Updates

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Below is an archive of updates surrounding the initial launch of the main site.


Updates

2014-02-18 16:33 UTC: Taking a break (Feb 18, 2014 11:26AM EST)

This is largely a duplicate of a status further down.

I'm putting together a manifesto and vision statement 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 next week or the week after. (Still lots of things to do!)

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

I've asked the system developers to take a break for at least a week. People are tired, and if we don't let people slow down we'll lose them (this has already happened). Maybe some light bug fixing if you feel up to it, but otherwise I want people to be rested.

Let's let the editorial team find their stride, everyone get everyone familiar with the system, and pick up on it in about a week.

Regarding development, it's always been the plan to do things properly: install good infrastructure, have testbed systems for debug and research, and have people who coordinate and curate the process. It's hard to choose commanders from a pool of 60 people who you only know by E-mail and have just met. We've been lucky so far, but I still don't have overlords for dev and style.

Also of note, I'm tired and was hoping to coast along with dev. I'm addressing individual registration issues at a leisurely pace, so if you've E-mailed a problem it'll get done eventually.

--John Barrabas John (at) SoylentNews (dot) org




2014-02-17 20:44 UTC: I'm correcting problems. (Feb 17, 3:44PM EST)

I'm correcting individual registration problems when I can. My plan is to address wide-reaching issues first, then hand-fix problems on an individual level to get everyone going.

We're getting an SSL cert, which should eliminate the "Untrusted" popups. The cert process can take up to 24 hours.

We've installed an SPF record in the zone file, which should prevent your provider from flagging registration E-mails as spam. Check the spam filter rules in your individual readers to see if they need adjusting.

Of roughly 900 users so far I have registration errors from less than 10, so we're doing pretty well for first rollout in such a big project. Teething problems.

-- John


2014-02-17 06:23 UTC: We're up and running! (Feb 17, 1:23AM EST)


Soylentils rejoice! And welcome to SoylentNews.org - we done went live!

We deliver the best community-sourced news for nerds. A grassroots platform powered by submissions from our readers, we draw attention to those stories on the web which are important to everyone - especially nerds. We also provide a soapbox for discussion, allowing the community to comment without mandatory registration.

We are mindful of community sentiment, and do not bend to overreaching corporate agenda. We want to be your source for news about technology, art, science and politics.

We are the new kid on the block and are adapting quickly to satisfy our community's needs. We look forward to exceeding your expectations and pushing the boundaries of web experience. And we will make no changes without community support.

Thank you everyone for your help and support! It's been a long, arduous, frustrating effort, but the rewards are definitely worth it.

...and we're not done yet!




2014-02-16 22:57 UTC: Adding MX records (Feb 16, 5:57PM EST)

I am adding new MX records to the zone file in preparation for first launch. Mail may be unavailable for a few minutes (the TTL is 30 min). If you get E-mail bounce messages, please try again in an hour or so.

--John Barrabas


2014-02-16 13:32 UTC: Reposted from the site:

So, since this site went up three days ago, we've made tremendous progress in getting this site up and functional, and many of you gone above and beyond to try and give us content and provide meaningful comments. I'm completely blown away to say the least. I've got some big news to share, and a list of site improvements made over the last few days. Read on for more details ...

Moderation: IT WORKS! I finished implementing the algorithm last night, and purging slash of the old one so they won't conflict. The new algorithm is somewhat of a radical departure from the old one. I won't go into full details in this post, but there's a good write-up in my comments here.

Comment Counts: Got these working (again). ACs will only see a static HTML page which is updated every once in awhile. Logged-in users get the dynamic index which should have up-to-date counts. The fix is a bit wonky, so it might snap again. Let me know ASAP as the moderation scripts depend on this number being present (and correct!)

Theme: As you may have noticed, the site looks less ass. Due to the heroic efforts of audioguy, Paul, and others, we've gotten a steady stream of CSS fixes to make the site look and feel more consistent. Its not perfect (Firefox still has width issues), but its a fair improvement. This is one of the last major launch blockers

Topics: Finally got them implemented after we snapped the site in two last night. For the moment, they're all sharing the same icon, so it seems kinda unimpressive, but hopefully we'll have the art assets sometime soon to get them in place. Editors will notice I updated the labels to make them a bit clearer; two important notes on this: For an article to show up you MUST have "The Main Page" in the topic list (slash will complain if you don't have it).

Signoff Requirements: A new feature of SoylentNews requires that editors must have a peer sign-off an article before it can be displayed to the world. Slash has some limited support for this, and I got it working last night. For editors, stories are now marked in red and state "unsigned" on the index if only one person has edited it. Right now, this check is not enforced, but I plan to hopefully address that soon. For the moment, editors can future date and use the buddy system to get things checked off properly so we can have consistent formatting and quality.

Other Changes: I stripped out some of the dead features that I probably won't have time to fix before launch like OpenID login, and fixed the admin spellchecker. I also have a couple of ideas to get varnish going I need to bounce off Robin.

-- NCommander


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! Check the IRC Channel for details! ##altshashdot on freenode.net I am passing out about 2-3 approximately every hour.

-- Mattie_p.


2014-02-16 04:26 UTC: The plan is coming (Feb 15, 2014 11:26PM 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 freenode.net), 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 18:08 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: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/52836172/2014-02-13-SN-aplha.png

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)

WE HAVE A FIRST POST

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.

[[1]]


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


Quick Update:

  • 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.