Open-Source pants get old after a while, believe it or not, d00Dz...)

    Also, is it me, or has there been a lot more "down" moderating and less "up" moderating? I'd try to change this, but I don't get mod points, since I'm not a "typical Slashdot user". Heaven forfend, I guess I *have* been here too long!
    pb Reply or e-mail; don't vaguely moderate [].
  • > What you've got to remember is how long it took /. to build starts up another site covering the same issues ... it'll take ages for people to move over to the new site.

    Yeah, it took the original a while to get rolling, but a rollover to a new site might take much less time. Especially if every /. thread got 10 replies saying "[OT] The real geeks do it at dash-slot now" for a couple of weeks.

    > I think most people here, including me, will take a wait and see attitude to this. Hopefully there won't be anything to see.

    I second that. I have hopes that even the segfault kiddies will get bored and go elsewhere after a few more months. And I hope Andover/VA/whoever's-next will realize that their acquisitions are money down the drain (at best) if they pith off the rather volitile /. community. Not like we're slow to "see" a conspiracy theory or anything.

    And meanwhile (speaking of conspiracy theories), we can be glad it was VA, rather than (say) the MPAA, RIAA, US Congress, or some other group bent on screwing their customers at every turn.

  • First it was the new story posters,
    and the content started suffering,
    and then it was the nasty colors,
    and now we have all the Trolls,
    and the new cheesy icons...

    When do we get bought by ZD-Net? ;)
    pb Reply or e-mail; don't vaguely moderate [].
  • My personal belief is that since Slashdot has such an awake and intelligent group of people reading it they will immediately tell if /. started getting biased. And in this open source world that would never be accepted. /. would suffer hard from such a thing, and that is something Rob and the boys wouldn't risk.

    That's my $0.02

  • True. I wouldn't use linux to run anything large-scale. However, I think it's much more flexible than solaris, though slightly less (and I mean very slightly)less robust, or at least has been so in my experience. Which brings to mind a question: if their respective companies had developed and promoted them as desktop systems, would the various UNIX flavors grabbed a serious market share? I know there were some 386 ports of various OSes, but they never seemed to get wide distribution...
  • Maybe I wasnt able to exactly write what I thought, but you can blame this on my english skill.
    English isnt my native language sometimes its just hard to get the post clear.
  • Read at highest score first and you see almost none.

    I get the occasional troll over here, but most of them I only ever see in very new threads, those I bother reading through to the end or in M2.

    Having said that, some are actually very funny :)

  • If we follow the logic pronounced in this editorial the german CT magazine is supposed to speicialize in the anal interfacing techinques to the almighty vend'a (brownnose the vendors) as much any other magazine does. Oh well it does not. And this is the reason for it to stay alive. And it keeps getting advertisments from all big vendors though it bashes tham on regular basis.

    Same shall be true for Slashdot across its mergers and acquisitions. The moment it will go brownnosing it shall die.

    So it either:

    1. Goes the CT way. It may even increase advertisemnents (if they are not double-click I personally do not mind).

    2. Goes the "countless number of owned sites and magazines way" and dies mizerably beeing read by nobody.

    An intersting side note. So far the CT business scenario has been successful only in Europe...
  • I first went on slashdot a couple years ago, and my memory might be a bit faulty but I seem to remember it having interesting, full-length articles, rather than paragraph-sized references to other sites...was kind of let down a little when I came back.
  • You and I (and other similar users) might move, but we all know that a pretty huge percentage of site users are lurkers. Heck, I've lurked for long periods before. So they'd still benefit from slashdot.

    As an aside, how would we organise the move? The only really reliable way to get in touch with the slashdot users to move them would be for us to mention the new site here at every possible oppotunity. Which would end up with slashnot and fishbot (or whatever...) being viewed as trolls by many as they'd have to do pretty much that to move us.

    Oh well...

  • Well read media has almost always been owned and controlled by large corporations, where as Slashdot has been seen as a user managed discussion server, usually impartial to the debate of the day. But now, things might be changing. What this presents is a chance for once for a business to actually deliver an impartial news/discussion source.

    Does anyone really give credibility to a CBS story on Viacom, or an ABC editorial about the practices of Disney? How about th good old days of NBC and GE? ...Same problem here, maybe.

    This could be make or break time for Slashdot. Your typical Slashdotter is of the cynical breed, not likely to be gullible to ingest the soothing words of your average CEO that "Don't worry, everything will be fine."

    So here's the message.....

    VA Linux, you are the new kid on the block. Fine, you are the biggest kid with a lot of resources behind you. Be careful, we are watching, and we ARE smarter than your average person.
  • That was off-topic, wasn't it. Ignore it I guess.
  • No, that would damage the forums as has been discussed many times before. Anonymous posting is a useful service and there are plenty of legitimate AC's who post good comments.

    There are also clowns like this, but that's the price we pay. I can't see the balance changing all that soon.

  • I think there is a valid concern that a public company's only true loyalty, when push comes to shove, is to its shareholders and therefore its profit. If a magazine which frequently discussed and reviewed different, say, operating systems, was purchased by the manufacturers of one of those operating systems, would almost certainly lose much credibility in the eyes of its readership. This situation is somewhat different since VA Systems does have an excellent reputation and is widely trusted by the SlashDot readership, but the problem is that VA can only continue to be trusted under its current management, and in a public company, management can change overnight.

    So what can SlashDot do in this situation to maintain long-term credibility, short of a mass-resignation of the SlashDot editorial staff? Well, if any form of undue influence was going to manifest itself it would undoubtedly be in the form of article selection, currently a closed process. If this process was opened up to the SlashDot readership, possibly through something similar to the current moderation system, then the editors of SlashDot could correctly point out that they couldn't exert undue influence even if they wanted to! Editors could still submit additional stories (like Katz), so if it seemed that almost every editor-posted story was pro-VA then this would be painfully obvious (as opposed to a subtle censoring of anti-VA articles which would be much more difficult to detect).

    At the moment this is something of a toy debate, but things change and I think that it is almost inevitable that Rob and co. will probably have to do something like this in the future if they don't want to risk their integrity and readership.


  • It's important, however, that the community is vigilant about the actions of companies like RedHat and VA. I have no doubt that these companies have good intentions and are run by people who genuinely support Free software.

    The risk is that we may see monopolies on parts of the new "Linux industry". These might become a problem in the future, when new managers take over. Also, if the kind of editorial bias that people discuss occurs at all, it will be subtle, gradual (and probably in the distant future).

    I think for these reasons it is important to make sure there are strong community-owned organisations to keep some kind of parity with the Slashdots and Sourceforges of this world.

    If enough influential organisations stay away from the profit goal, then we'll be able to keep the Open Ball rolling...

  • c't magazine is a brilliant example of unbiased, critical high quality tech journalism.

    But what if Heise (the company which produces c't) was bought up by Microsoft? Readers would be right to question their trust in the publication. One could argue the Andover/VA Linux deal is similar.

    Now, personnally I trust the /. guys to do the right thing. If not, we the readers will simply leave.

    Actually, I find all the guys comming here to complain quite amusing. If you really think the quality of /. has gone down, well don't come here again. You'll deprive /. of precious ad revenue and spare yourself the trouble of posting complaints ;)

  • And can Iget a copy of the VA Linux distribution for my computer at home?

    Take a look here [].

  • Give me a secure, reliable micropayment system, and we can eliminate these discussions of questionable motives altogether.

    Give us micropayments and the web is destroyed.

    Now there are free(beer) sites and some services that require a payment. With micropayment we would have to always keep an eye on the meter, no casual surfing around.

  • Funny you should mention that there will still be posts on other companies, yet yesterday i submitted an article on RedHat 6.2beta being released, and surprise surprise, the article isn't up...
    one can draw many conclusions from that, but i will be a bigger man and pretend its because it got lost in the pile of submitted stories.

  • I dont get this. I dont see a major problem. I read Slashdot for the debate and the followup on the chosen news articles. Slashdot doesnt cover all the news Im interested in, and it certainly covers news I'm not. But Im interested in its 'dipstick' effect, ie the way it reflects a slice of opinion within a particular group. I also get more from pro/con arguments on a topic than just a rehashed press release.

    If the Slashdot crew say they'll maintain their own biases, rather than VA's I'll believe them. I think that the fuckwits around here spending half their time slagging off Rob etc should go build their own friggin' sites instead of bleating about Slashdot, Moderation, the source code, or whatever other facile little gripe they have.

    Who cares if a Linux company owns the company which owns Slashdot. Slashdot isnt a Linux site. Its a news site. People bitch pointlessly about RedHat news anyway; now they'll bitch pointlessly about VA news instead. They bitch pointlessly about KDE vs GNOME, now some of them will bitch pointlessly about VA. They already bitch, constantly, about Slashdot, and Andover. SFW.

    Slashdot is biased. It has to be, it always was. If you're 100% the bias will change, such that VA/Andover control Slashdot's news, then fuck off, start your own competitor. You bleated about the code, now take it, and go prove you can do something real with it. Just bleat there, not here.

  • by Surak ( 18578 ) <surak.mailblocks@com> on Wednesday February 09, 2000 @04:13AM (#1292750) Homepage Journal
    No, I honestly don't think VA's buying of will affect Slashdot all that much.

    Sure, the editors will be questioning themselves with every move and it is important to keep in mind that CmdrTaco, Roblimo, Hemos and company have shares in Andover, and therefore now VA. The focus of any biasing will be on them and not on Andover or VA.

    However, I don't think you have to worry about corporate pressure from VA. If VA is perceived as a "bad guy" or a "bully" in the Open Source community (a good part of which overlap with the Slashdot community), then they will be the ones that are hurting, because in the hearts and minds of Slashdot readership, they will be viewed as being no better than Micros~1.

    Remember that VA, for its part, depends on the Open Source community to a very large extent. If they alienate us, then we will retaliate, and they know that.

    Nay, I think the worst thing we have to fear is that the editorialship will simply concentrate on serving the community rather than worry about their stock portfolios. Hopefully, they realize that serving the community in a non-biased way will help their stock portfolios in the long run, while, although favoring VA might temporarily help their stock valuations, will only hurt VA, and ultimately themselves, in the long term.

  • by ajs ( 35943 ) <> on Wednesday February 09, 2000 @04:17AM (#1292751) Homepage Journal
    When MSNBC was created, everyone assumed that Microsoft would muck with the content. Over the time that it has been around, how many Slashdot stories have referenced positive Linux or negative MS stories at MSNBC? I can remember 3 rather devestating ones right off the top (including an entire series on how easy Linux was to install and use).

    Slashdot will continue the way it is now for a while. If and when it gets unpleasant, I suspect that we'll see the original people leave and the "info for the new users" to start showing up. It won't be VA touting their own strengths, that would make them stupider than MS, but I could certainly see a watering down of content in the next 2-5 years. For now, though, Slashdot is the best geek site on the net!

    Thanks Roblimo, CmdrTaco, Jon, et al! It's been a fun ride (I say this as a reader, submitter, followup contributor, stockholder and geek), and I trust your standards enough to keep reading, learning and sharing.

  • I would moderate this baby so far up so fast it would get the bends.

    Java banners:
    Bad for users because Java kills Netscape
  • I don't like to come across as a paranoid, so I am not going to state this in such a way as to say that the situation I went through is what you will go through. I just want to make it clear how things work in most cases.

    I had been working with a small digital media company for about two years. Around the end of my second year we were bought up by a larger entity. Initially we took it rather bad. We liked being a small seperate company with our own independant goals and longterm goals. Now that we were part of a larger organization, we lost those goals.

    They sent out a rep. In fact he was the one in charge of aquiring us. To tell us that things were not going to change. Our mission would not collide with their mission. It was not their intent to change that in any foreseable future. It sounded nice, it sounded like we would now have the extra fund backing to do some of the things we had always wanted to do.

    Later on, I found out the rest of the story. I found out that their plan in two years was to dissolve our newly coined "branch" and move us to another entity entirely. Kinda like a payoff they had been needing to pay with this other organization. So in short, their plan was to use our talent and equipment in the short term for their immediate plans, and when those plans ended, dissolve us and sell us off to another organization that they owed. At that point we would lose all of our goals.

    They are going to tell you things like that. They will tell you that things will keep going indefinatly the way they are. Why? Because they bought you for a reason. They bought you for their purposes. The last thing they want is a big walk-out and losing all of their staff that they just purchased.

    But don't ever think they won't try and change you eventually.

    As I said at first. I am not necessarily saying that VA Research is guilty of what happened to my company. (I left by the way when I found the full story). They might have the best intentions. It just struck me when I heard Larry's explaination to you, and how it was practically word-for-word what I got out of our representative.

  • As long as we keep talking, watching and listening we can keep Slashdot safe.

    I agree with you in principle, but what a U$5billion company will want to do with Linux is make it as mainstream as possible. Get it out to the masses. I'm afraid that once that happens, the open-source community will sound like a cricket in a symphony, and any kind of watch-dog project could be just as easily ignored.
  • I don't think it would be that hard to move the site. People would just start posting the new site address on slashdot, and it would likely get moderated up. Such seems to be the nature of the Slashdot crowd.

    The problem is that Slashdot has been successful for a reason. The editors at Slashdot have done their best to make Slashdot an impartial place to find news that applies to their audience. An impartiality is imposed by the readers, who have the ability to decide what they think is important. If Slashdot is to be reborn you have to find another group of people with those same skills and motivations for it to succeed.

    I not saying that's it's impossible, but you do have the problem that there's a lot of $$$ involved, and that can change most people.

    Slashdot has done an exelent job of remaining impartial so far. If anyone can resist the swaying power of the almighty $$$, I think they can. However, when there's $5,000,000,000 on the line, there's bound to be a lot of pressure. Remember that although these companies were founded on the idea of supporting free or open software, the board of directors is ultimately determined by the stockholders. This means that the people with the most $$$ ultimately call the shots. Good luck to the people at Slashdot, I hope things don't get ugly.

    I can't flame Roblimo's actions here because I can't think of a better alternative. If he posts, your complaint gets raised. If he doesn't post, the complaint that this news is being "suppressed" is raised. In such a circumstance, I would post, especially in an interactive forum such as Slashdot.

    Were you in Roblimo's shoes, what would you have done?


  • This ain't freshmeat.

    Michael Sims-michael at
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Hmmmm ... there are occasions when it's appropriate to cry "wolf", and one of them is when there's a big hairy <i>Vulpus vulgaris</i> at your door.

    To clear up some misconceptions:

    Roblimo wrote:<i>Everyone who works on Slashdot, and everyone in management, has sworn to defend Slashdot's editorial independence</i>

    Robin Miller is a guy who I have a great deal of respect and admiration for. But, the fact is that his reincarnation as an "Editor-in-Chief" at andover comes as a new development in a long career as an independent, freelance journalist (how do I know this? I'm a lurker on the "netslaves" mailing list). Roblimo has no experience of dealing with a corporate environment and, indeed, has actively avoided corporate situations because he is no good at them.

    I'd like to ask roblimo, if he's reading this, the following question: It took you a long time to develop enough trust in to commit to working for them full time. How did you manage to develop the same level of trust in VA so quickly.

    Second, you hint that your reaction to "pressure from above" would be to get out, quick. I don't blame you for this. But you have that option; you can support yourself as a freelance, and have done so before, so you are psychologically capable of leaving. CT et al probably aren't, so they are susceptible to corporate pressure.

    enough roblimo-bashing, I feel bad enough already.

    Now, on to the much-vaunted "contract" which guarantees slashdot's editorial independence. It's worth spit. Rob and Jeff do not have any contract which stops the vast majority of their net worth from being tied to the share price of VA Linux. It's not that they might come under pressure from the shareholders of VA Linux; they <i>are</i> shareholders of VA Linux. Since I wouldn't trust <i>myself</i> in a situation like that, I find it hard to trust anyone else -- this is not a slur on their honesty, just a statement of fact.

    Finally, the argument which prompted me to post this screed:

    <i>If slashdot isn't seen as being independent it will cease to become popular</i>

    This just ain't true! For a start, there will be no big red BLINK-tagged announcement that "Slashdot is no longer independent". More than half of the slashdotters won't even notice. No matter how assiduous we think we'll be in looking out for evidence of bias, it's not human to keep your guard up all the time. And the natural instinct of those who love the site is to defend it, so the people who point out when independence is going will most likely be slapped (and moderated) down.

    Second, the argument isn't even true! Biased new sources do not "lose all credibility" and they do not "cease to be popular". The Murdoch press is not unpopular. ZDNet is not unpopular. MSN is not unpopular. As long as slashdot is mostly entertaining and informative, we'll continue to visit, even if we suspect that some of its coverage (always a minority) is a bit VA-slanted. We might need to get some other sources of news, but we'll continue going to slashdot. Most of us won't even bother to use other sources.

    Extrans ain't working, but I quite like the look of the tags <img src=>

  •,.net,.org are not available, at least according to the netwroksolutions lookup page.

  • by Roblimo ( 357 ) on Wednesday February 09, 2000 @05:21AM (#1292786) Homepage Journal
    Actually, the internal joke is that I do so much worrying about editorial integrity that no one else has to do any. There's truth to this. I come out of "old school" alternative journalism, back when weekly alternative newspapers were more interested in covering news the increasingly monopolized dailies overlooked than in selling futon ads and 900-number "telepersonals."

    So please do wait and see. I work with people I respect; we don't always agree, but we *do* respect each other and each others' opinions. We screw up from time to time because Slashdot is, in many ways, an experiment in new ways to gather and distribute news. By definition, when you are experimenting you are bound to fail more often than if you stick to the "tried and true," but on the whole, I believe we have more successes than failures. And that's what counts in the long run.

    More than anything, I worry about losing Slashdot's freedom to innovate (if I can use that phrase without stepping on a Microsoft copyright *grin*). One of the beauties of Slashdot is the fact that it's constantly changing, and if Rob et al are ever held back by a risk-averse management more interested in this quarter's profit than in trying new things that might lead to a better product (in this case, news and discussion) later, this site will slowly wither away.

    But again, I do enough worrying about this for the whole bunch. I don't mind doing this, because I am a natural worrier. Note that both my Slashdot and "Andover corporate" e-mail addresses are easy to find because I *want* feedback and take all reader concerns to heart, even ones with which I don't agree. I try to personally answer as much e-mail as I can, although I've admittedly been getting a little sloppy on this front because of increased e-mail volume and increased job responsibilities.

    My main point, though, is to make sure you know that it's not just Slashdot people who worry about the site's integrity, but the entire Andover management crowd. A large part of the reason Andover bought Slashdot in the first place is that it was the most popular news site among Andover employees. And it still is!

    - Robin 'roblimo' Miller
  • Bullshit.... show me two worthwhile AC comments in the history of slashdot and I will be amazed.
  • ...guy who used to be with Wired. I mean, they got close to IPOing at least twice and never quite mananged to cash in. Probably just jealous.
  • The connecion here is too good to pass up.

    Since Slashdot is open source -- all the way up to the code actually running -- it is possible for a dedicated group of folks to create a new Slashdot if this one gets corporatized.

    By opening the source, Slashdot's most irreplacable assets are now the skill and integrity of its story authors and editors. Which means that if that skill and integrity falls too low, slashdot can be replaced.

    In this sense, VA/Andover/Murdoch/Fox/Disney/MegaCorp would be foolish to try to comprimise the reputation and integrity of Generalissimo Taco: They would be burning the only really valuable assset Slashdot has. The open code guarantees that all the rest of Slashdot is replaceable, and so provides a sort of insurance policy to us that we have do not have a Soft Taco Supreme.

  • I've noticed that nobody has yet asked ``Why'' Why IS VA, a linux hardware company buying andover, website hosting/owning company?

    Why did they purchase it? Companies don't tend to foolishly spend a whole lot of money for no reason.

    Is VA doing this because they support linux, that they are going to funnel more money into linux projects? If this is it, then why buy slashdot/freshmeat, you'd be better off creating another Precision Insight, or funding Abiword or GNOME development.

    Is VA doing this because they want to (eventually) bias the editorial content, like the media companies?

    Or, is Andover falling over, and VA came over as a white knight to rescue the important linux infrastructure of Freshmeat and Slashdot? If this was the case, then haven't we heard about it before?

    Microsoft buying/building MSN and MSNBC parallel doesn't work in this case. There is a strong strategic reason for it. Microsoft along with AOL knew that computer networks and widespread ubiquious networking was going to happen. Both fought over controlling it, though (thank god) the open internet blindsided both. Microsoft thought with their OS monopoly and content that they could funnel and attract people into their own commerce network and make lots of profit. VA doesn't have this reason, andover's most public properties don't sell anything more than banner ads.... (unless they're planning on changing this?) And banner ads aren't going to scale to large profits.

    So, why did VA butt their nose in where they knew it wouldn't be desired, into purchasing a company that seems to have no importance in any strategic plan?

  • by / ( 33804 ) on Wednesday February 09, 2000 @06:10AM (#1292809)
    Well, andover's been around since 1992 (albeit in software publishing rather than online ad-serving), so at least someone heard about them before.

    As for whether slashdot has improved or depreciated since the Good Ol' Days (TM), I'd have to say it's done neither. C'mon, you remember what a pain it was to read/post on slashdot before threaded comments were implemented, and you remember how nice it was when nested comments were later implemented (and if you need to remind yourself how inconvenient it was before, just hop on over to [], unless Bruce has upgraded to the latest slash version). was cute in its day, but isn't it nicer just to have the main site have more serving capacity? (Of course that could use another upgrade, and cachedot was long after the primordial age you're pining for.) The editorial content hasn't changed much -- slashdot was always quick to announce, quick to get it wrong, and quick to retract. There're certainly more trolls than before, but that's inevitable and the moderation takes care of them as it should.

    I'd say it has to be you. ;)
  • A. This is the same AC you responded to.

    But are you the one, true AC?

    B. I never see 'first post' posts because I set my filter too high to see them and hence, do not get annoyed like most of the anti-AC retards around here.

    But do you see your own posts? If an AC posts, but has his threshold set at 1, is he still an idiot?

    C. I still think your original post lacks enough grounding to make your conclusion. I am indeed saddened that someone moderated it up further.

    I couldn't imagine why he was bothering to argue
    with an AC, so I lowerd my threshold to see. I shouldn't have bothered.

    D. I just poured a bowl of hot grits down the front of my pants in protest.

    Ah, a true troll. Now I can set my threshold back up to 1.

    Anomalous: inconsistent with or deviating from what is usual, normal, or expected
  • by finkployd ( 12902 ) on Wednesday February 09, 2000 @06:21AM (#1292816) Homepage
    Perhaps CmdrTaco shared the same concerns as Roblimo before all of this happened. He might have heard that VA was going to buy and end up with control of Slashdot.

    If that's case, then he made a very intelligent move, and it's called Slash :)

    Think about it, there was probably the fear that VA would gain control of slashdot, and there would be nothing the current maintainers of the site could really do. So they rush and get the code out there as a form of insurence. Now, anything happens, they simply jump ship, grab a tarball off of sourceforge and start anew. I don't think there is much doubt that the readers would follow.

    I've been trying to figure out why the sudden change in their stance on slash and why they released it so fast, now I think I know. :)


  • -- To claim Webmonkey (or Hotwired) have been unaffected by their own ownership dramas is outrageous--

    Riight. So Webmonkey has been affected but Slashot won't right? Becuase Rob and Jeff are super-human right? Gotcha.

    -- In contrast, Slashdot has continued to operate as it always has - the material posted hasn't changed --

    It has only been owned by VA for a few days - how can you claim that! If anything, the posting of this story *with the attached commentary by Roblimo* makes it clear that things have changed!

    -- and I do believe that roblimo et al would leave if the site's editorial independence truly were in jeopardy. --

    IIRC, Rob and Jeff have contracts that force them to work for a couple of years. I doubt you'd be seeing them go anywhere.

    We have to accept that Slashdot will now be somewhat influenced by it's ownership. It's not like it was "back in the day" - but what is? Things will be different, things will move on. Don't be silly and claim otherwise.

  • Before the buyout/merger, would Slashdot have posted anti-Slashdot articles at all? I don't particularly remember any, although Slashdot wasn't as high-profile back then, so external critical articles may not have existed.

    Personally, I don't feel that Slashdot has any particular responsibility to put themselves on a whipping post to "prove" their independence.


  • IIRC, Rob and Jeff have contracts that force them to work for a couple of years. I doubt you'd be seeing them go anywhere.

    They're not bound into slavery ("force"?). It just would probably cost them a bunch of stock options if they left.


  • So how would you feel if instead of VA Linux buying Andover, if it had been Dell instead? Or maybe IBM? Sun???

    Everyone here would have completely freaked out, but because it's a company they "like", they feel it's OK.

    How would you feel about Microsoft buying up Redhat and then seeing Bob Young paraded around saying "it's fine! Redhat will be the same Redhat it's always been. It says in our contracts that we're to remain committed to open source."

    In that scenario, again, people would freak out, thinking that Microsoft had ulterior motives for the deal.

    Andover went public. They had bucket loads of cash that could have been used to beef up slashdot's boxes, connection, etc.... They didn't need to sign up with VA Linux.

    I think it was very irresponsible of either Andover or VA Linux to do this. It's simply amazing that not many other people around here feel that way. It shows the brash nature of these companies and the people behind them. The day after Redhat went public, everyone was proclaiming that Redhat should buy SCO. The day after VA went public, everyone was proclaiming that VA should buy SGI. And then they scream that Microsoft buys a stake in a media company, thinkint that will forever tint that organizations views.
  • We all bemoan the idea that some day, all the new moneyed interests in the Linux market are going to figure out some way of advancing their own financial interests by screwing the community. So, just think of this merger as insurance against at least one company's doing that. If slashdot/freshmeat/ ght defines the community or at least the most vocal portions of the community, then having VA's revenue tied (in part) directly the community's happiness is a good incentive not to act contrary to the community's collective desires and interests.

    If it were just about slashdot, then I might agree with some who'd say that the problem with corporate influence is not the obvious problems we see with companies like Microsoft but rather the subtle corrupting influences it has on a movement full of idealism. But remember, while slashdot may seem overly dominated by trolls and kiddies who wouldn't care about such corruption even if they could see it coming, Andover's other sites (particularly freshmeat) are dominated by the precise people who take the time to notice and care about these things: the programmers who fuel the open-source movement.

    The sky is not falling. Now if only VA wanted to help the community a bit more with some more free hardware, we'd deign to be satisfied. :-)
  • The article makes a big deal about VA Linux vs. Redhat, saying that they're going to be going head-to-head and they'll probably cause at least the demise of one of them. Basically, all I know about VA I've learned from reading Slashdot (although I will soon have VA stock from this nice little buyout), but I've always thought that VA was primarily a hardware company and Redhat was primarily a software company. To me, it seems, it's much more likely that these two companies will work together rather than against each other. Does anyone else see it that way, or am I wrong about VA Linux?

    On a side note, even with all this commercialization, the Linux community is stronger than ever. The companies that are investing themselves in Linux (like VA Linux and Redhat, but not companies like IBM) understand the community and are doing everything they can to support it and each other. It's a far cry from the nasty capitalism that most companies partake in.
  • The big danger isn't about slashdot becoming VA oriented. VA could concievably be good for Slashdot. The big danger is what happens if a bigger fish than VA decides to buy out VA.

    VA are trying to show themselves as a united open source/linux front, and doing a pretty good job at this. This does leave them open for other sharks.
    If Microsoft decides that they best way into the Linux market is to buy out VA, what happens then?
    If another company buys out VA and decides to really interfere in Slashdot, or sell it off to Lycos or Time Warner because it isn't needed or doesn't match the parent companies "vision", Slashdot could really end up suffering this way.

    What needs to be done is to make sure that there is an Iron Clad contract that allows Slashdot a way out in the event of a hostile takeover.

    They have this in that nobody can fire Taco or Hemos, but after this contract is up for review and Taco and Hemos decides that working for MS or Time Warner isn't where they want to be, Slashdot will fail.
  • As far as editorial independence goes, most news sites seem to have a fair amount of leeway from their owners e.g the Linux DVD community has received a fair amount of support from the press despite the fact that a large number of their associate companies may be part of the MPAA.

    The problem I can see is that whilst I appreciate that Slashdot is not exclusively a Linux site, such users must make up a fair proportion of its readership. And if there's one thing Linux users like it is lots of choice. It seems that choice is going to be significantly lessened if companies such as VA and RedHat gobble up all the myriad companies under their own corporate umbrella. A huge number of people moved onto Linux so they didn't have to do things the Microsoft way.

    In the main I have no objection to companies growing organically, but the Linux market is starting to look very acquisitive, and in the end this may severly curtail the amount of choice out there.

    P.S. Aplogies for any typos - just had LASIK eye surgery, so vision is a bit blurred out of one eye at the moment.
  • how many of us would bother filtering them out?

    I don't think that I have *ever* filtered out anything with junkbuster until it blinked at me. It's annoying, and it sucks power. I had a k6-200 brought to its knees by just two open pages (ok, an unaccellerated server).

    Guess what, ad folks--I do follow ads sometimes--when the text shows me something interesting. Usually that means (like now) that I'm using lynx, the one true browser :), rather than something slow like netscape.

    \rant{I used to go to foxnews a lot. Now it's impossible to read without java (so they can throw ads better, apparently). Guess what? I've found that cnn is almost as good . . .}

    anyway, the point is that if the damned things didn't blink, and didn't prevent a page from rendering, we probably wouldn't bother blocking them.
  • this article was full of exaggerations. does anyone really belive that
    The deal has dealt the much-heralded geek community and its open-source development model a terrible blow, one from which it may never recover.
    , really??

    I, for one, don't. The worst that can happen is that /. could go down the drain in credibility. If it does, well, *shrug*, something else will come to replace it. It's not liek the free software / open source community is short of people wanting to run news sites. And I don't think VA will be stupid enough to let /. lose its credibility anyway.

  • Actually the most valuable asset slashdot has right now is the domain This is what people type into their web-browsers to get here, and if someone else got their hands on this domain, and combined it with the slashdot source code, they could probably exorcise a subtle change in management without half the readership even noticing!


  • stop posting for a while and you'll get mod points (it happens whenever I go offline for a few days or more).

    There has a been a lot more moderating down, but that's because of the exponential growth in trolling. There's an entire sub-culture down there and they're having a blast, so I don't think it's gonna stop soon. We need more mod points in general and a higher score threshold, there are *way* more than 6 levels of quality to the posts here.
  • I personally have received much flamage for posting announcements of software before it's really ready to be announced. And if you look at every single one of the slashdot Red Hat announcements the previous poster listed, there's about ten people complaining "why is this being posted here, this isn't news". AND freshmeat exists, and does an incredibly thorough job.

    With all that said, if the previous poster really cares about whether it's posted or not, just keep submitting it. There's a bunch of people with posting privileges now, and only one has to find it newsworthy for it to go up...

    Michael Sims-michael at
  • Hopefully, they realize that serving the community in a non-biased way will help their stock portfolios in the long run, while, although favoring VA might temporarily help their stock valuations, will only hurt VA, and ultimately themselves, in the long term.

    Call me naïve, but I instead hope that they will (continue to?) realize that serving the community in a non-biased way is more important than helping their stock portfolios and (financially, anyways) themselves. They get a lot of flack, but I don't think that most of it is warranted.
  • The journalist on webmonkey asks, what if Microsoft owned Webmonkey? The question here is, is anyone afraid that slashdot will be biased toward Linux? Well duh! Slashdot is "biased." Slashdot is mostly:
    pro-any company that does good things for Linux (IBM, Loki, etc.)
    anti-any company that does anything against Linux
    anti-software patents

    Bring on the bias! Forbid Slashdot should ever lose its soul in the name of trying to look unbiased. I'd rather have a site where the authors let their personalities show. If you don't like the bias, or at least don't like to challege that bias in the comments then you* don't belong here.

    *you meaning "one" here.

    If there is bias, you will hear about it in the comments, and so will everyone else. And the moderators are also the posters. The users send in potential stories, and usually their own comments are what get posted. When a top-level poster (like Roblimo) editorializes we see the bias as well. Great! Bring it on!
  • I read with interest your recent article on the Andover / VA Linux merger.

    Unfortunately, it was marred by a significant error on your part. You appear to believe that VA Linux is a software company, and will thus be in competition with Red Hat and other distribution companies. Therefore, your logic goes, it is inevitable that Andover and Slashdot will be biased against Red Hat.

    However this argument is based on a faulty premise. VA Linux is not a software company, they are a hardware company. In fact, it is apparently possible to purchase VA Linux servers with Red Hat software preinstalled.

    To quote from "":
    "Although we do not create our own distribution, VA optimizes the Linux kernel for each system type and includes the most popular Linux distributions preinstalled."

    That kind of wrecks your whole argument, doesn't it?

    BTW, I am not associated with VA Linux, Redhat, or any other Linux company, so I have no conflict of interest. But I like reading Slashdot.

    You, on the other hand, work for a content company. A really big one, in fact. And Andover is a content company. Perhaps you have a conflict of interest that affected the accuracy of your article?

    (This email has also been posted as a comment on Slashdot, which covered your story).

    Torrey Hoffman
    Azog on Slashdot
    • Since then I have been personally reassured by Larry Augustin that VA Linux has no desire to mess with the content on any Andover site, including Slashdot.

    Next time we have Larry Augustin up for an interview, somebody remember this statement and ask the question:

    "If you don't want to make any content changes to any Andover site, why, exactly, did you buy Andover?"

    My guess is that the VA/Andover merger has to do with VA Linux wanting to increase their Linux mindshare, of emphasizing, in everyone's minds, that VA Linux means Linux, everything about Linux, all the time. If that's the case, it's a good answer, after all modern marketing is all about creating a "brand".

    But, I'd like to hear the answer from Larry.

    -Jordan Henderson

  • Those of you with your browsers set to "warn before accepting a cookie" will notice that /. has suddenly started trying to give out ad cookies. Just started today, I think.

    Any relation to the VA takeover, Rob, or just coincidence?

    And I notice that you have a privacy statement, but it doesn't tell me much about how these cookies are helping you "server me better when I return to the site".

    ps - In the past I've supported you through thick and thin, but surely you're geek enough to realize that ad cookies are the first sign of generative disorders in a web site. Ditch them now, before it's too late.

  • Bias is most likely to appear in the form of an absence of negative stories about VA Linux and its business units. I'd be very suprised to see stories titled "VA Linux, Inc. - overpriced and overhyped?", or "Alternatives to Sourceforge". That's the usual problem with corporate journalism - negative stories don't get written. We'll see.
  • > Have you ever thought that some of us prefer a mixed computing environment?

    Some of us would also like a forum where every second post didn't draw a flood of you didn't mention my favorite toy responses.

    If you're so unhappy with /., why are you here? Why haven't you set up another site that will appeal to the millions of others who think like you do?

    Truly, Rob should change the tag to "News for Nerds and a Form for Whiners".

  • So? They'd have to be either insane or insanely wealthy to throw them away. If you have a job that you mostly enjoy, and you stand to make some money if you can hang on for a couple of years, then it's not in your best interests to take a walk just because there are ideological forces within the company to which you're opposed. Better to just grin and bear it and wait till you can grab the cash. Common sense really.

    Consciousness is not what it thinks it is
    Thought exists only as an abstraction
  • > Well, Linux is about anarchy, but most of the Linux companies dont do all the work for peace and love.

    Must be troubling for an exec to know that all his best customers are anarchists. What better strategy than to acquire an established anarchist rag, pay its expenses, and let the editors keep on keeping on? That way when the anarchists start saying that the company is too focused on making money, "like everyone on this earth", someone will always pipe in and say "but hey - they fund our rag and don't futz with it, so there must be at least one cool dude on the board".

    ps - I wonder whether any VA/Andover execs are following this discussion?

  • I've been thinking about the following for several weeks now. I just can't seem to get it out of my head.

    I've been on the net since 1994, though with about a year of almost complete abstinence between 1995/1996. Before that gap I never used the web, just ftp gopher and Usenet.

    After I got "reconnected"... there was a lot more web and I started using Nutscrape (on Linux, natch). I don't remember discovering Slashdot almost straight away but it seems like it's always been there. I mean, I can't remember surfing without Slashdot. When did it begin?

    One of the things that frustrates me is that I can't even remember exactly what it used to look like. Same green/white colour scheme, sure, but I know it's had one or two facelifts since I started.

    I wonder...did the dynamic duo ever think to archive copies of the site in its earlier incarnations, for posterity's sake? It would be bloody cool if they could put up some examples. I'd love to be reminded what Slashdot was like back in the early days. Not just the look&feel, but the news items and posts...I seem to remember there were a lot fewer professional trolls on Slashdot in those days, and even the ACs seemed more serious. Or is this just rose-tinted specs?

    How about it, Rob and Jeff?

    It all seems like such a long time ago now. Internet time is strange.

    Consciousness is not what it thinks it is
    Thought exists only as an abstraction
  • The web today is perhaps 95% junk. That is OK since I can filter out most of the junk with a search engine and then manually find what I'm looking for. I don't lose much except my own time

    Enter a micropayment system. Who is likely to use it? As you say - professional content creators. The likes of AOL/TW, microsoft, RIAA etc. Companies that will make damn sure that there is no easy way to get the same information for free.

    The result would (OK might) be that valuable information is locked up on the protected micropayment servers, while the free web is flooded with marketing material and FUD.

    Remember "micropayment" does not stand for cheap payment. It stands for "a little amount per view" So it wont be "$0.05 a week" but "$0.02 a story".

    This would be a web that suits companies like a glove. Not a web where I stumble on the occasional pearl browsing through annoying (but free) noise.

    I've seen far too many business types drool at the thought of locking up their information (today freely available) in a micropayment system.

May all your PUSHes be POPped.