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Wednesday  February 5  12:14 AM EDT

11 Questions with Rob Malda

By Brian Briggs

Real interviews with real people. Unlike the rest of BBspot there's nothing made up here. I know it's a difficult transition, but I'm not fooling. We did e-mail these questions and these were the responses.

The interview continues...

BBspot (6): If you didn't have Slashdot, what would you be doing right now?

Malda: Jokingly, I'd be pumping gas. Seriously I'd probably be doing web programming somewhere and I'd probably hate it since there's little "New" to be done with web programming these days. I really enjoyed it in 1995 when it was still possible to do exciting and interesting things in a few days hacking. These days the really interesting stuff is large scale and requires a lot more time investment. Plus the pay now probably sucks.

BBspot (7): A train leaves Pittsburgh travelling at 60 miles an hour. At the same time, another train leaves Sheboygan going the opposite direction at 70 miles an hour. In the last car of each train there's an Ultimate Fighting Championship. In the Pittsburgh train we have Superman vs. Neo. In the Sheboygan train we have Gandalf vs. Darth Maul. When the two trains collide, who wins the Ultimate Fighting Championship and why?

Malda: First off, Neo dies instantly because this is the real world, and he is just a pussy in the real world. He doesn't even get to wear black leather. Gandalf defeats Darth Maul since Maul is primarily a hand to hand combat guy, and Gandalf has mega power (Assuming Superman Wins!we're talking TTT Gandalf, post death).

Superman takes the final fight with Gandalf. Superman is pretty much the all-powerful of the superheroes. And while it's been proven that he's not impervious to magic, Magic takes a lot of time and patience, and during that time, superman could beat the shit out of Gandalf. Course he probably wouldn't. I mean, why? They're both essentially good even if one is Lawful and the other is Chaotic.

BBspot (8): If you could alter one item in Slashdot's past what would it be and why?

Malda: I made a few mistakes early on in the design of the moderation system that really messed us up. The most critical was making Karma a publicly viewable integer. Since users could see exactly when it went up or down, they were able to easily game the system. This made Karma in itself a game of sorts. Which it was obviously never meant to be- it was intended to simply be a probability indicator for picking safe moderators and long time positive contributors.

"Karma" was a hidden value for months. It wasn't until I made it public that Karma Whoring really became an issue. This caused moderation to become a game, and created incentive for people to really try to screw with the system.

This is unfortunate because it's all fluff. The real point of the Slashdot Moderation is not to accumulate karma, but to make large discussions readable to people who want to read 5 comments, or a thousand.

BBspot (9): Do you think there will be a "turning of the tide" event with regards to intellectual property and copyrights, or will we slowly continue down the path of more corporate control until we need a license just to draw a smiley face?

Malda: I'd like to believe that there will be a great reversal, but it's not looking good. All I can do is keep Slashdot going and try to point out the problems as they come up. Unless millions of Americans do something about it, with their votes and with their dollars, our children will have no rights. The public domain will be worthless.

It'll be sad.

BBspot (10): Of the Slashdot traditions which one is your favorite? Cowboy Neal poll options? Hot grits? First Posts? Something else entirely?

Malda: I still like the CowboyNeal poll option. Very few of the comment posting running gags are funny after a few days. And that's the part that I hate- running jokes into the ground. In the old days there was real creativity. A joke would start, run for a bit, and then we'd all move on. These days, it's the same old jokes over and over again. The new memes are few and far between, and then the truly funny ones are run so deeply into the ground that they come out the other end.

BBspot (11): Will you reach a point where you need to break away from Slashdot and do something else? And if you do, do you think Slashdot could continue without you?

Malda: 3 years ago, I would have said Slashdot would die without me. Today that's not true. I bet more than half our readers don't even know who I am! There are several people working on Slashdot every day that have the same passions and beliefs as me. As long as people with that level of commitment are involved, Slashdot can continue. That said, I really enjoy my job, and as long as I can continue to work here, I will. It's not very many jobs that pay well, but still let you try to change the world, even if it's only in your tiny little way.

Check out Part I of the interview where Rob tells us about all the hate mail and Episode III.

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