User Conversations
posted by Adam S on Fri 9th Oct 2009 14:25
Conversations A few users have shared some conspiracy theories about the privacy violation of using gravatar services. I'd like to explore them quickly.

One user shared that we should change our privacy policy since we now share email addresses. I'd like to point out that that assertion is completely false and, frankly, absurd. The best way to crack an md5 string, usually a password, is by comparing the encrypted string to a known md5 string, in what is called a "lookup table." This is why using a dictionary word as your password is so bad: comparing your password to a known string will quickly allow someone to find your password.

But, that's just it, we're encrypting an EMAIL address. There are hundreds of millions of addresses in this world, if not billions, and no one keeps a table of every email address every invested, hashed. It wouldn't make sense: it rarely pays off, and there are so many ways to get email addresses off the net with so much less effort. So of course, this fear is nonsense.

One user suggested a script could crawl the net and find your email address everywhere and build a profile. Perhaps. I work in reality, and I think this is too much effort for too little payoff. You still won't have an email or a real name.

In fact, there are several ID services out there, but in the end, it's just not that hard to piece together pieces of someone identity based on what they share and post online. So any entity using gravatar as their starting point is wasting their time: there are so many more effective ways to harvest personal data - start with Google, Twitter, Facebook public pages, - it just seems like being scared the window panes can be cracked with a hammer, when your house has no doors.

There are several legitimate reasons to be concerned about identity today, but gravatar use shouldn't be one of them.


posted by Adam S on Tue 14th Apr 2009 12:43
Conversations Are you a Tweep? Some of us are. You can follow the OSNews staff @sethadam1, @thomholwerda, and @kroc. In addition, all mentions of OSNews are now available at


posted by Adam S on Tue 27th Jan 2009 22:04
Conversations As some of you have noticed, there is a new page selector box in the sidebar and a new set of tabs across the front page. We hope you enjoy these as we "feel out" what "Page 2" is and should be.

What you may not realize is that there have been a lot of changes behind the scenes. OSNews is now using [link]|| ||jQuery[/link] for our javascript framework, and as a result, we have several new abilities available to us. Expect to see new improvements over the next weeks or months.

Also, some of you may notice that we now serve our JS and CSS "minified." Much of OSNews is served from cache, so in order to create the best and most reliable site experience, we're now pushing regular updates aimed at increasing performance and usability even more.

Your comments are welcome.


posted by Adam S on Wed 26th Nov 2008 14:34
Conversations Are you on Facebook? If so, please take a moment to stop by [link]|| ||the OSNews Facebook page[/link] and become a fan. Facebook is a growing social networking site and is a great place to share your favorite bands, books, products, and even websites. If you're on Facebook, we'd appreciate if you'd take a second to let the world know you're an OSNews reader.


posted by Adam S on Fri 11th Jul 2008 16:22
Conversations After a silly-long wait in line (7:30-11:30) at an AT&T store, I'm off and running with my iPhone 3G. Push email and Exchange syncing are flippin' awesome. App Store is awesome.

Anyone else up and running on their 3G yet?


posted by Adam S on Fri 16th May 2008 15:18
Conversations I've just added a new feature, for fun mostly, called "Address Book Import." The idea is that you can import your contacts from your email account (currently, it only does Gmail) to find friends with OSNews accounts.

Why? Because when you add someone as a "friend" the system highlights their comments. I usually do this when I particularly like someone's insights and want their comments to stand out. Also, when you add someone as a friend, you become their "fan," and fan comments stand out too.

OSNews is not a social network, nor do we intend to be; we are not trying to jump on some crazy Web 2.0 fad/bandwagon. Instead, we want to emphasize features of the site that some may not be aware of.

Please note that we do not store any login credentials whatsoever - username, email, or even that you used the tool.

So, without further ado:

Please report any feedback


posted by Adam S on Mon 12th May 2008 19:46
Conversations I'm calling it. I may look like a fool in eight days, but I'm calling it.

I just read [link] ||this story on Gizmodo[/link] about some "placeholder text" on the AT&T site that mentions the "iPhone Black." Apple is out of iPhones. It's here. I'm predicting a new iPhone tomorrow or next Tuesday in the Apple store.

I know that AT&T employees were told to limit vacation in June, but there are lots of little tidbits (e.g. Italy launch in "weeks") that lead me to this: I have a sneaking suspicion that we'll see a new iPhone sooner than most think.


posted by Adam S on Sat 19th Apr 2008 15:23
Conversations I've wrapping up what can only be called "moderation 2," what will surely end up being the biggest rewrite of OSNews voting/moderation since it was introduced. Since we made our last changes and introduced the "report" button, we've had to field many questions and address confusion about what the vote down button means now. Rather than attempt to band-aid the confusing but functional current system, we're going to start with a new moderation paradigm.

The new system will be word based, so you'll choose a term that will assign + or - points to a comment. But before I get too into it, tell me what words you think should be available for moderation. Here's what we've got so far:

Informative, Insightful, Funny are positive mods
Troll, Inaccurate, and Offtopic are negative mods

Then we have a Report Abuse option for... you guessed it... reporting comments that violate to the TOS such as spam, personal attacks, or or hate speech.

Are we missing anything?


posted by Adam S on Wed 26th Mar 2008 19:55
Conversations As some of you will immediately notice, I've disabled themeing on the site. Very few users - fewer than 1% actually - use themes at all, and we are preparing to make some site structure changes that will make maintaining themes very challenging. As a result, we've disabled themes and we will be rolling out our changes in the coming weeks or months. When we're confident our output is stable, we'll look into re-introducing themes in a new, improved, and much more complete fashion. In the meantime, the site will only be offered with our default skin. Thanks.


posted by Adam S on Tue 22nd Jan 2008 15:53
Conversations Thom and I recently conducted an administrative moderation review and found a disturbing trend we're hoping to nix quickly. We found many users who would get into discussions/arguments/flamewars/whatever and begin modding down the people with whom they were arguing. More often than not, in those cases, the down mods were opinion-based rather than "rule-breaking." Most of these mods were aimed at silencing the commenter's critics.

This is not something we want to encourage on OSNews. We like good, heated discussion, but we do not like it when we wash out another opinion solely because they disagree. As a result, I've just activated a new rule with moderation: once you attach a comment to a story, you can no longer moderate any comment in the same story. You shouldn't be a judge and a debater at the same time, and you can't be a commenter and a moderator at the same time either. We think this will lead to better, more impartial moderating on the part of our users.


posted by Adam S on Sat 17th Nov 2007 05:28
Conversations We just migrated OSNews to a bigger, badder multi-processor/quad-core server. If you see some issues over the weekend, report them here (remember it can take up to 48 hours for your ISP to update their nameservers!)


posted by Adam S on Fri 7th Sep 2007 20:44
Conversations For a long time, your comments on OSNews were labeled with your average "score." This was a meaningless stat - someone with 1 post rated 5 appeared a better user than 1 with 1000 posts at 3. So, [link]|| ||after a heated debate[/link], I removed the score. That's when I was introduced to the "[link]|| ||moving average[/link]."

Effective immediately, the number after your username in comments is your "moving average." It's the average of your last 25 comments (or however many comments you have if you have less than 25). This number will change as you post and as you are moderated. It is much fairer, as it rates your value recently; a poor past can be redeemed, and a highly ranked user must continue to submit insightful comments to stay at the top. The number 25 may change, and if it does, it will be posted here. But in the meantime, you should see these scores in stories and conversations.


posted by Adam S on Mon 3rd Sep 2007 15:13
Conversations It's been pretty much decided internally that what you see here at is not going to be the final look and feel of OSNews v4, but it probably will be an option as an alternative theme. I've made some style tweaks to the look and feel and would like to know your thoughts.

Only constructive feedback will be addressed.


posted by Adam S on Mon 13th Aug 2007 21:06
Conversations Want to beta test a new feature?



posted by Adam S on Thu 9th Aug 2007 13:03
Conversations Over the last few days, I finally made some long overdue changes to OSNews.

You may have noticed that we can now close conversations and news items. When closed, comments will no longer be allowed. This will be useful for threads that degrade into a flamewar or become overridden by trolls.

As suggested by one of our users, like trusted users whose comments start a score of 2, users with negative trust will start at 0 and users with really low trust will start at -1.

The new moderation system is done and works well, but I haven't turned it on yet because it will corrupt the experience of v3. At some point in the near future, I will "port" these changes over to v3 and make it active here.

The "average score" indicator has been removed as well. It was never a good stat, since it was easily manipulated. I am currently exploring a better option to indicate the "quality" of a user. One possibility is exposing trust, which was previously hidden.


posted by Adam S on Tue 7th Aug 2007 13:04
Conversations It's taken some time to get around to cleaning up some of the scripts, but I'm working on making v4 code cleaner and valid. As of today, we have reached a new milestone: valid XHTML!

As always, this is a blog-style site, so validity may be temporary, I have to rely on authors to make sure they are entering valid code and if not, that my code properly cleans it. But in the meantime, as of today, the front page of v4 is valid.


posted by Adam S on Wed 1st Aug 2007 19:27
Conversations I have been hard at work on writing the new and improved moderation system. Since I pushed out loads of new functionality, I have also been cooking up some fun easter eggs, like for example:

I use Windows at work, Apple at home, and Linux on many servers.

Anyway, here is a glimpse at what I'm working on:


More details to follow soon.


posted by Adam S on Mon 30th Jul 2007 15:24
Conversations As of right now, I've removed the limits on scoring comments, meaning there is no longer a "+5" and "-5" limit to posts on OSNews. Posts can now be elevated or voted down pretty much infinitely.
Also, to coincide with this, I will be extending the number of elligible moderations SIGNIFICANTLY to offset the potential large number of upvotes or downvotes. This is all very experimental. I have major changes planned for the moderation system of OSNews, and this is just step 1.


posted by Adam S on Fri 11th May 2007 20:33
Conversations Bookmarks are comments you want to refer back to later.
Starred stories are stories you want to refer back to later.
Recommendations don't have a great place in the UI. The question is: do we need them at all? Do you think we should just yank recommendations from the site for v4?



posted by Adam S on Thu 12th Apr 2007 14:56
Conversations Conversations are now editable for 30 minutes after you post or until a comment is posted, whichever comes first.