Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?
The Internet

The Tragedy of Bedope, Segfault, and User Friendly 99

As the legendary Julian Seban wrote in his classic, "Eating the Ether: Seeing the Vibes from Cyberspace," the Millenium would see a massive counterattack on the free nation of Cyberspace. The closing of Bedope, User Friendly, and to a much lesser extent Segfault, mark an ugly passage in the history of the Internet. This is a geek tragedy, a black day for nerds in every corner of the world. Heads up. This is stuff that matters. We could be next.

You won't see it reported on the evening news or on the front pages of newspapers but three of the Net's most important sites -- UserFriendly, Segfault and Bedope, were shut down today after a series of lawsuits by the same people who sponsored and passed the Communications Decency Act. Protests in Washington, New York city, and Toledo, Ohio were held spontaneously this morning but were, of course ignored by the media.

I know what most of you thoughtful kick-ass programmers are thinking: "What the fuck is this shit he's writing about now? How much more can we stand?"

But as you can see from the site, it's not just me. Bedope changed Net history, and was one of the sites that led directly to the spread of the open source and free software movements. Along with FidoNet e-mail, it challenged powerful computing companies in a way that had never occurred before.Bedope wasn't just a website, it was a movement, an inspiration and a gathering spot for kick-ass geek programmers from all over the world. This shut down shouldn't be allowed to stand. As to UserFriendly, one of the Web's bravest and most powerful voices has been shut down. Because it was a biting comic strip, and not useful information about things like writing manual pages with groff, UserFriendly didn't, of course, belong on Slashdot, and wasn't permitted here. Not macho enough. But still, nobody wants to see them get whacked. This stuff happens all the time, off-line, but not online. This cute little site was one of the first to push for programming with gcc, in the x2-CCC format. And then the C++++complier, familiar to all of you.

As to Segfault, it often sucked --actually, it always sucked -- but since when does that matter? That doesn't mean it doesn't have the right to operate.

We have to help these people out. If you have any class or pride as a geek, you'll for your own Bedope/Segfault/UserFriendly support group. But make sure to customize the C-Kermit first. (example: # cp/usr/local/lib/kermit/ckermod.ini~/mykermrc. You know what I mean. As the legendary cyber-guru Julian Seban said in his Nine Laws of the Net: "Bite me. Then Bite Me Harder."

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

The Tragedy of Bedope, Segfault, and User Friendly

Comments Filter:
  • 72 hours till we get the details...

    72 hours to hope that millions of irate and technologically adept fans calm down...

    72 hours till those fans browse through the list of smurf amplifying networks and zero in on their target...

    sure, it's immature and probably illegal... but can you stand a kick in the crotch like this?
  • i think this sums up what we all feel right now. stuff like this is gonna 'cause some of us to flip out, 'cause UF was the only sane thing in our whole freakin' life.
  • That's what I've been waiting for out of Katz: some sense of sarcasm in response to some of the self-important wannabe hackers you see around these here parts.

    April fools nothing -- this is the sort of post you should have made months ago, Jon.


  • Uh-oh, I'm replying to these comments now :-)

    a snippet from the segfault source :-)

    if ( $title =~ /Microsoft/i )
    $changes_of_being_published -= 10;

    we get toooo many!!! give us a chance. In a month or two when the Segfault rewrite kicks in they'll be a whole section devoted to this stuff
  • Ignoring clues like letters being required on a SATURDAY, times being wrong and stuff like that ? :)

    And then ignoring "Michael Scott DeWitt" which a few of you got and "See you on the flip side" which a few less (but rather proud of themselves when they did) got.

    We gave ya hints :-)
  • Yeah it sucks, seriously sucks :-)
  • Oh Rob was just as in on it as the rest of us :-)
  • Posted by Dying Light:

    Hm ... maybe, maybe not. Definitely obnoxious, but this is often true of comedians {Lenny Bruce was not a nice guy}.

    Why did we all assume MS would try to suppress UF and segfault? Not easy, and where's the money in it for Microsoft? Generally, when Microsoft does something, there's a profit in it for Microsoft.
  • > Perhaps there is a moral in there somewhere.

    Every moral has a story, every story has an end...

    What was I saying?

  • Well, that's kind of a "vested interest" situation, then, isn't it? I mean, what would the legions of geek sex-maniacs do without their limitless supplies of net-porn?

    Kyt - still mildly po'd at this "joke" by UF, /., et al.
  • This is a good point, folks... it's frightening to think that sites like UF and the others can be shut down simply because someone doesn't like what they have to say. Censorship on the Internet has been a growing concern to a lot of people; if this is a joke, it's in damn poor taste and could weaken people's concern/involvement when this type of censorship actually happens.

    It's a shame to say it, but I hope it's legit. Not that I want sites like this shut down, but simply because I'd hate to think that Iliad (and the others) have so little regard for their loyal readers. There's a strong base of people who would gladly be up in (virtual) arms over this type of injustice - I would hope that these sites are not mocking that loyalty and commitment.


  • How can they tell us who it is, when they're specifically not permitted (or recommended by legal counsel not) to disclose the name of the litigants. I want to know just as much as you - I LOVE UserFriendly, and if I knew who was causing them this trouble, I'd do everything I could to do something about it.
  • This has been mentioned for awhile now as an upcoming Linux distro for PPC systems, so I think it's for real. (I think so...)
  • by ninjaz ( 1202 )
    It's amusing to compare tip-offs that this wasn't actually Katz.. ;) For me, it was the c-kermit reference.

    On a side note, imagine the stock prices flying and stock market fluctations if yahoo's little stock board did something like this. "Wal-Mart has decided to fund BeOS! Starting next year, their outlets will no longer carry any microsoft operating system products, and Be developers will have free drinks & snacks in the employee breakroom"
  • Yet another long, boring, pompous fluff piece from John Katz.

    John: Learn how to spell, write and think before posting here again! You are wasting our valuable time.

    And Rob: What kind of lousy editor is you, when you allow trash like that to be posted. At least you should run a spell checker on it! Slashdot will continue to be useless garbage until you learn to apply a minimum of professionalism in you job as editor.

    I'm really an Anonymous Coward, but I forgot how not to log in.
  • This is getting silly. Could someone please confirm whether this is an april fool. Here in the U.K April Fool's day ends at 12pm, it is now 5.10pm here, meaning that it should be ending in the U.S. soon, and as far as I am concerned, none too soon.

    The occasional April fool jape is fine and dandy, but need I remind anyone about the story of the boy who cried "wolf"? While the Linux riots story was funny, I think this one is pushing it a bit.


  • A joke is a joke, but having so many, and dragging them out like this is just not funny, I am getting bored. This is probably the first time that I have every been disappointed in /. I can take a joke like the next man, but if I wanted to laugh there are plenty of sites that are more amusing than /. will ever be on the web. You guys should learn that restraint is one of the most important qualities of a good joke.


  • by slim ( 1652 )
    You can add Dave's Videogame Classics [] to that list of casualties.

    I dunno if that's an April Fool too/either
  • This was truly one of the few bright spots in the website-closing April Fools Joke.

    I feel ambivalent about it, however, because I can't help but think that Jon Katz simply felt that this was another great opportunity for self-promotion that he couldn't pass up.

  • I wouldn't be insulting his english if I were you.
  • 3dfx did buy STB, that's old news. I think STB will continue to operate as a wholly owned subsidiary however.
  • In general the april fool's thingy is supposed to be a joke. Funny, amusing, maybe a pointed deflation of something or other. But dammit where is the humour in this ongoing "shutdown humour sites" hoax. This one has lasted too long, short sharp jokes are funny, long running sagas like this one are soap opera, and ultimately a failure.

    Now the mouse powered laptop, that was genius, plausible for a few moments, and genuinely funny. That wins my best april 1st article.

    But the number of these articles has killed the whole joke, and ploughed the fun into the ground, very very heavy handed. Don't try so hard.


  • Jon, if that's you actually writing this, you have shown a level of humour beyond what I thought possible.

    As a representative (unelected) of all of the Canadian-students-who-are-living-in-the-US, I am burning my slashdot shirt on the steps of the Rhode Island capitol building today in protest.

    Be sure to edit the C-Kermit, indeed.

  • jeez, why all the anti-katz sentiment floating around here?

    it seems like he didn't even WRITE that article, but yet you guys still flame him? it's quite sad actually... i don't think he's that bad :P
  • I find all these people trying to be funny on Aprils Fools day annoying. I really do. From STB and 3dFX merging to web sites shut down, to the people on the radio saying the mayor shut down the city council. Its annoying.

    But this Katz story was the only joke to make me laugh yet today. Good read. I liked it.
  • >From STB and 3dFX merging to

    I screwed that up, I ment to say "Form Nvidia and 3dFX merging"

    Now I have egg on my face...
  • by Darchmare ( 5387 )
    >My only question is: is Yellow Dog Linux for real?

    It has been talked about off and on for a while now, although it isn't actually out. I'd say it is for real.

    - Darchmare
    - Axis Mutatis,
  • Errmmm... Are you serious?

    You know what they say about those who live in glasshouses...

    What kind of lousy editor is you, when you allow trash like that to be posted. At least you should run a spell checker on it! Slashdot will continue to be useless garbage until you learn to apply a minimum of professionalism in you job as editor.

    BTW: If it's useless garbage, you're more than welcome to leave.

    - Darchmare
    - Axis Mutatis,
  • Umm.

    Remember 1996 and the Communications Decency Act? Many people who were on the 'net around then had some sort of geekish roots - and many of our pages were changed to black in protest. Many messages were sent to congress, many supported the EFF, and so on.

    Geeks have been traditionally very aware of free speech issues - even if it's only to protect porn sites, free speech is still free speech.

    - Darchmare
    - Axis Mutatis,
  • Yeah, but until they can account for the strange resonances in the flange chambers, they'll have to keep a double jack transfer coil on those phase inversion couplings. I hope they can fix that...
  • wow, have never seen so much Schroedinger cats at a single spot!!!

    thumbs up /.
  • I am tempted to completely ignore your comment, as it clearly shows that you don't know what you are talking about. I just want to point out, however, that A Modest Proposal is not/was not/never will be funny, if you allow four or five of your neurons to fire consecutively. A Modest Proposal is an essay written to draw attention to the thousands of impoverished and starving people in (Ireland, I think) at the time it was written. To think that this, or the sarcastic solution proposed is funny, you either missed the English class in which it was discussed, or you need to eat more vitamins, because you are sick.
  • When I saw the UF comic that featured someone using liquid paper to remark a Pentium II as a Pentium III, the first thought that came to my mind was "This is bad. Intel has no sense of humor."

    Just a thought.
  • Errmmm... Are you serious?

    OF COURSE NOT, you humourless drone. Geez:

    I'm really an Anonymous Coward, but I forgot how not to log in.

    Oh, he's serious, all right.

  • Hmm, the sarcasm in the BeDope comments is almost to the point of being offensive.
  • rob did a really funny parody
  • Having been royally fooled, I just want to say:
    • Rob sux
    • Slashdot sux
    • Katz wins the annual award for most self-conscious use of the phrase "geek tragedy" in an ongoing series
    • Hemos doesn't sux (AFAIK), but I think we oughtta pull something like this on him and other European /.'ers on Jan 4. :) (Huh? You don't get it? That's okay, I amused myself.)

    phil :)

  • The most disturbing thing about this is the anonymity of the accusers. (If I'm mistaken and these litigants aren't anonymous, please correct me.)

    The disturbing part? I defend anonymity -- it's essential to free expression. But this kind of anonymity actually curbs free expression. Someone is doing a bastardly thing, and I can't even boycott them. So I'm also doing a little soul-searching. Just how should I feel about anonymity?

    And I do want to boycott -- just because I didn't find segfault funny or keep UF on my bookmarks doesn't mean I don't despise the actions of the hideous fiends seeking to shut them down. Heck, I'd visit them each twice a day (and take cookies, and click through one ad a week) just to piss the corporate weasels off.

    (Is that libelous? I can judge these people -- and I use the term loosely -- based only on their action(s), since they deny me the context of their identity. And these actions, to my mind, could only be performed by hideously petty, selfish fiends. And since anonymity protects them from any real action I might take, I'm left with free expression -- vitriolic free expression.)

    Have the names of the litigious corporate slime been made public, and I just missed it? I might revise my opinions of them upward a micrometer if they were at least brave enough to admit their actions. (At least we know they have to be corporates -- no one else has money for nuisance lawsuits.)

    Failing that, an actual lawsuit has to have litigants. And that info's public, right? Hopefully, someone knows more than I do about how to look up this stuff....any law folk in the crowd?


    P.S. - Did I mention how much I want to boycott these people?

  • Whoa, man. That was unreal. Go Katz!

    Returns to flossing teeth with cat intestine

  • I cannot stress this enough. If your site has been challenged legally, regardless of the nature of the injunction, whether it's legal or illegal for you to do so, GET THE WORD OUT TO THE PUBLIC WHO THE PEOPLE WHO DID IT ARE! If we know who they are, pressure can be applied. You can't apply public pressure to an unknown entity.

    The owners of the sites named screwed up by not making damn sure we knew who shut them down. Don't be so intimidated you don't shout loud and publicly so we know who is harassing you with lawyers. Anybody can be harrassed by unscrupulous entities with cash and legal access. To fix it we need the clear light of day focussed on the perpetrators.

  • Being April Fool's Day, I'll reserve judgement on some things. However, I AM saddened by the loss of the leading non-syndicated comic strip, Userfriendly.
  • by Rahga ( 13479 )
    "As to Segfault, it often sucked --actually, it always sucked -- but since when does that matter? That doesn't mean it doesn't have the right to operate. "

    Funny. At times, I could say the same thing.
    At least this wan't another dang ad.
  • by jerodd ( 13818 )
    It should have said ``Fighting-For-The-Little-Guy dept.''. In addition, while Katz's grammar is not perfect, he wouldn't have used fifteen incomplete sentences in a row. I'm not criticising Rob (fear the taco)-- I'm just pointing out that, well, it didn't have the desired effect. I wasn't fooled.

    My only question is: is Yellow Dog Linux for real?


  • he's:
    1. sick of getting flamed so he's writing
    concisely and to the point.
    2. as infuriated as we are about this.

    this is not a joke because:
    1. this has been in the works for some time.
    3. has affected serveral large sites who, i
    would guess, dont often cordinate sick jokes

    this sux ass cause:
    1. we're loosing original and well loved sites
    2. we're loosing a community (for us UFies)
    and i for one, am frustrated as all hell.


    If i had a ton of dynamite I'de be half-way to
    redmond already.

  • I think the UF action was brought in a Canadian court. One of Iliad's emails suggested that he had one of the best "Intellectual Property and Copyright law firms in Western Canada" on his side.
  • that was funny! don't do it again! :)
  • he lives in vancouver, BC
  • I was having a baaaad day when I wrote that ditty. there's something about an NT server dying at 11pm every Tuesday night regular as clockwork that annoys me.

    Anyway, I look forward too the rewrite.
  • I wasn't *absolutely* sure this was a joke until I read this article ... Now I am quite impressed at the foresight and work that went into this AFD prank! It is doubly amusing to see the reactions of folks to this one.

    My only problem - I don't have my User Friendly fix for the day!!! How can I possibly start coding without it?!?!?



  • Drat, it's yesterday's!!!
  • She makes fun of geek talk that same way; ie x2-CC format C++++ or whatever. Howabout some Startrek technobabble too:

    User Friendly pioneered the use of phase inversion couplings to enhance the inverse polarity of Foolitron pulses.


  • My thoughts exactly.

    Katz likes to add lots of ancillary supporting evidence, some anecdotal quotes, and is quite complex in his sentence structure.

    Whoever wrote this doesn't sound like Katz, unless Katz is deliberately trying not to sound like hisself. The cursing for example, gives it away, and I don't know that I can believe Katz would be so computer literate to write
    # cp/usr/local/lib/kermit/ckermod.ini~/mykermrc

    It would have been a much better joke if the work were more serious, a little stuffy, pedantic, and much longer. But then again, people might have taken it seriously. Except for it being April Fools. Ah, I don't know. Good attempt, but no points awarded.

  • I am inclined to go with the AFD theory - and I think the counsel's name is part of the joke.
    Michael Scott Dewitt = MS Do-it? *grin*
  • Didn't know.

    But when did Canada secede?

    (Okay, I checked the international list and there's no match there either. I'd hope the best lawyers on the ISLAND would be wise enough be listed in the standard directory. No I'm not, I just work at a firm.)
  • Dunno, but there's no Michael Scott DeWitt in the Fall edition of Martindale-Hubbell. Nearly every practicing attorney in the US is listed there, so...
  • Jon, I think this belongs with William Shatner's "Get a life" speach on SNL. Why do I get the feeling you were dying to whip out the sarcasm around here?
  • I agree, while I like a good joke-there is just way to much tension in that area right now to be doing something like that. I'm going to choose to be good natured about it-but I definately think they need to heed to your warning. They should have at least let Rob know about it ahead of time-

  • Well looks like User Friendly pulled a good one today. Good one guys-and don't blame /. for not knowing, we were all fooled. At least I got out one good rant before I found out:

    This mornings closing of Segfault, User Friendly and Be Dope was announced to me today from an article by JonKatz posted on Slashdot . It definitely explains the realism that goes into what seems like some"insignificant" changes. What I want to know is-where are all of the new Open Source "heros" when you need them? I don't see IBM, Dell, Novell nor Redhat running to anyone's rescue. These are the BIG companies that were supposed to launch Open Source into the next millenium, right? That is where the insignificant part comes in now. Why should they care if a couple of humor sites loose face?-because it's a
    part of our culture, that's why. If at first it seemed like all of the great things going on with Open Source were too good to be true-it's because they were. We can make our own conclusions on operating systems and software, but it's out of our hands now. The Open Source culture is being forced to change, drastically. Don't think they don't know what they are doing either-these are companies that have been around and back again, and if you ever ONCE thought that it had to do with anything other than money, you are wrong.
    The Open Source culture has always been one made up of different opinions, and sometimes those opinions are expressed to the public in the form of humor-actually, most of the time. That is Open Source's biggest downfall in the business community, the fact that like the software, we are open about everything. Don't get me wrong, I don't like this at all, but we did ask for it. We placed ourselves right into their hands thinking that things could only get better now that we have "corporate backing". In my opinion, this is a case of prevention by example, people are going to start to think before they post-hopefully a lesson learned. I'm sure Segfault, Be Dope and User Friendly did not have this on their minds, I am just trying to point out the fact that this is not the end. And as Eric Raymond recently pointed out, the last thing we need to do right now is start acting childish about it and sending out flames to everyone.
  • but read this from the register...
  • This is just like Orson Welles and the invasion from Mars. People take it seriously.

    Umm... you're talking here about one of the greatest and funniest parodies of all time. Did people take it seriously? Yes! That's what made it so brilliant! He fooled a lot of people... and that takes talent!

    This whole UF/BeD/SegF thing was pretty damn good, too!
    - Sean
  • by QuMa ( 19440 )
    Great april fools day joke guys, Loving (and half of the time actually believing) it!

    Teeheeeh heee... I think my sides are gonna split...

  • I really thought you were stupid until I read the bit at the end:

    I'm really an Anonymous Coward, but I forgot how not to log in

    Gee that's really funny!
  • What's "DeWitt"?

    Thanks guys, I'm enjoying this immensely.

    p.s. Rob - the "new and improved" Slashdot ROCKS. I actually read through all the comments now!
  • only one page of text in a katz piece, can't be him.
  • UF at least appears to be back online - I haven't checked through the archives yet to see if any are missing.
  • There was still some doubt in my mind that the whole website fiasco might not be an April Fools' joke, but just odd timing. After this, I can be pretty positive it's a joke.

    I also don't think it's Katz doing the writing.
    If you will notice, he always uses uppercase characters in his from ... dept line, which is out of place with all the other story posters.
    This time, we have lowercase:
    from the fighting-for-the-little-guy dept.

    Plus, I've never seen Katz curse in his articles.


  • by JEP ( 28735 )


    You are:
    1) Gullible
    2) and Attempted Conspirator

    Take you pick.


  • You know, Scott James Remnant's little prank here pretty much amounts to a publicity stunt for Segfault. I expect readership to increase fivefold after this.

    As a regular Segfault writer, I say, Yippeeeee!

  • Once again, Katz shows his penchant for self-promotion. He'll take just about any cyber-event and turn it into fodder for his own scribulations. I don't know why I even bother reading anything with Katz's name on it. I don't know why I post pointless anti-Katz flames instead of just reading something else. I guess it's because I'm sure people really want to read my infantile rants about articles I don't like.

    Oh, and if you think I'm serious, you probably need to loosen up a bit :P

    "scribulations" -- is that even a word?
  • You have forgotten, or may not know, that Illiad is from British Columbia, CANADA. And he mentioned in his news that he has 'the best lawyers on the ISLAND'. So it probably would not be in a list of US lawyers.

    --scared loyal ufie.
  • I wasn't sure whether this was a joke or not, especially given the sudden disappearence of the Dave Classics Emu site at

    One thing that did ring a alarm is the name of the legal counsel - Michael Scott DeWitt.

    Both of the authors of Be Dope and Segfault share a name (Mike/Scott), and 'de witt'? Seems too much of a coincidence..

    Has anyone looked to see whether this 'person' has a website at all? Perhaps there might be some more info forthcoming... ;-)
  • You are so right on! I just loved the way Illiad so accurately described life with computers in his comics. He was responsible for my certain daily laugh. Now it's gone! I can't even begin to describe what a shame that is!
  • Well, its certain. It was all a AFJ. The sites should be up again soon.

    There was at least one support site put up for, I am sure that the person that made that support page feels pretty silly now.

    So, how about the story about the boy that cried Wolf... How are people going to react if this really should happen sometime? Will they take it as just another joke?

    As to it being funny or not? I am not sure how I feel about it.. But they sure put a lot of effort into this one..
  • by bobalu ( 1921 )
    same people who sponsored and passed the Communications Decency Act.

  • I know y'all don't like Katz, but he's RIGHT. But here you are, making fun of him, or acting like this is an April Fools' joke. This is SERIOUS.

    I'm not generally a violent person, but when I saw UF gone last night, I about turned cracker, had I known who this corporation was. I loved reading that every day, after I discovered it late last year. And Illiad made fun of *everything*. Microsoft, Linux, ?BSD, Intel, Star Wars, ISPs in general. Red Dwarf just this week. And it's all gone. Archives and everything. The web is smaller today.

    Les the Book
  • They fooled you all.


  • I don't believe that the ./UFBD community can afford to let this happen. (Assuming it's not an April Fools prank :).

    If a large corporation thinks that any of these sites can damage them then perhaps they should have concentrated on getting their reputation into a state where we support them instead of criticising them. It costs them less time, money and effort simply to reach for their lawyers when someone points a finger and says "you suck!" - I don't think that this is an acceptable situation.

    And, yes, Segfault suck. They wouldn't publish my "Rage Against The Microsoft" soundbite. :)
  • This is just not fucking funny. Yeah, you read the article, you realize that it has all been a prank, and the whole stupid thing was a joke from the beginning. But this was something that really does happen and we really do take seriusly. It's one thing to have an outrageous joke, but when you allude to "threatening letters" and then shut your site, people get really pissed. This is just like Orson Welles and the invasion from Mars. People take it seriously.

    Also, if you're going to have a joke, at least make it funny, because the writing sucked. Satire is supposed to epitomize hyperbole and go way beyond reason. Jonathan Swifte's "A Modest Proposal", which is about eating babies is funny, but just a couple of cheesy, somewhat obvious jokes is not.

    Bad idea + Bad execution + Bad topic == Bad joke.

    Other than that, slashdot is great. Thanks, Rob.

  • April Fools "jokes" aren't necessarily meant to be funny. If they were obviously parodies, then people wouldn't be fooled, would they? The idea is to try trick gullible people, not to write a parody. So the articles are supposed to be "almost believable".

  • by blowdart ( 31458 ) on Thursday April 01, 1999 @08:55AM (#1953678) Homepage

    So why should we be worried about just geek sites? Isn't that either a) short sighted or b) looking out for your own ass?

    Thats not the most productive of attitudes, surely you (thats you Americans, we Brits don't have any rights to free speech believe it or not) should be worried about *any* type of net censorship, if it's by big business, the $ceintologists or the government. They're all equally unacceptable, but you only raise a fuss when sites you like get canned.

    Not good enough folks, it's a case of I only complain when it affects me.

    So if you're going to complain about censorship, don't limit yourself like this, it only does the geek reputation harm.

"Just the facts, Ma'am" -- Joe Friday