Slashdot (frequently abbreviated online as "/.") is a popular technology-oriented weblog, primarily consisting of short summaries of stories on other websites with links to the stories, and provisions for readers to comment on the story. Each story generally receives 50 to over 1000 such comments. The summaries for the stories are generally submitted by Slashdot's own readers with editors accepting or rejecting these contributions for general posting. Also sometimes featured are movie or book reviews, interviews, and "Ask Slashdot" queries from users requesting information from the readership. The site's slogan is, "News for nerds, stuff that matters," but Slashdot is sometimes criticized for posting inaccurate and/or inflammatory story summaries that incite heated posting, as opposed to serious news or commentary (see Slashdot subculture). It is also famous for the related Slashdot effect, which often floods unsuspecting websites with traffic, sometimes bringing them down. The name slashdot was invented to confuse people who try to say the url of the site orally (h t t p colon slash slash slash dot dot org).
Created in September 1997 by Rob "CmdrTaco" Malda;, Slashdot is now owned by the Open Source Development Network, part of VA Software. The site is run primarily by Malda, Jeff "Hemos" Bates (who handles articles and book reviews and sells advertising) and Robin "Roblimo" Miller who helps handle some of the more managerial tasks of the site, as well as posting stories. (See Slashdot history).
Slashdot's core audience consists of Linux enthusiasts and various other enthusiasts of the Open Source software movement. Curiously, a poll on Slashdot suggests that approximately half of all Slashdot visitors actually use a Microsoft Windows operating system with only a third using some form of Linux.  One explanation for this result posits a number of Linux users browsing Slashdot from their workplaces, where Windows is dominant. Another is that some users of the site come there to wind up the more dogmatic parts of the Open Source using public or to make bogus arguments and generally sow confusion, rather than because they use or want to find out about it.
Slashdot users, sometimes called Slashdotters, number in excess of 800,000 registered users. Famous or well-known Slashdotters include actor Wil Wheaton (username "CleverNickName"), id Software programmer John Carmack (username "John Carmack"), and open source evangelist Bruce Perens (username "Bruce Perens"). Also noteworthy is the participation of several engineers from NASA involved in the Mars rover exploration projects.
The software that runs Slashdot is called Slash and is released under the terms of the Free Software Foundation's GNU General Public License. Many other websites use various customized versions of this software for their own web forums.
Trolling and moderation
As one of the largest forums on the Internet, trolling and spamming on Slashdot is a highly evolved phenomenon (see Slashdot trolling phenomena). It is an offbeat and complex subculture involving sometimes repetitive and sometimes obscene comments featuring an admixture of Slashdot celebrities and other unusual juvenilia.
There are many famous personalities from Slashdot's older trolling community. Craig McPherson, for example, started the well-known hot grits and naked and petrified memes while OSM and Trollaxor specialized in bizarre creative fiction regarding various Slashdot and Free/Open Source Software personalities. SpiralX, Streetlawyer/John Saul Montoya (jsm), Dumb Marketing Guy (dmg), Seventy Percent, 80md and others typified the classic sense of trolling both under their well-known monikers and a bevy of pseudonyms (or "sock puppets").
Other less-sophisticated forms of Slashdot trolling -- often referred to as crapflooding -- includes posting of one-liners, ASCII art, and other nonsense. Several of these trolls set up Geekizoid, a site devoted to exploring and fostering crapflooding memes. Members of the aforementioned classic trolling group created Adequacy.org and continued their formula there until its closing. Another site where trolls gather is Anti-Slash where trolls come to wage jihad on Slashdot.
The Slashdot editors are sometimes accused of posting (and even preferring) stories that are, themselves, thinly-disguised trolls, which encourage large numbers of postings in response.
Since trolling is prevalent, a moderation system was implemented, whereby every comment posted (including those posted anonymously) can be "moderated" up or down by randomly chosen moderators, changing its score likewise. Slashdot editors, including CmdrTaco himself, can moderate limitlessly, while those users who are randomly given moderation privileges can only moderate a limited amount. Moderation points added to a comment are also added to a user's karma score. Having high karma gives added bonuses to users, such as the ability to autopost at higher starting values. Conversely, users with low karma have penalties imposed on them. People that post comments designed to get more karma, for example mirroring a linked article, are sometimes referred to as "karma whores." This practice is referred to as karma whoring.
A given comment can have any integer score from -1 to 5 inclusive, and Slashdot users can set a personal threshold where no comments with a lesser score are displayed. (For example, a person with a score threshold of 1 will not see comments with a score of -1 or 0 but will see all others.) Moderators have been known to abuse the ability to increase or decrease the score of comments, and in some cases entire threads of comments have been marked down to -1. Subsequently, a meta-moderation system was implemented to moderate the moderators and help contain abuses.
- Barrapunto -- A Spanish-speaking site in the spirit of Slashdot
- PuntBarra -- A Catalan-speaking site in the spirit of Slashdot
- Gildot -- A Portuguese-speaking site in the spirit of Slashdot
- Linuxfr -- A French speaking site in the spirit of Slashdot
- Symlink -- A German speaking site in the spirit of Slashdot
- List of websites
- Heise -- Heise.de has a similar subculture to slashdot
- Kuro5hin -- An alternative discussion site founded and visited by Slashdot ex-patriots.
- Everything2 -- Meta-information database run by Slashdot founders.
- Plastic.com -- A political news forum running on SlashCode
Source | Copyright
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Wired: Copy-Protected CDs Taken Back
"[BMG Germany] was faced with a backlash from consumers complaining that some of the copy-protected CDs were unplayable."
New Scientist: NSync CD is Copy Protection "Experiment"
"The music industry is now testing different copy protection systems on mass market chart CDs, with copies of NSync's Celebrity on the Zomba label being sold in at least three different versions."
Register: UK Campaigners Call for Anti 'Anti-rip' CD Day of Action
"Campaigners will take to the streets of Britain this Saturday (6 October) in a bid to raise public awareness of the music industry's attempts to prevent listeners from copying CDs or playing discs on PCs." By Tony Smith.
Slashdot: NSync Copy Protected CD
"NSync's new CD will be released in a least 3 different versions (with different copy protection techniques)." News and reader comments.
Register: US Record Label Sued over Anti-rip CD Technology
"An unnamed Californian woman has sued US country music record label Fahrenheit Entertainment for allegedly misleading its customers by shipping CDs protected with an anti-rip mechanism." By Tony Smith.
CD Freaks: SafeAudio Explained and Should We Fear It?
How Macrovision's SafeAudio works and how to bypass it.
CNet: Protected CDs Quietly Slip into Stores
"Consumers in ordinary record stores are unwittingly buying CDs that include technology designed to discourage the making of digital copies."
Register: Anti-rip CD System Bypassed
"Macrovision's SafeAudio technology, designed to prevent PC-owning music fans from ripping CD tracks onto their hard drives, has been bypassed." By Tony Smith.
Geek.com: Audio CD Copy Protection
"The first copy-protected audio CD in the US will be released in April. The CD is a tribute to country singer Jim Reeves performed by Charley Pride."
Slashdot: BMG's New Copy-Protected Audio CDs
"BMG-Entertainment started selling audio-CDs using the Cactus Data Shield, a copy-protection system developed by Midbar and Sonopress which makes it impossible to grab the music from the CD and to listen to it using 'an old CD-Player' or a CD-ROM-drive." News and reader comments.
More Copy Protected CDs?
Fat Chuck's maintains a list of corrupt CDs. Reader comments and discussion. [Slashdot]
SoundHub: Universal Rolls Out CD Copy Protection
"Universal Music Group has recently announced it's October plans for issuing CDs which will include software that prevents them from being ripped and encoded to a user's PC."
Register: Music Biz Patents Anti-rip Encryption Technology
"Details of the method appear in a patent filed by IFPI. The patent, GB2357165, centres on encrypting the track time codes stamped onto every music disc." By Tony Smith.
Register: Old Code Defeats New CD Anti-ripping Technologies
"Macrovision's SafeAudio and Midbar's Cactus - both new technologies designed to prevent CDs from being copied successfully - may have been defeated by software released over two years ago." By Tony Smith.
Register: 1M Anti-piracy Hi-fi Nuking CDs Hit Europe
"One million CDs have been released in Europe which are protected by the controversial anti-piracy system Cactus Data Shield... The Cactus Data Shield system is controversial because the technology could blow your hi-fi speakers." By Robert Blincoe.
BMG Backs Down Over Copy-Protected CD
Virgin Megastores has responded to a complaint from one of their customers and said that BMG has set up a helpline to allow people who bought the corrupt version, to exchange it for a real one. Virgin and HMV will also be bringing in new stock of uncorrupted CDs. [Slashdot]
Register: CD Anti-piracy System Can Nuke Hi-fi Kit
"Sony's Music Entertainment division has been testing an anti-piracy technology that at best renders illegally copied CDs unlistenable and at worse blows listeners' speakers." By Tony Smith.
New Scientist: Anti-piracy CD System Raises Distortion Fear
"The first CD title has already sold 100,000 copies, but it is causing concern among audio experts because they fear that the music may be audibly distorted."
New Scientist: New CD Anti-Piracy System Could Damage Loudspeakers
"It is called the Cactus Data Shield, and it is designed to add noisy garbage to all copied CDs. The trouble is, it could also damage the hi-fi and loudspeakers of people who play pirated CDs."
New Scientist Correction
Retraction of article saying Cactus DataShield could damage speakers. "Midbar... has asked us to make clear that there is nothing in its technology on the market, past, current or future, that could, or would, be potentially damaging to equipment."
Register: 'Hi-fi Nuking' CD Technology Safe Claims Developer
Skeptical report on New Scientist's retraction of its warning that Cactus could damage speakers playing copied CDs. By Tony Smith.
kuro5hin: New Scientist: SafeDisc Can Cause Damage to Speakers
"New Scientist reports that the new anti-piracy feature on audio CDs, has the potential to damage loudspeakers by introducing square waves into the amplified signal." News and reader comments.
Campaign for Digital Rights: Corrupt Audio Discs
Articles, documents, research, leaflets, and list of "known bad" CDs in Europe.
Cactus CD Copy Protection is Launched This Month
"To thwart file swappers, Universal Music Group executives have said they want to protect a large proportion of their new releases as early as midyear." News and reader discussion. [kuro5hin]
Blue Celine of Death - Sony Wants to Crash Your Computer
"Sony has released Celine Dion's latest album with some software that will crash your computer if you place it in your drive." News and reader discussion. [Plastic]
Lawsuit Challenges Copy-protected CDs
Reader discussion of Reuters article. [Slashdot]
Slashdot -Stations Can't Play Crippled Music Disks
Reader comments on The Age article reporting that some radio stations are unable to play copy-protected CDs.
The Age - Copy Protected CDs: Artists Can Be the Losers
Article pointing out that music companies which use copy protection may be denying the artists under contract to them legitimate play time on radio stations.
Big Five Labels Sued Over Copy-Protected CDs
"Heightening the tension surrounding the music industry's efforts to guard its content in the digital realm, the five major record labels were hit with a class action lawsuit last week for producing and distributing CDs with copyright protection controls." By Scarlet Pruitt. [IDG]
Music For The Masses
Lists copy-protected CDs that have been released in the New Zealand market.
NewOlde.com - How to Detect and Avoid Copy-Controlled CDs
Information for classical music listeners to help them identify Copy-Controlled CDs, including the graphics that appear on the packaging.
The Register - Congressman Assails CD Copy Protection
Copy protection tracks implanted in CDs are a violation of the right to fair use of purchased music, writes a US Representative to recording industry lobbyists.
Lawsuit Challenges Copy-Protected CDs
"The five major record companies have been hit with a class-action lawsuit charging that new CDs designed to thwart Napster-style piracy are defective and should either be barred from sale or carry warning labels." [Reuters]
Another Class Action Over Crippled Music Disks
News brief and reader discussion. [Slashdot]
Felt Tip Marker Defeats Copy-Protected CDs
News and reader discussion. [Slashdot]
Post-it Notes vs. Copy-Inhibited CDs
News about Celine Dion CDs killing iMacs and black markers or sticky notes defeating some "copy-protection" schemes. Reader discussion. [Slashdot]
Hey, Big Five - Copyright This!
"A class action lawsuit has been filed against the five major record labels for manufacturing and distributing defective or dysfunctional compact discs." News and reader discussion. [Plastic]
Customers Put Kibosh on Anti-Copy CD
"Complaints about anti-copying technology on Natalie Imbruglia's latest CD force her record label to issue replacements for angry consumers." By John Borland. [CNet]
AOL Seeks Manager for Anti-Copying Push
"AOL Time Warner is beginning efforts to add copy protection to CDs, underscoring the company's desire to limit unsanctioned digital distribution of its musical works." By Jim Hu. [CNet]
'No More Music CDs Without Copy Protection,' Claims BMG Unit
"BMG is at it again, this time apparently set on applying copy protection to all its music products." By John Lettice. [Register]
BMG Stops Producing CDs
"The Register has a new story about claims by Bertelsmann that they'll stop manufacturing uncrippled audio CDs." News and reader comments. [Slashdot]
BMG to Replace Anti-rip Natalie Imbruglia CDs
"Bertelsmann Music Group has had to back down on plans to force anti-rip technologies on British CD buyers." By Tony Smith. [Register]
CD Technology Stops Copies, But It Starts a Controversy
"The recording industry has begun selling music CD's designed to make it impossible for people to copy music to their computers, trade songs over the Internet or transfer them to portable MP3 players." By Amy Harmon. [New York Times]
Consumers in Crossfire of Labels' War on Piracy
"The downside of copy-protected music CDs? Some won't play when consumers get them home." By Aaron Pressman. [Christian Science Monitor]
Consumer Claims Victory in CD Lawsuit
"Makers of a recording by country-pop singer Charley Pride have agreed to stop tracking most listener habits and to warn consumers that the CD is not compatible with MP3 and other players, according to attorneys for a woman who sued the companies." By Lisa Bowman. [CNet]
Record Labels Beware
Study suggests that, if the music industry wants to experiment with selling copy-protected CDs, "there [must] be mandatory warning labels on the CDs or the industry risks seriously alienating consumers." By Jon Iverson. [Stereophile]
Philips: Don't Mess with the CD!
"According to Philips, recent attempts to add playback restriction technology to new releases is not just a bad idea: Because the Red Book recipe has been altered, the discs no longer qualify as CDs and should be labeled clearly." By Jon Iverson. [Stereophile]
Copy-Protected CDs a Nightmare for BMG Germany
"Blaming a falloff in CD sales on the popularity of CD burners, BMG Germany recently issued approximately 100,000 copy-protected discs in an attempt to thwart the problem--and had to take a substantial portion of them back because consumers said the discs wouldn't perform in car players and in some home audio systems." By Barry Willis. [Stereophile]
Selling the Benefits
"If DVD-A and/or SACD are to supplant CD, not only do their features have to be transformed into benefits, but the benefits consumers currently enjoy with CD need to be preserved." By John Atkinson. [Stereophile]
Special Report: Copy-Protected CDs
"How the labels are trying to stop you." [Rolling Stone]
Philips Burning on Protection
"Officials for Netherlands-based Philips, which licenses the compact disc logo for both discs and players, went on a tirade against the recording industry for shipping discs with deliberate errors burned into them." By Paul Boutin. [Wired]
Copy Protection on CDs is 'Worthless'
"The technology built into some CDs to stop people copying them is futile, according to a computer scientist who has put today's antipiracy systems under the microscope." By Barry Fox. [New Scientist]
Copy Protection On CDs Is 'Worthless'
Reader comments on New Scientist article. [Slashdot]
Community weblog discussing protected and corrupted audio cd's.
New CD Protection Won't Play on PCs
"Israeli security company Midbar Tech is releasing 1 million copy-protected CDs in Japan as part of an aggressive push by record labels to curtail digital piracy." By Gwendolyn Mariano. [ZDNet]
Sony Intentionally Crashes Customers' Computers
"Celine Dion's latest CD will not play in computer drives. In fact: 'Should the consumer try to play Dion's CD on a PC or Macintosh, the computer likely will crash.'" News and reader discussion. [Slashdot]