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Tux Machines Plans for 2014 and Beyond

The snowflakes in the background are a gentle reminder of this winter's very peak of the season (it's already below zero here) and the transition between years. Tux Machines attracted about 300,000 hits per day just half a decade ago and we hope that in the future we can return to those levels (it is achievable, but it required dedication). Based on the past week's statistics we are heading in the right direction and the goal remains for the site to be a public service, not a platform for PR and/or advertising. This site is not a business. What drives it is a rather ideological passion for FOSS. The rewards from FOSS transcend finance. It is about trust, truth, and altruism through sharing.

With help from my wife we now have the capacity to run and update the site every day, several times per day. The goal is to share all the important news (high-impact events), as soon as the news comes out, and without repetition. These are the three points which make the difference between worthwhile aggregation and just yet another aggregator. If slightly older news items occasionally appear, then it's probably because these are important but previously overlooked. In order to cluster together several news sources about the same topic a bit of lag is imperative (withholding publication until more is known); this too can lead to deferral in publication. Leftovers and multi-link items typically contain lesser important news or updates on news which was previously shares. It all helps improve the signal-to-noise ratio and saves readers time (while not compromising on scope or angles).

We always listen to readers' feedback, we will never delete comments, and due to spam (bots creating dozens of accounts per day) we kindly ask anyone who wants a registered account to contact us (this is being done manually since last year because of script kiddies that misuse Drupal).

Registration

Hi Roy and Rianne,

I really like the work you two have been doing since taking over from Susan. I'm glad to see that the site is not only continuing, but getting better. To my knowledge, Tux Machines is maybe the best site for collecting Linux News, discounting very technically-oriented sites like LWN.

I have just a couple of suggestions that I feel would make the site even better. First, one thing I would really appreciate is the ability to comment anonymously, a la Distrowatch. I understand that there is a huge gap between that and the current practice, but if you can find a way to tackle the spam, moving in the direction of a more permissive commenting system would be great.

Second, I think a slightly cleaner, more modern look would be really be handy. (And what's with the links to Jacksonville carpet cleaners and such?)

Anyway, please take my comments in the constructive, appreciative spirit that they are intended in. And keep up the excellent work!

Anonymous comments and spam

bugme wrote:

Hi Roy and Rianne,

I really like the work you two have been doing since taking over from Susan. I'm glad to see that the site is not only continuing, but getting better. To my knowledge, Tux Machines is maybe the best site for collecting Linux News, discounting very technically-oriented sites like LWN.

LWN is different because it contains original stories from paid writers and it has time-limited paywalls. It's syndicated here at the bottom left.

bugme wrote:

I have just a couple of suggestions that I feel would make the site even better. First, one thing I would really appreciate is the ability to comment anonymously, a la Distrowatch. I understand that there is a huge gap between that and the current practice, but if you can find a way to tackle the spam, moving in the direction of a more permissive commenting system would be great.

I agree and I can give it a go. Bear in mind, however, that a year after registration for new users was disabled I tried to enable it again and within hours I already saw a lot of spam registrations, making it impossible to discern real from fake. I have the same problem at Techright's Drupal side (version 7); it took the spammers just a few days to run their scripts on it. This is basically killing Drupal as a participatory platform. Maybe I will search for some spam-resising plugins (and blind-respecting too) when I upgrade Drupal. See below.

bugme wrote:

Second, I think a slightly cleaner, more modern look would be really be handy. (And what's with the links to Jacksonville carpet cleaners and such?)

A Drupal upgrade might break compatibility with the existing theme. I am still focusing on migration; later will come patching, which may inevitably alter the look.

The links at the side relate to advertising deals which Susan says are still in effect. I don't invite new advertising deals, but I have to honour existing ones.

bugme wrote:

Anyway, please take my comments in the constructive, appreciative spirit that they are intended in. And keep up the excellent work!

Anonymous comments I can try to enable for a period of time. Hopefully spam isn't the reason they were disabled in the first place; but I suspect it is.

Testing anonymous comments

I have just spent over half an hour investigating this. The short story is as follows.

There are two issues with anonymous comments; first, there is a bug, which is described in https://drupal.org/node/501286 ; second, there are ongoing spamming attempts (by bots).

Now, the longer story:

I have learned the Drupal configuration GUI (I am a WordPress person, so relatively new to Drupal), finding in turn the comments administration panel and also "permissions". In the latter, different categories of people can have privileges assigned to them. One category/group is "anonymous" user (UID 0, apparently). I tried tinkering with various settings there, but the test comments posted (from two Web browsers) would never show up, neither in the comments moderation queue nor in the posts, no matter which moderator/administrator is logged in. That's a bug. Even if comments are permitted without moderation, anonymous comments just won't show up. Maybe it's a collusion with some Drupal extension; it's hard to tell. I tried posting the following comment three times with variations in fields completed (e.g. E-mail and homepage):

"This is Roy testing an anonymous comment, in which E-mail and other fields are not required. The policy being tested right now is that in order to reduce spam all anonymous comments need to enter a moderation queue first. If this queue is not bombarded with spam, then this policy will stay."

This comment never showed up, even with the most permissive policy for anonymous comments. In the mean time I noticed spam appearing in "Recent comments", which confirms that spammers already run scripts against Drupal; it only took minutes, so expect something like dozens of spam comments per hour.

I guess I now understand why Susan had anonymous comments set to "disabled". It's far too much trouble is not an impossibility due to technical issues.

Wow - everythings different

Wow, leave the States for a few months and everything goes wonky.

Best of luck to Susan, she did a EXCELLENT job and seems to be a very nice person. Best of luck to your future adventures Susan.

I don't see the reason for enabling anonymous comments - if people can't take 5 minutes to register whatever name they want to use - then they're either flakes or spammers.

Or go with Disqus - one registration and you have comment access to many different sites.

Disqus

Disqus presents a whole raft of issues (more than I'd care to list, but JavaScript, dependence on third party, no anonymity etc. are among them).

I am an advocate of anonymity for those who need it and I spent some time writing several articles explaining the importance of anonymity.

I tried (at the expense of almost one hour of work) to enable anonymous comments here, but spammers pretty much rendered anonymity dead; you can imagine who benefits from this.

vonskippy, let me welcome you to a "everything's different" TM. Smile If you find areas you think need improving, please let us know. This site if for you guys.

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