The future of Ghacks (2018)
It has been three years since I revealed to you that the situation for the site was not the best, and that there was a chance that I'd have to shut down the site eventually.
Things would have turned out differently, probably, if I would not have made the announcement on the site, as a wave of support helped steer the site in a positive direction.
I posted an update in 2017, and would like to make this a yearly occurrence so that you know where we stand in the grand scheme of things. All the things that I wanted to do in 2017 were done (HTTPS, new theme).
A lot has happened in the last year. I had to switch providers and enable Cloudflare protection due to DDOS attacks against the site. The site experienced an attack in early 2017 and Cloudflare helped put an end to it.
The switch to Kinsta as the hosting provider helped as well as the company focuses all of its energy on providing the best WordPress hosting platform. We switched the content distribution provider, enabled HTTPS on the site, and even switched to a new theme.
We moved the in-content ad to the header in the process, and removed the related links element displayed in-content as well. The sidebar features new article listings (year in, updated articles) which seem to be liked as well.
This all helped improve the user experience on the site for users who don't block ads.
The new "report" functionality listed underneath articles gives you another option to report articles that need updating, broken links, or other issues without having to leave a comment or use the contact options.
I understand that there are still things to do when it comes to the new theme, and those will be done (printing, CSS not loading for a few, performance improvements).
I hired Mike to revive the Linux section on the site and he is doing a great job. If you have any comments or suggestions on how to make it even better, leave a comment below or use the contact options and I forward the info to Mike.
Site traffic is less affected by Google changing search algorithms and making changes to Google Search than it was the case in 2015. The site experiences ups and downs still, but they usually don't take away 20% or more of the traffic overnight anymore.
Still, I don't hold my breath that the storm has passed entirely.
Support from users of the site has been phenomenal. While Patreon contributions are more or less stable, one-time donations have picked up thanks to the integration of the "we need your help" widget displayed after articles on the site.
I'm still looking into a couple of things to improve this further, especially:
- A money transfer service that does not charge fees at all to enable micro-donations. If any visitor to the site would donate $0.01 per month, I'd remove all ads from the site immediately.
- Whether direct to bank account transfers would be useful. Ghacks users from Euro-zone Europe could make donations without transaction costs.
The next 12 months
The next 12 months will be work-intensive. Work on the theme will continue to remove bugs and improve the performance in regards to scripts and other things further.
I'm looking at a new comment system right now that keeps data local. It comes with a voting system to cast votes, notifications to subscribe to comments, and more. It would replace several plugins used currently but there would be a transitioning phase as it is not possible to import all existing comment subscriptions to the new plugin.
I'm also checking out new newsletter services to improve the newsletter offering significantly. This is in its early stages, but I'm considering creating a special newsletter for supporters which will be sent out regularly, and of course the general site newsletter for anyone else.
I can use the (special) newsletter to write about things that I can't publish on the site, but we will see.
Work on article updates continues; it is nearly impossible to stay ahead of that though: I publish an average of four new articles per day to Ghacks, and if I update 5 next to that, I'd spend 10 years updating articles (at which point the first updated articles may need updating again).
I have started to delete some articles that are no longer of interest (e.g. a news piece on Internet Explorer 9 preview build 4). Those get redirected to the most appropriate article on the site (in this case to the IE9 review).
I want to thank you for being a part of Ghacks and making the site what it is today. If you have any questions or comments, leave them in the comment section below please.
Thanks for all your hard work and time.
This would be ideal, but Brave doesn’t have a big enough user base yet.
“The Brave browser knows where users spend their time, making it the perfect tool to calculate and reward publishers with BATs.” https://basicattentiontoken.org/
Are you still using marfeel or is it just me that everytime I visit the mobile site it’s always redirected (and hence I couldn’t leave a comment)
Tigerium is another promising cryptocurrency. Instant payments to your contacts on Facebook. https://www.tigereum.io/story
“direct to bank account transfers would be useful.Ghacks users from Euro-zone could make donations without transaction costs.”
… not to mention the security aspect !
I agree re: PayPal I no longer deal with them though it was Hell trying to terminate my account with them. I have Not looked back!
Have I misunderstood Patron?
I could only see an option to pledge the small amount of $1.00/mnth – which with VAT came to $1.20 [which I’ve pledged] – I would rather pledge say $10.00
In fact it would be best for me to pledge say Â£8.00/mnth GBP to avoid dollar transaction fee & to have no VAT charge
Is there a way I can pledge from the UK without incurring VAT?
Michael, Patreon deducts VAT automatically from users from the EU. I don’t know if that will change once England leaves the EU.
I understand that it would be easier for supporters to select an amount and that is the entire amount deducted from their account.
I suggest you could reduce the monthly pledge so that it stays under the total pledge you want to make each month. If you plan to offer support the site with, say 8 GBP, you could reduce the pledge amount to 6.x GBP instead to account for the additional costs.
Thank you so much for all the hard work and dedication, your website is among the best of all !!!
Print stylesheet seems like a pretty easy one for me. Do you want some help with that?
I’d appreciate it! Thanks for offering to help.
Ok, let me know how you want to proceed. Meantime, you could try this:
Hi, I tested it on a staging server and it works fine in Chrome but the content is cut off in Firefox.
That’s odd as I wrote it via Firefox devtools. It may be a Firefox 57+ issue. I don’t run that yet.
FWIW, would be much cleaner/more reliable if the HTML structure was more distinct.
Only so much that can be done with CSS alone. At some point, it really helps to have good semantic HTML tags and id, class attributes. Shoot me an email if you’d like me to look into it further.
Thanks for your hard work, I have been visiting this site almost daily for at least the last five years and it’s one of the two sites where I don’t block ads. Keep up the good work.
Paypal charges a hefty premium for contributions. Wtf?
yeah I noted this in email to Martin and, as stated above, he is looking into it.
its basically a fee to convert currencies paypal charges US people to pay EU people with.
https://www.substack.com/ maybe what you are looking for regarding paid Newsletters.
Thanks, looks interesting!
I’d be interested in “the (special) newsletter” you mentioned provided I can pay annually via bank transfer in euro, and provided it isn’t too expensive (no more than say â‚¬50 p.a.) I live in the Netherlands so there shouldn’t be any bank charges for either of us.
I must admit I’m rather intrigued about subjects that you say you can’t publish on the site.
Yes, indeed. My eyes popped when I read “things that I can’t publish on the site”.
You’ve done a great job on the site, martin — it keeps getting better and better!
Enjoying the content and the container, several times a day, since years now.
I participate with â‚¬20/year (but only started when acknowledging the financial difficulties) even more willingly that I block ads. I visit Ghacks say 6 times/day, roughly 2,000/year. That brings us to 1Eurocent (1.23USD cents!) of participation per visit. I can afford that :=)
The amount of things I’ve learned here throughout the years is phenomenal. In-sight, documented, explained articles, user comments. There is a dialog here, most profitable. That’s objective. On the subjective side well… I just happen to like the place, that so many of us. Cool!
I think it would be a sad day if Ghacks had to close down through lack of funds. I’m reminded of another technology site (also German) which ceased publication a couple of years back called “H Online” which I used to visit regularly.
But as can be seen from their announcement in the following link, it seems to be a common problem on how to attract sufficient revenue to maintain the site: http://www.h-online.com/news/item/The-H-is-closing-down-1920027.html
Great job, Martin!
This post prompts me to advise you my experience, as I suspect it may impact your site revenue. When you reworked the site to make it less intrusive with ads some time back and let us know that your income was tied up with the site, I disabled ublock origin. I was surprised that I still did not see ads, only the word advertisement above a blank space.
Prompted by the topic of this post, I decided to run Firefox with all add-ons disabled to see which add-on was still blocking the ads (I disable the FF ad blocking so when a site wants me to not block ads I can comply if I wish by simply disabling ublock origin). Surprise, I still did not see any ads. I then revisited again without using Sandboxie and was able to see the top ad and 2 lower blank areas labeled advertisement.
I then tried again using I Explorer which I have kept totally free of any add-ons and disabled the ad blocking option (to use when for some unknown reason my add-ons do let the site function in FF). Same result, only the top ad visible.
Maybe this is how you wanted things – I don’t know but thought letting you know wouldn’t hurt anything!
Ads depend on the site layout. If there is no sidebar because the width of the browser window is too small, ads are displayed after content. It is not ideal but I prefer to do so as the other two options are to a) reduce content width to display sidebar and ads, or b) display ads in content.
@ exrelayman: Do you have third party cookies blocked? That seems to stop ads appearing on some sites, including Ghacks.
Thanks for response. I allow 3rd party cookies, as some sites did not function properly when I tried blocking them. The privacy/functionality dance is one of the most distressing aspects of computer usage. I know I do rather poorly at it.
Also I was remiss in not specifying that my usage in on PC using Windows 10.
“Whether direct to bank account transfers would be useful. Ghacks users from Euro-zone Europe could make donations without transaction costs.”
I have recommended this in a comment a few months ago. It’s easy to implement: open a bank account in ‘Euroland’ and show the number on a Ghacks page.
‘Whether direct to bank account transfers would be useful. Ghacks users from Euro-zone Europe could make donations without transaction costs’
Martin there’s some money going to you, you know about it. I did not hear from you.
You know how I think about ghacks, and a small monthly contribution I would certainly willing to give.
One question: how is your all things Linux series going, comparing to web traffic about all things Windows?
Greetings from your neighbour Die Niederlande.
Thanks Sebas! Linux traffic is low when compared to Windows but it is definitely on the rise with the increase in output.
I actually read the linux stuff more closely, welcome addition
Will you clarify this statement?
“If any visitor to the site would donate $0.01 per month, I’d remove all ads from the site immediately.”
Ed, if there would be a system in place that would allow micro-transactions without fees, and if all visitors of the site would use it, and would be willing to donate $0.01 per month to the site, I’d be able to run it without any other revenue source.
Thanks for all your hard work and time.
Thank you for your great work Martin ! I ll try to chip in every now and then !
I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Cloudflare is behind the DDoSing to trick smaller independent websites into signing up (for free!!) to their internet centralization, data-gathering and surveillance system.
Imagine the shitstorm if cloudflare was a russian company MitM-ing millions of websites.
“ghacks.net’s commitment to protect the privacy of users and to ensure the integrity of the Internet.”
“Internet user privacy is of paramount importance to Ghacks.net.”
“The success of our business depends upon our ability to maintain the trust of our users.”
I’m unsure (and curious to know) whether Cloudflare necessarily has plaintext access to our passwords. Their redirector logs would be able to reveal our TRAFFIC, but unless cloudflare is providing webserver hosting… how/why do you expect they can decrypt and sniff our encrypted traffic?
The admin login point you raised, is (or may be) a separate “big deal”, in terms of security. Too often site operators running WP (or prestashop, or whatever “app” platform) unthinkingly install & test-drive various freeFREEfree or trialware plugins on their production webserver. OUCH, every 3P plugin provider 1) knows the “secret” URL of the site’s wpadmin (or whatever non-public backend), 2) most plugins perform some sort of telemetry and/or auto-update, communicating “gawd-knows-what” (the WP admin user typically has no clue “what”) and 3) have opportunity to exploit WP (or other) platform vulnerabilities, by pushing a malicious component via silent-superconvenient-automagical-autoupdate.
I visit ghacks and how-to-geek almost daily. Thank you for your hard work and the valuable content on your site!
This reminds me, it’s time to make another donation. I have a recommendation, Martin — a couple of other sites I value allow me to set up a recurring payment through PayPal, so that every month my donation happens automatically. I find this very nice, as I don’t have to remember to do it myself.
I don’t know how hard this is to do, but if gHacks had such a thing, I’d sign up. It doesn’t have to be micropayments — I’d go for something on the order of $5-$10US/mo.
@John, last donation to Ghacks via PayPal initiated the recurrent payment you mention :
‘Proceed to another payment’ associated to ‘Martin Brinkman’, but no automatic recurrent payment though.
@Tom, true, making subsequent donations is trivially easy — all I have to do is hit a single button. But never underestimate the depths of my forgetfulness (or laziness). :)
I’d rather define recurrent payments as commitment than laziness! I appreciate the ease of use of subsequent payments but perhaps not sufficiently committed to letting them be performed automatically :=) Joke aside, it happens in the first days of January, 1 Euro one! Seriously this time, â‚¬20 as I wrote, and it’s really under the value.
Thanks John, let me look into that. I’m not 100% sure that you can get recurring payments without business account but I’ll check.
It’s a tiny thing, and I wouldn’t want you to spend any real time or effort on it. I’ll be chipping in no matter what.
Martin, I typically only read ghacks at work. Unfortunately, lots of ad blocking are in place beyond my control. I’m not sure how I can help other then donate some money or buy something. Maybe some Amazon referral links? Push the deals? Free newsletter with some revenue generating links?
Is there a donate button anywhere on the homepage? I don’t see one. Perhaps its blocked. :(
There are plenty of options: share articles where appropriate, share knowledge by leaving comments, contact me if you have ideas, comments or suggestions, check the support page to find out how to donate (https://www.ghacks.net/support/), buy something on https://deals.ghacks.net/.
If interest is high enough, I could post a general Amazon affiliate link on the support page which you could follow before you make purchases on the site.
I could possibly make use of amazon affiliate link IF you could set it so US users could use.
I never even see the right column. It’s there, displayed as intended, “I” just don’t see it when on the site.
There’s nothing there that interests me enough to notice.
If it was changed to be more intrusive, I’d simply create a style for the site that disables the right column.
“I can use the (special) newsletter to write about things that I can’t publish on the site(…)”
Well, now I’m curious. Do you keep secrets from your readers, Martin? Maybe an unusual hobby?
Well, I don’t think I have any unusual hobbies but there are certainly topics that I can’t write about here on this site but that I can write about in a newsletter sent directly to subscribers.
I won’t write about totally unrelated things like boardgames, one of my hobbies, but I would cover tech related reviews, tutorials and other things that I can’t post here for a variety of reasons.
I appreciate your looking into the fee issue when donating (as I noted in email) so for now have disabled all adblocks and will share stuff as much as possible.
thank you for this site, its the only site on the internet that i disable ublock on.
Almost daily visit, disabled adblock, might be the time for donation. Great articles and knowledgeable crowd. And minimal ads!
good site, keep going.
i would prefer to NOT delete old articles, just for achive and historical purposes.
instead i would prefer to just mark them somehow as “archive/historical”
and/or move them to a “special archive/historical” section.
some “verrÃ¼ckte geschichtsprofessoren” could be interested some day and some people just could/would be amused and read the old things with a light smile or “the younger” ones just read them with an wide open mouth: “oh that was it like in the old days, reeeeeaaallly?”
i still think there is an audience for these parts of history, even when its small.
vielleicht bin ich auch zu alt(51) dafÃ¼r
I prefer to keep old posts as well, it is history in my eyes. But, content that is no longer relevant or seen by Google or other search engines as low quality may take the whole site down with it.
is it possible to utilize archive.org (there is extension for firefox ( https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/archiver-menu/ ) to save older items and reduce your server load?
What about archiving old posts on https://archive.org/web/
I’m working on moving old posts to https://archive.ghacks.net/
nice to have some positive reactions on a proposal
“The future of Ghacks” (for the next 12 months?) could include a comments section free of a flaw which is truly annoying: comments which appear hours later and sometimes never when they have been edited. I just experienced this again, right here, with an answer to [John Fenderson said on March 23, 2018 at 4:52 pm] which seems to have gone with the winds. I know, we know this everlasting issue and yet I cannot get used to it, to the point that I (and maybe others) strongly hesitate to edit our thread (within the given 10 minutes) because of the issue. This is a true pain.
Please don’t answer “it’s not my fault” because it’s not ours as well. There is a problem somewhere and nothing is done to repair it.
“The switch to Kinsta as the hosting provider helped as well as the company focuses all of its energy on providing the best WordPress hosting platform.”
The best? I wonder what the worst is.
Tom, I could remove the edit functionality which would resolve it. I cannot edit the “edit plugin” to fix this or Akismet (the anti-spam plugin) whichever may be responsible.
I know, not your fault either and I understand that the situation is frustrating. That’s why I’m looking into the new comment plugin which will unify “edit”, “subscribe” and other commenting related features.
My hope is that this will make things a lot better.
Anyway, Martin, for frustrating it is, still only a minor issue considering the articles’ content is more substantial than the comments’ one.
As far as I’m concerned I guess I’ll hide the Edit button with uBO’s element picker. Looking forwards for the new comment plug-in you mention.
The main point is your articles. I’d visit Ghacks even without the comments’ section, or even without commenting myself (which is already the case in the majority of my visits).
No big problem, of course.
Thanks Tom, I hope that the new comment system will resolve the issue once it is out. It comes with edit functionality baked in and should work more reliable. We’ll see.
@Tom: “to the point that I (and maybe others) strongly hesitate to edit our thread”
Yes, I’ve stopped editing my comments for that reason, myself.
@John, I will as well from now on stop editing my comments and apply to exercise caution before sending them. It’s a habit to take. We rely on the editable option to send quickly, I do anyway. If I think of it as an email (once sent no return-ticket) I’ll read and correct my comment twice before sending. Moreover the input text box is resizable and often I mistake because I haven’t resized the box and therefor have a partial overview of my literature! especially with long sentences I’m used to, when not lengthy paragraphs as well. Just an automatism to catch: feasible.
I’ve never had that issue editing comments, wonder why some users do?
It seems to be pretty random, so you might have just been lucky. Also, when it happens, it’s easy to overlook unless you make it a habit to go and check comments you’ve made in the past. It’s also temporary — disappeared comments because of this bug do eventually reappear.
depending on users mailed to mailchimp free plan may work for you on newsletters.
I had researched some stuff last year (cannot find my notes) for a charity I was helping and they eventually went the 10$/month plan to avoid mailchim insertions, but still free plan may work for you and its pretty decent newsletter setup
I’ll look again to see if I can find my notes on this stuff.
iirc are wordpress plugins too if thats what you use, have not done a source look to see.
edit: yes I looked you are using wordpress.
iirc this one worked well but its been awhile so don’t take my word for it
Martin, You’re doing still a really great job. Developing into a better to read and to love website not only because of the possibility to interact with it and here readers.
Hopefully, it will stay possible to keep on reading ghacks.net for anybody who has a ferry low budget and has not enough money to pay for any other cost, then the basic needs for his or her daily existence.
I am keeping main fingers crossed that all of us can keep ghacks.net the best Informatica website there ever was and will be.
I hate landing on sites that use my computer to mine bitcoins but
maybe such a script could be used to do good.
You can have 10% of my CPU power when I have Ghacks open
in a window or tab while surfing in another window or tab.
That also means the script will run when the computer is idle.
Thanks for all your hard work and time, from Italy
Hi Martin, I was attempting to send another donation to you via PayPal, but was prompted to enter a password after I submitted my email. I closed my PayPal account years ago and do not wish to open it again. Is there another service I could use for an occasional donation?
Bud, thank you for that. I’m looking at other options, next up is a bank account for donations in Euro to make it easier for Euro-folks to transfer money.
>> I have started to delete some articles that are no longer of interest (e.g. a news piece on Internet Explorer 9 preview build 4). Those get redirected to the most appropriate article on the site (in this case to the IE9 review).
In my opinion this is not a good idea- I believe that even old articles should be preserved.
Add (old school first) GRC/ Black Viper/ Tomâ€™s Hardware/ The Register/ Bleeping Computer/ Cnet/ Mashable
(a few more not on top of mind) together and the sum would still be worth less to me than the
wealth of fine information I find day after day your your site, Martin.
Please keep on keeping on!
Feature request: Launch an onion service!
Add (old school first) GRC/ Black Viper/ Tomâ€™s Hardware/ The Register/ Bleeping Computer/
Cnet/ Mashable (a few more not on top of mind) together and the sum would still be worth less to me
than the wealth of timely computer information I find day after day, year after year on your site, Martin.
Thanks and please keep on keeping on! No, U da Man man! ;-)
Still missing a working print function for articles for Firefox.
Hope this is on your todo list at the top
This site has helped me a lot with FF config settings, Windows annoyances such as the crazy long wi fi network discovery list, etc. Articles are laid out well, straightforward, no drama and useful.
Only comment regarding a new comments section is leave out the voting buttons if possible, they’re pointless.
Made a PP donation. Keep up the great work! :)
Thank you, Martin. Your articles include useful stuff for non-techies like me, and I would certainly support you if/when micro-donations are enabled.
Thanks for your great work, Martin. Your site is among the best if not the best of its kind out there. Do keep it up.
I use Firefox with Tracking Protection always on, set to strict mode, and it looks like that feature is also blocking ads.
I don’t know how ads systems work. Is allowing ads helpful for the website? If yes, is there a way to allow them?
I also would like a non-Paypal way to donate. There are numerous services that allow bank transfers or credit card donations so I’m surprised you haven’t enabled at least one of them.
A newsletter with stuff that you cannot publish on the site sounds very intriguing…
Once again, thanks for maintaining such an intelligent site with such a smart community!
Thank you Martin for all your work to keep the site running and all the articles. I’m in the United States and go to your blog about every day. I disabled my 2 adblocks. I hope this helps you.
Thanks your your great work! This site has been in my list of bookmarks I visit every day for many years.
Consider accepting donations in Bitcoin, I would def donate!
I have disabled adblock/ublock long time ago for you. I ENCOURAGE others to do the SAME!
I want to disable ad blocking on Ghacks but NoScript is so complicated I don’t know how to do that in a way that doesn’t allow privacy-invading stuff on other sites – and I have a doctorate in biology and am “power user” (probably “very power user”), just not an IT expert like most people on Ghacks. What in god’s name is “Turn cross-site POST requests into data-less GET requests” and “Anti-XSS Protection Exceptions” and “application Boundaries Enforcer” and “blocked META redirections”? Perhaps more importantly, for 10 years now I can’t seem to get a straight answer on whether NoScript is the right thing to use for ad blocking in the first place.
Meanwhile I will look into a Patreon donation.
Finally, many thanks for Ghacks as a rare voice of sanity, reason and lack of hype and schtick.
Your efforts are greatly appreciated. I am a fan and though I cannot donate at this time I will advertise Ghacks especially your “Deals”.
thanks for all the hard work.
yes, a better or new way of contributing financially to the site is required as not all of us have credit cards, Paypals, or bitcoin. like me, we’re old school and only have cash and a bank account. so how to contribute to you, easily, would be a welcome news.
Am I too late to comment ? Catching up with some older emails
This is an excellent blog/news-service … at 73 I am not too old to learn.
I am in Australia, how would be best to donate, bank deposit from OZ ?
I didn’t know PayPal have their hand in our wallets !
Thank you for what you give to us
… from down-under