Sometimes the project finds you…(part 1)

I have been, for years, an unabashed fanboy.  I’ve been accused of being a Slashdot apologist by friends who feel that Slashdot hasn’t been relevant for 10 years.   To them, I say, its relevant to me and one of the few places on the internet ( being the other) where the level of discussion is a cut above the noise of lolcats and Candy Crush.  So what made  quit cold turkey in February and not go back?

First, some background:  Slashdot was a guy’s personal project, which went commercial and had a few corporate parents over the years.  Mostly the parents just stayed out of it, until the latest acquisition last year, when the site was bought by and the founder departed the company.  After paying some ridiculous amount of money for a cornerstone of the internet, with an unrivaled  population of opinionated neckbeards , Dice decided they needed to monetize the nerds.  Some of the changes this brought on were fairly innocuous, others mildly irritating, but it was mostly fine. 

Now, the core piece of Slashdot, the differentiating factor from other news aggregation sites was the commenting system.  You don’t only get a +/- rating with no limits on a coment, your post gets a rating from -1 ( troll) to +5.  These ratings are bestowed upon you by moderators, not just any reader.  Anyone could login to find they had mod points to spend.  I generally would get modpoints at least once per month.  But it was moderation of the people by a random always changing subset of the people.   The *really* interesting overlay on this, is that the more + mods bestowed upon on your comments, the more Karma you’d gain – essentially a site wide reputation score.  Slowly over the last few years, they’ve been dumbing this system down to the point where with the latest revision, the entire commenting system and moderation system has been complete gutted in an effort to “make the site more mainstream.”

So what’s a nerd to do?  Boycott the site of course.  So we did — a lot of us.  It was obvious with people committing to the “Slashcott”, that there was an opportunity there.  Slash, the custom back end system that runs (ran?) Slashdot was open-sourced years ago.  Could the nerds re-create their own paradise?  A ton of folks started working on stuff, going inm different directions, but efforts soon started to coalesce around the effort, myself included.  Soon, it became obvious this is where the action was going to be.  We had 5 days until the start of the Slashcott, surely we could have a site up by then.  A bunch of us started independent efforts to install Slash.   As it turned out, this was no simple task.    A hastily (carelessly?) open sourced code base, which has been essentially abandoned for 5 years began to paint a harsh reality for us.

Part 2 will talk about that first 10 day’s effort.

About Jason

Jason has worked in IT for over 10 years. Starting as a student manning the University Helpdesk to his current role as an Enterprise Systems Engineer, specializing in Web Application Infrastructure and Delivery.
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