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posted by janrinok on Tuesday July 26, @02:45PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

The proposal to enforce AC posting for logged in members only on the main page was promulgated to all staff and members of the board 7 days ago. Thank you to all those who contributed to the earlier discussions and clearly expressed their own views, suggestions and potential enhancements. All are being studied for implementation, if feasible, when staffing and resources permit.

There has been unanimous agreement from all responses received in favour of the proposed restriction. However, it was also apparent that there was a wish that this will be only until other alternative methods of restricting spamming, abuse and other disruptions to discussions can be identified and implemented. This is unlikely to be achievable in the short to medium term; other sites are struggling unsuccessfully with the same problem. The long-term aim remains to include AC posting in all discussions if at all possible

Therefore, beginning immediately, all AC posting on the main site will be limited to registered members who have logged in to their account. We regret that this leaves a number of AC community members unable to contribute as they once did, but anonymity remains a personal choice.

This will not affect discussions in journals which will have no limits and will be open to all.

If there is a demand for it, I will look at alternative methods of publishing a small number of stories each day into a journal.

On a more positive note, there is evidence that because of the recent restrictions on AC posting a significant number of existing accounts have returned and are commenting in the discussions. The quality of discussions (i.e. signal-to-noise ratio) is significantly better than it was several weeks ago. Although we have lost overall numbers of comments, the value of many of those lost comments appears to have been quite low. There has also been a noticeable improvement in moderations being awarded with more positive moderations being given when compared to negative ones. It is too early yet to draw any firm conclusions from other site statistics.

janrinok

posted by janrinok on Wednesday July 13, @06:32AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

After experiencing extensive spamming, ad-hominem attacks, and trolling it became necessary to protect the site by preventing all Anonymous Coward (AC) comments by anyone who was not logged in. This was a reluctant measure but it proved to be 99.9% effective. It was however, far from ideal. It partially isolated many of the responsible ACs who contribute regularly to the site and provide a valuable input to many of our discussions. They are still able to use journals for posting as the editors of SoylentNews have no control over the content of journals or the comments made in them.

I sought an alternative solution and provided access to some of the stories on the front page and marked them as AC Friendly. I had hoped by demonstrating to those abusing the site that there was a simple solution that they would perhaps cease, or at least return to previously manageable levels. Unfortunately this was not to be. The abuse restarted almost immediately and has continued in every AC Friendly story that has been published. It has clearly demonstrated that this isn't a case of the abusers defending free speech or any other laudable and justifiable aim but simply an attempt to prevent the majority of the community from holding any form of discussion at all. I am not continuing the AC Friendly stories on the main page with the sole exception of this Meta story.

I next tried to switch the attempts to include our AC community around by providing stories from the front page initially to my own journal, but subsequently to the journal of a new account named 'AC Friendly'. This was rather labour intensive and was not something that I could continue to do in the long term. These efforts have been ignored and do not seem to be of any interest to the AC community. Likewise I will not continue this effort unless there is evidence that it is wanted.

There are many perfectly understandable reasons for wishing to post comments as an Anonymous Coward. This was recognised when the original Slashdot code was written and provision was made for such individuals in the software. It is a straightforward matter to log in to the site and then automatically post as AC from then on. This both protects the site itself and those using it. If your justification is that you do not trust the staff then I must question why you would want to remain on the site.

Free speech is an essential part of our ethos but it is necessary to realise that free speech and anonymity are not necessarily related. We want people to be able to express their views without fear of harassment, abuse, or unfair moderation. Only by doing so can we truly claim to have free speech. It means that even those with whom we strongly disagree have the right to express their opinions. Subsequent attempts to argue against those views should not involve any form of harassment of the individual making them. Any attempt to prevent someone from expressing their views is directly counter to the very concept of 'free speech'.

Likewise, anonymity is something to be valued. Attempts to unmask either named or anonymous accounts is unacceptable to this site's administration and will not be tolerated. Those who publish information that appears credible to us must be deterred from continuing by whatever means are necessary. We cannot verify every claim made regarding the personal information of a community member and we must therefore assume that it is has some basis in truth and is an attempt at doxing. It does not matter where the information stated in the claim originates or whether it has been stated on this site or elsewhere previously. If it has the potential to unmask a community member it will be treated as doxing. The site will do all it can to protect community members. We are also fortunate that in the 8 years we have been operating we have only had one account that felt it was an acceptable thing to do. That account has been closed.

There is absolutely no doubt whatsoever that the toxic environment that has developed on the site has cost us numerous valued community members - both staff and regular contributors of submissions and comments. It cannot be allowed to continue. There is also no doubt that there is a straightforward and simple solution, and that is to prevent AC participation without the creation of an account. The software was designed to do this and it is wasted effort trying to find alternatives when it is unnecessary to do so.

There has been quite a bit of discussion over the last week or so. We have had a former community member (who was also once a member of staff) return to the site with his own story. Initially he chose to remain anonymous but subsequently decided to continue his comments under his username. I encourage you all to read the link given and the subsequent comments given in reply. I am very grateful that has taken the effort to explain why he has did what he has done and I welcome him back to our community if he choses to stay. As part of my reply to him I made the following statement:

It is vitally important that everyone is able to express their own point of view without harassment or intimidation or even unfair moderation. We do not all agree with each other. That is the same in any community. But by full, frank and honest discussion we can at least understand each others point of view and possibly identify potential solutions. The freedom of expression is still essential on the site - but it can only exist if we can ensure that it can be conducted in a suitable environment.

I stand by that statement. Since that comment was published I have received other views and experiences of the toxicity of our site from a significant number of individuals, including regular community members and both current and former staff. Quite simply, if we do not change then in all likelihood we will not survive much longer. It is not too late to make the necessary changes but time is running out.

I promised you that no changes would be made to how the site operates without first giving you all the chance to express your own opinions. But you have to decide now which path you want the site to follow. This cannot be a simple vote - as an extreme example we have no way of verifying that AC comments are not the result of a single person, or if some sock-puppets are still active on the site. Everyone has the right to be heard. However, let me point out a few rules:

  • Any attempt to disrupt this Meta by spamming, ad-hominem attacks or trolling abuse will count as someone expressing an opinion that we should insist on accounts for all those wishing to post as AC. If anyone thinks that by abusing the site they will be helping their case they are mistaken. However, such actions will clearly show to the community that those who have been making the most noise about being prevented from expressing themselves are not actually fighting for free speech, but rather they are determined to prevent you from exercising your right to it.
  • It will be pointless to keep repeating the same views as an AC. We cannot separate them. You want to be anonymous, you choose to have the account ID #1, and this, unfortunately, is a direct consequence to that decision.
  • All views will be collated and then a decision will be made based upon them by the staff. This will include the SN Board who may accept that decision, but who have the right to choose the path that the site eventually takes. It may not be the decision that any of us want.

This is an important issue. It cannot be a simple vote but I encourage as many people as possible to express their opinions. It might be the last chance for you to do so. The Meta will stay active for several days to at least mid-week - but if it is abused excessively then it will be taken down and we will be forced to make a decision base on whatever views we already have or can get from elsewhere. I will endeavour to move the Meta in the story queue so that it remains on the front page. Many of our community log on at different times of the day or only on specific days. I would like to give everyone a chance to see the Meta story and to make their views known.

This is your opportunity - please do not waste it.

[Ed's Comment: See bold text - warning 2022-07-10 12:36 UTC]

posted by janrinok on Sunday July 03, @03:30PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the lets-see-what-happens-here dept.

I realise that this has been an unpleasant time for many of our anonymous community members, but I can assure you that it has been necessary. I am not yet prepared to go into details but I can at least update you with our findings so far. But first we have to look at some historical data.

Anonymous Cowards (ACs) have always been - and will hopefully continue to be - welcome members of our community. There are many perfectly understandable reasons for wishing to post as AC and how you chose to live your own personal life is of no concern of this site. Equally, you are welcome to use VPNs and other security measures to protect your privacy. We take similar measures to protect all of your data so that you will not be compromised by us. These measures are effective and to the SN administration ACs appear as a single user with the user identity of #1.

We cannot treat some ACs differently from others. While we can manage to sort out your comments etc with the aid of the hashes that we produce, they change so frequently as to be useless for any purpose outside of this site. But the Administration is only concerned with what happens within this site and so this point is moot. We have no interest in the rest of the internet so IP addresses are also of no interest to us. How your comments get from wherever you are to us is irrelevant. The bottom line is that ACs can only be treated as a single account. That account is granted certain permissions or not granted those permissions and they apply to every AC interaction.

Most of our community, both logged in and AC, participate in the discussions in an reasonable manner and discuss the topic that has been outlined and any threads that resulting from it. It is true that, particularly at weekends, there is a slight increase in the number of ACs appearing but on their own they are little more than a minor irritant. There is, however, a 3rd group, consisting of ACs who sole purpose seems to be to derail any sensible discussion. Over recent years they have become more aggressive and often use personal attacks rather than challenging what is being said. Some are more obvious than others and I am sure that you can all think of examples of such people for yourself. A very small number have stated that it is their aim to prevent SoylentNews from continuing.

On 22 Jun of this year we received an implied threat (https://soylentnews.org/comments.pl?noupdate=1&sid=49894&page=1&cid=1254201) suggesting the the person making it had a target date of 6 July for some event or other. It is possible that this is related to another 'prophecy' in which this individual foretold that the site would soon be dead. We believe that we can identify the person making that threat with a reasonable degree of certainty. However, since that time the number of ad-hominem attacks has increased and we have also been subjected to increasing amounts of spam. In small amounts either or both of these things can be shrugged of, but when they come increasingly aggressive and frequent, they can make the entire experience of being in this community very unpleasant. I know that we have lost both staff and numerous community members because of this toxic atmosphere - and not, as some would have you believe, because we administer the site!

Almost all of this behaviour is conducted by a very small number of ACs and occasionally via sock-puppet accounts. As the levels of harassment increased over the last few weeks it was obvious to us that we could remove it by simply preventing AC access. This was not an easy decision to make but we knew that we could protect the majority of the site by this simple action. The result is, as you know, that we reluctantly removed anonymous access by ACs to the front page.

We are now actively looking for more permanent solutions and hopefully to exactly what we had before. I have experimented with providing stories on the front page which are AC friendly, and also in my journal. We are still looking for a better solution but unless we can separate individual ACs then I cannot see what else can be done. I would welcome your feedback and suggestions. The outcome of our decision is also our loss as you can see if you look at the numbers of comments that we are now getting compared to before the ban.

I have spent a lot of time analysing the posts, both current and historical, to try to identify the person or persons responsible for this unwanted content. I am not going to name specific individuals because I believe that you can each reach your own conclusions. By looking at both the spam and comment content, and their meta data, I have established the following.

The person spamming our site is one of our own Anonymous Cowards who is currently blocked because we have removed access for the AC account - and that block affects all ACs. He is also one of the people regularly carrying out ad hominem attacks against other community members. He will be reading everything that we post about this issue.

Unless the abuses cease everywhere on the site including in journals, ACs will remain outside of the main site except for specially released stories until we can devise a better system. For us to currently do anything different would be foolish and irresponsible in the extreme. As soon as the abuse ceases we can readmit all ACs to the main site again.

I know that this will be as much of a disappointment to you as it is to me, and you may also be thinking of leaving. I ask you not to go. Rather I would encourage you all to let the abusers know that they are not fighting for your freedom of speech ("freeze peach") but they are by their actions actively preventing your participation in our site. There is one particular post (https://soylentnews.org/comments.pl?noupdate=1&sid=50204&page=1&cid=1257692) which suggests that this is being done on behalf of all ACs and that you all stand as one behind this action. I don't believe that anybody has the right to claim that if you haven't actually agreed to it.

posted by janrinok on Wednesday May 18, @05:30AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

The submissions queue is running very low. Please support the site and make submissions on the usual topics because, without them, we will have to reduce the number of stories that we can publish each day.

Thank you.

posted by martyb on Monday March 28, @04:00PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the YOU-GUYS-ARE-GREAT! dept.

Thank you SO much! I had no idea that my work on SoylentNews had such a wide-ranging impact on so many people! Reading the comments to my resignation — This is Difficult in So Many Ways; I Must Resign from SoylentNews — brought me alternately to tears of joy and roars of laughter.

That said, the reality is that others have arguably played a larger role in making SoylentNews into the success that it is today. A few names that readily come to mind: NCommander (UID 2!), paulej72, TheMightyBuzzard, and LaminatorX (our first Editor-in-Chief). There are so many more!

As much as I appreciate the kind words, it would mean so much more to me to see these well-wishes turned into subscriptions to SoylentNews! This idea came to me when I received a gift subscription to the site. (Thanks drussell!) It costs roughly $7,000 per year to run this site — primarily web hosting fees. (Nobody has ever been paid anything for their work on this site!)

We have raised about $1,100 so far this year. Our goal for June 30th is only about $2,400 away (and for the year is only about $5,900 away). That is net to us after processing fees. It's a BIG stretch, but I have faith... let's see what this community can do!

[Update: Revised paulj72 to paulej72. - Fnord]

posted by martyb on Thursday March 24, @04:00PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the leaving-a-very-big-pair-of-boots-to-fill dept.

Where to begin?

How about at the beginning? Would that be https://soylentnews.org/~martyb/journal/60? That was the first journal article I posted to SoylentNews. I am talking still earlier than that. That would be the day I created my account on the site — it was a few days before we went live. I have been active ever since. Well, up until about a couple weeks ago.

That was when I experienced a medical condition that has precluded my continued participation here.

Since that day, janrinok (our former Editor-in-Chief) has ably filled my shoes in my absence. That is until Fnord666 (our Alternate-Editor-in-Chief) could take the reins.

I ask you to extend to them the same kindness and support you have shown me. I've grown creatively and professionally in ways I had never even imagined! Thank You!

janrinok writes:

It is hard to explain just how much of a contribution Marty has made to this site - from its very early days before it even went public Marty was there providing whatever help he could. If there was a job to be done he was there offering to help. There was nothing that he was not prepared to tackle. If he didn't know how to do something he would go and find out and then return to do whatever needed to be done.

Fnord and I have processed far more more stories than either of us had ever expected to do (6570 and 6166 respectively) but we are a long way behind Marty's contribution of 11076 stories at the time of writing. If you conservatively estimate each story at 15 minutes (and I can assure you that many stories can take much longer than that!) the man-hours he has spent keeping the front page full is a huge amount of effort. That would be, and is, worthy of recognition in its own right - but he didn't stop there.

He has also served as our QA specialist and spent many more man-hours testing software and finding ways to bring it to it's knees, and then finding solutions to each of those problems. He ran our donations and looks after the funding 'Beg-o-Meter'. And he still found time to be the Editor-in-Chief for the site since 2018. There are so many jobs that he does - many of them having gone almost unnoticed - that we now find ourselves trying to work out who will pick up which extra tasks for the future.

I am also fortunate to have Marty as a friend. My own life has had a few ups and downs over the last 5 years or so and Marty has been there to provide sound advice, wise counsel, or just a listening ear. I hope I will be able to repay him in kind in the future.

In addition, he has other ways of helping his local community which have nothing to do with this site. He would not wish me to go into details but he takes his caring and helping attitude with him throughout his life.

It is not all bad news - Marty is stepping down from the role of Editor-in-Chief but he is not leaving the community. How much he is able to contribute in the future is still very much unknown but you may still see his name appear from time-to-time alongside a comment or on IRC. He has specifically asked me to pass on his best wishes for the future to the community and the site that we all support.

Marty leaves behind a legacy he can justifiably be proud of, and a very large pair of boots to be filled. We will do our best to maintain the standards he has set. Good luck and best wishes, Marty, and I hope that your recovery is swift and complete.

posted by martyb on Wednesday February 23, @01:30AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

Yes, we are aware; comment counts do not appear to be updating when viewing the main page.

We apparently have a resource availability issue. As far as I can tell, the counts are being updated correctly. (Yay!)

The problem seems to exist in a layer in which I lack expertise. The assistance of site admins has been requested.

UPDATE 20:23 23-02-2022

The problem has now been resolved. Many thanks to mechanicjay for fixing it again. As of yet we do not know the cause of the local mysql query node failure on one of our servers. However, as some of you have already deduced, there are many background tasks that are managed by the scheduler including updating comment counts, issuing moderation points, updating the journal index on the front page etc. The scheduler couldn't access the database and therefore couldn't do any of the tasks that we expect it to do.

In addition to expressing our gratitude to mechanicjay I would also like to say thanks to all in our community for your patience and good-humour in this rather protracted fix.

posted by martyb on Saturday February 12 2022, @07:00PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the Were-Baaaack! dept.

Our servers are back up!

Earlier today (about 12 hours before this story), our site had a server crash. Early attempts to restart things (bouncing fluorine and hydrogen) were unsuccessful. (Thanks chromas and janrinok for your efforts!)

Fortunately, the system is usually lightly-loaded at this time, so relatively few people were affected.

Then mechanicjay came on the scene and was able to restart helium and neon. Then the rest of the servers for the site successfully came on-line.

Through it all, we retained access to IRC (thanks Deucalion!) and e-mail (thanks audioguy!).

There may be some lingering hiccups as slashd (which handles scheduled tasks -- think cron) plods through those tasks in due time.

We thank you for your patience during this time and send our thanks to all who notified us (politely!) about the outage on IRC and through e-mails.

Please join me in thanking all those who lent a hand through this period! You ROCK! =)

We return you to your regularly-scheduled stories.
--martyb

posted by martyb on Thursday February 03 2022, @02:00PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the actions-have-consequences dept.

DECISION – 'aristarchus':

Introduction:

Actions have consequences. This is not a matter of free speech or censorship.

Doxing "Doxing or doxxing is the act of publicly revealing previously private personal information about an individual or organization, usually via the internet." This is the definition upon which we are basing this decision. Legally, the term does not appear to be well-defined in the US but doxing is also covered by laws relating to harassment, threats, and abuse. Elsewhere in the world, the definitions are sometimes more clearly defined but might cover a broader interpretation than the US definitions. Which interpretation is applicable could depend on the location of the perpetrator.

Background:

We first noticed that something was amiss in late 2020. Submissions from 'aristarchus' would contain certain words, phrases and names which were apparently unconnected with the rest of the content. We were unable to understand their significance at that time, but they would be meaningful to the intended victim. (Story submissions by 'aristarchus' often contain additional material that he has inserted himself.) In almost all cases we removed them prior to posting the submission as a story because they had no bearing on the rest of the submission.

In late 2021 the doxing became more blatant both in comments that were made to stories and as well as on IRC. We also contacted the victim (by now it was obvious to us who it was) who responded and explained what had been published, where and when. We also discovered additional material that had not been seen by the victim. He had been suffering this abuse for a considerable time.

Please Note:

This investigation is not something that has been carried out purely on a whim by the admins on this site. During it we have consulted with and taken advice from a representative of the board of directors. (As an aside, SoylentNews PBC has never been 'run' by 'TheMightyBuzzard' or any of the current admin staff whose names you know well.) This is a serious matter and the investigation was conducted with utmost discretion by a very small team.

To ensure that 'aristarchus' is aware of this Decision he will receive an Admin-to-User message and an email to the address associated with his username drawing his attention to it.

Publishing Personal Information:

It is now apparent that 'aristarchus' has doxed at least one person in our community, and possibly others who may have left the site rather than suffer the harassment. This is not a single act, but has taken place repeatedly over a significant period of time.

'aristarchus' has published the victim's full name, where the victim lives, and the victim's employer. Presumably he believes this information to be accurate. We have seen additional comments that contain threats and state very personal information, such that posting them here would likely do further damage. We are trying to be discreet. If it were you, would you want us to air all the information that has been revealed? This action might also have placed other members of the victim's family at risk from abuse or embarrassment.

It is obvious that 'aristarchus' has conducted research away from this site. SoylentNews PBC does not hold such information nor has it been ever been declared in any comments.

We can only guess at the true reason behind these disclosures: at the very least it appears to be a smear campaign.

What We Have Done So Far:

  • The victim has a full copy of all the evidence that we have been able to trace to date. The evidence was all publicly accessible. We are not aware of a compromise of any other community members' information. We are not going to indicate where this information might be found.
  • We have made a separate backup of the database to ensure that evidence should not be lost.
  • We have removed personal information from database comments and IRC logs where possible.
  • It is entirely for the victim to decide whether to seek legal redress in this matter.

Options:

There are 2 options open to us.

(1) Permanent Ban

  • 'aristarchus' will face a full and permanent ban from this community.
  • His account(s) will be completely disabled.
  • Any further posting he may make to the site will be treated as Spam.

(2) Temporary Ban

  • 'aristarchus' will face a temporary ban of 3 months where his account(s) will be disabled. He will be able to restore his 'aristarchus' account when his ban ends. His conduct during this time will be taken into consideration before his account is reactivated.
  • During the ban 'aristarchus' may still post on the site as an 'Anonymous Coward', with all the limitations that are associated with that i.e. no journal, no ability to moderate, etc. Whether he wishes to make his identity known in his AC posts is entirely up to him.
  • During and subsequent to the ban he is to act as we would expect any other member of this community to act. He is not to disrupt other discussions nor is he to continue to complain about his treatment. The ban is entirely a consequence of his own actions. We will not discuss this matter publicly. If he has complaints he may contact us via email as usual.
  • He is to refrain immediately and completely from harassing other members of this community.
  • Any serious future abuses by 'aristarchus' can result in a permanent ban being imposed without further warning.

We acknowledge that 'aristarchus' regularly makes insightful and interesting observations and we recognize that he has many supporters on this site. That is why we have offered the option of a conditional Temporary ban.

Action/Conclusion:

'aristarchus' must now decide which ban he wishes to accept. This is not negotiable – there are no other options open to him. If he does not respond either by commenting here or by email within 48 hours of the release of this Decision then we will assume that he has chosen the Temporary Ban and he is bound by the conditions stated within it. He may elect to change to a Permanent ban at any time.

For legal reasons we do not intend to comment further. The community can now see why several of the site admins have been putting in long working days, sometimes in excess of 12 hours since just before Christmas. We are exhausted and need to have a period of normal activity so that we can recover. We urge the community to be circumspect and restrained in the discussions to this Decision – there is little to be gained from inflaming the current situation any further. We ask you not to speculate about the identity of the victim.

posted by martyb on Wednesday January 05 2022, @06:54PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the it's-nice-to-be-nice dept.
[UPDATE: 2022-01-05 20:48:08 UTC]
We are aware there are some issues (dead links) where indicated by links to "here" in the story. It seems to be a long-dormant bug in the code. Will address this issue when addressing any other issues raised here. In the meantime, try using the links that appear in the liked-to article, directly, at: ( https://soylentnews.org/faq.pl?op=moderation#spam . Yes, we are aware that those are not the best examples and we are aware that those examples may need to be updated to point to better ones. --martyb

I've been made aware of some discussions about the permitted use of the "Spam" moderation. This has spawned a great deal of discussion among Soylent staff.

What's The Point?
The whole purpose of comment moderation is for an (early) reader of a comment is to provide guidance to later readers. Like "breaking trail" for others when hiking through deep snow. The "Trail breaker" makes it eaier to navigate the path for those who follow. Before we dive into the Spam, it is important to note that it is encouraged to "upmod" more than one "downmods". I receive an e-mail each day that includes the number of each that were performed on the preceding day. I am happy to report that I generally see 2x to 4x more upmods than downmods! YAY!

Where to start?
Start at the at the top of the Left-Hand side of the Main page. There one can find a link to the FAQ. Click that link and scroll down to the link about our Moderation System. Click that link. Located there is a list of items including one on the Spam Mod.

There it states:

Spam Mod

The spam moderation (spam mod) is to be used only on comments that genuinely qualify as spam. Spam is unsolicited advertisement, undesired and offtopic filth, or possibly illegal in general. Spam can come in many forms, but it differs from a troll comment in that it will have absolutely no substance, is completely undesired, is detrimental to the site, or worse.

The spam mod is special in that is removes 10 Karma points from the user that posted the comment. This mod is meant to combat spam and not to be used to punish commenters (when in doubt, don't use this mod). Our goal is to put a spammer in Karma Hell and for them to not be able to get out of it easily. As we do not want this used against non-spamers, we monitor all spam mods to make sure moderators are not abusing the spam mod. If we find a moderator that unfairly applied the spam mod, we remove the mod giving the poster back the Karma points, and the modder is banned from modding for one month. Further bans to the same modder add increasing amounts of ban time. If you inadvertently applied a spam mod, mail the admin and we will remove the spam mod without banning you. Even though we have updated the interface to physically separate the spam mod from the other mods, unintentional modding may still be an unfortunate occurrence.

Examples

If you are unsure of whether a comment is spam or not, don't use the spam mod. Here are some examples of spam:

  • Proper spam. Anything whose primary purpose is advertisement (unless somehow relevant to the discussion/article).
  • HOSTS/GNAA/etc... type posts. Recurring, useless annoyances we're all familiar with.
  • Posts so offtopic and lacking value to even be a troll that they can't be called anything else. See here, here or here for example.
  • Repeating the same thing over and over. This includes blockquoting entire comments without adding anything substantial to them.

These examples cannot cover every type of Spam that you might encounter. Please exercise common sense. We expect all comments to be on-topic or following a clearly defined thread that has developed as part of the discussion. Raising personal complaints or starting completely new discussions unrelated to the main story are certainly off-topic and also possibly trolling. Remember: if in doubt do not use the Spam moderation.

"Sock Mods" and "Mod Bombs":
You may ask: "What's that?". Simply stated, when a logged-in-user, uses one (or more) account(s) to "updmod" other account(s) in unison. This is similar to using other account(s) to "Downmod" one (or more) account(s) in unison. Both practices are Forbidden. As always, when such activity is discovered, Admins notice and discuss it to confirm the observation with other admins. Actions taken can range from a ban on moderations (for increasing durations for repeat offenders) to an outright ban on use of the accounts(s). We have observed such activity happening recently and are preparing to take action. Similarly, when several accounts can be shown to have repeatedly cooperated to prevent someone from expressing their opinion or have given other accounts an unfair advantage then that can also be a form of 'bombing'. My advice is: stop right now. We do not like taking such actions, but it would be unfair to those who DO follow the rules for us to ignore such activities.

Summary:
(1) simply follow Wheaton's Law:

Don't Be a Dick

(2) "Say what you mean, mean what you say, but don't say it mean."

posted by martyb on Friday December 31 2021, @12:02AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the Woo-Hoo! dept.

Happy New Year!
As the final hours of 2021 here's wishing everyone a Happy New Year!

In light of the holiday, I am inviting the editorial staff to post stories on a weekend/holiday schedule. Thank you for all your hard work in 2021. Here's wishing for a better year to come! Enjoy!

We did it! [*]
([*] I think).

Current Status:
Thanks to a VERY generous subscription of nearly $1,000, we reached our fundraising goal for the second half of the year THANK YOU!: $4,132.81 on a goal of $3,500.00 (all amounts are estimates):

mysql>  SELECT  SUM(payment_net) AS Net,  100.0 * SUM(payment_net) / 3500.00  AS GoalPercent, MAX(ts), MAX(spid), NOW() FROM subscribe_payments WHERE ts > '2021-06-30' ;
+---------+-------------+---------------------+-----------+---------------------+
| Net     | GoalPercent | MAX(ts)             | MAX(spid) | NOW()               |
+---------+-------------+---------------------+-----------+---------------------+
| 4132.81 | 118.0802857 | 2021-12-30 17:36:36 |      1744 | 2021-12-30 23:45:49 |
+---------+-------------+---------------------+-----------+---------------------+
1 row in set (0.00 sec)

mysql>

And for those of you interested in the details:

mysql> SELECT spid, ts, payment_gross, payment_net, payment_type FROM subscribe_payments WHERE ts > '2021-12-29 22:06:03' AND payment_gross > 0 ORDER BY ts ;
+------+---------------------+---------------+-------------+--------------+
| spid | ts                  | payment_gross | payment_net | payment_type |
+------+---------------------+---------------+-------------+--------------+
| 1728 | 2021-12-29 23:16:21 |         20.00 |       18.81 | user         |
| 1729 | 2021-12-30 00:15:05 |        100.00 |       96.80 | user         |
| 1730 | 2021-12-30 01:08:02 |         20.00 |       19.12 | user         |
| 1731 | 2021-12-30 01:13:58 |         30.00 |       28.01 | user         |
| 1732 | 2021-12-30 01:45:50 |         50.00 |       48.25 | user         |
| 1733 | 2021-12-30 02:35:54 |         40.00 |       38.54 | user         |
| 1734 | 2021-12-30 03:12:48 |         20.00 |       18.81 | user         |
| 1735 | 2021-12-30 04:24:07 |        924.43 |      897.32 | user         |
| 1736 | 2021-12-30 07:05:37 |         20.00 |       18.51 | user         |
| 1737 | 2021-12-30 07:50:05 |         20.00 |       18.51 | gift         |
| 1738 | 2021-12-30 09:23:14 |         20.00 |       19.12 | gift         |
| 1739 | 2021-12-30 12:22:42 |         20.00 |       18.51 | user         |
| 1740 | 2021-12-30 12:24:24 |         20.00 |       18.81 | user         |
| 1741 | 2021-12-30 13:59:52 |         40.00 |       38.11 | user         |
| 1742 | 2021-12-30 17:33:36 |         20.00 |       19.12 | gift         |
| 1743 | 2021-12-30 17:35:13 |         20.00 |       19.12 | gift         |
| 1744 | 2021-12-30 17:36:36 |         20.00 |       19.12 | gift         |
+------+---------------------+---------------+-------------+--------------+
17 rows in set (0.00 sec)

mysql>

That's great news! So why the equivocation?

Looking Closer:
Actually, it's more of a stepping back to look at things over the course of the entire year:

mysql> SELECT SUM(payment_gross) AS Gross, SUM(payment_net) AS Net, ts, max(spid) AS SPID FROM subscribe_payments WHERE ts > '2020-12-31' ;
+---------+---------+---------------------+------+
| Gross   | Net     | ts                  | SPID |
+---------+---------+---------------------+------+
| 6916.61 | 6611.75 | 2020-12-31 21:47:25 | 1744 |
+---------+---------+---------------------+------+
1 row in set (0.00 sec)

mysql>

The fundraising goal for the first half of the year was also $3,500.00. So... (2 x $3,500.00) is $7,000.00 but we have a total of... $6,916.61?

The Crash:
And then I remembered. Early this year we had a server (fluorine) crash. We had backups (yay!), but they were borken (Boo! Hiss!). We lost over a day's worth of activity, including a number of subscriptions. I *was* able to manually reconstruct people's subscriptions (time) based on information displayed on a window I just happened to have open at the time. But that was in a table separate from what is used to generate these numbers. After 3 days' effort, I'd patched things up as well as I could. Thankfully the official numbers (on which income and taxes are calculated) are kept on a completely separate server. Whew! One that I DO NOT have access. I'd concluded that we'll just have to sort things out at the end of the year. And that time has draw nigh.

tl;dr:
We're probably all set for the year, but there is also the matter that (unknown to me) we had previously been running at a deficit for a couple years. So anything additional you can contribute will go to replenish our funding base. (NCommander and Matt_ each put up $5,000.00 of their own money that to get us started.)

posted by martyb on Thursday December 30 2021, @12:08AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the We're-getting-there!!! dept.

You guys are GREAT!

Previously:
In our last Fundraising Update we had raised $1,808.21 (net) towards our goal of $3,500.00 for the 2nd half of the year. (And five days earlier we stood at just $1,510.49).

Currently:
And where are we now? Hold onto your seat...

mysql>  SELECT SUM(payment_gross) AS Gross, SUM(payment_net) AS Net, ts, max(spid) AS SPID FROM subscribe_payments WHERE ts >= '2021-07-01' ;
+---------+---------+---------------------+------+
| Gross   | Net     | ts                  | SPID |
+---------+---------+---------------------+------+
| 2435.06 | 2307.23 | 2021-07-01 02:15:00 | 1727 |
+---------+---------+---------------------+------+
1 row in set (0.00 sec)

mysql>

In that time, we had 4x $50.00 subscriptions and a $100.00 subscription (flagged by an "*" below):

mysql> SELECT ts, payment_gross, payment_net, method, submethod, payment_type FROM subscribe_payments WHERE ts > '2021-12-28 13:01:56' AND payment_gross > 0 ORDER BY ts ;
+---------------------+---------------+-------------+--------+-----------+--------------+
| ts                  | payment_gross | payment_net | method | submethod | payment_type |
+---------------------+---------------+-------------+--------+-----------+--------------+
| 2021-12-28 22:28:09 |         *50.00 |       47.76 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-12-28 22:48:32 |         20.00 |       18.81 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-12-28 23:33:57 |         *50.00 |       47.76 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-12-29 00:54:44 |         20.00 |       18.81 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-12-29 02:47:41 |         *50.00 |       47.01 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-12-29 03:08:48 |         20.00 |       18.51 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-12-29 04:50:49 |        *100.00 |       96.02 | paypal | NULL      | gift         |
| 2021-12-29 07:01:43 |         20.00 |       18.51 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-12-29 10:58:54 |         10.00 |        9.16 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-12-29 12:46:04 |         25.00 |       23.26 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-12-29 13:32:12 |         20.00 |       19.12 | stripe | CC        | user         |
| 2021-12-29 13:37:36 |         *50.00 |       48.25 | stripe | CC        | user         |
| 2021-12-29 14:16:35 |         20.00 |       18.81 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-12-29 14:24:29 |         40.00 |       37.51 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-12-29 21:11:32 |         12.00 |       10.91 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-12-29 22:06:03 |         20.00 |       18.81 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
+---------------------+---------------+-------------+--------+-----------+--------------+
16 rows in set (0.00 sec)

mysql>

Yes, the larger subscriptions are attention-getting, but $220.00 of that $527.00 came from subscriptions of $20.00 or less.

Remaining:
Since I started writing this, we received two more $20.00 subscriptions! All told, we need just $1,173.96 to make our goal and only 2 days to go. Can we do it? We Can Do This... Please Subscribe!

Ahem. Got carried away there. But seriously, every bit makes a difference; please help.
--martyb

posted by martyb on Tuesday December 28 2021, @10:00PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the teamwork++ dept.

I hope this reaches you after a safe and healthy holiday!

Where We're At:
In our last fundraising update on 2021-21-20 we stood at $1510.49 towards our goal of $3,500.00 for the second half of the year. I am happy to report that we have since collected additional net subscriptions totaling $279.72. Thank You! You Rock!

mysql> SELECT SUM(payment_gross) AS Gross, SUM(payment_net) AS Net, ts, max(spid) AS SPID FROM subscribe_payments WHERE ts >= '2021-07-01' ;
+---------+---------+---------------------+------+
| Gross   | Net     | ts                  | SPID |
+---------+---------+---------------------+------+
| 1908.06 | 1808.21 | 2021-07-01 00:41:45 | 1711 |
+---------+---------+---------------------+------+
1 row in set (0.00 sec)

mysql>

There were a total of 81 (YAY!) subscriptions purchased in the second half of this year (click to see):

mysql> SELECT ts, payment_gross, payment_net, method, submethod, payment_type FROM subscribe_payments WHERE ts >= '2021-07-01' AND payment_gross > 0 ORDER BY ts ;
+---------------------+---------------+-------------+--------+-----------+--------------+
| ts                  | payment_gross | payment_net | method | submethod | payment_type |
+---------------------+---------------+-------------+--------+-----------+--------------+
| 2021-07-01 00:41:45 |         20.00 |       19.12 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-07-01 02:15:00 |         20.00 |       18.82 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-07-01 02:20:50 |         20.00 |       19.12 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-07-01 02:34:13 |         20.00 |       18.82 | paypal | NULL      | gift         |
| 2021-07-01 03:26:34 |         20.00 |       18.82 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-07-01 14:19:33 |         20.00 |       19.12 | stripe | CC        | user         |
| 2021-07-01 16:35:50 |         22.34 |       21.39 | stripe | CC        | user         |
| 2021-07-01 18:36:56 |         20.00 |       19.12 | stripe | CC        | user         |
| 2021-07-02 10:49:17 |         20.00 |       19.12 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-07-02 14:43:16 |         20.00 |       19.12 | paypal | NULL      | gift         |
| 2021-07-02 21:06:24 |         20.00 |       19.12 | stripe | CC        | user         |
| 2021-07-05 21:59:27 |         40.00 |       37.94 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-07-05 22:07:16 |        400.00 |      388.10 | stripe | CC        | user         |
| 2021-07-06 14:07:24 |          5.00 |        4.55 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-07-18 14:27:40 |          5.00 |        4.55 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-07-19 15:13:31 |         20.00 |       19.12 | stripe | CC        | user         |
| 2021-07-22 12:14:55 |          4.00 |        3.52 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-07-25 07:14:27 |         20.00 |       19.12 | stripe | CC        | user         |
| 2021-07-29 11:57:17 |         10.00 |        9.41 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-08-06 12:30:41 |          5.00 |        4.34 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-08-13 10:28:11 |         20.00 |       18.51 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-08-18 11:54:17 |          5.00 |        4.34 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-08-22 12:11:44 |          4.00 |        3.31 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-08-29 13:03:40 |         10.00 |        9.16 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-09-03 12:33:49 |         20.00 |       18.81 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-09-06 10:20:14 |         20.00 |       18.81 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-09-06 13:35:17 |          5.00 |        4.34 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-09-10 18:30:22 |         20.00 |       18.81 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-09-11 23:56:46 |         20.00 |       19.12 | stripe | CC        | gift         |
| 2021-09-18 10:37:19 |          5.00 |        4.34 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-09-22 10:12:38 |          4.00 |        3.31 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-09-29 14:37:56 |         10.00 |        9.16 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-10-05 00:31:51 |         20.00 |       19.12 | stripe | CC        | user         |
| 2021-10-06 10:58:25 |          5.00 |        4.34 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-10-14 11:33:56 |         30.00 |       28.46 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-10-16 09:38:51 |         13.72 |       13.02 | stripe | CC        | user         |
| 2021-10-18 11:21:58 |          5.00 |        4.34 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-10-21 13:29:39 |         20.00 |       18.81 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-10-22 12:00:55 |          4.00 |        3.31 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-10-24 19:27:39 |         20.00 |       18.81 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-10-26 19:43:45 |         40.00 |       38.11 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-10-29 12:01:11 |         10.00 |        9.16 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-10-30 18:22:11 |         50.00 |       47.01 | paypal | NULL      | gift         |
| 2021-11-06 12:28:43 |          5.00 |        4.34 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-11-08 15:02:34 |         20.00 |       18.81 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-11-09 19:14:31 |         20.00 |       18.51 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-11-10 06:40:55 |         50.00 |       47.76 | paypal | NULL      | gift         |
| 2021-11-10 11:47:46 |         20.00 |       18.81 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-11-12 03:08:14 |         30.00 |       28.46 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-11-17 01:01:32 |         12.00 |       11.35 | stripe | CC        | user         |
| 2021-11-18 12:22:21 |          5.00 |        4.34 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-11-21 14:54:31 |         20.00 |       18.81 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-11-22 12:28:08 |          4.00 |        3.31 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-11-27 18:53:45 |         20.00 |       18.51 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-11-29 10:45:50 |         10.00 |        9.16 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-12-03 15:58:30 |         20.00 |       19.12 | stripe | CC        | gift         |
| 2021-12-04 02:20:36 |         20.00 |       18.51 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-12-06 11:29:58 |          5.00 |        4.34 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-12-11 04:02:13 |          4.00 |        3.31 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-12-11 12:38:48 |         20.00 |       18.51 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-12-12 11:08:54 |         20.00 |       18.81 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-12-13 20:52:42 |         12.00 |       11.09 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-12-15 09:21:39 |         20.00 |       18.51 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-12-15 16:00:03 |         20.00 |       18.81 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-12-16 10:32:40 |         20.00 |       18.51 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-12-16 13:42:40 |        100.00 |       96.80 | stripe | CC        | gift         |
| 2021-12-18 10:16:24 |         20.00 |       18.81 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-12-18 10:52:56 |          5.00 |        4.34 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-12-20 23:21:01 |         20.00 |       18.81 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-12-21 02:21:21 |         40.00 |       38.11 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-12-21 05:25:20 |         20.00 |       18.51 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-12-21 17:14:58 |         20.00 |       19.12 | stripe | CC        | user         |
| 2021-12-21 21:00:59 |         50.00 |       48.25 | stripe | CC        | user         |
| 2021-12-22 10:26:01 |         20.00 |       18.51 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-12-22 10:45:00 |          4.00 |        3.31 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-12-23 05:17:16 |         20.00 |       19.12 | stripe | CC        | user         |
| 2021-12-23 18:26:06 |         20.00 |       19.12 | stripe | CC        | gift         |
| 2021-12-23 20:05:03 |         20.00 |       19.12 | stripe | CC        | gift         |
| 2021-12-25 12:02:11 |         40.00 |       38.11 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
| 2021-12-26 01:32:21 |         20.00 |       19.12 | stripe | CC        | user         |
| 2021-12-28 13:01:56 |         20.00 |       18.51 | paypal | NULL      | user         |
+---------------------+---------------+-------------+--------+-----------+--------------+
81 rows in set (0.00 sec)

What's Next?

The sharp-eyed among you have already recognized something: that's not nearly enough:

We need to net an additional $1691.79 to reach our goal.

WE CAN DO THIS! 😃

Just click on Subscribe and follow the instructions! (Click the "*SPOILER* for more details.)

Select whether it's a subscription for yourself or a Gift to someone else. For a Gift sub you can provide your name to tell the recipient who the subscription is from or blank it out if you want to remain anonymous. Then choose a duration (30, 180, or 365 days). Important! You can accept the minimum amount offered (4.00, 12.00, or 20.00) OR type another (larger) amount into the field. Then click the "[Continue]" button.

NB: All transactions are processed remotely — SoylentNews sets up the transaction but does not actually participate directly. Also, if you have an Ad Blocker such as No Script or uBlock Origin installed, you may need to allow an exception for "soylentnews.org", "stripe.com", and "stripe.network" for the transaction to be entered and accepted.

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Should you have a question or problem, please feel free to reach out for help on IRC (Internet Relay Chat) and/or leave a message here in the comments.

These funds pay for hosting our servers, incorporation fees, taxes, and a CPA. All income goes to paying for the site. Period. Staff is all-volunteer. Nobody here has ever been paid anything for working on SoylentNews!

--martyb

posted by martyb on Thursday November 25 2021, @01:01AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the Gobble!-Gobble!-Gobble! dept.

On behalf of all the staff I wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving!

I am grateful for all the support the community has shown us since we started SoylentNews.org on February 12, 2014. Has it really been that long? Back then, the internet was dominated by HTTP; it would take some time (years?) until we transitioned to Gandhi and then Let's Encrypt!

I have been active on the site since we started. Why? It was the spirit of gratitude I saw here to be free from having "corporate overlords"; how people pitched in trying to help. They were looking not at what they could get but rather what they could give! That spirit lives on to this day. Where? I see it in the people who submit stories and journal articles. I see it when people post (and moderate) comments. And lets not forget those who subscribe to the site which pays bills (hosting fees and accounting expenses, primarily). We are all volunteers here; nobody has ever been paid anything for their work here!

I'm taking this opportunity to thank all the editors who perform the seemingly thankless task of selecting, reviewing, editing, and posting stories to the site. I hereby invite them to enjoy the long holiday weekend.

We will be on a holiday/weekend story schedule from the start of Thursday through the end of Sunday (UTC). Enjoy the well-deserved break! Thank You!

Another story will be along presently; this story is in addition to our normal schedule. --martyb/Bytram

posted by martyb on Wednesday September 15 2021, @02:45PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

Late last night (~10 PM UTC), the security certificates for SoylentNews.org expired. (Out-of-date certs result in nasty warning messages being displayed by your browser.)

Please accept my apologies for any inconvenience the outage caused.

Unfortunately, that was after I (and others on staff who could do anything about it) had gone to bed.

I had personally updated the certs in the past, but the last time was years ago. (TheMightyBuzzard had previously — and subsequently — handled getting and applying updated certs.) It had been so long that I could not find my notes on the process. (Note to self: it helps to look in the correct directory tree!)

Thankfully, audioguy appeared and was able to get things updated.

Please join me in thanking him for getting things straightened out!

P.S. The current certs are due to expire December 14, 2021, Please feel free to remind us as that date approaches!

P.P.S. The technical staff is aware of various automated solutions to renewals but made a conscious decision to do them manually. Remember that people make mistakes but to really foul things up use a computer!


Original Submission