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So we're making some changes to Fark's site layout
Posted by Drew at 2016-03-24 12:21:06 PM (517 comments) | Permalink
So we're making some changes to Fark's site layout. We're going to launch it just for TotalFark first. The changes will go live here in just a few minutes.
The changes aren't super huge but I expect there'll be some head scratching so let me explain where we're going with this...
Certain design elements used on websites drift over time. This has a lot to do with how default settings change as a codebase evolves along with changes in screen resolution size. Every so often we have to retroactively change the layout to account for these changes.
In particular, lately there's been a shift in design standards from using plaintext words to explain functionality to instead using standard symbols. To that end, we're replacing text with symbols whenever possible to reduce overall wordiness in Fark's layout.
- We're replacing comments numbers on the main page, currently displayed as (111), with a talk bubble with a red circle updating the number of new comments since the thread was last visited.
- The other change is we're locking the display area for text on Fark to just a little over 850 characters. If the screen expands beyond that width, rather than stretching the text out as far as the window goes we're locking the size of the comment area. This is done on (nearly) all other desktop-rendering websites.
Where this change came from: really long lines of text on Fark were bugging me for some reason. Then I noticed no one else's content areas stretch infinitely either. Turns out there are a couple reasons for this:
- when Fark started the average monitor resolution was 800x600. At that resolution it doesn't really matter if text scrolled all the way across the screen or not. Today Fark's -average- monitor resolution is 1300+ and many more readers have higher resolutions
- turns out there's an area of design based on typesetting techniques going back to before the 20th century even. Most people prefer a line length of 65-80 characters. Some people prefer longer, but once text line length goes over 100 characters it turns out the average person's ability to absorb meaning from lines of text drops as the line gets longer. I'd never heard of this either til I stumbled across it. Some people aren't affected at all by this - but in general long lines of text are just hard to read and comprehend.
Like everything, try this new change out for a week and see how it goes. We can always back it out and/or change things later.
Anyhow we're turning it on for you guys first. Suggestions/tweaks always welcome
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So I'm running for Governor of Kentucky in 2015 DIT - Drew
Posted by Drew at 2015-01-26 10:30:25 AM (575 comments) | Permalink
Hey everyone. I'm running for Governor of Kentucky in 2015.
Here's the tl;dr version:
I am not a politician
I'm going to win by not playing the game
Why I'm doing this
A friend of mine inspired me to take the shot. After having deeply negative interactions with a local elected official, and finding out she wasn't alone in that experience, she decided that the only solution was to run for office. She had no political aspirations, no prior experience, and no idea how to even pull it off. But someone had to step up and do something about it, and she did. And this past November, she won the election.
It was incredibly inspiring. Rather than just accept that ineffective government is a way of life, she actually did something about it.
I never wanted to run for office. Like most of us I have a pretty strong dislike for the political process. Just getting elected is an insanely complicated and difficult. Why would anyone want to put themselves through that?
I don't remember who it was or when it happened, but about a year ago I was complaining about the lack of good candidates one night when a friend challenged me. People who are capable of running for office and winning have no right to complain about the system when they have the ability to change it. If I sit back and do nothing, I'm at least partially complicit.
Like many of us I'm deeply disturbed by what's happening in politics today. Thanks to the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, the amount of influence money in politics has increased exponentially. It's a windfall for the two political parties, but the effect on government has been catastrophic. Politicians won't make any decisions based in research and logic. If elected officials make decisions that go against their campaign donors they risk being blacklisted by their own party - and their entire political future.
Take the issue of Right to Work. A democrat could never pass it, and a republican could never veto it. Neither would ever look into the data to try to figure out if this law was even a good idea. Worse, neither would ever look into the unintended consequences of their actions.
Money is the only criteria for legislation these days. In the last Federal Spending Bill, not only did someone insert a regulation-defeating amendment written by Citibank, but they also increased the amount of money one individual can donate to a political party in a given year to $324,000 - a 10x increase.
The only way to fix this is from within. So I'm taking my shot. I'm running for Governor because if I get elected, the vicious cycle of influence money in politics grinds to a halt. Corporations are remarkably predictable - they won't spend money on politics unless it has a chance of creating a beneficial return. Why would any corporation spend money on legislation in a state where they can't buy the Governor? The game would be completely disrupted.
So that's what this is about - trying something new. And proving that normal people can run for elected office and win. If one million people can call the FCC and back Net Neutrality, surely I have a chance. The best part is, win or lose, I'm going to help produce the blueprint to allow other people to run for office and win without party support.
I'm not starting a movement, I'm catching a wave. In 2014 a number of people in a number of states tried something similar. There weren't many successes, but there were a lot of close races - enough to make me think this is part of a greater pattern. Good people who have never contemplated politics are jumping into races. And I'm hoping we'll see a lot more people take an Independent shot in 2016.
The Kentucky Governor election is this year, 2015. It gives me a full year to try out all new strategies.
Here's the first new strategy: I'm going to win by not playing their game.
I am not a politician.
One thing that people have been asking is where I stand on "the issues". I'm still working up a response to that, mainly because I think it's the wrong question. Political parties use "the issues" as weapons of mass distraction. If any of the really difficult political questions were solvable we'd have done it already. Besides, I'll be an unaligned Governor with no ability to submit legislation. And Kentucky's Legislature is currently split, which I think is a great thing.
I really want people to think in terms of solutions. For example, someone asked me where I stood on the issue of equal pay for women. Who would be against that? However the problem there is what's the mechanism? What law could we pass that would solve that problem? I would much rather people provide me with solutions - preferably ones that have worked in other states.
I don't have "beliefs" on issues of economics. I'm more or less agnostic on social issues. And I'm far more excited about retooling the executive branch to better interface with customers than anything else. The boring stuff is the most important stuff. It doesn't grab headlines but it's the part of being Governor I really want to sink my teeth into.
The only fringe idea I have is that Government could work better.
So what does this mean for Fark?
Hopefully nothing. I've actually had a similar distraction before - over 19 months across much of 2011 and 2012 I got an MBA from Columbia and Haas/Berkeley. I wouldn't go so far as to say that Fark thrived - because my attention was down 50%, - but it managed fine, and this campaign is half the duration of the MBA.
Fark has a lot of moving parts and as CEO of this small company I play a lot of roles. I'm confident I can keep doing what I need to do to keep these parts moving. The most important thing is Fark's quality, so if you're worried that that could suffer, don't. I'll continue to curate the content, because staying informed on current events is who I am - and an asset I will use during this political run.
Basically, my interaction with Fark will continue to be what it always has been.
In closing, I've received a lot of support from a lot of you already and I really appreciate that. Thank you for everything.
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Hey TFers: wanted to run something by you that we're gonna be testing next week - Drew
Posted by Drew at 2013-08-08 4:28:37 PM (256 comments) | Permalink
So we're doing a test with a media partner, you guys are gonna notice so I wanted to let you in on what we're doing and why. This'll be long as hell. I don't mind if you guys share this outside of TF just figure it's easier talking to TFers since you're a much smaller group.
We're testing a revenue model where we change a Fark link (not the tagline - and the submitter retains credit) to re-point to a similar if not identical article on a different media property. Someone submits a good headline and interesting story that's on a particular website, we greenlight it like we always do, then we later edit the link to essentially the same story on a partner media site.
First some background info: Fark's current revenue model is primarily ad supported, but this has been less than awesome. It'd take me some time to explain all the ins and outs, and I'm happy to over a beer just catch me out at a Fark party or email me, but basically the ad industry is insane. Trying to apply rules of logic to why and how the ad industry thinks ads work at any given moment is impossible. It's an entire business sector made up of people whose job is apparently to cover their asses by doing only what they heard at conferences because they can't get fired for it.
Additionally, starting back when we got hit by the patent troll in 2011 and continuing later due to changes in online ad delivery, the past three years have been really rough from a revenue standpoint. This also takes awhile to explain but the business side is on my shoulders and the good news is I'm making progress. However I don't want to repeat the last three years of the business cycle ever again.
So this got me thinking - how the hell can we get rid of our heavy dependence on ads?
Readers come to Fark for the headlines and the community. It matters much less where we actually send the traffic - I certainly don't care where it goes and most (if not all) Farkers don't care either. It's also the case that the vast majority of news articles happen to exist on most other mainstream news websites. Either as exact copies - like wire service articles (AP/Reuters/etc) - or mostly similar article content (written by different individuals from the same source material, ie press conferences, press releases, public statements, and so on).
So I started thinking about how we might be able to monetize Fark's outbound traffic without impacting link selection quality. The answer is actually pretty simple: separate the two processes entirely. Keep selecting links the way we currently do, but then run a second pass after links are greenlit and retarget some of them to identical content on other media partner websites.
Most people aren't aware but we already do (halfassedly I'll admit) swap links out on taglines when it makes sense to do so. Occasionally we'll notice that the target article is actually just poorly scraped content from another site, in which case we try re-target the link to the original source. Sometimes there's a better article on the same subject with additional material. We do it pretty often, but so far it's been just for aesthetic reasons.
One common misconception that people have about Fark is that we sell traffic to media websites via unlabeled links. We don't. The reason why not is we don't want the lure of money impacting the link selection process. There's a very practical reason for this - above all else the links have to be good. If we kill the quality of our context, then we've destroyed our only product (which is context, or "why you should care", but that's another conversation for another time).
This new strategy we're testing doesn't remove all of the issues surrounding paid traffic, but I'm cautiously optimistic that it removes most of them. The amount of money they'll pay is flat rate per month, and the target traffic level won't be hard for us to hit. It's structured this way on purpose - the reason to do it flat rate instead of pay per click is it motivates us to do best-efforts in link redirection, but does NOT motivate us to greenlight more articles to the media partner's site than we might otherwise. We're gonna hit the target, we don't need to send them more. If we happen to do it anyhow, well good for them but there's no contingent upside for us.
So here's some examples of what we're NOT trying to do:
- We're not trying to change anything about how Fark works currently - behind the scenes or otherwise. We're looking to add a component that becomes an additional source of revenue that otherwise doesn't affect site quality at all
- We're not trying to sell ALL outbound traffic. That's just ridiculous. Plus it would be impossible, a good portion of what we link out to actually isn't found anywhere else. And that's awesome, we prefer it that way. The core of the concept here is that we're trying to build a revenue stream off of the fact that some news content is ubiquitous.
- We're not trying to give media sites control over what we link to. As I mentioned earlier that would harm the quality of the links we select. They don't get to tell us what to link to, but those who subscribe to what I'm calling a Preferred Pool of media partners do get to let us know when they've got the same articles on their sites that we can relink to those if we want
- We're not trying to give media sites influence over article bias. For example if a media site wanted us to relink to a politics article on their site that had the same information but a completely different bias than the original, that would fail our swapping criteria because the articles would not be substantially similar. However if a liberal or conservative news outlet wanted to relink a non-political article to an exact copy of a wire service article (where the bias would be the same), that would be fine.
So we're going to do a one week test with a large media partner, probably starting next week but we'll see. If it goes well, you won't notice anything. If however you do notice something and you don't like it - please notify me immediately! Especially if you have a better suggestion of how to fix it, but even if not I'd love to hear it. For that matter, if anyone has any thoughts on this now before we start the test I'd love to hear them. I'm sure I haven't figured out every angle but that's how new business ideas work - you try, you refine, you improve, etc etc.
I'll be in and out to answer any questions you have as well - got a kid party to go to in the evening but otherwise I'll be around
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Fark on the Water - update for JoCo Cruise Crazy: Feb 23 - Mar 1, 2014
Posted by Drew at 2013-06-27 12:21:23 PM (20 comments) | Permalink
Hey everyone -
To recap - Paul and Storm approached me about possibly doing a Fark cruise, like a Fark Party but on a boat. They've had some success running a cruise for Jonathan Coulton and wanted to see if we'd be up for something similar. Personally, it looks like a ton of work to me, I'd rather spend a week relaxing and having fun.
I went on JoCoCruise Crazy 3 last February and it was an absolute blast. I'm not one for cruises and I didn't expect to have as awesome of a time as I ended up having. Seriously it was awesome, my first vacation in years.
It was so much fun that I figured maybe we could get a bunch of Farkers to go on it too and have a Fark meetup within Joco's Cruise. That would certainly prevent duplication of effort, plus Joco's Cruise is already damn amazing. It'd be just as good as doing one ourselves.
So a few weeks have gone by, hopefully some folks have had time to consider going. It's still early in the registration process but if you're like me, planning to be gone for a whole week tends to require some advance planning. We had several people pull the trigger and sign up already, so it's on!
To book the event, you'll need to do it through JoCo Cruise Crazy where you can learn all the various other details. IMPORTANT: be sure to enter "FARKATSEA" where it asks if you have any booking codes to enter.
Overall signups have been great - over 700 people went last year and they've already passed that number of signups for this year. There's a hard limit somewhere around 1000 attendees due to the size of the individual venues on the boat, so if you're at all inclined sign on up! I'd love to see you there next year.
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Fark Cruise? How about we just go on JoCo Cruise Crazy - 2014 Feb 22-Mar 1
Posted by Drew at 2013-04-30 3:13:48 PM, edited 2013-05-05 5:28:46 PM (70 comments) | Permalink
This past February I went on Jonathan Coulton's annual JoCo Cruise Crazy organized by fellow Farkers Paul and Storm (both of whom performed at the first two Las Vegas World Fark cons). I'm not a big fan of cruises in general, however turns out when 800 like-minded people attend it gets a hell of a lot more fun real quick. I had an absolute blast - I'm pretty much going to this event every year as long as they'll still have me.
Paul and Storm suggested to me that perhaps we should do an annual Fark cruise. That sounds great, except I watched them running Coulton's cruise and it looks like a ton of work. I'm not a huge fan of work, I'm a huge fan of lazy drinking. However, I suggested that maybe instead of running our own Fark cruise maybe we could just crash Coulton's thing instead.
Coulton thought it was a great idea.
Paul and Storm, having both performed at Fark events and JoCo Cruise Crazy, extended the invitation to Farkers despite normally displaying really good judgment about these kinds of things. It's possible they were drunk when the offer was made, but like all drunken offers, the only way for people to learn their lesson is to witness the results of those situations (trust me - voice of experience here).
The event will be a six-night Royal Caribbean cruise to Georgetown, Grand Cayman; Falmouth, Jamaica, and RCI's private resort at Labadee, Haiti.
Daily entertainment will be had as well. Entertainers are still being sorted, but in addition to Jonathan Coulton and Paul and Storm, past performers have included Wil Wheaton, John Hodgman, Zoe Keating, Paul F. Tompkins, David Rees, John Roderick of The Long Winters, Vi Hart, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy of Rifftrax, John Flansburgh of They Might Be Giants, Chris Collingwood of Fountains of Wayne, Peter Sagal, Mike Phirman, MC Frontalot, The Doubleclicks, Randall Munroe, Marian Call, Molly Lewis, John Scalzi and Joseph Scrimshaw. Incidentally, nearly all of these folks are regular Fark readers.
Besides the performers, there will be a 4,000 square foot, 24/7 game room, two open bar happy hours and other exclusive activities. They're also planning on adding a few Fark-specific activities, including some Fark shipboard meetups throughout the week and a Caribbean pub crawl during at least one of the stops (and can probably accommodate more ideas from us as we go).
If this sounds interesting, well sign on up! I'll be there for sure - plus if you can find me I'll personally buy you a beer. To book the event, you'll need to do it through http://jococruisecrazy.com where you can learn all the various other details. IMPORTANT: be sure to enter "FARKATSEA" where it asks if you have any booking codes to enter. That'll ensure that we know how many of us reprobates are coming, so that they can set aside the appropriate amount of space for us, secure enough extra booze, warn the casino staff, etc.
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Notes from the TED conference, Kentuckynadoes and Las Vegas - Treasure Island Signup Deadline is Tomorrow
Posted by Drew at 2012-03-05 3:36:39 PM (35 comments) | Permalink
To those of you who emailed me when the tornadoes were ripping through Kentucky, I wanted to say thanks. We got lucky where I lived, the worst of it missed us.
I wasn't actually there because I was out at TED again this year, enjoying the talks and giving one of my own on what bastards patent trolls are. I also got to hear several great talks, including Bryan Stevenson on confronting injustice and Vijay Kumar's cooperative hoverdrone fleet. It's not called Skynet yet but I think we're just about there. DARPA had a freaky talk on a troop delivery system that moves at Mach 20 (not a typo) and robot hummingbirds but it's not been posted online yet.
Last week we bumped the thread for the Las Vegas Fark Party 2012 to the main page as a reminder, since tomorrow is the last day to get a room at Treasure Island on Fark's event room block. Some people have saved a couple bucks by staying elsewhere, but when you add in mandatory resort fees that aren't typically mentioned in the pricing and the cost of taxis to get to/from Treasure Island, it might end up being a wash. If the only thing holding you back is the cost of TI versus off-strip hotels, though, by all means stay where you can and come hang out with us.
The main event is still Friday night, and will include a bunch of great guests: Tucker Max on Why Duke Sucks, Burnie Burns of Red vs. Blue, Mustard Man himself, Mike Phirman of Hard & Phirm, my good friend Alexis Ohanian who founded Reddit, and Paul and Storm. The cost of the event includes a pretty damn nice meal, as well (see the link above). We're also doing a pub crawl the night before and several events on Saturday, including (at a minimum) a Fark Poker Tournament in the TI poker room, side trips to the Pinball Museum and the Gun Store, a pub trivia challenge in the evening, as well as similar small side events.
Alrighty, that's it for now. I have to go shovel 5 inches of snow off my driveway, apparently tornadoes weren't enough severe weather for one week. I'm expecting frogs next. Take care everyone!
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WORLD FARK PARTY II: Mar 30 - Apr 1 in Las Vegas - see comments for details
Posted by Drew at 2012-02-09 9:25:04 AM (355 comments) | Permalink
Hey everybody, wanted to remind you all that after the success of last year's event, Fark is doing another World Fark Party in Vegas again this year at Treasure Island. Last year was a blast and we couldn't wait to do it again.
We have a block of 50 rooms at Treasure Island this year, rate is $139 per night (note: the normal "$20 resort fee" they normally tack on to that is optional for our group). To join us there, make your reservation: 888-503-8999 between the hours of 8:00AM to 7:00PM Pacific Time. Group code is FARK12. Hotel registration deadline is March 6th to guarantee that rate. You can also click this link to make reservations directly: Treasure Island Reservations - Fark
TI is giving us the Saturday meeting space free, but in order for them to do this we need to get at least 50 rooms booked over there by Mar 6th (and there's a food/drink minimum but since most Farkers are semi-functional alcoholics we're not too worried about hitting it). The rate is $139/night, which I know is not the cheapest available on the strip (or possibly even at TI depending on your hotel-fu), however do take into account that from extreme ends of the strip (Stratosphere/Hilton and Luxor/mandalay) it'll be about a $10-$15 cab ride one way to reach TI.
The main event will be Friday night this year. The cost this year is $75 in advance or $100 at the door. The link for registration is here: Vegas Fark Party 2012. Space is limited, and the link will close as soon as we hit the maximum.
We're also compiling a list of other pop-up events, including another Poker Tournament again, so if you have anything you like to do and would like to invite people to come join you, let Melissa (punkrockgirl) and Tony (Unfreakable) know that as well, along with when, where, any costs, and people limit. For example, if someone wants to organize a jaunt over to the Gun Store, the Atomic Testing Museum, the Pinball Hall of Fame or something similar, that could be fun. I'll be getting in on Thursday, so that's when the drinking starts.
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New feature - Favoriting comments
Posted by Drew at 2011-12-26 4:33:48 PM, edited 2011-12-26 5:00:46 PM (553 comments) | Permalink
A few changes today, and we like to mention them before we launch them so that you know what it is you're looking at and a background of why we made them.
Over the last couple years, we've had tons of requests for different things, but one that came through a lot: a way to favorite comments in threads. There were two reasons people wanted to favorite a comment: because it was really intelligent and they wanted to save that, or because it was hilarious. Occasionally, it was both.
So we worked out a way now that you can mark comments in threads and vote for them. Now you should see two shiny new voting buttons on every comment in every thread. One says "Funny" and the other says "Smart" since those are the two most frequent reasons you'd want to vote for a particular comment. It also makes sharing easier, since occasionally you may want to send out something that makes you laugh or think about something in a new way. In the next week or so we're going to troubleshoot how to make sharing of those comments easier, too.
This also changes the voting for Photoshop and Farktography threads to address another old request, that there be a separate way to vote for not only the best one, but also the funniest. Some submissions that are funny aren't always as good (technically), so there's an added way to vote for one that's funny without taking a vote away from the best submissions in those contests.
One last thing that most of you might not have noticed yet: last Friday we made a slight change to repeats. We hate repeats as much as you do, but some always manage to get through. Now, if we pull a repeat, it's still viewable to you if someone has shared it, but it's not visible in the live greenlit threads anymore. I know this was a frustration to some of you that might have missed the original and wanted to see a link and it was already pulled before you got there. That won't happen anymore.
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Happy Halloween from Drew - and some scary new features
Posted by Drew at 2011-10-31 2:00:53 PM, edited 2011-10-31 2:43:04 PM (516 comments) | Permalink
It being Halloween and all, the Fark team and I have decided there's no better day to scare the bejesus out of you - by dropping a bunch of new features on you all at once. So here goes:
Good news everyone! We've completely redesigned the site! It occurred to us that maybe MySpace and Geocities had the right idea after all, so we're launching freeform page construction and auto-run music, so get ready to go back to the future, people! I'm taking the rest of the week off! Enjoy!
No not really. Here's the new stuff:
1) Favoriting/ignoring directly from the comment header - Basically just what it sounds like. A simple star next to the user's name for favoriting, and an ignore icon over on the right (we put it way over there so that you wouldn't accidentally the wrong one).
On ignoring, it's also worth pointing out the "Show header (but not body) of ignored comments, instead of completely removing them" option in the "Preferences" tab of your user profile. That isn't new, but not a lot of people know about; it gives you a better idea of what your ignore list is doing--especially when you have it ignoring comments by unignored users that mention ignored users--and also enables un-ignoring from the comment header.
2) "Last read" redline indicator on headline pages - Many of you already have the red bar separator enabled for comment threads, to know what new comments came in after the last time you checked the thread, but now we're making that an option for the main Fark pages where the headlines are; a handy line to let you know where you were last time you came to Fark so you know when to stop reading. Kind of like how the sky is blue so we know when to stop mowing the lawn (hat tip: Night Court). Note: this isn't a default, to check it out, just go to the "Preferences" tab of your user profile and turn on "Mark first new link w/separator line" to make this work.
3) Gifting TF subscriptions - Anyone who subscribes (or is already subscribed) to TF gets two one-month TF gift passes to hand out to anyone they like. If the person you gifted with TF then later signs up for six months or a year of TF, you get the gift sub back to hand out to whoever you like all over again.
tl;dr regarding Gift subscriptions...why this?
We've had "get more TF signups" on the Fark to-do list for quite awhile now. The problem has been figuring out the best way to do it, because regardless of the method, the real danger was what if it worked? What if we actually did find a super-compelling reason for folks to sign up TF? Mass hordes of new subscribers would disrupt all the cool whatever it is going on behind the curtain, TF would be ruined, my inbox would fill up with dramatically-penned missives pining for the good old days, and people would unsubscribe for at least two weeks or so I figure.
Several months back, I asked TFers at several Fark parties the same two questions: how did you get onto TotalFark, and why did you stay? Everyone had a different reason for staying, but as for how they got onto TotalFark, the vast majority had been invited by someone who bought them a subscription. Aha.
They said that not only did this allow them to check things out, but they had the assistance of someone who was already a TF regular who could tell them, 1) why they liked TF, and 2) why it would be cooler with them as part of it. And explain non-obvious intricacies both social and technical.
Adding gift invites also solved our primary problem - how not to ruin TF via huge subscriber influx. TF has always been a mostly self-selecting population, adding tons of new folks out of the blue seemed like a terrible idea.
So basically what we're doing is taking something that already plays a huge factor in TF membership rates and turning it up a notch. I always tell people that the best way to get something started isn't to build a city in the desert, it's to kick a rolling ball downhill.
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Patent-infringement lawsuit against Fark settled for zero dollars. Also, patent trolls suck hairy donkey balls
Posted by Drew at 2011-08-10 10:59:00 AM (360 comments) | Permalink
A lot of you were already aware that Fark was sued by a patent troll back in January. I wanted to share that as of today, after eight months of legal work, that lawsuit was dismissed.
Here's the tl;dr version:
Their patent had nothing to do with Fark. The patent troll realized we were going to fight them instead of settle, so they asked for our best offer. I said how about you get nothing and drop the lawsuit? They accepted.
Normally, we wouldn't be able to talk about any of the details. Terms of patent lawsuit settlements are usually bound by ironclad nondisclosure agreements. NDAs allow patent trolls to extract maximum settlements from each entity they've filed lawsuits against - as a result no one knows who paid what. In the last round of settlement negotiations we asked to strike the NDA provision. They agreed (and to the attorneys out there reading this, I'm as baffled as you are).
Striking the NDA was crucial because I wanted to be able to tell everyone what really happened: we didn't pay them a single dime.
The patent covered a method for inputting news releases into a web form, which would then compile the news release and email it to media outlets. Now, aside from the fact that a ton of prior art exists and that the patent should never have been awarded in the first place, Fark and all the other websites named in the lawsuit don't produce "news releases". In the world of journalism, the term "news release" is equivalent to "press release" - the patent itself equates the two in the opening description. Could a judge have ruled otherwise? Sure. They've been known to rule that the sky is green - which is why this lawsuit was dangerous.
As much as I'd like to fight the good fight, we reluctantly decided against pursuing a counterclaim against the patent holder. Too expensive--as in a couple million dollars too expensive, years of legal wrangling, and no guarantee of recovering all of the spent money by the time it was over. I sincerely hope someone still in the case with deeper pockets pursues these guys. I'm happy to help in any way I can. Unfortunately, Yahoo settled a while back, and Conde Nast settled out for Reddit this week. AOL is still in it though, I believe they're inclined to hang in - especially given what happened with Fark settling for nothing.
At any rate, this bullshiat is finally over. It was a nightmare. Imagine someone breaking into your home, then being forced to sit on the couch while their lawyers file motions over how much stuff they can take. My wife Heather said my first draft of this post sounded too angry, probably due to the fact that every third word was an f-bomb (among other things I paraphrased our best one-time settlement offer as "how about jack sh*t and go f*ck yourself", which may be a more accurate depiction of how I really felt at the time). I won't lie though, I was angry and I am still. Too much money was wasted on this, too many sleepless nights, too many hours away from running Fark, and all this because someone else decided that suing companies for bearing a vague resemblance to their patent (patents they don't even appear to use themselves) is a good business model. We're short a full-time employee thanks to these douchebags.
I'm just glad it's over. Huge thanks to Legal Team Fark at Roetzel & Andress, who were able to quickly grasp the reasons why this patent lawsuit was bullshiat and hone those arguments into legal nightmares for the plaintiff. I can't recommend them highly enough to anyone going through a similar situation. After all, when's the last time you saw a patent lawsuit settled for zero dollars? Pretty rare.
All right that's it, let's get back to funny news. C'mon Florida, don't fail me now.
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