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Submission + - An open letter to the management of Slashdot. 14

onyxruby writes: I have been watch for some time now as Slashdot has started beta testing a new version of the website. As you are well aware the new site would constitute a complete change to the look, interface and functionality of

Change happens, and for those of us who work with technology for a living it is the only constant. Change is a process and in and of itself is not a bad thing when it offers improvement. Unfortunately the change that has been offered negatively impacts the look, interface and most importantly the functionality of Slashdot.
Many people have had trouble reverting back to the classic interface. The new interface simply does not offer the functionality of the old. Things like statistics, comments and layout are very difficult to find. You have a community that lives and breathes data and want to know their data. How is my comment ranked, how many people responded – it’s really all about the dialogue. Can I get the information that I want in a readily digestible format?

As you’re well aware the new site does not offer the very thing that people come here for. This in and of itself is not why your community has organized a boycott of Beta. The boycott was originated because the new version will be implemented whether the community wants it or not.

I want to explain why this change has gone down people’s throats about as well as Windows 8’s Metro interface. The reason has absolutely nothing to do with the interface and everything to do with the perception that the editors and management of Slashdot appear to have.

The message that has been consistently handed down is that we are “your audience”. We are not your “your audience” we are your product. People do not come to Slashdot for the news stories, there are untold other sites that provide those as well as professional and original writing about them. People come here for the community of insiders from across the industry.

Please respect the community and stop what you’re doing. You have commented that you don’t want to maintain two code bases. Your community works in the industry and understands this, which leads many to suggest you abandon the new code base entirely so that you are only maintaining once code base. Tell us what your trying to accomplish and I would imagine that a wide range of experts would be more than willing to help you meet your goals.

Submission + - Slashdot Beta Woes 16

s.petry writes: What is a Slashdot and why the Beta might destroy it?

Slashdot has been around, well, a very long time. Longer than any of it's competators, but not as long as IIRC. Slashdot was a very much one of the first true social media web sites.

On Slashdot, you could create a handle or ID. Something personal, but not too personal, unless you wanted it to be. But it was not required either. We know each other by our handles, we have watched each other grow as people. We may have even taken pot shots at each other in threads. Unless of course you are anonymous, but often we can guess who that really is.

One of Slashdot's first motto's was "News for Nerds" that Matters. I have no idea when that was removed. I have not always scoured the boards here daily, life can get too busy for that. That excuses my ignorance in a way. I guess someone thought it politically incorrect, but most of us "Nerds" enjoyed it. We are proud of who we are, and what we know. Often we use that pride and knowledge to make someone else look bad. That is how we get our digs in, and we enjoy that part of us too. We don't punch people, we belittle them. It's who we are!

What made Slashdot unique were a few things. What you will note here is "who" has been responsible for the success of Slashdot. Hint, it has never been a just the company taking care of the servers and software.

— First, the user base submitted stories that "they" thought mattered. It was not a corporate feed. Sure, stories were submitted about companies. The latest break through from AMD and Intel, various stories regarding the graphic card wars, my compiler is better than your compiler, and yes your scripting language stinks! Microsoft IIS has brought us all a few laughs and lots of flame wars to boot. Still, we not only read about the products but get to my second point.

— User comments. This is the primary why we have been coming here for as long as we have, many of us for decades. We provide alternative opinions or back what was given in the article. This aspect not only makes the "News" interesting, but often leads to other news and information sharing. It's not always positive, but this is the nature of allowing commentary. It also brings out the third point.

— Moderation. Moderation has been done by the community for a very long time. It took lots of trial and error to get a working system. As with any public system it's imperfect, but it's been successful. People can choose to view poorly modded comments, but don't have to. As with posting anonymous versus with our own handle it's an option that allows us to personalize the way we see and read what's on the site. And as a reward for submitting something worth reading, you might get a mod point of your own to use as a reward for someone else.

Why we dislike Beta and what is being pushed, and why this will result in the end of an era if it becomes forced on the community.

1. Bulky graphics. We get that Dice and Slashdot need revenue. I have Karma good enough to disable advertisements, but have never kept this setting on. I realize that Slashdot/Dice make money with this. That said, the ads sit away from my news and out of the way. I can get there if I want it (but nobody has ever gotten a penny from me clicking an ad... nobody!), but it's not forced into my face or news feed.

2. Low text area. I like having enough on my screen to keep me busy without constant scrolling. Slashdot currently has the correct ratio of text to screen. This ratio has never been complained about, yet Beta reduces the usable text area by at least 1/2 and no option for changing the behavior. I hate reading Slashdot on mobile devices because I can't stand scrolling constantly.

3. JavaScript. We all know the risks of JS, and many of us disable it. We also have an option of reading in Lync or non-standard browsers that many of us toy with for both personal and professional reasons. This flexibility is gone in Beta, and we are forced to allow JS to run. If you don't know the risks of allowing JS to run, you probably don't read much on Slashdot. Those that allow JS do so accepting the risk (which is admittedly low on a well known site).

4. Ordering/Sorting/Referencing. Each entry currently gets tagged with a unique thread ID. This allows linking to the exact post in a thread, not just the top of the thread. In Beta this is gone. It could be that the site decided to simply hide the post ID or it was removed. Either way, going to specific posts is something that is used very commonly by the community.

5. Eye candy. Most of us are not here for "eye candy" and many have allergic reactions to eye candy. Slashdot has a good mix currently. It's not as simple as the site starting with a r-e-d-i-t, which is good. That site has a reputation that keeps many of us away, and their format matches my attitude of them (s-i-m-p-l-e-t-o-n). At the same time, it's not like watching some other "news" sites with so much scrolling crap I can't read an article without getting a headache. The wasted space in beta for big bulky borders, sure smells like eye candy. Nothing buzzes or scrolls yet, but we can sense what's coming in a patch later.

The thing is, the community cares about Slashdot. We come here because we care. We submit stories because of that, we vote because of that, we moderate because of that, and we comment because of that. At the same time we realize that without the community Slashdot loses most of its value. We respect that we don't host the servers, backup the databases, or patch the servers. Slashdot/Dice provide the services needed for Slashdot.

It's a give give relationship, and we each get something in return. Slashdot gets tons of Search hits and lots of web traffic. We get a place to learn, teach, and occasionally vent.

Look, if you want to change default color scheme or make pre-made palettes for us to choose from, we would probably be okay with that. If you want to take away our ability to block ads by Karma, or move the ads to the left side of my browser window, I would be okay with those things too.

If you want to make drastic changes to how the site works, this is a different story all together. The reason so many are against Beta is that it breaks some of the fundamental parts of what makes Slashdot work.

User input until recently has not been acknowledged. The acknowledgment we have received is not from the people that are making the decision to push Beta live. We told people Beta was broken, what it lacked, and we were rather surprised to get a warning that Beta would be live despite what we told people. People are already making plans to leave, which means that Slashdot could fade away very soon.

Whether this was the goal for Dice or not remains to be seen. If it is, it's been nice knowing you but I won't be back. A partnership only works when there is mutual respect between the parties. A word of caution, us Nerds have good memories and lots of knowledge. The loss of Slashdot impacts all of Dice holdings, not just Slashdot. I boycott everything a company holds, not just the product group that did me wrong.

If that was not the goal of Dice, you should quickly begin communicating with the user base. What are the plans are to fix what Beta has broken? Why is Beta being pushed live with things broken? A "Sorry we have not been communicating!", and perhaps even a "Thank you" to the user base for helping make Slashdot a success for so many years.

Submission + - Open Source Solution to Twitter Censorship (

drewry writes: "With the recent announcement by Twitter to start censoring tweets in countries with strict freedom of speech laws, we have decided to launch a project to try to create alternatives for these countries. We are not trying to kill Twitter, just provide a free open alternative.

Introducing the Robin Messenger project, what this does is it creates a 100% open source software that can be downloaded and installed on any server (well currently only those in the LAMP stack) but could easily be converted to Ruby, ASP, java, etc. The nodes communicate with each other using an open API that sends data as JSON and receives data in the header vars. Currently a user registers on one node and their username is identified as being from that node by adding a number at the end, for example my username is drewry1 on node1 but I can also register on other nodes if I wanted to. However, you can follow anyone on any node and receive their messages on your node. We hope in the future to provide sister projects that help index the other nodes and improve the search and hash tag features.

The idea comes from the 17th century French tradition of round-robin where those petitioning the king would sign their name in a circle (or ribbon) so no one person could be identified as the ringleader. This essentially takes that idea to the 21st century by decentralizing the messaging system so that no one server can be identified as the "ringleader." Additionally, because it is all open you could easily install this on a LAN, Open Mesh network, etc. in case the internet were to go down in your country. We want to provide clear, free and open alternatives to activists regardless of what country they are in and in the process develop future technology that promotes an open internet.

We currently have 3 nodes running (hoping to double that by tonight)

The github repo is here —

The download link is on the signup page of each node, for example as well as a detailed explanation of the project's objectives. The installation process grabs the node list and registers your node on all other nodes. What we need is publicity and more developers that can donate their time and server space to help the project grow. We believe that this could provide a great tool for the internet and we hope that others will see that possibility too!"


Submission + - Megaupload's Plan to KO the RIAA (

redletterdave writes: "While prosecutors and the FBI believe earned most of its $175 million in revenue from copyright infringement, a new report has surfaced, which may explain why Megaupload was really shut down. It has to do with a Megaupload venture called MegaBox, and the greediness of the Recording Industry Association of America. In mid-December 2011, roughly four weeks before Megaupload was shuttered by the FBI, the file-sharing site announced a new cloud-based music locker similar to iTunes and Google Music, which integrates a download store, a music player and a DIY artist service, collectively called MegaBox. Unlike other music services that charge artists, Schmitz's idea was to actually pay artists, even for free downloads, and to allow artists to keep 90 percent of their earnings. At the time of the announcement, Megaupload was embroiled in a battle with Universal Music Group, one of the "Big 5" music labels that represents about one-third of the U.S. music market."

Submission + - Offensive WiFi Broadcast Name ( 1

An anonymous reader writes: Police in Teaneck, New Jersey, with apparently too much time on their hands, are investigating an offensive wireless network name. Although the police didn't reveal the name, the New York Daily News reports that it was anti-Semitic and racist in nature. The incident is being investigated as a possible "bias crime." It's definitely not what proper people do, but a "bias crime?"

Submission + - Kodak's longtime rival Fujifilm (

McGruber writes: While Eastman Kodak has filed bankruptcy (, its old longtime rival FujiFilm is thriving. Even after after a very rough year, Fujifilm has a market capitalization of $12.6 Billion, compared to Kodak's (pre-bankruptcy) market capitalization of $220 million.

How has Fujifilm managed to succeed while Kodak cratered? The Economist provides the answers (, which are very different than what I thought!


Submission + - Eastman Kodak files for bankruptcy protection (

Snirt writes: "Following up on this story previously posted on Slashdot, it now appears that Eastman Kodak, the company that invented the hand-held camera, has filed for bankruptcy protection. The move, according to this Kodak news release , gives the company time to reorganize itself without facing its creditors, and Kodak said that it would mean business as normal for customers. The company has recently moved away from cameras to refocus on making printers to stem falling profits."

Submission + - SOPA author Lamar Smith infringes copyright on his (

Craefter writes: On an earlier version of Lamar Smith's campaign website Lamar himself wasn't too clever by pulling a background image from Flickr without asking or mentioning the original photographer, DJ Schulte.
Vice magazine did a research into any copyright infringement Lamar could have made on his website and found one in violation of the Creative Commons.


Submission + - Scammers replacing iPads with bags of clay in Cana (

An anonymous reader writes: A group of thieves in Canada managed to upset a number of legitimate consumers come Christmas morning when they opened their iPad 2 packaging to find nothing but a bag of clay, in some cases even the charger had been replaced with clay.

What the scammers had managed to do was purchase iPad 2s, remove the tablet, and then make up the weight and shape with clay. They also had the necessary tools and materials to professionally reseal the iPad 2 box so it looks as if it had never been opened. The stores accepted the tablets back as returns without further checks because they were sealed, and then proceeded to resell them to other customers.

Submission + - Site Aims to be Google of the Underweb (

tsu doh nimh writes: A new service in the cyber underground aims to be the Google search of underground Web sites, connecting buyers to a vast sea of shops that offer an array of dodgy goods and services, from stolen credit card numbers to identity information and anonymity tools. From the story: "A glut of data breaches and stolen card numbers has spawned dozens of stores that sell the information. The trouble is that each shop requires users to create accounts and sign in before they can search for cards. Enter MegaSearch, which lets potential buyers discover which fraud shops hold the cards they're looking for without having to first create accounts at each store.

Submission + - Soulskill Defies Blackout (

Mateo_LeFou writes: "Slashdot editor Soulskill surprised many today by breaking through metaphorical strike lines and so on, posting a bunch of news stories on a day when the technology community, generally speaking, was pretty well agreed that this is a wholly inappropriate thing to do"

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In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982