12.17.11

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5 Years of Techrights, 30 Years of Yours Truly — Decision Time

Posted in Site News at 2:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Time for changes but not without consultation with the Techrights community

IT IS only 7 AM (after 8 hours sleep), but as I mentioned earlier this year, today I turn 30 and there are already greeting cards coming here. Here is one from Harvey (a neat joke):

Obama joke

I have not been posting much recently, but my intent is to be more prolific and dedicate more time to Techrights (than I did in 2011), even if that becomes a New Year’s resolution. The focus of the site might have to be changed though and readers’ advice would be appreciated here.

Question 1: Should we spent a little less time covering patent issues? They make up about half of all the posts now.

Question 2: Should daily links be abbreviated? To some people they may be too long to follow, but it’s hard to tell for sure.

Question 3: Should comments be opened to non-members? As in the wiki, one of the main drawbacks is the spam this typically leads to.

Question 4: Should the site be further crowd-sourced and responsibilities delegated to make operation efficient. There are already about a dozen ops in the IRC channels.

Question 5: Should we redesign the Web site around Christmas time as Kevin suggested (and offered help)? The drawback might be lack of familiarity with a 5+ year-old theme.

Any other comments and suggestions would be greatly appreciated. As I have a party tonight I do not expect to find time for new blog posts (there are several ongoing drafts), but any feedback on this post would be taken very seriously. Most of the decisions here were made by readers over the years.

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16 Comments

  1. faltu said,

    December 17, 2011 at 11:35 am

    Gravatar

    hi roy, i am a long time reader. please make the site better. its difficult to navigate. and lots of space is wasted (see the 2 inc left column lying blank, etc). a better theme and better navigation will def. make it better. btw, I am turning 33 soon !!

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    When you say “make the site better” do you mean just the space thing? Because it needs to be accessible through phones. I can experiment with new designs over Xmas.

    You approaching 33 makes me feel a little younger now :-) The birthday/Xmas party was great. 300 or so people sang happy birthday to me :-) at the hotel suite which is sometimes used for functions like
    weddings. The girl I am dating, Eve, was there with me too. Can’t complain…

  2. Michael said,

    December 17, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    Gravatar

    Question 1: Should we spent a little less time covering patent issues? They make up about half of all the posts now.

    I think less time would be good, but more importantly I think a more fair and reasoned look at them would make sense. Right now many of your posts are all about how if someone sues someone else then Apple is wrong. Does not matter who is suing whom. It shows your "analysis" is shallow, at best, and really not thought out at all. Why not look to see why there are the patent issues? Why not look to see why any given company is being sued? Why not think in terms of what could be done better and not just bash the current system? On the last, I admit it is a hard problem – but your current method of just focusing about half your time whining about this and blaming Apple (and sometimes Microsoft) without offering a solution is counter productive.

    Question 2: Should daily links be abbreviated? To some people they may be too long to follow, but it’s hard to tell for sure.

    I admit I pretty much ignore them. I might not if they were abbreviated.

    Question 3: Should comments be opened to non-members? As in the wiki, one of the main drawbacks is the spam this typically leads to.

    I would say have them be open – and allow critical views (as you do on the blog) – but also allow use a horrible captcha thing to reduce spam.

    Question 4: Should the site be further crowd-sourced and responsibilities delegated to make operation efficient. There are already about a dozen ops in the IRC channels.

    I think that is a good idea. I would be willing to help.

    Question 5: Should we redesign the Web site around Christmas time as Kevin suggested (and offered help)? The drawback might be lack of familiarity with a 5+ year-old theme.

    Absolutely yes. A new design can be based on the current but done better… there are some significant flaws with the current (such as the odd line through the content on the right hand side). I also would be happy to help with such a redesign.

    Oh, and happy birthday!

  3. twitter said,

    December 17, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    Gravatar

    1. The focus on patents is good, the more you do it the better you will get. It would be better for you to think of new things to keep the ball rolling than to spend too much time on site design. How about a petition like the one that seems to have stopped SOPA, where you get signatures from leading software engineers? Almost everyone has expressed their opposition at one time or another.

    2. Daily links are probably the most useful thing the site has to offer a general audience. The utility is due to good editorship by yourself as a software user. The only thing I can recommend is to split off the politics from more mundane and practical news links. You have already done that with “leftovers” and by inviting others, such as myself, to make a regular beat out of it. People who worry about the length of any particular story should be advised to read things as an RSS feed and the techrights feeds are excellent, thanks.

    3. You put up with a remarkable amount of comment disruption. I would and have erased comments by trolls.

    4. Yes. Participation should be encouraged.

    5. If you have help and it works, go for it, but don’t let it eat your time or disrupt search engine indexes.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    1. I don’t think petitions achieve much considering the amount of work they require.

    2. Daily links take a huge amount of time to put together. I spent many thousands of hours of my life doing those (maybe 50 hours per week). They are the side-effect of searching for stories worth covering and keeping on top of news. I already tried to make them as easy as possible to read/glance at quickly.

    3. They even heckle a post about my birthday. Some have mental issues and too much spare time (not enough work). Playing whack-the-mole with them only makes it worse. They’re the cesspool of society and sometimes we need to cope with them.

    4. Any specific suggestions?

  4. mcinsand said,

    December 17, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    Gravatar

    First, the focus is where it needs to be. The issues, market forces, and, more correctly, market-suppressive forces and issues drive the focus, and my bet is that they will continue to do so. Right now, patents, and the broken relationship between patents and innovation, are critical issues in the technology sector, especially as we get the chance now to read more of them to see how baseless they are. Getting true patent reform will not be easy, but it will be impossible without as many voices as possible calling for it.

    As for changes to the site, I am open to see what format ideas you come up with, but I really, really like what you have now. It’s handy to be able to scroll down through headlines at the end of an article rather than having to go back to the main page.

    Now, as for other changes, Spam, and especially trolls, will continue to be an issue in the comments sections. Keeping it members-only is good, although you may have to do more, especially as your messages are more broadly heard. It’s good that you are so tolerant; I remember you accepting my messages back when anti-Apple messages were generally not tolerated… many FOSS people seemed to think that, if a company is not MS, then it must consist of saints. Little did they realize that Apple has forgotten more about illegal tying and anticompetitive tactics (as well as stealing others’ innovations) than MS will ever know. Anyway, comments may need some more management as some groups see it as worthwhile to be simply destructively disruptive.

    Regards, and congratulations on your 5 years!

    mc

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Now, as for other changes, Spam, and especially trolls, will continue to be an issue in the comments sections.

    Trolls exploit our eternal policy of no comment deletions.

    Anyway, comments may need some more management as some groups see it as worthwhile to be simply destructively disruptive.

    What would be your suggestion? What does “management” mean?

  5. dominik said,

    December 18, 2011 at 4:56 am

    Gravatar

    #1: no
    #2: no
    #3: no
    #4: yes
    #5: no

    :)

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Would you like to take over a part?

    Michael Reply:

    I offer to help with the redesign… make it something that is recognizably Techrights but made more modern and polished.

  6. kozmcrae said,

    December 18, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    Gravatar

    Question 1: I don’t think it wise to set limits on any one subject but rather let the current events dictate the coverage.

    Question 2: Yes, but possibly a new format could help too (see question 5). I sometimes miss articles because they get buried by a ton of links.

    Question 3: No, this site is too emotionally charged to allow anyone without at least a membership commitment to post.

    Question 4: It’s up to you Roy. If you can manage more contributors, then yes, I believe it would help. Posting often is one of the elements of a good blog but you don’t want to run yourself ragged. As far as I can see the quality of the posts have remained high (But it would help to share in proof reading.). More contributors are fine if the quality is good.

    Question 5: A redesign wouldn’t hurt if it makes the site more readable. I have no problem with the way it is now but I’m not a Web page specialist. I suppose it could be better but I wouldn’t know until I saw the changes.

    I hope this helps in some way.

    Richard

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    1. Yes, this is why I got involved in Boycott Novell and the whole patent storm the deal brought.

    2. Thanks, I will look into that.

    4. I would rather open the door to anyone wishing to contribute. If a door was left shut, someone should point that out.

    5. See (2) :-)

  7. pinguinpat said,

    December 18, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    Gravatar

    My condolences with your birthday Roy :)

    I think there should be a kind of lobbying towards politicians.
    The most part of politicians aren’t properly informed on decisions they get to vote on.

    Referring to the Poland conference where lobbyists where put in place of decision makers!

    At least give EU parliamentarians the chance to understand the law they get to vote on. Even when this mean they get a few thousand mails from different Techright peoples in there mail!

    I agree that petitions will stay invincible, I doubt that an avalanche of non spam mails will!

    respect for your work man!

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Contacting one’s MP — especially if thousands of people do this independently — might be more fruitful than a petition (consenting to one man’s or woman’s letter).

  8. mcinsand said,

    December 22, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    Gravatar

    >>What would be your suggestion? What does “management” mean?

    I’ve given this a lot of thought, and I am sorry to say that I think I have gotten a little bit better about stating the problem than giving a solution. You are right in that the nondeletion policy is being exploited, but it’s a good bit farther than that. There is also a cultural policy on this site for the honest participators that we not feed the trolls. When postings are riddled with self-inconsistent assertions, self-inconsistent ideas, and even things that are simply irrational… when this is getting to be something that we can actually count on, then it does discourage reading/posting. To not respond is, to some extent, to legitimize the comments. Actually, based on the dictionary, ‘condone’ is a pretty good word for what it does for the comments. Some of these have been apparently only to be contrary in a dissentious manner that is childish on top of everything else.

    To let the policy continue to be so blatantly exploited is, I fear, to let the site become troll food.

    As for how to manage, I wish I had the wisdom. Although Groklaw has maintained a good posting culture, there have been some definite drawbacks. I remember being censored years ago when I dared to suggest that Apple was not the saint that a parent poster was asserting. A dictatorial approach is not good, however, I might have a germ of an idea…

    One frustration I have is the disrespect that has been shown to you, especially of late. You provide this forum, allow us to respond, and there are some things that have been flung about that simply amount to childish, playground ‘nuh-uh’s’ when you say something someone doesn’t like. I would like to think that, where you and I disagree, I have shown respect, and there are intelligent ways to have different opinions. I do think it would be good to have comments held for moderation, but I don’t think you should do it. Otherwise, there would be a tendency to call you a dictator for suggesting that something be rewritten to be constructive rather than disruptive. As for who, it would have to be a regular that you trust, respect, and, again, trust to be decent, allow dissenting opinions, keep the content mature.

    Regards, and good luck.

    mc

    Michael Reply:

    It is a tough call for any site… and I know I have been the recipient of a name calling and the like, but I think that goes with an open conversation. If someone says something that is absurd then others can show *why* it is absurd… without name calling or insults or accusations. If we sink to the level of those who troll we become like them. Argue points and ideas – and let them know when they have name calling and the like they weaken their own comments. Who knows, some of the “trolls” might even rise to the occasion and try to express their views in more rational and reasonable ways.

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