You might already know about Slashdot, a website that’s been a gathering place for techies, nerds, and privacy aficionados since the late 1990s when Rob “Cmdr Taco” Malda first got the site running. It developed a strong community following, whose comments and conversations on the tail of posted news articles often topped hundreds of posts. Slashdot was never the first site to post the news, but the comments were – and are – sometimes so much so that the concept of not RTFA (not reading the F’ing Article) became an inside joke.
Slashdot was sold at least twice: once to Sourceforge and again in 2013 to Dice.com. But Dice has struggled to figure out how to make Slashdot profitable for them, and in hopes of generating more ad revenue has begun rolling out a new version (still in beta stage) of an interface that to some might look more modern, but to the Slashdot faithful looks like the end of the world. It wastes screenspace and destroys the much-loved (yet often derided) commenting, karma, and moderation system. In sum, it makes the site no longer worth visiting.
So where do angry Slashdotters go when they want to discuss techie news? Usenet.
That’s right, comp.misc is where a lot of them wound up, and this formerly somewhat-defunct newsgroup is again a wellspring of insightful commentary, careful, technical rebuttals, and on top of that, a sigh of relief (or is it nostalgia?) for Usenet. “It’s been ages since I followed-up on a news article,” said one. “May this be the beginning of an Eternal February,” said another.
Usenet has always been there, of course. And its strengths – distribution of the network, open access through your choice of NSP, absolutely no censorship, and total, absolute ownership by the community instead of by a corporation – remain as useful and essential in 2014 as they were in 1994 and earlier!
Come visit us on comp.misc and see what all the celebration is about.
I’d like to thank Randall Wood for contributing this post. Along with being a fan of Usenet, Randy is the author of The Dictator’s Handbook. I read a lot of books but don’t make it cover to cover on many of them. The Dictator’s Handbook is an exception. You can learn more about Randy and his writing at www.therandymon.com.