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Journal FortKnox's Journal: The New Site: The Vision 107

Of course, I suck at naming, so I have no name for the new site, yet. Don't really have much down except some requirements (Yup, doing this the right way... requirements, then use cases, then UML & Prototypes, THEN coding).
Anyway, I got SO MUCH support in my email (thanks guys!) that I decided, instead of emailing everyone my vision, I thought I'd go ahead and give it out here.

I asked myself a lot of questions. Why not slashdot? I don't like the code, nor the stability, but the front page lures people in and the community keeps them there.
Well, if the community wants to leave, why not livejournal? Well, then you lose the allure of the front page, and it just becomes "Another site to visit," which is why a lot of other sites don't work out for the community (orkut, etc...).

So... what I was thinking is to have slashdot with the friends and the community, but bring the front page with it. That's where the new site started... Then I knew since I was starting from scratch, I could make it better... give people what they want and use slashdot as a basis... here's the ideas sketched out so far (keep in mind that its very COMPLEX right now, and nothing is in stone... so please question or add to anything here... its to make a better community, not just sketch out my ideas):

RSS reader. I like sielwolfs description best. It'd be like You'd see articles for any RSS feed you choose (slashdot being one of them, which eliminates the whole "Other site to visit", and, instead, becomes an alternative to coming here). There will be a link to the original story on the site, but also a place to comment on the new site.
Now, to expand it, people with 'higher authority' (registered users, whatever) would be able to put in a different description... to avoid biasiness, you would actually make the description completely biased, and another person would put in a description for the opposite opinion (that way, instead of trying to describe it without a bias, you describe both sides of the story). Stories from different RSS feeds would be able to be tied together (if a slashdot story is the same as a pete's hardware story, you can have them both listed there), maybe even vote on which is the better article? This is how the 'public' section would work.

Now, for journals, you become the admin of your stories, basically. You can add what you want, make groups of people who can do any of the following:
Read your stories
Comment to your stories
Change your poll options
Delete Threads/Comments
That way, you control everything that pertains to anything you write.

As a reader, you can choose who you read, and how much of them you read. All JE's become 'stories' on your front page. Examples:
I want to read/be notified all this person's journals.
I want to read/be notified all this person's comments.
I want to make this Journal 'sticky' on my front page (on the front page and doesn't get 'pushed off' the front page until you make it 'unsticky'. That way you can keep apprised of any late entries into Em's poll, for example).

I'm still toying around with other ideas... like you can make your own journal topics (like, "Fantasy Football", "The Twins" (for Sol), etc...). That way, if you don't want to read anything I write about Fantasy Football, you simply uncheck it.

Its basically google news + slashdot journaling + massive flexibility all wrapped up in one.
The way I really envision it isn't to make a site about technology, but a site about EVERYTHING. You want ESPN scores? Turn on your ESPN feeds, and you've got it on your front page. Now you don't need to have 5 tabs open to read all your news... its stuck in one place and you get to talk with all your friends, too.

Whatcha think? Seems overly complex until I sketch out some use cases and prototype some pages, but its not out of my coding grasp, yet. Everything I've mentioned I've thought about how it is designed and everything, so it can be done. Please offer your critiques, suggestions, and comments. If we are to make a site worthy of pulling people off of here, we'll need the best ideas from everyone.

Update: I completely forgot about moderation! I will be bending an idea off of google. There will be positive and negative LABELS you put on comments. You can select as many as you want on each comment (everyone can moderate every comment). So, if I say something funny, yet makes ya think, click both "interesting" and "funny" to moderate it. In your prefs, you get options on your viewing habits. You can prefer to read interesting comments, but not many funny comments... so my comment (funny AND interesting) would be in the middle of the comments.

I also forgot how to avoid the noise. Invitation system. Like orkut. You invite as many people as you like. Someone posts a GNAA article, they get kicked/banned... all those they invited get put on a freeze until it is determined whether they are good to the community or detrimental, and the person that INVITED the intruder loses the ability to invite until they get investigated. So, avoid crapflooders by holding those that invite them responsible.
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The New Site: The Vision

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  • one thing that is also crucial, which has been mentioned before... is the ability to "import" journals and friends settings.

    I actually started playing around with this... and found a nice possibility that could make this process pretty simple... well, relativily speaking. Its a tool called WebL, from Compaq. Basically its a scripting language, implemented in Java. Its designed to collect content from a web site and easily do something with it.

    The WebL syntax is pretty simply and what I've played around wi
    • Have you been following the mad poster's efforts at scraping journals and comments out of slashdot? Tool seems to be working pretty well. Still alpha.

      • ahh... no i haven't... if i had... i wouldn't have been doing this... i fscking *hate* re-inventing the wheel.

        • obligatory link []. Hope you have perl installed somewhere.

        • Yah.

          I think the journal mentioning the 0.1a release is still on my main journal page. You need Perl. Maybe convert to C. Probably not. Doesn't matter the OS - it'll work in BSD, Linux, and Windows, probably most UNIXes... if you've got something crazy like VMS you might have problems, but I can fix 'em.

          The idea here is that it'll save and convert your JEs from a slashsite (/. only ATM) into (cleaned up) HTML, plain text, XML (just decided to do that), or you can tokenize the data and push it through a tem

          • well, what I was looking at was using WebL for all the heavy duty work, which seems to be ideally suited for this kind of work.

            I was working in Java, and my plan was to implement an apache-soap front end for it and its output would be a XML chunk (which then would leave the end user to freely transform as they wish).

            You should check out WebL, lots of good ideas I think in there. It allows you to abstract out the parsing into "webl" scripts so that your code has no knowledge of format... which makes for a
    • I can see bringing your journals over, but not comments, nor friends. Comments may be too coupled to slashdot and 'friends' are too general for my idea.
      • I wouldn;'t even bother with journals. Staryt with a clean slate.

        IF we want to archive journals, that can be done as a secondary project.


        Of course.

        (But I am right in this instance.)
      • What do you mean by the comments being too coupled? Zirnike and I talked last night and fleshed out an approach to pulling all the comments at -1, Flat and then, optionally, rebuilding them with a threshold into Nested form. Journals? Easy enough. You can either let people upload existing content somehow and provide a template to use to reformat the journals into the new site layout, or, if all else fails, people can format their archived entries into plain text and then manually enter them on the site.

        • There is probably a doubt as to who owns the comments (the author or /., and which country's laws apply?). Might not be worth getting a C&D letter over.
        • You would need to be able to map the 'slashdot' names of the posts to the 'new sites' aliases for those people and such. Just seems a bit harry to me.
  • I like the grouping of feeds and voting on which story is the best of that particular heading. There needs to be focus however on what you're going to carry for news. If you just pull all the RSS feeds you're going to end up being just another site to go to. If you have some "editorial" control it gets more interesting.

    "The Slashdot Messaging System" sucks except to let you know when someone adds an entry to their journal. I think it should be more powerful. I like the idea of adding PMs to it, allowing yo
    • Well, I have been thinking about doing specific feeds, like "Sports: Football" etc... and havign a group of moderators (maybe any regular reader can join in?) that can get all the feeds, and choose what they want to read, make their biased comments on it, and make it available too all (and giving someone else an opportunity to come up with the description for the 'other side' of the story).

      Your right... too much info can just overload and people will glaze over the good stuff.
  • Okay, not sure if this is high level enough, but could you please implement scoring ala slrn? It should give much more granularity to users.

    Wonder if this'll be done before I hit 10,000 comments?

    Dibs on UID 42.

    Gonna do devel on sourceforge or something like that? At the very least, the feature request tracker and the bug tracker tools would be nice at some point in time. Heck, depending on how religious you are, you could have it hosted on savannah.
    • Okay, not sure if this is high level enough, but could you please implement scoring ala slrn? It should give much more granularity to users.

      I was contemplating hiding scoring altogether, but what is 'slrn'? Basically, you set up what you want to read, like what slashdot is TRYING to do, only thinking it through a little better.
      • As far as scoring or moderation goes - let each moderator state what final score they think the comment should be, then take the average. That way you don't have a (barely) insightful comment being moderated at +5, just because 4 moderators thought it was insightful at the same time. When I am sober, ask me about my moderation ideas - they'll make more sense then...
        • Honestly, I don't like the whole scoring system... I've got ideas, just hard to put down on paper without some pictures and stuff. Mostly, I don't think a post will JUST get one mod. It'll be a combo of mods. In other words, it won't just be 'interesting', it'll be 'informative', 'interesting' and 'flamebait'... that's how 'interesting posts' will seperate themselves out, and that's how you'll see some posts over others... depends on your preferences, not how high of a score the post gets.
      • Sorry, you Windows using scum who doesn't know what slrn is...

        slrn is a Usenet news reader for Linux (actually, there might be a Windows or POSIX version). It has very fine grained scoring. For example:

        Stories posted by Em: +10 points
        Stories in Sports section: -200 points
        Stories about general tech: +150 points
        Stories with more than 50 comments: +75 points
        Final thing: I only read stories that have a positive number of points.

        Given a story on a new retractable dome stadium design, tally up the scores, we g
        • Yeah that's cool for stories, but as you said, isn't great for comments b/c of the db hit. The think I like about the friend/fan system is that I upmod their posts. If someone is a friend, I want to see their posts even if an editor was mad at them and bitchslapped them down to -1, so my friends have a +6. My fans have like a +3 or something, because if they liked me enough to friend me, I want to watch them and see if I like what they say enough to friend them back. I have a lot of friends on my list,
    • You get 42? Then I get 23. Or 5. Either way.

      At the least, there should be a Discordian in those spots...

      Hey, look, I type fast enough I can post a complete, self contained thought in under 2 minutes! I must type faster than everyone in charge!

  • But the biggest thing that I think keeps most of us away from alternative sites is the lack of a message system.

    It's a PITA to have to check a site, find the conversation and check to see if anyone ever replied. Much, much more convienant to just check your e-mail and see, hey, someone replied to blah, posted blah, etc.

    You could also look into something that would allow each of us to have our own sites for our content, and then some kind of aggregator...

    Regardless, I'll still end up being here to some e
    • The messaging system isn't tough, but I dunno how keen I am to sending out emails. Seems kinda spammy to me. Would rather have it available when you hit the site. But I could be convinced otherwise.
      • Make it an option. *shrug*
      • Most people check their email far more regularly than they would a journal/message board/whatnot. It's nice to know when you actually need to check for messages rather than just checking at random wondering if someone replied. One of the features that LJ has done correctly.
        • Most people check their email far more regularly than they would a journal/message board/whatnot.

          Yup. I do my messaging entirely via e-mail. That way I'm notified a little faster. ;->



      • Alright, I'm going to be a nudge and point out that drupal has a subscription option, so users can subscribe to a story/page/poll/etc.

        Man, I can be a pain in the ass, can't I?
      • okay first off... you MUST have the option to send emails.

        Now, I understand your concern here FK. In fact, at my day job, we have this very concern. Just a little background.

        We have a system, we call it the "Notification Service" Basically its a messaging system (built on MQSeries) which handles not just emails, but faxing and snail mail... anyway, one of the things we are concerned with is that customers could, potentially, receive something like 10 emails in a day for a given set of events (ordering, st
  • Given that isn't exactly a bastion of long uptimes, what is the hosting plan for this thing?
  • All moderations are PUBLIC (ala Kuro), so no "Slashdot Math" bs.
    • to talk about site issues (gripes), feature requests, and so on.

      I also propose that the working name of the site be called FKJE and pronounced "Feek-Jay." Thank you. ;P

  • Drupal has most, if not all of what you're looking for.
    There's even a throttle mechanism for caching, you can have as many roles/users as you'd like. Prevent anon access.
    Plus, your superusers would have access to see who added who when.

    I also have a domain, (as I wrote to FK, f**k the omelette, long live the brew!) which is BARELY used. If you join, I will set up content subscriptions, blogging,..whatever.
    In fact, I'll give you access to the disk and MySQL so you can try out modul
    • Hehe. Can I be a sooperyuser instead?

      I think Josh wants to do a clean sheet design. I think some others want to play around. And most of us just want something that is 'notslash'.

      • I figure as much.
        There are lazy programmers and those that build arks.
        Josh is definitely an ark builder.

        Me? I like buying my meat at the store and watching movies about cowboys.
        Man, it's late and I'm mixing metaphors. Anyway, feel free to go and muck with the site. I'll add some more modules as I get time. Invitation is open to you as well (and anyone else who's game).

        I mean, I've got a FREE domain that I'm really not using. I am homebrewing, but very infrequently and I sure don't need a site, but it
        • No no no... you have me all wrong. I'm TOTALLY the lazy programmer. I just got pushed a little too hard with the double banning. And when you get me angry, I do shit to make it not happen again.

          So its a story of a lazy programmer kicked enough that he stands up and does something about it.
      • Can I be a sooperyuser instead?

        Not unless you crack my account. ;-)

  • ... like you can make your own journal topics (like, "Fantasy Football", "The Twins" (for Sol), etc...). That way, if you don't want to read anything I write about Fantasy Football, you simply uncheck it.

    Yes. This is the next step in the evolution from having JE titles like "MMHI:" and "KoC:"... I would like this a lot. Even if users are only limted to 5 different topic designators... I don't care.

    The important thing is flexible message and comment posting. I like the way slashdot works. I like be
  • I think the agregate idea of I think this post should be a 3 you think it should be a 2, they think it should be a 1, average score 2 works.

    Kick banning people for a single offense is harsh.

    Considering that's one of the biggest complaints around here, perhaps we need to think about that before implementing?


    something about a new start/new beginning..something along those lines. A little help here?
    • I'm not partial to crapflooders, so I'm harsh when it comes to something like a GNAA post. Other than that, though, its pretty open. The moral of the story becomes that the person inviting is putting their invitee on their shoulders... if they screw up, you're gonna get the finger pointed to you. So invite people that will behave, not ignorant bigots.
  • More a social/political issue than technical: be honest. Are there different classes of users? Are editors 'users'? what powers does each group have?

    Of course, non-obfuscated code will help this issue some:)

    • I've got some ideas here. I'll start at the bottom and work my way up. The next user has the abilities of the previous, etc...
      Entry level. Just got invited. Can read everything and post, but moderation and stuff weighs heavy on them (to avoid crapflooding). Basically you are under suspicion for a while. Can create groups of feeds/people/topics they want to read and how much they want to read of them.
      Restricted User. Was a reg user that got put under suspicion cause of one of their invitees (or the
      • And right next to Implementor, you need Emplementor.

        For me :)

        Ok, whatever. I really don't care what level I can post at, or whatever.

        I just want something I feel like I can affect change on if it's needed :)
      • Invite only? Be careful with this, as it might stunt initial growth. Have it something that is added at some later point in time.
        • yeah... I know this is a stunt tactic, but seems the safest. Would invite everyone from slashdot, and hopefully they'll invite more.... perhaps have a signup sheet and get people to 'take a chance' on someone and make them your private invitee? I dunno... maybe I should mull it over more.
  • For moderation, if any one story/JE/what ever isn't getting more then a few replies then a complicated moderation system will probably not work and just be a waste of programming time. Typical journal entries get less then 25 comments so it is not too difficult to skim through them all. What I think would be neat would be a "moderation" system based on your friends/foes list. Perhaps coming up with a formula that assigns weights based on if the person is a friend or foe, a friend of a friend, a friend o
    • Heh... reading my mind on the deletes. I think they'll be 'flagged' for delete until an admin takes a look and determines what's going on.

      Oh, and the whole idea of moderation based on the number of posts in an article has piqued my interest (I know you were doing the friend-of-a-friend thing, but it isn't gonna work like slashdot). If there is, say, under 25 posts, nothing is done... 25-50, the owner of the journal entry gets to determine the order... anything larger, and a moderation system is setup.
  • and whatnot ]:p Now I'll have something to read off the ASCII Art Fart RSS feed.

    I always think the key is 'User Push, User Pull'. Users push by creating journals, tagging specific feeds, and posting (upping the popularity of a specific article).

    Users pull by friending other users, and selecting Topics of Interest. I think it was George who described a model where Em tags an article on the Bears making a blockbuster trade to get Orlando Pace and Holt from the Rams.

    Since he's my friend and I have sports
  • I think it would be kind of cool to have a "box" on your front-page that could take one of your friends' feeds at random (except where it would conflict with your feed-rules) and shows it to you when you're looking at the main-page.

    Assuming for instance, that sielwolf and myself were mutual friends (or the equivalent). If my front-page rules were set up to always have Linux, BSD, and Apple news, with 10% would be dedicated to random-friend-feeds, but never Microsoft (or Java ewwww ;) ) . And his front-page
  • I'm still toying around with other ideas... like you can make your own journal topics (like, "Fantasy Football", "The Twins" (for Sol), etc...). That way, if you don't want to read anything I write about Fantasy Football, you simply uncheck it.

    How about being able to upload your own icons? :-)

    I also forgot how to avoid the noise. Invitation system. Like orkut. You invite as many people as you like. Someone posts a GNAA article, they get kicked/banned... all those they invited get put on a freeze until it

  • You invite as many people as you like. Someone posts a GNAA article, they get kicked/banned... all those they invited get put on a freeze until it is determined whether they are good to the community or detrimental, and the person that INVITED the intruder loses the ability to invite until they get investigated. So, avoid crapflooders by holding those that invite them responsible.

    I like the idea of the invite freeze on someone that posts the obvious troll. For those wanting to engage in a little troll sp
  • Names:
    First off, I have a pair of names that you may very well hate. Here they are:

    Meant to emphasize the added value of community. Both domains are currently available.

    Scient. Meaning Knowing or skillfull. ScientNews or ScientAggro. I just like Scient.

    I'll call your proposed Mod system Tagging. I think allowing everyone to tag every comment will get seriously out of hand. Sure, it's no work to add a record to the database, but querying all that da

    • I know what I forgot:

      I think it would be especially important to know if Editor Powers had been invoked. It might even be worth having optional notification: "Unedited" to indicate that Supreme Authority had not been used (more than one identical Tag by an Editor, comment deletion, etc).

      This is all along the lines of having users able to know what is happening in the background.
  • Rather than having "anonymous posting", allow people to choose aliases, all of which are tied to their account, but the relationship is non-visible. Of course, you'd have to make sure that the aliases don't trample over anyone elses aliases or their main account, but that wouldn't be anymore difficult than making sure new accounts don't trample over anyone elses accounts.
    • ohh... ME LIKEY!

      Although, I'd want site admins to be able to see the 'main' account from the alias (in case of abuse), but this is a pretty good idea. No need to have multi-accounts then...
      • I meant non-visible from a user's point of view, I assumed that the admins would have access to the database and would be able to see the relationship anyway.
    • Now, how would the aliases work?

      Would all the posts - alias or not - show up on the user's comments page? Would they have a selection box to choose which set of comments to see?

      Would they share a single karma pool, or would each alias be on its own? I can see benefits both ways...
      • I think that from the aliased user's perspective they would show up on the same page, but for everyone else they wouldn't. I'm not sure about the Karma pool, on the one hand I think that it should to prevent people from crap-flooding or something with an alias, but on the other I don't want to discourage someone from commenting because they fear that the moderation they recieve will adversely affect them.

        So, perhaps each alias has it's own karma pool which begins equal to the karma of the parent account. Y
  • Based upon a comment from cyranoVR [], I was looking at various people's JEs, and I pulled up yours.

    Seems that you've been bellyaching about this place almost since day 01 of your JE, variously threatening to make your own site, and offering suggestions (obviously to no avail) as to how to make this one better, for OVER THREE YEARS!!!!!!!!!!!

    Dude. Time to make some magic. No looking back. Move forward. Let's get it done. Go!

    • Actually, I did eventually make my own place. Tanked hard. That's why my bellyaching started hard, I made a change, then it tapered off. Don't worry, I'm actively working on this idea... plus constantly writing JEs about it and getting a dozen emails about it daily is keeping me on the task.
  • I was wondering if I could help with some coding. If you have designed it, have UML and need some Java coding, I'm your man! I'd like to help out if I can. I could commit some time during the summer especially (10-15 hours/week?). I'd prefer backend work if I could--helper classes, db work, etc. I'm not a web design monkey at all although I know HTML.

    I know you don't know my work and I've mainly just hacked out servlets, but I can do JSP, I've got patterns-based design courses under my belt, and I can
  • Here's my suggestion for moderation, but it's a tad on the complicated side: essentially a collaborative filtering or recommender system approach. Yeah, my AI perspective coming in.

    Take your labeling system, which I like, and expand it. Everybody gets an unlimited number of labels to apply to any post, and every label has a duality to it. You have funny and unfunny, insightful and uninsightful, informative and uninformative, etc. A person applies a label if they feel the post warrants one, so if I don't lik

  • You could start everyone off at UID 1000, and if the site gets popular you auction off UIDs 999 and below :-) Also, is there somewhere you are meeting online (chat, im, whatever) that we could discuss this site outside of slashdot? I am still banned, so posting here is a pain in the ass.
  • from both slashdot and k5 which is vitally important: and that is an ignore feature. If possible, I think that there should be an option to
    1)ignore a users comments only (but still read their stories)
    2)ignore a users stories (but still read thier comments)
    3)ignore both comments and stories.
  • What about distributing the news feeds via something like Jabber/BitTorrent? Rather than having umpteen bazillion users whacking the server, why not have them get feeds from other users? Some kind of key would need to be passed around (so people don't inject their own news into the feeds being passed around). Then again, if you have moderation, maybe people could inject their own news, and junk would get modded away. This would probably require the installation of some software outside of a plain old browse

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