August 12, 2000

NewsForge Appears

Author: JT Smith

- By Robin "roblimo" Miller

Well, here it is: the first true online "newspaper" covering Open Source.

There may be no such thing as unbiased reporting, but we'll come as close as we
can, except for our daily opinion columns, where you will see strong
opinions expressed, including some with which you may not agree.

NewsForge Reports and NewsVac Links
Our NewsForge
Reports
section, where we run original stories, and our
NewsVac Links
sections are as bias-free as we can make them. These two sections are the heart
of NewsForge. Read them daily (or more often) and you will know what's
happening in Open Source -- not just the coding part, but also what's going on
with Open Source companies and the politics, regulations, and
international dealings that affect Open Source development and use.

We can't really predict how many stories and links we'll run each day. No one
has ever tried to find every online Open Source news story, press
release and announcement, and consolidate them all in one place before. We
probably won't find every single one either, but we'll do our best. Our
NewsVac miners currently scan over 200 URLs 12 times per day, searching for
relevant stories, and the number of sites we look at will increase steadily
over the next few months. Some of the sites we check run mulitple stories
about Open Source every day. Some may only run one every few months. So far,
we've seen daily story counts ranging from nearly zero (on slow weekends) to
over 100, and we expect to hit an average of nearly 200 per day within three
months.

We also hope that you will submit any stories you see, anywhere,
that relate to Open Source in any way. Our editorial process is not like
Slashdot's, which carefully selects a few stories calculated to spur debate and
discussion. Ours is a "fire hose" approach; if a story or link is relevant and
it's in English, it runs. Period.

So send us your news,
your press releases, your meeting announcements yearning to be freed from
obscurity. You don't need to write witty little introductions. All we need is
a headline and a URL, and in it goes. Obviously, if more than one person submits
the same story, the first person to submit it will get credit. But these are our
only submission rules for items to which we will link. We want as much news as
we can get. We have no set daily story limit -- and *lots* of server space.

Writing for NewsForge
If you want to write an original story for us, that's another matter. In
that case, please email your story idea, along with your phone number, to
NewsForge managing editor Grant Gross,
and discuss story content and payment terms with him before you start typing.
Please bear in mind that NewsForge Reports are "just the facts" stories, not
opinion pieces; the only place we want opinions is in the columns, and we
currently have room for only one guest column per week.

Another way to get your opinions or ideas across on NewsForge is to post them on
our Discuss Today's
News
page. We've put it in a separate section on purpose, and decided to
let you come up with your own discussion topics instead of limiting each thread
to a specific story in order to encourage wide-ranging, thoughtful
conversations. We ask you not to post obscenities or blatantly offensive
material in NewsForge discussions. This is simply not the place for it, and
NewsForge editors have the right to remove any inappropriate posts -- and are
the sole judges of what is and is not appropriate.

We do not currently require a login to post, but we may in the future.

NewsForge Logins
No, you don't get a chance to win a free car if you sign up with NewsForge. On
the other hand, you won't get any spam, either. You will be able to customize
your front page, same as on Slashdot, but with different NewsBoxes -- and you
will be able to suggest new boxes that we'll add if we think other readers might
also like them.

Another front page option we'll have available shortly for logged-in member is
the ability to only see chosen subjects or topics on the front page. If
you are only interested in Unix, and want no news about Linux (or vice versa),
that's up to you. Other options? Hmmm... We have a few ideas of our own, but if
you have better ones (which is entirely possible) please send them to
Grant for consideration.

We will soon offer *opt in* customizable e-mailed daily headlines and weekly
news wrapups to members. And if you sign up now, you also get... well, you get
the cachet of having a low user number. Who can say? Someday this site may have
42,000,000 logged-in members, and you'll be able to bask in the knowledge that
you were there before 41,900,000 of them.

Diversions
Sometimes, in the middle of all the IPO madness and software patent lawsuits and
overwork that seems to pervade too much of our lives, we need a break. Open
Source is supposed to be fun! So we have a daily cartoon and a section
below it set aside for weird and silly stuff. If you spot something that makes
you laugh, please submit it so
that others (including NewsForge editors) can see it, too.

The Complaint Department

That would be, um, me. Naturally, after all the work
we have put into
NewsForge, we expect to get nothing but praise and hozannahs, but we realize
that there are always a few grumpy souls out there who are never satisfied.
And since this whole site is an experiment, we are going to make mistakes.
Mistakes in our editorial selections, factual mistakes (once in a long, long
while) in our NewsForge Reports, possibly even a typo or spelling error every
decade or two.

When we bloop, please tell us so that we can fix it.

And more important than pointing out our mistakes (assuming *ahem* we ever
make any), is suggesting new features you'd like to see on NewsForge, and new
directions we should take with the site as it grows. You can either email your
suggestions to me, Robin "roblimo"
Miller
, post them on the "Discuss Today's News" page or check us out on IRC
at irc.openprojects.net, #newsforge, where you'll usually find one or more of
the NewsForge staff, and possibly a few fellow NewsForge readers who share your
interest in Open Source technology and culture.

Thanks for reading,

- Robin

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