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posted by NCommander on Monday July 21 2014, @03:25PM   Printer-friendly
from the sickness-and-real-life-sucks dept.
On July 4th, I ran a short article noting that we were officially incorporated as a public benefit corporation (PBC) with a followup to follow; due to both sickness and real life difficulty, that followup got delayed until now. There were a fair number of questions on what happens now, and what our next steps are, and I'm here to shed some light on them.

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
What Does Incorporation Mean For SN?
Obviously, I've done a fair bit of writing about our incorporation progress, but given some of the comments I saw on the "We're Incorporated" post, it's not clear how this is a benefit to the community. Simply put, being incorporated provides us legal protections we didn't have for the site in an ad-hoc form. Furthermore, it allows us to migrate to a world where no one individual can say "screw you", and take the site down just by doing so; as things were setup and if I were so inclined, I could have turned off SN just by deleting the Linode's, and there would be no recourse for my actions nor would it be trivial to re-establish the site. With a proper legal corporation taking charge of the site, it prevents any one individual from taking over in a dictatorship. It has never been the plan for SoylentNews to be a dictatorship and this represents the first step that allows us to move to community governance.

Furthermore, it also allows us to accept and manage money on behalf of the community for the ongoing upkeep of the site. I've got more on this below, but in short, this is an important landmark on our goal towards self-sufficiency and allowing the site to be able to finance itself. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, it brings us to the point where succession is possible. The fact of the matter is most projects live or die on the motivations of its original members, and there will come a day, sooner or later, that myself and others will wish to step down.

If SoylentNews is going to be successful, it needs to be able to handle this inevitable changing of the guard. While I have no plans on going anywhere, you never know if today is the day I will get hit by a bus, or just suddenly drop dead. As a community, we've already had one major change in leadership and the fallout from that nearly killed the site; I never want to see a repeat of that. A large part of our incorporation ensures that as long as there are folks who are willing to put the work in, SoylentNews will continue.

I understand that a lot of people may be unconformable dealing with corporations, even a public benefit corporation, but we will continue to try and provide the same transparency and community involvement we always had. We're looking at how we can legally include members of the community on the board via election and other ways to insure we don't lose the rapport and trust we've built up to this point. Trust and communication goes both ways; we've already changed plans when the community thought we were wrong and I'll be damned if we change that philosophy now. I'm open to any feedback in the comments below on how we can bring the community into the business side of things.

Summarizing The First Board Meeting
On July 8th, we had the first official meeting of the board in #staff on IRC, the transcript and meetings are available on the wiki. For those not versed in business creation, most of this meeting consisted of formally establishing the board, various accounts, and discussing revenue streams. To merely get the ball going, we started with a very small board consisting of the folks directly involved in our incorporation process in positions required to meet our legal obligations; as of this writing, our board consists of the following:
  • Michael Casadevall (NCommander) - Chief Executive Officer/President
  • Matt Angel (matt_) - Secretary
  • Ben Prentice (mrcoolbp) - Treasurer

We'll likely be expanding the board in the very near future to include additional positions, such as Editor-In-Chief and so forth. We're still getting our sea-legs on this. I'm covering the remainder of the meeting as bullet points here, but invite the community to dive through the log and raise any questions they'd like.

ADDENDUM: Since I originally wrote this, we've had our second Board Meeting, which was mostly expanding on points above and below. Furthermore, we're working on trying to set a regular time for holding meetings. Up-to-now, its been a relatively ad-hoc affair decided a day or two in advance due to having to accommodate multiple schedules. Our board meetings are open to the public on the #staff channel on IRC. I'll update the Site News box with the date as soon as it is determined.

Coming Site Updates
So, with our incorporation complete, one of our first priorities is getting subscriptions up and running, as discussed earlier. Right now, the largest bit of work is refactoring the subscription code to be a calendar-time-based system vs. usage based, which has proven to be somewhat more complex than I thought when I first looked at it. We'll likely launch subscriptions with our 14.08 Slashcode release, with the initial payment method just being PayPal and with an invite-only test period to make sure everything works beforehand.

I can already hear people groaning about that, but its the only supported merchant in the pre-existing code. We plan to add more merchants in the near future, as well as re-evaluating accepting crypto-currencies via coinbase for those who are unwilling or unable to use traditional credit cards over the internet.

In addition, we're modifying the code to take into account requested features like being able to toggle the subscriber star (which is *shockingly* difficult; its tied to the comment, not the user). I'm hoping to find some free time to finish cleaning this code out in the next week, and get everything ready for an early August launch. Beyond that, we have the usual slew of non-critical bug-fixes, and a big one, UTF-8 support landing in base (much thanks to TheMightyBuzzard for this work). As usual, we'll be updating the site on the 1st, so expect further news about subscriptions between then and now.

Revenue Streams
Shifting from subscriptions, we're also looking at creating an official SoylentNews store with various types of swag. mrcoolbp has been experimenting in creating a CafePress store with various shirts and cups available and we'll be looking to expand for more unique merchandise in the near future (ideas welcome). It is our hope that this, combined with subscriptions, will be enough to successfully allow SoylentNews PBC to reach financial independence.

On a larger scale, I'd like to start building out towards accepting original content. While this topic will get a post of its own sometime in the near future, we'd like to build a system where people can approach us to write on a topic, and we'd purchase articles from said authors with reasonable compensation. To do so, we need a larger base of capital to work from. Once we've got subscriptions and some money coming in, we'll be investigating the possibility of doing a crowdfunding project which will give us the necessary capital; this is now a medium-term goal, one we'll be seriously investigating once the site itself is safely financed.

This site exists for the community -- we'll announce and discuss any revenue streams we want before implementing them and try and keep site finances from affecting the site in any visible way.

State of SoylentNews Finances
So another major point is figuring out everyone who has a current financial stake in the site, and work out a means of compensation. Our early members may remember some unpleasantness we had in regards to financial matters not long after we went live. We do not ever wish to have a repeat of such things because it creates an environment where folks are unwilling to call BS when they see it. As we learned from that experience when someone has a financial stake in the site, those members can have undue influence over others. As such, we're going to work out repayment for the current stakeholders in the site (represented in the GNUcash file as "Equity"; see below), and get the site back to zero-sum. The method of repayment is still up for discussion (one such option that has been proposed is issuing all stakeholders common stock in the PBC), but everyone should be aware that some of our net income will be used to pay off these debts.

I've retroactively worked through every receipt I had for expenses related to SoylentNews and have compiled our initial ledger which is available here. This file was generated with GNUcash 2.6.1, which is available in most package repositories, and available for download for Mac and Windows on the GNUcash website. Obviously, relatively few people will want to download something to view one file, so I will attempt to summarize the ledger here.

In short, most of our costs came from purchasing the site assets from the original founder for $2000 USD, with our general hosting costs being ~$240 a month, combined with ~$60 dollars for backing up critical servers via the Linode backup server. We were able to refund several of the large purchases made at that changeover, with the credit applied to the Linode account; this is reflected as a large credit to my line under Equity in the GNUcash file. Beyond that, we ran up ~$400 dollars in incorporation fees. All and all, our total costs to this point are $3,216, split between $833.58 dollars to myself, and $2,418 to Matt.

For those who are more interested in seeing where money went, and on what, I invite you to download the file, and ask questions below, and I will try and justify each and every expense. As a final note, we will likely be migrating to using QuickBooks instead of GNUcash as it is the de-facto standard of the business world. This is an unfortunate necessary evil because (1) GNUcash does not handles tax information well and (2) most CPAs will be unable to work with GNUcash files directly. While it is possible to run a small business using GNUcash for bookkeeping, it is likely to create annoying difficulties and additional expense in dealing with our future accountant. However, in line with our manifesto, we will continue to provide access to our finances in a format that can be opened with free software.

In Closing
I hope this post helps set aside a lot of the concerns folks had with our incorporation as well as help give a clearer picture of where we are going from here. I'd like to re-iterate my apology on the delay on getting this authored, the last two weeks have been something I'd rather forget. It seems hard to believe, but its been almost half a year since we first opened our doors (5 1/2th months), and its been a long and exciting ride. The fact that a random group of folks, disgruntled with the other site, managed to get together, form a replacement, and revive a dead codebase is no small achievement. The fact that we managed get organized to this point is, in my humble opinion, truly remarkable. To everyone who reads, comments, or submits stories: YOU are what makes SoylentNews possible and are what keeps us going day in and day out. No matter what we will not forget the folks who make this site what it is or the reasons why it was formed.

Until the next,
NCommander

Note: There are some early comments on this article due to it accidentally being posted during drafting, hence how some comments have dates before the publication time.

Related Stories

Back To The Drawing Board: Rethinking Subscription + Explaing Expenses 110 comments
First off, before we get into this, I do want to apologize for a delayed response. I had to sit, and think long and hard about the on subscriptions feedback before responding. The largest points I got out of this is that too broad, too complex, and too expensive. There was some choice comments that I'm going to highlight below and address below. It quickly became apparent it was to the point I need to scrap it and go back to the drawing board. So let's try this again:
SN Subscription - $20 USD per year
  • Subscriber Badge
  • Early Access To Features (i.e. Improved Threading, to help work bugs out before roll out to the general community)
  • Exemption from ads if we ever run any
  • Full comment histories/access to database-intensive operations
  • No rate limiting/spam filtering

Subscription can either be bought, or gifted to anyone. From the feedback we got, $20 USD per year (approximately $1.66 USD per month) would roughly be the right "sweet spot" for people.

Our Independence Day: We're Officially Incorporated! 46 comments
As a general rule, I don't post site news on weekends or holidays, but I'm making an exception due to the unique circumstances. 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.

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 :-)
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  • (Score: 1) by N3Roaster on Wednesday July 16 2014, @03:12AM

    by N3Roaster (3860) <roaster@wilsonscoffee.com> on Wednesday July 16 2014, @03:12AM (#69560) Homepage Journal

    In which post? This one seems to not have anything past the table of contents.

    • (Score: 2, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 16 2014, @03:18AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 16 2014, @03:18AM (#69564)

      Short and sweet. Now that's the way to write a corporate memo.
      Nadella should be taking notes.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 16 2014, @03:30AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 16 2014, @03:30AM (#69569)

        Memo: More fake profits! Leave no book uncooked!

    • (Score: 1) by N3Roaster on Monday July 21 2014, @03:39PM

      by N3Roaster (3860) <roaster@wilsonscoffee.com> on Monday July 21 2014, @03:39PM (#71843) Homepage Journal

      For anybody who missed the story last time, check the date on my comment. The story was pulled for a few days and the repost doesn't have this issue.

    • (Score: 4, Informative) by NCommander on Monday July 21 2014, @03:45PM

      by NCommander (2) Subscriber Badge <michael@casadevall.pro> on Monday July 21 2014, @03:45PM (#71846) Homepage Journal

      This was a mispost earlier, when I was still drafting it (I accidentally checked "Display" out of habit), hence why it originally was content free :-). I left the original comments attached when I reposted it.

      --
      Still always moving
  • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 16 2014, @03:18AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 16 2014, @03:18AM (#69563)

    our evil new evil corporate evil overlords. EEEEEVIL I tells ya.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 16 2014, @03:22AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 16 2014, @03:22AM (#69565)

      SN Finances

      See, corporations can't be evil, they're made of money! The money is evil.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 16 2014, @03:24AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 16 2014, @03:24AM (#69568)

        Soy, save me!

  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by martyb on Monday July 21 2014, @03:48PM

    by martyb (76) Subscriber Badge on Monday July 21 2014, @03:48PM (#71848) Journal

    I'd just like to take a moment and express my thanks to all who have helped us get to this point.

    There's so much that happens "behind the scenes." Much like a duck paddling across a pond -- all looks smooth from up top but there's a whole lot going on below the surface. And as you may well be aware, it hasn't been smooth sailing all along, either.

    To everyone who has helped make this possible, please take a step back and look at where we are and how far we've come. Whether you were working on the code for the site, maintaining the servers, submitting stories, editing submissions, providing comments, and even just reading the site and spreading the word we are here... we are a community that I am proud to be a part of.

    --
    Wit is intellect, dancing.
    • (Score: 1) by Horse With Stripes on Monday July 21 2014, @04:10PM

      by Horse With Stripes (577) on Monday July 21 2014, @04:10PM (#71858)

      Ditto.

      • (Score: 2) by Alfred on Monday July 21 2014, @05:09PM

        by Alfred (4006) on Monday July 21 2014, @05:09PM (#71888) Journal

        And I third that.
        Long live SN (and those that got it here).

        • (Score: 1) by linsane on Monday July 21 2014, @08:52PM

          by linsane (633) on Monday July 21 2014, @08:52PM (#72004)

          Haven't posted in a while, but definitely worth a 'Fourth'

    • (Score: 1) by Murdoc on Tuesday July 22 2014, @12:44AM

      by Murdoc (2518) on Tuesday July 22 2014, @12:44AM (#72089)

      Here, here! (hear hear?)

      Not just thank you for all the hard work, but to the diligent adherence to the principles that serve as the foundation for this community. Accept a cyber-pat on the back! Or a cyber-hug. Or cyber-beer, whatever. You get my point.

  • (Score: 5, Informative) by mrcoolbp on Monday July 21 2014, @03:55PM

    by mrcoolbp (68) <mrcoolbp@soylentnews.org> on Monday July 21 2014, @03:55PM (#71851) Homepage

    I plan to have the swag store(s) going live in the next few days, there will be shirts, mugs, hats (at least) initially, and we can easily add products and designs based on demand. I'll likely post a story about it so stay tuned.

    * mrcoolbp sips coffee out of his new coffee++ mug *

    --
    (Score:1^½, Radical)
    • (Score: 2) by Tramii on Monday July 21 2014, @04:08PM

      by Tramii (920) on Monday July 21 2014, @04:08PM (#71857)

      I hope we have some cool designs/logos lined up! I definitely want to buy some Soylent swag, but I hope it's not just the candy bar logo on a white t-shirt...

      • (Score: 2) by VLM on Monday July 21 2014, @04:20PM

        by VLM (445) on Monday July 21 2014, @04:20PM (#71869)

        I'll buy a "coffee" mug, although I drink tea. Please at least remember to put the site URL on it?

        "Fork /." would be a moderately amusing motto for a mug, although I'm sure /. would need a little (tm) symbol. "Fork Beta"?

        ideal mug : "2 donations to https://soylentnews.org/ [soylentnews.org] 1 Cup" And for the pix have two women looking vaguely like the "famous" actresses (but not a screen cap because that would be illegal) holding a coffee mug looking vaguely like this mug as a recursive thing. I suppose this means I'd have to donate twice. Try to make it vaguely G rated-ish so I can use it at work.

        Another funny motto "I down modded ethanolfueled" (just kidding... or am I?)

        • (Score: 2) by present_arms on Monday July 21 2014, @05:12PM

          by present_arms (4392) on Monday July 21 2014, @05:12PM (#71891) Homepage Journal

          Another funny motto "I down modded ethanolfueled" (just kidding... or am I?)

          if you are kidding, you might be the only one with mod points that hasn't down modded that dude

          --
          http://trinity.mypclinuxos.com/
          • (Score: 2) by VLM on Monday July 21 2014, @06:00PM

            by VLM (445) on Monday July 21 2014, @06:00PM (#71906)

            Just kidding about the general concept of using usernames of real people in marketing materials.

            Beyond mere legality, I think it would be polite to ask ethanolfueled for permission before using his name in marketing stuff.

            And probably need to do trademark searches and all that BS. There probably is a small chainsaw engine or liquor sold as "ethanolfueled (TM)"

            • (Score: 2, Informative) by Ethanol-fueled on Monday July 21 2014, @06:29PM

              by Ethanol-fueled (2792) on Monday July 21 2014, @06:29PM (#71928) Homepage

              I only took that user name because "Alcohol-Fueled" was already taken on the other site. So not only am I a troll, but an unoriginal one, at least as far as names are concerned. My first Slashdot username was actually GeneralPurpose (created in 2006), but I gave up after having my first comment downmodded to hell and angrily attacked. It was at that point I realized that, to succeed at Slashdot, I would have to lurk moar, to become one with the holy circlejerk: Windows, bad! Linux, good!

              At this point I would ask that the username not be used, because I don't want to be singled-out. The only way I would approve of being used is only as part of a list of other distinguished usernames from the site, which I think would be pretty cool because somebody could draw up a list of caricatures based on what people think the user looks like based on their posting personality here (or, with the users' permission, a caricature of their real appearance). Or perhaps every user could be given the opportunity to design their own caricature like they have those "make your own southpark or Simpsons caricature" with their username to use as a graphic for swag.

              Speaking of The Simpsons, an episode explains very well why I don't think myself or anybody other single user should be singled out -- if this [wikipedia.org] were to occur, then the site would make a mockery of itself, and the people would detract from the site's (relatively) pure aims.

            • (Score: 2) by present_arms on Monday July 21 2014, @07:48PM

              by present_arms (4392) on Monday July 21 2014, @07:48PM (#71970) Homepage Journal

              Yeah absolutely :) I only said it as a "funny" with a seemingly hint of truth behind it.

              --
              http://trinity.mypclinuxos.com/
        • (Score: 2) by Phoenix666 on Monday July 21 2014, @06:23PM

          by Phoenix666 (552) on Monday July 21 2014, @06:23PM (#71922) Journal

          Some day SN may have a spiffy, professionally designed logo, and the chunky candy bar will be retro and cool. I still mourn my Dukes of Hazzard T-shirt. :-)

          I would like to have my username, user #, motto, and a QR code to my SN journal added to SN swag. I know some services like Cafe Press let you do that for a couple bucks more.

          I feel a bit ambivalent about "Fork /." and its variations. I still feel bitterness about the demise of /., but think we should look forward, not back. That said, "SoylentNews: Fork Beta!" seems the mildest. Its meaning is only clear to other /. refugees.

          --
          Washington DC delenda est.
      • (Score: 2) by mrcoolbp on Monday July 21 2014, @04:33PM

        by mrcoolbp (68) <mrcoolbp@soylentnews.org> on Monday July 21 2014, @04:33PM (#71872) Homepage

        What would you suggest? The candy bar logo will be on the products, we don't have anyone working on Soylent logos right now. I'm going to try to include as many options as possible like "Proud Anonymous Coward," a simple "SN" insignia, tea++ mugs, I plan on including the url as well.

        --
        (Score:1^½, Radical)
        • (Score: 1) by goodie on Monday July 21 2014, @05:06PM

          by goodie (1877) on Monday July 21 2014, @05:06PM (#71885) Journal

          Can't wait to see that stuff online. I'll hold off my threadless purchase until I've done my SN purchase then :)
          BTW, will the store accept stuff other than PayPal or it's locked in that payment method as well?

        • (Score: 2) by egcagrac0 on Monday July 21 2014, @05:06PM

          by egcagrac0 (2705) on Monday July 21 2014, @05:06PM (#71886)

          Thong panties with the site logo have been oddly popular on my swag stores.

          As your site logo differs from mine, YMMV.

          • (Score: 2) by mrcoolbp on Tuesday July 22 2014, @03:56AM

            by mrcoolbp (68) <mrcoolbp@soylentnews.org> on Tuesday July 22 2014, @03:56AM (#72135) Homepage

            You may be the second person who mentioned this, I'm confused and intrigued, and I'll likely include them in the product lineup.

            --
            (Score:1^½, Radical)
    • (Score: 2) by Sir Garlon on Monday July 21 2014, @05:16PM

      by Sir Garlon (1264) on Monday July 21 2014, @05:16PM (#71893)

      Perhaps I missed something, but last I knew there was still a potential name change in our future. Wouldn't it make sense to settle on the name of the community before setting up a store?

      --
      [Sir Garlon] is the marvellest knight that is now living, for he destroyeth many good knights, for he goeth invisible.
    • (Score: 2) by frojack on Monday July 21 2014, @06:21PM

      by frojack (1554) on Monday July 21 2014, @06:21PM (#71921) Journal

      I plan to have the swag store(s) going live in the next few days, there will be shirts, mugs, hats (at least) initially, and we can easily add products and designs based on demand. I'll likely post a story about it so stay tuned.

      I'd rather SN concentrate on memberships first. With or without the Asterisk.

      Whenever possible: Revenue before expenses.
      Swag costs money. Sits around. Requires shipping. Maybe gets purchased, maybe not. Becomes clutter.

      --
      No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
      • (Score: 2) by Tramii on Monday July 21 2014, @06:31PM

        by Tramii (920) on Monday July 21 2014, @06:31PM (#71932)

        I assume they aren't actually ordering/producing any merchandise. There are websites that will allow you to upload artwork in a digital format and then customers can order products with that artwork on it. The actual product is created only after someone places an order for it. So, if I order a Soylent coffee mug, the company takes my money, some machine paints a blank mug with the Soylent logo, then throws it in a box and ships it. The company keeps part of the money and with the rest, it cuts a check to Soylent Inc. That way Soylent doesn't end up with 10,000 coffee mugs sitting in a warehouse for the next 20 years.

        • (Score: 2) by frojack on Monday July 21 2014, @08:19PM

          by frojack (1554) on Monday July 21 2014, @08:19PM (#71979) Journal

          Agreed, I've seen this with tee shirts, but a decent Mug has to be fired in a kiln, rather than just printed.
          Printed ones scrape off too easy.

          --
          No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
          • (Score: 2) by paulej72 on Monday July 21 2014, @08:35PM

            by paulej72 (58) on Monday July 21 2014, @08:35PM (#71989) Journal

            That just means you need to purchase a new one when the current one wears out.

            We are using CafePress, http://www.cafepress.com/ [cafepress.com] for the current test store, and it work just like Tramii explained above.

            --
            Team Leader for SN Development
            • (Score: 2) by egcagrac0 on Tuesday July 22 2014, @08:46AM

              by egcagrac0 (2705) on Tuesday July 22 2014, @08:46AM (#72203)

              That just means you need to purchase a new one when the current one wears out.

              Planned obsolescence as a revenue strategy? Love it.

          • (Score: 2) by mrcoolbp on Tuesday July 22 2014, @03:58AM

            by mrcoolbp (68) <mrcoolbp@soylentnews.org> on Tuesday July 22 2014, @03:58AM (#72136) Homepage

            I've been hammering my mug pretty hard the week I have had it, so far it looks like it's holding up.

            --
            (Score:1^½, Radical)
            • (Score: 2) by frojack on Tuesday July 22 2014, @06:52AM

              by frojack (1554) on Tuesday July 22 2014, @06:52AM (#72173) Journal

              Pictures or it didn't happen. :-)

              --
              No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
    • (Score: 2) by frojack on Monday July 21 2014, @06:33PM

      by frojack (1554) on Monday July 21 2014, @06:33PM (#71936) Journal

      At one time I spoke out against SoylentNews offering storage to members, calling it a warrant magnet.
      I Still believe that.

      BUT some places offer affiliate programs that pay rather well, and SoylentNews might talk them into a promotional price.

      SpiderOak offers truly secure encrypted storage accounts for windows/Linux/Mac that are zero knowledge
      (they don't know your encryption keys, and couldn't rat you out to the NSA even with a warrant in hand and a gun to their head).
      These are even Snowden approved [wsj.com]
      http://www.shareasale.com/shareasale.cfm?merchantID=29362 [shareasale.com]

      --
      No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by N3Roaster on Monday July 21 2014, @04:01PM

    by N3Roaster (3860) <roaster@wilsonscoffee.com> on Monday July 21 2014, @04:01PM (#71853) Homepage Journal

    First, looking forward to a non-PayPal option for subscriptions. I understand that PayPal is really easy for a site to work with, but even setting aside well known poor behavior on the part of that provider, PayPal refuses to allow me to do anything with them for reasons unknown to me and I stopped caring to figure that out years ago. Kind of annoying as people have asked about sending money that way for my own projects. Maybe I'll look for a SN coffee mug or something in the meantime.

    With regard to Quickbooks data, if you get the Mac version that uses SQLite for data storage so anybody should be able to get that and open the file just fine (don't know why they don't do the same on Windows and use some platform abstraction to only bother with one code base). Their schema is really awful but that technically works. A better format for publishing is still probably advisable. I use GnuCash for my personal finances, but in a business context it's totally worth bringing in an accountant periodically to make sure everything is in order.

    • (Score: 1) by Horse With Stripes on Monday July 21 2014, @04:13PM

      by Horse With Stripes (577) on Monday July 21 2014, @04:13PM (#71862)

      Apparently N3Roaster in on the government's 'No Buy' list. PayPal is just enforcing it for our wonderful, all-knowing governmental overlords. Thanks Gov'!

      I'm not a fan of PayPal but I will use them for my first annual subscription (no need to punish our wonderful, all-knowing soylent overlords).

    • (Score: 2) by hemocyanin on Monday July 21 2014, @04:21PM

      by hemocyanin (186) on Monday July 21 2014, @04:21PM (#71870) Journal

      A non-paypal payment system alternative:

      https://www.dwolla.com/ [dwolla.com] (flat 25 cent fee on transfers over $10, zero on $10 or less). I would like to have a reason to try it.

      • (Score: 2) by egcagrac0 on Monday July 21 2014, @05:22PM

        by egcagrac0 (2705) on Monday July 21 2014, @05:22PM (#71897)

        While I have no direct experience with them (signed up for an account, but no transactions), I have little reason to believe they'll be substantially better than PayPal.

        Perhaps slightly less arbitrary, but there's no assurance of that. (ToS 4.1: "We reserve the right to decrease your sending limit at any time, for any reason.")

        Dwolla also seems to require that it be linked to a financial institution account in the USA. I don't think PayPal has that restriction.

        If I recall correctly, swag stores like Cafepress allow you to set the price of your items at whatever you like, so you could, for instance, offer a $1 sticker for $21, to be a $20 subscription fee and a $1 "I subscribed to SN" bumper badge.

    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by frojack on Monday July 21 2014, @06:11PM

      by frojack (1554) on Monday July 21 2014, @06:11PM (#71910) Journal

      Hate on it all you want, but if you are UP FRONT with paypal about your business plans, your
      Articles of incorporation and business license(s), addresses,
      sources of income, your tax IDs, and expected revenue monthly revenue, you will not have problems.

      Update your paypal profile with this information and CALL THEM UP when you see a big jump in
      subscriptions or store purchases and talk to them. They are under the eye of regulators, even
      more-so than an actual bank, and those regulators are on the look out for money laundering schemes.

      Just TALK TO THEM and you will not have problems. In my day job we accept LARGEish sums of money
      from overseas, but because both ends are verified paypal merchants we just do not have problems, even
      when the transaction amount exceeds the 10k federal report limit.

      Other options is Google Wallet. You can send money to any place that has a google account, and
      they can have it transferred to their bank, or spend with w debit card.

      Short answer: Expect scrutiny. Be prepared ahead of time.
      Look like a drug dealer: get treated like one.
      Be legit and open, no problem.

      --
      No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
      • (Score: 3, Informative) by NCommander on Monday July 21 2014, @06:30PM

        by NCommander (2) Subscriber Badge <michael@casadevall.pro> on Monday July 21 2014, @06:30PM (#71931) Homepage Journal

        I don't, personally, have much of a problem with PayPal, but there's a fair chunk of folks here who dislike them and would prefer to avoid them at all costs. If this was a different site with a community that wasn't in touch with these issues, I'm not sure I'd bother with the effort required.

        --
        Still always moving
      • (Score: 1) by N3Roaster on Monday July 21 2014, @06:32PM

        by N3Roaster (3860) <roaster@wilsonscoffee.com> on Monday July 21 2014, @06:32PM (#71935) Homepage Journal

        All very good advice for SN, but since this is a reply to me I should point out that my issues with them are not on the receiving side. Nobody wanted to send me money through them until after the problem started. In my case they won't let me send money (and not large sums at that, less than $100 infrequently, it's very strange) and if they don't want to do business with me, I'm fine with not doing business with them. But yeah, I've set things up through PayPal for a few other people. Easy work for me, haven't heard any problems on the other side, but it's been years since they did whatever they did to cause this problem and I'm not going to jump through any more hoops to try to make it work for me.

        • (Score: 2) by frojack on Monday July 21 2014, @08:15PM

          by frojack (1554) on Monday July 21 2014, @08:15PM (#71978) Journal

          Most of the problems I've heard with paypal have been on the receiving side, so I jumped to conclusions. My bad.

          As far as senders, your experience is unusual. (Other than for a common set of problems that any google search will reveal).

          Since I do donations via Paypal, (LibreOffice, independent software devs, Linux software projects, etc.) I often worry who I'm funding, and I do take care to google these guys to make sure they are who I think they are. The urge to toss money at something that struck your fancy once might turn up badly later.

          I spoze your case could have been something like that, and maybe they blocke everybody that sent/bought something over the net which ended up bringing scrutiny onto Paypal.

          There are other fish in the sea, but Paypal is by far the best known, although I do use Google Wallet a fair bit as well.

          --
          No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
      • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21 2014, @07:01PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21 2014, @07:01PM (#71946)

        > Look like a drug dealer: get treated like one.
        > Be legit and open, no problem.

        Nowadays the Big Data push has made it so that anyone who cares about their privacy "looks like a drug dealer."

        If only we could trust that Paypal and others wouldn't take advantage of us for being "legit and open" by re-purposing the information we give them for other uses beyond our control and almost certainly against our best interests.

  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21 2014, @05:01PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21 2014, @05:01PM (#71881)

    Did you consider applying for a trademark for the name Soylent News (or maybe you already applied)?

    • (Score: 1) by greenfruitsalad on Monday July 21 2014, @05:09PM

      by greenfruitsalad (342) on Monday July 21 2014, @05:09PM (#71889)

      i also want to know this. there's no point dressing in Soylentwear head to toe, if 3 days later somebody tells you to **** off and use a different name.

    • (Score: 2, Informative) by BlackHole on Monday July 21 2014, @06:31PM

      by BlackHole (530) on Monday July 21 2014, @06:31PM (#71934) Journal
      Trademark registration will cost several hundred USD in official fees [uspto.gov], and a couple thousand USD in legal fees.

      The good news is: "Proprietary rights in relation to a trademark may be established through actual use in the marketplace" (Trademark [wikipedia.org]). So, while registration has some benefits, just using the trademark in commerce (ideally with "TM") will establish our rights in many jurisdictions.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21 2014, @07:16PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21 2014, @07:16PM (#71952)

        ISTM that the largest cost related to a trademark is legal costs involved with defending it.
        It may be easy to claim you have a trademark via "common law" actions but, when push comes to shove, if you don't defend your milkshake, someone else can just come along and drink it.

        -- gewg_

  • (Score: 1) by Arik on Monday July 21 2014, @05:09PM

    by Arik (4543) on Monday July 21 2014, @05:09PM (#71890) Journal
    That sounds very positive.

    I wonder if there are any plans to fix the reliance on javascript next?
    --
    If laughter is the best medicine, who are the best doctors?
    • (Score: 2) by pbnjoe on Monday July 21 2014, @06:12PM

      by pbnjoe (313) on Monday July 21 2014, @06:12PM (#71911) Journal

      As far as I know, the only thing relying on javascript is the Improved Threaded comment mode. If you set your default to Nested or the like, you shouldn't need it for anything.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21 2014, @07:24PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21 2014, @07:24PM (#71957)

        You forgot the piwik script.
        Otherwise: Yup.

        -- gewg_

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 22 2014, @09:31AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 22 2014, @09:31AM (#72215)

        Actually, you don't need it for Improved Threaded either. You'll just get an interface similar to the normal Threaded with JavaScript disabled.

    • (Score: 2) by NCommander on Monday July 21 2014, @06:26PM

      by NCommander (2) Subscriber Badge <michael@casadevall.pro> on Monday July 21 2014, @06:26PM (#71926) Homepage Journal

      Improved Threading should degrade to Threading if JS is disabled, and I'm pretty sure we would have heard holy hell from the anti-JS crowd if we broke it. The admin interface is the only part of the system that should require JS, and its low to nonexistent priority. There's some minor things that do require it (i.e., the messaging delete all requires JS to check all the boxes), but the site itself should be 99.9% functional without.

      I've got NoScript installed (though disabled), so if you can give me a specific page, I'd be happy to look.

      --
      Still always moving
      • (Score: 1) by Arik on Monday July 21 2014, @07:49PM

        by Arik (4543) on Monday July 21 2014, @07:49PM (#71971) Journal
        I have not run into anything broken yet, so perhaps my comment was premature. But in the parent codebase metamoderation and the polling booth have always been completely broken - I am guessing those are slated to be used in the future?

        I vaguely remember some other problems as well, in preferences I think... I gave up on cataloging them years ago because no one cared, but I will pipe up if I see issues here.
        --
        If laughter is the best medicine, who are the best doctors?
        • (Score: 2) by NCommander on Monday July 21 2014, @07:56PM

          by NCommander (2) Subscriber Badge <michael@casadevall.pro> on Monday July 21 2014, @07:56PM (#71973) Homepage Journal

          Our codebase was killed in 2009 (which is the last commit) before Slashdot went JS crazy, everything *should* work for users without JS; hell, it mostly works with NCSA Mosaic (and yes, I tested it).

          --
          Still always moving
  • (Score: 2) by Phoenix666 on Monday July 21 2014, @06:30PM

    by Phoenix666 (552) on Monday July 21 2014, @06:30PM (#71930) Journal

    I want to add my thanks to NCommander and the gang for their hard work and transparency. Working on the nuts and bolts of bureaucracy is another job on top of the job of the mechanics of the site, as is explaining them both to the community. If you guys should find yourselves in Brooklyn, I'll buy you a round.

    --
    Washington DC delenda est.
    • (Score: 2) by NCommander on Monday July 21 2014, @06:31PM

      by NCommander (2) Subscriber Badge <michael@casadevall.pro> on Monday July 21 2014, @06:31PM (#71933) Homepage Journal

      I'm a New Yorker myself (from Manhattan though, not Brooklyn) native though I'm currently living in Alaska. I may very well take you up on that next time I go home to visit family.

      --
      Still always moving
      • (Score: 1) by bziman on Monday July 21 2014, @07:28PM

        by bziman (3577) on Monday July 21 2014, @07:28PM (#71961)

        I'm a New Yorker myself (from Manhattan though, not Brooklyn) native though I'm currently living in Alaska. I may very well take you up on that next time I go home to visit family.

        I thought you relocated to New Hampshire?

        • (Score: 2) by NCommander on Monday July 21 2014, @07:40PM

          by NCommander (2) Subscriber Badge <michael@casadevall.pro> on Monday July 21 2014, @07:40PM (#71968) Homepage Journal

          After the non-for-profit incorporation was shelved and it became unnecessary for anyone/anything to be located in New Hampshire, I decided to head to Alaska for at least a few months; currently I'm renting a small flat in southern Anchorage and have gotten into cycling :-)

          --
          Still always moving
          • (Score: 2) by frojack on Monday July 21 2014, @08:23PM

            by frojack (1554) on Monday July 21 2014, @08:23PM (#71982) Journal

            Get your studded bike tires. Winter comes early, then the sell out.

            --
            No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
          • (Score: 1) by bziman on Monday July 21 2014, @10:48PM

            by bziman (3577) on Monday July 21 2014, @10:48PM (#72054)

            After the non-for-profit incorporation was shelved and it became unnecessary for anyone/anything to be located in New Hampshire, I decided to head to Alaska for at least a few months; currently I'm renting a small flat in southern Anchorage and have gotten into cycling :-)

            How's the weather? I hear that Anchorage is warm and humid this time of year? I'm actually looking for a place to spend my retirement where neither "hot" nor "humid" are ever used to describe the weather (or "flat" used to describe the landscape, for that matter). Northern New Hampshire is actually one of the places I'm considering... but it seems like everywhere in the United States is unpleasantly warm during the summer.

            And what do you do to feed yourself, that you can just up and move to Alaska (not to mention have time to put together this awesome site)?

            • (Score: 2) by NCommander on Friday July 25 2014, @03:15AM

              by NCommander (2) Subscriber Badge <michael@casadevall.pro> on Friday July 25 2014, @03:15AM (#73578) Homepage Journal

              Sorry for the late reply on this, I've been kinda tied up in RL. As with all things, its relative, on the hottest of hot days, it will get into the 70s, and you can feel water in the air, but never unpleasant or unconformable, most of it is like fresh mountain air since Anchorage is surrounded by mountains on multiple sides. Alaska is very different than any place I've been in the lower 48, and I'm not sure I can do it justify in words.

              As for affording it, I telecommute for the day job, and I have no wife/kids/financal burdens beyond myself, and I live a very fugal lifestyle. Depending on where I am, I've lived off >$1000 USD per month in some of the more interesting bits of the world, such as several countries in Central America.

              --
              Still always moving
              • (Score: 1) by bziman on Friday July 25 2014, @07:40PM

                by bziman (3577) on Friday July 25 2014, @07:40PM (#73915)

                That's really awesome. Thanks for taking the time to reply!

      • (Score: 2) by Phoenix666 on Monday July 21 2014, @10:32PM

        by Phoenix666 (552) on Monday July 21 2014, @10:32PM (#72044) Journal

        It's a deal. drop me a line--I'll be the guy at the bar wearing a soylent t-shirt

        --
        Washington DC delenda est.
  • (Score: 2) by elf on Monday July 21 2014, @09:15PM

    by elf (64) on Monday July 21 2014, @09:15PM (#72020)

    Good job to everyone involved behinds the scenes. You have all done a truly remarkable job. The swagger store idea looks good, I still vote to have some techie things in there too, like usb sticks (if its possible).

    I have a suggestion though, I have read through some of the IRC logs, they are a good and extremely easy way to track what was said (easier is always the best!). But it would be good to have an official summary somewhere that is clear and easy to read. From the AGM type meetings (similar to the board meetings) I have been on the minutes are generally short and very to the point but they are very easy to extract information from. So my suggestion is, when you publish the IRC logs to have a concise summary to go with them too. It makes it a lot easier to find all the decisions in the future

    To close with, I can see these being big "soylent news ®" sellers

    http://www.cafepress.com/make/custom-shower-curtains [cafepress.com]
    http://www.cafepress.com/make/custom-pajamas [cafepress.com]

    p.s. (how do you shorten URL's in comments here?)

  • (Score: 2) by prospectacle on Tuesday July 22 2014, @01:05AM

    by prospectacle (3422) on Tuesday July 22 2014, @01:05AM (#72097) Journal

    (First: Excellent work. I'm extremely grateful to be a member of such a high quality and visionary website).

    If it ends up with a decent community voting system that covers major strategic decisions, (even if it's non-binding) then I'll be happy.

    I don't expect this any time soon, especially after all the difficulties, but it will in the long run be the true measure of the site. It is the best way to make sure the site isn't hijacked over time as staff members come and go. Even if it were non-binding, a good voting system would make it obvious and measurable that the site was (or one day wasn't) listening to its members.

    So my question is: are there any plans to prescribe some kind of member-voting system in the bylaws?

    (Last: I have faith in the direction things are heading so you can count on my financial support. I recently transferred some money to my paypal-connected card in order to subscribe (in spite of the fact that I already have the little star) and buy some swag).

    --
    If a plan isn't flexible it isn't realistic
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 22 2014, @07:02AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 22 2014, @07:02AM (#72175)

    Thank you!