from the and-there-was-much-rejoicing dept.
- Full UTF-8 Support
- Subscriptions - Revamped and almost ready to go live
- Nexuses - Ready to go, still DEPWAIT wildcard SSL certificate
- Removal of the most annoying aspects of the lameass filter
- Two new themes, CSS fixes, and blockquote changes
- Removal of journal themes (it was half broken, and interfered with the new theming engine)
- Updated zoo, and topic logos, as well as touched up logo and favicon
- Improvement some of the more stupid error messages
- Backend upgrades and improvements performed during the weekend downtime
- File upload support for admins (no more wiki abuse!)
All things considered, a pretty large update! I've got more to talk about, but check back past the break for that.
In other visible changes, we've updated most of the images, and artwork this goaround to be somewhat more consistent, and to make the site itself have a slightly cleaner look and feel. Thanks to rand, mrcoolbp, and paulej72 for their efforts in this department.
In other news, its been somewhat hectic since we completed our incorporation, and are now moving towards getting the site towards self-sufficiency. Due to various administrative hiccups, combined with what ultimately became an ill-timed vacation on my part, we've still got a few minor business hangups before we can accept income and revenue, but everything will be resolved by Friday. As I noted above, our subscription code required an unexpectedly large amount of effort to get functional again due to missing components (which was not evident until we tied it into PayPal), but I'm pleased to note that everything promised got implemented in this update, we're just doing a final smoke test and business 1-2 before pushing the button.
I'd like to offer an apology on behalf of the staff, simply on the long period of time it has taken us to get our act together. For those who haven't realized it, SN is now six months old, and while we have made tremendous progress, none of us are able to work on SN full-time. Unfortunately, that means some things do fall by the wayside such as the long promised, and under-delivered moderation rework. As always, we welcome anyone to come by and volunteer time and effort to the cause; you can find all of the staff on IRC, and anyone is welcome to attend both our staff meetings, and the board meetings (with the next one scheduled for August 20th, at 23:00 UTC) are open to all.
Looking ahead, we've still got a few major things that need be solved relatively soon. The migration from Apache 1.3 -> 2.x is still a high-priority item, one that I think I'll be able to dedicate the necessary time and effort in the next month, which will mostly complete our list of "things we need to fix from golive". Looking ahead, I'm slowly developing a list of longer term objectives to fulfill in Slashcode; in no particular order, or promise of delivery:
- Subslash support (basically our version of subreddits)
- More advanced filtering options for the main page for customization
- Overhauling journals to be more usable as a blogging platform
- Article rating system
- Renaming slashcode
- Revamped voting system
- Bidrectional NNTP gateway
- i10n and i18n of slashcode (a LOT of our userbase is international, and I won't mind working with someone who'd be interesting in SoylentNews in second language)
- RSS Reader Functionality (have your favorite RSS/Atom feeds show up as part of "your" homepage)
As I've stressed before, time and again, this site exists for the community, so if you've got some ideas, post them below, and let us hear about it!
On the business side of things, I'm working on drafting a "longer-term" plan, hopefully ready to present something this week, or early next week, which lays down a specific "here's what we are going to do" plan, and then let you guys think it over, poke it with a stick, then call me an idiot, and have me do it again; as far as running a site, its been a pretty successful model thus far :-)
Expect one or two more "meta" posts in the next few days, and until then, let me know your thoughts below ~ NCommander
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.
Helsinki-based software developer, Henri Sivonen, has written a pair of blog posts about UTF-8; why it should be used and how to inform the user agent when it is used.
The first blog post explains problems that can arise when UTF-8 is used without explicitly stating so. Here is a short selection from Why Supporting Unlabeled UTF-8 in HTML on the Web Would Be Problematic:
UTF-8 has won. Yet, Web authors have to opt in to having browsers treat HTML as UTF-8 instead of the browsers Just Doing the Right Thing by default. Why?
I'm writing this down in comprehensive form, because otherwise I will keep rewriting unsatisfactory partial explanations repeatedly as bug comments again and again. For more on how to label, see another writeup.
Legacy Content Won't Be Opting Out
First of all, there is the "Support Existing Content" design principle. Browsers can't just default to UTF-8 and have HTML documents encoded in legacy encodings opt out of UTF-8, because there is unlabeled legacy content, and we can't realistically expect the legacy content to be actively maintained to add opt-outs now. If we are to keep supporting such legacy content, the assumption we have to start with is that unlabeled content could be in a legacy encoding.
In this regard, <meta charset=utf-8> is just like <!DOCTYPE html> and <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1">. Everyone wants newly-authored content to use UTF-8, the No-Quirks Mode (better known as the Standards Mode), and to work well on small screens. Yet, every single newly-authored HTML document has to explicitly opt in to all three, since it isn't realistic to get all legacy pages to opt out.
The second blog post explains how one explicitly communicates to the user agent that UTF-8 is employed in the current document. Always Use UTF-8 & Always Label Your HTML Saying So: