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Hey folks,

As discussed in “Passing the torch” we’re migrating Lobsters to new hosting. Here’s the current timeline, plans, and opportunities to help.

We’re planning for migration to take place next Sunday, October 15 in the early afternoon. If you’d like your email address or private messages removed before I could possibly see them in the database, please delete them by next Saturday.

Thanks for all the offers of financial support, but we’ve determined they’re not needed now. I’m covering the cost of the Lobsters domain ($77/y) and @alynpost, who runs prgmr.com, is donating a VPS that’s not even at his $20/m plan. Hosting a Rails CRUD side that’s almost all text is pretty undemanding.

The best ways to support Lobsters are:

  1. Submit good links
  2. Write good comments
  3. Invite good people
  4. Help with the code

Code help is last because it’s least important, but it has some details worth talking about. First, thanks to @355e3b for adding Travis CI support so we know the build stays green and @talklittle for a feature checking for dupe urls live on the story submission page. I’ve added filtering based on moderator (all/users/specific mod) and content (user/story/comment) to the moderation log page. Site features will go live with the migration.

I’ve triaged the open issues to filter out things not worth doing and I’ve tagged some good-first-pr because they require little knowledge of how the site and community work. (Reminder: please don’t post feature requests to the issue tracker. Post a meta discussion to talk about feature ideas.) If you want to help with the development, there’s an introduction here or drop by the chat to discuss.

Anyways. That’s a lot about code but, again, the best way to support the site is to help it continue to grow as a good community for learning and discussing tech. Let’s be excellent to each other.

Finally, the migration itself. Here’s my migration checklist as a gist. I’ll be keeping this updated as things get done, and I’m posting it now to open it to bikeshedding. @alynpost will be setting up an ansible repo in the lobsters github org to handle the provisioning and deployment based on the current config files that jcs has already sent us. The use of Linux and ansible are not up for debate, but if you have suggestions or see things forgotten from this checklist I’d appreciate advice.

Knock on wood, this should be a pretty boringly smooth process with under an hour of downtime.

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      I will be deleting all private messages before handing over the database, just for increased privacy in the event someone doesn’t see this before the hand-off. I’ll have a backup in case there is some critical info in a message that gets deleted, but I’d rather err on the side of caution.

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        Wait, so are all messages getting zorched or not?

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          I will back them up, delete them from the database, then give the dump to @pushcx. So the site on his hardware will have no private message records in it, but if someone urgently needs something from the backup, I can manually fetch it for them.

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        Great, then the only other thing for folks to do is change their email address if they don’t want me to see it - anything @mailinator.com should work fine.

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          I’ll probably change all deleted accounts to have an email at @lobste.rs before the dump as well.

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            Might I suggest @localhost instead? In case lobsters emails are valid someday.

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        Perhaps there could be a setting that you don’t want your messages deleted?

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      Watching this migration happen in real time has been terrific. It seems like it was mostly low drama (here and on IRC) and the “new mods” are focusing on what matters. Focusing on links/comments/people (I might have put “people” as #1) is absolutely where the community needs to be.

      Sincere thanks to both @jcs and all the people who stepped up. I am not looking for big changes, just continued existence. The cleanup of private messages and deleted emails goes above and beyond.

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      The best ways to support Lobsters are: 1) Submit good links; 2) Write good comments; 3) Invite good people; 4) Help with the code


      There’s been a bit of chatter in IRC and the discussions about various feature changes and enhancements. In other words, concentrating on point 4. I’m sure this is mainly due to the adminstration upheaval, but I hope it doesn’t go too far. There are some things about Lobste.rs that I wouldn’t mind changing, but I’m not in a hurry. I hope others don’t jump the gun. It’s the stories and discussion that make Lobste.rs so good. (That is, its best feature, if you’ll allow the sappiness.)

      And if the hosting costs do get to be a burden, my offer to help still stands.

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      As someone out of the loop to a degree, what impact, if any, will this have for a “regular” user? Aka:

      • Will I have to update my password?
      • Will I have to update my username?
      • Will my username carry over or do I need to get reinvited (bit unclear on this but asking stupid questions to be silly clear)?
      • Will I have to do anything with my email address used for this site?
      • What impact if any is there for users that have been banned? Are their bans via ip/email/etc…? (this one is more of a curiosity as to bans over the migration and if there is any persistence for any bans)

      Thanks for any clarifications in advance, I didn’t see anything relating to the above which I presume means “situation normal, nothing to see here” but want to be sure.

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        Nothing changes for you unless you fear I’m going to sell your email to spammers or try to crack your password hash. You don’t need to do anything.

        Bans are not being rescinded. They’re against an account and (to my knowledge) so far no one has attempted to get a new account to evade a ban.

        Happy to be really really explicit about this. I want the migration and administration change to be as seamless as possible.

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        Don’t forget 2FA credentials, for users who have them set up. (I haven’t got around to it yet, despite advocating for the feature, so I’m not even sure if they’re TOTP or U2F…)

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        These are great questions. You will not have to update your password, username, or email address. If you have an account now it will be migrated as-is. This also means banned users will remain banned users.

        While the website is moving to new hardware, the software and database will be wholly migrated, save the exceptions explained in this post–the most significant being the deletion of all private messages. As a reader, commentor, or link submitter you won’t notice any change–the migration is largely focused on ‘plumbing.’

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      If you want to export your messages before the migration, I added JSON interfaces for your inbox and sent messages:

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      I’ve added the lobsters-ansible repository to GitHub. Until the migration date, I may force-push to this repository (which will rewrite history). I’m happy to field questions and suggestions regarding this repository, though as @pushcx mentions I’m publishing it early largely to open it to bikeshedding–it will be easier to integrate patches after the migration date.

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        No bike-shedding but I’m interested about the choices and explanations. Is there a reason for not using existing roles from the Ansible Galaxy? I was seeing this as a good practice not to rewrite roles.

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          Excuse the delay is answering your question. I didn’t use Ansible Galaxy owing to not being familiar with it. I would be curious how a tool like that handles something like nginx, which has a lot of per-platform variability. I have had to do a lot of what feels like busy working reinventing wheels in ansible. At the same time, I would worry about a generic role being fit for purpose.

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      So, uh… I see that Passing the torch is tagged as “meta” and Migration Date and Plans is tagged as “announce” but otherwise, there’s nothing to distinguish these threads as anything particularly special. They aren’t, like, pinned to the home page, or listed at the top of the index, or highlighted as anything fancier than the rest of the stuff under their respective tag markers.

      I guess this means these threads are roughly as significant as any of their peers. Or, maybe I should just decide for myself, based on all the information I have available, and go with that, whether my hunch is right or wrong, and everyone else can just point and laugh, as usual.

      Anyway, figure they’ll get buried in a day, and we can all just move on with our lives.

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        P.S. Thanks for pinning this as the top thread! Figure it’s relevant enough, since user action is prescribed for users interested in preserving or destroying information before the hand-off.

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        Lobsters doesn’t have any thread/comment pinning features - this thread is at the top of the homepage solely due to upvoting of the story and its comments.

        FWIW, I originally tagged this thread meta and jcs retagged it with announce, as visible in the moderation log.

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          Actually, I cheated and made the hotness_mod of the announce tag really high so it will stay at the top of the front page for a considerable amount of time. It was already falling down to number 3 the other day.

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      I just want to say, good luck, we’re all counting on you.

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        It’s his ship now, his command; he’s in charge, he’s the boss, the head man, the top dog, the big cheese, the head honcho, number one…

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      who are the new hosts @pushcx, @talklittle and ?

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        If by ‘hosts’ you mean administrators/moderators, just me (Irene and kyle are continuing as moderators). If you mean server hosting, just @alynpost.