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SoylentNews Site Update -- One Day Later -- WOW!

Accepted submission by martyb at 2017-05-21 18:44:56 from the community++ dept.

For those who may have missed the announcement, we completed our site update last night — ahead of schedule!

The Site Upgrade: I am happy to report things went smoothly. So smoothly, in fact, that I was on the site at the time, and following along on IRC (Internet Relay Chat) [], and didn't even realize the updates they were talking about were not on some support server... these updates were on the main site! (Coming from a QA/test guy, that's high praise indeed!) Many thanks to The Mighty Buzzard, NCommander, a surprise visit in IRC by "NC|FromTheFuture", and the rest of the SN staff waiting at the ready to help out should things go sideways.

IRC Server Updates: As mentioned in the earlier article, we are continuing apace with moving to Gentoo for our base OS across all our servers. To that end, Deucalion has been working diligently to port our IRC servers to run on Gentoo and to do so in a 'multi-server' arrangement. Behind the scenes, SoylentNews staff primarily coordinate our efforts using IRC. Should something go wrong, we do have fall-backs in place, but they are much less efficient.

Folding@home: As we reached the higher ranks, our progress has been slower and competition has been greater. We are currently still on track to be in the Top 300 F@H Teams in the World [] by May 28th, 2017. Please consider joining us in our quest to help in the fight against many debilitating diseases such as Huntington's, Parkinson's, and Alzheimer's.

Site Suggestions: The prior story brought a wealth of comments, complete with a some suggestions for the site which look to be both helpful and reasonably feasible to implement. One proposed change is to provide a means for a user to set an explicit time (or a reference comment) for which comments newer than that would be flagged as *new*. Sevral noted how they had failed to notice their subscription had expired and suggested we add a banner at the top of the main page to keep them appraised as to their subscription status (and a link to re-subscribe). Also, when viewing an article which appeas in a nexus other than "The Main Page", the links appearing at the bottom of the page are particular to just that nexus, and not the site in general. Another interesting suggestion pertained to dimming of the "Site News" box which shows the site funding status. Dim the box (user preference) when your subscription is up-to-date; display full-intensity when your subscription has expired.


Funding - In a word: WOW! The actual dollar amounts deposited into our accounts remain to be tabulated, but the current estimated tally,/em> (as shown in the Beg-o-meter on the main page in the "Site News" slashbox) tells the tale. As of the time of writing this story, towards a base goal of $3000.00, we have now reached.... approximately[*] $2976.50 or 99.2% to goal!

Funding tl;dr: For tax and accounting purposes, all values are based on actual transactions to our bank account. What we record internally to the site based on user's interactions with the UI is entirely separate, and has some historical issues which we are addressing. The amounts appearing the "Site News" slashbox are close estimations.

It has come to our awareness that PayPal charges different fees [] depending on your local currency. For example, Alice (in America) subscribes to SoylentNews for one year with the suggested amount of $20.00 US using a credit card drawn on a US bank. G√ľnther (from Germany) also chooses to subscribe for one year and at the suggested amount of $20.00 US. He, too uses his credit card, but it is drawn from an account denominated in Euros. You can see where this is headed, right? It appears there are additional fees charged for the conversion to $USD. See PayPal's merchant fees page for the low-down. Pay special attention to the fact that the additional fees are denominated in the user's local currency, not in $USD.

PayPal does inform us of the actual amount requested, the fees charged, and the net amount we receive. (We get similar info from Stripe, but of course, in a different format.) That information is now stored in our site database. But it wasn't always this way. In the very early days, the site's founders kicked in their own money to get the site off the ground (and are still waiting to be paid back, three+ years later). We were mostly just trying to keep the site from crashing because the code on which this site was based had not been supported in several years and was rife with problems. As things stabilized over the ensuing months and years, we could finally bring our attention to other areas of the code. Since accounting was performed strictly by what happened through our bank accounts, there was little concern about what was happening internal to the site's inherited accounting code. And wouldn't you know it, the historical data had the gross subscription amount, but failed to accurately account for fees. Net amount was set to be the same as the gross amount. We are in the process of rectifying this, but it will take some time.

Original Submission