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Slash Dot Dash Dot Crash Dot Com

My first foray into ‘blogging’ was about 20 years ago, on Slashdot of all places. Users who created accounts got a personal journal to use as they wished.

I used it to post links to stories I’d found interesting, and to share in snark about Slashdot itself. And there was much snark to be had. Slashdot was notorious for the (ab)use of its moderation systems. Sometimes, users got opportunities to moderate stuff themselves. But for the most part it was at the whims of the admins.

There was also a lot of jackass behaviour, by people out to cause mischief or start flame wars. I learned to be careful of links in comments. Goatse and Tubgirl were still very much part of the internet, ready to scar the unwary viewer. (Public health warning: DO NOT search for either of those words! Trust me on this.)

Slashdot had an interesting take on social connections. You could mark others as either Friend or Foe, and could see the connections of those you connected to. On the flipside, those who connected to you would appear as Fans (like) or Freaks (dislike). You could block Foes and Freaks from commenting on your journal. Note that connections didn’t need the permission of the other party.

I became friends with a large group of people, who became known as the Circle. We’d comment on each other’s journal entries, and share in snark.

Unfortunately, Slashdot was a dog’s dinner on the server side, prone to outages. Journalling was sometimes an exercise in frustration.

Disillusionment at the state of Slashdot led to a search for alternative venues. We jumped around various places over the years, including Facebook and Google+. When I left the Circle, it was on Reddit, a smaller group but still somewhat active.

Why did I leave? Most of the people I knew there were nodding acquaintances rather than friends. And we’d all changed a lot over the years. Some good, some bad. I came to the realisation that I no longer had any connection to these people, so I bowed out.

I don’t have any of my writing from the Slashdot days. Partly because it’s wasn’t that great, partly because a lot of it was very personal. And most of the other places we hung out at weren’t conducive to blogging.

The moral of this tale? It has always been foolish to build a community up on someone else's platform and expect it to last. Facebook, Twitter and the other social networks are the extreme.

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