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The Media

CNET Turns 7 172

dmehus writes "Just as Google celebrated its 5th birthday last week, which was covered by Slashdot, I thought it would be equally appropriate to point out that tech news darling CNET celebrated its 7th birthday this past week. To mark that occasion, its Editor-in-Chief Jai Singh wrote an article, in which he reflects on their founding slogan of 'Tech News First' and their commitment to that going forward. He also announces a brand new redesign that was unveiled yesterday. To that I'd add, here's to another seven more! Thoughts or opinions, anyone?"
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CNET Turns 7

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  • Congrats! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by stev3 ( 640425 ) <sasper@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Monday September 15, 2003 @03:09AM (#6961885) Homepage Journal
    I've learned to take CNets news with a grain of salt, since many times they just seem to editorialize stories and add in useless comments etc.

    To be in business 7 years is a great accomplishment though, and my congratulations go out to them.
    • At times they seem a little bit on the M$ side of the opinion, but with a grain of salt they're doing a good job.

      my 2 cents
    • Let's face it (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      CNet is the USA Today of web news. Huge circulation, mediocre journalism at best.
    • Re:Congrats! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pinkocommie ( 696223 )
      I used to like Cnet but that was before they were acquired by Ziff Davis. Somehow after that they always seemed non committal about the pro's / con's of the stuff they reviewed, no BITE, nothing actually sucked etc. Then again, maybe its me :)
    • by Rolman ( 120909 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @04:46AM (#6962128)

      I've learned to take CNets news with a grain of salt, since many times they just seem to editorialize stories and add in useless comments etc.

      Sorry, but I don't see how is this different from /.

      • Re:Congrats! (Score:3, Insightful)

        by sniggly ( 216454 )
        But at slashdot we the users get to add in useless comments! Seriously though comparing slashdot to cnet news is comparing apples to oranges. Both are fruit. At slashdot news items are posted for the discussion although for a lot of users its a great collection of news items in their profession and/or interest area.
      • It still links to some useful or interesting content.
    • since many times they just seem to editorialize stories and add in useless comments etc.

      Yeah, it would be nice if they would seperate out the editorials form the news sometimes, but it's an interesting mix sometimes than just the raw-hard news.

      But yes, congratulations to them!
    • I've learned to take CNets^H^H^H^HSlashdot's news with a grain of salt, since many times they just seem to editorialize stories and add in useless comments etc. To be in business 7 years^H^H^H^H^H^H^H after the VA Linux fiasco is a great accomplishment though, and my congratulations go out to them.
  • by Aliencow ( 653119 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @03:09AM (#6961886) Homepage Journal
    They have as a domain too... Reminds me of how I always wanted to buy my email address could be
    • Re:Domain name.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gfody ( 514448 ) * on Monday September 15, 2003 @03:20AM (#6961925)
      sigh.. and is cybersquatted just like any other imaginable cool domain name. remember when network solutions had a "strict policy" on cyber squatting? I imagine flipping thru channels on tv and all the low numbers 1-99 show blank screens or "coming soon" where as all the good shit is on channel 249820 or 873923 or something
      • by gid ( 5195 )
        COMCOMCOMCOMCOMCOMCOM.COM is available tho! ( I just kept adding a com until I didn't find a match :)
      • Isn't cybersquatting a bit against the rules? If it isn't, shouldn't it be? It would clean up the web quite a bit if some sort of INDEPENDANT, LEGAL body were to sanction cyber-squatting by removing DNS records pointing to squatted sites, removing the DNS servers of said company from the root DNS server list and generally request localized sanctions such as IP blackholing of IP ranges belonging to companies which are verified to be hosting/doing fairly unnice things?* (spam, spyware distribution, RIAA, etc)

        • Isn't cybersquatting a bit against the rules?

          Not particularly, but if you have a large legal team you can do what major corporations do, claim some trademark, and sue them back to the stone age. Unfortunately this strategy seems to be applied to people with legitimate websites more than cybersquatters. I wonder how CNet actually got a hold of
        • cybersquatting is against the "rules" or was at least. not sure what the new rules are.

          originally, networksolutions had organized the whole system and even had the forsight to consider cyber squatting and write the rules against it. what they didn't forsee was the "rush" being so immense that enforcing the rules was impossible.

          now that its all in the hands of money grubbing capitalists, the rules are of course based on MONEY and non of that first come first serve or fair game bullshit. I don't know for su
    • Hmm, wonder if is avaliable? anybody?
    • Re:Domain name.. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by quigonn ( 80360 )
      In fact, there's a guy owning [] who has an email address And his initials are AT.
    • It's almost as bad as saying ''
    • Didn't CowboyNeal once say he wished that the ".dot" TLD had been approved, just so that he could register (read it out loud) ?
    • [] is pretty cool. I found it on a postcard at CBGB.
  • Redesign (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 15, 2003 @03:15AM (#6961900)
    They removed the investor end of the page it seems, making it seemingly unfriendly to the end user/viewer.

    After pushing it for so long as a key component to thier "tech news" package, I wonder if its been thrown on the back burner, or if it was a mistake.

    You can still get to it @

    • Re:Redesign (Score:5, Informative)

      by segment ( 695309 ) <sil@po[ ] ['lit' in gap]> on Monday September 15, 2003 @03:56AM (#6962033) Homepage Journal

      Gross Profit
      • 2002 $90,260
      • 2001 $107,720
      • 2000 $166,067
      • 1999 $68,385

      Operating Income
      • 2002 ($381,314)
      • 2001 ($1,867,125)
      • 2000 ($316,858)
      • 1999 ($61,138)
      ( source for financial info [])

      As you can see they're not making money at all, and it's surprising they're managing to stick around for so long. And you have to admit 7 years is pretty long for the net... They've beat out some pretty big guys too... Prodigy, Compuserve, Tymnet, shit the list could on for Eons... As for the company financial-wise I wouldn't touch their stock even at the low rate of $8.99ps

      • keep in mind... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by segment ( 695309 )
        even though these figures are in the thousands theyre still low (earnings), and their operating expenses are off the meter... They must think it's still like the late 90's or something blowing through all that cash...
      • If they're owned by Ziff Davis now, the whole thing might really only be operating to funnel people to They can still run like a dot-com from 2000 because its seen as an advertising expense and not really some unit that's expected to make money.

        I used to use cnet a lot ( before that), but once it gets rolled into the Ziff-Davis group they all get so bland and neutral since they live off advertising dollars.
      • CNet does lose money and has been doing so for years. But, it's never been competiton for Prodigy, CI$, etc. It's always been a pure news play. The others are online services and what happened to them is they kept believeing in the old online service model even as the Internet was throwing dirt on their graces. AOL, OTOH, embraced the Internet as fast as they could, which is why, comparatively speaking, it's ended up doing the best of all the old online services.

    • Re:Redesign (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sporktoast ( 246027 )

      I think the most useful redesign that CNET has done in the past was to stop insisting that everyone spell their name c|net, using the pipe character. Too many of the more common fonts on various platforms lacked that particular glyph.

      Of course, they were born in the era of TAFKAP (pronounced "Squiggle"), interCapitals, emoticons, and the widespread discovery of <SHIFT>-2, so you can at least understand their impulse to acquire an exoteric punctuation mark all their own.

      But of course, after backing d

      • you can at least understand their impulse to acquire an exoteric punctuation mark

        "Exoteric?" Is that some sort of cross between "exotic" and "esoteric?"

  • by Anonymous Coward
    But I actually know how to write Valid XHTML strict, unlike the bozos at cnet.

    Validation []

    It looks like ass in konqueror.
  • by ubernostrum ( 219442 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @03:17AM (#6961908) Homepage
    How old is
  • by reaper20 ( 23396 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @03:17AM (#6961912) Homepage
    Wow, CSS, XHTML, and and lots of div tags. Doesn't validate, but they're better off than they used to be, at least they made an attempt I guess.

    To bad they ruin it with static width pages. You'd think they'd know this after 7 years.
    • I wonder how much longer the page takes to load on dialup with all the whitespace in the source.
    • by starvingartist12 ( 464372 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @05:15AM (#6962201) Homepage
      A static/fixed width layout isn't a bad thing, depending on when it's used. And I'm sure the people at CNet thought about the pros and cons of a liquid layout in their design process.

      For a text-heavy site such as, a fixed-width layout is very ideal. If you happen to have a very high resolution, the text in a liquid/expanding design would run past the optimum line length of about 60 characters or so. Sure, you can have the browser sized to a reasonable size, but it's an added hassle. With a fixed-width website, however, the line length is much shorter. Your eyes won't get as tired from traversing the whole width of a page in a liquid layout.

      It's also the same reason why newspapers run multiple narrow columns, rather than having it go across the whole page.

      As a side note, Simon Willison has a nice Narrow Bookmarklet [] that lets you convert a website's liquid design to a fixed 500 pixel width page with one click.
    • Being one of the big tech sites, you would think they were capable of making valid html :(
    • It doesn't render correctly on my Zaurus (running OpenZaurus 3.2) under Opera 6. I see everything from about the midpoint of the page to the right edge and then about 3 miles of grey nothingness. Everything to the left is missing... I can't even scroll to it.

      There are standards for a reason, you no talent ass clowns! >:o

  • I mean seriously, most of their stuff are Windows-centric (or MS-centric, depending on how u see it). Don't take my word on it, just click any of their sections and you're guaranteed to see "Windows" or "Microsoft".

    I personally stopped reading anything with a double dot com url. And I don't think I'm the only one.

    • While I agree that CNET isn't particularly good, I don't think they are overly MS biased. You see a lot of Linux and Apple articles on there as well, and MS is the biggest player in software at the moment. And as far as quality goes, they're sort of the AP of the tech news world, you see it there early on, and then find a better article a few hours later.

      And slashdot would have significantly less links/stories if cnet were to die.
      • Man... they use to be really good... Well-rounded to say the least. Hell, I'd read MS-centric "general" stuff any day... but have you actually read their recent MS-related stuff? It's more like marketing material if you ask me.

        And I read Slashdot mostly for the comments... the editorial quality here isn't as good as, but it's getting there :)
        • What do you expect from a struggling company that is largely catering to joe sixpack/PHBs? Slashdot is definately not unbiased either, you have to look at what you are reading and put it in context. I'd say the best site for unbiased tech news is Arstechnica.
    • Actually, I have found them to still be useful. They are quick at getting info up the industry as a whole.
      Yes, it seems pretty trite, but it is a quick info about what is going on. From there I can get the real info at other locations.
      And Yeah, there is a bias towards MS, but the entire industry has one. It is hard not to though. MS is everywhere throwing cash at you if you will just do what they demand and in this economy, well, ....
      Personally, I have learned to avoid several of the writers/editors, esp
  • Early Bias (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BWJones ( 18351 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @03:21AM (#6961932) Homepage Journal
    I found CNET to be rather biased towards Microsoft early on by running stories favorable towards the company. (often ignoring news critical of Microsoft) Given that they were really sorta a pop news internet publication (and still kinda are), I suppose that label would be appropriate. I assumed that Microsoft was underwriting them at the time. However, recently they appear to have moved more towards an unbiased coverage. They are still kinda superficial in their news coverage, but I have found the editorial changes and news changes in the last couple of years to be more palatable.

    • by Enoch Root ( 57473 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @03:27AM (#6961950)
      I found CNET to be rather biased towards Microsoft early on by running stories favorable towards the company. (often ignoring news critical of Microsoft)

      Wow... That makes them the anti-Slashdot! If packets from Slashdot and CNet ever collide, the Internet will blow up in a huge blast of photons!
    • Re:Early Bias (Score:3, Interesting)

      They seem to have gone at MS a bit lately over their security problems though and several of their editors (well, ZDNet editors, but it's all the same company) seem to be pretty-much anti-microsoft in some of their columns.
  • by DeathPenguin ( 449875 ) * on Monday September 15, 2003 @03:22AM (#6961933)
    In the spirit of promoting the Slashdot effect, I decided to visit after having dismissed their site as rubbish. Well, as it turns out, I found an interesting article [] where an EFF attorny suggests that universities obfuscate student IP addresses by shuffling them to fend off the the RIAA. Any site that posts that sort of content is okay by me! So to you,, may you grow in our dismal economy!
  • by sunspot42 ( 455706 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @03:22AM (#6961934)
    I used to frequent CNet every day back around 1999, and I found them to be a timely, valuable resource. But something happened in early 2001, and they began to go downhill rapidly. The site design became cluttered and severely commercialized, to the point where it became difficult to get a page to load properly - even over a DSL connection - because of all the junk slapped on it.

    The sluggish performance and cluttered pages would be worth trudging through if there were some solid content behind them. Their hardware and software reviews were once top notch, but now I can find better elsewhere - Tom's Hardware, for example, or a slew of specialized sites (silentpcreview, for example, or mini-itx). Even the amateur reviews at Epinions or Amazon are more informative (taken in aggregate).

    Frankly, I'm amazed CNet has lasted this long.
  • by a.koepke ( 688359 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @03:23AM (#6961937)
    If you want to compare the new site design to the old one check out the archived copy [] provided by [] Wayback Machine [].

    Or why not check out some of the previous designs... Nov 17, 1999 [] or why not go right back to Dec 23, 1996 [].
    • Woah. I just noticed that I never visited the main page since the 1999 design changed.
    • The 1996 layout was clean and organized, the current one is bloated, it even has a giant dell ad that takes over the main page for a few seconds as soon as everything loads!

      You'd think all these years later as technology and the web advanced (and now that just about everyone has a computer and internet access) we'd see sites designed and organized even better, but sadly that's not the case. Instead of competing for a better user experience, it seems that sites are competing for who can have the bigger and
  • zd net (Score:3, Interesting)

    by minus_273 ( 174041 ) <> on Monday September 15, 2003 @03:23AM (#6961940) Journal
    also got swallowed up by them... used to be bitter riavals
    • Re:zd net (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MonTemplar ( 174120 ) *
      Actually, ZDNet is still around, but as the majority of its content has been assimilated by CNet, I have to wonder why they don't just redirect people to the CNet front pages. Comments?

      • All it is is just a different skin on the website.

        You can get CNet news in an skin if you want (not that you'd EVER want to).
      • They will just use as just another link to the home page, but, for now, they seem to think that there's still some value in the ZDNet brand.

        I don't think so!

        • I thought those initials looked familiar from somewhere. Just checked your website to confirm my suspicions. I take it you're ex-zdnet these days.

          I used to read ZDNet regularly up until a few years ago, but now most of the stuff that I used to like is either gone (Mary Jo Foley, John Dvorak) or has been shoved out to another site (Spencer Katt).

          ZDNet UK still seems to be in good shape, as most of the old faces (Guy Kewney, Rupert Goodwin) haven't abandoned ship - yet.

          As for AnchorDesk, that used to be my
  • I find their stories not timely enough anymore for an online publication. I don't think these more traditional sites can compete with the timeliness standards achieved by the blogging approach invented by /. But: I find sme of the other CNET sites quite a bit more useful (reviews, downloads).
  • I used to go to cnet all the time around then, the time of launching It makes me feel a little old thinking that that's been 7 years already. The site hasn't aged well, though. I come here or various other aggregators for news first, and rarely check cnet at all anymore. If not for the very occasional download from there, I'd probably have forgotten about it by now. I guess I want more either more news at a glance than they're willing to show, or more in depth commentary than they're willing to al
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Well this [] person does not like them... Take a look Wrap and Flow []
  • Huh? Looks about the same as it always has. Big page of text with no images. Come to think about it, that's how most CNet pages look...

    /me loves the right-click "Block Images" command...

  • ... and their commitment to that going forward...

    Which 'going forward' are they committed to, exactly?

    God I hate that phrase... Thank you Andy Grove, Craig Barret, et al for forcing me to listen to such masturbatory perversions of grammar and language... Thank you so very much... asshats...

    What, is there some danger that someone will think they've invented time travel and are talking about things they'll do to the past? Is there some fear that someone might perceive they mean "going backwards" instead?
  • by jab ( 9153 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @03:49AM (#6962014) Homepage
    What, did someone break a mirror, AGAIN?
  • by Sonnenschein ( 701061 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @03:56AM (#6962032)
    I've always enjoyed a particular quirk in cnet/ that expires vulnerability stories about microsoft/windows products prematurely.

    (Notice that the original page in each of the stories below can be seen, you've gotta keep your eye on it though.)

    Worm dupes with fake Microsoft address - May 19, 2003 []
    have allowed a good hacker both to read files stored on the Windows NT-based Internet []

    descriptions were taken from google, search for more keywords associated with worms/viruses/etc + windows and you'll end up with expired pages on

    Blame me for being paranoid, fuck it.
  • ... a nice Slashdotting!

    Click away: []
  • I remember there used to be an CNET TV Show. Not their own network, but an show that was on Sunday mornings. I wonder what happened? As I remember the web-site was made to *supplement* the tv show - not the other way around.

    Anyone remember the answer guys? I wonder what has happened to them. It was certianly my favorite segment of the show.
    • I remember that as well. It was fairly informative and timely with news and a few product reviews as well. They started reviewing interesting websites as well... but then it started changing.

      Eventually they'd starting doing 30-45 super-quick segments with no depth and maybe flash a website for half a second at the end and then say, "If you missed any of that, head on over to our website,"

      The show became very light on substance and was soon just a nonstop plug for its website.

      On another note,
  • It was rather interesting... It had a lot of cool things thrown into it.. Wonder why it was cancled...
  • Amazing but true. Ran their current start page through HTML Tidy and the results are pretty bad, even for dynamically generated HTML.
    • mismatched <span> tags
    • mismatched <li> </li> tags
    • <li> tags outside of <ul> or <ol> blocks
    • mismatched <td>/</td> tags
    • use of unapproved <nobr> tags (but without </nobr> closing tags)

    Netscape 7 renders it OK, but all in all, I'm amazed that any browswer could, especially with the mismatched <td> </td>

  • new design (Score:2, Informative)

    by zeekiorage ( 545864 )
    I am not sure if the new look is good or bad but one positive is that the new site looks exactly _same_ in mozilla under both Linux and Windows. Previously under Linux I either used to get fonts too large or too small.
  • Seven years and they're still making sites that have a fixed width. Really glad I bought that 23" monitor ;)
  • wasnt cnet a razorfish production?

    razorfish gone..cnet soon to follow?
  • Does anyone else get three screenfuls of blank space before the first headline on IE 5.0?
  • by rsilverman ( 266807 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @05:44AM (#6962272)
    ... in which he reflects on their founding slogan of 'Tech News First' and their commitment to that going forward... Thoughts or opinions, anyone?"

    I really hate that bit of idiotic business-speak, "going forward." We should all feel incentivized to leverage our existing linguistic infrastructure, and architect a solution using existing word-assets rather than repurposing them -- going forward.
  • Really puts it into perspective when I hear people talking about the net and how new and exciting it is (usually older people). I was around on the net when CNET lauched. I've been using it for abut 1/3 of my life. Not so new anymore!!!
    • No, that just means that you're a young punk. :-)

      Although now that I think about it, the web has been around for about a quarter of my life. Yikes!
  • Pro Microsoft (Score:2, Informative)

    by mantera ( 685223 )
    They used to be my favourite source of news, along with zdnet, back in the nineties until I noticed they were too often pro-Microsoft; My observation was confirmed when I realized that Paul Allen, Mirosoft's co-founder, was a major, major investor in Zdnet/Cnet.
    • Not really. Paul Allen bought into a CNet project in 1994 which would become TechTV. He never owned, to the best of my knowledge, any of CNet or Ziff Davis proper. He later got out of TechTV, which I understand still stumbles around somewhere in the cable channels of dust.

  • Thoughts or opinions, anyone?

    They're only 2 years old.

    Asking for "thoughts and opinions" on Slashdot is just begging for heaps and mounds of misinformation. I figured I'd just add my fair share. :P

  • by Experiment 626 ( 698257 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @10:59AM (#6963971)
    Okay, so we all know that C/NET owns, but rather than run their site as that (which is a pretty good domain name), they point it to "" which is just plain silly. Is there any kind of interesting story or reason behind this, or did the C/NET editors just wake up one day and decide they wanted their domain name to look more like a typographical error?
    • I bet they did it because there are people out there who don't notice that "" already ends with ".com" and thus add a .com themselves out of habit.

      I used to work for an online entertainment company whose gaming service was called We found that consistently, one of the top two or three referring URLs for first-time visitors to our web site was a Yahoo search for the keyword "". (Google was just getting started then.) We found it a bit baffling, but it held true for a long ti

      • I used to work for an online entertainment company whose gaming service was called We found that consistently, one of the top two or three referring URLs for first-time visitors to our web site was a Yahoo search for the keyword "".
        I've seen users type in full addresses into search boxes rather than into the URL bar when their home page was a search engine. Very stupid, but this is probably why you got those refererers from yahoo.
  • what genius came up with the idea for light grey text on a white background!?!

    Maybe it was barely readable on their mac with its default gamma settings or on a CRT, but on many or most LCDs on anything other than a mac it is almost completely unreadable.

    You would think that is one of the EASY things to get right!
  • Nice article on there today: P2P group: We'll pay girl's RIAA bill [].

    Looks like Slashdot didn't need to do anything, "Grokster, StreamCast Networks, Limewire and other file-trading software companies" are offering to pick up the 12yr old's RIAA tab.

"I have not the slightest confidence in 'spiritual manifestations.'" -- Robert G. Ingersoll