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SoylentNews is people

posted by NCommander on Monday May 12 2014, @08:00PM   Printer-friendly
from the #define-soylentnews dept.

You know, this is probably one of the hardest things I've had to write since we went live. My first few attempts just lead to writer's block and frustration, so I tried to take a different tack with this and do it the way I usually do my write-ups for anything; by the seat of my pants. The staff have poked and prodded my early attempts, and I think we're ready to open this up to everyone to add their two cents in as we work towards a final version.

Since we've gone live almost three months ago (yeash, time flies), we've already had our fair share of debates, strife, and conflict, yet at the end of the day we remain operational with an involved community that keeps growing day after day. As I continue my relocation to NH, we're getting scary close to the point we're going to need to start drafting the bylaws and operating principles for this site. One of the pressing questions that have been asked time and time again is, "What will we be?" I'm ready to give you that answer.

Without further ado, let me present the current draft copy of the site manifesto. I'll read through and debate feedback below, and keep refining this until it becomes the defining statement for what SN will be.

SoylentNews Manifesto: Version 0.1


In recent years, many alarming trends have surfaced regarding the free interchange of news and ideas on the internet. The practice of selling users' information for profit, without their approval or even knowledge, has become rampant. People are being prosecuted simply for expressing their opinions. A "Big Brother is Watching" mentality from both state and commercial actors, with universal surveillance now becoming common, has created a chilling effect, preventing people from exercising their rights or speaking up.

Unpopular or unusual views are being actively suppressed, diversity of opinion is too often deemed a problem, and actively restricted, at the whim of corporate and political power.

Too often, the focus upon profit has led to owners forgetting that sites exist for the benefit of their community, and the leadership and staff live to serve that community.

Too often, useful help and input from a site's community is ignored by staff and management who are so out of touch with the very people they serve that they will destroy the support of the community they built, and eventually the business itself.

Statement of Purpose

Our aim is to stand in stalwart opposition to these trends. We will be the best site for independent, not-for-profit journalism on the internet, where ideas can be presented and free discussion can take place without external needs overshadowing the community.

Our Principles

Right to Privacy

We will limit the amount of data collection we do whenever and however we can.

Our user database, and the information in it, is not, and never will be for sale.

Any data collection we do will be done with the consent of the community, and destroyed once we are finished with it.

Any information we collect for legal purposes (i.e., DCMA safe harbor protections) will be destroyed as soon as legally possible.

We will continuously look at ways to shore up users' privacy, including, but not limited to, the tor proxy presently available to our users.

Right of Opinion

Diversity will be respected and encouraged as an important aspect of our community, as groupthink can easily prevent people from seeing other, perhaps better, ideas.

Except as required by law, no one will be banned or have their comments deleted due to stating a fact or opinion, no matter how unpopular or repugnant it is. We will not ban or silence a user for merely stating an opinion.

Freedom of Access

Access to information needs to be available to all members.

We will, to the extent possible, attempt to accommodate members of this site with disabilities, such as those dependent on screen readers.

Content produced by this site shall be available in a format that does not require proprietary or patented software. Non-free methods of access in addition may also be provided for sake of convenience (i.e., a YouTube video)

Freedom from Financial Backers/Handling Advertising

Media can be influenced by those who fund it; to prevent us from becoming slaves to a new overlord, the LibreNews Foundation shall be funded independently by the member sites (such as SoylentNews) which comprise it.

Should fundraising efforts prove insufficient, at the discretion of the staff, we may run advertising on this site in an attempt to supplement income.

No attempt to block access to this site shall be made by those who use ad-blocking software, though we urge such users to subscribe.

Permissions granted by the user to this site shall not extend to other sites (i.e., if you give us permission to email you, we're not going to give anyone else permission to do so).

Third-party media hosted on this on this site shall be limited to a form which is non-distracting, and non-disrupting.

Freedom of Topic

We recognize that the free flow of ideas can only take place in an environment free of taboo subjects.

No topic will be deemed unsuitable for our community to discuss.

Right to Criticize/Right of Reversion

A true community can only exist when communication can flow in both directions.

The right of our community to criticize, make suggestions, and help us improve our site will be respected. No staff or leader will ever be above criticism.

We recognize that mistakes will be made, as we are all human. It is both the right and privilege of others to correct us when needed.

If serious errors are made, we promise to revert them and fix the problems.

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  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by VLM on Monday May 12 2014, @08:59PM

    by VLM (445) on Monday May 12 2014, @08:59PM (#42334)

    "Content produced by this site shall be available in a format that does not require proprietary or patented software." []

    Just sayin, the gif patents expired a long time ago, and if I pull up "view source" and search for gif you've got a couple not yet converted to png (yes I'm old enough to remember the unisys scare and everyone converting gifs to pngs in a semi automated way, which means they must be older than dirt?)

    Also much as ipv6 is cool: -cox-on-software-patents.html []

    "The same has happened with IP version 6. You notice that everyone is saying IP version 6 is this, is that, and there's all this research software up there. No one at Cisco is releasing big IPv6 routers. Not because there's no market demand, but because they want 20 years to have elapsed from the publication of the standard before the product comes out -- because they know that there will be hundreds of people who've had guesses at where the standard would go and filed patents around it. And it's easier to let things lapse for 20 years than fight the system"

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  • (Score: 2) by maxwell demon on Monday May 12 2014, @10:15PM

    by maxwell demon (1608) on Monday May 12 2014, @10:15PM (#42372) Journal

    Well, only four more years to go ...

    The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by NCommander on Monday May 12 2014, @11:37PM

    by NCommander (2) Subscriber Badge <> on Monday May 12 2014, @11:37PM (#42408) Homepage Journal

    I thought all the GIF patents were fully expired by now. Most of the GIF files we have is the stuff we got from /code itself, all the assets we added have been png to my knowledge. That being said, I should reword that slightly for 0.2; WebM is patented but free to use, and I wouldn't have issues with us posting something in that format (i.e., if we had a face-to-face interview).

    Still always moving
    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by VLM on Tuesday May 13 2014, @11:32AM

      by VLM (445) on Tuesday May 13 2014, @11:32AM (#42645)

      True, and both replies to my list covered those two individual detailed topics pretty well, just saying theres a lot more than two patented pieces of software out there to deal with so a manifesto not to use anything patented means pull the plug, pretty much.

      Something along the lines of "Always avoid using something patented when unpatented alternatives exist" might be more realistic to implement.