How Slashdot Happened

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I was going to post about the X-Wing that actually flies (but doesn’t land very well), or make some argument about how, oh, I don’t know, maybe the Zune isn’t such a bad idea after all. But instead I got sort of misty-eyed over Slashdot’s 10th anniversary instead. There’s a post there describing how the site first got started, that delivers a bracing, eye-stinging, high-proof dose of Web nostalgia.

Of course, all those stories are basically the same: “yeah, I was just doing this thing for me and my pals, then word got out, traffic spiked, the server fell over, I quit my job. step three: profit!” Though actually it’s never been clear to me how much the /. gang makes off the site. And the details are kinda touching:

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.

I owe a lot to Slashdot, including my one and only shred of Internet credibility (my low Slashdot ID: 2199. In your face, 2200!), and not to mention the 90,000,000 stories I’ve swiped from it over the years without proper credit. There was always something unassailably authentic about Slashdot — its refusal to spell properly, its unabashed open source partisanship, its refusal to pander to the technically illiterate like me. I still feel like it embodied the tone and attitude of the blog revolution years before that revolution actually happened.

I don’t hear people talk about Slashdot in the same hushed, awestruck tones they used to. Maybe that’s because of all the lamers who comment there, or because major non-mainstream news sources just aren’t as hard to find as they used to be. But I still check it multiple times a day. If you’re going to steal, steal from the best.