May 15, 2004

You wanted two columns, you got them

Author: Robin 'Roblimo' Miller

Welcome to the new default NewsForge main page layout: Two columns; expands to fill your entire browser window; a comic strip and a poll at the bottom. But this is only the beginning. We have other changes planned. Updated 1650 UTCWe're working on a new/old layout that will be more like the original "newspaper look" NewsForge but will have NewsVacs and our own Reports side-by-side so you can see virtually all the world's latest Linux and Open Source (and Free Software and GNU/Linux and Software Libre and FOSS and FLOSS) news on one page. We're going to have more NewsVac links than ever, but we'll still hand-edit them to keep from having endless duplications. (Once you've read one story about the latest SCO silliness, you don't need to read 10 others with essentially the same information, right?)

At some point we'll bring back another much-missed NewsForge feature: Links to stories published elsewhere will be right on the main page so you can click through directly to them.

Update: OSDN graphics artist Wes Moran put in a little voluntary overtime today. The "single click" NewsVac change is now in effect. Thanks, Wes.

We will probably also bring back the "time and date stamps" on NewsVac links, but this is still under discussion. As always, there will be space for comments on both NewsVacs and Reports, and, again as always, we welcome your comments. We do, however, ask that you refrain from using obscenities or attacking other readers in your comments, and we will remove posts that violate these two simple rules. (Please email if you see an offending post; we catch most of them, but you may spot one we missed.)

Customizing NewsForge

There's no practical way we can customize comment displays for you or allow you to select only the topics you want to see without a User Account. Or to view NewsForge without images or make other changes to suit your personal taste, and -- Free bonus! -- have a credible identity when you post a comment. But if none of this attracts you, no problem. If you're satisfied with the NewsForge defaults and don't care if your comments carry as much weight as they should, there's no reason to create a login identity. (And yes, we agree that it would be nice to have a single login for most or all OSDN sites. Perhaps one day this will come, but it's not at the top of our programmers' priority lists right now.)

Submitting stories

We're going to gradually automate NewsVac, based on RSS feeds. As mentioned, we'll still have human editors in the cycle so we avoid excess duplications -- and avoid those embarrassing "Apache helicopter" instead of "Apache Web server" mistakes you see on purely automated news aggregation services. And unlike the automated services, we welcome reader submissions. In fact, we give priority to your story suggestions. You can submit them under your name or anonymously, as you choose, and you don't need to log in to make a submission.

We are also (always) looking for fresh voices to write for us. We don't pay for opinions or corporate-generated material, but we pay between $100 and $400 for most other kinds of articles. Please see our Writers' Guidelines before you submit your work. Note that we don't require previous professional writing experience -- we're happy to work with people who have technical expertise to share but need help getting their thoughts into publishable form -- but to get our top rates you must be able to write at a professional level.

Yes, we listen

The last time we asked for comments about NewsForge we didn't have time to respond to every post, but we read all of them and we are obviously incorporating many of your ideas into our redesign plans. So please keep letting us know what you think. When we say, "We value your input," it's a true statement, not a meaningless tag line. And besides talking to us, please tell your friends we're here, and alert them whenever you see an especially worthy story on NewsForge.

We're trying to prove to our bosses that it's better business to design sites around what you want than around consultant reports or industry surveys, and the more you help us show that this is true, the more we'll be able to do for you in return.

- Robin 'Roblimo' Miller
NewsForge Editor in Chief

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