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The History of Slashdot Part 4 - Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow 277

Today, on the last day of our 10 year anniversary navel gazing spectacular, I present the final (thank god!) chapter in my 4 part history of Slashdot. I've written about the creation, the explosion, and the corporatization. Today I talk about where we are today, and what I see as our future, and how I feel about it. Clicky click the magic link below to read the last "thrilling" chapter, and celebrate with me the fact that I won't have to spend this much time writing about Slashdot for another decade.

As the dust settled following the dot-com bust, we would see only minor changes to Slashdot. Hemos moved to Boston both to be closer to Andover HQ, and to get his wife in commute range for her grad school work. Nate went to California when his wife got a teaching job. Both moved to Ann Arbor a few years later, as did CowboyNeal, Samzenpus & I. The band was back together, and has been for the last several years.

These days we have a little office in A2 where we do much the same things as we have always done. Jeff spends way to much time in conference calls with corporate offices. He's got a fancy VP title which means he makes the big bucks in exchange for radiating his head on a cel phone. But he's always been a people person so I think that suits him just fine. Nate is an engineer for SourceForge and working on his own advanced degrees. CowboyNeal is on leave right now, but we're looking forward to his return. Samzenpus still sits at the receptionist desk scaring away the door to door salesmen that still seem to show up randomly with no clue what we do. We conduct most of our affairs via a jabber channel where people on both coasts work together.

At the end of all of it, I'm happy that I still get to work with my oldest friends, as well as a number of really honestly great people we've had to good fortune to meet up with in the last decade. And beyond that, I've had the good fortune to work with a number of other smart and cool people that have gone on to bigger and better things. On some level, the memories and people are the most important part of life, and I'm very happy with how that has gone.

As for Slashdot itself, there's a theme in the discussions about Slashdot jumping the shark. That theme has resurfaced regularly for our entire lifespan. From the creation of user accounts in 1998 on, every action we take on Slashdot provokes a 'This is the end of Slashdot' from someone. But what this tells me is that we actually haven't jumped the shark at all- if we had, they'd stop saying the same thing every time we do anything. You learn a lot in my position about large communities: Most of you never say a word... only the most passionate of you ever post. And an angry user is 10 fold more likely to post than a happy one. And when nobody can agree on anything... well there's meaning in that too.

At the end of the day, we've done some reasonably great things over the years. Take for example Sep 11. On that day the mainstream news websites buckled under the loads, and although we had to turn off logging, we managed to stay up, sharing news in a time where it was often difficult to get. That was the day where the team of engineers that make this site happen pulled together and did the impossible, forcing our limited little hardware cluster to handle traffic that was probably triple or quadruple a normal day.

Or take Columbine. When this tragedy hit, our readers took it a differently. Instead of blaming video games, we looked hard at the culture of abuse that drives high school. We talked about how the jocks beat us up. We knew that the terrible events of that day are almost inevitable when you stick kids into a system where certain groups of kids are given free reign to beat up others based on extra curricular activities. During that series of stories many people had a place to talk. It was cathartic. Our role was small, but it mattered.

Darker moments like those are rare, but there are countless other moments good and bad. Many you see on the page, and others you don't. From little successes like trading banner ads for office chairs or the time Gamara chucked Hemos's cel phone into an empty ice bucket... except it wasn't empty. Or the time the crazy guy showed up at our office and offered to give Samzenpus his car in exchange for 5 minutes of time with CmdrTaco, where he would "Reverse Engineer My Life". I proposed to my wife here... and she accepted and now years later we have a baby. I couldn't begin to enumerate the countless moments that have made the last decade here awesome.

I have other thoughts that are perhaps more bleak. There's a possible dark future for Slashdot if corporate interests take over. There's constant pressure from within the company to create new "products". Sometimes these mean new/more/bigger ads which usually result in people installing junkbusters. Far worse is the occasional attempt to create some sort of content partnership that blurs the lines between legitimate Slashdot content, and the paying advertiser's message. I hate these meetings because I have to constantly be the guy that says 'No'. My worst fear for Slashdot is that someday someone with deep enough pockets comes along with a check so big that someone in the company with a shortsighted view of the future is willing to cash over top of my objections.

Likewise, there is pressure for us to grow as a site, but this has 2 major problems. The first is that our audience was here in the 90s: we were the early adopters that made the internet great in the first place. Our growth will never match the population of the net because we are a small group that isn't growing: we were here first. Second is my personal feeling that marketing is just icky: read if you want. Or don't. If you don't find us on your own, you probably weren't meant to be here. That's my Gen-X showing I think, but it's still how I feel. And it really doesn't help when people on-line regard Alexa as legitimate and definitive. We could gain traffic by posting boobs or covering other subjects, but that would distract us from our real focus. And it would drive you guys away.

Similarly, new websites and technologies arise regularly. From Kuro5hin to Digg to Reddit, there have been dozens of websites that do similar things to Slashdot with varying degrees of success. Some have surpassed us, while most have faded into obscurity. From AJAX interfaces to alternate methodologies of content selection, they all have ideas, some good, so bad... some right for Slashdot, and some wrong. Distinguishing one from the other is tricky: you guys all deserve a modern web application, but at the end of the day, our story selection and discussions are what make this site unique. Drastic changes would alienate our long-term user base, so we need to tread cautiously.

A 10 year anniversary is a good time to think about what a 20 year anniversary would be like. And I think that the only way that Slashdot in 2017 is as good as Slashdot in 2007 is if we continue to maintain editorial independence, moderate advertising quantity with a clear distinction between advertising and content, and of course, that we continue to select the right stories to appeal to our existing audience... not to spend our time courting other audiences that would only dilute the discussions that bring so many of you here day after day.

For me personally I've spent a lot of time this month reflecting on Slashdot and my role here. Every day, 7 days a week, from my first cup of coffee until the moment I close the lid on my laptop, Slashdot is a part of my day. It's most of my browser tabs, most of my chat windows, and most of my inbox. And that's fine because I love this place: the readers, the content, and the people I work with. I'm honored that I continue to be the caretaker of this place.

Of course I've been here my entire adult life and I doubt that will always remain true. Certainly to leave would leave a hole in my life. But it's a constant struggle to maintain the site up to my standards. It's a struggle that I often win, but occasionally lose too. On some level, what keeps me here is knowing exactly what would happen within a few months of my departure. I don't like that one bit.

But let me end on a high note: I am very aware of Slashdot's unique place in the history of the internet. There's no way I could thank everyone that made that possible, but you all know who you are. I dream that in 2017 we can look back at 20 years and be just as proud of our second decade as our first. Keep reading. Keep submitting stories. Keep posting, moderating and meta moderating. If it isn't to much trouble, click on a banner ad every now and then. And hopefully I'll see you then.

Rob Malda
Pants are Optional

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The History of Slashdot Part 4 - Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

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  • by Trespass ( 225077 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @02:08PM (#21186541) Homepage
    The future of Slashdot is identical with it's past: Hot grits, Digg circlejerks, and all the Roland Pipperqquualalllelee you can eat.
  • Re:So wise... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TopShelf ( 92521 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @02:13PM (#21186597) Homepage Journal
    That's an outstanding idea, actually - a Slashdot retrospective in book form, featuring some of the bigger stories, memes, etc. could represent both a good business opportunity and avoid conflicting with the site's overall direction.

    One issue I could see would be how they would include comments in such a book and not get into royalty issues, since, as they've always said, "Comments are owned by the Poster."
  • by Cerberus7 ( 66071 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @02:15PM (#21186631)
    There used to be about a dozen web sites I visited on a daily basis. Of them, all that remains is Slashdot. Why? Because it hasn't gone off the corporate deep end and become that blurry mess of marketing and content that Rob's talking about in this essay. Now and again I see that deep end getting closer on this site, but it always seems to fall away into the horizon. If it ever does actually go all the way, I'm with you. I'll leave.

    I agree.
  • by BadAnalogyGuy ( 945258 ) <> on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @02:15PM (#21186633)
    What disappoints me more than anything else is the slow creep of the "Slashdot groupthink" that, which once was merely a quirky attitude prevalent among a few vocal members, has grown into the mindless anti-IP/anti-corporation/anti-establishment theme of most of the stories posted here. There are very few "nerdy" stories on this site anymore. Most of the stories are either devoted to Google and Apple fanboiism, "IANAL but.." topics, Microsoft/SCO/Bush bashing, or tech update minutia.

    The only readable sections are Science and Developers. YRO has got to be a honeypot for trolls, but how can you tell the difference anymore?

    The 2002-2005 troll eradication has left this site impotent and truly enmeshed in hivethink. Say what you will about their abuses of this site, trolls provided an entertaining, if not reasonably useful, devil's advocate. With only hiveminded thinkers left, like any monopoly, this site has stagnated.

    The heydays are over, I think. And while I hope you make it 20 years, I have serious doubts that this site will make it that far. There are so few things actually covered here at Slashdot, and that list is being constantly trimmed, that I think at some point YRO will be the only section that survives intact. And if that's the case, then that will be a sad day indeed.
  • by bwthomas ( 796211 ) <bwthomas@gmail.COFFEEcom minus caffeine> on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @02:22PM (#21186701)
    ... is this: I read adds on slashdot. For the very simple reason that i believe that, while you may be relatively ad agnostic (a good thing), the kinds of companies interested in advertising to a community like this are the kinds of companies that i just might be interested in. I'm much more likely to click on an ad on a slashdot page than i am on a google results page any day, and that's because the community that has been established around this site dictates a certain amount of honesty, legitimacy, and decorum that i do not see on other news sites, or websites.

    That is because of your editorial independence. So the day slashdot shills anything is the day slashdot dies. The corporatistas may not know it, but Rob Malda is the difference between the profitable business known as slashdot and no business at all.

    You may one day leave, and that's fine. Good even, new vision invigorates a company. Your most important task is to be instrumental in choosing who will succeed you. It's good enough feudalism, it's good enough for slashdot:)
  • by ByOhTek ( 1181381 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @02:23PM (#21186711) Journal

    here's constant pressure from within the company to create new "products". Sometimes these mean new/more/bigger ads which usually result in people installing junkbusters.

    You said they always want new ideas - how about slashvertisements?

    Not the usual lingo here - but an ad agency/division of /., designed behind the principle of making advertisements that are respectful to the viewer and not worth blocking or bypassing.

    - text, and maybe pictures
    - no or limited animation
    - no sound
    - no suggesting the the viewer is a moron (either in general or for not using the product)
    - require a maximum size that an ad cannot exceed
    - require any client put the ads in only a limited set of locations
    - Ad voting, similar to the comment karma system here.

    Advertising - done non-evil.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @02:27PM (#21186763)

    It's interesting to me that CmdrTaco sees 9/11 as one of Slashdot's greatest moments. Personally, I have mixed feeling. The fact that Slashdot stayed up indicated that Slashdot is run by some quality people but, more broadly, I see a tremendous failure of the media to keep 9/11 in perspective. This failure to maintain perspective has had profoundly negative consequences - most notably the US invasion of Iraq but also the USA's human rights abuses and reckless deficit spending.

    Back when Slashdot started there was all kinds of interest in computers and the power of technology and science to change the world for the better. Now, the focus is on conflict and war accompanied by a loss of basic human rights.

    The energy crisis (and associated problems - such as global warming) is real. But imagine that, instead of spending hundreds of billions a year on the mess that is Iraq, the USA instead spent hundreds of billions a year developing the science and technology to overcome these energy problems permanently rather than just prolonging the inevitable by fighting over the last reserves of oil. The USA put a man on the moon back in the days when most computations were performed by sliding two marked sticks together (slide rules).

    If there was the will, the USA could solve our energy problems permanently - but by failing to maintain perspective after 9/11 the USA has lost it's way. That's not to say that Slashdot was the one thing that caused the USA to lose it's way. Merely that Slashdot was powerless to prevent it.

  • by Alaska Jack ( 679307 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @02:29PM (#21186775) Journal
    CmrTaco: I'm not a computer guy -- though I do learn a lot by reading /. -- so bear with me if this is a stupid question. What I've taken away from CSS Garden is that, through CSS, you can provide drastically different interfaces with the same content. Why couldn't Slashdot do something like that? Provide users with different ways of viewing the forums?

    To be, by FAR the best forum interface ever is provided by Google Groups (in the "Tree View" mode). It's the only forum presentation I've ever seen that provides intuitive navigation from a left-hand pane, letting you see immediately where you are in the "tree". It is so superior, I am baffled as to why it hasn't been widely emulated. Other forums make you constantly go up to the top of the screen to see the hierarchy, which is obviously useless.

    Where I'm going with this: I wonder if you'd ever consider approaching Google and asking them to share that code with you. I bet they'd do it -- it seems like a good, high-profile PR move for them. And what a huge boon for users. Man, Slashdot with a navigable left-pane hierarchy -- that would be a dream come true.

          - Alaska Jack
  • by C. Alan ( 623148 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @02:31PM (#21186805)
    The editorial independence of slashdot, and the meta moderating has keep me coming back here for years. I am glad you have been able to resist the coporate culture as long as you have, and maintain a quality site.

    Back a couple of years ago, I was giving a presentation to a bunch of high school seniors on careers in engineering. I asked if any wanted to be CS majors. A few timidly raised their hands. I then asked if any of them had hear of None of them had. I told them point blank that if they wanted to get anywhere in CS, they had better start reading slashdot.

    Good luck on the next 10 years!
    --C. Alan
  • by BendingSpoons ( 997813 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @02:33PM (#21186833)
    Good points. I used to read the YRO & politics sections - there are some interesting posts buried in the bitchfest - but the echo-chamber effect has grown to repulsive proportions. Much like the Apple or MS stories, there's no posts in there that I haven't already read a million times. "I'll never buy anything connected with DRM!" Really? I would never have suspected. "Creationists are such idiots, here's the difference between faith and science." Alright, got it already, thanks.

    That's why I much prefer the science section. There's barely ever a consensus there - someone's always disagreeing someone else. (Of course, unless the story concerns a new expensive venture. Then you have the flood of "I don't know shit about this, but I think it might be a bad idea and it's definitely a waste of money." But hey, nothing's perfect.)

    That said, I don't share parent's pessimism. Slashdot might suck in the future, sure, but where isn't that a possibility? When it sucks, I'll stop coming. Until then I'll keep lurking in the science section.
  • by kebes ( 861706 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @02:44PM (#21186977) Journal
    I agree. I would leave Slashdot if it became just another ad-encrusted site.

    I think one of the problems is that businesses are almost always under pressure to expand. Merely maintaining the same revenue year by year is considered a failure, even though everyone is making good money (and even if the revenue is growing enough to offset inflation, and pay investors a reasonable return).

    The obsession with expanding means that businesses are always trying to think in terms of "getting more customers" and "appealing to a wider base" and so forth. The problem is that there are already lots of companies (or websites in this case) that appeal to that generic audience. Adding yourself into that pool certainly doesn't guarantee increasing profits.

    If Slashdot remains true to its roots, it will continue to do well, and to attract a very particular audience. Our numbers are actually growing, since each new generation will have some proportion of nerds/geeks who, upon discovering Slashdot, think to themselves "I have finally found people just like me! This place is great!" Of course Slashdot's readership won't grow as fast as something like Facebook that is designed to appeal to everyone... but that shouldn't be its focus.

    In short, if Slashdot continues to pander to its unique demographic, it will continue to have a dedicated readership, and hence a guaranteed revenue stream.
  • by Brazilian Geek ( 25299 ) * on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @02:46PM (#21186995) Journal
    I never posted this request before since I thought that the crew was split apart but since you're all in Ann Arbor, bring back Geeks in Space!

    I used to have a ball at listening to CowboyNeal, Hemos and CmdrTaco chatting about what was happening online and whatever else happened to come up. I still remember CmdrTaco bitching about how lossy MP3 compression was and since then I've used his cymbal noise as an example of why FLAC is better.

    Call it a podcast, I don't care! Since the quickies are dead (and I miss them too), I wanna hear what you guys think about the latest South Park episode, how your female WoW characters are doing and other nerdy, nerdy, silly stuff.

    Anyway, throw us an audio bone and bring back Geeks in Space, please!
  • by Daniel Dvorkin ( 106857 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @02:48PM (#21187007) Homepage Journal
    I just don't get the "groupthink" complaints. Yes, it's probably fair to say that majority of Slashdot readers are pro-F/OSS and anti-Microsoft, but I've seen plenty of good posts defending Windows (for example) modded up. The posts that get modded down tend to be the ones that repeat the same "most popular = best" arguments that anyone with half a brain and any experience knows are simply not true. If you make a well-written, well-thought-out, and factually correct post that points out why Windows does something in particular better than Linux does, people will recognize that and mod accordingly. If you post something that's just a slightly more sophisticated version of "open sores is teh suxorz," don't be surprised when you lose a little karma over it.
  • by Captain Splendid ( 673276 ) <capsplendid&gmail,com> on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @02:53PM (#21187077) Homepage Journal
    Man, am I tired og this tired old argument. The only groupthink I see is a natural one. Get a lot of people with IT/science backgrounds in one place, and you're bound to get large majorities of opinion on at least some issues.

    But to say there's no diversity is foolish. Stop browsing at +5, you weenie.
  • Re:DIGG (Score:5, Insightful)

    by djdavetrouble ( 442175 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @02:53PM (#21187085) Homepage
    I remember for while when digg became popular, people would often complain that they had seen it on digg yesterday.
    I decided to give digg a try, but found that so much crap got through as well that I was wading around trying to find the
    "good stuff". Also, the comments are about on par with a pre teen message board, and headlines frequently look like a 9 year old wrote them.

    This kept me on slashdot, where the worst that I have to endure is old jokes (that still make me laugh when executed correctly).
    Most trolls get modded down pretty quickly, and I have actually end up learning something most of the time.

    I still check digg every now and then, and the new fad is for a single (AWESOME!) picture to get dugg up.

    I had an interesting IT experience about a year back, and said to myself, "self, I bet you could make the front page of digg with this []".

    So, as an experiment, I created a blogger blog and submitted it to digg. Lo and behold a few short hours later this non news story, personal
    blog had hit the front page of digg. I enabled adsense and made about $20.00 from the thing. Its just not a news site anymore, and easily gamed.
  • by King_TJ ( 85913 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @02:55PM (#21187111) Journal
    I hear this complaint often. (One of my best friends subscribes to the "Slashdot makes me sick with all the group-think and one-sidedness" theories, in fact.)

    I guess I look at it differently. I think one of Slashdot's strengths is its bias. Right now, I can visit any number of commercial web sites, purportedly about "computers and technology", and get a very Microsoft-centric view of things. Problem is, just because 90%+ of the systems out there run Microsoft products doesn't mean I want to read about those products 90%+ of the time! (That would be like a gourmet settling for reading stories about fast food chains 90% of the time, just because fast food operations are that much more prevalent than gourmet restaurants.)

    I really think the *truth* is, there are "best", "good" and "not so good" choices out there in the world of technology and computing. Skashdot takes the stance that OSS is either in the "best" or "good" category (and some stories directly address arguing over which of those 2 labels best applies). Slashdot takes the stance that Apple is doing good, interesting things right now too. Considering I went 10+ years using nothing but PC compatible Wintel boxes, and now I'm almost all converted to Macintosh, I'd say I agree with THAT bias too. And Google? I think anyone bashing them, yet claiming to be into technology, is foolish, bordering on hypocritical. So yes, I'd mod down an "anti Google" post myself, too! (Are they "too big", becoming "evil", or anything else? Nobody seems to be bringing any solid evidence to the table on any of that, right now. All I see is a company that's been giving out an awful lot of really useful, really cool stuff for FREE, and seems poised to put downwards price pressures on the cellphone industry next. Works for me!)
  • by cerberusss ( 660701 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @03:12PM (#21187329) Homepage Journal

    Thanks guys. And if it weren't for that "icky" advertising, it would've never happened.
    Many months ago, I installed AdBlock and Filterset.G Updater. Then proceeded to never give it any thought again.

    Rob's request and your comment made me think. In Firefox,
    • I clicked Tools -> AdBlock
    • Then checked the [x] whitelist this whole site
    I didn't start clicking ads right away; I only will do so if I'm genuinly interested. However, I encourage everyone to whitelist the site. It's a way to support slashdot.
  • by apdyck ( 1010443 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [kcyd.p.noraa]> on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @03:13PM (#21187333) Homepage Journal
    I likewise agree. On that note, it should be mentioned that, a few years ago, I moved to a small community in the Northwest Territories, and they only had 33.6 dialup there. During this time, despite the fact that I had a second phone line that was dedicated to this slow connection, I stopped visiting many of the web sites that I previously frequented. In fact, there were only two that I visited every day. One was slashdot, and the other was User Friendly []. Slashdot kept me in touch with the tech community, something that was very needed in a community where there was a grand total of ONE technical person (aside from myself) in the whole town. That guy had to wear multiple hats - he was the IT guy for the oil company in town (the #1 employer), and he was the line tech for the phone company. He has moved on to bigger and better things, and now the new IT guy for that oil co is struggling just to maintain the status quo - he even begged me to move back and take over his job. Of course, to do that would be to give up my high speed Internet connection (AKA my lifeline), and that's not going to happen.

    Anyhow, I digress. Slashdot has been a big part of my life. I first came across it when I was in high school, back in the early days, and am now on my second account (I lost the password on my first one, and no longer had the e-mail address) - and I love it. Slashdot has been my source for all IT related news for almost nine years now, and I wouldn't give it up for the world. Keep up the good work, guys, and we will all keep coming back!

    I would also like to make a note that, in my younger days, I was involved in some minor Slashdot-related graffiti - I have on a few occasions written /. in bathroom stalls and various other places, a stark contrast to the graffiti that most people leave. I can only hope that this has encouraged some people to find out what the site was, and to increase the knowledge of the site. Unfortunately, I think it only contributed to the amount of work that the janitorial staff had to do. This isn't something that I continue to do, as I have grown into a much more respectable person than I was then, but I still am tempted any time I walk into a washroom that is covered in graffiti!
  • Re:DIGG (Score:3, Insightful)

    by EMeta ( 860558 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @04:05PM (#21188003)
    You say your story supports the idea that Digg is easily gamed, and I have to disagree. (Not that I'm disagreeing that Digg can easily be gamed, just that's not what you did.) You found something that you thought would be interesting to Digg's patrons. You submitted it in an appropriate context (even a new blog can be worth reading--and often more so: the writer still has new ideas).

    Lots of other people also found it interesting. I don't know the numbers, but I guess that means a thousands of people found something that gave them at least a marginal amount of entertainment. You effectively received a few cents from each of them for the service.

    I think this is exactly how Digg and sites like it are supposed to work. Certainly they can't be free--bandwidth is still too expensive for that. You, the content provider just got a cut. If you were to find more interesting IT stories you could do this more, and everyone in the process would gain from it again.

  • by Mr.Bananas ( 851193 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @04:17PM (#21188181)
    The parent's post is a rambling tirade of unconnected concepts that have nothing to do with CmdrTaco's statement about Slashdot not crashing during the 9/11 attacks. I don't see why it got modded so highly...

    I believe what CmdrTaco's referring to is that he is proud of the technical achievement of having kept the site from crashing despite the incredibly high volume of traffic, and of running one of the few sites that still provided any useful information at the time. Many other conventional news web sites buckled under the intense traffic, while Slashdot still worked on that day.

    I agree that the U.S. government used 9/11 as an excuse to do some bad things later on, but during those attacks, most people here in the U.S. were mainly confused, scared, and panicked, largely due to the lack of information at the moment (I remember some people repeating farfetched rumors of nuclear attacks). I think CmdrTaco and his team should be very proud of this accomplishment because they overcame a huge technical challenge and provided an important public service at the moment.
  • by cavemanf16 ( 303184 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @04:26PM (#21188293) Homepage Journal
    I have been reading and posting to Slashdot since at least 2001. I've posted 1,376 comments during those years. Slashdot mods have both lauded my postings and bitch-slapped them for complaining about the "rules" on Slashdot, ranting on Creationism vs. Evolution, the MS vs. Linux debate, and probably hundreds of other somewhat random topics. Sep. 11, 2001 was particularly memorable as this is where I too first learned about the awful events of that day. But it's also funny that this is the one site, that despite all the other newer and shinier sites out there (Digg) that come along from time to time, keeps me coming back for more. There IS discussion on this site, not just adolescent e-penis boasting like you find on sites like Kuroshin or Digg. Why? Because this site found its nitch early on, and never strayed. I have found over these past 6 years, that all of my favorite brick-and-mortar entities, be they church, shopping, or entertainment, also do the same: they cater to exactly their nitch and never stray from it. So keep up the hard work, gang, and don't stray!

    BTW, corporate entities: many if not all of my favorite technology things that I have bought over the years were in one way or another promoted by others on Slashdot at some point in time, I looked into their recommendations, and decided to buy the technology for myself. By no means does this mean that I WANT comment spam from corporate shills - I most certainly will see such fraudulent shilling and resent all the more your product... but if you produce a good product and your customers appreciate your efforts enough to mention the product on Slashdot, WITHOUT compensation for doing so, then you're doing the RIGHT THINGS and should keep it up! A short list of things I've used based on customer recommendations on Slashdot:

    nVidia graphics cards
    Linux - Mandrake first, and now Ubuntu (love it!)
    O'Reilly books
    Edward R. Tufte's books
    and a host of other stuff that I've recommended to friends and family as well
  • by porcupine8 ( 816071 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @04:58PM (#21188709) Journal
    I agree.

    I've been reading some books on nonprofit management lately. The biggest thing they all push is "Know your mission, stick to your mission." I have a feeling that for-profit businesses probably benefit from the same advice. Hopefully the people who own Slashdot will follow it.

  • by Eponymous Bastard ( 1143615 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @05:28PM (#21189101)

    The obsession with expanding means that businesses are always trying to think in terms of "getting more customers" and "appealing to a wider base" and so forth. The problem is that there are already lots of companies (or websites in this case) that appeal to that generic audience. Adding yourself into that pool certainly doesn't guarantee increasing profits.
    And yet, expanding is not a bad idea, but that is not the only way to expand.

    It used to be that TV shows would get dumbed down or junk the shark to appeal to a wider variety of people. Now instead you see more and more spinoffs. They leverage the skill and some of the familiarity of the old show to create a new show that appeals to a different group, or to get more views to what could in some ways be "the same show".

    If slashdot wants to grow I hope they do it by setting up sister sites instead. They have the experience, code and hardware to set up sister sites for different audiences. Maybe something as simple as spinning off politics and YRO, with more politically savvy editors. Maybe doing joint stories with AnimeFu, to liven things up. Maybe setting up a digg-wannabe site, with a slash-style discussions. You could try out (marked) slashvertisements on other sites and see how people react while the mother-site stays the same (since you already know ./ers would reject them).

    Or work with a social networking site to connect user profiles, journals and discussions together with all their other features (if the users choose to).

    Of course, you'd have to help these sites grow. Joint stories, publishing selected top stories on each other's front page, ads back and forth, advice to the editors of the new sites, etc. Growing while keeping the original community alive and safe, but leveraging the experience of your old admins.

    The styles of the sites should diverge, and some sites will sell off more than others. Some sites will use more AJAX, more pictures, more OMG ponies, more whatever. Rob knows already what this community needs. Start another site and figure what their community needs. It's a lot easier to do this for /. and co than for anybody else.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @06:19PM (#21189715)

    Because the President did not order a cruise missile with a tactical nuclear warhead to every madrassa between Riyadh and Peshawar.

    When it comes to evaluating the US government's policies that resulted from 9/11, the relevant question is not "Could they have been worse?" but rather "Could they have been better?".

    I grew up in a Third World country run by a tin-pot dictator.

    Despite all the ugliness, I still believe in the USA. I firmly believe that the USA can be better than a third world country run by a tin-pot dictator - much better, in fact. But I also believe that, in order to be much better, the USA has to hold itself to a much higher standard.

  • by cloricus ( 691063 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @08:37PM (#21191037)
    I nearly left when the Intel section crap started... It was a good idea if Intel would have been serious about it but it quickly became blatant that it was an ad driven dream for them and a monster for Slashdot. It is as simple as that for me, as long as Rob (or for more fun CmdrTaco) is in charge and calls the shoots I can't see myself leaving, when it becomes clear he no longer has control I'll be off.

    A note to the corporate overlords now and in the future; I often click on the ads on this site, as they tend to be topical to services we need to implement and we have gone on to purchase several services from ads here. While us readers mostly would have been in high school and college when we started reading the majority of us now work in IT and call the shoots or suggest solutions to problems. As time goes on our potential to increase profits through ads increases and from that point of view do you really want to piss us off and replace us with a digg like crowd who can't even afford their own broadband from their parents basements?
    Erm, yes, I agree. :)
  • by posdnous ( 469992 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @11:03PM (#21192183)
    I agree. Slashdot is unique because of the community. That community can be moved or rebuilt to another site very easily and quickly.

    Not on you life, once slashdot is gone, it will be gone forever. What makes slashdot so great is not the people who post on every single story giving their opinions, it's the people who only post rarely but when they do, they REALLY know the topic area, that's why you can be guaranteed to learn something in every discussion. If slashdot is reduced just to the "regulars", in the event of a rebuilt clone site, the level of groupthink would make the level of discussion monotonous and ultimately uninteresting.

No problem is so large it can't be fit in somewhere.