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Type of site News<tr><th>Registration</th><td>Optional</td></tr>
Owner Open Source Technology Group
Created by Rob "CmdrTaco" Malda<tr><th>Launched</th><td>September 1997</td></tr>
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Slashdot (often abbreviated as /.) is a technology-related news website which features user-submitted and editor-evaluated current affairs news with a nerdy slant. It is known for the Internet forum-style comments section attached to each story; Slashdot was one of the first popular websites to include a commentary section in such a prominent manner. The site slogan is "News for nerds. Stuff that matters."

The summaries for the stories are generally submitted by Slashdot's own readers with editors accepting or rejecting these contributions for general posting. While Slashdot's haphazard editorial style produced a unique voice in the pre-blog age, users frequently post criticisms of perceived arbitrariness or bias in editorial choices.

Though the site antedates the modern concept of the weblog, Slashdot's architecture is commonly compared to that of modern blogs. Slashdot is notable in that its commenting system is much more robust than most blogs, with threading and user moderation having been introduced before these were commonplace in modern weblog packages.[citation needed]

Officially, the name "Slashdot" was chosen to confuse those who tried to pronounce the URL of the site (h-t-t-p-colon-slash-slash-slashdot-dot-org). <ref>Slashdot FAQ: What does the name "Slashdot" mean?</ref>


[edit] Administration

Created in September 1997 by Rob "CmdrTaco" Malda, Slashdot is now owned by the Open Source Technology Group, part of VA Software. The site is run primarily by Malda, Jeff "Hemos" Bates (who handles articles and book reviews and sells advertising) and Robin "Roblimo" Miller who helps handle some of the more managerial tasks of the site, as well as posting stories.

The software that runs Slashdot is called Slash, and is available under the terms of the GNU General Public License.

The Slashdot headquarters are located in Dexter, Michigan.

[edit] Moderation

To prevent abusive comments, a moderation system has been implemented whereby every comment posted (including those posted anonymously) can be "moderated" up or down by semi-randomly chosen moderators, changing the post's score likewise. Moderation points added to a comment are also added to a user's karma score. Having high karma gives added bonuses to users, such as the ability to autopost at higher starting values. Conversely, users with low karma have penalties imposed on them. People that post comments designed to get more karma, for example mirroring a linked article or presenting a banal groupthink opinion or lame joke, are referred to as karma whores. Those who can moderate are selected by their karma score and number of meta moderations (and maybe other criteria). Slashdot editors, including Rob Malda ("CmdrTaco"), can moderate limitlessly. Moderator access for non-editors is time limited (to a few days) and the number of 'mod points' one gets is limited to a total of +5 points.

A given comment can have any integer score from −1 to +5, and Slashdot users can set a personal threshold where no comments with a lesser score are displayed. A person browsing the comments at a threshold of 1 will not see comments with a score of −1 or 0 but will see all others. A meta-moderation system was implemented to moderate the moderators and help contain abuses.

[edit] Slashdotting

Main article: Slashdot effect

Historically, sites that received a mention on Slashdot could get "Slashdotted" if the flood of attention that the link generated overwhelmed their servers. This is similar to a website being "Dugg", a recent term coined when a site is overwhelmed because of a link on Digg. The effect for the webmaster of the linked site is often the same, with their servers being unable to keep up with the short term demand.

The demand on the servers is reduced as the Slashdot story is moved down or off the front page from new stories being posted. Some webmasters have responded (either before or during a Slashdotting) by replacing dynamic content with static content on that page, to reduce the load and allow their servers to handle more requests. Rarely, a webmaster will take the entire page down or replace it with a blank page temporarily if the traffic is not wanted. Today, most major websites can handle the surge of traffic and Slashdotting usually occurs only on smaller or independent sites.

[edit] Article sections

As of May 1 2006, Slashdot articles are divided into the following sections:<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

  • Apple • Articles related to products from Apple Computer, such as Mac OS X, iPod, as well as items that directly compete with those products.
  • Ask Slashdot • Articles that seek advice from the Slashdot readership about jobs, computer hardware, software glitches, philosophical problems, etc.
  • Backslash • This section contains editor's picks of best comments from a recent popular article, primarily intended for those who do not want to read hundreds of high-moderated comments from the original thread.
  • Books • This section is for original book reviews on (not necessarily) tech books.
  • Developers • News about the software, or anything that directly affects the practice of programming. (i.e. A new programming language? A useful technique? Licensing issues?)
  • Entertainment
  • Games
  • Hardware
  • Interviews • This is the place to suggest possible Slashdot interviewees (with contact information, if possible, and background material.)
  • Information Technology (IT) • Anything that people with "Information Technology" in their job description might be interested to know.
  • Linux • The Linux section is for news specific to GNU/Linux
  • News
  • Politics • This section is for news relevant to United States government politics. It was created primarily to cover the 2004 US Presidential Election, but now exists for occasional stories that are related to U.S. Politics.
  • Science • This is the place for science articles. Cool technology, space telescope observations, interesting medical research.
  • Technology
  • Your Rights Online (YRO) • News affecting your ability to live as a free, responsible person online. Such examples are Spam, invasions of privacy, and onerous licenses.

The BSD section is still posted to, although it no longer enjoys a place in the main site navigation. The Geeks in Space section was a web audio broadcast featuring several of the editors of Slashdot; there have been no recent updates to this section.

[edit] History

  • July 1997 - shortlived forerunner to Slashdot, called "Chips & Dips"
  • September 1997 - Slashdot is created.
  • December 31, 1997 - First archived Slashdot post. [1]
  • February 2, 1998 - Slashdot begins accepting advertisers.
  • May 13, 1998 - Slashdot introduces the "Ask Slashdot" section. [2]
  • September 14, 1998 - Slashdot is hacked.[3]
  • February 1, 1999 - The Slashdot effect is first mentioned. [4]
  • June 29, 1999 - Slashdot is acquired by [5]
  • September 7, 1999 - Meta-moderation is introduced to Slashdot. [6]
  • September 10, 1999 - Slashdot announces the addition of the "Your Rights Online" section.
  • October 15, 1999 - Slashdot announces the addition of two new sections: Apache and BSD.
  • February 3, 2000 -, Slashdot's parent company, merges with Linux company VA Linux.
  • February 24, 2000 - Slashdot's 10,000th article is posted. [7]
  • May 2000 - Slashdot is the victim of a week-long Distributed Denial-of-Service attack. [8]
  • September 28, 2000 - Slashdot is hacked again. [9]
  • March 9, 2001 - An anonymous poster posts the full text of Scientology's OT III ("Operating Thetan Level Three") document in a comment attached to a Slashdot article. The Church of Scientology then demanded that the Slashdot editors remove the post under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. A week later, in a long article [10], the Slashdot editors explained their decision to remove the page.
  • August 18, 2001 - Slashcode 2.2 is released, which allows for comment notification, journals, and UNIX-style user pages. [11]
  • January 2, 2002 - Slashdot introduces the "zoo" system, allowing the marking of users as "friend" and "foe". [12]
  • January 16 - January 30, 2002 - An off-topic post purported to be detailing the results of an investigation into Slashdot trolling phenomena becomes itself the subject of a "moderation war" and ends up being moderated a record 851 times (as well as getting 268 direct replies). The editors are accused of indiscriminately modding down all the posts in the thread collectively as well as permanently banning anyone who moderated the post up from moderating or meta-moderating again. [13] [14]
  • March 1, 2002 - Slashdot begins a subscription service, where subscribers are given special perks in exchange for a small fee.
  • March 6, 2003 - Slashdot subscribers are given the ability to see articles 10-20 minutes before they are released to the general public. [15]
  • May 2004 - Slashdot bans HTTP proxies running on ports 3128, 80, 8000 and 8080 from posting and institutes a system of semipermanent posting bans on the subnets of users who are negatively moderated several times.
  • August 18, 2004 - Slashdot has its ten millionth user posting. [16]
  • September 7, 2004 - Slashdot "goes political" and creates a new politics subsection, two months before the U.S. 2004 presidential election. [17] [18]
  • April 8, 2005 - Slashdot introduces "day passes", allowing all users to enjoy the benefits of subscribers for the duration of one day if they watch a commercial.
  • September 22, 2005 - Slashdot begins using HTML 4.01 and CSS on its pages, replacing the aging HTML 3.2-based system which had been in place for many years.
  • April 1, 2006 - OMG!!! Ponies!!! pink theme is used for the day, some users report eye strain. The theme can be applied to the current Slashdot layout using the Slashdotter Firefox extension [19].
  • June 4, 2006 - A new design is implemented following a contest. [20]
  • September 2, 2006 - richardcpeterson registers as Slashdot's one millionth member. [21]
  • November 9, 2006 - Slashdot reaches 16,777,215 (or (2^24)-1) comments[22][23], temporarily breaking the database[24]

[edit] Criticism

Critics claim that the quality of materials found on Slashdot has progressively declined. Common complaints include:

  • The frequency of reposts (also known as "dupes"), where editors approve articles for the front page, often slightly reworded, that have previously appeared on the site. Since the major responsibility of editors is to sift through article submissions, reposts leave the impression of incompetence. Some readers have called for mandatory procedures to search for Slashdot dupes before an article is published<ref>On the matter of Slashdot story selection - At that day, complaints about Slashdot story selection process were appearing on all published stories, which prompted a response from Slashdot editors</ref>.
  • Stories are only selected by the small group of people who run the website. Outsiders can never get a story posted regardless of the story's quality. So slashdot, in reality, is merely a personal blog of the website maintainers, nothing more. This domineering attitude is partially responsible for the success of competing websites such as Digg.
  • Some article summaries have typos, misleading titles, or errors. An example of this is an article titled "Spain Outlaws P2P File Sharing" where the article summary states that Spain is banning all P2P file sharing, a huge fuss ensues in the discussion, while the reality is that Spain only made it a civil offence to pirate movies, which is hardly "Outlawing P2P". [25]
  • As one of the largest forums on the Internet, trolling and spamming on Slashdot is a highly evolved phenomenon. It is an offbeat and complex subculture involving sometimes repetitive and sometimes obscene comments featuring a mixture of Slashdot celebrities and other unusual juvenilia.
  • The Slashdot editors are sometimes accused of posting (and even preferring) stories that are, themselves, thinly-disguised trolls, which encourage large numbers of postings in response.

[edit] Culture

As Slashdot has existed for so many years, it has developed its own subculture, especially running jokes and gags. Among these include:

Additionally, the ID of the Slashdot user is sometimes regarded as a sign of how l337 the user is, although this is not taken very literally. Having a user ID that is a prime number or other significant mathematical number is also valued. Some people have successfully sold their Slashdot ID (usually because it was a low 4 digit or smaller), although the website's policy on this isn't exactly clear. Slashdot assigns user ID numbers in the order that the user registered, so the lower the user ID, the longer they have been a registered user, and thus (implicitly) the more experienced they are in the computer field.

[edit] Audience

While Slashdot's core audience is often said to consist of Linux enthusiasts and various other enthusiasts of the open source software movement, there is a significant Windows audience as well. A poll on Slashdot suggests that approximately half of all Slashdot visitors use Microsoft Windows as their operating system, a third use some form of Linux, and above ten percent use Mac OS X. But what is probably significant is the number of cross-users, that is people who use more than one if not all the mentioned systems.<ref>Slashdot Poll: My Main Computer Runs... (2002)</ref> Polls on Slashdot, like most on the Internet, may be unreliable. The ongoing assumption that Slashdot is Linux-oriented comes both from historical reasons and from its famous Bill Gates "Borg" icon.[original research?] Despite this reputation, many Slashdot stories are related to Windows video games or applications, or Microsoft security bulletins.[citation needed]

Famous or well-known active "Slashdotters" include Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales (username "jwales"), actor Wil Wheaton (username "CleverNickName"), id Software technical director John Carmack (username "John Carmack"), Nmap author Fyodor (username "fv"), GNOME and Mono architect Miguel de Icaza (username "miguel"), Freenet creator Ian Clarke (username "sanity"), ReiserFS creator Hans Reiser (username "hansreiser"), and open source evangelist Bruce Perens (username "Bruce Perens"). Several engineers from NASA involved in the Mars rover exploration projects have participated.[citation needed]

[edit] Similar sites

English language:

  • Ars Technica: Technology and science news, typically with fewer stories but longer analysis and relevancy.
  • Digg: Technology, and other, news where news is submitted and voted on by registered users.
  • Everything2: Database run by Slashdot founders.
  • News and other items with commentary from users
  • Kuro5hin: An alternative discussion site founded and visited by Slashdot expatriates.
  • MetaFilter: A community Weblog focusing on links to interesting sites; some overlap with Slashdot topics
  • The Register: More enterprise oriented than Slashdot. Based in the UK.
  • Shoutwire: Socially promoted general news
  • reddit: Technology and science news, with karma and user-submission similar to Slashdot.
  • newsgarbage: User submitted news with up/down voting.


[edit] References


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