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posted by martyb on Thursday August 06 2020, @12:23AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

I recently received a message from our Treasurer and updated financial statements. I've taken this opportunity to put this out to the community. While I was at it, it seemed like a good time to take a look at things and provide an update to the community on where we're at and how we're doing. If you are not interested in this kind of stuff, a new story will be along before too long. Otherwise, more will be revealed after the break.

First off, I always hesitate when writing one of these stories. There are so many people who make SoylentNews happen and I know I'll leave someone out. These guys do so so much I can't keep up with all of it! If I've omitted anyone, it's strictly my mistake and I mean no disparagement to anyone's contributions! So, I extend my thanks to everyone who makes this site happen each and every day!

Hiccup: Worst things first, we had a "hiccup" on SoylentNews.org at about 03:00 UTC this morning (2020-08-05). Some pages loaded without CSS (i.e. bare text with limited or no formatting). Other pages would not load at all. Some people received "500 Server Error" messages. TheMightyBuzzard examined the situation, bounced the front-end servers, and restarted Apache. From what I can tell, it also took a restart of two of our servers (helium and magnesium). This seems to have cleared the gremlins that were interfering with site operations. Thanks TMB!

Spam: We recently experienced a couple bouts of "Spam" postings. Staff is not the "thought police". Obviously, we would have to abide by a lawful order like a DMCA notice. Otherwise, we provide the tools so the community can police things themselves. If you have registered a nickname on the site, you can customize your view of the comments posted here. If you want to see all comments except those that have been moderated as Spam, Give a "+1" moderation adjustment to all comments except apply a "-6" moderation adjustment for "Spam". Then set your "Threshold" and "Breakthrough" to 0 (zero).

Yes, we are aware that top-level comments still get expanded by default. Changing this behavior is near the top of the list of planned future enhancements to the site.

Finances: I received a report from our treasurer, Matt_, that I would like to share with the community:

I have just updated the books and prepared the attached financial statements (Balance Sheet and Profit and Loss Statement) for our Fiscal Year 2019 (July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020). As you can see from the P&L Statement, whereas we ended the previous fiscal year with a net loss of $1,057.97, we ended FY2019 with net income of $1,348.05 (clearly much better, and if we can keep this up going forward, we should be in good shape). Turning to the Balance Sheet, we ended FY2019 with a total of $5,008.20 cash on hand, which gives us a runway of approximately 10 months, given our burn rate of about $6,000 per year. This, of course, assumes no significant change (increase or decrease) in our expenses going forward.

I have uploaded these to the Finances page on our Wiki.

It bears mentioning that our initial seed capital of $10,000.00 was contributed by Matt_ and NComander by way of equal share purchases of stock in SoylentNews PBC. So, we are still down about $5,000 from our starting balance. Still, I am most pleased with the improved cash flow situation and thank all those who have Subscribed.

Story Submissions: There have been over 42,500 stories submitted to SoylentNews, of which over 32,840 have been accepted. I cannot thank you all enough for your contributions to the site! I well remember a time when there were two editors on IRC tag-teaming on finding story submissions, pushing stories out, and 2nding them for the community. That made for many late and exhausting nights. For those who may be new here, all staff here are volunteers; nobody has ever been paid anything for their work on the site. We have the same kinds of demands on our time as everybody else: work, family, relationships, etc. From what spare time we have, we try to keep the site up and running with stories that we think will be of interest to the community. We are fortunate to have such highly-skilled and selfless people on staff who not only believe in SoylentNews, but make sacrifices to help keep it a going concern. I hereby express my gratitude for all their efforts!

Note Bene: There is an artifact on the "Most Active Submitters" section of SoylentNews' Hall of Fame page — it omits story submissions made by Authors (aka Editors) as well as those made by Anonymous Cowards. I generated a complete list of the top 20 for our site. I hereby publicly thank takyon for his continuous contributions. I know when I see a submission from him that it is "production ready" — just a quick review of links and it's good-to-go. Not content to rest on those laurels, he has also pushed out 1354 stories which puts him in 6th place on the Most Active Authors list. Thanks so very much takyon!

Expand below for details:

mysql> SELECT          COUNT(*) AS c, users.nickname
    -> FROM            stories, users
    -> WHERE           users.uid=stories.submitter
    -> GROUP BY        users.uid
    -> ORDER BY        c DESC LIMIT 20
    -> ;
+------+-------------------------+
| c    | nickname                |
+------+-------------------------+
| 5699 | takyon                  |
| 5656 | Anonymous Coward        |
| 3425 | Phoenix666              |
| 2401 | upstart                 |
| 1439 | MrPlow                  |
| 1436 | Arthur T Knackerbracket |
| 1114 | AnonTechie              |
|  894 | martyb                  |
|  731 | Papas Fritas            |
|  586 | Fnord666                |
|  539 | canopic jug             |
|  400 | lhsi                    |
|  317 | RandomFactor            |
|  310 | tonyPick                |
|  301 | butthurt                |
|  246 | frojack                 |
|  240 | janrinok                |
|  217 | n1                      |
|  205 | c0lo                    |
|  148 | mendax                  |
+------+-------------------------+
20 rows in set (16.73 sec)

Editors: Also known as "Authors" (no, I don't know why). We are the more public face of the site. We have taken on the task of reviewing and selecting story submissions and then editing them to try to provide a consistent "feel" to the site. SoylentNews' founding was based, in part, on the powers-that-be at Slashdot failing to listen to the community and insisting on rolling out a "Beta" version of their site. We take our responsibility to provide a consistent look-and-feel seriously. Yes, we've made mistakes along the way, but we try to learn from them.

Our Alternate Editor-in-Chief Fnord666 has been pushing out about 5 stories a day, every day, for a long while now. I'd hate to imagine where we'd be without his continued and selfless contributions! Thanks Fnord666! I'd also like to recognize chromas' editorial contributions. It takes a while to build confidence as an editor and to face the potential backlash of mistakes being put in front of thousands of intelligent (and opinionated) nerds and geeks! An extra story a day makes a big difference and I want to take this opportunity to publicly thank him for his contributions. But, there's more! Behind the scenes, chromas is quick to conjure up and refine IRC tools that make our jobs as editors so much easier. His IRC bot makes it so much easier to submit stories, perform searches on Google and YouTube, and generate journal citations. I'd hate to imagine continuing on without them! Thanks chromas! We occasionally get visits from mrpg on IRC and some 2nding of stories which is much appreciated. Our editor-in-chief emeritus, janrinok, is on a sabbatical while providing medical support for a family member. He wishes he had more free time to contribute to the site and sends his best wishes to all. It bears repeating, here, the numerous contributions of takyon. He's a solid and constant contributor and I can't thank him enough for all his hard work!

Lastly, if I've counted correctly, this marks my 9,000th story on SoylentNews. It has been a distinct privilege and honor to serve the community as your Editor-in-Chief. I am ever reminded of the adage: Standing on the shoulders of giants. Those who originally got the site up and running. Who set the tone and established the procedures for running the site. Who did the necessary legal work to get us established as a Public Benefit Corporation (PBC) so that we could accept subscriptions and thereby fund our continuous operations. And the list goes on and on. We have come a long way since we went live on February 14th, 2014!

I have learned so much from the staff here, from all the stories we've published, and the comments that the community has provided. I try to do my best each day to fulfill the trust you've placed in me; I hope my efforts have been acceptable.

In a word: teamwork++

Folding@Home: "Folding@home is a distributed computing project aimed to help scientists develop new therapeutics to a variety of diseases by the means of simulating protein dynamics. This includes the process of protein folding and the movements of proteins, and is reliant on the simulations run on the volunteers' personal computers."

SoylentNews has a F@H team which is currently ranked "317 of 254,500". When it was announced that F@H would pivot to help with research of the SAR-CoV-2 virus which causes COVID-19, many heavy hitters joined up. Names you'd recognize like like AWS, Microsoft (Azure), Oracle, SAP, and many other large compute services brought their spare compute capacity to bear. Summit, one of the largest supercomputers in the world, has even been set to the task.

In light of the increased competition, it's all the more amazing how our team has held up! Here's another view of the team's status. Our current points production leaders are Runaway1956 and NCC74656 who are running neck-and-neck with each producing over 2.2 million points a day! Thank you!


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  • (Score: 1) by fustakrakich on Thursday August 06 2020, @01:17AM (1 child)

    by fustakrakich (6150) on Thursday August 06 2020, @01:17AM (#1032071) Journal

    Uh guys? Somebody roll the commercial [youtu.be]

    --
    Ok, we paid the ransom. Do I get my dog back? REDЯUM
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 06 2020, @03:08AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 06 2020, @03:08AM (#1032115)

      Neat -- like ours with freezer on the bottom.

  • (Score: 2) by richtopia on Thursday August 06 2020, @01:33AM

    by richtopia (3160) Subscriber Badge on Thursday August 06 2020, @01:33AM (#1032074) Homepage Journal

    I've been participating, but when the highs for the day are above 30 I leave the computer off.

    But look up: I probably will be a sucker for one of the new graphics cards from AMD, Nvidia, or Intel when they are released.

  • (Score: 5, Touché) by coolgopher on Thursday August 06 2020, @01:37AM (1 child)

    by coolgopher (1157) Subscriber Badge on Thursday August 06 2020, @01:37AM (#1032078)

    To everyone who's contributed to the site over the years, large or small - thank you!

    SN has become my primary site for nerdy news and commentary, and overall I must say the quality of the discourse should be considered amazing considering this is the internet. Sure we have our share of spam and trolling, and a few personal feuds, but it all feels manageable and managed. So, here's to many many more stories and comments yet to be posted - cheers!

    • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 06 2020, @02:24AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 06 2020, @02:24AM (#1032089)

      Dipshit!

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 06 2020, @01:51AM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 06 2020, @01:51AM (#1032082)

    But Taky is a genuine asset to SN, not to diminish the roles the others play, marty, buzzy, ncom, chromas, even fnord (well...).

    Taky subs are consistently ... well ... you know ... almost as good as quality aristachu subs. Note the qualifier "quality" here.

    • (Score: 3, Funny) by RandomFactor on Thursday August 06 2020, @02:08AM (1 child)

      by RandomFactor (3682) Subscriber Badge on Thursday August 06 2020, @02:08AM (#1032086) Journal

      What about the QSOAs?
       
      Quality Subs of Aristarchus? I don't think they exist. *RARRWWWWWRRR*

      --
      В «Правде» нет известий, в «Известиях» нет правды
      • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 06 2020, @02:33AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 06 2020, @02:33AM (#1032094)

        And now you know the secrets of the Fire Swamp. By any chance, do you have six fingers on your right hand?

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by krishnoid on Thursday August 06 2020, @02:04AM

    by krishnoid (1156) on Thursday August 06 2020, @02:04AM (#1032084)

    Thanks so much for the journal cites at the bottom of the articles, with the nice additional formatting. It's very helpful to know which articles are based on a journal article and allow for follow-up to the original source.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by aristarchus on Thursday August 06 2020, @02:23AM (4 children)

    by aristarchus (2645) on Thursday August 06 2020, @02:23AM (#1032088) Journal

    It is so great that you recognize all the soylentils who submit fine articles to keep SoylentNews what it is.

    --
    Die Republikkkanische Partei isst die weissvolken partei.
    • (Score: 2, Funny) by fustakrakich on Thursday August 06 2020, @03:24AM (3 children)

      by fustakrakich (6150) on Thursday August 06 2020, @03:24AM (#1032122) Journal

      I didn't know you submitted over 9660 stories! That's a lot!

      --
      Ok, we paid the ransom. Do I get my dog back? REDЯUM
      • (Score: 2) by aristarchus on Thursday August 06 2020, @05:41AM (2 children)

        by aristarchus (2645) on Thursday August 06 2020, @05:41AM (#1032158) Journal

        Incorrect. Only

        aristarchus has 1356 submissions.

        And the TMB has informed me that I got overenthusiastic at downmodding the curmudgeon Runaway1234, so all my down mods have be reversed! So sad! Guess I will have to post a journal, on the intricacies of Gödel's incompleteness theorem, as it applies to the moderation system of SoylentNews. If every soylentil mods another soylentil, is there a soylentil that mods them all? Or, perhaps, a soylentil that undoes the mods of other soylentils, to maintain the balance of the equation, a kind of a sacrificial irrational remainder from the calculation of a perfect world: and it protects Runaway. Hmm, not what I was expecting, from the Architect, but then, he is a community college drop out.

        --
        Die Republikkkanische Partei isst die weissvolken partei.
        • (Score: 2, Touché) by fustakrakich on Thursday August 06 2020, @06:35AM

          by fustakrakich (6150) on Thursday August 06 2020, @06:35AM (#1032165) Journal

          Incorrect. Only

          aristarchus has 1356 submissions.

          No good, eh? I thought you might have caught it.

          42,500 stories submitted
          32,840 have been accepted
          9660 by Ariii... what's your name again?
          --
          Ok, we paid the ransom. Do I get my dog back? REDЯUM
        • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Teckla on Friday August 07 2020, @01:58PM

          by Teckla (3812) on Friday August 07 2020, @01:58PM (#1032870)

          I think down-voting is usually counterproductive... it makes people feel targeted and makes them dig their heels in even more, despite evidence and science...

          I would suggest saving down-voting for really obvious trolls. If you disagree with someone, respectfully and logically make your counterarguments.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 06 2020, @02:49AM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 06 2020, @02:49AM (#1032101)

    You might like it on top, but we ACs will catch you!!!

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 06 2020, @03:02AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 06 2020, @03:02AM (#1032108)

      You ain't gonna catch shit.

      Taky, we got yo back.

      Signed, AC Delta Force.

    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Thursday August 06 2020, @03:03AM

      by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Thursday August 06 2020, @03:03AM (#1032109) Journal

      Please do.

      --
      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 06 2020, @03:00AM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 06 2020, @03:00AM (#1032106)

    "Obviously, we would have to abide by a lawful order like a DMCA notice."
    Is that a canary that just died?

    • (Score: 4, Informative) by takyon on Thursday August 06 2020, @03:04AM (1 child)

      by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Thursday August 06 2020, @03:04AM (#1032110) Journal

      Handling DMCA notices doesn't require secrecy. National Security Letters (NSLs) might.

      --
      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 06 2020, @05:47AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 06 2020, @05:47AM (#1032159)

        If SoylentNews has received NSLs, do not respond to this post. If SoylentNews has not received NSLs, do respond.

        If SoylentNews has received NSLs, and does not wish to indicate this by not responding, please lit a candle in the SoylentNews Editorial Orifices on August 8, at 9:36pm, Standard Time.

        If SoylentNews has not received NSLs, and wished to obfuscate the same, allow Ethanol_fueled to go on a Brandy fueled rant once again. Once for by land, Two if by sea.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 06 2020, @03:08AM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 06 2020, @03:08AM (#1032116)

    Anyone know why spellchecker isn't catching everything here, but works everywhere else?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 06 2020, @03:12AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 06 2020, @03:12AM (#1032117)

      Doesn't work for me in the "Subject" box, but works in this comment box.
      Never understood why, don't really care.
      If I want to spell check my subject, I copy it and paste in this box (temporarily).

    • (Score: 2) by inertnet on Thursday August 06 2020, @08:53PM

      by inertnet (4071) on Thursday August 06 2020, @08:53PM (#1032489)

      Teh spelcheker is wokring purfecly over hear.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 06 2020, @03:25AM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 06 2020, @03:25AM (#1032124)

    All y'all must really love what you are doing. One can make that amount of money mowing lawns over a summer. My hat is off to you because I use your service every day.

    How do we fix this so your heavily volunteered time gets paid?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 06 2020, @06:25AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 06 2020, @06:25AM (#1032162)

      Man, if the Brazilian kids in the favelas could make 10k USD/y mowing lawns in the summers, Brazil would have hundreds of thousands fewer people living in abject poverty.

    • (Score: 4, Informative) by ledow on Thursday August 06 2020, @10:12AM

      by ledow (5567) on Thursday August 06 2020, @10:12AM (#1032202) Homepage

      Give them money?

      It's a simple problem. Someone has to pay money somewhere. Advertisers are a really poor way to sustain any kind of income, but they do pay money.

      How else are they going to make money enough to do anything? Selling merchandise is often cited but, I'll be honest with you, I'd rather give them the money so they get the whole cut, than pay through the nose for a coffee cup or T-shirt with a logo that they'll see only a pittance of.

      This is the problem with any website - I've run some HUGE ones in the past, and the best paid for its (subsidised by the host out of goodwill) hosting and upkeep. Nothing is going to pay even minimum wage for a single person with any reliability without a specific "give us money" income... they have a donation box, it pays for the servers and things. Same thing as I used to have. You'll never see much more out of the donation box, and when you advertise people stop donating (or are less likely to visit), and your advertising revenue won't pay a wage.

      There's a reason even Slashdot has tons of adverts, and that was around in the era of advertising being king, and taking donations, when "Slashdotting" meant overwhelming a website by linking to it when it wasn't prepared for thousands of visitors. In 2012, they had 3.7 million unique visitors a month, supposedly. And still they got sold off and sold off and loaded with adverts.

      There is no product here to sell to people - a subscription would kill the site overnight, advertising would put people off and make only a pittance. But the costs of servers, manpower, etc. will never go down.

      Unfortunately, though it's a great site, and I've donated, its value to me - and yourself and almost everyone here - is minimal in the grand scheme of things. If someone said you had to pay $1 a month to access it, would you? How about $10? Would you consider it value for money to do so, or would it be a charitable emotive donation because you "like" it? Would you get as much out of it as, say, what you pay to access Netflix (let's be honest... the answer is no)?

      It's a problem faced by MILLIONS of websites, even the huge ones (which rarely ever make enough money to pay back their investment). People won't really pay very much for it (in terms of hassle, spam or cash), and bare maintenance costs are quite low, but staffing is incredibly expensive. Even the big newspapers etc. with online subscriptions struggle to make money with their websites.

      Give them money. If we - as regular readers - won't, nobody else will. There is no other fix.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by janrinok on Thursday August 06 2020, @09:00AM

    by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Thursday August 06 2020, @09:00AM (#1032192) Journal

    Worst things first, we had a "hiccup" on SoylentNews.org at about 03:00 UTC this morning (2020-08-05). Some pages loaded without CSS (i.e. bare text with limited or no formatting). Other pages would not load at all. Some people received "500 Server Error" messages.

    I've seen this fairly frequently - probably about once every 2 months or so for at least 18 months, possibly longer. Sometimes it is fixed by restarting servers but sometimes it seems to cure itself within 30 minutes or so. I'm not sure what other actions might have been taken behind the scenes that may have 'solved' this problem, but it is by no means a new fault.

    this marks my 9,000th story on SoylentNews.

    Congratulations and a well deserved 'Thank You'. I know only too well the effort that has gone into reaching such an impressive milestone - even with the most optimistic estimates for the time taken to edit a single story, the editing task alone accounts for well over 4500 man-hours . Then add to this your QA role, bug hunting, replying to comments etc and your contribution is even more impressive.

    --
    It's always my fault...
  • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Thursday August 06 2020, @04:35PM (3 children)

    by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Thursday August 06 2020, @04:35PM (#1032322) Journal

    <no-sarcasm>
    I paid $11.34, but the front page funding goal still is stuck at $654.66.

    (yes, really)
    </no-sarcasm>

    --
    This Christmas season is the most likely to see Missile Tow instead of large artillery pieces being toed.
    • (Score: 4, Informative) by mrpg on Thursday August 06 2020, @11:45PM

      by mrpg (5708) <reversethis-{gro ... yos} {ta} {gprm}> on Thursday August 06 2020, @11:45PM (#1032593) Homepage

      If I am not mistaken that is updated manually.

    • (Score: 2) by martyb on Friday August 07 2020, @05:54AM (1 child)

      by martyb (76) Subscriber Badge on Friday August 07 2020, @05:54AM (#1032775) Journal

      I paid $11.34, but the front page funding goal still is stuck at $654.66.

      As mrpg pointed out, updating the site funding progress is a manual task.[*] I *do* appreciate your subscription and I apologize that it took this long to get things updated.

      [*] I have coded some scripts to gather the subscription amounts from the admin page which shows "Recent Subscription Payments". That page only displays the most recent 30 entries. So, as needed, it downloads preceding pages to get back to the start of a fundraising period. Then with hard-coded values for base and stretch goals it then computes the totals and percentages. These are output in a terminal window. Then, all that's left to do is to load a different admin page to bring up the "Block Editor", choose the "Site News" block, and copy/paste the values into the appropriate places in the HTML.

      It's not that difficult, but it is time-consuming and a bit of a pain. I've mostly figured out how to completely automate it, but... That would require a new "Site Template", coding some Perl for accepting, storing, and revealing historical goal periods and amounts, as well as actually doing the computations... that's not *that* difficult, but it's enough of a hassle that it's been easier to continue with the ad hoc approach. Of course, writing it is one thing; it would also need to be tested and I'd need to get some of TheMightyBuzzard's nonexistent spare time to merge the changes into the site's code. Oh, and the system scripts for installing the site would need updates so as to create the new table and fields and provide initial values. And all of that would need to be tested. And I've probably missed something, so that would need to be coded and tested. Yeah. So... it's still a manual process.

      That's not meant as a justification for the delay; just an explanation that there's more to it than meets the eye.

      tl;dr: I let you down; I'll try to make more timely updates in the future.

      --
      Wit is intellect, dancing.
      • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Friday August 07 2020, @02:07PM

        by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Friday August 07 2020, @02:07PM (#1032873) Journal

        This was just my joke contribution. Seeing someone else had manipulated the number, I thought I would do the same.

        --
        This Christmas season is the most likely to see Missile Tow instead of large artillery pieces being toed.
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by mrpg on Thursday August 06 2020, @11:56PM

    by mrpg (5708) <reversethis-{gro ... yos} {ta} {gprm}> on Thursday August 06 2020, @11:56PM (#1032597) Homepage

    Congrats to our friends, leaders and overlords, the ones who make the site possible, as well as the submitters.
    What can we do if the queue is empty?
    Thanks to all and hail to the EiC!

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