We're taking the system down tonight for a some system updates. We expect to go down around 9 (eastern) and hope to be back up by midnight. This is a pretty substantial upgrade, but the changes are almost entirely 'Under the Hood' type fixes: architecture stuff that shouldn't really impact much end user functionality. When the dust settles we expect there to be a few bugs cropping up, so please click that 'Bugs' link on the left hand menu and submit reports so we can squash them quickly. And sorry about the inconvenience. We know it will be hard to live without us for a few hours, but I figure some quality time with your friends and family might just be long overdue! (Also, for the curious, a brief summary of what the change is actually all about follows)Ok, so when I wrote the original code for Slashdot, I had these "Sections" and these "Topics". You're familiar with both I'm sure... the "Sections" are like "Apple" and "BSD". They have unique color schemes, and their own homepages. The "Topics" are specific areas of subject matter... you know them because they each have a colorful little icon associated with them... like for example the rockin 'Slashdot' logo that is attached to this story.
When I originally "designed" (I use the term loosely since evolved is more accurate) the system, "Sections" were meant to be for "Data Types"... for example "Book Reviews". A book review is fundamentally different than a Slashdot "Article" because it has extra fields like the ISBN code. At the same time I essentially coded "Skins" because each "Data Type" needed custom look & feel type stuff so that the story could actually display the unique data fields.
So when we created YRO and the BSD section and later on the Apple section, I just reused the skinning part of "Sections".. it was the easiest way to do it, but it created problems later: under the old design a story could only have one "Section"... some sections defined "Data Type" and others defined "Subject Matter" (like Apple or BSD)... thats why bsd.slashdot.org can never include a book review, and apple.slashdot.org can't include an 'Ask Slashdot'. This confounded users of our search page to no ends, to say nothing of frustrating editors who couldn't include topical stories within their appropriate section.
Undoubtedly we'll see some bugs to pop up... so please be patient and submit bug reports. We'll be wacking bugs for a few days... there's always a few of them that don't pop up until you put them in front of the half a million users on the real hardware. Thanks for understanding!