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A personal view of a decade of The Standard 2.0

Written By: - Date published: 8:18 am, August 25th, 2017 - 43 comments
Categories: admin, The Standard - Tags:

With the distraction of the a looming election, one that is likely to ditch the dead hand of National’s cronyism on our economy and society, I missed that we’d managed to make this site survive and thrive for a decade.

I think that deserves some recognition for the vast effort made by the wide range of authors, moderators, commenters, and the trust that The Standard operates under.

We started work on the site in May 2007 as a trial to see what the toolkit was like, registered the domain name on August 3rd 2007 after there was a bit of agreement on what name to give it, and posted our first public post on August 15th 2007.  The site was stashed on an existing windows server and connected to a ADSL line. I’d gotten drafted in because the authors needed someone to get the system up and running.

It was a slow start. In August 2007 the authors managed to put up 37 posts, and there were a total of 29 comments – most posts didn’t get any comments at all. Fortunately I don’t have any readership figures for that period. I just remember that they were rather depressing. But those early authors were persistent.

But by early the following year, the dirty tricks trolls had discovered us. Led by Cameron Slater they descended upon us like a pack of two line idiots – usually braying the same few lines like a demented parrot trying to look intelligent.

Increasing loads forced us to move to a small cluster being run by a sympathetic leftie. It turned out that this was a donation to the NZLP, who having no expertise in how to run computers, had passed control to him for any progressives to use. So I shifted the site to a Linux virtual server down in Christchurch.

It was a pain because we kept growing. But on the other hand this did allowed me to overcome some of the author  reluctance to turn away commentary and to start imposing some moderation. Having the political parrots with no intelligence from Whaleoil and the Kiwiblog comment sections ‘expressing’ themselves made them realise that what I’d learnt from Usenet was accurate. Without control, the debate would descend to the lowest common denominator – which was somewhere a lot lower than the casual bigotry of a Leighton Smith radio wankfest that they’d previously envisaged was as low as it got.

The intent of the site was that people would write about how they felt about issues and their knowledge. Both authors who’d put their viewpoint, and the commenters who’d engage in a robust debate – usually starting by disagreeing with the author and everyone else.

Over the years we have 80 authors write something for the site. Some have written a lot. Anthony Robins has written more than 1800 of our 21,800 odd published posts. My total is a paltry 765. Some have written just a few posts. No-one has been paid for any posts.

I am eternally grateful for all of those authors and moderators who, despite the often strong disagreements, have managed to cooperate successfully with each other and keep generating the discussions. I appear to only write english well when I’m mad or irritated (this is quite unlike my behaviour when I write in a logical language like c++) , so I’m quite unsuitable to write a lot of content for this site.  But the calm research and writing that is so prevalent amongst my fellow authors alleviates the occasions when I do manage to get irritated enough to vent my spleen in English.

Nor, apart from a few obvious trolls, has anyone been paid for any of the 1.27 million comments left on site.

On average these days we get between 40,000 and 50,000 unique people visiting the site each month. Of these roughly about a quarter are on the site at least once during a week, a quarter are there at least once a month, and about a third are ‘googlers’ who drop in the site for a single page and then drop out. Plus of course there are a hard core of about 4000 who are here reading every day, and the several hundred who regularly comment. While the site may look like one dedicated to comments. The reality is that most of our readers are lurkers.

From a technical viewpoint, we only just kept in front of the technical and financial curve. We’d kept renting space in server farms worldwide. From Christchurch to Utah, to San Diego, to Colorado. Every few years the load on the servers would get too high and we’d have to add capacity, or a whole new machine and just have to move to somewhere that had the capacity at a price we could afford. But the costs in both purchasing and my time just kept rising.

By the middle of 2014 we were running on a cluster of dynamically generated virtual machines in a Amazon Web Services server farm in Sydney, which was only just keeping up with the rising load and was straining out financial resources with a monthly bill that was approaching $1000 per month. This was paid for by advertising on the site, which was failing to keep up with the load.

Maintaining the number of systems in the cluster was getting somewhat expensive, especially since I was just about to start my next paid project. It had a database system, a primary server running NFS (Network File System), and was dynamically creating  up to 10 web servers. Too much work, especially for something that I was doing as a voluntary contribution to the political debate.

So when I finally managed to get Chorus to install a fibre connection at my apartment (two years after it arrived in my street), I moved The Standard back into my living room on my old eight core workstation with a large amount of RAM and some SSD RAID drives. The costs plummeted to less than $250 per month. Being local rather than over in Sydney, I was able to debug the traffic load issues far more easily.

These days the site runs on my recently discarded eight core workstation with more RAM and faster drives. The bandwidth has increased from 50 megabits per second to 100 megabits per second, and the monthly cost has dropped to $134 per month – which includes my netflix viewing. The rather hot server heats my apartment in winter.

But I think that overall, this site is likely to be around for quite some time. This month I’m expecting well over 700 thousand page views from humans, with 90% from New Zealand (and the rest mostly from expat kiwis offshore). Next month is election month and I suspect we’ll get well over a million page views. I’m planning on more than 1.2 million. If the load goes up to  high, it will startup the backup web system running on my new 16 core workstation – and I may have to open a few windows to let out the heat of the conversation.

Even after National gets turfed because they can’t find coalition partners, then there is a new government to hold to account.

So congratulate those authors for not letting me write all of the posts, and the other moderators who don’t enjoy inflicting (educational) pain on the trolls. And then lets look at the next decade.

Sysop.

43 comments on “A personal view of a decade of The Standard 2.0 ”

  1. Dot 1

    Lets celebrate after the election.
    The election would be much more boring without the The Standard !

  2. Muttonbird 2

    Great read, thanks for the effort!

  3. Glenn 3

    Living in cow cockey country with National friends and National relatives I find The Standard brings balance and sanity back into my life.

    Keep up the good work. You’re doing great.

  4. Great effort everyone especially you Lynn.

    I’ve probably been here for 8 of those years – love the site. love how it has changed and evolved. Thank you to everyone.

  5. Ad 5

    I have a lot of fun here. More than any LEC meeting that’s for sure.

    You’ve done great things here LPrent.

    My competitive instincts still want to know how we are going against other sites.

    But that core of writers is a good sign. Feels like being part of something exciting and successful. And worthwhile.

    • lprent 5.1

      TDB: 420,280 page views over the last 30 days

      We will be behind Kiwiblog in page views. But Sitemeter has been retired, so I haven’t monitored them for a couple of months.

      Updated now using statcounter: Kiwiblog: 859,032 page views over the last 27 (?) days

      Who knows what is happening at Whaleoil as the site steadily drifts towards being a guns and god clickbait site for advertising.

      Currently for the last 30 days we have 659,488 page views and still rising.

      You can see this on the Dashboard using your login – might need to use Screen Options to drop Google Analytics widget into view. I’m trying to find a way to make that public, at least enough for Open Parachute, but ideally for the front pages as well..

  6. left_forward 6

    Thank you LPRENT – great to read the story behind The Standard. Congratulations to you and everyone involved. Although I do make occasional comments, I am more of a reader than a lurker (I hope). Despite my relative passivity as a writer, the site has great value to me.

  7. KJT 7

    Many thanks to Iprent for giving us the space to debate.

    And to the rest of you for making it all work.

    Now. Lets get the crooks out of power.

  8. ianmac 8

    It is probable that The Standard is contributing to the National demise. It is always my first point of call and offers reassurance to we who are not in the centre of things. So thanks. Great stuff.

  9. eco Maori/kiwi 9

    Yes Iprent great work I have been reading articles and post for about 18 months.
    I am hooked my writing post is improving my spelling and grammar as well as other things.
    This site educates me on what has being going on behind the closed doors that the systems have put up. It helps to keep the power full honest thank you for building a great website

  10. DoublePlusGood 10

    Total bloody legends, the lot of you!

  11. ropata 11

    It’s been fun and at times heated but the thing I appreciate is the community and the conversations. The articles are great but the comments threads are where the ideas are thrashed out, insults exchanged, and hopefully understanding gained of different points of view

  12. The Fairy Godmother 12

    A real lifesaver. This site was recommended to me in 2014 and I have been a daily visitor ever since. I comment sometimes but I always read including the comments. A great alternative to the Herald. Your work is very much appreciated by me.

  13. Molly 13

    The Standard is my go-to place for NZ politics, not just the posts – but the many commenters who often provide good links and information. And just as importantly, show the humour and goodwill necessary to conduct political conversation in this space. Like Glenn above, live in a blue region – which produces a different kind of “blue” conversation in our household.

    Just got off the phone after a regular call with a salesperson, who for some reason, led in with the ridiculousness of “Winnie privatising the electricity companies – prices will go up!”. This piece of nonsense was followed by such pearlers as: “NZ has the best welfare in the world”, “People living on the streets choose to be there”, “UBI is giving money for nothing, but I’m going on the Super in a few months…”.

    The conversation ended with a failed “Agree to disagree” offer from the salesperson, probably belatedly working out this is not a good way to promote sales. I turned it down, saying that “I don’t only disagree with her, I think her facts are incorrect” and I challenged her – “as another person privileged enough not to have to face sanctions and housing crisis – to find out more before the next phone call”. Don’t think it will make a difference, but it may stop the ignorant assumption that “all true NZers” think the same.

    Thanks sysop, and all the many authors, contributors and commenters for making this a good conversational space – and have provided such a wealth of information that can be used to combat such statements. I value this resource immensely.

    (On another note, accidentally clicked on an old post link a few days ago, and was delighted to see karol and QOT commenting. Was disappointed to see the date post was 2014, but it was good to read their comments once again).

    • Dspare 13.1

      Wow! Karol & Queen of Thorns, been a while since I’ve seen those commenters’ names (though I think QoT contributed under a different name for a while too). I haven’t been here all the time – obsessing for a few months (or years!), then drifting away, only to come back again (under a different keyname if the old one no longer fit). Even when I’m not commenting, I’ll still drop by sometimes for thought provoking posts and links.

      Congratulations to; The Standar trust and all the writers, and commenters, who have got it this far.

    • lprent 13.2

      I miss both of them. Along with a pile of other “personalities” who emerged and disappeared (some by choice – others via moderator or me) over the years.

      But people often pop back up Frequently reinventing themselves on the way. We don’t tell or comment unless they have an existing ban and get us to focus on them = so we double their original ban and restart it.

  14. Philj 14

    Thanks to all involved. The debate and information is invaluable. Long may it live.

  15. benby 15

    Thank you all so much.

    I first landed here for a few months in 2005 and a flatmate and I agreed that something like this site was overdue.

    Then in May 2007 I finally settled here and I must have been among the first readers. Can’t stand the MSM so this site largely *is* the media to me.

  16. mickysavage 16

    Thanks for all your work lprent. I know how much you put into this site.

    Maybe a book should be written about it one day …

    • lprent 16.1

      Well the interesting one depends if I ever get the frigging gag order lifted on the legal idiot’s identity.

      But most of what can be public already is. Most of the rest of it is covered by our privacy policy.

      Of course there are those historian munters who seem to confuse cause and effect. We express and outlet opinions. We don’t try to manage them.

      We simply aren’t like David Farrar, Matthew Hooten, Whaleoil, or Mike Hoskings, Paganis, etc who do seem to “tailor” their opinions to external criteria and try to not listen to the responses. Try that on here and the commenters would have fun twisting the knife…

  17. Corokia 17

    Thank you lprent for all your work setting up The Standard and keeping it going.
    I like how this site is so fast at getting posts up about current political issues and events. If I hear a snippet of info on a news bulletin I often come here to find out more and there is almost always something up about it. Things happen fast in politics and The Standard keeps pace with it all. Thanks to everyone who makes that happen.

  18. aj 18

    Bring back CV

    • ropata 18.1

      he’s not banned AFAIK. but his views were increasingly alt-everything and ended up causing annoyance/frustration on both sides… catch him on twitter

  19. Reality 19

    I have been a reader about three years and find it necessary reading to get a balanced view other than The Herald and Stuff. It’s always interesting and stimulating and only sometimes annoying! Thanks and appreciation to all.

  20. millsy 20

    August 2007. Feels like an age ago. Facebook was only used by American students, YouTube was mainly pixelated garbage, Twitter was just starting out, Bebo was still a thing, Android was non-existent, People still used Windows, Dubya was still the worst POTUS ever, while Trump was some rich guy who built casinos. Barack Obama was a 1st term senator, Helen Clark was still PM, with Howard in charge over in Aus. And we all told ouselves that we were in the greatest boom ever.

    The main left wing blog was Jordan Carter’s blog back then, with Slater just starting out. Kiwiblog and No Right Turn were there, so was Russell Brown, and Bradbury has taken control of Tumeke from Tim Selwyn. We had Sir Humphrey’s as well for the right.

    Been one hell of a 10 years. Happy 10 years The Standard.

  21. Adrian Thornton 21

    Well done Lynn and all other contributors. great site, a really excellent forum for unpacking NZ and international politics..had some great debates and learnt a lot from some of the great regular battlers along the way too, thanks.

  22. DRUM 22

    I’m one of those watchers LPRENT (don’t have a lot of knowledge/political nous etc to comment much) but I’m here every day because I appreciate the thinking and sharing that goes on. I’m learning a lot thanks to the varied opinions of the contributors.

  23. One Anonymous Bloke 23

    Live long and prosper. Many thanks.

  24. gsays 24

    Thanks heaps from me too.
    Lprent obviously, weka and Bill especially.
    My education and attitude is sharpened by reading here. Particularly feminist and climate change issues.
    What our future may look like is shaped by.here too.

    Thanks again all (including commenters) for all your mahi and aroha.

  25. I would also like to add additional thanks. Clearing out the undergrowth via moderation has allowed some great discusson and valuable comments. Thank you so much moderators.

    And a special thank you to weka for stepping up in so many ways and giving so much, which has empowered us all.

    I thank all moderators and authors for all your giving and compassion.

  26. Sans Cle 26

    Reading “Dirty Politics” in 2014 opened my eyes to the great media manipulation in NZ, and I came searching for other voices, and happily found “The Standard”. Thanks for all the effort LPrent and moderators. This is a 21st Taonga.
    On a side note, I couldn’t access the site last night, as it said security was compromised.

  27. The Standard is like a juicy, “letters to the editor” quick- fix for those of us who like to flip birds, pop bubbles and sprinkle borax onto the underpants-elastic of Tory trolls. Remember when you were young and lost a baby-tooth and just couldn’t stop exploring the gap with your tongue? The Standard!
    There are very astute thinkers here and it’s a pleasure to watch them perform. Big ups (do people still say that? I wish they would) to the moderators and magicians who keep the coloured balls in the air.
    I can’t stop visiting.

    • ropata 27.1

      Damn right it is a good place to get honest and informed commentary that you know doesn’t have MSM bias, because it’s all unpaid.

      TS tells the story of the hard working people who keep NZ running. Tradies, cops, teachers, nurses. Not the paragons of banking and big business who already own everything (including the “news”)

  28. Incognito 28

    My time is precious and life is short but I keep coming back here! So, thank you all.

  29. McFlock 29

    I think that, on average, this site keeps me informed and lowers my blood pressure. Thanks 🙂

    • garibaldi 29.1

      Thank you lprent and all the crew. This site is a must for anyone who leans left. I am continually frustrated by the right leaning msm (including RNZ, which is the only station I listen to) and this is a welcome blogsite to peruse daily as a counterbalance. Keep it up everyone!

  30. geoff 30

    I love that the hot air from our posts is being put to good use in heating a house.

    Thank you lprent for keeping the standard going all these years.

  31. patricia bremner 31

    Many of the family and friends thought John Key was great, so discovering the Standard was like finding a balm.

    Thank you Iprent for all you do. Many Happy Returns.

    I am not physically very able now, and the Standard has provided many interesting hours and exercised the grey matter day and night.

  32. peterlepaysan 32

    I am still puzzleed as to why you labelled me a troll.

    I am actually too busy to bother with such nonsense.

  33. Orthodoxia 33

    As a lurker of 4 years, your efforts are most appreciated.

  34. greywarshark 34

    There isn’t anything else quite like The Standard in NZ. The ability to note things of interest or personal angst in Open Mike is one of the jewels in its crown. The moderation that is flexible but still has appropriate limits stops the extent of the rants or complaints from being excessive or repetitively tiresome continuing in the same vein throughout a thread.

    And how great it is that people are discussing politics and questioning attitudes, and discussing and learning, and perhaps questioning and reshaping their own attitudes as a result. There are regular commenters who I feel I know, though I know only the parts of their minds and thinking that they display here, but I am grateful that I have their thoughts to refer to and analyse and can agree or disagree.

    I can hardly bear to watch tv news, all that colour, and dress and hair style, and fast delivery and carefully choreographed moves between talking heads. I like to come to The Standard for the latest, and if something should be here which I think is important, there is the opportunity for me to put it in Open Mike.

    The authors are great, lprent is also, weka is staunch, and I just hope that some who have been away for a while like Olwyn will come back say once a week. The talk must be intense in this century, to make up for our naivety and complacency in the past century. In my experience we treated politics as a hobby, and left it to those who felt the need to bother, it was ‘she’ll be right’. That is, until it wasn’t, but we hadn’t been brought up to have regular meetings and discussions and make plans that would involve whole communities of people with a clear goal for years ahead. Now the horse is bolting and we need to get hold of the reins before we are all dragged off into the sunset or whatever weather or circumstance is presenting the latest disaster and problem.

    A lot of us apparently, are older and getting bolder, and I am sure we welcome and invite all those younger people who are recognising the same concerns that arise from our lack of thought and discussion since WW2, which we know now was not the war to end all wars. And now we have climate change, IT diassociation and antisocial tendencies, AI, and an acronym culture, abbreviated language even a nascent pictogram culture. Writing thoughts that extend to a longish paragraph is good practice in thinking. Young people this is your life, your place, use it. If you get criticised sometimes, no worry, have a look at it, and learn what you need, and you in turn can criticise when you think appropriate. The internet gives and takes away, if you use it to join in The Standard you will be reaping more than you sow.

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