On January 16, 2002, what started out as a small, off-topic reply to a news story, entitled "The first Slashdot troll post investigation " became the most heavily commented and highest rated post in the history of the website. To summarize the article, (http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=26315&cid=2850660&pid=2850660&startat=&threshold=-1&mode=nested), several general accusations were made against the quality and content of topics, the viewpoints of the users, and most importantly, the attitudes of the editors in charge of running the site.
The accusations were not particularly new or original, but the responses of the general userbase were so overwhelmingly in support of a change in the moderation policies that it could not be ignored by the editors themselves. Ironically, the response of the editors was to moderate the thread out of existence. Further, every response, from the well-thought out to the completely inane, were moderated to the same no-man's land of "-1, Off-Topic", effectively blanketing the controversial thread from the eyes of the casual reader. It slowly became clear that what was going on wasn't simply normal, user-moderation (as Slashdot claims), but an organized and systematic attempt at censorship. To wit, at the time of this writeup, the current moderation totals are: Offtopic=213, Flamebait=4, Troll=25, Redundant=3, Insightful=57, Interesting=124, Informative=29, Funny=7, Overrated=9, Underrated=40, Total=511, with 767 individual replies.
What ensued was a rapid storm of protests against the administrators of Slashdot. Users who had been with the site since its beginnings were posting their disgust, (and losing karma); rival news site Kuro5hin.org had an article describing the debacle on their front page. People aware of the thread began a grass roots movement to stop the censorship by including its link in their signatures to posts. Eventually, one of the editors, Jamie McCarthy, posted a response to the criticism on the site Kuro5hin. In it he stated,
"If you're so dumb that you post off-topic comments and think it's horrible, evil censorship when they get moderated off-topic, then great, please leave Slashdot. Go away. I'm serious. You're an idiot and you won't contribute anything of value anyway."What will become of Slashdot is anyone's guess. It's entirely possible that the furor will die down and people will move on with their lives; it is also possible that this blasé, "the user can go to hell" attitude will send dissatisfied readers to rival sites like Kuro5hin or The Register. Slashdot, like E2, Kuro5hin, and a host of other websites, is primarily user-driven. The content of these sites -- their raison d'être -- is submitted by regular users; anger enough of them and they will go someplace else.
As this is part of my homenode, and not accessible to the general searching public, I would kindly ask the editors of E2 to not delete this. Apparently some would rather have empty nodeshells, tireless, asinine banter, specious reasoning and terrible grammer fill this site, but I'd like to hold out at least a little hope for this place. I realize this isn't my website, I don't pay for the hosting, and didn't code a single line of Perl for it; I have toned down the initial "Nuke Rage" that followed because dem_bones has been very honest about his intentions and reasons, when clearly no reason needs to be given. But anyone who reads the /. thread or the K5 writeup will be led to believe a certain viewpoint. It is unfortunate that the /. editors maintain a code of silence when it comes to dissention, because if there was more going on behind the scenes and they had been at all forthcoming about it, the entire issue would have been put to rest long ago.