Update: 10 March 2014 20:20 UTC. Follow here for the latest.
Update: 10 March 2014 19:10 UTC.
At this point Barrabas reports he is exchanging email with the buyer but refuses to say anything. Until we hear from them, we have to hope for the best but plan for the worst. If this link goes down, please go to the linode site where we will regroup. We will use that link as a fallback if necessary.
Update: 10 March 2014 18:30 UTC.
Barrabas reports in IRC he has received funds for the site and has sold the domain name. The terms of this sale, as well as its buyer, have not been disclosed. We await additional information. If you have information on this, please contact us at admin @ soylentnews . org
Update: 10 March 2014 16:30 UTC.
Due to NCommander's personal involvement with the situation he is recusing himself from negotiations. I (Mattie_p) am currently working with the staff to figure out how to address this incident. We have posted a poll which is available and should show up shortly on the front page.
We've been held hostage by John:
Working with NCommander
Am I The Bad Guy
Right now, I can't write a coherent response properly (I'm writing this from a Mac Store right now as some sort of response was necessary). Despite John's offer, we never used the Linode's he purchased for hosting slash, and the two services (forums and wiki) that were hosted on them were migrated. I had hoped that this would have been a private issue between me and John, to be handed by email with a proper agreement, but the site itself is now at risk.
Right now, I'm organizing a response with out staff now, but I won't be home for several hours so MrBluze is currently handling the crisis. He can hand off to mattie_p when he returns, or myself when I have proper net access again. John's offer does not reflect myself or any of the staff here, nor does he have what he says he has. The web server, dev server (fusion forge), and database were always hosted on Linode's on my personal account. John DID have access to the Linode account which was revoked when he left staff, but to my knowledge never had the root password or shell accounts on any of the boxes. That access was revoked. It is possible he has a copy of the database, I do not know for sure. He does not at this moment have access to any of the hardware powering the site. He does however control the DNS register and can possibly yank the site from under us. If that happens, I can send a mass email to every user account to inform them of what happened, and where we are now. We supposedly have until Friday until John drops everything in the trash unless someone pays him $2000 USD. As per the posts, I was willing to pay him, but I had some issue with the expenses as written (my emails are genuine, as is the email I received from John), but I'm currently in Asia, and have no practical way to send him a check until I return to the continental United States on Sunday; I informed John of this on IRC originally.
We're currently in scramble mode to try and organize a new name, and getting migrated as soon as possible. I was serious when I said I was done with the drama but it appears John isn't. I'm personally sorry to have to inflict this on the community, and if you wish to leave us, I shall not blame you in the slightest.
"unless someone pays him $2000 USD"
What was linode's response WRT $600 or so of that $2K? They have an excellent community rep (well, maybe some near legendary security mis-steps, but aside from that, I'm talking about how they handle customer relationships...) and I'd be shocked if they didn't prorate. They are basically nice competent guys, and no I don't have any financial relationship with them other than having happily purchased $$$$$ from them over the years because they're more or less nice competent guys (although maybe not security geniuses, but in all biz relationships, there are always tradeoffs). Also the SaaS world is full of noobs who haven't been powned yet, and pros who've been powned and know better now, and you can guess which categories linode occupies / has occupied.
They'd probably be pretty pissed off that they're dealing with people who can't understand the difference in financial operations between running a corporation and a residential acct. And I'm talking about both sides. So now they're dragged into the middle of a dispute between two residential customers, which I'm sure they'll be thrilled with.
Also you're not out $600, you've obtained $600 of service you can use next month or whatever where the decision to purchase was not made while you're in charge. The business operations term you think you're operating under is bankruptcy where you can stiff accounts payable, but you're actually pretending to sell the business and that does not magically wipe accounts payable just because you might not agree completely with previous management. Its hardly linodes fault and they shouldn't be dragged into this transaction.
As a completely separate transaction, they almost certainly will prorate with you, or at least I'd be tremendously surprised.
Its the same deal with the wiki hosting or the "gift" or whatever. Don't like what was historically placed in accounts payable, well, shoulda purchased an ownership position earlier. As a totally separate transaction from the business sale, donno if later on you should try to go after those historical charges. I have a gut level feeling of "no" other than due diligence to make sure the financial side is legit (not accidentally double billed or double paid or whatever)
Asking for payment in full in a week is somewhat, but not tremendously out of line. Its 2014 in a world of paypal, bitcoin, and internet banking access, he's not asking for you to dispatch a well fargo stagecoach on a eight horse hitch and a wagon full of gold across the western desert in 1870. If both sides were acting like businessmen instead of yahoos doing the make believe businessmen-thing there would be some form of contract, signed (maybe by fax, and/or GPG key) and the terms would probably be something vaguely along the lines of net30. None of this "we'll transfer some control to someone else kinda sorta and they'll pay me whatever they want, whenever they want if, they want but I'll not finish transferring control until I get at least $X, and now you change the rules for how much so I'll change the rules for how soon, pretty much because we both said so." There's an interesting technological hack to work around business problems like that, invented a couple thousand years ago, called the "contract" and even a pitiful attempt would work well.
As another .biz commentary, this kind of transfer of power almost never works. Take the money and run, not put the previous owner as "head of dev" or WTF. Transition team, sure. Both professionally reasonable and a great contract topic. But not beyond "transition team" time. Turning a human nature thing into a "me vs him" is seeing the trees but missing the forest or something like that. Yeah, it ain't gonna work and no its not a "me vs him" thing its a "we're both human beings" thing.
You might both be better off selling to a businessman type. Not a "business men are psychopaths" but a guy who knows business. I'd buy, but I'm not in the labor perspective ready for it at this time, and not ready to burn unholy hours is exactly the worst possible match for a startup-like business. Oh well, missed opportunities.
You are the voice of reason.
As much as people might dislike "those business folks" (probably as a result of what created a demand for this site to begin with), the way this has been handled is terrible.
Get a contract, pay the 2K$ and get on with it. No need for any more bad blood. And there's certainly no need to make further blog posts about this, in the "interest of transparancy".