Many of you are frustrated, as am I, by the bugs that are currently present in the system and wondering why they are not being fixed. I am now in a position to perhaps shed a little bit of light onto the reasons we are where we are...
There are significant challenges happening behind the scenes that even I was unaware of until an hour or two ago. One is a problem with our domain name itself. You may recall that in the very initial stages of the site the domain was taken by Barrabas who then only relinquished it for the sum of several thousand dollars. I do not have the details but is appears that there is some form of new dispute regarding the name, which NCommander and another board member are currently trying to resolve. If I have understood it correctly, it seems that another entity is trying to grab the name but all that I have to go on are a couple of cryptic comments on IRC. If and when I have more information I will pass it on.
Addendum: After a discussion with another member of staff I believe that our own domain name is safe. NCommander is having an issue with a domain elsewhere. I will keep you informed.
NCommander has a professional life away from this site (as do all the staff with myself being the only exception). There has been significant upheaval in his work over recent weeks and, as a result, he has not had the time that he had expected to have to work on the site. Others are contributing where they can but any resolution of the current problems is unlikely to happen before Christmas. He has also made commitments that he has to honour and he is burning the candle at both ends for the moment. At the end of the day he has to pay the rent and put food on the table. The site is an entirely voluntary and unpaid activity for all of us.
The three major bugs (lack of mod points, the failure to display new journal entries, and the search facility not finding recent stories) are all slashd issues. Some community members are currently scouring the logs/code to try to pinpoint the precise error so that, when NCommander does have some time, the necessary software changes can be carried out quickly.
There has been a bit of a feeling of pessimism over the site recently - so I thought I would do some analysis of the figures to see exactly what the situation is.
Since September we have had a total of 465 unique accounts contributing with comments - and most contribute many times. To be honest that figure is higher than I thought it might be. There are more who have been moderating but not commenting. Figures for how many people actually read our site regularly are difficult to calculate accurately because we cannot count those who do not log in. But by comparing current active participants and page hits with historical data gives a rough estimate of a community of around 700-800 people but that potentially has a wide margin of error. There has also been a reappearance of quite a few accounts that have been dormant for the last couple of years who have returned to the site. I hope that this trend continues.
I was also concerned about the fall in the number of comments since non-logged-in AC posting was disabled on the main pages. Again, it turns out that it is significant but it is not as bad as the figures first suggest. When I account for the number of off-topic, troll, and down-modded posts the comment figures are lower than they were a few months ago, but only marginally so. The quality of discourse is much higher now and is, I think, more acceptable to community as a whole. I am not suggesting that ACs do not make a significant and valuable contribution to the discussions. In fact, it is clear that the majority of Anonymous Cowards do act sensibly and contribute just the same as most other members do. But to enable them to return to the main stories we have to have a way of differentiating between each AC rather than having to control them all in a single account. A recent proposal on how to achieve this was rejected so, for the time being, I am concentrating on other tasks.
It has been claimed that we are not accepting new accounts. This is simply untrue and it is a statement being repeatedly made by an Anonymous Coward. As at the time of writing we have a total of 21836 accounts, but over the last few weeks a 'fake account' bot has been running and has created well over a thousand account entries which simply do not exist. However, there have been 77 new accounts created recently which have been active on the site. These figures do not include the many sock-puppet accounts that have been created; over 600 have been identified and disabled. As far as I can tell, and contrary again to many AC claims, only 3 or 4 of them ever belonged to Runaway1956 and none have been active since last year.
Without a doubt one of our biggest problems currently is funding. NCommander has managed to reduce our server count significantly and has therefore reduced our running costs. People everywhere are struggling to make ends meet and many have to make a difficult decisions regarding how to spend their money. If you are able to make a subscription - no matter how big or how small - it would be appreciated by the entire community.
Over the holiday period we will be reducing the story output to 5 stories a day (the 'weekend' rate). I will be travelling to visit my own family many of whom I have not seen since the start of the Covid pandemic. I will only have periodic internet access, and we will try very hard to find current newsworthy stories to publish. Good submissions are always welcome and we try to select those which have a submitter's identity over those that are created by some of our alternative collection bots.
I read somewhere that there are actually 11 different holidays being celebrated around this time of year. So on behalf of all of the team here at SoylentNews may I wish you, your family, and those close to you, the very best wishes for the holiday period and into the New Year.
You're doing a great job. Take it easy over the festive period.
The quality of discourse is much higher now and is, I think, more acceptable to community as a whole.
I appreciate the increase in quality of the discourse and the decrease in noise.
What spoil-sport is trying to run off with the domain name? Don't be held to ransom. Just rename the site (but be sure to tell us what it's called).
What spoil-sport is trying to run off with the domain name?
I don't know the details yet - but it is taking a lot of NCommander's time.
Argh. Always something! Holding onto the domain names is #1 priority. I see we also have the .COM and (given browser behavior) I regard keeping that equally important.
I'm one of those affected by "What do you mean, NO mod points?"Since I enjoy spending all my mod points, this makes me very sad, and I shall be glad when it's fixed.This started for someone else on the day of the previous "state of the site" discussion, and for me about two days later, if that's of any help.[I have the opposite 'problem' fairly regularly on the Green Site -- there I often have infinite mod points -- spend 'em all and immediately have more -- and sometimes that goes on for months. Maybe it's a related bug?]
21836 accounts with 465 of us commenting is a pretty good participation rate. Most busy forums hover around 1% regular posters; we're a bit over 2%. Of course, we are twice as opinionated as average, so... :)
Best of the Holiday Season to you and all the staff, and many thanks for the gift you give us all year round.
I did notice the lack of mod points but thought it was just another trial
Hang on theme song? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TlTKhPkZSJo [youtube.com]
Very G rated, there is a bit of a surprise about 2/3 of the way through the video.
Thanks for the updates!
Second thought (after having dinner) -- change the name to Sloopy News...
> What spoil-sport is trying to run off with the domain name?
What idjit thinks they can monetize this bunch of stay-off-my-lawn misfits?
Unless it is "the one who shall not be named" trying to kill the site off, the idea for monetization would likely be "selling ad space to advertisers so the X eyeballs that view the site have to also 'see ads' while doing so -- and we get $0.0x per ad view".
But then again, that is the obvious answer, because that is basically how almost all internet advertising works at a basic level. And about all that differs is with more eyeballs one can negotiate a larger $0.0x factor per ad-view.
Thanks to all the people who devote time and effort to keeping the site alive. I appreciate it (even if I don't get mod points :-) )
I concur, if the name of the site needs changing, change it; don't pay ransom to some bastard.
Take it easy over the holidays, spend time with family and friends and then, and only then, come help us get the site running proper again.
+1 I agree
I, for one, appreciate the update. And, the new information.
It's alright to hope that the idiot trying to steal the domain name suffers a stroke or something, right? There is no way anyone can come up with a "good" reason for attempting to take it. Someone with a malicious interest in the people here, or just some rando extortionist.
Considering the site is backed by a registered organisation, you'd think whoever wouldn't have a leg to stand on against the site. So yeah, I'd expect it'd be our usual vindictive ass clown(s?) who are trying a new way of griefing. (Good grief, get a life...)
The good news is that by trying they would have to dox themselves. If SN can tie that back to any illegal activity defined by the CFAA (Computer Fraud and Abuse Act) they will have new avenues of action that they can take.
Yeah, but lawyering up almost always only benefits the lawyers.
+1, the only ones that _always_ win are the lawyers. The only way to win is to not play that game.
I'm sure we must have a few lawyers among us, some of whom can play hard-ass -- perhaps if opportunity arises, one will step up and volunteer to step on the worm who is causing the grief?
Want to send a scary letter? That'll be $2,000. Want to go to court? $100,000 for starters.
'Tis but thy name that is my enemy;Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.What's Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,Nor arm, nor face, nor any other partBelonging to a man. O, be some other name!What's in a name? that which we call a roseBy any other name would smell as sweet;So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call'd,Retain that dear perfection which he owesWithout that title. Romeo, doff thy name,And for that name which is no part of theeTake all myself.
That olde English is a bit rough on me brain...Can I have a car analogy please?
Thanks! And no doubt also have to deal with a different dealer service department as well.
As far as the low comments, it just seems like the stories lately have been of the kind that I might read and then have nothing to add. Nothing wrong with those, there will always be some of those, but the best stories for a site like this are the ones that make people rage and post blathering comments. Or a story that is *wrong* and everyone has to correct it :P.
It seems like the last few years there hasn't even been that much tech news at all, really. These days people don't seem to care about tech as long as they can play with their toy cell phones. (see, we need more stories that I can turn around to bash cell phones).
But, you know, I hope that even if the new comment count goes down, that the site stays up and accessible because there are a lot of good comments on older stories that people might yet stumble across.
Or a story that is *wrong* and everyone has to correct it :P.
Ha, one of my favorites. I had refrigerator magnets made of this cartoon.
You are correct of course. The type and topic a of story dictates the sort of comments that it generates to some degree. This was a very quick and dirty analysis and I simply made the assumption that the nature of the stories hadn't changed significantly over the period of data collection.
As somebody pointed out to me recently, there are fewer sources today from which to collect the stories and many people seem content to chat on other social media rather than have to engaged in any physical effort like typing or. even less likely, having to engage their brain.
From my personal point of view I was rather buoyed up by the figures that fell out at the end - they were better than I had honestly expected and to have so many active contributors more than justifies any effort required to keep the site fed with stories.
It seems like the last few years there hasn't even been that much tech news at all, really.
It seems like the last few years there hasn't even been that much tech news at all, really.
I'm glad I saw someone else thinking the same thing I have been. This is very unfortunate. Especially since we seem to be entering an age of ignorance, this is the time when we need scientific stories and thinking the most. Easier said than done, though. So many people have trouble understanding basic science, much less be able to write it.
I've always been a lurker at heart, but I still visit this site almost every day, just not logged in. I'm sure there are many who do the same. I just want to say thankyou for all the effort that you guys put into this site, it really is one of the best quality sites that I have come across.
Same here, both on the lurking and the thanks. Also, I'm definitely one who doesn't show up in your reader stats since I really like reading the daily set in my email. Email tends to be full of boring and/or annoying stuff, so this way there's something to look forward to. I'll be digging into the old sock to find some coins to send your way in appreciation.
I contributed a few weeks back precisely because I thought SN was going in a positive direction and would need the squeeze.
Me too, albeit my contribution got lost in a roll-back. If yearly cost can be brought down to 4k, that would be a realistic funding goal.
You are the invisible hand and I claim my $5.
I offer you all the META Editorial Transparency Award.
Frustrated - No. Sad - yes. It's a noble experiment, and I hope it rises from this nadir.
The site needs more NCommanders. I truly regret not being in a position to volunteer my time.
Seems like a good place to say best wishes for the christmas break (or festival appropriate to whatever deity you favour) - and thanks also to the site staff for keeping things going.
Ongoing thanks! It is truly appreciated around here and probably even a little beyond the usual edges of the community.
I subscribed again, since money is needed to keep the lights on, as much as the skill and effort which you are putting in.
I have also hit that Patreon tip jar.
I would upmod you, but I have no mod points. This will have to do.
You are all appreciated. Have a happy holiday, safe travels, and healthy visits with family.
Speaking of the domain name, my phone no longer can find soylentnews.org. My laptop doesn't have any trouble, though. And that is true even when they are connected over the very same WLAN.I'm really puzzled what's going on, and whether the problem is with my phone (it doesn't have trouble to find other web sites, though) or with SN.
Have you put a fixed IP address against soylentnews.org in a hosts file somewhere? If you have you may find that is the problem.
While rationalising the number of servers that we use we had to change some IP addresses. These have been handled correctly and so DNS should work, but if your host file is now pointing to a defunct IP address it probably won't. Just a guess - it is just as likely to be something else.
Bet you can't work out how I happen to know this fact, can you?
Have you put a fixed IP address against soylentnews.org in a hosts file somewhere?
I don't even know how I could do that on my phone.
While rationalising the number of servers that we use we had to change some IP addresses.
Well, that at least gives a pointer on where to look for the problem. Thanks for the information.
I can wait for my mod points to come back. Today on the Linux computer I was amused that there's a moderate button but no allowed moderation to moderate! Makes me think I'm working for Illinois under Ryan and Blago again.