Story 2015-10-19 QXSJ Site Update

Site Update

in pipedot on (#QXSJ)
A few interesting features of the site where silently introduced over the past year (like notifications), while others have long since been shrouded in mystery (like the stream). We also haven't had a meta update for while, so lets dig into some of the new changes:

Notification System

When someone replies to one of your comments or journals, you will now get a notification instead of a text message. These new notifications show comment replies in-line and can be used for other events that where not covered by the old system.

Numerous Small Pages

A summary page ([username] is now available for every user that shows you a brief overview of their activity. You can now monitor the computers/devices that have an active login cookie to the site on your “Logins” ([username] page. You can now see all feeds on the browse page. Feeds are also now organized into topics. Your published story submissions ([username] now have their own page as well.

RSS Reader

Although the feed page ([username] was added pretty early, many users may not realize that a full feed reader ([username] is now built into the site. You can add your own RSS/Atom feed by URL, or select one of the existing feeds from the list of topics. You can even comment on articles or vote for your favorites.

The Stream

The stream is an attempt at simplifying the “link sharing” process. The traditional method of sharing a story is a rather involved process that may turn off some contributors:
  1. Find an interesting article for a story.
  2. Write up a short synopsis including a link to the article, maybe a quote or two, and possibly even a bit of editorial.
  3. Submit your scoop to the pipe.
  4. Wait as users vote up your submission.
  5. An editor reviews your story, makes any spelling/grammar/etc corrections they notice, and publishes the story to the front page.
However, with the stream, all you need to do is “vote up” an article that you see in your feed reader. Others will then see your article in your user stream ([username] or the main stream.

Upcoming Pipe Changes

Speaking of story submissions and contributions, special thanks goes out to evilviper and zafiro17. Together, they have performed the entire submission process (detailed above) on nearly 500 of their own stories, as well as the laborious task of rewriting hundreds of poorly written (or incomplete) submissions to an acceptable quality level. The amount of effort required for these tasks is not inconsequential.

Suggestions to help relieve the burden of the editors mainly involve changing how the pipe operates:
  • Submissions could automatically be published after a certain number of up-votes in the pipe.
  • Submissions could get instantly published, but then have +/- vote buttons on each story to provide a “moderation” of stories. Stories with low scores could shrink to a smaller size or hide completely (similar to the comment moderation.)
  • The pipe could be populated with automatically created stories generated from popular stream articles.
  • Many browsers (Firefox/Chrome/nearly all mobile browsers) now support custom “share this page” buttons. These “Pipedot” share buttons could be an easy way to automatically create a story submission for interesting articles.
So what do you think? Where can we improve to make this site the best site for nerdy news?
Reply 14 comments

Great Updates (Score: 2, Insightful)

by on 2015-10-19 13:02 (#QYF8)

All very nice updates and it's great to see this site isn't abandoned, even if it isn't very traffic. I can appreciate it from a technical standpoint even if I don't comment that often. I'd love to see the back-end used by other sites but even if it never is more fully utilized, Pipedot stands as a testament of your skill. Great job.

Can't view deep replies (Score: 1)

by on 2015-10-19 13:57 (#QYM4)

By far my biggest problem with Pipedot is this: the impossibility of viewing deep replies.

Unless I'm missing something, the only way I can access the reply to my comment (and I'm fairly sure there was one...) is by finding it in my notifications.

What's the point in even having Pipedot if it won't show our conversations?

Unless I'm missing something, thing isn't configurable. The vanishing-comments 'feature' is just set in stone. (A reminder: Pipedot isn't exactly overflowing with comments. There's no need for this.)

Thought I'd also chime in (Score: 1)

by on 2015-10-19 14:38 (#QYSD)

I don't frequently comment, but I thought I'd also chime in to say what a great job you're doing with this site. I like the look and feel as well as a lot of the features. The content is also pretty good, IMHO, and that's a real achievement give how few contributors you have.

Thanks Bryan and also to those that submit content for keeping this site going.

Submitting is work (Score: 1)

by on 2015-10-19 15:27 (#QYXN)

The story submission process is kinda static - until a |. editor gets ahold of it. Why not make submitted stories editable in the same way wikipedia articles are?

Re: Submitting is work (Score: 2, Informative)

by on 2015-10-19 15:50 (#QZ12)

If there's something wrong with a submission, you can resubmit a better one easily enough, and vote-down the original. A wiki would be all kinds of extra complexity (ownership, 3RR, POV pushing, etc.) that isn't needed for something so ephemeral.

I've been operating the pipe as the first option describes, over the past few weeks... Submissions (even my own) sit there until they get to +3, then published to the front page. I haven't seen any problems, yet, though a threshold of +5 is probably more practical.

Re: Submitting is work (Score: 1, Interesting)

by Anonymous Coward on 2015-10-19 16:56 (#QZ7M)

I have to agree with this. I'd be very annoyed if I submitted a story and had some douche edit my summary to say things that weren't even in the linked articles. This swings both ways on the right-left political spectrum, but ideology pushers, either extremely religious (right authoritarian) or extremely social justice (left authoritarian), have a way if weaseling into a community then supporting each other while belittling everyone else to keep out any wrong think. In the end it always ends up as a minority of moderators / editors pushing their personal views while suppressing the majority of the community.

I've been fortunate enough to have the few things I've submitted accepted with some minor, and very appreciated, edits. I don't need someone butchering a summary to make an example out of me because of my stance on proactive diversity or feminism or gamergate or some other insignificant issue everyone else may or may not care about.

Please let's focus on filling the pipe (Score: 2, Insightful)

by on 2015-10-22 07:42 (#R8HW)

Love this site, and thanks to EvilViper we've had lots of content to read and appreciate. But when EvilViper doesn't post, write, edit, and submit articles, the pipe is otherwise mostly dry. That's this site's single weakness - on the technical side, it's unsurpassed.

If we could make it easier for people to submit articles we could fill up the pipe, get interesting content, and build the user base. But sitting down at a keyboard to write and submit is too much of a hassle, which explains why so few people do it. I'd even say it's a limited risk at this point to establish an email mechanism where you could establish a pipedot whitelist, establish an inbox that routes messages into the queue, and go from there. Point is, we've got to make it easier for people who like |. to populate it with interesting content. When you've got editors writing, submitting, and posting all by themselves, there's a problem.

Would like to reiterate my appreciation for the fact that this site remains focused on science and technology. I still read and like Soylent, but their content is increasingly wandering into social or even political topics that don't interest me at all.

Congrats Brian on a great platform - love the functionality of this site, and it's the only one I can stand to read on a small screen.

Re: Please let's focus on filling the pipe (Score: 1)

by on 2015-10-22 16:45 (#RA39)

Bryan did include some relevant ideas:

"automatically created stories generated from popular stream articles." And “share this page” buttons could both help fill the pipe more.

In addition, the pipe does act as a time-suck for me, too, so eliminating that would also help (unless you'd like to jump in). With any luck, readers will see how their direct involvement affects this site and might submit more. If nothing else, it can keep going with an even smaller base and no dedicated editor.

My submissions look a different recently, precisely because I've been submitting from my rss reader on my phone... The final step involves copying to clipboard then submitting via web browser, but it works. An email address for submissions could be nice (though somebody needs to fill in the category) but that last step doesn't take much time.

SSL Cert (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2015-10-30 13:30 (#S3AE)

Please update your SSL certificate and settings :)

Re: SSL Cert (Score: 2, Informative)

by on 2015-11-01 15:15 (#S8Q3)

The current SSL cert system is a corrupt money grab (although, I suppose we can thank them for indirectly funding Ubuntu.) There is just no reason why they need to charge hundreds of dollars a year to sign a certificate.

The site still gets an "A" from the SSL Labs testing page. A year ago, when I made the certificate, Google still accepted SHA1 signatures. Their new warning (in Chrome based browsers) is just a warning (and, in my opinion, a bit premature.). That being said, the next time I renew the cert, I'll make sure that I switch to a provider with SHA2 certs down the entire chain, as well as one that allows a working SSL stapling setup.

Why the overlap (Score: 1)

by on 2015-10-31 04:09 (#S5BN)

I just have to ask...

Why do users need all three of /feed/ /stream/ & /reader/ ? Seems an awful lot of replication of almost the same functionality. And that's in addition to the site-wide versions. And this is all in-addition to (and separate from) the stories on the front page.

I'm pretty happy with the (native, offline) feed reader on my phone, so I can't imagine I'll be switching to (browser based, online) Pipedot's feed reader, but it does still seem confusingly almost-redundant, and doesn't really integrate together within the site (at least not yet).

pipe visibility (Score: 2, Informative)

by on 2015-11-28 18:22 (#W1CC)

I feel a big part getting more users involved with voting in the pipe, and eventually story submissions, is giving better visibility on the homepage, and actively encouraging participation from readers -
  • The main 'pipe' link should have a indication of how many stories are waiting. For logged-in users, ideally it would show a 'un-seen' count, similar to unread comments.
  • Some method of asking readers to vote/get involved on a story without having to navigate to the Pipe page. A few ideas i had:
    • An occasional bubble, floating top bar, or inline-box suggesting a random pipe story, and asking if the viewer finds the subject interesting. Extra emphasis on occasional.
    • A small left or right UI box to list 3-6 most recent story titles, with small up-vote buttons
    • To encourage positive voting, a down-vote would be presented as 'flagging' a story (Pipe page would still present up/down.) Older, or stale stories would get a bump in display priority.
    • If the pipe fills past x-amount, a temporary (read: self-expiring) notification could be sent to all, or a random subset of users as a plea for help (I envision US Propaganda poster-style imagery - "What have you done for Pipedot today??") :D
  • A notice on the Pipe page encouraging people to use the comments to suggest alternative links, corrections, etc., and clarifying that pipe comments don't publish with the story.
  • I'd like to see the pipe list sort itself not primarily by date but by rating, similar to your OP pipe suggestion # 2; Higher ranked stories would rise to the top, low to the bottom.
  • Down-arrows be a different color; its difficult to tell what you voted when presented with a full pipe, the green arrows blend. Personally I would prefer it to 'pop'
  • I like the idea that stories could automatically publish, or delete depending on votes, or lack of votes within a defined time period. I'm a bit wary about auto-publish, as it could encourage a decline in submission quality, if left completely unedited; abuse aside.
Well, thats my 30 cents ;)