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SoylentNews is people

posted by NCommander on Friday March 13 2015, @01:00PM   Printer-friendly
from the big-changes-are-afoot dept.
As we get past our first anniversary, its time to sit back and talk about future site updates. While I alluded to it in a journal post, we're getting ready to roll out a fairly large update to the site, which is in line with the first major update we made in April 2014. For those of us who were with us back then, you'll likely remember that the site finally got to 'mostly usable' status with that upgrade which fixed many of the broken CSS (such as users.pl) and the like.

Given the unique nature, we're breaking it into two parts. The first is Slashcode 15.03, which is mostly a housekeeping/bugfixing update. This will be the final update of the legacy mod_perl 1 branch, and our final update using Slashcode. Here's what you can expect with this feature-packed installment.

Slashcode 15.03 - Changelog
  • Moderation Improvements (better handling of Spam mods, template fixes, etc) (credit: TMB)
  • Require prior moderation to use Overrated/Underrated (credit: TMB)
  • No karma hits for someone moderated Overrated/Underrated (credit: TMB)
  • Add karma floor of 10 to be able to down mod, tweakable in vars (credit: TMB)
  • Monthly and Semiannual Subscriptions (credit: paulej57)
  • User Selectable Pricing, with minimum (credit: paulej57)
  • Auto Renewing Subscription option from PayPal (credit: paulej57)
  • Reorganized the moderation dropdown list to avoid miss-moderations (credit: paulej57)
  • Mod-bomb detection page for admins: this can now get you banned from moderating the same as if you'd abused Spam (credit: paulej57)
  • Closed out the following bugs:
    • Fix for issue #412: fixed login redirects to user Apache request_uri string.
    • Fix for issue #411: added mod_banned info to admin user screen, now with date validation
    • Fix for issue #405: removed users email from the daily stats email.
    • Fix for issue #401: remove coremetrics scripts from few templates.
    • Fix for issue #378: updated moderation FAQ to reflect new mod system.
  • SN-specific: Retiring nitrogen, carbon, and beryllium back-end servers (in progress)
  • Other Miscellaneous Fixes

If you can't wait to see what this is all about, take a look at our development version of the site. Feel free to create an account and try things out. If you find a bug, please Report it on GitHub or let it be known on the #Soylent or #Dev channel on IRC using your favorite client, or using a web-based interface.

If you want to know what this mysterious 'Rehash' is, check past the break.

Introducing Rehash

One of the long-standing complaints is that we should finalize our break with The Other Site, by renaming slashcode. In what has been a running theme with SoylentNews since golive, naming stuff seems to be our Achilles heel. While calls for renaming to SoylentCode, or something similar have been long been made, the fact is this site, and the engine that powers it is something more. Rehash is our port of slashcode to MP2 (mod_perl version 2), and introduces the first set of upgrades to allow greater community building and interaction.

The name came about due to paulej72 renaming my work folder on lithium to "rehash", and well, I liked it (before this, the Apache 2 port was 'imaginatively' called Slashcode 15.03a2)

One of the longest points of tension within the community is what SoylentNews aims to be — what our focus should be. Even now, I'm not sure we could define it in one specific sentence. Some of you may remember when I wrote up the draft of the site manifesto, which lays out our goals and values. As a reminder, here is both the preamble, and mission statement from that document, which goes into why we were founded, what we stand for, and what we intend to do:

Preamble

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.

With rehash, we're going to be able to *finally* deploy a long talked about feature: nexuses. We've talked about them in passing, but due to various technical issues, we've held off deploying them on production. For those who remember the other site of old, you may remember how the site was subdivided into sections, such as bsd.slashdot.org, apache.slashdot.org, etc. The initial deployment of this feature will allow editors to select a nexus for a story, and then individual users can select which nexuses they wish to read (or not read) in the user control panel.

In effect, this is our version of reddit's subreddits. Furthermore, having full nexus functionality allows us to implement features like hosting different languages of SN, and allow our community to create their own sections of the site for any topic they want. Want to talk about DIY projects, Pokémon, or similar? Well, soon, that will be possible.

A little known feature of the codebase is that its built on a plugin architecture which makes expansion easier and allows for multi-hosting. That is to say, we can have multiple sites out of a single installation; i.e., soylentnews.jp and soylentnews.org can both point to the same installation, but show a different mainpage. While we're still somewhat far off from supporting this kind of user-generated content, this upgrade sets the framework for allowing it to happen. The mainpage of SN will remain as it is, but allow the community to form and discuss any topic they wish, all handled under the same familiar interface you use now.

I'll probably write more on the topic of nexuses in the coming weeks, but I figure this sneak-preview on where we're going should introduce some interesting discussion. As always, I'll be reading comments below, and responding.

 
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  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 13 2015, @01:45PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 13 2015, @01:45PM (#157263)

    Mod-bomb detection page for admins: this can now get you banned from moderating the same as if you'd abused Spam

    Is the banned user ever informed of this ban?
    If not, I say he should be. At a bare minimum the user needs to know in case there is a bug.

    My experience at slashdot was a pattern where I would get a ~6-month drought of zero mod points and then a month of being awarded mod points as fast as I could use them. That went on for years, might even still be going on. I was a daily poster and as far as I knew I didn't use my mod points abusively.

    Silently punishing users is bad policy. I understand it totally appeals to someone with a mechanistic understanding of human nature but it is both extremely brittle and does not allow for people to learn from their mistakes and improve their behavior.

    Starting Score:    0  points
    Moderation   +4  
       Insightful=4, Total=4
    Extra 'Insightful' Modifier   0  

    Total Score:   4  
  • (Score: 2) by q.kontinuum on Friday March 13 2015, @01:56PM

    by q.kontinuum (532) on Friday March 13 2015, @01:56PM (#157267) Journal

    Here, users get 5 mod-points a day. So you should notice the next day.

    --
    Registered IRC nick on chat.soylentnews.org: qkontinuum
    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 13 2015, @02:03PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 13 2015, @02:03PM (#157269)

      Sorry but that is just mechanistic thinking.

      (1) You can't expect every user to know that, especially new ones
      (2) What if that policy of awarding 5 points every day is changed?

      • (Score: 2) by tibman on Friday March 13 2015, @04:59PM

        by tibman (134) Subscriber Badge on Friday March 13 2015, @04:59PM (#157355)

        I have this text just in the moderation box:

        You get 5 points per day, given out at 00:10 UTC.

        --
        SN won't survive on lurkers alone. Write comments.
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 13 2015, @09:43PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 13 2015, @09:43PM (#157509)

          I am not sure I get your point?
          Perhaps you think that the complete absence of the moderation box is the equivalent of a message telling you that are supposed to get 5 points per day and that today you didn't get any?

          • (Score: 2) by tibman on Friday March 13 2015, @10:38PM

            by tibman (134) Subscriber Badge on Friday March 13 2015, @10:38PM (#157543)

            I still don't think we're on the same page. If you log in, you will see this: http://i.imgur.com/PSW2dDD.jpg [imgur.com]
            That box is always present and always tells you how many mod points you will have along with the next time you will get new ones.

            --
            SN won't survive on lurkers alone. Write comments.
  • (Score: 3, Informative) by paulej72 on Friday March 13 2015, @02:34PM

    by paulej72 (58) on Friday March 13 2015, @02:34PM (#157282) Journal

    Yes, we should send the user a message, but currently we do not. I will make this a priority for the next update to the code. As of right now the number of the bans has been very small so at his time it is not a major issue, but it is an issue. Another requested feature is an admin report to show all current bans. This will help manage thes situations better.

    Thanks for the suggestion.

    --
    Team Leader for SN Development
    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 13 2015, @08:18PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 13 2015, @08:18PM (#157442)

      Place it on top of every page the client sees on SN. This will help both AC and regular posters. Something to the effect of:

      The [IP]/[user] is blocked from:
      . Mod-ing until xx/xx/xxxx because of [ ]
      . Posting until xx/xx/xxxx because of [ ]
      If you like to try to resolve this issue please follow to this page.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 14 2015, @12:10AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 14 2015, @12:10AM (#157586)

        ^^^ This ^^^

        The great failing of automation is that it is easy to automate when everything is taking the happy-path.
        When things go wrong, exception-handling is an art. Especially when people are involved.
        At a minimum provide clearly written, informative and obvious feedback to the user what wrong, why it wrong, and what they can do to fix it.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by joekiser on Friday March 13 2015, @06:01PM

    by joekiser (1837) on Friday March 13 2015, @06:01PM (#157376)

    Heh. I had negative karma on /. back in 1999. I had 15 years of solid posting after that, including excellent karma the whole time, but all of my posts started out at -1 and had to work their way back up, even in 2014 when I left.

    --
    Debt is the currency of slaves.
  • (Score: 2) by NCommander on Friday March 13 2015, @08:17PM

    by NCommander (2) Subscriber Badge <mcasadevall@soylentnews.org> on Friday March 13 2015, @08:17PM (#157436) Homepage Journal

    The old /code mod point algo was notoriously broken, and very very ugly. I'm not suprised it generated as uneven results as it did.

    --
    Still always moving