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Propeller Grows Up – 400k Registered Users

As I pointed out recently, I’m still helping at Propeller where I am a Scout. We’re currently celebrating another milestone. Over 400,000 people have registered with the site since it was launched (as Netscape) a year and a half ago. This is a high pace of growth which places Propeller at the 2nd position among its particular market (second only to

Netscape — Beyond 20,000


I can’t believe I did this, but I’ve submitted (manually) over 20,000 stories to Propeller, formerly known as Netscape. I only began in August 2006. The counter stands at 20057 at the moment. I’m only second to Technology Expert, I suspect, in terms of submission volume. When it comes to site ranking — however meaningless it may be — I’m currently 6th, among 390,479 registered users.

The Impact of Trolls

IN recent days, attacks on my character have returned and they are reaching a peak. I mentioned this before on various occasions in this blog, but it is worth repeating. Some of the stuff that you find on the Web with my name attached to it is fake. You cannot assume anything which has my name as the poster (even with a valid E-mail address and homepage URL) is really from myself. Forgeries have gone quite far, even as far as Digg. Check out these fake accounts/images for example:

These are only a few examples among more from Digg and there are similar cases of forgery in several other places.

I digitally sign all my outgoing E-mail messages, but I don’t/cannot do this when posting in Web sites other than my own. Moreover, in USENET, it leads to unnecessary clutter. Digital signatures cannot be verified by people who are not IT-savvy, either. Most people are foreign to the very notion.

I don’t know if people are targeting me specifically and I prefer to think it is not the case. Bear in mind, however, that I insisted that those who attack me cannot be paid (or ‘compensated’ by companies that dislike my postings), but my friends are certain that they are, which has me frustrated. Maybe I’m being naive, but the attackers use open proxies (zombies) for anonymity, which speaks volumes.

Some of the abusive posters have done this for many years and death threats were made too. At the moment, others defend me so sometimes I don’t have to, with the exception of many cases where people pretend to be me and post to many forums lies such as “I cut off my [put whatever you like here]“. They also use e libel to try and portray me as a criminal. Some said I should contact Homeland Security.

The trolling has reached my own sites, but I use IP block lists to stop this. One of the abusers has been trying (compulsively) to enter the site almost every day for about a month (since s/he was blocked for flooding blog posts with very libelous things). In other sites, my comments get attacked, ranked poorly en masse (as a matter of principle for who I am, not the content being posted) with attacks on character in particular.

I know people who never let go their identity on the Web. They did the right thing by staying invisible. Anything you say or write can be used against you. I’ve had someone harass an artist to pressure me to take down an image and then there were hundreds of messages accusing me of being a ‘pirate’. They’ll use anything they can (and make stuff up!) to use against me. They repeat and repeat (Big Lie propaganda technique). Those who know me can ignore, but I don’t know outsiders might think. It’s frustrating, but it won’t stop me.

I was told that would be worthwhile to write about this in public, maybe just for future reference. I know someone who decided never to write or comment on another site, which cannot be controlled. I’m not ready to do this yet.

Happy Halloween, Putting My Real Face Back

I no longer find the time or passion to put up holiday avatars/banners in the front page, but here is my Halloween banner. Here is the avatar I have used in Netscape and Digg for over a week. I’m relived to finally take it off my face, so to speak, having participated in a small contest.

Steve Ballmer Halloween

Has Digg Just Deleted Popular FSF Submission?

DIGG had a long downtime last night (or so it seemed from here). More strangely, this morning, some content simply vanished. About 20 hours after I submitted a timely FSF-related item, the item is just gone. I don’t know if Digg had a massive error that led the Web site to restoring from backup. I checked their blog, I checked the front page, but there is nothing to indicate this.

I submitted a link to a video of Professor Moglen, which very quickly accumulated a lot of Diggs and at least one comment Why has it disappeared? Has Digg censored (as in “deleted”) this? If so, why did this happen after so many hours of the item being ‘live’? For the time being, let’s give them the benefit of the doubt. I wish to see if more than just my own contributions was lost.

In any event, I have submitted the same story to Netscape, in case you are curious about the content which Digg had deleted (either deliberately or not)

Submitting to Netscape at a High Pace

SOME time ago I was asked about my working habits in My reply no appears in a friend’s blog. As I wrote my response in a rush, I have since then decided to tidy up the text a little bit. The slightly expanded explanation lies below.

In a nutshell, by concentrating on one topic at Netscape I know much better what was already submitted and I also know which bits in articles can connect, what gets repeated, and what’s considered major news. I used to be more diverse and I sometimes tried to break the news, but it was harder to keep track of. A lot of items were virtually ‘blocked’ because of duplicates, which I always try to avoid. I chose to be working on Open Source and Linux, for which I have real passion. This increases morale and motivation throughout work. It is merely a case of being amused while compensated, owing to formal role (and accompanying duties) of a Navigator.

I work in ‘batch made’, so over the course of the day I accumulate a list containing a title, a short description and a link. I assemble these in a simple text file. Because I don’t submit stuff immediately, however, it’s unlikely that I will be able to get the major news in. Duplicates are just out of the question. 2 or 3 times a day I just open many submit-type pages, allocating them to separate browser tabs, and then do the data entry from the text file I prepared. One monitor contains the Web browser and another contains the text file. As I scroll down the list I also separate some item which I wish to E-mail for use at Groklaw.

As for articles that I collect, I go through many hundreds of titles in the RSS feeds and follow about half the links. I try to extract the text that’s most eye-catching out of articles/blog items. Choice of RSS feeds is important because some tend to repeat the news (Slashdot, CNN, BBC), serving as slow and careful-to-corrobate-with-sources middlemen, whereas sites like Digg and C|Net have a lot of early scoops.

Tags, Categories and Search for Content Digestion

Tags cloud

THE boundary between tags and channels, which are the means by which Netscape organises content, is becoming fuzzy. It seems like the former is likely to replace the latter, in due time.

Social news or meta-journalism appear to catch on as more and more large companies adopt them. Organisation of the user-contributed content, however, remains a tricky business. Categories, sections, and front pages no longer seem to work as there are better ways of delivering targetted content. The solution may be to personalise it all.

The use of tags is probably under-appreciated. When accommodated properly (e.g. not diluted through pluralisation), then assuming many submissions, a tag will appear in the tags cloud. Then, it will become available as an RSS feed or a vibrant Web page. Personally, I track tags of interest, rather than channels. Channels are a bit ‘old school’ because they mimic and inherit the limitations of traditional papers where one size fits all.

Categories are by nature static, so emerging hot topics will just expand or eliminate categories, leading to clutter or obsolesce, respectively. Even Digg constantly ignores the requests for new categories. But Digg has got word tracking (search as feeds), not tags, which is an inferior alternative. Unfortunately, at busy times of the day, Digg arbitrarily rejects requests for this type of feeds. They are resource hungry when generated. And that’s where Netscape is ahead.

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