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15 Years of Stuff That Matters 145

15 years is a long time on the internet. Many websites have come and gone over that time, and many that stuck around haven't had any interest in preserving their older content. Fortunately, as Slashdot approaches its 2^17th story, we've managed to keep track of almost all our old postings — all but the first 2^10, or so. In addition to that, we've held onto user comments, the lifeblood of the site, from 1999 onward. As we celebrate Slashdot's 15th anniversary this month, we thought we'd take a moment to highlight a few of the notable or interesting stories and discussions that have happened here in the past decade and a half. Read on for a trip down memory lane.

The most obvious place to start would be some of the stories listed in the Hall of Fame. While Slashdot isn't a political site, we do post particularly relevant political news, and two of the three most commented-on posts were about the winning of a U.S. presidential election. John Kerry's concession to George W. Bush in 2004 drew 5687 comments, more than half again as much as Barack Obama's victory in 2008. Interestingly, Obama's name was thrown around in the 2004 thread as possible future candidate, but many thought he'd be running for vice president alongside Hillary Clinton or another, more established Democrat name. A few other tidbits: health care was mentioned much more often in the 2008 discussion, while comments on the military were four times as common in 2004. The economy was discussed slightly more in 2004, while mentions of the banking system in 2008 far surpassed the 2004 count.

While a few other political discussions rank in the top 10 for total comments, total views is another story. A quick and simple post about source code leaks for Windows 2000 and NT has garnered over 700,000 views. It generated a great deal of insightful commentary on the security implications of the leak and how the code should be approached by developers curious to get a look. Many users warned others off of glancing at Microsoft code, fearing that copyrighted samples would find their way into open source projects, thus giving Microsoft a tool with which to disrupt the projects. This leak followed one a few months earlier of the Half-Life 2 source code, which garnered a strong but much different reaction. Many called for Valve to go ahead and open source the game, since the cat was out of the bag. Others were worried about the influx of bots and cheats for the game, since the people writing those tools had much clearer access to the game's internals. Still others dropped into a debate about DRM — a debate that wouldn't look out of place in 2012.

Two of our other most popular posts, and two of the most significant to us internally, are posts about somebody trying to get us to delete comments. We've always taken a strong stance both for preserving freedom of speech, and for simply providing a reliable wall upon which readers can scribble their words and know the words won't disappear. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act made that difficult in a few situations, and we made sure to be open and transparent about what happened. In early 2000, Microsoft asked us to kill off a few comments. We asked you folks how we should proceed, and you had no shortage of suggestions. Then, almost a year later, the Church of Scientology happened to notice a Slashdot comment which contained copyrighted text: part of the Fishman Affidavit, court documents that contained church course materials as well as criticism of the organization and its leadership. This was part of a war Scientology had been waging for several years to keep the documents secret. We were forced to remove the comment, but CmdrTaco's notification post thoroughly demonstrated how useless such an action was in the digital age, and encouraged people to reach out to their representatives to speak against the DMCA. He wrote, "This is the first time since we instituted our moderation system that a comment has had to be removed because of its content, and believe me nobody is more broken-hearted about it than me." He also went out of his way to point out the bad press surrounding the church for various other incidents. Fortunately, those types of requests seem to be largely behind us, now.

As the site evolved in those early days, the staff began to realize that the Slashdot community wasn't just absorbing the news and moving on; it was digesting the news and coming back with knowledgeable additions in the discussion. As interesting as an article may be, the community's response to it could generate informed discussion that surpassed the article tenfold. The staff considered how to harness this attribute to help the community, and shortly thereafter Ask Slashdot was born. In the time since then, almost 10,000 reader questions have been answered by other readers, and they frequently form the basis for the site's most informative discussions. The most popular was certainly "What's keeping you on Windows?" from 2002, a question that was revisited almost a decade later. Many of the specific reasons changed in that time, but the ability to easily play games was a sticking point for users in both discussions. There have been many common refrains over the years: how to get into IT or programming, how to get kids into it, what kind of phone/GPU/HDD/monitor to buy, or how best to put together some arcane but useful device or program. They occasionally get rather esoteric: questions about finding beautiful code, depressing sci-fi, or trying to pin down the biggest lies told by hardware and software vendors. Ask Slashdot is also sometimes used as a method of defense. Early this year, when the Stop Online Piracy Act and its sibling PIPA threatened freedom of speech on the web, we used it as a vehicle to show precisely why the legislation was bad, and figure out what more could be done to prevent them from being signed into law.

Slashdot's audience has always been very much about science, as well. This manifests itself in several different ways. For one, since readers' level of scientific education is higher, on average, than the general population's, any attack on science meets with strong opposition. For example, debates about creationism in the classroom spark a great deal of interesting discourse. While there's often a fair amount of vitriol, there are also well-reasoned and politely stated arguments. Other science-related topics sidestep the arguing in favor of excitement and wonder; when SpaceShipOne achieved the X-prize in 2004, the comment section was ripe with hopes for the commercial space sector (which is continuing to blossom today) and the possibility of ubiquitous spaceflight in our lifetimes. More recently, the discussion of CERN's supposed faster-than-light neutrinos, which took place over many months, brought into sharp relief the difficulties bleeding-edge science faces, and the resilience of the scientific method itself, which compelled researchers to come forward with results they suspected were wrong and then engage the scientific community in the task of confirming or repudiating them.

One of the greatest things about the Slashdot community is its above average level of understanding for all things technical. Commenters, submitters, and interviewees alike understand they don't have to use layman's terms to describe complex concepts. One of the best examples happened earlier this year when a group of fusion researchers from MIT got together to answer questions from readers on the state of fusion power. They didn't hold back, and were happy to provide a ton of very interesting information on how fusion reactors work, what it will take to make it a viable technology, what the safety issues are, and more. Similarly, there have been some fantastic, techinical answers from people like John Carmack, Vint Cerf, and Bjarne Stroustrup. But even when the interviews aren't highly technical, the community's strong opinions can lend themselves to contentious but productive discussions, as happened with Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich over the band's fight against file sharing, a Marketing exec for Microsoft Windows over some of the company's competitive practices, and Richard Stallman about the ethics of free software and open source.

It's also interesting to go back and look at stories that flew under the radar at the time, but later developed into huge, ongoing news items. For example, the launch of WikiLeaks in 2007 met mainly indifference and doubts that such a repository could do anything useful. Similarly, Google's unveiling of Android in 2007 brought a lot of speculation as to how open it would be and whether another phone OS could succeed. Facebook didn't get a mention on the site until late 2005, and its opening to the public the next year brought skepticism that it could trump MySpace or operate without compromising user privacy. The announcement of SpaceX by Elon Musk was blandly titled "Another Private Space Startup." Wikipedia got a couple of mentions in early 2001, even from Jimmy Wales himself. And, not exactly under the radar, but who can forget the early critique of Apple's original iPod?

On a more somber note, this collection of old stories wouldn't be complete without mentioning the day of September 11th, 2001. Here is how the page looked that day. News organizations around the world got a lesson in how people flock to the internet in times of emergency, and Slashdot was no exception. Readers congregated to share news as it was happening, and the staff frantically shut off portions of the site to keep it from buckling under the strain. It's a set of problems that have largely been solved in 2012, but they were new back then.

We hope this walk back through Slashdot's history provided a nostalgic diversion for you. With over 120,000 to pick from, it's inevitable that we'll leave some good ones out, so feel free to share in the comments any particular stories that have stuck in your memory. A lot of you have been around and contributing to the site for years, and we hope you'll stick around for years more. This is part of our 15-year anniversary celebration — if you haven't heard yet, we've also launched the beta of a revamped mobile site, and we've set up a page to coordinate user meet-ups. We'll be continuing to run some special pieces throughout the month (none so navel-gazey as this, and a lot of interviews with interesting people), so keep an eye out for those.

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15 Years of Stuff That Matters

Comments Filter:
  • Linux? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by PieDude ( 2745317 ) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @11:03AM (#41549249)
    15 years and no mention of Linux?
    • Re:Linux? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Third Position ( 1725934 ) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @11:14AM (#41549385)

      How 'bout it? For the first several years, Slashdot was All Linux All The Time. That's what drew it's original audience. It was one of the best resources on the net for keeping up with every little Linux development.

      • by isorox ( 205688 )

        How 'bout it? For the first several years, Slashdot was All Linux All The Time. That's what drew it's original audience. It was one of the best resources on the net for keeping up with every little Linux development.

        Enlightenment and Debian were cornerstones, and were the drive to move me onto Debian in 2000.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by tehcyder ( 746570 )
        I don't care how much you know and love Linux, if you're a drooling racist (American Third Position my fucking arse, neo-Nazi crap more like) you can go fuck yurself. I assume some fellow retards have modded you as insightful. When their balls drop, maybe they'll realise how vile and idiotic they've been.
      • After reading the warnings I tried to evaluate for myself American Third Position by visiting the link in the parent's signature: american3rdposition [dot] com

        I was lost, the site does look amenable to white supremacist conservatives but there wasn't a clear statement of their position that didn't require investing much more time than I care to waste on this. What I did find is a youtube video http://youtu.be/CZ-4gnNz0vc [youtu.be] let's give that a try...

        • 0:31 oh, so they are for big oil...
        • 0:45 envir
    • Re:Linux? (Score:5, Funny)

      by Dupple ( 1016592 ) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @11:19AM (#41549445)

      15 years and no mention of Linux?

      next year... will be the year

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The sixteenth year will be the year of Linux on the desktop.

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by operagost ( 62405 )
      It's dead. Netcraft confirms it.
    • 15 years and no mention of Linux?

      And no Cowboy Neal option either.

    • Earliest page [archive.org] the web archive is storing...

      Still going strong. One thing cool about /. is that pioneers of the open source revolution (from Cerf, RMS, Duff, Linus, Eric, etc..) has posted on this site, under their alter egos or as is.

  • First (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 04, 2012 @11:03AM (#41549255)

    First post. Hot grits. Insensitive Clods. Ect. Let's keep doing what made us great.

    • Electro Convulsive Therapy?

    • CmdrTaco's Blog Post (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Iskender ( 1040286 ) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @11:36AM (#41549617)

      I think it was when Slashdot turned 10 that someone linked an OLD main page (or normal) post which was basically just CmdrTaco saying he had bought enough underwear that he now had "a full set" or something.

      The point was that this *really* was his blog a long time ago. Unfortunately I didn't save the link, and no one has managed to find the post since despite repeated attempts.

      Too bad really, it was a historical moment. : )

    • Re:First (Score:5, Interesting)

      by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @11:38AM (#41549651) Homepage Journal


      Actually....I really DO miss the April Fools pages....I used to always look forward to wasting a day on /. reading through the 'stupid' AF day stories.

      If ya'll are listening out there...please bring them back!!

      • I really DO miss the April Fools pages

        I miss the Roland Piquepaille submissions, futuristic to a degree that left many Slashdotters perplexed.
        Then the submissions started to receive the tag ohnoitsroland [slashdot.org] (for some reason the search results of the link are incomplete).

        Then on January of 2009, Mr Piquepaille sadly passed away [slashdot.org], and in tribute, the tag was changed to ohnoitwasroland, which I think he would have appreciated.

        RIP Mr Piquepaille.

    • Came looking for Natalie Portman references.

      Left disappointed, naked, and petrified.

      • by sho-gun ( 2440 )

        ... you left out the hot grits

        • by markhb ( 11721 )

          My favorites were The Glorious MEEPT! and Oog the Open-Source Caveman!


          (Of course, Oog would be rejected by the lameness filter nowadays....)

  • especially the one with the animated gif? that was somehow encoded

  • Heh (Score:4, Funny)

    by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @11:12AM (#41549361) Homepage Journal
    I was quite happy to post as an AC and only took my user ID when I did so I could block stories from Jon Katz. No writer before or since has motivated me to take such an action.
  • Probably more likely to see that atrocity as more big money absorbs the site little by little. If it ever happens, please just shut the place down.

  • and they dropped "stuff that matters" :)

    The new corporate overlords thought that one lie ('news') per tag line was as many as their lawyers were comfortable with.

    TheRaven64 [slashdot.org] was right?!?

  • by HockeyPuck ( 141947 ) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @11:19AM (#41549439)

    http://news.slashdot.org/story/99/04/25/1438249/voices-from-the-hellmouth [slashdot.org]

    I thought was one of the most greatest threads (especially the comments) and the follow on stories (Hope in the Hellmouth, Hellmouth Revisited etc...) that /. has done. It really showed a light on a delicate subject.

    • SSSSssssssh!

      Keep it down, man. Do you want to summon JonKatz and the army of Katz-haters?

    • I was going to comment about Voices from the Hellmouth, glad someone beat me to it. It was significant and it meant a lot to young geeks like me at the time. It was expository when the news was running sensationalism. It brought together disparate young geeks and nerds at the time it was needed most. The number of supportive comments towards those mistreated because they were different in the wake of those attacks was a real comfort to the bullied, to those alone in HS and MS. Moreover, I'd like to think it
      • Re:^^what he said^^ (Score:5, Interesting)

        by PCM2 ( 4486 ) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @01:40PM (#41551173) Homepage

        Whatever you feel about Katz, those stories stand out as a true gem on this site, they shouldn't be overlooked

        Haha! Different strokes, I guess. For me, "whatever you feel about Katz" means I feel those Hellmouth (WTF does that mean anyway? Is that even a word? Is it a reference to something? What?) stories were some of the most puffed-up, overly melodramatic, pointless, ridiculous emo whining I have ever seen on ANY site, let alone Slashdot. It was precisely those stories that alerted me that Katz was a hilarious, trollish buffoon with no talent, an over-inflated sense of his own importance, and a tin ear for the issues that actually matter in this world. And, just like I browse Slashdot at -1, from that moment on I looked forward eagerly to everything Katz posted.

        • by AdamHaun ( 43173 )

          Hellmouth (WTF does that mean anyway? Is that even a word? Is it a reference to something? What?)

          It's a reference to a TV show called Buffy the Vampire Slayer that was popular at the time. In the show, the Hellmouth is a sort of demonic portal that attracts evil creatures to torment the town of Sunnydale. The concept originally comes from medieval art [wikipedia.org].

        • by joss ( 1346 )

          God yes, well put. I blocked Jon for a while after he made me throw up in my mouth a little bit, but I had to come back for more. It was like reading love-sick teenage poetry - you always thought this is bad as writing can possibly get and then he would outdo himself again . If the first few posts from him hadn't been relatively sane I would never have believed that his preposterously self-obsessed, patronising, cloying and presumptuous drivel wasn't a fabulous wind up. All his crying for the emo victims fo

      • Anyone who responds to bullying by engaging in mass murderer deserves no sympathy whatsoever.
    • by AdamHaun ( 43173 )

      Voices from the Hellmouth was one of Slashdot's greatest contributions to actual news. I'm shocked that the terrible political stories took top billing instead of this.

  • This is why (Score:4, Funny)

    by aglider ( 2435074 ) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @11:19AM (#41549441) Homepage

    Many websites have come and gone over that time

    In Dot we trust!

  • What about... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Vireo ( 190514 ) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @11:19AM (#41549447)

    What about SCO? Strange it wasn't mentioned at all.

    • especially since they might decide to "come back" QUICK PJ MAKE LIKE BUFFY!!.

      seriously how many TSCOG stories had the line "as covered by Groklaw.net"
      for a while there TSCOG couldn't order PIZZA without some member of Groklaw commenting on the choice of toppings (and the expense of the order).

    • They may be like Orcus in DnD, and there's a chance they'll reappear if you mention them.


      Oops. Who's that big pig headed guy over there?

  • by mfarah ( 231411 ) <miguel@@@farah...cl> on Thursday October 04, 2012 @11:20AM (#41549461) Homepage

    You know, that one that was validated as authentic because of the spelling errors. :-)

    • If your felling lazy here it is:


  • I, for one, welcome our new Slashdot overlords!
    • by deek ( 22697 )

      Not so new, my friend. Slashdot has been lording it over me for a good many years.

  • All three of mine; my first was about the time /. started. I got tired of them and let the domains lapse, but they were fun until they started feeling like an unpaid job.

    I can see why Taco left, same thing. Even if he was getting paid. I'm sick of my paid job, too, and am retiring as soon as I can.

  • is it when these are impossible to retrieve by a site user?

    It has been my experience that several science postings are invisible despite my knowing they existed whether using slashdot's miserable search or external tools, e.g. Google or even DuckDuckGo. Nothing near relevant is brought up for one article and the other only obtained derivate, later citings. [The first pertained to a periodic intensity from a star (did not read original article a the time) and the second the then new observation of micro bu

    • I tried to get some account history for an old handle of mine, but they said they had no way of producing a single dump of comments for one individual.

      It was a little distressing, but then I was comforted to realize that while we may have more information about the past, the past still finds a way to disappear.

  • To mark this anniversary, it would be useful for members to see statistics about Slashdot members. You see, there are some Slashdoters who are known to only troll, or troll most of the time, or get off-topic faster than one can count to three, or are just annoying.

    Heck, pull those moderation labels and put them in a nice interface to members to see. How about how many comments have been submitted by member? The year he/she joined? There are many metrics that can be useful. What's wrong with that?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      People are meant to get more conservative as they age.

      It would be interesting to compare comments from users who have been here a long term to see what they were saying back then, and what they say now after being beaten down by the system, businesses and the general unfairness of it all.

      • People are meant to get more conservative as they age.

        You made up that 'fact', right?

        • “It only takes 20 years for a liberal to become a conservative without changing a single idea.”

          - Robert Anton Wilson

          • Sounds like an insightful post, but that's not the way things have worked out in the USA.
            If you stood your ideological ground throughout 3-4 decades, you would have gone from a conservative to a liberal.
            As an example, many of Richard Nixon's initiatives as POTUS would be considered as positively pinko by the current right-wing political climate. Look it up.

  • As we age, each year represents a smaller percentage of our total life so far. :)
  • I think I still have a screenshot of that somewhere.
  • Don't know if this was mentioned on slashdot before (or there weren't enough dupes to notice) but it seems some domain parkers are using rouge robots.txt files to delete or suppress Archive.org's archives of whatever site what there prior.

    I'm mentioning this because if/when Slashdot is replaced by our good friend "backpack girl" or similar, the history could be lost. (not that Archive.org copies everything anyway)

    Already ran in to a few sites like that while trying to do some research. Dead links pointing t

    • Interesting. Another thing that seems to archive poorly is forums. User communities are created, lots of useful information is collected, then the forum goes offline. Unlike Usenet there's no easy way to dig into that useful information.

  • One of the greatest things about the Slashdot community is its above average level of understanding for all things technical.

    One of the worst things about Slashdot is that if the technical thing isn't computers, they don't generally know all that much more than the average Joe. The worst thing, is that many on Slashdot seem to mistake that narrow competency for being competent and knowledgeable about all things.

    • that if the technical thing isn't computers, they don't generally know all that much

      I disagree. About a year ago, I was searching for something that turned up an old /. thread from around 2003. The highly-rated comments on there were all extremely in-depth and insightful information provided by extremely knowledgeable people. I did some more browsing of old /. threads and was astonished at how advanced and accurate highly-rated comments were, on everything from electronics, to physics, to engines, to man

  • There was this really long troll comment that was around for a while about killing and eating muppets - which I thought was just hilarous. Unfortunately I've been able to find an example of it again.

    I get a kick out of looking through my old journal entries. Which reminds me that I should ask the people who run slashdot again - there should be a way to export journal entries. Being able to export a users own comments would be nice too - though probably very resource intensive. Journal Entries, I would think

  • How would the world have survived without /. ? You should get a Nobel prize or something.
  • My favorite thread was when the US/UK attacked Iraq in '98 and an author posted how bad and illegal it was and closed the thread to comments.

  • There's one Slashdot post [slashdot.org] that turned my life upside down. Definitely worth all that's gone on since then, but ...wow.

  • Often recurring, but the cascading threads of bad puns or low ID flaunting. Biggest laugh I got was a pun on Boeing wing testing (haven't been able to find it).

    • by Ogive17 ( 691899 )
      I remember that post, something about the sound it made was "boooooeeeing boooeeeeiingg"
    • One "get off my lawn" ID flaunting episode went down to below user ID 100, then all hell broke loose when the following post appeared, more or less:
      CmdrTaco (1) - "Hi there".

  • As a someone who was in high school in the late 90s, who played first-person shooters, and who had long black hair while wearing dark clothes, I'll always feel a particular attachment to the Slashdot posts and discussions that followed the Columbine shootings.

    I was held to multiple "counseling sessions" (read: interrogations) and was looked at with fear by those who didn't know me. Luckily, I was rather social, so the many that did know me laughed off the possibility of me going nuts with a gun.

    It was genui

  • I worked late the Monday night before, so I planned to go in late the next day. I never made it in.

    I think I remember posting that dayhttp://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=21542&cid=2277966

    Fuck you, Slashdot. It wasn't a karma whore. It was real.

    • That sucks. Mods can be real sheep; once one marks something troll, others can follow.

      PS - Weren't you making a Filipino horror movie at one point? How did that go?

  • Hi,

    The scientology story censored comment story you mention. In CmdrTaco's post on the story, he links to the censored comment, saying its text was replaced. However, that link is broken. This makes me wonder if there's some deeper problem with links in old /. stories?

    • Yeah, who knows. I just noticed I can't go backwards in my comment history. Only the most recent 24 are shown. There used to be a "older" link. I tried going back as far as possible (to find my first post under a user account rather than AC) and it error'd out at some point. I'd love to have page controls so I can actually go back in my posting history, but maybe that's too costly db-wise.

      Kept most of the comments.. but you can only access them via the stories, and the old stories via???
  • I would have expected mention of what may be Slashdot's most profound contribution to the Internet: The Slashdot Effect!

  • Once, Bill Joy commented on an article, and was promptly spelling-flamed.

    Someone responded to the flamer that that was totally improper and disrespectful, and that if he wanted to flame Bill Joy, he should do so for writing csh and vi.

  • as Slashdot approaches its 2^17th story, we've managed to keep track of almost all our old postings — all but the first 2^10, or so.

    If you have 2^17 stories and lost 2^10, that's not keeping track of "almost all". You've lost around (2^6 - 2^2 - 2^0)% of the postings.

    • I think they mean there have been 2^17 stories (262,144) and completely unconnectedly they have lost the first 2^10 (1,024) individual postings out of god knows how many.
  • Do you still have the comments from the "hidden sids" that were a feature^Wbug back long ago whereby you could get an empty page you could post to just by using an identifier not matching a story? While trolltalk and its follow-up threads are the ones I spent most time on, there were dozens of the things you could find if spent enough time reading the site, with all kinds of random stuff, one-off conversations and of course sid=signal11 and other ego threads :)

    • Man, those were the days, posting as AC, back before I signed up, which was before the UID ever seemed important as a way of proving 'you were here when'.
      Can we kick the DBA hard enough to dredge up these old relics? or are they truly gone?

  • But rather than dwell on the past I prefer, with the little free time available, to take the advice of my sig:

  • Jesus!...you mean to tell me that I've been coming to this website for 15 years now?? WTH is the matter with me?! ;-)

    Feliz cumpleaños /.! As I sit here and write this on my 2011 Mac mini, it's fun to remember the 486DX that I used to frequent this site with. May it rest in peace along with my VGA monitor :-)


  • But reading the 9/11 page has rocked my soul with floods of memories from that day. I have no words.

    Keep it up slashdot, the internet needs you.

Nondeterminism means never having to say you are wrong.