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News Slashdot.org

Slashdot's 20th Anniversary: History of Slashdot 207

Slashdot turned 20 this month, which is ancient in internet years. How far have we come?

Also, we've set up a page to coordinate user meet-ups around the world to celebrate. Read on for the full 20-year history of Slashdot.

Site Development

Slashdot started in 1997 as Chips and Dips by Rob "CmdrTaco" Malda. He posted links to news articles that interested him, mostly on open-source software and tech news. Between working as an ad programmer and going to college, he ran it off of a single server. In October of 1997, he registered it (with financial backing from Jeff "Hemos" Bates) as Slashdot.org.

It exploded in 1998. After adding new servers, Slashdot added Web forms for story submissions, as opposed to sending them directly to Malda's email. In March of that year, Malda rewrote the old website, introducing the "New Slashdot" on the 28th.

Slashdot introduced user accounts in the summer of 1998. "Ask Slashdot" debuted on May 13 of that year, with a question on potential ways to convince hardware manufacturers to be more compatible with Linux.

In 1999, moderation broadened from 25 editors to a rotating pool of more than 400 users. It was followed by metamoderation in September, which let the older user accounts on the site rate moderations as fair or unfair.

Slashdot introduced subscriptions in March of 2002. For every 1,000 pages, $5 bought users a no-ad experience. In 2003, subscribers were allowed to view articles 10-20 minutes before they were published.

For April Fool's Day 2006, Malda announced that Slashdot didn't have enough female readers. Accompanying this announcement was a hot pink layout that replaced the familiar "News for Nerds. Stuff that matters" with "OMG!!! Ponies!!!" It lasted for only a day, but the comments ranged from "This. Is. Sooo awesome! You guys are totally invited to my sleepover" to "April Fools. Haha. Now PUT IT BACK. My eyes are bleeding already." For another April Fool's Day in 2009, Slashdot introduced User Achievements. There were a few joke ones, but the feature does actually exist.

In June of 2006, Alex Bendiken won the Slashdot CSS Redesign Contest, prompting Slashdot's first permanent layout change since 1998. The second site redesign happened in January of 2011.

On August 25, 2011, Malda dropped a bomb on the community by announcing his resignation from Slashdot. He had posted more than 15,000 stories to Slashdot in his 14-year tenure. "For me," he wrote in his final post, "Slashdot of today is fused to the Slashdot of the past. This makes it really hard to objectively consider the future of the site." He did not list any plans for the future, but in March of 2012, he found a new home as Chief Strategist and Editor-at-Large for WaPo Labs at the Washington Post.

Slashdot launched Slashdot TV on March 28, 2012. In 2016, Slashdot TV was shut down by popular demand.

Corporate
To support its growing readership (and time-consuming nature), Slashdot went into business. In 1998, the editors formed Blockstackers to become the "corporate shell" for Slashdot, said Malda. The site began selling advertisements. The first few, with Herman Miller and Penguin Mints, were barter ads that resulted in furniture and caffeinated mints for the, according to Slashdot editor Rob "samzenpus" Rozeboom.

On June 29, 1999, Slashdot was sold to Andover.net, with the stipulation that creative control remained with the Slashdot editors. Malda reported it was the best way they could think of to support operating costs. And Andover.net was happy to let them keep on doing what they were doing.

Andover.net embarked on a path riddled with name changes. In February of 2000, it merged with VA Linux. Slashdot became a part of their subgroup, Open Source Development Network (OSDN), said Timothy "timothy" Lord. VA Linux became VA Software in December 2001. In 2004, OSDN renamed itself the Open Source Technology Group (OSTG), which changed in 2007 to SourceForge, Inc. The organization changed names yet again in 2009 adopting the brand Geeknet Inc.

In January of 2016, Slashdot was acquired by BIZX, and new editors included msmash, BeauHD, and EditorDavid, along with whipslash overseeing operations.

Slashdot and the News

Slashdot is well-known for its users. They might not be the first to break the news, but they are the first to go at it--fact checking, discussing, and debating. Sometimes, though, they make the news.

On October 4, 1999, Johan Ingles, the deputy editor of Jane's Intelligence Review, reached out to Slashdot concerning an article on cyber terrorism he had received. He wanted readers to go over the piece and answer some questions. After compiling the comments, Ingles decided he could not run the original article. Instead, he wrote a new one based on interviews with the Slashdot community.

In early March of 2001, an anonymous user posted a comment that contained the whole text of OT III, which was copyright material of the Church of Scientology. The church contacted the editors, threatening legal action if the content was not removed. Slashdot conceded, at the advice of their lawyers, but posted links to the copyrighted material that was located in other places on the web.

Milestones
The oldest article in Slashdot's archives, "Become 007 on The Internet" from 1997, is not its first one. Rob Rozeboom estimated about 1,000 earlier articles were lost in a database migration.

In April 2001, Slashdot Japan launched, publishing its first article on the 5th of that month.

Slashdot's 10,000th article was published on February 24, 2000 and the 100,000th story was published on December 11, 2009.

On November 3, 2004, Slashdot published the article "Kerry Concedes Election to Bush." The piece generated more than 5,600 comments, making it the most discussed submission in Slashdot history. That August, Slashdot's most visited submission, "ISP Owner Who Fought FBI Spying Freed From Gag Order" was posted, which has generated more than 1.2 million hits.

2008 saw a new president elected in the United States, and "Barack Obama Wins US Presidency" became the third most discussed story in Slashdot history. In the last 12 months, the election of Donald Trump gave rise to the most discussed story of the past year. Google firing James Damore was also one of the most discussed and visited stories of 2017.

Featured Interviews

In July 1999, a flipside of "Ask Slashdot" was introduced where users could pose questions for a guest, and the highest-rated questions were answered. Bruce Perens, a big name in the Linux/Open Source Movement, was their first interview.

Slashdot Interviews are conducted regularly. Some star interviewees include: Bruce Sterling, the sci-fi author who helped shape the cyberpunk genre, William Shatner, Neil Gaiman, Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, and author Neal Stephenson.

Onward!
So where does Slashdot go from 20? Well in a world where the internet is always changing, Slashdot stands almost alone in that it boasts a site and community that have remained quite consistent over two decades. Slashdot is News for Nerds, Stuff that Matters because of the people who have contributed their knowledge, humor, opinions, expertise, and experiences day in and day out in discussions spanning so many different topics including science, open source software, hardware, politics, hate of Beta, and so many more over the past two decades. Thank you all.

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

Slashdot's 20th Anniversary: History of Slashdot

Comments Filter:
  • by DontBeAMoran ( 4843879 ) on Thursday October 19, 2017 @09:07AM (#55396017)

    CmdrTaco, for posting No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame. [slashdot.org]

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Not sure he was actually wrong though... In many ways the iPod did suck much worse than the competition, it just had better marketing. And yes, I bought one, complete with Firewire connectivity and really crap LCD.

      I think the iPod took everyone by surprise. Apple computers were at least quite functional, but the iPod was a fashion accessory and sold as such, with the iconic white earbuds. Being nerds most of us probably weren't used to that.

      • Having a reasonable way to navigate the music library didn't hurt, either. *Snark*

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          It was a real chore for me, because everything had to be tagged. I was just organizing by directory structure and file name at that point.

          • because everything had to be tagged
            No it had not.
            I(t?) was just organizing by directory structure and file name at that point.
            Exactly! And how else would you organize albums?

            Looking at your previous post: everyone I know who bought an iPod loved it ... fastest most intuitive interface ever.

            I don't know anyone wo ever tagged anything in his iTunes library, why would you when everything is already perfectly laouted?

            Sure ... Prince is and TAFKAP (or how he actually called himself) are not in the same director

            • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

              I had a 3rd gen iPod. The only way iTunes could organize music was by tag, it didn't care at all about directory structure. Same with the iPod itself, all the files were just renamed to numbers and thrown in a random directory structure, with metadata copied to a special file.

              At first WinAMP could create that file too, but later Apple encrypted it to lock out everything except iTunes. In the end I installed Rockbox.

        • I haven't confirmed this yet, but I'm pretty sure I'm not the only person on the planet who did not find the original iPod wheel to be intuitive or useful.
        • I used the original Nomad and still have the Zen in working condition. Its way of navigating the music library with the jog dial is perfectly fine.

          • by jwhyche ( 6192 )

            I have one of those things, still works too. I hated the jog dial with a passion though. I love its sound quality. Sounded much better to me than my daughters ipod. I took out the 40GB drive that came with it and put in a 120GB. That was when I bumped into the other limit on the damn thing. It would only see about 35K tracks.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by dunkelfalke ( 91624 )

      Yet truer words were never spoken.
      But Apple was then and still is about fashion, not technical merit.

    • https://slashdot.org/~zephc [slashdot.org] "5 GB still is more than my whole mp3 collection"
  • Old. (Score:5, Funny)

    by ScooterComputer ( 10306 ) on Thursday October 19, 2017 @09:07AM (#55396021)

    Damn I'm old.

    • Looks like you beat me to registration by a month or three.

      LK

    • by Bookwyrm ( 3535 )

      Yeah. I think it's not so much just the 20 years, it's just that I remember how *cool* everything felt when slashdot was new, and in comparison everything really feels old now.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        People were complaining about the new layout needing an 800x600 screen in 1998. We /have/ come a long way.

      • by tsa ( 15680 )

        This. I felt the same back then. I was so excited when I was introduced to Linux back in 1996. Finally a system that did not crash when you looked at it and was capable of showing everything a computer could do, which was far more than Windows could. My housemate was (is still) a Windows fan, and I often looked at him wearily when he was fiddling with boot floppies, crashes and failed burns. I installed Linux from a CD that was in another computer and my burns never failed. And I had months-long uptimes whi

        • Re:Old. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by UnknownSoldier ( 67820 ) on Thursday October 19, 2017 @10:05AM (#55396529)

          > before moving to the Mac because I was sick of still having to edit configuration files to get it do behave like I wanted to. With the Mac I have a Unix system that does most of what I want well and has a good interface, and I can still use the power of Unix if I need to.

          ^^ THIS

          I imagine quite a few of us "old-timers" fit this pattern:

          * In our 20's we used to love to tinker with Linux.
          * In our 40's we just want to get shit done -- instead of spending time recompiling our kernels.

          With a MBP we have 99% what we want in a *nix box. While pricey it is "good enough."

          • * In our 40's we just want to get shit done -- instead of spending time recompiling our kernels.

            I used to recompile my kernel all the time - back when I ran BSD for many things. In Linux I can't recall the last time I recompiled a kernel. However from my vantage point this has as much to do with hardware power as anything; I used to recompile my kernel "back in the day" to get just the features I want (and to minimize the overhead of features I did not need) but now it doesn't really matter. I used to build servers with 16MB of RAM, now I have a laptop with 16GB of RAM. Overhead just isn't as cri

            • by Scoth ( 879800 )

              I ran (and still run, for now) Gentoo for a long time to squeeze every bit of horsepower out of my stuff and generate the smallest, fastest kernel I could. Nowadays I mostly just run genkernel and let it do it, and barely touch use flags or anything else beyond getting my preferred desktop environment running. I've had the occasional case where tweaking specifics and re-emerging fixed edge cases, but in general hardware has made it all a lot less useful.

              Not sure where to go from here distro-wise. I've been

            • by jwhyche ( 6192 )

              I still compile a kernel every now and then to make sure I can still do it. I never actually install it. I remember though back when I used to compile a new kernel it took about 45 minutes on my PPro 200mhz. Now it takes about 45 minutes on my 8350. hummm.

              • by fisted ( 2295862 )

                So you build a kernel, and when it compiles without errors, you're like "yay, I can still do it! make clean"?
                If you don't even boot your kernel, you can't know whether you can still do it.

          • * In our 20's we used to love to tinker with Linux. * In our 40's we just want to get shit done -- instead of spending time recompiling our kernels. With a MBP we have 99% what we want in a *nix box. While pricey it is "good enough."

            That's true years ago (MBP2011). Nowadays apt-get shizzle and stackoverflow beat clicking through iCloud, Facebook, twitter integrations and Apple with its proprietary extensions looking like Microsoft of the past.

            No need to tune etc files or recompiling kernels, simply becaus

        • by colnago ( 91472 )
          Not been around quite as long as you guys, but I do feel that tug of the stories and events I remember - and being a part of them, so to speak - and to feel kinda satisfied for having been there.
        • by olau ( 314197 )

          Linux has been losing its reliance on configuration files gradually over the years. These days, most of the popular packages are really install and forget.

          Even Debian isn't that hard to install anymore.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      I was going to check how old my achievements made me look but I noticed that maybe they aren't working properly. "Days Read in a Row" is only showing 2^7, but I'm pretty sure I haven't missed a day for at least a decade. Seriously. Certainly zero last year.

      Also, 2^9 score 5 comments. Suck it trolls :-)

    • by jlowery ( 47102 )

      And I'll be darned if I'm not some spritely young wet-behind-the-ears coder! How the heck did I ever get signed up for this, anyway? I think it began with Netly News... IIRC, Soledad O'Brien had something to do with it.

    • I remember using /. before we had user accounts, 20 years ago.. yeah I'm old too, but I still browse the site almost daily :)

      • by dstyle5 ( 702493 )
        I remember the pre-account days as well, was the wild west here back then. ;) When they implemented accounts I stubbornly held off creating one for quite some time, hence my higher 6 digit UID. Doh!
      • by jwhyche ( 6192 )

        Yup, I remember /. before user accounts. I actually resisted getting one.

        • by sconeu ( 64226 )

          <AOL> ME TOO! </AOL>

          Let me just put some text here to thwart the lameness filter.

    • by CaseyB ( 1105 )

      Get off my lawn.

  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Thursday October 19, 2017 @09:12AM (#55396069)
    that greased up yoda dolls and Natalie Portman's hot grits has been on topic. Thank you, 20th year anniversary!

    Also, great googly moogly I'm old.
  • In before the battle of the ultra-low UIDs.
    • In before the battle of the ultra-low UIDs.

      Let's start gently...

    • by tsa ( 15680 )

      What's wrong with ultra-low UIDs, you whippersnapper? Get off my lawn!

      • Get off my lawn !!

        • by Nadir ( 805 )
          Kids these days
        • What did you say?

        • by kdekorte ( 8768 )
          I think I have been reading Slashdot for pretty much as long as it has been around. I remember when they added logins, and I wasn't sure I wanted one so I waited awhile to get one. But Slashdot has always been one of my daily stops.
          • by Matheus ( 586080 )

            My memory's screwy... I know I got my account sometime between 95-99 given where I was living at the time BUT I thought it was closer to the beginning of that and apparently /. has only been around since '97 SO.. Given my 6-digits must have been closer to '98 I guess... /. post history is only going back to 2008 for me so.. is there anyway to check our "birthday"?

      • I guess it is the fact that you still have 5 digits instead of 3 or 2?
        On the other hand, the programmers could be fair! Just confess that you use an 64bit integer as id, display the leading 0's and we are all equally low idded.

  • I've been here at least 18 years.

    I have changed so much over that period of time that I feel nostalgic when I look back at some those old discussions.

    I remember non-ironic mentions of Beowulf clusters.

    I remember the kinship I felt during the Hellmouth discussions.

    I remember being thrilled when I learned that I could filter out Katz's posts.

    I've been here for a long time and I plan to be here for a long time to come.

    LK

    • by tsa ( 15680 )

      I vividly remember the Columbine shootings and the thread here on /. about it that went on and on. People posted in it how horribly they were treated at school because they were smarter than average and didn't care for fashion and being cool. I was pretty shocked by that. I never had problems like that.

      • I did.
        My first thought on receiving my Abitur diploma was "thank god I won't ever have to see these arseholes again". Last month was the first time in almost 20 years I wasn't able to evade one of them, the fucker recognized me when I was visiting my parents.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Lord Kano ( 13027 )

        The thing about the Hellmouth discussion that drew me into it was the backlash against non-popular kids.

        All of a sudden, if they wore all black or a trench coat, schools were treating them like the next mass shooter. Kids were being forced into counseling because of their fashion sense or choice in music.

        School authorities had ignored the problem of bullying for decades and when the dam broke, the scrutiny was primarily on the victims and not the perpetrators.

        LK

        • It's because those non-popular trenchcoat-wearing kids went and shot up a school full of children. It is impossible to overstate the cultural effect of Columbine. It was HUGE. Wierd kids went from being strange to being outright deadly. The whole 'thing' was they wanted revenge and weren't going to flush people's heads down the toilet, they were going to murder.
    • Ah, at the time iPod owners were respected, they were "Apple Fanatics", now they're just fanbois.
      • Now that you mention it, I was a Mac guy back then. My primary computer was a Performa 6400/200 and my secondary was a Pentium 200/MMX for gaming.

        My exodus came shortly thereafter.

        Ahh... memories.

        LK

  • Ahhh... I missed the first 3 years of Slashdot's existence. By the time I first started logging on Slashdot was already a toddler and using a big-boy toilet.

  • Happy Birthday Slashdot: I've been following you for most (all?) of those twenty years. Even with your ups and downs you still hold a dear place in my heart...
  • My 15 year anniversary /. t-shirt has a hole growing under the left arm. Will there be a replacement?
  • of your first webpage that was served on the first day slashdot went online??? i checked archive.org, they have one from 1998 but it was slow and timed out before my browser could load it
  • ... but I rarely take the time to log-in.

    happy birthday /. !

  • What if AC shows up? All of them? Good grief, the venues would experience the Slashdot effect in real life.

    Moderators, gird your loins for that one!

  • Slashdot was *way* in the news on 12/25/1999 when we saved Hotmail.

    https://slashdot.org/story/99/... [slashdot.org]

    And how about when we spammed millionaire spammer Alan Ralsky in real life?

    https://slashdot.org/story/02/... [slashdot.org]

    That was surely one of the most beautiful moments here.

  • What Slashdot looked like from 1998 to 2014

    https://i.imgur.com/efMLCxJ.gif

  • by tsa ( 15680 ) on Thursday October 19, 2017 @10:05AM (#55396523) Homepage

    Happy 10100-th birthday, /.! I'm glad to have been a part of almost all of it. I was here before you could log in. It's been great, and although /. has changed, I don't think it's better or worse than before. I hope to be here frequently for many years to come. Keep up the good work!

    Cheers, tsa (I was here before the TSA!)

  • by bytethese ( 1372715 ) on Thursday October 19, 2017 @10:07AM (#55396539)
    Wow, 20yrs ago I was in college, just switching over to Comp Sci and didn't join Slashdot until years later. It's always informative and hilarious here. Keep it up!
  • Well, still no proper unicode support. Maybe in another 20 years?
  • by omfglearntoplay ( 1163771 ) on Thursday October 19, 2017 @10:47AM (#55396907)

    Without a doubt. Wow, how time has flown. Thank you Slashdot, you have some great stuff most of the time.

  • My site turned 20 earlier this year, and when I saw the earlier anniversary story it took me a moment to realize hey, my site is older! Slashdot is a little better known than mine, though. :-) (And this is just the domain names -- "chips & dips" was a thing before I had my site, so they win there.)

    $ whois pixelcity.com | grep Creation
    Creation Date: 1997-07-27T04:00:00Z

    So anyway, Slashdot -- rich-text editor coming any time soon? Support for curly quotes in pasted text? No rush, just curious. :-)

  • So.. is there any way to find out your join date? I've looked into this before and as far as I can tell I joined sometime in 1999... but it would be nice to confirm that somehow.

  • Slashdot will turn 20 again next month.
  • Yeah, I remember Slashdot being announced on Chips n' Dips. I had a sub three digit ID that was lost in a database mishap... or am I getting senile and that was somewhere else? I have been a very regular visitor since the start, but never really started taking part until a few years ago, so I have a few lost accounts with much lower IDs.
  • You mean, like getting out Mom's basement are interacting with real people? Wow, that sounds complicated :)

    On a serious note, Happy Birthday Slashdot! I've been around like 13 years now, and all I have to say is thank you, fellow slashdotters. Thank you for all these well-spent hours. I've learned a lot from you, and I've tried to give something in return every time I could.

  • I'd like to see posts tagged when they've been modded by an editor, since they have unlimited mod points. I'm interested in fair debate among peers where posts are up modded for their own merits, rather than merely conforming to whatever editorial bias there may be. Slashdot as an ideological echo chamber is of no interest to me.
  • Beta? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ilctoh ( 620875 ) on Thursday October 19, 2017 @01:12PM (#55398109)
    One of the more significant events in recent Slashdot history was the bungling (and ultimate dismissal) of the failed Beta redesign project. A topic which, understandably, gets little further mention from the /. staff - but I'd love to see something of a postmortem of that project. Seems like it could be a useful parable for our audience.
  • I still remember the Slashdot party at 1998 or 1999 LinuxWorld or something in San Jose right after the Redhat IPO and right around the Andover thing. I still have the blue plastic cups!

    • Oh, That means I've been hitting refresh on this site almost daily for 20 years.... oh gosh...

  • by maestroX ( 1061960 ) on Thursday October 19, 2017 @01:48PM (#55398375)

    Contributors is what really set Slashdot apart in the old days (as any comment site), intelligent and whitty comments (In Soviet Russia, You must be new here) made a culture, and the low barrier to get to talk to Bruce Perens and the likes.
    You'd know and learn something when reading comments or at least get a smile.

    I guess it was the time when computing wasn't fully commercial combined with lots of adolescents just having fun hobbying and PDP get-off-my-lawn greybeards talking shop in one place.

    I really miss those days, despite I know those aren't coming back, but they got me through heavy depression.

    Thank you.

  • by It's the tripnaut! ( 687402 ) on Thursday October 19, 2017 @04:02PM (#55399373) Homepage
    Surprised not to see any mention of the term Slashdot effect [wikipedia.org] on the history above.

    Also, what about the list of brazen copycats that got *cough* "inspired" by /.?

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