February 04, 2005

Slashdot "Editor Upgrade" citizen-journalism inquiries come to naught

My "hyperlocal journalism" efforts to find out more about the Slashdot "editor upgrade" seemed to have reached a dead-end. The only new information I have is:

Watch the OSTG page of Editorial Bios (http://www.ostg.com/about/editorial_bios.htm). I believe if/when that page is revised, it will confirm the "upgrade" is true and complete.

Given that the low-level Slashdot employees aren't talking (at least to me), my original idea was to approach the journalistic problem from a different direction. Start from the corporate offices, and then go downwards, hoping to find someone who has knowledge of personnel, but is disinterested in the internal Slashdot politics. This hasn't worked, since even if the necessary person exists, finding him/her requires more skill at hierarchy-navigation and telephone-tag than I possess.

Today I had a variation on the idea - try the middle. I briefly talked to an OSTG'er who at last knew what the website "Slashdot" was. But they didn't have anything to say beyond what sounded like sincerely helpful advice to talk to the person in charge of Slashdot (i.e., they didn't know anything, as opposed to knowing but not telling). Again, no "personal" factors here, it was standard editorial/journalist conversation.

At this point, I'm out of ideas, and am beginning to worry I'm taking too many chances. Investigative journalism takes time and persistence, and it's tough to do it for nothing. Let's see, maybe the great distributed power of the bogosphere can emergently produce the necessary information (not speculation). If I find anything (which sadly seems unlikely), I'll clearly mark the provenance of the information, and will not expect to be taken on face value. Anonymously remailed messages will be treated with the credibility they warrant - although I may privately chuckle at a good troll, I must decline to be a conduit.

I have my own speculations, but given my, well, let's say non-objectivity, I'd rather not add to the rumor-mill without something to back up my thoughts.

[Update 2/5 - a comment points out that the Bio page still lists Simon Carless ("simoniker"), even though "he left months ago".]

[Update #2 2/5 - Interestingly, Simon Carless' linklog has an entry on February 05, 2005:

Michael 'Zonk' Zenke now full-time Slashdot editor (Congrats! Coincides with the departure of Michael, and good luck to him.)


[Update #3 2/5 - In response to an email inquiry, Simon clarifies that he has no first-hand information. ]

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in journo | on February 04, 2005 08:06 PM (Infothought permalink) | Followups
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that page still contains Simoniker's bio. He left months ago.

Posted by: Anonymous Coward at February 5, 2005 04:23 PM

Don't know that it's trustworthy, but it's a good yarn nonetheless:

Posted by: brian at February 6, 2005 08:50 PM

I heard about that post, but I don't believe it at all. It's too inconsistent with what's known. Moved to Canada over the Bush presidency? OK, it's amusing at some level, I'll grant that, but it's a troll.

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at February 6, 2005 08:58 PM

Here's an idea. Call up an HR lacky posing as an employer that is interested in dipshit, I mean Michael, and ask if he left on good terms, left a notice, is eligible for re-hire, etc. Maybe not the most honest things in the world to do, but it's better than hacking his hotmail account. :-)

Posted by: TechnoLust at February 9, 2005 08:24 AM

Regrets, that's not an option for me - it doesn't work either morally or practically.

I think it's right and proper, even necessary, to make an issue of someone who domain-hijacked a group's site, broke legal confidences, and then smeared to blow smoke over it all. Were I to lie myself even in a small way, aside from the ethical violation, this would give ammunition to the attempts to make attack and defense be morally equivalent.

Moreover, such a scheme would be prone to unravelling if the person contacted checked into the reasons.

Thanks for thinking about the problem though.

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at February 9, 2005 11:50 AM

Here's a thought.

Don't pretend to be an HR guy trying to hire him, just don't say that you're not.

Call up OSDN HR.

"Hi, this is Seth Finklestein calling from [whereever you're calling from]... I was hoping you'd have a few moments to answer some questions of about Michael Numbnuts"..

Maybe the person will bite, maybe they won't, but calling someone up, properly identifying yourself, and asking your questions point-blank doesn't really strike me as immoral.

Posted by: wes at February 9, 2005 06:57 PM

I already tried that approach twice, got bounced around, and finally dead-ended when someone wasn't in their office and didn't call back. I suppose I could give it yet another whirl. I suspect though, that the trail will eventually again lead being told to speak to the people in charge of Slashdot. And they aren't talking.

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at February 10, 2005 01:24 AM


Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at February 15, 2005 03:02 PM