Before I created a PHP script to remind me which webcomics were updated each day, it would happen on occasion that I'd miss a comic one day, one week, maybe a couple of days. Consequently, the comic wouldn't make sense until I read back through the ones I'd missed, which made even less sense because I was reading them backwards. Come rain or shine, however, I made a point of never missing Slashdot.
Every so often a news story would catch my eye and I'd make an attempt at a comment post - despite my threshold highscore of 3 from a possible 5, I kept posting. Regardless of the content of the stories, though, the irregularly frequent polls were some of the best inspiration for humour in their own right. Round about three years ago, however, Slashdot began to include some weird and wonderful choices on web polls.
Feet of Network Cabling in my Home
- No LAN
- Wireless LAN
At first it was a quick joke. It soon became a running gag. Slashdot editors were always coming up with new ideas - how to include that ever-famous Cowboyneal option on Slashdot polls.
The unoriginally titled CowboyNeal option, as it became known, became a beacon for the masses of Slashdot fans who either didn't understand this week's cryptic Linux-based poll, or just didn't care. Finally, a poll option existed for every newbie, scriptkiddie and pothead who didn't really have an opinion one way or another, but really wanted to click something. New visitors to the site took an important step towards feeling a part of something big - an important step too, perhaps, for the popular-as-ever Slashdot.
The strange options raged on. Visitors on January 30th, 2002 were greeted with the question, Favourite Poll Option? The choice of answers - CowboyNeal, CowboyNeal, CowboyNeal, CowboyNeal, CowboyNeal, CowboyNeal, CowboyNeal and the ubiquitous CowboyNeal option. Over thirty-five thousand readers actually voted on the one day that the poll remained open, with the eighth ubiquitous CowboyNeal option a clear winner.
On November 2nd, 2001, around two years after the first Cowboyneal option appeared, a new name was given to this phenomenon. 1409 viewers eschewed Teleportation, X-Ray Vision and unlimited Kandy Korn as their preferred superpowers in preference of CowboyNeality. Wishing for higher karma, a reader declared this strange and unknown superpower to be the ability to appear on every poll. Whether it was a stroke of genius or merely an obligatory karma whore, mankind may never know.
May 4, 2003. CowboyNeal hasn't shown up for the past three polls. I am worried.
May 16, 2003. False alarm. CowboyNeal is back after great demand.