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August 4th, 2016

When Slashdot Was the Hub for FOSS News and Discussion

The original Slashdot crew was declared redundant in early 2016 by the site’s latest owner, Slashdot Media. Timothy Lord was the last of the early Slashdot editors to be let go, and has posted more stories on Slashdot than anyone else, ever, so we turned to him to learn how and why Slashdot helped the FOSS movement grow and eventually infiltrate mainstream IT.

The FOSS Force Video Interview

Starting in the last years of the last century, when Linux and free software were first making their mark on the world, a website called Slashdot was the king-hell news and discussion site for such things, along with a variety of other topics that interested the kind of people you might meet at a LUG meeting or in the CS department of your local university. The original Slashdot tagline (no longer visible on the site) was “News for nerds, stuff that matters.” And one of the people who worked on Slashdot during those heady days was Timothy Lord, who is such a devout Linux person that he has a Tux tattoo (which we forgot to have him show in the video, darn it).

FOSS was not the only news that interested nerds, and other stuff mattered, too, as the extensive Wikipedia Slashdot page explains. So let us go then, you and I, while FOSS Force is spread out, Prufrock-like, upon the monitor, to a distant land and time, with Timothy — and learn how things were in the days of yore, when Linux was still unknown to the masses and the people who cared about it, and about FOSS in general, were an interesting bunch we shall politely not call weirdos since many of them became our good friends over the years. But normal they were not, which was a large part of their charm — and what gave Slashdot its unique flavor.

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Robin "Roblimo" Miller

Robin "Roblimo" Miller is a freelance writer and former editor-in-chief at Open Source Technology Group, the company that owned SourceForge, freshmeat, Linux.com, NewsForge, ThinkGeek and Slashdot, and until recently served as a video editor at Slashdot. Now he's mostly retired, but still works part-time as an editorial consultant for Grid Dynamics, and (obviously) writes for FOSS Force.

6 comments to When Slashdot Was the Hub for FOSS News and Discussion

  • AgentSmithJr.

    I used to love Slashdot. Then I realized that unless you were left of center politically you weren’t allowed to post comments there. No tears here that those jackholes are all gone now. They certainly couldn’t be bothered to keep discussions “free and open” there.

  • @AgentSmithJr: That sounds like a self-selecting bias among Slashdot’s readership, given that comments are based on a multi-tier community moderation system.

    I actually always thought it was better at avoiding the I’m-downvoting-you-just-because-I-disagree-with-you common to most comments systems that base comment visibility on community votes, but no system is perfect.

    I should also add that I haven’t read Slashdot regularly for about a decade, so if your experience was more recent than mine I can understand why it would be different.

  • Frobozz

    Slashdot was great until the Great Desktop Wars began in the late 90’s and they decided to jump 100% on GNOME’s side…the endless anti-KDE bias drove me away a long time ago.

  • Funny how everyone’s individual biases get projected onto whatever it is that they are currently criticizing, isn’t it?

  • Anonymous Coward

    Slashdot was great until you whined about it’s anonymity. The _only_ reason to care about user names is to make personal attacks against someone you disagree with. Thanks, Robin, you killed Slashdot.

  • probably Tonky

    Slashdot media is owned by a microsoft shell company. It was bought out because microsoft wanted more leverage with open source opinions. Fact.