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Encryption Slashdot.org

A New Benefit For Logged-In Readers: Meet Slashdot's ROT13 Initiative 261

Posted by timothy
from the is-he-gonna-shift-or-is-he-gonna-kill-us? dept.
We appreciate all the support we've gotten over the years from Slashdot's logged-in users. They take part actively in discussions, and in exchange for their active interest in the site, we like to give a few perks over and above what our beloved anonymous readers get. But we never want to deprive anonymous readers of the actual features of the site — whether you're a logged-in account holder, anonymous, a subscriber, or have a username but are browsing anonymously at any given moment, Slashdot has always been freely available to read for anyone with a browser and an uncensored Internet connection. It's a balance we try to maintain, too, Sure, we'd like you to login, and we think it has some worthwhile benefits (like tracking comment responses, building karma, and using the Zoo system to keep track of your friends and foes), but we'll never force you to. Today, we're building on this approach, by introducing a feature that benefits every logged-in user, but still leaves the page free to read for all. We'll be phasing in over the next few days a button that logged-in users and subscribers can click to decrypt the text of each Slashdot posting with the trivial transform known as Rot13. Read more, below!
Don't panic. You don't have to do anything at all, especially for right now. For the rest of the week at least, though, you'll notice that stories are rendered a bit harder to read, because they've been ROT13'd. "Encrypted" seems too strong a word for it, since ROT13 is about as tough an encryption as Pig Latin is, and more consistent. You'll just need to click once more to read the full, plaintext version of each story. After we complete a few shakedown days, subscribers and other logged-in users will always be able to get through to the plaintext just that simply, and for anonymous readers, it'll be nearly as easy: they'll just need to click one button, and watch one painless interstitial ad, to reach each story's plaintext. For the masses who read anonymously but don't want to suffer through any more ads? (Believe us, we understand.) Not to worry! As we transition away from offering the plaintext along with the ROT13 version, there will be several great options for translating ROT13 text; you'll just need to copy and paste the text, or in some cases the URL for the story you'd like to read, into the engine of your choice. We favor the spartan rot13.com, but there are others. Heck, if you're a CS grad, or even an amateur programmer at all, you've probably written a ROT13 translation program, or you can pipe the text through a built-in function in the language of your choice. (Let us know your favorite translation system in the comments below.) If you have any questions about the transition, please let us know.

Note: You'll notice that comments are still in plaintext for now by default. They will probably stay this way for a while, too, even for anonymous readers. The conversion process itself for the 19.2 million comments in our database is pretty trivial, actually, but there have been some glitches with the way that the transform handles things like code inside of comments, and it would be a shame to break any of that code. And it's a near certainty that only anonymous readers will ever see reader comments encrypted with ROT13, when all those details are worked out.
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A New Benefit For Logged-In Readers: Meet Slashdot's ROT13 Initiative

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