from the allow-me-to-introduce-myself dept.
Greetings Soylentils! And welcome to SoylentNews!
We are here to deliver the best community-sourced news, catered for all manner of nerd! Because this is a grassroots based platform, the content feeds are powered by readers like you. Our main objective is to highlight news stories on the web that are of importance to everyone, but especially nerds. In addition, SoylentNews will strive to go beyond simple news-aggregation, with some core principles:
- Providing a soapbox for experts to discuss their profession and solicit questions from a curious audience.
- Allowing the community to comment, without any mandatory registration.
- Staying mindful of the community's needs and wants while avoiding changes to satisfy an overarching corporate agenda.
We want to make this your source for news about technology, art, science and politics. We are the new kid on the block and are adapting quickly to satisfy our community's needs, as we look forward to exceeding your expectations and pushing boundaries like never before. Lastly, there will be no changes in format without a general consensus from the community. Thank you for stopping by and enjoy the ride!
You may not have noticed, but SoylentNews recently passed a few milestones.
Some background: As most of you know, there was quite a pushback to a forced rollout of beta on slashdot.org which led to a Slashcott. Some enterprising souls took it upon themselves to take the latest-extant version of slashcode from github (which was several years old) and bludgeoned it into some sort of working order. Uncounted days and hours were invested in trying to get things up and running. Ancient versions of Apache, Perl, Varnish, and the like were pummeled into submission.
This site went live with this story: Welcome to the World of Tomorrow... Today! on February 17, 2014 at 02:07 UTC.
It has been nearly eight months since that inaugural story was published. By the end of this week we'll likely have published our 3,500th story. Of those, one of our editors just recently posted his 1,000th article. But it is the community that makes this site what it is, so it is with pleasure that I note we also just reached the milestone of having comment number 100,000 posted here!
There's so much more that happens "behind the scenes"... system migrations to new hardware; OS updates and patches; migration from old versions of underlying systems; implementation of UTF-8 (international characters); creating the SN Swag Store; implementation of subscriptions; and the cat-herding challenge of coordinating the efforts of all the volunteers who have made this happen. Further, we achieved a degree of independence with the incorporation of SoylentNews as a Public Benefit Corporation having been approved on July 4th.
Over this time, many people have donated their (limited) free time to making this work. Through hardware and software crashes, trolls, spammers, and all the other trials and travails that go with running a web site, we have carved out our own place on the internet. We're still learning and growing.
We always have a place for talented people, visit the Get Involved section on our wiki to see how you can make SoylentNews better. Or stop by IRC (Internet Relay Chat) and ask around in #Soylent or #staff.
Many thanks to all who have contributed to the creation and maintenance of this site, but even more so to those who have submitted stories, read and posted comments, and spread the word about SoylentNews. We could not have done this without you.
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!
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!
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!).
Another year is almost behind us and I thought it would be useful to take a look at what we have accomplished up to this point.
For those who may be new-ish here, SoylentNews went live on 2014-02-17. Since then, we have:
- Reached 244th place in the world with our folding-at-home team.
- Had nearly 780 site subscriptions.
- Had over 2740 articles posted to journals.
- Signed up over 6,800 user nicks/accounts.
- Published over 20,000 stories.
- Received over 24,000 story submissions.
- Had over 403,000 comment moderations.
- Posted over 615,500 comments.
- Had nearly 9,200,000 hits (views) on stories.
All of this was provided with absolutely no advertising by a purely volunteer staff!
Please accept my sincere thanks to all of you who have subscribed and helped to keep the site up and running! We could not have done it without your support.
I must also report that we have just over 100 people who have accessed the site in the past month whose subscription has lapsed. It is easy enough to do -- I've let it happen, myself. So, please go to the subscription page to check/renew your subscription. Be aware that the preferred amount is the minimum for the selected duration; feel free to increase the amount (hint hint).
Oh, and I would be remiss in not thanking the staff here for their dedication and perseverance. Linode decided to open a new data center and we had to migrate our servers to the new location. We accomplished this with almost no downtime on the site, and only about a 30-minute hiccup on our IRC (Internet Relay Chat) server.
Because of performance degradation on our servers when loading highly-commented stories, we rolled out a new comment display system early in the year. It had several issues at the outset, but seems to have settled down quite nicely. We appreciate your patience, and constructive feedback reporting issues as they arose. It helped greatly in stomping out those bugs.
We have a bug-fix update to the site in the works... mostly minor things that are waiting on testing for release. We hope to roll those out in the next couple of weeks.
To all of you who have contributed to the site, in other words: to our community, thank-you! It has been a privilege to serve you this past year and I look forward to continuing to do so in the year to come. --martyb
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.
Two of SoylentNews' staff submitted stories noting our three-year anniversary; one a site summary of where we are and a summary of what we've done, and the other a detailed presentation of the very early days and how SoylentNews got started.
Three Whole Years -- Thanks to You!
Three years ago, today, SoylentNews announced its presence to the world. Much has happened along the way of our providing a place for a community to grow and to engage in discussion.
It started as a fork of five-year-old, open-sourced code which had suffered under benign neglect. Perl, Apache, MySQL, and other products had continued on. So we had to deal with dependencies on unsupported and back-level versions of code. A great deal of effort went into bringing the site up-to-date with current versions of that base. See below for mechanicjay's illuminating first-hand account of how that all got started.