Vandals have forced one of the premier open source salons to shut up shop. Kuro5hin is temporarily out of action while its volunteer management finds a way of coping with a variety of denial of service attacks sustained by the site this week.
Kuro5hin (pronounced "corrosion") is a treasured recent arrival, and has rapidly gained a reputation as a refuge from first generation watering holes, such as Slashdot, as a place where the debate is less partisan and where the Big Issues are tossed about without too much self-righteous intervention.
But it's also been watched as something of a unique experiment in web communities. Unlike almost all other communities - which depend on some kind of user authentication for submissions - Kuro5hin's Scoop engine uses a completely open door policy, in much the same way as Usenet allows anyone to post an article.
A rigorous peer voting system then moderates up very small number of articles out of hundreds received each day - typically one, maybe two a day - which has had the effect of taking the ball away from the small number of flamers who frequently set the tone for many sites or newsgroups.
Rusty Foster, who wrote the Scoop engine, told The Register that the peer review system would be kept intact. "The story voting will remain as is - that was never a focus of attack, and as far as we can tell, would be very difficult to abuse. What was exploited was simply the fact that we were open to input
from anyone, users or anonymous visitors."
In fact a trash-Scoop script k5troll has been available for some time, but Foster says that this was only one of number of DoS tactics used against Kuro5hin, and only deployed at the latter stages of the assaults.
Foster says that in future, Kuro5hin will only accept submissions from registered users, which gives script-kiddies the challenge of finding and forging user IDs. But he's thought of that too, and other mechanisms will be in place to authenticate submissions.
"This is not a problem unique to Kuro5hin - Slashdot has been dealing with this sort of thing for a long time," says Foster. "Their philosophy and mine differ in that they provide a means for users to hide garbage, whereas it was always my goal to provide a forum as free of it as possible." ®