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A Brief History of Slashdot Part 1, Chips & Dips

CmdrTaco posted about 7 years ago | from the there's-probably-a-grateful-dead-quote-that-applies-here dept. 503

As part of our 10 year anniversary celebration, I've decided to post a story here telling the tale of the transition from Chips & Dips to Slashdot back in 1997. For those of you who are new here (cough), CnD was the precursor to Slashdot, hosted on my personal homepage on the CompSci cluster of Hope College. Along with a number of random Linux related webpages, themes for window managers, random bits of code I wrote, this page was read by a great number of folks, mostly from the IRC scene. Hit the link below to read the tale of its transformation into an Internet superstar (and maybe later I'll write the the sequel where I talk of the transformation into sellout mega corporate evil and eventually irrelevant blemish on the history of the net ;) And don't forget to check for a Slashdot 10 year anniversary party in your area.

In the summer of 1997 I was contacted by a stranger out of the blue with a kind of random offer. During the previous school year Nate Oostendorp (who now works with SourceForge, Inc. while working on his Masters) had coded a Space Invaders clone. He wrote a Java sprite library, and I wrote the game and illustrated the alien armada. This guy had an old DEC Alpha Multia 166, and a client that wanted to remake the game with popcorn instead of aliens. So I drew the popcorn up, replaced the gifs, and he mailed me my first non x86 box since the 286 I got in middle school. (Later Sun sent me legal threats forcing me to take the game offline since it was called Java Invaders, and clearly this was an evil crime against the universe. My hatred for Java has never died since that moment.)

I immediately installed Red Hat on it. I was working at an ad agency called The Image Group at the time as a webmaster. I coded whatever needed doing and handled various admin tasks to keep their clients happy. At the time they needed full control over email addresses on the domains they built. Since they shared their mailserver with their ISP, there were frequent name collisions -- if the client wanted but there already was a bob on the system, they couldn't do it. They agreed to let me move my little Alpha onto their network to host their email... and I could use it to fart around with on my personal hobbies.

I named the box Ariel. It sat under my desk. I learned enough Perl to write a stupid simple CMS to replace the functionality of Chips & Dips, which up until that point was just a text file. Dave DeMaagd wrote a simple comment system. Since we both had a long history with BBSes, it seemed obvious to us that there needed to be a discussion system. There were no user accounts -- you entered whatever name you wanted each time you posted. If you left it blank, it auto-filled the space with the name 'Anonymous Coward', a title that stuck and spread throughout the net.

The original system was written in Perl because I wanted to learn more Perl. All the data storage was flat text files. (We lost most of the original stories during a data import a year or so later) The files were named like 0000001.shtml and so forth and were all rendered at time of page request. Best of all, since the system was written as a CGI, the whole script needed to be compiled every time there was a page request. It was months before I ported the whole thing to use MySQL and mod_Perl.

I registered the domain name as a joke. It was 'org' because I didn't want a .com -- those were so common. I always thought org would be cooler, and besides, I had no commercial plans in mind. (Years later this bit me on the ass since someone else registered the .com. Doh!) The URL was meant to be unpronounceable by anyone -- a joke ultimately that has backfired on me countless times when I'm called and asked what the URL is to the damn thing. Jeff 'Hemos' Bates (now a VP of something or other with SourceForge, Inc.) was in the living room when I was registering the domain name. We all wanted email addresses with a unique domain name that wasn't attached to our school, so he chipped in on the registration fee.

When it came time to design the website's look, I took elements from a theme we had designed at The Image Group -- Paul Hart and I spent hours on it -- that was supposed to be the new website for the company, but it was passed on for another look. I still liked it, so I redesigned it more to my personal aesthetics (choosing #006666 as the dominant green replacing an earth tone green) and putting drop shadows all over everything (a habit I still haven't broken, and for which I am still mocked). Within days, most of the design elements you see on Slashdot were in place... the curves, the greens, the polls, the vertical list of stories so common in 2007, and, of course, discussions on each story.

And Slashdot was born. At first it had just a few thousand daily readers migrating over from Chips & Dips, but in a matter of weeks it had grown so fast that we started really having fun with it. One night we put up a poll asking how many shots Kurt 'The Pope' DeMaagd should drink. (Kurt later became our defacto HR man when we formed Blockstackers... today he is a professor at MSU.) But that night, Slashdot readers told him to take a dozen shots of alcohol -- he failed, but he tried.

I remember around the same time just watching 'tail -f' on the access_log. My world was rocked over and over again as I watched the domain names...!!! Hell, even kept scrolling through the log. I knew we had something... people from around the world, from the highest institutions in the land, from the biggest companies in the tech sector and to the most influential in the Linux world were all reading Slashdot. In fact, they were posting comments... as were a lot of people. It became commonplace to see hundreds of comments on stories, and the so-called 'Slashdot Effect' slowly grew into our lexicon as site after site buckled under our links.

In those days the content was a lot more personal then it is today. Stories would frequently refer to alcohol-related activities. I'd constantly mention that I had to leave to go to class so there wouldn't be more stories posted for a few hours. And when a professor in my pottery class assigned homework of to mass produce and sell some pottery as a lesson in being a commercial artist, I posted it, and ended up getting over 100 requests to buy my shitty mugs (all glazed teal ;) In the end I never did sell them -- I fulfilled the assignment locally. I think I still have one of those mugs left but I'm not sure- over the years my mediocre ceramics have been filtered out of a home increasingly tastefully decorated by my wife.

I continued to go to class and work my part time job. Ariel soon had loads so great that the machine was unusable during the day. And occasionally I would accidentally kick it and knock out a cable, bringing the machine offline. Soon after it saturated the office T1, I started realizing that there was no way I was going to be able to do this as "Just" a hobby. Essentially, every second of my life was consumed without time for a break. I'd go to class -- and often just work on Slashdot in the back row. (This was the first year we had computers at our desks in the CS dept at Hope.) My classwork suffered. On the upside, I became far more proficient at webwork, which really helped the part time job. I'd go home and code, post stories, reply to email until 2-3 a.m. and repeat it the next day. It was going to eventually be a full time job, requiring revenue and infrastructure that didn't exist back then. But I guess that's another story.

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I was there (5, Interesting)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 7 years ago | (#20838495)

'Cause CnD was a top-hit on AltaVista for "WindowMaker" and "Enlightenment".

Mmm, Enlightenment (3, Interesting)

Ed Avis (5917) | about 7 years ago | (#20838571)

Yes, Slashdot had some strange preoccupations in the early(*) days... every other story seemed to be about a new development release of Enlightenment (and a bit later some cheesy upload) or the 2.1 Linux kernel.

Wait a sec - I think I probably prefer that to the speculation and corporate soap opera / press releases that clog up the front page these days.

(*) Not that early. I started reading when Netscape announced their plans to free their web browser.

Re:Mmm, Enlightenment (1)

vitaflo (20507) | about 7 years ago | (#20838727)

(*) Not that early. I started reading when Netscape announced their plans to free their web browser.

Early enough, most people don't have a 4 digit user ID. I believe when Mozilla was first thought up is about when I started reading too. But I was too afraid to post to even register at the time.

A missing page in the history of Slashdot (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20838913) [] -- Warning, Do NOT click under ANY circumstances!!! You *WILL* be grossed out!!!

Re:Mmm, Enlightenment (1)

MouseR (3264) | about 7 years ago | (#20839483)

I got on relatively early because a co-worker got me into reading /.

Eventually, I got involved in a few discussions so I registered. Wit that, I still managed a low 4 digit UID. But no one was looking at UIDs back then.

Re:Mmm, Enlightenment (1)

spun (1352) | about 7 years ago | (#20838973)

Malda wrote some sort of applet for Enlightenment. Something to do with sound? I can't remember, but that's how I found CnD.

Re:Mmm, Enlightenment (3, Interesting)

CmdrTaco (1) | about 7 years ago | (#20839381)

It was called ePlus. At first I just themeified asclock and released it for E. Before that I had written a CD switcher applet for the AfterStep dock, as well as a volume controller. Later I merged the clock, volume controls, and a few other things into a fully themable suite of little widgets for Enlightenment. Good times.

Re:Mmm, Enlightenment (4, Informative)

Mandrake (3939) | about 7 years ago | (#20838989)

Rob actually was a semi-frequent contributor to enlightenment for a while, in fact he wrote a lot of the code for snapshot pager back in 0.8/0.9...

Re:Mmm, Enlightenment (5, Funny)

CmdrTaco (1) | about 7 years ago | (#20839325)

Dude, I *invented* it. You guys told me it couldn't be done. Of course, you were right- the performance sucked, but it looked awesome.

Re:I was there (2, Interesting)

runenfool (503) | about 7 years ago | (#20838649)

How can you even remember that long ago? I haven't the slighted recollection on how I ended up at slashdot ... funny Im here ten years later :)

Strangely enough I think the fact that it was a weird name (with no www, nonetheless) that kept me here ... made it easier to remember. The good ole days of working phone tech support, making no money, but surfing the web and sitting on slashdot all day ...

Re:I was there (1)

Erich (151) | about 7 years ago | (#20838731)

I, too, started reading slashdot whilst doing phone tech support, the summer before and Christmas break of my Freshman year at College.

Re:I was there (1)

mikael (484) | about 7 years ago | (#20839091)

Wow, how many others of the three digit crowd are still around?

Re:I was there (1)

josecanuc (91) | about 7 years ago | (#20839273)

I think there's still quite a few of us early users still around...

Re:I was there (1)

stuntpope (19736) | about 7 years ago | (#20838765)

Same here - no recollection of how, when, or why I ended up on Slashdot. I know it was no later than '99, possibly '98. Never heard of Chips and Dip. Apparently I held off on registering an account.

Maybe if someone posted the most common Slashdot memes and when they arose, like Natalie Portman and grits, I could have a better idea of when I started visiting.

Re:I was there (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | about 7 years ago | (#20838885)

How about a couple of your early posts?


Does this violate Starbuck, the first mate?
by stuntpope (19736) on 12:30 18th March, 1999 (#1974348)
Didn't read any classics in high school, eh? Starbuck is the first mate in the novel "Moby Dick", written long before the coffee chain popped up everywhere. I think Starbucks the coffee company might have a hard time if they wanted to get annoyed at RH over this.


Best gag of the show
by stuntpope (19736) on 18:08 29th March, 1999 (#1957783)
Yeah, that was funny and easy to miss. My fave was when all 3 main characters were together, and Bender says, "this calls for a drink", procedes to pull 3 bottles out of his chest, and instead of handing out bottles, drinks them all himself!

Re:I was there (1)

sconeu (64226) | about 7 years ago | (#20839507)

I think I wound up here via Declan McCullagh's fight-censorship mailing list, but I won't swear to it.

Re:I was there (1)

NeoTron (6020) | about 7 years ago | (#20838653)

I wasn't there, but, I did register with /. relatively early on in its history, and have been reading it ever since.

To the Anonymous Cowards who posted "Nobody Cares" , well actually I *do* care.


Re:I was there (1)

crayz (1056) | about 7 years ago | (#20838655)

I was never there for Chips & Dips, but wasn't there a time Slashdot existed before the current user scheme?

Re:I was there (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 7 years ago | (#20839159)

Oh yeah. Adding COMMENTS was an innovation, at one point.

Re:I was there (1)

bigredradio (631970) | about 7 years ago | (#20838713)

Your ID is 137. Holy crap batman. Props to you dude.

Re:I was there (3, Funny)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 7 years ago | (#20839223)

Back in the day, I was TERRIFIED that I wouldn't get my name in a site registry, or a webmail system. The Internet was small enough you could register almost everywhere "important".

I'm 167 on Same disease. :-)

Re:I was there (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 7 years ago | (#20838749)

WindowMaker [] and Enlightenment []

I still use the wallpapers from Rob's 2001-inspired, "Obsidian" theme.

Do you remember when building Enlightenment required the X-Free tools and xmkmf []

Re:I was there (1)

cblack (4342) | about 7 years ago | (#20838841)

I remember that theme, the all black with beveled borders icons, etc. I must have it somewhere in my home directory but I haven't used enlightenment for quite awhile.

Re:I was there (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 7 years ago | (#20838971)

Wow. Do you still have "Surgical A-440"

It was - like all of them - and "alpha" theme. It tried an intriguing optical-illusion, where the window frames looked like depressions carved into a plate of steel. I'd like to find those bitmaps...

Like many themes of the day, there was a fascination for using a rendered skull, for the window "kill" button.

In those days, xkill was in my dock!

Re:I was there (1)

Enry (630) | about 7 years ago | (#20838891)

Friend of mine pointed me here. 10 years. Wow.

Re:I was there (1)

Otter (3800) | about 7 years ago | (#20838911)

Like most of the early Mac crowd here, I came over via MacOS Rumors, back when Ryan Meader and Black Light Media ran Slashdot's advertising.

I think Taco and Hemos would up getting a lot richer than Ryan did, though.

CnD was a top-hit on AltaVista for "WindowMaker" and "Enlightenment".

Ironically, Enlightenment probably is less functional today than it was then.

Re:I was there (2, Funny)

Corwn of Amber (802933) | about 7 years ago | (#20839379)

Well, Enlightenment DR16 is very stable and mature now (as it better be), and .17 should be out of pre-alpha by the time Duke Nukem Forever runs on Linux.


Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20838939)

Congratulations on being born at a certain time. Your accomplishment is really impressive.

Hey, I have a great idea: let's reminisce! Let's talk about things that happened in the past for no constructive reason.

That way, we can make others who weren't as cosmically gifted as us feel as though we're somehow superior.

Let's make the new users feel like dogshit. C'mon, let's wallow in nostalgia for no defensible reason. Let's talk about how we accessed Slashdot on our Babbage Analytical Engines. Should make for a real interesting set of comments, I'm sure.


Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20839013)

Well, no, it's not that.

Really, it's because youth suck.


Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20839141)

Let's talk about how we accessed Slashdot on our Babbage Analytical Engines. Should make for a real interesting set of comments, I'm sure.

Whoa, slow down there, George Jetson. When I first started reading Slashdot I had to send a telegraph to 'the server' to request a page. It would be sent by carrier pigeon. When it arrived I sent it to my crack team of designers who would 'interpret' the 'HTML codes' and then load the document into my printing press. If all went well and nobody was maimed, I'd have a fresh copy of Slashdot to read within a day of making my request.

And leaving comments? Don't get me started!

Time to turn the browsing level to exclude AC (2, Insightful)

mollog (841386) | about 7 years ago | (#20839385)

I think the discussion has been interesting. It's informative to see how the more important sites on the 'net were started. There's a common theme; geeks doing it for the love and fun of it.

Some Links of Historical Interest (3, Interesting)

Lev13than (581686) | about 7 years ago | (#20839209)

Here's the Wayback archive of Rob Malda's page [] at Hope College.

From his About Me [] page: "In closing, I would just like to say that if you read this whole document, then you need more of a life than I need for typing it." Keep in mind that this is the same page that states he got into computers due to "A strong need to somehow construct a woman like those kids in Weird Science".

hey cmdrtaco (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20838505)

you would know about chips and dip fatty

Nobody cares. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20838513)

Stop pimping yourselves.

Holy lame front page article.

I mean, wow.

OK (1)

Joe Jay Bee (1151309) | about 7 years ago | (#20838523)

If it isn't David Copperfield...

Just post the entire text of War and Peace and get it over with. ;)

2nd post!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20838543)

I hope this starts a new trend for the 2nd decade of Slashdot?

grateful dead quotes? (1)

inode_buddha (576844) | about 7 years ago | (#20838549)

Last time I touched it, it was indeed gray.

Crass self-promotion of a for-profit site. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20838575)

It's sickening.

BTW, that "Slashc10t" garbage logo needs to disappear. Soon.

People come here for the content, not to ruminate about the site itself. "Meta" shouldn't even be a valid tag. It's just self-glorification and it's disgusting.

Get over yourselves.

Re:Crass self-promotion of a for-profit site. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20838871)

CmdrTaco? Is that you?

If so, I'm sorry. I know you resisted the idea of navel gazing... but I never imagined it would spawn so much self-loathing!

Re:Crass self-promotion of a for-profit site. (2, Insightful)

bigcmoney (535532) | about 7 years ago | (#20839179)

I'm glad you wrote this Cmdr. I have loved this site since '00. I don't give a damn what anyone says, Slashdot is still one of the best tech aggregation sites on the net.

Re:Crass self-promotion of a for-profit site. (1)

Psykechan (255694) | about 7 years ago | (#20839079)

Chill man, he's trying to tell us all the story of how you got your nickname.

Re:Crass self-promotion of a for-profit site. (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | about 7 years ago | (#20839153)

You're right. I think they should start a new site: "Metadot" or something like that. We can have stories about Slashdot, comments about slashdot, complaints about the moderation system, complaints about trolls, complaints about the newsworthiness of items on slashdot, and about anonymous cowards (etc, etc). Sound better?

Interesting, but... (1)

andreyw (798182) | about 7 years ago | (#20838581)

...this thread is useless without pics =)

Re:Interesting, but... (1)

Tet (2721) | about 7 years ago | (#20838945)

...this thread is useless without pics =)

Here you go [] . From memory, it was that image that brought me to CnD in the first place...

Pics? How about movies... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20839145)

This is what I remember most about CnD: []

Low ID Roll call (2, Interesting)

Critical_ (25211) | about 7 years ago | (#20838617)

Low ID Roll call!!!

I figured this was necessary to get all the old chaps from the CnD days out.

Don't hold my high ID against me. I waited until the last minute to sign up for an account.

Low IDs can fuck the hell right off (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20838687)

Slashcode would be the perfect system for objective community filtering if it weren't for the ID system, which only drags it back down to the level of any other clique-dominated web forum.

Fuck your low ID, and fuck your shitty elitism. Good job ruining slashdot.

sweet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20838767)

you are my hero. if it weren't for the anonymous coward, this site wouldn't be half as fun. lets forget the fact the lower user id people made this place what it is. have you checked the original parent posters comment list? more +5 than I can count.

Re:Low IDs can fuck the hell right off (1)

smcdow (114828) | about 7 years ago | (#20838879)

hilarious! great comment!

Re:Low IDs can fuck the hell right off (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20838985)

Fuck your low IQ, and fuck your shitty egalitarianism. Good job ruining slashdot.

There. FTFY

Re:Low ID Roll call (1)

PhilHibbs (4537) | about 7 years ago | (#20838823)

I guess I just about qualify. Slashdot was pretty much established as an internet phenomenon when I started reading though.

Re:Low ID Roll call - 6511? (1)

HEbGb (6544) | about 7 years ago | (#20839185)

I think that's my number. Could have been lower if I had cared to register earlier. Anyhow, yeah, I've been reading on and off for a while. It's changed surprisingly little over the years.

Re:Low ID Roll call (1)

Tet (2721) | about 7 years ago | (#20838853)

Don't hold my high ID against me. I waited until the last minute to sign up for an account.

Heh... and I thought I held out for a long time!

Re:Low ID Roll call (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20838897)

I lurked forever before making an account.

AC forever!

Re:Low ID Roll call (1)

bleh-of-the-huns (17740) | about 7 years ago | (#20838869)

Was also a hold out on registering.. but I think I started following around 98 when I was working Tech support at Erols Internet, or abuse at uunet (pre mci days)

Re:Low ID Roll call (1)

cblack (4342) | about 7 years ago | (#20838899)

I don't often post these days and also try to avoid reading comments TOO much since it can be such a time sink. I figured I'd make an appearance :)

Re:Low ID Roll call (4, Interesting)

MBCook (132727) | about 7 years ago | (#20838951)

I always love these little bits, although they usually spawn more organically.

Really, I'd like to see a list of when various account IDs were created. I know I've been around for a long time (I think 6-7 years or so) but I really don't know. But if I knew when 10000 was created, 100000, 200000, 1000000, etc... I could estimate. Plus is would just be interesting to see.

Re:Low ID Roll call (1)

mrtroy (640746) | about 7 years ago | (#20838987)

I didnt register late 2000 or early 2001

Re:Low ID Roll call (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | about 7 years ago | (#20839267)

"I didnt register late 2000 or early 2001"

I was guessing the same. I thought it was after 9/11, but, now I'm guessing it was before...maybe a year before seeing how close our ids are.

Re:Low ID Roll call (1)

brunascle (994197) | about 7 years ago | (#20839237)

ID 646779 was registered somewhere between 2000 and 2002 (i think), my current ID was registered about 2 years ago, and i think i started seeing IDs in the millions about a year ago.

Re:Low ID Roll call (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20838999)

I am Anonymous Coward! No ID is lower than mine!

Re:Low ID Roll call (1)

spun (1352) | about 7 years ago | (#20839117)

Actually, slashcode uses 666 internally as an ID for ACs, so about 665 IDs are lower than yours.

Re:Low ID Roll call (1)

Gulthek (12570) | about 7 years ago | (#20839235)

I'd have a lower id, but when registration started it was "Another site with pointless registration?? Why?" Then they added (or I discovered?) the perks (mod points, customization, etc.).

Re:Low ID Roll call (1)

Paulo (3416) | about 7 years ago | (#20839243)

Low ID represent!!

(Ironically, this is the first post I make in years, since nowadays I consider the comments pretty much useless. But what the hell...).

Re:Low ID Roll call (2, Funny)

AndersOSU (873247) | about 7 years ago | (#20839509)

Wait, so you read slashdot for the stories!?

Man things really have changed.

Re:Low ID Roll call (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20839355)

I never got an ID. I found the notion that you would have to log into every single website you visited repulsive.

Re:Low ID Roll call (1)

JustShootMe (122551) | about 7 years ago | (#20839455)

I actually had an account with an ID of around 300. But I moved providers and lost the password... and can't get it back because I lost use of the address it was sent to.

I'm not even sure I could get that address back if I tried.

It really sucks, but oh well.

Who modded that "interesting?" (1)

Medievalist (16032) | about 7 years ago | (#20839489)


DEC Alpha Multia 166 (1)

swestcott (44407) | about 7 years ago | (#20838621)

DEC Alpha Multia 166 oh man that was the first web server I ever built. I also used Red Hat ahhh good times good times I ran it on the brand new highspeed internet in Alexandria VA Jones cable (bought by Comcast) only one of 300 using it. The cable modem was heaver than the DEC hudge! I still have it in a box some where bouth the cable modem and the DEC

Re:DEC Alpha Multia 166 (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 7 years ago | (#20838851)

I had a 133 MHz. MILO bootloader! Overheating! KDE 1.0!

Strange memories (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20838645)

But no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant.

Ahh, back in the day (4, Insightful)

Erich (151) | about 7 years ago | (#20838659)

Before the signal-to-noise ratio was so low, before ads, before the need for accounts...

It was a simpler, friendlier time.


So leave, cunt. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20838795)

You think your smarmy condescension counts as "signal"?

If you low-ID fucks had any integrity at all you'd delete your accounts and start over. As it is, you're just resting on your laurels. The utility of any given user is an inverse function of their longevity. You're virtually worthless. A useless eater.

How does it feel to only ever get modded up because of peer conformance?

You suck and you're stupid.

Re:So leave, cunt. (1)

smcdow (114828) | about 7 years ago | (#20838923)

Oh, man, another hilarious post! excellent! keep 'em coming! how do you think this stuff up?

It just wouldn't be the same... (2, Insightful)

Wee (17189) | about 7 years ago | (#20838961)

...without the ACs. :-) I love it that there is always, somewhere, somebody who can find the time to shake their tiny fists in 'Net rage.


Re:So leave, cunt. (2, Insightful)

Erich (151) | about 7 years ago | (#20839025)

I believe that if you check my comment history, my comments have been consistently more informative than the average Anonymous Coward comment.

I will grant to you that my reminiscing was perhaps not the most informative comment, however as a comment to a reminiscent article I don't feel it is out-of-place.

If slashdot hid userids, I would not alter how I comment at all.

Do you think your profanity-laden post counts as a contribution? Your complaints that people who have been here longer are respected -- have you considered that perhaps the people who have been visiting technology forums for ten years are perhaps the best-informed and most interested in technology?

Maybe I'm not the stupid one. Certainly not stupid enough to get very upset about an Anonymous Coward. AC's have usually had little to contribute, even from the very beginning.

Comprehensive? (1)

sits69 (1111621) | about 7 years ago | (#20838661)

This great opus can't be considered all-inclusive unless you mention the 'incident with the bird'.

Awesome Story (3, Insightful)

noname4444 (972861) | about 7 years ago | (#20838721)

As someone who only started reading Slashdot about 3 years ago, reading the history is extremely interesting. Thank you for posting this.

I'm looking forward to the future Slashdot stories later this week!

So true... (1)

RobBebop (947356) | about 7 years ago | (#20838733)

Essentially, every second of my life was consumed without time for a break.

I don't know how many times in the last 4 or 5 years I've killed an hour "reading a story on /." And even though time is the most precious resource, the hours of reading were generally worth it. *Much* more enjoyable than work. :)

*laughs* Ah, it's UID time. (1)

Slartibartfast (3395) | about 7 years ago | (#20839071)

I admit it, I'm a UID whore. On my WELL account, I have it check /etc/passwd to see how many people still exist that have accounts older than me. It's down to 137 or so. I -will- be the longest-running-continuous-e-mail-account some day! I will! (20 years next April.) So I've always been kind of disgusted that I waited to sign up at Slashdot -- though the irony is, I never saw C&D. But I do remember the no-user-account-at-all days quite well; it's a shame the old pages are lost...

Re:So true... (1)

JaJ_D (652372) | about 7 years ago | (#20839231)

And even though time is the most precious resource, the hours of reading were generally worth it. *Much* more enjoyable than work. :)

Fair shout, although (with some of the programming jobs I've had), nailing "intimate" parts of my body to lumps of wood is more enjoyable (and a lot less painful in the long run :-)


slashdot is a nigger (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20838779)

the only reason they get anywhere is because of affirmative action.

mod parent up (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20838969)

Finally somebody had the guts to come out and say it!

Re:slashdot is a ... (0, Offtopic)

n0084ever (1042786) | about 7 years ago | (#20839083)

the only reason they get anywhere is because of affirmative action.

since no one has yet pointed out... one of the best things about the way /. has developed is we now get to read comments like this. where would we be without them ???

Slashdot Effect (1)

Hemogoblin (982564) | about 7 years ago | (#20838887)

On the anniversary page:

503 Service Unavailable

The service is not available. Please try again later.
We've slashdotted slashdot! Cue universe implosion.

Is there some kind of (1)

JamesRose (1062530) | about 7 years ago | (#20839057)

Lame joke of the decade award or something?

Re:Is there some kind of (1)

fbjon (692006) | about 7 years ago | (#20839135)

Nah, something's up. User pages blow up too.

Re:Slashdot Effect (1)

ritesonline (1155575) | about 7 years ago | (#20839059)

Just shows what can happen on a slow news day...

Re:Slashdot Effect (1)

tiluki (74844) | about 7 years ago | (#20839275)

Course we did.

As soon as all the geeks round here see "yadda, yadda... Slashdot 10 year anniversary party"!!!! the next thought has got to be:

Will there be beer?

Followed by:

Will there be chicks?


Will it be in a dark basement similar to mine?

Talk about a stampede...

Where does it mention... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20838929)

Digg overtakes Slashdot...

maybe in part II ... can't wait ...

A good read (1)

Asshat_Nazi (946431) | about 7 years ago | (#20838937)

An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge
by Ambrose Bierce

A man stood upon a railroad bridge in northern Alabama, looking down into the swift water twenty feet below. The man's hands were behind his back, the wrists bound with a cord. A rope closely encircled his neck. It was attached to a stout cross-timber above his head and the slack fell to the level of his knees. Some loose boards laid upon the sleepers supporting the metals of the railway supplied a footing for him and his executioners--two private soldiers of the Federal army, directed by a sergeant who in civil life may have been a deputy sheriff. At a short remove upon the same temporary platform was an officer in the uniform of his rank, armed. He was a captain. A sentinel at each end of the bridge stood with his rifle in the position known as "support," that is to say, vertical in front of the left shoulder, the hammer resting on the forearm thrown straight across the chest--a formal and unnatural position, enforcing an erect carriage of the body. It did not appear to be the duty of these two men to know what was occurring at the center of the bridge; they merely blockaded the two ends of the foot planking that traversed it.

Beyond one of the sentinels nobody was in sight; the railroad ran straight away into a forest for a hundred yards, then, curving, was lost to view. Doubtless there was an outpost farther along. The other bank of the stream was open ground--a gentle acclivity topped with a stockade of vertical tree trunks, loopholed for rifles, with a single embrasure through which protruded the muzzle of a brass cannon commanding the bridge. Midway of the slope between the bridge and fort were the spectators--a single company of infantry in line, at "parade rest," the butts of the rifles on the ground, the barrels inclining slightly backward against the right shoulder, the hands crossed upon the stock. A lieu tenant stood at the right of the line, the point of his sword upon the ground, his left hand resting upon his right. Excepting the group of four at the center of the bridge, not a man moved. The company faced the bridge, staring stonily, motionless. The sentinels, facing the banks of the stream, might have been statues to adorn the bridge. The captain stood with folded arms, silent, observing the work of his subordinates, but making no sign. Death is a dignitary who when he comes announced is to be received with formal manifestations of respect, even by those most familiar with him. In the code of military etiquette silence and fixity are forms of deference.

The man who was engaged in being hanged was apparently about thirty-five years of age. He was a civilian, if one might judge from his habit, which was that of a planter. His features were good--a straight nose, firm mouth, broad forehead, from which his long, dark hair was combed straight back, falling behind his ears to the collar of his well-fitting frock coat. He wore a mustache and pointed beard, but no whiskers; his eyes were large and dark gray, and had a kindly expression which one would hardly have expected in one whose neck was in the hemp. Evidently this was no vulgar assassin. The liberal military code makes provision for hanging many kinds of persons, and gentlemen are not excluded.

The preparations being complete, the two private soldiers stepped aside and each drew away the plank upon which he had been standing. The sergeant turned to the captain, saluted and placed himself immediately behind that officer, who in turn moved apart one pace. These movements left the condemned man and the sergeant standing on the two ends of the same plank, which spanned three of the cross-ties of the bridge. The end upon which the civilian stood almost, but not quite, reached a fourth. This plank had been held in place by the weight of the captain; it was now held by that of the sergeant. At a signal from the former the latter would step aside, the plank would tilt and the condemned man go down between two ties. The arrangement commended itself to his judgment as simple and effective. His face had not been covered nor his eyes bandaged. He looked a moment at his "unsteadfast footing," then let his gaze wander to the swirling water of the stream racing madly beneath his feet. A piece of dancing driftwood caught his attention and his eyes followed it down the current. How slowly it appeared to move, What a sluggish stream!

He closed his eyes in order to fix his last thoughts upon his wife and children. The water, touched to gold by the early sun, the brooding mists under the banks at some distance down the stream, the fort, the soldiers, the piece of drift--all had distracted him. And now he became conscious of a new disturbance. Striking through the thought of his dear ones was a sound which he could neither ignore nor understand, a sharp, distinct, metallic percussion like the stroke of a blacksmith's hammer upon the anvil; it had the same ringing quality. He wondered what it was, and whether immeasurably distant or near by--it seemed both. Its recurrence was regular, but as slow as the tolling of a death knell. He awaited each stroke with impatience and--he knew not why--apprehension. The intervals of silence grew progressively longer, the delays became maddening. With their greater infrequency the sounds increased in strength and sharpness. They hurt his ear like the thrust of a knife; he feared he would shriek. What he heard was the ticking of his watch.

He unclosed his eyes and saw again the water below him. "If I could free my hands," he thought, "I might throw off the noose and spring into the stream. By diving I could evade the bullets and, swimming vigorously, reach the bank, take to the woods and get away home. My home, thank God, is as yet outside their lines; my wife and little ones are still beyond the invader's farthest advance."

As these thoughts, which have here to be set down in words, were flashed into the doomed man's brain rather than evolved from it the captain nodded to the sergeant. The sergeant stepped aside.


Peyton Farquhar was a well-to-do planter, of an old and highly respected Alabama family. Being a slave owner and like other slave owners a politician he was naturally an original secessionist and ardently devoted to the Southern cause. Circumstances of an imperious nature, which it is unnecessary to relate here, had prevented him from taking service with the gallant army that had fought the disastrous campaigns ending with the fall of Corinth, and he chafed under the inglorious restraint, longing for the release of his energies, the larger life of the soldier, the opportunity for distinction. That opportunity, he felt, would come, as it comes to all in war time. Meanwhile he did what he could. No service was too humble for him to perform in aid of the South, no adventure too perilous for him to undertake if consistent with the character of a civilian who was at heart a soldier, and who in good faith and without too much qualification assented to at least a part of the frankly villainous dictum that all is fair in love and war.

One evening while Farquhar and his wife were sitting on a rustic bench near the entrance to his grounds, a gray-clad soldier rode up to the gate and asked for a drink of water. Mrs. Farquhar was only toe, happy to serve him with her own white hands. While she was fetching the water her husband approached the dusty horseman and inquired eagerly for news from the front.

"The Yanks are repairing the railroads," said the man, "and are getting ready for another advance. They have reached the Owl Creek bridge, put it in order and built a stockade on the north bank. The commandant has issued an order, which is posted everywhere, declaring that any civilian caught interfering with the railroad, its bridges, tunnels or trains will be summarily hanged. I saw the order."

"How far is it to the Owl Creek bridge?" Farquhar asked.

"About thirty miles."

"Is there no force on this side the creek?"

"Only a picket post half a mile out, on the railroad, and a single sentinel at this end of the bridge."

"Suppose a man--a civilian and student of hanging--should elude the picket post and perhaps get the better of the sentinel," said Farquhar, smiling, "what could he accomplish?"

The soldier reflected. "I was there a month ago," he replied. "I observed that the flood of last winter had lodged a great quantity of driftwood against the wooden pier at this end of the bridge. It is now dry and would burn like tow."

The lady had now brought the water, which the soldier drank. He thanked her ceremoniously, bowed to her husband and rode away. An hour later, after nightfall, he repassed the plantation, going northward in the direction from which he had come. He was a Federal scout.


As Peyton Farquhar fell straight downward through the bridge he lost consciousness and was as one already dead. From this state he was awakened--ages later, it seemed to him--by the pain of a sharp pressure upon his throat, followed by a sense of suffocation. Keen, poignant agonies seemed to shoot from his neck downward through every fiber of his body and limbs. These pains appeared to flash along well-defined lines of ramification and to beat with an inconceivably rapid periodicity. They seemed like streams of pulsating fire heating him to an intolerable temperature. As to his head, he was conscious of nothing but a feeling of fulness--of congestion. These sensations were unaccompanied by thought. The intellectual part of his nature was already effaced; he had power only to feel, and feeling was torment. He was conscious of motion. Encompassed in a luminous cloud, of which he was now merely the fiery heart, without material substance, he swung through unthinkable arcs of oscillation, like a vast pendulum. Then all at once, with terrible suddenness, the light about him shot upward with the noise of a loud splash; a frightful roaring was in his ears, and all was cold and dark. The power of thought was restored; he knew that the rope had broken and he had fallen into the stream. There was no additional strangulation; the noose about his neck was already suffocating him and kept the water from his lungs. To die of hanging at the bottom of a river!--the idea seemed to him ludicrous. He opened his eyes in the darkness and saw above him a gleam of light, but how distant, how inaccessible! He was still sinking, for the light became fainter and fainter until it was a mere glimmer. Then it began to grow and brighten, and he knew that he was rising toward the surface--knew it with reluctance, for he was now very comfortable. "To be hanged and drowned," he thought? "that is not so bad; but I do not wish to be shot. No; I will not be shot; that is not fair."

He was not conscious of an effort, but a sharp pain in his wrist apprised him that he was trying to free his hands. He gave the struggle his attention, as an idler might observe the feat of a juggler, without interest in the outcome. What splendid effort!--what magnificent, what superhuman strength! Ah, that was a fine endeavor! Bravo! The cord fell away; his arms parted and floated upward, the hands dimly seen on each side in the growing light. He watched them with a new interest as first one and then the other pounced upon the noose at his neck. They tore it away and thrust it fiercely aside, its undulations resembling those of a water snake. "Put it back, put it back!" He thought he shouted these words to his hands, for the undoing of the noose had been succeeded by the direst pang that he had yet experienced. His neck ached horribly; his brain was on fire; his heart, which had been fluttering faintly, gave a great leap, trying to force itself out at his mouth. His whole body was racked and wrenched with an insupportable anguish! But his disobedient hands gave no heed to the command. They beat the water vigorously with quick, downward strokes, forcing him to the surface. He felt his head emerge; his eyes were blinded by the sunlight; his chest expanded convulsively, and with a supreme and crowning agony his lungs engulfed a great draught of air, which instantly he expelled in a shriek!

He was now in full possession of his physical senses. They were, indeed, preternaturally keen and alert. Something in the awful disturbance of his organic system had so exalted and refined them that they made record of things never before perceived. He felt the ripples upon his face and heard their separate sounds as they struck. He looked at the forest on the bank of the stream, saw the individual trees, the leaves and the veining of each leaf--saw the very insects upon them: the locusts, the brilliant-bodied flies, the grey spiders stretching their webs from twig to twig. He noted the prismatic colors in all the dewdrops upon a million blades of grass. The humming of the gnats that danced above the eddies of the stream, the beating of the dragon flies' wings, the strokes of the water-spiders' legs, like oars which had lifted their boat--all these made audible music. A fish slid along beneath his eyes and he heard the rush of its body parting the water.

He had come to the surface facing down the stream; in a moment the visible world seemed to wheel slowly round, himself the pivotal point, and he saw the bridge, the fort, the soldiers upon the bridge, the captain, the sergeant, the two privates, his executioners. They were in silhouette against the blue sky. They shouted and gesticulated, pointing at him. The captain had drawn his pistol, but did not fire; the others were unarmed. Their movements were grotesque and horrible, their forms gigantic.

Suddenly he heard a sharp report and something struck the water smartly within a few inches of his head, spattering his face with spray. He heard a second report, and saw one of the sentinels with his rifle at his shoulder, a light cloud of blue smoke rising from the muzzle. The man in the water saw the eye of the man on the bridge gazing into his own through the sights of the rifle. He observed that it was a grey eye and remembered having read that grey eyes were keenest, and that all famous marksmen had them. Nevertheless, this one had missed.

A counter-swirl had caught Farquhar and turned him half round; he was again looking into the forest on the bank opposite the fort. The sound of a clear, high voice in a monotonous singsong now rang out behind him and came across the water with a distinctness that pierced and subdued all other sounds, even the beating of the ripples in his ears. Although no soldier, he had frequented camps enough to know the dread significance of that deliberate, drawling, aspirated chant; the lieu. tenant on shore was taking a part in the morning's work. How coldly and pitilessly--with what an even, calm intonation, presaging, and enforcing tranquillity in the men--with what accurately measured inter vals fell those cruel words:

"Attention, company! . . Shoulder arms! . . . Ready! . . . Aim! . . . Fire!"

Farquhar dived--dived as deeply as he could. The water roared in his ears like the voice of Niagara, yet he heard the dulled thunder of the volley and, rising again toward the surface, met shining bits of metal, singularly flattened, oscillating slowly downward. Some of them touched him on the face and hands, then fell away, continuing their descent. One lodged between his collar and neck; it was uncomfortably warm and he snatched it out.

As he rose to the surface, gasping for breath, he saw that he had been a long time under water; he was perceptibly farther down stream nearer to safety. The soldiers had almost finished reloading; the metal ramrods flashed all at once in the sunshine as they were drawn from the barrels, turned in the air, and thrust into their sockets. The two sentinels fired again, independently and ineffectually.

The hunted man saw all this over his shoulder; he was now swimming vigorously with the current. His brain was as energetic as his arms and legs; he thought with the rapidity of lightning.

The officer," he reasoned, "will not make that martinet's error a second time. It is as easy to dodge a volley as a single shot. He has probably already given the command to fire at will. God help me, I cannot dodge them all!"

An appalling plash within two yards of him was followed by a loud, rushing sound, diminuendo, which seemed to travel back through the air to the fort and died in an explosion which stirred the very river to its deeps!

A rising sheet of water curved over him, fell down upon him, blinded him, strangled him! The cannon had taken a hand in the game. As he shook his head free from the commotion of the smitten water he heard the deflected shot humming through the air ahead, and in an instant it was cracking and smashing the branches in the forest beyond.

"They will not do that again," he thought; "the next time they will use a charge of grape. I must keep my eye upon the gun; the smoke will apprise me--the report arrives too late; it lags behind the missile. That is a good gun."

Suddenly he felt himself whirled round and round--spinning like a top. The water, the banks, the forests, the now distant bridge, fort and men--all were commingled and blurred. Objects were represented by their colors only; circular horizontal streaks of color--that was all he saw. He had been caught in a vortex and was being whirled on with a velocity of advance and gyration that made him giddy and sick. In a few moments he was flung upon the gravel at the foot of the left bank of the stream--the southern bank--and behind a projecting point which concealed him from his enemies. The sudden arrest of his motion, the abrasion of one of his hands on the gravel, restored him, and he wept with delight. He dug his fingers into the sand, threw it over himself in handfuls and audibly blessed it. It looked like diamonds, rubies, emeralds; he could think of nothing beautiful which it did not resemble. The trees upon the bank were giant garden plants; he noted a definite order in their arrangement, inhaled the fragrance of their blooms. A strange, roseate light shone through the spaces among their trunks and the wind made in their branches the music of Æolian harps. He had no wish to perfect his escape--was content to remain in that enchanting spot until retaken.

A whiz and rattle of grapeshot among the branches high above his head roused him from his dream. The baffled cannoneer had fired him a random farewell. He sprang to his feet, rushed up the sloping bank, and plunged into the forest.

All that day he traveled, laying his course by the rounding sun. The forest seemed interminable; nowhere did he discover a break in it, not even a woodman's road. He had not known that he lived in so wild a region. There was something uncanny in the revelation.

By nightfall he was fatigued, footsore, famishing. The thought of his wife and children urged him on. At last he found a road which led him in what he knew to be the right direction. It was as wide and straight as a city street, yet it seemed untraveled. No fields bordered it, no dwelling anywhere. Not so much as the barking of a dog suggested human habitation. The black bodies of the trees formed a straight wall on both sides, terminating on the horizon in a point, like a diagram in a lesson in perspective. Overhead, as he looked up through this rift in the wood, shone great garden stars looking unfamiliar and grouped in strange constellations. He was sure they were arranged in some order which had a secret and malign significance. The wood on either side was full of singular noises, among which--once, twice, and again--he distinctly heard whispers in an unknown tongue.

His neck was in pain and lifting his hand to it found it horribly swollen. He knew that it had a circle of black where the rope had bruised it. His eyes felt congested; he could no longer close them. His tongue was swollen with thirst; he relieved its fever by thrusting it forward from between his teeth into the cold air. How softly the turf had carpeted the untraveled avenue--he could no longer feel the roadway beneath his feet!

Doubtless, despite his suffering, he had fallen asleep while walking, for now he sees another scene--perhaps he has merely recovered from a delirium. He stands at the gate of his own home. All is as he left it, and all bright and beautiful in the morning sunshine. He must have traveled the entire night. As he pushes open the gate and passes up the wide white walk, he sees a flutter of female garments; his wife, looking fresh and cool and sweet, steps down from the veranda to meet him. At the bottom of the steps she stands waiting, with a smile of ineffable joy, an attitude of matchless grace and dignity. Ah, how beautiful she is! He springs forward with extended arms. As he is about to clasp her he feels a stunning blow upon the back of the neck; a blinding white light blazes all about him with a sound like the shock of a cannon--then all is darkness and silence!

Peyton Farquhar was dead; his body, with a broken neck, swung gently from side to side beneath the timbers of the Owl Creek bridge.

What's slashdot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20838993)

What's slashdot? ;-)

Thanks, Taco (2, Interesting)

mobby_6kl (668092) | about 7 years ago | (#20839039)

I was actually hoping you'd start writing about /. especially since I wasn't around here back then at the beginning. Certainly do write more, either about the CnD transformation or just random stories that are somehow related to CnD or /.. It feels like there should be enough material for a small book, let alone a series of short articles.

And, since I missed the original anniversary story, congratulations!

When does the bidding start? (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | about 7 years ago | (#20839041)

and maybe later I'll write the the sequel where I talk of the transformation into sellout mega corporate evil and eventually irrelevant blemish on the history of the net
When will the bidding start, and what's the reserve price for the sellout?

(:-) for the humor impaired.

I remember when... (2, Interesting)

Craig Maloney (1104) | about 7 years ago | (#20839163)

I remember stumbling on Chips and Dips when I was looking through the Hope pages wondering what the department was doing. Seemed like a pretty interesting little project, so I've continued lurking and contributing when I could. I've really enjoyed the site, and can't thank Rob enough for all of the years of reading. It's still the site I use for my tech news, despite the Diggs, Reddits, and what-nots.

Thanks again. Rob, for Slashdot back then, and may there be many many more years of Slashdot to come!

Slashdot is 10 years old (5, Funny)

RendonWI (958388) | about 7 years ago | (#20839395)

I don't get it, so what if it is 2 years old?

One of the 400 still anonymous, still moderating (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20839431)

Wow. *snap fingers* Ten years just like that.

Way back in the first few days, /. was quite wild and fun and about half the posts were trolls, flamebaits, races to see who could get the first post, with a whole lot of personality mixed in. If Jon Katz (To all former Katz haters, I still think we did the site an immense service, especially around the time of the Columbine shootings.) were still here, I think he'd have a lot of very interesting things to say about the good this site has done.

What was wilder still was that not too long after I first joined, the first attempts at moderation came into effect -- and for some reason they decided to let a sort of "down in the dumps at the time techie" who is a pretty good writer -- uh, that would be me -- be one of the few who started the moderation ball rolling. At the time if ya let someone know you were one of the moderators or abused the privilege --> poof no more moderation for you bucko!

Within weeks /. rose out of the dregs to become a site I still participate in from time to time, that I am proud to call part of my daily web experience, and that has shaped quite a few important debates, from the DCMA to SCO and a lot of ground in between. And I got to play in their sandbox and try to make a little difference in the world along the way. [They even tell me I have excellent Karma. :-) ]

I want to point at one more accomplishment over the last few yearsthat really deserves a standing ovation: on 9/11/2001, Slashdot was the only major news feed on the web that didn't crash due to overload, and this on technology and bandwidth that was way way WAY behind what we have now.

So, anonymously from a long time /. reader: thanks Malda and crew. Here's to as many more years as you choose to be the king of the sandbox.

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