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Thanks to the Slashnet Crew

By mdxi in Culture
Fri Sep 14, 2001 at 03:49:22 PM EST
Tags: Internet (all tags)

My heartfelt thanks to the people who made slashnet - in my opinion - the single most informative news source available in the early aftermath of the WTC tragedy.

Geeks have long realized that IRC is a great communications tool and there is a long (and sometimes sensationalized) history of using it as a medium for the spread of information during times of crisis. This week was no exception.

Within minutes of the first plane hitting the WTC on Tuesday, everyone knew what was going on. Within a couple of hours, a dedicated channel (#coverage) had been set up expressly for people to share information.

In #coverage a team of moderators were passing along news bites, supplementary information and URLs from people all over the world. There was an extreme focus on only spreading information which was, as far as could be determined, factual and relevant. There was no rumor-spreading or fearmongering. There was no trolling or distraction from the focus of getting information to people as quickly as possible.

Because I was in #coverage, I had access to news from CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, NPR, the BBC, and Reuters and AP wires. I heard information and reaction from Canadian, German, British, Dutch and Australian media as well as organizations like CNN Europe.

People were also doing legwork to help others understand what was going on, sharing URLs to maps of the WTC, diagrams of the pentagon, specifications of the planes which were destroyed, definitions of DEFCON/ThreatCON/FPCON, the text of the NATO Treaty, background info on Ossama bin Laden, the Taleban, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and a thousand other things.

Even though I was at work, in a building with no televisions, I was the best-informed person I met on Tuesday.

On Wednesday it was discovered that CNN had a IRC relay of their closed-captioning system, but rather than go and clog up CNN's servers, someone wrote an IRC bot which relayed the info to another dedicated channel on slashnet, where 140+ people watched it using only one connection to CNN. The bot also parsed the captioning into complete sentences and did some correction of capitalization


A newsbot was also set up in #coverage to help the moderators with their task of filtering and disseminating information.

In a nutshell, several hundred people from all over the globe, whose only common factor was that they argued constantly with each other over IRC, came together. They came together to form what was - in my view - the single best news agency on the planet in the early hours of the incident, and they did so with an amazing level of maturity, kindness and alacrity. Everyone to whom I showed what you assembled was impressed and pleased.

Thanks to you all. I think a lot of the people on slashnet are very information-oriented, and I think the flow of high-grade information supplied in this effort helped people to deal with what was going on...I know it helped me.

I am very proud of you and proud to count myself among your number. Again, thank you.

Update [2001-9-14 15:22:46 by Driph]: I too would like to express my thanks to everyone who has manned the channel 24hrs a day nonstop since Tuesday, and to the many contributors without whom there would not have been news to post. You've all done an excellent job.

Of course, news continues to roll in. If you have verified news you'd like to contribute or simply wish to keep abreast of developments, log in to kuro5hin.ircnetwork.net and join the channel #coverage. A complete log of the channel is also available here, updated every 15 minutes.


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Thanks to the Slashnet Crew | 12 comments (12 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
Count me in. (4.00 / 1) (#1)
by finkployd on Fri Sep 14, 2001 at 09:40:43 AM EST

I'd like to add my thanks to the admins and all the people who took time to update those of us who's only link to the news was through IRC. The usual *BSD/Linux, gnome/kde, and vi/emacs (although nobody really ever argues about that anymore) flamefests were forgetten, and everyone came together to share information and actually have many meaningful discussions while we sat shocked and horrified.

Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
URL? (none / 0) (#2)
by Refrag on Fri Sep 14, 2001 at 10:00:30 AM EST

Could someone post an irc: protocol URL?


Kuro5hin: ...and culture, from the trenches

that url you were after (4.50 / 2) (#3)
by Net_Fish on Fri Sep 14, 2001 at 10:10:36 AM EST


it may not join the channel a simple

/join #coverage will work for you

see http://www.slashnet.org if your looking for the server that is closest to you geographicaly

[ Parent ]
As part of it all... (4.00 / 1) (#4)
by acb on Fri Sep 14, 2001 at 10:10:37 AM EST

After running a SlashNET server for a few years now, and going through a lot of things (many DoS attacks, flood bots, and other IRC lameness) it is wonderful to see that something like this has actually taken place.

I live in Tasmania, the southern most state of Australia, and as of last night the free-to-air television networks have reverted back to their regular programming, leaving me with no live source of information, other then #coverage.

While I am back with the other moderators, checking that url's that have been provided aren't broken, everyone involved has done a wonderful job, and spending a great deal of time doing so. It is a pleasure to be a part of this, and it has been amazing to watch so many people come together.

Kudos must really go out to everyone involved, both the community for providing us with information as it becomes available, and everyone out back keeping the flow of news going. There are just too many people involved to list, but your work is appreciated by myself, and the many others who come and go.

If you haven't seen this yet, please feel free to drop by into irc://irc.slashnet.org/#coverage for moderated news, and #coverage-d for discussion about it.

acb/vortex.slashnet.org admin

--- acb #kuro5hin
thanks to all (none / 0) (#5)
by Net_Fish on Fri Sep 14, 2001 at 10:32:14 AM EST

Well im not sure where to start but...

What has happend is an absolute horror, and I am able to understand what you may be going through with regards to the lack of news and consise information when the port arthur shootings occoured in Tasmania. It still amazes me how the SlashNET community have come together to share information about this. The people you should be thanking is yourself for providing your insight or url.

People I have noted and have been astounded with over the last few days are:

RedFyre, I was worried for a bit he was a C-PAN bot but when I realised he was a real life human beeing it amazed me at his dedication to providing us the SlashNET community with the latest upto the moment information

The guys of #perlmonks and #cnn_mjd for providing the exellent CC service.

LeeR for keeping us up todate with the amazon and paypal red-cross donations

the guys such as sean, cp, jc, RedFrye and Octal who have helped the ircops with keeping the newsbot staffed around the clock.

and finaly none of this would have worked unless it was for you, the ones that provided us with the urls to filter to the greater SlashNET community.

Net_Fish/vortex.slashnet.org - co-admin

and you always miss one (none / 0) (#6)
by Net_Fish on Fri Sep 14, 2001 at 10:38:23 AM EST

also thanks to aphreal who helped out with newsbot.

[ Parent ]
and you can't spell neither :P (5.00 / 1) (#10)
by aphrael on Fri Sep 14, 2001 at 06:18:49 PM EST

but we've alreaqdy established that i can't. :)

Actually I should thank cp for asking me to help out; it's been *great*, because it's given me something to do. :) I felt much better once I had something to direct my energies at. :)

[ Parent ]

Names (none / 0) (#7)
by mdxi on Fri Sep 14, 2001 at 10:45:58 AM EST

Thanks for putting names to the actions. I wasn't there just as the channels were being set up (I was still camping in #k5) so I wasn't sure who was responsible for what.

My apologies if anyone felt slighted by the lack of specific attribution in the article.

[ Parent ]

My first time on IRC... (none / 0) (#8)
by ianpointer on Fri Sep 14, 2001 at 03:05:46 PM EST

was two days ago on irc.slashnet.org. Thanks to everybody running the service and to everybody who didn't yell at me when I did stupid things on #coverage. My Mum also sends thanks, as I left the logs "tail -f"ing on the phosphor xscreensaver when I went to work, so she could stay informed (we don't have cable/satellite at home).

Yes (none / 0) (#9)
by DJBongHit on Fri Sep 14, 2001 at 04:17:48 PM EST

Yes, SlashNET rocks, and doubly so over the last few days. I nominate it for "Best IRC Network Ever(tm)."


GNU GPL: Free as in herpes.

#cnn_mjd is wonderful (none / 0) (#11)
by nevyn on Sun Sep 16, 2001 at 06:52:28 AM EST

Is it possible for this to be an ongoing service?

Failing that would cnn run the script that fixes the CC on their server?

One thing's for sure... (none / 0) (#12)
by darekana on Sun Sep 16, 2001 at 11:11:09 AM EST

CNN certainly isn't helping with polls like this: Should U.S. law be changed to allow the assassination of hostile foreign leaders? Yes or No...?

Last time I looked it was like 70,000 people or 78% YES! What the hell is CNN thinking... pandering to idiocy is not what the "news" should be about... we should leave that to Shack and other sites. I'd like to have the head of the dork who thinks those shitty polls up... next we can go after Okama Ben Ramen.

Thanks to the Slashnet Crew | 12 comments (12 topical, 0 editorial, 0 hidden)
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