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05.24.10

Thanks for the Support

Posted in Site News at 11:59 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The site hits 10,000 blog posts and crosses a milestone. If you have enjoyed it, please consider supporting us. In return, we will continue to deliver daily analysis and a roundup of links free of any promotion/commercial bias

THIS is blog post #10,000. Yes, we’ve finally made it! In 3.5 years*.

This site is purely a hobby. We never accepted donations. Never. In fact, we declined donations when people offered them. Since then, the site has grown a lot bigger and it attracts far more people now (considerably more every year, mostly GNU/Linux and Free software supporters). It needn’t be strictly just a hobby anymore. I used to carve out some time and put some posts out there between work and play (I don’t sleep much, but it’s a commitment I don’t give up and do take very seriously). The site now serves consistently over a million file hits every week. There are moderators working along in the IRC channels (we have 3 channels), ‘behind the scenes’ so to speak but also transparently because the logs get posted every day. There are tens of thousands of comments in the blog, but the volume fell by about 90% since we started requiring registered accounts for comments to be left. Every once in a while we also create dynamic pages that accumulate posts, sorting them by particular topics. We organise those primarily in the Wiki. Once in a while I get invited to also make an appearance related to the site’s information and share ideas/exhibits. This sometimes requires traveling. This means that the site has become more than just a hobby and it means quite a lot to particular people. The time and money required to run this site is cut as thin as can be, but it’s not free. I realise that micropayments rarely work as something that can sustain a Web site. We have Ad Bard promoting Free software at the sidebar and it brings in about $20 a month, which helps compensate our very kind Web host who operates a powerful server in the US. At certain times of the day the server slows down and sometimes hardly responds due to heavy load. It’s a side effect of growth and we already use caching heavily.

As it stands at the moment, everything that goes into operating the Web site is donated by myself and others who support this site in means other than financial. It comes out of the pocket of few people to whom the site matters. A fraction of the support comes from savings and is a personal investment in a cause that I believe in. One of the biggest expenses is measured in terms of time that’s missed — time that could otherwise be used to do paid work. Promotion for the site is sometimes done by people who care about the site and tell friends/colleagues about it. That’s appreciated as it’s the readership that gives this site purpose to exist and carry on with its mission. This helps bring the site to new audiences, which means that the site does not just preach to the choir, so to speak. Growing the audience size is what it’s all about if people are to be educated about the importance of software freedom, ethics, and the problems with proprietary software and those who promote it. Those who have read this Web site since its early days may have read thousands of posts and had a chance to share information even by word of mouth, not just links or texts. That’s a good thing.

If the site was to receive greater support, it would strive to extend the message to a broader audience and further the goals of enlightening, so that others who read the same material can pass on the message and work as an informed group. If you are willing to donate a few dollars/pounds a month, they will be spent with this goal in mind and be well spent by someone who is a minimalist and believes in this cause. Techrights has several sections, some of which are run by the community of contributors and readers. Some are edited by yours truly with advice from others (who are always attributed). The site may have grown to the point where it can be a part-time job and also sustainable as a source of daily news, as well as analysis which focuses on the issues, not brands.

This site is probably the biggest contribution I have ever made out of my own time and I hope others do appreciate a bit of sacrifice and dedication, which never has ill intent. Most of the time spent on this site is time that I allocate to reading material and connecting it to other material, then carefully checking the facts and ensuring all sentences are defensible. If errors are spotted, they do get corrected.

I never regret time that I spend on the site, especially upon hearing from people that they appreciate it. This has been the biggest and most personally fulfilling project I’ve ever worked on (more so than my Ph.D.). I run this site because of personal interest in the topics and because it matters to a lot of people who read and participate in it (there is always a lively discussion in our IRC channels).

My strategy is to find a way for Techrights to lead to something that can pay its own bills. I firmly believe that if a message is going to be successful, it has to be made something that can cover its author’s/maintainer’s most basic needs, so that the most minimal activity can be afforded. I participate in as many side activities as I can to help make up for the fact that this site never had a source of income (except ads that merely covered hosting expenses and sometimes fell short because our readers block ads… and we are glad that they do so if they dislike ads). We do the best that we can to keep the site going. So, please help with that if you can. At the side bar of every page of the blog there is a link that enables donating (I am not a fan of PayPal, but it’s what everyone uses, so I’ve just created an account there).

The commitment to you, dear reader, is that I’ll make you proud and glad that you donated (if you want a complete copy of the databases, we can arrange that too). We have not run out of topics and there are new ones popping up every day (with many more posts pending publication but requiring more work, which means time). People mail us every day with suggestions and pointers. People send material faster than we can keep up with, but we view this as a service to others, so we always make effort to incorporate all that can be incorporated. We also receive valuable leaks and promise confidentiality to protect the sources.

Once we choose subjects to work on we typically start the research by looking for required additional links (diversity of sources is important to us) and also some internal links to similar posts that covered similar/the same topic. Mixing internal and external links hopefully helps people go outside the site and verify the facts with more sources like we did in the first place. This process of research and aggregation of sources is not so foreign and if it requires improvement, someone will usually point this out. Each post requires over an hours of writing and research behind it (on average, as the length varies).

We are sometimes asked how research is being done and the answer is always the same. For instance, it is fair to say that 95% of the sources are accessible via the Internet and we do offer links to them. The limitation of having just over an hour for each post means that visiting the library is not most practicable, but there were exceptions in the past. Exhibits from key court cases can be considered peripheral and they are extremely valuable. We rarely rely on Internet sources unless they are corroborated by news sources or are verified, authenticated pieces of evidence. This way we minimise the likelihood of linking to and relying on false or falsified information. Our adversaries like to point out some needle in a haystack of 10,000 posts and point to innocent mistakes which were made due to bad sources (either private correspondence or other sites that present incorrect information). That’s called nitpicking. We rarely have errors in our posts and if any are found we add “(Corrected)” or “(Updated)” to the title along with the amendments/additions so that future reference won’t be deceiving.

As someone who lives in an apartment adjacent to a campus, I have an online account to just about any journal or printed material imaginable (PubMed, for example, would be easy for me to access). This helps a lot sometimes (even when other people require access), but in the context of what we do here we need news sources and PACER-type access. Old newspapers would require other types of sources (many are being scanned and archived in the UK these days), so we mostly rely on Google News archives that go a few decades back.

Writing the site is fun, but it cannot be treated purely like a hobby anymore. I cannot afford it. I treat it like teamwork and I follow a strict schedule in order to keep abreast of events. A hobby, by definition, is something that you fool around with in your spare time. It’s not managed. My commitment to people who help support Techrights is that it won’t be a mere hobby; that’s why you can expect to receive updates every day without exception. And that dependability is why people respond the way they do. Some people analyse specific issues differently after reading this site and that is why I perceive this as worthy project that can receive support from readers who find value in it. If you find it valuable, please consider supporting it on a micropayment basis. Maybe just a few bucks per month or whatever amount you prefer? It takes just a minute or two and I will continue doing the work on your behalf, every day, every week, every month. Again, I want you to consider yourself a partner in producing posts that anyone can use and share freely. That is how I view supporters of the site who help improve the information and offer story ideas. We’re all in this together. This type of support is an essential part of what we’re doing. For those who can’t support the site financially and still want to help there are other things that can be done. For example, share the message of the site with a friend of two, help spread the word. People can of course also help with research and there is a way to do this, mostly via the IRC channels. Just come and bring up the issue/topic of choice. When there are specific items we need help with, they are brought up in the channels and then discussed further until answers are found.

One last point: this unusual post does not take the place of today’s posting schedule, which will resume shortly. So thanks again for sticking with us for up to 10,000 posts. There are plenty more planned, including some that are quite exciting and exclusive. I hope you can support the site and regardless, I hope you continue reading the site and spreading the word. Whether you just lurk or participate, every single reader has earned our sincere thanks.





Please be aware of our candid confession that we never ever accepted donations (for the past 3.5 years). We do this because we believe in it and because readers do too. Some support us by contributing in content, time, advice, lively discussions, etc. Some are hopefully in a more fortunate position where they can offer financial assistance.
_______
* As a side note, Groklaw has just turned 7 and Techrights turned 3.5 years old a few weeks ago. Pamela Jones wrote:

I’d say we’ve met all the goals we set for ourselves, and more. And no, it wasn’t easy or even always pleasant. But it’s been soooo much fun too. There is nothing in the world, in my experience, as creatively satisfying as trying to do something no one has tried to do before and having it actually work. Our hope was that geeks could help lawyers understand the tech better, and vice versa. And it has happened.

Groklaw has kept the same style (more or less) over the years. It had an immeasurable contribution and if we keep on going for 7 years we too can make more impact.

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7 Comments

  1. Needs Sunlight said,

    May 24, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    Gravatar

    Great work, Roy.

  2. The Mad Hatter said,

    May 24, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    Gravatar

    Congratulations! Writing 10,000 posts is a lot of hard work.

  3. Agent_Smith said,

    May 24, 2010 at 10:14 pm

    Gravatar

    Gratz Man… And… Don’t you ever sleep ??? Or eat ??? Take care of your health.
    Best Regards!!!

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Thanks for the encouraging words and thanks to those who donated.

  4. twitter said,

    May 25, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    Gravatar

    Congratulations! Please keep up the good work. I’ll help as I can.

    The Free Software Foundation has been successful with subscripton based membership. Nothing is hidden from the outside world but subscribers are given a few interesting services, like a @fsf.org forwarding address and other community participation.

  5. fi cal said,

    May 25, 2010 at 11:10 pm

    Gravatar

    Congrats from here too!
    Sorry for using this comment field for a submission, but didn’t find another way now, please cut and use as you wish. This is about Three Strikes coming into Finland.

    1. http://yle.fi/uutiset/viihde/2010/05/nettipiratismi_aiheuttaa_suomessa_jattitappiot_1708634.html
    (URL title: Internet piracy causes huge losses in Finland)

    This is where this all started now on May 25th, once again. I haven’t seen it on *ANY* english pages of any outlet yet.
    LYHTY (registered association, just like most of the IP alley dogs barking here in .fi, but for some reason they’re allowed to have lots of publicity AND influence when making the laws)
    ordered a questionnaire from “Taloustutkimus” about intellectual property, who then asked 3000 people, from 15 to 79 years.
    This was posted verbatim on most, if not all newspapers and www news outlets in the country.

    Their main site is at http://www.antipiracy.fi/inenglish/ , with participants listed at http://www.antipiracy.fi/lisatietoa/toimijat/
    Same bunch of puppets behind the widenation.fi campaign which got mentioned on http://www.boingboing.net/2010/05/20/finnish-record-indus.html

    They now claim that
    a) 33% would have bought music from (internet) shops if there wouldn’t have been a free option
    b) 16% of all households download “illegal” files
    c) average amount of downloaded music per household was 380 tracks, most done by teens and young adults
    d) in households of people over 50 years of age, there’s almost no “illegal” downloading
    e) 355 million euros lost annually by downloading – but as usual, there are no details at all how this figure was determined

    So now lyhty is trying to drive through a two-stop mechanism in Finland, consisting of a warning letter and then suing to court.

    2. http://yle.fi/uutiset/talous_ja_politiikka/2010/05/wallin_lupaa_toimia_nettipiratismin_kitkemiseksi_1710113.html
    (URL title: Wallin promises actions to curb internet piracy)

    Stefan Wallin is the minister of culture in Finland.

    Translation:
    Stefan Wallin thinks the “new” information about widespread internet piracy is startling.
    Says these show that electronic commerce isn’t in shape in Finland.
    He promises to propose an amendment in the law already during this year, which is aimed at making “three strikes”-threats possible.
    Of course usual BS about letting parents know about their children pirating on the net is included in the reasoning.

    3. http://yle.fi/uutiset/kotimaa/2010/05/nettikommentoijat_purkivat_nettipiratismin_taustoja_1709933.html
    (URL title: Selected comments to previous article)

    4. http://www.uusisuomi.fi/kulttuuri/93366-nettilataaja-viimeinen-varoitus-tulossa
    (URL title: Internet downloader, your last warning is about to arrive)

    Additional info to the above ones:
    Amendment to the law is already done in ministry of education and culture, about to be sent into parliament handling!
    ( http://www.minedu.fi/OPM/Tiedotteet/2010/05/wallin_nettipiratismi.html?lang=fi )

    5. http://yle.fi/uutiset/kulttuuri/2010/05/tietoliikenneala_hyvaksyy_varoituskirjeet_tietyin_ehdoin_1710867.html
    (URL title: FiCom aka Finnish Federation for Communications and Teleinformatics approves warning letters with some conditions)

    Reijo Svento from FiCom says: We’re going to live with this new law, in case parliament decides to rubber-stamp on it. He also claims that this is going on worldwide..
    It also requires a change into law about electronic privacy, since at the moment ISP’s cannot handle customer records due to piracy suspicions.
    FiCom’s conditions:
    a) Warning letters must be sent coming from the holder of IP
    b) They must also bear the costs
    c) ISP’s must not be required to keep records about people who have been suspected for piracy
    And a comment from pirate party, see #6.

    Suvi Lindén is also mentioned. She’s famous for being minister of communications without a clue how to handle anything regarding to her position.
    Read: Whatever IP baddies whisper to her, will happen.

    6. http://www.piraattipuolue.fi/ajankohtaista/lehdistoetiedotteet/474-piraattipuolue-ei-halua-uhkailukirjeitae-yhteenkaeaen-kotiin
    (URL title: Pirate party doesn’t want threatening letters sent to any homes)

    7. http://blog.starwreck.com/2010/05/25/avoin-kirje-ministeri-stefan-wallinille/
    (URL title: An open letter to minister Stefan Wallin)

    There’s a note in english at the bottom: “This post is in Finnish, an open letter to Finland’s minister of culture, who is ramping up anti-piracy initiatives in a way we find destructive to the media business.”
    They are the makers of Star Wreck movie and currently working on Iron Sky.
    Very good and thorough points, like why the effort (and money) isn’t spend on making those ecommerce shops available and good enough instead of threatening the buyers?
    Another – would Wallin want to have all the mail examined because of financial crimes?

    8. http://blog.piraattipuolue.fi/2010/05/piratismi-tuottaa-kansalle-yli-miljardi-euroa-voittoa-vuodessa/
    (URL title: Piracy profits the people with over a billion euros annually)

    Comment on the debate from blog of Pirate party.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Thanks for the informative comment.

    I have a post about the BSA coming. What angle do you think needs emphasis here? And how is Finland different than other nations where the story seems similar? Here in the UK we have a situation just as bad, with the Digital Economy Bill (DEB) and all…

    Suvi Lindén also helped Microsoft by the way.

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