Storms have been flowing through michigan for the last few weeks. It's really tiring. I've never been a sound sleeper when the thunder gets cracking, or if it gets really windy, so I haven't had many good nights sleep in the last couple weeks. At least the lawn finally looks nice and green.
Someone recently asked me about the planned moderation stuff... they wanted to know why it's taking so long, so I figured I'd explain that. The reason is that we haven't started coding yet. And the reason for that is this whole "Section/Topics" thing. This won't really have much affect on any end users, but its sort of an internal thing that really needs to be done. Internally, Slashcode has "Topics" and "Sections". Topics are like "GNOME" and "It's Funny Laugh". They define the subject matter of the story. "Sections" are the menu on the left hand side (Apple, BSD, Games, etc). Now you'll notice that some of these "Sections" define subject matter. Others define data types (note the unique data fields in the Books section- author, ISBN code etc).
The short problem is that a story can have many topics, but only 1 section. So when you visit the 'Apple' section, you can't see a book review... because stories can have just 1 section.
This actually has a lot of subtle affects on the code and makes lots of simple things hugely difficult. Things like targetted advertising... the thing that makes it possible for us to sell a lot of the ads on Slashdot is our targetting. The more precise the target, the more money people will pay. So, if you are a book vendor writing apple books, on networking, you might by the ads on those specific article types. And right now, we really can't do that. We can do 'Apple' + 'Networking' or 'Books' + 'Networking' but not 'Apple' + 'Books'. It's just a real pain and it causes us a serious mess.
And its more complex then that... "Sections" were actually built entirely off a kludge. See, I created Sections originally, nearly 6 years ago to define data types, mainly for the book reviews. Since these Data Types required things to look a little different, I effectively then had "Skins" at the same time, for no extra work. When I needed Skins, I used Sections which really weren't supposed to do that. And 6 years later we need to undo all that.
Now we're in the middle of seperating Skins, Subject Matter, and Data Types from the tangled mess of Sections & Topics. When it's done, it will be elegant and simple. It will make a lot of things much cleaner on our end. End users will barely notice, except that the menu of 'Sections' on the left hand side might become more dynamic... instead of those static groupings, we could instead group sections by activity... for example, if there are a lot of stories on Networking, we could throw 'Networking' in there, and link an index of stories about networking. When 'Calera' is a top story, perhaps it would trickle to the top of the list... instead of having the BSD section in there which might go a week without a story, we could instead have sections be used to give you a sort of at-a-glance view of what areas of slashdot news are making waves. It should be very cool.
Unfortunately, all these things take time. Implementation on this takes a lot of work. And then we need to port several sites to the new code. And test it. And debug it. And finally, after all that we can deploy this, and THEN we can go to work on moderation changes. Unless Pudge, Jamie, Vroom, and Pater revolt