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Technocrat.net Shut Down 326

Posted by timothy
from the best-wishes-good-luck-and-too-bad dept.
twitter writes "Bruce Perens has pulled the plug on Technocrat.net. 'The technocrat.net public discussion site is shut down. This has happened because the site never achieved the ability to financially sustain its editorial staff and system expenses with its revenues. When it became evident that Technocrat was un-viable as a business, I found that I did not wish to keep supporting the site as a hobby. Certain elements of the community that developed here, unfortunately, creep me out. At the end I faced the decision of asking for donations to keep the site running, or letting it die, and it became clear to me that I'd feel better if it would just die. I am very busy building a new software business, with some great new (and yet unannounced) Open Source software in development. I must focus on that for now. Best holiday wishes to you all.'"
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Technocrat.net Shut Down

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  • Creeping him out? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 26, 2008 @07:42AM (#26234375)

    What is?

  • A shame. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by haeger (85819) on Friday December 26, 2008 @07:42AM (#26234379)

    I enjoyed technocrat while it lasted. I got to understand a lot about americans and how they think. Especially those who don't share my "european liberal views" have been very interesting to communicate with.

    I think that I've learned a lot about human cultures from technocrat. Sad to see it go.

    And I hope I'm not one of the ones that creep Bruce out. ;-)

     

    .haeger

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Neoprofin (871029)
      From what I just read in a later post about some of the writers there I hope you don't think think right-wing survival nuts, "sovereign citizens", income tax evaders, so on and so forth are anything but the most thin of a fringe group of people.

      There are plenty of people who own guns, or who keep some emergency food on hand just in case some disaster should befall them. Most of them were somewhat vindicated for their beliefs when Rita and Katrina hit, but they are normal everyday folks. Talking to them a
  • Again? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Chyeld (713439) <chyeldNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday December 26, 2008 @07:45AM (#26234385)

    January 04, 2001 (8:00:00 AM) - 7 years, 11 months ago [linux.com]

    Bruce Perens: "Well, it's been about a year and a half, and unfortunately Technocrat.net has not flourished. I take the blame, I've not had enough time to run the site, and plans to fund a professional staff for the site fell through. Readership has gone low enough that there's no longer much reason to keep the site alive. Thus, I will no longer be accepting new articles or comments, and will take the site down in a week or so."

    • by an.echte.trilingue (1063180) on Friday December 26, 2008 @09:38AM (#26234741) Homepage
      It was shut down before, but Bruce had this to say on the site:

      Hi Folks. Well, a lot of you seem to be disappointed about the site shutting down, and several people have offered to keep it going. I've turned down those offers. Technocrat was intended to get technology experts (us) involved in technology policy. It didn't succeed in that, although it was a good discussion site. The goal of getting people involved in tech policy is still a good one.

      Thus, Technocrat will be re-launched with a new format. It will not be a discussion site any longer. Instead, it will offer tech stories and legislation alerts to be syndicated by other web sites, including discussion sites. There will also be some other features that I'll keep quiet about until the new site is on the air.

      The goal is still to get more technology experts involved in setting technology policy.

      Thanks
      Bruce

      That new format was slashcode, but looking at the most recent archives, he was only getting a couple posts per story (prolly mostly from twitter). Of course, slashcode's moderation system exists to try to separate the cream from the milk, but at the volumes he was getting, it was all just yogurt. To bad, though.

      • by 1u3hr (530656)
        That new format was slashcode, but looking at the most recent archives, he was only getting a couple posts per story (prolly mostly from twitter). Of course, slashcode's moderation system exists to try to separate the cream from the milk, but at the volumes he was getting, it was all just yogurt.

        There was no one called "twiter" posting on Technocrat that I noticed, and I was a regular there. Of course, he/she could have used a (different) pseudonym, I don't follow his posts here so I wouldn't know how t

      • That new format was slashcode

        It's never run slashcode. It ran Squishdot [squishdot.org], which was a Slash look-alike, but that was a long time ago. The most recent version of the site (the last few years) ran on Ruby code that Bruce wrote himself. He even had the source available for download.

  • community (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Councilor Hart (673770) on Friday December 26, 2008 @07:51AM (#26234399)

    Certain elements of the community that developed here, unfortunately, creep me out.

    I am not familiar with the community at Technocrat or the site itself for that matter. Anyone care to elaborate?

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by phunhippy (86447)

      they are a creepy community obviously!

    • by noidentity (188756) on Friday December 26, 2008 @08:07AM (#26234431)

      I am not familiar with the community at Technocrat or the site itself for that matter. Anyone care to elaborate?

      Come on man, just visit the website and see for yourself. Er, oh...

    • by sleeponthemic (1253494) on Friday December 26, 2008 @08:43AM (#26234509) Homepage

      Certain elements of the community that developed here, unfortunately, creep me out.

      I am not familiar with the community at Technocrat or the site itself for that matter. Anyone care to elaborate?

      There has been some talk of scripting a live action Jar Jar Binks movie on there.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      It was all the guys fawning over the famous Bruce Perens and pesterim him to send them his used underwear. In the end Bruce relented and open sourced the "blueprints" for his underwear, but it was too little too late.
    • Re:community (Score:5, Informative)

      by bhima (46039) <Bhima.Pandava@gma i l . com> on Friday December 26, 2008 @09:18AM (#26234659) Journal

      I had been reading Technocrat daily for I guess 9 or 10 years, I can't really comment on what facets of the community that Bruce objected to, so I will comment only on my observations.

      The regular contributors of Technocrat were a pretty small group, so whenever one (or perhaps some) found themselves with a lot of spare time and an axe to grind they became the center of gravity of the site and swung the nature of the site to their particular interest, gripe, political view... or whatever. As contributors lost employment, ended relationships, faced large medical bills, and whatever other trials and tribulations people face they have a tendency to become vocal and extreme (while this is apparent to me in hindsight, as a daily observer, it can not possibly be apparent to casual readers).

      The summary of the interests of the regular contributors includes disaster preparedness and self sufficiency... which occasionally crossed the line of rationality took on the appearance of armed lunatics holed up in their self constructed secret bunkers, prepared for a shooting war with both revenuers and the starving populous streaming out of the cities (and sometimes I suspected they expected zombies).

      I know that a couple of the regulars have mental health issues and I suspect the number to be slightly higher than just 2. Not that I in anyway hold this against them... but I often wondered how our (very public) conversations must look to the outside world.

      On several occasions, the world's circumstances focused most of the community on a single topic for comparatively long durations... and for some reason convinced the group that they were experts. The most recent of which is the global international econpocalypse, which convinced most of the group that they were expert economists, bankers, politicians, &tc. The result of this was long passionate diatribes of thinly veiled bigotries and prejudices of every possible flavor (which we all have)... Which naturally created flame wars increasing in extremist rhetoric. Combined with the interests I described above, the theme on Technocrat would take on this protracted dommerish theme... Perhaps we were never really able to overcome "John Gabriel's Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory".

      Some of the most frequent Technocrat contributors habitually proselytized non-mainstream ideology which I personally found alarming and repugnant: Market Fundamentalist / Extremist Libertarianism, Nationalism & Jingoism, Christian Reconstructionism, Militancy, Fascism, Racism ... it's a profoundly scary list.

      Oh... and naturally we had trolls: two of them.

      Now having said all of that... I feel like I should make a few disclaimers:

      I was a contributor of technocrat. I also participated in these discussions and I also injected my own bigotries and prejudices into the conversation. Doubtless some christians and or capitalists were uncomfortable with or offended by some of my past comments. However I am not doing so in ostensibly in connection with my private business enterprise... this is a point lost on many of my fellow contributors at Technocrat, I think. And in this way I feel that we treated Bruce unfairly. Bruce is an important member of the Open Source community and it was very gracious of him to provide a sand box (or perhaps soap box) for us to play in. However I don't think we sufficiently recognized how the resultant community reflected on him.

      If you look here on Slashdot you will find all of this, and more, in a single day... but generally it is overwhelmed by the volume of normal and reasonable comments... and the moderation system. such that it is.

      You may get the impression that I intensely dislike many of the regulars at Technocrat. For the most part this is not the case, nearly all of them are good people, I would gladly have a number of them over to dinner and introduce to my "in real life" family. (excepting the trolls of course).

      I have to say, I am profoundly disappointed in Bruce's decision. BUT, I completely understand and agree with it. I think Bruce is a really great guy... and I'd much rather see that he have more of an impact in our community than just running Technocrat

      • Re:community (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Goaway (82658) on Friday December 26, 2008 @09:44AM (#26234769) Homepage

        Sounds like you got a larger than usual dose of The Internet in there. It can get pretty caustic when concentrated!

        Seriously, you'll see the same thing happen anywhere where self-declared smart people congregate. Slashdot gets some of it, reddit gets even more of it, and so on. I can see why Bruce would just want to get rid of the whole mess, if it got that bad.

        • Re:community (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Neoprofin (871029) <neoprofinNO@SPAMhotmail.com> on Friday December 26, 2008 @10:43AM (#26235021)
          It's always fun trying to explain away that assumption that some people seem to get that there's a right or wrong answer to anything, and that even if there was people wouldn't choose a wrong answer because it's more fitting to their personal opinions.

          Dealing with a large group of people who think they know everything, and this is true for slashdot as well, is frequently boring, sometimes highly enlightening, and always at risk of showing just what terrifying abuse a person will subject truth and reason to.
      • I, too, was never a user of Technocrat. (As many of us on Slashdot as are saying the same, no wonder it wasn't self-sustaining as a business model!)

        But it sounds like I web site I would have enjoyed, actually.

        I think you bring up a really interesting point about people tending to become more "vocal and extreme" in their opinions when faced with adversity in their personal lives. If I look in the mirror, I realize I spent more time on the net ranting about political issues while I was going through a divor

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by karnowski (313582)

        I also participated in the conversation regularly. Who do you think were the two trolls?

        • by chill (34294)

          I'd guess he was referring to Pres4242 & Tom Lord, though neither were trolls. Both just have, shall we say, firm viewpoints.

      • by zuzulo (136299)

        I also quite liked technocrat, mainly because despite the trolls the signal to noise ratio there was lower than anywhere else i have found. And this includes Slashdot! I will miss it (even the extremists), and look forward to seeing the next incarnation.

      • by nametaken (610866)

        The summary of the interests of the regular contributors includes disaster preparedness and self sufficiency... which occasionally crossed the line of rationality took on the appearance of armed lunatics holed up in their self constructed secret bunkers, prepared for a shooting war with both revenuers and the starving populous streaming out of the cities (and sometimes I suspected they expected zombies).

        Well damn, if someone had told me that earlier...

        Crazy survivalists and zombies? We need more websites l

        • by lwsimon (724555)

          That sounds like AR15.com for nerds.

          I expect Arfcom will see its membership rise because of this :)

      • by demachina (71715)

        "which convinced most of the group that they were expert economists, bankers, politicians"

        Based on what I've seen of our "expert" economists, bankers and politicians I am convinced that almost anyone with a functioning brain and some minimal ethics could surpass them in every way so this tendency on the part of this group is understandable. In particular there seems to be a litany of Harvard and Yale grads, who went on to get Harvard MBA's who appear to be running the U.S. economy and political system who

  • Typically, announcemet about shutting a site down would have more of a "we had a good ride, and the great atmosphere of the site will be missed" tone to it. Here, we have quite the opposite, and nosy personalities will surely want to know the dirty details...

    (Apart from the obvious ones,such as the internet being full of a*holes)

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      (Apart from the obvious ones,such as the internet being full of a*holes)

      Yeah, like Bruce Perens.

      (Sorry, it had to be said. And yes, feel free to add me to the list, too; I deserve it.)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I'm gonna guess he got a lot of "ZOMG BRUSE PERENS" sycophants, and was unable to financially justify continuing the site. Hell, last time I looked if a story had two comments in it, it was a red-letter day.

      Basically he thought he could throw up a slash installation and that a community would magically form around it. It didn't; and instead he got trolls, jerks and brown-nosers (you know -the usual /. fare).

      I always thought perens was decent enough, seeing him here on /.; but it looks like he's just as full

      • Re:Creepy (Score:5, Funny)

        by illegalcortex (1007791) on Friday December 26, 2008 @12:10PM (#26235497)

        Basically he thought he could throw up a slash installation and that a community would magically form around it

        To be fair, that's pretty much what slashdot did.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Typically, announcemet about shutting a site down would have more of a "we had a good ride, and the great atmosphere of the site will be missed" tone to it. Here, we have quite the opposite, and nosy personalities will surely want to know the dirty details...

      That's because this is just another bid for attention, like the last time he "took the site down". This time maybe he'll really do it, before bringing up a new site.

      (Apart from the obvious ones,such as the internet being full of a*holes)

      Those are speed holes.

    • ultrabot said:"(Apart from the obvious ones,such as the internet being full of a*holes)" Really? I hadn't noticed! ;)
  • Godspeed, man. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by transiit (33489) on Friday December 26, 2008 @08:14AM (#26234449) Homepage Journal

    It's been my experience that reading too much into an implied tone in the slashdot summaries just gets me in trouble, so in brief:

    Thanks, Bruce, for your efforts and contributions over the years and may your next project(s) be successful and fulfilling.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hairyfeet (841228)
      Man, that is just sad. Even PC Hell [alexa.com] which looks like it was designed in 1993 and filled with old crap like how to remove the Blaster worm and a guide to Win95 OSR2 totally kicked their ass. But considering that I have been surfing tech sites for Deity knows how many years and I had never ever heard of it makes it not so surprising. Maybe he should have advertised? Or gotten the site put on Freshnews or the Daily Rotation? But surely he didn't expect to just throw up a website, never advertise, and have it m
  • At the end I faced the decision of asking for donations to keep the site running, or letting it die, and it became clear to me that I'd feel better if it would just die.

    Hosting services with essentially unlimited bandwidth can cost as little as $5 per month. I use ixwebhosting myself for a hobby site, but I don't feel the need to ask for donations from my audience to support it, since it barely costs me more than a couple of cups of coffee a month. I assume he needs no staff, and since the code is

  • Wait (Score:5, Funny)

    by eclectro (227083) on Friday December 26, 2008 @08:44AM (#26234513)

    Has Netcraft confirmed this??

  • I think most will be confused with the much more popular site Technorati (http://www.technorati.com/). I thought I heard of this web site, until I remembered that it was actually this one I've heard of.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Blimey85 (609949)
      Thank you for clearing that up. I'll admit, I was one of the confused.

      New rule: confusing shit is not to be posted until mid-afternoon so that we may have a chance to get enough caffeine into our weary bodies that we just might notice the slight difference in the name. Or, if that's too much to ask, pertinent info such as this could be included in the fucking summary.
  • by anothy (83176) on Friday December 26, 2008 @09:13AM (#26234641) Homepage
    speaking as a relatively frequent poster: wtf?

    i like Bruce, but this is very poorly done. if the primary concern is financial, there's ways to mitigate that. if he wasn't happy asking for donations (which i can certainly respect, even if i wouldn't have that problem myself), you can look at both revenue and expenses independent of that. on expenses: it's never been clear to me what the "professional editorial staff" actually did, besides stick a comment on some stories - a comment which wasn't reliably better than any other on the site. for revenue, using the ad hoc advertising was also probably a poor choice compared to using something like google's service. and if the issues was primarily the creepy community, there's ways to deal with that, too: moderation systems, or even (at the size it's at) just kickban individual users (after talking to and/or warning them).

    and if you've given up on all that, the shutdown itself was not well done. no notice? that's kinda disrespectful to the people who've put in work to build what's there. i would've loved a few days to copy some of the comments i've made there, or links others have posted, or discuss where to go from here. and that last one, of course, could have included handing the community - or even the site, wholesale - off to another host. that last part in particular stings; it kinda feels like "if i can't have it - on my terms - nobody can".

    Bruce, if you're out there, look: thanks for all the work you've done. it was great. i'd really like to keep it going. let me know if we can talk about options.
    • by edittard (805475) on Friday December 26, 2008 @09:57AM (#26234821)

      it's never been clear to me what the "professional editorial staff" actually did

      I've been saying that for some time. Rumour has it it's nearly as bad over at technocrat.net

    • by 1u3hr (530656)
      it's never been clear to me what the "professional editorial staff" actually did, besides stick a comment on some stories

      I had editing powers there, and actually I am a professional editor elsewhere, but I wasn't paid at Technocrat. Anyway, when I did do some editing mainly it was deleting spammy submissions (a lot of crap from India mainly) and cleaning up the text and coding of the submissions that were worth posting. And I also wrote and sourced a few stories from various news sites. I think Zogger wa

  • by NaCh0 (6124) on Friday December 26, 2008 @09:17AM (#26234653)

    Out of all the self-proclaimed open source leaders, Bruce Perens creeps me out the most. I really don't know why people follow him. Everything he touches is lackluster at best.

    Others like Stallman (GNU) and ESR (CatB) have caused major philosophical movements. The same can't be said for Perens.

    I see Perens to Linux as Sean Hannity is to Conservatism. He's there and not afraid to pipe up. But he really hasn't offered any original ideas that have been worth much.

  • by Timex (11710) * <smithadmin@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Friday December 26, 2008 @09:33AM (#26234719) Journal

    There were a few people there that I liked, because they showed that they put thought into their commentary. Their logic was sound, even if I disagreed with them.

    One writer seems to have attempted to make the site his personal Blogging page.

    I stopped going there around October because Bruce felt the need to put banner adverts up for the Obama campaign. I don't go to "Geek sites" for political adverts.

    At least this way, Bruce will be able to focus his energies on more interesting projects.

    • I don't go to "Geek sites" for political adverts.

      Who goes to any website for the advertising?

    • I stopped going there around October because Bruce felt the need to put banner adverts up for the Obama campaign. I don't go to "Geek sites" for political adverts.

      To add to the other replies to this post, why are you here then? Weren't there Obama banner ads on this site back in the campaign days?

      • by chill (34294)

        Bruce hardcoded it in and it was fed from technocrat.net itself. It wasn't a banner ad from one of the services, and AdBlock didn't catch it unless you explicitly blocked that ad. Bruce is a strong Democrat, and spent a good deal of time doing campaign calls in -- I believe -- Ohio and Georgia.

        • His advocacy for the party is one of the things that led me to lose interest in the site. I didn't mind him using his site to voice support for his chosen candidates, and I accepted the ads as part of that. However, for both the 2006 and 2008 federal elections, he made posts that essentially said that if you didn't vote Democrat, you were stupid, evil, or both. This resulted in some very strong words from Libertarians, whom he suggested were just wasting their votes. A few of the editors had similarly s

      • by Timex (11710) *

        Weren't there Obama banner ads on this site back in the campaign days?

        Not in the same way they were on Technocrat, as Charles has already pointed out. It's one thing to get a banner ad that can be blocked, but it's quite another to get them forced on you.

        I'm a subscriber to Slashdot, so I don't get adverts here most of the time. This is an option I have here that I don't recall having there.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by osu-neko (2604)

      I don't go to "Geek sites" for political adverts.

      You realize your statement is illogical, right? I go to the grocery store for donuts. If I can find the donuts, it makes sense to go to the grocery store. If I can't find the donuts, it doesn't make sense to go to the grocery store. But it doesn't make sense to not go to the grocery store because it has things I don't go there for, e.g. bratwurst. I hate bratwurst, so it makes sense for me to skip it. It doesn't make sense for me to stop going to the grocery store because of it. The presence of thing

  • I know what did it (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Degrees (220395) <degrees@sbcMONETglobal.net minus painter> on Friday December 26, 2008 @09:54AM (#26234809) Homepage Journal
    I know what did it:

    Certain elements of the community that developed here, unfortunately, creep me out.

    In the interest of living a life a certain good book suggests (turning the other cheek), most of the people who donated to Bruce's site were Novell employees.

  • by Greyfox (87712) on Friday December 26, 2008 @10:09AM (#26234877) Homepage Journal
    Ya'all creepy! I'm going to go over here now! Merry Christmas!
  • Anyone care? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SwashbucklingCowboy (727629) on Friday December 26, 2008 @10:29AM (#26234949)

    Is Bruce Perens even relevant anymore?

    He seems like the Jessie Jackson of FOSS...

    • by ultrabot (200914)

      Is Bruce Perens even relevant anymore?

      For some reason, bringing up B.P. evoked a sense of weird nostalgia.

      Remember UserLinux? Remember time before Ubuntu, the time when Linux was trying to "make it" - and we didn't know for certain what distro was capable of doing that?

    • by HanzoSpam (713251)

      Is Bruce Perens even relevant anymore?

      He seems like the Jessie Jackson of FOSS...

      Yes, forever trying to get out in front of a parade that has already left without him.....

  • Hmm... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by GofG (1288820)
    I am reminded eerily of moot's attempts to distance himself from his own creation, 4chan. in fact, the two communities were eerily similar.
  • by IGnatius T Foobar (4328) on Friday December 26, 2008 @11:55AM (#26235409) Homepage Journal
    It's difficult to imagine Technocrat as anything other than "Bruce Perens' blog." All this time he has claimed it was a more grown-up version of Slashdot, but then you go there and find that it's mainly his own political soapbox. I want to read about the latest chips and dips, not about how Obama's flatulence is the cure for global warming. Seriously, what does he expect? That's not the formula for success. Either call it what it is or take it down.
  • by raduf (307723) on Friday December 26, 2008 @07:12PM (#26237679)

    This reminds me of the forum at ornery (http://ornery.org/), one of Orson Scott Card's sites. Pretty much everybody there thinks OSC is a nut and isn't shy of saying so, and still the guy keeps footing the bill and AFAIK has never interfered with the forum. We're not talking about a few people, the forum is pretty damn big and reasonably well known.

    (As for _why_ they think that about him, that's a different discussion. Suffices to say he's always been openly pro-Bush.)

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