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The Politics of Slashdot

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This page is an attempt to summarize the topic of the Slashdot community from the POV of the Slashdot community. Please read the guidelines for 1POV articles before editing. Edits critical to this point of view aren't really welcome on this particular page, but feel free to comment on the talk page or contribute to an alternative article at:

Slashdot is a blog-like website that pre-existed the coining of the word blog. It's motto is "News for Nerds. Stuff that Matters."

(See similar pages for Kuro5hin and Digg.)

Slashdot's Issues Edit

The degree to which "Slashdot" can be said to have issues isn't totally clear. The community is heterogeneous and discussions usually happen around areas of contention rather than areas of broad agreement.

This is a sketch of the kinds of thinking that frequently come up and find support within part of Slashdot's readership. If you're looking to flesh out this page, this section could really use some work.

  • The Free Software /Open Source Movement
    • Taking the "pragmatic open source" versus "liberty oriented Free software" issue somewhat seriously.
    • Strongly suspecting that source code is speech and deserves protection under the 1st Amendment.
    • Getting governments to use and support open standards and open tools.
    • Making "Linux on the Desktop" a reality for many people.
  • Digital Rights and IP Laws
    • Software patents are "mostly bad".
    • The DMCA and "hacking restrictions" are "mostly bad".
    • File sharing and open content is "mostly good".
  • Civil Liberties
    • General respect for 'em.
    • Unusually high technical understanding of and opposition to modern forms of wiretapping.

Who Is Slashdot? Edit

The Editors Edit

Slashdot stories are suggested by the users. Then the editors of Slashdot pick among the story suffestions for things that they find personally interesting. Then the articles are posted for the community for reading and commenting. The editors are thus one major source of the topic bias on Slashdot. They are also one of the easier souces of the Slashdot POV to analyze because there are so few of them:

  • Rob Malda (username "CmdrTaco") founded Slashdot in 1997.
  • Jeff Bates (username "Hemos") is the "second in command".
  • Timothy Lord (username "timothy") is the Managing Editor.
  • Jamie McCarthy (username "jamie") handles the "Your Rights Online" Section.
  • Cliff Wood (username "Cliff") is the Editor of "Ask Slashdot".
  • Simon Carless (username "simoniker") handles the Games Section.
  • Jon Pater (username "CowboyNeal") is the "Editor at Very Large".

The Audience Edit

The readers of Slashdot suggest the stories. They also comment on them, moderate the comments into prominence or obscurity, and meta-moderate the moderation to prevent abuse. Without them there would be no Slashdot community worth talking about, but they are much trickier to pigeonhole than the editors.

Slashdot's core audience is programmers, Linux enthusiasts, supporters of the open source software movements, and generally people who are unusually technically savvy relative to the general population. Of course, many slashdotters aren't programmers, many use the Windows OS, many are unusually aware of the drawbacks of open source software development... but even when they don't match a stereotype of Slashdotters they frequently are aware of the stereotype and have an opinion on it.

Many Slashdot readers access the site from work. In some software firms, more then 80% of the programmers have Slashdot as their home page. Many Slashdot stories are related to Microsoft Windows video games or applications, or Microsoft security bulletins. The ongoing assumption that Slashdot is Linux-oriented comes both from historical reasons and from its famous Gates "Borg" icon.

Famous Slashdotters Edit

Famous or well-known Slashdotters include:

History Of Slashdot's Politics Edit

Slashdot was started in 1997.

Journalist Jon Katz contributed to Slashdot for several years, often trying to go more deeply into social and political issues than other writers on the site. However, his enthusiam for geek/Internet culture exceeded his understanding of it, and his work earned more ridicule than respect in readers' comments. While the geeky side of pop culture - video games, anime, and sci-fi TV - has always been popular on Slashdot, Katz's attempts to examine geek culture in the context of the bigger picture of American culture were usually rejected. This certainly reflects Katz's limitations as a technology writer, but probably says as much about the worldview of the smart, busy, and young American males who make up most of the Slashdot audience.

Slashdot closely followed the SCO legal trial.

On the 7th of September, 2004, slashdot announced added a "politics" subdomain to deal with the ongoing (and expected to grow) rush of political news surrounding the November 2004 US Presidential elections.

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