K5 used to be a happy place. We used to be a lot of happy people. We got to write the articles, and we all got to decide what was posted. Sure, sometimes your vote would be overruled, but most people got their way most of the time. Then something threw a monkey wrench in the democratic process.
There were sections, now. In theory, the site could handle a lot more content, because we had someplace to put it, so the front page didn't get jammed and cycle through three times a day. But that wasn't happening. We were getting crowded, rushed. Stories were flying past like a crow outside the window of a 747 at 35,000 feet, and people were starting to get mean. Snappish.
Why is everyone so unhappy, I asked myself. Where's the mood of solidarity and common enterprise that once made this site great?
Must be all the newbies, was the common cry. Those degenerate freaks! Who can get a decent discussion in with those tools flinging anything that comes by up onto the front page, like feces at the monkey house! They don't know how it used to be. They can't be trusted to vote for our stories.
But something was nagging at me. We'd had newbies before. They get the hang of it. It just ain't that complicated. And anyway, there were heaps of stories being dropped. The ones getting posted were all at least good enough to be section-only posts. But none of them were. 95% of the stories were going up to the front page. What the hell was going on?
Then I got an email, from a guy named Bob. Bob Galloway, to be precise. Bob said:
Great googly moogly! He was right! No wonder there were so few section-only posts. Ye Gods, it's a wonder there were any at all!
It appears that the CVS version of AdminStories.pm has a bug in how it
determines front-page vs section-only story posting. (I say "appears"
because I have only read the code to see how voting is done, I haven't
actually set up a scoop site yet.)
Essentially, the bug is that the section_only field for all votes except
"post to section only" is set to "N", and then you do a straight cmp(Y,N)
to decide where a posted story goes. That makes the requirement for
section-only posts: (section-only votes) > (front-page) + (don't care)
+ (dump it), which I'm sure you didn't intend.
Now it all became clear to me. The bared teeth, the paranoia. Why, of course people were paranoid. They were all voting "section Only", only to have post after post show up on the front page. No one was happy because almost no one was getting their way. And who did we have to blame? No one but each other. "Well, I voted section-only. It must be all these other imbeciles putting this up on the front page."
But who's fault was it really? It was all mine.
For 20 minutes, I typed furiously. When the dust cleared, there was a bug fix in place. Now I just had to sit back and see if it finally worked. But could we repair the mistrust and antipathy that had grown in the meantime? Only time would tell.