This year's anniversary of Slashdot is bittersweet for us ThinkGeek monkeys. Just this week, our parent company announced that Slashdot (along with SourceForge and Freecode) would become part of the family of sites at Dice.
The thing is, we've been together with these guys for a long time. In fact, it was just a month after ThinkGeek opened its doors that we were Slashdotted for the very first time. Over the years we've had a lot of fun, and even though we're reporting to different overlords now, we know we'll always be friends--and that's why we're proud to offer Slashdot's 15th anniversary shirt.
News for nerds. Stuff that matters. Always and forever.
A Brief History of /.
Guestposted by Tim "timothy" Lord, Slashdot editor
Slashdot's been slinging news (for a longer time than seems possible!) from dorm rooms (when Rob Malda and company started it 15 years ago), condos (the next phase) and numerous basements, apartments, houses, offices, and yes, fairly often from my car. Now the site's old enough to get a provisional driver's license in some states, and it's worth mentioning a few aspects of the site I've had a fly-on-the-wall chance to see up close.
Slashdot's motto of "News for Nerds, Stuff that Matters" informs everything else: we've always subscribed to the belief that many thousands of readers have in sum more interesting things to say, and collectively a better nose for intriguing news, than the shifting handful of posting editors; our biggest job is really to provide a good listening post, conveyor belt, sorting table, seive, copying machine, and bulletin board to shake, sift, and paste on the wall all those readers' news and comments into a useful, scannable form. That The Truth Will Out (not to mention "Let a thousand flowers bloom") has been a controlling idea from the beginning. When I show my friends or family the site, the main lesson is that the action is in the crowd-sourced comments and topic suggestions.
It's been interesting to see just how much a similar attitude has taken off in many domains, mostly enabled by the flexibility of internet-based social interactions. People were certainly making things before they were Making things downloaded from Thingiverse, just like there was mail before email, open source and Free software before either of those terms had any currency (not to mention startups before Kickstarter), but the last decade and a half has brought a lot of real-world instances of the buzzwordy predicted upsides about life in the future that it's easy to cynically overlook. (And yes, there's a lot to be cynical about; see our YRO section for proof.) Whatever your every-day carry tools of choice, it's mind-bending to think that the iPad 2 has more power than the Cray-2 I used to (figuratively) drool over. No matter the power of the tech we can carry around (or at least put on our desks), there's another good reason to be optimistic about the future that Slashdot's been documenting in our roundabout way for the whole time it's been around: it keeps getting hacked, in the best sense of the word.
But high tech sometimes yields to low-tech: Besides a few screenshots, a small stream of videos of late, and a jillion little icons (actually, 1.2 jillion, but who's counting), the Slashdot world is mostly about text. Relatively speaking, it's a mild drizzle of the stories that end up emerging on the page, from the brisk stream of reader submissions, and a Niagra Falls of reader comments.
Of course, those comments have sometimes gotten heated, for one reason or another. The inevitable flame wars that errupt when Immovable Object and Unstoppable Force collide (think copyright vs. file sharing, surveillance vs. privacy, emacs vs. vi, censorware vs. users with access to search engines and coffee) end up shedding more light sometimes than seems clear at the time. Whenever we've gotten nastygrams or legal attention from the subjects of negative publicity (or simply stories that cost the subjects business)--like the Church of Scientology, iOpener, and Microsoft--it's the kind of thing that shows that the site's been doing something right.
The next phase seems to be beginning today; hopefully there are many more years of heat and light to go. We're going to miss having work-cousins at ThinkGeek.