from the cake-time! dept.
On the occasion of the site's sixth anniversary, I thought it fitting to mention some of the many ways that fellow Soylentils contribute to our community. This also seems like a good opportunity to mention some of the site's history, relate some staffing changes, mention other contributions by the SoylentNews community, and to wrap things up with some site statistics.
Please accept our thanks:
These thanks go out to all of you: my fellow members of the SoylentNews community.
To the Anonymous Cowards who post comments to our site (be they inciteful or insightful). To our registered users who not only post comments, but are also the only members who can moderate comments. No matter how long you have been here; whether you have just arrived (Welcome!) or have been with us from the very start... Thank You!
Speaking of which, thanks go to our staff who bludgeoned and duct-taped an ancient unmaintained open-sourced version of the code underpinning slashdot into some sort of basic functionality, and who have since made it the site you are enjoying today. Thanks, too, to our behind-the-scenes staff members, who keep the underlying services we depend on, running 24/7. Other staff members are more visible, like the editorial team who spend several hours every single day processing the stories that get posted to the site.
And let's not forget the members of the community who purchase subscriptions and thereby fund the operations of this site. We do have real world expenses: paying for our servers, domain registrations, and paying a CPA (Certified Public Accountant) to do our taxes.
Read on past the fold for all the rest!
The history of this site has been well documented in our prior birthday announcements.
I've collected links to them for those who would like to take a walk down memory lane or to learn of how we got our start. It is worth mentioning here that preceding the creation of SoylentNews was a SlashCott, a boycott of the slashdot site where participants pledged to not access slashdot at all during the week-long period of February the 10th through the 17th. The first paragraphs of our 5-year anniversary post describes things quite well... Enjoy !
- Welcome to the World of Tomorrow... Today!
- SoylentNews is One Year Old!
- Happy Second Anniversary to SoylentNews!
- Three Years In - What Has Happened and How we Got Here
- Happy Birthday to SoylentNews -- Four Years Old!
- SoylentNews is... FIVE YEARS OLD!
I am happy to announce our editorial team has a new member spiraldancing who has been getting up to speed and has already posted several stories. And... we have two more who will be going through training as soon as some free time appears in their schedule.
SoylentNews is not just all about ourselves. Several members have joined together to help medical researchers examine the causes of protein misfolding which is of interest to medical research into Alzheimer's disease, Huntington's disease, and many forms of cancer. Please see my Journal Entry for details on what has been done and how to sign up!
Since this site went live, over 950,000 comments (WOW!) have been made to over 30,700 stories and 4,760 journal entries. Along the way, the community made just shy of 650,000 moderations to those comments. We now have over 9,500 registered nicknames, too.
Greetings Soylentils! And welcome to SoylentNews!
We are here to deliver the best community-sourced news, catered for all manner of nerd! Because this is a grassroots based platform, the content feeds are powered by readers like you. Our main objective is to highlight news stories on the web that are of importance to everyone, but especially nerds. In addition, SoylentNews will strive to go beyond simple news-aggregation, with some core principles:
- Providing a soapbox for experts to discuss their profession and solicit questions from a curious audience.
- Allowing the community to comment, without any mandatory registration.
- Staying mindful of the community's needs and wants while avoiding changes to satisfy an overarching corporate agenda.
We want to make this your source for news about technology, art, and science. We are the new kid on the block and are adapting quickly to satisfy our community's needs, as we look forward to exceeding your expectations and pushing boundaries like never before. Lastly, there will be no changes in format without a general consensus from the community. Thank you for stopping by and enjoy the ride!
Exactly one year ago SoylentNews published its very first story: Welcome to SoylentNews!
And what a year it's been!
It all started with a posting at slashdot where an editor claimed they had "listened to their audience" about complaints about the new Beta version of the site that was being rolled out. Many noted that any changes were cosmetic — that it was the community that made that site what it was. And, in inimical nerd fashion, a "SlashCott" was scheduled from February 10-17 wherein the participants pledged to not visit /. for one whole week.
Others took a more active role. The source code for /. was originally made open source and was available on the internet. Sadly, that code had not been maintained and was several years out of date. Some intrepid souls labored long and hard to locate servers, coordinate activities, and get the code knocked into shape. The goal was to create an alternative site that was free from the manipulations of a corporate overlord.
That first story signified a major accomplishment, but the site was still unstable and many features were incomplete, non-functional, or just plain ugly. Many more days of implementation, debugging, and testing were to follow culminating with SN going live to the world on February 17, 2014: Welcome to the World of Tomorrow... Today!.
Much has happened since that nascent story first graced the 'net. There have been changes in our all-volunteer staff. We had votes for the name of the site. We implemented UTF-8 support so stories and comments can include any valid character. We incorporated as a Public Benefit Corporation — on USA's Independence Day no less! We have an on-line store where you can buy SoylentNews Swag. You can subscribe and help support our site.
By the numbers: Over 5000 accounts have been registered and nearly 5000 stories have been posted to the site. Each story is read from 500-2000 times by logged-in users, and approximately 10 times as many Anonymous Cowards. More importantly, nearly 150,000 comments have been posted by you, our community.
Today, we have a small but dedicated group of volunteers who keep the site running. They keep the OS up-to-date on our servers, maintain our Wiki, e-mail, and IRC channels. They add features and fix bugs in the SN code base. Others edit and publish stories to appear on the site. We have a Board of Directors who take care of the legal sides of things. A treasurer who follows the finances. And there are still others who help in a non-technical, but just as necessary capacity in keeping the site humming along.
So, hats off to all who have helped build this site to what it is today!
It passed without fanfare, but this very site recently passed an important milestone... SoylentNews celebrated its two-year anniversary!
On Wednesday February 12 2014, @07:28AM our very first article was posted: Welcome to SoylentNews! and then, on Monday 2014-02-17 at 02:06:00 UTC, we announced our presence to the world at large: Welcome to the World of Tomorrow... Today!
There were some who thought the site would fail right from the start. Yes, there have been some significant challenges along the way. Thankfully, the community has pulled together and given the support needed to keep this site running as a going concern.
The support has come in many forms. Of course, there is the financial side where people have subscribed or purchased SoylentNews swag. We are also grateful to those who submit stories, post comments, and perform moderations. Others post journal articles and comment on those. Still more are active on our IRC server. Then there's our very own Wiki. There are those, too, who mention our site to family and friends.
On an entirely different level we have the folks who maintain our servers, front ends, code base, site, mail, and the like. Others handle behind-the-scenes organization and communications tasks.
For those who joined us at the outset, you may recall that site crashes were a regular occurrence. Now, most of our downtime is due to either site upgrades or reboots of our systems by our hosting provider.
For those who may no be aware, this is all brought to you by volunteers who freely give of their free time and energy to make this all happen for you, our community.
So, I'd like to take this opportunity to say a big "Thank-You!" to all who have helped us get to where we are today. Some helped at the outset and moved on, others have been with us from the start, and still others have joined more recently. We would not be where we are today without ALL of you!
Two of SoylentNews' staff submitted stories noting our three-year anniversary; one a site summary of where we are and a summary of what we've done, and the other a detailed presentation of the very early days and how SoylentNews got started.
Three Whole Years -- Thanks to You!
Three years ago, today, SoylentNews announced its presence to the world. Much has happened along the way of our providing a place for a community to grow and to engage in discussion.
It started as a fork of five-year-old, open-sourced code which had suffered under benign neglect. Perl, Apache, MySQL, and other products had continued on. So we had to deal with dependencies on unsupported and back-level versions of code. A great deal of effort went into bringing the site up-to-date with current versions of that base. See below for mechanicjay's illuminating first-hand account of how that all got started.
It is my great pleasure to announce that SoylentNews has just celebrated four years of service to the community! The very first story on the site appeared on 2014-02-12 and actually went live to everyone 2014-02-17.
It all started when a story on Slashdot made reference to its "audience" which ticked off quite a number of people. Soon after came a boycott of Slashdot — aka the "Slashcott". While this was in effect, an intrepid few people somehow managed to take a years-old, out-of-date, unsupported, open-sourced version of slashcode and somehow managed to get it up to speed to run on much more recent versions of Apache, MySql, etc. Recurring crashes and outages were the norm. (See last year's anniversary story for many more details!) Further, on July 4th, 2014 our application to become a Public Benefit Corporation was approved — this set the stage for us to be able to accept funding from the community.
By the time you read this, we will have posted 20,980 stories to the site to which over 639,907 comments have been made!
We could not have done this without all of you. You (the community) submit the stories for the site. You write the comments... and moderate them, too. You made recommendations for improvements to the site. You are SoylentNews.
It has been my privilege and honor to work with a great group of folks who have done the behind-the-scenes skunk-work which has kept this site running. It does bear mentioning that this site is entirely staffed by volunteers. Nobody here has received even a penny's worth of income from the site. Like you, we have home and work responsibilities, but in our spare time we still strive to provide an environment that is conducive to discussions of predominantly tech-related matters.
Having said all that, I must add that income to the site has dropped recently. Having let my subscription lapse in the past, I know how easy that can be. Take a moment to check your subscription status. We have on the order of 100 people who have subscribed in the past, have visited the site in the past month, and whose subscription has expired. If your subscription is up-to-date, please consider either extending it or making a gift subscription (default is to UID 6 - "mcasadevall" aka NCommander). NB the dollar amounts presented are the minimum payments required for that duration -- we'll happily accept larger amounts. =)
If financial contributions are infeasible for you, we always appreciate story submissions. Submit a link, a few paragraphs from the story, and ideally a sentence or two about what you found interesting and send it to us. Any questions, please take a look at the Submission Guidelines.
Of course, the comments are where it's at. Thoughtful, well-reasoned, well-supported comments seem to do best here. Inflammatory histrionics garner attention, and usually down-mods, too. Speaking of which, if you have good Karma, and have been registered with the site for at least a month, you are invited to participate in moderation. Unlike other sites that up-mod or down-mod to infinity, we have something more like olympic-scoring here. A comment score can vary from -1 to a +5. This is how I look at scores: -1 (total waste of your time), 0 (meh), +1 (okay), +2 (good), +3 (quite good), +4 (very good), +5 (don't miss this one!).
It all started when Slashdot rolled out a new, "Beta" user interface that was soundly disliked. In response, they posted a story calling us an "audience". That did not go over well. At all. Cries of "Buck Feta" were numerous and frequent. Then came a call for a Slashdot boycott — a "Slashcott" — scheduled for the week of February 10-17, 2014.
While the Slashcott was going on, a handful of intrepid nerds pulled down the (horribly out-of-date and unmaintained) open source code dump of Slashcode, forked it, and started whacking it into shape. This culminated in our announcement to the world: Welcome to the World of Tomorrow... Today!.
Now, one could argue as to the exact date of our birth. Was it when the domain "soylentnews.org" was first registered? (2014-02-09T01:50:26Z) How about when the first user was registered to the site? (2014-02-12 06:00:06 "NCommander") Or, maybe, the very first story posted to the site? Welcome Testers ... (2014.02.11 21:28 UTC)
Whichever one of those you choose, it has now been at least FIVE years...
HAPPY BIRTHDAY SOYLENTNEWS!
We've had hiccups along the way. Even the past year was not problem-free. Server reboots so our hosting provider, Linode, could roll out mitigations for the Spectre and Meltdown attacks. Then we had a server go down on us, which would not be such a big deal except its mirror had already predeceased it, so there was nothing to fail over to. A couple more issues with Apache and nginx going off to who-knows-where and needing to be restarted. Oh, and our mailserver decided to stop serving mail at one point, too. There may have been another couple of things which happened over the past year that escape me at the moment, but all-in-all I would like to think we are doing a pretty good job of keeping things up and running. Consider we are an entirely volunteer organization. Consider, too, that big-named sites like Wells Fargo, TSB, Google, and others all had site-wide outages in one or more of their services... we've got a good group here and it has been truly a wonderful experience to be a part of what keeps this site running.
A quick look around the site reveals some interesting statistics. That by week's end, we will have posted our 26,000th story. To that, add the 3,994 journal entries that have been posted by the community. We had our 800,000th comment posted to the site just this week. We have had, however, comparatively few comment moderations: ~540,000. We have 7,333 registered users, too!
Many thanks are in order to those who have helped keep everything up and running. Not just the sysops who lurk in the background, but also those of you who have opened your wallets and bought the subscriptions which pay the server bills, domain registrations, as well as the CPA for filing taxes, and the like.
Ultimately, this site is for you, the community. We focus stories on those which have a technical or science (aka nerd) angle with maybe a politically oriented story posted each day. And an occasional story that looks like it might engender discussion. There are plenty of other sites which cater to the latest Hollywood gossip, political machinations, recipes, and cat pictures... you've made it clear you don't want a bunch of that here. Submit stories. Make journal entries. Post and moderate comments.
Yes, we have had many accomplishments over these years, but we know nothing is perfect. We are overdue for a site upgrade, but it's likely nothing much will happen for a few months until TheMightyBuzzard can free up some of his time to work on it. Complaining is easy, but if you have concrete suggestions on what we could do better and how we might go about it, we can't promise anything (one man's drink is another man's poison), but we will certainly give it serious consideration.
If you should run into an issue with the site, please send details to admin (at) soylentnews.org noting the date/time/timezone and any data you can provide to help us locate and isolate the problem. That includes the URL for the story or journal entry. If it pertains to a comment, then please also include a link to that, as well. (That is the link under the (#nnnnn) in the comment header). Fair warning: complaining in the comments about a story not being accepted or about the moderation of one of your comments is generally off-topic and often moderated that way. Exception: if you accidentally modded a comment as spam, or have had a comment of yours moderated as spam that you think is incorrect, please send an e-mail to the admin address and we will take a look at it. We are running a bit lean on staff ATM with several of us in the midst of time-consuming things IRL, so please be patient.
Thanks to all of you who have helped this site persevere all these years!