from the alliteration++ dept.
I have a couple things to bring to the attention of the community concerning site funding and comment moderations. As always, if you are not interested in these matters, feel free to skip past this one; another story will be along shortly. Otherwise read beyond the fold for an update.
In short, I have learned it costs more to run this site than I had estimated. We have actually been operating at a loss for the past couple years. I have, therefore, provided a revised fundraising goal of $3500.00 for the first half of this calendar year in the "Site News" slashbox (that appears on the right-hand-side of the main page).
I have been advised our current funds on hand can support the site for just six months.
For those who have been around for a while, it will come as no surprise to learn that I try to keep a handle on subscription income for this site. Further, I have been maintaining what we affectionately refer to here as the "Beg-O-Meter' that appears in the "Site News" slashbox. It provides a running tally of our financial goal for the period and how far along we are towards attaining that goal. Lastly, I have posted stories in the past apprising the community as to our progress towards those goals.
We are an entirely volunteer organization (no staff member has ever been paid anything for their work on SoylentNews). All funding for the site comes entirely from the community (we have never run advertisements and are strongly resistant to any suggestion to do so). The vast majority of our funding comes from subscriptions.
My prior estimates of $4000.00 per year were based on the only information I had available at that time. Our monthly web hosting costs ($260/month), the fact that we needed to file and pay taxes, and that we paid an accountant to prepare them. Twelve months at $260/month works out to $2160 per year. I reasoned a goal of $3000 for the year would give us about $840 for those other expenses... that should do it, right?
Thanks to the above-referenced comment, I reached out to a member of our board of directors and inquired as to our financial status. In very short order I received a pile of PDF files. A separate file for each fiscal year's Profit and Loss Statement and a separate file for each year's Balance Sheet. It took a surprising amount of effort, but thanks to the concerted effort of a few staff members, these have been uploaded to our Wiki and can now be accessed through the SoylentNews Finance page.
A couple things bear explanation. You may notice that there are expenses associated with subscriptions. The amount of a subscription made to SoylentNews is a gross amount. From that, Stripe or PayPal charge a processing fee for each subscription. These fees do add up and amount to the aforementioned expense.
Also, why is a Delaware company paying Massachusetts state taxes? I reached out for an answer from a board member, and here is his reply:
We pay Massachusetts income tax (since we are not profitable, we pay the minimum amount of $456 each year, but if we ever become profitable, we will have to pay more) because we are physically located in MA (through me). A physical address was required to open our checking account with BoA[*], and for various other things. For example, we need a physical address to sign the engagement letter with our accountant every year. Note that we are not required to pay Delaware income tax because we are not physically located in DE. The tax that we pay to Delaware each year is technically a franchise tax that we pay for the privilege of being incorporated in Delaware (allowing us to be a Public Benefit Corporation, among other benefits).
[*] BoA - Bank of America.
I will keep the community appraised should I learn anything more.
We had had a discussion on the site a few months ago about moderation on the site. I have been pursuing a possible implementation of one of the suggestions raised there: adding a "-1 Ad Hominem" moderation. Discussion among staff has suggested we would need a counter moderation should a "-1 Ad Hominem" be perceived to have been in error. That wold mean the addition of a "+1 Not Ad Hominem" moderation, too. (In proper geek fashion, they nicely abbreviate to: "-1 AH" and "+1 NAH"!) There is more to its implementation than just adding these options to the moderation table; coding changes would also be needed. This, in turn, would require the modifications be submitted through GitHub as a pull request, then testing, and finally a rollout to the community. It is important to note that this would be on a trial basis! If it proves to NOT be workable, we need to be able to roll that back. This is easier said than done! The previous moderations will need to remain in the system (what's done is done) but future moderations must be able to be blocked... and the code is not designed for this at all.
It bears mentioning that our goal is to provide a forum for the community to comment on stories and to moderate those comments. We strive to be as hands-off about these matters as we reasonably can.
In short, this is mostly an announcement that AH moderations have not been forgotten, design work is in progress, and that when time and developer availability permits, we hope to be rolling this out for a test run. I would not expect anything to happen in the next month, but wanted to provide as much advance notice as to the intention as possible so as to encourage any feedback, discussion, etc. that could help inform our implementation.
s/next month/next few months/
Contractor woes (just because I technically can do everything doesn't mean it's always the wisest idea) wound up pushing move-in date on the church I've been remodeling back a couple months (end of April is what we're currently shooting for as a best case scenario) and I don't want anything hitting production servers that hasn't had at least two weeks worth of testing on our dev server after me calling it done, because I'm quite often wrong about that. The end of May is the soonest anything is likely to hit production servers, with some time in June being far more likely.
I was going to post this to a particular story, but thought this might generate more attention and discussion as a general submission.
Seriously, what is going on with all these troll mods? Just because you disagree with someone, thus earning a "disagree" mod, does not mean that person is a "troll." To steal a definition from Urban Dictionary:
An Internet troll, or simply troll in Internet slang, is someone who posts controversial, inflammatory, irrelevant or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum or chat room, with the primary intent of provoking other users into an emotional response or to generally disrupt normal on-topic discussion.
Just because you disagree with someone, does not mean they are trying to do the above. Be faster on the "disagree" and slower on the "troll." Under such abuse, it is hard to have a good discussion and, in itself, is trollish behavior by "generally disrupt[ing] normal on-topic discussion." Other than people disciplining themselves, a concerted effort to police such abuses, or making moderation logs public on the bottom of a comment where the score is shown now, I'm unsure of what to do about. As it stands, it is getting increasingly ridiculous to read what discussion is here on any topic remotely controversial, and is expanding outside of even those. It is starting to drive me away from the site, and I'm somewhat confident it is doing the same for others. I'd be interested to see what others think about the depth of the problem, if they even believe it even exists at all, and what solutions you all have for it.
[Ed note. This story is published exactly as received. First off, it bears repeating that complaining about moderations in the comments often leads (rightly) to an off-topic moderation. That is a contributing factor to my decision to run this story. Secondly, moderation is something that I on occasion have found I've fat-fingered and given a different moderation than expected. Thirdly, in the grand scheme of things, a comment's moderation is
— relatively speaking — small potatoes. It is NOT a measure of your IQ or standing in the community. Just accept that stuff happens and that as likely as not, someone will be along to moderate it the other way. Which is a good opportunity to say: PLEASE USE YOUR MOD POINTS! Lastly, if you think a comment was moderated in error, then send the CID (Comment ID) link e.g. "(#876543)" in an email to admin (at) soylentnews (dot) org. Keep in mind however that we are all volunteers here and there most likely will be a delay between when you send out an email and when we can get around to it. --martyb]
[Updated: 20190823_111312 UTC See comment from JR who far more precisely and eloquently expressed the idea I was attempting to. I concur with his assessment. If I want people to upmod a comment of mine that I believe was unfairly downmodded, then I need to be willing to upmod other's mis-modded comments. For perspective, so far this month, anywhere from ~150-~350 mod points were used in any given day. It bears repeating: use your mod points!]
If you feel like prettying the language, layout, or whatever up before I get around to it, feel free to do so and submit a pull request.
On Monday February 17 2014, at 02:06AM SoylentNews announced itself to the world!
(That's exactly seven years ago from the time this story posts.) Does it seem possible? I know it certainly amazes me.
A lot can happen in a year. Here are some items of note. As always, if you are not interested in this kind of stuff, ignore this post — a new story will be along shortly. Otherwise, this story continues below the fold.
- Random Statistics
- Site News
- Staff Activity
NB: An earlier version of this story containing much more detail seems to have jumped into a bit bucket. Please forgive any errors that crept into this quick reincarnation attempt!
Over the past year, activity on the site comes to:
We previously had a great number of posts on the COVID-19 pandemic. It is still with us, but vaccines are starting to be rolled out. Sadly, variants of the coronavirus have appeared, and some appear to be more contagious than the earlier strains. We had let up on our coverage of late, because trying to merge 20-30 story submissions was extremely demanding of time and energy — yet with decreasing amounts of discussion.
In spite of the hit that COVID-19 had on the community, we had a successful fundraiser last year. When we have official results, we will get them to you.