The Quote Server

Back in prehistoric times, when it was still difficult to get an Internet email address, I built my first web application. It was 1994, I was working for a financial news company, and we were thinking about building a web system that would give stock quotations. So, one weekend, I wrote the Quote Server.

Of course, it had nothing to do with stock quotes. It served up random selections from my list of great quotations, which I'd been writing on the flyleaves of my journals for years. I also asked for contributions, allowing anyone to post suggested additions to the list.

By the time I shut it down in 2004, it had nearly a thousand quotations (I got a lot more contributions than that, but I was very picky). Genuine contributions were few and far between, and I was tired of wading through porn-site spam. And there were many better and larger quote servers, although none quite as carefully hand-picked as mine.

The quote server was originally a CGI script (or set of them, more accurately). It was written in Perl 4 on an HP/UX machine that a colleague of mine had won by dropping his business card in a fishbowl at a trade show. (This never happens to me!) I rewrote it a few times, and it's now just a single simple PHP script and an XML document.

The quote server is no longer accepting new contributions.

We've created this cottage industry in which it pays to be un-objective. It pays to be subjective as much as possible. It's a great way to have your cake and eat it too. Criticize other people for not being objective. Be as subjective as you want. It's a great little racket. I'm glad we found it actually.
Conservative journalist Matt Labash, of The Weekly Standard
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