Hosting of scsynth.org?

Apologies, as I’ve asked this elsewhere and received no reply. Who actually owns this website and the domain?

The terms of service describe a set of rights held by ‘scsynth.org’ but AFAICS nowhere does it state who can actually exercise those rights, how that privilege might be transferred to others, who is the ultimate legal owner of the site, etc. I’m actually a moderator here, and while I could maybe guess, I really don’t know the answers to those questions! The only reference I found is a statement that ‘The Website is owned and operated by scsynth.org (“scsynth.org”)’ which just links back to the site itself!

While there may be a reason for this, on the face of it this seems a bit opaque and untransparent, and not really in keeping with the spirit of openness we’ve tried to encourage. To be clear, I’m absolutely not suggesting anything nefarious, and suspect this may just be an oversight, but can anybody clear this up?

1 Like

Ironically I can’t point to the email message on the sc-users archive because it’s down, but contact information at least exists in the form of an email announcement from someone named Ishmael in an email to sc-users dated Thu Jul 19 02:48:55 2018.

I agree more visibility/governance would be good.

It’s not down, it’s just old software so the security warning comes up. See the ‘Future of the lists’ thread for info.

I don’t think most users would think to go and look on a separate mailing list for this info though.

And who is that? To misquote Moby Dick, Call me, Ishmael!

Here’s the start of the thread you mentioned, thanks: [sc-users] New SuperCollider forum

Farther down the thread its says:

Blockquote Yes. We are working on that too and we are making good progress. :slight_smile:
On Thu, Jul 26, 2018 at 12:42 PM cian.oconnor@xxxxxxxxx wrote:

I think a forum is an excellent idea. And this looks great. Looking forward to trying it.

My one concern is ownership. I’ve seen plenty of forums die over the years and it’s usually because they were owned/run by one person and that person disappeared. Would there be a way to make sure that there was some kind of community ownership/control of the domain and data? Or at least a way to make sure that the forum doesn’t have a single point of failure (maybe multiple people with the necessary rights?)

That sounds promising. Has there been any update on this? Can we document it here on the forum?

Oops, I notice there it’s Ismael. Apologies for the misspelling!

@izo I’m guessing this is probably you given your other posts about maintaining the site?

Yes I put up the site and I’m currently maintaining it. At the time the site was launched, I think the terms of service was actually provided by @scztt (one of the mods). I have no idea about that kinda stuff so if you want something to change I would have to get input from the other mods on this forum.

Overall I’ve been happy keeping the site maintained but it would be cool to get some donations going again for maintenance costs. It’s about $20 bucks a month but I’m still not financially stable so it’s a little ding in my wallet. Overall not a big deal. Also if anyone wants to take over the site and maintain it then I’m open to discussing the details.

Hey thanks! I’ve gotten a lot from this site. I’d be happy to throw a few bucks towards it…

1 Like

For what it’s worth, the entire forum is backed up regularly, and all admins can download the backups. We have in the past also stored them on AWS (with SuperCollider continuous integration builds), and I’d like to re-enable that functionality so we have multiple backups.

All of this means that multiple core community members have access to a full backup and could re-start the forum if it were to go offline tomorrow. This feels like our best and most stable option for keeping this content around long-term.

The admins list is here: https://scsynth.org/g/admins (not sure if this list is visible to all users? please let me know).

2 Likes

I suspect many many people would be willing to chip in. I wonder what the best format is for setting up regular donations for something like this? Patreon?

Yeah I’m still wondering what would be the best way. I’ll look into it more the next few days. Patreon could be it.

I can confirm the admins list should be visible to the public on the about page.

That seems to me a really sensible way to deal with it, and I wouldn’t suggest any change. It might be worth clarifying that somewhere, but as an approach it seems really good, IMO, and avoids some of the pitfalls we’ve seen in the past!

It is quite likely that I could arrange for it to be hosted at the University of Birmingham for free. (In fact switching to a forum was one of the suggestions regarding the future of the mailing lists and archive that the IT team offered, but I didn’t see the point of starting yet another one!)

Somebody would still need to pay for the domain I think, but I think that’s best if that lies wit the community in any case, as that seems to be the legal identity that all the rights rest with.

Of course when I eventually retire or leave we may have to move it if there wasn’t someone else to represent it at the uni, but given the way it’s set up that should be no problem.

I’m happy to enquire about this, or discuss it further. Personally I think this is exactly the sort of support universities should offer to communities so I’d be very happy if it would be of use and worked out.

What do people think?

It’s really up to you guys and the community if it should be hosted at the University. The mods have the backups and the domain can be transferred over as well. Main reason I put up this site was because I didn’t like using emails and I had lost my history on the mailing list when it got moved or something (I forget). Overall it’s just a better user experience.

1 Like

Okay. Well whatever happens, it’s been very generous of you to put up your own money and time to support this!

2 Likes

Hosting via the university is in theory fine - but we’re hosting on Digital Ocean now, which provides us some very convenient and advanced services for managing the forum. Our particular DO droplet configuration is a Discourse docker droplet that is maintained by the Discourse project itself, which makes everything very easy to maintain, with good guarantees of security, uptime, support etc. I would be hesitant to move to a different hosting solution unless we would be able to keep or improve upon this functionality.

If the university can deploy docker images, it might be possible that we could move our image directly over, but I don’t have the expertise to know what dependencies our docker image has on specific Digial Ocean capabilities, or how easy it would be to replace DO’s features for instance management.

Hey Scott! I’ve no doubt we can. Our former studio tech now works in research computing and is a Docker nut, and I think it’s fairly extensively used by him and others in various projects.

Primarily I’m aware that this is a financial burden of sorts, and thought we could maybe make that aspect easier. Again I think universities should help with resources like that.

If we can get agreement in principle first then I can take it to the IT team here and we can discuss. If it turns out that there’s a technical dealbreaker that’s fine, but I don’t want to ask them to spend too much time looking into it if it’s not something we really want.

Offer’s there, in any case.

2 Likes

Hey again, if there is interest in exploring this, it would be best to pursue it soon, if possible, or at least agree it in principle. If we do this in conjunction with winding up the lists, it would be quite easy to request hosting the forum as the replacement. In fact something like this was suggested to me.

So far there’s some support from @scztt, and @izo has deferred (which is generous given he’s covered most costs IIUC!) but silence from other admins. @jrsurge, @Julian @josh, @VIRTUALDOG, @capogreco any thoughts on this?

No worries either way.

I’m not too keen on patreon, the last time I looked they take a percentage of every donation, and lean on ‘creators’ heavily to maximise their income. I’ve had really good results with https://ko-fi.com, but (I think like patreon) it’s geared more towards individuals than groups.

There is liberapay which has worked well for covering server costs for me in the past. It’s a simple option, basically a front-end for paypal, you receive the money directly (although of course paypal takes its own fee). People sign up to donate x amount every week for x weeks, but in practice that whole donation comes through immediately, in one lump sum.

It’s very easy for free/open source projects to get set up with open collective:

I haven’t used it myself but it looks very interesting and could fit well. I think they also take a cut but it looks legit.

2 Likes