This is a heads up on site development for the rest of the year, so you have an idea of what's coming up and when. The timeline is subject to modification, as new projects get bumped up, or emergencies take up dev time. We're also assuming regular week-long bug purges, particularly stuff coming in through our new Help desk. But this should provide at least a rough guideline of what's coming up.
Tonight: a host of bug fixes and site enhancements will go live, including the return of list view, fixing the tip jar "oops I hide rated you by accident" bug, moving the Welcome Back box above the diary lists, allowing people to follow themselves, and misc other fixes.
Next three weeks: We're building a new donation/subscription engine inhouse, rather than depend on PayPal to manage it all (though PayPal will still be an option). While the benefits of this won't be immediately obvious, it will support several other projects down the road. This is also the first major feature we're developing in Rails -- the technical framework that will eventually power this entire site.
Tangentially related: lifetime subscription will be eliminated by the end of the year. However, everyone who has a lifetime subscriptions will get to keep theirs for, well, their lifetime or the site's.
Mid-October to mid-November: Image uploader and organizer. This won't just allow editors to better upload and manage our photo library, but we'll open it up to subscribers as well. That means that community members will be able to upload their own images, and also access and use the images that the editorial team is buying from Reuters and other pay services.
This will be the second major benefit given to subscribers, in addition to being able to turn off ads. We will be continuously looking for ways to provide added services to subscribers, without taking a single feature away from non-subscribers.
Mid-November to end of year: Community Self-Moderation Adjudication System. I've sketched out the new system here.
Q1 2012: While we haven't estimated out how long each of these projects will take (because we haven't fully spec'd out the projects), the next three projects on the list, in order, are a new internal messaging system, rebuilding the search, and rebuilding the publication manager in Rails.
In the office we have a board full of index cards, each representing a project. We move them up and down on the board depending on changing priorities. We remove the cards we finish, and add new ones all the time. Right now, the board has about three-dozen projects, with no hope we can get through them even through 2012.
Which brings me to a big question -- how open would you guys be to a big fundraiser for us to hire another tech person or two? We're currently up to four, and as you can see above, the rate of development given the site's needs is still painfully slow. More hackers would obviously speed things up.
Contributions would be via site subscriptions. In addition to turning off ads and having access to our image uploader and organizer, subscribers would be able to vote on which development project to work on next. So if you chip in with a subscription to help pay for a bigger development team, you also get some collective say in what they work on.
If there is significant interest in the idea (vote in the poll below), I can get to planning that. Otherwise, we'll stick with the current dev plan.