As I mentioned on New Year’s Day, I wanted to do a better job this year of providing regular and recurring updates about some of the things going on behind the scenes here at Freebird.
Infrastructure Upgrades - Server
Memory: 8GB (previously 4GB)
CPUs: 4 (previously 2 CPUs)
SSD Disk: 160GB (previously 60GB)
Data Transfer: 4TB (previously 2TB)
This will also drastically improve our page ranking with Google which has laid out new requirements for page ranking and speed. More on Google in a minute.
New Infrastructure in Work - Microblog
As an additional service to our community forum, I am working on building a linked microblogging service. Most of you are familiar with the most famous microblog out there – Twitter. For the majority of us, Twitter is no longer an option due to bans, shadowbans, or general frustration with the administration of what is a competently designed and beautiful platform. It’s really too bad but I see this as an opportunity to build our own thing centered around free speech. Our microblog will run on the open source Mastodon platform and will also have a stand-alone dedicated server. If people don’t want to use it, that’s ok but I at least want to try it out and completely integrate it with our community. I’ve been searching for a viable open source alternative for several months now and Mastodon is it. My goal is to get it up and working by Sunday evening. I’ve done most of the testing this past week in my free time after work – so a live integrated deployment is very much doable (although it may not be very pretty at first).
This is the platform:
One of my favorite things about our community is the ability for members to customize their profiles with a picture, animated gif, background photo, birthday, profile information (such as favorite quotes or bio), website, location, and more. Many long-term community members are not taking advantage of these great features and the home page is starting to look a little bit like an alphabet soup. Adding a profile photo or any other information is not mandatory but it is highly encouraged.
Administration of Threads and Posts
I try to administer threads as quietly and as efficiently as possible. If I see a duplicate post, I do my best to quickly merge comments into existing threads and unlist (make invisible) duplicate threads. Occassionally, there may be a newer thread with significant community-created original content and older comments will be merged to that thread. This is all done to help search engines get our content out there to people looking for original thoughts and ideas on issues of the day.
There will also be times that I edit thread titles. These edits are made for the same reason I just stated above - to help search engines rack and stack our content and for people to find our content. The more people that find our content the larger and more influential our community gets. This is very important. When a community member makes a thread the title of the thread creates the URL. Please use the body of the thread to provide your commentary and the title of the thread to accurately and uniquely describe the event or concept. Please try to avoid nebulous or generic thread titles as they will create nebulous and generic URLs that will never be found. Google is not going out of their way to help us, but they can’t ignore us anymore either:
When creating a thread please do not just drop in a link without any commentary - or with your commentary in the title. I have built in a custom thread preview function for users on desktop which provides a snippet of the OP without clicking on the thread, just hover over the title. If just a link is provided then no snippet will be shown.
Many of you who have come over from /pol/ follow the /pol/ green text format which I personally like. For those of you not familiar with this format here is an example:
Really Unique Thread Title - With Some Brief Amplifying Perspective
Body of the thread if not original content is quoted directly from the source. All content that is not original is kept in this quoted format to show the user they are reading source material. This makes it easy for others to see the difference between the source commentary and your personal commentary.
All original commentary is placed between or below quoted source material. This is especially useful for a tl;dr (too long; didn’t read) summary. If you want people to engage your threads don’t just post a link that makes them leave the thread and have come back to comment. People just won’t bother in most cases - which leads to dead threads. If the article you are posting is very long, a tl;dr summary is a good way to get other community members to engage and comment on your posts. Post what you think about the article and briefly explain why people should care. The same applies to posting a video.
The link is then placed at the bottom like so. This format will look familiar to people who have been here for a while and to people from /pol/.
Finally, if I go in and make an edit to your thread please do not undo my edits. If you have a question about why I editied your thread please send me a direct message. I’m always happy to chat - just give me some time to respond.
Now that we have a way for members to donate I am building some private invisible groups for donating members only. More to follow on this but the functionality is in place. I just need to finish building the rules of the road.
Banned Members - Return Procedures
For those of you who have been here a long time, I wanted to get your feedback. Several months ago enough community flags were generated to ban SteveSPHR. The way the ban system works within our community is designed to be highly unpleasant and abrupt. When the threshold is met - a permanent and 1000 year ban is initiated automatically. There is no purgatory. There is no appeal. There is no way for a banned member to log back in. The ban has no mercy. This requires final confirmation by me as admin, which is to confirm that I am only doing the bidding of the community and am not banning someone based upon my own personal views or frustrations. This does not apply to spammers and link builders whom I ban promptly and permantly at my discretion for the benefit of the community. This only applies to former members who were at one point in good standing.
This brings me back to SteveSPHR who sent me some pleasant correspondence recently. Should there be a way for former active members to be allowed back into the community after time served on a long ban? I know that Steve personally frustrated many of you, but he also provided a lot of good debate and conversation. Does the good ever outweigh the bad and are there times to reconsider membership? Should we have a form of probation if we allow a former member to return? I leave this up to the community to decide. I have posted a poll below and all votes will be anonymous.
Should a former member be permitted to return to the community, on probation, after a long ban?