Story 2014-05-05 3JZ Pipecode source released

Pipecode source released

in pipedot on (#3JZ)
Good news everyone! I hacked away enough at the code base this weekend to make it mildly presentable. Weighing in at 814 kB, the download shouldn't stress your connection too much. :)

So, if you are interested in installing it yourself, go to for the installation instructions and the download tarball. The GitHub repository has also been updated.
Reply 42 comments

congratulations on an awesome achievement! (Score: 3, Insightful)

by on 2014-05-05 08:59 (#1CG)

i wonder if we can convince the powers that be over @ soylent to have a look at the possibility of maybe using pipecode... they might even be able to use apache2 :-P

Re: congratulations on an awesome achievement! (Score: 4, Insightful)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-05-05 09:13 (#1CJ)

Not likely, although frankly Pipedot code + Soylent numbers/community would be a win/win. The more I look at that old Slash code, the more my nostalgia for it fades and the more I'm annoyed by its antiquated interface.

But I doubt you'll convince them to change much of anything. Look how hard it has been to even discuss/vote on a name change? They seem to be burdened by, rather than benefiting from, the community spirit that drives the site - Democratic processes are fun but sometimes a benevolent dictator gets things done faster. Ever see that t-shirt of a pyramid, with the slogan 'slavery gets shit done'? That's a bit extreme - I'm not defending slavery - but it's easy to see kumbaya democracy undermining the ability of a community to be effective.

Re: congratulations on an awesome achievement! (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-05-05 13:45 (#1CW)

Ditto. I really hate the way Soylent looks at the moment, with such bad screen density and utility that it takes way too long to read any discussion. (And the brown doesn't help either.)

Hey did Bryan write pipecode completely from scratch? That seems extreme, but it works very well.

Re: congratulations on an awesome achievement! (Score: 3, Insightful)

by on 2014-05-05 21:11 (#1DE)

It looks written from scratch. There don't seem to be any crappy old boondoggles cluttering it up and useless "feature" slowing it down.

Yet again, many thanks Bryan!

Re: congratulations on an awesome achievement! (Score: 3, Insightful)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-05-05 16:57 (#1D2)

Democracy tends to work only when a solid baseline has been established. I wouldn't expect a bunch of settlers to a new continent to function entirely by democracy, at least not very well. There's also the matter that a lot of this baseline stuff is, in the end, not important for the majority of users, and that their input is not needed.

Why are people not contributing to the vote on soylent? It's pointlessly difficult, for one, but I also think it's just because people don't care about the name. It works and they remember it, what's the problem? It was chosen early on by a benevolent dictator and people accepted it. Why change it? It's not like many of us would know something about marketing anyway.

Apparently, someone had a patch over there to get collapsible comments before the whole ownership saga. Where are they now? There's no way in hell they'll accept pipecode within the next millenium.

Re: congratulations on an awesome achievement! (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-05-05 21:00 (#1DC)

I too find myself less and less on Soylent. The *no javascript* at all cost just sucks and makes everything very annoying. The color scheme makes my eyes bleed and the 10 mod points for a couple of hours you'll get maybe every two weeks is just ridiculous.

Re: congratulations on an awesome achievement! (Score: 2, Interesting)

by on 2014-05-07 17:58 (#1F9)

I love the look here too, very clean presentation. Keep up the good work. FYI though, SN is already demoing our JS comment code on our dev server (select "improved threaded" style)

Re: congratulations on an awesome achievement! (Score: 4, Informative)

by on 2014-05-06 19:59 (#1E9)

I asked that question when this story got posted over there. NCommander replied with a pretty detailed explanation.

Re: congratulations on an awesome achievement! (Score: 5, Insightful)

by on 2014-05-06 20:32 (#1EE)

Ncommander's response isn't surprising. I guess the question had to be asked, and now that it's been answered both sites can move on. I thought - with the exception of the word 'mess' - he was essentially gracious. So both sites will move on and complement each other and sometimes even overlap. Sounds like he/they have put a lot of work into upgrading the code, which interesting. Best of luck to our soybean cousins!

Re: congratulations on an awesome achievement! (Score: 4, Informative)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-05-06 21:35 (#1EG)

I thought - with the exception of the word 'mess' - he was essentially gracious.
Well this AC thought the same thing and clarified what I suspect NCommander meant.

I relate because of bitter experience wrangling projects mixing PHP, SQL, HTML, CSS and javascript in the same files. Even more bitter experiences from wrangling projects where the original developer picked the templating language of the week (obviously written in PHP -- itself a templating language). Code I was employed to maintain where the original developers were storing and retrieving random javascript and html snippets using the database and every database table had a different character encoding with no validation or sanity checking other than the stupid strip slashes function.

Now, I thought pipecode was relatively clean but the writeln($html) brought back such painful memories as to make me physically shudder. It's just a style thing... unless you've had the nightmare of working with frontend developers on a mess of unmaintainable code. Then it does look like a 'mess' -- but I'm pretty much certain that word was not intended as disparaging to Bryan in any way.

Re: congratulations on an awesome achievement! (Score: 1, Insightful)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-05-07 18:58 (#1FB)

Well I think pipedot may be rushed at some points but you could quickly improve on what was described as a 'mess'. Changing the slashcode code base will be a different endeavor and I seriously doubt the security standards of these old software components.

So maybe some people in the web department should but a bit more weight behind the |. development :)

Awesome!! (Score: 4, Insightful)

by on 2014-05-05 10:24 (#1CK)

Awesome Job Bryan. It's always great when people give back to the community.

Re: Awesome!! (Score: 2)

by on 2014-05-05 21:01 (#1DD)

awesome indeed! I hope we can get rid of the horrible slashcode over at Soylent now :P

Thanks (Score: 3, Insightful)

by on 2014-05-05 12:14 (#1CM)

Thanks for sharing your hard work Bryan. Does pipedot have a strategy for paying for hosting when it gets more popular?

Re: Thanks (Score: 3, Informative)

by on 2014-05-05 17:22 (#1D4)

Likely an optional subscription (around a dollar per month or so.)

As a reward, subscribers would get certain "heavy" features activated like an IMAP email account and extra storage for the blog.

Re: Thanks (Score: 1)

by on 2014-05-05 20:36 (#1DB)

Just thinking out loud here, brainstorming, really:

Paid subscribers get to see more than the first 20 comments? I'm not sure IMAP email (I've already got one) is a huge benefit. Or like the Android app model: paid subscribers see no ad banners. Not sure if it would everywhere, but at paid members get a little icon next to their names, which becomes a bit of a status symbol over time. I think they also offer different icons per year, so if you wanted the polar bear you had to be a member in '06 or something like that. Or the icon reflects number of years as a paid member? Maybe the email notification of responses to your post is a paid feature or something? By the way, $12/yr is a decent price point.

Re: Thanks (Score: 3, Insightful)

by on 2014-05-06 09:46 (#1E1)

"Paid subscribers get to see more than the first 20 comments?"

There are fundamental problems with a payment/monetisation strategy such as this one, which seeks to directly derive payment from others for the posting content of the contributors to the site.

Of course any monetisation of the site is trying to do the same thing, but it's a little less direct than outright charging people to read what others have written.

So far I've trusted Brian to put together a very tidy site here, and I actually trust him to make some decisions about how to monetise, if indeed that's a direction he wants to go in.

Re: Thanks (Score: 1)

by on 2014-05-06 18:53 (#1E7)

There are fundamental problems with a payment/monetisation strategy such as this one, which seeks to directly derive payment from others for the posting content of the contributors to the site.

Of course any monetisation of the site is trying to do the same thing, but it's a little less direct than outright charging people to read what others have written.
You've got a good point! So what do you recommend?

Re: Thanks (Score: 1)

by on 2014-05-07 10:53 (#1ET)

I know it's not easy, and I appreciate that you were brainstorming, as am I...

If the objective is to cover server and modest staffing costs then non-intrusive text-based ads with a subscription model to remove them does seem like the tried and true model to follow. Of course I'm no expert, so perhaps the revenue stream from such ads is insufficient.

Certainly, what I see on the internet at large is that when a high volume site (such as Slashdot) resorts to highly obstrusive, inline video/auto play ads, and other such BS, then it's a sign that the owners are trying to squeeze as much money as they can from the platform. So for their needs, text-only ads probably isn't "enough" money to make them happy.

If PipeDot is about building a self-driven community then I think those objectives will be fundamentally opposed to any major effort to monetize. Whether through obtrusive ads, or what I would call "agressive" subscription models, like the one you suggested. And again, what you suggested isn't bad, I just think it goes against the spirit of a community site that's built on community contributions.

At the end of the day (and I'm still brainstorming) the world seems rather topsy-turvy to me these days. With Facebook paying so much money for WhatsApp ( I can't possibly fathom how a user of an instant messaging program can be priced at $35..

So I'm sorry zafiro17 (and other readers) I've no solutions in hand...

Re: Thanks (Score: 2, Interesting)

by on 2014-05-07 11:02 (#1EV)

PS: Sorry to self-reply, just something to keep in mind, is that I've been following Bryan(#1)'s comments about the site, and as I understand it there is a bit more to pipedot than meets the eye. He is talking about the codebase being able to connect to other sites running the codebase, to distribute stories and comments, and topics. Such an idea is really exciting as I think it fundamentally defuses the issue of monetisation. On top of this the source is open.

So perhaps in future what we will see is a plethora of sites running pipecode, each with a particular focus or topic. They are all linked, so a user can tweak what they see, or what is brought to their attention.

None of the sites would be particularly large, so the site/system can't be "bought out" by commercial interests.

The drawbacks would be around whether the sites are able to grow large enough to establish communities of their own. This will be the absolute kicker, since what makes communities form is difficult to understand, and even harder to control (look at "failed" efforts like G+) so really this is just going to have to be a "wait and see" situation.

It's a great little/big experiment and I am looking forward to following along. I don't know how many of the comments Bryan gets a chance to read, but I'm sure he'll post a follow up here if my musing/thoughts are absolutely wrong: I'm just responding to other posts I've seen him make, and I may have misunderstood things.

Re: Thanks (Score: 1)

by on 2014-05-09 03:31 (#1GA)

Hmm ... Here's a (probably) dumb idea, but aren't there Amazon "affiliate" links, or something, where if someone purchases something from ama via said link the affiliate gets a very small portion of the sales? Perhaps |. could have one of those. It likely wouldn't generate loads of revenue, but it'd be unobtrusive (I assume it could be presented unobtrusively, much as somafm does theirs) and possibly offset some of the cost of running the site. Ok, dumb idea concluded.

Re: Thanks (Score: 2, Informative)

by on 2014-05-06 02:55 (#1DQ)

Thanks for releasing your code (I am curious as to why you picked GPL3). I read the install/config instructions and sounds like anyone could get it working, starting from basic knowledge. Contrast to slashcode which works fine for the user, but (per the Chronicled Adventures of Soylent) setup is definitely not for the faint of heart.

The one feature I wish for right now on Pipedot is a daily mailer, or weekly if there aren't enough stories to warrant daily. Cuz otherwise I forget Pipedot exists. :( Usually I only remember to come here when someone mentions/sigs it on SN!

I just discovered the email doohickey, that's a nice feature ... gave it a try, but so far it doesn't appear to be working. "Sent" mail vanished into the aether, and what I tried to send myself here produced this bounce:

SMTP error from remote server after RCPT command:
550 5.1.1 []: Recipient address rejected: User unknown in virtual mailbox table

Dunno if that's useful but thought I'd report it.

Just for the record, I've had a paid Slashdot sub since... 2001, I think (maybe before) and it amounts to $5 every 3 years or so.

Virtual Email (Score: 3, Informative)

by on 2014-05-06 08:51 (#1DZ)

The in-site virtual email is, for the moment, not connected to the traditional SMTP/POP3/IMAP mail protocols of the Internet. Instead, it is a mechanism to allow users to send each other private messages without giving away their "real" email address. It also allows the system to send you a notice when, for example, you get a comment reply.

Although I did create a tie-in of the system to my "real" Dovecot/Postfix email server, I have left it disabled for now. Potential problems of such a system include:
  • Incomming Spam - real email addresses get lots of spam and, although my system piped the messages through SpamAssassin, some messages would still get through and cause some inconvenience
  • Outgoing Spam - controls and limits would need to be made to prevent users from sending spam and adding to the global spam problem
  • Heavyweight Service - Each user connected to IMAP creates a new Dovecot process. If several hundred users all set their mobile phone apps and desktop clients to use the IMAP service, my poor little mail server would experience some real resource limits.

Re: Virtual Email (Score: 1)

by on 2014-05-07 03:07 (#1ES)

Ah. I like the idea of being able to talk privately to other users that way.

Yeah, you didn't build this site to be an email host, so no worries there (was mostly wondering if my fearsome ability to break anything was at work).

Did pipedot's pipe just get spammed? (Score: 3, Informative)

by on 2014-05-05 12:21 (#1CN)

I went to check out the stories in the pipe and came across a long list of gibberish stories with apparent links to items like "viagra pills" and whatnot?

Re: Did pipedot's pipe just get spammed? (Score: 3, Informative)

by on 2014-05-05 12:31 (#1CQ)

Yes, I just submitted a bug report about that. The stories submission is totally unprotected so auto-posting anything will work. He should at least enable the (nicely clever) captcha system already working on the "sign up" page.

Re: Did pipedot's pipe just get spammed? (Score: 1)

by on 2014-05-05 12:33 (#1CS)

for my edification, how do you submit a bug report here?

Re: Did pipedot's pipe just get spammed? (Score: 4, Informative)

by on 2014-05-05 12:38 (#1CT)

Bottom of the page, "Bugs", right next to FAQ and the RSS feed. But you have to sign up (again, separate systems) to the bug tracker to submit or even view the bugs...

Re: Did pipedot's pipe just get spammed? (Score: 5, Funny)

by on 2014-05-05 17:43 (#1D8)

Added anonymous viewing of bugs.

Zomg, was this a bug in the bug tracker? Maybe I need another bug tracker to track bugs in the first bug tracker. I guess the GitHub page has an "issue" section too. Soylent is simply using the GitHub version.

Re: Did pipedot's pipe just get spammed? (Score: 4, Informative)

by on 2014-05-05 17:17 (#1D3)

Captcha added to submit page. Damn spammers.

Endgame (Score: 2, Interesting)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-05-05 17:43 (#1D7)

Hi Bryan,

Do you have a long-term goal in mind for this project? Are we a test bed for the source code you are developing? Are you going to reach a "stable" code at some point and focus more on stories and promoting the site? Either way, great job so far.

License (Score: 2, Interesting)

by on 2014-05-05 19:27 (#1D9)

Hi Bryan, great job!

I see that you have chosen the GPLv3. I very much suggest to switch to AGPLv3, as this specifically protects code contributions for web apps.

Fantastic job, Bryan (Score: 2)

by on 2014-05-06 03:13 (#1DS)

It's amazing how much better this site looks and feels compared to when I first came here maybe six weeks ago. And opening the source code just makes it that much sweeter.

Long live Pipedot!

Thank you Bryan! (Score: 2)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-05-06 06:33 (#1DX)

Pipecode is slick!


Re: Thank you Bryan! (Score: -1, Flamebait)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-05-06 19:41 (#1E8)


successful install (Score: 4, Funny)

by on 2014-05-06 07:41 (#1DY)

I just spun up a quick debian wheezy VM to test it out. One or two tweaks to get it up and running, but a surprisingly smooth install overall.

Of course now I have my own pipedot it's only a matter of time until I burn my bridges, betray you all, and make off to my secret lair.

Re: successful install (Score: 1)

by on 2014-05-07 12:45 (#1EY)

You forgot the now obligatory: "Fuck Pipedot! All hail my new site, EqualsBracketSlash!"

Bravo! (Score: 1)

by on 2014-05-06 21:44 (#1EJ)

Kudos for opening the source.

The slashdot beta has been good for something! (Score: 1)

by on 2014-05-08 12:14 (#1FY)

The Slashdot beta has been good for something then, it's given someone an itch to scratch :-)

The Pipedot design I think is better than the current (non-beta) Slashdot and of course miles ahead of the beta. It's clean, the information you want to read is all easy to see and all that good stuff - and we get out of it code for a discussion site that's not the monumental pain in the ass that is Slash.

Thanks for opening up the source. I might never use it on one of my own sites but at least I know there's this option should I ever need to go that route.