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Slashdot Enters the Political Arena

Slashdot Enters the Political Arena

Slashdot, the hugely important technical news and discussion site, announced the launch of politics.slashdot.org, a new section "dedicated to providing alternative political news to its technically inclined audience."

Taglined "Politics for Nerds. Your Vote Matters," the new section gives Slashdot's estimated audience of 4 million access to political news and commentary that it might not see otherwise.

"We have a vocal, politically active audience looking for alternative views of this election, without media 'spin'," said Rob Malda, creator and director of Slashdot. "Slashdot itself historically was only able to cover politics when it directly intersected with our traditional 'News for Nerds' subject matter. The creation of politics.slashdot.org lets us take our hyper-active discussion forums and apply them specifically to the election."

"Adding political news to Slashdot gives the audience more of what they're already getting: coverage of topical and timely issues that directly impacts their lives," said Patrick Ferrell, general manager of OSTG, said in this week's press release "Our readers are extremely interested in this type of information, and have shown their interest by generating over one million page views in the first month alone."

Jeff Bates, vice president of editorial operations and executive editor, Slashdot.org, says that the main motivator is making his technical audience aware of important issues that affect them. "The purpose [of the site] is to inform and make people aware." Bates also makes the point that the technical community can no longer be blissfully aware of public policy issues. "With the amount of technology in our lives we can not be uninvolved," he said. "The ground rules have changed, we have to change with the ground rules."

"With the advent of the DMCA and the Induce act, the technical community can no longer be uninvolved." Bates continued, "Part of the reasons that the DMCA was passed is that people were not involved." The DMCA is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which has been widely criticized as providing content providers like Disney with too much power. The Induce Act, also known as the "Inducing Infringement of Copyrights Act of 2004" would provide for federal penalties for any high-tech company that makes devices that "induce" the public to infringe on artists' copyright by, for example, illegally copying songs. This move could essentially make the popular Apple iPod illegal.

One important question in this era of the biased media outlets like Fox News and Air America is "Will Politics.SlashDot.Org have a bias?" Bates makes a strong point that having a bias is self-defeating. "If you are slanted, it degrades the quality of discussion. And starts a flame war." He also noted that he has a diverse editorial staff, with one member being a Republican Party official in Washington State and another being a hard-core Green Part member.

At first blush, this venture appears to be successful. As it turns out, Bates says that they have already surpassed the one millionth page view in the first eight days of October.

More Stories By Bill Roth

Bill Roth is a Silicon Valley veteran with over 20 years in the industry. He has played numerous product marketing, product management and engineering roles at companies like BEA, Sun, Morgan Stanley, and EBay Enterprise. He was recently named one of the World's 30 Most Influential Cloud Bloggers.

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