Archive for the ‘sixapart’ Category

I’ve been planing around with microformat and nanoformat[1] parsing today using real world HTML. One feature I’d like is the ability to reliably detect the CMS version a website is running.

For example, the Moveable Type site is running some version of Moveable Type (probably not Typepad) but which version?

They’ve stripped the generator meta element from their HTML (I’m pretty sure it’s in the default MT). I can’t check the RSS feed (it’s there sometimes) but they’re rewriting it via FeedBurner.

A number of CMS systems how there are nice enough to include a generator meta element but it’s often excludes any specific version number.

GigaOm is nice enough to include one but it doesn’t include any versioning information.

PhotoMatt was nice enough to include a generator AND version – “WordPress 2.4-bleeding” – whatever that means. I assume it means 2.4 from version control?

However, at present a robot is at the mercy of the author/designer to preserve the generator information. It’s possible to accidentally strip it which leaves a robot confused and could possibly hurt the SEO of the blogs owner without their knowledge.

Ideally there would be some type of generator discovery protocol hereby a robot could easily discovery the generator which wasn’t vulnerable to these type of flaws.

A straw man proposal would be to have a fixed URL (/generator.xml) which would return this metainfo. It would even be a static file.

Again. Straw man proposal. I don’t really know the solution right now – just identifying the problem.

Of course, maybe the best solution is to just have CMS vendors include the generator, and add a comment in the HTML saying DO NOT REMOVE.

1. Nanoformat parsing is indexing semantic HTML with real world deployed templates used in the major CMS platforms like WordPress, Typepad, etc.

Update: Of the top 100 high ranking Moveable Type blogs in our index, 57% of them just had a generator of http://www.movabletype.org/. This isn’t very helpful if you need to know the exact version of MT. At the very minimum it would be nice to have this for computing statistics.

About six months ago I blogged about how Six Apart was planning on censoring my blog in response to a fake DMCA takedown notice:

Just to follow up here, the legal advice we have received is that for the next 10 business days, the disputed content does need to be removed from public access. If at the end of this period, we have not received the specified legal filing from Mr. Crook, then access to the material can be restored at that time. We apologize for the need to do this, and for any incorrect or confusing information we may have provided in the past, but we will need to ask you to remove the disputed files from public access for the next 10 business days. If you are not able to do this by the end of the day on Monday, December 11, we will need to delete the disputed files.

The issue was eventually corrected and the whole thing turned out to be a big mistake but now I’m not so sure:

Great. Looks like Six Apart is going to do the right thing here.

This hit them at the wrong time now since they’re all at Les Web in France.

Long story short. The image will probably go back online tomorrow (it’s offline now) and they’re going to try to keep a heads up for this kind of stuff in the future.

… apparently it’s happening again:

Barak Berkowitz, Chairman and CEO of Six Apart, has released an admission that “For reasons we are still trying to figure out what was supposed to be a well planned attempt to clean up a few journals that were violating LiveJournal’s policies that protect minors turned into a total mess. I can only say I’m sorry, explain what we did wrong and what we are doing to correct these problems and explain what we were trying to do but messed up so completely.”

We enabled a feature in our crawler to record the ‘generator’ meta tag to get a rough idea of real world CMS deployment.

This is based on a sample of 50k weblogs with generators. This isn’t across our entire weblog index as the crawler is still executing.

There’s one major disclaimer here. A good percentage of weblogs probably don’t have a generator specified. Often when people change their default template they drop the generator meta tag.

Also, while WordPress seems to be doing very well here compared to Typepad, Six Apart gets about $20 per month per Typepad account. I’d rather be in Typepad’s shoes! :-)

I also think Moveable Type’s numbers are probably depressed a bit since it’s really easy to hack your template and potentially remove your generator field.

200702081222

Web Pro News has a good overview of the DMCA censorship issue that’s been making the rounds in the blogosphere.

In his misguided desire to become notorious, **** **** has become the preeminent villain of the blogosphere, the target of a lawsuit by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a laughing stock, and a fascinating case study into blog-ethics, copyright law on the Internet, the tenets of Fair Use, the reach of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and how its abuse can affect free speech.

It also becomes the diary of a madman.

****’s most recent tangle involved Rojo founder Kevin Burton, who claimed on his blog that SixApart was complicit to censorship after the blogging company received a DMCA takedown notice from **** demanding that a thumbnail image of himself from an appearance on Fox News be taken offline. **** argued his right to do so as the inherent copyright owner of the image (his face, e.g., his copyright).

Anyway. I’m going to pull a Voldemort on this guy (he who must not be named). He’s clearly just in this for the publicity so I’m just going to deny him the pleasure.

I also need to ping Six Apart on this issue as I want the original DMCA they sent off. They’ve since restore the image but I think he sent off a DMCA with different information that I haven’t yet seen.

Six Apart has agreed to censor my blog in response to a fake DMCA takedown notice.

Just to follow up here, the legal advice we have received is that for the next 10 business days, the disputed content does need to be removed from public access. If at the end of this period, we have not received the specified legal filing from Mr. Crook, then access to the material can be restored at that time. We apologize for the need to do this, and for any incorrect or confusing information we may have provided in the past, but we will need to ask you to remove the disputed files from public access for the next 10 business days. If you are not able to do this by the end of the day on Monday, December 11, we will need to delete the disputed files.

First. Let me say that I’m a big fan of Six Apart. I’m not trying to cause them any hassle. I’ve been a loyal customer since they launched Typepad. Heck. They even acquired my last company (Rojo) so here’s yet another reason to like them. Even the people who work there are super nice!

In this situation though I think they’re dead wrong.

I’m not sure if you’ve been following the situation but this guy has been harassing bloggers left and right.

There’s also a pending EFF case where they’re suing the guy. So when I posted about the futility of sending off a DMCA notice I figured the whole thing would just blow over.

Wrong. The guy just isn’t rational. He’s an insane Internet bully Holocaust denier who thinks the troops in Iraq all deserve to die because they’re getting paid too much (not making this stuff up folks).

He’s sent me a few private emails. Threats to come to my house and and how I have to comply to the DMCA cause I’m “in his jurisdiction.” Not going to happen.

Here’s a fun little quote:

You are an arrogant piece of s*it.  You can file a counterclaim, but the material will stay down for 14 days, which will give me time to justify having my lawyer file papers in federal court to sue you’re *ss. That process will delay the return of the material, as an injunction is easy to get.

First. This isn’t his content. He doesn’t hold copyright here. Fox News does. Second. He’s clearly perjuring himself.

In order to send in a counter-notification letter I have to include my name, telephone number, and address. Essentially, he can take down any Typepad blog for 14 days and get their name, address, and phone number just by sending Six Apart a fake DMCA.

Six Apart should take a stand on behalf of their customers. If Laughing Squid can do it then so should Six Apart. In this case it’s just good business. They’re on the right side of the law. This guy is perjuring himself.

This system is broken people.

Update:

I was going to send this directly to Six Apart so that they can respond. My power ran out unfortunately and I wasn’t able to send it. If there’s a delay in their response it’s certainly my fault.

This might just be a case of Six Apart’s lawyer being extra conservative which is certainly the default behavior for lawyers.

I just talked to WordPress and the have no problem hosting to images and ignoring fake DMCA takedown notices so I’m going to start a new blog over there as well.

Update 2:

Great. Looks like Six Apart is going to do the right thing here.

This hit them at the wrong time now since they’re all at Les Web in France.

Long story short. The image will probably go back online tomorrow (it’s offline now) and they’re going to try to keep a heads up for this kind of stuff in the future.

Seems like a victory for free speech!

200609051936I’ve been a big fan of Six Apart for a few years now. Not only do they have a great blogging service (and Vox seems poised to take over the world) but they just acquired Rojo as well.

Six Apart will be issuing a press release on the subject and I’ll let them give you all the juicy details once thats available.

In the mean time Om Malik notes:

Blogging company Six Apart will soon announce it has purchased Rojo, the web-based feed reader, for undisclosed terms.

Six Apart won’t be adding an aggregator based on Rojo, but instead incorporating some elements of the technology into its existing products, according to Six Apart CEO Barak Berkowitz. Rojo CEO Chris Alden will run Six Apart’s Movable Type group

Niall Kennedy comments:

Blogging company Six Apart has acquired online feed aggregator Rojo Networks. Rojo will be integrated with the Vox blogging tool allowing users to browse updated content and create more blog posts. Rojo CEO Chris Alden will be the new head of Movable Type according to a GigaOm report.

I helped co-found Rojo almost three years ago to build a killer online RSS aggregation service. Literally. Before we had a name for Rojo we called it the KSA (Killer Server-side Aggregator). Rojo lead the RSS space in a number of key areas including mobile support, feed search, and integrated social networking.

For the last year I’ve been independent (working on Tailrank actually) but still remained involved in an advisory capacity.

In hindsight, I don’t ever think Rojo was given the credit it deserved. Feed search in particular. In fact, earlier this year when Ask/Bloglines released their feed search it was pointed out that Rojo had been doing the same thing for months.

Six Apart has big plans for Rojo. They’re going to take Rojo’s RSS infrastructure and build it into LiveJournal and Vox which sounds pretty interesting. You can bet I’ll be paying attention…

Luckily, Rojo was located in blogger gulch (AKA SOMA) in San Francisco which is also the home of Technorati and Feedster. The employees literally only have two extra blocks to commute to their new offices.

Best of luck on the new gig guys!

Update:

Techcrunch has a few notes:

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but our assumption was that this a less than $5 million deal. Six Apart is not planning on continuing to build out the core Rojo products. In the press release (sorry no link available yet), Six Apart says “Six Apart intends to sell a majority interest in Rojo’s newsreader services in the coming months,” meaning they will become a minority stockholder of the service. Rojo founder and CEO Chris Alden and CTO Aaron Emigh will joing Six Apart’s executive team.

… and so does ValleyWag:

We hear GigaOM founder Om Malik heard about this deal when he saw Alden and 6A CEO Barak Berkowitz outside 6A’s office.

Update 2:

Six Apart finally issues a press release:

San Francisco, CA —September 6, 2006—Six Apart, the world leader in blogging software and services, today announced that it had acquired Rojo Networks for an undisclosed sum. Rojo senior executives Chris Alden and Aaron Emigh joined the Six Apart team as executive vice president and general manager of Movable Type, and executive vice president and general manager of core technologies, respectively. Six Apart intends to sell a majority interest in Rojo’s newsreader services in the coming months.

Update 3:

You can follow this over on Tailrank… For some reason it picked up Valleywag twice. I’m going to have to fix that.

More Vox Invites

I just received five more invites to Vox. If you want one send me an email.

If you didn’t get one last time and I didn’t send you an email its nothing personal. I’ve just been swamped today.

If this is going to be my first post it might as well be the Buddha and my cat!

Got Vox?

If you need a Vox invite send me an email……. I only have a few left so if I can’t get you in I apologize in advance ;)

I’m going to call it like I see it. Vox is a WordPress and MySpace killer.

Add me as a friend!

I’m being crushed under the weight and burden of handling comment approval. TypePad gets too much spam (though I’m sure they’re still blocking 99% of it) to allow for open comments and their approval system is just way too slow. Its also impossible to READ the comment in TypePad before I can approve it so I end up having to go to the blog and read the thread there.

I’d KILL for a comment reading and threading mechanism with easy approval of comments.

Maybe this would be a nice new feature in Ecto.

Anyone else notice a significant uptake in Typepad trackback spam?

I wish they’d implement a blacklist so that I can block trackbacks based on regexp. Of course this might take up a lot of CPU time. Of course spam prevention is a big issue so they might be able to charge more $ for it. Right now I’d certainly pay!!

Update: Forget what I just said. All I want is the option to block trackbacks and comments on stories older than say 2 weeks. That would solve 90% of my spam problem.

Six Apart Raises $12M

According to Om Malik and Silicon Beat, Six Apart has raised a Series C round of financing for another $12M.

What’s really frightening is that Six Apart is now at 90 employees. I would have had no idea. Where do they fit all these people?

Here’s an interesting problem. How do you get a handle on all WordPress or TypePad blogs? Right now you can’t. You could accept pings but Six Apart doesn’t send pings anymore. Most of the ping traffic is filled with spam anyway so you’ll end up wasting a ton of CPU time. TypePad also supports domain masking where the blog URL is feedblog.org and not feedblog.typepad.com. This means a lot more work is required to verify the ping is actually from TypePad.

If these guys were to simply push a static XML dump of all their blog URLs this would be 95% of the way there. It would make writing tools much easier for developer and I think yield a space for innovation. For example you could write a tool which shows hot new WordPress blogs. Or you could write a tool that was the Six Degress of Six Apart similar to the Six Degress of Wikipedia hack.

The XML format doesn’t matter. It could be as simple as:


echo "SELECT URL FROM WEBLOGS" | mysql --sql

That would get us 95% of the way there…

Turns out Meebo just received $3.5M from Sequoia Capital. Very interesting.

Om makes a note:

Here is the rub: Since the company basically aggregates all four major IM networks in a browser, all the four major IM owners – AMYG are out of the acquisition game. One of them buys the company, the others shut down access to their respective networks. The very quality that makes Meebo attractive to end-users will make it difficult for them to be acquired.

Not really. If your competitors kick you out that’s their problem. Think about it. If you’re competitors are making it easier for your customers to use your service why not? Of course if they’re serving ads that might be another thing.

Even if the worst happens you still have a compelling product for your users.

I think this is a build to flip model. The 16-24 year old youth market is a hot demographic. Sell this thing to FOX news in a few years and you’ll be set. It’s a MySpace competitor.

Everyone seems to kick you while you’re down. By now we’ve all heard about the current issues with TypePad. They’ve since responded and Niall has the story on the recovery.

I just have to say that they’re doing a great job. It’s always difficult to scale a service and deliver a quality product to so many people. People seem to demand perfection and when you don’t give it to them 100% they complain.

I wish my blog was online today. I wish they wouldn’t have used NFS (*cough*). All and all I wish there were more companies out there like Six Apart.

Just to prove that nobody’s perfect TailRank had an outage today alongside Six Apart.

Of course these are independent events. Our outage was caused by (probably) a faulty motherboard in one of our robots. I had to re-provision some functionality to other boxes which slowed down the site a bit.

The system is designed to be robust but right now I just can’t afford to buy redundant hardware. If you’re feeling the Christmas spirit you could always paypal me a donation so I can buy extra hardware. :-)

ServerBeach did a great job and replaced the memory in my machine right away. When that didn’t work they swapped out the motherboard and CPU which I’m hoping caused the problem. The only thing left is the hard drive but this apparently passed their hardware tests.

H…o…s…t…i…n…g. Why not WordPress?

The Yahoo News site has more information about the announcement (which is a strange one since this is a Reuters feed on Yahoo news covering Yahoo)

The strange things I think is that this would essentially turn Yahoo into a TypePad competitor.

Wow.. Looks like TypePad is about to go 2.0:

Six Apart presents a preview of of its forthcoming blogging product. This new tool builds on the deep understanding of evolving customer requirements based on the company’s experiences with Movable Type, the premier Weblog publishing platform for business, TypePad the popular Weblogging service powering the world’s leading Weblogs, and LiveJournal, one of largest online communities. This new blogging solution blends elements of all these products to provide a platform that enables individuals, organizations and corporations to use the Web to communicate most effectively.

Hook me up with a free account guys :).. I wonder if I need to do anything to upgrade this blog. I’ve been wondering what they’ve been up to. I didn’t realize they were working on a 2.0 revision. I guess this is why TypePad has had some issues as of late. They might be waiting to do a big upgrade.

Niall has more…