The Great Portal War

Fake News written by James Baughn on Friday, September 17, 1999

from the let-the-fighting-begin dept.

In its IPO prospectus, Andover.Net warns:

"Some members of the Open Source community have criticized the commercialization of the Open Source movement. This type of negative reaction, if widely shared by our visitors, developers or the rest of the Open Source community, could harm our reputation and diminish the Andover.Net brand. Our business, results of operations and financial condition could suffer."

This is no longer an idle threat. For some people, the announced Initial Public Offering of Andover stock is the last straw. The Great Portal War of 1999 has begun.

Eric Rembrandt, a Linux kernel hacker, is the leader of a growing anti-Andover, anti-Slashdot, anti-commercialization faction. "It's time we return to our non-profit roots and not be subverted by evil Wall Street," he said. His faction has created a Free Portal Foundation and launched the so-called GAS Project (GAS Ain't Slashdot).

The goal of the FPF and GAS is to maintain a network of portal websites similar in content to Andover.Net offerings but different in ideology. "All GAS portals will be licensed under the GAS General Portal License," Rembrandt explained. "This license will prohibit anybody from making any profit on GAS content under any conditions whatsoever."

Work is already underway on "Dot Org Slash", a Slashdot alternative focusing on "Gossip for Geeks" but without any advertisements, user accounts, moderation, Star Wars hype, Jon Katz editorials, or dumb spelling or grammatical errors.

Another GAS initiative is "Colonel Panic", a non-profit Linux humor site allowing Bazaar-style user submission of articles. Obviously this is a direct competitor to Humorix. Said one GAS Project member, "Humorix sucks. The site never was very good, but it really went downhill after they sold-out to Wall Street and Madison Avenue suits with their much-hyped IPO. We plan on having real, non-profit Linux humor, not excessive Microsoft bashing designed to attract more eyeballs."

Other portals the GAS Project has its targets locked on include several "dot coms" (or as one radical GAS militant says, "dot cons"): linux.com, redhat.com, linuxworld.com, and linuxtoday.com. "Doesn't it seem ironic that these sites provide proprietary content about a non-proprietary operating system?" a FPF charter member asks. "It would be like Microsoft releasing the full API specs to Windows 2000 online under the OpenContent License.

The backers of the Free Portal Foundation aren't the only people upset over the Andover.Net IPO. Richard M. Stallman wrote in a recent Usenet post, "I'm rather irritated... I just checked their IPO prospectus. The terms 'Open Source' and 'Linux' are used 93 and 128 times, respectively. Meanwhile, the terms 'Free Software' and 'GNU/Linux' are used zero times. This is intolerable..."

We've heard rumors that a group of disgruntled Anonymous Cowards plan to initiate a FPDOSA (First Post Denial of Service Attack) in the weeks leading up to the IPO. One AC said, "We've had it. We're fighting back against The Man (Rob Malda) and his legion of AC oppressors. Right before the IPO we're going to bombard Slashdot with thousands of First Posts on each story, bringing the Slashdot servers to their knees. The technical unreliability will make investors think twice about investing in Andover.Net, and hopefully the stock will collapse. Wall Street hasn't yet faced the raw power of the Anonymous Coward!"

Due to SEC regulations, Rob Malda, Patrick Lentz, and Bruce A. Twickler were all unavailable for comment at press time. Humorix's stock (Nasdaq: FAUX) fell sharply from 2 1/4 to 1 1/32 when the GAS Project announced the competing Colonel Panic website, prompting several firms to downgrade Humorix from "SELL NOW" to "YOU'RE A FOOL IF YOU INVEST IN THIS" status.

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