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2014-02-16 04:40 UTC: Expanded Alpha (Feb 15, 11:40PM EST) We are expanding our alpha test to 100 users (from 70) over the next 24 hours. Stay alert for ways to get in on the action!

-- Mattie_p.

2014-02-16 4:26AM UTC: The plan is coming (Feb 15, 2014 11:25PM EST)

I'm putting together a manifesto to answer everyone's questions regarding the future of the project. Briefly, the community will choose all aspects of the project including the business model.

I'm planning on first giving the community the opportunity to choose a permanent name, then the business model, then I'll start implementing the model (incorporating or whatever) while we sort out the rest of the issues.

I have warmed to the notion of non-profit, and would like to set before the community a list of notes and observations to provoke discussion. I'm hoping to write this coming week and publish by Friday next or the Monday after.

I'm not able to follow all the threads or forums, so if anyone asks, please pass this along.

--John Barrabas

John (at) SoylentNews (dot) org

2014-02-15 17:30 UTC: Alpha Test (Feb 15, 2014 12:30PM EST)

Greetings, fellow Soylentils. As of right now, we have 20 articles posted on the alpha test site and about 60 registered users, who have produced over 150 comments so far. We're slowly increasing the number of Alphans on a daily basis. The best way to get invited is to participate somewhere, either in the forums, the IRC (##altslashdot on, or on the wiki page. Contribute articles via the forum. Make suggestions. Etc. Anyway, I'd ask everyone to carefully read the Alpha Bugs page, particularly the Introduction to Alpha, it will give you information that will help you become an Alphan. Thanks for reading. --Mattie_p

2014-02-14 09:50 UTC: Status (Feb 14, 2014 4:50AM EST)

Started mod system rework. Here's my writeup on thoughts from the test site:

As the to-do list of tasks continues to be whittled bit by bit towards launch, one large item remains: distribution of moderation points. While I wish I could reuse the existing Slash code, the fact is that this code is completely inappropriate for a site smaller than Slashdot. So, I've been working with a couple of users in chat to rework the underlying math so that mod point distribution actually works in a reasonable way. If you're interested in the potential algorithm behind this, read on. Be warned, it is a bit dry and technical.

The current thoughts are that slash should enforce that a specific number of mod points must ALWAYS be in circulation, and in the hands of our potential moderators. Without going into too much detail, we're running off the assumption that the total number of moderations applied in an article should approximately equal the number of comments. To account for inactive users and for the constant flow of new articles/comments, twice as many mod points will be distributed. Have I lost you yet? To reiterate, two mod points must exist for every comment in active articles. As far as problems go, having too many mod points in circulation is far preferable to too few. If you don't understand why, I recommend trying to find +5 posts on other slash sites like Slashdot Japan or BarraPunto.

Here's an example: Assuming that we have two articles with approximately 200 comments each, that means we need to have 800 points in circulation. However, if we stuck with the old Slashdot method of 5 points to a user, we'd end up needing to have 80 people read an article and not comment on it. Obviously, that's not going to work, and as we have more articles/comments, that number will only increase.

Instead, we'll limit the number of moderators to approximately 30% of active accounts who haven't moderated relatively recently. In this context, active means that you have logged in within the last 5 days. The process_moderators script will calculate how many mod points are currently in circulation, how many need to be in circulation, and how many, if any, it needs to add to the pool. It then looks at the list of eligible moderators, selects 30% of them, and hands them out. To prevent moderation fatigue, we'll cap the maximum number of points a user can receive, and by the same logic, also set a minimum. I don't know about you, but I'd be a little annoyed if I found I had gotten a whopping 1 whole mod point.

This should allow a relatively fluid system, and I hope, allow us to have something very similar to the moderation system we've all grown to love. I'm open to suggestions or even radically different ideas on how to improve this below. NCommander (talk)

2014-02-14 02:50 UTC: Status (Feb 13, 2014 9:00PM EST)

We just modified the DNS a little. It'll take awhile for the changes to propagate through the net. I bumped the TTL down to 30 minutes (from 3 hours), so future changes should go pretty fast. There may be some intermittent problems for a short while.

We're not going live just yet, but we're comfortable letting more people in. Slowly I turned, step by step...

NCommander installed FusionForge on the dev site. It comes with MediaWiki (the same package as this), forum software, project management, and integrated bug tracking. It's pretty nice. It's the same package that runs SourceForge, so it'll be familiar to many people.

There's not a lot of discussion on the forums about which bug tracker to use, so absent any wailing and gnashing-of-teeth, I'd like to go with his choice. If people don't like this, start a protest and we'll talk.

2014-02-13 16:08 UTC: Status (Feb 13, 2014 1:08PM EST)

NCommander, our chief architect and hero, who has been putting in marathon days since Friday, is taking a much-needed "mental health day". We are idling in test mode (a few editors, the systems team, the alpha-test group) for at least a day while people catch their breath.

Varnish, our web accelerator, is not passing site cookies back to the user so we've disabled it for now. This means that the site is working, just not able to handle any sort of high-traffic load.

It's been pointed out that the wiki is a bad place to manage bugs. I agree completely, but for the first day it tends to avoid duplicates and it was only for a day or so anyway.

There's been some discussion among the system group (about a dozen people) about bug trackers, but that decision should really come from the dev team (30 or more, on the forum). The dev team should start discussing what they'd like to see for bug tracking on the forums. I'll monitor the thread and take consensus opinion (if there is one), or make an executive decision.

Please keep in mind the full scope of project bug tracking. System has suggested bug tracking be split into two sections - a mantis install, easy and user-friendly, used for overall site issues, and GitHub for technical issues which might be more appropriate for engineering bugs. Also, we intend to release the code open-source, so GitHub could field technical issues from other sites using our interface.

Food for thought.

2014-02-13 05:33 UTC: Status (Feb 13, 2014 12:33AM EST)

A select few editors, dev, and system types are working through the system finding bugs. User registration works, there are stories on the front page, comments and replies. A screenshot of testing from last night is here:

We could use a temporary bug tracking system that's easily accessible by the users (ie - not requiring onerous registration). Can anyone hook us up?

How about "Bug:" namespace here on wiki? Yahwotqa (talk) 00:45, 13 February 2014 (MST) <=== Done
If you expect more reports, I suggest using something structured like Template:Bug (example use in Bug:Testbug). Expand the template however you see fit. :) Yahwotqa (talk) 02:07, 13 February 2014 (MST)
Technically, this solution still requires registration (since anonymous editing is disabled on the wiki), and I don't think it would be able to handle some usual features of bug trackers like being able to list issues and filter them by stuff like their status. FunPika 04:22, 13 February 2014 (MST)
I created a Bug tracker page for figuring out what we want to do. FunPika 05:23, 13 February 2014 (MST)
Why temporary? We should just get a proper bug tracker in place then even in the future when someone notices a quirk they can report it. One of the big issues with /. was people were constantly complaining about bugs with no way to tell if they were being addressed. How long were people complaining about unicode support? Vanderhoth
Later we want to have recommendations and properly choose a system that's well suited. At present, we don't want to spend time on things not directly related to bringing the system up. -John

E-mail me: John (at) SoylentNews (dot) org

2014-02-13 02:40 UTC: Status (Feb 12, 2014 9:40PM EST)

Freenode is complaining "Server is full" and not letting me into chat, so this is a guess status :-)

Thanks to everyone who volunteered to help test the system this evening. At the last minute, the team found a nest of bugs that effectively broke the moderation system, so testing was put off until 10:PM EST, and then later was put off until Thu.

  • Nothing is impossible for the person who doesn’t have to do it himself.
  • Any project can be estimated accurately once it’s completed.
  • The sooner you get behind schedule, the more time you have to make it up.
  • A badly planned project will take three times longer than expected
  • A well planned project only twice as long as expected.
  • Schedules are made to be broken
  • Work expands to fill the Time. Cost expands to meet the Budget.
  • The first 90% of a project takes 90% of the time. The last 10% takes the other 90%.
  • The only certainty in a project is uncertainty
  • On time, on budget, on spec – pick 2.

2014-02-12 13:24 UTC: Status (Feb, 12 2014 8:24 EST)


From the site: I know its been a long wait, but we've been steadily moving towards launch. With luck, you're reading this on the main index of the site, which means we've gone, and haven't gone mad in the process. Now that we're here, we hope to have made the wait worth it, but we depend on everyone in the community. To make this site a success, we depend on each and every single user even if its just from passing word of mouth. Remember, every single user can submit stories, moderate, and contribute to discussions all at the same time, and that's what makes us unique. May I be the first to welcome you to your new home.


2014-02-11 20:01 UTC: Status (Feb 11, 2014 3:01PM EST)

We have a working system, and two people fixing the CSS (sadly, none for sphinx). As far as I can tell, we're trying to get the high-bandwidth aspects of the site running: Varnish, MySQL configuration options, and such. We want the system to be able to withstand a tsunami of visitors 10 meters high.

The system team has been working around the clock to get things running, and I mean that literally. I have to as-much-as order people to break off at night and go to bed. They *really* want to see this thing work. Send them some love in chat if you can.

Note that these are not "deadlines", nor do I particularly care if we miss them: We're reporting when we "predict" things will be ready. The first 90% of the project is done, now we're working on the remaining 90%.

Stand by for launch...

P.S. - Check out the logo

2014-02-11 17:01 UTC: Need some sphinx help (Feb 11, 2014 12:01PM EST)

We still need sphinx (search engine) expertise, so if you are familiar with this package, please E-mail me:

If you want to send the project lead a message: John (at) SoylentNews (dot) org

The Slashcott

The Slashcott (boycott) is getting attention

A selection of Slashcott/Beta comments from around the web.......

Check out the look and feel of the new site!

Project Goal

To everyone involved... THANK YOU!

We are building a news site alternative to Slashdot. We have started only a few days ago, and this wiki is a temporary measure so that volunteers can coordinate and others can see what's happening.

The idea is to build a news aggregation site that delivers what's important - better articles, less fluff, and all the functionality you expect from the moderation system. We are still looking for volunteers so stop by the boards and the IRC and let us know you want to help!

  • The proposed business model is here
  • Some business planning is here
  • A statement of functionality (turn into a requirements document?)--- FeatureList

Get Involved

Hop in to IRC! - IRC: ##altslashdot on (Webchat, we are growing in strength!)

Register on the forums -

  • Go to and register a user
  • Read this post if you are having problems. (Thanks MrGuy)
  • Add yourself to whichever groups you are interested in
  • For tech issues with the forum software, please Email Joel: soylent (at) finite (dot) ms

Slashcott Organized boycott of the Dice-owned Slashdot pages

  • Show your support for the "Get rid of Beta" crowd by avoiding Slashdot during the week of February 10-17
  • Slashcott, Week 2, officially begins Monday, February 17th, 2014 and runs through the 23rd.

Tell Somebody A friend, a colleague, any major news source....

  • Do what you can to get the word out

Check out the FAQ

  • Forums are available at
The forums have four user groups: Code, Content, Style, and System.
  • We upgraded the hosting by two tiers
  • The System team is working on installing SlashCode. They are busting their collective tails to get this site up for us. Hopefylly, soon!
  • This *might* be non-profit, see business model.
  • We won't poach from Slashdot. This includes articles and logos, also "style" to a reasonable extent.

Mailing list update Messages are here

Site Name

We have a temporary name!

Thanks go out to everyone who made suggestions - some of them were absolutely brilliant! For example, it hadn't occurred to me to choose a name based on a non-English word, or a palindrome, or a puzzle. Many of the entries were quite clever. (Adies, it took me more than a day to figure yours out. Bravo!)

I won't post the runners up because squatters might take the names before we hold the real contest. We'll figure out a way to prevent this somehow - at worst case we can choose judges and do it privately.

Jerry had the winning entry.

The temp name is: SoylentNews with the tagline: SoylentNews is people!

Does this rock? It hits the trifecta of website goodness:

  • Descriptive in a way that mundanes will understand (compare "Photoshop" with "GIMP", "Internet Explorer" with "Firefox", and "MediaPlayer" with "VLC")
  • It's part of Nerd culture, a pun, and slightly twisted
  • It's suggestive of being community driven
  • Possible Trademark issues
  • It is attached to some movie about eating corpses and implies "News fresh as processed corpses" (??)

This will be a hard act to beat. Start thinking up names for the contest, or throw your weight behind this one. The contest will be held soon after we open the doors.

(And it was poutine (from IRC) who suggested we use a temporary name. Others may also have suggested it, but it was his post that I noticed. Be sure to thank him if you see him on IRC.)

Overlord Contacts

We're starting to get overlords that manage various features. An overlord is responsible for granting access - it's intended to be a no work position, so that it can be held for long periods without requiring much time.

So for example, Applesmasher is the overlord of forums. He grants access to people and recovers access when people leave, but he doesn't have to do any work himself (although he can if he wants). He ensures that the people with access are reliable.

If you need a forum for your group, ask the overlord of forums. If you want a set of wiki pages, ask the overlord of the wiki, and so on.

The current overlords have agreed to hold the position until Mar 1, at which time we will choose overlords via some formal process. (And the current overlords might ask to continue.)

The current overlords can be contacted here:

There will be more to come. This is temporary to get us going - the community can change the structure later, but for now things seem to naturally separate into these areas of interest.

List of Discussion Pages


General Slashdot Discussion: Come on IRC channel #slashdot at Or use the web client:

SoylentNews Discussion: Head to IRC channel ##AltSlashdot on, Web client is here:

Mumble (Voice / Text Server) :

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