Current events/2007

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Seems I've forgotten at least one more person new to Shifti that deserves to be mentioned - Nikon Raccoon. She's long been a friend of mine and while she denies being an author, the stuff she has written is very good.

ShadowWolf 22:05, 14 December 2007 (EST)

November seemed to go by slowly, with the mass of the traffic being limited to people just reading. And there is NOTHING wrong with that — Shifti was setup so that people could find a good place to read transformation fiction, since the original Transformation Story Archive hasn't been updated in such a long time.

But I was stunned by how people had stopped contributing and thought that the protection that was added in response to the spammers had been the cause. I'm happy to report that I was wrong, since both readership and authorship has increased, with Sly – who once went by the name "Sly Squirrel" and created the wonderful squirrel-morph wrestling coach in TBP and has recently confessed to being of the lapine persuasion – joining us here on Shifti and a number of stories, Jon Buck and Michael Bard has been adding more stories, Mintz Buck is another newcomer who has added a story or two, Joysweeper has been steadily continuing her Revan Saga and while the Pig and Whistle collaboration has been on something of a hiatus while some of the authors finish up with prior commitments (Felix has his marvelous TBP epic "At the Ranch", Cubist has been pre-occupied with Anthro, etc...) but with the posting of the last part of "At the Ranch" to the TSA Talk mailing list, the micro-hiatus is hopefully at an end.

And most of all, The Eponymous Fish has been slowly adding a "Choose Your Own Path" type of story - actually, series of stories. If you're familiar with his work, you'll know just how much fun he's having, and how much you'll have reading it when he's finished with it.

ShadowWolf 21:48, 14 December 2007 (EST)

Well, we had a minor performance problem earlier today, and it wasn't the fault of the server. Nope, the good folks at Verizon, who maintain the phone lines and equipment in the area where the server is located decided to screw up the internet for a large number of people in the region. It was a pain in the ass, and we apologize for the problems, but this is what happens around here. The Telco screws over the ISP's by not doing maintenance while having backup-systems online. So thank you, Verizon, for being a massive pain in the ass.

ShadowWolf 16:02, 31 October 2007 (EDT)

For those of you who never know what to read, just look at the front page – with a little bit of research and a lot of coding skill we've added a box delivering random pages links on every reload. And, in the same vein, we've brought back the Random Page link in the navigation box, but fixed so that it will look pages in the main namespace and user subpages. As an added bonus we've heard your cries for help and have done the work needed to have the Category pages (like) display the pages by their sort key instead of the page-title text.

ShadowWolf 02:08, 22 October 2007 (EDT)

Well... Shifti is really booming. Still around two weeks left in the month and we are already just 100M of bandwidth shy of matching last months usage. And while following the bandwidth use isn't a good way to track if the site is doing well, the other numbers also match up pretty well. In other news Shifti has managed to blow past 300 stories and the recently created PaW universe is taking off. Category:Pig and Whistle is where you can find the stories but if you're looking to write in the setting (c'mon it's like... well... being a God of sorts!) look at Pig and Whistle for an overview of the universe.

ShadowWolf 22:58, 19 October 2007 (EDT)

The username anti-spoofing system has been temporarily disabled. Apparently the installation instructions that came with it forgot to mention some steps and it was causing problems with new account creation. If anyone has hit this problem, I'm sorry! I am, however, going to go look over the instructions so it can be re-enabled.

ShadowWolf 22:22, 13 October 2007 (EDT)

Problem fixed. Like and idiot I'd forgotten to run the one SQL script that comes with the system to install the anti-spoof database table. Silly me. Anti-Spoofing module has been re-enabled.

ShadowWolf 22:40, 13 October 2007 (EDT)

And we've seen yet another spammer. But once more they got caught - this time by the hard-working Jon Buck. However, we, the admins, have discussed this situation in the past and come up with several plans. The problem is that those plans will all add yet another step to the process of posting. What we've decided on is using a Captcha that must be passed to post. However, there may be a way to have that only needed for users that haven't signed in. We'll stay on top of things, but we do need to do something, because spammers will always take advantage of an open system like a Wiki.

ShadowWolf 16:39, 12 October 2007 (EDT)

The spammer came back from a new IP and has been banned yet again. Remember, we are never without an online admin watching Shifti. Anyway, I'm ready to start making some massive changes to the architecture so it will provide us with more information about people - spam is illegal and I will begin prosecution as soon as I finish making the in-depth logging changes.

ShadowWolf 18:55, 12 October 2007 (EDT)

To help prevent further episodes of Spam Shifti now has a Captcha system. It isn't as restrictive as I made it sound earlier - unless you're working in the main namespace (ie: no 'User:', 'Talk:', 'Shifti:', etc... in the URL) you'll only run into it if you are adding a new URL (Link) to a page. (Or if you flub your login) In other words, there should be very little impact.

ShadowWolf 20:46, 12 October 2007 (EDT)

Okay, last bit of news for tonight. Following in Wikipedia's footsteps I've installed an anti-spoofing extension to stop people from making usernames that look alike but use different unicode characters and a pair of blacklists, one for usernames and one for specific URL's. All total we have 4 provisions for stopping spammers, so we should once more have very few problems and, if I can figure out how to do it, there will be a "bot" patrolling to look for spammers in action.

ShadowWolf 21:15, 12 October 2007 (EDT)

A minor period of downtime happened tonight. It wasn't planned, but it was with a purpose. Shifti now has a "favicon"! The downtime was because Apache didn't want to acknowledge some of the localized configuration changes needed to make it work. Anyway, just had to let people know!

ShadowWolf 00:40, 3 October 2007 (EDT)

We've recently had our first fight with spammers. Basically the spammers lost - because I don't think Shifti is ever without an admin online. Anyway, Shifti is growing by leaps and bounds. We've been online for approximately three months and for a few weeks it looked like we would be an "also ran". Then the TSA page on Wikipedia was updated to mention Shifti and I modified a few pages on WikiFur and we started seeing traffic. Not long after than we were indexed by Google, but still the traffic was light - by the time Shifti had been online for 30 days we'd only hit about three thousand unique visitors. But then Jon Buck decided to move all of his stories to Shifti and replaced his site with a simple page pointing people here. Now, as we near the end of our second full month we've had our best month yet. While not a single one of the above events can be said to have caused this months explosion in traffic, the statistics speak for themselves. With the massive number of visitors (nearly 500) from Google set aside, Jon Buck's redirection is our single biggest source of traffic (short of direct access from bookmarks). Anyway, I guess the point of this little bit of talk is to let everyone know that Shifti is growing up. We've had more than 1300 unique visitors this month - more than we have for the last two months combined. And it holds true for the other stats - including bandwidth use. Before the end of the month Shifti will have used at least a half a gigabyte of bandwidth.

However, there is no need to worry about availability yet. Shifti isn't yet getting the amount of traffic that will cause problems with the server and it's network connection. The traffic is a lot when taken as a whole, but so far Shifti hasn't seen more than thirty megs of traffic in a single day. When Shifti gets to the point that it is pushing the internet connection to fifty percent of available bandwidth, then we'll worry. (However, long before we reach that point donations will start being requested so we can be sure that Shifti will be able to be moved without worries or emergency "donation drives")

ShadowWolf 22:41, 28 September 2007 (EDT)

Sorry about the down-time everyone. There was a blackout here - seems the local substation blew a main bus-bar in the distribution side. (I heard it go and originally thought it had blown a transformer!) Looks like the worried about "donation" system is going to have to be finalized and brought online sooner - a UPS is desperately needed to help make sure this doesn't happen again.

ShadowWolf 14:14, 23 September 2007 (EDT)

Shifti is growing exponentially. Already this month we've hit almost 200M of bandwidth use and over 500 unique visitors. If this keeps up there may be a problem with the connection serving the site won't be able to keep up. However, there is no need to worry - Shifti is not going to be moving, adding advertising or asking for money to join. Why? Because until it becomes clear that the growth trend is going to continue I see no need to do anything drastic. Even then there is an option that has worked for other sites - donations. So if Shifti keeps up the wild, rampant growth look forward to seeing the Donations page filled out so that a separate server and much higher bandwidth hosting can be paid for to keep the site running.

ShadowWolf 18:09, 11 September 2007 (EDT)

Ever looked at the "Blind Pig" universe and decide not to write a story in it because there was some facet that you didn't like? Well, myself, BD, Jon Buck, Cubist and Michael Bard decided to do something about the sometimes annoying holes in the TBP universe. (Most notably is the consistent violation of the Conservation of Mass/Energy and the broken 'neo-luddite' nature of the world that van Sciver didn't have in place but others have later written into the setting)

Anyway, we set to work on modernizing the setting—bringing the science up to date and fixing the holes. The result is the 'Pig and Whistle' universe—a version of the TBP universe stripped of the morass of the history that universe has and corrected to be more realistic. If the setting interests you, there is a 'quick and dirty' intro to the setting called 'Little Things'. And if, after reading that (in my own opinion) horrid hack of a story, you are still intrigued, then write away!

ShadowWolf 15:23, 29 August 2007 (EDT)

{{title}} has been updated—you can now specify a list of "coauthors" instead of (or in addition to) the 'author' parameter. Though using coauthors means that you'll need to add the links yourself, it also allows for doing things like acknowledging the illustrator and such. And there is a brand-new template you can use—{{byline}}. TheByline Template is meant to be used instead of the Title Template on pages in the main namespace. Enjoy!

ShadowWolf 04:33, 24 August 2007 (EDT)

Had a power failure that took the server oflfine momentarily while I was asleep. Unfortunately this meant that the rather unstable hack I had to implement to bring my setup inline with what the ISP expects had to be re-established. Of course, I have no idea when the problem happened or how long the server was offline, but from some circumstantial evidence it looks like it was around two hours. The only way that I could correct this would be to coloc the server, and I do not have the money to do that. If there are no complaints I'll be setting up a pay-pal account to accept donations to make the co-location possible and actually happen. Of course this means that Shifti will be entirely donation driven, but I'm sure that the community will help us keep it online. Any comments can be made on my talk page or on this pages talk page.

ShadowWolf 15:40, 17 August 2007 (EDT)

Lots of interesting stuff has been going on behind the scenes here at Shifti. With the recent explosion of stories (we've passed 100) the administrators have begun adding "Transformation Type" categories. While they aren't mandatory – the category could give away a twist in the story – it is going to be one of the main ways for people to find stories on the site. Another bit of news is that I (ShadowWolf) have added the "ShadowWolf's Pack" as an alternate to Bryan's Picks for finding high quality stories. It has three sections — a rated section, where I will rank the stories from 1 to 4 stars; an unrated section, where I have been putting stories that rate more than four stars and a small section where I'm highlighting the first one or two stories from authors new to Shifti who show great promise.

ShadowWolf 16:03, 14 August 2007 (EDT)

The template {{part}} has been deprecated and is planned to be removed as soon as the admins get around to removing it from use. The reason is that Bryan discovered a subtle feature of the MediaWiki parser that would generate links into sections of a template if the template used the header markup === text ===. Since {{part}} does this, it was creating a subtle breakage of the sections in articles.

ShadowWolf 04:22, 5 August 2007 (EDT)

Nothing to see here folks, move along...

In all seriousness we are trying to make Shifti a great place to find stories. To do this we have been developing the policies regarding categorization as we go along, such that, recently, a change was made to institute Category:Stories by author so that stories are sorted by author and changed the original Category:Author so that it is a place to find a list of authors that have contributed stories, so you can find a list of all stories by a given author.

ShadowWolf 14:35, 22 July 2007 (EDT)