This post is specifically for users of the Hidden Answers website. if you don’t know what it is, this probably isn’t worth reading. still, curious people who want to help out with the website are welcome to contact me; any help is appreciated.
for those who aren’t on Hidden Answers: it’s a hidden service question-answer website using the Question 2 Answer software, and in similar format to Stack Exchange. it’s available on tor and on i2p and currently is multilingual for English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Russian speakers.
at the time of writing, new user registration is closed for a multitude of reasons. I have hopes of re-enabling registration soon, after we have fixed some long-lasting issues with the site.
as users have inevitably noticed by now, there are a few issues with the site, ranging from the community to the software. the past month, the MySQL database for Hidden Answers has experienced unexplained corruption, and last week the server’s disk space was completely consumed by MySQL binary logs, causing the site to be totally inaccessible. (seriously MySQL/Maria Db, why keep all logs infinitely by default? and why did nobody tell me about this before I went into web hosting?)
over the past year Pinochet, the website founder, has come in and out of the scene for being responsible for the site. the grunt of the website’s work has been handled by both me and the dedicated moderation team. but even we aren’t enough to keep the website running optimally. not only that, but mods come and go, and some of them understandably become tired of dealing with the site. and we have no idea what’s going on with the multilingual sites (Portuguese HA was overrun by scammers at some point, for example). communication between all the moderators is barely established, and this causes additional strain on relationships and on the state of the website.
Pinochet is now long gone and only the mods and I are left to run the site. I am officially taking over the site; this is effective at the time of writing this post. that means you should write down my PGP key and you should write down my contact information (it’s best to contact me over E-mail and XMPP, and please tell me who you are and why you wish to contact me, or I’ll likely ignore you. saying “hi” isn’t enough to get my attention because I deal with a lot of people and things daily).
I am going to make a few assertions. before, I have made these as suggestions, but they have clearly not been enough to cause any notable change in the site. from this point on:
I need moderators, editors, and anyone else with an official Hidden Answers role to post their E-mail and/or XMPP address on their profile, and I need them to have a copy-passable PGP key or fingerprint. no exceptions. we need to improve communication, especially since the PM system has been disabled (and more on that in the next point).
PMs are indefinitely disabled. they’re a venue of abuse. they’re encrypted. I have had to look into suspicious accounts per moderator request, and each suspicious account I looked into, I found shiploads of messages breaking the website’s rules. if you need to contact someone, do it off-site. do it on their public wall. PMs are useless for a question-answer site such as ours.
I will make my source code changes to Question 2 Answer available on my git. I am aware this will make the website easier to clone, but I believe this isn’t an issue, since people already try to set up scam sites targeting HA users anyway. the benefit of open software development outweighs the risks, in my view.
we need a defined process to choose official roles. we need more concise roles too:
super administrator: the website owner (me, now). I can add new admins and mods, change site settings, and be the “last say” of what goes on.
administrator: trusted people who represent Hidden Answers probably more than I do, lift a lot of the site’s weight, and can maintain relations with mods and users. I’m appointing v0h20 and Fox to this role because they have done a shitload for this site and I trust their judgment for adding new mods.
global moderator. their main roles will be to oversee editors and to block rule breaking users.
global editor. responsible for backtracking through the older questions (at least until they’re all cleaned up eventually) and categorizing, editing, closing, and selecting answers as necessary. does this for new questions and answers as well. category editors. responsible for cleaning up posts under their own category and can be seen as a category expert as well.
just a status for ex-mods and -admins that have stepped down from their roles voluntarily (or were inactive). technical contributor. I promised a role for anyone willing to help with the code. these people contribute to Q2A updates, debugging, and security penetration testing.
we need administration transparency. moderation decisions need to be made public so we’re all on the same page, and so users can criticism us if we do something wrong.
we need concrete rules and ways to deal with offences. so far, it’s just been play-by-ear.
additional focus needs to be placed on the other HA languages.
additional focus also needs to be placed on supplementary shit like a showcase of frequently-asked questions, to make it easier for newbies to search.
anything else needs to be discussed on HA, in front of everyone, making use of the poll system I installed recently. that way, we have a more democratic approach to the site.
I’m busy with IRE shit (school semester is wrapping up for instance, I have a lot of studying to do and projects to wrap up), so anything that’s broken will stay broken until I get around to it or until someone is able to help me with it. be reminded that since this is a hidden service website, I have trust issues and if you contact me anonymously, asking to help, I’ll probably assume you’re a malicious entity. so please tell me anything that can help me establish who you are. I’m not all that anonymous so I don’t think I’m being hypocritical for asking you for some additional information about yourself. if you disagree with my approach, don’t contact me.
any issues or questions or whatever you have about any of this, please contact me directly so I can respond to you sooner. I check E-mail and XMPP more often than I check Hidden Answers, and I prefer those methods of contact because they are much easier for me to keep track of shit. Pinochet/PayPal are out of the picture; don’t use those E-mail addresses because you won’t get a response.