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 John DID have access to the Linode account which was revoked when he left staff, but to my knowledge never had the root password or shell accounts on any of the boxes. That access was revoked.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.
Except the drama this site is going through is /not/ that unusual, especially for non-commercial productions. More often than not, there are these little power tussles in the background as the organizers struggle to determine who is in charge of what. As with Soylent, it often comes to a head when the original founders leave for greener pastures, and issues of ownership come up. It even happens - if in a more understated, less personally-involved way - in commercial entities (although those do all they can to minimize the upset lest it affect the bottom line).
What is unusual about Soylent is that the organizers have chosen to air all the dirty laundry to the public. This is both gratifying and mortifying. On the one hand, this transparency allows a greater feeling of community between organizers and audience; there are no "closed-door" deals. This is, of course, a direct reaction to how Dice worked on Slashdot. On the other hand, it paints a less-than-pretty picture of the site to the public, which makes it more difficult to attract audience and backers. Plus, the picture we gets tends to be a bit one sided. And on the gripping hand, while everything is nicely transparent, it remains a facade as ultimately the direction the site goes in will be determined largely by the organizers/owners and not by the commenters (mind you, this is not necessarily a bad thing; democracy is great but you still need a someone with vision and a strong hand to lead).
Anyway, I'm not too worried about what is going on the back room at soylentnews, no matter how strident the organizers might be. These things will ultimately work out one way or another and - despite its rocky road - the (relative) ease with which the site was created should prove to the organizers that they cannot depend on a monopoly over the audience. Soylent will either get its act together (in which case they'll maintain their readership) or they won't (in which case people will migrate to more favorable climes). It's hardly worth becoming partisan over.
It's not mortifying. That's ridiculous. Nobody is dying or getting physically hurt.