September 10, 1999
(updated May 1, 2010)
I hear this question frequently. Each time I give a different answer depending on my mood and frame of mind. Some people get a line or two summary ending with "just check it out", while others get a five minute diatribe trying to explain what it is. A month or two (*cough* over ten years *cough*) ago, I created a page that attempted to give the quickie answer to this question. Even with this page and a more refined answer that has formed after half a year of running it, the answer is still not enough for some. So, here is your answer. For now.
Here are some basic truths about the system and the people who run it. I am including this section first to dispel the rumors floating around. In particular, I'd like to direct this section to the wonderful individuals affiliated with the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) who have a misguided interest in us. Worse, they have been told many of these points repeatedly by friends AND foes of Attrition, yet they will not accept the answers.
In case it wasn't apparent, we have no advertising on this site.
No banners, no sponsors, no means of making money from the content
on this system. Like the ".org" means, "Non-Profit Organization".
The only exception to this is being involved in the Amazon
Reseller program, something carried over from sekurity.org and
begun many years ago. How much have we made? Almost one thousand
dollars one year long ago, and definitely not as much since then.
Compare that to hardware, co-location costs, time, and all the little things
associated with running a system. We are in the red to say the least.
Of the five staff members, none of us are paid for our time spent
on Attrition. This includes our work answering mail, running the
system, developing tools, creating web pages, or 'viewer interaction'
(read: IRC). Each of us maintain full time jobs or act as
independant consultants or do something else to put food on the
table. All consulting done by staff is done in a manner
unrelated to the 'Attrition' name. In other words, Attrition
is NOT a business.
This site is a 'hobby' site. We run it in our spare time, on our
own dime, for our own reasons. Why? We love information and technology.
Most of us have love/hate relationships with the Internet in general.
Most of us like teaching and sharing information and this is
the means in which we choose to do so in our spare time.
Of these 15 accounts, five of us are considered 'staff'. This
is a self designated title we have taken on because we run the
system on a daily basis. Who are we? Jericho, Cancer Omega (comega), Lyger, Apathetic Lucidity, cji.
The other ten accounts exist for users that have a direct need for an account here.
These reasons typically revolve around it being the only stable
non-work account our friends and business associates have. Don't
take this to mean that you will get an account if you are without
an account and you know one of us. This machine is smaller than you think, and it is
not designed or able to handle many accounts. The web server and
related functions occupied most of our CPU cycles.
We have none. The whole idea of the Attrition site was somewhat of a fluke. Since the site has gone live, there has been little to no long term direction or planning involved. This thing started out as a web site only receiving 1112 visitors the first month (19782 hits). We were quite surprised we ever surpassed that.
Day by day, we work on the areas that we feel need updating. New sections to the site can be formed after a few days discussion, or after a few beers and a half-assed notion that it might be liked. Attrition will continue to operate on a day to day basis, constantly evolving as we see fit. Suggestions are welcomed.
Looking back, if any philosophy exists behind Attrition and the site, we might say it was one of learning, sharing knowledge, and going with the flow. This last part is often illustrated when our viewers and critics take our site much more seriously than we do, which is often the case. Pages like the staff page should show how serious we take the site (and ourselves). If you can't see the (sick) humor in that, we cordially invite you to check out a more serious resource.
As I had previously posted, why the name Attrition? The answer to this question has evolved over the last half year. When moving from sekurity.org, we wanted a name that was not explicitly security related, wasn't a .com, wasn't this, wasn't that. We ended up settling on a name that was sufficiently 'dark' in that it did not bring images of rabbits dancing in the flowers. The dark moods and oozing cynicism is best summed up in a word like attrition, not just because of the text book definition, but the lack of understanding people display toward the idea of it.
Perhaps one of the most prevalent reasons people find Attrition of value is that our site is a Content site rather than a 'Portal'. Many months ago when sites were rushing to be called "portals", the term bothered me. Sites with nothing but links to other sites had always been annoying before, so why then were they applauded when this new term was applied to them? Over time, some of these sites have manifested into good resources when they keep current with their links, offer several resources so that the reader may make an informed choice, etc.
Perhaps the somewhat disjointed clutter of topics on our front page is a natural side affect of being a Content site rather than a portal. Regardless, Attrition resolved itself to never turn into a useless mass of links to other sites. Enough of those littering the net.
Some may argue the word 'style' is lost on Attrition. We'd disagree in a big way. Look at the mass of web sites out there. Take a good look and consider what kind of 'style' they have. With a few exceptions, web sites suck and offer little style of their own. Burdening the site with annoying and ugly banners, stuffing too many needless links about themselves onto the front page trying to capitalize on the small plot of browser space, and generally showing no regard for intuitive interfaces. And we have no style? Come on..
Despite many people bitching, we will not change our style for you. Quit asking. Content is more important than pretty graphics or nice layout and that will remain our focus. In this day and age of programming, you are more than welcome to create your own front end to our pages. In fact, we would much rather see you do just that as HNN and SecurityFocus have done. We are here for information.
No, that is not our term at all. In a recent chat an incredibly talented web designer said that she "couldn't understand the popularity of the attrition phenomenon" or something close to that. After explaining the above ideas to her, she finally conceded that even though we had no stunning graphics, no unique layout, and no overall aesthetically pleasing image, there was still some appeal to the site. Considering her web design changed my notion that web sites and design were essentially useless and a complete waste of time, her admission told me we were doing something right. Besides, I know that our plain style stomps on every last design nerve in her body, and as she knows, I live to annoy her.
This site is run in our spare time. We do it because we want to, and do it for the masses. As it stands, we put up with more shit than most sites for a variety of reasons. Everything from lame insult mail to threats of lawsuits. Let me go ahead and respond to those (past and future). Fuck off. They are a waste of time on all sides. Short of constructive criticism, mail like that is laughed at and replied to sarcastically. Mail like that is being saved for our section called "Going Postal".
Attrition is a free service provided to you, at a cost to us. Shut up and appreciate it for what it's worth. Don't like it? Don't look.
As I am fond of saying: Expect less, you'll be disappointed less.