from the knock-on-wood dept.
I promised that we, the staff, would provide a quick status report after all the drama on Monday. The site issues today delayed that, and I thank juggs in IRC for reminding me of my promise. We've been very transparent and we want to continue that trend. Most of the comments we've seen have been encouraging of this method. However, we hope the transparency will result in less drama and in more productivity in the future.
On Tuesday, 4 March 2014, Barrabas, the "Man Behind the Curtain" resigned from his position. In his resignation, he retained ownership of the domain Soylentnews.org and associated domain registrations, as well as certain accounts on linode.com, our host. (See our article on backup plans.) Read more inside.
There were some negotiations between Barrabas and NCommander regarding compensation for money invested by Barrabas as part of the transfer of authority, along with the linodes and the domain names. Those negotiations broke down, resulting in a situation that became public on Monday, 10 March. Barrabas decided to sell his entire interest in the site. While the staff decided to create a poll to figure out which way to proceed (we were completely divided on what to do) an individual member of the site stepped up to purchase those rights from Barrabas.
That individual is known on IRC as matt_. Despite the similarity in name, he is not me. I've offered to let him introduce himself on his own schedule. For now, we are working with him to ensure all of the accounts and technical transactions are being transferred. As of right now, we believe the site is secure, he is a standup guy, and we can all move on with our lives.
However, there is such a thing as being over-zealous, and making decisions too rapidly. Today we decided to take down the linodes that Barrabas had set up. What we did not know was that those linodes contained our DNS zone records. Taking those boxes down took down our DNS records and therefore the site. Slashcode can be a little tricky, and one of its dependencies is DNS. So when we took down DNS, we took down slash on the linode as well. This was bad. We managed to get it working again, and created an incident log that provides some details to those interested. This also describes a second related incident, tied to taking down DNS.
As a result of this, we are making some changes in the way we conduct ourselves. I have asked the unit chiefs to be more proactive and less reactive. The first part of this (step 0, actually) is creating documentation of each unit. Our Team Pages link on the wiki leads to each of our 5 major groups right now. Please check out each of them for more details on what needs to be done and how to help, if you are interested.
We are currently having our poll on the future status of our IRC network, and within 24 hours we are going to launch a new poll to select our final site name (or so we hope). We have 7 candidate names (including SoylentNews). We are going to hold our initial round with all of them. If one name earns 50% + 1 vote, that name wins. If that doesn't happen in a particular round, we take the names that are within 5% of the leading candidate to the next round. If no other name is within 5 percentage points, we will take the top 2 names for the final event. Finally, look forward to updates from each of our major units regarding their work in progress and their current status over the next few days.
This is a learning experience for all of us, and we hope that the drama can decrease so that the community can grow together. Thanks for reading! ~mattie_p
Update: 10 March 2014 20:20 UTC. Follow here for the latest.
Update: 10 March 2014 19:10 UTC.
At this point Barrabas reports he is exchanging email with the buyer but refuses to say anything. Until we hear from them, we have to hope for the best but plan for the worst. If this link goes down, please go to the linode site where we will regroup. We will use that link as a fallback if necessary.
Update: 10 March 2014 18:30 UTC.
Barrabas reports in IRC he has received funds for the site and has sold the domain name. The terms of this sale, as well as its buyer, have not been disclosed. We await additional information. If you have information on this, please contact us at admin @ soylentnews . org
Update: 10 March 2014 16:30 UTC.
Due to NCommander's personal involvement with the situation he is recusing himself from negotiations. I (Mattie_p) am currently working with the staff to figure out how to address this incident. We have posted a poll which is available and should show up shortly on the front page.
We've been held hostage by John:
Working with NCommander
Am I The Bad Guy
Right now, I can't write a coherent response properly (I'm writing this from a Mac Store right now as some sort of response was necessary). Despite John's offer, we never used the Linode's he purchased for hosting slash, and the two services (forums and wiki) that were hosted on them were migrated. I had hoped that this would have been a private issue between me and John, to be handed by email with a proper agreement, but the site itself is now at risk.
Right now, I'm organizing a response with out staff now, but I won't be home for several hours so MrBluze is currently handling the crisis. He can hand off to mattie_p when he returns, or myself when I have proper net access again. John's offer does not reflect myself or any of the staff here, nor does he have what he says he has. The web server, dev server (fusion forge), and database were always hosted on Linode's on my personal account. John DID have access to the Linode account which was revoked when he left staff, but to my knowledge never had the root password or shell accounts on any of the boxes. That access was revoked. It is possible he has a copy of the database, I do not know for sure. He does not at this moment have access to any of the hardware powering the site. He does however control the DNS register and can possibly yank the site from under us. If that happens, I can send a mass email to every user account to inform them of what happened, and where we are now. We supposedly have until Friday until John drops everything in the trash unless someone pays him $2000 USD. As per the posts, I was willing to pay him, but I had some issue with the expenses as written (my emails are genuine, as is the email I received from John), but I'm currently in Asia, and have no practical way to send him a check until I return to the continental United States on Sunday; I informed John of this on IRC originally.
We're currently in scramble mode to try and organize a new name, and getting migrated as soon as possible. I was serious when I said I was done with the drama but it appears John isn't. I'm personally sorry to have to inflict this on the community, and if you wish to leave us, I shall not blame you in the slightest.
Update: The staff is in conversation with the buyer right now. More to follow, but at this point it looks to be a benevolent benefactor from the community. More to follow as we get it.
As you know, there is not a lot of information available right now. Barrabas reports that he has sold the Soylentnews.org and associated domain names, and successfully transferred them, but neither the buyer's name nor the terms of that sale have been disclosed. As spokesperson for the staff of the site during this time, we would like everyone to know the following:
Our current backup plan is to revert to the li694-22.members.linode.com where the site is actually hosted. If we need to go there for any reason, we will try to notify the site in advance. If it has to go down or we are forced down, we'll be there. We will rebuild the database with some downtime and work from there.
We will send out a mass email to all users from the database informing them of this step should we need to do so.
We do not plan to implement this yet. We (the staff) did not advocate the buyout, but will try and work with the buyer if possible. We do not know the terms on which the domain name was sold.
We the staff will still operate the site, in its current condition on linode, until the community can vote on a new name. Depending on the buyer, we hope we can consider keeping the name the same as an option.
Until we know more information, we would like everyone to remain calm, collected, and civil, while we sort through these issues. Thank you