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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: 2) by Hairyfeet on Tuesday May 13 2014, @02:36AM

    by Hairyfeet (75) <{bassbeast1968} {at} {}> on Tuesday May 13 2014, @02:36AM (#42500) Journal

    I have NO problem with ads, but sadly few places follow best practices. what are best practices? 1.- NO third party hosted ads, because you have just handed security of the site over to someone who may or may not care about security, this also ruins the experience by slowing page loads. 2.- NO FLASH OR JAVA I really need to explain why? The amount of zero days for these two platforms make them too risky and again with flash ads you are handing off security to a third party ad broker who will sell to anybody with enough cash. 3.- No pop up/under ads. Again should be self explanatory but with XSS its just too easy to use a pop up/under ad for nefarious purposes.

    But if the ads are first party and vetted by the staff? I'd have NO problem with them, hell make the ads for geeky places (like the big GOG sale going on now [] and I'll be happy to buy. As long as this site doesn't treat us like the previous site did, all backstabbing and treating us like product (which is why I like Soylent as a name, because they considered us product and that puts a funny spin on it) then I'm sure 20 years from now the kids will be making UID jokes and we'll be telling the little twerps to get off our lawns.

    And I think we should give a little toast to NCOM for writing such a well thought out declaration, hats of to you good sir....end of line.

    ACs are never seen so don't bother. Always ready to show SJWs for the racists they are.
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  • (Score: 2) by maxwell demon on Tuesday May 13 2014, @07:49AM

    by maxwell demon (1608) on Tuesday May 13 2014, @07:49AM (#42575) Journal

    I agree, but I'd add more requirements:

    No constantly animated ads. Ads which animate once for a few seconds, or a few seconds every five minutes, or something like this, are OK, though.

    No compromising of the layout for ads. The first time Slashdot annoyed me was when they put ads in the right column which were simply too wide for that column. Then later they "fixed" it by changing the layout so that the wider ads fit in. That's bad. It should always be clear that it is the site which determines the layout, and whoever wants to put ads there has to adapt to that layout, not the other way round.

    And of course, ad placement should not be disruptive (like in the middle of a story, or between comments; ads between story and comments would be OK, though. Ads at the top are only OK if their vertical size is low enough (for example, the space between the site logo and the subject logos at the top might be used for ads, but only as long as those are not higher than the logos).

    One might also think of adding something analogous to the "community ads" of StackExchange, free ads which are restricted to free stuff, and voted on by the users. This could be anything from a pointer to posts in your SN journal to advertisement of free software projects.

    The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
  • (Score: 2) by lhsi on Tuesday May 13 2014, @08:43AM

    by lhsi (711) on Tuesday May 13 2014, @08:43AM (#42598) Journal

    Currently my Ghostery icon says "0". If there are advertisements (I'd rather other avenues were explored), I really hope that it stays at 0.

    Also, as there are very few images on this site as is, text based ads would be preferable to avoid drawing attention.

  • (Score: 2) by Reziac on Wednesday May 14 2014, @03:03AM

    by Reziac (2489) on Wednesday May 14 2014, @03:03AM (#43038) Homepage

    GOG is exactly the sort of outfit whose ads I'd be happy to see. Back in the olden days, I probably discovered Compgeeks (later, now defunct) through an ad on some tech site. A few of the back-when ad banners were so clever that I saved them for my own amusement. Etc, etc.

    Here's a thought: give ads a Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down for us to apply, and use that to see which ought to be looked at more closely (maybe we want more of 'em; maybe they're being annoying). Maybe we can influence advertisers by promoting eye-friendly ads and demoting annoying ones.

    And there is no Alkibiades to come back and save us from ourselves.