from the hello-world dept.
So, to start off, I first wanted to welcome everyone who volunteered to be an editor. Barrabas tells me we have 30-something people on that list as of last check, and I suspect it will continue to grow once this goes live. I'm somewhat blown away, but we need to have a bit of a reality check. One thing that made Slashdot so great was that it was a small group of editors who really knew tech. If we took everyone who volunteered, we'd be just another news site. So unfortunately, not everyone who applied is going to make the cut, and I apologize in advance for that.
The plan is the dev team will act as de facto editors at first. While its not a perfect litmus test, we worked together as a team to get slash working, so I'd like to think we know something about technology. During that time, we'll be hashing out the specifics for editor applications, and after weeding down the list, have them post their resumes here to face the jury so to speak. In my perfect world, we'll have 4-5 editors, with most of them elected by you, the users.
Now obviously, plans can change, and if you've got a better idea, we want to hear it below. Until then, keep submitting you're scopes, and we'll hopefully have an update in a couple of days.
EDIT: Struck a naught word -- NCommander
So, as I write this, day one has officially come to an end. I'm still somewhat in shock over it. Last night when I was editing the database to change over hostnames and such, I was thinking, man, it would be great if we got 100 regular users by tomorrow. Turns out I was wrong. By a factor of ten. Holy cow, people. I'm still in a state of disbelief, partially due to the epic turnout, but also because our very modest server hardware hasn't soiled itself from the influx (the numbers are, well, "impressive" is a way to put it). Anyway, I wanted to do a bit of a writeup of where we stand now, what works, and what doesn't. Check it out (and some raw numbers) after the break! Warning, it is a bit lengthy.
Exactly one year ago SoylentNews published its very first story: Welcome to SoylentNews!
And what a year it's been!
It all started with a posting at slashdot where an editor claimed they had "listened to their audience" about complaints about the new Beta version of the site that was being rolled out. Many noted that any changes were cosmetic — that it was the community that made that site what it was. And, in inimical nerd fashion, a "SlashCott" was scheduled from February 10-17 wherein the participants pledged to not visit /. for one whole week.
Others took a more active role. The source code for /. was originally made open source and was available on the internet. Sadly, that code had not been maintained and was several years out of date. Some intrepid souls labored long and hard to locate servers, coordinate activities, and get the code knocked into shape. The goal was to create an alternative site that was free from the manipulations of a corporate overlord.
That first story signified a major accomplishment, but the site was still unstable and many features were incomplete, non-functional, or just plain ugly. Many more days of implementation, debugging, and testing were to follow culminating with SN going live to the world on February 17, 2014: Welcome to the World of Tomorrow... Today!.
Much has happened since that nascent story first graced the 'net. There have been changes in our all-volunteer staff. We had votes for the name of the site. We implemented UTF-8 support so stories and comments can include any valid character. We incorporated as a Public Benefit Corporation — on USA's Independence Day no less! We have an on-line store where you can buy SoylentNews Swag. You can subscribe and help support our site.
By the numbers: Over 5000 accounts have been registered and nearly 5000 stories have been posted to the site. Each story is read from 500-2000 times by logged-in users, and approximately 10 times as many Anonymous Cowards. More importantly, nearly 150,000 comments have been posted by you, our community.
Today, we have a small but dedicated group of volunteers who keep the site running. They keep the OS up-to-date on our servers, maintain our Wiki, e-mail, and IRC channels. They add features and fix bugs in the SN code base. Others edit and publish stories to appear on the site. We have a Board of Directors who take care of the legal sides of things. A treasurer who follows the finances. And there are still others who help in a non-technical, but just as necessary capacity in keeping the site humming along.
So, hats off to all who have helped build this site to what it is today!
A lot can happen in one year.
SoylentNews.org had its alpha release to the public on February 12, 2014.
I know it's been a long wait, but we've been steadily moving towards launch. With luck, you're reading this on the main index of the site, which means we've gone, and haven't gone mad in the process. Now that we're here, we hope to have made the wait worth it, but we depend on everyone in the community. To make this site a success, we depend on each and every single user even if its just from passing word of mouth. Remember, every single user can submit stories, moderate, and contribute to discussions all at the same time, and that's what makes us unique. May I be the first to welcome you to your new home.
We struggled during those first few months with organizational issues as well as just keeping the site up and running. The community grew. The site struggled at times under the load, yet we still pushed forward.
One year ago on July 4th, we became SoylentNews PBC:
I'm pleased to announce that as of today, our articles of incorporation have been accepted and signed off by the State of Delaware, and "SoylentNews PBC" is a licensed public benefit corporation, ready to accept business, effective today.
A staff of volunteers develop, maintain, support, and run this site. The community has been our main focus right from the start and now is a good time to take inventory. Over the past year, we have implemented changes in moderation with additional moderation options as well as the ability to both moderate and comment in the same discussion. There was a massive rebuild of the underpinnings of the site to take us from the unsupported base of outdated Apache and mod_perl code to more recent releases. We are in the early stages of rolling out nexuses. Subscriptions have been implemented and the community rose to the occasion to support our ongoing server and administrative costs. Numerous performance enhancements have been made. New site themes have been introduced. Polls have been posted (admittedly, some lingered for much too long) with vibrant community discussion. Similarly, there are some of our community who have posted stories to their journal which have also generated much discussion. We aim to facilitate discussion among our community and yet some choose to simply read the site and pass the word on to others — we are grateful for you, too!
As I write this, our stats since day one are: we have over 5,600 registered users; over 8,100 stories have been submitted (of which over 6,800 were posted); and over 204,000 comments made! A special thanks to those who have subscribed and thus allowed us to pay our bills and continue as a going concern.
Though entirely run by volunteers, the efforts I've seen put into this site continue to amaze me. So, fellow Soylentils, where can we do better? And where in your estimation have we done well? What are the high points for you for the site over this past year?
[Ed. note: Story updated to clarify that our anniversary is on July 4th.]
It passed without fanfare, but this very site recently passed an important milestone... SoylentNews celebrated its two-year anniversary!
On Wednesday February 12 2014, @07:28AM our very first article was posted: Welcome to SoylentNews! and then, on Monday 2014-02-17 at 02:06:00 UTC, we announced our presence to the world at large: Welcome to the World of Tomorrow... Today!
There were some who thought the site would fail right from the start. Yes, there have been some significant challenges along the way. Thankfully, the community has pulled together and given the support needed to keep this site running as a going concern.
The support has come in many forms. Of course, there is the financial side where people have subscribed or purchased SoylentNews swag. We are also grateful to those who submit stories, post comments, and perform moderations. Others post journal articles and comment on those. Still more are active on our IRC server. Then there's our very own Wiki. There are those, too, who mention our site to family and friends.
On an entirely different level we have the folks who maintain our servers, front ends, code base, site, mail, and the like. Others handle behind-the-scenes organization and communications tasks.
For those who joined us at the outset, you may recall that site crashes were a regular occurrence. Now, most of our downtime is due to either site upgrades or reboots of our systems by our hosting provider.
For those who may no be aware, this is all brought to you by volunteers who freely give of their free time and energy to make this all happen for you, our community.
So, I'd like to take this opportunity to say a big "Thank-You!" to all who have helped us get to where we are today. Some helped at the outset and moved on, others have been with us from the start, and still others have joined more recently. We would not be where we are today without ALL of you!
It is my great pleasure to announce that SoylentNews has just celebrated four years of service to the community! The very first story on the site appeared on 2014-02-12 and actually went live to everyone 2014-02-17.
It all started when a story on Slashdot made reference to its "audience" which ticked off quite a number of people. Soon after came a boycott of Slashdot — aka the "Slashcott". While this was in effect, an intrepid few people somehow managed to take a years-old, out-of-date, unsupported, open-sourced version of slashcode and somehow managed to get it up to speed to run on much more recent versions of Apache, MySql, etc. Recurring crashes and outages were the norm. (See last year's anniversary story for many more details!) Further, on July 4th, 2014 our application to become a Public Benefit Corporation was approved — this set the stage for us to be able to accept funding from the community.
By the time you read this, we will have posted 20,980 stories to the site to which over 639,907 comments have been made!
We could not have done this without all of you. You (the community) submit the stories for the site. You write the comments... and moderate them, too. You made recommendations for improvements to the site. You are SoylentNews.
It has been my privilege and honor to work with a great group of folks who have done the behind-the-scenes skunk-work which has kept this site running. It does bear mentioning that this site is entirely staffed by volunteers. Nobody here has received even a penny's worth of income from the site. Like you, we have home and work responsibilities, but in our spare time we still strive to provide an environment that is conducive to discussions of predominantly tech-related matters.
Having said all that, I must add that income to the site has dropped recently. Having let my subscription lapse in the past, I know how easy that can be. Take a moment to check your subscription status. We have on the order of 100 people who have subscribed in the past, have visited the site in the past month, and whose subscription has expired. If your subscription is up-to-date, please consider either extending it or making a gift subscription (default is to UID 6 - "mcasadevall" aka NCommander). NB the dollar amounts presented are the minimum payments required for that duration -- we'll happily accept larger amounts. =)
If financial contributions are infeasible for you, we always appreciate story submissions. Submit a link, a few paragraphs from the story, and ideally a sentence or two about what you found interesting and send it to us. Any questions, please take a look at the Submission Guidelines.
Of course, the comments are where it's at. Thoughtful, well-reasoned, well-supported comments seem to do best here. Inflammatory histrionics garner attention, and usually down-mods, too. Speaking of which, if you have good Karma, and have been registered with the site for at least a month, you are invited to participate in moderation. Unlike other sites that up-mod or down-mod to infinity, we have something more like olympic-scoring here. A comment score can vary from -1 to a +5. This is how I look at scores: -1 (total waste of your time), 0 (meh), +1 (okay), +2 (good), +3 (quite good), +4 (very good), +5 (don't miss this one!).
On behalf of all the staff I wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving!
I am grateful for all the support the community has shown us since we started SoylentNews.org on February 12, 2014. Has it really been that long? Back then, the internet was dominated by HTTP; it would take some time (years?) until we transitioned to Gandhi and then Let's Encrypt!
I have been active on the site since we started. Why? It was the spirit of gratitude I saw here to be free from having "corporate overlords"; how people pitched in trying to help. They were looking not at what they could get but rather what they could give! That spirit lives on to this day. Where? I see it in the people who submit stories and journal articles. I see it when people post (and moderate) comments. And lets not forget those who subscribe to the site which pays bills (hosting fees and accounting expenses, primarily). We are all volunteers here; nobody has ever been paid anything for their work here!
I'm taking this opportunity to thank all the editors who perform the seemingly thankless task of selecting, reviewing, editing, and posting stories to the site. I hereby invite them to enjoy the long holiday weekend.
We will be on a holiday/weekend story schedule from the start of Thursday through the end of Sunday (UTC). Enjoy the well-deserved break! Thank You!
Another story will be along presently; this story is in addition to our normal schedule. --martyb/Bytram
On the 12 February 2014, SoylentNews published its first 'official' discussion wittily entitled "Welcome to SoylentNews!"
There were 23 comments to that story but that belies the incredible effort made by a small team of enthusiasts who were determined to create and manage a site that lived up to their own expectations of how a site should behave. There are no advertisements and we are not beholden to any corporate group or business interest. All the support is still completely voluntary. We have also committed ourselves to reaching at least the 10 year birthday celebration too.
In the first story, a certain NCommander made the following remark:
Now that we're here, we hope to have made the wait worth it, but we depend on everyone in the community. To make this site a success, we depend on each and every single user even if its just from passing word of mouth. Remember, every single user can submit stories, moderate, and contribute to discussions all at the same time, and that's what makes us unique. May I be the first to welcome you to your new home.