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So Long, CmdrTaco, and Thanks For All The Posts 238

With CmdrTaco moving on to his temporary retirement home, the Slashdot editors who will continue to poke and prod at reader submissions (the heart and soul of this site: without readers, there'd be nothing to talk about as well as no one to talk about it) would like to offer an extended 'Thank You' to Rob, and offer some thoughts on the years so far, as well as what comes next. (Of late, though, we're lucky to have the growing contributions of Clinton Ebadi, aka Unknown Lamer, who got an oddball start on the Slashdot page a long time back.) Read on for a few words from Samzenpus, timothy, and Soulskill.

From Samzenpus:

I first met Rob Malda about 12 years ago while he was living in what we affectionately called The Geek House. At that time, Rob was just one of a motley crew of nerds who would assemble in the living room every night. They could usually be found sitting in foof chairs bathed in computer screen light. What made Rob different was how passionate he was about a website he made, something called Slashdot. Before I knew it, Slashdot had grown and I was working as user support. A few years later I was posting stories and Slashdot was a geeky household name. In that span Rob changed a lot. His Foof chair morphed into an Aeron, tubes of Pringles became business lunches, and we convinced him to embrace the wonders of natural light. He proposed to his wife and now has two kids. What didn't change in all that time was his passion for making Slashdot a great site. In the FAQ, Rob says that Slashdot is like an omelette: a combination of important news, interesting discussions, and fun stuff. What makes it great is the variety of ingredients. Rob may have started the omelette, but we'll keep it cooking and make it bigger and better with the stuff that matters.

From timothy:

In 1998 or 1999, my housemates Alvin and Dan (both of them Comp-Sci students at UT-Austin, where I'd been a lowly advertising major) pointed out to me a little site called "Slashdot.org." A strange name, and a page that seemed to be nothing but black text over an assault of white and green. It took a minute or two to parse what was going on, but then — Whoah! Smart people were discussing (and arguing about!) Linux, The GIMP, patents, and Neal Stephenson: I was hooked instantly. I've been posting stories to the site since early 2000, and in that role I've gotten to know CmdrTaco a bit. I didn't realize beforehand just how much effort can go into a simple-looking web page, and how hard it is to decide how many people to please at any given time.

Rob — CmdrTaco — has that whole span of time never wavered in his dedication to the site, and to the readers. A small example, but one that has always impressed me given what's at stake: as banner ads have infested the Web, Rob has fought for modesty and sanity rather than some of the intrusive pop-ups, interstitials, autoplaying videos and other discourtesies of modern online advertising. (We'd probably all like it if the site could exist with no ads at all, but in an imperfect world keeping them tolerable rather than obnoxious is a respectable stance, even if it means disappointing some advertisers.) And while we've been through plenty of experiments with user interface elements, new sections, and allocation of the moderator points that make the whole thing go, Rob's also taken a hard line about distracting features that don't speak to the site's core: News For Nerds, Stuff That Matters (and building conversations around those things). It's notable that Slashdot is one place where the marketplace of ideas is encouraged to bloom more than it is at many newspapers' sites, and even our friend "Anonymous Coward" can freely have his say. We like that, though it gets messy sometimes. It's meant a lot of sleepless nights for Rob and his shifting corps of engineers, trying to figure out ways to let readers help algorithmically bat down the trolls and flamebait, and to give some recognition to readers who contribute their insightful or funny comments.

It's very strange to think of reading Slashdot without CmdrTaco in the lead — even when I've disagreed with him on some particular design issue, I've never doubted his sincere belief that the readers come first. Rob isn't being frozen in carbonite, though — despite his claim of "no plans," he's got his own maker-style projects to work on, a few kids to take care of, and probably about 15 years of sleep deprivation to start chipping away at. He promises to remain part of the Slashdot community (he's still user No. 1, after all), and I expect will be a sort of unofficial Editor Emeritus for the foreseeable future. And that's good, because we'll keep working on ways to make the site friendlier and easier to use, but still dedicated to the same News for Nerds.

From Soulskill:

So, what changes from here on out for You, The Reader? Well, surprisingly little. Rob has always been clear and vociferous in defining what makes a story appropriate for Slashdot, and those standards have become deeply ingrained in the rest of the editorial staff. Slashdot won't be the same for us, but we’ll work hard to make sure the content we run continues to educate, inform, entertain, or some combination thereof. As always, feedback is welcome, and you can head over to /recent to have a direct impact on the submissions process. The engineering team continues to streamline the site’s layout and add useful functionality in order to facilitate what matters most to us: giving you folks a place to read and talk about news that matters to you.
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So Long, CmdrTaco, and Thanks For All The Posts

Comments Filter:
  • Sheesh (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    He's great, but he's not dead!

  • by blair1q ( 305137 ) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @02:21PM (#37209816) Journal

    He'll be back.

    I stole his spacebar.

  • by xmas2003 ( 739875 ) * on Thursday August 25, 2011 @02:23PM (#37209852) Homepage
    I can't say as much the original post, but am sure I speak for many /. readers throughout the years when I also say thank you for all the posts Rob.
    • Same here. Cheer's CmdrTaco! Here's to a normal life...
    • I have been haunting this site for years now. I check it at least several times a day, I've commented frequently, and even gotten some submissions green-lit. (Woot!)

      This is by far one of the most informative and fun sites on the Internet, and it's deserved all of the reputation and accolades it's gotten. Just to tell you how important this site is to me, I have found out a hell of a lot of big news stories from here first. Everything from famous people dying to industry shake-ups to mainstream stuff lik

    • Since well over 12 years on all the boxes I installed, and the 1000's I added to networks, I made sure they'd opened up a browser with at least a /. tab present. I hope it did help in making the user base grow and grow and grow. Kudos to you and thanks for all the...
    • Yes. Thank you.

    • Yea, +1.. We'll miss you Cmdr!

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      ... it trolls for Rob.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Yup, 11 years later and he's still true to his name.

    Also, do you think Taco was pretty annoyed that Jobs had to go and preemptively one-up him?

    • by Kiaser Zohsay ( 20134 ) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @02:34PM (#37210044)

      Also, do you think Taco was pretty annoyed that Jobs had to go and preemptively one-up him?

      Did you see the department that Taco's post was listed under?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ender- ( 42944 )

      Yup, 11 years later and he's still true to his name.

      Also, do you think Taco was pretty annoyed that Jobs had to go and preemptively one-up him?

      Actually I was wondering if maybe there was some standing bet or ultimatum that CmdrTaco would have to retire from Slashdot when Steve Jobs retired from Apple.

      At any rate, I have to add my voice to the chorus of "Thank You CmdrTaco!" Slashdot is by far the site I have been regularly visiting for the longest time and I wouldn't have it any other way.

  • by GooberToo ( 74388 ) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @02:25PM (#37209890)

    Don't forget your towel. Thanks for all the fish.

    Sadly, yet another nail in the coffin for /.

  • by DarrylM ( 170047 ) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @02:26PM (#37209926) Homepage

    Thanks so much for your reflections, everyone. I've been coming here since 1998 (and, like many, registered far too late to get a cool, low UID). What's amazed me is the nature of the community and the discussion that happens here. Certainly, there are the usual trolls but more often than not I see really good, even deep discussion on here. This is a testament to the people who come here and - especially - to the great moderation and meta-mod system that's encourages that type of discussion. When I compare the discourse here to that on most news sites, /. is consistently far ahead of what exists elsewhere.

    So thanks for that, Rob! We'll miss you. And I saw that you were musing about writing a book. Please do so! I, for one, would be very interested to read about your time in /. from your own perspective.

    • by AntEater ( 16627 )

      ...like many, registered far too late to get a cool, low UID...

      What constitutes a cool, low UID? I've never felt like one of the cool ones. I hung around for several weeks before registering to comment. I might have gotten a 4-digit UID if I had been a little quicker.

      • by Tim Doran ( 910 )

        You really had to be one of those refresh-every-minute slashdotters to get a low UID. I don't believe that made me cool in any way, but I'm kinda glad I have it now ;)

        We'll miss you Rob!

  • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @02:29PM (#37209974)
    Hopefully in before the usual comparisons to Jobs' resignation - but I'll argue that Slashdot did for social media what Jobs did for Apple.

    No, not Web 2.0's social media, but Web 1.0's social media: a place that was pseudonymous, but still reputation-based. A place where pseudonyms stood alone - no "like" or "+1" buttons. Not a place for 140-character tweets, but a place for paragraph- and essay-length commentary.

    To stretch the analogy, in the first incarnation of Jobs' Apple, users bought Macintoshes not to show off their respective bling, but to get work done. (No, not coding work, office work - but it was work nonetheless, and it was work that couldn't be done nearly as easily, nor as well, under the Wintel equivalents of the mid-80s.)

    Likewise, Slashdot - and the rest of Social Media 1.0 - were not built so much as place in which to speak, but as place in which to listen. I've learned far more in the comments from the past 12 years of Slashdot posts than I could ever have learned from the agglomerated mewlings of marketroids and demagogues alike.

    At any rate, so long, CmdrTaco, and thanks for all the fish.

    And thanks for having what was by far the coolest booth at the 1999 LinuxWorld Conference and Expo at Javits/NYC.

    • by blair1q ( 305137 ) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @02:35PM (#37210062) Journal

      no "like" or "+1" buttons.

      If only I had mod points...

      • by rwv ( 1636355 )
        On this site, you know a post rated 4 or 5 is probably worth reading. The same cannot be said for something is 49 Likes or 287 +1's. Any idiot can tag comments with a +1 or a Like. The way Slashdot only gives mod points to registered users with a somewhat known reputation (karma) was really a genius move.
    • by Hemos ( 2 ) * Works for Slashdot

      Spot on analogy, Tackhead. +1, you.

    • > but I'll argue that Slashdot did for social media what Jobs did for Apple.

      I'll second that ! /. made usenet-style forum posting/browsing usable. The ability for mods to tag a post informative / insightful / etc. gave readers the ability to filter out s/n which

      I call Reddit the dig of /., because it seems like every other site is dominated by group think -- at least on /. you can have a different opinion, and depending on your debating / arguing skills, at least get acknowledged.

      Thanks for all the sto

  • I had the pleasure of meeting Rob at ALS 2000 (I *still* have the tshirt from that somewhere!) I hope all goes well for you & yours from here on out!
  • Two big losses in one week. The iconic NDP politician Jack Layton in Canada, and now Rob's leaving SlashDot.

    Baby's all grown up, Rob. Time to let 'er go and find that "trophy wife" job instead of futzing further with Slashdot. :)

  • Similar story appears only five stories down. The editing on this site SUCKS!

  • Thanks for all the insightful posts and for all the hotgrits and the insensitive clods. Without you, the seachange in social sites would have been so different and without the anonymous coward, it would have been more like Facebook sooner; that is to say in a word, bad . Thanks even for the GNAA. It won't be the same /. without you.

  • slashdotted... (Score:5, Informative)

    by madhatter256 ( 443326 ) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @02:40PM (#37210138)

    No one says a website is "yahooed" or "googled" or "Drudged" if it's been hit by a enmass of visitors after being posted on slashdot or any other site.

    It's only on slashdot.org that when a link is posted and it's visited by a ton of people that their server simply acts like it's been DoS attacked, we say the site has been "slashdotted" or /.ed ;-).

    Slashdot still continues on making little known websites temporarily 404 on visitors even while you're gone...

    • You've already gotten replies noting that this isn't true, but I thought I'd add some more...

      Being slashdotted or "the slashdot effect" may have been the first, but it has most certainly spread to other sites - especially pale imitators like Digg and Reddit. It's also used elsewhere, such as Boing Boing, where you can say a site was "boinged".

      That said, being slashdotted I think is a lot cooler.

  • The timing of this ..... Where'd I put my tinfoil? heh..

    Adios Mr. Taco! :)

  • It's been a long strange trip. Thanks for all the hard work, and the whole "getting it started" thing. Now, Onward!

  • I remember those heady days well. But over time slashdot's lost relevance to me. I stopped posting long ago as the quality of the discourse dropped, and I started linking directly to most of the sites slashdot regularly references. I also became unable (or unwilling) to comprehend the complicated comment filtering crud several years back (really, what's up with that?)

    I do have slashdot to thank for helping me discover arstechnica - which has mostly replaced slashdot for my tech news discussion forum ne

    • when was the quality of discourse ever good? Back in before 2000 there were a goatse.cx links all over the comments and you needed to don an asbestos suit before replying to anything.

      • by Rysc ( 136391 ) *

        Even with that going on you got really good discourse on big stories. No matter the topic experts in it would chime in and supply data, interpretation, etc.. It was just a matter of wading through some muck.

        The only place where I find consistent high quality comments any more is lwn,

  • by wulfhere ( 94308 ) <slashdot@GAUSShu ... g minus math_god> on Thursday August 25, 2011 @02:45PM (#37210212)
    I started reading this site back in 1999, and I can honestly say that this is the first site I read almost every day. Although I don't post a lot, I learn something almost every day here, and your dedication to the community has always shown. Thank you for that!
  • When I read the earlier story, I thought maybe he was poking fun at Jobs leaving Apple and saying he would leave too. I guess it wasn't just a troll. You will be missed Taco.

  • Having also been a longtime reader here, I owe a lot of the success in my career to both the posts that made it to slashdot as well as the comments (parrot'ing that information in meetings and sales calls has always made me look smarter and more in the know). Even today, I can reference my low user id at slashdot and gain immediate street cred with a lot of very technical people. Thanks rob for putting this place together.

  • Moderation Tools (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DarkBlack ( 5773 ) <darkblack.miscreation@net> on Thursday August 25, 2011 @02:55PM (#37210362) Homepage

    How about fixing it so that I do not have to turn on JavaScript just to moderate? In the past couple of weeks I noticed that I have to turn it on in order to moderate. The result? I don't moderate.

    I prefer the old style discussion system because it didn't use JavaScript and I still don't want to use it. Thanks!

  • ...You magnificent bastard! Have fun being ... uh... just plain "Rob," I guess... Or something. Anyway, take care! :)
  • Rob, thanks for creating Slashdot. I will always fondly remember the fake flame wars between Bill Gates and Linus Torvalds before UIDs existed. That and all the April Fools' Day jokes. And all the memes... and the good stories... and all the polls with mission options. :^D

  • by sup4hleet ( 444456 ) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @03:01PM (#37210462) Homepage

    Sheet mang, I know that cat from back in the CALUG 2004-ish days! Hit me up man if you catch this.

  • I accept your resignation. It has been an honor serving with you.
  • Thank you CmdrTaco (Rob),

    You have inspired countless tech freaks(geeks) over the years, and hopefully for years to come

    You have created a great community here, even if there are a few trolls, you can't kill get them all. =D

    Thanks again,
    -- Rob aka Shifty0x88

  • Screw the posts, I'm just here for the fish.

    But seriously, fare thee well.
  • by Goner ( 5704 )

    Most major websites owe a lot to the techniques developed at Slashdot. Great work. Happy trails and here's to future success.

  • I still drink coffee out of my decade+ old mug. Today, a picture: http://imgur.com/mecnS

    Cheers, CmdrTaco. I spent many years reading, learning, debating, asking, and clicking on slashdot, though it's been a while since it was my "home" on the web. But it was that for a long time. Thanks for everything, thanks for giving nerds and geeks a place to come for new and links and online community. Best of luck wherever you go from here.

  • OMG!!! [flickr.com]
    Going off and getting a life? Hey that's no fair!

  • This was posted (not by me) a while back. If you remember the inside jokes, you're an old-timer

    ------- ...and this won't be considered offtopic...

    The History of the Slashdot World
    From a mailing list written by Seth

    2.5 million B.C.: OOG the Open Source Caveman develops the axe and releases it under the GPL. The axe quickly gains popularity as a means of crushing moderators' heads.

    100,000 B.C.: Man domesticates the AIBO.

    10,000 B.C.: Civilization begins when early farmers first learn to cultivate hot grits.


  • Rob has always been clear and vociferous in defining what makes a story appropriate for Slashdot, and those standards have become deeply ingrained in the rest of the editorial staff.

    Except, of course, for the one speaking these words.

  • "He promises to remain part of the Slashdot community (he's still user No. 1, after all)"

    Well, that's 'Who is Number 1?" answered, but how about "Why did you resign?". Rob should not be surprised to wake up tomorrow wearing a number in a mysterious seaside Village patrolled by weather balloons, and kept there until this question is answered definitively...

  • Get back to work!

  • It's been great reading your stuff over time. Enjoy whatever awaits you. :-)

    The Taco abides.. o/

  • Indeed, thanks for the fish, and thanks for being a consistently addicting requirement of my early-morning "do some web-browsing" routine. Proud to be part of the 3 digit UID club :)

  • Thanks to /.--not just Rob but all the good commenters. Nice to see all the old-timers gathered...
  • Editors, I am a long-time reader (like many, I lurked for years before signing up for an account), so I'm relatively used to /.'s somewhat quirky interface. But even I am often baffled. Do you ever just sit down with someone unfamiliar with Slashdot, and ask them to navigate around and accomplish certain tasks? Or explain to you, as best they understand, what certain things are, the logic behind the structure, etc?

    Someday, I hope Slashdot adopts some kind of left-pane threaded view (like taking Google Group's "tree" view, or the one used Craigslist's help forum, and combining it with the rating and other things that make Slashdot good). In the short term, though, I think some simple usability testing could really help things out around here.

        - Alaska Jack

    • I just wish I could find the setting to show the site as it was six or seven years ago. Bandwidth is cheap and my browser can cope with large pages, I don't want to see or click a "get more comments" button ever. I just want it to show every comment at my chosen score threshold by default.

    • by Soulskill ( 1459 ) Works for Slashdot on Thursday August 25, 2011 @05:43PM (#37212774)

      We do, but apparently not frequently enough. Part of the problem, I think, is that we've changed our design scheme several times, deprecating certain pages along the way, without automatically pointing people to the new "correct" URL instead. Then, as the design drifts further away, things break on pages we don't expect people to be using anymore.

      For a long while we were pretty starved for engineering time, but that's changed lately, and we're making more progress. I will say this: any time you find a bug, or have a question about how something works, or find a specific bit of design that strikes you as unintuitive, feel free to email us and let us know. We get fewer bug reports than you'd think, but we fix 'em when we know about 'em.

  • This site has brought me more entertainment and information than just about any other over the last 10 years. Take care and I wish you the very best of luck with your family and whatever else you choose to do, mate.


  • by Ralph Spoilsport ( 673134 ) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @03:53PM (#37211202) Journal
    and made a difference. You should be proud. Good work.
  • I want to read his epitaph to the Cmdr...
  • by Darth_brooks ( 180756 ) <clipper377&gmail,com> on Thursday August 25, 2011 @04:15PM (#37211516) Homepage

    I got to meet Taco and Hemos at the Ann Arbor Slashdot tenth birthday party. What struck me, and what made slashdot that much cooler, was that they were *exactly* what I expected. Just a couple of genuine guys who did something that they liked, and didn't seem to care too much one way or the other.

    Not that they were indifferent to slashdot, but that they weren't the slimy, indirectly self serving "we're so awesome that we're gonna change the world" blog-o-matic faux revolutionaries (See; that doctor fellow over at the site that goes "boing" a couple times) and they weren't the ultra-nerd, stereotype basement dweller elitists either. They were just, ya know, geeks. It made me feel just a bit geekier knowing that something like slashdot really and truly was put together by somebody sorta like me.

    Well done and good luck.

  • Well, I've been along for most of the ride so far, I think it's pretty likely I'll stick around for quite a while longer.

    Rob, I owe ya a beer next time I'm in Michigan. Maybe I'll try to make it to a LUG meeting there or something. I definitely appreciate all of the work you've put into Slashdot over the years. You've done a fantastic job and you should definitely be proud of the community you've developed here. Good luck on everything in the future.

  • I have been a /. addict since 1998 (can't remember and find the answer in my account profile with 79039 number) in my college days. /. isn't the same today as the old days though. I also went to other sites like Digg (v4 still sucks :P) and Reddit (blame Digg v4). I still come to /. daily though.

  • I don't know if my UID is low or not, but I've been an avid visitor for years. Slashdot isn't perfect, but to me there is no better place to stimulate the mind. Sifting out the pseudoscience and understanding the political issues of "news" such as good ol' Roland's blog has enhanced my ability to think for myself. That is the most important thing Slashdot gives me: education,enlightenment, and the ability to take everything with a grain of salt.

  • by mcmonkey ( 96054 ) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @05:02PM (#37212198) Homepage

    A while back someone posted a link to a picture of his car. I think the context was his driveway was captured by Google street view. Anyway, the vanity plate on the car matched the user's /. nick name. Someone replied with surprise that this should be the case. I had always sorta assumed this is what every /. user (with a car) did.

    Well, given the current swell of nostalgia prompted by recent events, any one else out there with vanity plates, tattoos, or other real world paraphernalia related to nicks or things slashdotian? Care to post pics?

    Here's my contribution [catandsean.org].

    Yes, the birth certificates for your twins counts, if their names are Cowboy and Neal.

  • Wow, Mr. T. I don't think any of us can imagine this site without you and your direction. For many like myself, you and the site have been a part of our life for over a decade. It sounds like you will continue to have some influence, and considering this is a site - a huge and influential one no less - that you founded, I should hope so.

    Fair winds and following seas, good sir.

  • Thanks Rob, for getting this place going. I've been hanging around here for.. yeah too many years. Even the flames and trolls are actually well done around here, and there's been too many times that I learned a trick or two, or found a solution to a problem... in any event, as in the main post. So Long, And Thanks For All The Fishwrappers!

  • Quite a few tsunamis this year...

Nondeterminism means never having to say you are wrong.