from the about-fricking-time dept.
I feel that its fitting to post this today on July 4th, Independence Day, given the mission and unique history of SN. I'm going to do a follow-up post on Monday with more information on where we go now. Until then, have an awesome Independence Day, and a great weekend :-)
Two years ago, on 2014-07-04, SoylentNews received official confirmation of becoming a Public Benefit Corporation. Though there is no user-visible manifestation of this on the site (or any of the other services we provide), it does stand as an important milestone in our history.
A lot has happened since this site went live. Here are some numbers:
- 93 - polls posted.
- 170 - current subscribers.
- 1816 - journal articles posted.
- 6278 - registered nicknames.
- 12252 - stories posted to the site.
- 14556 - stories submitted.
- 369411 - comments posted.
- 41767215 - story hits we've counted (ignores AC hits)
Numbers, however, provide only part of the story. We have been able to keep the site up and running with only a few unplanned site outages, which is a far cry from how things were back when the site launched. To watch this community coalesce and grow to what it is today has been a heart-warming and enriching experience. I've read stories and comments that have changed my view of the world. All thanks to the tireless (and very occasionally tired) efforts of our all-volunteer staff and you, our community. And what a talented and selfless group of people we have! I am continually impressed with the knowledge and professionalism exhibited by the staff — I tip my hat to them all.
One of the comments to last year's story sums it up very well for me:
I[t] feels like much longer than a year ago, maybe because Soylent perfectly replaced the place Slashdot occupied in my heart. Except, it's better. NCommander, Eds, we really appreciate the work, spirit, and intent you've put into the community. It's a mark of distinction that this place feels more like a really big, walnut-panelled study filled with learned colleagues than it does a random, pointless forum. The latter is ubiquitous, the former unique.
It is my fervent hope that we will continue to earn your support and provide you with the best news discussion site we can.
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.]
In This Post
- So What Does This Mean
- Summarizing Our First Board Meeting
- Coming Site Updates
- Revenue Streams
- State of SN Finances
- Original Content
- In Closing
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.