Topic pipedot

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?

Pipedot adopting Esperanto

in pipedot on (#66Y8)
I'm a stupid American. Even though many foreigners may not speak English fluently, we force everyone to speak it anyway. In 1887, Dr. Ludwig Lazarus Zamenhof constructed a neutral language using common root words from many different European languages. This universal language is much easier to learn and shows less favoritism than picking an arbitrary natural language.

Therefore, all new stories and comments will now use Esperanto. The one true international language!

Similar news and inline comment replies

in pipedot on (#61RE)
When submitting a story for a piece of news, which site do you link to? Depending on the popularity of the news, many dozens of organizations may have written an article on the topic. Some articles may lack proper grammar/citations or exist behind a paywall. Some sites may have abusive advertisements or frivolous JavaScript usage. You can exclusively use your favorite source, or link to several of the more popular news sites, or simply rely on the user to search for more information.

To help readers find more information, the site will now include a "Similar" button at the bottom right of the story box. Clicking on the link will show you a list of similar news articles to current topic.

Eagle-eyed viewers may have also noticed a new "Inline Reply" option in their profile settings. After a few weeks of limited roll-out, this option is now enabled by default for logged in users. Of course, you should have JavaScript enabled to use this new feature.

Large Text Support

in pipedot on (#5H27)
The latest set of site updates have reworked font sizes to make it easier to configure larger text rendering.

All font sizes on the site are now specified in relative units (em) and are now now scalable using the "text size" feature of your browser. Due to rounding errors, this change slightly increased many of previous the font sizes.

A user configurable "Large Text" checkbox was also added to your profile settings page, for those that want even larger text.

These text scaling options will not scale other elements of the page, such as images. Use the "Zoom" function of your browser to scale all elements on the page equally.

Pipedot Turns One

in pipedot on (#2WX9)
On this day, one year ago, I registered the Pipedot domain name and threw up an ugly static webpage. Today, the site is a little less ugly and a lot less static. Although the original goal of creating a non-profit alternative to Slashdot has long since been obtained, I've continued the development of the code base and periodically add new features to scratch my own itch.

So my question now becomes: What's next? What other features would you like to see implemented over the next year to make this site even better than it is today?

Spam Filtering

in pipedot on (#2WNE)
Recently, Soylent News discussed adding more labels to the moderation system. Although opinions on "Disagree" and "Factually Incorrect" may still be varied, nearly everyone supported the addition of a "Spam" label.

For Pipedot, we've gone ahead and added the later. Moderating a comment as "Spam" will decrease its score by one and flag it for further review by an editor. This way, normal users can greatly help the editors identify junk comments.

Once an editor marks a comment as spam, the message will be "hidden" one step deeper than the normal "Hide Threshold" slider setting. However, comments are never deleted. If you want to continue to see all comments, including the spam, click the "Show Junk Comments" checkbox on your profile settings page. Similar to the current blue (new) and gray (seen) rendering, the title bar of junk comments will be colored red to easily differentiate them from the good stuff.

Site Update

in pipedot on (#2S4X)
I haven't posted a progress report in a while, and I wouldn't expect everyone to follow the mailing list, so here's a short list of the latest features of the site.

Journals are now enabled for all user accounts! Similar to the venerable Slashcode journal, the Pipedot version allows you to write your extended thoughts and post them in the familiar story-like form - complete with comments and community moderation. An example journal story can be found here.

Feed Page
If you where previously using the root of your user page (e.g. to display your feed page, you will need to instead append "/feed/" to the end of your shortcuts (i.e. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Message ID
Originally, I adopted a similar system as Slashcode, where each object gets an auto-incrementing integer. However, this global increment is just not usable in terms of a distributed system. And so, after rewriting a large chunk of the site, objects are now given a unique ID that looks more like a Message-ID from Email and Usenet messages.

This change had an unintended side effect of making some links a bit long and kinda ugly. For example, a link to a comment can be 55 characters long (e.g. Which leads me to the next item...

Short Codes
All items (stories, comments, polls, etc...) on this site are now assigned a short code similar to those seen on Twitter (, Google (,, and others - except that it's built into the site and automatic.

For example, the full URL of a poll could be rather long:

But it can be shortened to:

These links are useful for character limited services, such as Twitter posts, as well as any other scenario where a shorter link would be appreciated. Also, like other link shortener services, you can tack a "+" on to the end of the short link to get statistics on who has clicked it.

After a few people mentioned the ugliness of the Message ID style links, I realized that short codes could also work in place of the long Message ID. Therefore, even the unshortened links are again shorter. (e.g.

SoylentNews Federation
I thought the SoylentNews federation would be a cool mini-project. Combine the efforts of two nearly identical sites while improving the resiliency of both. If you missed it (the feature was online for less than a day) the idea was to combine all stories and posts from both sites into one feed. However, I seem to have greatly underestimated the disdain for such a function. Because I'm not overly fond of receiving that many threats and hate mails in a single day, I've simply turned it off and removed all references to SoylentNews in the code.

Pipecode has long supported a profile picture. This feature allows you to show off your mugshot on your user page and various other places. Of course, thus far, only 4 people had managed to find and update their picture. To help prevent a missing image when viewing a profile, I've added Gravatar support to automatically populate profile images. If you do not have a Gravatar, you can still manually update your profile image with the old method. You can also disable Gravatar updates to your picture by unchecking the Gravatar option on your profile settings page.

Retina Images
Nearly all images, icons, and logos on the site now support "retina" displays. So if you are blessed by a device with an incredibly high DPI screen, the graphics here should all look especially crisp.

Monday poll: moderation schemes I like

in pipedot on (#3QK)
Today's Monday poll looks at moderation schemes. No other aspect of a site so determines its "feel" than the user's ability to comment and for those comments to lead to conversation. Get it right and you've got a great discussion on your hands. But get it wrong and the "right" comments lead to group think, the trolls and kooks take it over, or the place becomes a giant flamewar.

I personally think no site has gotten it just right yet. But we began an interesting conversation about it on this Pipedot article.

There are a lot of models out there, and some of them overlap a bit.'s moderation scheme for example is pretty close to Slashdot's, although it gives +1 points for funny. A lot of sites running on modified Drupal or Joomla systems don't even deal with moderation: just provide your comment and it goes on the list, though the site admins have a right to nuke anything offensive to corporate powers, and there's no threading. There's also the Usenet/killfile model, where users decide individuals (not posts) get karma [ed. note: I should've added that to the poll, dang it].

Have your say at the poll to the right. It's a Borda Count, so give "1" to the system you like best, a "2" to the one you like a bit less, and so on.

Pipedot: let's make this site fly

in pipedot on (#3QE)
When Bryan said he was going to focus on coding the site, I thought to myself, "well maybe that's the end of this: it will turn into a software project and nothing more." Then I went back to the other well-known News-for-X sites and had a look around. It's a Goldilocks and the Three Bears story: one has a semi-decent news and a large community but an awful interface. Another has an awful interface and a medium-sized community, crappy news, and no editing. There's Reddit too, and although everyone says the gold is in the sub-reddits, I found few sub-reddits that were really chock-full of awesome comments and something about Reddit lends itself to the quick repartee and stupid puns instead of real conversation.

So I'm going to throw my weight behind Pipedot. It's got a great interface that works well on every screen I use, and huge potential. All we need are some more contributors. Give me a hand getting the word out. Here's how you can help.

Got a lot of time? We could certainly use another editor.
This place will only be as good as its submitted articles. You know what to do.
Got a good idea for a poll? Post it here or submit it to the list:

Otherwise, help get the word out! Link Pipedot articles to other places you read news: ArsTechnica, the Register, OSNews, Usenet, the millions of Android sites, the Verge, and so on. If you're not into those things, how about emailing your friends with a link to Pipedot. We could use more voices around here. Spread links on IRC if that's your thing.

There's an RSS feed. But Pipedot articles are getting distributed by Twitter now too. Follow @Pipedot and retweet as far and wide as you can. The Twittersphere is (inexplicably) a great echo chamber for linking to Pipedot articles and getting the word out. I'm also thinking about paying to have an advert or two placed in some strategic places. Got any suggestions for the best placement of these adverts? Let me know.

Hoping to see this place turn into something awesome.

Soylent News Incorporates

in pipedot on (#3Q2)
Good news from our friends over at Soylent News! They have finished their incorporation as a Public Benefit Corporation under the "SoylentNews PBC" name. While this structure is not a full 501(c) Non-Profit Organization, it does convey the founding idea of "we aren't just another company out to maximize profits and screw our users" while also being significantly easier to setup (no tax exemption issues to deal with.)

Pipedot and Soylent News both launched at nearly at the same time in reaction to Slashdot's obnoxious disregard of its user base. While each site has its own strengths, they both fill nearly the exact same roll as an alternative to Slashdot. Because I don't want to split our already rather small community and duplicate the same effort, I'd suggest everyone reading Pipedot to look at Soylent News for daily news and discussion.

This does not mean that I'm abandoning Pipedot or stopping the development of the code rewrite project - I'm just giving notice to Pipedot readers that I'm focusing my efforts on development and not on posting a dozen news articles every day / excessively advertising for new users / recruiting new staff / etc... Of course, if you do want to help out, or submit a news article, or help spread the word - by all means, please do!

Pipecode continues to add features and functionality and will continue to progress for the foreseeable future. For example: users can now upload images, share news links, micro-blog their status and other nifty things well beyond what Slashdot ever offered. Our wonderful editor (zafiro17) has volunteered his own website as a guinea pig for the upcoming syndication support. Soon, articles and comments will no longer be tied to a single host and flow in a larger "network" of servers.