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Slashdot, sometimes abbreviated as /., is a technology-related news website owned by Geeknet, Inc. It features user-submitted and editor-evaluated current affairs news with a "nerdy" slant. Each story on the site has an Internet forum-style comments section attached. The name "Slashdot" is described by the site's owners as "a sort of obnoxious parody of a URL", chosen to confuse those who tried to pronounce the URL of the site ("h-t-t-p-colon-slash-slash-slashdot-dot-org").

The summaries for the stories are generally submitted by Slashdot's own readers with editors accepting or rejecting these contributions for general posting. Slashdot itself is well known for its pro-open source bias. Though the site predates the modern concept of the weblog, Slashdot's architecture is similar to that of modern blogs. The content management system, Slash, has long been available under the GNU General Public License.

Editors

Created in September 1997 by Rob "CmdrTaco" Malda, Slashdot is now owned by Geeknet, Inc. The site is run primarily by Malda, Jeff "Hemos" Bates (who handles articles and book reviews and sells advertising) and Robin "Roblimo" Miller who helps handle some of the more managerial tasks of the site, as well as posting stories. The site is headquartered in Dexter, Michiganmarker.

Moderation

To prevent abusive comments, a moderation system has been implemented whereby every comment posted (including those posted anonymously) has a starting score which can be incremented or decremented by semi-randomly chosen moderators. When moderating, the moderator chooses a given descriptor (such as "insightful", "funny", "troll") and each descriptor has a positive or negative value associated with it. As such, posts not only are scored, but characterized ("20% insightful, 80% interesting"). Users can configure the value of each descriptor. The descriptors available are normal, offtopic, flamebait, troll, redundant, insightful, interesting, informative, funny, overrated, and underrated.

Moderation points add to a user's karma. Having high karma gives one bonus point to posts made by that author. Being a registered poster adds one more, so that the highest normally achieved starting score is two. Conversely, users with low karma have penalties imposed on them.

People that post comments designed to get more karma, for example mirroring a linked article or presenting a banal groupthink opinion or lame joke, are often referred to as karma whores. Those who can moderate are selected by their karma score and possibly other factors such as number of meta moderations. Slashdot editors, including Rob Malda ("CmdrTaco"), can moderate limitlessly.

A given comment can have any integer score from −1 to +5, and Slashdot users can set a personal threshold where no comments with a lesser score are displayed. A person browsing the comments at a threshold of 1 will not see comments with a score of −1 or 0 but will see all others.

A meta-moderation system was implemented to moderate the moderators and help contain abuses. However, meta-moderation does not address bias problems, e.g. where moderators tend to overlook comments that don't already have a high score (e.g. new comments).

Karma is implemented in the Slash Content management system and hence is generally used by all the sites that use this software.

All posts with scores −1 through 3 are hidden by default when not logged in.

Although the moderation system usually works well, it is not immune to abuse. It is possible for a group of moderators to moderate down positions they oppose and vote up posts they agree with. This can result in a biased discussion.

Meta-moderation

Meta-moderation is a Slashdot mechanism whereby a reader can volunteer to review the correctness of moderation decisions. The reader is presented with eight to ten moderation decisions made by other readers and is asked to say whether or not those moderation choices were fair, by reading the post which was moderated and considering the moderation given.

The correctness of users' initial moderations, as determined by the users who are meta-moderating them, affects how often the initial moderators are given moderation points, so a reader who moderates but constantly has their moderation decisions marked incorrect under meta-moderation will only infrequently be given moderation points.

Slashdotting

Slashdot has about 5.5 million users per month, and encourages its readers to read the articles linked to in the summary. This leads to a sudden upsurge in people visiting any website linked to, a phenomenon known as the "Slashdot effect". Sometimes the website's server is unable to cope with the level of traffic, and the site becomes unresponsive: the site is said to be "slashdotted".

The demand on the servers is reduced as the Slashdot story is moved down or off the front page from new stories being posted. Some webmasters have responded (either before or during a Slashdotting) by replacing dynamic content with static content on that page, to reduce the load and allow their servers to handle more requests. Rarely, a webmaster will take the entire page down or replace it with a blank page temporarily if the traffic is not wanted. Today, most major websites can handle the surge of traffic, but Slashdotting continues to occur on smaller or independent sites.

Article sections

, Slashdot articles are divided into the following sections:


  • Apple • Articles related to products from Apple Inc.marker, such as Mac OS X, iPod, as well as items that directly compete with those products.
  • Ask Slashdot • Articles that seek advice from the Slashdot readership about jobs, computer hardware, software glitches, philosophical problems, etc.
  • Backslash • This section contains editor's picks of best comments from a recent popular article, primarily intended for those who do not want to read hundreds of high-moderated comments from the original thread.
  • Books • This section is for original book reviews on (not necessarily) tech books.
  • Developers • News about the software, or anything that directly affects the practice of programming. (e.g. new programming languages, useful techniques, licensing issues)
  • Entertainment
  • Games
  • Hardware
  • Idle • A page dedicated to humorous articles, pictures, and videos on the internet.
  • Interviews • Slashdot occasionally has interviews with various people. Questions are posted as comments in an initial story and 10 highly rated questions are sent to the interviewee; the answers are posted in a follow up story.
  • Information Technology (IT) • Anything that people with "Information Technology" in their job description might be interested to know.
  • Linux • The Linux section is for news specific to GNU/Linux
  • Mobile
  • News
  • Politics • This section is for news relevant to United States government politics. It was created primarily to cover the 2004 US Presidential Election, but now exists for occasional stories that are related to U.S. Politics.
  • Science • This is the place for science articles. Cool technology, space telescope observations, interesting medical research.
  • Technology
  • Your Rights Online (YRO) • News affecting your ability to live as a free, responsible person online. Such examples are Spam, invasions of privacy, and onerous licenses. Copyrights, patents, intellectual property, and other lawsuits often appear here.


The Apache and BSD sections are still posted to, although they no longer enjoy a place in the main site navigation. The Geeks in Space section was a web audio broadcast featuring several of the editors of Slashdot; there have been no recent updates to this section.

Criticism

One recurring problem is the frequency of reposts (also known as "dupes"), where editors approve articles for the front page, often slightly re-worded, that have previously appeared on the site. One proposed solution is to have mandatory procedures to search for Slashdot dupes before an article is published.

Slashdot has also been accused of "dumbing down" since introducing a new "idle" section in 2008. Typically articles from the "idle" section are tagged "stupid," "idleispants," or "pleasestop." Often the comments express contempt for the section and the fact that it was posted on the front page.

Culture

Over time, Slashdot has developed many in-jokes, quotes, puns and memes which regularly feature on the website.

These include:
  • "In Soviet Russia, <thing> <action> you!" (the Yakov Smirnoff Russian Reversal)
  • Goatse (For years, a common tactic of Slashdot pranksters was to place comments with links which appeared to be article-relevant sites but were in fact links to the goatse.cx site, which featured nothing but a shock image.)
  • "Hot Grits" Troll (Referring to a probably apocryphal story about Southern women pouring hot grits mixed with lye into the pants of unfaithful male lovers to maim them; usually combined with Natalie Portman references)
  • “Imagine a Beowulf cluster of those” (Slashdot's early history coincided with the rise to prominence of the Linux-based parallel computing Beowulf system; speculation about powerful new computers arrayed in a Beowulf cluster quickly became an overused comment.)
  • “You must be new here.” (Invoked frequently after a poster complains of a common Slashdot issue such as duplicate stories or perceived bias by certain editors) first mention in 1999
  • “But does it run Linux?” (especially regarding Linux devices)
  • "I, for one, welcome our new <thing> overlords." (Often facetiously used in reference to technology that is supposedly going to become universal and inevitable. This references the Simpsons episode Deep Space Homer in which reporter Kent Brockman welcomes what he believes to be "our new insect overlords" but which are in fact only ants.)
  • "I don't believe in censorsh%!$*%& [NO CARRIER]" (referencing a NO CARRIER signal from a disconnected modem)
  • "Warning! Do not look into laser with remaining eye!" (with the word "laser" replaced by any other dangerous optical device). This is a joke that invokes the image of peering into an infrared laser to see if it's on, in the same way that one may stare down a hosepipe to see if it's blocked.
  • “I <cite silly personal offense>, you insensitive clod!” which originates from a Calvin and Hobbes comic strip dated 1986-02-14
  • Defective by Design (Referring to Microsoft products, DRM, or any technology that undermines the user's best interests)
  • 'Junis' referencing the infamous story , in which an Afghani named 'Junis' purportedly was back online via his Commodore computer. Used to describe doubt of authenticity of a posted claim, such as 'Junis, is that you?"
  • "<Some action>. Cancel or Allow?" (Referring to Windows Vista’s User Account Control, which is reputed to frequently ask for permission to perform an action.)
  • "Stephen King is dead" variants (Referring to a popular early Slashdot troll which claimed to be posting breaking news that author Stephen King had died)
  • The high system requirements for Microsoft Windows Vista or the game Crysis. Frequently appears in response to articles on supercomputing.
  • References to Steve Ballmer throwing a chair.
  • References to William Shatner's halting vocal style when a user is deemed to have either overused or incorrectly used commas.
  • Most of the online polls seen on Slashdot include an option to vote for CowboyNeal, the account name of editor Jonathan Pater, with contributors feigning outrage when it is left off.
  • “In Korea, only old people use ” ( origin)
  • References to the Back to the Future trilogy.
  • "itsatrap" tag and comment (sometimes "I have a bad feeling about this.."), reciting quotes from Admiral Ackbar and Han Solo from Star Wars. Usually used with articles describing a "generous" or "benevolent" act by a company or entity not usually known for either, and maybe as an allusion that the act has a negative ulterior motive. (example: "Microsoft To Open Source Some of Silverlight")
  • “There. Fixed that for you.” or "FTFY". Used after humorously or insightfully modifying the parent post.
  • "Sharks with frickin' laser beams attached to their heads." Quoting Dr. Evil in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. Inevitably appearing in comments on any story involving laser technology (or sharks). Often alluded to simply as "fricken' lasers".
  • "BSD is dying" lengthy, frequently repeated troll post which explains that the BSD family of operating systems are moribund. The general form "Netcraft confirms it: <some software> is dying" might also be spotted. Example: [4418]
  • Libraries of Congressmarker as a measure of data capacity. Such as in an article about a new hard disk capacity breakthrough "How many Libraries of Congress is that?". Relates to the amount of data that would be required to store a digitized version of the library.
  • References to the release of game Duke Nukem Forever, which was first promised in 1997. This took the place of the earlier long delayed but eventually delivered Daikatana.
  • Users often humorously ask for an explanation of a difficult subject to be restated in the form of a car analogy.


Slashdot also has a system of "tags" where users can categorize a story with a lowercase tag with no spaces, limited to 64 characters.

Additionally, the ID of the Slashdot user is sometimes regarded as a sign of how Leet the user is, although this is not taken very literally. Having a user ID that is a prime number or other significant mathematical number is also valued. Some people have successfully sold their Slashdot ID (usually because it was a low 4-digit or smaller), although the website's policy on this isn't clear. Slashdot assigns user ID numbers in the order that the user registered; i.e., lower user ID numbers correspond to older accounts. A 3 digit user ID was among a number of items that were auctioned for the benefit of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Recently, a Slashdot community poll indicated that the 'In Soviet Russia...' meme is considered the most popular in Slashdot's first 10 years. The grits meme received the fewest votes.

Audience

While Slashdot's core audience is often said to consist of Linux enthusiasts and various other enthusiasts of the open source software movement, there is a significant Windows audience as well. A 2002 poll on Slashdot suggests that approximately half of all Slashdot visitors use Microsoft Windows as their operating system, a third use some form of Linux, and above ten percent use Mac OS X . In 2008 only 32% claimed to not use Windows. Polls on Slashdot, like most on the Internet, may be unreliable (all Slashdot polls include the disclaimer If you're using these numbers to do anything important, you're insane).

As the "News for Nerds," tagline implies, many of Slashdot's articles deal with scientific subjects and events, among the others listed above.

Famous or well-known active "Slashdotters" include:

Several engineers from NASA involved in the Mars rover exploration projects have also participated in Slashdot's forums.

Appearances in books

Slashdot has been named, either directly or indirectly, in a number of works:

Appearances in popular fiction

Slashdot has been used or mentioned in a number of fictional works, including:

Slashdot Japan

Slashdot Japan is owned by OSDN, Inc. (part of SunBridge Corp. (ex-part of VA Linux Systems Japan, the subsidiaries of Geeknet, Inc.) ), led by Oliver M. Bolzer. It started beta test on 2001-05-09, and began operation on 2001-05-28. However, the first Slashdot Japan news article was published on 2001-04-05.

The site carries some of the original Slashdot articles, and localized Japanese news. An external site named Backslashdot reports selected stories of Slashdot Japan in English since 2009-03-01.

Timeline

  • July 1997 - short-lived forerunner to Slashdot, called "Chips & Dips"
  • September 1997 - Slashdot is created.
  • December 31, 1997 - First archived Slashdot post.
  • February 2, 1998 - Slashdot begins accepting advertisers.
  • May 13, 1998 - Slashdot introduces the "Ask Slashdot" section.
  • September 14, 1998 - Slashdot is hacked.
  • February 1, 1999 - The Slashdot effect is first mentioned.
  • June 29, 1999 - Slashdot is acquired by Andover.net.
  • September 7, 1999 - Meta-moderation is introduced to Slashdot.
  • September 10, 1999 - Slashdot announces the addition of the "Your Rights Online" section.
  • October 15, 1999 - Slashdot announces the addition of two new sections: Apache and BSD.
  • February 3, 2000 - Andover.net, Slashdot's parent company, merges with Linux company VA Linux.
  • February 24, 2000 - Slashdot's 10,000th article is posted.
  • May 2000 - Slashdot is the victim of a week-long Distributed Denial-of-Service attack.
  • September 28, 2000 - Slashdot is hacked again.
  • March 9, 2001 - An anonymous poster posts the full text of Scientology's OT III ("Operating Thetan Level Three") document in a comment attached to a Slashdot article. The Church of Scientology then demanded that the Slashdot editors remove the post under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. A week later, in a long article, the Slashdot editors explained their decision to remove the page while providing links and information on how to get the document from other sources.
  • August 18, 2001 - Slashcode 2.2 is released, which allows for comment notification, journals, and UNIX-style user pages.
  • January 2, 2002 - Slashdot introduces the "zoo" system, allowing the marking of users as "friend" and "foe".
  • January 16 - January 30, 2002 - An off-topic post purported to be detailing the results of an investigation into Slashdot trolling phenomena becomes itself the subject of a "moderation war" and ends up being moderated a record 851 times (as well as getting 268 direct replies). The editors are accused of indiscriminately modding down all the posts in the thread collectively as well as permanently banning anyone who moderated the post up from moderating or meta-moderating again.
  • March 1, 2002 - Slashdot begins a subscription service, where subscribers are given special perks in exchange for a small fee.
  • March 6, 2003 - Slashdot subscribers are given the ability to see articles 10–20 minutes before they are released to the general public.
  • August 18, 2004 - Slashdot has its ten millionth user posting.
  • September 7, 2004 - Slashdot "goes political" and creates a new politics subsection, two months before the U.S. 2004 presidential election.
  • April 8, 2005 - Slashdot introduces "day passes", allowing all users to enjoy the benefits of subscribers for the duration of one day if they watch a commercial.
  • September 22, 2005 - Slashdot begins using HTML 4.01 and CSS on its pages, replacing the aging HTML 3.2-based system which had been in place for many years.
  • April 1, 2006 - OMG!!! Ponies!!! pink theme is used for the day, some users report eye strain. The theme can be applied to the current Slashdot layout using the Slashdotter Firefox extension.
  • June 4, 2006 - A new design is implemented following a contest.
  • September 2, 2006 - richardcpeterson registers as Slashdot's one millionth member.
  • November 9, 2006 - Slashdot reaches 16,777,215 (or 224 − 1) comments, temporarily breaking the database.
  • October 2, 2007 - Slashdot marks its 10 years online
  • April 1, 2009 - User Achievement tags introduced, with CmdrTaco presenting it as an April Fool's Day meta-prank.
  • July 23, 2009 - Slashdot is hacked for the third time in just over ten years


Notes

  1. Favicon of Slashdot.org
  2. Slashdot FAQ: What does the name "Slashdot" mean?
  3. Interview with Rob "CmdrTaco" Malda
  4. Source: Slashdot's Meta-moderation section of the FAQ: http://slashdot.org/faq/metamod.shtml
  5. On the matter of Slashdot story selection - At that day, complaints about Slashdot story selection process were appearing on all published stories, which prompted a response from Slashdot editors
  6. Slashdot | Message From Kabul
  7. Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you: CTDF
  8. Slashdot Poll
  9. Slashdot Poll: My Main Computer Runs... (2002)
  10. Slashdot Poll: If Windows 7 Releases Next Year ...?
  11. Wind River Systems BSDi
  12. Backslashdot
  13. Slashdot | Become 007 On The Internet
  14. Slashdot | Ask Slashdot:The Debut
  15. Slashdot | Slashdot Gets Hacked
  16. Slashdot | Beware of the Slashdot Effect
  17. Slashdot | Slashdot Acquired by Andover.net
  18. Slashdot | Slashdot's Meta Moderation
  19. Slashdot | Slashdot's 10,000th Story
  20. Slashdot | The Slashdot DDoS: What Happened?
  21. Slashdot | Yup, Somebody Cracked Slashdot
  22. Slashdot | Scientologists Force Comment Off Slashdot
  23. Slashdot | Welcome to Slashdot 2.2
  24. Slashdot | Slashdot Code Update
  25. Slashdot | Slashdot Subscribers Now See The Future
  26. NSLU2 Now More Useful
  27. Slashdot | Slashdot Goes Political: Announcing politics.slashdot.org
  28. Slashdot: News for nerds, stuff that matters
  29. Slashdotter :: Now I Have a Blog Too
  30. Slashdot | Slashdot CSS Redesign Winner Announced
  31. richardcpeterson - Slashdot User
  32. Bar Performer Arrested For Copyright Violations
  33. Rumsfeld Stepping Down
  34. Slashdot | Slashdot Posting Bug Infuriates Haggard Admins
  35. Slashdot | Slashdot defaced on July 23rd


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